Episode Eleven

July-October 2010

I met a Taoist immortal – or so he appeared to me. We went to the Shaolin Temple – yes, of Kung Fu fame. The martial arts training was cool. Missed the stage show, as I have seen those before.

It is little known outside of China, but the Shaolin Temple is where Zen Buddhism was brought into this realm. A monk from India, named BodhiDharma, came to Shaolin. They would not let him study there, so he went up the mountain and meditated – staring at a cave wall for nine years. It is said he left behind his shadow on the wall. They moved the cave wall down to the temple, and I bought a stone with my Chinese name carved into – from that intersection of the cosmic realm and the physical plane that gave birth to Zen. I am polishing it a bit with a stone from a 2000 year old Taoist temple.

The Shaolin Temple has what is a called a pagoda forest.

It is where the ashes of the abbots and powerful monks are interred. We were walking through there and I spotted an old wall. Behind that wall there was an ancient old man, leaning on his side, in a sort of meditative position. He held out his hand, looked me in the eye, and I felt a powerful energy from him. I gave him 15 rmb without hesitating. And instantly felt a wave of positive energy wash around me. Now, I have read many stories of immortal beings – holy men of India, Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist… I felt we were blessed.

In Longmen Grotto, there are over 100,000 carvings there in the mountainside, which were carved over a period of about 500 years. These stood the test of time and erosion, until the Cultural Revolution when the madness stormed across China smashing the old culture. Think of the absolute darkness of smashing a holy object. But the colossal statues are still there, mostly intact. There are tens of thousands of others intact. We timed it so we would avoid the crowds and had the enormous statues to ourselves for about ten minutes.

Standing at the foot of the Buddha and all the guardian’s spirits, nirvana-attained saints – I looked about and watch the swallows drifting along on the breeze as they darted around the cliff and felt a oneness a deep sense of calm. It was a powerful experience.

Then we went to a 2000 year old Taoist Temple which was so relaxing. The Taoist are very peaceful. We also saw two cypress trees that are 4500 years old. Phenomenal.

For the Fourth of July, Cate and I visited with my ex-wife who is here on business. That was a calm if somewhat strange afternoon.

We went to America for my Dad’s birthday. It was my first time back in the US since I moved to China.

October 11, 2010

Our time in America was wonderful.

Chicago’s Chinatown is about six blocks by three or four. A microcosm of greater China, especially southern China – dirtier than many parts of the city, but the food is authentic, the grandma’s could have dropped in from anywhere-China. Hong at first felt comfie, then after seeing US more, felt it was typical of Chinese businesses, but still enjoyed the food 🙂

Hong was surprised that food was cheap in US, and how polite people are. Heck in Chicago even the commuter train ticket takers were more polite than anyone I’ve met in China. She liked the open spaces, and fell in love with squirrels and wildlife. We spent a night in wildlife part, and she and I visited numerous parks in my hometown, Chicago and Peoria. Hong and I spent a day with my old boss, who is a fine example of a truly Christian soul who teaches kids even in his retirement, because environmental education has been his life. Hong now considers him her hero 🙂 She was also surprised how much cheaper real estate is in the Midwest. And we spent a beautiful last day wandering the lakefront and Hong enjoyed everything in the Field Museum – it is one of the world’s great museums, and I did some work with their education section – back when I was a webmaster/teacher-trainer/editor/designer… whatever it took.

I spent a couple hours with some old friends, and a couple days with my dad and family. We brought him a 5 kg mooncake – Hong got in Guangxi – and everyone liked it.

Spending time with the girls and my son was the utmost consideration for me. I even arranged for Hong to have a job interview, which turned into an afternoon of her observing a Chinese teaching class.

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