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  • Writer's pictureFrank Klaus Jordan

Maoshan ( 茅山 ) and the "three sisters" of Shanghai

Sacred Mountains

Most of our business trips have the same agenda. Airport, office, dinner, hotel, office and back to the airport. It doesn't matter whether it is London, Paris, Istanbul or Rome, we simply do not have the time to sightsee. Back at home, we wish that we would have had all the fun, everybody believes we had during the trip. But this time, in China, we want to make a difference. After days and days of meetings in the contractor's office, we are ready for some sightseeing.

So we get in the car and after a short drive, we reach MAOSHAN ( 茅山 ), one of the great and famous sacred mountains of traditional China, located in the Jiangsu Province ( 江苏省 ). Located in these mountains are three ancient temples, one of them the Laozi-Jinshan Temple, known for its gigantic statue of Laozi, the legendary founder of the Shangqing ( 上清 ) school of classical Daoism. The moment we reach the main stairs that lead to the temple complex we are all getting silent. How is this possible; how did the ancient architects build a statue that size 1,500 years ago?

Along with Confucianism, Daoism is one of the two great indigenous philosophical traditions of China. Daoism is not to be understood as a religion. It teaches understanding the nature of reality, increasing longevity, consciousness and regulating diet. Classical Shangqing practice mainly involves breathing, visualization and meditation techniques that improve the circulation of Qi ( 氣, vital energies ) within body and mind. Daoism teaches physical exercises (similar to Tai Chi or Qigong) based on the awareness that Qi is a delicate flowing energy stream that directly affects the quality and health of our organism.

the three sisters

Leaving the traditional mountains of eastern China behind, we are heading to Shanghai. From the central station, which has the size of a football stadium, it goes straight to Pudong close to Shanghai's famous landmark - the Oriental Pearl Tower. China really is a country of contrasts. Soon after we enjoy the skyline of Shanghai from a 36th floor meeting room in one of these impressive skyscrapers. Next to us, we recognize the Shanghai Tower, the tallest tower of the City and one of the "three sisters" of Shanghai. It is just overwhelming. I have seen places, but nothing like this.

Long after midnight, I'm walking along the Huangpu River, breezing the fresh air from the nearby Yellow Sea and staring at the illuminated "three sisters". It somehow reminds me again on the ancient architects of the Maoshan temples. If you have a clear picture in your head of something that's going to happen, then nothing can stop you. This is what happened in Maoshan 1,500 years ago and this is the spirit of Shanghai in our days.

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