Written and Published by Han Institute, August 15, 2013
One Thread Heaven, Chapter Four Draft
The Day We Encountered all the Deities and Legends in Ancient China
Meeting the Fortune God ¨C Tao Zhu Gong
Like a cherished dream, we were racing along the country road in Nanyang Prefecture. Driving into the deep hinterland filled with unknown, and everywhere are legends or historical names.
Henan traffic is as wild as a jungle. The incoming cars try to pass and spill over to our lane. In the province, if you hit any pedestrian, you are automatically at fault. Even this strict rule doesn't regulate the drivers that well.
I am at once excited, and uneasy. It is quite a thrill. When we passed the road covered with millet, or corn, the kids were clapping as the tires helped to remove the chaff.
As we are driving deep into Nanyang Prefecture, the tour guide James points out a hill with an arch structure, beyond which is business saint Tao Zhu Gong's hometown. We arrived at an interesting enclave, as if in an ancient time. The terrain carries some dignity.
Nanyang is said to have heaven spirit and top earthly talents. As a Chu Country citizen, Tao Zhu Gong (536 BC - 448 BC) is known for his strategy to assist Yue Country to finish Wu Country. Afterwards, he changed his name and transformed himself, becoming a tycoon.
We stopped over and enjoyed country style food which includes assortments of mushrooms. For some reason, James says there isn't much to see there. As this place seems to be mainly a market gathering, with throngs of busy people, James escorted us out of here to continue on our journey to visit Shang Prince's shrine. My guess is that there are no rich donations to keep the place up. Later I was proven right.
But it is important to point the place out. I guess just the terrain is still the same as thousands of years ago, all we need is great imagination to tie the history together with the location.
Tao Zhu Gong is a mystic business deity because he was a born venture capitalist with great strategy in timing. His other known historical name is Fan Li. As an advisor to Yue Country's young king, he assisted Yue King to reconstruct the Yue Country and defeated Wu Country. Afterwards, he retired from politics and became a businessman. During the Chun Qiu era, Wu and Yue were like Germany vs France as foes, trying to outdo each other, but now all are under one China rule.
Fan Li was even better than Sun Tze in his integration of the thesis of Tao to win the war or business battlefield. Although Chiang Kai-shek worshipped Yue Country¡¯s king of 20 years in preparation for his comeback, he never took the advice of great strategist Fan Li. Chiang failed in many aspects and both omissions in war tactics and humanity in tune with Tao.
Fan Li believed that you must be in line with a just environment, spiritual cultivation and material construction. When you come to this region, you start to see why many great figures were from here.
The communists have a way to make everything indiscriminate. So the place is like a dead being because there are non-humanistic layers on all the living things.
I start to understand why my father always said a house needs to be square and evenly situated, that is so important, so that you will be upright and balanced.
Visiting the even court house with the image of the peace and fairness it generated in one's mind gave me the confidence of the ancient court system. However, my tour guide James only wanted to defame the ancient system by emphasizing how cruel the jail was. That is the communists¡¯ typical rhetoric that ancient culture was feudalistic and oppressive to people, so Mao was needed to liberate Chinese.
But the terrain seems to speak to me with objectivity and cultivation.
Shang Prince as Travel God
At midday, we arrived at the Shang Dynasty crown prince's abode. It is surrounded by vast fields with kiwi plants. We got out of the car and traversed toward his shrine temple. It looks very new, it is hard to imagine that I am stepping on the soil of Shang Dynasty.
Shang prince Nuo Za has become a household name, he was brave and always rode on a chariot, which at that time was very advanced vehicle.
As we entered the orchard and walked for some distance, there appeared a temple. I was absolutely stunned to see that the shrine was built by Ïã¿Í pilgrims from Zhang Hua, where my parents met, close to Taichung where I was born. "They come here every year from Taiwan to pay tribute and to keep the incense flowing." says James, ¡°the tablet has all of the donors¡¯ names¡±.
As we walked toward the temple, it was not guarded at all, totally empty. As we walked toward the back, suddenly there was a cool wind. The sunny sky darkened and overcast clouds were gathering fast.
James says, every time it is this way, on a bright sunny day, once you come to the back, it is overcast with shadows and the cool wind.
I saw the poster face on the post, that is the deity of Shang prince, but it is pretty feminine. The expression is neutral, is like a reflection of something, neither human-like, nor god-like, neither happy nor unhappy. I have never seen something unworldly like that photo.
James said, the deity is sacred but can't tell the gender.
The Shang Dynasty¡¯s characteristic is steeped in the supernatural. They liked to use oracle bones for prediction, to divine the future, with all possible outcomes in a matrix.
So no wonder the weather behaves a little eerie and out of the ordinary as here is the heartland of Shang and a land where witchcraft was practiced.
I seem to hear a witch saying:
¡°I have released the black horse
You shall have a splendid outcome¡±
Electronic Crown Third Prince is Taiwan's symbol
So based on my father's hometown historical figure, Taiwan treats him as a deity, of travel god as he has fast wheels. How can Taiwan sever the tie to be independent? It should be called Republic of China, Taiwan is part of it.
We took some lunch with mountain mushrooms with country farming food, I was very content. Then we headed toward the ferry across the reservoir. We waited along the river bank with other cars.
As it happened to be the golden week for communists celebrating their national holiday, there was a long line of waiting cars. After a wait of 30 minutes, the ferry came and the car was loaded onto the deck, we were on the reservoir. The ship's engine powered on the reservoir, underneath is buried the ancient Chu kingdom¡¯s lower capital. After 20 minutes, we arrived on the other side at the level of the upper national temple.
We reach to Upper Temple
After the ferry ride, the chauffeur retrieved our car. We started to climb up to the temple, called Xiang Yan Temple. This is one of China proper's four celebrated largest estate temples. Emperor Tang XianZong was a monk here for 7 years before he became the emperor.
In the garden, there is a pair of Gingko trees, one is gold, and the other is silver.
We went inside to visit. A Zen master gave me a book about the temple¡¯s history. We then went to the back where there was a secret Tang Dynasty library with classic lattice wood windows that I like very much, it survived the Red Guards. Then, we saw a stone smith inscribing tablets. I told them my grandfather's name, "Xiang Zai", they say, he had to be somebody real huge to take that name. This is because Nanyang autonomous region leader Mr. Bie Tingfang, also a.k.a. "Xiang Zai" which means incensed meditating study abode, i.e. pure, no meat, no sex, no luxury.
So the stone smith told me to inscribe my father's name. I gave him some money, he told me that next time, I come back, I will see the name.
Late in the evening, we went to the hotel that is built right on the ancient Chu capital.
The blanket seems to be damp. In my struggling to sleep, I seemed to hear many teams of boats traversing on the lakes with painted triangular dragon shape flags of dragons racing in exercises.
In my dropped down eye lid, the smoky cloud disperse into a vista of Chu palace, with posts and jade veranda
Singing Immortal Poet Li Bai¡¯s Clear aqua Tune
Clouds think of clothes, flowers on looks
Spring breezing banisters, dew drops shine dense
If not group of jade seen at mountain top
Will meet under the moon at precious jade platform
END OF CHAPTER FOUR
To be continued
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