Path of Life Series (1): The Waiting in the Long Dark Night

Qi Zhiping

PureInsight | May 2, 2007

[] My memory
started from this very scene: On a very dark night, no light or even
moonlight, my older brother, older sister, and I were locked inside the
house, and my parents went to work in the production team. I have
forgotten how I felt then. Perhaps, I did not know how to explore the
feelings in my heart.  Three little kids were locked in their home
in the total darkness: unable to go out, to play, or to watch TV, which
was not available then. We had said all we could to each other and had
nothing more to say. In the darkness, we had exhausted the games that
we could play.  I only wanted the door to suddenly open. My only
longing was to hear a little noise from the outside, even just a tiny
bit, that would bring me hope...

I finally heard the noise in the dark night, from the cook in the
production team who came to our house to use the stone grinder to
process food. Three of us tried to pry open the boards to look out, but
we could not see anything.  We could only hear the noise. It was
all right to hear the noise, even just a little bit of it, and it could
break up the fear and desperation in my heart.

That happened in the last century, during the early 70's, on a farm family in southern China.

In my memory, that is the beginning of my life.

In my entire life, I have not been able to forget this scene. 
When I grew older, I went to school and read many books.  I had an
insatiable hunger for books.  From the bottom of my heart, I was
searching for a certain voice, just like I was searching for the voice
of hope when I was little. The yearning inside of me got stronger and
stronger.  It seemed that I was seeking the sound of liberation
from life: from the books, from the people I met, and from my own

However, after many years, I still could not find a real answer.
Whenever I looked back on life, whenever I looked down at the rushing
crowd from a high building, whenever I looked at the sunsets or
withered autumn leaves, and whenever I gazed into the sky at night, I
realized that human beings are so insignificant and so pitiful. We are
hurrying from birth to death in this mundane world, struggling
continuously, just like being locked up in a huge formless cage. We
cannot get out nor see the truth about the outside.  No matter how
hard I struggle and triumph in this world, I cannot extricate myself
from this invisible imprisonment. The longer I walked on the path of my
life, the deeper I felt the captivity. No matter how successful I was
in life, when I calmed down, I would truly feel that I am locked up in
this world forever.  From the deep inside, I was longing for a
certain voice and hoped to gain a certain relief by which I would be
free from my existing life.

Looking at this secular world, I feel that everyone is actually like
those three children being locked up in the dark and looking forward to
be released. Their feelings of loneliness, fear, panic, helplessness,
and anxiety, intertwined with some degree of numbness, so they will not
feel the suffering. Only after many years of looking back on life, can
I realize how miserable that was. Isn't it the same for the people in
this world?  We live a most frustrating and worthless life, yet we
do not know that it is misery. We are struggling to seek some
excitement in life and continue to live a deceptive life, to both
ourselves and others. In the dark, we think that we are moving forward
and triumphing, yet we cannot be released from an invisible bondage.

This is the sentiment I have for life.

I often looked at the sky at night and asked the vast universe endless
questions, searching for the mysteries of this world and the meaning of
life. I often looked at the passing river and sighed because life is so
unpredictable and short. I often closed books in my hands and wondered
about the ups and downs in history and its repeated variations. I often
sat quietly at late night to position myself in this colossal universe
and ponder my insignificant existence. I felt sad and wept and don't
know why.

I often asked the philosophers, would you please enlighten me? What is
the state of Buddha's Nirvana like? Where did Laozi go after his ride
on the bull through the gate? Jesus, you suffered so much for the
people on earth. Did you return to your Father's kingdom? Confucius,
when you saw Kylin* being caught by foolish people and the red sash put
on by its mother still on the horn, why did you cry? Did you cry for
the hardships in life, or for the helplessness of life?  And how
am I, such an ordinary human being, going to face the long journey of

I lived like that for many decades.

Finally, one day, in the darkness of the night, I heard the voice of hope…

*Kylin is an animal from the Chinese legend.

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