So, the best place of all in Taiwan has to be the Lung Shan Temple in Taipei. It is the largest and oldest Daoist temple in Taiwan, so I hear, and it is gorgeous! Prepare to have your mind blown:
This is an active temple that is frequented by thousands (only a guess) of worshipers each day, and they let people who aren't Daoist in, which was lucky for me. Although, if I'm being honest, it was a little uncomfortable to wander around someone else's holy place. However, I tried to be considerate, and I'm grateful for the experience. Well, I got a crash course in Daoism, and I'd love to share, because I found many similarities between Daoism and the Christianity (Mormonism) that I practice.
Daoism has many god(desse)s, focused on different aspects of life: health, education, the Mother of God, pregnancy/ childbirth, marriage, business, and 3 main gods that make up something along the lines of a trinity. If a worshiper has a specific area in her or his life that needs prayers, a prayer can be offered up to the god(dess) that has jurisdiction over that specific request. It reminded me of Christian saints, in a way.
Items, such as food or gifts, can be placed out on tables in the main courtyard to receive blessings, much like how we pray before meals, or how things (and people) receive blessings directed at them.
People can place their names inside the vestibule of a specific god(dess), and thereby also receive blessings each time a worshiper prays to that divine being. In our temples, we also write down names of specific people to receive blessings from the people worshiping.
A service includes a large group prayer/ chant/ song, which I was told increased the power of the prayers. We also believe that praying or fasting together as a group for the same purpose makes a prayer more powerful.
In gratitude for answered prayers, worshipers bring gifts (like gorgeous flower arrangements) and address them to the deity who answered those prayers. We don't give literal gifts for answered prayers, but we do give our hearts as a gift and many people worship with the purpose of thanksgiving instead of asking for something.
There are also some other interesting religious practices, but I'd like to stick with similarities. I totally got goosebumps while I was there, and I could feel such a strong spiritual presence that was made entirely of love. So good. I wish I could have sat there for hours.
I know that there are incredible differences among cultures, but I always love it when I find common ground with people. This was one of those moments for me.
Have you ever had an experience like that? I'm sure we'd all love to hear, so please share!