Daoism in China

While studying abroad in Chengdu, China, I have been able to explore many unique topics in more depth than I could have ever imagined.  Before I decided to study abroad in China I was very interested with the Chinese philosophy of Daoism. In fact, it wasn’t until I began researching for an English term paper about the subject that I decided to travel to China in the first place.

Given my interest in Eastern philosophy, when I heard that there was a “Daoism and Traditional Chinese Culture” class offered at Sichuan University I became incredibly excited and hopeful that the class would be available for me to enroll in upon my arrival in China. As luck would have it, I was able to secure a seat in the class and begin to learn about Chinese philosophy and religion from an expert in the Daoist studies. Professor Zhang not only took time to teach some preliminary information on the subject’s beginnings, but he also made it his goal to get the class out of the classroom to explore the some of the ancient religious sites nearby.

For one of our class field trips, we visited a place known as 青羊宫 (Qing Yang Gong). Qing Yang Gong was only a short bus ride away from my university, as it is located in the northwest part of Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province. Qing Yang Gong is the oldest and largest Daoist temple in southwestern China and is comprised of many different buildings within its enclosure. It is believed that the founder of Daoism, 老子 (Lao Zi), was reborn at Qing Yang Gong to attain his immortality, and later revealed the 道德经 (Dao de Jing, classic of Daoism) to Yin Xi, the keeper of the pass and last man to speak with Lao Zi before he left the earthly realm for Mount Kunlun, the gateway to paradise. It is because of this story that Qing Yang Gong has earned historical and cultural significance today. It is safe to say that any person who visits Qing Yang Gong will be able to feel the peaceful clarity in the air and enjoy their time there thoroughly.

Scott Knowles
Chengdu, China
Fall 2013