Temple of Extasy (Sulaoguang), Guangdong
The Temple of Extasy ( 酥醪觀 Sulao Guan ) is situated in a quiet and secluded valley of Mt Luohu, in the northwest of Buoluo County, Guangdong Province. It was founded by Ge Hong of the Eastern Jin dynasty, and was initially named the "Northern Temple". It is said that An Qishen of the Qin dynasty met Divine Lady Shang at Xuanqiu, warmed with wine at the Brewing Spring, and discussed profound theories with her. When they were drunk, the vapor of their breath turned into extasy. They each went away on wind carts, leaving "a taste of shortbreads and junkets filling all the heavens", so the temple was named the "Temple of Extasy". It is also said that the Chisongzi once wandered to this place, so the temple is also called the Ancient Grotto of Immortals. It was renovated and enlarged in different dynasties. The present buildings were mostly rebuilt by Abbot Ke Shanzhi in the fifth year of Yongzheng of the Qing dynasty. The main buildings of the Temple of Extasy include the mountain gate, the main hall, the Penglai Pavilion, the dining room, the sitting room, the houses for Daoist priests, etc. The three characters "Su Lao Guan" (Temple of Extasy) engraved in the stone tablet at the gate of the temple were written by Bao Jun from the Fragrant Mountain of the Qing dynasty.
Worshiped in the temple are The Thunder Patriarch ( 雷祖 Leizu ), Patriarch ( 祖師 Zushi ) Lu Chunyang, and Ge Hong, the Immortal Elder Ge ( 葛仙翁 Ge Xianweng ). The eight-meter-high platform in front of the main hall is where the Abbot instructs the disciples, holds ritual offerings ( 醮 Jiao ) and transmits scriptures. The flowerpot "Treasure Furnace" and the Ancient Bed of Dao of Original Chaos ( 混元 Hunyuan ) of the Qing dyansty are kept in the Penglai Pavilion on the left side of the main hall. In front of the temple there is a lotus pond, where the fragrance of lotuses wafts in summer. People call it the lotus pond. At the end of the winding corridor is the uniquely peaceful and scenic "first tower of Mt Hu", on whose sides there are couplets saying "Promise me peace in this small tower, and allow the vast land to bear the business of others". At the Halting Cranes Pavilion on the top of the mountain behind the temple, one can appreciate the sea of clouds and scenes under heaven in the distance, or touch the Waterfall of the White Water Gate, which is called "the first waterfall of the southern Yue" nearby. The stream rushes straight down from the 150-metre-high cliff, flies down three steep inclines, and pours to the Dragon pool. The magnificient spot can be most properly described by Li Bai's lines, "The pouring water rushes straight down for three thousand miles, as if the Milky Way were tumbling down from the Nine Heavens". Below the White Water Gate, there is a huge stone named "Free Mind Stone" ( 忘機石 Wangji Shi ). It is said that 'travelers can hold themselves aloof from the world when sitting on this stone". Down the stream from the stone is the "Seven Sisters Pool". It is said that the seven sisters descend to the human world on the seventh evening of the seventh lunar month every year, and frolic and bathe in the water. "The Brewing Spring" is to the right of the Dipper Platform. The spring water is limpid and luscious, and can be made into wine. The water is fragrant and the wine is crystal-clear. It is said that Han Yu of the Tang dynasty and Su Dongpo of the Song dynasty were also attracted by the reputation of the Temple of Extasy, and drank from the Brewing Spring and looked at the holy land with reverence. A hundred steps in front of the Brewing Spring is a high platform piled up by stones, which is called the 'Platform of Unfetteredness'. It means that those who stand aloof from the vulgar and cultivate Dao calmly are free and unrestrained. One also finds the Pine Shadow Pavilion on the hill slope opposite to the platform. Down the Southern Mountain Stream of the Daoist Temple that flows to the west, there is an eddy stone in the shape of a kitchen range. It is said to be the big pot for the immortals to decoct and refine jadelike wine. Inscribed on the forehead of the kitchen range are the three characters "zhu shi chu" (place for boiling stones). The torrent pours out of the mouth of the stone kitchen range, and then it begins to flow gently to a pool, which is as clear as a mirror and named the "Deep Green Pool". The small Penglai is halfway up the mountain. The Ancient Grotto of Huang Xian, behind the two mountains to the south of the small Penglai, is the place where Huang Xian, a disciple of Ge Hong, used to travel. From the grotto a stream rushes straight down from a dented place that is over ten meters high. The two characters "kong tao" (frightening billow) are carved in the wall. The grotto is sequestered by fine trees which shelter it from above, and below it limpid water converges into a pool, where no human sound but the splash of the waterfall can be heard, and people can feel like being freed from this world. Engraved in the stone wall of the limpid pool below it are inscriptions such as "flying clear water", "refreshment", and "gurgling clouds". It is said that the pool was opened up by Immortals, and people can prolong their life if they drink the water.
The Temple of Extasy is an important Daoist sacred site, where Chinese Daoist culture was carried forward in the past. During the years of Guangxu of the Qing dynasty, Chen Botao, the Abbot of the Temple of Extasy, once rushed about everywhere, promoting his vision and urging the Chinese at home and abroad to raise funds to start schools so as to rejuvenate China. As a result, "Jinan University" was founded in Guangzhou in 1960.
The Temple of Extasy was famous in Guangdong for attracting a large number of pilgrims in former days. Branches of the temple were set up on Daxin Road of Guangzhou City, in Shilong Town of Dongguan City, and in Xishan Village of Zengcheng City, in order to make it convenient for the devotees from various places to burn joss sticks and worship. On the spirits' birthdays, numerous men of wealth, country gentlemen, distinguished persons and refined scholars came from various places to worship. However, the Temple of Extasy, which had suffered from the wear and tear of over 1,600 years of history, was bound to show signs of decay. In October 1998, assisted by some Daoist communities such as the Ching Chung Taoist Association ( 青松觀 Qingsong Guan ) of Hong Kong and the Fung Ying Seen Koon ( 蓬瀛仙館 Pengying Xianguan ), the Temple of Extasy developed a large-scale construction project. The renovated temple has now taken on a new image.
Contact address: No. 122, Xiangjiang Road, Licheng, Zengcheng City
Telephone: (020) 9811001986
- Get off the bus at Taozi Yuan from the Ancient Temple of Emptiness of Boluo County to Nieshi Lu, and enter the temple from Chashan Ao;
- Enter the mountain from the stone path behind the Ancient Temple of Emptiness, reach the Fenshui Ridge through the Buyun Grotto Heaven and the Xiao Feiyun (the Frog Stone), and then enter the White Water Gate under the top of the Feiyun Ridge;
- Enter the temple from the newly opened route beside the mountain from Zhengguolan Stream, Zengcheng County.