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Travel Journal

Yuan Tong: A Chinese Taoist Monk
by Helena

Yuan Tong is a Taoist leader in the Temple of Purple Clouds in Wei Bao Mountain, located in the southwest of Yunnan, China.

Middle-aged and dark-skinned, he has black eyes telling you the wisdom of being simple and the happiness of having nothing; he has black hair speaking of a healthy peaceful life. A white cotton blouse protects him from the “Red Dust” (a Chinese term for society) and keeps him away from the sorrows and tears of being a fragile mankind.

When speaking, his voice is crystal-like clear and wind-like subtle; this voice penetrates into your heart and heals your inner world. When walking, his body is like a piece of cloud—light and motionless.

He is formless, but he is powerful! 

On a spring morning, a European Culture-Discovery group entered the temple, and Yuan Tong was there to welcome them. Two hands together, he is smiling and this pure smile held each single person in the arms of the temple. We are back! We are home. Suddenly, millions of dazzling diamonds gather in our eyes—warm and wet.

Presenting us with ancient healing methods, helping us to be at present and teaching us the truth of perpetual changes in life, Yuan Tong realizes his mission without speaking a word of French or English. As an interpreter, I merely got involved in the lesson.

The smell of incense, snow-like flowering trees, the old stone paved yard and the birds’ singing make the temple a paradise; it seems empty but it was filled with more than 40 people. We were swallowing the silence, just like drinking pure spring water. Without a single word, this communication is a piece of jade—transparent, pure and wordless.

For just a few moments, thoughts of the past are suppressed; the mind is not burdened with plans for the future. This moment of respite, from which five senses reach their emptiness, is experienced as one of profound peace. The ensuring sense of release is felt as a deep calm, free of all expectation and fear.

“Be detached from what you desire most; it will come to you!” These were the only words Yuan Tong offered us.