To be found resting in the Clouds with Dragons
A year ago, this month I spent some time on Huangshan Mountain in China. Huangshan Mountain, also known as Yellow Mountain, is one of the most famous mountains in Taoism. I have been to Qingyang Mountain near Chengdu, Mount TaiShan near Qufu, and now Huangshan Mountain in Anhui. All three have been favorite places for Taoists for thousands of years. As if the higher one could reach here on earth, the more likely you could get the attention of and converse with God, or the angels, or in China, where the angels have been historically referred to as dragons. To find yourself on the top of a mountain above the clouds is about as close as one can get to heaven here on earth. To actually become one with them, find our inner voice, the meaning of transcendence and re-discover who we are along the way. To come to know where our strengths and our weaknesses lie.
Next, I have attached an original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (1 HEAVEN / Heaven over Heaven) that I wrote in February, 1994.
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.
View from the Top of Huangshen Mountain
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 ski 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. ##
Huangshen Mountain in Anhui
My first trip to China would not be until more than three years later in May 1997 when we adopted our first daughter (Katie).
Map of Qingsheng Mountain in Sichuan Province
There’s a feeling you get when you are here above the clouds on these mountains that you find nowhere else. As if it’s easy to find yourself above earthly concerns because you are no longer attached to them. These mountains are where Taoist icons Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu and others gained their voice and were to become known as dragons in Chinese history and culture. This detachment from self is the central theme of understanding the purpose of what was to become known as being in the silence, visualization, and meditation common in most religions. For the Taoist, it is about as close to finding one’s purpose and home as you can get. In Chinese history dragons became known as protectors and became the ultimate metaphor, or symbol of the emperor, who was to become the personification of deity on earth.
When I first began writing in 1993 my moniker or name given to me was Cloud Dancing. Finding myself as one with dragons above the clouds… above earthly endeavors… and here I am over twenty years later above the clouds at home on Huangshan Mountain with Chuang Tzu. As if I am here for a full accounting of where I have been over the interim and more importantly where I am going with all this and if I am ready to make the pivot. Could it be the transformation is complete? That coming forward, seeing and knowing the other side, was essential to the pivot Chuang Tzu stressed over two thousand years ago when he was alive (200 -250 BC). Chuang Tzu was the perfect foil who contradicted the orthodoxy of the Confucians at the time who argued for the status quo. Chuang Tzu has always been seen as the champion of questioning what was real or not, and where truth may lie. As if right and wrong can only be determined by who can make the better argument. He was renowned for his brilliant wordplay and use of parables to convey messages. Uncovering what today would be called “fake news”. His critiques of Confucian society and historical figures were considered as humorous and at times ironic. His ideas expressing the role of the “Perfected Man” played a significant role in defining what was to become our place in society.
In March 1994, I wrote the following that appears later in the same book as the entry above entitled Cloud Dancing. An American journey through the I Ching and Beyond was published in China in 2004.
As Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man
As Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man begins by abandoning the ways of the world, you begin by simply letting go of that which is not significant to the Tao. As you are now seen traveling with old friends who guide you along an unknowable path or way. Just as the dragons would have it, they are pleased.
Eternal sacrifice made to capture the moment knowing everything rests on your finding and staying on the road yet to be traveled. Searching for immortality and freedom to go where few have gone before.
Hua Pagoda Xian Old City
Just as a sage would find the true reality of all things. Always leading the way. Knowing that the Tao is everywhere to be found by simply looking and understanding what is and finding one’s own standard within the oneness of virtue.
Eternity existing forever both before, now and yet to come. As you continually search for your place in the overall scheme of things. With a comfort known as something done repetitively over and over again. A great sense of satisfaction that all becomes and is second nature.
Remain simply within the oneness of everything and pursue nothing ethereal as the reclusive sage. Complete with the knowledge of the Tao and understanding what it means. Remember from where you have come. As we are here to remind you of where you will return with us. Everything is here within yourself to rediscover and relearn. Keep to the open road as the Perfected Man and know immortality can only follow. 4/12/94 Above the clouds on Huangshan Mountain
I came to Anhui unsure of what I would find or if I would meet with Chuang Tzu on the mountains of Huangshan, who I consider a mentor. But living in spontaneity creates the essence of what true living is all about. It becomes wu wei. When you revert to your cosmic essence in total humility realizing your own nothingness and life itself becomes totally forgetful. You become rooted in the nature of things, full of life and awareness.
What is this sense of awareness that we don’t often address until we reach what we feel is our end. It is that we wish we’d had the courage to live a life true to ourselves, not the life others expected of us. That we wish we hadn’t worked so hard at doing things outside our true selves. That we had the courage to express our feelings to those important to us. That we had stayed in touch with our friends, and finally that we had let ourselves be happier. It is the clearing out of debris in our lives so that we can with good heart move on to our ability to see beyond the mountaintop when we have arrived.
Often referred to by others as having mindfulness, or as Joseph Campbell would say, you have come to a place where you can begin to find your bliss. Or better said I think when you rise above transcendence and become just you. You may say that one does not need to be above the clouds on a mountain to understand this, but you must be in a place where you are truly at peace and home with yourself. To a place where there are no distractions. There are many great sages and Taoists, who over the centuries have left all earthly attachments behind to live on these mountains in a reclusive lifestyle to be nearer to nature and the Tao. They have come, seen the other side, and decided to stay. But with this cosmic understanding of the ultimate pivot along with a deep personal sense of the meaning of wu wei, comes an acknowledgement of why we are truly here, and once found we come to know our purpose. It is as if here atop Huangshan Mountain with my mentor Chuang Tzu alongside, he is telling me to take the great leap and truly learn how to fly.