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CAO YONG ON SHINE ON HOLLYWOOD MAGAZINE


SHINE ON HOLLYWOOD MAGAZINE
NOV. - DEC 2014 ISSUE


SHINE ON HOLLYWOOD MAGAZINE
MAY 2013 ISSUE



Beverly Hills Galleries


Story with English subtitled

2010 Galleries Shows


Parkhurst Galleries


Wentworth Galleries






Sketches Series

"Surmounting the Chola Mountain Of Life"
Page 4 of 4


Click on the controller next button above to view all the original sketches

I was sleepless in the hotel of Mani Gange. It was bright at seven AM and so I brought the popped tired with me to find new tires. By the time I reached an intersection I saw a small van stopped in the middle of the road. Inside there was a man. When I got closer I saw that it was a police car. I approached the car and greeted the man. He then roll down the window and observed me from top to bottom. He than asked, "Is your number A9653?" That's my license plate number. I was startled. I thought, was I followed by police? My mind was stalled. They even remembered my license plate number! Surprisingly his next word released all my stress.


He said, "we were looking for you till this morning. We had searched the entire mountain and couldn't find you. How did you get here?" I replied, "thank you, I'm sorry for troubling you." I asked him if he could help me to get a ride to Ganzi to buy tires. He then found me a private car. When we arrived at Ganzi, I finally found my tires in a shop. I bought two of them, a snow chain, and the old style Chinese made car jack. It was very clear to me at this moment that even with snow chains I was still not confident that I could cross Chola Mountain. The best way was to hire a local driver. I found an old camera at a shop. What's even worse than the camera was its film that had an expiration date of 2003. The film was displayed facing the sunlight, and I had no idea how many years it had been baked. But it was better than nothing.

I got back to Mani Gange again and the police was standing at the hotel entrance. I asked him to help me find a local driver. He then found three drivers, and one of them seemed like the boss of the other two. I asked the price and he told me 500 Yuan. I haggled down to 350 Yuan at the end, that was still considers a huge sum here. However, this person seemed to be too fuzzy for me and I couldn't leave my life in his hand, so I asked the young guy next to him name Sangzhu to drive. When we got to the place to change tire, the boss came over and said to me, "we could only drive you to the top of the mountain, you drive it down by yourself, or you need to pay me 500 Yuan." I replied, "Go see the devil! Now that I have snow chain, if you want the job you drive all the way or just get out of my way!" He then gave up and let Sangzhu drive again. Sangzhu drove without the snow chain. We drove past where we left off yesterday and the road got even more slippery and treacherous. But Sangzhu is a local driver and he moved forward with full force. I looked to the side and noticed that any tiny mistake could send me off of the cliff.

For this I insisted on Sangzhu to install the snow chain, "My life is life, and yours is too!" I told him. We all got off and installed the snow chain. When we got to the top of the mountain I looked at the road, that was totally covered with snow and iceÐ it was so dangerous. Seeing this I felt so thankful to God that if it wasn't because of my broken tires I would have kept on moving forward the day before, and certainly I couldn't get past this side of the mountain.

What was supposed to be a disaster yesterday had turned out to be my biggest luck.


I had saved my life. Even with the snow chains the car was still not stable. On the way Sangzhu told me that last year two locals drove their new car with many herbal medicine fell off the cliff ; not far ahead another minivan had crushed and seven people flew off of the van; further down the road another huge car went down; and even a new police car too fell off the cliff. I was certain that these people all had better driving skill than mine, and listening to all of these stories, I felt even more blessed.


Finally we got to the bottom of the mountain and arrived at Dege. We drove straight to Dege Scripture Printing House. The Printing House was built in 1729 by the the twelfth generation chief Buddha Wangqueji Dengbazeren. It has 270 years of history and is the biggest scripture printing house in Tibet as well as in the world.






Director Chen was waiting for us at the front door and he warmly received me. He also toured me around from the first to the highest level of the building and showed me all different kinds of wood printing boards. He is a very friendly and talkative guy and told me many legendary people and introduced all sorts of historical stories about different religions and monasteries.At the beginning I was patiently listening, waiting for the proper moment to ask for the papers. However, he seemed to talk with such enthusiasm and would never stop. I couldn't follow his lengthy stories and was eager to get the paper. As we enter a door Chen pointed at the door frame saying that it was made by paper, then he started to talk about how the papers were made and how they were cut and etc. I lost my patience and couldn't wait to see the real paper. Inside the room there were paper molds and corners of cut paper. I picked some up hoping that they were big pieces of papers, so I could paint on them freely. I asked Chen when I could get the paper, Chen replied," The papers are locked in the storage room, the storage keeper is not around, and without the key we cannot open the door." My head was about to explode upon hearing this. Chen took away the small piece I held in my hand and threw them away, "these are useless." He said. I was very upset, the entire way I was driving here I stayed connected with him by phone, he acted as if he didn't know I was here to pick the paper! Was he pretend to be an idiot or he was trying to poke fun of me? !@#$%^&! Had he brought the habit of corrupt officials into the holy monastery? I thought perhaps he wanted to do some under the table business with me? I asked him to have lunch with me, thinking we could take care of our business without other people being around. His replied directly, "No need, Mr. Cao, I had lunch already." That really baffled me, what did he want? Whey didn't he tell me the storage keeper was not around? I went through so much trouble, risking driving over the cliff, my tires broke and I almost lost my life in the mountain, I finally got to this place, you think I could leave without the papers?

I thought perhaps the keeper went back home for the New Year, at most he was from Ganzi. So I decided that I'd drive back to Ganzi and pick him up and come back again. But Chen said, "he is in Chengdu." (the capital of Sichuan, hundreds of miles away). I was totally lost, that was the end of it, no hope. Director Chen tried to comfort me, "You come back next March, by then he should be here." !@#$%^&! How could wait till next March? My entire body felt cold, and I was extremely frustrated and disappointed­ my head was completely empty. I didn't want to stay there and decided to leave.

Depressed, I walked around the town looking for a place to sleep. I found a place supposed to be the biggest hotel in town, and I raised my head, it was called "Chola Mountain". I was mad thinking this must be the best place for nightmare. Entering the hotel, I didn't want to give up so easily, so I made a phone call to Living Buddha Ji Mei again. I complained to him that he said the snow was not a big deal but it almost claimed my life. When he heard that the storage keeper was not around so I couldn't get any paper, he asked me to "wait and be patient." A while later he called me back, telling me that the keeper did go to Chengdu for vacation. I had wronged director Chen thinking he was lying to me. The Living Buddha asked me to look for another director of the printing house named Danma and see if he could find me some paper, that gave me some hope so rushed back to the printing house immediately.


As I approached the house, I saw someone from the second floor sticking out his big head out of a window and waved to me. It must be Danma. As soon as I met him, I had no patience to be polite anymore, simply asked, "Do you have the paper?" His Chinese was not fluent, but he seemed to be a nice and honest guy. He replied slowly, "Paper, have, have not." I was totally confused, what did it mean? Did he have it or not? Danma moved a chair, and stepped on it and fetched me a piece of wrinkled paper as small as an envelop. It was the type of paper I had been looking for, so I was very happy! "Do you have more?" I asked. "Yes, have, have not." His answer threw me off again, did he just have this one piece? I had wished to carry a entire trunk of paper back! I stood there not knowing what to think.




Danma ran out and a while later he pulled in a big bag, filled with something. I'd seen local people using this type of bags to carry bodies of deceased people, why did he bring this bag here? What was in the bag? Damma opened the bag and pulled out a thick bundle of paper. "Can you sell these to me?" I asked. "These paper were bought by an monastery, they have paid already," He replied. I asked, "Can I buy some?" Danma thought for a moment, and said, "Yes, you want all?" "Of course, do you have more?" Later I counted the pile of paper, there were 197 sheets, with 99 large sheets. I held the papers feeling so happy. This was such a pleasant surprise after so many disappointment and despair. Emotional and delighted, I called Living Buddha Ji Mei again thanking him. He asked me when I'd leave, I told him the next day. He said, "I'd pray for you, wish you a safe trip back."


I stayed in Dege for only one night. There are not much paper, but enough for me to paint for a while. I was eager to go back to my studio. At the summit of the Chola mountain, heavy snow was lifted by wind and flew around the sun, some shot into my eyes like a rainbow. I felt something divine was connecting my heart to the rainbow and that would be recorded on the paper with hundreds of years of history, carrying the energy of earth and heaven, floating around the world like snow flakes, touching the bigger existence. Every piece of the paper was different, everyone was unique, each carries a life and soul. I couldn't wait to go home and pour my perceptions on to these papers.


On my way home I received a phone call from my sister from California. She told me that because of the economic down turn, in the U.S. many companies have closed, banks claimed bankruptcy, many people lost their jobs, and some committed suicide and a few not only killed themselves, but also took their children and wives with themÐ As I heard the sad news, I started to feel sorry for these people who took their lives. If they could stay in the Chola mountain for one night, perhaps they could understand how lovely life really is.

...Cao Yong


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