With the development of our socialist system, the social system for the natural extinction of religion was established.
— Ganze Prefecture Policy on Religious Freedom
Chapter 5, Section 1: “Freedom of Religious Beliefs is a Long-Term Policy That Will Prevail Until the Natural Extinction of Religion.”
The Spring Festival began at sunrise with the roar of a giant kangling carried by two monks and blown by a barrel-chested third who stood on the highest wall of the Shining Hill monastery’s central temple. Golden light, like the voice of the horn made visible, lanced into the gray shadows that covered the broad valley as the sun peered through a notch between distant peaks capped with violet snow. Frost evaporated from the tufted brownish grasses, mingling with low, icy vapors that made the sky appear to shimmer like a silken tapestry. In the hall below, the crashing of cymbals rose to overpower the kangling’s dying wail, and then came the low, deep-throated chanting of the monks. The rocky hill behind the monastery began to glow with a warm, honeyed light.