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 #17
Chapter Four

University Days 

Becoming Robert Peng 

The school term began. I focused on my academic studies and completed my sophomore year with top grades. I also trained hard for the track team and ended up winning the regional hurdling champion- ship. Xiao Yao’s presence was with me each time I took a test or ran a race, and I partially attributed my success in both endeavors to him. During winter break and the following summer break I returned to Jiuyi Temple to further my spiritual and healing training. 

My junior year was a repeat of the previous one. I did well academically, won the regional hurdling championship again, and continued to visit Xiao Yao during my breaks. The following year, after I graduated from high school, I did not visit the temple. Instead I stayed home, studied, and took the national entrance exam in July. Then I applied to various universities. 

In mid-August I received an acceptance letter from the admissions department of Zhongnan University in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. 

I wrote Xiao Yao immediately: 

Dear Shifu,

Good news! I was accepted to the four-year program at the Foreign Languages Department at Zhongnan University in Changsha. I’ll be majoring in American and English Literature. 


On registration day my father accompanied me to Changsha, which was a one-hour bus trip from Xiangtan. We were given directions to my room and found it easily. Three bunk beds were evenly spaced across the room. 

I chose the top bed nestled in the far corner, which I figured would give me a little more privacy. Six small hardwood desks lined the wall between the beds. My father made my bed and set up a mosquito net while I unpacked my suitcase. 

“Study well, Jihui, and come home whenever you miss your mother’s cooking,” my father said tenderly before he left. 

My roommates were from all over China. We each talked Mandarin with different accents, but we shared a common love of the English language, the subject we were all majoring in. We ate dinner together and prepared ourselves for our first class the following morning. 

All the English classes were held in the Foreign Languages Department, a white three-story building on a small hill in a quiet section of campus. 

“Good morning and welcome,” our professor said the first day. “My name is Professor Zhou. Since you are all English majors, I won’t ask you to introduce yourselves by your Chinese names, but instead I’ll begin by giving you your first homework assignment. Each of you must come up with an English first name by tomorrow morning. Take some time to think about it—it’ll be your name for the next four years.” 

I was so enthralled by the excitement of that first day that I forgot to come up with a name. So on the second day of class when Professor Zhou asked the first student his English name, I broke into a cold sweat. I was the third student he called on. 

“And what is your name?” he said, pointing at me. 

“Robert.” The name popped out spontaneously. 

The name stuck. 

My daily routine developed quickly. After class I’d eat lunch with my friends, go back to my room for a short nap, and then go off to a secluded park behind the Foreign Languages Department to practice Qigong. There was a grassy area there where couples would sneak away to steal a few hours of private time. In the early nineteen eighties Chinese society was still very conservative—even holding hands in public was considered improper behavior. I looked for an inconspicuous patch of grass and meditated while a few couples snuggled under the protective cover of trees and bushes. 

A short time after the semester began Coach Chen, the head of the track team, was notified that the two-time hurdling champion from Xiangtan was enrolled as a freshman. He dispatched one of the team members to my dorm room to welcome me. 

The team member knocked and entered, declaring, “I’m looking for Jihui Peng.” 

“Hi,” I said. “What can I do for you?” He was two heads taller than me. 

“Are you joking?”

“No, why?”

“Never mind—I must be mistaken. I’m looking for a Xiangtan hurdling champion by the last name of Peng.”

“Well, you’re talking to him.”

“But that’s not possible,” he insisted. “You’re too short to be a hurdler.” 

The boy reported back to Coach Chen and I was invited to pay him a visit. When we met, he had the same reaction. 

“No offense, but it’s hard to believe that you are who you say you are,” he said with his brow scrunched. “There’s only one way to settle this. I want to see you run.” 

I joined a few members of the team on the track. We raced and jumped hurdles. I came in third, beating the tall fellow who had come to my room. 

“Unbelievable!” Coach Chen exclaimed as he extended his hand. “Jihui, welcome to the track team.”


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    lnstallment #10   lnstallment #11   lnstallment #12   lnstallment #13   lnstallment #14   lnstallment #15   lnstallment #16

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 15: Shamanism Summit