Creative Media Production & Communications

The Divine Ancestor Smoke

January 4, 2018/Taiwan

In worship of Qingshui, “The Divine Ancestor”, the Qingshui Zushi Temple in Sanxia lies in  a traditional suburban district in Taipei.

On a foundation of quaint cobblestone the temple sits surrounded by traditional and modern buildings, here is a place where locals come to send their thoughts and prayers to the heavens by making offerings of incense in moments of peace and stillness.

One does not need a particular God or belief to worship here. What is needed is the ability to appreciate the beauty that is carved and created in every layer of the temple surroundings, a love of peace and tranquility, and a few moments to pay respects for those who came before us to create what we now appreciate.

It is in this appreciation that one may meet the Divine Ancestor, either in the traditional or metaphorical sense. This Divine Ancestor created this place of peace, earning his place of reverence to future generations. It reminds one to consider what we wish to leave behind of this life, of the moments we walk the earth in this confined place of space and time. Perhaps not a temple in the middle of Taipei – maybe just memories of love and kindness, lingerings of grace or gratitude. Regardless, here is the place to ponder, to watch the smoke rise, and honour all that is behind and ahead.

As future ancestors pay their respects to the old, the hypnotizing smoke curls and travels around the open-air temple before rising and dissipating amidst the city sky, and dragons watch over the worshipers in balance and harmony. The smoke carries prayers and wishes on the wings of hope and faith often lost in the daily life of many cities of the world. But in this corner of Taipei, the smoke of the Divine Ancestor temple rises in honour of the past while restoring life in the present, teaching those who stop to appreciate it the beauty and grace of peace, tranquility and divinity.

Originally built in 1979, the Qingshui Zushi (Qingshui Master) Temple was rebuilt in 1867 following a devastating earthquake, only to be destroyed once again by the Japanese army in 1895. After World War II, the temple was restored in an initiative led by renowned artist Li Mei Shu and featuring the work of other Taiwanese artists. The temple is among the three major temples in Taipei. 

“Manifest the divinity within you and everything will be harmoniously arranged around it.”Swami Vivekananda

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