Lama Temple

My guidebook (whose advice I was still taking, though god knows why – who knew so much could change in two years!) said that if we were only going to visit one temple in Beijing, it should be Lama Temple. It being the only one we visited, I can’t say how it compares to the others in Beijing, but it is definitely well worth seeing. Its an active place of worship, so a good place to observe the very active worshipping practices. The Chinese method of prayer appears to have two elements to it. The first is tonnes of incense – it seems that the more sticks one lights, the better and the air is heavy with musky smoke. The second aspect of prayer is that it involves a lot of physical movement. It looks a lot like exercise with some worshippers praying standing up, then kneeling, then crouched down, then lying flat on the floor. Then they get up and repeat the process in all directions. The building itself is beautiful. It was converted to a lamasery in 1744, after serving as the former residence of Emporer Yong Zheng. In the centre of the complex there was a statue which visitors would throw coins onto. If the coins stayed on the statue without bouncing off then we presumed it was good luck, judging by the response of the successful coin tossers. It turns out that it is quite difficult, or perhaps I don’t have the skill for it.

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