“For persons who have awakened to the Path by illuminating mind and seeing their true nature, one can attain the fundamental wisdom. Yet, many do not have the necessary differentiating intelligence. Though, these folks can see inherent nature, but in order to function and manifest from one’s profound self-nature, and have the means for perfection in all merits and achievements -- that is quite arduous and require the patient of a Bodhisattva. “From late master Nan 1990
Personally, having the incredible fortune to study with Master Nan’s disciples, abbot Ming Kong, and abbot Shoo Yu, Nan’s cautionary statement above serves as a blinking red light to the pervasive spiritual materialism of our time. Genuine awakening is different from immortality, hence, such accomplishment serves only as a stepping stone on the path of enlightenment. Thus, the following fable of the immortal Lu can serve as a sign post on the fallacy of materialism.
These days one is filled with tranquility and utterly at ease
The six subtle bodies are in profound harmony
Since within the elixir field, Dantien, there resides the regenerative jewel seed,
What then is there any needs for further refinement
In confronting with life’s phenomenon,
one is wholly without arousal and reactionary habit,
then why the heck should there be the urge for Chan enlightenment.
Poem by Immortal Lu, Tang era (500 AD)
Obviously, its narrative illustrates the highest accomplishment of inner alchemy: deep equanimity, a state of liberation, immortality and freedom from impingement of possession and desires and ultimately one is free of the confinement of sickness, old age and death. Nevertheless, from the perspective of an awaken consciousness, the poet still misses the point, the final awakening of true complete liberation. Later on, this sets up the downfall of his fateful meeting with the Buddhist Chan master, Golden Dragon.
Once upon a time, Immortal Lu straddling his jeweled sword soared over Mount Lu in Kiangsi. As Lu flew across the mountain peak, he discerned a most peculiar lavender cloud formation which right away beckoned him perchance, there may reside a holy man.
As Lu descended, he discovered that it was the Huang-lung (Golden Dragon) Temple. In the dharma hall, seated on the platform, a wizened old abbot was giving a talk on the Garland sutras:
“What if life is like a million petal bloom of you being here?”
The old abbot asked.
Lu courteously stood at the back of the assembly in order not to disturb the most profound rendition of the Garland Sutra. But to his chagrin that this old man seated at the dharma throne seemed nothing remarkable nor extraordinary. Without miraculous power of taming dragon and subduing tiger, how could it be even conceivable to Lu that such multitude of monks gathered and listened to his words with such profound silence and reverence? The more he looked, the stranger it seemed, dumbfounded, he was frozen with confusion.
Incredulously, the old man paused in the middle of his talk and yelled out,
“there’s a thief amongst you trying to steal the true Dharma."
In an assembly of shaved headed monks, Lu was the only Taoist priest with long jet black hair falling to his shoulders, clearly, the old cankerous abbot was accusing him of the unsavory act of theft, a very grave accusation indeed, especially coming from someone who possessed no supreme powers.
Lu leaped to the front of the group and chanted
“In a single kernel I hold the whole Cosmo,
In half a pot I can boil mountains and river.
What need do I have of your stinky dharma.” Lu spit out and the words flew like daggers.
“Aha! At first, I thought you were someone extraordinary, but in truth you’re nothing but a lowly corpse thief, akin to a ghastly spirit imprisoned within a lifeless body. Immortality is so overrated." The old man laughed with his reedy voice as the soft breeze rafting through the thick clusters of bamboo outside the temple.
“Even if you can survive a thousand lifetimes, at the end you will succumb to the law of karmic entropy and be crushed and disperse as if a tendril of wispy smoke.” the abbot retorted.
“Your demon!” Enraged, Lu shook his sleeves, and from their hidden recess, his demon conquering sword darted out and flew straight toward the old man. Within this split instance, a dead silence hung over the whole assembly as if time was suspended, each monk trying to surmise what the Buddha was happening. Then, the sword dropped lifelessly in front of the abbot with a thud.
The abbot cackled, “You really don’t have to resort to such desperate act. Just a minute ago you said you have real realization, hence, I ask you, what truth have you seen?"
Lu repeated, "A single grain of millet contains the whole universe. mountains and rivers are boiling in half of a cauldron."
Without missing a beat, the old man pressed, “Let’s put aside on how to cook mountains and rivers. Now, tell me, how can a single kernel of millet hold the universe?"
Upon hearing these words, like a thunderous bolt of lightning, instantaneously, Lu reached final complete enlightenment. With deep humble gratitude for the grandmotherly kindness of the abbot, Lu bowed and inscribed the following verse on the temple wall:
Throw out the gourd
and shatter the lute
No more would I long for
the golden elixir in the mercurial sexual essence,
Henceforth, in face to face with the Golden Dragon,
I have come to see how even in my very initial stage of my search,
That I’ve been grasping with the false mind.”
Transliterated by Sat Hon summer of 2016 at the town of Asoka reservoir
Mind like jade and smooth as ice
not even a peck of dust infiltrates it
Though the jade may be obscured
You pay no attention at all
On the terrace of Immortals
you ascend directly to the supreme blissful peak
According to Taoist legend, the immortal sister Wu (820 AD) lived with her husband in poverty. She was the daughter of an Taoist immortal father and at a certain point in she and her husband retreated to the mountain by riding on a tiger and disappeared from the world.