I lived in Sanqing Temple in Yunnan, China, in the winter of 2010, with my three friends. I ate sunshine for breakfast and drank moonlight for nighttime tea. I became water, moisten the nooks and crannies of my secret emotion, washing away the stains of my fear and anxiety, adapting the twists and turns of new conditions, and dripping on the hardest rock until wearing it away. I became fire, burning away the bushes of confusion that keep me out of my destination, warming up a cold heart of a hopeless neighbor, kindling the mountain field to see which way to go, and cooking the raw egg of life until it forms the enlightened yoke. I became air, generating a brisk silent breeze, knocking on soundless pine leaves, and resonate with delightful tune. I became earth, bearing solid soil like my still will that washed by rain, stroke by wind and burnt by fire but persist to carry on. I transformed in that winter, and I want to pursue the mysteries and elements that transformed me.
My name is Meng Ren; I’m an international magazine journalism student from China. My name means “Dream Responsibly” in Chinese. Four years of intense journalism training in the best journalism school in the country, I developed worthy interview and communication skills, the ability to work with words and to meet deadline, a neutral, objective, way of thinking and the patience of revising my article again and again until it has publishable quality. By frequently conducting interviews in a strange country with second language, I developed a great ability of stepping out of comfort zones and cope with challenges, which would benefit field researches in the future. In my undergraduate years, three authors shape my perspectives and build the foundation of my interest area: Michael Foucault, who introduces the concept of “heterotopia” in my English class titled “Utopia and Dystopia.” I was fascinated by this concept and I started to notice heterotopias around me. In that semester, I met yogis, Hare Krishnas, Buddhist monks, religious scholars and many spiritual people in a store in Columbia that I described as the “Heterotopic Meditation Station.” I discovered this area of interest since then and started paying attention to classes that are related to spirituality: Geography of World Religion, Rituals and Symbols and Special Themes in Folklore. On the way of taking religious studies classes, I encountered Victor Turner, who shown me a new way of thinking and reasoning; then in the folklore class, I read Maya Deren and was charmed by her aesthetic writings and Avant-guard films. I yearn for the fuse of beautiful writing and intelligent reasoning.