Priest Patrick’s Record of China Trip 8/21/14 – 9/4/14

Group photo with Tian Yuan

Official Record for China Trip Aug 21st 2014 – Sept 4th 2014

On Aug 21st 2014 at 1:00 am I traveled with 14 of my students and two of my Daoist Priest brothers from Houston TX to Beijing China. We arrived at 4:50 am Aug 22nd 2014 at Beijing Int’l airport. We spent the day at a local hotel to rest and acclimate. The next day, Aug 23rd 2014 we flew from Beijing to the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province which is 1.5 hours’ drive by bus to the Daoist sacred mountain Mt Qingcheng (place where Celestial Master Zhang Dao Ling first instituted Daoism as an organization instead of unaffiliated wandering mystics and holy men).

Qingcheng Mountain Daoist Temple

We stayed and studied at the Qingcheng Daoist Temple with Daoist Abbot Zhang Ming Xin. She is a 20th Generation Longmen Abbot and head of the Qingcheng Mountain Daoist Association there in Sichuan province. She is the #2 Daoist in the hierarchy of Daoism as is recognized by the PRC today. We began our studies with her on Aug 24th 2014. She began by hearing why we had all chosen to come to Qingcheng and why we chose to study the Dao. This was so she could understand what it is we came to learn, but also to know how to best test each person’s resolve and sincerity. When it came my turn to answer I replied simply. My answer was “To allow my students to see the many forms of Daoism and that though the expressions of Daoist cultivation may look different, it all leads up the same mountain. And as for why I chose to be a Daoist Priest, because I believe Simplicity, Spontaneity, Compassion, and Going with the Flow is the only way to return to our True Nature and Reunion with the Dao is the only thing worth dedicating an entire life to.” I then told her about the ADGL and she was very interested in learning about how an American lineage looked and worked. I explained Li Shifu’s 1000 day retreat and about the recitation of the Gongke and scriptures. She was very impressed and even commented on how practical Shifu’s approach was since the addition of all of the other ‘more Chinese’ aspects of the Longmen sect simply were not very readily transferable to someone who had not been raised in Chinese culture. The next 5 days that we were with her she had her 25 year disciple and Daoist Abbot of his own Temple on the mountain (there are 36 in all) Wang Liu Jun aide in teaching us Daoist cultivation, incantations, talismans, mudras, and meditation (neigong) techniques. Each student was instructed to learn and memorize what is known as the Big 8 incantations. These are the very same incantations that the ADGL uses in the morning and evening rites during their 1000 day retreat, however they were given in Mandarin and expected to be able to recite the very next day. During that week each person met with one or both the two Abbots and asked about their personal experiences, practices, etc. There were a lot of emotional and spiritual testing and the entire time we were there I had to many session of counseling and encouraging to get my students through some pretty difficult things that came up for them. At the end of the stay the Abbot, Zhang Shifu, asked to see me. She always addressed me by my Priest name, Xu Gong, and told me that due to the work that I had done and the depth that each of my students had demonstrated in the cultivating the Dao, that she wanted me to take ashes from her main altar there in the Temple and bring them to Houston. The reason for this was so that I could create a Temple here in Houston and place a Qingcheng Mountain Daoist Altar in it. I asked her how I was could do that when I was only a Priest in the Longmen sect. She then informed me that she was making me a 21st Generation Longmen Abbot under her that was how. On the trip, I brought with me as a facilitator a 22nd Generation Longmen Priest named Li Min. She then told me that since he lived in Houston as well that he would be placed under me to complete his training. She then asked Wang Shifu to come and told him that I was to be placed under him as a Gui Yi Di Zi (皈依弟子)which is defined as one who is an ordained disciple whom abides and lives their life base on the principles of the Dao but does not necessarily stay in a monastery or give full time service and commitment to the Temple. This was so that he could be my mentor as a new Daoist Abbot seeing as she had just recently (in the last 5 years) promoted him to Abbot himself and gave him charge of his own monastery. He then accepted and we went for private training and he asked me to return to him in the winter near spring for deeper training. She then instructed me to return in the spring for more training with her and to perform more formal rites in front of the other Abbots and Chief Abbots at their annual gathering. I then asked her if she would like to make an alliance with the ADGL and she said that she was very amenable and that it was up to Li Shifu on how he would like to conduct the proceedings (whether both of them did it formally when she came to the US or if Li Shifu wanted me to do it by proxy for her when I came out to see him next). From there we left in the evening on Aug 27th 2014 and took the train east to the edge of Sichuan province to the city of Chongqing. Specifically the ancient town of longevity known as Changshou to visit and learn from Zhengyi Abbot Tian Yuan.

Ancient Longevity Town, Changshou, Daoist Temple

On Aug 28th 2014, we began our formal training with a Zhengyi Daoist Abbot Tian Yuan. He is been the son and grandson of two Zhengyi Abbots, and the former apprentice of a Daoist Abbot that was his grandfather’s Daoist brother. His Master had taken him to the Chiangbai Mountains in far Northern China for 26 years to live as hermits and recluses and teach him all of the ways of Zhengyi Daoism. Once his Master died, he returned to Changshou and began construction on a Temple complex there in the ancient town. He, like Zhang Shifu, asked why we were interested in following the Dao and also decided to test our commitment to following it. He taught about talismans, how to recognize the workings of the Dao and to learn to accept the lessons it brings, and then he took us to a sacred hill of Peach trees where he taught us a Heaven and Earth cultivation based on the lunar cycle. From day 1 – 15 of the lunar month you practice cultivating Yang/Celestial energy in a high place, like a hill with great Qi, and then wait 3 days for the full moon to pass and then day 18 – the next new moon you practice cultivating Yin/Earth energy in a cemetery or graveyard. We practiced during the hours of 11pm and 1am. He placed us in specific spots and faced each of us in very specific directions. It was and extremely amazing experience and after he was very happy with everyone’s performance. We stayed with him until Sept 1st 2014 and on the night before the last day he met with me at 11:00pm and explained that since I was an ordained Zhengyi Daoist monk that we would like me to be a Gui Yi Di Zi (皈依弟子) under him and then gave me a ceremonial sword to bring back to the US and place on my altar. I told him about the Temple(s) I planned to create in the US and he said that he would be happy to make the trip over and also add his lineage to the Temple as well. The next morning we did a blessing ceremony and he then made the announcement to all of his disciples that train there in his Temple. Sept 1st 2014 we then flew back to Beijing for the final leg of our journey.

Beijing and the last Daoist Abbot meeting

Once we returned to Beijing we met with the last Daoist Abbot, Huang Guang Cheng. He is a Chunyang (Pure Yang) sect Daoist from the back of Wudang Mountain in a town known as Fujian. He was a thrown away child at the age of 9 who sold sugar on the local streets to eat. One day he met an old Daoist Abbot from a mountain Temple who asked him to give the Abbot sugar since he had no money. Huang Shifu said yes because he sensed this man was extremely spiritual. Seeing the child’s pureness of heart he blessed the child and told him to follow him to his Temple. Huang Shifu said ‘as long as there’s food and a place for me to sleep I’ll go anywhere with you’. The boy then stayed with the Abbot for the next 7 years. After that he was told that he must go and settle all accounts with family and to eventually marry and have 2 children. Once that was done he was to return and become a full time Daoist. So he did. Now after 35 years of living in the Temple with his Master he then found a small Temple on a little island in a lake in the town of Fujian. So he was appointed Abbot of that Temple due to his strong affinity with Guanyin and that’s where he’s been ever since. He taught us incantations, talismans, and Daoist blessings and ceremonies. After we met with him, he and I spoke and he offered me to come and train with him several times a year and be his Su Jian Di Zi, which is a close personal honored student. I told him that I was extremely grateful and that I would love to come and visit, however with all of the commitments I had already made, that I would like to wait on any formal training in Chunyang Daoism until I had fulfilled the tasks before me at present. We returned to Houston on the 4th of Sept 2014.

by Priest Patrick Lovitt

 

List of Priest Patrick’s Official titles:

21st Generation Qingcheng Shan Longmen Daoist Abbot (Dao Zhang)

2nd Generation American Dragon Gate Priest (Dao Shi)

65th Generation Zhengyi Priest (Dao Shi)

6th Generation Zhengyi Ordained Disciple (Gui Yi Di Zi)

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