Today, (Saturday morning) at 7 AM I begin with breakfast here at Huashan Lotus House International Youth Hostel / then go to the Huashan Visitors Center a few blocks away to 1) purchase my mountain and cable car tickets, then 2) buy bus ticket for 40 minute ride to the cable car. 3) Take the Western Cable way to the West Peak of mountain. 4) Walk up the mountain to 5) the East Peak Hotel where I will walk among all the peaks and stay Saturday and Sunday nights and see the sunrise. 6) On Monday I will make my way back down the mountain to, 7) where I will take the bus back to hotel where I will spend Monday night. 8) On Tuesday, October 9th, I will take the fast train (thanks Maria) back to Xian and go by fast train later that evening to Chengdu. That’s it – sounds like a plan.
Unfortunately, I will not be taking my computer to the summit. It’s too heavy and I have too many steps to climb. But I will be taking lots of notes and pictures. When I get to my next stop in Chengdu I will spend a day updating my mountain travels. But for now, I will leave you will one of the first things I wrote back in February 1994.
Inner Chapters (The I Ching)
1. Cloud Dancing
From the clouds dragons appear to those who have prepared. To the I Ching, heaven is to found residing with dwellings of dragons who roam the sky resting in the clouds.
Do not look for me where you have found me before. You will not see me where you have seen me before. Dancing in the clouds with the immortals is where I am to be found.
To be seen with dragons. Cavorting above it all. Beyond earthly endeavors. A strong personality who with compassion and caring succeeds by seeing his destiny in the clouds.
Finding the Tao, finding oneness and finding myself floating across the sky with chi. Cloud Dancing across the sky is easy – living with dragons is not. A group of dragons are seen riding the clouds disappearing through the sky. As we disappear, I look back and see dragons resting on clouds dwelling in the sky. An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (1 HEAVEN / Heaven over Heaven). 2/3/94
And now I am here. As I was leaving the mountain today (Monday, October 8th – my birthday), I was followed down a long pathway by two small bluebirds. They seemed to be trying to get my ear saying come back – come back. The pine trees, the mountain vistas, even the walkways leading up and down steep paths all seemed to say – why were you gone so long.
After three days on the mountain I return refreshed and invigorated, and feel I have walked for days (I have) up and down the five peaks of Huashan Mountain. From the initial bus ride and cable car that took me to the top, I had a feeling of being overwhelmed by the majesty of the mountains, pine trees, and nature. It is easy to see why Huashan is considered one on the five greatest mountains in China next to the Yellow River here in central China.
Coming to Huashan Mountain is for me in many ways a homecoming. It is famous for Taoist retreats and ancient sages who came to visit and stayed. It is easy to see why. I stayed the the East Peak Hotel for two nights in a room for ten people (five bunk beds). My new friend Pablo from Chile slept in a tent outside. On both days in the early morning it registered 10 to 15 degrees celcius on both October 7 and 8 on the East Peak, also known as the Morning Sun Peak, and the hotel adjacent to the premier place on the mountain known as Mr. Yang’s Tower. I climbed twice on both days to see the sunrise.
The makeup of the mountain is very interesting in the there are five peaks of interest with many stops on the way to each of the peaks. I took a bus then a cable car to then top then traversed the five peaks while I was there. My friend Pablo actually walked up from the base of the mountain. The entrance at the base was only a few blocks from where I was staying. I chose the bus and cable instead. Saving my energy for when I got there. As mentioned earlier, traveling during the holiday was not a good idea. The mountain was crowded and made it difficult to get pictures and find a quiet place off the beaten path. I will return again in the future when not so busy.
Several areas caught my attention. First was the Blast Furnace, on a small peak to the west of the summit of the South Peak that is by tradition, the place where Lao Tzu was to have made pills for immortality. There is a legend that says the monkey king was shut in the furnace for wrecking to much havoc in heaven.
Also by tradition, there are many man-made caves at Mt. Huashan. According to historical records more than seventy were created by a Taoist priest Ze Zhizhen for the purpose of providing other monks a secluded place to practice asceticism and understand Taoism. One in particular was called “the seeking quietness cave.”
Also on the South Peak is the Jinsuo Pass. Not far from the Central Peak, also known as the Jade Maiden Peak. Jinsuo has great significance in Taoist history as being called The Heavenly Gate. It sits close to the center of the four peaks near the top of the mountain. As if the dragons purposely designed a place where there was no going back. What got my attention was I was descending a section of steps after going downwards through The Heavenly Gate, and after a couple hundred steps retraced my path back through the gate as if I had returned to earth and seen “human nature” and felt I was ready to return home to be with dragons once again. It makes me recall a story I wrote years ago in “My Travels with Lieh Tzu” as follows that sound too familiar. I find that physically, I may come down to adjust my light to the vagaries of humanity, but returning to be with dragons will always be my coming home.
A Visit with Old Friends
Remaining as one with the universe. One’s instincts in constant tune with your surroundings. The only secrets worth telling remaining those that remain non‑contending. Staying in the background as the ever‑knowing sage. As you have seen it all before, is not your time better spent seeking the wisdom and knowledge you find in conversing with your old friends that you have recently re‑discovered. As you have been away for a millennia, but have now come home again. Everyone, Lieh, Chuang, Lao and all the others waiting to hear why you have been away for so long. Or then again, was it only for just an instant?
You explain that you have been exploring human nature and trying to understand how people through the ages could become so confused and off‑centered. That those you have come across are vain in the prime of their beauty and remain impetuous in their strength. That they are quick to tell others how to live without due consideration of how they should do so themselves. That all those you have come across seem lost in their own attachments. They remain inept in their attempts to find the Way, and even more so when they think they have. There remains this constant sense of need to remain proud and impetuous so that it remains difficult to impart and relay the true essence and goodness needed to preserve humanity. Instead of remaining as one with nature, they seem intent on destroying it. Finally, they must constantly be reminded of who they ultimately are to become and need someone or something to keep them steady.
As you finish your account, knowing glances abound as others have come and gone and relayed similar stories. All want to know if you are planning to stay with your old friends or return to your writing in hopes that perhaps one in a thousand may too come forward to learn the proper way. You are amused in that it is known that the sage gives his work to others so that his own power does not diminish as he grows old. Otherwise grappling with confusion when his own knowledge runs out.
Back home after a thousand years and the only question that remains is when you leave again. 8/5/95
Finally , of great interest was the Jintian Palace. I had a chance to speak to a couple of the monks here and take several pictures seen below.
As I complete my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in May/June 2000 and my book, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life, on this journey, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is he so important? I know I spoke of this last time, but some may have missed so it bears repeating. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was the culmination of thousands of years of philosophical thought of what was to become Taoism thanks in part to copies found in tombs of those who were buried with copies of it in China. There are 81 verses in the Tao Te Ching. The Epilogue, final entry, appears below. Verses 1 through 81 were seen here on my most recent posts.
Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught others along the way that guides us. The commentaries below are meant to be read as a discussion between Lao Tzu and those interested who have thought deeply about the text itself.
Thoughts on becoming a Sage
Epilogue – Preparing to return to utter Spontaneity
Simplicity, detachment, and virtue, the three anchors that through the ages have separated the sage from the rest of the world. Emulating the Tao he recalls what came first, what remains empty and forever still.
The journey with Lao Tzu simply the process of coming forward to know the way of the sage is to act without struggle. Everything coming forward to greet him to convey what was before him from the beginning. That in the end he accumulates nothing assured that the more he does for others the greater his own abundance and that the way of heaven is to help without harming. Knowing this the sage finds his journeys complete.Preparing to return to the utter spontaneity found as one in complete harmony with the universe, the Tao Te Ching now completed.
As he prepares to depart up the familiar path to meditate in his garden pavilion seeking refuge to contemplate how far he has come, the sage is reminiscent about times spent with Lao, Chuang, and Lieh even Confucius, Mencius and all the others, he is confident that another step has now been completed.
His thoughts on becoming a sage now complete, he now thrives on virtue secure at his passing.