My time in Wudang is over (for now), so I thought I would finish my trip by writing a short post about what’s going on over here.
As many of you know I was supposed to leave Wudang at the end of August, but I decided to stay three and a half months longer than planned. As these additional three and a half months have come to a close I am very happy I made the decision to stay longer. I have learnt so much about myself and my practice in these past months; the time there has been absolutely invaluable for me.
The greatest reward, however, I received on my last day in Wudang.
As a part of closing down the energy in my last week in Wudang I asked Master Zhong if I could ask him a few questions about what he thought Dao was, and what he thought Daoism could contribute to modern society. He agreed and told me to meet him in his home for some tea and conversation the morning before I left for Beijing. I immediately felt honored since none of us had ever been invited over there before.
The morning of the interview I was escorted over to his house by one of the Chinese masters and met Master Zhong standing in the courtyard in front of his house in his slippers, sweeping away the pine needles that had fallen the night before when the wind was strong. He smiled briefly and told me to go sit in the tea room while he finished up. I assembled the tripod and camera I was going to use to film the interview and made myself comfortable on one of the cushions. Shortly after I had taken a seat he entered, sat down and started preparing the tea. While he was going through the ritual of the tea ceremony I asked him the questions I had prepared for him. He spoke about how the world is changing and that there is a limit to how much stress we can put on it. He also spoke about how it is important for us to have compassion for each other, and help people even if we don’t know if we’re getting anything in return. He spoke at considerably more depth then what I just described, but I haven’t finished translating the recording yet so this will have to do for now.
After he answered my questions, we sat talking for quite a while. He told me that he thought I was training hard compared to the others, but that he still wasn’t satisfied with my efforts. He went on to tell me about what the training was like when he first started, and let me tell you, that is some of the heaviest training I’ve ever heard about! He told me they ran up to the Golden summit and back every day, they had to do 10.000 kicks every day, and they didn’t even learn their first form until two years had passed. After he told me this I immediately felt like I had been lazier than I could have, and I also told him this. He smiled when I acknowledged that.
Later on he was showing me some calligraphy -- painting with the tea water and a brush -- when he asked me which characters made up my Chinese name. I told him that I had recently grown unhappy with my Chinese name, and I asked him if he could give me a new one. He sat for a few minutes in silence pondering what my new name should be and eventually gave me the name Ling Yuan (凌远), which means something like fierce profundity. I thought that was a pretty cool name to be given by a Kungfu master! He then started writing characters on a piece of paper. As he was writing he suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, told me that he wished to make me the Wudang Sanfeng sects sixteenth generation wushu successor. I would be the first foreigner he had ever taken on as his disciple. I could hardly believe that this was happening, was he really saying what he said? Had I misheard him? The next words that came out of his mouth were a question: “do you accept?”. I was not expecting anything of this sort happening on my last day in Wudang, and my mind was reeling from trying to get to grips with what he was saying. After what felt like a long time -- but was probably only seconds -- I answered “I accept”. Master Zhong then finished writing what turned out to be a document saying that I was his disciple and that I was a lineage holder of the Wudang martial arts.
I am truly humbled and deeply honored that Master Zhong chose to make me his disciple, and even now a couple of days later it seems unreal to think about it. Why he chose me as his disciple I am not sure, but I will try my best to live up to the expectations that creates, and use the openings that arise wisely. It will obviously mean that I will eventually be going back to Wudang to continue my training there. For now though, I want to focus on what is just around the corner -- seeing all of you guys back home again. I can’t wait to see you all.
Master Zhong and me in front of the tea room.
Master Zhong teaching me in the Purple Heaven Temple
All the best from Beijing, China.
Bjarte Hiley 凌远