A journey to Wudang Mountain; the small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei, China, just south of Shiyan. This film details the 20,000 steps up this magical mountain and the strange Daoist religious monastery atop. Through the clouds and out of oneself, you really feel a part of heaven.
I came to Daoism by bringing myself into the present. It sounds easy: just concentrate and here we are, in the now. But it really isn’t. Being in the present means feeling at one with your body, at one with the sense of the world around you and by letting the mind go blank. I went through many stages of things before getting there. But what made it click was climbing a mountain.
There is a mountain in China called Wudang Shan.
It is one of many Daoist peaks of startling height that can be found all over this giant country. It is quite famous for being the birth place of internal Kung Fu styles such as Tai Chi. Walking up it is quite an experience. There are 20 thousand steps up Wudang before getting to the top and it is an exhausting journey.
The endless stone steps tower above you, winding upwards seemingly into the heavens. Along the way there are many temples and the steps often lead you through the courtyards. Each of these temples has an increasingly strained mystic name which each subsequent temple tries very hard to trump.
So the harmony temple may be followed by the grand harmony temple, the majestic temple of great tranquility and so on ad nausea, all the way up the steps. This naming convention seemed to me at the time to be a cute cultural translation and something quite purposelessly funny, but actually it had a definite point; the idea that you are rising to heaven and every time you think you have made it: you haven’t and there is more to go. Along the way you meet many people on the same journey. You see rich and poor alike. The rich are carried up in palanquins, totally breaking the point, and this is most discouraging. More encouraging, but not perhaps comforting, are the groups of little old Chinese ladies you meet that even at the tender ages of what looks to be 150 can hop up the steps like a heard of mountain goats.
After hours of climbing you arrive at a large temple and then upwards still more until you finally come to the top, which is above the clouds. You are here at the pinnacle of China’s attempts to reach heaven. Here sits a large golden temple and some very old Daoist priests.
After an age you have to walk back down and find some hot water for your strained leg muscles. For me, and I didn’t know this at the time, I was not the same guy walking down. My trip into the clouds had prompted me to leave something behind and to gain the courage to be what I wanted.
Re-rendered in HiDef 1080p
Music to 5.1
Fixed annoying click on second track
Edited for clarity
Stabilised some scenes