Exploring Mountains: Sanqing Mountain - The Uniquely Taoist Mountain

Mou Mei

PureInsight | May 21, 2007

[PureInsight.org] Mount Sanqing
is located between the borders of Yushan and Dexing counties in Jiangxi
province. It was named Mount Shaohua in the ancient time and has a
total area of 220 square kilometers. The peak is Yujing (Jade Capital)
Summit with a height of 1817 meters, the nearby Yuxu (Jade Humble)
Summit is 1771.6 meters and the Yuhua (Jade Splendid) Summit is 1752.8
meters. The mountain is also well known for its spectacular peaks,
caves, waterfalls and clouds.

According to Taoist classics, Yuqing (Jade Pure) is the god Yuanchi,
Shangqing (Upper Pure) is the god Lingbao and Taiqing (Great Pure) is
the god Taishang, who were all gods in heaven and were called the
Taoist Trinity. Mount Sanqing has a very Taoist style and the three
peaks Yunjing, Yuhua and Yuxu are like the trinity sitting on the top,
which is also the origin of the name of the mountain. The mountain has
been always regarded as the most fortunate place and the first Taoist
mountain in southeast China.

There are many footprints left by Taoist practitioners. As early as in
the East Jin Dynasty, Ge Hong and Li Shangshu started to set up
alchemical stoves to make elixirs of immortality. At the same time they
preached their belief that human beings could be physically immortal.
It is said that the relics of the immortal well and alchemical stove
that belonged to Ge Hong can still be seen. In the Tang and Sui
Dynasties, the Taoism started to develop in the mountain. In the 
Qianfu Period of the Tang Dynasty, Wang Jian, a son of King Ling in the
Zhou Dynasty was posted as governor of Xinzhou (now Shangrao City). He
was fond of the scenery at Mount Sanqing and resided at the foot of the
mountain after his retirement, so the family was carried along. In the
Song Dynasty, Wang Ling, the tenth generation of Wang Jian, built
temples on the mountain and started to worship the three Taoist gods.
Taoism boomed in the Ming Dynasty and many Taoist practitioners
practiced there; however it started waning in the latter  part of
the Ming Dynasty.

The first Taoist temple was built in the Tang Dynasty where Ge Hong
made his elixirs of immortality. Many Taoist temples were built in the
Song Dynasty, such as the Gexian Taoist Temple, the Fuqing Taoist
Temple and the Lingji Taoist Temple. Some of the temples were expanded
in the Yuan Dynasty and some of the scenic points of interest were
named after Taoist entities, including the Xianren Bridge (the Immortal
Being Bridge), the Leigong Stone (the God Thunder Stone) and the
Panguan Stone (the Judging Officer Stone). Some temples and palaces
built in Ming Dynasty include: the Longhu Palace (the Tiger and Dragon
Palace), the Fangshiyuhua Altar (the Practitioner Going to Heaven
Altar), the Yuguan Taoist Temple and Jucha Prefecture. The Sanqing
Taoist Temple was also reconstructed and then became the Sanqing Palace.

The Fengmen (the Wind Gate) is the first entrance to the mountain and
is a natural stone gate. The Zhongmiaoqianbu Men (A Thousand
Magnificent Steps Gate) is the second gate and is located at the height
of 1400m up the mountain. The name "A Thousand Steps" was from the
staircase of a thousand steps, which actually has slightly fewer than
one thousand steps. The Magnificent was from a phrase in the Tao Te
Ching by Laotzu: "The Tao is mystical and magnificent." After this
gate, a steep staircase is followed, which is named "A Cloud Ladder
with a Thousand Steps." Before the third gate, there are five doors to
be passed, named the East Door, the South Door, the West Door, the
North Door and the Middle Door. The name of the third gate is A Hundred
Empty Gate. After the Floating Cloud Bridge and A Hundred Cloud Ladder,
there is the grand gate of the mountain, the Heaven Gate. There was a
pair of stone ornamental columns with a poetic couplet saying:
"Purified from chaos, unique and fortunate the place is; High into the
clouds, superior and immortal this summit is." From this gate, the real
scenery of the mountain can be explored farther.

Besides the Ninth Heaven Prefecture at the Yujing Summit, the scenery
also includes the Entering Heaving Stone, the Immortal Chess Stone and
the Abode of Immortals. The Buddhist light is said to be seen there
sometimes.  There are three parallel summits to the south of the
Yunjing Summit. They are the trinity summits, called the Penglai
Summit, the Fanzhang Summit and the Yingzhou Summit, all with a height
around 1800 meters. Since the surroundings of the three summits are
steep cliffs, no one has climbed them so far. On the south side of the
Yujing Summit, there are five scenic points, including The Mother
Buddha Appreciating a Tune, A Taoist Worshiping the Moon, A Snake
Hiding with Tail Out, The Goddess of Spring and The Python Coming Out
of the Mountain. The Mother Buddha Appreciating a Tune is also named
The Mother Buddha Appreciating Pipa, which is near the Jade Fall
Bridge. It consists of three hills with shapes like the pipa musical
instrument , the practitioner Ge Hong and the Mother Buddha
respectively. The three hills create an image that the Mother Buddha is
listening to Ge Hong playing the pipa. It is said that Ge Hong felt
compassion for the hardships of civilians and expressed his feelings
through the Pipa, which touched the Mother Buddha's heart.  

On the northern side of the mountain there is the main ancient route
with graceful views and forests. Inside the mountain there is a deep
valley with some wonderful scenery. At the eastern side of the mountain
there are many waterfalls including the famous Jade Curtain Waterfall,
the Dual Color Chuan Bridge Waterfall and the Four Folds Stone Gate
Waterfall as well as other grand views.  

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/5/1/43588.html

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