I love walking around temples, and often smaller temples, like the Confucian Temple of Shanghai are the most serene and untrammeled spots for a visitor to relax and enjoy a taste of the monastic life, free from the diversion of tour buses and throngs of people, so common at many large religious sites. Located in Shanghai’s old city, off of Wenmiao Road (文庙路) in Huangpu District the temple is just around the corner from Wenmiao Market, and was a short walk from my hostel near People’s Square.
The Confucian Temple of Shanghai is small, not nearly the size of its equal in Beijing, but on the afternoon I visited, it had the relaxed, cloistered feel of an oasis in the midst of the largest city in the world, and the constant buzzing roar of Shanghai traffic and swarms of pedestrian masses.
The koi pond was silent, balanced by a jutting stone and a pure stillness. There are a pair of small benches on an island, a perfect place to read a book or write in your journal and get away from the prevalence of too much screen time.
Across a walkway from the garden, into the courtyard of the main temple I bought a few sticks of incense and lit them on a candle to make an offering.
Hanging in the tree branches and all along the front of the temple, prayer cards with notes to Confucius swayed in the gentle breeze of afternoon, the sound of paper rustling hanging leaves.
After writing my own prayer and fastening it to the bough of a tree with a length of red satin, I entered the temple, said my piece, and then passed by the scrolls of Confucian saying on the way out.
It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. -Confuscius
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