White Palace Grill   
Chicago, IL   


title of this tale

A TRUE story told by J-10
Pictures by Deborah Stratman

I had stopped at my favorite vegetarian restaurant to eat and say hello to the owner.
It was about 10 at night, I was on my way to a party.
2 Chinese people were waiting there and asked me to join them.
They were Taoists asked me to attend a ceremony with them.
The owner of the restaurant and her cook were also going.
"Would I like to receive the TAO," they said.
I thought they meant learning more about Taoism.
I said ok so we drove out to the suburbs, the ceremony was all in Chinese so I didn't exactly know what was going on.
Lot's of incense. An alter.

I know we learned the three secret treasures of Taoism.
Ritualistic things to do so that we could "go to heaven"
It became more and more a Christian thing.
Lots of quotes from the old and new testament.
On one hand it was interesting to see what these people were up to,
On the other hand it became increasingly strange.

After the ceremony I knew I didn't really agree with them.
I had read their booklet "The mission of Tao" and it was way too Christian.
Christianity veiled as the Tao.

They invited me to a "Buddha class" on the next Sunday morning.
I had said I didn't want to do this because I was shooting video till 5am
And they wanted to pick me up at 6:30.
They kept pretending like they didn't understand my English.
They were so insistent and I had so many questions about the conflicts of what I believe the Tao to be saying and what they were saying and all the references to good Christian things and they would never give me a straight answer so I decided to go once more.
They kept saying if you come to this all your questions will be answered.

By going to this I would learn the truth.
So they picked me up.
The time I had gone before I had just worn what I had on.
But for this Sunday thing
they told me I had to wear a dark navy blue or black suit, white shirt, dress shoes.
Very church like.
They offered to provide me with a white shirt if I didn't have one.

When we got there everyone took off their shoes.
Food was passed around.
Then I find out there is another initiation ceremony like the one I was asked to participate in.
And I have to wait for 2 hours for the event that I came for which I was still not sure what it was.
"Oh it's a Buddha class."
That's all they would tell me.
We were in a house with a temple/coach-house in the backyard.

I asked to go to the ceremony again because it had been in Chinese and supposedly this one was to be in English
There was much discussion about this but finally they said ok.
Another guy came in with me.
I stood through it again for 2 hours.
And it was all in Chinese.
Couldn't leave because it was a ceremony that could have no interruptions.
All along they say its not a religion its not a religion
But it had so many religious overtones and rules.
This is when I started to think this is some kind of cult.

Finally its time for the Buddha class.

This woman came out
She was the wife of the owner of the house.
She had a real fascistic control essence about her.

She told the12 rules of the temple.
You must pay attention at all times.
You must not talk.
Lunch will be served after the three geniuses come in.
You will eat everything that you are given.
Otherwise it will be disrespectful to the Buddha.

The rules were weird enough but the part about about the 3 geniuses really intrigued me.

Before the 3 genius ceremony began we were told that at some point there might be personal messages delivered from the Buddha.
If you heard your name called you should go up and kneel on one of the precisely placed brown naugahyde kneeling pads.
Too much incense. Thick smoke.
Lots of bowing.
Eventually they brought in these 3 Filipino women.

The 3 geniuses.

genius one
They came in and stood around an elevated sandbox.
They said that noone could make this up because it was all transmitted through the 1st genius in ancient Chinese in rhyming verse. Most Chinese people don't know this way of speaking/writing ancient Chinese,
So it MUST be true!
The 1st genius had a steering wheel thing with a stick attached.
She was the direct contact with the Buddha.
As the Buddha transmitted to her she would write in the sandbox.
The 2nd genius would read what she had written aloud and then erase it with her hand.
The 3rd genius transcribed everything in a book.

genius two
This was again all in Chinese so half the people there had no idea what was going on.
And then of course I heard my name called and had to go kneel on one of the pillows.
The Buddha had important messages for me.
It was a very strange role playing game.
Everyone's eyes were watering from the incense, I would have to go and get my suit cleaned to remove the smell.
When her trance finally ended the 1st genius fainted and had to be helped from the room.
We didn't ever get a chance to talk to any of them, supposedly they had to rush off right away to the airport because "they do this all over the world..."
The head minister who began the ceremony disappeared also.

genius three
Then lunch was served, the food was extremely bland and they put huge amounts on our plate.
I was hoping to feel some sort of mind control sensations or something.
(remember we had to eat everything).
We were given the "loose interpretation" of what the Buddha had said.
Supposedly it would take weeks to fully transcribe.
It was the same exact spiel as their Mission of Tao book.
I had hoped that at least they would be a little more original than that.
They told me my personal message from the Buddha said "Do not be angry, and bring many people into the Tao."
They keep calling me but I just haven't made it back.
They insist that I just don't understand because of the language barrier.