Evacuation

swimming2.jpg

The city was under water.  

I was swimming amongst the detritus floating on the black watercourse in between the tall buildings.  There were people walking on top of buildings, and there were a few in the water with me.  I saw a few rafts float by with people clinging onto them.  Since the water was no longer swift, it was actually cool and soothing.  I was swimming back into the heart of the hot, sweltering city.  

I did not know the reason at the time, but it became readily apparent upon reflection.  I was returning to assist another group of survivors after having evacuated with a baby girl who had been given to me by an old man who had a deep wound.   

The baby was a beauty with a pale face, strange hazel/green eyes, and wavy brown hair.  Her pupils were huge, covering almost all of the eye area.  Since there was very little white around the eyes, she did not look quite human, but cried and ate and wriggled about as much as any ordinary baby would do.  

Once I had assured myself that the baby was in good hands and was safe, I returned to the drowning city.  

floodedCity

Upon my return, I meet up once again with the old man.  He looked bad.  It seemed as if he might not survive.  He was holding onto another baby, a boy with the same strange green eyes as the girl I just rescued.  

The old man told me the boy was the girl’s twin brother, and that he was looking for someone to take care of the child and take him out of the area.  I took the boy from the old man.  He seemed relieved, but looked badly hurt.  I wanted him to join us, but he refused.  It looked as if he had something else he needed to do.  

I asked him if he was going to be ok.  He grunted, holding onto his side, but said nothing.  He then handed me a bundle with some things in it.  He did not tell me what it was and what I was supposed to do with it.  But since he didn’t look like he was going to last much longer, I did not waste any time.  I took the bundle, along with the baby boy, and headed back out.

I left that area and was joined by another group.  There are two other kids, young boys around 3 or 4 years of age.  They can walk.  One of them had that same pale thin face with large green eyes as the babies in my care.  He looked as if he could be the babies’ older sibling.  

greenEyeBoy

As soon as the green-eyed boy saw me, it was as if he was familiar with me, and attached himself onto me immediately.  I wrapped my arms around him and lifted him up.  He weighed very little.

“I love you!”  I told him, feeling a strange bond, as if I knew him well.

“I love you too,” he replied.

“I wish I could buy you right now” I responded.  I was only joking of course.  Nobody buys and sells children.  We just try our best to take care of them.  

One of the women in charge of taking care of them laughed. “Don’t be surprised if he is the one who ends up buying you.”  

“Please do so as soon as possible!”  I said, and we all laughed.  

angryBoy.jpg

The other boy was very different looking.  He had a swarthy complexion and the same strange eyes, but they were blue.

He was also a bit stockier, his head, blocky and solid-looking.  He seemed more hostile, less open and friendly.

One of the women drew my attention to the blue eyed boy’s palm.  His intelligence and love lines made a very strong U shape and extended past his palm.  I was agog.  This kid was a mental giant!  

I grabbed the hand of the green eyed boy and saw the same thing, but the intelligence line went downward, past his palm too.  

A powerful psychic.  

I saw, in my mind’s eye, the green-eyed babies all had the same tell-tale signs on their palms.

One of the men handed me a bat-looking sentient creatures, a male.  I took him and strapped him onto the front of my body with a straddling cloth.  He hung onto me gratefully.  One of the other men strapped a female and a baby bat onto himself.  I think the baby died in transport. It did not seem to be moving, but we kept it with its mother any way.  There was nothing much we could do but keep moving.

We were a ragtag group of people.  4 men and 3 women, plus me.  I led the way towards a bus stop.  There was a bus-looking vehicle that was parked there, waiting for passengers.  I waved toward the bus and we all got on.

waterTrain.png

The conductor was a woman with a strangled hoarse voice.  She did not seem quite human, but at that point, I didn’t care.  We were onboard and safe.  She ignored everyone in my group and zeroed in on me, calling out my name.  I raised my hand and answered.  

“Here.”  

She reached upward with a pen and crossed off my name from a slip of paper with four names, all of which had been clearly written with a black felt tip marker.  The paper was taped to the side of the bus, as if it was a last minute addition to the group of people that were leaving.  

Once my name had been crossed off, there were only three other names left on the list.  Since there were seven of us, and none of the others’ names were on the list, it seemed as if I was the only one in the group who wasn’t even supposed to be there.  The rest were obviously supposed to be on that bus.  It was, I would be told, the last bus out of town.

Once we were onboard, the guy with the bats strapped to him said he was going up to the third level of the bus to find a place to sit.  The group all started following him.  

I was about to go with the group when, from the interior of the bus, I could see the leader of our group making his way to where the conductor is.  He does not see any of us, and looks extremely worried.  

angryEyes

“Where is my family?”  He demanded.

I waved at him.  “We’re all here!  We are going up to the top level of the bus.”

He saw me and a sparkle came to his eyes.  He smiled, looking tired and relieved.  Then he followed me up to the third level.

Then I woke up.

Then I frantically started typing out the dream.

The end.

Eight Visits

sleeping.jpg

Eight times, I was told, in my dreams.

Eight visits from eight people.

opera singer.jpeg

First an Asian opera singer with garish makeup.  He sang to me of ancient tales that I’m   supposed to remember.

I don’t remember any of it.

catman

Then a human-sized white cat, surrounded by a whole group of white cats, came calling.  They had strange tails that looked like individually working limbs.  Maybe they were foxes?  They seemed rather haughty and self-important.  I have no idea why they don’t like me.  Not sure what to make of them.

popeHat.jpg

Next was a white male with a pope’s hat.  I’ve met him before.  Several times.  We usually have long fun chats about hardly anything at all.  The one thing I remembered learning from him was that his big hat was really heavy.

alien-10.jpg

Then, a grey alien came who taught me how to radiate golden beams.  This was the same golden beams that I used to assist a monk into enlightenment.  I wrote about this experience in one of my earlier posts, Bands of Gold.  I see him and his group a lot too.

old-dude-long-beard1

And the latest to appear was Old Dude.  He told me there would be eight people who will be visiting me.  Some, I have already met and will continue to meet.  Some I have yet to meet.  Each would have something important to share with me.

Last night, Old Dude came again.  This time, he looks like a young monk, but he can’t fool me.  I know it’s him because it’s the same dang Old Dude aura.

boy monk

He told me to pay attention to the genetics of rice.  Knowing of the origins of rice will open up many answers to questions about ancient origins.

Rice, huh?

guys

I am also aware of a retinue of guys hanging out with me and following me wherever I go.  I know they are there to protect me.  From what, I have no clue.

So far, I only see five.  But this was a documented dream from three years ago.  Since then, I have met many people in my dreams.  Some pleasant.  Some not so pleasant.  maybe I’ve met all eight already.  Maybe not.  I don’t know.

I’ll ask Old Dude next time I see him, if I’ve met all eight important people.  If I remember to ask him–because sometimes, in my dreams, I forget a lot of things.

Sympathetic Consideration for Demons

kanekiDemon

(continued from Beauty Is Man-made)

“Men, animals, ghosts, demons— all deserve sympathetic consideration.  Formed from the great Tao, Matrix of the Universe, all are equally necessary to nature’s purposes.  If we destroy any being without good cause, how can we expect our fellows to treat us less belligerently?  Let live, leave well enough alone, abstain from exaggerated reactions and one may be sure of remaining on good terms with all the hosts of heaven, earth, and hell.  Even corpse-devouring demons are capable of gratitude.” — John Blofeld.

In a previous post, Beauty Is Man-made, I tentatively indicated the possibility that we could attempt to view extraterrestrials in a kindly light even though they deviate quite a bit outside our normal standard of beauty.  But this post goes beyond that.

Waaaaay beyond that.

scared

I’m talking about sympathetic consideration of freaking Corpse-devouring demons–beings of interdimensional substances that make the ETs look positively warm and fuzzy!

I’m talking ’bout fangs dripping with gore and half-eaten human flesh, eyes driven mad by relentless hunger and thirst, deadly claws outstretched and reaching, ready to rip your face off.

It is the stuff of a Taobabe’s nightmare, and to be honest, I have faced off with these terrifying beings in my dreamstate before, so I know how scary they can be!  How could such creatures possibly be included within the realm of a taobabe’s sympathetic kindness?

I say this, fully aware that there are beings who act demonic, but are not demons at all.  I am not talking about some insane, face-eating, bath-salt addict, with super-human strength.

girl thinkingThis post is about demons, not run-of-the-mill humans acting out in all sorts of evil ways.

This post is also about our knee-jerk reaction regarding demons.  We assume they are automatically evil because they look different and terrifying (to us) and are not necessarily human-centric in their thoughts or actions.

This is nothing new.  Throughout history, any groups of humans who exhibited the slightest tinge of diversity, be they physical, ideological, or spiritual, were almost certain to be shunned, or worse yet, persecuted by those who sought separation, subjugation, or even annihilation of these groups of divergent humans.

This is malevolent human-to-human interaction.  We haven’t even touched upon the interaction between us and a different race of beings, those who looked VERY different–grotesquely different–demonically different.  Any heinous action would, without a doubt, be far worse if the situation involved beings that are not even human.

readingGargoyleBut we cannot exclude the very real possibility that there are those beings that may look demonish, especially when compared to ye olde regular human beans (like me), but can hardly be considered demonic in thoughts and deeds.

In fact, they may be downright monkish!

They may, in fact, even be aiding and assisting humankind from behind the curtains, and they most likely would try to remain behind the curtains because they know how we humans would react to their physical differences.

I shudder to think what we would do to them, given half the chance, if our humanistic tendencies devolve into the level of unthinking beasts.

To be fair, we’ve been told all our lives, by the Powers That Be, that demons were horrifying and loathsome in their evilness.  Absent any other indication, we have no reason to doubt this information.

However, before we close the book on this subject and throw it into the sacred box which holds THINGS THAT ARE AXIOMATIC ABSOLUTE TRUTHS, please allow me a few minutes to point out some peculiar truths which must be examined before we turn off the lights on this whole subject matter.

A demon doesn’t have to look horrifying to be a real demon.

boy5Just as no taobabe worth her salt is ever going to leave the house looking like something the cat dragged in, no demon worth his weight in bon-bons will be caught dead without his glamour holo-waves firmly attached and engaged.

It’s not shape-shifting, folks.  Haven’t you heard?  It’s HBI (holographic body illusion).  Body holograms will be all the rage in the near future, once some technological kinks get resolved (or released, whichever comes first).

With the technology of HBI in their proverbial back pocket, I can almost guarantee that any run-of-the-mill demon you are going to meet on the street is going to be smokin’ hot.  After all, why look bad when you can look badass?  Isn’t it always better to be HOT than NOT, especially if it’s as easy as turning on a switch and casting a simple glamour spell?

But as I pointed out in one of my earlier postings, Beauty Is Man-made, there is a definite look that one must have in order to be considered HOT.  Deviate from this fashion-driven, era-specified look and you are suddenly not so hot.  The beauty queen of a few thousand years ago would be considered on the fat and homely side today.  Ditto for the handsome hunk of yesteryear, who would today, be hairy and smelly and a bit of a chauvinistic pig.

Of course, going down this thought path requires that I ask another question.  What if the image of beauty that we humans are partial to is really not all that pretty to a demon?

What if female demons really ship someone who looks more like this?

lizardMan

Bear up with me here.

What if that image above causes female demons to swoon and go weak at the knees, but to keep from frightening the humans, demons have to go about the human world, transformed into something like this guy below, even though the female demons are hella turned off by this image, thinking it weak and soft, and rather on the fragile side?

fighter

And of course, the male demons be like:

You know that ain’t the real me.  I’m just wearing my work uniform, babe.  Off the clock and I’m back to my hunky demon self again.  Just you wait.

Well, you know, beauty is as beauty does, which brings me to the next truth.

A demon doesn’t have to act with evil intent to be a real demon.

darkAngel

The other truth to consider is:  Evil is as evil does.

One can be physically beautiful and yet, do horrifying things to others.  In the same vein, one can be horrifying to look at, but possess a truly compassionate heart.  There is no way to tell until enough observational time has been given to deduce the demon’s inclinations.

Look, I am not asking for us to automatically feel the sympathy.  In fact, be vigilant, and be aware.  Not everything is roses and skittles out there, but that’s true even amongst us humans.  I am simply asking that we give enough time to make that judgement call on the evilness (or lack thereof) of a being that is of the demonic persuasion.

Not every demon out there has benign intents, but then again, not every demon is out to get you.  Before we condemn them on sight, I am saying we should at least extend the same courtesy we would give a fellow human being and give them a chance to prove their benignity.

We owe them at least this much, if we consider ourselves Taoists.

Virtue is not just another pretty word

guy3

So, we have to ask ourselves, where in hell does it say Taoists need to show kindness to demons?

Hasn’t Taoist priests been fighting with demons for thousands of years?  Haven’t demons wreaked havoc within human realm for time immemorial?

It’s all documented in ancient scriptures, writings, stories, myths, legends, the endless fights between Taoists and demons.

The conflict is not what’s in question here.  The crux of the situation is ENDING the conflict.

Let’s see what Lao Tzu says about this.

In chapter 51, he says, and I quote:

Tao produces them
Virtue raises them
Things shape them
Forces perfect them

Therefore all things respect the Tao and value virtue
The respect for Tao, the value of virtue
Not due to command but to constant nature

Thus Tao produces them
Virtue raises them
Grows them, educates them
Nurtures them, protects them

Produces but does not possess
Acts but does not flaunt
Nurtures but does not dominate
This is called Mystic Virtue

According to Derek Lin’s translation, Them refers to all living things.  This would have to include demons too.  They are just as alive as we are.  Virtue means the inherent power in everything.

All living things grow and develop by virtue of the life force within them.  Therefore, their virtue is their inherent power to live–an essential part of the Tao. ~ Derek Lin [1]

If we are walking around, all proud of the fact that we are part of the Tao, and the Tao flows through us, and we are divine, and we’re da shiz…well, guess what, them demons are all that too, and a bag of chips!

smile

The same life force surrounds them and lives within them as it does us.  We are all connected via the Tao, which means demons are a part of us, just as much as we are a part of them.

As uncomfortable as this may sound, there’s no getting around it.

Demons are there for a reason.  Maybe their reason is to create chaos so we can have the lessons we need to grow.  Maybe they are there to assist our growth in more benign fashion.  We don’t know.  We have to take it, case by case, person by person.  Demon by demon.  We have to remember that they also have the light within them.

See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see.  ~Wayne Dyer  

And about that corpse-devouring demon I spoke about at the start of this post, what if–stay with me here–what if it was created by the Universe to be carrion eaters like vultures and eagles and hyenas, or bottom-feeders like crab and catfish?

What if they were specifically used to clear out the crap and junk of dead material?  We don’t have a special hatred of wild turkeys or catfish.  Why then would we be so horrified of a corpse-eating demon?

In any case, this is the next set of lessons we need to absorb.  Not only do we have to extend our love to include all humans and life forms within this density, we also have to extend the same love and goodwill to beings of other densities.

Even if those beings look like demons.

batman

[1]  Tao Te Ching

Taoist Priestess

waterbeauty

When I think of a Taoist Priestess, I think of a female scholar who has devoted years of her life in the pursuit of Taoist knowledge and wisdom.  I visualize a woman who is wise and compassionate, one who has devoted her entire life to help those in need of guidance and encouragement.

I have an image of someone like her.

NGS Picture ID:1526064

The Daoist Priestess of the Sam Siang Keng Temple.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to become a Priestess.  But I am very interested in the knowledge and wisdom that Taoism provides.  In my efforts to pursue the teachings of the Tao, I read lots of books, do plenty of I Ching divinations, and try my best to comprehend how modern science is tracking along with the I Ching’s ancient knowledge.

There is so much about Taoism to learn that I could spend decades and never really get a firm grasp on Taoism.  The Tao Te Ching only has 81 chapters (one chapter per page) but I’m still working through this huge database (I read fast, but understanding takes time).  The I Ching is a whole other world, and as much as I’ve dug into, I still do not have the kind of grasp needed to call myself a Taoist Priestess.

Therefore, I was completely crestfallen when I found online, various self-proclaimed Taoist Priestesses whose entire teachings have nothing to do with the Tao Te Ching (or the I Ching) and everything to do with sexual techniques documented in Su Nu Ching.

pen

Methinks they should call themselves Sex Priestesses.

Now, before you condemn me for not understanding the connection between sex and Taoism, I will state for the record that I actually have a post (Sex and the Tao Babe) and I did devote some time to this subject.  But truth is, once I understood what it was all about, I quickly got bored with it and moved on.

I was supposed to add more stuff to this section, but you know how it goes…other, more incredible stuff popped up and I refocused my attention elsewhere.  There is so much MORE to being a Taoist Priestess than the sexual aspects, yet that is the one thing I have found that so many female Taoists are seemingly focusing on at this time.

But hey, it’s Taoism.  Those who follow the Tao are with the Tao and those who follow only the sexual teachings of the Tao, the sexual parts are also pleased to have them.

girlQuestion

Hungry Ghosts and the Vu Lan Season

nofaceRain

Mark your calendars, dudes and babes of the Taoist persuasion.  Next month, we will be going into the Ghost Month, as August is traditionally the month ascribed to ghosts in general, at least for us Taoists and Buddhists.

Ghost Food

girlFood.jpgWhen I was a child, I would see hot cooked food, fresh fruits, and sweet desserts on low tables, set outside everywhere at this time of the year.

I will admit to having filched some of this  delicious food and snacking on them because hey–I was five and it was free!

Or at least…it looked to me as if it was free.  Everyone would set them outside their homes, and nobody looked like they wanted any.  It would have been a shame to let such delicious food go to waste.  Right?  So what was a little kid like me supposed to do?

Why, we eat them, of course!

We eat them until Mom catches us and begins the tedious educational process of teaching a headstrong little know-it-all about the impropriety and distastefulness of taking food that was meant for the dead.

But Mom, dead people can’t eat food.  They’re dead!

Yes, I know sweetie, but it is meant for them, and our neighbors believe that the dead will be able to eat the food, in spirit form.  If you eat our neighbors’ food, you will have taken their things without permission.  And what does taking something that is not yours, without permission, mean?

It means I stole it.  (sad face)

Yes.  You stole the Hungry Ghosts’ food.

girleyes

Well, I didn’t want no stinkin’ dead people food any way.  So, whatever.

Confluences of the Realms

In any case, as I got older, I began to understand the reasoning behind all the ghost food.  It has to do with the confluence of several realms of existences.  On the fifteenth day of the seventh month at the time of the full moon, the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Human converge into a single point.  This is when the veil between the worlds is supposed to be the thinnest and allows for the Hungry Ghosts of Hell to leave their realm for approximately 30 days.

During this period of 30 days, hungry ghosts are allowed to leave hell and roam around in our realm.  For the Buddhist monks and Taoist priests, this is an invaluable time for them to be able to perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased (more on what they do, and how they do it, later).

This year, Hungry Ghost day lands on August 17, 2016.  On this day, Taoists and Buddhists denote it as the day of Vu Lan (中元节 / Zhongyuan), otherwise known as the Day of Filial Piety, also known as the Hungry Ghosts Festival.

Vu Lan is actually not a Vietnamese root word.  It is the Vietnamese phonetic pronunciation of the sanskrit word  उल्लम्बित / Ullambana, meaning to hang down, ie to hang upside down, or to be in suspense, referring to the extreme suffering in purgatory. [1]

questionGirlNow, you have to ask yourself–What the hell does feeding hungry ghosts have  to do with taking good care of one’s parents?

The answer is:  If, in life, your parent is a terrible human being, at the time of death, it is believed that he or she may turn into a hungry ghost and become stuck at the lowest level of Buddhist hell.

This all started with a practicing monk named Mahamaudgalyayana, who went into a trance and saw that his mother was stuck in one of the lower levels of hell due to some dubious things she had done during her lifetime.

Horrified, he tried to find a way to rescue his mother but to no avail.  At wits end, he consulted the Buddha ,who was, at that time, still living in Shravasti at the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary.

To make a long story short, Mahamaudgalyayana was taught the method of extracting his mother’s soul from her hell hole, and the methodology of transmuting her enough so she could be reincarnated as a dog.

To alleviate her dog days, he was able to place her into the household of a wealthy family, allowing her to have a better life than if she were to be a stray dog with no home.  Of course, being a dog is no picnic either, and the ultimate goal is to become a human being, so after much effort, Mahamaudgalyayana was eventually able to lift her spiritual awareness high enough so she could be reincarnated into a human body. [2]

Vu Lan then turned into a Mother’s Day–of sorts–not to mention Hungry Ghosts, among other things.  Speaking of which…

Hungry Ghosts

Hungry Ghosts  n. : Those beings who have passed on, but due to a violent or unhappy death, have gotten stuck within the realm in which they no longer have a physical body to manifest.  They turn into souls that become addicted to various things that represent what they crave in life.

Hungry ghosts are sad creatures with no will of their own.  They will continue to writhe and hunger for that which they think they need to survive and will not be satisfied until they learn to leave their earthly desires behind.

As Mahamaudgalyayana can attest, Hungry Ghosts can be healed of their hunger for physical desires, hungers that are no longer able to be satisfied, but they need compassionate intervention, and they need to be shown the way out of their self-imposed miserable existence.

fatNoFace

According to Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction, the actions exhibited by these hungry ghosts are eerily similar to what addicts go through.  Their voracious needs cannot be sated, and as they struggle to get enough of what their bodies scream at them to provide, their behavior becomes ever more frenzied and uncontrollable.

The denizens of the Hell Realm are trapped in states of unbearable rage and anxiety.  [They] are depicted as creatures with scrawny necks, small mouths, emaciated limbs and large, bloated, empty bellies. This is the domain of addiction, where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment.

The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need, and so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know. We haunt our lives without being fully present. [3]

While Dr.Gabor Maté deals with humans who are still alive, Taoist and Buddhist monks (among others) take up the mantle as physicians for the dead.

Transmutational and Absolvence Rituals

noFace

Although hungry ghosts (and in fact, any run-of-the-mill ghosts) are around at all times and in all conditions, the reason why this time of the year is emphasized is because of traditional observance.

Traditions are like worn grooves in the record of time.  They are powerful because so many people believe in the inherent power of traditions, and part of the efficacy of healing is the power of belief.

It is, in essence, a very effective placebo pill.

Vu Lan is the one day out of the year that the hungry ghosts BELIEVE that they have been given a way out of the hell they have created within their own minds.

Those who are ready and willing are then open and accepting to the idea of obtaining help from the physicians for the dead.  The monks and priests are then able to use the power of this belief to change their perceived conditions and take them out of their self-imposed horrors.

The monks and priests have their liturgy that they use to assist the lost souls onto the next phase of their lives.  We can also do the same, in our own small way.  In my next posting, I will detail a few methods that can be used to assist the Hungry Ghosts find their way out of their self-imposed hell.

(to be continued)

 

[1]   Festival of Ullambana

[2]   Ullambana Sutra

[3]  In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

My First Step onto the Taoist Path

fanGirl

To be honest, I never thought that anyone would be interested in how I got started on the Taoist path.  It never seemed to be that interesting a process to me, but since I have had several queries by separate individuals asking about my own personal journey, please allow me to share my story with you, my precious fellow travelers.

This was how I became a Taobabe.

girlSadLet me be perfectly clear.  I wasn’t always a Taoist.

In fact, I was born into a Catholic family and was baptized (with special holy water) at a bona fide Catholic church.  My saint name was (still is) Maria, and my godmother was none other than a Catholic nun.

I was a good Catholic.  I went to church every Sunday with my family, and while everyone sat stupefied, with drool running down their chins, I would earnestly listen to the priest drone on and on about the sins of mankind and how we were all going to hell in a handbasket.

It was often quite boring, but I did my best to comprehend what I was hearing because as young as I was, I had decided that it was important to understand the Words of a most sacred Deity.

The knowledge was so important to me that I taught myself to read Vietnamese just so that I could read the bible cover-to-cover.  I wanted to understand the bible because, for some God-damned stupid reason, I felt the need to verify what the priests talked about every Sunday.

You see, I had learned early on that even adults sometimes got things wrong, and I could not afford to believe an adult’s version of the Words of a most sacred Deity without double-checking the exact same passages for myself.

It was a serious labor of love because I did not know how to read, and so I had to teach myself as best as I could, using a dictionary and asking my parents when I got stuck.  I had not yet attended formal schooling, you see.  I was only five years old at that time.

maryEven at that young age, I had determined that my favorite color was blue.  Not just any old blue, mind you.  It had to be the exact shade of a deep sky blue that Maria, the Mother of Jesus wore on her cloak.

I loved the color, not because of the color itself but because Mother Mary wore it.  I loved her white skin, her blue eyes, her light brown hair, and her European features.

I thought she was the most beautiful woman ever to have been born on the face of the Earth.  She was even more beautiful than my own mother, whose skin was not as pale, and whose hair was so much darker than hers.

You have to forgive me.  I was so very young and so very brainwashed.

But slowly, as my reading comprehension grew, I began to realize that she was of a different race than I was.  I also became aware that Mary, and everyone who was ever mentioned in that holy book, was from Israel.  Furthermore, they were all Jewish.

At the wizened and weary age of seven, I renounced Catholicism  after I grocked onto the fact that I was not, and could never be, part of the Christian God’s special chosen children, the Israelites.  I was born in the wrong area of the world to the wrong race of people, and no amount of amelioration from those around me could convince me otherwise.

Since I KNEW that I was a special kid, I didn’t want to be one of his leftover children, someone who was not his chosen, but was accepted out of pity or forbearance.  My reasoning was simple, and as it turned out, quite brilliant.  I deduced that if the Israelites had their own God, my own people must also have our own God, someone who had chosen us to be his special people.

It was then that I made a conscious decision to look for a God who would accept me as I was, a little Asian girl with no special skills, or great beauty, or amazing powers.  I didn’t know if there was such an entity as an Asian God, but I was going to go searching for him.

I started by asking my family about our family’s past and about our ancestral religions, and I found out some pretty cool stuff.

cropped-anime-girl-230.jpg

First, I found out I was the grandchild of a courtier.  My paternal grandfather was an herbal medicine man who worked for the royal court due to the fact that he was the younger of two sons in the family of a royal bureaucrat, a mandarin, if you will, with a now-defunct title similar to that of a duke.

The paternal family had three major religions, intertwined with each other.  The first was Ancestor Worship (more on this later), the second was Confucianism, and the third was Taoism.  Of the three, Ancestor Worship was the only one that actually had any type of formal ceremony.

The other two (C and T) were philosophical bents that the family ascribed to through thousands of years of adherence by word-of-mouth teachings.  My family were court scholars and so were very well-versed in both Confucianistic and Taoist thinking.

Since I knew my ancestors were not gods of any sort, this religion was the first to be discarded.  Confucianism was the second religion to go because although the man was a smart cookie, I knew he wasn’t a god either.

girlBW

That left Taoism as the final avenue for me to explore, but it was not easy to seek out information about Taoism because approachable books on this subject were very rare (emphasis on approachable).  They were also not left in every hotel nightstand around the country like bibles are.

girlHandFaceSince I could not find much on Taoism, I started searching through Buddhism, thinking perhaps it was similar to Taoism.  This was when I began going to the Nichiren Shōshū  temple and learning the Gongyo Lotus Sutra.

I was sincerely hoping that I could find the God that would regard me (and others like me) as his special chosen people.  But once again, I hit that same realization regarding Nichiren as I did Confucius.

Nichiren was no more a god than Confucius was.

Furthermore, I found Buddhism’s ideology to be quite pessimistic, and as a child who was more often than not, full of joie de vivre, its teachings of suffering did not resonate with me.  To put it simply, I was vibrating on a different wavelength, and constant suffering was not within the range of my amplitude.

By this time, I was 13 and a confirmed atheist.  I was convinced there was NOTHING out there.

NOTHING to find.  NOTHING to discover.  NOTHING to see.

I was barely a teenager, and I had given up on finding the divine in life.

tao-of-pooh-book-coverThis went on for a few more years until the 80s when, by a chance happenstance, I was in the library returning some books when I ran across a slim volume called The Tao of Pooh.

Something in me came alive and I grabbed the book.  Although I no longer believed in anything godly, I was still a curious kid and wanted to know what the heck Taoism was.

I zipped through the book in a very short time and a smile began to form on my face.  In very basic English, using very approachable colors and characters, the tenets of Taoism were presented in simple to understand language with nothing to mar its clean elegance.

To be fair, The Tao of Pooh was not an in depth study of Taoism, but it was not missing anything major.  The book explained in black and white, the basics of Taoism, and while there were no shades of grey in such a simple book, it was enough to kickstart my adventure into Taoism.

Those missing shades of grey, I would spend the next couple of decades trying to discern.  Even so, I did not think of myself as a practicing Taoist until I met my brother Derek Lin.  When I visited him at his temple, I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a Taoist temple because to me, it always seemed as if it should be a philosophy, as opposed to a religion.

My decision to forego joining a formal Taoist temple was mostly due to my early experiences with formalized religion–experiences which had left a bad taste in my mouth.  I could no longer accept being taught about God in that primary school, memorization methodology.  I wanted to explore and find God for myself, in a more organic manner.

And find God, I did.

skyGirl

The highest goodness resembles water ~ Lao Tzu

In that one line, I had found the God that I was looking for.

A drop of water in an endless ocean is not only part of the ocean, it also contains the ocean within the boundary of its droplet form, held together by its surface tension.  This completely satisfies that duality requirement of Taoism I wrote about in one of my posts, Change (Part 5):  Sequent Change.  I didn’t have to go looking for God in any temple, or religion, or plane of existence called heaven.  God was not only within me, God was also all around me.

Furthermore, unlike Confucius or any of the Buddhas, none of whom ever claimed to be God, the Tao is actually another word for God.  In fact, we can use any word to replace the word God–the Tao, the Universe, the Force, the Source–it’s all the same entity that flows through us, and is contained within us.  I can call myself a Taoist or a Universalist or a Forcist or a Sourcist.  It really does not matter because it is nameless, and the nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth.

Being Short Kinda Sucks

shortGirl23 [1]

I am short.

I am short in a world that is getting taller and taller, as each successive generation passes.  Everyone around me is, for the most part, taller than I am.  I am always half-running and looking up at tall people when I walk with them that I can’t see where I’m placing my next step.  This sometimes causes me to trip, or stub my toe.

Or step on dog poop.

There are no words to describe the suckiness of being short.  Oh, wait a minute.  Yes there are.

 

Sun Visors

shortGirl8Why do car manufacturers even bother to put visors into cars?  They mostly do diddly squat for me because they don’t reach far enough down to shade my face.

I usually end up either shading my eyes with one hand and steering with the other, or squint through the glare and drive with a perpetual scowl as I try not to steer into oncoming traffic.

Sunglasses are a short girl’s best friend in this case, but shopping for glasses is an0ther adventure in itself that makes me cringe because I am short.

Sunglasses Kiosks

shortGirl20

If you have ever tried to buy sunglasses at any random kiosk or revolving shelf, you will understand my frustration.

The sunglasses kiosks place their mirrors way up at the top of the spinning racks, effectively making them useless to me.  If I’m lucky, I get to see the top of my head.  Usually though, I see nothing at all.

This is similar to all other visual conundrums of daily life, ones that most people don’t even think about.  There are the useless peep holes that have been cut through doors and placed at eye level for the safety and protection of the very tall guys who obviously need that protection. Even on tippy toes, I can’t get my eye at proper height to see through them, so I end up just yelling “Who is it?” through the door–like an idiot.

And then there are public cameras that take a picture of half my face (the top half) to be placed on a visitor pass so people can see what the top of my head looks like.  When I ask for a retake, the security people sigh and hem and haw, and fumble with the camera.  And then they shrug their shoulders, telling me there is nothing they can do because the camera is fixed at tall-people height.

Such is the life of a short girl in public areas where the common denominator, obligatory mirror or artwork is always a a few inches above my line of sight, but it doesn’t get that much better in the privacy of my own space.

Short Girls in Cars

Let’s face it.  Cars are made for tall people.  Trucks too.  I hate those tall trucks and SUVs where I have to clamber onto the seats because the floor of the vehicle is at the height of my belly button.  This is why I don’t drive a truck.  My small car of choice is the Miata.

The Miata is perfect for me, but even then, I have to do quite a bit of adjustment to fit myself into the space allotted for normal-sized tall humans.  I have to push my seat forward, very close to the steering wheel, and then bring the seat upwards.  I do this for three reasons.

  1. So my short legs can reach the pedal.
  2. So my short arms can reach the steering wheel
  3. So I can see over the dashboard and steering wheel
    Which brings me to yet another problem:

shortGirl5

Honestly, do they even use short female crash test dummies when they design these stupid airbags that we’re stuck with?  Did you know it’s illegal to drive without an airbag?  I hear that airbags save lives, but only if those lives are tall folks.  This means that even if the impact of an auto accident didn’t kill me, my exploding bag will.

Speaking of cars

shortGirl22

My seatbelt always grabs me at the neck and chokes me if I turn the wrong way.  This is because I don’t fit properly in the seat because I’m too damn short, causing the seat belt to ride too high on my body.

I can’t use a pillow to sit on to raise me up higher on the seat because then my feet can’t reach the pedal.

When I look straight ahead, my eyes barely clear the top of the steering wheel.  Immediately below that is the dashboard.

It’s funny, but for the longest time,  I didn’t even know that people of decent height can actually see the hoods of their cars.

I’m lucky if I can even see the road in front of me.  I can’t see the car hood, but I’m fairly confident that it’s still there.  We’re not talking quantum physics here.  We’re talking about the hood of a car.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my car, despite its shortcomings because the alternative–public transportation–is even worse.

Public transportation

shortGirl10

They make these ring things really high up in the buses.  I can reach them, yes, but tapping at them with the tips of my fingers don’t count.  If I can’t curl my fingers up over the ring, then it’s useless to me.

This means I have to rely on random strangers to help me.  It’s embarrassing, and why I don’t take the bus.

More public transportation

shortGirl15

This is yet another public transportation issue.  I can reach up to open the hatch, but I can’t reach high enough to shove my bag in.

I also can’t shut the hatch door because I can’t reach high enough to push upwards with the flat of my palms.

So again, I have to rely on random strangers to help me.

The overhead baggage hatch causes me embarrassment, coming and going.  To avoid being such a bother, I travel very light.  I now bring only a backpack that’s small enough to shove under the seat in front of me.

Grocery Stores

shortGirl9I try not to buy anything on the top shelves, but sometimes, I don’t have a choice. That’s because grocery store shelves, like everything else in this world, is made for the average tall person.

This means I can either climb up using the lower shelves OR look around for a tall person to help me reach something.

I usually end up looking for a tall person to assist me, mostly because I do not want to tip over an entire set of shelves onto the aisle, which would be far more embarrassing than asking for help.

Speaking of tall people

shortGirl12

I am the perfect height to be an armrest for tall people.  They also take a pernicious delight in hiding things out of my reach, onto top shelves, or holding things above my reach.

They also walk much faster than I do, so when we are walking side by side, I either run every other step to keep up, or lag behind and just walk at my own pace.

Pools

shortGirl2I just about cracked up when I saw this picture.  It really does illustrate quite elegantly, how sucky it is to be short and flailing about in the pool (I can’t swim), while the long limbed and athletic graceful swans around me move through the waters with ease.

<=  This is me in a pool.  At the shallow end.

However, this picture is misleading for one very important reason.  At the 5′ mark, my nose and most of my eyes are underwater.  The only thing showing would be the top of my head.

You can usually find me around the four-and-a-half foot mark, trying to keep my nose above the water line.

By now, you’re probably wondering why I, the ever-optimistic, ever-joyful Taobabe, am on a rant about being short.  This is SO not my style.  I generally tend to be thankful for being alive most every day.  I’m thankful to be able to fill my lungs, no matter how short they are, with the fresh air of khí, and I don’t dwell on my lack of anything, least of all, altitude.

All Is Not Bad

skygirl

Of course, all is not bad.  This is the Taoist world.  There is always the yin to go with the yang.  How much of The Way had I managed to absorb after all these years if I went about my daily life grumbling about being short?

When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other  ~ Lao Tzu

There are some advantages to being short.

  • For starters, I don’t need extra leg room on a plane.  This means I sit with relative comfort, even in the tightest of spaces.  The only issue I have with flying economy is that others who are larger tend to spill themselves into my space.  I know they can’t help that they have long limbs, so I sympathize and give them as much room as I am able to.We are comrades experiencing a very claustrophobic and unpleasant situation.  We commiserate and help each other out, rather than make this miserable situation worse by snarling and fighting each other.

girlPlane

  • My short girl clothes don’t take up much room so I can pack everything I need into a small backpack when I travel, eliminating the need to bother tall strangers to help me with overhead bins and such.  Even on long trips (3 or 4 weeks abroad), I take nothing that I can’t bring on the plane with me and slide under the seat in front of me.  This saves me on extra time having to wait at the luggage claim for my baggage to emerge from the moving counter.
  • I fit into very small cars (like my Miata) with ease, saving me a ton of dough on gas.  This means I don’t have to bother tall strangers on buses.  Looking cool in my small car is just a side effect of being short.
  • There are very few guys shorter than me.  Even though I don’t have a height requirement for men (ie. they have to be a few inches taller than me) most if not all men end up being taller than me any way.
    shortGirlwGuyThis means they aren’t initially threatened by me because I don’t take up much vertical space.  Of course, this changes somewhat after prolonged conversations about all things interesting, at which point, height becomes irrelevant and mental acuity + personality come to the forefront.
  • In any case, since I am Asian…

shortGirl19

[1]  Buzzfeed

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 233 other followers