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
Biguan in the Dark Chamber
After three more visits Xiao Yao announced, “Eighty days have passed. You have completed the second phase of Biguan. You must prepare for the journey back into the physical world. The final phase begins tomorrow.”
The next day my master brought me a bowl of thin rice milk sweetened with honey. I touched the liquid with my tongue. It unleashed a tidal wave of sensual pleasure. I spent hours relishing just a few drops. When I took another sip, I cried with happiness. It took me the entire day to drink the full bowl.
Each time Xiao Yao visited, he brought me another bowl. The rice milk became thicker until it had the consistency of porridge. Then one day he brought me a peach. It made me delirious. The following week he brought me cucumbers, then fried lettuce hearts, bok choy, and finally leafy greens sautéed in ginger.
Every time he came, Xiao Yao also brought an additional incense stick to get my eyes accustomed to the light. I liked staring at the glowing embers. He also began spending more time with me in the dark chamber. Occasionally he did energy work on me, but mostly we just talked about trivial matters. We were both very happy.
On each of the last three days of Biguan, he brought me a steamed sweet potato, which I relished. The last day Xiao Yao brought a kerosene lamp. He placed it on the tabletop and gave me a peach.
“This is your last day in the dark chamber. Eat the peach and meditate. I’ll be back for you in a few hours.”
My master returned holding another lamp.
“Gong de yaun man—the task is fulfilled,” he said, handing me the lamp, and then added, “This time we leave together.”
I took one last look at the dark chamber and closed the door behind me. I followed my master upstairs. As he opened the door, the first sounds I heard were the monks chanting in the temple. They were reciting the Great Compassion Mantra. The night sky was clear and the stars glistened. We sat at the feet of the Golden Buddha and joined them in prayer. After we were finished, I followed my master back to his room and lay down on the bed. Within minutes I was sound asleep.
Follower of the Truth
When I awoke, the sun was already up and the room was awash with light. The small window softened the impact of the dazzling bright- ness, which was nonetheless an awesome sight. It looked as though someone had repainted the world during my stay underground. Even the drab colors inside the room were exceedingly vibrant.
Xiao Yao’s bed was already empty, and I was overcome with the urge to go for a walk. The fresh air was drenched with the musky scents of summer. My nose reveled in the medley of smells. The sight of a small flower brought dizzying delight. Its delicate fragrance melted my heart. As I ventured farther, I couldn’t help touching every tree trunk I passed.
I bent down, scooped up a handful of soil, and scrunched it in my fingers. I saw worker ants scurrying on the ground. I blessed them. The breeze caressed my body, and I stood back up and admired the sky. The outer world was exceedingly beautiful. Overwhelmed by the glory of nature, I screamed out in ecstasy. The sky screamed back. When I heard the echo, I swelled with deep love for the world and my heart shattered into countless shards of adoring gratitude. Then a surge of energy shot through me, and I ran up and down steep moun- tain trails and along the gurgling creeks until lunchtime.
When I saw Xiao Yao in the dining hall, I was speechless. In his presence my heart became an ocean of love. As usual, I ate my lunch in silence. Temple food was simple and bland, but my first meal out of the dark chamber was a wild culinary adventure. The flavors were magnified a hundredfold. I could even distinguish the different tastes between two grains of rice. As I chewed, I closed my eyes and returned to the clear white light. I was so happy that I could have stayed at Jiuyi Temple for the rest of my life, but my summer holiday was about to end.
Xiao Yao was extremely busy; apart from our morning practice by the Rainbow Tree, I barely got to spend time with him. But the night before I left, he set aside some time and we had a serious conversation.
“Tomorrow you return to fan shi—ordinary society,” he stated. “Worldly life is not like monastic life. The monks up here have it easy. Our life is simple. We know our routines in advance, and there are few surprises. Secular life is much more challenging. There are plenty of attractions and distractions to pull you in many directions.
Obligations and responsibilities will drag you one way, then the other. Leading a spiritual life in the secular world requires great strength of character. There is a saying: the lesser sage lives in the mountains while the greater sage lives in the city. ”
He looked at me with deep compassion. “Strive to be good.”
“Yes, Shifu,” I replied.
“You have awakened extraordinary powers this summer, Jihui, but you have only begun your journey as a healer. Behind the sky there is another sky. There is much more for you to learn. Don’t imagine that you are special or better than anyone else. Despite your abilities, you are an ordinary human being. Keep your heart open. Practice com- passion whenever you can. Practice modesty. Jie jiao jie zao—avoid arrogance, impatience, and coarseness. Be kind and loving all the time to everyone.”
“When you return, focus your energies on school work. The next two years will be demanding. You must make every effort to get into a good university. Only a small percentage of students who apply are admitted, but I am confident that if you devote yourself to your studies you will succeed.”
“I will study diligently, Shifu.”
“With a university education and your Qigong training, many doors will open and you will make a mark on the world. Your destiny is bright. Wherever you end up, always remember that you are xiu dao zhe—a follower of the truth.”
The next morning we practiced by the Rainbow Tree, chanted in the main temple, and ate lunch together. Then I packed my bag and he accompanied me to the main gate.
“Buddha bless you, Jihui,” Xiao Yao said. My legs froze. I didn’t want to leave him.
“Okay, go on now. Good-bye. See you next winter break.” “Good-bye, Shifu,” I said affectionately, and left.
Walking down the mountain, I cheered up again and began to sing. Along the way I met two mountaineers. They were carpenters. Each one was carrying two wooden doors on his shoulders, and they were heading to the market to sell them. We walked together for the rest of the way. I bid them farewell at the bus station. I boarded the bus and then the train.
The view thickened with cars, buildings, and factories. I arrived at the Xiangtan railway station and walked home. My mother and father greeted me warmly. They prepared a delicious feast that included all my favorite dishes. We talked for a little while and then I went to my room. I lay in bed wide awake, staring at the ceiling. The thoughts now occupying my mind were those of a teenager contemplating the upcoming school year. But they evaporated as the ceiling fell away, and I dissolved into the peaceful light.
To be continued in the next issue of Catalyst...
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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: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 14: Resilience & Renewal in Your Third Act Summit