Wong Tai Sin

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on August 7, 2017.)

Stone Sheep at Wong Tai Sin Temple, Hong Kong

There once was a shepherd boy named Huang Chuping. From a poor family, he was no stranger to hunger, and began working at eight years old. Seven years later, while tending his sheep near his home in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, he was fortunate enough to meet a Daoist immortal on Red Pine Mountain. This master led him into a cave where he remained practicing for forty years.

Thus he called himself Chisong Xian, the "Red Pine Immortal," but after his devotees built a temple in Hong Kong, he became better known as the Great Immortal Huang or Huang Daxian--transliterated from Cantonese as Wong Tai Sin. This is the name of the area around the temple; of one of Hong Kong's eighteen districts (in Kowloon); of a station on the MTR; and of a hospital, one of several charitable activities run by the temple.

The Immortal himself was born sometime around the start of the fourth century CE. One legend says that, when he "disappeared" into the cave, his brother--Huang Chuqi--set out in search of him. Hearing of a shepherd living in a cave, he found his brother and asked a practical question: "Where are the sheep?"

Huang Chuping told his brother they were on the far side of the mountain. Rushing there, all Huang Chuqi saw was white stones. As he began to scold his brother for lying, Huang Chuqi saw the stones begin to move--and turn into hundreds of thousands of sheep, bursting forth all over the mountainside!

So impressed was Huang Chuqi that he too undertook Daoist studies, eventually becoming an immortal himself.

Gateway at Wong Tai Sin Temple, Hong Kong

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