ChengFanOnce upon a time…”a spacewoman came traveling on a ship from afar”…oh no, that is a different story. This one could be the opposite: a woman from Earth going to another planet, or from the common society to the top of a holy mountain in the middle of China…
What is common society? How does this environment affect our being? Are we really ourselves? Where do we go? What’s the purpose of our life?
From birth, we are told what we have to do, what is “right” and what is “wrong” : eating 3 times a day, sleeping 8 hours at night, going to school, studying well to have a good job, earning a lot of money to buy a big house where we can raise our kids and our dog, buying a beautiful car to take the family on holiday and impress our neighbors, buying a big TV to relax at night watching programs that format our brain even more, but we think we need it to forget our problems : the stress from the job, the responsibility of the family, the social pressure which wants us to be “a normal person”…
We live with the desires of the society, we are never satisfied with what we have, we always want more, and more, and more. We don’t realize that these material things don’t fulfill us, we continue because that’s the only way we know, the one we grew up with. We think that the beautiful clothes we wear make us a better person, that if we don’t buy a trendy cellphone to be connected all the time, we will lose all our friends and stay alone forever…
We also live with the fears of society: we have accumulated a lot of pricey goods through hard work and of which we are proud. They are the proof that “we have succeeded”, and we are identified with them. They are our image, our fame, our wealth and the biggest fear we have is to lose it. Because if we lose it, we lose everything we’ve built to give sense to our life, and our little world collapses. But what’s the meaning of that? How can these material things represent us? Who are we?
The common society is sick. Is it right to be healthy in a sick society? Most of us are sick in this society. Why? Because it’s not the life we are born to live. Some of us get depressed, some go crazy or have a burn out, some sink into drugs and others wage war… In these troubles we are all looking for something different. But we don’t know what the truth is and where to go to look for it. We’ve forgotten who we are, we have lost our direction.
That’s how I arrived in Bai Ma Shan 10 months ago. I was like a child lost in this world, and I needed help. I don’t know which forces brought me up here, but it has been exactly what I needed: a guide to give me a map, a light, and show me the right direction. Li ShiFu says it’s the destiny : ” 7 billion people in the world, how many do we have the destiny to meet ?!”
I was like a bird in a cage. The cage of the society. The cage of the habits I’ve built through behavior and thoughts for almost 30 years, and that I believed were mine. Li ShiFu is the one that opened the door of my cage and showed me what else existed outside of it, and that this cage is not reality nor truth.
Now imagine you are this bird, you’ve lived in this cage all your life, you have eaten the only food you’ve been given and you have done the things that you’ve learnt as right or “normal” for a bird in a cage. You have it in your cells, and even deeper as your parents and all your ancestors have lived the same way before you. So what do you do when you see the outside, when you realize that you have lived blindly all your life up until now? And what do you do when you are told that the power of the Universe is unlimited, that you are part of this Universe, and that you can fly very high and be free of this cage if you want to?
Just go! Fly! You’re free!!
Well…no…It is not that simple… Because you don’t know how to fly. You don’t know how to find your food, nor how to build your nest and protect yourself. You have to start from scratch, and learn…
That’s what I’ve tried to do since I arrived here at the Five Immortals Temple, guided by somebody who has already experienced himself through hardships, and learned a lot from his own teachers.
The process of change takes time, a lot of time. First you listen to the wise man telling you what this new “world” is about, and you try to understand. It is not easy because you still have the same body and the same mind as before. They haven’t forgotten the cage yet…
And then you put these new principles into practice. You try to understand your wings and make them beat: it means you have to build a strong and healthy body as a foundation, and make the Qi flow freely inside of it. That is what practicing TaiChi and QiGong is about, and all the physical practice in general. So first: move!
If you want to be able to fly out of your cage, you have to understand yourself as well as your environment in order to regulate and find the balance: these are the rules of the Universe, the principles of Yin and Yang, the 5 elements and all that is included in it. And it’s a lot: let’s say…more or less… 10 000 things…
As you just discovered the outside of your cage, you encounter resistance from your ego, which is still identified to your old way of thinking. This is the biggest part of the work in the process of change. It is the work of every day, every hour, and every instant of our lives to retrieve the heart mind, in order to find ourselves and be able to go higher. It is not easy, and it takes time, patience and perseverance. Regular sitting meditation helps a lot for this. But also all practices where you can stop the flow of your thoughts : training your Gong, reciting mantras, painting, cleaning the courtyard or whatever activity you can do mindfully. Being here and now, calming your heart, calming your thoughts. Yesterday is already a memory, and tomorrow doesn’t exist yet: you build your future with what you do today.
Your previous way of living created a lot of imbalances in your body. Of course, living in a cage is not following the natural way… So you have to recover from these problems. For that, the ancient knowledge of High Daoist Doctors is great, using again the principles of yin¬yang and the 5 elements applied to many different traditional methods.
During my time at the temple, I could experience a few of those (herbal formulae’s, acupressure, moxa, cupping, fire therapy, formless healing…), and go deeper into the content during the Daoist Medicine course.
The bird now knows how to train in order to fly higher, it can better understand its environment according to the natural elements and the rules of Heaven and Earth. It can understand how to regulate with the seasons, differing which kind of food he can eat, and what to do when he encounters problems. That’s already a big step.
But where to live if there is no cage anymore? Which direction is best to follow, as the world is so vast? This also what we have to learn. We have to understand that, as a bird as well as a human, our destiny is written from conception, like a contract signed between Heaven & Earth that determines what the purpose of our life is. We have forgotten it. We have lost our intuition, our sixth sense, and we don’t know where our direction is, what is right or wrong, what is good or bad for us. But Heaven & Earth still know and we can ask them for some help, some guidance. The I Jing, or Book of Change, is a tool we can use for this purpose. Including the Yin Yang, 5 elements, 8 trigrams, Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, this knowledge is also very big and complex. But with simple methods and a basis of understanding, we can already interpret the answers we receive from higher realms through the hexagrams and try to match the elements to make better choices in everyday life. The I Jing and all the principles aforesaid are also part of the Feng Shui. Feng Shui is the ancient knowledge that helps people to regulate their environment, to enhance the good energies and limit the evil ones. Such a content is so vast and could be studied for an entire life, but we’ve learnt the basic principles and it is enough to regulate our living and preserve our health. We have to go and put them into practice, experience and “open our brain hole: if we understand one thing, we can understand a hundred”, according to LiShiFu.
10 months in Bai Ma Shan, and it’s time to go now…
When I arrived I was a weak and blind bird, my wings were atrophied and I was kept in a cage of thoughts and habits that harmed me and that I didn’t need anymore. Isn’t it a big destiny for such a bird to be taught how to fly from a dragon?!
Yes it is. I’m very grateful and thankful to LiShiFu for his help, showing compassion and love, being patient as well as strict and pushing me on the right way: “elevate yourself, open your thoughts, practice your gong, persevere, again and again…”. These months haven’t been the easiest at all, but it has definitely been a turning point in my life. I’m not the same anymore. Of course I haven’t completely changed and the road is long, it takes time, but I improved a lot and now I have a direction, I’m not blind anymore.
After this kind of experience, we have the choice : going back to the old, the cage, or follow the light and grasp our life. I know I can’t go back, even if it takes time, even if it is bitter, even if sometimes I take steps backwards, I know I can’t go back. It would be a lack of respect, for Li ShiFu of course, but also for myself. When you’ve suffered, you can’t
forget it, and you don’t want to go back to it, especially if it depends on your own choices and actions. Sometimes, we have to be spanked to move forward ; LiShiFu doesn’t dare to do it, I have to do it myself : my life is in my hands.
I’m also very happy because I’ve met a lot of very nice birds here, which are also trying to fly away from their cages. We are walking the same path, and it’s precious to know that we are not alone. Thanks brothers and sisters, for your help and your support. I’ve learnt from all of you, from your successes and your difficulties, from your advices and your sharing’s, from your love and your compassion. I hope we can continue practicing and elevating ourselves, in order to open the door of other people’s cages, and help them to fly higher…

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