Lu Shan style

Lu Mountain: meeting of two religions

With the Yangtze on its north, Mount Lu traverses Jiangxi Province. In ancient days it was known as Dahanyang, and sometimes Mount Kuang. The highest peak, Dahanyang, reaches to 1543 meters above sea level.

Buddhist History
The creator of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism, one of the most popular in the world had an intimate relationship with Mount Lu. Hui Yuan, the founder, was born in 334 c.e. Raised during chaotic times he eventually went with his uncle to study in safety in XuChang and LuoYang.

At one point in his travels Hui Yuan and his group were blocked by bandits. Not knowing where to go they followed a lead which brought them into the presence of the monk Tao An. Learning Buddhism from Tao An, Hui Yuan was slowly brought into the responsibility of teaching it.

Through turmoil and strife they continued but at one point Hui Yuan was forced to leave Tao An’s presence. He traveled to Lu Mount. After he arrived the DongLin Temple was built for him and his group. He stayed here until he was 83. His sermons, sutra work and teachings made Lu Mount the major Buddhism center of Southern China. It was from here he began to propagate the simple doctrine of the Pure Land school in which the repeating of Buddha’s name can secure someone a place in the Western Paradise. This homey and heartfelt philosophy gained great acceptance among the common people.

Taoist History
During the Three Kingdoms period the Taoist adept, Dong Feng, secluded himself in Mount Lu at the BanRuo Peak. When he treated sick people he would take no payment but request that they plant apricot trees. These became a forest of thousands of trees.

During the Song Dynasty, the Taoist Lu XiuJing traveled to Mount Lu around 461 and built a house there. When Emperor Ming of the Sung took the throne he summoned Lu and built a Temple for him dedicated to Emptiness. This was located on Mount TainYin.
With over 300 temples Mount Lu is a treasure house of the “way”. Some famous temples include: Auspicious Correspondence, Before Heaven, White Crane, Extensive Blessings, Supreme Peace. Many of the Taoist Temples are gone now. A remaining one, The Eight Immortals Grotto, is considered to be the place where Lu Dong Bin stayed for years refining his Taoist practices. The cave itself is 30 feet deep and 20 feet high. Engraved on the entrance is “The Immortals Grotto”. Atop the cave is a boulder known as “Buddha’s Hand”. Taoists built the Chun Yang, Pure Yang, Hall in honor of Lu Dong Bin.

Probably the most famous of the Eight Immortals, Lu Dong Bin, is considered one of the five founders of Complete Reality (Quan Zhen) Taoism, one of China’s largest sects. Unsuccessful in the mainstream government competitions until the age of 64, he met Taoist Han Zhong Li and learned from him. From that time on he dedicated himself to Taoist practices. Though a powerful figure in the pantheon, he is considered an approachable soul for, during his life, he helped people by exorcising demons, arbitrating quarrels and teaching cultivation. Lu is generally shown with his trademark straight sword and occasionally a shield.

Many poets have visited this place including Li Po, Su Dong Po and others. Here are some verses written by the exquisite Su Dong Po about the mountain.

Viewed horizontally, it is like a ridge
Viewed vertically, it is like a peak
The mountains looks different from a distance,
Up close, from above, from below.
We fail to know Mount Lu’s appearance
because we are in the mountain.

Here is a poem by Li Po

Lu Mountain, Kiangsi

I climbed west on Incense Cloud Peak.
South I saw the spray-filled falls
Dropping for ten thousand feet
Sounding in a hundred gorges,
Suddenly as if lightning shone,
Strange as if light-wet rainbows lifted.
I thought the Milky Way had shattered,
Scattering stars through the clouds, downwards.

Looking up an even greater force.
Nature’s powers are so intense.
The Cosmic Wind blows there without stop.
The river’s moon echoes back the light
Into vortices where waters rush.
On both sides the clear walls were washed,
By streams of pearl broken into mist,
By clouds of foam whitening over rock.

Let me reach those Sublime Hills
Where peace comes to the quiet heart.
No more need to find the magic cup.
I’ll wash the dust, there, from my face,
And live in those regions that I love,
Separated from the Human World.

(translation by A. S. Kline)

Tao Qian (365-427) also known as Tao Yuan Ming, was inspired to leave the world after the fall of the great Han Dynasty and move to Mount Lu. At 41 he abandoned his failing attempts at success and became a recluse. He is believed to have made a friend in Zen (Chan) adept Hui Yuan there. His style of poetry, in its simplicity and homely virtue, has influence generations of “Taoist Poets”.


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