Chongyang Temple (Hu County, Shanxi)

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Situated in Zhu'an Town, Hu County, Shaanxi Province, Chongyang Temple ( 重陽宮 Chongyang Gong ) is the ancestral temple of The Complete Perfection School. Originally named Liu-Jiang Village, the place was renamed Zu'an (Ancestral Temple) Town after the rise of the Complete Perfection School ( 全真教 Quanzhen Jiao ). Wang Chongyang, the founder of the Complete Perfection School, set up a small temple and cultivated here. Also, Wang was buried here after his death.


Born in the 2nd year of the Zhenghe Era during the Huizong Emperor's reign, Wang was named Zhe, nicknamed Zhiming and titled Master Chongyang. His ancestral home was in Xianyang, and his family moved to Liu-Jiang Village. Born to a rich and powerful family, Wang learned literary and martial knowledge from his childhood. After failing the examinations for selecting civil and military officials, Wang lost any concern for worldly affairs. In the 4th year of the Zhenglong Era of the Jin Dynasty, Wang met some Immortals in Ganhe Town who transmitted him secret formulae of cultivation. According to legend, the immortal he encountered was Lu Dongbin. In order to avoid disturbance from others, Wang pretended to be mad and named himself "Mad Wang" ( 王害風 Wang Haifeng ). Later, he dug a 4-meter deep cave called the"Tomb for the Living Dead" ( 活死人墓 Huo Siren Mu ) in Nanshi Village at the foot of Zhongnan Mountain. Wang lived in the cave for two years cultivating inner alchemy. In the 7th year (1167) of the Dading Era, he set fire to his small hut. While neighbours rushed to help, he danced by the fire and sang to them:


"Diligently I practiced for several years,

In the village named Liu-Jiang.

Day by day in the hut,

Worldly labor took time long.

All of a sudden the perfect fire lighted all,

It burned the hut into the most high.

I persuade you not to feel sad,

For I have something very deep and beyond.

Never coming back where only dust remains,

I know the way to Immortal Mountain Penglai and travel along."

When others wondered at his words, he answered, "Three years from now on, someone else will come to repair the hut." Wang left his family and friends to transmit the Dao far off to Shandong. At parting, he left a self-portrait and wrote on it, "Where from, there go. Foot unmoving, I was enlightened on my head turning back." In Shandong, Wang accepted Ma Yu, Tan Chuduan, Liu Chuxuan, Qiu Chuji, Wang Chuyi, Hao Daotong, and Sun Bu'er as disciples, and founded a new Taoist school- the Complete Perfection School. Later, his disciples were called the "Seven Masters of the Complete Perfection" ( 全真七子 Quanzhen Qi Zi ). The Complete Perfection School advocated Perfect Cultivation and Perfect Deeds. Perfect Cultivation is the cultivation of mind and inner alchemy. Perfect Deeds means to benefit the people with Dao. Opposing sectarianism, Wang preached the integration of the Three Doctrines (Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism). Absorbing the monastic system of Buddhism, he ordained that Complete Perfection Daoists must abandon their family and live a vegetarian and and celibate life in temples in obedience to precepts. In the 10th year (1170) of the Dading Era, Wang Chongyang ascended to immortality at the age of 58.


After his passing away, Wang's disciples sent his coffin back to Liu-Jiang Village, Hu County, Shaanxi Province, and repaired his former residence. In the 25th year (1185) of the Dading Era, under the leadership of Qiu Chuji, people built a temple at Wang's former residence. In the Cheng'an Era during Zhangzong's Reign (1196-1200), it was rebuilt and was awarded the stele entitled "Numinous and Empty Temple" by the Emperor. In the 10th year (1238) of Taizong's reign in the Yuan Dyansty, it was renamed Chongyang Temple. In the 4th year (1245) under Queen Naimazhen's reign, the court titled it as the Temple of Chongyang's Longevity. At that time, the temple had over 5,000 halls and pavilions with nearly 10,000 Daoist priests. Pitifully, most of its construction was damaged as Daoism declined during Ming and Qing. After 1949, people built over ten showrooms for the many surviving tablets, among which over 30 valuable ones are collected in one room called the Forest of Tablets of the Ancestral Temple.


In recent years, Chongyang Temple is gradually being restored. According to the project, the main constructions of the rebuilt Chongyang Temple will include, from south to north, the Nine Dragons Wall, a lattice star gate, a lotus pond, the Encountering Immortals Bridge, a bell tower, a drum tower, the Hall of Numinous Officials, the Hall of the Seven Perfected Ones, the Hall of Chongyang, the Hall of the Jade Emperor, the Pavilion of the Three Pristine Ones, and the Penglai lane and back garden. Side halls will include the Hall of the Three Officials, the Hall of the Primordial Sovereign, the Hall of the God of Fortune, the Hall of the Heavenly Lord of Salvation from Misery, and the Hall of the King of Medicine. At the northwest corner will lie the protected area of carved stones, i.e. the Forest of Tablets around the ancient maidenhair tree, and the Numinous Shrine of the White Cloud on the former site of Chongyang's tomb. In the southeast corner will lie the Eight Trigrams Altar and the Chongyang cenotaph. The rebuilt Chongyang Temple will occupy 53 acres of land.


At present, the ancestral temple has begun restoration with some buildings completed, such as the Chongyang hall, the bell tower, the drum tower, the Hall of Numinous Officials, and the Hall of the Seven Perfected Ones. It is believed that in the near future, Chongyang Temple will be totally restored and regain its magnificence.