Wanshou Gong of Jingming Sect

From Wiki China org cn

Wanshou Gong (Longevity Palace), whose full name is Yulong Longevity Palace (Yulong Wanshou Gong 玉隆万寿宫), is on the West Mountain or Mount Xishan (also called Xiaoyao Shan or Carefree Mountain逍遥山), more than 30 km southwest of the city of Nanchang in Jiangxi Province. It is the ancestral temple of the Jingming (Pure Brightness) sect.

Xu Xun, who styled himself Jingzhi, was born during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). He was worshipped as the founder of the Jingming sect. His ancestral home was in Xuchang in Henan Province but the entire family moved south to Nanchang in Jiangxi Province at the end of the Han Dynasty to avoid the chaos caused by war. According to Daoist records, Xu Xun made a living by hunting when he was young. One day, he went into the mountains and shot a pregnant deer. The doe gave birth, licked her baby and then died. Moved with compassion, Xu decided to stop hunting and started to concentrate on studying Daoism. Hearing that Wu Meng had mastered Daoist doctrines, he formally acknowledged Wu as his master to learn all the skills from him.

Recommended for his filial piety and moral record, Xu took up the post of magistrate of Jingyang County in Sichuan Province in 280, the first year of Taikang reign period of the Jin Dynasty. He later gave up his post and went back east. He went to the West Mountain region of Nanchang with Wu Meng to preach the principle of filial piety. It is said that the group of followers numbered hundreds of people and there were 12 key members, whom later generations called the Twelve Perfect Sovereigns. According to Daoist legend, Xu Xun’s “entire family, even including his chickens and dogs, flew up to heaven” on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in the year 374, the second year of the Eastern Jin Dynasty’s Ningkang reign period. It is said that Xu Xun passed on the teachings of the Jingming tradition of loyalty and filial piety to He Zhengong after Xu was born a second time early in the Southern Song Dynasty. Expounded and propagated by Liu Yu, Huang Yuanji and others during the Yuan Dynasty, the teachings became the basis of the influential Jingming sect, which advocated “honesty, sincerity, loyalty and filial piety” to help people become immortal. As a result, the Longevity Palace near Nanchang became the Jingming sect’s ancestral temple and the West Mountain became its ancestral mountain.

Legend has it that people from Xu Xun’s area built the Immortal Xu Temple there to honor his memory after he ascended to heaven. The Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong dreamt that Xu Xun had subdued demons to cure the emperor’s disease during the period of day between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on the first day of the lunar month in 1116, the sixth year of the Zhenghe reign period. The emperor then ordered that the word “longevity” be added to the name Yulong Palace, and he had the temple rebuilt based on the style of the luxury Chongfu (Sublime Fortune) Palace in Xijing, the Western Capital (Chang’an). The temple went through many disasters and was later seriously damaged.

The present Longevity Palace, filled with incense smoke curling upward, looks solemn and awe-inspiring, with newly installed walls, and resplendent and magnificent halls such as Brilliance Hall, the Hall of Mother Shen, the Hall of the Three Pristine Ones, the Hall of the Three Officials, and the Hall of Lord Guan Yu. A statue of Xu Xun has been enshrined for worship in Brilliance Hall, with the two immortals Hu and Zhan, and the 12 Great Perfect Men standing on either side. The Jade Emperor conferred on Xu Xun the title Envoy of Brilliance after Xu ascended to heaven, hence the hall’s name. Built on a broad platform, the hall is five bays wide and three bays deep. It is surrounded by winding corridors and it is covered on top by a double-eaved roof of colorful glazed tiles.

Outside Longevity Palace are nine narrow-shaped hillocks known as the “nine dragons paying tribute.” Eight are covered with thick greenery, and the remaining one has loess and a disarray of stones but no plants. It is said that, when the nine flood dragons came to worship Xu Xun, one of them plotted to rebel. Flying into a rage, Xu Xun skinned the dragon, leaving it bare. Later, he made immortality pills on its back. According to local people, some stones can be found on the mountain that make an echoing noise if they have been shaken by heavy rainfall. These are called “echo stones” and are said to be the remains of the immortality pills made by Xu Xun. Numerous religious believers have been attracted to the mountain to look for these stones.