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Portals to the Unfathomable: The Ten Great Celestial Grottoes

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posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 01:50 PM

In some branches of traditional Chinese Daoism, certain remote and beautiful locations deep within the mountains have been given particular metaphysical and spiritual significance. Among them, the so-called Ten Great Celestial Grottoes (十大洞天) have been recognized as primary since at least the medieval era.

It was thought that such places were the domains of the Immortals, ancient masters who had penetrated the secrets of the Dao and were thus able to live virtually forever. (Much of Chinese Alchemy involved the pursuit of immortality, either in the form of actual elixers or on a more metaphoric level, through spiritual and mental exercises.) Practitioners believed that they could access the realms and wisdom of these ancient entities more easily at such locations, allowing them to penetrate the core teachings of their spiritual path.

To me personally, the question of whether this is “true” is not really all that interesting. Rather, I’m more interested in the hows, whys, and wherefores of people’s perceptions and behaviors. (I also love the names of these places on a purely aesthetic level, and the concepts behind the Celestial Grottoes are appealing for numerous reasons.) But I assume many ATSers would be more interested in grappling with the bigger issues, so feel free to go either way. Or any other way.

Possible topics for consideration: Is it correct to say one location is more “spiritual” or otherwise metaphysically different than another, or is this a form of misplaced romanticism? What, if any, are the metaphysical and/or psychological mechanisms that seem to imbue certain places in nature with a numinous quality? Any personal experiences with location and spirituality? Any and all comments welcome…

Below, then, pictures from the Great Celestial Grottoes and/or their nearby environs.

Celestial Grotto of Small Pristine Void (小有清虚洞天 ), Mt. Wangwu (王屋山)

Celestial Grotto of Great Transparency and Brilliance (大有空明洞天), Mt. Weiyu (委羽山)

Celestial Grotto of Supreme Wonder of Ultimate Reality (太玄极真洞天), Mt. Xicheng (西城山)

Celestial Grotto of Nine-Room for Precious Immortality (宝仙九台洞天), Mt. Qingcheng (青城山)

Celestial Grotto of Highest Clarity and Jade Peace (上清玉平洞天), Mt. Tiantai (天台山)

Celestial Grotto of Shining Reality in Golden Red (朱明耀真洞天), Mt. Luofu (罗浮山)

Celestial Grotto of Hidden Spirit of Left Supreme Being (左神幽灵洞天), Mt. Linwu (林屋山)

Celestial Grotto of Hidden Wonder of Heavenly Virtue (神德隐玄洞天), Mt. Kuocang (括苍山)

Note: Pictures are unavailable for two of the ten grottoes: the Celestial Grotto of Three Wonders of Ultimate Reality (三玄极真洞天) on Mt. Xixuan (西玄山) and the Celestial Grotto of Lustrous Golden Purple Sun (金华紫阳洞天) on Mt. Juqu (句曲山).

edit on 6/11/11 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 02:24 PM
Awesome post, thank you for the images as well they're truly beautiful locations. And I can greatly appreciate places/things that hold some sort of esoteric mythos; they intrigue me =] I'll have to look more into these grottoes.

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 02:50 PM
Thank you for this post. The pictures are beautiful and wonderful.

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 07:17 PM
Yeah, very nice and thank you for sharing. Nicely written intro. The names are extremely poetic and very evocative.

Wonder who the "Left Supreme Being" is? - Celestial Grotto of Hidden Spirit of Left Supreme Being.

edit on 11-6-2011 by The GUT because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 07:45 PM

Originally posted by The GUT
Wonder who the "Left Supreme Being" is? - Celestial Grotto of Hidden Spirit of Left Supreme Being.

I couldn’t find much on this figure in English; it appears to be a very obscure, esoteric deity. I did find the following, where this entity is mentioned in one esoteric Taoist text as instructing the Yellow Emperor (referred to under a slightly different name). Since the Yellow Emperor is one of the most revered beings in Chinese mythology, I assume that the "Left Supreme Being” must be envisioned here as a very high, fundamental or primordial deity of some sort.

“Divine revelation and extreme antiquity are two types of remote origin commonly claimed by esoteric texts, often simultaneously…[the text] ”Discussion of the Ultimate Way in the World” is framed as a dialogue between the “Yellow Spirit,” identified with the Yellow Thearch, who again appears in the role of disciple, and a figure called [左神]. The august identities of these interlocutors encouraged readers to embrace the methods divulged in the texts as supremely authoritative and divinely revealed and thus extraordinary and hard to come by”
-Robert F. Campany: Making Transcendents: Ascetics and social memory in early medieval China, page 91

posted on Jun, 11 2011 @ 08:33 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

Hey Thanks! Bumpety Bump.


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