In ancient times in China, there lived a boy named Yunshen.
From childhood, he dreamed of becoming an invincible warrior, unequaled in sword-wielding and able to defeat any opponent with or without the aid of weapons.
At that time, martial arts were in great honor. One skillful in battle was admired by all.
Yunshen studied for several years under several famous masters who owned different styles of combat. But he wanted more.
He participated in many competitions, perfecting his skills. He always tried to notice and learn anything new.
But one day, Yunshen lost the fight with one opponent, who was far superior to all participants of the contest — by his cool demeanor and power. His skills impressed the young man.
Yunshen asked him:
“Who trained you in the skill of warfare?”
“I had a mentor who has no worthy adversary. His name is Shenli. But do not dream that you will be able to learn from him and become stronger than I!
“It’s not reason to walk to him. His treatment to students is violent. And he shows these special techniques, only to six disciples elected after years of prior training. The rest of them are just kicked out with contempt, called unworthy of power and waste of time.
“He lives in the mountains and requires austerity and complete obedience from the students. He takes the very few to study.
“Every six years, he arranges competitions for those who want to learn from him and selects a few people for preliminary study.
“And for the closest disciples — after several years of study — he conducts the final exam. First, they fight among themselves. The winner of all will fight against the teacher himself. And whoever bests the teacher — he will be the successor and will lead the school.
“But still none of the students could surpass him.
“And when the best of the students is defeated, Shenli expatriates him as well.
“I learned from him not long, but I do not envy those who were stronger than me and stayed to study further.”
… This story interested Yunshen, because, even if after a short training in combat skills the student of Shenli differed so much from all those Yunshen met before — how great is the skill of the teacher and his best students!
And he went in search of the mentor Shenli. It was fortunate because just this year he selected candidates as students.
… In the qualifying contest, Yunshen won one combat after the other and had become the best. He was among the selected few who were accepted by Shenli for training.
* * *
But the joy of this success began to fade quickly.
Living next to the coach was filled with a cold sternness such that enjoying anything was impossible.
The better success the student achieved, the harder he was criticized so that pride of achievements could not arise in him.
The body pain of blows received during training was a mere trifle compared to the pain, which was caused by the communication with Shenli.
Yunshen long time could not get used to how the mentor ridicules any mistake of a student! And it happened always, whether it was at mastering methods of combat, or when cooking, or cleaning the school grounds. His caustic verbal comments were stronger and sharper than the sword blows!
The friendships between students, mutual aid — were punished at the school. Each would be responsible only for himself. But damage to anyone because of envy or resentment — was instantly nipped.
Only cold unflappable calm under any circumstances, an iron-hard self-control with no emotional outbursts was cultivated. Steel will was to send any blow or to parry any attack.
One day, Yunshen allowed himself to ask the teacher: why ridicule and humiliate the offending student? Is it not simpler to speak privately about this? Everyone is striving to become better!
“It is necessary! If insults and humiliations bring the student out of balance, he is not a warrior! He will lose the fight, giving in to emotions, if his opponent were to offend him!
“This world is cruel, and only the fittest can win in it!
“And each of these lessons is always useful for everyone, not for just one!”
… Gradually Yunshen developed an iron will and endurance. He ceased to feel compassion for those who were near. He no longer tried either to protect from the wrath of Shenli other students, or to try to help them. He calmly looked at how, broken and unable to withstand the test, the student left the school. “Well, such is the fate of the weak! Perhaps, this will be my fate…” — calmly thought Yunshen.
Yunshen used to comply in peace when Shenli mocked him, turning his slightest weakness into a subject for sarcastic comments. This continued up until such errors were eliminated completely.
He had accustomed to the despise of cold silence of the mentor, to rare and dry words of approval, which could not even be rejoiced, because the atonement instantly overtook the student’s extra emotions.
… So Yunshen’s skills in the control of his body and arms during training increased manifold.
But, it took six years. And, the last exams at Shenli’s school approached when the best student had to be selected, who was to fight against the mentor.
Yunshen became this best by winning all the fights between students.
The fight between the instructor and the student started. Yunshen suddenly realized that he is stronger than his mentor, he saw how to defeat Shenli… But for a split second, he allowed himself to stop and feel sorry for the one who taught him all this… At the same moment, he was plunged to the ground by the blow of Shenli…
“Wimp, away from here! You have not learned anything in all these years! How much efforts I spent on you — and all in vain! And you could be the best! You were tempering your spirit and learned to have the will invincible! You never will become the winner, because you have not learned the law that the strongest can be only one! You still are governed by the emotions of an insignificant little man!”
… Yunshen felt the familiar flow of hatred in speech of the coach. But it seemed to him that Shenli felt great relief that he had not been defeated by now…
… Well, that was the end of study at the Shenli…
Yunshen bowed and walked away.
Mentor spat after him and turned to the other students, who were now dreaming to take his place…
* * *
Many weeks Yunshen went without a goal, not knowing where to go. He knew, he had mastered the great skills of warfare, but it did not bring him satisfaction.
The dream of his youth was, like, achieved… But it was crowned by a defeat, not a victory…
Something important was not understood…
He also thought: was it right that he spared Shenli?… But no: he understood that he did not want to take his place, becoming the same as Shenli…
But how and why to live now?
Yunshen… was just walking. Emptiness of indifferent and cruel world surrounded him from all sides. And it made life… meaningless.
Lifeless mountains were all around. The blue sky was cold and indifferent. Blades of grass looked on the edges of mountain trails as submissive and contemptibly weak…
“The world around you looks the way you’re doing it yourself!” — he heard a soft, deep voice.
Yunshen saw the Master of Heavenly Heart, Who went to meet him.
Certainly, Yunshen did not know Who was in front of him. But the Strength and Peace of the Traveler were so great that it was impossible not to feel them.
The Stranger continued:
“Your world is empty, because your heart is devastated and does not know love!”
“Who are you to lecture me?”
“I am the One Who could be your Teacher. But you’re not ready to learn yet, although has learned much already.
“Failures teach us more than victories.”
“Well, then defeat me! Let’s get to the sword!” — Yunshen said, thinking that he had met his adversary.
He offered the Master of Heavenly Heart his second sword, because Master was unarmed.
“I do not need weapon to win,” — said calmly Master of Heavenly Heart.
“But how can I fight against one unarmed?”
“I am not unarmed! Try to cut me by any weapon — and you will see how far you are from the perfection in the knowledge that you possess!”
… The fight was unusual. Yunshen dealt severe blows, but the Master of Heavenly Heart reflected with palm any impact, and the sword could not even touch His hand, possessing an unknown Power.
And then the Master of Heavenly Heart did not reflect the impact — and the sword of Yunshen passed through His body without causing any harm.
“Love triumphs even where nothing else can win! Those who are One with Tao, cannot be killed, and nothing can harm Them! Their Love is infinite, and It coincides with the Ocean of Tao!”
“I would like to be your disciple!” — Yunshen said and bowed to the Master.
“My name is Master of Heavenly Heart. I will teach you, but not now.
“You liked the fact that the air at the behest of the Consciousness can become dense, like a shield, and human flesh — permeable, like water! But this is… just a spray of the Ocean of Power!
“Now you must find out what love is, and learn the lessons of love in the life of this world. Then — come to Me, and I will teach you Love Which is the Creating and the Enduring Power of Tao!
“I’ll wait for you, Yunshen!”
* * *
Yunshen was used to performing the job perfectly: he learned — over many years of study — discipline in the execution of each task. His will was the will of the winner, which reaches any set goal!
Yunshen set a goal — to find out: what is the “worldly” love.
He remembered everything he knew about kindness and love. He went and tried to be kind to those who, according to his ideas, needed it. For example, he lived for a few days in the house of a lonely old woman and has done all the work, which required strong men’s hands.
Now he liked to bestow people with a disinterested help.
… Soon he got to the big city. There he found a hotel where women — for a fee — gave men pleasure and affection.
He lived there for more than one day.
“It was very nice, but can it really bring to the Perfection? Is that the love?” — Yunshen thought.
Once, when Yunshen came out of that hotel, he saw the hostess and a very skinny and pale girl.
The hostess told her:
“Do not make me laugh! I will not take you for the work! Your bones will not be attractive for any visitor!”
“But maybe I could wash the floors or dishes?” — the girl uttered gingerly.
“Go away and do not disgrace my public house! It is — for solid clients!”
… The girl sadly lowered her eyes and began to leave.
Yunshen felt sorry for the poor girl: “Apparently, she is long hungry! And not all is well in her life!”
He called out to the girl:
“Wait a minute! What’s your name?”
“Come with me, let’s have lunch over there!” — he pointed to the tavern.
Siuli looked up in surprise:
“I have no money, sir! I have nothing to pay…”
“That’s why I invite you. Do not worry, I’ll not hurt you!”
… They ate rice…
Siuli tried to eat slowly, and almost did not take her eyes away from the bowl. Only sometimes she, for a few seconds, raised her eyes to Yunshen.
“Do you have any relatives?”
“Yes, in the city over those mountains my uncle lives. He does not know that I’m all alone since my father died. I know the way there…”
“I’m going there too!” — Yunshen said.
“Would you like, sir, to be so gracious to let me go with you? Uncle must be a good man, and I could give you the debt.”
“You do not owe me anything, Siuli! And I could walk with you to your uncle. The road over the mountains is hard and not close. I’ll take you with me, but on one condition: you will tell me what you know about love.”
“That which you have done for me, sir, can also be called love! You are ready to help a completely unknown girl!”
“I do not think that love — is so easy! For many years, I was taught how to forget what is kindness and compassion. But I, it turns out, can still remember it. And it is very nice!
“Better tell me about yourself: if I help one whom I know — I will not confidently assume that I have known what love is!”
Siuli smiled for the first time since they met:
“You, it seems, know how to joke, sir! But currently, I have little to say. I know calligraphy and how to draw. My father taught me, and he was a good artist. But he was ill for a long time before his death, and, for the debts, we have lost all our property. And now, if not you, I would die of starvation.”
“And my name is Yunshen. I know how to fight with any kind of weapon and without weapons. Today, this city will hold a contest. I will win the prize — and we will have enough money for the journey! If you want, I’ll buy you accessories for writing and drawing.”
“I do not allow myself to ask you this: it’s very expensive!
“But why do you believe that you will win all?”
“I know only one Master Who can defeat me. But I do not think that He will now challenge my prize, because you and I need money for the journey!
“Our meeting with that Master is still ahead, and you will help me to realize it!
“And please, do not dignify me as ‘sir’: because you’re not my servant, and we have a long road together!”
* * *
And, in fact, Yunshen has won all. Siuli, closing her eyes in fear, just waited until the end of competitions.
Under the enthusiastic cries of the crowd of spectators, the prize was delivered to Yunshen.
“Well, now let’s go to the market!”
Yunshen bought food and everything they needed on the way: because they had to travel over the mountains. Then he gave Siuli the opportunity to choose the brushes, ink, and paper.
They stopped to spend the night in the hotel — to the next day early in the morning to go.
“Today you did not tell me anything about love…”
“Can I answer without words?”
Siuli quickly made a remarkable drawing, on which was written the hieroglyph “thanks” and the branch of a blossoming peach tree.
Yunshen looked long at the picture. It seemed that even the empty space on the paper was full of tenderness, and each flower petal was opened like a kiss away.
Yunshen knew how the power of the soul can be collected in a single lump, to then be sent as an irresistible blow on the enemy.
But here, in this picture, — too, it was a special power of the soul, which, however, sounded like… a gentle melody…
… When in the morning, the owner of the hotel had seen the drawing, he asked to stay it in lieu of payment. He told Yunshen that such a great artist had never before stopped here.
Yunshen wanted to contend that it was not he — the artist, and that he will not give up the drawing, but Siuli passed ahead and whispered to him:
“Let him take: the drawing will hang here for many years in memory of our meeting. It will please many people! And I will draw more! And do not tell him that I drew: you will not be believed!”
They left, leaving the drawing to be placed in the hotel.
“Why did you not permit to say that it is your creation?”
“Once previously in my life, I tried to sell my drawings. But I was accused of stealing them, and they took away everything. Woman is not supposed to be able to do something that should make a man…”
* * *
They went to the pass by the mountain trails. Already by noon Yunshen had seen that Siuli began to lag behind.
“Now I’ll catch up!” — she cried every time when Yunshen stopped to wait for her.
Soon Yunshen realized that unaccustomed to travel Siuli has worn her feet to bleeding in straps of wooden sandals.
“Why did you not say at once?” — he shook his head to Yunshen. — “Now we have several days when you cannot walk!”
He scanned the surrounding area and found the leaves, which help in the healing of wounds.
He seated Siuli on a flat rock and bandaged her feet.
“Now hang on my back, otherwise we will lose a lot of time.”
“No-no! I’ll try to go myself!”
But Yunshen urged Siuli to obey. She grabbed him by the neck and clung to his back. He picked up her legs under the knees. So they continued on their way.
* * *
One night, instead of the story about what love is, Siuli said:
“I love you, Yunshen! And now I myself know exactly what love is! But I can not explain it…”
He kissed her lips.
“You are a good mentor, Siuli! Thanks to you, I gradually understand it myself.”
… The next morning, they went again over the mountains. The sky was singing them songs of love, gentle mountain flowers smiling at their happiness, the wind played with their hair and caressed their faces with transparent kisses. The world around was filled with happiness! Life now had the meaning, since it was lit with love!
Yunshen recalled the words of the Master of Heavenly Heart: “The world around you looks — the way you do it!”
“What a wonderful world is, if it is full of love!” — Yunshen said.
… During this time, Yunshen told Siuli how he studied under mentor Shenli, and how he met the Master of Heavenly Heart.
He offered to find the Master of Heavenly Heart, instead of going to the uncle of Siuli. She agreed.
“Do you think that I, too, can learn from Him?” — Siuli asked with some trepidation.
“I think so: He suggested me to cognize what is love, and you have given me this treasure!”
* * *
Once in the mountains, they were found by a heavy downpour. It caused landslides and avalanches.
Having noticed the safest place, Yunshen dragged Siuli there — and in time: hail of stones and clay fell on the spot where they had stood.
“Hurry! Over there we can be saved!” — Yunshen pointed to a steady jut of the solid stone monolith ahead. They rushed there, but all the time Siuli was slipping and falling. Then Yunshen asked her again to climb on his back and clasp his neck. Up to a safe place, they were only a few meters away, when the trail under Yunshen’s legs collapsed… He held the ledge with great difficulty, the hands was slipping. They were hanging over the precipice. And suddenly he realized that Siuli, to save him, released her hands. A small fraction of a second — and he grabbed her with one hand, almost fell into the terrible abyss… He gathered all his strength of consciousness and body into one — and accomplished the impossible: they were able to get out…
He was now grateful to Shenli for that strength and agility, the instant reaction and the ability to see the space around, which Shenli taught him!…
They reached a safe ledge and were able to take shelter there from the rain, wind, and streams of stones and clay, falling from the mountain slope.
Yunshen hugged trembling Siuli and realized… how fragile and insecure was the happiness that was granted to them by Heaven in the last few days…
Questions about the purpose of life and death stood before him…
If before his life and the lives of other people seemed to him as only insignificant episodes in the life of the Land under Heaven — now the life of this fragile and delicate girl meant to him so much!
And what would happen, if he did not catch her?
And where would they be now, if their bodies would have died?
What will the Master of Heavenly Heart be able to teach them? Does He have the answers to these questions?
And the main question: how to find Him?
* * *
Much time Yunshen and Siuli spent in search of the Master of Heavenly Heart. But it was to no avail.
None of the local residents had even heard about Him.
Once Siuli said:
“If the Master of Heavenly Heart is Immortal, He can hear our thoughts and knows our intentions. Apparently, we do not understand correctly something. When we understand this — He Himself will be next or we will find the way to Him! It costs nothing for Him to come to the place where He is needed!”
“Yes, you’re right, Siuli!
“Try to formulate: why do we want to find Him? Imagine that He is now standing in front of you and you talk to Him.”
“I always wanted to learn to paint so that an spectator, seeing the picture, hears the birds singing in the silence, also the rustle of leaves, and even to perceive how fragrant flowers are. And — looking at the portrait, one could see the character and thoughts of man who is drawn. And — seeing the image of the mountain brook, one could strive together with it in the valley and reach the sea. And — for the beauty of the Earth, from the dizzying heights to the depths of the sea, to be seen for the souls!
“I want Love to live in each line of a drawing and be illuminating to those souls which know how to love.
“But do I maybe dream of the impossible?
“My father told me that One, Who has cognized Tao, creates Beauty, drawing it from the Infinite Source!
“He said that Tao can manifest Himself in the Creation — with the help of Those Who have cognized Tao.
“I did not dare admit even to myself that I dreamed to be like Those Immortals Who can tune people’s hearts to Love and turn them away from evil thoughts and deeds…
“And now — it’s your turn, Yunshen! Speak, as if the Master of Heavenly Heart hears you: why do you want to learn from Him?”
“Before, I wanted to be a warrior and did everything for it. But I met the Master of Heavenly Heart and learned how imperfect were my skills!…
“He instructed me to cognize love. And you gave me the knowledge of it!
“But I have realized also how fragile and insecure is that which we love in the Creation and try to keep!
“You and I need to cognize that Love that is connected to the Power of Tao — to understand the purpose of life and death, action and non-action.
“I would like to serve Tao by everything that I already know, and that I can continue to learn!
“It is said that there is a spiritual alchemy that transforms both the body and soul. And — all that is cognized as the internal energies in the art of combat, those are only small traces of that Knowledge, which opens the Great Ultimate.”
… They fell silent.
They were surrounded by an amazing sounding and transparent Silence! It was like the whole universe listened to their words and intentions…
But nothing happened.
… Yunshen and Siuli continued their quest and their journey.
* * *
One morning, Yunshen said:
“Today I had a dream. It was like floating in the most subtle and gentle Fire. And my every movement in this Heavenly Fire joined this Fire Space with the space within my body. And the Master of Heavenly Heart smiled and said something to me, but I cannot remember His words…
“Perhaps, we ourselves must seek the Truth and, as far as possible, help others to do the same.
“Since we cannot find the Master of Heavenly Heart, let’s open a school for children. You will teach them to read and draw. I’ll try to teach how to make the body healthy and clean.”
“How can we teach, when we ourselves do not have the Knowledge?”
“Let’s suppose that we are now able to share a little: only with that which we ourselves have already learned. But in an effort to help others — love lives! After all, you taught me this!”
… And then Yunshen and Siuli felt like clear air around filled with the Great Silence and Peace. In the area around, there was the presence of the Living Light-Love. Then, this Light gained a huge form of smiling Face, beaming with Tenderness. Then the outlines disappeared, and the Master of Heavenly Heart stepped to them from the Light. His body acquired a visible and tangible form, like an ordinary human body. And yet — this body was unusual: it was filled with unshakable Calm and emitted the Light.
The Master of Heavenly Heart said:
“I am pleased to welcome you, Yunshen! And I am glad to introduce Myself to you, dear Siuli!
“You both have very quickly and successfully passed the tests and lessons, which the soul must pass to enter the Path of Cognition of Great Mysteries of the Creator and the Creation!
“You both have found the heart love, which is needed on the Path of cognizing the meaning of life and cognition of Tao and Te!
“Now the ancient Teachings of Tao is forgotten by most people. People do not remember about the rectitude that was taught by Lao Tse! And man is looking for how to win and excel others — in wealth, strength, ability to fight…
“But the power of the consciousness must not serve this! Dangerous is the way of striving for strength, power, and glory that now people seek for! The strength, growing in a rough and ill, — distracts from the real meaning of life!
“Not many, who were starting their search of the force, may, in the end, cognize Love!
“Thinking about how to destroy, attack, kill… — how much time these people spend in vain for it!
“Having understood this, you can come closer to understanding the Laws of Tao.
“Human lifespan on the Earth has become short. But people waste their lives! They are finding the pleasure for themselves… — in fighting each other! Then they grow old and die, not comprehending why they came here and where they go! Bodies become decrepit, minds weaken… — and earthly lives pass in vain, without bringing to the Truth!
“All ‘morality’ is now reduced to worshiping dead ancestors and sacrificing to them…
“Yes, surrounding with care and respect for the elderly — is commendable, as well as taking care of wives and properly raising children!
“But the worship to dead, who were unaware of Light, — this cannot bring to the Light!
“There is a benefit for themselves, for their own families. There is a benefit to the entire state… But even for the rulers among people — there are higher laws! The decline of the ethic foundations by people and their rulers — could lead the country to ruin…
“Clear Teachings of Lao Tse now is studied only in some monasteries…
“And how much distortion is in the interpretations of the Teachings of Tao! Mentors teach of emptiness and non-action, but they do not know, do not understand that which they decided to teach!
“I would like to return to the pristine purity the doctrine of Tao to people on the Earth!
“The great alchemy of souls is needed to bring them to the cognition of Tao. This is a huge labor for souls and bodies. Understand: if the bodily energies are rough — the Light of Tao is incognizable. To reside and act in a body which contains rough energies — this is the way to gain a foothold in the rough and heavy state of a soul!
“The Light of Te and Peace of Tao are the Subtleties in the Great! Tao is the Subtlest of everything in the universe! Therefore, cognition of Tao is sometimes called the comprehension of the Great Ultimate!
“And you now have to work hard on soul and bodily energies to transform them and make them similar to the Light and Fire of Te, and then — to Transparent Calm of Tao!
“There are simple basics of the spiritual knowledge.
“Just as the meaning and spelling of hieroglyphs are needed to be able to read and write — so the basics of the structure and life of a soul and a body will be needed for you to explore, to master the Path of cognition of Tao!
“Tao takes in Him Those Who have reached His Great Peace.
“Tao also creates everything by the Fire Power. And He maintains and operates — through the Great Te.
“To start on the Path of Knowledge, it is necessary to purify and disclose the spiritual heart that allows the soul to cognize the worlds of Light, Purity, and Subtlety!
“It is necessary to know and to clear the seven centers in the body and meridians, connecting them. This will give the ability to manage your emotions and other movements of the soul. This can be achieved by means of specific exercises.
“When the bodily energies have become pure, also when the soul has become the mistress in the space of inner silence of the developed spiritual heart, when man is now effectively managing his or her desires and emotions — then it is possible to start and more! Those are the great accomplishments of the soul!
“I will only lightly outline the milestones of the Path.
“It is necessary to:
‘Connect your love and Love of Tao.
‘Connect the will of the soul with the Will of Tao.
‘Connect thinking with the Wisdom of Tao.
‘Connect the fire of the soul’s love with the Fire of all Te.
‘To serve all beings of the Land under Heaven by those skills that you have obtained.’
“Do you agree to devote your earthly lives to this?”
… Yunshen and Siuli said “yes” in high regard.
… So the studying started. It is revealed to those who fully dedicated their lives to cognition of Tao and serving Him!