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June 15, 2005

All the Chi in China

Temples in China are joyous places. You can tell as you approach a popular one (popular locally that is, not necessarily on the tourist charts) because there is often fine red paper scattered everywhere sometimes for kilometers around the site. Like the scent-trail ants use to return to a valuable find, you can follow the red paper until it eventually literally covers the ground. As you approach, the chi surrounding the shrine can become thick, like a subtle smoke or haze. Your bones vibrate to the ancestral chi. There is an effervescence to the air as it enters your lungs.

There is one of these places not far (in China this can mean anywhere from a few hundred meters to a few hundred kilometers) from where Sifu, Master Luo is from, near Zhanjiang in the extreme south. Across the harbour from the city center, near a long abandoned ferry landing, it's occupied by the usual fortunetellers, incense holders and doubly worn wooden benches for prayer. The unremitting noise and hot smell of fireworks trumps other worldly senses. Here one truly feels within the realm of the unlimited.

Adoration of Quan Yin is a national pass-time. Offerings to her benevolence and mercy fill the burners and tables. The doorway into the dedicated room into which the incendiaries are tossed is surrounded with her images, mantras and prayers. The sanctuary within holds countless Taoist, Buddhist and shamanic statuary and images mixed together with total abandon.

Posted by james at June 15, 2005 2:42 PM


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