Temple for the Worship of Perfection on Mt. Gezhao (Zhangshu, Jiangxi)

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Mt. Gezao, the birthplace of The Numinous Treasure Sect ( 靈寶派 Lingbao Pai ) of Daoism, lies on the eastern bank of the River Gan, 20 kilometers southeast of Zhangshu city, Jiangxi province. The Temple for the Worship of Perfection ( 崇真宮 Chongzhen Gong ), the chief temple o`n the mountain, is located at the southern foot of the Eastern Peak (the Camel Peak) of the mountain. Visit to Mt. Gezao (ji gezao denglan) by Zhou Bida of the Song dynasty cited the Mountain Records (shanji) by Daoist Xu Xuanzhen of the Tang dynasty, saying that there was originally the Lingshan (or Lingxian) Temple on Mt. Gezao. It was burnt down in the Sui dynasty. In the Tang dynasty, Daoist Cheng Xinran, watching and following the air, came to this place. Digging into earth, he found an iron bell and a jade statue beneath it. So he built a straw hut. In the first year of the Xiantian era (712), Daoist Sun Daochong constructed halls, which were named Gezao Temple by the court. The Song dynasty was the prosperous period of Daoism on Mt. Gezao, when a large number of Daoists came here for Daoist cultivation.

In the Dazhong-Xiangfu era during the reign of Emperor Zhenzong of the Song dynasty (1008-1016), the emperor gave the Gezao Temple the name "Jingde", a reign title he had used previously. In the fourth year of the Tianxi era during the reign of Emperor Zhenzong of the Song dynasty (1020), and in the ninth year of the Xining era during the reign of Emperor Shenzong of the Song dynasty (1076), the Jingde Temple was destroyed twice by fire and immediately restored. In the eighth year of the Zhenghe era during the reign of Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty (1118), the temple was named by the emperor Temple for the Worship of Perfection. This temple was of great dimensions then. According to Zhou Bida's Visit to Mt. Gezao written in the ninth year of the Qiandao era of the Southern Song dynasty (1173), at that time, "Hundreds of Daoists dwelt around the temple. They contended for favorable positions and constructed halls and houses, which added up to about 1,000. No other temple throughout the country was more flourishing that the Gezao Temple." Emperor Lizong of the Southern Song dynasty gave the Temple for the Worship of Perfection another title, "Great Longevity Temple for the Worship of Perfection". Eminent Daoist Bai Yuchan of the Southern Song dynasty once composed the "Notes on the Great Heaven Hall of the Temple for the Worship of Perfection on Mt. Gezao ". Daoism on Mt. Gezao declined since the Yuan dynasty. In the 12th year of the Zhizheng era (1352), the Temple for the Worship of Perfection met with the turmoil of the mountain fortress, and the base and halls were both ruined. In the early Hongwu era of the Ming dynasty (1368-1398), Daoist Xu Linzhou restored the temple. However, in the eighth year of the Xuande era (1433), most of the temple was burnt because a mountain man carelessly left a fire unextinguished. In the Wanli era (1573-1619), Daoist Liu Kaihua attempted to rebuild the temple, but finally failed due to limited financial resources. Extant by then were only the Immortal Elder's Hall, the Hall of the Sacred Mountain of the East ( 東岳殿 Dongyue Dian ), and the elixir well. Only after renowned Daoist Ouyang Mingxing, who was expert in medicine and well-versed in kung fu, became Abbot of the Temple for the Worship of Perfection between the end of the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China did the halls get restored gradually. However, only three Daoists still remained in the temple in 1949, and they all came home to be farmers afterwards..

Since the 1990s, with the local government's care and support, the Daoist scenic spots and historical sites on Mt. Gezao have been repaired little by little. The Temple for the Worship of Perfection has started to be rebuilt and is now beginning to take shape. Statues of Elder Immortal Ge ( 葛仙翁 Ge Xianweng ), Celestial Master Zhang, and Perfect Sovereign Xu ( 真君 Zhenjun ) are enshrined in the hall. The local government is actively soliciting investment in order to restore the Elder Immortal Ge to its former prosperity.