One highlight of our recent IAI trip to Beijing was a visit to the White Cloud Daoist Monastery (Bai Yun Guan). This monastery dates back to the Tang Dynasty and was the main temple of the Quanzhen school of Daoism. During the Qing dynasty, the Quanzhen school was superceded by one of its own branches, the Long Men, or “Dragon Gate” school, a school that exists today and carries on the Daoist inner alchemical tradition.
It is believed by some that Dong Hai Chuan, the founder of Ba Gua Zhang, was a member of the Long Men school, and that he drew upon its teachings in creating Ba Gua, the martial art.
The White Cloud Daoist Monastery is built on a North-South Axis, upon which there are five main halls. There are also many side halls. The halls contain various Daoist deities including the Eight Daoist Immortals and the Three Gods of Medicine: Zhang Zhong-Jing, Hua Tuo and Sun Su Miao. There is a Chinese medical clinic on the grounds and in the back are the monk’s quarters, a garden and the ordination platform.
Of particular interest to practitioners of Daoist meditation are two carved stone steles, set into the wall near the ordination platform. One is carved with the Diagram of the Inner Circulation (Nei Jing Tu) and the other with the Chart of the Preservation of the Primary Vitalities (Xiu Zhen Quan Lu). These are two important images and “texts” for the practice of Nei Dan – Daoist inner alchemy and meditation.
Reproductions of these beautiful carvings have been produced from stone rubbings taken directly from the steles, and are available at the Bai Yun Monastery.