One Hundred Days of Darkness and Light
One Hundred Days of Darkness and Light
is the first section in Robert Peng's book,
The Master Key
The Mysterious Mr. Tan
The Legendary Monk Xiao Yao
Sometime around the year 1889, a baby boy was born to a poor family in a small, long-forgotten village in southern China. The facts surrounding his early years remain vague. Both his parents died while he was still a child, and the orphaned boy was entrusted to a duty-bound relative who couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. The boy’s future looked bleak. After some deliberation, the relative decided to present the boy to the abbot of Jiuyi Temple, a Buddhist monastery several days’ walk away. He packed a few belongings for the child and ventured warily with him into the forest. Despite gangs of bandits stalking the woodlands, the pair trekked to the base of Snowy Peak Mountain safely and began their arduous ascent to the monastery.
The monastery was built high up near the summit, where it seemed to float among the clouds and snowy peaks. The serenity of the compound appealed to individuals seeking refuge from the whirling chaos of life, and the spiritual aura of the temple it housed attracted souls looking for spiritual enlightenment and timeless wisdom. Although Jiuyi Temple was a small monastery that accommodated only a few dozen monks, it was venerated by the local villagers as a sanctuary that produced remarkable sages with extraordinary powers. Locals often hiked the treacherous five-hour trail that led to the monastery to receive a blessing or a healing.
The man and the boy now followed that trail, weaving through lush foliage and snaking up a series of vertiginous outcrops that overlooked the lowlands below. The view was both dizzying and dazzling. Finally, they arrived at the main gate. The monastery radiated an atmosphere of mystery and power. The dormitories and the dining hall formed the walled perimeter of the quadrangle. The pine trees growing in the inner courtyard softened the bricks and stones and exuded a pleasant fragrance that blended harmoniously with the sweet mountain air. The focal point of the monastery was the temple that stood in the middle of the courtyard—an elevated building made of sturdy timber with a curved roof covered by jade-green tiles.
Inside the temple was a twenty-foot-tall gold-lacquered Buddha seated cross-legged on a lotus flower, smiling peacefully past the spiraling wisps of incense that shrouded him and gazing dispassionately at the vaporous skies that flowed like a celestial river beyond the distant treetops.
The two weary travelers crossed the main gate reverently, and the man asked to speak with the abbot. He explained the orphan’s dire situation to the abbot, who agreed to take charge of the little boy. The man bid the child farewell and quickly returned to his village.
Over time, the boy adapted to his new home. The older monks became his parents and the younger monks his older brothers. He was a sprightly child with an easygoing disposition, and he was given the nickname Xiao Yao, which means “free flowing.” He learned the martial arts, healing arts, and meditation. He prayed, studied, and trained hard. When he was older, he visited other monasteries to learn special skills from other masters. For several years he lived in a cave, meditating for months without interruption. Xiao Yao mastered the most advanced practices and attained the highest levels of enlightenment.
Many years passed. Xiao Yao’s teachers died, as did the older monks who raised him. He climbed up the hierarchy and gradually became one of the senior monks at Jiuyi Temple. He was highly respected by his peers for his wisdom and revered by the villagers for his healing powers. The local mountaineers often repeated stories they heard about Xiao Yao, and his reputation became legendary.
One popular story was about an incident that took place in 1948. A cruel bandit and his gang hid out in the forest, attacking travelers and robbing farmers. On one occasion the bandit raped a young girl, and terror spread. The local authorities were too weak to subdue them, so a group of villagers sent a representative to Jiuyi Temple to plead for help. Xiao Yao was dispatched to handle the matter. No one knows for sure what happened, as Xiao Yao went into the forest alone, but the gang disbanded and some of its former members became his students.
Another story about Xiao Yao was told to me by an old man who claimed the incident was witnessed by many people. One day a farmer was tilling his field when his bull suffered a nervous breakdown. It bucked madly, kicked away the farmer, rampaged through the village, and gored several people. The villagers wanted to kill the bull, but the farmer’s family depended on it for their survival, so he pleaded that they refrain. The villagers agreed only after he told them he would go to Jiuyi Temple to ask for help.
Xiao Yao returned to the village with the farmer. The bull was grazing quietly in a field as a group of men watched from a safe distance. No one had dared to approach the beast. Xiao Yao calmly walked toward it. As he neared, the bull reared its huge head and snorted. With lightning speed, Xiao Yao slapped his palm on the bull’s forehead before it could charge him. The animal froze. It looked dazed. Its knees buckled and it thumped to the ground.
The villagers cautiously gathered around the fallen bull. It was moaning, and gobs of frothing saliva dribbled from its mouth. The farmer began to panic, believing that his bull was dying. Xiao Yao reassured him that the bull would be fine. He knelt down and massaged the area around the bull’s forehead, and the bull regained consciousness. The monk instructed the farmer to let the bull rest for two days before harnessing him.
As news of this incident and others spread throughout the county and beyond, Xiao Yao’s reputation became legendary. Streams of people ventured up Snowy Peak Mountain year-round seeking his healings, blessings, and counsel.
To be continued in the next issue of Catalyst...
Robert Peng is a world-renowned Qigong Master, healer, and author of the book, The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love, and Wisdom.
Click here for a free download of the audiobook, 100 Days of Darkness and Light, which is the first section in Robert's book, The Master Key.
Robert's companion resources include:
The Master Key Video Series (4 DVDs of Qigong practices)
The Master Key Audio Series (5 CDs of Qigong practices)
Qigong Ecstasy (45-minute Qigong practice video)
AM/PM Qigong (Two 30-minute Qigong routines video)
Robert was born and raised in Hunan, China. At age eight, he began an intensive apprenticeship under the close guidance of the legendary monk Xiao Yao, an enlightened master known for his profound healing ability and martial arts skill. At age 15, Robert performed a 100-day water fast in a small dark room at a secluded monastery in the remote mountains of Hunan province. He underwent a radical spiritual transformation and awakened amazing healing powers. Master Xiao Yao encouraged Robert to develop his healing skills by studying with other Chinese masters.
After pursuing his training quietly while attending university in Changsha, where he majored in English Literature, at 29 years old he began to teach publicly, and within five years had trained over 150,000 students all over China, Australia, and the U.S.
With his deep understanding and practice of Qigong, and with extensive life and teaching experience in the western world, Robert has developed a unique way to teach Qigong that people from different cultures can easily understand and follow while enjoying the real essence of this ancient Chinese healing art of wisdom, love, and vitality.
Robert has been a regular presenter at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Esalen Institute, Integrative Health Symposium, and many other organizations and schools.
Together with Bishop Desmond and Pema Chodron, he was honored as one of "Top Ten Heroes of 2013" for his contribution to transform "the ancient Chinese healing art of Qigong into today's fast-growing holistic practices — in addition to use as a spiritual practice for inner balance and peace, Qigong movement is gaining acceptance as a gentle movement for chronic illness and pain."
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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 21: Awaken Your Kundalini Summit