Three essays in commemoration of the immortal Taoist Master Li Zong Lian

 

The Good Old Days with My deeply-indebted Taoist Master


Tian Cheng Yang

 

On June 5th 2008, Cheng An, one of my junior fellow disciples, informed me via email that the Taoist master of ours, Li Z. L., made his way to immortalization¢Ùthat day, which consisted with my expectation factually, whereas differed emotionally. As the primary disciple of him, telepathy had always been haunting midst the two of us. Being so engaged abroad, however, I failed to attend his funeral in person and had no choice but to coordinate matters by emails.
During the first half year of 2007, I returned to Chinese mainland and paid a special visit to him, my deeply-indebted Taoist master. Definitely aware of the fact that there would not be ample mundane time for him, I went back a couple of months later, accompanying him along the very last Spring Festival in his life. Originally considering, careful attendance would have contributed to his recuperation to some extent so that relatively more time could be afforded. However, being extremely composed towards demise, Master Li had long ago made his testament to me and determined to depart whenever destined to, dropping entire secular affairs and concerns.
In retrospect, when domestic Taoist cause just resumed in the 1980s, I initiated myself at ¡°Tai Qing Gong¡± Taoist Temple of Mount Lao Shan, holding my very first conversation with Master Li Z. L. He then directly imparted me cardinal Inner Alchemy formula without reservation. From then on, every time we probed into that issue together, he would often choose to express himself in a way concisely, figuratively, yet profoundly, which aroused subtle inspirations deep down in my heart. Nevertheless, he insisted on delivering sermons only towards appropriate minds. There once came two Taoist laymen hoping to be sermonized. Yet, he mentioned to me that they failed to harmonize with each other soon after their meet.
Dwelling east to the San Huang Palace with Master Wang Z. Z., heavy humidity, produced by the ceaselessly flowing spring right outside his room, exacerbated his arthritis. Acquainted that I happened to had learnt acupuncture with my grandfather, he asked: ¡°Cheng Yang, would you please carry out acupuncture therapies on my legs?¡± The subsequent period¡¯s treatments brought about conspicuous convalescence, which endowed with him greater dexterity on foot. Meanwhile, what impressed me the most was that the flowing energies within the meridians of his body appeared extraordinarily vigorous via acupuncture, pretty distinct from ordinary mortals.
Constantly in compliance to creeds recorded in Taoist scriptures, Master Li cultivated perfect modesty and courtesy at heart. Based on etiquette of ¡°Tai Qing Gong¡±, members make obeisance¢Úwhenever encountering each other on the road. Further deference was supposed to be presented towards those seniors, just like Master Li. Although it was perfectly OK for him to just nod back, he would always respond with greater sincerity. Even if stuffed in hands, when juniors make obeisance to him, he dropped the stuff down the ground at all time in order to respond wholeheartedly. In spite of a Taoist proverb indicating that the Long Men Clan, to which we all belong, doesn¡¯t value hierarchy position that much and senior masters are very likely to be addressed as senior follow disciples by junior members, Master Li adhered to prostration in the presence of visiting Long Men Clan superiors, even to those from other clans. Such unequaled modesty, humility and self-discipline are profoundly venerated and valued by tomorrow¡¯s Taoist outstanding achievers.
Gentle and genial as he was, Master Li justly defended junior Taoists when they were unfairly treated. I recall once in a conference held at ¡°Tai Qing Gong¡±, the principal of that time arbitrarily decided to dismiss a junior immediately. There was no one but Master Li arguing firmly against unjust treatments even though that junior was not a disciple of his own. The young Taoist¡¯s membership was eventually restored, who is now taking a post in China Taoism Association, completely unaware of his benefactor. All the above-stated demonstrate a highly-appreciated Taoist virtue: it makes the real benefaction when the benefactor willingly remains anonymous.
After transferred to China Taoism Association in 1989, I visited him back annually, along with a couple of companions sometimes. Although with no telephone available, he could always foresee, arranging our accommodations opportunely in advance. We were especially moved by once, when he ordered a dinner of rich dishes for us, yet only a simple dish of stir-fried tomatoes with vegetable soup for his own.
Master Li had abandoned sleep for decades; instead, he practiced all night long. Such stoical sedulity endued him miraculous Bu Dao Dan¢Û. The San Wei Zhen Huo¢Ü produced within the palm of his hands could easily melt a candle in a short while. Besides, Master Li acted as a perfect personification of rejuvenation by the preservation of his rubicund complexion and rarely whitened hair. As a nonagenarian, he was also deeply impressed by the unloosened eyelids, which are scarcely seen even among middle-aged laities, due to their inevitable decrepitude. Decades in pursuing Taoism enabled him to perceive the preexistences of humans within seven preceding transmigrations, yet he never mentioned to anyone indiscreetly. Invited to give medical therapies to the needy from time to time, more often than not, he managed unbelievable restoration towards incurable diseases. Our conversation I recorded on phenomena and efficacies of his solitary practice in the remote mountain during his fifties becomes material of great value.
At the request of the Autonomous University of Madrid at 1999, I was ratified to sermonize overseas by China Taoism Association as well as the National Religions Office. Informed that inspiring news, rejoicingly he said to Cheng Fa (another fellow junior disciple of mine): ¡°Cheng Yang is sermonizing on behalf of ancient Taoist sacred gods!¡± Regrettably, however, I was no longer allowed to call on him hands down since then. In 2007, I returned along with overseas disciples at invitation of the International Tao-Te-Ching Forum. As soon as its conclusion, I visited him back at "Tai Qing Gong" Taoist Temple of Mount Lao Shan, where I spent seven unforgettable years studying and practicing Taoism with the help of Master Li since the age of 18. Delighted to see me, he first inquired my age, highly complimenting my wonderfully-preserved complexion through Inner Alchemy in such age. He then lauded my achievements in Spain and also advised my longer stay at the pleasantly cool mountain until autumn time.
Ascribed to the reconstruction of "Tai Qing Gong" at that time, Master Li dwelled westward with insufficient daylight, accumulating drainage and an outdoor toilet, which contributed to nothing but humidity and inconveniency. Cheng Fa originally planned a new domicile with northward direction, adjacently-located bedroom, living room and kitchen, as well as an indoor toilet, indispensable for the aged. However, the matter remained undecided due to the failure of unanimity. When touring new constructions of "Tai Qing Gong" with Jian Yuan¢Ý Li, I suggested settlement at the soonest. Since there remain a decreasing number of elder Inner Alchemy achievers in the domestic Taoist circles, desirable living conditions are supposed to be provided for them.
I planned beforehand to leave in the third morning and travel southwards. Knowing my departure, unexpectedly, Master Li then refused to dine. Despite my stuffed schedule, I managed to postpone for one more day. After having breakfast the following morning, I meant to chat with him before I really had to go. Yet, he merely held back by remaining silent with eyes closed all along. Finally I promised him to revisit in just a few months. Arriving at the Xu Zhou airport, I was reassured by a message from Cheng Fa that they would implement Master Li¡¯s new domicile as soon as possible. Solicitous about his condition back in Spain, I emailed my domestic disciple for times, entrusting him to send my words to Cheng Fa about the requisite attendance upon our master.
A couple of months later, I carried out my promise by returning to Mount Lao Shan again, celebrating Chinese New Year with him together. While informed my arrival in advance, he said: ¡°he (referring to the author) knows exactly about it¡±, which implied my awareness of his limited time stored in the future. On February 2nd 2008, when I showed up with my own disciple Xin Ze, I noticed that his eyes were blurred with tears. We hold long-time conversations during those days, about my overseas career, his journey on Inner Alchemy, as well as his posthumous affairs, etc. The heavy snow then led to extreme frigidity in the Temple. Still, he refused to enjoy the heating and air-conditioner installed in his new residence. In order to prolong his life, I purchased him a wide variety of nutriments from the city of Qing Dao. However, he ate an extremely small amount of food, while persisting in his practice devotedly night and day.
February 6th was the day before Chinese New Year. In terms of an old custom, all members of "Tai Qing Gong" would assemble in Hun Yuan Palace reciting Taoist scriptures from 11 pm. Master Li insisted on his attendance, which greatly worried us. The irresistible frigidity outside could pose threat on anyone of his age. Master Li, whereas, attired in his vestment more than one hour in advance. Cheng Fa reckoned that it would take at least an hour for Master Li to walk to Hun Yuan Palace. Failing to dissuade him, I wrapped his neck and mouth in a new towel, telling Cheng Fa to accompany him back soon after prostration in any case. His trip went intermittent. The coldness got him so breathless that he could only manage several steps at a time. Out of the west garden, Xin Ze suggested carrying him on the back. Unaccustomed to that, Master Li proceeded independently. When arriving at the bottom of a steep stone stairs, ultimately he said: ¡°Let¡¯s get back. I can hardly go any further. ¡± As if relieved of a heavy load, carefully, we attended him back to his place. Even though not reaching the final destination, the long struggling trip outdoor made perfect demonstration of his faithful religious belief and great perseverance, touching everybody present.
When he got back, instead, he prostrated by offering joss sticks in front of the altar. Accomplishing the rite in Hun Yuan Palace about one hour later, Jian Yuan Li, accompanied with the Taoist ensemble, prostrated to Master Li celebrating the New Year. Meanwhile Jian Yuan Li said: ¡°This room is filled with Taoist future gods!¡± The following days were occupied with visiting worshippers far and near, including two lamas coming all the way from Tibet with their sacred Ha Da¢Þ presenting him.
Before taking my departure back to Spain after the New Year, I asked Cheng Fa to make an appointment with Master Li¡¯s son, conferring matters regarding present attendance and posthumous arrangements. Then could I leave with reassurance. ¡­¡­
I nourish great pride on the discipleship of such a Taoist master of brilliant achievement and transcendent virtue, whose consummation keeps imposing unfailing inspirations upon up-and-coming Taoist successors for ever and ever.

¢Ù Immortalization: Taoist way of demise, by voluntarily raising one¡¯s spirit out of the body to stay as eternal as the Tao in the universe.
¢Ú Taoist obeisance: arching both hands in front of the chest with one of them overlapping the other. What¡¯s worth mentioning, for male, the left hand should be above the right one, the center of which palm containing the left¡¯s thumb, contrarily for female, both of which carries sacred meanings.
¢Û Bu Dao Dan: verbatim translated as Sleepless Inner Alchemy, managed merely by advanced achievers, who practice Inner Alchemy all night long without the necessity of sleep. In fact, it brings about preferable refreshment than sleep.
¢Ü San Wei Zhen Huo: converged physical energies via Inner Alchemy, able to engender incredible powers, such as supernormal corporeal heat and strength, unachievable by ordinary people.
¢Ý Jian Yuan: a high-ranking office in Taoist community, similar to an abbot in Christianity.
¢Þ Ha Da: a long rectangular piece of white fabric, presented particularly by Tibetan to convey reverential respect or warm welcome.

 

A Brief Biography of Master Li Zong Lian


Yin Cheng An

Li Zong Lian, religiously named Bing Jie Zi, was born in December 1st 1915, Shan Dong Province. Deeply influenced by the academic atmosphere in his affluent family, Li learnt Confucianism and Taoism in his childhood. The endless battles among warlords of that time imposed great affliction towards the people, prompting young Li to practice martial arts with local coaches. Extraordinarily brawny as he was, he had no problem heaving one hundred kilograms with single arm. In his twenties, Li, together with his fellow townsmen, migrated northeasterly to make a living. Then broke out the 9.18 event, during which Japanese aggressors encroached upon northeast China, importuning them as their gratuitous labors.


Intolerant of being abused, Li valiantly revolted with pickax as his weapon, finally escaping by knocking down in-charge Japanese overseers and soldiers, concealing himself uncaught in the remote mountain areas, where he had his first meet with Taoist master Li L. T. Desperately grieved over the national calamity, Li firmly decided to join the discipleship of Master Li L. T., devoting himself to inherit Taoist quintessence. Acquainted of his former engagement, Master Li L. T. persuaded him to fulfill his temporal obligations first before his formal conversion. As soon as bearing a son back in his hometown, Li immediately returned to Master Li L.T., formally initiated into Taoism. After moving to ¡°Tai Qing Gong¡± Taoist Temple of Shen Yang (the capital city of Liao Ning Province, northeast China) a couple of years later, Li made further advancements in Inner Alchemy under the directions of Master Fang L. J., whom he encountered in his new residence. When the War of Resistance against Japan eventually ended, Li was designated as Jian Yuan by his superiors. However, disinclined towards administration, he resigned and went back to his hometown one year later. Since then, he had commenced his ascetic twenty-year-long solitary practice of Inner Alchemy, while residing in the ¡°Yu Qing¡± Taoist Temple of Mount Lao Shan.


However, Li was banished back home during the ten-year Cultural Revolution, but fortunately returned afterwards, dwelling in ¡°Tai Qing Gong¡± Taoist Temple of Mount Lao Shan permanently. Austerity and frugality had always been his chosen attitude of life, marked by his roughly-built house, worn clothes, and vegetarian meals twice a day. What¡¯s more, he made so generous contributions towards the needy, or whenever there stuck natural disasters in this country that he could hardly manage any savings for his own. Assiduously devoted himself in Taoism, Li utterly abandoned sleep by practicing Bu Dao Dan all night long for decades. Though a nonagenarian, he delicately rejuvenated himself by maintaining ruddy complexion, sonorous voice, sharp minds, agile paces, altogether, being hale and hearty.
The ultimate immortalization of him took place at 1 am, June 5th 2008, at the age of 94.




Master Li Zong Lian¡¯s Immortalizing Record
Wang Cheng Fa

On June 5th 2008, 1 am, when I stayed next door of Master Li Zong Lian, a psalm struck on my mind all of a sudden. He then called me in and told that he would immortalize himself forthwith. Helping him get dressed in vestment, he sat up, with his spirit exited out of the body, saturating the room with gorgeous glitters and fantastic fragrance. Subsequently, a red cloud was seen rising up into the sky, disappearing in the distance. The following morning was densely clouded with thin drizzles.
Master Li¡¯ s sedate sitting body aroused admirations of the coming municipal religious officers, who immediately conferred with Taoist Association members, coming up with the final decision on inhumation in accordance to Taoist customs, and formal documents to be recorded. (It set a precedent since all previous cases adopted cremation.)
The funeral was arranged at 2 pm, June 6th, with the attendance of municipal religious officials, Taoist Association members and the Taoist ensemble of Mount Lao Shan. Even though the serene sky at noon brought much reassurance, it turned cloudy and rainy just before the burial. When the vat¢Ù was bore out, the rain fabulously ceased itself around the jar. Upon that, the burial was augustly performed concomitant with ceremonious Taoist music. As soon as the earth was heaped, the magic rain resumed. TV stations of Qing Dao and Hu Bei covered the whole process as well as relevant interviews.
¢Ù vat: Taoists apply vats for inhumation instead of wooden coffins.


¡ª The end ¡ª
£¨by Wu jiahong£©