I am currently on Mount Emei (峨眉山), one of the four holy mountains of Chinese Buddhism, located in Sichuan Province, China. Emei Shan is regarded as the domain of Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Universal Benevolence who is associated with practice and meditation. According to legend, this mountain was where Samantabhadra gave lectures on Buddhism. Known as Pǔxián in Chinese, he is depicted with both masculine and feminine characteristics, riding a white elephant with six tusks and carrying a lotus leaf parasol, which represents the potential for transformation.
In Chinese medicine, mountains, rocks, and minerals belong to the Metal element, the element that governs purity and radiance. Metal is the realm where we are given the opportunity to let go of ego and pride, suspending judgments and attachments as a means to create space for the virtues of selflessness, justice, and clarity of Spirit. As such, secluded mountain monasteries and rock caves have historically represented the ultimate places to manifest a true intention for cultivation of the Self.
In ancient times, the reasons why certain mountains were designated as sacred was not because of their beauty, majesty, or size. They were chosen because the mineralization in their water provided specific biochemical reactions that enhance the potential for development of higher consciousness. These minerals, also part of the Metal element, interact with human physiology to create a metallic network that enables the inner conduction of light, radiance, and consciousness within the human body.
This capacity for conductivity is what is lacking in the modern world, as modern food production relies heavily upon demineralization agents such as Round Up, that are found in fertilizers and in GMO foods. As modern food is increasingly derived from chemicals, and modern culture is increasingly defined by vapid materialism, we are faced with the reality that our environment is losing the ability to provide us with the nutrients we need to thrive, both physically and spiritually. Like the lotus, each human being has the potential to emerge from the mud of ignorance, to grow through the waters of experience, and to blossom into the sunshine of illumination. But it requires proper nourishment.
The focus of this retreat is to restore my own capacity to conduct the light of consciousness throughout my mind, body, and soul. I will be learning personal cultivation practices and techniques handed down over hundreds of generations, while drinking the same mineral water and bathing in the same mineral hot springs that Samantabhadra and his white elephant drank and bathed in many years ago.