I am Hanuman, you are my Tathāgata 我是猴子,你是如来

2020-08-23 18:24:46

I am Hanuman, you are my Tathāgata


It happened on my birthday in 2013. I was in the dining hall at the Esalen Institute and suddenly found myself joined by a young man from Chile. When he found out I was from China, he could not stop from going on about I Ching and how it affected his life and decision to come to the US.  And how so much of the strange interplanetary phenomena he had encountered during his life showed amazing connections with his study of ancient Chinese wisdom. I was fascinated, not so much about his UFO contact experiences, but I was struck that he knew quite a lot about this “heavenly book” 天书.  Back then, my dream was to travel across South America, and was looking for a travel companion. It was a Chilean who re-introduced my own cultural heritage, my roots back to me. 

I rebelled in my youth against much of my heritage, growing away from my Chinese roots although I am well-versed in classical Chinese history and literature. I followed my own path, searching for teachers in areas that interested me outside of Chinese society. In order to communicate with my new Chilean friend, I wanted to learn more about I Ching. I Ching contents coded esoteric intelligence on the laws of nature. It was widely regarded as a  fortune-telling guide to some long-forgotten yet always-popular occult. But it is far more mystical and profound, and has amazing revelations in accord with modern sciences. 

At my local library back in Santa Monica,California, I found Alfred Huang’s “Complete of I Ching”, as if the book had been just waited patiently for me for ages to take it down from the shelves and open it.

My interest in mysticism began at a very early age. It was ignited by the recurring human cruelties I witnessed all around me in China. I nearly died from lack of medicine and food, and had an early awakening through two near-death experiences before age of 10. My father, who was forced to work in a state factory for 20 years, was poisoned by chemicals severely when he attempted to save other factory workers in a fire accident, left him a life long struggleing with illness.  I recall looking up at the sky and asking heaven() why I had a such miserable childhood.  But these feelings were met by another overwhelming awareness and passion inside of me: there MUST be an unknown world outside of this horrific day-to-day existence, a world/a new unknown land, so fantastic beyond all understandings.

Upon finishing college in China, I came to the U.S. and attended graduate school.  But soon I was pursuing my real interests in writing, dance, and travel. In Spain, I studied Flamenco and started writing poetry and prose. I hung out with RomasGypsiesreading Tarot cards in Andalusia.  In Turkey and Asia Minar, I found me charmed by Persian mystic poets Rumi and Hafiz.  I went to India alone searching for yoga gurus and Hindu sutras.  While traveling in southern Mexico, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the heavenly images and mystical graphics carved on stones . I felt an immediate intimate connection to that “lost civilization”. After discovering information about Chilam Balam, I took on the last name “Chilam,” who was the last priest of the Mayan Empire and compiled this holy script that preserved the traditional knowledge of Mayans.

Changing one's last name as I did is considered a betrayal in Chinese culture, bringing shame to the family and community.  But I have determined to do so. For the past years, I was introducing western arts, philosophy and literature to a Chinese audience through a weekly column for several Chinese online media outlets.

I came to face the real reason why I wanted to chang my last name: it had been an attempt to erase the memories of my painful Chinese upbringing. My entire family was sent to a remote labor camp in Southwest China before I reached my first birthday. We spent the next 13 years in a disease-ridden oppressive swamp, simply trying to survive.  

When I read Master Alfred Huang’s harrowing narratives of his experiences in escaping death and torture, I was deeply affected, immediately identifying with him,  In the second Gua 坤,where it says, “take the initiative, she will go astray; follow, she will find her guiding master," I felt my life had been on a lonely journey all by myself until that very moment those words rang so true. Now I realize that it is the time to re-focus my energy, to devote myself to a destiny. I need to learn to step back and follow the divine voice, and my teacher emerged. 

When I finally found him in Hawaii, Alfred asked me: "Why do you want to learn I Ching?" Then he added: "And why do you want me to be your teacher?”

First I told him that I thought I Ching and Chinese characters Hanzi were the roots of all Chinese culture and are the purest Chinese invention. The best translation comes from a perfect resonance of hearts.  22 years in a communist labor camp and prison had given him true insights, strength and wisdom to accomplish this devine project. Just as King Wen spent 7 years in King Zhou ’s prison to compose the Zhouyi, I felt that Alfred might be his kindred spirit.  Without a deep and painful spiritual experience, no one would ever get into the depth of I Ching. 

There are numerous scholars worldwide who study and research I Ching. But no other Chinese scholar would dare to translate it into English.  Alfred has undertaken a formidable impossible mission. I thought, if native Chinese can’t understand I Ching, how can Westerners?  And he is already 94!  

But after I read several Chapters of his translation, I immediately understood the messages, more crystal clear from Master Huang's English translation, than in Chinese. 

I do not possess any vaunted academic credentials to approach I Ching. But I told Master Huang that if it were truly "a handbook for divination," it was the one I wanted to hold onto in my upcoming journey, which I felt it came to me somehow via divine courtesy. 

I half jokingly told him: “Perhaps I’ve been sent by Guanyin to help you finish your books.”  His own journey to introduce Chinese ancient holy scripts to the West is as dramatic and meaningful as in the Chinese mythological novel Journey to the West, the Monkey king 孙悟空accompanied Tang dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang 玄奘who traveled to the "Western heaven” to obtain sacred texts (sūtras) and returned after many trials and much suffering.

I think Alfred responded to my mischievous nature, who like 孙悟空 the Monkey King, may not always obey teachers, quite often he showed his respect and loyalty by challenging his master 师父。


Master Huang humbly replied: when the teacher is ready, the student will come.  And he jokingly called me as his 恩徒, a lucky disciple.

I am very honored that Alfred asked me to write this foreword for his new book. Today age of 94, he has become an immortal sage and teaches me how to JOYFULLY surrender to sufferings. 

Most of my accomplished works are in Chinese langugage, it is my wish to influence and inspire a contemporary Chinese audience with arts, literature and western philosophies, while Alfred writes only in English, wanting to reveal the ancient glories of China for western thinkers and seekers.  We met at this cross road, and I know this has been predestined.