A Taoist-inspired temple in the suburbs of Chicago
A Taoist temple, much like a church sanctuary, functions primarily as a place of worship. Ideally it may also act as a spiritual refuge: a place for quiet contemplation that helps forge a deeper connection with the Divine. This was the goal we set out to achieve when we designed our temple at White Cloud Inner Arts.
About the architecture
Much of our temple architecture was inspired by traditional Taoist beliefs. For example, Taoists believe that wood is one of the five elements (in addition to metal, water, fire and earth) out of which everything in the world is created. Our temple was custom designed using 100% hand-crafted wood as the primary building material, along with a generous amount of 23 kt. gold leaf gilding, hand-painted murals, and other significant historical Taoist spiritual artifacts.
Another design inspiration was the Japanese Himeji Castle, an exquisitely crafted example of 13th century feudal Japanese castle architecture. The castle, designated a World Heritage Site in 1993, stands as a monument to the Japanese concept of harmony between man and nature. The murals that frame the top of our temple walls at White Cloud Inner Arts include mountain landscapes and nature scenes with respect to Himeji Castle’s aesthetics.
The alter lies at the heart of the Taoist temple, and our temple is no exception. Gold lions (fu dogs) flank and protect an antique wooden alter/table, which traditionally exhibits burning candles, incense, and a simple offering of fruit. Above sits a small statue of Lao Tzu, founder and spiritual sage of Taoism. The Chinese symbol for the Tao is framed above Lao Tzu, all of which are intended to facilitate the flow of qi/energy.
To appreciate the very existence of our Taoist temple, it may help to understand that Taoism was until recently on the brink of extinction. Modern Taoism’s decline began in the year 1644, when the Ming Dynasty fell to the Qing Dynasty. The new rulers were not ethnic Chinese, but came from Manchuria. As Buddhists, they did not endorse Taoist practices. For this and many other reasons Taoism descended into a centuries long decline, only to experience a rebirth in the last few decades.
We designed and built an authentic Taoist-inspired temple in part so that locals might gain easy access to the ancient spiritual practice of qigong. Native Chinese visitors have in fact been amazed to find such an authentic temple environment on the outskirts of Chicago. We graciously accept this as a testament to our efforts in maintaining the design integrity of a traditional Taoist temple.
The temple at White Cloud Inner Arts, Inc. is located in the southwest suburbs of Chicago at 13959 W. IL Hwy., Suite 2, New Lenox, IL, 60451.
The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our
employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. How
deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of
—Chapter 4, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu