Crossing Hangu Pass

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Crossing Hangu Pass
         Zhan  Shichuanɡ

Long is the ancient road;
Towering the insurmountable pass.
Gone the Blue Buffalo, way beyond Hangu,
Only the Daode classic is with us
        millennia old.

Who is today's dweller of that cave house?
The white rooster's still there
        wandering in the courtyard.
The wheels roll on
        this Taoist tour of ours;
Destiny has brought us together
        from all corners of the world.
Guò HánGǔGuān
Zhān Shíchuānɡ

Mànmàn ɡǔdào
Wēiwēi xiónɡɡuān
Qīnɡniú yǐ ɡuò hánɡǔ
Dàodé qiānzǎi sònɡ chuán

Shì wèn yáodònɡ jīn shuí zhù
Ménqián báijī yóu xián
Chēlún ɡǔnɡǔn dào zhī lǚ
Sìhǎi yījiā yǒu yuán

Translator: Charles Q. Wu 吳千之

From May 21 through June 11, 1999, Charles Wu led a 24-member Taoist tour to China. "We visiting seven mountains, ten cities, and numerous temples, mostly Taoist, some Buddhist, and one Confucian. Throughout the tour we were accompanied by outstanding Taoist scholar, Professor Zhan Shichuang of Xiamen University, who shared with us his great wisdom as well as rich knowledge about the philosophy, history, and practice of China's native-born religion. I had the privilege of being his interpreter, and the two of us developed a great friendship emanating from a common qi field. On several occasions, after visiting an inspiring site, Professor Zhan's poetic creativity would be set ablaze and once back on the bus he would start composing a poem, which I would immediately or subsequently translate and read to the group."

A strategic valley pass south of the Yellow River, Hangu is better known as the place where the Taoist sage Laozi (Lao Tzu) left China proper on his way to the West after completing his 5,000-character classic Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching). He was believed to have come and gone riding a blue buffalo. A bronze statue of the sage on the buffalo's back is seen at the entrance to the pass. At the foot of the Pass's gate tower, we visited a cave house at the invitation of its hospitable owner. This simple dwelling and its peaceful surroundings remind one of Laozi's utopia of a land of limited size and small population, where people could hear the roosters and dogs of neighboring villages but never bothered to visit their neighbors. (80)

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