Hearing of An Immortal
(An Excerpt From The Zhuangzi)
Submitted by Solala Towler
Daoist texts are full of stories about Immortals. They are said to live for hundreds of years. They are magical beings, able to disappear at will, change their form and can ride into the heavens on the back of a dragon! In the following story a young student of the Way, upon hearing of such a being, cannot help but scoff.
Hearing of an Immortal
A student named XX came to his master and said “I heard Chieh Wu speaking yesterday and his words upset me. They seemed to have nothing to do with reality. They seemed to me like the stars in the Milky Way, far away and unattainable. They confused and even frightened me.” “What did he say?” asked the master. “He said that far away, on Ku Mountain there lives an Immortal whose flesh and skin are as white and smooth as snow. She is as fine and delicate as a young girl though she is very old, even ancient. It is said that she never eats food but subsides on air and dew. She mounts the clouds and rides on the back of dragons, wandering all about the four seas. With her spirit powers she can protect anyone from sickness or decay and ensure a bountiful harvest. This seems to me to be ridiculous and I cannot believe any of it.”
The master said, “Everything Chien Wu says is true. The blind cannot see elegant shapes and the deaf cannot hear the music of the bells and drums. But blindness and deafness are not just physical, they can also be mental. So it is with yourself. This Immortal looks upon all the different manifestations of the world as one. Because of her, we are all better for it. Nothing can harm such a person. A great flood could not drown her. The greatest heat, one that could melt metals and stone, could not harm her. From her very being she could fashion great philosopher kings. Why should she bother with our world?”
Solala Towler has taught Daoist meditation and qigong for over 23 years. He has been editor/publisher of The Empty Vessel: The Journal of Daoist Thought and Practice for over 20 years and has had eleven books published on the Daoist arts. He is a founding board member and President Emeritus of the National Qigong Association and leads yearly tours to China to study qigong and Daoist practice in the sacred mountains of Wudang. In addition he has recorded four cd’s of relaxation/meditation/yoga/qigong music. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his new website at CommunityAwake.com (under The Abode of the Eternal Dao), which has many features (full color issues of EV, music, past articles, video and guided meditations), much of it for free.