In order to promote religious tolerance and harmony amongst youths of Singapore YAD, the YAD education department organized a Taoist Religious Exchange for 16 participants on the 9th of April to San Qing Gong. This Taoist temple houses the Taoist Federation Singapore, the Taoist Federation Youth Group, and the Taoist College of Singapore, with the primary objective of promoting Taoism in Singapore. The religious exchange session is the first of other exchanges to follow, which will include interactions with young adults from various religions.
We were honored to have Master Adrien Long, who is also a member of the Inter-Religious Organization of Singapore, to be our guide for the day. Master Long began the session by bringing us to the main shrine of the temple and introducing the different deities that were on the altar.
We were surprised to learn that the shrine in the main hall had earned a recognition in the Singapore Book of Records as “Singapore’s tallest shrine”. We also visited the Confucius prayer hall, which also has statues of Confucius’ 72 disciples. We learnt that ritual ceremonies are held in this hall for devotees to seek blessings from Confucius for good results and bright future prospects. Similar to Fo Guang Shan Singapore, there is a columbarium built on the 2nd floor of the temple and a grand hall where hundreds of memorial tablets of ancestors are neatly displayed.
The participants also had a great opportunity to have dialogue session with Master Long to learn more about his journey as a Taoist priest, his views on Taoism as well as to clear our doubts on the religion.
Through this session, we learnt that Adrien has a full-time career as an IT professional and was even a Christian at a point in time.
One of the most interesting insights that Master Long shared was that Taoism has a concept of ‘emptiness’, where one comes to the world with nothing and leaves with nothing. He explained that Taoism is less of a materialistic religion than commonly portrayed by the deities of wealth, but more of a way of life that promotes harmony with nature while encouraging self-cultivation, freedom and the search for balance between one’s actions. Personally, I feel that Taoism is like any other recognised religions or teachings in Singapore – they promote the best values to guide our actions and thoughts to improve ourselves.