One afternoon during our full time Taijiquan studies, in the Hunyuantaiji Academy studio in Edmonton, Master Chen Zhonghua spoke of the mysterious, spiritual borderlands between yin and yang called ling.
This gray area created by the overlap of the two extremes is exemplified within the art of a true Master. The Master is not stronger, faster, younger, lower, etc., but at the same time he or she is all of these and something else. The pursuit of Taijiquan, is nothing less than the pursuit of ling, he declared.
A few days later, as I was conversing with Master Chen, I casually glanced at the ubiquitous Pepsi can that accompanied him throughout much of the day. He would sometimes do the form or push hands with us holding a can and make it all look so easy. He kept a case of it in his office. As I paid attention to this matter, I realized that he was almost never seen around the studio without one!
Suddenly, I made the connection: The white S-shaped band between the red and blue hemispheres of the Pepsi logo was the symbolization of ling! I asked him if Pepsi was the secret alchemical ingredient that contributed to his skill and power. He laughed heartily and facetiously affirmed that I had solved the mystery.
A few days after my epiphany, while he was making certificates to be awarded to the participants of the 2003 Hunyuan World Seminars, he said that he would make me a certificate giving me the title of “small god of the third universe.” As of yet, I have not formally been honored with this credential. However, I have been blessed with the opportunity to learn from and push hands with one who sometimes inhabits the enigmatic realm of ling.
Note: As it turned out, most of the time he was drinking water from a Pepsi can. As he put it, the can could hold water much better than a cup or glass. It did not spill and it was just the right size for his small hand to hold. It helped him keep balance when pushing hands with large students.
Originally published Nov 2007