Preface of a new book…
The story of China as told by Dan and Yueqiong Yulan
In prehistory there was once a great shaman from northern China who came from the northeast near where the Yellow River meets the sea. He was honored by all the other holy men and shamaness who followed him. He seemed ageless and few could guess his age. Most could only say he had always been there from the beginning. His memories seemed to be timeless, much further back to the beginning of history when the universe was first formed, when earth and sky first came together. His connection between what was known and what was not known was indispensable to all the clans of northern China. Certainly from the river clans that looked to him in awe and wonder.
His color was red or ochre. As if you mixed the colors yellow from earth dug at the river’s edge and red together. He was known to create this fine mixture of untold ingredients and smear or put all over his body when he would spend time alone. It would be as if he was speaking to someone no one else could hear or see. When asked he would only say he was speaking to his brothers and peers, he called them dragons. He would say the color of red represented the earth and the blood that ran through our soul and eternity. When asked if he was red like the earth then what about where was the sky. He would only look to the southwest and sadly say that she was blue and far in the distance and point “she is there”. He knew that someday they would be together again.
All the shaman and clan leaders looked to him to guide them as he was a great teacher. They knew he came from the stars and knew of the Way… Beyond what could be known. When sitting with the children telling stories they would often giggle and laugh and ask him where he was from and he would say from there… as he pointed to the stars. “What’s up there, they would ask”. He would say, “The teachers of the Way and the lady of my life came from there. It was the last time I saw her before we came to earth. We came from the beginning of heaven and earth to be the protectors”. When he did this he would grow sad and they would ask “what’s the matter papa”, as if he was the father of them all. He would only say that she was there with him. Now they are apart here on earth. They would ask,”why you aren’t together now”? He would only smile and say someday we will be. The children would respond in unison, “We hope we can know such love someday”. The great shaman would simply say to follow your heart’s ultimate desire and you too can know this love. That we each came into this world with a “soul mate”, and that we can never be completed until we are reunited with this forever love. Just be careful who you give your heart too. This love is not of the physical kind, but the reuniting of two eternal spirits who came to earth to tell and teach others of the Way.
One of the older boys looked down from the stars that so illuminated the sky and asked the old shaman, “but what is this Way that we should know about that is so important?” The Great Shaman smiled at the young boy and said, “The way has its own reality and its signs, but is without action or form. You can hand it down from generation to generation but you cannot receive it; you can get it but you cannot see it. It is its own source; before heaven and earth existed it was there from ancient times. It gave spirituality to the spirits, some of which come to roam the earth like me. Someday I will teach others about this yin and yang. But they are not ready yet”. Two older boys toward the back looked at him and in unison asked, “Can I be like you someday?” The shaman answered “yes, but it is not easy being the shaman”. The girls would ask him how to find their soul mate. He would only look to the sky and thinking of her say “You must remember who you once were and from where you came and try to be that person. When you do the right person will return and come into your life. They are looking for you too”. The children knew this wisdom would stay with them forever. Although some were listening and some were not. They were stargazing.
The great shaman was loved and was considered the protector of all the people. Many holy men and women who vied to be shaman from other clans came to spend time with him in hopes that his greatness might rub off on them. His arrival at clan gatherings always created a stir. People would come just to get a glimpse of him. When the shaman from the clans would meet disagreements were almost always settled by a glance from him and order would be restored. He was their connection between heaven and earth. But his people often worried about him because on most days he appeared to be sad as if he had lost something. He often tried to avoid gatherings when the beautiful young girls would be present as though his thoughts were lost up in the sky as he thought of the one he left behind. It was as if a piece of his heart was missing.
They called him Dan after the color red he rubbed all over his body when he would go off to speak with the powers of the universe before addressing everyone. He was so mystical. His presence during these times brought great comfort to everyone. Or was it that the color red for the earth representing everything they had come to know was named after him. Or even perhaps through the wisdom he shared with them. It had been so many years no one could remember. It was agreed that no one else could share this name of Dan and it was understood that in the future only those who could reflect this eternal wisdom could be so named, while the color red was to be immortalized as sacred for all time to come in his honor.
Far to the southwest a great shamaness lived who was the equal of Dan. They shared the same eternal energy. She too came from the stars and was a great leader of her clan as well. Her healing powers were so well known that people came from everywhere to have her help them to recover from illness and injury. She knew all the special herbs and teas and even pressure points in the body that would speed healing. With great wisdom she always seemed to know what to do in difficult situations. The shaman in her territory would often come to consult with her and to get her advice. She would freely give it only if it led to peace and harmony among all the people. But no one knew where she was from.
When asked she would only look up and say “I came from the sky with Dan”. When pressed for whom and where this Dan was, she would only grow sad and lightly touch her chest and say “He is here in my heart. When we left the stars above, he took a piece of my heart with him and I took a piece of his. We share the same eternal energy and destiny”. She then smiled and said “someday we will be together again. In the beginning of time we were there (her arms outreached to show all the stars in the universe and heaven) long before the memories can say or know. We loved to travel the heavens together with our forever friends. I am them and they are me. But it is Dan’s company I linger for. It is our destiny one day to return to the stars to be together again. In the meantime we made a vow to help others to meet their own challenges and encourage them to look to the sky that will foretell their own future and destiny. To remind them that they are made of star stuff as well. We made a vow to stay connected forever and we shall. I hope to catch up with him on earth someday to share our stories. I know that Dan will come for me”. The Shamaness name was Yueqiong Yulan. Like all the girls in southwest China, she reflected the beauty of the most beautiful flower to be seen or found. She was strong and sturdy, yet delicate and would always seem ready to crumble at the slightest touch. But this was just an illusion that allowed her to keep and maintain her distance her eternal beauty craved and depended on.
Over the centuries that followed the exploits of Dan and Yueqiong Yulan became legend. Although they often took on the names of others, they were known by those who could keep their secret. They were the great shaman and shamaness who would travel the north and south of China taking on the form of the person history needed at just that moment. Their stories became common knowledge to storytellers who told of their always bringing others to their highest endeavors as teachers of how people should live in harmony and look to the sky for their own star. They were famous because their spirits could take human form and travel from generation to generation as they were always in search of the other one who always carried a piece of their heart. For the Yellow Emperor, the Great Yu, King Wen, other shaman who would become king, Ji Dan the Duke of Zhou, Confucius, Lao and Chuang Tzu, and all who would follow one of them was always there, always present, always knowing the next step to be taken, yet always staying in the background hoping others would be ready to fulfill their own destiny.
One the Great Shaman would recall many centuries later would be his dear friend, the great Chuang Tzu. “Ah the good times and plum wine we shared together. The stories Chuang would tell and the underlying truths and contradictions he could expose for what was considered the status quo at the time. The laughter we would share exposing others to their ego and follies. He was a great teacher and was the first to convince me to take pen in hand and convey the true essence of history and the Tao for myself through my own hand. Along with his alter ego, Lieh Tzu, they could pass judgment on the ten thousand things but not consider themselves righteous. Extend to the ten thousand things, but not consider them benevolent. While older than the highest antiquity, Chuang Tzu did not see himself as long-lived or old. Although I knew better because his home was on the star next to mine and we rode dragons together up to the point when we became dragons ourselves long before there was either space or time. Chuang Tzu could cover heaven, bear up the earth, help to carve up and fashion countless forms (what he does best), while never taking himself too seriously. He is a true instrument of the Tao. He will always be my forever friend,” said the Great Shaman.
We three have always been present in the face of history giving guidance to other shaman, philosophers and the future leaders of China. Many times they would hear that the other had just left and would be missed again… until now as they are ready to finally tell the world their story. This is their story as living history. Of Dan, Chuang Tzu, Yueqiong Yulan, and many, many others who have served as the instrument of Heaven and the Tao.