作者Marshall P. Adair，中文名字：艾德，1948年生于美国，任职美国外交官35年，曾任美国驻中国成都领事馆总领事，美国国务院欧州事务副助理国务卿。1999-2001年，担任美国退休外交官协会主席。退休后两年，作为退休外交官代表任职于美国外交协会理事会。目前居住在华盛顿特区。已出版著作：《Watching Flowers from Horseback》《55 Years in the Service》。
作者：（美国）Marshall P. Adair（艾德）
I had the good fortune to meet Professor Nan Huaijin in 1987 when he was living temporarily in the United States. I was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat) who had recently returned to Washington, DC after six years in Asia - one in Taiwan, three in Hong Kong and two in Beijing. I personally knew nothing about Professor Nan, but my wife Ginger (Chen Chunzhi) had been searching for him since 1981. She had told me and friends that an old Chinese man had appeared in her dreams, trying to teach her something. However, she could not understand him, and she didn’t know who he was. Then, in 1987 she received a call from a friend in New York who told her that a man fitting her description had recently moved to Washington, DC from Taiwan and his name was Nan Huaijin. That was very exciting news for her. She soon found a distributor of Professor Nan’s books, asked if it was true he was nearby and if we could visit him. The distributor, a man named A Fu Ge, confirmed that Professor Nan was indeed living in McLean, Virginia, and offered to call him that afternoon.
Professor Nan graciously agreed, and invited us to join him at his home that same day for a Manyue ( 滿 月) celebration he was hosting for the daughter of one of his students, T.H. Lee. There were many people there when we arrived. I took our young son, Charles (Ai Liyu), and joined the guests outside, while someone escorted Ginger inside to meet Professor Nan. After a short while, Ginger rejoined us with an ecstatic look on her face. “Yes,” she said, “I finally found him, the man in my dreams. He is even wearing the same Chinese-style clothes as in the dreams!”
Soon after that we were all invited to go into the living room. Professor Nan was surrounded by a number of people. He looked up as I entered, smiled at me and said, “Welcome, I have researched you (我研究你了)” I smiled, too, though I didn’t really understand what he meant. He was very kind to us during that first meeting, and invited us to return anytime, which we proceeded to do.
For the next year we made weekly visits to Professor Nan and his “extended family” of students and individuals who had committed themselves (in varying degrees) to personal cultivation. The house was always busy with visitors coming to see him from many different places. Some came with questions about Zen Buddhist cultivation, others with personal issues and still others with political and diplomatic questions. I was able to understand most of what the other visitors were asking. However, I had tremendous difficulty understanding Professor Nan’s replies - due to my more limited Chinese, to some of the cultivation subject matter, and to the challenge of Professor Nan’s Zhejiang accent.
Professor Nan saw my difficulty and asked if I would like him to teach me Chinese. I was elated, and for the next several months, once a week he tutored me on the Chinese “Thousand Character Classic” (Qian Zi Wen) – a poem of 1,000 characters, none of which is repeated. Using that poem he introduced me to a wide variety of Chinese language, culture and history. It was fascinating and I loved the time I was able to spend with him and all the others who joined us at that big round table. I was not a very good student, and my Chinese language skills did not markedly improve. However, Master Nan did succeed in impressing upon me the extraordinary depth of Chinese culture and experience, and he began the process of changing how I observed the world and everything in it. That change included him: to me he ceased being Professor Nan, and became simply “Laoshi.”
Later, I realized how incongruous it was for a mid-level American diplomat to be tutored by a man who was perhaps the most knowledgeable and accomplished individual in the oldest and most accomplished civilization on the planet. It took me still longer to realize that for Laoshi that was not incongruous at all, and in fact around him the word “incongruous” lost its meaning.
There is a chapter in the Lotus Sutra (Kumarajiva translation) entitled “Expedient Means.” It describes how the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas infinitely adjust their appearance and method of teaching to the needs, preferences or limitations of the sentient beings they are trying to save. Laoshi did that all the time with the many people who sought his help. There were so many different kinds of people around him: monks, nuns, politicians, businessmen, academics, fortune hunters, journalists, sick people, doctors, etc. He could teach and entertain on more subjects than I could list here. He could listen to people, amuse them, challenge them, sometimes scold them and always fascinate them. He could tell them how to cure their infirmities, how to make their businesses successful, or how to get along with their spouses. He could be austere, strict and distant; and he could be immediately accessible, compassionate and comforting.
With me, he started out offering a deeper introduction to Chinese language and culture. He asked me – but never pried - about my experiences and opinions on places and subjects that I was working on. He could always add a dimension that I had not thought about, and show me avenues to pursue my goals more effectively. All the while he was encouraging me – directly and subtly - to look more closely at myself and to be more compassionate towards others.
In 1988, Laoshi moved from the United States to Hong Kong. My family and I also returned to Asia, first to Rangoon, Burma and then to Chengdu, China. During those four years we were able to communicate with Laoshi by telephone, and also visited him in Hong Kong where he invited us to stay with him. He continued to help us with our cultivation, and he helped me to see the developments in both Burma and China in the broader historical context of China’s cultural, military and economic influence on the region. He explained to me the informal financial links that had operated between Southeast Asian Chinese communities for centuries, and how they still influenced the economy and politics of Hong Kong both legally and illegally. He showed me how centuries of cultural and social tradition had created an incredibly complicated fabric of political and economic realities that no successful businessman or political leader could ignore or act independently of. This is fundamentally different from the American environment. While the United States has its own legal requirements, social mores and political correctness; it also fosters an admiration of individuals who flaunt the established order. I personally shared that admiration, and therefore had to learn to analyze and judge differently the actors in these Asian environments.
Soon after our family arrived in Burma, the country went through a chaotic period of popular uprising and military suppression. During that difficult period, the American and Chinese embassies in Rangoon had different perspectives and different interests. The Chinese supported the military regime, and the Americans were openly sympathetic to the popular demand for more democracy. But the American Embassy was also led by an Ambassador who had spent his career working in and around China, and he encouraged the Chinese and American diplomats to develop cordial and friendly relations. The insights that I received from Laoshi were very helpful to that process.
Shortly after the popular uprising began, Ginger and Charles were evacuated with other embassy families to Bangkok, while I remained in Burma. There was some danger and lots of stress. I had plenty of time to myself, because not only was my family away for six weeks, but our movements and activities became strictly curtailed by the Burmese regime. That was when I first began to experiment with the mantra of the Zhunti Bodhisattva that Laoshi taught.
When I had first visited Laoshi at his house in McLean, Virginia, I did not join those who gathered in the meditation room and chanted the mantra out loud. I was not particularly interested in mantras, and I was self-conscious. However, when I found myself in Burma, alone with very long evenings, I took another look at it. I started doing it in my spare time, and on my way to and from work. When I next visited Hong Kong, Laoshi told me I was changing rapidly, and he encouraged me to continue. That was all I needed. As I got used to the mantra, I began doing it anytime heavy concentration was not required of me; and eventually all the time, regardless of what I was doing.
The results were not always what I expected, but then my expectations were rather vague. I never actually asked Laoshi specifically what the mantra was supposed to do. Laoshi would casually mention from time to time that I could test it by asking for things like money or promotion. However, I thought perhaps he was testing me and that was probably not appropriate. I just accepted that it was somehow good for me, so I continued. Not everything went smoothly at first. On a trip far into the Irrawaddy delta area of Burma, I tried to accelerate our return. Our vehicle promptly broke down and we were stuck on the side of the road for 8 hours, only making it back to Rangoon by hitchhiking in the back of a pickup truck.
Inconveniences continued, but from that time on nothing seriously bad happened to me or my family, and everything that I wanted to have happen gradually came to pass, though I only slowly recognized the sweep of events and the connection to my concentration on the mantra. Since I had studied Chinese in 1981 I had always wanted to be assigned to the Consulate General in Chengdu, which had the largest and most populous consular district in China; but there had always been a long list of more experienced “China Hands” ahead of me for the job. One year after I started the mantra, I received a surprise call from Washington saying the Consul General in Chengdu had to return to the United States for personal reasons, and asking whether I would be willing to leave Burma early and replace him. One month later I was there. I had also been fascinated with Tibetan mysticism since my early twenties, and suddenly I was traveling to Tibet several times a year. I was promoted less than a year after I arrived in Chengdu. After that I was given an assignment to a prestigious study program in Washington, given responsibility for the southeastern corner of Europe, then promoted to Deputy Assistant Secretary with responsibility for 17 countries. Little things went my way such as seats becoming available on fully booked airplanes, and much bigger things such as being prevented by circumstance from taking my place on a government plane that subsequently crashed killing all on board. Laoshi evidenced no surprise at any of these events, simply commenting that the Bodhisattva was protecting me.
It wasn’t just me, of course. Ginger had been doing the mantra for years before I started, and she taught it to me in telephone conversations between Bangkok and Rangoon during the evacuation from Burma. Our son Charles had been taught the Amitofo mantra in McLean by Hong Ren Shifu when he was a baby; and he learned the Zhunti mantra when we were in Chengdu. I will never forget the scene in Hong Kong when Laoshi invited all of his assembled guests to listen in hushed silence as Charles, at age 5, chanted the Zhunti mantra.
It took me years to realize that Laoshi encouraged the mantra not just – or even primarily – to benefit those doing it, but to help others. I’m sure he told me many times in many ways; but somehow we often don’t hear until we are ready. When I finally did realize it, I began to notice how the atmosphere around me would change as I concentrated on the mantra. Difficult meetings became more relaxed; and people who seemed distracted at first would become more focused on the business at hand. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes it seemed like I could feel the entire environment within the State Department relax.
When our family moved from Rangoon to Chengdu we were able to have much easier and more regular contact with Laoshi. He knew Chengdu well, having spent most of his military war years in Sichuan, and also having done his most important work Zen Buddhism there. He introduced me to Sichuan’s unique historical contributions to Chinese culture and politics, and he substantially changed my perspective on Tibetan history, its unique mixture of religion and politics, and its complicated relations with a long succession of Chinese emperors.
As Consul General in Chengdu I made frequent trips to Hong Kong to consult with the U.S. Consulate General there and to meet American businessmen with interest in southwest China. During that time I had the opportunity to watch his extraordinary ability to respond to the different needs and interests of people from diverse places and backgrounds. Every night at least 8-10 people came to dinner. Some were regulars from Hong Kong. Others came from the China mainland, from Taiwan, Southeast Asia, the United States, Latin America, Europe, India, etc. At dinner, Laoshi would socialize, answer personal and professional questions and invite his guests to share stories of their experiences. After dinner, he would often teach about Chinese history, culture and philosophy; about Buddhism and Taoism; and even about other cultures, primarily Asian. He knew what his guests were interested in; and even seem to know their questions before they asked. I still had great difficulty following the multifaceted conversations, but even when I didn’t understand what he was saying, I could see some of the impact he had on his listeners. Some understood, some did not; some were intrigued; some were surprised; and some had their lives changed right there at the dinner table.
He answered the questions of individuals, but usually did it in a way that helped others as well. He was able to make people feel comfortable with themselves and with others as a group. He was able to show people their common cause even when strong differences or hostility existed.
One time I called Laoshi from Chengdu to say I would visit Hong Kong soon and to ask if I might be able to stay with him for a couple of days. At first, he said that might be difficult, because there were some people coming to discuss some sensitive issues at that time. Then he quickly changed and said, “Come. We will work it out.” When I arrived a few days later, I learned that two small delegations of very senior people from China and Taiwan were coming that evening. Laoshi was instrumental in helping the governments in Beijing and Taipei to find common ground and begin their earliest talks, and his was one of them. He told me his guests did not know that I would be there; that I could stay for dinner, but then I would need to slip away to let them talk. They certainly seemed surprised to see an American diplomat there, seated just to Laoshi’s left. But it worked. The dinner conversation was cordial and relaxed – to my eyes even friendly. Perhaps the presence of an outsider made it easier to find common cause. After dinner, I excused myself and retired to my room, and the meeting proceeded successfully. In later years, when Laoshi told the story he would generously emphasize how diplomatic and discreet I had been in slipping away. My memory was that I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, and I fell asleep immediately after I retired.
Laoshi’s education, experience and cultivation helped him to understand, empathize with and help people in the present, but it also gave him the ability to look beyond the present. When my parents visited Chengdu, we took them to Hong Kong, and spent an evening with Laoshi. My parents were both relatively young and healthy; but afterwards Laoshi told me quietly and simply, “They are old, and you must prepare.” I replied, “Yes, I understand” - but I had no idea. Just a few years later my father developed Alzheimers, and then my mother developed cancer and was gone in less than a year. My father could not live by himself, so we brought him to live with us until he asked to move into a retirement home nearby. That in turn was a major factor in changing my career: ending our family’s overseas service, and forcing me to redefine my professional and personal life. I cannot say I was not warned.
Laoshi had professional warnings for me as well. In the fall of 1991, I was watching news coverage of the First Gulf War with him in his living room in Hong Kong. He turned to me and said, “When this is over, America should withdraw from its involvement with the rest of the world. It should seriously take stock of what it needs, of what it is, and of what it wants to be. Only then should it re-engage with the rest of the world.” My response was, “We cannot do that. We have a responsibility to remain engaged with the rest of the world. Too many depend on our involvement.” He just said, “Hmm” and nodded his head. Twenty-five years later, as the American presidential election campaign unfolded, it became tragically clear how right Laoshi had been back in 1991. The United States had lost any semblance of social or political consensus. Today, we can only hope that there is still time to follow his advice.
我现在才清楚地看到，老师有渊博的知识、理解力和智慧，能知道对美国和中国这样的大国来讲，什么是最好的政策策略。当我问他问题时，他总是非常慷慨地与我分享他的知识，但除非我请教他，他很少对我说教或鼓励我执行某项特定的政策。他会问我对不同问题的看法，但他从不多打听，他也从不会置我于任何与我工作职责相冲突或妥协的立场。用英语词汇来形容他的话，他既是一个“renaissance man”(多才多艺的人)，他已熟悉了人类知识体系的所有分支；他又是一个“perfect gentleman” (完美绅士)，不仅把握了自己的行为，并对他人具有完美的礼仪和慷慨之心的人。
It is clear to me now that Laoshi had the knowledge, the understanding and the wisdom to know what the best policies were for major players like the United States and China. He was very generous in sharing his knowledge with me when I asked, but he rarely lectured me or encouraged me to pursue a particular policy unless I asked. He would ask my opinion on different issues, but he would never pry, and he would never put me in any kind of compromising position with regard to my government responsibilities. In English terms he was both a “renaissance man”, someone who has mastered all branches of human knowledge, and a “perfect gentleman,” someone who has mastered himself and behaves towards others with perfect decorum and generosity.
He often cited the quote, “If there is one thing they don’t know, Confucians are ashamed.” While he was always very humble about his own accomplishments, it seemed to me that there was no limit to his knowledge. In addition to Chinese history, culture and philosophy, he also had mastered Chinese martial arts and medicine. On several occasions, I watched him advise both students and teachers of Taijiquan (太極拳). Once, when I was having difficulty understanding the concept of “qi,” he offered me a demonstration of the difference between using muscles and using “qi.” When he held his arm straight out using his muscles it was firm, but I was able move it. When he did the same using “qi,” I could not budge it - and could have hung from it except for the difference in our respective heights!
Another time in Hong Kong, I experienced an unusual sharp pain between my shoulder blades and difficulty breathing. Fearing a heart attack, I told Laoshi. He told me not to worry, the cause was a change in the weather, and he gave me some Chinese medicine that restored me to normal as quickly as the problem had started. After that, I often sought his medical advice, even long distance by telephone. Sometimes, I thought I could see how he made his medical diagnoses, but other times I had no idea. Once, Ginger asked him why I so often seemed to dwell on the negative side of things and to have so little patience. He replied it was physical – because I had one less lumbar vertebra than normal. He had done no physical examination of me. No doctor had ever mentioned this to me, and I had seen many chiropractors for lower back pain. When I next saw my back doctor, he checked and expressed astonishment that Laoshi was in fact correct.
Sometimes, what Laoshi was able to do seemed to go beyond the boundaries of science. Once, I watched him test a young woman who was adept at diagnosing physical afflictions using energy techniques. She examined Laoshi, told him her findings and he said they were correct. Then he said he had another test for her, and asked her to examine him again. After a few minutes, he asked if she noticed anything. She hesitated, and then replied with some surprise that it seemed he had reversed the flow of his blood. He smiled and simply said, “很好”.
These kind of experiences sometimes generated talk of “magic” or “superpowers;” but Laoshi firmly insisted that such things were no more magic than atomic energy or lasers. They, and all of his teachings about personal cultivation were strictly scientific. He taught that ancient Chinese and Indian civilizations had developed knowledge and understanding that modern science was only just beginning to touch on. One of his objectives in establishing the Taihu Center for Great Learning in Miaogang was to encourage the rediscovery of that knowledge and its application to the challenges facing China and the world today.
It was exciting for me to watch Laoshi make the gradual transition back to mainland China after so many years away from his homeland. I was enormously impressed by his patience, his vision and his generosity in doing so, though I did selfishly worry that it might be more difficult for me to see him. In the beginning that was not a problem. His apartments in Shanghai were smaller than Hong Kong or the U.S.; the atmosphere was intimate and Laoshi was easily accessible. When he moved to Miaogang it became more difficult.
We continued to travel once a year from the United States to see him, usually for a week at a time. However, building the Taihu Center for Great Learning was an enormous and time-consuming project; and more and more people from all over China were seeking access to Laoshi. After a few years, we saw him almost exclusively at dinner, and moments alone with him became very rare. Ironically, after my retirement, I imposed my own degree of separation from him by remaining in the U.S. when he invited me to move to Miaogang to continue my cultivation there. I was unable to make the break with my existing concerns to join him.
Additionally, of course, Laoshi was getting older. I violated one of his most fundamental teachings by insisting on seeing him as someone who was bigger than life and to whom the normal laws of nature did not apply. I could see his body getting older, but his mind was still clear and he still always knew more about what was going on, around him and beyond, than anyone else. He even described to us the process of aging, where he was in it, and how difficult and painful it was. He told us repeatedly that he would not be around forever – and, in fact, not much longer. However, I actually convinced myself emotionally that this was just part of his practice and part of his teaching, and that we would always have him with us. In the final months before his death, I simply dismissed all the warnings that time was getting short.
It is difficult in a short space like this to sufficiently describe how important Laoshi was to my life. He changed my perspective not only on China, but on the meaning and purpose of life in general. He convinced me that human history is relevant and we can always learn from it. The wisdom of the past has not been superseded or made irrelevant by the discoveries of the present. In fact, there is little that is being discovered today that has not been previously known; and what has been taught in the past can help us to understand better what is being discovered by “science” today. He showed me there is a depth to Chinese history, culture and attainment that I previously did not even imagine; and there is a purpose to human culture, social organization and political leadership that is more important than freedom for individuals to pursue their own desires.
He taught – and demonstrated through his example – that the most important human qualities are compassion, discipline, determination and wisdom. He taught all of us according to our abilities and without regard to where we came from. I missed a great deal during those years, and I failed to heed many of the lessons he gave. Nevertheless, I benefitted immeasurably from my association with Laoshi; and I think others around me benefitted from how he changed me. I will be forever grateful for that time with him and with the people around him.
I confess that I still miss him very much.