Why we met?
What’s guiding our journey?
What will we see?
In March, Antje came to China. She showed me several objects, and three of them were bought from China. This is her reason of visiting China again: To find out all about these objects in the country where they are from.
After checking these three objects, I immediately have some clues in mind. These clues are from my own live.
Teapot – I often have tea with tea-friends in my spare time. They believe that tea can increase spirituality; Meteorite – My good friend’s mother Lu Ling is a folk scientist. She does research on impact craters. She is a respected person who is full of passion, sticks to her research and theories, no matter if official scientists exclude her theories; The Buddha hand sculpture – in recent years I’m learning the wisdom of Buddhism and Taoism. I had the feeling that Buddha hand is related. So I searched its story via internet and found out that it’s about Guan Yin.
When I told this to Antje, she is very excited that everything seemed so “right.” This “right”, my understanding it that: like traveling in an unknown sea area for discovering treasures. And the objects she brought are fragments of a treasure map. I’m just one navigator who is trying to interpret a very small part of the treasure map.
Why Antje chose those objects amongst all kinds of goods?
Why did I notice that clue amongst all those information?
Following these clues, we started our journey.
First we went to meet a teapot expert named Huang Jian. I’ve heard from other tea-friends that many people ask him to help on picking good teapots. Our conversation began with Antje’s teapot. Its shape is of an elegant hand. But we only spent a very short time talking about it. According to his description, it’s not a good teapot from both workmanship and styling. Most of the day, we talked about tea, energy, spirituality and consciousness. Huang Jian, with his rich knowledge on traditional Chinese art and culture, he told us his views and experience, very impressive.
Huang Jian took us to a tea house in the evening. A tea-friend opened this tea house in order to have more friends share tea together. That evening, there were more than ten people sitting around the tea table. It’s Antje’s first visit and she had many questions to ask. However, most of time, they just smiled without replying. Tea master calmly poured the hot water into the teapot, put the lid on, and filtered out the tea. For a short while he closed his eyes and took a slow deep breath. Then he picked up the teapot and share tea with us, he said: “Say little, think less, drink more tea.” Sat there and watched everybody’s eyes closed, their thoughts drifted far, their faces filled with satisfaction and peace, we think that we do not need more explanations.
LOG2: The Meteorite
The following journey, Lu Ling led us to Yang Wu Sha Village where a big meteorite located. Lu Ling explained her theories to us before. She is convinced that meteorites’ falling on Earth is the cause of life. The large meteorite in Yang Wu Sha Village is the best evidence of her theories. Yang Wu Sha Village is benefit from its unique natural environment. It’s located at the foot of a National Park named Nan Kun Mountain. The spring water from the mountain nourishes crops and villagers. Bamboos grow in profusion there. Relying on processing bamboo furniture parts, everyone has a job, lives a comfortable life.
Out of the car, Lu Ling and villagers took us to see their precious meteorite. It’s placed on a marble base, in front of their ancestral hall by the fish pond. It’s a heavy black iron meteorite. The texture looks similar to Antje’s small one. Shaped like a horn as the villagers call it “The Iron Ox”.
Stories of the iron ox have been going round the village. Three hundred year ago when the construction of the village began, a Feng Shui master guided the layout of the village. People found this big stone when they’re digging the fish pond. They carried it to the side and continue digging. But the next day, the stone moved back into the fish pond. It happened for several times. People thought it is a stone monster. They asked the Feng Shui master to deal with it. He let people knock a small crack on the stone with an axe, and it no longer moved again. Another saying is that after the fish pond was built, the fish always dies. The villagers think that this stone monster eats fish and the Feng Shui master solved it.
Beyond that, there are many interesting customs in the village. For example, the door position of the ancestral hall. The Feng Shui master told the villager that, for placing the door, one side would be beneficial to wealth, to the other side would be conducive to procreation. The villagers chose the side which will give them more and more children. It is also said that the layout of the village is basic on the Imperial Palace Chart. When we opened Google map to check the satellite imagery of it, we can see the pond and the ancestral hall is the center, and rows of houses are built around them. About the mystery within, it could only be seen by very few people who master the very special knowledge.
Now it’s three hundred years after, Lu Ling visited Yang Wu Sha village for her research. She confirmed that this is a meteorite from outer space after scientific tests. More and more tourists come to see the meteorite after it’s reported. Now the villagers treat this stone as their protector. Lu Ling has also become an important member of the village. They hope to attract tourists by the meteorite, to develop eco-tourism, in order to against the rare metals mine next to the village which is polluting their home land. Bless them!
LOG3: The Buddha Hand
The trip to Zhejiang province was filled with all kinds of coincidence.
- Jinhua city of Zhejiang is the origin of golden fingered citron. The temple of Chisong of Jinhua city is the legendary place where Huang Chu Ping practiced Taoism and finally became immortal;
- According to legend, Buddha hand was transformed from Guan Yin’s hand. Bai Que Temple of Peach Blossom Island in Zhoushan city was the place where princess Miao Shan practiced Buddhism and became Guan Yin;
- It happened to be Guan Yin’s Birthday Celebration when we were in Zhoushan.
We plan to visit three places one by one: Bai Que Temple in Peach Blossom Island; Immortal Huang Palace in Chisong town; the plantattions where the golden fingered citron is grown, which are also located in Chisong town. These three places, in a sense, are places of beginning.
Bai Que Temple and Guan Yin:
During Guan Yin’s Birthday Celebration, a grand Buddhism festival, Peach Blossom Island appeared to be much quieter compared with Putuo Mountain where most pilgrims visited. In Bai Que Temple, monks in yellow kasaya and lay Buddhists in dark brown gown were busy, hardly any tourists.
We first looked for the clues of Antje’s Buddha hand sculpture. In the temple we met a monk. We told him, how Antje’s objects leaded her here and our purpose. He patiently heard us out. Antje handed him the Buddha hand and hoped for answers. He just took a quick look at it and said: “Worship the Guan Yin, and you will know.”
Antje felt that she no longer needs to ask any more. We began to walk around the temple and relax. We went to the Guan Yin Temple on top, burned the incense and prayed. Inside the temple, a group of lay Buddhists were folding colorful paper lotus. They are all older ladies. We’re curious, went over to watch. They warmly greeted us, had us sit down and taught us how to fold lotus. This was part of the blessing. Before the birthday of Guan Yin, the temple holds seven days of blessing. During the time, the monks and lay Buddhists do their best to pray for all living beings and the dead. After the birthday of Guan Yin, it is another seven days of blessing. That is the entire process.
A lotus was folded with twelve square papers. Each paper formed a petal, and was joined together. We carefully opened the folded papers at last, as if witnessed a Golden Lotus in full bloom, “Wow!” We were amazed by its beauty. The older ladies were also cheering for us.
The next day is Guan Yin’s birthday. A ceremony would be held on the beach. We took the earliest ferry to Peach Blossom Island. In the morning people burnt bags of paper tribute such as gold ingot. Shortly after lunch, people began to line-up. Monks were holding baldachin and divine instruments. Lay Buddhists were holding the paper tribute they made, small paper lotus tower, paper gold ingot tower and so on. In front of the queue, several people were carrying a big colorful paper boat filled with paper tributes. The queue set out for the beach when the music started. The whole process was very short and quick. On the beach, altar was set gracefully. The high monks presided over a brief ceremony. People lit the big paper boat, and one after another they stepped forward to offer paper tributes – put them into the fire and burnt into ashes. After that they immediately lined up back to the temple.
The beach resumed tranquil. Waves fluttered the shore like the breathing of the sea. We stayed on the beach and wonder. My brain began to emerge a lot of questions.
Why am I here? Looking at the sea, where do I have to go?
What attracts me so much? What do I expect while I look afar?
Do people live for a mission? What is my own mission? What is the meaning of life?
Antje was barefoot, standing on water praying silently, with her eyes closed and smiling. Her voice must be heard.
Immortal Huang Palace and Taoism:
Our hearts were full of happiness and peace after visiting Bai Que Temple. Then we went to the sacred place of Taoism – Immortal Huang Palace. If our BaiQue Temple trip has guided our hearts to a far distant height, then the Immortal Huang Palace trip brought us back to the happy world on earth. The temple was built on hill, but also has close connection with the villagers down the hill. Most of the Taoist priests are young and lively, men and women are wearing the same dress, treating each other equally.
There was also a Guan Yin altar inside Immortal Huang’s temple. According to Taoist stories, Guan Yin is called Ci Hang the Taoist. It’s said to be the result of blending religious when Buddhism entered Central Plains where Taoism prevailed many years ago.
We talked to a young Taoist in the temple, asked him about Buddha hand. He said fingered citron has nothing to do with Taoism, but here in this town is rich in golden fingered citron. At the end of every year, golden fingered citron pots are everywhere on the streets. Now the season of this fruit has gone. The moment he’d said, he went out excitedly and fetch us a golden fingered citron pot which was not yet withering. He gave one of the last fruits to Antje.
We passed a tea house in a courtyard and met another Taoist who was drying herbs. Knowing that we are interested in Taoism, He copied many e-books of valuable Taoist scriptures to us from his lap top computer.
Back to the temple, we met a Taoist sweeping the floor. He told us his opinion on “universe and man are one”. Buddhism and Taoism both have great wisdom, so that he’s practicing both.
In the end, we reached a golden fingered citron orchard at the foot of the hill. The manager showed us the orchard. He kindly gave each of us a golden fingered citron sprout before we left.
Now the sprout is in my balcony, growing leaves. The one Antje took back to Germany must be growing as well.
After the Zhejiang trip, we learned a lot, but the most significant doubt of Antje has yet to be resolved. I thought of my uncle Ma Xiaozhong who is a Feng Shui master and fortune-teller. I called him, just brought up a friend with doubts, he seemed immediately sensed something and said: “The 68-er is indeed a bit difficult this year. I’ll come see you tomorrow.”
As expected, the conversation between my uncle and Antje helped her a great deal.
The knowledge he touches is beyond time and where our bodies belong. This knowledge is only open for a few people who have special talent. We deeply feel that it is as deep as the universe. Our journey is just the beginning of exploration.
How everything begin? Will there be an end at all? Why should all things exist? Why all this happen? What is everything? … …
More and more new questions come out during the process of seeking answers, and it always does. Maybe we will have to struggle live after live to find all the answers.
(Xu Shuxian, June 2011, Guangzhou)