- Yin-A Love Story:Daoist Fiction by a Taiji Master
I was initiated as a Daoist monk, with the religious name of Yunrou 雲柔 (Cloud Softness) in 2012 at the Chunyang guan 纯阳观 (Temple of Pure Yang) in Guangzhou, followed in 2014 by a government certificate that licensing me to perform ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.
This event was a highlight in a long and varied love affair with Eastern thought, which I first encountered at age 12. At the time I was Arthur Rosenfeld, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, living in New York. Seeing high-ranking politicians and celebrities visiting my father, a cardiologist of some renown, I found that fame and fortune, the markers of happiness in modern society, guaranteed nothing of the kind. My mother was an avid student of philosophy and some of the Daoist and Buddhist titles in her library piqued my interest. Fascinated, I read all of them, and shortly thereafter discovered the kung fu movies and television shows of Bruce Lee and David Carradine. Unlike most viewers, I was more entranced by the deep wisdom, subtle awareness, and personal equilibrium of the Shaolin monks depicted on the show than I was by the martial arts action sequences.
As an undergraduate at Yale, I studied Russian literature, began writing, and was soon published in national magazines. Turning to natural history at UC Santa Barbara, I also started the practice of martial arts, focusing on Tang Soo Do, Chinese Kempo, and Yang-style taiji quan. Continuing graduate studies at Cornell in veterinary medicine, I practiced further styles of kung fu, such as White Crane, Choi Lai Fu, and [End Page 165] Wing Chun. After graduating, I moved back to California, then, in the mid-1990s, to Florida, where I met my truest teacher, Yan Gaofei, a grand master of original Chen-style taiji, with whom I have trained ever since.
While continuing to practice and teach spiritual martial arts, I have also hosted the national public television show Longevity Tai Chi with Arthur Rosenfeld, produced a documentary series on the scientific evidence for acupuncture, taiji, and meditation, and made a number of teaching videos. The American Heart Association profiled me as an inspirational resource in 2016, and I assisted the US Veteran's Administration in establishing standards for a national tai chi program. I was keynote speaker at the 2014 International Tai Chi Symposium in Louisville, Kentucky and was named Tai Chi Master of the Year at the 2011 World Congress on Qigong & Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Over the years, I have penned articles for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Parade, Newsweek, Ebony, The Wall Street Journal, WebMD, Fox Business News, and other venues, as well as in blogs at www.monkyunrou.com and on The Huffington Post. My mystery novels, such as Diamond Eye, have been published to critical acclaim, some even achieving bestseller status, garnering Hollywood options, and earning me various prizes. However, I found that writing gruesome details about crime and torture did not enhance my spiritual development and turned instead toward writing about Eastern philosophy, religion, and practice.
In that vein, I wrote both The Truth About Chronic Pain (2003) and Tai Chi—The Perfect Exercise (2013), but focused primarily on fiction, emphasizing beauty, spiritual serenity, high moral values, and the importance of compassion. Blending literature, biology, and medicine with an orthodox Daoist education, I aim to propagate Daoist ideas with a focus on environmental conservation, and political and social justice. My most recently published novel, presented here, features a famous Daoist character and is set in ancient China. Translated and published in China, it is also being developed for film there.
My books are extremely unusual. As my literary agent puts it, "The good news is, it is fresh, original work, like nothing anybody else writes, a clean slate of a market. The bad news is, it is fresh, original work, like nothing anybody else writes, a clean slate of a market." [End Page 166]
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Wedding my life-long passion for both Daoism and turtles, this novel arose in me as a way of sharing Daoist ideas inside an adult fairy tale accessible...