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VOLUME 1 • ISSUE 1

January 2011

Mastery Journal

The International Ezine on Mastery in Qigong, Internal Arts, and Life

What is Mastery? By Lama Tantrapa Giving 110% May Be Trying Too Hard By John Munro An Eye Opening Synchronicity By Paul Levy Feel with the Mind By Jon Weston Beware of Phony Gurus By Phillip Scott Exercises Most Ancient By Mark Brophy The Unity of Opposites in Life By Gary Giamboi


Bringing an Emphasis to Mastery

January 2011

Volume 1 Issue 1 * Introduction to Mastery Journal * This Month’s Articles and Mastery Seekers • What is Mastery? Page 3 By Lama Tantrapa • Giving 110% May Be Trying Too Hard Page 6 By John Munro • An Eye Opening Synchronicity Page 9 By Paul Levy • Feel with the Mind Page 13 By Jon Weston • Exercises Most Ancient Page 15 By Mark Brophy • Beware of Phony Gurus Page 18 By Phillip Scott • The Unity of Opposites in Life Page 20 By Gary Giamboi * Brought to you by:

* The Many Streams on Mastery

* Academy of Qi Dao Website

* The Secrets of Qigong Masters Online Audio Broadcast * Qigong Network Social Networking Interface

* Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, LinkedIn

* The Flow Show On the cover: “Steps to Mastery”, Thomas Pamelia, 2011 Publisher: Lama Tantrapa Production Designer: Thomas Pamelia Editor: Kali Tara Information is correct at press time. Mastery Journal is published monthly by the Academy of Qi Dao in Portland, Oregon. Signed articles do not necessarily reflect the official company policy © 2011. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without permission is prohibited.

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or about ten years, we have been publishing Qi Dao newsletter, which has over 5,000 readers now. As our little publication grew through the years, we have received numerous requests to make it available online as an ezine – an online magazine. Some readers were interested in being able to access the archived issues, others would like to see more substantive articles or even multimedia. The most persistent type of requests has always been to make our newsletter more regular, since it used to be emailed sometimes bi-monthly, sometimes quarterly, but never very consistently.

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y resolution to create an ezine got boosted by the massive amount of audio and video materials that I have accumulated by interviewing dozens of experts in Qigong and related disciplines for my Radio talk show The Secrets of Qigong Masters over the last two years. Many guests of the show are well-known authors, who graciously volunteered to contribute articles or write regular columns for this publication. Naturally, I am delighted to make the most recent episodes of my show available to the readers of this ezine, too. As we continue developing the Mastery Journal, it will also include short video clips from our forthcoming Internet TV program The Flow Show.

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lthough most of our articles will allow comments, we also created an online community portal QigongNetwork providing opportunities for posting your own blog entries, discussion board posts, photos and even videos. Please become a member of QigongNetwork and feel free to share about your experiences with the Energy Arts or any related disciplines. Additionally, you are welcome to join the sister Qigong Networks on FaceBook and Linkedin. Join the social networking revolution catching up with the ancient arts of energy mastery!


What Is Mastery?

tently defeated when challenged, you have ways to go.

It takes years or perseverance and diligent training to reach such a level of mastery, which is beyond the comfort zone of the vast majority of aspiring martial artists. Most enthusiasts also tend to dabble attempting to learn one style after another, qualifying only to be called proverbial Jack of all trades,

Lama Tantrapa

Serving as the producer and host of the talk show

The Secrets of Qigong Masters, I have interviewed many wonderful guests, many of whom are regarded as Qigong masters (hence the name of the show). One would think that everyone appearing on my show must be a bona-fide master of Qigong, Tai Chi, or some other related discipline; however, this may not always be the case. It really depends on the definition of Qigong Master and whom you are talking to about it. I noticed that some of the guests, despite being internationally recognized as Qigong masters, do not feel comfortable wearing this label and prefer to be called teacher or coach. Others opt for the Chinese term Sifu, which is an honorific way to address a teacher, which is somewhat similar to Sensei in Japanese. A few of them, however, got so used to the title that they actually prefer to be addressed Master such-and-such. So, given all these discrepancies, who should we call a Qigong master? To start with, let’s establish that Master in this context means a person with a high level of skill and knowledge. To quote one of my guests named Jeff Smoley, a Master is a person able to do something very difficult, that even well trained people strain to do, and make it look too easy; someone capable of teaching even the most complex and difficult aspects of one’s art in a clear and concise manner. The reference to one’s art form is not incidental here, since we are trying to clarify the meaning of mastery in Qigong, which can be translated into English as Energy Art. Observing some masters in related disciplines may help us on our quest.

master of none. Throughout my career as a professional martial artist, I also saw many of those, who claimed that they could defeat anyone, but in order to prove the point performed demonstrations of katas or choreographed forms. In my humble opinion, doing forms may be a fine exercise, but it can never make anyone a real master. But what can then?

There are several disciplines and art forms historically related to Qigong, including, but not limited to Taiji, Bagua, Xing Yi, and other Internal Martial Arts. Perhaps, examining the ways people achieve a similar status of a master in those disciplines may help us determine who should be called a Qigong master. Unlike most fields of studies, Martial Arts provide an excellent method for testing and distinguishing those with high levels of mastery from all other practitioners. If you prevail over all or most of your opponents, you qualify to be called a master in whatever style you specialize in. If you get consis-

In addition to perseverance, another crucial element of mastery seems to be proper training, preferably, by a real master. As it were, having a role model of a master is essential for developing a student’s mastery. Of course, mindlessly following the steps of even the best master would not lead you to any kind of authentic mastery. The way I explain this is very simple: you become a master by learning to be in the flow; and you can neither be in your flow nor in your master’s flow, as long as you merely copy his steps, moves or mannerisms. Therefore, when a true master is in the flow, he also serves as a role


model of authenticity at the same time. I noticed that beginning students often view mastery as a destination, while I view it as a continuous process of becoming more and more masterful. This journey has no final destination, because there is always more to learn; however, as we progress along the path, we gain more experience. As it were, the more experiences we have, the more experienced we become. Generally speaking, being experienced, which may mean being more knowledgeable or skilled in our arts, is what sets masters apart from the laymen, even though this division is never clearly defined, always dependent on each person’s point of view. What appears to be an advanced skill to one practitioner may seem rather basic to another. So, how can you tell apart those, who achieved a reasonable degree of mastery, from all others involved in the same field of study? In my humble opinion, the combination of creativity, audacity to think outside the box, ability to integrate different elements and areas of knowledge, as well as teaching capability, sets apart an authentic master. Unlike most musicians or fine artists, for instance, most masters of Energy Arts are likely to apply their skills to their daily lives, so the fine line between the art and lifestyle disappears completely. In final analysis, the more you embody and live your art, the greater is your level of Qigong mastery. Mastery eventually leads to transcending the desire to compare oneself to others, which may be deemed helpful or necessary on the initial stages of this journey. Without any competition, it would be virtually difficult to distinguish progress or find motivation to persevere along the path. Without any appealing goal, it would be difficult to maintain the course. Yet, with practice, competition and goals fade away, and the enjoyment of the process of self-realization becomes the predominant driving force of the true masters. This also distinguishes authentic masters from those who seek recognition from others, without which they would not believe in their own mastery. This authenticity leads to self-realization that, by definition, can only be experienced internally. Of course, this also leads to realizing that there is no such thing as self; but that would have to be the topic for another article.


Master of the Month

Lama Somananda Tantrapa is the 27th lineage holder of Qi Dao, also known as Tibetan Shamanic Qigong. He has been practicing Qigong, Dream Yoga, Meditation, and Internal Martial Arts for over thirty five years, primarily trained by his Grandfather who was the paragon of the Russian Martial Arts and Qi Dao Grand Master. His background is complex enough to include serving in the Soviet Army’s Special Forces, being kidnapped in the Ukraine and surviving several near-death experiences. Lama Tantrapa was ordained as a Buddhist monk in three different orders and initiated into Subud spiritual brotherhood. In addition to being a Tibetan Bon Lama, he studied with a number of Qigong and kung-fu masters, great teachers of Yoga and meditation, as well as Native American, Hawaiian and Siberian Shamans. He is also trained in Cultural Anthropology, Meta-coaching, Hypnosis and NLP. When living for two years on a small tropical island in the Pacific, 7000 miles away from the majority of his students and clients, he pioneered a novel method of conducting Qi Dao sessions over the Internet called Qigong Coaching. In the last decade, he has provided wellness, peak performance and life coaching to thousands of people of all ages and from various walks of life. He is also a bestselling author of several Qi Dao books, executive producer of the film Qi Dao – Tibetan Shamanic Qigong, creator of CD albums Qi Dao Initiation and The Art of Being in the Flow, publisher of the Basic Qi Dao Home Study Course and other multimedia learning materials available at www.qidao.org. In addition to being the publisher of Mastery Journal, Lama Tantrapa is also the host of the Internet Radio talk show The Secrets of Qigong Masters that you can enjoy at www.blogtalkradio.com/qigongmasters.


Giving 110% May Be Trying Too Hard

John Munro

How often do you hear the phrase, “Give it 100%” or “110%?” Our culture places a lot of emphasis on effort. We often go about our lives trying very hard to achieve all manner of goals and objectives. We put great expectations on ourselves to succeed and achieve and yet for many of us all this effort adds up to very little actual progress. Is it possible that all this effort is actually holding us back?

Let’s look a little closer at the statement “give 100%.” Giving 100% is a good thing isn’t it? It means we have

given our all to something, held nothing back, achieved the best possible results or does it?

When an executive gives Ô100% to his job, working long hours, not taking breaks, what happens? They may succeed in their career in the short term, but their personal and family relationships will deteriorate. If they keep this up they will have a much shorter career than they otherwise might have as their health will also suffer. Have they really succeeded?

When an athlete gives 100% at all their training sessions, what happens? They may initially make some impressive gains in performance and then often they will have injuries or suffer recurring illness due to overtraining. They find that their progress is hampered and rather than succeeding at their sport they may eventually be forced to give it up.

Physically whenever we exert ourselves to 100% of our capacity we actually put ourselves in real danger. At 100% of our capacity it only takes the slightest unexpected occurrence to throw things completely out of kilter. A rubber band stretched to 100% of its possible length will snap with the slightest bump. The same goes for muscles at 100% of load and nerves at 100% stimulation. Unconsciously we know this and so we develop safety mechanisms to protect ourselves from being damaged by overexertion. If

our ligaments are not strong enough to support our limbs in an extended position, the muscles will tighten up to restrict the range of motion and prevent dislocation of the joint. If we attempt to lift a load which our body thinks is too heavy and may tear the muscles involved, the nerves activating the muscles will actually just switch off, causing us to drop the load.These are a couple of physical examples of safety mechanisms. We also develop these safety mechanisms in other areas of our lives. If we are making ourselves too busy we will often get a cold or other minor illness so that we HAVE to take some time out.

Whenever we begin to exert ourselves too hard we start to run into these safety mechanisms. If we do not pay attention to the message the safety mechanisms are sending us, we will keep on running into them, and eventually the mechanisms will start kicking in earlier and earlier. Our muscles will get tighter and tighter, we will get sick more often and easily. In the end it may seem like we are getting nowhere, or worse, going backwards.

So is it not good to exert ourselves; to put effort into accomplishing the things we want in life? Of course it is good, but the idea of giving 100% all the time is simply

counterproductive.

A Better Way The Taoists (Taoism is an ancient branch of Chinese philosophy) have a maxim which states that we should only ever exert ourselves 60%. Our modern understanding of human physiology has some striking parallels. Muscles put out the most force at about 60% of their maximum speed of contraction. Muscles are also strongest at about 60% of maximum length.

Have you ever watched an elite athlete at the top of their game? Their movements seem almost effortless, even while they are doing things no-one else on the planet can do. They have mastered relaxed exertion whereby putting out just the right amount of effort, they actually accomplish the most. They make it look effortless, and in a sense it is, mentally and physically they are relaxed and focused on their goal, they call this being in The Zone. But they have


not got to this point without effort. They have normally put in many years of effort, slowly and steadily developing their skills and abilities, keeping their exertion levels such that they can progress without running into too many internal safety mechanisms or receiving too many injuries. In this way their overall capacity is gradually developed until they can achieve relaxation, far more than they previously could when giving 100%.

Just like the story of the tortoise and the hare, to succeed in life we generally find that we get further in the long run by putting in a sustained maintainable effort than by short fits and starts of extreme exertion. We need to consider our overall goals and how they fit together in the bigger picture of our life. In this way we can make sure that our steady efforts take us where we want to go rather than rushing around expending a lot of energy on things that actually slow down our progress. Our slow and steady efforts will yield great success when they are pointed in the right direction and sustained over a period of time.

one or two, and so on. It will surprise you how quickly you remember them if you take it in small chunks.

Perform the exercises in a way that is comfortable but challenging to you. Make your stance high enough that the exercises are comfortable, but low enough that your legs gradually strengthen and your posture improves. Extend your movements so that you feel a slight stretch at the end of each movement.

So should we never give 100%? There are times when we need to give 100%. We’ve all heard of mothers who have lifted cars that were trapping their children underneath and other stories of human capabilities under extreme circumstances. At times like this our bodies naturally turn off all the safety mechanisms because the importance of the outcome outweighs the dangers of 100% exertion. These situations should be rare though, the rest of the time we will achieve the most by exerting ourselves in a relaxed way.

So how does this apply to our Qigong practice?

Qigong is something that has the potential to greatly enhance your health and wellbeing throughout your entire life. In terms of life goals, it is well worthwhile to begin putting effort in now for the rewards you will reap in years to come. Abilities in qigong take time to develop, forcing and pushing yourself will not help you to get their faster. Steady sustained effort will be rewarded with surprising benefits over years of practice.

Practicing qigong is a great example of slow and steady wins the race.

If you are learning a set of exercises, don’t worry about learning them all at once, learn one or two, then another

Perform the exercises at a pace that suits YOUR breathing. In a class setting you will usually go at the same pace as the rest of the class most of the time. Hopefully it is a pace you are comfortable with. When you are practicing by yourself you can suit the pace to your own breathing capacity. Never get to the stage that you feel like you should be gasping for breath. Keep it comfortable and gradually your breathing will naturally slow down and deepen.

In developing your awareness of energy, do not try to force it. Accept that you feel what you feel, or don’t feel what you don’t feel. When you do feel something, accept this and work with it, in time it will grow.


Don’t compare yourself to others, except to learn from them. Accept that you are at the level you are at, work from there towards improving.

Have realistic expectations about your qigong practice. Progress tends to come little by little, with the occasional

breakthrough now and then.

Be consistent and regularly schedule time in your day to practice qigong. It may only be 10 minutes at a time, but a little done regularly will yield great results over time.

John Munro is a Qigong and kung fu teacher based in Auckland, New Zealand. He is the author of ‘Qigong: Foundation Practices – Twelve Health Exercises From The Wah Family Style’ and ‘The Tiger Within: Practical Self Defense In A Modern World – How To Bring Out Your Inner Tiger When You Need It Most’. Along with his busy teaching schedule, John is also a qualified personal trainer, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and an accomplished artist (sculpture). You can contact him through his websites at: www.developyourqi.com www.longwhitecloudkungfu.com www.johnmunrosculptor.com


An Eye-opening

Synchronicity

Paul Levy

When I was first introduced to the world of psychiatry in May of 1981 at 24 years of age, I experienced a particularly unique synchronistic event that rocked my world and changed my life forever. I burst onto the scene of psychiatry in a dramatic way, as a life-transforming event happened within the very first minute of my being admitted to my very first psychiatric hospital. I have a very real edge around sharing this synchronicity with others, however, as it brigs up my fear of being pathologized, of being told I that I am just hallucinating or imagining, or worse yet, that I am crazy. This would just be a re-creation of the trauma earlier in my life when I did share this experience with my parents, friends and psychiatrists, and they did think I was crazy. This is why I’m more than a little gun-shy about sharing my story now. In the past I got really beat up for it, it seemed to upset just about everybody, and it got me in a lot of trouble. To get around my fear, I’ve even imagined telling the story as if it was “just a dream,” and didn’t actually happen in the so called waking state. But it did happen, at least in my experience. It feels like the right time to share this, as it feels like it’s not just my story. On the one hand, this synchronistic experience was tailor-made just for me, while on the other hand, it wasn’t just my experience, a circumstance meant solely for my personal consumption. It feels like it is a revelatory experience that contains gifts for all of us. It feels more right to share it now because it has taken me this many years to digest it, and to integrate the meaning of what was being shown to me so that I’d be able to share the story without identifying with the role. It also feels like the time is right to share this miraculous-seeming event because I’ve developed the psychological fluency so that I can now describe what my experience was in a way that I imagine will be received and taken in, instead of judged. Being archetypal, my synchronistic encounter is a self-reflection for all of us, revealing a process that exists deep within each one of us. THE STORY To place this event in context, a couple of years before this experience, I had suffered terrible abuse from the psychic hands of my father. The specific content is unimportant to the story I want to tell here. The salient feature is that I felt psychologically violated to my very core. The emotional abuse was so toxic that I literally woke up the day after one particularly bad incident with a fever, which from that day onwards lasted on and off, for a year. I went to doctors and hospitals, and no one could find anything physically wrong with me. Over the years I’ve realized that the fever was my mind-body’s way of attempting to integrate the overwhelming and shattering nature of the emotional trauma I had endured. This abuse changed the trajectory of my whole

life. After the fever subsided, I was never even remotely the same, never to return to the seemingly normal life I had been living. It created enormous suffering for me, and yet, at the same time, it’s what inspired me to find my calling. The only refuge that I had found that made me feel any better from the overwhelming trauma was to step out of trying to figure my way out of the suffering with my mind, and instead, to simply watch what was happening inside of me, which is what meditation is. For about a year and a half I began doing very serious meditation practice called “vipassana,” known as “insight meditation,” or the practice of mindfulness, as a way of dealing with my troubles. One day I was sitting in meditation and all of a sudden, out of the blue, in one nano-second, a bolt of lightning ignited in my brain. The lightning bolt didn’t come from outside of myself, but originated from within the inner sky of my own mind-body. At the time I had no idea that being struck by a bolt of lightning, as with Zeus and his thunderbolts, symbolizes in mythologies the world over the initiation of a spiritual process. Within hours of being struck by that flash of lightning, I began merging with the spontaneity of the present moment, and entered into an ec-static (beyond stasis) state. The next day I began acting so unlike my ordinary, conditioned and repressed self that a close friend thought I was going crazy and had me brought, by ambulance, to Highland Hospital in Oakland, California (please see my article, “We are all Shamans-in-Training”). I had so “let go” that I was just following the process and going along for the ride. I was stepping out of myself in such a way that every moment was synchronistically and effortlessly creative and full in a way I had hardly even imagined was possible previously. I had become unself-conscious, at one with myself, as if I had stepped out of all restraints. It was as if I was released from any social conditioning, in that my actions were no longer a reaction to what I thought others thought. As if snapping out of a double-bind, I wasn’t limiting myself anymore. I wasn’t contracting against myself but simply getting out of my own way to let my light shine, as if I went from being a 75 watt light-bulb to being a million watt bulb. This was a dangerous situation, however, as at the time I certainly hadn’t yet developed the container within myself to channel this energy in a way that was socially acceptable. I had so surrendered to what was happening, which was the only thing that made sense to do, and the only thing that I could do, that I had stopped trying to control the situation. Little did I realize that upon entering the hallowed halls of psychiatry, my life would be changed forever. In the very first room I was brought to in that hospital, some sort of lounge for psychiatric patients, I saw among the group of patients a blind woman, whom I immediately approached. Her eyes were a blind person’s eyes, opaque, with no color or radiance at all. Without any thought on my part, I went right up to her and found myself staring at her eyes, saying over and over the following words: “All you have to do to see is open your eyes and look.” These words were literally coming through me, having fallen into my head, as if I was channeling them. I kept on getting closer and closer to her as I repeated these words, looking into her eyes all the while. What happened next, over the course of less than a minute, I will never forget. In front of my very eyes, her eyes began regaining their color and luminosity, going from the dead, diseased eyes of a blind person to normal, healthy,


seeing eyes. She had regained her sight. At that moment, as if divinely choreographed, a beautiful woman doctor came into the room, gave me some pills to swallow, and brought me into another room. The attendants then strapped me on to a bed, where I was bound hand and foot. And there I spent the night. I remember lying there knowing I was going through a profound spiritual experience. It was hard not to realize this, after just having had the exchange with the now ex-blind woman. My encounter with her helped me to inwardly know that I wasn’t going crazy, but rather, was evidently going through some sort of spiritual awakening process. There is a correlation between abuse and spiritual awakening: The seeming miraculousness of what had happened with the blind woman feels inversely proportional to the horror of abuse

that I was passing through via my relationship with my father, as if they were inverted mirror images of each other. While tied up, I remember feeling that whomever I would think of I was in some way connecting to and “bringing along” on my awakening, so I kept on expanding my imagination of whom I could bring along until I began thinking of everyone I had ever known and then some. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly get a normal night’s sleep that evening. The next morning, after I was unstrapped, I was brought to a room and the only other person in the room, sitting across a table from me, was, coincidentally, that same ex-blind woman. She’s looking at me and lovingly smiling from ear to ear, not having said one word to me as of yet. All of a sudden, it was as if a closed fist in my heart completely opened. It was perfectly clear to me that this was my heart chakra blossoming. This is described in spiritual literature as the opening of a thousandpetaled lotus, and though I had never had this happen to me before, it was an experience that I immediately recognized. I then had the spontaneous realization of what had happened between us the day before. I intuitively understood that her eyes had been physically fine, it was just that she was not letting herself open her (inner) eyes and look, which was “causing” her blindness. It was like she was keeping her inner, psychological eyes closed, was choosing not to look, and this was reflected through her apparent physical blindness. And the day

before I somehow “saw” this, as if a clairvoyant part of myself had announced itself in a most eye-opening way. In addition, I somehow knew just what to say and do, as if I had become a conduit for some deeper, healing force to play itself out in form. It was also clear to me that it was no accident that she and I had come together. It was clearly a synchronistic meeting, one in which we were both playing roles in a deeper drama. As if we were telepathically connected, within a few moments she says to me “Aren’t you going to answer the phone call from Roy?” (my father’s name). These were, literally, the first words she spoke to me. Moments later the nurse came into the room and said my father was on the phone. Word had evidently reached my parents that their only child had been hospitalized with a nervous breakdown.

STEPPING THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS While in the hospital I found myself in an absurd situation: I’m in the midst of a full-blown, life-changing spiritual awakening (see my article “Spiritual Emergence”) and the doctors are interviewing me about my grasp on reality to see if I am crazy. In my “enthusiastic” (en-theos means to be filled with spirit) sharing with them about the revelatory experience I was having, I can only imagine how this certified in their minds that I was crazy. When this event happened with the blind woman, I couldn’t possibly have been prepared for the energies that this synchronicity helped to unleash, both within myself and in the field around me. Not having had time to integrate the overwhelming mystical experience that I was having, I was “crazy” not to realize that I shouldn’t be talking about my religious experience with people who were still entrained in consensus reality. I was let out of the hospital after three days, however, once I realized that if I simply appeared normal and talked about my problems, I could leave. When I got released from the hospital, whereas all of my friends and family thought I had suffered a psychotic break from reality, I knew something very important had happened. I intuitively sensed I needed to find someone to talk to who would understand what had occurred. I found out that there was a Burmese Buddhist monk named U Silananda, who was living across the bay in San Francisco. I went to see him and told him what had happened. He said that I was in luck,


that one of the most spiritually developed practitioners of the twentieth century in his tradition had just arrived in the Bay Area, and that I should go and get his blessings. Within the week I was sitting at the feet of and being blessed by The Most Venerable Taungpulu Sayadaw, at 85 years old considered to be the greatest living Buddhist master of all of Burma. When I told him what had happened with the blind woman, he didn’t think I was crazy, but recognized that I was in the midst of a spiritual unfoldment. Over the next 16 months, I continued to have a series of overthe-top “non-consensus reality” experiences. Some of the experiences so defied the conventional laws of third dimensional time and space that they seemed physically impossible, as if they could only happen in a dream. Because I was still in the process of metabolizing what was happening to me, I was still learning how to express my experiences in a way that didn’t upset the applecart of consensus reality. As a result I was hospitalized at least three other times, as I tried to contain, understand and assimilate the deeper process that was happening both within me and in my outer life circumstances. Concretized by the psychiatric system as being mentally ill, the psychiatrists “hoped to one day make me a functioning member of society” (please see my article “Psychiatry Almost Drove Me Crazy”). The event with the blind woman was also a demarcation point in my relationship with my family, who bought in hook, line and sinker to my psychiatric diagnosis. From that moment on it was as if we were living in two very different universes. Over the course of time my relationship with my family deteriorated, became more and more fractured, dis-connected, and estranged, until now, where I have no “blood” family left. But I have a huge spiritual family, which only continues to grow. My whole life changed from this synchronistic experience, as if I had given birth to a new part of myself. I was no longer living in the same universe that I was in the moment before this experience. From that moment on, I was inhabiting a world of expanded possibilities, where even the seemingly impossible now seemed possible. It was as if I had fallen through a rabbit hole, stepped through the looking glass, or passed through a portal, and found myself playing a role in a cosmic, visionary drama that certainly had my highest attention. DREAMWORK Even though the situation with that blind woman actually happened in waking life, it is quite profound to contemplate what happened symbolically, as if it were a dream. To see our life in this way is to view the events in our life as if they are a dream that a deeper part of us, what I call the “deeper, dreaming Self” is dreaming into materialized form in and as our life itself. Just like doing dreamwork on a night dream, we can then ask ourselves, what is the meaning of this dream (i.e., our daily life experience)? How would I interpret it? What parts of myself are embodied in the different dream characters that I meet as my life unfolds? The encounter with the blind woman was a waking dream that the two of us were collaboratively dreaming up together. Being a mutually shared dream, we can look at what got dreamed up between us from either of our point’s of view (what dream character was I in her dream, and what part of myself was she?).

Who was I in her dream, but a visionary part of herself that she was split-off from, and hence projected out and dreamed up into and as an in-sight-ful (dream) figure in her (waking) dream. As if waiting for me to arrive, it was as if I had become drawn in and drafted into her dreaming process. It was as if I was sent by central casting because I was open and sensitive enough at that moment to simply pick up a role that was being dreamed up in the field, waiting for someone to give it full-embodied, incarnate form. Just like I was the living re-present-ative of a part of herself, at the same time, she was an embodied reflection of a blind part of myself. She symbolized the part of me that was refusing to look at something within myself. In healing her own blindness, she also stood for the part of myself that was now stepping into and embodying a new level of seeing, as if the blind part of myself was regaining its sight. It was as if the blind woman was ready to heal her blindness, and just needed a little reminder of what to do. Upon entering the scene I said my lines perfectly, with genuine aplomb, as if I knew the script, as if I had practiced for lifetimes. We stepped into each other’s waking dreams in such a way that our interaction was a re-presentation of what was going on inside of both of our psyches. At the same time that I was being dreamed up by her to help her heal, she was being dreamed up to pick up a (third) eye-opening role in my unconscious. We were collaboratively dreaming each other up, reciprocally co-arising relative to each other, as if we were both contained within and expressions of a higher-dimensional process. This experience between us was an epiphany in materialized form, a revelation in time encoded with catalytic information. The two of us were engaged in a mutual synchronicity that we were sharing, not just as passive witnesses sitting in the audience, but rather, we ourselves were the act-ive participants in our own living revelation. Though this experience seemed like a miracle, with Biblical associations, it was actually a synchronistic, auspicious co-incidence of factors, a synergistic convergence of two beings coming together in a moment of time, revealing a deeper, more fundamental creative process at play. At that moment my relationship with that blind woman was the medium through which a more grace-filled order of reality emerged and incarnated into the third dimension. She and I were just the actors through which the deeper process clothed, in-formed, and revealed itself. Not being able to heal by ourselves, the two of us were collaboratively helping each other to dream up our own healing. The archetype of the wounded healer had been constellated in the field between us. The relationship between the two of us is a prototype, a microcosmic iteration of a fractal, of what is available to us en masse, as a species. Just like the blind woman and I, we can come together and co-operatively help each other to heal and awaken. Through this experience, a deeper order of reality was revealing itself while at the same time I was being used by it as one of its instruments of revelation. In other words, this deeper dimension wasn’t something separate from myself that I could objectively contemplate, but rather, I was participating in its revelation of itself. I was enlisted in the service of being an instrument for something deeper to happen in the field. I am very clear that I didn’t do anything special, but rather, that a miraculous-seeming event made itself apparent through a synchronistic encounter I had with another human being. “I” didn’t do anything, other than


to just be myself. There was no “I” healing anyone other than just being spontaneously present to what arose in front of me. There was no “I” in that in that moment, “I” was empty, an opening, simply allowing the universe to move through me so that healing could happen in the field. Over the years I’ve come to realize that what happened between the two of us, when contemplated symbolically, as if it were a dream, was revealing what is happening all of the time, with everyone. With the majority of people, however, this dreaming process between us – in which people are simultaneously dreaming each other up while being dreamed up by each other – is happening unconsciously in a way which usually just continually reinforces each other’s limited, wounded identities. We are all co-dreaming with each other all the time, as we are interconnected and interdependent in such a way that we only ultimately exist in relation to each other, which is to say there is no separation. In a nonlinear, acausal process that happens outside of time, we are all dreaming each other up to play roles in each other’s waking lives. We can help each other to recognize this in a way which helps everyone. We are all dreaming up the deeper field as well as, concurrently, being dreamed up by it, a process that Buddhism calls interdependent co-origination. Every part of the universe is evoking, while simultaneously being evoked by, every other part. The event with the blind woman was a materialized crystallization in form revealing, literally and symbolically, how we dream up our world, what I call “the dreaming up process.” Encoded in what happened between the blind woman and me is a revelation of the dreamlike nature of our universe. Contemplating the experience with the blind woman symbolically, as if it were a dream, was the key which helped me to extract the blessing of what this situation was revealing, becoming the seeds which later helped me to articulate and develop my life’s work. “All we have to do to see is open our eyes and look.” This is in essence what I always find myself coming back to in one way or another in all of my writings. I notice that when I am working with people, this is exactly what I am trying to get across – for us to simply open our eyes, so to speak, and see, i.e., to recognize the dreamlike, and hence, creative nature of both ourselves and our situation. It brings to mind the saying of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas, “The Father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth and people don’t see it.” All we have to do to see is open our eyes and look. We teach what we need to learn. I am in essence talking to myself. In finding the words I am helping myself heal my own blindness.

A long-time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Paul Levy has intimately studied with some of the greatest masters from Tibet and Burma and serves as the coordinator of a Buddhist center in Portland, Oregon. Deeply steeped in and inspired by the work of C. G. Jung, he is an innovator in the field of dreaming (both night dreams as well as waking dreams). He has had innumerable articles published on consciousness, dreaming and spirituality, and has lectured about his work at various universities. Paul is also the founder of the “Awakening in the Dream Community,” a group of people who mutually help each other to wake up to the dreamlike nature of the universe. His work is the inspiration for the “Awakening in the Dream Center,” a psycho-spiritual healing center in Mexico. As visionary artist, he helps create an “Art-Happening Called Global Awakening,” a work of living art in which we, as a species, collaboratively help each other to become lucid in the dream of life. Paul has developed a unique and creative vehicle to introduce people to the dream-like nature of reality that he calls “The Dreaming Up Process,” which is based on the realization that the same dreaming mind that dreams our dreams at night is dreaming our life. He teaches this dreaming up process in “Awakening in the Dream Groups” where people who are awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality come together and collaboratively help each other to wake up in the dream together. Paul is also a visionary artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis. Feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. Please visit Paul’s website www.awakeninthedream.com. You can contact him at paul@awakeninthedream.com


Feel with the Mind

Jon Weston

When we look within, we begin to see what really is; and this is the beginning of your understanding of the Tao. That is the key factor and this takes the Mystery out of Mysticism. We look at the world in a way that we do not see what really is, because our entire thinking process is reversed from thinking in the Tao. In other words, to live in the Tao we need to learn to think in the Tao. In the West we learn to think with our minds and feel with our hearts. In the Tao, we learn to think with our hearts and feel with our minds. In the West, what we are doing is training the mind to think or make decisions. But what we should do is to let the mind do its natural function which is to feel or observe. In the Tao we are training the mind how to feel and observe. To use an allegory, the mind is an observatory tower. How is it an observatory tower? It observes what is, and that is what the Tao is all about. We all know what it is to think with our mind; in the West we are trained to think things out logically. In reality, that is not really what the mind is really about. What the mind was made for was to observe. It is like driving a car; who is driving the car, you or the car? The car is the mind. The car is an instrument, so the mind is an instrument. It is a tool; it does not have a mind of its own. So it has to know where to go. It is a function; it is a retrieving machine or station. In other words, messages are sent to the body or from the body, to go to the mind and then to another part of the body. What the mind does is observe. Another word for observe is to feel or sense. This is the real purpose to feel or to observe. How it observes is through the five senses. This is the feeling process. In the West, what we are doing is training the mind to think or make decisions. But what we should do is to let the mind do its natural function which is to feel or observe. In the Tao we are training the mind how to feel and observe. To use an allegory, the mind is an observatory tower. How is it an observatory tower? It observes what is, and that is what the Tao is all about. We do not make a judgment on something, we witness it. We see it for what it really is and the direction on what to do comes from the heart. In other words, in order to do this we must learn to think with the heart. To feel with the heart or to think with the heart we have to slow down the mind. The way to slow the mind down is through meditation. When you slow down the mind, you start to separate molecularly the two charges in the universe, the positive and the negative, the electron and the proton; and, as you slow down these two opposite forces separate, and as they separate there is a void. Consciously, the observatory tower (mind) enters this void inside. It is like driving a car at 90 miles an hour. When you look out the window, what do you see? Not a whole lot. But if you stop the car and start walking, now what do you see? A lot more, right!

The Taoists call the mind the Monkey Mind. The reason why they call it the monkey mind is it always gets into a lot of mischief, because the monkey mind has to always do something. So, how do we slow this monkey mind down? The Taoists can learn to observe, using the upper mind to slow down the ‘monkey mind’ by tricking the monkey mind. The monkey mind says, “I can do anything”, but basically it is actually our own ego saying it. We really cannot destroy the monkey mind because it is us. So what do we do? The Taoists say, “Ah, I have to figure a way to trick the monkey mind.” The monkey mind likes to do something all the time; because it needs to be active; the monkey mind needs something to do. So, in the meditation in the Taoist system, what the Taoists actually do is ask the monkey mind to trace the thirty-two energy channels of the body. Of course the monkey mind says, “I can do that, no problem,” because it is our ego, so the monkey mind reacts to stay active; it is reacting to our request to do something because it is being challenged with its ego. It never wants not to do something, because that would show that it is inferior; it always wants to show that it is superior; that it can do whatever it is that you requested. I can do this, I can do that. This is the process of reacting, instead of thinking, “Do I really want to do this or do I not want to do this?” That is called conscious choice. But, as you go through life, you always think with the monkey mind and you always react; we do things but we never ask ourselves why we should do them, and do we really want to do them. But the Taoists understand this, and say to the monkey mind, can you trace the thirty-two energy channels of the body? Of course the monkey mind says yes, because the monkey mind wants the challenge, wants to be superior, using the ego. So the monkey mind says, OK great, what do I do? And the Taoists say, oh, no problem, just sit still and focus internally. Smile down, look down within yourself, and start to feel the first channel of the body, the Functioning Channel by moving the energy down your body and then feel the energy coming up your spine, the Governing Channel. So the monkey mind says, no problem, I can do this. Let’s go. So, you close your eyes and so the monkey mind closes the eyes of the body and starts to focus within. As you start to focus within, you feel the energy moving down the front of the body and up the spine. This is the Microcosmic Orbit, the two channels of the body. The energy moves in the belt channels and the thrusting channels, the bridge and regulatory channels. The body starts to open up and you start to focus, using the upper mind, this monkey mind to observe instead of think; this time to sense and feel what you are actually moving in the body. And of course there is nothing there, because it is just energy. So, what happens when you give the monkey mind an opportunity or anything to try to do something active, what happens as the Taoists know, is that within the Yang or active energy there always will come Yin or non-activity. So within the yang there is yin, and as the monkey mind is doing this activity, all of a sudden it becomes blank, no mind. It loses consciousness. In reality, what happens is, as the monkey mind starts to slow down it starts to enter the separation into the void and when it enters into the void there is nothing and everything goes blank. So for the first time, the active mind, this monkey mind gets rest and peace as it enters the void into nothingness. This is how you start to connect with the vision within, or the


feeling or sense within yourself, this oneness. And so how do you actually get connected with this? Well, what takes place is that the monkey mind says, yes, I can do this; I can do that and starts to focus on these channels in the body. Then after about ten minutes or so, the monkey mind says, Hey, wait a minute, I think we have done enough of this, because the monkey mind gets bored quickly. So you say, no problem. You open your eyes and look around and half an hour has passed. So where did the other twenty minutes go? What took place was the monkey mind entered this activity trying to trace this nothingness in the body, the molecular structure slowed down, there was a separation of the positive and negative charges in the molecular structure, and your consciousness or your observation went into this void, the nothingness, the Wu Chi (as the Taoists call it), infinity, God, or whatever you want to term it. It is as if you collected this energy and entered nothingness. As it starts to connect with this energy, it enters nothingness so everything goes blank.

have any free choice. They do not have consciousness of what they are doing, and if you did not have a reaction, you would not have the opportunity to make that conscious action.

For twenty minutes, everything just went blank; there was no record of anything. You always know when you entered this void because there was stillness within your body. You feel the connection with the oneness of the universe, the connection with the oneness of our infinite being. Now, the monkey mind says, I do not know what happened, let us do it again sometime. So, you do it again, and as you slowly start to work with this you start to still this upper mind, and as you make stillness with the upper mind, you start to connect with your true consciousness, which is in the heart center. This energy will speak to you, not verbally, but it will express itself in a feeling, and this is how you learn to think with the heart. That gives you the direction in your life. Now, you are probably asking yourself. Why do we have this monkey mind if it just gets in the way? Well, the reason we have it is we have ego, and that is why we are here on the planet. In other words we thought we had a better way, swimming against the river. We think we are going to develop our own ability, with a different approach to the universe. So, the Taoists say, you can learn to flow with the river or you swim against the river. When you flow with the river, you actually learn how the river flows and then you can connect with the energy. A Taoist learns to flow with the river. You can swim against the river, which will cause you pain and suffering and ultimately death, which is the monkey mind, and that is most of the egos in the world. They have an idea that they do not have to go down the river in that direction. They are reacting, thinking they can do a better job. However in reality, no matter what you do, going with the river or against that river, you have still got to go down that river, because that is how the natural flow of the universe is. No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you have got to go on that river. That is the universal truth. So when you defy the river, you are defying the whole aspect of our whole existence. That is our ego, that is the separation. So, why do we have this ego? Well, we have it to learn what to do and what not to do. When we make that conscious choice and once we discover how to flow with the river, we no longer react against the river. So, when you make that positive realization you start to connect with yourself on a conscious level. Without the difference you would not make a conscious recognition of what is really taking place. That is true with animals, they have a consciousness, but they flow with the river, they do not react against the river and they do not

Jon Weston is the true “international man of mystery,” who contributed to the massive success of master Mantak Chia and his organization. In addition to W. U. Wei, Jon Weston wrote under the pen name Wei Tzu and co-authored Living in the Tao, the twelve Taoist poetry books of over 1,200 poems Emerald River expressing the feeling, essence and stillness of the Tao. He also co-created with Mantak Chia the Universal Tao formula cards, “Chi Cards” (6 sets of over 240 formulas) under the pen name The Professor – Master of Nothingness.


Exercises Most Ancient

Mark Brophy

hunger; sexual drive and insulin production are further reduced allowing the body’s many functions to return to normal. Keeping the muscles and ligaments supple and strong also allow us maintain good mobility and physical abilities well into old age. Use it or loose it is ever so true when dealing with the muscles and sinews.

With the New Year approaching, the thoughts of New Year’s resolutions are a dance in many people’s mind. Without a doubt

Since ancient Chinese scholars didn’t have knowledge of our

many will be entertaining the idea of starting a new exercise

endocrine system as we know it today, they came up with

regimen either to address a specific health concern or for general

another theory for homeostasis or a body’s healthy balance.

overall well-being. It might surprise some people that some of

The theory is based on a central yet simple idea is that the

the best and easiest exercises to learn that address specific

whole universe, and thus the body, is full of a vital energy quality

health concerns or general wellness are some of the oldest ever

call “qi” (pronounced “chee”). It’s the qi in qigong. Many other

recorded by man.

healing modalities from all around the world all make reference to this energy quality so the idea of qi is not unique to China. In

In December 1973, near the town of Changsha in the Hunan Providence of China, archeologists working on the third tomb of a feudal family at Mawangdui uncovered a lacquer box containing scrolls of bamboo and silk that had been buried with a son of the King Ma. The son’s recorded death and burial was 168 B.C. Amongst the scrolls were a copy of Laozi’s Daode Jing and 15 different written manuscripts regarding ancient health longevity techniques. The most important finding in the group was a scroll entitled Daoyin Tu. This scroll contained 44 colored illustrations of human figures performing curative exercises together with

fact, on every continent in the world, you can find a reference to this vital energy with every indigenous tribe of people. What’s interesting is some of these tribes have never interacted with anyone outside of their own for hundreds of years, and yet these independent groups all share the same core concept of the existence of vital energy in the human body for health and vitality.

a brief description of the health benefits of each exercise. It is these earliest recorded exercises that are the foundation that

When you are

we in the modern age call Qigong. For those familiar with such

healthy, the

well known Qigong routines such as Ba Dua Jin (Eight Piece

energy (qi) is

Silk Brocade) or Yi Jin Jing (Bone Marrow Cleansing) one

in constant

can immediately identify many of the postures and poses on

movement and

the Daoyin Tu scroll.

balance like a gentle river.

Before we get into the Chinese perspective of the benefits of these exercises, it’s easy to see how any exercises that gently exert and stretch the body can benefit overall health. Gentle stretching combined with relaxation of the breath can further engage the body’s parasympathetic system, the system that actually turns off negative affects of the body’s natural stress response. During this reversal process, the body’s natural stress hormones called gluccortoids, which when active, suppress

Not to violent to cause damage, but not too weak to cause drought. Illnesses and physical maladies occur when this energy is out of balance. Energy moves through the body in various patterns including the well defined acupuncture medians. Qi is to these meridians as water is to the garden hose. When there are energy blockages in the body, just like water running through


the hose, one side of the blockage is in an unhealthy excess

obtain two health benefits at the same time. It should be noted

state and the other side is in an unhealthy deficient state. Gently

that these Daoyin exercises are not solely found in Qigong.

moving and stretching the body in various ways allows us to

Many of the same postures can be found in the three sisters of

smooth out the daily kinks and blockages that occur as a result

the Chinese fighting arts, Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang and one

of our lifestyle.

the most famous Chinese arts of them all, Tai Chi Ch’uan.

This ancient idea of needing regular

Ancient Chinese Scholar and Physician Hua Tuo (A.D. 110-207)

physical movement in our life is

is often referred to as the “Father of Chinese Medicine”. Hua

extremely applicable today in our

once said “The body should be exercised, but not to excess.

more modern and more static lifestyle.

Exercise improves digestions and keeps the meridians clear of

Long commutes to work, sitting at a

obstructions. In this way, the body will remain free of illness.A

desk or home pc for hours at a time

door hinge does not rust if it is frequently used. Therefore

or any other overall inactivity can be

ancient sages practiced dao-yin.” Daoyin, a.k.a. Qigong, can

more harmful to our health than we

be a very easy way for people of all ages and health levels

realize. How many people do you

to introduce mild and beneficial exercises into their life with

know that were relatively healthy before their retirement but

very little effort. Most exercises can be done in the smallest of

over time subsequently developed more physical or nuisance

spaces so dedicated workout facilities or additional accessories

health maladies due to a static retired lifestyle? Hypertension in

aren’t necessary.

the elderly is often lowered by the introduction of simple daily constitutional walks.

Many exercises take only a few minutes to complete and yet when practiced a few times a day, reward the body with

The goals of Daoyin exercises are to not only keep the muscles

cumulative results. Qigong is very easy to learn and that fact is

and sinew healthy by keeping them moving, but to stimulate the

verified with the many DVD’s and books on the market. Although

parts of the body where qi flows in relation to the inner organs

DVD’s and books are a great start, like any other activity, to

and viscera. Stretching the arms not only aides the muscles in

really get the most benefit and information, one should seek out

the arms and shoulders but aides the energy flow in the Heart,

a qualified and experienced instructor. Classes and workshops

Lung and Intestines as that is where the acupuncture meridians

are starting all over with the New Year and now is a great time

for those organs reside. Therefore the reason for these very

to begin an age old exercise regime for good health.

specific and unique Qigong postures is so the practitioner can


For over 20 years Mark Brophy has studied and taught Marital & Healing Arts including Qigong and Taiji. He’s a Certified Qigong Therapist with The Chinese Healing Arts Center in Danbury, CT and Certified Instructor with the Health Preservation Association in Albany, NY. Mark continues his lifetime of learning and practicing these arts with renowned author and teacher Ken Cohen at The Qigong Research & Practice Center in Colorado. Mark and his family live and work in Columbia, South Carolina where they enjoy watching Avatar, The Last Airbender cartoon series together. Mark offers regular classes and workshops on Qigong and Taiji. For more information check out www.scqigong.com.


Beware of Phony Gurus

Philip Scott

As a consequence of the recent indictment of a new-age guru on charges of manslaughter in the deaths of three participants in a so called “sweat lodge” experience at a retreat facility in Arizona last year and its subsequent resurgence in the media, several people have solicited my perspective on this tragedy. To begin with, I extend my prayers for safe journeys to those who have passed on from this unfortunate incident and my sincere condolences to the families and friends who remain here to walk the path of grief. Besides the absolutely misguided notion that warriorship can be taught and realized in the course of a week as well as the mercenary act of charging a ridiculous sum which included an experience billed as a “native ceremony” (for which there is never a charge in North America), his conduct is reprehensible – it exemplifies egregious negligence, cultural misappropriation, disrespect and abuse. Without equivocation, had this man been properly trained and sanctioned, this calamity would have been circumvented. Bear in mind this is not the first time fatalities have occurred in “sweat lodges” at the hands of unqualified individuals. Native ceremonies are Medicine Ways. As such, they require years of apprenticeship, which include rigorous training and initiations, under the tutelage of recognized medicine people before one is qualified to serve in such a capacity. Upon embarking on the path, just as in the martial arts and allopathic medicine, there are levels of training and mastery – in the latter, referred to as scope of practice. The Purification Lodge (as opposed to a new age “sweat lodge”) is no exception. It is a powerful, sacred, indigenous prayer and healing ceremony. It is not a game. Nor is it a glorified sauna (as found in a spa or fitness center), a prison or an endurance test. It is an essential component of worship in the Native Way of Life. There are requirements and criteria that must be satisfied well before the training to become a water pourer for the people is even considered. Once achieved and the blessing to begin bestowed by the mentor, the evolution of the education is extensive and includes innumerable tests, responsibilities and thresholds to pass before final approval and sanction is granted. Virtually every culture on the planet has a form of cleansing and healing in this manner – with variations between each tribe and family, observing and strictly adhering to its own specific songs, procedures and protocols. Hence the years of immersion, study and praxis to familiarize oneself with the complexities and nuances of the ceremony. It is understood and enforced in the Western world that practicing contemporary medicine without a license or beyond one’s scope of training is unlawful and is subject to criminal charges. Yet there is a fundamental disrespect and disregard for the

Medicine Ways of other cultures – the same proscriptions do not apply. By analogy, if I were invited to attend and witness circumcision ceremonies in the Jewish faith or open-heart surgeries in a hospital (or obtained information from merely reading a book or surfing the internet), it would be presumptuous to think such exposure would qualify me to conduct the ceremony or perform the operation. Yet this perception of entitlement is the prevailing attitude encountered in the colonial world regarding Indigenous ceremonial practices, which leads to misappropriation and negligence, often with unseen and dire consequences. To serve as a spiritual leader is a sacred trust. One is responsible for the lives and welfare of the people – to protect and support. It is evident there was abuse of this trust – in addition to misleading those in attendance through misrepresentation, there was a fundamental lack of awareness of the health concerns of those in his care and a refusal to heed the appeals of departure from the participants while in the structure. Were he a qualified and sanctioned ceremonial leader, he would be far more sensitive and observant of what is transpiring, less dogmatic and the ancestors with whom he would have cultivated a direct and abiding relationship would have informed him of the condition of the people and instructed him accordingly – thereby diffusing a perilous situation. As the late Grandmother Paula Underwood of the Haudenosaunee People would often query: “So, what may we learn from this?” In a word: discernment. Ask questions. Not long ago, before the commencement of a ceremony, an Ojibwe woman pulled me aside. She prayed I would not be offended by her questions: The duration I have walked the Red Road…The number of years I have sundanced…The Medicine men/women who trained and sanctioned me to pour water…The length of time I have been conducting lodges…willingly answering her, I was not offended in the slightest. In fact, I was honored and commended her for the inquiries – they indicated she had been educated in a good way by her traditional family, elders and mentors. As a result of my responses as well as the ease and lack of resistance to answering, both she and her daughter remained to participate. Undoubtedly there are gurus, healers and spiritual teachers of questionable authority, accountability, scruples and experience in the world. The best antidote to safeguard oneself and others from misfortune is to be aware and pay attention – open one’s eyes and ears – and, at an appropriate moment, to simply ask questions regarding their qualifications. Based upon their reply, your impression and feelings, make an informed determination. This is your right and ultimately, it may save your life.


Of Western Band Tsalagi (Cherokee) ancestry, Phillip Scott, aka. Tsunka Wakan Sapa, has walked the Native path for over twenty-five years, learning from Medicine/ holy people, tribal spiritual leaders, shamans and elders from various cultures. A ceremonial leader in the Lakota tradition, he is devoted to sharing Indigenous wisdom and healing practices with the contemporary world. Interviewed both nationally and internationally on radio, television and in newspapers, he has been featured in journals and books. In addition to founding and directing the programs at Ancestral Voice – Center for Indigenous Lifeways in Northern California, he maintains a private healing practice, performs ceremonies, lectures and conducts intensives and pilgrimages worldwide. To obtain further information, register, schedule an appointment or to arrange intensives, ceremonies and presentations in your area, please contact him at (415) 897-7991 or E-mail: Phillip@AncestralVoice.org


The Unity of Opposites in Life Gary Giamboi We all know about opposites: Good and Bad, Light and Dark, Short & Long, Male and Female, etc. One of a pair of opposites is exactly what the other one isn’t and visa verse. Since they are truly opposite, it is very easy to tell them apart and to keep each in its proper place. However, I believe that the true extent of how opposites are one and the same thing is not universally understood in regards to how both All of Creation and the human body and mind functions. First of all, in most, if not all, instances there is really no such thing as opposites. What we call opposite is really just a convenient way for our mind to grasp and make sense of what we are thinking about by judging it against something we already think we know about.

specific pair of opposites I want to discuss with you: Yin and Yang. These are the Chinese terms for the two polar opposites of Energy (Qi) which in effect, define all the processes, energy and matter of the Universe (Dao). As a quick refresher, Yin Qi/Energy is cooling, more solid, more static, feminine, etc. Yang Qi/Energy is warming, less solid, more dynamic, masculine, etc. It is the constant ebbing and flowing of these two energies which produces all that there is. Or as the Chinese envisioned it, the totality of the Yin/Yang or Taiji (Tai Chi) Circle/Cycle. One of the first things we learn about in Qigong is that the front of the human body is Yin and the back is Yang. However, let’s look deeper than that. What does the front of the body do? It pushes. Our chest muscles are the prime movers (most important muscle) in a push-up or pressing action. So? Pushing is a Yang activity. It is expansive in general and in the relative because our back expands as the chest contracts (Yin). Let’s recap this: Our Yin side causes Expansion by Contracting; or, our Yin side causes Yang by being more Yin than it was.

For example, let’s look at the opposites of Hot and Cold. There is actually no such thing as Coldness. There is really no such quantity as “Cold.” There is only Heat (or lack of Heat).

OK. What about the Yang and the back of the human body? It is exactly the same in the opposite way. Our back which is Yang pulls, which is absorbing or Yin, by contracting (which is Yin) its muscles. Thereby expanding the chest which is now more Yang than it was.

Thermometers cannot and do not measure the amount of Cold there is. They only measure the amount of Heat. The concept of Absolute Zero, where all motion ceases and even matter changes its fundamental nature is not the greatest amount of Cold possible. It is simply the least amount of Heat possible, which is zero.

To sum this up, Yang produces a Yin effect by being Yin, which causes the back (Yang) to contract (Yin); Therefore, Yang causes a Yin effect by being more Yin. Further more, when done within the limits of harmony, a Yin action (pulling) causes the torso to move forward (which is Yang); and, a Yang action (pushing) causes the torso to move rearwards (which is Yin).

The same is true for Long and Short. Rulers do not measure the Shortness of something. They can only measure its Length, whatever that length maybe.

Similarly, a male uses his size and weight when being aggressive. A male is Yang, Aggression is Yang; but, size and weight is more Yin (like a mountain is Yin). So the Yang needs the Yin in order to produce its desired effect.

Finally, let’s look at Young and Old. There is no such thing as Youngness. There is only Age. If something has more of it, we call it old. If it has less of it, we call it young. I hope that I have given you enough examples for you to understand that the nature of opposites is that they are a construct of the human mind. In effect, they are nothing more than a tool which helps the human mind to put things into a relative perspective which makes it easier for us to judge and understand those things in our human terms. Of course, this means we do all of this to avoid understanding things on their own terms. Therefore, by using opposites, we are setting ourselves up to never really understand the true nature of the object or concept unless we can go beyond the limits of opposites and our human understanding. Now, having prefaced with this concept, let’s proceed to the

A female is Yin; but, giving birth is expansive and Yang. Giving birth is Yang. Actually, Giving, itself, is Yang. In this case, the Yin (the female) must use a Yang process (giving birth) to be its most Yin (feminine). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the five Yin organs, the Heart, Liver, Kidneys, Spleen and Lungs ALL perform Yang actions or activities. The six Yang organs, the Small Intestine, the Gall Bladder, the Urinary Bladder, the Stomach, the Large Intestine and the Triple Heater all perform the Yin activity of storage (among other things). To sum this up, Yang is Yang because by its very Yang nature it performs Yin actions; and, Yin is Yin because by its very Yin nature, it performs Yang Actions. Each of the things discussed above would be not be classified the way it is if it did not have the exact same relationship with its “opposite.”


What about the Yogic view of things? It is actually the same. Shiva is Consciousness, Yang, which cannot perform any action without Power or Kundalini which is Yin; and, Kundalini can’t perform any action without guidance which is Yang. One could say that Power without the Will necessary to do anything is essentially Powerless; and, Consciousness and its Will to do something is totally useless without the ability to act upon its thoughts and desires.

characteristics depend solely upon where and when the Energy is manifested. This means that the State of your Being can actually make your Internal Energy more Yin or more Yang. Your Body, Mind and Spirit can make one person’s Yin Energy more Yang than another’s Yang Energy and visa versa.

Yin and Yang is just not a case of one giving rise to the other and the existence of a never ending cycle of waxing and waning, one into the other. It is truly a case of an intertwining so complex that it cannot be unraveled without destroying the whole; because it is the whole. The whole is the whole and is not divisible. Yin and Yang are relative terms used to form an understanding of a whole we cannot understand without the aid of our relative constructs. What most belief systems consider their Absolute is always something Unchanging. If It is unchanging, where does a cycle fit in? Where do Yin and Yang, Shiva and Kundalini fit in? Only in our human minds. The Dao De Ching speaks of Wuji in the beginning. It wasn’t until the separation of opposites occurred or Taiji occurred that the Ten Thousand Things (a metaphor for all of Creation) came into being. Yoga speaks of all of Creation being illusion and only The One is Real. Maya or Illusion is the cause of separation from our realizing non-separation. Taiji is Yin and Yang or the concept of opposites which is an illusion. Without Taiji there is The One. Without Maya there is The One. The core tenets of Yoga and Daoism are actually very similar. Of course, the way they express their beliefs is very different; and, thus their rituals are very different. But their core is essentially the same. Perhaps you are asking yourself, even if this is correct, what does it have to do with me and my life and practice? Well, if this somehow strikes a chord with you, everything. If it sounds like nonsense, then it has nothing to do with you {at this time}. OK. I can see you want me to “give” you an example you can use. When you practice your Qigong or Pranayama, and you get your Internal Energy flowing throughout your body, did you ever wonder how the Yang energy flowing out from your center gets changed into the Yin energy that returns back to your center? It doesn’t. There is no such thing as Yang Energy or Yin Energy. There is only Energy with Yin or Yang characteristics. These

Gary Giamboi founded The Institute of Asian Arts in 1994 in order to continue the tradition of discovering, nurturing and passing on the wisdom of the ancients. He began his Eastern journey in 1969 and has had the unbelievable good fortune to have become a disciple and personal student of four World Class Masters He has achieved the Rank of Master Level Instructor in Qigong, Taijiquan, Ninpo, Jujutsu, Asayama Ichiden Ryu, Kenjutsu and Yoga in world recognized organizations. He is also certified as a Personal Trainer, as a Pilates instructor, in Ohashiatsu, in Thai Yoga and has several other lower rank Black Belts in various martial arts. He specializes in finding the common thread of Truth in All of these Arts, because at the end of the day “Things Can Only Work One Way.” Even though they use different systems of Internal Energy, Yoga works in China and Acupuncture works in India. Each contains a piece of The Truth or The Way Things Are. It is up to each of us to find as much of That Truth, That Way and live by it as closely as possible. Gary has taught and demonstrated Martial Arts, Qigong, Yoga and Fitness Training in the USA, Japan, China, Canada, UK, Belgium, Germany, and Ireland. He has several articles published a total of over 64 times on various web sites and blogs, produced 2 DVDs on Qigong, 1 on Taijiquan, 2 on Yoga, 1 on Balance and a Point by Point Relaxation CD. He also has two books nearing publication and several new DVDs coming soon. His web sites are www.Genbukan.biz and the new www.Secrets-of-Yoga-Qigong.com


Future Events Qi Dao Basic Certification Program

attending this free workshop, you will learn how to feel when and where to be, as well as what to do in order to enjoy being in the flow.

Next Program begins April 2011 Basic Practitioner program offers training in developing physical and mental fitness, wellness, and self-healing as well as the first level of Qi Dao Initiation. The terms begin quarterly on the weeks after solstices and equinoxes. Skills:

During this Open House, I will offer a free workshop dedicated to getting familiar with a uniquely harmonious culture of movement specific to the best Qigong masters. You will also see why embodying this culture of movement is much more essential for your wellbeing than learning any Qigong forms.

Where: 3516 NW Skyline Blvd, Portland, OR 97229 When: Sunday, January 9 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

~ Basic body, energy and kinesthetic awareness ~ Exploration of flexibility and range of motion ~ Six Directional Movements with elbows ~ Three Element of Earth kicks ~ Foundational principles of Qi Dao ~ Identification of Holding Patterns. Benefits:

~ Developing a reasonable level of energy and body awareness ~ Learning the alphabet of Harmonious Culture of Movement ~ Gaining a basic knowledge of Qigong and Internal Martial Arts ~ Receiving the first Qi Dao initiation ~ Discovering the sense of being in the flow. Please contact academy@qidao.org for more information or to register. The deadline for early bird $150.00 discount is March 1, 2011.

How much: Donation, bring food for the potluck lunch after the workshop.

Qi Dao Group Classes at Academy of Qi Dao You are invited on a journey of exploring and promoting your health, performance, personal growth and spiritual awakening. Whether you are a brand-new Qigong enthusiast, practicing Massage Therapist, or serious athlete, you can find our courses bringing a deeper sense of empowerment, balance and awareness into your life. Enrollment into our classes is on a monthly basis with no contracts or long-term obligations. Any of these classes can serve as an introduction to the Basic Qi Dao Practitioner Certification Program. If you are interested in attending our classes but their time slots are not convenient for you, please email us at academy@qidao. org to suggest classes at other time slots. Dao Yin Qigong for Holistic Wellness

Open House and Intro Workshop at Academy of Qi Dao

Basic Class – Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 to 8:00 am

Join our community of Qigong enthusiasts for the Open House at our new location. Start the month of February on the right foot by taking a proactive step to living your life as healthy and empowered as humanly possible. You can achieve that and much more by learning and practicing the Art of Being in the Flow, which is the way I refer to my family style of Tibetan Shamanic Qigong called Qi Dao. Being in the flow of your life means being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing. By

Where: 3516 NW Skyline Blvd, Portland, OR 97229 How much: $150 per month or $430 per quarter

Practicing Dao Yin Qigong will enable you to discover the Harmonious Culture of Movement through experimenting with graceful and natural movements, meditation and energy awareness. This


exploration of Holistic Wellness will enable you to integrate the knowledge and insights gained in your physical body into your daily life. It will inspire you to higher levels of personal power, wellness and fulfillment.

Wushu Qigong for Martial Arts Basic Class – Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00 to 7:00 pm

Where: 3516 NW Skyline Blvd, Portland, OR 97229 How much: $150 per month or $430 per quarter

Maximize your potential in fitness, confidence and self-defense through efficient use of your own and your opponent’s energies. Imagine yourself performing the feats of power other martial artists only dream of. By learning the Martial Art Qigong, you will make them a regular part of your reality sooner than you expect!

CONTRIBUTIONS

ADVERSTISING

Thank you to the authors who contributed articles to the inaugural issue of Mastery Journal. Our publication accepts unsolicited contributions from professional and amateur writers. We are looking for articles and interviews that fall under the broad concept of mastery in Qigong, Tai Chi and related disciplines. Please send us your stories on the best practices, masters’ profiles, as well as product and service reviews. Additionally, you are welcome to submit anecdotal stories about personal breakthroughs, discoveries, inventions, new approaches and applications. We will be glad to publish well written stories about Qigong, Tai Chi and other masters from any place in the world capable of boosting health, well-being, and prosperity with specific approaches or methods that can be explained in writing.

Mastery Journal reaches out to thousands of Qigong, Energy, and Martial Arts enthusiasts from around the globe. Our market research indicates that the prospect subscribers to Mastery Journal are 55% male and 45% female. The average age of our readers is between 35 and 55; the majority having a college degree or higher.  Most are avid wellness enthusiasts and have primary interests in Qigong, Tai Chi and other Internal Martial Arts, eco-conscious living, holistic health, and nonmainstream spirituality.

If you who would like to contribute to our future issues, you may submit articles, columns, profiles, stories and reviews electronically by emailing us at qigongmasters@ gmail.com. Please provide your brief bio (a couple of paragraphs) and color head shot along with your piece of writing. Once you have been accepted as a contributor, you will be able to submit further contributions online by using our content management system.

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Mastery Journal January 2011 Issue  

The International Ezine on Mastery in Qigong, Internal Arts and Life

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