Back in from the provinces. I believe everyone woke up this morning feeling rather sore. My thighs, particularly the front side of my upper legs, feel like granite. I need to convince myself to head up stairs, plodding step by step. But it's a good sort of soreness. The “leg machines” at the gym don’t ever seem to leave you feeling the way you do after you’ve climbed a mountain.
I’d been worried that we wouldn’t have what it takes at the end of the day to then climb up to the Hanging Monastery after mounting Heng Shan. Personally speaking I was worried that my left foot might give out. It’s a modest climb compared to the effort to top the mountain, and after a bit of persuading I’d managed to talk the two girls into giving it a try up the rickety structure.
Daoists or Buddhists or Christians for that matter all to build temples in remote areas, I suppose in order primarily to simply get away from it all. If you’re up on the face of a cliff, it’s a lot less likely that someone will come to visit you and disturb you in your meditations. But clearly you’re not well defended. If someone wanted to bring the Hanging Monastery down, I would think they could lasso a pole or two and do their worst. And its position up there almost begs for defiant interference.
Perhaps, like a flying buttress, this has more to do with achieving something remarkable in God’s name rather than building a cathedral that could accommodate more Parisians. The Hanging Monastery is a testimony to what faithful people could achieve and their desire to have the quality of their faith acknowledged by others as much as by God.
I finished my salad lunch just now and I was reading a remarkable passage in Jane Goodall’s “In the Shadow of Man.” Just now, a rising power in the book, the chimpanzee Mike, has used “technology” and innovation to assert dominance within the tribe. He grabbed two empty kerosene containers and began to shake them and slam them to get the others to acknowledge that he would now like to run things. After some showmanship, he gets his way. Obviously kerosene cans were a human introduction and were otherwise not part of the local environment. Mike was smart enough to use them, but it would take many chimp generations before one knew how to make them. But it reminded me of some sort of battle of the bands when one group has bigger amplifiers than the other or when some nation produces a technological advancement over another and solidifies its dominance.