Baiyun Guan (“White Cloud Temple”) was built in 739 AD by Qiu Chuji, a very famous Taoist. It was once the most influential Taoist temple in China. After the Cultural Revolution it was used for a long time as a military barracks, but today it houses the China Taoism Association and 30 resident Taoists.
Baiyun Guan – the Holy Land of Taoism
Taoism is China’s only native religion and the texts of Taoism decry the pursuit of wealth and honors. The Chinese character “Tao” (or ” Dao”, depending on the romanization scheme) means “Path” or “Way”, although in Chinese religion and philosophy it has taken on more abstract meanings.
The founder of Taoism is believed by many to be Lao-Tse (604-531 B.C.), a contemporary of Confucius. He was searching for a way that would avoid the constant feudal warfare and other conflicts that disrupted society during his lifetime. The result was his book: Tao-te-Ching (“Daodejing”). Others believe that he is a mythicalcharacter.
Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: “Compassion”, ” Moderation”, and “Humility”. Taoist thought focuses on longevity, immortality, wu wei (non-action), spontaneity, transformation, health and omni-potentiality.
It is generally laid out like a Buddhist temple but with some unique features, such as the three gateways at the entrance that symbolize the Taoist three worlds: “Desire”, ” Substance” and “Emptiness”.
Baiyun Guan Main Gate
Guan – It is not a Temple
In Chinese, Taoist temples are not actually called temples, but “Guan”. Guan means something like to look at or observe. This is a reflection of the Taoist belief that understanding the Tao comes from a direct observation of nature, rather than scholastic theological studies.
Baiyun Guan is an active place of Taoist ritual and pilgrimage and has a thriving feel to it.
There are three monkeys depicted in relief sculptures around the temple and visitors believe it is lucky to find and touch them. At busy times, there is actually a line of people waiting to touch them, which takes the fun out of finding them too … The first one is on the gate and has been rubbed black. The other two are in the first courtyard.
Baiyun Guan Wo Feng Bridge
Under the “Wo Feng” bridge are oversized Chinese coins with bells in the middle. For a couple of dollars you can buy a bunch of fake coins to throw at the bells. It is said to be lucky if you can hit the bell with a coin throwing from either side. (I am not lucky enough, haha … …)
How to get there by Bus: Route 212 from Qianmen; Route 40 from Nansanhuan Lu; Route 727 from Muxidi metro (112, exit D2).
Add: Baiyun Guan Lu, east of the intersection with Baiyun Lu, Haidian Qu western Beijing, China
Tel: 010 6346 3531
Hours: 8am – 5:30pm
Cost: 10 RMB