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
At a Crossroads
My time with Shifu Tan wasn’t always spent doing grueling exercises, daunting acrobatics, or spine-chilling feats. The playful side he had shown me when we first met resurfaced whenever he wasn’t instructing me. On our off hours my stern teacher became an amusing clown. He liked to entertain me with colorful facial expressions, and, to my delight, he made me laugh a lot.
On one occasion my master visited a close friend who had a five- year-old son, and I tagged along. Shifu Tan picked up one of the boy’s tiny shirts that was lying around and asked, “Can I borrow your shirt?” The little boy nodded yes.
Shifu Tan slid his hands into the narrow sleeves and wriggled his arms until they also slid in. He wriggled his shoulders, and his body seemed to deform as he buttoned up the shirt. His head and legs appeared to be their normal size, but his upper body looked as if it had shrunk in half. The boy, his father, and I all watched in awe. Shifu Tan made some comical faces and waved his disproportionate arms. He looked like a puppet. We all laughed.
“How did you do that, Shifu?” I asked after we left.
“The connective tissue that sheaths your whole body is called fascia,” he explained, “and through special practice you can learn to control your fascia and dislocate your joints at will. I dislocated my shoulders and passed my arms through the sleeves.”
My master rarely displayed his Qigong abilities in public, but he made an exception one day when we visited the zoo and his mischievous side came out.
It was hot and humid. The lions were lying around their cage like big, lazy house cats. One of the visitors was yelling at them to get up and start acting like lions.
“Watch this,” Shifu Tan whispered to me.
He extended his index and middle fingers and curled his other fingers together to form a gesture called Sword Finger. Then he discreetly projected energy from his two extended fingers toward the backside of the biggest lion. About twenty seconds later the lion leaped off the ground with a loud roar and began running around in circles chasing his own tail. A crowd of people gathered around the cage. The lion continued to act wildly. I giggled. A few minutes later Shifu Tan discreetly waved his hand back and forth, sending energy toward the lion’s third eye, and the lion calmed. It yawned, lay down, and was asleep within seconds.
Then we walked over to the monkey pit and saw twenty chattering monkeys running around.
“Should we bring a little order to the monkey cage?” Shifu Tan asked. “Okay,” I agreed.
Shifu Tan pointed his fingers at the largest, loudest monkey. All of a sudden it stopped, stood still, and looked puzzled. Then my master directed the monkey to one side of the pit. Shifu Tan waved his hand again, and soon another monkey joined the first one. Then, one by one, all the monkeys lined up quietly against the wall.
“On the count of three let’s wake them all up,” he said.
We counted down together. He waved his hands, and the monkeys snapped out of their trance. All at once the whole bunch screeched and jumped up and down simultaneously. We had a good laugh.
My master always amazed me with his Qigong skills, but his most extraordinary demonstration took place on July 16, 1975. People traditionally gather every year on that date at the Xiang River Bridge in my hometown to celebrate summer and swim across the half- mile-wide river. Two of my master’s older disciples came to visit him that day. I had never met them before and I never saw them again afterward. Shifu Tan was overjoyed to see them, just as they were to see him. It was a blisteringly hot day, and the three men shielded themselves from the sun with red paper parasols. We all walked past the crowd cheering on the throng of swimmers and strolled farther down the bank, away from all the commotion. I lingered a few paces behind my master and his disciples.
After continuing for about twenty minutes, we were finally alone near the river’s edge.
Shifu Tan turned to me and said, “It’s lunchtime and we’re hungry, so we’re going to cross here. You go back, walk over the Xiang River Bridge, and meet us at that noodle house on the other side.”
“Yes, Shifu,” I answered obediently.
I wondered how they planned to cross the river. There were no boats around. The area was deserted. I wondered if they would swim across, like the others. They were wearing short blue pants and white shirts. I watched curiously as they took off their cotton shoes and slipped them into their pant waists. Shifu Tan headed for the water, flanked by his disciples. They stepped ankle deep into the water and waded farther out. They kept on walking, but they didn’t sink. The water reached just below my master’s knees and just above the disciples’ knees.
The three men were walking on water!
I stared incredulously until they were halfway across. They were still chatting and spinning their parasols. Then I sprinted back to the bridge, ran across, and rejoined them. They were sipping tea, waiting for me. Shifu Tan ordered noodles for all of us. The combination of the delicious, fresh noodles and the mind-blowing feat I had just witnessed made this my most memorable meal ever.
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."