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 #19
Chapter Four

University Days 

Midway through the spring semester, I went to check my mail between classes. There was a telegram for me. I opened it. The message was curt: Shifu passed away. 

There was no signature, but the return address was Shaping County where the monastery was located. The bell rang. Class was about to begin. I obediently returned to my seat in a fog and didn’t hear a word the teacher said. Class ended. I went to the student administrator’s office, still dazed. 

“I’d like permission to leave campus,” I said.

“Why?” the man behind the desk asked.

“My uncle died.”

“Your uncle? We don’t give students leave unless an immediate family member passes away.”

“We were very close.” 

He sized me up as he considered what to do.

“He was like my father,” I added sadly.

“Oh, all right.” He handed me a permission slip. “Here you go, but you must be back in a week.”

I ran to my room, packed some clothes, and rushed to the train station. I hadn’t bothered to check the schedule, so I waited eight hours for the next train and eight hours more for the bus. I refused to accept the news and half expected to see Xiao Yao running around the monastery when I got there. 

I didn’t arrive at Jiuyi Temple until the following evening. I was ushered to Liu Bo’s room. The abbot was surprised to see me. 

“Come in,” Liu Bo said. “Is it true?” I asked. “How did you find out?” 

I showed him the telegram.

“We didn’t send this to you, but I think I know who did. It must have been Niuazi, one of your Shifu’s older disciples. He was here a few days ago.” 

Niuazi was very poor, and the postal service charged for telegrams by the word. That would explain why he hadn’t signed the message. 

“Xiao Yao spoke to me two weeks ago. He told me he was going to ‘leave’ soon. He wasn’t sick, but he said his time had come. He didn’t look it, but he was ninety-five years old. He asked me to keep the news of his death from you until you returned this summer. He didn’t want to disrupt your studies.” 

As Liu Bo spoke, I remained silent.

“He talked to me about you for a long while that day,” Liu Bo added. “Xiang ni lei—he missed you very much.”

My eyes swelled with tears.

Liu Bo continued. “The next morning after we spoke, one of the young monks entered his room. Your master was sitting on his bed . . . He still looked like he was in deep meditation. Buddha bless him. We haven’t buried him yet. Would you like to see him?” 

“Yes,” I replied.

Xiao Yao’s body was resting inside a ceramic jar the size of a barrel in an open-air room called the Soul Palace, awaiting his burial date. The stars twinkled above. A statue of the Buddha stood near the wall, and red and yellow banners inscribed with prayers were hung all around. Incense smoke wafted up toward the sky. I lifted the wooden rim of the jar. Xiao Yao was inside, seated in lotus position. His eyes were closed, and he was smiling. His skin looked normal. There was no foul smell. He looked alive, and for a moment I believed that he was going to open his eyes.

I knelt down before the jar with my forehead on the floor. 

“Shifu, yi lu hao zou—Master, I wish you a good journey,” I said.

I bowed and repeated the ritual prayer thirty-six times. When I was finished I sat in front of the jar for a long time. It was still dark when I returned to his room. I burst into tears. I cried for as long as my exhausted body could weather the grief. Then I fell into sweet slumber and had many lucid dreams in which Xiao Yao visited and comforted me. 

When I woke up I returned to the Soul Palace. I bowed another thirty-six times. All the monks joined me in the room and we chanted the Great Compassion Mantra. I spent all morning beside my master’s body. All day long I ferried back and forth between the Rainbow Tree and the Soul Palace. The next morning I informed Liu Bo that I had to return to the university. I bid my beloved master farewell one final time, and left Jiuyi Temple. 

On the train ride back to Changsha, the reality of Xiao Yao’s passing really set in. I had always relied on my master for guidance. Although I was only twenty-one, I realized that from then on I would have to rely on my own inner guidance and be my own master. Later that year my mother passed away, and soon afterward, my grandfather died. It had been almost a year since Xiao Yao’s cryptic warning about my impending hardships. And despite my efforts to be strong, I lacked enthusiasm and faltered academically during my senior year.

During the last semester I became more social to distract myself from my grief. I formed a salon with two other friends. We discussed the cultural, political, and economic changes sweeping across China. We organized debates about social transformation. Our salon grew, and we created a journal called Road to the New Horizon that was well received and inspired other salons to form on campus. I wrote an article for the first issue about the influence of Laozi, the founder of Daoism, on Chinese culture, and another piece about Xiao Yao for the second issue. Then the school year ended.


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   lnstallment #17   lnstallment #18

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 17: Sound Healing Summit