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Stepping out: Confucian temple walks

We joined Prof Deng for a fascinating look at the sage

We all know how hit-and-miss guided tours can be. When you get a bad one, it’s really bad: the guide rabbits on; you feign interest; everybody loses in a horribly expensive game of cultural roulette.

Not so with Professor Deng (pictured above). A thoughtful academic whose youth was spent exploring Sri Lankan Buddhism and who now lectures at major universities across the world, he is one of those rare people who are both expert and curious. And you can hire him to walk you through the Lama or Confucian temples to answer all those nagging questions: Who was Confucius, really? What do young Chinese people think about him?

Strolling through the sunny courtyards of Guozijian Jie’s quiet Confucian Temple, Deng’s eyes glitter as we probe into the deeper implications of Confucian thought. By the end, his eloquent expression of this philosophy has left us feeling transfixed by a figure who is so often seen as emblematic of drab hierarchical dogma. Our preconceptions were all wrong, we discover: ‘Confucius was a rebel. He was a wanderer.’

Yes, Beijingers, this is a man well worth discovering. Doing so will burn a significanthole in your wallet, mind you: 3,000RMB for a group of six or less, not including entrance tickets and transport. But if you really want to get away from what every man and his dog know, Deng’s the guy for you.

Bespoke Beijing offers tours with Professor Deng in both the Lama and Confucian temples. See their website for details.
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