This week we have been very lucky to have a Daoist Priest and Scholar staying with us, Master Xuzhong. For the last 6 days he has been kind enough to answer all our weird and wonderful questions about life, the Universe and all things in between. He even made time to complete our Daoist Astrology charts, a really enlightening experience.
Before he hit the road again, we managed to sit down with Master Xuzhong and ask him a few personal questions about his life and teachings…
What were you doing before you became a Daoist Priest?
From 1980 to 1994 I was a manager of a roadworks company based in Fujian province, travelling a lot from city to city. It was around this time that I started to study Dao… well actually I studied Buddhism, Confucianism and Dao. The higher principles of all these philosophies are the same, but because I am Chinese, I felt I must focus on Dao as it is at the core of Traditional Chinese Culture.
How did you come to be a Daoist Priest?
When I finally chose to finish my work, it was because I wanted to share the Dao with others. With work, it was not easy to travel and spend time teaching. Also, to study Dao properly it needs to become your profession. You need to concentrate! So this is why I finished working and why I choose to become a Daoist Priest.
How old are you?
In Buddhism you never talk about your families name. In Daoism we never talk about how old we are because we don’t believe you never die, and therefore you never age!
What is your main field of focus within Daoist philosophy?
There are many branches or factions of Dao. I am the 22nd lineage of the Quan Zhan Long Men faction. It is my responsibility to keep this lineage and its philosophies alive. My ancestors come from ancient times, and they passed their knowledge onto me through books and ancient texts.
In Dao, we talk about Pan Gu. He created Heaven and Earth. This may be just be a story or it may be true… either way it doesn’t matter. After Pan Gu opened the Earth, there came a succession of Emperors, or Masters as we now call them. San Huang Wu Di was the first master and Lao Zi was the 2nd. Qui Chu Ji came next and then the original Master of my lineage, Quan Zhan. So you see, my knowledge has been inherited from long, long ago.
I actually follow two factions of Dao. The 2nd is a type of Meditation. There is a Classical Confucius book, it’s actually illegal now in China, called Tong Qi. This book is the 2nd faction I follow. It talks about how to cultivate energy through medicine. It’s the famous Traditional Medicine Pill! Why is it called this? Because from this book, one can create the medicine pill. This pill can increase longevity and quality of life. For sick people, it can save their life. If a master can practice and make this medicine pill, he can deal with any disease. The centre of this medicine is only a small pill, but there exists so much energy surrounding it. This energy is also healing, also helpful. We call the pill Su Ming Dan, and it is the pearl of Daoism. It gives life. But you have to be careful! Ancient people say if anybody has this pill, they cannot share it with others. If they do it will be very unlucky for them. Maybe they will be killed or something like that.
Su Ming Dan has many colours… red, white, black, silver, yellow. When we combine these colours it looks purple or even gold. Because of this we also call it Zi Jin Dan. Purple, gold egg! In the Dao mind, this pearl is like jewellery. It attracts positive energy. If anybody holds this inside their body, they can absorb positive energy from the universe.
I have this pill inside me. I have achieved it through years and years of meditation.
Can you tell us a little about your Master?
I have had 2 Masters in my life. One was a man in physical form. He taught me many things about the world and the universe. He wasn’t my highest master but everyone needs a teacher in human form. My other master is outside our field of consciousness. This master has helped me the most, showing me the way to expand outside this earthly framework.
What is your daily routine like?
Everyday is the simple life. Practicing Dao, singing songs about Dao and Meditating. Now, because I am well read in the Yi Ching and Dao principles, I also have a lot of people come to ask for help with problems in their life, so I help them. That’s really how every day goes. It may seem a very simple life, but is meaningful and significant.
How do you feel about foreigners learning Daoism?
The universe is the same no matter who you are. Dao is also the same for everyone. To become a master you need to have 100% heart. A clean heart and a pure mind, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
But for foreigners to study Dao is a difficult and very long process. It will take a lifetime at least! First of all there is the language barrier. Second is the understanding of Chinese culture. If foreigners wish to study Dao, first they must study Chinese language and culture.
Once they have achieved this, there is one more obstacle to overcome. In China, if you want to teach students real Dao it must be one-to-one. It is a very private experience. Very personal. So you need to find a Master who can teach you like this. And they must be a real Master of Dao themselves! A Master who has achieved Su Ming Dao (the Daoist pearl). To find a Master like this is very hard.
As a foreigner, if he or she has overcome all these problems, there is no reason they can’t practice and become a master in Dao. There are just things that need to happen first.
How is the ancient knowledge of Daoism relevant in today’s world?
This is a good question. Dao has two logics. No, not logics, laws actually. The first law will never change, it is the gospel. The truth. It is innate to our being, our essence. No matter how much we modernise the world this law will stay the same.
Then there is the second law. This is the law of change. The seasons are a good example of this. Winter changes to spring, spring changes to summer and so on. Things change in our world, things develop. In ancient China, we would only build a house with one floor, now we build skyscrapers with 100 or more! There are so many levels (or floors) to modern life. So now, in order to understand and keep up with these levels, we need to actually study Dao more than before.
If you could share one thing about Daoism with the world, what would it be?
In Daoism we talk about Houtian. This is the practice of balancing energy and utilises the 5 element theory. This is useful for modern life. For example, if your stomach has a problem maybe you are missing the Earth element. You need to raise your Earth energy. You can do this easily by making some changes to your lifestyle, such as eating certain foods, wearing certain colours and changing the direction you meditate. This will help re-balance your energy. And Houtian doesn’t only refer to internal imbalances, it can be used to help all elements of your life. Relationships, work, politics… this knowledge is so useful.
Can you tell us about any upcoming retreats you have planned with Wandering Dao?
I am planning 3 different training programs with Wandering Dao. The first is a short training, maybe 15 days, for people who want to now a little about Daoist knowledge and theory. Next is a 1 month training, which includes practices you can take away and integrate into your life. The next is three months or more… this is will go deeper into the core philosophies of Dao.
Yangshuo is a beautiful place with mountains and rivers. When you arrive, it all so beautiful! But even the most beautiful places can become boring when you see them day after day. Daoist knowledge helps us look deeper into nature. When we look at a mountain, we just see if it is beautiful or not, we don’t understand the mountain itself. The meaning of it. Through Daoist practice, we become sensitive to the energy of a place and absorb that energy into our bodies. The mountain isn’t only a mountain anymore!
I am also planning trips to some of the 108 sacred places of China with Wandering Dao students. These places have a particular magnetic field, they are different. The Qi there is very nourishing.
For more information on the upcoming trainings with Master Xuzhong, contact us.