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Baiyun Guan  北京白云观

Baiyun Guan 白云观
White Cloud Temple
Temple of Founder Qiu 邱祖殿

Picture detail below

When Qiu Chuji read the letter from the Khan he saw an opportunity to stop the slaughter of people by the Mongol troops. He believed that his message of peace and Daoism could change the Mongols. By 1220, he had arrived in the old Jin capital (Beijing), but found that Genghis Khan had moved to the northwest. He sent the reply shown below. It is not as humble as he might have wished to be, at least in translation. The Khan reaffirmed his invitation and sent an escort. Qiu Chuji and 16 followers set off to find the Khan and began their journey to the western territories.

The journey is illustrated on both sides of the walls of the Temple of Founder Qiu 邱祖殿.

Chang ch'un's answer to Chinghiz:

K'iu Ch'u ki [=Ch'ang chun], from Si hia hien, devoted to the tao, received lately from afar the most high decree. I must observe that all the people near the sea-shore are without talent. I confess that in worldly matters I am dull, and have not succeeded in investigating the tao, although I tried hard in every possible way. I have grown old and am not yet dead. My repute has spread over all kingdoms; but as to my sanctity, I am not better than ordinary people, and when I look inwards, I am deeply ashamed of myself. Who knows my hidden thoughts? Before this I have had several invitations from the southern capital and from the Sung, and have not gone. But now, at the first call of the Dragon court (he means the Mongol court), I am ready. Why? I have heard that the emperor has been gifted by Heaven with such valour and wisdom as has never been seen in ancient times or in our own days. Majestic splendour is accompanied by justice. The Chinese people as well as the barbarians have acknowledged the emperor's supremacy. At first I was undecided whether I would hide myself in the mountains or flee (to an island) into the sea, but I dared not oppose the order. I decided to brave frost and snow in order to be once presented to the emperor. I heard at first that your Majesty's chariot was not farther than north of Huan chou and Fu chou. But after arriving at Yen (Peking), I was informed that it had moved far away, it was not known how many thousand li. Storm and dust never cease obscuring the heavens. I am old and infirm, and fear that I shall be unable to endure the pains of such a long journey, and that perhaps I cannot reach your majesty; and even should I reach, I would not be good for anything. Public affairs and affairs of war are not within my capacity. The doctrine of the tao teaches to restrain the passions; but that is a very difficult task. Considering these reasons, I conferred with Liu Chung lu, and asked him that I might wait in Yen or in Te hing (now Pao an chou) the return of your majesty. But he would not agree to that, and thus I myself undertook to lay my case before the emperor. I am anxious to satisfy the desire of your majesty, and to brave frost and snow, wherefore I solicit the decision (whether I shall start or wait). We were four who at the same time became ordained monks. Three have attained sanctity. Only I have undeservedly the repute of a sainted man. My appearance is parched, my body is weak. I am waiting for your majesty's order.

Written in the 3rd month (April) of 1220.

Continued ===>>>

pp. 40-41, E. Bretschneider's Mediæval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources. (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1888).
Last update: October 2009
© Marilyn Shea, 2009