Home. After journeying for three weeks through China, it is good, as always, to return home. And yet, I felt happily at home and comfortable in each moment of the trip, as I slipped into the arms of the motherland, immersed in the ancient arts and practices I have come to love so much. My teacher, Dr. Roger Jahnke, introduced our first practice by inviting us to not only take a horizontal journey through the country, but also a vertical one – to mine the depths of the ground we stood upon and connect with the heavens above. This was a tour of alchemy. We visited the areas where inner alchemy practices thrived for centuries, and we too gathered the ingredients of wondrous sights, sounds, smells, and tastes to rarify into a magical elixir. Mine is still bubbling and brewing, as I sift through the magnitude of what I digested. A few notable insights have emerged so far.
Though the government has at times spurned and censored “superstitious” practices over the years, it seems that there is renewed interest in the cultural heritage of qigong, taiji, and the related arts. Regular citizens flock to the parks each morning to practice qigong and taiji (with a little salsa dancing thrown in for good measure). Qigong, taiji, gongfu, and all the Daoist arts are alive and well in the Daoist mountains, most notably at the magnificent Wudang Mountain region where masters carry on the legacy of their lineage. In fact, busloads of Chinese tourists spill out daily into the Buddhist and Daoist mountains and temples, as the country rediscovers its historical foundations. We were the only foreign tourists among throngs of Chinese, seeking a peek at the sacred.
On this vertical journey, I am grateful to have tapped deep into the root of ancient China and know that its richness continues to flourish. And as for connecting with the heavens, well, that’s easy to do on a mountaintop, resplendent with golden-green bamboo, warm sunshine, and waves of mountains fading into the horizon.
There is a Chinese saying: “Be a Buddhist in your heart, a Daoist in your bones, and a Confucian on the surface.” This is the alchemy of ideologies. May we each embody the compassion of a Buddhist, the simplicity and inner peace of a Daoist, and the virtue of a Confucian.
And may you feel at home wherever you are.