White Cloud Temple

Nicholas Quirke was making plans and this meant paying a visit to a local hospital Xuwhu Yi Yang to register for a Covid test on 19 March 2021. He wouldn’t have the test that day but needed to be on the hospital’s books to get a test and it was more conveniently located than the one he’d had to use previously. It was also opportunity in the direction of The White Cloud Temple, a Taoist temple, one of “The Three Great Ancestral Courts” of the Quanzhen School of Taoism and titled “The First Temple under Heaven. It had been closed to public scrutiny since the pandemic began and now, during the temple fair month its doors were open again. It had a long history and was founded in the mid-8th century during the Tang Dynasty and at that time it was state-sponsored and staffed by an elite clergy. After Beijing was taken by the Mongols in 1215, the abbey became the headquarters of the Quanzhen movement. He was interested to note that the abbot Qiu—who was known by the title – Master of Eternal Spring—renamed the abbey the Palace of Eternal Spring and was summoned by Genghis Khan to undertake a three-year trek from Shandong to give the great khan an exposition on Taoism. The memorial shrine built over Qiu’s grave became a temple in its own right and was known as the White Cloud Temple.. To this day, the White Cloud Temple remains controlled by the Quanzhen school. It was closed when the Communists came to power in 1949 but unlike many other historical sites which were damaged during the Cultural Revolution, the White Cloud Temple was well-protected and remained safe. Today, it is a fully functioning temple and is the seat of the Chinese Taoist Association. It felt like another achievement as he had tried to see the temple in 2020 and it was another site he had now had the privilege to view as with many of the practising temples he had been to he was surprised by the number of devout brethren there were. Time was against him though as he had a haircut appointment and he made his way to Mobe at Xuwhumen with his regular stylist. It turned out that it was exactly one year since he had first visited the salon and he was very happy to pose for a selfie with . It had already been a busy day and there was still more to be done Peng wanted to eat at Green Options in China Mall and once he was coiffed they traveled there by subway. The food was nourishing and a couple of hours in Greybox tea rooms was the relaxing down time he needed. He had always wondered who the lone souls who spent ours on laptops in cafes were and now he understood and had become one of them. The mall was home to the bakery Lao Ding Feng Cake and they could not help but visit and go through the ritual of checking every product for a trace of dairy before buying a box load of sweet and savoury treats. When he arrived home there was a package from his sister awaiting him with a supply of toothpaste and some caramel wafers for Peng. With these treats they sat down and watched the final instalment of the Justice League. It was epic action and great fun. The day had been long and full of activity and as he drifted into a fitful slumber, one that he deemed well spent.

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