China: Sanya & The Sheep
The Golden Summit of WudangShan
The Three Noble Treasures of the Heavenly Way – My Initiation into The Tao
The last few days have been lovely, quite calm. Beautiful beaches, driving around the island, dipping into five-star pools and spending time with great people, until yesterday when i met a slighty strange Chinese man who invited me to a party. In his words this “party” was to be himself, his friends, food and conversation. I graciously accepted his kind offer and agreed to meet him back at the vegetarian restaurant where we had met, at eight pm. After several hours of beach time, swimming to islands and further abusing of five-star hotel pools eight pm arrived. Waiting on a moped was lee, the man who invited us to his party.
We follow his lead in our hire car, winding through traffic towards the unknown destination. Fifteen minutes later we arrive, and are greeted by several middle-aged chinese ladies in white. We knew it was some sort of Buddhist meeting but did not expect the kind we found. We were fed noodles and tofu and told to relax, eat and not be shy. Once finished we were lead upstairs, asked to clean our hands with the wet towels provided and cross the threshold into the sacred space. I was un-knowingly entering the world of Tao and The Three Noble Treasures of the Heavenly Way.
A small white room housing around thirty people, a Buddhist shrine and a table filled with tea and fruit, predominantly oranges awaited us. We were each given a form to compleat. Full name, age, sex and date of birth. We were asked to give a minimal donation to help buy books and provide the offering we were about give to Buddha. We were informed that our names would be presented to the sky to wait for us in death. We were told we would always be welcome to the temple and told to bring our parents, to eat, sleep and pray there whenever we needed. If there was ever a problem in our lives the temple was always a home. All we needed to do was clasp our hands in the special way and chant our secret mantra, that we were to be given during the ceremony. The ceremony starts and the master appears. A short thin man, in grey robes stands forward in front of us, just shy of the altar. He drops his head and it begins.
Incense, chanting, men moving around the space. Women giving ques for the chants to commence. More bowing, chanting and incense. A manuscript containing our names was read to Buddha then lit by the master and left to burn, evaporating into the sky. We were then asked to kneel at the altar to take our vow; ready to receive The Three Treasures.
The Heavenly Portal
The master placed his finger upon my face, between my eyes. The doorway by which our original nature enters and leaves the body. Without it being un-locked the true self is unable to leave when the body dies; instead leaving through one of the side gates – ie the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, navel of vertex. That would have implications when being reincarnated. My portal was now open.
The Divine Mantra
A sacred series of words was whispered to me, which has the power to save my life. It was only to be used in extremely dangerous situations. The mantra is to act as a powerful spiritual distress signal to the divine forces much like an SOS, transmitted by radio waves. It is to be protected silently and mentally with great concentration, whilst at the same time focusing the eyes on the Heavenly Portal and holding the Symbolic Seal with the hands. If sincerely cultivated i would always remain under the refuge of Buddha.
The Symbolic Seal
The joining of hands which unites us with god. Like a contract between myself and the heavenly mother. A signal, a password, a passport. A spiritual instrument of identification as well as a symbol with many ramifications. A protection from any impending calamities.
Before receiving the Tao from the master two people took an oath at the altar. One as my Introducer and one as my Sponsor. Without these two people the Tao could not be transmitted to me. The sponsor guarantees that the Tao is the true path and that the teachings are genuine, the introducer vouching for my good character and guaranteeing my good conduct.
Question – How can these strangers who don’t have any idea who i am do this?
I was lead to take a vow which stated i would faithfully adhere to the principles of Tao and not reveal the secret teachings of the Three Treasures to anybody.
Question – How could i do this when i know so little about it?
” Pinky Binks, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you for this is your most auspicious day. Today you have received the Tao which is the ultimate aim of existence. All the Buddhas and Saints attained the Tao in the past and, by transcending the limitations of birth and death, you have become immortal. That which you have received today is the same Tao”.
I was informed that the Tao was ineffable, sacred and sublime. That i had just been saved by someone and that i should try my very best to spread the exalted teachings to you, my fellow human beings. To urge my family, friends and acquaintances to receive the Tao. By doing so i would not only be saving someones physical body from disaster, but saving my true self from the sufferings of reincarnation. ( by this i think they meant that i would not come back as a creepy little fish ). Not only would the person be saved if he cultivated himself properly but also his ancestors and nine generations of future offspring by virtue. What are you waiting for?????? Choose Tao today?
Once the majority of people started to descend the staircase for refreshments i was given a membership card stating the date i had been done, two oranges and further advice on how i should practice, from my master. The slightly creepy man who initially invited me to ‘The Party’ told me to visit him anytime in the local duty-free supermarket. I left the building, lit up a cigarette and made my way into the darkness. Two hours had passed so quickly. I left feeling the situation was slightly forced, slightly intriguing but slightly odd. Here i was expecting canapes, cocktails and conversation, but no, it was my chance to be saved; here in paradise.