My short story on Travel/Religion for my World Religion class…
I have been so busy the last few weeks that I am going to do something different. I am going to post a fictional short story I have been writing for a written assignment in my World Religion class. We are to write about a fictional character that travels from another world to our planet. Their world knows nothing about religion, and is to find out about and try to understand what religion is, then take this information back to their planet. I am posting the first four parts to the story that I have written for my class so far. The last part of this assignment is due this Friday, and if people like my story, I will post the final chapter after my class. To make my story a bit more interesting, I am going to post some of my photos. I will be back to posting my normal blog posts after my class is wrapped up this Friday, but since my blog is all about travel and photography, why not let everyone read my short story about travel, even if it is from another fictional planet. The story is also an introduction to three different religions around the world, Hindu, Islam, and Taoist religions. I will warn everyone, it is a bit long, but you can always read part of it, and come back to read more later on! I hope someone finds it enjoyable. I do know my classmates and teacher seemed to like it so far.
The project was known as “Dark Veil.” Over three hundred millennia ago, the greatest minds on our planet, Terra Green, including ancestors from my own lineage, came up with a way to hide our entire planet. To all other planets we would appear as nothing, no light would be emitted, no gravitational wave or pull could be measured, nothing would give away our existence. Our intent for this “veil” was to keep other planets from observing us. We had found a way to harness dark matter/dark energy to hide our planet in a relative pitch black from all other life, and this would help us to keep our desired anonymity.
The reason behind our wanting isolation from other planets was that we had always been an extremely peaceful civilization, always striving for knowledge and understanding, never in conflict, always in search of our own self truths, and we feared other planets would not hold to our covenant.
Just before the “Dark Veil” or DV Project, as it was also known, was completed, we had discovered life on the blue planet in the same relative orbit as us, on the other side of the central star in our sky. Even though our probes sent to this planet showed that these beings were at least several hundred millennia behind our civilization in intelligence, we took nothing to chance. Our ancestors were not into taking risks, and we kept all contact from occurring by completing the veiling of our world.
My story begins here, now, in the present, after all these hundreds of thousands of years have passed. My name is Agnon, and as long as I could remember, I was attracted to the other stars and planets in our system and most especially to the planet we have always called, “Terra Blue.” From the time I began to learn about the other bodies in the sky, I let it be known that if my planet ever decided to make first contact with the people of the blue planet, I would like to be one of the first to take part in the expedition. Never beyond my wildest dreams did I believe that I would become ‘THE ONE’. I can only thank my honorable lineage for most likely being the driving factor in me being chosen for our first contact. I also believe my study at university in the stars, and knowing how to navigate the sky played a role too, for me to be given the task as the first, the ONE.
Our constant observation of this planet had detected more and more readings of radiation in their atmosphere, signaling to us that they may be testing nuclear weapons. Our fears were that these vastly inferior people, with an extremely low intelligence level, would do harm to themselves, and quite possibly to the entire star system with their malfeasance. It was my planet’s hope that if we were to travel to their home, we could try to gather an understanding of what these people were doing, and why they were doing it, and possibly convince them to stop their destructive ways.
I knew my task was going to be daunting, and would need all my diplomatic skills for this endeavor. The days crept closer, and my thoughts wandered as I wondered how these people would react to my appearance on their planet. Would they accept me, or would they see me as an imminent threat. I had my fears…but tried to stay positive, as my love for adventure would take me to the world I had always dreamed of traveling to. Now it was my time to honor my ancestors, by pulling a part of the veil back and reaching out to a lesser intelligence to help them reach a higher level of consciousness and understanding. They would see they were not the only ones in this vastness of space, that there were others beings. How would this impact them? I had my own deep thoughts. Soon my mission would be launched; I was full of excitement and anxiety.
We have been traveling through space for some time now, thousands of years actually, and were able to travel at great speeds. We had refined a few different systems to help propel us through space; two of our most efficient ways were using gravitational pull, and nuclear fission. My trip would use both methods. I would slingshot around the sun, using its gravitational effects on my ship, and then accelerate those effects with nuclear fission rockets.
While on my short journey to my destination, I had begun to delve more into the “earthlings” language so I could communicate with them. It was a very primitive language, this ‘English’ most of their world used. I was easily able to pick up on it, and felt confident in my ability to interact with them. I was now very excited to find out more about their planet, and even possibly help influence them in a positive manner.
Because we weren’t sure how the people from the planet Earth would react to my presence, we had made the ship I would travel in undetectable. We did this by using the same process with dark matter/dark energy that hid our planet from them, to hide my ship.
Another concern had been their reaction to our physical differences, but with our planet extremely more advanced than these primitive people, it was widely believed that we could block their ability to see us in any way other than how we wanted to be seen. If we wanted them to see us as them, we only needed to think it, and it would be done. So, my concerns in them seeing me for anything but human were really never an issue. I had full confidence in this.
What is this thing, called “Religion?”
My planet had decided by vote that I would visit three of the more heavily populated areas of the planet. I would also keep my travels in close proximity to each other. Our probes that had been sent to Earth had picked up all electronic transmissions for years (for as long as the planet had been able to generate these frequencies), and with our gained knowledge of the planet, it was decided the three countries I would visit would be India, Indonesia, and China.
My people had viewed nothing of interest from these transmissions, other than tragic indifferences between the different cultures of Earth, their warring between each other, their political disparities, and something the earthlings called “religion.” The brief transmissions that had been intercepted by our probes on all of these subjects were nothing of interest to our world, and it was only because my trip was deemed necessary to keep this primitive world from possibly harming us, and the entire planetary system, that I was allowed to watch the transmissions to learn the planet’s primary language.
My first stop would be India. After learning their language from the taping of the broadcasts we had received, I began to briefly look at this country. I was fascinated to find out there was a large following in India of something called Hinduism. This was something I decided I needed to research. Why would most of this country’s people follow some type of archaic ritual? I needed to know.
I found a large field, near a vast body of some type of liquid, in this country called “India.” This would be where I would land. There were people nearby, so I knew it would not be long before I would have my first personal encounter. I know the people of my planet would not understand, but my fascination of Hinduism was getting the best of me. I hoped I could find someone that could explain this belief system to me. It appeared to be based on faith, something I had no experience in, as my world was driven by facts and figures.
I came upon an old man along the side of the street. He motioned for me to come to him. I began to get nervous in my own abilities, and wasn’t sure if he could see me for what I wanted, or if he could see me for what I really was. He offered me a glass, and this would be my first taste of something he called…water. It was so refreshing, it was like breathing, it had no taste, and yet it tasted so, wonderful. I felt revitalized, nourished, and when he offered me a place to sit next to him, I took it. Somehow, I knew this was the one I should communicate with. He seemed wise, with his long flowing white hair.
“Sir,” I asked him, “I am new to your area, and I am not wise in your belief systems. I have traveled a long distance, and have come to find out about your Hinduism.”
“My son,” he said, “It is not my Hinduism. It is not anyone’s. It is everyone’s. It is for all of us. It is like breathing. It is something you can’t find, and yet it is there. It is in you, it is all around you, and it is everywhere.”
“And what is it, what is this thing that is everywhere?” I wanted to know. I didn’t see anything around me but open spaces. I guess I was getting my first lesson in faith.
The old man went on to explain. “The IT I am speaking of, is Brahman. Brahman is mysterious, Brahman has to come to be known, it is not something one can believe in. When you know Brahman, you know three things. You know reality…all reality, in itself. You are reality, you become reality. Along with your reality comes a pure consciousness, an overwhelming consciousness of everything around you, in you, and a part of you. And then comes bliss, or extreme happiness, beyond reason happiness. Brahman is the ultimate divine reality that every Hindu follower strives for.”
“Is this all there is to this Hindu religion, or is there more? What makes this religion, what rules are there, what is involved, I don’t understand? I am confused as to why or how I can experience this Brahman.” I frustratingly said, looking around, still not understanding him.
“Brahman is something that comes over time, my son. I would consider delving into the Upanishads sometime, and you will find more about Brahman. Where Brahman is entering an experience of timelessness, one might also wish to experience Atman. In a sense they are one and the same, but in another sense, Atman might be expressed as finding the sacred soul in one’s inner soul or one’s self. But, that inner soul or self is also at one with everything. So it is that Brahman and Atman are in essence one and the same.”
He continued on, “Once Brahman or Atman has been achieved, once one has become enlightened or tuned in to Brahman, then one can move to the ultimate goal which is Nirvana.”
He went on to say, “We, Hindu believers, believe in Karma, or rebirth. It is neither good nor bad; it is just that, karma. That being said, the ultimate goal for anyone, all of us, is to live an honest, fulfilling life, to do good, to live a life that is full of enlightenment. This is what we strive for.”
“This being born over and over, in a circle, or wheel of life is known as Samsara. At some point, everyone wants off the wheel, it’s extremely tiring, and how could one just continue forever in this cycle. That is where Moksha liberates us from this wheel. All Hindu believers strive for this. It is the freedom that releases us. There are several ways to reach moksha. Each of these ways requires yoga. I will introduce you to my three favorites.”
“The first is karma yoga, which is done by fulfilling one’s family and social duties. By fulfilling these obligations, one can free themselves from any bad karma from the past.”
“Another way is through jnana yoga, or knowledge. It is thought that our ignorance has given rise to our bad actions to the world around us, so through knowledge gained by meditation we can break free from bad karma brought on by that ignorance.”
“The third yoga method I wish to express upon you was first introduced in the readings found in the Bhagavad Gita, which is bhakti yoga. This method of yoga emphasizes the importance of channeling one’s love and devotion to one of the personal gods or goddesses of the Hindu religion, like Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom, and learning. There are more methods of yoga, to find a path to moska, but this gives you a few examples of the righteous path.”
“Wow, I had no idea there was so much involved in the process of finding or believing in a religion,” I told the old man, now growing weary from all this work towards a path of enlightenment.
“Oh there is much, much more I haven’t told you about, my son! There are over 330 million gods and goddesses; there are the original, most sacred books, the Vedas, that lays out the origins of the universe, created by a division of the primeval god, Purusha. Don’t you want to know about our three main gods, called the Trimurti? The gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva! Like Brahman, which is everything, and nothing, is all of us, and none of us, which is the true path to nirvana, Brahma represents the creative force that made our universe!”
“Okay, old man, you are confusing me, you said Purusha was the creater of the universe, now you are saying it is Brahma! Which is it, it can’t be both?”
“Oh, why yes, it can, one god can be many gods, like the god of Shiva, which has taken on many other forms, thousands even!”
I was so taken aback by all of this information, and he still was not done…we talked for hours. He spoke of the caste system, how there were five main social castes in the Hindu religion. At the top were the priests, who perform the Vedic rituals, then came the warrior nobles, the protectors. Following them were the merchants, then peasants, and lastly the untouchables, who do the dirtiest work, cleaning toilets, collecting dead animal carcasses, and cleaning the streets.
From there he went on about how the Hindu religion is both polytheistic, or believing in many gods, and pantheistic, or not believing in any distinct god. The more I listened, the more I became confused. This religion, this faith based thing these people of the planet Earth believed in was something that defied every part of my fact based world back home. I didn’t know what to make of it. How could someone put all their faith and trust in something so baffling. It mystified me, and in some ways intrigued me. But when all was said and done, I wanted to find out even more of this world and their religions. Maybe there will be something my world can take from this, the Hindu religion, and others. Only time will tell.
After my talks with the old man I met in India, I was exhausted, so I took refuge in my ship where I rested for my travel to my next destination, Indonesia. My abilities to will the people to see me as their own had worked, and after resting I was ready to move on.
My introduction to Hinduism had left me thirsty to learn more about this planet’s belief system they call religion, and so before I left the country of India, I pulled up some of our transmissions we had received from Earth while studying them, and was able to access information about Indonesia. I learned from delving deep into that country’s makeup that almost the entire country, 95% of the people, were followers of a religion called Islam, and were called Muslims.
I found it astounding that such a high percentage of people could believe in something they couldn’t see, and couldn’t find any real fact to support, other than their belief. I couldn’t wait to get to this country to ask more questions about this “Islam.”
Another amazing fact about this country was its system of small land masses I learned were called islands. The estimates vary, but this country has somewhere around 18,000+ of these “islands”. I searched and searched for a lesser populated island in Indonesia, so I could make sure my visit was unobtrusive, and that is how I came upon the small, lesser populated island of Moa, and met the young man called Rishaan.
Rishaan welcomed me into his home, which was very small, but comfortable. He told me his name could be loosely translated to mean “good person,” and as a visitor to his home, I could trust him. It was the will of Allah that had brought me to his home, he said.
“Allah,” I asked, “and who would that be? Is that your father, or one of your family,” not knowing who he was speaking about.
“Oh no he laughed. You don’t know Allah?”
I looked at him a bit puzzled, and said, “How could I, I have just arrived here on your island, and you are the first person I have met. I haven’t met Allah yet.”
“You can’t meet Allah, at least not here, right now!” He continued, “Allah is the most high; Allah is my God. Allah is the one who deserves all worship.”
The young man went on to tell me more, “Allah is the all-powerful creator of our universe, one that is of perfect order. He is the Life-Giver, the Provider, The Bestower. He is also a God of justice. One that expects us to be righteous in our behavior, and to submit to his divine will.”
I had to ask him about my experiences with the old man, and what of the other gods. “Young man, aren’t you forgetting the gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva? Why have you not mentioned them?”
He smiled and said, “I think you are referring to Hinduism. I am Muslim, and my religion is Islam. We believe in only one God. Our God is only Allah, and will always only be Allah.”
“Could you tell me more about your Islam religion?” I asked. “I have no knowledge of its roots. How did it begin, what are its teachings? I would like to try to understand this Allah, and why you feel so strongly as you do!”
The boy lit up now, he seemed very excited, and started talking so fast, “The Islam religion began with our profit, Muhammad. His teachings come from revelations he had with the archangel Gabriel. The first took place in a cave called Hira. This place, this cave, is located very close to Islam’s most holiest city, Makkah.”
This young boy seemed to be well versed in his religion. He took a few breaths and then went on, “We Muslims believe in a set of books, or scriptures based on our prophets. The first book is the Tawrat or Torah, given to Musa, also known to our Christian brethren as Moses. The second testament is the Zabur or Psalms, given by David, or as we call him, Daud. The third scripture is the Injil or Gospel according to Isa, or Jesus.”
“The last great prophet of Islam is our prophet, the messenger, Muhammad, who gave testament to the book we follow, the Qu’ran. It is my religion’s belief that all of our instructions come from the Qu’ran alone. Even though we respect the other prophets, and their scripture, we believe that some of their scripture has been altered, or corrupted. True, devout Muslims should only follow the message of Muhammad, and that is the way to Janna, which we could also call ‘Heaven’ or the ‘Garden’.”
“What does the Qu’ran actually teach, and how does it instruct you?” I asked.
“The most fundamental teachings of the Qu’ran are, belief in Allah, prayer, and good deeds, or good works. If you follow these three most fundamental teachings, you can find Janna.”
I had still more questions for the boy, “Are there any other things expected of you, to be a devout Muslim? Are there any times of the day or year that a Muslim must show his commitment to Allah?”
He answered back, “Yes, there are. There are the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’, and these contain three of the most fundamental teachings along with a couple of others. The first is the testimony of faith, as I have mentioned before. This is to say there there is no true god, but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger. The second pillar is prayer, which I also talked about. We should pray five times each day. Our prayers can be one anywhere, they do not have to be done in a mosque, they can be done anywhere.”
He continued on, “The third pillar is the last of the three most basic fundamental teachings of Muhammad’s message. It is to support people in need. This is called giving zakat. Our fourth pillar is to fast during the month of Ramadan, which is the month that Muhammad first took testament from the archangel Gabriel. We must not eat, drink, or have any sexual relations from dawn until sundown. This is done to purify oneself from our worldly comforts, and to gain an understanding of those who go hungry throughout the world.”
The young boy spoke further, “The last pillar is one that is only expected of those who can physically and financially afford to do so, and that is to make a pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Makkah. If also possible, one should try to make this journey during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. One should also wear special clothes which consist of two simple white cloths. The rites of the Hajj include circling the Kaaba, a place of worship that Allah commanded Muhammad, and his son, Ishmael to build. This should be circled seven times. A good Muslim should also make the journey seven times between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa.”
We talked for hours more about his religion, the Muslim religion, and how Islam is really a religion of peace, but how his world sometimes views it as one of death, and killing, and the misunderstandings that people of other religions have about his religion. The boy instructed me on the special occasions of Islam, like the Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast. This, he said, was one of the most important Islamic celebrations. People will dress in their finest clothes, put up lights and decorations around their home, and give treats to their children. It is a time of special bonding with their family and friends.
“One other celebration I would like to tell you about,” he added, “is the Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice. This commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey Allah and offer to sacrifice his son, but instead, Allah spared Ishmael’s life by allowing Abraham to replace a ram for his son. This celebration lasts for three days, and occurs at the end of the Hajj. Muslims the world over partake in this celebration, even if they are not able to make the journey to Makkah.”
The day became night with our long discussion on Islam, and the young boy offered me drink and food as he continued to talk more of his devotion to his religion. Even though his was in many ways different from the old man’s Hindu religion, I could see a lot of similarities. The compassion both religions had on the poor and the needy was one, and the devotion to their God or gods was yet another.
I now began to have a bit more of an understanding of these people on this planet, and their religious beliefs, but I still had one more travel to make, and this is to the land called China. Will they have yet another religion in store for me? Maybe there is hope for this planet yet.
My Trip to China
With two countries down, it was time for me to travel to my last destination. My planet had chosen three of the more populated countries for me to travel to, so now it was time to move on to the most populated one on this planet called Earth.
As I did with Indonesia, I decided to pull up the transmissions we had been receiving over the years, and access all of our knowledge on China. I was also able to tap into their “internet” system, too. With this country having roughly 20 percent of Earth’s population, it had always been a country of interest to our world. We hoped to get a better understanding of the planet’s thoughts and beliefs from their most heavily populated area.
I also researched about religion in China, which again, is what I did in Indonesia and India. This is where I learned about the Tao, or Dao. My brief encounter with this religion through the database I had on hand led me to believe this would be a philosophy/religion that might be something more acceptable on my planet. I now would find a quiet place to land my ship as I had done previously, and seek out someone from this country. So it was that I came upon a middle aged woman that would give me my first lessons of the Tao.
Her name was Chenguang, which in Chinese means morning light, and so it was appropriate that we met early one morning near a town called Yangshuo. Chenguang was getting water from the Li River when I came upon her. She greeted me with a smile, and asked where I was from. I told her I had traveled a long distance, she hardly would believe me if I told her where! She asked if I would like a cup of tea, not having been introduced to tea yet, I nodded accordingly.
As we walked back to her house she asked me what I thought of her homeland so far, and it was then that I told her of my interest in learning about Taoism.
As had been the case with the old man in India, and the young boy in Indonesia, Chenguang’s eyes lit up when she saw that I was interested in one of her country’s religions.
“Well, Tao religion came from our grandfather, the ‘Old Master’ himself, Lao-Tzu. He was such a wise man, and was what some of us believe the author of the Tao Te Ching,” she excitedly told me. “Have you heard of the Tao Te Ching, sir?”
“I’ve heard of the book, but I don’t know anything about it.” I said to her, knowing only the name of it, and nothing about the religion. I HAD seen the book referenced in my short amount of research I’d done on my ship before landing in China.
“Oh it’s a wonderful book; I think everyone should read it. It’s such an amazing way to live your life, if you’re a devout follower of the beliefs of the ‘Old Master’ and his teachings.” She added.
“Are there any passages you could tell me that you remember?” I asked.
“There are so many, but one of my favorite passages starts like this…the valley spirit never dies – it is called ‘the mysterious female’; the gate of the mysterious female is called ‘the root of heaven and earth’.”
“I like that one, it’s beautiful.” I assured her.
“You know, the Tao literally means ‘The Way’, and if you follow Lao-Tzu and his teachings it will do just that, show you the way to happiness, and peace for the rest of your life. But, it isn’t easy. It can be confusing sometimes.
There are many things that even we, the Chinese struggle to understand when following ‘The Way’,” she said.
“Since I have been traveling,” I interjected, “I have come upon a couple of other religions, and one such religion sounds similar to me. That was the Hindu religion, where up is down and down is up, where action is inaction, and inaction is action.”
“Ha,” she laughed, “that is also like ‘The Way’, or our Taoist doctrine. There is another passage that starts out, ‘one who knows does not speak; one who speaks does not know. There are many more like that, but when one understands ‘The Way’, then one understands the Old Master.”
She spoke further, “The Tao Te Ching is revered by many, for a couple of different reasons. First is the brevity of it, being only 5,000 characters long in our language. So, it doesn’t take a long time to read like some of the other major religious books, like the Bible.”
“The second reason is somewhat of a paradox. It is so simplistic, yet with its simplicity comes the dichotomy that even though it is such a simplistic book of teachings, it is so difficult to comprehend or understand. The teachings can mean so many different things that even our most highly revered intellects argue about what Lao-Tzu meant when he supposedly first wrote it.”
I nodded my head in agreement, and said, “Yes, I understand, most especially after my experiences with my Hindu friend, which left me confounded!”
She assured me though that not all hope was lost. “You can get so much out of it, even if you don’t always understand or interpret the meaning exactly like someone else. It’s a beautiful book, and you should really take the time to read it, as I said, it is’nt a long book, and yet it’s so deep with all it has to offer.”
Chenguang went on to tell me more of Lao-Tzu; how the story goes that he was the Keeper of the Archives for the royal court. How he was a great teacher, and he was said to have a son who became a celebrated soldier, but that he became weary with the moral decay of the everyday life in the kingdom of Chengzhou.
It was said that he wanted to leave life there and become a hermit, but before the guard would allow him access to leave the gates of the city, he was asked to record his wisdom, and this is said to be when he wrote the Tao Te Ching.
She laughed though, and said this was just one of many versions of the life of Lao-Tzu, that no one really knows the truth, just like the many interpretations one can have with the teachings of ‘The Way.’
“Is there more to the Tao or Dao philosophy or religion that you can tell me about? Is there more than the Tao Te Ching?” I questioned.
“Oh my yes, there is, BUT, we do regard the Tao Te Ching as the primary text to the Tao philosophy. The Tao though, has come to mean more than that, more than just a philosophy. It has also come to be a religion, and now one might say the philosophy and the religion aspects have co-joined.”
Chenguang added that the next great book in the Taoist religion was the Chuang-tzu. Master Chuang, as she called him, was thought to be the primary author of this book. She told me that Master Chuang was greatly influenced and possibly even taught by Lao-Tzu. Chenguang went on to say that the two teachings, Lau-Tzu’s, and Master Chuang’s, contrasted in their concerns. While the Tao Te Ching was more diverse in its teachings, the Chuang-tzu focused more on an individual’s private life.
“You know there are many other books you can read too, if you were to take an interest in Tao. There is the book of ‘Master Kuan’, and the book of ‘Master Lieh’, and even the Ling pao Ching…these are all great books written in the Taoist tradition.” she told me.
“What about a god or gods, do you have any of those in your philosophy, slash, religion?” I asked.
“Nothing like the Bible, or the Qu’ran.” she quietly voiced. “We are more of a pantheistic religion, but when pressed, I guess I would have to say that our official main or head deity would be the Jade Emperor.”
She went on, “The intellects or elite Taoists such as our Celestial Masters sect recognize Lao-Tzu and the Three Pure Ones, as the highest of our deities. The intellects believe that when Lao-Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, he created One – Wuji, who then created Two – Tiaji, and Two then created Three, who in turn created ‘all things.’ Now, are you more confused than before? Then we could argue about who produced Yin and Yang, which is another important part of the Tao religion, where one cannot have Yin without Yang.”
“What, oh no, this is just as complicated as the Hindu religion was to me!” I muttered to her. “One, two, and three, Yin and Yang, how can I remember all these things?”
“For me, I know of yin and yang as cold and hot, night and day, in and out, rich and poor. One cannot have one without the other. Neither one is good nor bad, they just…are. You cannot have night without day, which is to say you can’t have darkness without light. Oh, my little grasshopper, now are you ready for that cup of tea?” she laughed.
“Why yes, my head is hurting, it feels like it will explode! You are giving me too many things to think about, again! All these religions, with so much to try to remember.” I half-jokingly said to her. “What about holidays, can we have some fun and have a holiday?”
“Well, you just missed one of our main holidays, which was the Chinese or Lunar New Year, but we do have one coming up soon, and that is called the ‘Tomb Sweeping Day’!”
I quizzically asked her, “What in Lao-Tzu’s name is tomb sweeping day?”
“Supposedly this holiday started because there was just way too much celebrating going on and the Emperor wanted to stop all the partying for everyone’s ancestors. So he decided he would consolidate some of these celebrations to just one day. It became a day when everyone would go to the gravesites, sweep and clean off the graves, and once the graves are cleaned off, relatives would leave offerings in the way of food, tea, chopsticks, or wine. Also, rice paper is made to look like money and burned as an offering.”
“About that cup of tea…I am so ready for it, would you make me some now?”
“Yes, she said, how about a nice cup of Jasmine tea for that aching head of yours.” she giggled.
And with that, we spent the rest of the day drinking tea, and conversing about which came first, One, Two, or Three, yin or yang, the birds or the bees! And so it was that I spent my last days on Earth, in the company of an amazing woman, Chenguang. I have so much that happened in my time on Earth, and my mind has changed about these people. After the three experiences I have had, with the old man in India, the young boy in Indonesia, and now this woman in China, these people might not be headed toward the path of destruction my world thought it was. These religions, these philosophies may just be something my world might come to accept.