Mount Taishan—Spirit of China
Place of Peace
Liu An, a local official in Han Dynasty once wrote, "The peace of the world is determined by that in Mount Taishan." Xiao Dahen from Ming Dynasty described Mount Taishan in such a saying, "If Mount Taishan is stable, and other four sacred mountains are safe too." Since then, there is a saying that "the state enjoys prosperity and the people live in peace."
In Chinese the saying can be shortened into two characters, which is Tai'an. Mount Taishan is located in the east. The towering mountain was viewed as the place of peace in ancient times. That was the reason why emperors came in secessions and formed the unique cultural phenomenon of paying homage and sacrifice. According to historian Sima Qian, there had been 72 kings before Qin Dynasty, who had worshipped Mount Taishan. During the feudal society, altogether 12 emperors had paid homage to the mountain. The grand ceremonies of paying sacrifice to heaven and earth on top of Mount Taishan were regarded symbols of prospers nation and people.
The Chinese culture believes that rights of emperors and gods are supreme, and emperors' paying homage to god of Mount Taishan is then the result of combination of emperors and gods. It is a unique cultural phenomenon to worship the gods of heaven and earth. The purpose of the ceremonies was to pray for safety of the nation. As the ceremonies to pay homage to Mount Taishan and local temple fairs beneath the mountain become popular, three major Chinese religions of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism all came to Mount Taishan to build temples.
Taoist temples including Dai Temple, Bixia Temple, Jade Emperor Temple, Doumu Temple and Mother of Heaven Pool are all located around Mount Taishan. Buddist temples such as Puzhao Temple, Jade Spring Temple, Linyan Temple and Bamboo Forest Temple scatter around profound and serene valleys around Mount Taishan. Confucius Temple and Five Noble Temple, which worship Confucianism, are also nearby. These temples are good examples of the theory that man is an integral part of nature. Mount Taishan therefore best displays harmony between man and nature.
Accompanying the enrichment of culture of Mount Taishan, the mountain has gradually become a sacred and holy one among the hearts of the Chinese people. They generally believe that climbing up Mount Taishan can protect their safety and life. Long history and splendid culture enable Mount Taishan a spiritual homeland for the nation, as well as the national mountain for the Chinese people. All walks of life come to Mount Taishan to pray for a safe and sound life. For every Chinese people, a trip to Mount Taishan becomes a must in life.
Source of Life
Mount Taishan first took shape as early as 2.5 billion years ago, and finally sprung up 30 million years ago. As early as before Qin Dynasty, ancestors worshipped its magnificence. From Dawenkou culture at the south of Mount Taishan to Longshan culture at the north of the mountain, worship for big mountains had been popular in history. Offering sacrifice to heaven and earth and pay homage to the gods and goddesses on Mount Taishan, either by emperors or ordinary people, demonstrate their worship of this sacred mountain. The place has been regarded as where people started and where they should finally return.
Local gods and goddesses such as the Goddess of Fertility and the Goddess of eyesight and gods from Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism provide spiritual belief for people who visit Mount Taishan. Confucius once described the end of life like crumble of Mount Taishan. Mount Taishan is believed to be the mountain of life and longevity that can bring happiness and prosperity to worshippers.
In Shandong province, there is a popular saying that one can get longevity once eating glossy ganoderma growing on Mount Taishan. Amazing as it may appear to visitors, the forks of the trees along the steps leading to the top of Mount Taishan are piled with stones. These are the stones to pray for sons. Many local people climb up to the mountaintop, where they burn incense and kowtow before the Goddess of Fertility and the Goddess of Mount Taishan for their blessing that they will have children.
Afterwards, they place some stones in the forks of the branches. The more children they want, they greater the number of stones. Mount Taishan is one of the holy mountains, which can both bring peace to the country and prosperity to its people. The trees growing on the divine mountain are thus said to be divine trees, which are well acquainted with the Goddess of fertility. The stones on the forks of these trees are supposed to be able to inform the goddess of the people's wishes, and deity always sends babies to those who have shown their sincerity.