Chapter 14: The Spirituality of Characters
“You should think nice and well about how you were able to write that character at that time. If you are able to remember how you wrote that character, then it would become possible for you to write similar characters in the future.” Teacher Lin unceasingly lectured me, so that I would go think about the process of writing this “天” (Sky/Heaven) character.
In fact, on that day when I wrote the 天 character, I had felt a sort of enlightenment broadening my horizons, that sort of a feeling was extremely nice. However, I couldn’t remember what had actually happened during the process of writing that character.
“Huh?” It was as if something flashed in my mind, but again I wasn’t able to catch hold of it.
“Huang Jingyang, you recalled something?” Teacher Lin asked happily.
“I seemed to have recalled something, lacking only a little bit, but I wasn’t able to catch hold of it.” I said regretfully.
“Don’t worry, no rush. Think slowly, I won’t rush you.” Teacher Lin comforted me, and took out the paper on which I had written that character on that day. Teacher Lin seemed to have preserved this sheet of newspaper. It’s strange to say, but this character seemed as if its ink had dried only recently. Upon opening it, one could see that magnificent brilliance of the character written with ink which had seemingly just dried. Actually that character itself is not written so good, I am just learning calligraphy, it is impossible to write perfect strokes like a calligrapher. However, the charm within that characters makes one forget the calligraphy itself.
Seeing that character, I suddenly had an impression, because within this character, I could see qi moving. The moving qi was gem-like white, and was still as before lingering on the character. So it turns out that the reason the character written by me has such charm, is because of primordial qi. While I was writing the character, the primordial qi got into the ink-brush, and as a result, the character written had charm.
I hurriedly took a piece of paper. This piece of paper had been bought from the streets by Teacher Lin, the paper twice as thick as a newspaper, and also was very smooth, apparently it was quite solid. Teacher Lin said that this was called rice paper. Last time, Teacher Lin wanted to make me write the 天 character like that again. However, I couldn’t write it a second time.
This time, I quickly wrote 天 character on top of it. While writing the character, I poured primordial qi through the ink-brush, which then flowed onto the paper. The seal script “天”
character, was finished in one breath. Using only but a second, however after I finished writing this character, I felt very exhausted, as if I had exhausted all my energy.
“What happened?” Teacher Lin seeing something wrong with me, immediately asked in a concerned manner.
“I am very tired.” I put down the ink-brush, and then sat down onto the stool, feeling even more exhausted than after a trip to the mountains to cut firewood.
“Let’s go, Teacher will bring you to rest.” Teacher Lin picked me up in her arms, and at this time I couldn’t even open my eyes, straightaway falling asleep in Teacher Lin’s bosom.
By the time I woke up, the sky was already very bright, I hurriedly got up.
“Damnit, today I woke up so late. I still haven’t gone to cut fish grass.” I dressed in a hurry and rushed outside.
“Huang Jingyang, don’t go today, Grandpa cut the fish grass for you and also let the Ox out. I have already made preparations for the meal. Today I cook, while you light the cooking fire for me.” Teacher Lin called out to me.
I was forced into the kitchen.
“Have you already figured out how to write those kind of characters?” Teacher Lin asked.
“After writing characters in that manner, do you get very tired?” Teacher Lin asked a follow-up question.
“Yes. After finishing that character, I felt very sleepy, but unlike yesterday I didn’t feel that tired the first time.” I felt quite baffled.
“Is it possible that you overexerted yesterday?” Teacher Lin asked.
I thought for a while, but I hadn’t used any force, rather, I had simply mobilized the primordial qi. However, the first time, the primordial qi was mobilized very naturally, letting it take its own course, as a result of which the consumption was not that great. But this time, I forcefully mobilized the primordial qi, managing to condense the spiritual energy atop the brush with much difficulty, because there are differences between the ink-brush and my body. I wasn’t able to feel the existence of the ink-brush, let alone talk about condensing primordial qi onto it. However, when at last I managed to succeed in it unexpectedly, the consumption was also very great.
“Found the root cause?” Teacher Lin asked.
I nodded, “It seems like I found it already.”
Teacher Lin put away the pot to one side, and then pulled me into my room.
“Come, take a look at this ‘天’ character that you wrote yesterday, it seems to have great spiritual energy, but the character itself doesn’t seem to be aesthetically pleasing. It doesn’t seem to have the same vividness that the first one had. I don’t know how you did it, but although the ‘天’ character you wrote last night is impressive, it isn’t as good as the first one you wrote.” Teacher Lin had already placed side by side the two 天 characters written by me.
What made me greatly surprised was, that atop the ‘天’ written yesterday, there was even less primordial qi lingering atop it compared to the first character I wrote. Deliberately guided primordial qi unexpectedly can’t compare with the involuntarily formed character.
“Don’t worry, take it slow. It is very important to gain a clear understanding.” Teacher Lin said.
At this time, I had already figured it out. I spread out the newspaper on the table, then lifting the ink-brush, I slowly began writing the “天” character on the paper. While writing 天, I thought of the azure skies, thought of the beautiful stars, thought of the boundless immensity of the cosmos, thought of wild geese flying in the vast sky….
Unbeknownst to me, the brush in my hand had already moved into action and effortlessly drew the character “天” onto the paper. This time, not only did I not feel exhausted after having finished writing, instead I felt very relaxed. I went on to write one after another, densely packed onto the newspaper. Only until there was no space left on the newspaper, did I stop.
“How are you feeling?” Teacher Lin was fearing a repeat of yesterday’s events.
“I’m feeling very good.” I said.
Teacher Lin also smiled: “You succeeded, you have written very well.”
Teacher Lin looked under the table, but was actually surprised to find that this time the ink didn’t penetrate through the able. There was not even a trace of ink on the table.
However, these characters seem to have even greater charm than the character from the first time? Teacher Lin wrinkled her brows, unable to figure out what was going on in the end. Why this time it didn’t go three fen into the wood?
[TLNote: Actually this time the Author used 尺 (Che), which is equal to one-third of a meter instead of 分 (fen) which is one-third of an inch. I am presuming it to be a typo since the accepted saying/idiom uses fen, and one-third of a meter seems preposterous]
“Oh right, it’s control. This is a result of Huang Jingyang’s control!” Teacher Lin stood up excitedly.
“That’s right, Huang Jingyang, you succeeded. You have effectively grasped the way of writing characters in this manner. Moreover, you are able to control your strength to a very high degree. Therefore, each character is written extremely smooth and round.
At this time, the newspaper unexpectedly floated up from the table, and radiated light in all directions, before slowly falling down onto the table.
Teacher Lin was gobsmacked, “Huang Jingyang, why did that happen? Do you know?”
How would I know? I only knew that it might have something to do with the contents of what I had written. This form of seal script and the seal script on the bronze medal were completely identical. I still didn’t know what effects the seal script on the bronze medal were, however, I knew that I had already touched the tip of this secret’s iceberg.
“You need to remember this feeling, later when you write characters, be sure to evoke this feeling.” Teacher Lin very happily spread out the newspaper which I had written on and used clips to press it down.
“Huang Jingyang, you learnt seal script just to look at those seal script character on that bronze medal, right?” Teacher Lin, seeing me holding the bronze medal in my hands, felt her heart skip.
I did not deny, and nodded: “I couldn’t recognize these characters.”
After some time, I began writing again, but all of a sudden I could no longer find that feeling. The style of writing 天 character had absolutely no use while writing characters. This spell of calligraphy practice, had me somewhat preoccupied, leaving other matters to be left aside quite a bit. There was a time when I was just lost in thought during class, while pondering how to bring out the charm while writing characters.
I knew that when I was writing that 天 character, I was able to sense the characteristics of the sky, but what kind of characteristics did 地 have? I had no idea. I hadn’t read the characters written on the bronze medal, but each character had its own spirituality, and in order to bring that spirituality out while writing, one must find a special method. While I was writing that 天 character, the white sparkling primordial qi was flowing within my body incessantly. Ultimately, it attached itself onto the calligraphy.
During class, I was looking at the blackboard without blinking, even my eyeballs didn’t move. Teacher Lin didn’t notice it in the beginning, however, when the class was over, I kept maintaining the same posture as before. My eyes were still looking at the blackboard, without blinking at all. The students in the class would rarely pay attention to me, but Teacher Lin would always pay attention to me. So, when she saw me staring continuously at the blackboard still as before, she had already become aware that something wasn’t right.
“Huang Jingyang! Huang Jingyang! …..”
I heard a voice coming from a distant place of someone calling out to me, apparently it was someone very close to me, seemed like my mother, or yet seemed like Teacher Lin.
“Teacher Lin, I again saw you in a dream.” I laughed, as I was under the belief that I was still dreaming.
“Huang Jingyang, Huang Jingyang…..”
The sounds of yelling near my ear increased more and more.
“Huang Jingyang!” This time I could hear it very clearly, it was Mr. Han.
“Don’t disturb me, ok?!” I hated the fact that Mr. Han had interrupted my beautiful dream, so I straightaway yelled at him.
Mr. Han was thrown back flying, only to land on the ground on his buttocks.
“The second time! This is already the second time!” Mr. Han was wailing on the floor as if he were at a funeral, while he tried to stand up, before turning around and leaving the classroom. I was startled to find that a bunch of people had already surrounded me.
“He’s gone crazy again, he’s gone crazy again.” The big fatty Huang Shulang with an open mouth and face stiff as a board, kept shaking right in front of my eyes.
“Huang Jingyang, you come aside. All of you children, go play outside.” Teacher Lin ushered all the other children outside.
“Huang Jingyang, what happened to you?” Teacher Lin was on verge of crying.
My eyeballs moved, and after glancing around in all directions: “Am I not in a dream? Just a moment ago, I heard Headmaster Han shouting at me.”
Teacher Lin couldn’t help but giggle, and throw a punch at me.
“This child, you really frightened Teacher.”
Teacher Lin also hugged me tightly, I knew that Teacher Lin’s feelings towards me was closer than that of a parent and child.