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Yueya

Life at a Daoist Temple, Wudang mountains, China

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I highly recommend for anyone seriously exploring a Daoist, Buddhist or yogic path to spend extended periods of time living within small communities of like-minded people under a gifted teacher. That’s what I did when I was younger. I travelled extensively seeking out places with people and teachings that resonated with me. 

 

Now, decades later, I’m old and have my own private hermitage in a forest setting and have long since lost any desire for travel. I have all that I need right here.  I’ve also gained by trial and error some a hard won insight into both the reality and illusions of Eastern spirituality.  But I have fond memories of those earlier, foundation building times. Hence, when I read this account from a senior resident of the Five Immortals Temple, key aspects of it resonated with my own experiences. 

 

Something that particularly stands out for me now is the reverence which infuses her descriptions. That’s something that was superficial and chaotic within me then but has slowly grown in depth and cohesion over time. It’s a simple, non-lineage based reverence for the magic and mystery of life (and death) itself that Nature continues to teach me.    

 

(Disclaimer: I have never been to this temple and know of it only through reading.) 
 

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I would love to have such an opportunity but it is not within reach. I have spent occasional weekends at Orthodox Christian monasteries and found the time refreshing but it’s hard to find the time. Regarding Daoism specifically, my understanding is that government strictures have made it increasingly difficult for foreigners to stay at monasteries for long periods. 

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43 minutes ago, SirPalomides said:

Regarding Daoism specifically, my understanding is that government strictures have made it increasingly difficult for foreigners to stay at monasteries for long periods. 

 

As I’ve said, I know nothing of this temple firsthand but how I understand is that the abbot, through continual negotiation with party cadres, has gained permission to teach foreigners for longer terms than is usually allowed. However, I suspect @Walker would be better able to address the general situation for foreigners wanting to stay in Daoist temples in China. 

 

45 minutes ago, SirPalomides said:

I would love to have such an opportunity but it is not within reach. I have spent occasional weekends at Orthodox Christian monasteries and found the time refreshing but it’s hard to find the time. 

 

A question out of interest in your situation, not an interrogation: Why do you say it's out of your reach and you have no time? 
 

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2 hours ago, Yueya said:

A question out of interest in your situation, not an interrogation: Why do you say it's out of your reach and you have no time? 
 


The closest such monastery is some three-four hours’ drive and family obligations make an extended stay not feasible.
 

A few years ago I really wanted to be a monk but I think it’s definitely for the best I didn’t take that path (I think I would be a very melancholy and unstable monk)

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Thank You for posting.  5  immortal temple is a special place on Wudang. I train on Wudang next to purple heaven palace, at the Taoist Kung Fu Academy. At this time some schools are closed because of corona virus. People are still training that live here but getting in and out is not suggested at this time but this will pass soon.

 

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2 hours ago, Cleansox said:

 The essentials of the shortcut to the great achievement (part 6) is a very good description. 

 

I had to look that one up. Here’s the link:
http://fiveimmortals.com/the-essentials-of-the-shortcut-to-the-great-achievement/

 

Searching for that reference reminded me of how much information is on The Five Immortals website. Here’s something written by the abbot that's particularly relevant to my OP. I especially like the wisdom of the final paragraph. 

 

Information about long-term renunciation and cultivation in the temple

 

I received already a lot of requests by emails or by phone of people expressing their wish to come here and become renunciate, live here on a long-term basis, to cultivate stillness and practice sitting meditation. This is a very beautiful and a very good aspiration. First of all, I want to say that this makes me very happy, because your higher self didn’t abandon you. Your true self and your soul wants to let you look for yourself in the midst of the confusion of modern life, of the pressure and exhaustion of living in society.

 

But you must understand that our temple is not a paradise, it is more like a gas station, or a repair shop, and I am also not a saint, because every day I still need to eat, sleep and go to the toilet. I am just like you, I am a common person, I am also someone still on the « Way », and I am very grateful that destiny allows me to connect with people from different countries to communicate, to study and to elevate together. Because there is an issue of visa, your time to study here might be for few months, maybe half a year – a short time. I will require from you to let go of your old thoughts, of your old understanding and of your old habits.

 

I am a small piece of yeast – just like the yeast used to make bread. I can give you a shallow foundation of theory, methods and direction. I wish to be able to help you open a new door. In the long-term, your way is to first grasp here the theory and the methods, to use them later in the midst of your life, not here in the temple on top of the mountain, but in the middle of your life in society, to put it into practice, to understand, to summarize, and to elevate yourself. Then you can let yourself turn into a small piece of yeast. My hope is that the knowledge, compassion and love of the Great Dao may be with you.

 

 

Edited by Yueya
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Lindsey Wei wrote a book about her experiences with Li Shifu, it was called … <returns from badly-organised bookshelf none the wiser> … can't recall but it was published by Line of Intent Books. Alex may still have copies but probably not. It's a great book, very close to the bone. As soon as I find it I'm going to read it again! 

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Lindsey Wei's book is how I first learnt about Five Immortals Temple. And yes, a it's a great book on many levels. I particularly like the way she interweaves her search for meaning in China, culminating in her long training with Li Shi Fu, with her own very human emotions; her wishes, desires and her weaknesses.

 

9781848191310.jpg

 

The publisher's precis:

 

A young woman, Lindsey Wei, graduates from high school in America and sets out to find her roots in China, questing for who she is and where her life path belongs. She discovers in herself a skill for martial arts and seeks the hidden knowledge of meditation. After three years of study in various martial styles and unveiling false teachers, she is finally led to the ancient Wudang Mountains. Here she meets a Daoist recluse, Li Shi Fu, who has renounced the world of the 'red dust' and long since retired into an isolated temple to cast oracles and read the stars. The coming together of these two extraordinary characters, master and disciple, begins a spiritual relationship taking the young adept on an unforgettable journey through the light and dark sides of modern China and deep into herself. Battling between earthly desires and heavenly knowledge, she makes the transformation into a dynamic and complete woman.

 

A coming-of-age, personal account, the book describes the lived experiences of a profoundly sincere, bitter yet ultimately liberating female quest. It is written for anyone who ponders the true meaning of Chinese wisdom and the way of the Dao in the hope of discovering a deeper strength within themselves.

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