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

Installment #10
Chapter Three
Biguan in the Dark Chamber 

The following summer I returned to Jiuyi Temple expecting to enjoy another idyllic vacation. However, three days after my arrival my master informed me, “Tomorrow you’ll start Biguan practice. This empowerment practice consists of a one-hundred-day fast in a dark stone chamber. Biguan is extremely demanding, but the spiritual transformation it brings about is unparalleled.”

The announcement thrilled me. All day long my energy level was unusually high, and it took me a long time to fall asleep that night. The next day began like all the others. Xiao Yao and I practiced by the Rainbow Tree. After lunch I went to the temple to meditate beside the Golden Buddha, but I couldn’t concentrate because worrisome thoughts began to surface. One hundred days without food? One hundred days in the dark? Am I ready for this challenge? As I continued to think about Biguan, my excitement increased—but so did my anxiety.

A monk tapped me on the shoulder. “Shifu is waiting for you in his room.”

I walked across the courtyard, knocked on my master’s door, and entered.

“Are you ready?” he asked. I nodded.

Xiao Yao stood up and grabbed the kerosene lamp sitting on his desk along with some matches and a stick of incense. “Then let’s go.” I followed Xiao Yao to an inconspicuous door hidden all the way in the back of the temple that I hadn’t noticed before. Xiao Yao lit the kerosene lamp. He opened the door, and I followed him into a narrow corridor slightly wider than the width of our shoulders and slightly taller than the tops of our heads. The lamplight cast a warm glow on the cold stones. The walkway spiraled downward, and I trailed behind him deep into the underground. The sound of our shoes sliding against the uneven stone floor broke the heavy silence. Eventually the floor flat- tened and we reached another door. My master pushed on the handle. It creaked open and we passed through. I shut it behind us.

We were standing in a small rectangular foyer.

Xiao Yao pointed to a wooden bucket resting on the floor.

“This is your toilet,” he said. Beyond the foyer there was another door. He opened it and I followed him in. “And this is your room.”

Xiao Yao’s lamp illuminated the space. My new “home” was a stone chamber built directly under the Golden Buddha and Guan Yin. It was about fifteen feet wide and twenty-five feet long. Large granite slabs covered the walls, ceiling, and floor. I stepped inside. To my left was a two-foot-tall ceramic water jug partially covered by a wooden lid. A ladle made from half a dried squash rested on top of the lid. Farther down, a narrow, three-foot-long wooden table leaned against the wall. A flat-bottomed porcelain pan sat on top of it. The pan was white with a blue geometric design, and it was filled to the top with grains of rice.

Directly across from the table was a small cot with a mattress made out of dried straw and covered by a thin sheet of cotton. A gray woolen blanket lay folded on the bed. On the floor beside the bed was a round yellow meditation cushion.

“Your eight years of practice have prepared you for this day.” Xiao Yao’s soft voice filled the chamber as his shadow covered one of the walls. “I am confident that you will complete Biguan successfully and discover paradise.”

My master used the kerosene lamp to light a stick of incense that he planted in the rice in the porcelain pan.

“I will visit you daily and each time I will light one stick of incense,” he explained.

Swirls of fragrant smoke curled toward the ceiling, and the pleas- ant smell of sandalwood spread throughout the chamber. “Between my visits you will meditate and practice the exercises I have taught you. Do you have any questions?”

“No, Shifu,” I responded.

“For the first twenty days of Biguan practice you will get three mountain dates each day. Savor them slowly and chew with whole- hearted mindfulness.” Xiao Yao reached into the folds of his robe, retrieved the fruits, and handed them to me. “Chew slowly, slowly, slowly,” he repeated.

“Yes, Shifu.”

“You may drink as much water as you like. Are you ready to begin?”


“Then I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He left the room and the stone chamber plunged into near dark- ness. The tip of the incense stick was still burning and it cast a dusky orange glow. I watched it grow shorter. Soon the amber tip dimmed and faded away. The room turned completely black. I made my way to the cot and sat calmly in the dark until a sobering thought finally shook me. This is really happening! 

To be continued in the next issue of Catalyst...

Click on the following to read:   Installment #1    lnstallment #2    lnstallment #3    lnstallment #4    lnstallment #5    lnstallment #6     lnstallment #7    lnstallment #8    lnstallment #9

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 access 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."

Click here to visit Robert’s website.
Click here to watch and participate in Robert’s 8-minute Qigong practice, Scooping Universal Qi to Empower our Wisdom, Love & Vitality.


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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 6: The Breathwork Summit