2) Nei-yeh — Inward Training and the Unity of Spirit

Nei-yeh — Inward Training and the Unity of Spirit

Three

All the forms of the mind are naturally infused and filled with it [the vital essence], are naturally generated and developed [because of] it.

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Huangshan Mountain

It is lost
inevitably because of sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire, and profit-seeking.
If you are able to cast off sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire and profit-seeking,
your mind will just revert to equanimity.
The true condition of the mind
is that it finds calmness beneficial and, by it, attains repose.
Do not disturb it, do not disrupt it
and harmony will naturally develop.

Four

Clear! as though right by your side.
Vague! as though it will not be attained.
Indescribable! as though beyond the limitless.
Aunity 2The test of this is not far off: daily we make use of its inner power.

I Ching / Qingyang Taoist Temple – Chengdu

The Way is what infuses the body,
yet people are unable to fix it in place.
It goes forth but does not return,
it comes back but does not stay.
Silent! none can hear its sound.
Suddenly stopping! it abides within the mind.
Obscure! we do not see its form.
Surging forth! it arises with us.
We do not see its form,
we do not hear its sound,
Yet we can perceive an order to its accomplishments.
We call it “the Way.” (or the Tao).

The above translation of chapters three and four of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundation of Taoist Mysticism.

By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:

“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).                  

The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism.

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Jiming Buddhist Temple  Nanjing

The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.

Focusing, keeping our attention, and reading the above more than once is how we internalize thoughts we want to become familiar with, relate to, or both.

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The Dragon and Phoenix 

Like studying for a test. For myself, when I was teaching, I would read aloud first as I would in class, to adjust how the words sounded as I spoke. It was much easier then when I “put on the words” again, as if they were old friends. What is the meaning of what I am reading, saying, or listening to, and how does that relate to undoing old habits and learning new ones. It’s part of the essence of mindfulness we referred to earlier and remaining in the present. This relates to the idea of “clearing our mind – or as some have said finding the silence”, that serves so ably in empowering us. Removing those things of little or no use to us we sometimes refer to as attachments, and filling with structure so that we pay attention to what does.

Western thought, philosophy, and religion can do the same. Staying in the present means however that we are open to what takes us to new horizons. Not leaving behind essentials, but prepared to replace as if clothes that are worn out, and replacing with new clothes and a better fit that helps to take us there. As we look for the common thread that binds it all together.

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Hereford Cathedral, the Church of England

As we begin to think of Western philosophy as to what unifies all under what we would say in the Lord’s Prayer… “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. In the West there were inquisitions and excommunication prior to the renaissance in 15th century Europe as to what Thy will is… or was. If God is out there – then who speaks for Him? The New World was founded partly because people were escaping the Church of England and others due to religious intolerance. Even in New England, this “puritan” sensibility dictated norms.  Whereas, in China, various opinions came forward as “commentaries” to previously accepted doctrine. However, the I Ching would dictate change is inevitable and nothing remains the same or stagnate over time. What can define us other than where we find ourselves in nature and our surroundings?

Oftentimes history tells the story, regardless of how we may wish it were told. In the Aunity 6East, it would be the sense of convergence of what might be seen as opposites that meant all would find a way to acceptance and unity. If the stars above moved from day to day, and nature, i.e., by cause and effect, and the seasons changed, then how could we be different and not change by way of our thoughts and attitudes as well? As if acknowledging a thread-like string of pearls running through it all and recalling that we are simply an extension of those stars above as our source we forever will remain attached to.

Above is Xiantao Feng commonly referred to as “Fairy Peach Peak”,  or “Flying Rock”;  also known as “Old Man watching the Sea” on Yellow Mountain in Huangshan, Anhui Province.

The nature of man, and more importantly the universe was always changing. Man Aunity 7would change inwardly, so that outwardly he could survive the elements. Just as in nature, change was seen as inevitable. Adapting to change, both internal and external, led to pragmatism that would lead to a better life. Hence, new commentaries as to what was meant by this reality would always be changing. But even then, when Confucianism was mandated by the state and the old shrines to shamanism were discarded, they remained as innate traits of the people themselves. Historically, the tasks of the shaman had included rain-making, divination and medicine; work or duty that involved a performance element using music and dance that brought everyone into the realm of what we would call today the spirit, supernatural… or attribute to God or a deity.

Unity of Spirit

One cannot help but think Meister Eckhart in the 1300’s looked back to Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Greek philosophy as he was teaching at the university in ParisHe was sent to the University of Paris in 1294 to lecture on Peter Lombard’s Sentences, the main text in the Middle Ages on intermediate theological studies, as part of his own curriculum leading to the coveted title, Meister/Master by the the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church. The University of Paris was the center of medieval academia, a place where Eckhart had access to all noteworthy works—and he evidently read most of them. For Eckhart, God’s supremely glorious nature can only mean that God is fully transcendent and fully immanent, entirely beyond all and yet completely within all as the One who alone is pure spirit and the essence of all.

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Aristotle

 Aristotle, was a Greek philosopher and scientist, a student of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great.  It was Plato who appears to have been the founder of Western political philosophy. He believed that there must be something beyond simple knowledge that leads us to wisdom and that it is our nature that takes us there. Eckhart was convinced there was an underpinning unity, or starting point recognizing it all begins with philosophy for what we choose to believe.

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Plato

For Eckhart, this manifested as a “unity of spirit”, that served as the vital reasoning for how it all fit together.  He too, felt the beginning point was from within each person who needed to reach out and touch the universe with his own presence, his own thoughts, as he responded by lighting his own world, as well as, the world around him. That it begins from within. It is as though we try to give credit to who may have invented the wheel. When in fact it was created, almost globally, as if only by the universal needing to do so.

Two things stand out to me, among many, as to Eckhart’s role. First, Eckhart contended that the absolute principle (or the absolute cause: God) is pure intellect and not being.

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Meister Eckhart

According to this view, being is always caused and thus presupposes intellect itself without being, as the cause of being. Eckhart holds that being is, in intellect, nothing other than intellect and, therefore, not simply being, but instead being that has been elevated to intellect. If someone should nonetheless object that in God knowing or anything else might be described as ‘being’, the proper response for Eckhart is that this ‘being’ still presupposes the knowing of intellect. As if saying… if you wish to call intelligizing being, that is all right with me. For thirteenth century Europe this idea was pretty radical. He was on the way to being charged by the church as heretical and as suspect of heresy. Eckhart, however, did not live to see his condemnation; he died sometime before April 30, 1328.

Second, was the goal of the rational form of life – of living in and with the spiritual perfections at the level of that transcendental being – is living in and from the absolute one (in and from the divine nature as presuppositionless unity). This idea is as close to being recognized as in line with Taoism, and general Eastern philosophy, as could be… He contended, “If, God’s ground is my ground and my ground God’s ground”, then man is no longer simply on the way towards unity. Instead, unity is something that has always already been achieved. By and through his nature he is already universal, i.e., unified with the divine. (In Chinese philosophy man is simply one of the ten thousand things). He alone is what matters, in that he is responsible not only for himself, but all he encounters. Because man, once he becomes accountable from within himself has left behind everything Aunity 11that stands in the way of his living in and from this unity. Man was one with God, and God was one with him. That the soul is more interior in this unity than it is in and of itself. This is true equanimity – letting go – as the goal of human life becomes not only okay, but essential. Living in and from unity in the manner envisioned by Eckhart as the end of self-discovery becomes possible through a change in intellectual disposition. The possible intellect – which, as defined by Aristotle, can become all things and is able to be known either as ordinary consciousness, or as self-consciousness through self-knowledge… or Inward Training. Or as stated above… The Way (Tao) is what infuses the body.

Five hundred years later, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau would take this idea of “unity of spirit”, and create what was to become the transcendental movement that changed America and the world.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

They deserve an entry of their own, so it will be coming in a few weeks here on my website. Challenging the status quo as to man’s relationship with God, nature and the universe, was to have a similar effect.  Especially the writing of Emerson, similar to that Ekhart had on the status quo as a given challenging the theology of Thomas Aquinas many centuries earlier, who was the accepted voice of the church at the time.

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Thomas Aquinas

Again, it would be in this unity of thought… now seen as “New Thought”, that was to move this sense of the “Universal or Christ presence” that resides within each of us to new heights.

From my own maybe unique perspective, and interest in China, I am drawn to what makes the “Family Christian Church” work in China. The Christian faith, or religion, is accepted and certainly allowed in China, but within a different perspective. From a historical standpoint there is even something called the Great Unity, whose beginnings can be traced back to roughly 900 BC, and sometimes referred to in Chinese as Datong. It is a Chinese utopian vision of the world in which everyone and everything is at peace.  It is found in classical Chinese philosophy which has been invoked many times in the modern history of China.  What is important to note here, is that this concept is not based on a “religious pretext”. Except for the notion found empowering in all religions… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. More on the Great Unity next time.

Something I wrote many years ago as I was going through a difficult transition that Aunity 14ultimately led to moving to another state and new job seems appropriate here… I especially like the clothes analogy. I often think of churches and spiritual communities as grades in school, just as with a circle of friends. When you reach a higher level of spiritual maturity you just graduate out, unless the whole group graduates with you. It’s bringing others along for the ride that makes it all so worthwhile and appealing. Some though seem happy with just where they are. Perhaps we should just be happy for them too. From my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu”.

Changing Clothes

Forever reaching for the next rung on the ladder that must be followed.

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Sewing at the eternal loom

Beyond earthly endeavors.

Attachments strewn about like dirty clothes waiting for their place in the right laundry basket. One’s life simply the process of cleaning the clothes previously worn that must be recycled over and over again. To be constantly reborn. Anything that is seen of paramount importance only a test to be mailed in after you have found and corrected your own mistakes.

Outcomes only determined by lessons learned with only yourself checking and knowing the right answers. Mistakes although constantly repeated. Leading only to an eternity of self‑fulfilling prophecies of our own unwillingness to follow the ultimate path we know must be taken.

Finding the courage to change. Leaving behind patterns filled with adversity we have come to know as a life support. Forever keeping us down as a one-thousand-pound weight around our shoulders. Continually given the eternal chance to change.

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Having a sense of the eternal journey  Wuhou Temple Chengdu

To keep living until we get it right as we live and die simply by letting go.

Finally finding the ladder.

Cautious steps of optimism leading to places previously unheard of and unseen.  Knowing that eternal truth lies only in the steps that must be followed. Never looking back, thereby losing your balance the constant order of the day.

Be forever the agent of change. Knowing that the content found by others with everything as it remains is not the way things ultimately will be. Remaining forever unattached, letting go and finding yourself in clothes that are eternally clean.     12/30/94

By 1dandecarlo

1) Nei-yeh — Inward Training and Mindfulness

Nei-yeh — Inward Training

One

The vital essence of all things – it is this that brings them to life.
AM7It generates the five grains below
and becomes the constellated stars above.

When flowing amid the heavens and the earth
we call it ghostly and numinous. (spiritual or supernatural). When stored within the chests of human beings, we call them sages.

Two

Therefore, this vital energy is:

AAApictureBright! – as if ascending from the heavens;

Dark! – as if entering an abyss;

Vast! – as if dwelling in an ocean;

Lofty! – as if dwelling on a mountain peak.

Therefore, this vital energy cannot be halted by force, yet can be secured by inner power or virtue. Cannot be summoned by speech,  yet can be welcomed by awareness.

Reverently hold onto it and do not lose it: this is called “developing inner power.”

When inner power develops and wisdom emerges, the myriad things will, to the last one, be grasped.

The above translation of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundation of Taoist Mysticism.

By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:

“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).   

The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism.

DSCI0102

The Taoist Monk Qingyang Mountain

The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.

I think of it as if we are simply going home… To places we’ve been before and will see again and again. For myself, the path leads back to Lao Tzu and Taoism and ideas of convergence. What the Taoists call bianhua, or pien-hua, i.e., transformation – what becomes the underlying principle of change within the world and what it is that connects us with all things.

N2

Lao Tzu at Wuyou Buddhist Temple at Leshan Giant Buddha

While some say Nei yeh – Inward Training is anonymously written, many trace its beginnings back to Lao Tzu and what is defined as the essence, or beginning, of what would come to be known as Taoist philosophy.

The first two of the twenty-six chapters are found above. The entire text can be found here on my website at thekongdanfoundation.com. I plan to share this text over the coming “holiday season”. As much for my own gaining of insight and wisdom, as what I might be able to share with others. Ultimately, the question or even quest remains… how do we get there from here and where do we begin? How do we find ourselves living in the present moment reflecting the inner peace, i.e., the sanctuary within and train our thoughts and practice of daily living and actions in what we call “mindfulness?”

Opening ourselves to mindfulness… the ultimate of who we are here yet to become.

What is mindfulness? There has to be a starting point and how can we get there… A place where we simply let go and let our highest endeavor match our ultimate destiny.

DSCI0137

Qingyang Taoist Temple  Chengdu

The dictionary says that mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences  occurring in the present moment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training. What the ancients have always referred to as “Inward Training”. The question has always been – where do I begin? It was this question that was the genesis behind the I Ching. Seeing how everything is connected leads to answers that fit in nature’s way. This is what later was to become known as the indefinable Tao. As if you have reached the conclusion that you don’t want or need more than you already have. To the Buddhist, this is the essence of the Bodhisattva’s vow… the most important thing is to keep working for the world we long for, even when the odds seem overwhelming.

It is finding that peaceful state of awareness that we hope to meet that defines us. This becomes what I like to think of as our “sanctuary”… our state of mind where the place we reside both in the “inner world” that internally defines us… matches with the “outer world” where we find ourselves with others as becoming one and the same. As if living in the state of becoming universal, where it’s not where we are – but who we are that becomes paramount in our lives.

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Contemplation   Qufu

Finding that peace of mind where there is no separation between the two. This is not “new thought”, but found in the oldest texts of antiquity. Seeing the world, the universe as our source, as something beyond ourselves with our ultimate goal to resonate and find our place in it.  It is the smile found on the face of the Buddha, in which he is assured that each of us will ultimately find inner peace for ourselves and go there.                

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali term sati, “memory,” “retention,” “mindfulness, alertness, self-possession,” which, by example, is a significant element of Buddhist traditions, while the concept is related to Zen and Tibetan meditation techniques.

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Shaolin Temple   The beginnings of Chan Buddhism in China

While “mindfulness” has been translated and interpreted as “bare cognition,” in a Buddhist context it has a wider meaning and purpose, namely the ability of discerning what is beneficial and what is not and calming the mind by this discernment. Individuals who have contributed to the popularity of mindfulness in the modern Western context include Herbert Benson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Richard J. Davidson. In Eastern thought, in addition to Buddhism and Thích Nhất Hạnh, Taoism, Lao Tzu, and Confucius have played a significant role in our gaining wisdom as to our inner development that is to dictate our outer motivations.

Our life can quickly pass us by when we’re not focused on what matters. We have a bad habit of emphasizing the negative and overlooking the positive. Being mindful can help.

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Sichuan Museum Chengdu

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When we are mindful, we carefully observe our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Mindfulness can also be a healthy way to identify and manage hidden emotions that may be causing problems in our personal and professional relationships. It means living in the moment and awakening to our current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. Mindfulness is frequently used in meditation and certain kinds of therapy. It has many positive benefits, including lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, improving our overall health, and protecting against depression and anxiety. There is even research suggesting that mindfulness can help people cope better with rejection and social isolation.

From mindfulness, we enter into contemplation and thoughts as to how could this all be connected, and more importantly what does this have to do with me, or those reading this? First, earlier talking about Nei yeh – Inward Training, and now finding the connection from Taoism to Buddhism in not an esoteric way, to be understood or meant for only a select few who might have special knowledge, or interest, but for everyone. Wisdom to be gained by all becomes universal in nature. N7What we would refer to as “common knowledge”, or what can be described or seen as new beginnings. Not only to refine what we feel may be existing core beliefs. But to recognize many paths, as a confluence that leads to the same place.

For myself, the purpose of acquiring mindfulness is gaining wisdom, i.e., the knowledge of what is true – coupled with compassion and virtue that leads one to judgment as to what action we should then take, if any, coupled with sagacity, discernment, or insight. Mindfulness begins with this as wisdom in tow and helps to take us there as we discover ways of accessing what may be considered as enlightenment.  For me, its communing with nature, gardening, my writing of course, planning my next trip to China and thinking of where that all may lead serves the present as what may be called inward training, or by some meditation. Reading and writing from the inside out – as if opening doors so that our heart and mind can enter to see how others have led by example, as we teach and learn along the way. The earliest shaman of every culture was always concerned more with what they didn’t know than what they thought they did.

My next entry here, chapters three and four of Nei yeh – Inward Training, will N8focus on western thought and philosophy with Christian mystics such as Meister Eckart, Saint Francis, Saint Augustine, and Catherine of Siena who spent three years in meditation, who afterward said that we should not elevate divinity above the common miracles found in every-day life…  A very Zen-like statement. Saint Catherine of Siena (March 25, 1347 – April 29, 1380), was a philosopher and theologian who had a great influence on the Catholic Church.

On my recent trip to China and Tibet, as I went through museums and Buddhist monasteries and temples, one character stood out for me over and over again. As if a certain mystical quality exemplified what I was feeling and seeing. In going there, we go from mindfulness to the mystical that serves to lift us up to somewhere we wouldn’t otherwise go. Manjushri (or manjusri) is the embodiment of all the N9Buddha’ wisdom. The word manju means “charming, beautiful, pleasing” and Shri means “glory or brilliance”. The Bodhisattva is regarded as the crown prince of Buddhist teachings, or the one who can best explain the Buddhist wisdom, that is able to extinguish afflictions and bring about enlightenment. Manjushri has this title because eons ago, he was the instructor for seven different Buddhas, the last being Sakyamuni Buddha. Manjushri is often depicted with his right hand holding a double-edged flaming sword and his left hand holding a lotus flower on which rests the Prajnaparamita (Great Wisdom) Sutra. As if saying follow the lotus flower, or bare the consequences.

Wisdom is insight of the true nature of reality… as said by Shakyamuni Buddha, and what many feels is our ultimate purpose that guides and directs us. For reference, I like to refer to the Lotus Sūtra, that is one of the most popular and N10influential Mahayana sutras, and the basis on which most of Buddhism was established. According to Paul Williams, “For many East Asian Buddhists since early times the Lotus Sutra contains the final teaching of the Buddha, complete and sufficient for salvation.”

In Ch. 14, of the Lotus Sūtra – Peace and Contentment – Manjushri asks how a bodhisattva should spread the teaching. In his reply Shakyamuni Buddha describes the proper conduct and the appropriate sphere of relations of a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva should not talk about the faults of others or their teachings. He is encouraged to explain the Mahayana teachings when he answers questions. Virtues such as patience, gentleness, a calm mind, wisdom and compassion are to be cultivated. It was this premise that served as the connection between Buddhism, Taoism, and the benevolence expressed by Confucius, that came together and continues today in China.  It begins with this idea of Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and ourselves, and the vital essence of all things.

Everything remaining perfect                                                                                       

Have no fear of the end of heaven and earth. Thereby lacking a place to rest or that you forget to eat or sleep.

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The bell tolls for thee Qingyang Taoist Temple  Chengdu

Heaven nothing more than the air around us. Where is there that there is no air?  Your own weight in it allows you to walk and stand tall breathing in through lungs filled only with it. Always breathing in and out as your inner chi or essence makes itself known to dragons.

The earth nothing more than the soil and water that sustains us. Filling and giving shape to the place we only temporarily call home. As we walk and stand tall with feet forever attached to it. Always letting the earth be the ultimate messenger of nature’s way.

What can the air be but the rainbow, clouds and mist, wind and rain and the four seasons? Simply heaven at its purest. What can soil be but mountains and hills, rivers and seas, metal and stone, fire and wood? The essence of earth at its fullest. How can there ever be an end to it?

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Horizons Unknown  Huashan Mountain

As all things have beginnings and endings, what will happen must happen. Endings always ending bringing new beginnings that simply begin again. Fearing the worst will happen is not as it should be. What can eternity be but the innate sense that heaven and earth are simply the same only in different forms for different reasons?  Things just taking shape in the end.

Have no concern for final outcomes and know peace. Simply rest easy and eat and drink from the cup that living brings you. With everything remaining perfect to the end. DCD  1/13/95

 

By 1dandecarlo

Dan’s Sunday, Oct 28 Unity of Springfield China Presentation

My trip to China began and ended in Beijing… with a whole lot of stops in-between which is usually the case.

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October 8 Sunrise on Huashan Mountain

After twenty years of coming to China, I looked at this trip as sort of a sabbatical. A journey of the heart that was like coming home and finding the next step that would propel or take me further towards my ultimate destination. We all have this thing about finding and returning to our source. It’s like bringing our human conscious awareness into alignment with who we are as the universe sees us becoming… Although for most of us it’s like an unconscious pulling that we can never define well enough to go there, so we look for what we think will make us “happy” – and remain stuck where we are. Finding ourselves takes courage and 100_4894ultimately most people in the end – when it becomes too late to change – are sorry they never went there. What is our purpose… who am I to say? But it is as I always told my students in college in China – who planned to be teachers themselves … that life begins with finding our true niche and pursuing this with all our heart. You will know this by what the universe tells you is your next step. It’s the one thing in common that all great artists, teachers and philosophers of every era and generation have always come to know. That to find ourselves, we often have to suspend disbelief going forward, (our inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true), that then leads to the transformation of who we are here to become.

Today will be more of a history lesson than simply like a tourist visiting various sites, 9 dragon walltaking pictures, and then going home. It was much more than that and hopefully you will think so after today’s presentation. After Beijing, and my spending a day at the National Museum to focus on what I am here to learn over the coming month, my trip took me to five cities, three mountains and many places in-between… The nine dragon wall depicted here at Beihai Park next to the Forbidden City in Beijing is a great place to visit. The park is very famous as it was a favorite of many emperors in China’s history. I usually come here when I have time when I’m in Beijing.

My trip focused on going to the following places:

Qufu home of Confucius, Ji Dan and Yellow Emperor (and my home when I am in China),

Luoyang and Songshan Mountain/Shaolin Temple and Longman Grottoes.

Xi’an, home of the terra cotta warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and Huashan Mountain to the east,

Chengdu and the Lushan Giant Buddha, and

Lhasa, Tibet where I spent two days at four Buddhist monasteries and temples and getting to know the city and customs of the people… Of course, like everywhere else I want to go back.

A detailed account of each location is here on my thekongdanfoundation.com website following the timeline of my visit to China, so I will only try to give highlights here of my trip.

People in China often ask why I go back to places I’ve already been, like the Wenshu 100_5826Buddhist monastery, the Taoist Qingyang Mountain and Temple, and People’s Park teahouse in Chengdu where I often go. I tell them that everywhere I go is like meeting again with old friends from the past and updating our stories. It is for the stories I learn and remember that I am inspired to hear more and write – telling and reminding people about their origins and conversing again with them who we all have been.

Each stop had a specific purpose. Qufu for a few days where I Qufu4taught a few classes at the Confucius College while I was there… took lots of pictures for my books at a park I have visited frequently over the years, then left for Luoyang. I had intended to return to Qufu but couldn’t, because of all the holiday travel.

Over 105 emperors of 13 dynasties had their capitals in Luoyang during China’s history. Luoyang was the center of politics, economy, and culture in China for 1,500 years. Since the Xia Dynasty (2070–1600 BC), Luoyang had begun its history as a 100_5183capital city due to its location in relation to mountains and rivers in the area. There is so much history here that I want to come back to Luoyang for further study. An example is the Sanhuang Basilica found near the top of Songshan Mountain that by tradition housed the Three Sovereigns (the Heavenly, Earthly, and Human Sovereigns). 100_5209

It is said Lao Tzu lived here for a while and Taoism got its beginnings on Songshan Mountain where I visited and with the Shaolin Temple famous for what was to become kung fu. It was a place where Chan Buddhism got its start teaching the physical moves of the famous kung fu at what is now the Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center that 100_5310were aligned with much more than physical improvements and continued to grow over the centuries. All these things for me fit a pattern of discovery… that served as a reminder of our past. As if an archaeologist sorting through what was important and re-learning what was familiar to you at the time.

Our sister city group from Boynton Beach donated 200 wheelchairs to Qufu in 2007… the wheelchair below I saw in front of the Shaolin Temple, was the first one I’ve seen in over ten years. It was here an hour south of Luoyang, while I was at the Taoist Temple on Mt. Songshan 100_5244that I saw the inscription written by Emperor Wuding of the Han dynasty, who ruled from 141 to 87 BC, that he pointedly referenced the connection between all philosophies and gave credence to the idea of convergence, of finding or reaching 100_5140a common conclusion in living one’s life. He founded the Songyang Academyone of China’s four major Confucian academies; and the Taoist Zhongyue Temple, here dedicated to Lao Tzu and Taoism. This concept of finding and nurturing the best attributes of each was well in place prior to the arrival of Buddhism that would help to bring all three together in Chinese culture going forward. This was a very big deal.

When I visited the Shaolin Temple there were 50,000 kung fu students at the adjacent Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center that day. After returning to Luoyang, I went to the Longman Grottoes where there are as many as 100,000 statues within the 2,345 caves. The grottoes were excavated and carved with Buddhist subjects over the period from 493 AD to 1127 100_5337AD. They suffered severe damage during the cultural revolution from 1965 to 1975, as did cultural sites throughout China during that time.

What struck me was the continuing presence as if the joining or coming together of history with one’s natural environment and connecting this with the universe, or divine spirit within us and that which surrounds us as well. All this has to be something much bigger than ourselves. Perhaps it’s the sense of 4 to 5 thousand years of history that has an intrinsic meaning that helps to define 100_5353within you defining who you are, as well as, what surrounds you on the outside. You become one with it without even your acknowledging. To be treated as if you are coming home to visit something that is innately a part of yourself. Something you have always known, but simply needing to be reminded.

I got this sense especially at the Longman Grottoes where  thousands of caves and images of the Buddha were carved out of solid rock. This seems to be the motive behind all these ancient “temples”. What we in the west today would describe as “sites having great historical and religious significance”. They bring a sense of longevity and simplicity to it all spanning thousands of years and being reminded that both the inner and outer are the same 100_5037reality we each choose to live every day. The Buddhist White Horse Temple on the outskirts of Luoyang has always been on my bucket list here in China. It’s influence in the spread of Buddhism over the centuries has been immeasurable. At some point in our lives there is something more than just knowledge and understanding. It comes with wisdom, as acceptance, and an enduring presence. What is it we’re grounded too? Others may teach, but ultimately it is something that becomes innately ourselves.  It is having the presence of self-assurance knowing that kindness and simplicity are the keys that opens all doors. (something I need to work on) Keeping things simple means there are fewer doors that need to be opened as well. As if “becoming simple minded” is a good thing.

Two other overreaching influences from Buddhism to China was that Luoyang was the start of the Silk Road that headed back to Venice in Italy. It was by way of the Silk 100_5014 (1)Road (and elephants going through Tibet to Xian), that Buddhism came to China. By the time Marco Polo came here with his father and uncle in 1270 AD on their way to visit Kublai Khan in Beijing, the Silk Road had been a functioning means of transportation of goods and culture between east and west for almost fifteen hundred years. Both were here at the time and Luoyang would have been the last stop on the silk road before heading for Beijing. The White Horse Temple and the Longman Grottoes have had the most lasting historical presence in this area of China. According to tradition, the first Buddhist temple in China, established in 68 AD under the patronage of Emperor Ming in the Eastern Han dynasty was here in Luoyang and was later to become the 100_5354White Horse Temple.The grottoes were excavated and carved with Buddhist subjects over the period from 493 AD to 1127 AD.  Of special interest to me was that they are often referred to as the “Dragon’s Gate Grottoes” derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south.

After going to Luoyang, I went to Xi’an which is famous for the terra cotta warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and Moslem Quarter among other places. IMG_4541I had been to all three on a  previous visit. I spent the Chinese Moon Festival here for four or five days more in contemplation and reflection than anything else. DSCI0140I’ve always had a love/hate relation with Xi’an. The first emperor of China (the guy who had the terra cotta warriors built and connected all the smaller walls into what would become the Great Wall), burned all the books and killed the scholars who knew of Chinese history, thinking all important 100_5360history in China was to begin with him… It is for them I come to Xi’an in their memory.  I did visit and walk on the ancient wall around the old city of Xi’an. No words just memories. Sometimes a journey of the heart is not so pleasant. It is the largest wall still standing around an ancient city in China. If you want to see 3000 years of China’s history, go to Xi’an and Luoyang. The roots of Chinese history and culture are here. DSCI0018One of my favorite places in Xi’an is the Taoist Temple Home of the Eight Immortals. The last emperor escaped from Beijing to come here to this place in Xi’an in 1912 when China ceased being a dynasty and became a republic.

After Xi’an, I went halfway back to Luoyang to Huashan Mountain. Lao Tzu was 100_5418here too. I spent two nights on top of the mountain… you saw one of the pictures I took of the sunrise at East Peak. I was here over the holiday (of course) with hundreds of other people. I should know better by now. The view from here is overwhelming. It’s easy to see man’s connection with nature, the stars and 100_5449planets from up here. Two of many highlights were the Jitian Taoist Palace, and a place on the mountain top referred to as the “Gateway to Heaven”. No kidding. Anyone thinking they have an 100_5467exclusive licensing agreement with God should come here and see how the universe works. It is you – and you are it. Everywhere you go, you see this ancient connection to the stars and sense you are one with it all. I could talk here forever, but it’s time to go back to Xi’an and take the fast train to Chengdu before going to Tibet.

Chengdu… the city famous for tea houses and the hot pot. Where Taoism and 100_5759Buddhism came together almost two thousand years ago and together left a permanent imprint. To what some later would call heaven on earth, or Shangri la. If you have a sense of Chinese history… you can just feel their calming and relaxing, come as you are, presence. This was my fourth or fifth visit to Chengdu. I love it here. When I truly retire this is where I most likely will be found. Many retirees come here for the weather, the tea houses, and the 100_5791atmosphere… I referred earlier to my favorite places in Chengdu. This trip was also highlighted by a trip to the Chengdu Opera (which I enjoyed immensely), and the 100_5671Leshan Giant Buddha. Of great surprise when I got here was the Taoist Caves adjacent to the Buddha honoring Lao Tzu and Taoism and the great stone carvings of the symbol of the I Ching. The Giant Buddha was built at the 100_5685coming together of two rivers that had flooded the area every year. Its intent was the stop the flooding with the help of the Buddha… But what I saw was the coming together of Buddhism, Taoism, and the 100_5699I Ching representing the confluence of all three for the purpose of one goal… unifying philosophical and religious ideals for one common purpose. For myself, this is what the idea of what Unity means. When you study the Filmore’s teachings, and spend time at the library at Unity Village in Kansas City, you can easily see this transcendental expression of Christian teaching and connection that became Unity in America. It was this idea of convergence that allowed The Kongdan Foundation to publish the Unity Daily Word in China over ten years ago. With this as a backdrop it was on to Lhasa and Tibet.

On Sunday morning, October 14, I got up at 4 AM and headed for the Chengdu airport and Lhasa. Several things that stood out to me after my arrival in Tibet. First, the devout and intensity of what I would call religious fervor of the local people. When your way of life has been challenged by “authorities” after thousands of years, your faith becomes inherently more real. I have written about both Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Chan Buddhism… this is an area I need to explore and study more. I arrived here in Lhasa on Sunday in what would be a “free day”.

We toured four Buddhism monasteries and temples on Monday and Tuesday, then I 100_5949went to airport on Wednesday morning to fly to Beijing and home. On Monday we went to the Drepung Monastery in the morning and Sera Monastery in the afternoon. We could not 100_5957take pictures inside.

The two things that got my attention at the Sera Monastery were first, the afternoon debates in the courtyard. The daily 100_6024debating is a class to practice and test the monks mastery of Buddhism. The second was the Circle of Life, or Wheel of Life, depicted here that describes Tibetan Buddhist 100_6014philosophy.

On Tuesday we went to the Polata Palace and Jokhang Temple. Second point was the spinning wheel we often see depicted with Buddhism. I thought the explanation was 100_6034intriguing.  Each of the spinning wheels have a sutra (what we might call a Bible verse, or scripture). Passing by spinning the wheel in the right frame of mind meant that bits of the sutras would be released and absorbed by you. Third, was the tradition of walking by the locals everyday on paths that connected the monasteries and temples in Lhasa. I give a great explanation of this on my blog. 100_6028Finally, the monasteries here in Lhasa have debating sessions in the afternoon (which you can observe), where the monks debate their own take on the meaning of Buddhist scriptures, the sutra, and take turns defending their position.

My take on my trip is on my blog. Basically, it is living in the realm of who you are yet to become. If you think you are there now, it often takes an event like the death of a family member, loss of a job that you thought defined you, a natural disaster (fire, flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, etc.), that redefines attachments as to who you thought you were, but in reality, wasn’t who you are meant to be. Its like the universe has to take extreme measures to get your attention. Once it does… there is no turning back.

By 1dandecarlo

My recent trip to China /Presentation and Discussion

You are invited to come to Unity of Springfield located at 2214 E Seminole at 9:15 AM this coming Sunday morning, October 28, for a presentation of my recent trip to 100_5671China and Tibet. My focus will be on ideas of “convergence”, how this idea changed China over the centuries, and how we get to where we are going with 100_5699enlightenment and our endeavors that lead to our ultimate destiny. All that is important is that we find and follow the path meant for each of us. It’s why we are here. Its finding a sanctuary from within and having a sense of following where it might lead.

In the program at Unity of Springfield Sunday morning, I will attempt to reduce a month traveling to various cities in China and to Lhasa, Tibet to 45 minutes. For me, it was taking over 1,200 pictures and through them, my impressions of where I was, and my writing… telling me where I was to go next, and what my “takeaway” should be.

For those who don’t know me that well, I have been writing about Chinese history 100_4894and philosophy for twenty-five years, made almost fifty trips (I’ve lost count) to China, and taught English at university and high school in Qufu, in Shandong Province for many years. I have been attending Unity first in Delray Beach, Florida, now in Springfield, Missouri since 1997. I am the President/CEO of my own foundation, The Kongdan Foundation, that was founded in 2006. It’s primary purpose is the be a conduit for better global understanding through conveying the history, philosophy, and culture of ancient China, and how it remains relevant to how we live our lives today.

A synopsis of Sunday’s program will appear here afterwards on this website.

By 1dandecarlo

Sept 18 – Oct 18, 2018 / Journey to China and Tibet

In the words ascribed to the future Buddha Maitreya, when he roamed the world as a wondering monk: “Alone I wander a thousand miles… and I ask my way from the white clouds.” I rejoice that I will see him and clouds from atop many mountains and Tibet on this trip.

September 18 – 20, 2018 / Beijing

On Tuesday September 18 I arrived in Beijing about 2 PM went through customs at the airport, got my luggage and took a taxi to Chinese Box Courtyard Hostel where  I will spent two nights before leaving on thursday for Qufu. I spent the evening arranging my meeting with my publisher here in Beijing tomorrow to get paid for editing a book that was published was year. I also finished inserting pictures for my last post. I always seem to be both tour guide and working on my own self awareness. My focus today is on awareness. My “practice” is serenity, discipline, and patience. Accepting things as they are always seems to be the challenge.

Three things I must try do today (9/19): go by South Train Station to pick up my ticket to go to Qufu tomorrow night,  second go by publisher’s office, and third, make my way to the National Museum (I didn’t make it to the museum… maybe tomorrow). This morning I’m listening to Cardinals game against Atlanta. When games begin at 7 PM in USA… they begin at 7 AM here… GO CARDS! They won 9-1. If time, I want to make my way to Beihai Park this afternoon. It seems half my time when I am in Beijing is either waiting for or riding in a taxi. Traffic here is awful… too many cars. On my way back to USA in mid October, I hope to have time to go to the White Cloud Taoist Temple here in Beijing. I went with friends in 2005, but would like to make a return visit.

What I want to do in my full day here in Beijing is try to focus on acknowledging that both inside and outside are to same. I think that’s the serenity part and coincides with ‘inner peace”. The point of this is we will go there. That the outer is simply a reflection of our inner selves and how that is implemented through being in touch with our environment is known as feng shui… One place I especially like is adjacent to the Forbidden City called Beihai Park. It is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in China. Beihai Park is said to be built according to a traditional Chinese legend. The story is that once upon a time there were three magic mountains called ‘Penglai’, ‘Yingzhou’ and ‘Fangzhang’ located to the east of China. Gods in those mountains had a kind of herbal medicine which would help humans gain immortality. Many emperors succumbed to this desire to remain in power as long as possible. Some spent many sleepless nights pacing around the lake in Beihai Park hoping the elixir would soon be discovered. After all, the emperor was considered to be the “son of heaven”, the representative of the deity here on earth responsible for all around him.

Lessons in Feng Shui. It was believed that different mountain-water combinations in ancient Chinese architecture led to totally different effects.  So from then on almost every emperor during succeeding dynasties would build a royal garden with “a one pool with three hills’ layout” near his palace. Beihai Park was built after this traditionBeihei 2.jpgal style: the water of Beihai (Northern Sea) with Zhongnanhai (Central and Southern Seas) is the Taiye Pool; the Jade Flowery (Qionghua) Islet, the island of the Circular City and the Xishantai Island represent the three magic mountains. Beihai Park was initially built in the Liao Dynasty (916 – 1125) and was repaired and rebuilt in the following dynasties including Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing (1115 – 1911). The large-scale rebuilding in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) generally established the present scale and pattern.

To the northwest in the park is the Nine-Dragon Wall, which is the only screen 9 dragon wallhaving nine huge dragons on both sides and is among the most famous three Nine-Dragon Screens in China (the other two are located in the Forbidden City and Datong, Shanxi Province). Built in 1756, the Nine-Dragon Wall is about 90 feet (27 meters) long, 21.8 feet (6.65 meters) high and 4.7 feet (1.42 meters) thick. It is composed of 424 seven-color glazed tiles that embossing the feng shui 2 (2)screen. There are nine huge coiling dragons on each side of the screen and big or small dragons in different postures decorating the two ends and the eaves, making a surprising total of 635 dragons.

I have this thing about Chinese dragons. Every time I see this depiction of dragons I think of Chinese history about the sage who embodies heavenly qualities. Adjacent to both the Forbidden City and Tienanmen, the park is extremely popular…  When I am in Beijing and have an afternoon free I like coming to Beihai. In Spring you can almost feel the immortality they were seeking in the air.

National Museum in Beijing

Opposite Tienanmen and the Forbidden City is the National Museum. This morning I begin here. Thursday (9/20) was primarily spent at the National Museum. I had forgotten that more than ten years ago I regularly visited a friend whose government office was in the restricted access area adjacent to the museum. I was most impressed with the Buddhist collection and ancient roll paintings.

Beijing’s premier museum is housed in an immense 1950’s Soviet-style building on the eastern side of Tienanmen Square, and claims to be the largest in the world by display space. You could easily spend a couple of hours in the outstanding Ancient China exhibition alone, with priceless artifacts displayed in modern, low-lit exhibition halls, including ceramics, calligraphy, jade and bronze pieces dating from prehistoric China through to the late Qing dynasty. You’ll need your passport to gain entry. The museum is located at Guangchangdongce Lu, Tienanmen Square. The hours are from 9 am to 5 pm Tue-Sun, last entry 4 pm.

What first got my attention today is the 2000-year-old jade burial suit in the basement exhibition. I believe this is the same jade suit that I saw at the Nelson Gallery in Kansas City in Spring 1975 when it was a part of the traveling exhibit from China. It was made for the Western Han dynasty king Liu Xiu. Many highlights including the life-sized bronze acupuncture statue dating from the 15th century. A 2000-year-old rhino-shaped bronze zūn (wine vessel) is another standout.

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The Ancient Chinese Money exhibition on the top floor, and the Bronze Art and Buddhist Sculpture galleries, one floor below, are what I especially liked.

The museum was established in 2003 by the merging of the two separate museums that had occupied the same building since 1959: the Museum of the Chinese Revolution in the northern wing (originating in the Office of the National Museum of the Revolution founded in 1950 to preserve the legacy of the 1949 revolution) and the National Museum of Chinese History in the southern wing (with origins in both the Beijing National History Museum, founded in 1949, and the Preliminary Office of the National History Museum, founded in 1912, tasked to safeguard China’s larger historical legacy).

The building was completed in 1959 as one of the Ten Great Buildings celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It complements the Great Hall of the People that was built at the same time. The structure sits on 16 acres and has a frontal length of 1,027 feet, a height of four stories totaling 130 ft, and a width of 489 feet. The front displays ten square pillars at its center.

After four years of renovation, the museum reopened on March 17, 2011, with 28 new exhibition halls, more than triple the previous exhibition space, and state of the art exhibition and storage facilities. It has a total floor space of nearly 200,000 square feet of display.

The museum, covering Chinese history from the Yuanmou Man of 1.7 million years ago to the end of the Qing Dynasty (the last imperial dynasty in Chinese history), and has a permanent collection of over a million items, with many precious and rare artifacts not to be found in museums anywhere else in China or the rest of the world.

Among the most important items in the National Museum of China are the “Simuwa Ding” from the Shang Dynasty, the square shaped Shang Dynasty bronze zun decorated with four sheep heads, a large and rare inscribed Western Zhou Dynasty, bronze water pan, a gold-inlaid Qin Dynasty bronze tally in the shape of a tiger, Han Dynasty jade burial suits sewn with gold thread (mentioned above), and a comprehensive collection of Tang Dynasty tri-colored glazed sancai and Song Dynasty ceramics. They are depicted below.

eaven”.

Sept 24 – Oct 1, 2018 in Luoyang…

 

I am posting my tentative schedule so we can book the train schedule and airfare between cities. Maria is trying to help with the fast train tickets. Very hard over the holiday.

Currently I am staying at the Luoyang Anximen Hostel until Thursday (9/27) then the Luoyang Heartland Hostel until Monday, October 1st. I would travel from Luoyang to Xian on Monday 10/1 and stay at the Xian Hentang House until Friday, October 5th. First thing I learned in all the years I have traveled here in China is you must be flexible. Second, I should stop coming during holiday when travel is difficult.

Everything changed for the balance of my trip this afternoon (Tuesday 9/25). Travel to Tibet was moved from October 10th-13th to 14th-17th. I checked flights and I can get a flight from Lhasa to Beijing on the 17th.

All of the dates are tentative due to difficulty in getting tickets, summary:  10/1 Luoyang to Xian and hotel there is all that is confirmed for now. I need to cancel Chengdu Flipflop booking and reschedule for later in the month if needed. Airplane tickets summary:  10/14 Need to be in Lhasa; 10/17 Lhasa to Beijing and 10/18 Beijing to USA.

Luoyang was home and capital of thirteen dynasties, until the Northern Song dynasty moved it east to Kaifeng in the 10th century.  Both the Tang and Sui dynasties were centered here in what was considered the height of Buddhist influence and demonstrate how the connection between Luoyang and early Buddhism became so important. At one point there were 1300 Buddhist temples here. Luoyang was home to many emperors and had lasting importance to early Chinese history.

Luoyang was the capital city for the longest period, the most dynasties, and the earliest time compared with the other ancient capital cities. Luoyang lies in the Central Plain surrounded by mountains, which were natural barriers against invasions. Apart from its favorable geographical location, Luoyang had an agricultural advantage as several rivers flow through it. Therefore, 105 emperors of 13 dynasties set their capitals in Luoyang during China’s history.

Luoyang was the center of politics, economy, and culture in China for 1,500 years. Since the Xia Dynasty (2070–1600 BC), Luoyang had begun its history as a capital city. In the Western Han Dynasty, Luoyang was not chosen as the capital, but the ruler still attached great importance to the city. There is so much history here that I want to come back to Luoyang for further study. It is said Lao Tzu lived here for a while and Taoism got it’s beginnings of Mount Song where I will visit while I am here.

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On Monday (9/24) I went with three students by bus to the Buddhist White Horse Temple. I took several pictures until my battery stopped then I used my phone camera for a few more. Many I encounter think I am brave to travel alone where I can’t speak the language. But I counter that I generally know them by their history than they know themselves. After seeing my writing they mostly agree.

What struck me was the continuing presence as if the joining or coming together of  history with one’s natural environment and connecting this with the universe, or divine spirit within us and that which surrounds us as well. To be treated as if you are coming home to visit something that is innately a part of yourself. Something you have always known, but simply needing to be reminded. This seems to be the motive behind all these ancient “temples”. What we in the west today would describe as “AW1parks having great historical and religious significance”. They bring a sense of longevity and simplicity to it all spanning thousands of years and being reminded that both the inner and outer are the same reality we each choose to live every day. The Buddhist White Horse Temple on the outskirts of Luoyang has always been on my bucket list here in China. It’s influence in the spread of Buddhism over the WH4centuries has been immeasurable. At some point in our lives there is something more than just knowledge and understanding. It comes with wisdom, as acceptance, and an enduring presence. What is it we’re grounded too? Others may teach, but ultimately it is something that becomes innately ourselves.  It is having the presence of self-assurance knowing that kindness and simplicity are the keys that opens all doors. (something I need to work on) Keeping things simple means there are fewer doors that need to be opened as well. As if “becoming simple minded” is a good thing.

Two other overreaching influences from Buddhism to China was that Luoyang was the start of the Silk Road that headed back to Venice in Italy. It was by way of the Silk Road (and elephants going through Tibet to Xian), that Buddhism came to China. By the time Marco Polo came here with his father and uncle in 1270 AD on their way to visit Kublai Khan in Beijing, the Silk Road had been a functioning means of transportation of goods and culture between east and west for almost WH3fifteen hundred years. The White Horse Temple and the Long man Grottoes have had the most lasting historical presence in this area of China. We will visit both later in the week. What Buddhism brought was a sense of permanence and presence that people could see as their own connection to what we would now call “becoming universal”. That you were more than your body, and a good life could lead to better things, as yet unknown, in the future. That we are one and there is no separation between the world we live in and what we might find for ourselves afterwards. This connection was what the Taoist Chuang Tzu expressed so well inWH5 what would become known as “Chan Buddhism”.  (maybe even becoming a butterfly being heard the world over)

There seems to be a progression in my travels, first to Beijing and the Llama Temple, then the opening of the gate with Confucius in Qufu. Finally for now, coming the the famous White Horse Temple and Long Man Grottoes. Like stepping stones to greater appreciation, understanding, and hopefully wisdom of my own origins in Chinese history. As if midway – later heading back to Xian and Chengdu before ultimately going to Tibet. With more than a week in between to discover new mountain vistas and clouds waiting to rise above.

The White Horse Temple, one of the oldest temples in China, is located about 6 miles from the city of Luoyang in eastern China’s Henan Province. It is a place that disciples of the Buddha school recognize as the palace of Buddhist ancestors and the place where Buddhist theory was taught. It was built by Emperor AA123Ming of the Eastern Han Dynasty (29 A.D.–75 A.D.), and there is a legend about its establishment. The scholar Fu Yi told the emperor after his dream: “Your subject has heard it said that in there is somebody who has attained the Dao and who is called Buddha; he flies in the air, his body had the brilliance of the sun; this must be that god.” According to the historical book of records that after a dream, Emperor Ming  sent an envoy to Tianzhu in southern India to inquire about the teachings of the Buddha. Buddhist scriptures were said to have been returned to China on the backs of white horses, after which White Horse Temple was named.

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Early History of the White Horse Temple

The two senior monks She Moteng and Zhu Falan, preached at White Horse Temple and jointly completed the translation of the 42 chapter Sutra, the first Chinese version of Buddhist scriptures. After She Moteng passed away, Zhu Falan continued to translate a number of scriptures. Their translations of the scriptures were all treasured in the Main Hall for the monks to worship. It was said that in the Northern
Wei Dynasty (386 A.D.– 534 A.D.), when the Buddhist monks worshiped the scriptures, the scripture suddenly glowed with colored lights and lit up the Main Hall.

During the reign of Tang Dynasty Empress Wu Ze Tian (624 A.D.–705 A.D.), the White 100_5019Horse Temple was very popular, and there were more than 1,000 monks living here. However, the Temple was greatly damaged during the An Si Rebellion (755 A.D.–763 A.D.) and the Huichang Suppression of Buddhism (840 A.D.–846 A.D.). The damaged White Horse Temple was only found later through broken pieces of inscriptions on the stones and ruins. Repairs to the temple were later conducted by Sung Dynasty Emperor Taizong (939–997), Ming Dynasty Emperor Jiajing (1507–1567), and Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi (1662–1722). The above description is why I like museums so much telling the story of what was important at the time. As if the remnants left behind have their own secrets to tell.

This is the way I like to travel. I have a week here in Luoyang to explore the area.  Hopefully it will stop raining. Two main things I want to see are the Long Man Grottoes and the Shaolin Temple. Not having google is a serious detriment to my travels. I still need to try to fix my Chinese camera, or more batteries for my little canon camera. It takes excellent pictures. Almost all pictures here on my website are one’s I have taken with the canon camera.

Tuesday (9/25) appears to a day to stay inside here in Luoyang and update my blog. It looks like it will rain all day and the Cardinals are on my computer this morning. Maria got my train ticket for next Monday to Xian. (thanks Maria) It sounds like my getting to Tibet prior to October 14th will work. It seems I am alone here in Luoyang. I guess that’s what one does on a retreat to seek inner meaning to what comes next. Plus the rain makes for staying inside. I did go to the bank next door to see if they can help me to send via WeChat money for the Tibet tour. They can help. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow. Next will be confirming airfare to Lhasa and Lhasa to Beijing afterwards. Just go with the flow and what needs to occur always does…

Everything regarding the balance of the trip changed this afternoon. Due to holiday the four day tour I was about to pay for has been delayed to October 14 to October 17.  I still want to do the tour, but first I must confirm I can get a flight from Lhasa to Beijing on the 17th, as I fly back to USA on the 18th. I still stay in Luoyang until next Monday, October, 1st and go to Xian. I had planned to go to Chengdu on the 5th, but now there is no hurry.

As I continue to go through 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, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is AT11he 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.  Verses 78 and 79 appear below. Verses 1 through 77 were seen here on my most recent posts. I plan to complete this journey through Lao Tzu (verses 80 and 81) from the top of Huashan Mountain made famous as a respite by Lao himself next week. I hope I am ready.

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. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage

Verse 78 – Following the way of Heaven

The sage endeavors to follow the way of heaven while only revealing everything for its true and natural place. Pulling down the high while lifting the low he stays on an even keel finding the natural balance of all around him.

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Continually moving forward unsure or unconcerned if what he does is ultimately good or bad as long as the natural order of things are followed and are allowed to take their places.  Moving without presumption or staking claim to what may be perceived as personal achievement.  Choosing to remain in the background and not displaying his skills, nothing can deter or get in his way.  His burden to keep his virtue to himself and not revealed to those who continually come running to his doorstep.

Modeling his actions after the way of heaven, the sage takes from the long and gives to the short so that the ten thousand things naturally find their places.  For all things under heaven to find their place, it is best for heaven to sit back and do nothing. Allowing the nature of all things to come forward unimpeded fulfilling its ultimate endeavor and finding its true identity and destiny.

Hsung-Tsung says, “The nature of water is to stay low, not to struggle, and to take on the shape of its container. Thus nothing is weaker. But despite such weakness, it can bore through rocks, while rocks cannot wear down water.”

Li Hung-Fu says, “The soft and the weak do not expect to overcome the hard and the strong. They simply do.”

Chuang Tzu says, “Everyone wants to be first, while I alone want to be last; which means to endure the world’s disgrace.” (33.5).  Mencius says. “If the ruler of the state is not kind, he cannot protect the spirits of the soil and grain” (4A.3).

Su Ch’e says “Upright words agree with the Tao and contradict the world. The world considers enduring grace shameful and enduring misfortune a calamity.”

Li Jung says, “The world sees disgrace and innocence, fortune and misfortune. The Taoist sees them all as empty.”

Verse 79 – Being Present at Destiny’s Table

The sage is reminded of the words of an old friend who once told him that the true nature of one who follows the Tao is like water. It is the nature of water to stay low, not to struggle and to take on the shape of its container thus appearing to be weak.

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Is this not the way of the sage?  Appearing weak, but in reality able to cut through any obstacle as he ultimately finds his true path.

What is perceived as weakness often wins through persistence while what appears to be hard easily becomes brittle unable to withstand the pressure of determination.

Should not we follow the ways of Chuang Tzu who decried that everyone wants to be first, while he alone waits, wanting to be last enduring to the end so that he may be 100_3371present at destiny’s table.

Emulating Chuang Tzu’s perfected man cannot the sage by following the Tao and the way of heaven ultimately turn everything upside down thereby betraying conventional wisdom at every turn.

In looking beyond the present and reminding himself of what’s to come, does not the sage simply prepare to return to find this place confident that the stage has been set and his place at the table assured.

Su Ch’e says, “If we content ourselves with trimming the branches and don’t pull out the roots, things might look fine on the outside, but not on the inside. Disputes come from delusion, and delusions are the products of our nature. Those who understand their nature encounter no delusion, much less disputes.”

Sung Ch’ang-Hsing says, “Seeking to make peace with others is the Way of Man. Not seeking to make peace but letting things make peace by themselves is the Way of Heaven. Despite the expenditure of energy and action, energy and action seldom bring peace. Thus the sage holds the left marker because he relies on inaction and the subtlety of letting things be.”

Sept 26, 2018 Luoyang cont’d… Buddhist White Horse & Zushi Taoist Temples

 

Below are additional pictures and comments for Luoyang. It rained and was heavily overcast today in Luoyang. Not a good day to be outside again but a good day to update and AABuddhistExpansionbysilkroadwork on pictures. I paid for the Tibet tour this morning. Now I can take care of airfare to Lhasa and return afterwards to Beijing.

To the left, is a map of how Buddhism came from India to China showing the routes via the silk road (in red), and the blue to Chang’an (Xi’an) and Luoyang. This area in northern India southwest of Tibet is still the central foundational location for what in considered as Tibetan Buddhism.  Once the weather clears up, I hope to go the Long Men Grottoes and Shaolin Temple before heading to Xian next Monday. Their pictures will appear here as well. In the afternoon I decided to take a walk and get a foot bath, then walking further I came across Zushi Temple, dedicated to Lao Tzu. A brief description and a few pictures from the Buddhist White Horse Temple are below…

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It is as though now that I have entered this journey, there is an acknowledgment that there is no turning back to the person I was before I left. I’ve been gone for only a week, and it seems so long ago. I have always been enamored with the stars and cosmos… what is seen as universal. It makes sense now that what is changeless and immortal is not your mind/body, but rather the Mind that is shared by all existence. Stillness that never ceases because it never becomes more than the present. It simply is. I think this is helpful in releasing ego that then dissolves into nothing. It is here that we can enter the mystic nature of who we are. A commonality that enhances… as if a cosmic field of vision that becomes you. I know that’s all pretty deep, but going there is what literally helps me to focus and see beyond myself.

It is where my Taoist beginnings are taking me now that means I must get my “mind right”. As if living a dream as the dream becomes me. All else falling away, this re-enforcement of Buddhist and Taoist thought moving me fearlessly as Van Morrison would say….”Into the Mystic”.

As if on que, I found the Zushi Taoist Temple, dedicated to Lao Tzu just around the corner from where I am staying. It was constructed in the late Yuan and early Ming dynasties. According to the inscription the temple underwent frequent renovations during the reigns of Hongzhi, Kangxi, Yongchan, Qianlong, and Jiaqing up to the period of the Republic of China.

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Sept 27, 2018 – Luoyang to Songyang Temple and Songshan Ramblings of an unknown sage

As if expected, serendipity came along to change my plans that would take me to Songshan Mountain and the famous Shaolin Temple about an hour and a half away. R1He came in the form of a professional film maker who was staying at my hostel and planned to stop there on his was back to Shanghai. He invited me to come along so I changed my plans. I left my suitcase and computer at hostel gathered things for my backpack and away we went… I never learned the name of the city we were going to, it didn’t seem important. (I will text him later) We were going to the Songshan Mountain Area that included the 100_5109Songyang Temple we would visit later this afternoon after arriving (pictures here today are from the temple). On Friday, climb one of the mountains we intended to climb and the Shaolin Temple and Pagoda Forest at R2it’s base. And on saturday climb to the summit of a second mountain that was adjacent to the first (we didn’t go because the tram was broken). More on all that beginning tomorrow. First, to clarify, I do not write under some false illusion of one day being published. I write simply for my own enjoyment and enlightenment because it is my writing that takes me there. If others choose to come along for the ride… you are welcome.

Today on the bus to I wasn’t sure where, I couldn’t help but think of our divine R3presence and what that means for ourselves and others. Changing from within first to the alignment with the universe we came in with and the things we am here to work on or correct this time. As if a piece of the star I am from.. to simply come into focus and let my light shine. Moving to who I am supposed to be. Simply to find and go with the flow I have always known with no pre-conceived intent or outcome and let the spirit of the Tao (the universe) guide me. First of all, it is not for me to write R4down someone else’s impressions (ie., that found in google, etc,) – but to add my own take on the environment I find. Everything is context. My travels in China are not simply going to these places for pictures.  It is in keeping with a personal journey whose purpose has not been fully revealed as yet. It is my reflecting what I see with what I write and with what I already know. As if leaving behind and much as I take. As if I am seeing what has changed since my last visit and writing about the antiquity that lies in each of us. As if the ancients don’t want to be forgotten, so that even their own immortality might come into question.

To let these images from the past take you there. Each with  a story to tell – just R5waiting to be told of when they were someone or something of importance. Something more than they are considered now. It is as if in the stillness they reside, they lie in wait for vibrations… for the storyteller. Not just being present only for your own story, but to tell the story of everything around you – with the older the story – the more there is to tell. And I don’t write fiction. With no pre-conception of where what you are here to learn may lead. As doors are waiting to open for the stories just waiting to be told. Many simply wanting to have their say.

People you meet here to take you to places you are needed – the stories are endless and your role never-ceasing. The more you write the more you need to write. You are a conveyor of ancient wisdom, use your time wisely. It making me wonder, are we moved by “divine order”. Or are we taking and receiving “divine orders”. Who is to say?

It was here at Songshan Mountain and Shaolin Temple where so much occurred R6where people came for centuries. Three religions in one body (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism) were formed as what was seen as a “convergence” in this area. Emperor Wudi and Empress Wuzetian came here to commemorate the mountain and convey its importance to this belief. As if life is about remembering who we are yet to become before we forget.  Songshan Mountain has been famous as a place where people came with a desire to improve themselves and discover their inner virtue. The temple, a repository of ancient wisdom, here but a reminder that there was more to climbing mountains than the climb itself. It is the appreciation of the overwhelming outer nature you find with the mountain as you climb, just as life has its ups and downs your eyes remain on the horizon and the clouds above.   I am here at one of the five most famous mountains in China. Tomorrow I climb the mountain. (I have more pictures when time allows).

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Sept 28 – 29, 2018 Shaolin Temple and return to Luoyang

Friday, September 29 we went to the Shaolin Temple and Buddha Forest at the base of the mountain and then on Saturday I took the bus back to Luoyang and Lin headed for Shanghai. I’m reminded of the old TV series with Keith Carradine about the Shaolin Temple and Kung Fu. How he traveled the old west rescuing people from trouble and things they had gotten themselves into. Flashbacks of his time back in China at the Shaolin Temple and his mentor referring to him as “grasshopper”. We were walking in front 100_5244of the temple and I saw someone with one of the wheelchairs our sister city committee had donated to Qufu back in 2007. Christiane Francois and I came to Qufu to facilitate donating two hundred wheelchairs from The Wheelchair Foundation and the Boynton Beach Sister City Committee. It was quite a surprise. The first wheelchair I had seen in more than ten years. It was in great 100_5250condition too. My photographer friend (Lin) and I at the entrance.

Shaolin Temple, in the region of Songshan Mountain in Dengfeng, Henan Province, is reputed to be ‘the Number One Temple under Heaven’. Shaolin Temple history can date back to Northern Wei Dynasty (386 – 534), and it played an important role on the development of the Buddhism in China. Upon entering you first see Shanmen Hall. Hung on its top is a tablet reading ‘Shaolin Temple’. The tablet was inscribed by the Emperor Kangxi (1622 – 1723) during the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). Under the stairs of the hall crouches two stone lions made in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The hall enshrines the Maitreya Buddha. Two sides of the corridor behind the hall’s gate are paved with inscriptions on stone steles made during several different dynasties. Sometimes the less said the better to let the reader use pictures and their own imagination to take you there.

Shaolin Temple Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center

The Shaolin Temple Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center comes after you have 100_5310visited the temple. The scenery adjacent to the temple makes it an ideal place for practicing the Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin monks have been practicing Kung Fu for over 1,500 years. The system was invented to teach the monks basic methods to improve their health and defend themselves. The martial art performance shows (which I attended), illustrate the true Chinese Shaolin Temple Kung Fu. For example, Tong Zi Gong, performed by teenagers, is a kind of martial art to train one’s flexibility and strength. Shaolin Kung Fu has a great tradition in China. Today, there are more than 50,000 students here in facilities across from the Shaolin Temple.

The Shaolin Temple has two main legacies: Chan, which refers to Chan Buddhism, the religion of Shaolin, and Quan, which refers to the martial arts of Shaolin. In Shaolin, these are not separate disciplines and monks have always pursued the philosophy of the unification of Chan and Quan. In a deeper point of view, Quan is considered part of Chan. As late Shaolin monk Suxi said in the last moments of his life, “Shaolin is Chan, not Quan.”

On the Quan (martial) side, the contents are abundant. A usual classification of contents are:

  1. Basic skills (基本功jīběn gōng): These include stamina, flexibility, and balance, which improve the body abilities in doing martial maneuvers. In Shaolin kung fu, flexibility and balance skills are known as “childish skill” (tóngzǐ gōng), which have been classified into 18 postures.
  2. Power skills (气功; qigong): These include: Qigong meditation: Qigong meditation itself has two types, internal (nèi), which is stationary meditation, and external (wài), which is dynamic meditation methods like Shaolin four-part exercise (si duan gong), eight-section brocade; bā duàn jǐn), Shaolin muscle-changing scripture (yì jīn jīng), and others.
    • The 72 arts: These Include 36 soft and 36 hard exercises, which are known as soft and hard qigong.
  3. Combat skills (quanfa “skills”): These include various barehanded, weapon, and barehanded vs. weapon routines or styles and their combat (sàndǎ) methods.

In practice, beyond the martial arts aspects of Shaolin, was that the essence of enlightenment came to be identified with the interaction between masters and students. It was through Chan Buddhism that whatever insight, or dhyana, would occur as a series of cultivated states of mind which leads to a “state of perfect equanimity and awareness,” commonly translated as meditation, that would serve as one’s verification. In effect, enlightenment came to be understood not so much as an insight, but as a way of acting in the world with other people present. Shaolin was the result of both purification of both body and mind. (some of the above from Wikipedia)

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The Pagoda Forest

The Pagoda Forest, next to the Shaolin Temple, serves as a graveyard for Buddhist dignitaries through the ages. On average, the pagodas are about 50 feet high. The layer and the shape of a pagoda depend on many factors, such as one’s status, attainment and prestige during his lifetime. The Pagoda Forest here is the largest of China’s pagoda complexes.

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Ancestor’s Monastery & the Second Ancestor’s Monastery

Outside the Shaolin Temple to the northwest, are two monasteries, named the Burn incense and prayAncestor’s Monastery and the Second Ancestor’s Monastery. The first monastery is built by a Dharma’s disciple to commemorate Dharma’s nine years of meditation in a cave. It has a big hall supported by 16 stone pillars on whose shafts are exquisitely carved warriors, dancing dragons and phoenixes. We did not have much time here as we had to return to the hostel. We had intended to climb the second adjacent mountain the following day, but the tram was not working and we would not have time to walk up and back down before returning to Luoyang.

Sept 30 – Oct 1, 2018 Longman Grottoes and on to Xian

I think the trip is catching up with me… in more ways than one. I seem to have eaten something that didn’t sit well, or not eating enough. Today is Sunday, September 30th and I’m heading by taxi to the Longman Grottoes, although I’m not sure how long I’ll last. Hopefully not too much walking today. There is lots of information on the internet as to history, and I will add more later when I feel better. It didn’t dawn on me until the next day that I may have been experiencing a far greater hunger than just filling my stomach.

For now I’m just going to try to add a few pictures I took along with some of my thoughts:

As I look at the side of the mountain and think of those who might have carved out of stone 100_5354these caves and statutes south of Luoyang all those centuries ago, quite possibly after a long trek covering several months or even years to get here over the Silk Road or from the southwest and Xian. I can only marvel at their work and their religious veracity. And what was in all likelihood their mantra – repeated over and over again with every strike 100_5334of the hammer and chisel as they did their life’s work. As they repeated those four magic words over and over again with every strike of the hammer.

OM  MANI  PODME  HUM

These words can be translated and have a universal meaning:

OM – The Jewel in the Heart of the LOTUS! The deep resonate OM is all sound and silence throughout time, the roar of eternity and also the great stillness of pure being; when intoned with the prescribed vibrations, it evokes the ALL that is otherwise inexpressible.

The MANI is the “adamantine diamond” of the Void – the primordial, pure and 100_5348.jpgindestructible essence of existence beyond all matter or even antimatter, all change, and all becoming.

PADME – In the lotus – is the world of phenomena, samsara, unfolding with spiritual progress to reveal beneath the leaves of delusion the mani-jewel of nirvana, that lies not apart from daily life but at its heart.

HUM has no literal meaning, and is variously interpreted perhaps simply as a 100_5353rhythmic exhortation, completing the mantra inspiring the chanter as a declaration of being (like the stone carvers here at Longman Grottoes), symbolizing the Buddha’s gesture of touching the earth at a moment of enlightenment. As if saying all that is or was or will ever be is right here in this moment.

For myself, I am especially attracted to the mythical embodiment of the Buddha, called a Bodhisattva known as Avalokita Ishuara – who is seen as “The Lord that looked down in compassion”. He represents “the divine within” sought by mystics and has been called “The Lord that is seen within”.

100_5337Maybe this is the answer as to why the Buddha is always seen smiling. Could it be as though reaching the ultimate state of heart and mind within ourselves? Perhaps living within one’s own “true nature”. It is the Avalokita… ie., the Presence within each of us.

Am I becoming a Buddhist? I don’t know. I still am a Taoist at heart. But I can see how the two became intertwined in Chinese history, religion, and culture. I still have those two things called discipline and patience to work on – and a sense that I still have a way to go yet. For myself, it has always been about the freedom to breathe. Perhaps an anomaly – always the outlier. But maybe not – maybe it is the sense of ultimate freedom yet to be found – I’m just not there yet. Maybe I’ll find it on this trip. Perhaps I will look for Avalokita when I get to Lhasa in a couple weeks. Or maybe I should just ask the stone carvers here at the Longman Grottoes. They obviously knew the answer. (with excerpts from Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard).

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On Monday I had recovered somewhat and spent most of the day updating my blog. I need to leave by taxi at three for the fast train station to pick up my ticket for a 5 PM departure. (I did find a KFC at the train station in Luoyang, I’m better now). I arrived in Xian about 7:30 PM and took a long taxi ride to the Han Tang Hostel.

Oct 2 – 3, 2018 Xian

I’ve been here before in June, 2014 for just three days. I only had time for a day trip IMG_4527to see the terra cotta warriors, then the Shaanxi National Museum, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and the Temple of the Eight Immortals. I took hundreds of pictures then. One of the places I did not go that was of great interest was the Moslem Quarter. It’s Tuesday morning and I am here – for now – until Saturday October 5th at least. I think my next stop will be Hua Mountain, famous for Taoism and Lao Tzu…

It seems as though leaving Xian is a real problem due to holiday travel. Or maybe it’s something from long ago that needs my attention. Much of this trip was to be like leaving the world behind and now I’m pulled again to the past and can’t get away from it. Xi’an is one of the world’s great ancient cities, being most famous for its role as the starting point of the Silk Road. In the past, it was previously known as Chang’an. Xi’an is widely regarded as one of the greatest cities in Chinese history. During imperial dynasties such as the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang, this was the DSCI0054.JPGnation’s capital city. The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor Qin Sand Big Wild Goose Pagoda offers traces left behind by monk Xuanzang.

Xian was not the place to be as a scholar during the time of Emperor Qin when he had his terra cotta army built to protect him in immortality. Many of my friends died here, made to dig a hole and throw all the great literary works in – set them aflame – then forced to jump or be pushed in themselves… Anything representing “old” was destroyed. Many great literary works were burned and scholars killed by Emperor Qin. I think this is why when I come to Xian I walk the streets in sadness. Visiting the ancient sites that were DSCI0018here then, spending time at the museum just remembering those of us who came to such a brutal end. A sabbatical… it is a reminder of the freedom we seek to achieve our own highest endeavor, to identify with who we are in eternity and know nothing is more important than this moment and standing in the light. Any philosophy or religion to me, is only the vehicle that aids in taking you there. It is not the final be all – or end all – to where you are going.

Regardless of the time of year I am here there seems to be a chill in the air and the rain I feel is but the tears streaming down my cheeks. Sometimes I think our purpose is simply to pay tribute. Remembering both the good and the bad lest we forget, as we praise those who meant so much. As if in remembrance, returning to hear their sweet voices again, and have a place to contemplate as my voice, my writing and I gain strength from their eternal memory. Interesting hostel is playing Nora Jones “Come away with me… draggin down the road alone. You’ll be on my mind forever”. In retrospect, we are really never alone.

So I  checked with Maria and I would need to take a two hour bus to Huayin for the mountain. There is no train from Huayin to Chengdu so I would probably have to return here to Xian to then go to Chengdu. I can’t get a train to Qufu until October 9th. Maybe I could go to Qufu on the 9th and go to Chengdu on the 12th. Four stops before returning to USA. First Hauyin, then Qufu or return to Xian, Chengdu, Lhasa, then Beijing and home. Okay five. Whatever I’m going to do, time and space are of the essence.

The next time I even remotely suggest to myself or otherwise, that I come to China DSCI0049during the National Holiday (October 1-7), there should be no trouble convincing anyone that I am truly delusional. Millions of people on holiday – impossible to get a train anywhere – a taxi is impossible. Taxi stands at airports and train stations often hundreds of people long. I told staff at hostel that I wanted to go to Hua Mountain (today is October 2nd – I compromised, I plan to go on the 5th). They suggested I wait until after holiday and go on October 8th. Actually, I was hoping to be at the top of Hua Mountain on October 8th, my 66th birthday. I hope to spend it with Lao Tzu and complete my new version of the Tao Te Ching that I have been working on for a year now.

Wednesday, October, 3… Too hard to do Qufu so I will first get my fast train ticket from Xian to Chengdu hopefully on late afternoon or evening of October, 9th this morning. Then book Flipflop Hostel Oct 9 – 14th for departure to Tibet Sunday, Oct 14th. (I already have my plane ticket from Chengdu to Lhasa). Once done I will go ahead and book my return flight from Lhasa to Beijing for October 17th to arrive at Beijing airport for fight back to USA October 18th. After this is done, I will go to bus station here in Xian and purchase bus ticket for Huayin for Friday, Oct 5 and return to Xian, Tuesday morning , October, 9th so I can make my way to train station and Chengdu. And this trip is supposed to be about simplifying my life… Oh, and I need to do laundry today. Well, I got a ticket on fast train next Tuesday from Xian to Chengdu, secured reservation at Flipflop Hostel, after great effort was able to book ticket for 17th from Lhasa to Beijing, and will get bus tickets at station for Huayin on Friday.

All the great scholars and the sage ever wanted was the freedom to fill in the details of their own blank page. What it was that contributed meaning to their own path along the Way, or Tao. To have their say “for eternity’s sake”. Why climbing mountains following the way of nature has always been the closest observance of dragons, thier predecessors. As if endeavoring to get their attention and steps they should follow. They remind me now not to find sorrow in their passage here in Xian all those centuries ago. That tears to be shed, should be tears of joy, as they were simply returning home. That as the sage, you should find comfort in not always “fitting in”. As your place too will always be seen with dragons.

I wrote the below story in March, 1995. It could easily have been simply an essay meant to honor old friends.

Filling in the Details

Delight in knowing that you have always been on the edge and will remain there. Finding comfort in what would otherwise be considered chaos by others who will never travel to find their true destiny. If you have found true peace of mind, how can hardship enter the picture?  What comfort can be found in everyday events seen by others as needed to have some fleeting sense of contentment? Remain as the first word to be written on the next blank page waiting to be filled with what must come forth in truth, sincerity, and compassion.

Appreciating nature, both your own inner nature and that surrounds you. Your garden being wherever you are. Where trees grow leaves, where flowers attract bees and butterflies. Where wisps of clouds float between heaven and earth. Coming forward to know the happiness of all things nature provides and knowing where you fit in will always be present.

As all things change from instant to instant, is not remaining on the edge prepared to capture the new rays of each day’s sun, the ultimate that can ever be –  now and forever. Not found to be clinging to life’s fortunes. Knowing happiness can only be followed by sadness. That everything ebbs and flows in the balance of all things.

The ultimate that can be. Simply to be blown along with the winds of one’s life. Never knowing the outcome, only savoring the details found along the wayside. Find a place of quiet solitude where there can be no contention present. With everything around you at peace and harmony with its environment. As you come forward through your writing to fill the blank page with little or no concern for the time of your ultimate arrival.

Remaining free to continue on your way with Lieh Tzu and your old friends. Ready to begin anew the journey that you must begin again and again and again. 3/11/95

Karma can be a tough thing. Less that an hour and a half away from where I now sit is the site of Emperor Qin’s terra cotta warriors and his mausoleum. In what was seen as “fitting” by many, after the emperor’s death, his terra cotta were covered first by a wooden roof and then an earthen mound, the wooden roof was later set on fire.  The roof fell onto the terra cotta and broke his precious army into a million pieces. His Grand Library where all history was to begin with him, was also destroyed by fire ten years after his death. His legacy was not as he intended.

(I have several pictures to add here, but the internet signal is not strong enough where I am at. Once I get to another place where the signal is stronger… I will add them. I sometimes lose my entire content of a blog trying to add pictures. I’ve complained back in USA to WordPress and they say it’s the connection here in China, not their software. I find their explanation not too helpful though).

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 AT11he 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.  Verse 80 appears below. Verses 1 through 79 were seen here on my most recent posts. I complete this journey through Lao Tzu ( with verse 81) from the top of Huashan Mountain made famous as a respite by Lao and his Furnace.

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. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage

Verse 80 – Staying in Step with the Tao

Cultivating ourselves while holding a marker as if attached and only concerned with the way of heaven.

The world is looking for the sage to come forward full of enthusiasm and direction to lead in the spirit of dragons and to show others their highest endeavor and destiny.  The world is looking to the sage once he has accepted the mantle as one enmeshed with the Tao.Making no claims on others while making demands only on ourselves as disputes come and go as if they are riding the wind. Here now only to test our direction and how far along we’ve come on our journey.

Once he has accepted his place in the scheme of things to come, nothing can stand in his way. As he simply embodies the Tao in his every thought, action and deed his every step continues to become second nature…

Ho Shang Kung says, “Although the sage governs a great state,he thinks of it as a small state and is frugal in the use of its resources. Although the people are many, he thinks of them as few and is careful not to exhaust them.”

Wang An-Shih says, “When the people are content with their lot, they don’t concern themselves with moving far away or going to war.”

Wu Ch’eng says, “People who are satisfied with their food and pleased with thier clothes cherish their lives and don’t temp death. People who are content with their homes and happy with their customs don’t move far away. They old old and die where they were born.”

Ch’eng Hsuan says, “They are satisfied with their food because they taste the Tao. They are please with their clothing because they are adorned with virtue. They are content with their homes because they are content everywhere. And they are happy with their customs because they soften the glare of the world.”

Oct 4 – 5, 2018 Xian and Huayin

Xi’an was and is no different from all ancient cities in China, in that there were three constants that brought order to people’s lives.  First, a wall around the city to protect against intruders, and both a drum and bell tower to tell us it’s time to get up in the morning or retire at night. To tell us of coming danger and then when it is all clear. Beijing still has their ancient drum and bell towers. The wall around Beijing was removed when Mao came in in 1949.

In Qufu, a replica of exact dimensions of the AAQufu Drum Towerancient wall was re-constructed several years ago. While living within the wall in Qufu, I could step out onto Guluo Street from my apartment, look to my right and on a clear day see the ancient drum tower built in the Ming dynasty a couple blocks away. The bell tower was just around the corner. I could close my eyes and imagine the bell or drum tolling for me.

Why bring this to light now… this bit of trivia? If you are safe and the structure you need to get on with your life is apparent, you can do so with out worry. It’s what we unconsciously do… we look for and spend time creating our environment and structure to take us there. It is the sanctuary we create from within that saves us. The ancients knew this as how we connect with the sun, moon, stars, and nature. That connection was the I Ching, and knowing you can tell what comes out of something by knowing what went in (cause and effect). Who are we, but an extension of these – here now to expand the universe by and through our talents for and by beneficial means. To live in a place where our own permanence and enlightenment becomes a foregone conclusion. That we each have a purpose. It’s what the ancient shaman long past told us about the connection, how a confluence appears, and that we are one with it to discover and find within ourselves. As we travel over the next horizon, perhaps to our own Shangri La. To something we simply forgot already resides within us.

In Xi’an, Mingcheng Wall is located in the downtown area of ​​Xian, Shaanxi Province. 100_5374It is the largest and most preserved ancient city wall in China. The wall is 18 meters high, the top width is 12-14 meters, the bottom width is 15-18 meters, the outline is closed rectangle, and the circumference is 13.74 kilometers. People in the city walls are used to call the ancient city, covering an area of ​​11.32 square kilometers. The famous Xi’an Bell and Drum Tower is located in the center of the ancient city. There are four main gates of Xi’an City Wall: Changle Gate (East Gate), Yongning Gate (South Gate), Anding Gate (West Gate), and Anyuan Gate (North Gate). These four gates are also the original gates of the ancient city wall. Since the beginning of the Republic of China, a number of city gates have been newly opened for the convenience of access to the ancient city. So far, there are 18 gates in the Xi’an city wall.

I am walking parts of the wall here in Xian later this afternoon, to contemplate this 100_5377idea of living in a place where our own enlightenment becomes a foregone conclusion, yes it is a state of mind and living in the presence. And reminded of water surrounding the wall as extra line of defense. The water also provided drinking water for the inhabitants inside the wall.

First, a review of my journey thus far before heading tomorrow for Hua Mountain, Chengdu, and Tibet. All three to taking my spirit to places I’ve been waiting or longing for. As if a quiet comfort and excitement is just around the corner and I am ready for it.

But first three highlights thus far. It’s as if there is nothing new and nothings changed except faces in the crowds. I have to admit, I only give Confuciusa cursery view here, but in fairness I have visited, lived and worked in Qufu over half of the past twenty years… I am Kongdan. Confucius contribution has been providing a sense of benevolence, structure, and virtue to Chinese culture and society for 2500 years. And equally important to me was “the first Sage”. The Duke of Zhou commonly known as Ji Dan, who resided here in Qufu five hundred years before Confucius who codified what was to become the “Book of Rites”.  Think about that. Add to that Taoism and Lao and Chuang Tzu and you have the connection to the shaman, I Ching, your environment, nature and understanding you are one with all… everything. There is no separation. We saw this on Songshan Mountain where Emperor Wuding came and announced that China’s past, present, and future depended on reliance on all three. That there was a confluence between Confucius, Taoism, and Buddhism. Then to Longman Grottoes and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda here in Xian, where Buddhism could take you there as your ultimate self. That it is in becoming universal you are one with it all and there is nothing to fear.

Getting to Huayin and Huashan Mountain

After checking out of the Han Tan Hostel, I made it by taxi to the bus station to go to Huashan Mountain and the Huashan Lanyue Youth Hostel. After a harrowing experience at the bus station where there was three options, first the bus loop for local stops, the train station, and some distance away the station I needed, I got a ticket and headed for the mountain. After a two hour bus ride we arrived and I got to my hostel. The proprietor, Ms. Yan, was great. She booked me for two nights (tonight Friday night and Monday night October 8th. She also reserved a bed for me at the East Peak Hotel at the top of the mountain for tomorrow night Oct 6 and Sunday, October 7th… I’ll have two chances at seeing the sunrise from the highest peak. Awesome. Tomorrow (Saturday morning) at 7 AM I begin with breakfast here at 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 many steps to climb. But I will be taking lots notes and pictures. When I get to my next stop in Chengdu I will spend a day updating my mountain travels.

My initial thoughts before climbing the mountain

Just a little about Huashan Mountain and why I am here. So hard to express in words before making what is for me a lifetime achievement. As one who is a Taoist through and through, coming here is like the passageway on the mountain called Jinsuo Pass that serves as the hub of the East, West, North and South Peaks. I will crossover the pass this weekend. It is literally referred as “the Gateway to Heaven”. No kidding. The near and distant peaks seeming to reach beyond the sky. The peaks appear through the clouds as if visionary – as if all-knowing. I think this lends attraction to the Taoist nature seeing nature as all encompassing with clouds as the ultimate benchmark between heaven and earth. The seasons on the mountain appearing as a baptism of man’s spirit and place, as if here there is an experience of immortality. As you go up there is a sense that the pine trees are walking in the clouds. As if being present, using your breath as an anchor to the present moment, to cultivate ease and well-being, as you climb the mountain.

The ultimate for me is that the spirit of the dragon lives here as if rising above the clouds finding time glittering in the sun. It is as if there is no end to it. You can sense the spirit of the mountain joining as one with the sun, moon, and stars. The wind becoming music to your ears. As if time has carved memories into your heart and you have come to sing. Adjusting your temperament to what is your ultimate endeavor as your destiny becomes assured. The mountain becoming nothing more than a reminder of your own never ending conversation with nature and time. Walking up the path, climbing perilous peaks, seeing the sunrise, you are made whole once again. You have found the reason for the journey.

What remains constant here is the mountain, pine trees, and clouds. Ah the clouds. When I first began writing all those years ago, the dragons, my mentors called me“Cloud Dancing”. As if my highest endeavor now lies before me. Having dialogue with dragons is perilous at best. Always testing your mettle and simply asking are you ready and worthy. What is it we are here to do but to make the pledge to become our true selves and stay emboldened in the presence of our peers. As if we come to the mountain and entertain the peak to make a clear sound across heaven. The mountain’s role to show us piousness and to what lies ahead for us. Knowing the Tao we find the way along the footpath to the top and the sunrise, and hope, that awaits us.

The night before and I wonder “do I make the climb up the thousand foot precipice, and in doing so whatever fear that remains just evaporates like fog in the rising sun.” As if among the floating clouds and mist your mind opens and you no longer feel a separation as you become one with them. You have come home. Leaving behind a smile, a knowing, your own claim to the presence you now understand and become one with. The mountain here but a haven, a paradise for Taoism where immortality reigns supreme as your spirit is seen riding the endless sky…

I haven’t taken a step up the mountain yet – ask me again why I’m here.

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 AT11he 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.  Verse 81 appear below. Verses 1 through 80 were seen here on my most recent posts. I complete this journey through Lao Tzu ( with verses 80 and 81) from the top of Huashan Mountain made famous as a respite by Lao and his Furnace.

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. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage

Verse 81 – Remaining in High Style

Remaining satisfied with just what you have as you are content to live as the extension of the Tao which has become the reflection of who and where you are.

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Living within the Tao, the sage soon becomes aware that he is nothing more than an extension of what occurs in nature.  Enabling all to come forward to find their true place, not as the substitute for their action, but as one who empowers others to see beyond themselves as the sage stays in the background doing nothing.

Envisioning a place where there are tools that remain unused, where people have no need to move far afield, are easy with death and where it takes them, with places to go but no reason to travel, and defenses in place but no reason to defend them.  Satisfied with the fruits of their labor and content with where they find themselves as they go restfully to sleep each night.  Content with their homes and happy with their customs as they know the taste of the Tao and remain adorned with virtue. Even though others may  live close by they have no reason to visit as all they need they already have.

Su Ch’e says, “What is true is real and nothing more. Hence it isn’t beautiful. What is beautiful is pleasing to look at but nothing more. Hence it isn’t true. Those who focus on goodness don’t try to be eloquent, and those who focus on eloquence aren’t good. Those who have one thing that links everything together have no need of learning. Those who keep learning don’t understand the Tao. The sage holds onto the one and accumulates nothing”.

Chuang Tzu says, “When Lao Tan and Yin Hsi heard of people who considered accumulation as deficiency, they were delighted’ (33.5).

Wu Ch’eng says, “Help is the opposite of harm. Where there is help,  there must be harm. But when Heaven helps, it doesn’t harm. because it helps without helping. Action is the start of struggle. Where there is action, there must be struggle. But when the sage acts, he doesn’t struggle, because he acts without acting.”

 Oct 6 – 8, 2018 / Huashan Mountain and the Jintian Taoist Palace

Today,  (Saturday morning) at 7 AM I begin with breakfast here at Huashan Lotus House International Youth Hostel / then go to

100_5603the 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 Ching100_5453heaven 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 Hua2have 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 100_5597for 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 100_5547in a tent outside. On both days in the early morning it registered 10 to 15 degrees Celsius 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.

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The makeup of the mountain is very interesting in the there are five peaks of 100_5561interest with many stops on the way to each of the peaks. I took a bus then a cable car to the 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 100_5595Tzu was to have 100_5517made 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 100_5448has great significance in Taoist history as 100_5449being 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 100_5596Gate, 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.

100_5466Back 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.

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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 AT11he 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.

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Tuesday, October 9th I left Huashan Mountain (Huayin) for Xi’an then on to Chengdu… On the mountain I was reminded that eternity may seem remote, but it is

100_5419here, right now in every precious moment, and you are one with it all, with nature. We are not here just to observe our life and the beauty that surrounds us. But to be reminded that it is all simply an extension of ourselves and the steps we are here to follow and take ourselves, to our responsibility to and for nature, and in turn the universe.

That your world is your sanctuary. We should all become Taoists at heart. The mountain itself, the pine trees, the birds singing their song of joy and eternal wisdom just for you – always in rhythm praising what lies below and the skies above. It’s easy to see how eons ago others saw the mountain as the gateway to heaven.  That you are free and immortal as you are. If a sabbatical has something to do with finding your life’s work, I think I have come on this journey to re-enforce the one thing I am good at… to remember and write about things long forgotten by others. Maybe here just to remind us to pay attention to the details of our lives and where they may lead.

Su Ch’e says, “Lao Tzu lived during the decline of the Chou, when artifice flourished and customs suffered, and he wished to restore its virtue through doing nothing. Hence at the end of his book he wishes he had a small state to try this on. But he never got his wish”.

Perfecting the Art of Doing Nothing

If living in retirement is a state of mind… then let mine be here in Chengdu. Life is like Chuang Tzu’s butterfly dream. Are we awake or living a dream – and can it have mattered in the end? I’m beginning to understand the true meaning of wu wei. Finding and living in the state of virtue and being present… i.e., awake. It seems as though my entire life has fit the scope of Taoist thought as almost everything I’ve 100_5646ever done has amounted to nothing, except for my family and friends who I care for. It seems I’ve been more successful than I thought. Perhaps just waiting for my highest endeavor to find me and to follow it. It’s time to let living in the state of virtue reign supreme. Simply to let your innate nature come through as you live what the Tao has taught you. So here I am talking about Taoism, and here with the Buddha. Or even follow the development of Chan Buddhism in China that found the best of both (Buddhism and Taoism), as if “Finding the right Shoes”. Maybe even best expressed by what I wrote all those years ago… Perhaps even better said by doing nothing.

Finding the right Shoes

Father and son, tradition and innovation. Old ways and new things. Knowing patterns of one’s life brings purpose. Finding purpose through another man’s eyes is not easy. Conflict arises.  Immortality is questioned but always prevails.

IChing60 dragons

Finding one’s sense of purpose can not be left to earthly whim. Finding purpose in greater things allows one to escape from individual concern. Following footsteps may be old-fashioned, however those steps are honed in tradition and value.  Keeping to the right path is knowing how to find yourself in shoes that fit.

Tradition teaches that structure brings continuity. With continuity comes focus, focus brings clarity and with clarity one can find understanding in all things. Understanding patterns of one’s life brings integrity.

Well worn shoes may require soles, though once repaired the same shoes still can be left to fit the right feet. Find happiness and security in tradition and be eternally rewarded. Ancestors past and spirits yet to come will know comfort through your steps. Seek your own standards yet remain ever diligent. Remember from where you came and seek your own immortality.

An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the  I Ching                         (18 WORK / Mountain over Wind). 2/13/94

One thing for certain I know about myself – is I hate, abhor… anyplace where contention is present. It makes me wonder why, or how, I was interested in politics whatsoever. Except maybe to show the intent of heaven that reflects the best of all concerned. Maybe the world and even I are not quite ready for that yet. Ah – finding myself again on the mountain… or better yet the tea house on the lake at People’s Park in Chengdu once again away from contention and ego.

Wednesday morning I find myself at the Flipflop Hostel. This is my fourth visit to Chengdu and third to the Flipflop. Seeing a few of my students, re-visiting ancient sites and new ones I haven’t see for a while is like coming home. Some things are meant to be unexplainable I think, only felt from the heart. As if living the dream of your highest aspiration and then it becoming you. For me it’s going to those places that inspire me. Ultimately getting to the place that where I am is not as important as the memories I have gained from where and who I have been in history. As if here now only to be 100_5673continually inspired. Most importantly the only question remaining is – am I being true to my authentic self?

My friend Pablo from Chile I met at the mountain has joined me here in Chengdu at the Flipflop. It sounds like Pablo and I are headed today by fast train to the Leshon Buddha… stay tuned.

The Leshan Giant Buddha was impressive as it looked down on the convergence of two rivers. Legend has it that he was placed here to stop the flooding that caused so much havoc. The Leshan Giant Buddha is a 71-meter (233 feet) tall stone statue, built between 713 and 803, depicting Maitreya. It is carved out of a cliff face of Cretaceous red bed sandstone that lies at the confluence of the Min River and Dadu River in the southern part of Sichuan province in China, near 100_5711the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below its feet. They say it did help with flooding… for a while, but man continued to build.

In addition to the Buddha, I was most impressed by the Lingyan Temple adjacent to it, and especially the Cave of I 100_5685Ching. I have much to write here later when I have time. The pictures I took here were amazing. Adjacent to the temple is the Lingbao Pagoda.

I am continually struck by this idea of convergence of energies directed at the ultimate – where we fit in the universe. That regardless of our, what may be called 100_5699philosophical or religious leanings, there is no separation between us and all that there is now, has, or will be. How can something be good for me and bad for everyone and everything else?

Seeing this engraving of Lao Tzu here at the cave at the Lingyan Buddhist Temple heralding the I Ching says it all. This picture and it’s location here was worth the cost of the trip and I am not in Tibet yet. I think this expresses better than I could why my own Kongdan Foundation I began more than ten years ago is so important to me. It allows my the opportunity to express where I have been and illustrate the best way for me to take the next step enmeshed with the Tao.

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