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Popular Content

Showing most thanked content since 06/01/2019 in all areas

  1. 29 points
    Took a picture of my fruit bowl this morning. You may notice that it is presently occupied by my cat Haomao. I've plenty of space that might seem far more appropriate and convenient for him to claim. But this is what happens every time I run out of fruits and nuts. This morning I was watching him impersonate fruits and nuts like the rest of us do but even more explicitly, and decided that this picture might be a good way to inform the rest of the fruits and nuts that the cat is now officially out of the bag. And unless this place goes once again from "too fucked up for me" to "too fucked up for me" in a smooth succession (may it not come to pass), I'm back. Hi old friends.
  2. 27 points
    👋 Howdy y'all. I wanted to tell you that I've decided to: Revoke all existing moderators. Ask all committed right-wing members of the forum to leave. I realize this may seem extreme and come as a shock to many. I'll do my best to explain where I'm coming from, what this means for the forum moving forward and I'll also request help. > WTF? Pas de replâtrage, la structure est pourrie. No replastering, the structure is rotten. I made a fundamental mistake in the foundational ethos for this forum: believing that "no insults, be nice" is a powerful enough core virtue to sustain a diverse, healthy community. The problem with "just be nice" is that it's impotent in the face of organized malice. In a society where marginalized people often suffer invisibly, taking a clear, assertive stance against the creeping normalization of bigotry and even outright fascism whenever possible is far more important than being "nice" merely to avoid rattling an oppressive status quo. I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." — Martin Luther King, Jr. > This is about Trump, isn't it? Donald Trump is a menacing buffoon but also mostly a disgusting symptom of a very sick society. He's also a kind of litmus test for how deranged I find someone's morality. Being anti-Trump is not "partisan" (if being nonpartisan is even possible or noble). One of the lowest ethical bars I can imagine is finding Trump repugnant. I'm not even going to waste time enumerating Trump's voluminous flaws and demonic policy positions. If you're pro-Trump you almost certainly already know and don't care. This isn't a debate. We have deeply incompatible values, and I'm drawing a line in the sand. > What should pro-Trump and other far-right members of the forum do now? You should leave. If you're pro-Trump, I'm asking you to leave this forum. You're not welcome here anymore. If you're right-wing, please leave. We might need a bullet list. Here we go: If you're pro-Trump, please leave. If you're right-wing, please leave. If you're pro-border wall, pro-ICE, racist, homophobic, transphobic or misogynist, please fuck off and leave. The web is awash with other far-right friendly dumpsters you can crawl into. If you think it's unacceptable that I'm booting members with dangerous, disgusting, antisocial politics, you should probably leave too. (Sidenote: If you're some strange brew of anti-fascist, social anarchist, left-libertarian, or anti-authoritarian, democratic Marxist, socialist or communist infidel, please stay and help me raise hell! ✊ Are there any other leftists here? 👀) > This is an outrage!! ** shits entire diaper ** You're the real fascist, watch this 4-hour Youtube video, something something ... I'm unfortunately acutely aware that if you're being asked to leave that you're not going to understand this decision. I trust that you're going to settle on a self-serving narrative in which I'm a cartoon, totalitarian-communist, "cultural Marxist" suppressor of your patriotic free speech. I'm a hysterical, intolerant "snowflake" that can't stand proximity to your brilliant, hard-truths, lest I be destroyed by sheer "facts and logic". I don't care. I've made peace with your ignorance. Allow me to repeat for those in the back: This isn't a debate. We have deeply incompatible values. So much so that I'm asking you to leave my forum without further discussion. > Did the moderators do anything wrong? I sincerely appreciate the time and energy the previous team put into tending to the forum. If they made mistakes in terms of moderating, I'd hedge they were mostly a result of inheriting the laissez-faire, lazy-white-guy ethos that I unfortunately fostered and encouraged. If you were a part of the previous team and are not being asked to leave and you still want to help out, please PM me. > But this is a spiritual forum! Spirituality without material roots is a dead tree, my friend. The notion that spiritual cultivation, of all things, should somehow be categorically divorced from moral maturation and praxis is a "bad take". This forum has always strived to be a big tent for all manner of weirdos from diverse spiritual and sociopolitical backgrounds. But there have also been times when new boundaries needed to be set. This is one of them. > But what about the terrible things that Obama, Hillary, etc. have done? As I said, I'm not going to debate, and this isn't a political 101 education forum. For what it's worth, here are some of my recent thoughts on the center-right led Democratic party and the rise of Trumpism: The Democratic Party is not inculpable for Trumpism Trump is not a unique Republican If the grotesque insincerity of center-right Democrats (e.g. Clinton and Obama) are the reason that anyone reading this has hitched to the neoreactionary Trump dump-truck, please find a local shaman to unbind this rotten hex. There's a better and much more magical way forward. ✨ > I'm not right or left, I'm a truth-seeker, you're being unreasonable. I've found that people who claim they're "neither right nor left," especially U.S. citizens, are usually center-right at best. (And often worse, e.g., right-wing libertarians or crypto-antisemitic conspiracy-theorists.) The political terms "left" and "right" have ideological meaning. Likewise "centrism" is not defined via an attempt to locate a compromised middle ground somewhere between right-wing Republican monsters and diet-right-wing corporatist Democrats. I've written more about this here: This is what passes for "reasonable" politics. > What about free speech? There's a popular notion that the only civilized approach to social disagreement is to always hear out "all sides" in the "free marketplace of ideas", an imaginary immaterial abstraction. That opinions, no matter how brain-dead stupid or toxic, should always be honored and meticulously ironed out via public "intellectual" debate. But this kind of free speech absolutism is often a pretentious stance weaponized to platform memetic bigotry and silence already marginalized views. By extreme analogy, imagine if there were pro-slavery members on this forum. My stance is that it's a complete waste of time to argue with these people. It would pollute our space with the delusion that both sides of this "debate" are legitimate. I think most of us would agree that bans of racist and violent speech are appropriate. I'm drawing a new, firmer line in the sand. No racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, climate change denial, fascism, crypto-fascism, antisocial bigotry, or far-right bullshit in general (including QAnon and Pizzagate lunacy). There are plenty of other reactionary ashcans on the Internet for these "very fine folks" to brigade. Speech is not harmless. Speech has real, immediate, direct, material consequences on other human beings. Implicitly allowing socially toxic rhetoric to continue platforming itself unchecked in a space, poisons that space, and disproportionately harms the least powerful. > This is a slippery slope, where will it end? Fully automated luxury gay space communism, obviously. You should probably leave now before the communism and gay-stuff starts happening. 🍆💦 > This seems exclusionary and mean. It's exclusionary and not nice, but I don't think it's mean, at least not senselessly. Ask yourself, how many thoughtful, gracious members of this forum have quietly left after seeing relatively uncontested right-wing bullshit plastered across the forums here? I'm aware of several personally. And I don't think the bullshit here is undisputed because of implicit support. I think it's merely sidestepped for the same reason most reasonable people avoid challenging someone screaming evangelical diatribes on the subway. It's literally just not worth the effort. i.e., "the amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than to produce it." There's plenty of other subways on the internet to scream inside. This one is no longer tolerating right-wing bullshit. > Are we abandoning confused people who maybe need this forum the most? Meh. I think this question comes from a decent place. But this isn't a political education forum. My stance is that we need to reestablish a bare minimum baseline of shared values. > Are you still with me? If so, that must mean: You weren't asked to leave. You think it's okay and even very good that I've gone full heruka. Welcome! I'm delighted to have you here. I hope you'll stay. ❤️ And I hope you'll stand in solidarity with me as I perch precariously on this fraught limb I've now climbed out on. It's my sincere hope that we can reclaim and reenchant The Dao Bums as a weird-left-friendly space again. > Will you help me? I do need your help. In fact I won't be able to do this without you. Please PM me if you're interested in helping our community. There will be free snacks. 🙃 With Love, Sean
  3. 26 points
    Howdy Bums, I wanted to drop in and say I'm sincerely sorry for being AWOL the last few months. 😔 Some context on what's going on with me. Last year I was increasingly feeling pulled into some intense life crossroads/transitions. OK, turbulent, I can do turbulent. 😐 But then I received a few quite impressive combo punches. Most notably, an unexpected (albeit amicable) separation with my wife, followed up shortly after with getting laid off from my job thanks to COVID-19. Goddamnit. 😵 I'm OK. Not great, or probably even good. But OK. I've been marching through several demanding technical interview processes to find a new job which is consuming most of my mental and emotional energy. I've bumped zuowang to medicinal multi-hour dosages. Otherwise I'm just being my weird, aspie, hyper-introverted self in my mountain-hermit quarantine. Le sigh. Deepest thanks to everyone who patiently reached out to me in my absence. Sorry for lack of responsiveness, I'm just in "sick dog healing under the deck" mode. I'll survive and hobble back here in due time. 🤕 In my leave, I've given Trunk the superpowers to help with any fires. Please be kind to him and to each other (but not to fascists, always be extremely mean to them whenever possible). ❤️ Sean
  4. 24 points
    Because the coronavirus epidemic that originated in Wuhan continues to spread, I wish to share a simple immunity-promoting technique with members and visitors here. Coincidentally, I learned this incredibly simple and easy method from a student of Andrew Nugent Head while visiting Hubei province, the origin of the current coronavirus epidemic, in 2016. Andrew Nugent Head learned it from Dr. Xie Peiqi (解佩啓), a master of Yin style baguazhang. The Yin bagua practitioners were in close contact with Forbidden City doctors during the late Qing dynasty, and a great many wonderful medical and health promoting techniques were absorbed into their teachings. This is one of them, and it is something that apparently Dr. Xie would make some new baguazhang students do for an hour a day before training anything else. Andrew Nugent Head said he sometimes used to do it for two hours a day. The fellow who taught it to me practiced it while living in a very polluted Chinese city with bitterly cold winters. He and his wife did this method for an hour each morning and neither of them caught a single cold in two years. After learning this method 3.5 years ago I have not gotten a single cold or fallen ill in any other way. I do not think you need to do it an hour every day to get results, and in fact I almost never do it any more. After doing it for 20-40 minutes a day most days of the week for about two to three months, I could feel that my body had reaped the effects of this method, and I was able to feel that I no longer needed do it with regularity. I now only occasionally use it if I feel that I have been affected by pernicious wind-cold qi and need to, in the words of Chinese medicine, "clear the exterior." I would estimate I have done it only three of four times in the last year. Here is how to do it: 1. Stand with approximately feet shoulder width apart in a stance that you find comfortable. Relax your body. Your knees should be straight but relaxed. This is not a horse stance, going low will not help. 2. "As though" there were a ping-pong ball inside of your belly button bouncing constantly up and down at a fast pace and guiding the shaking of the rest of your body at its pace, shake your whole body. I say "as though" because this is not a visualization; the ping-pong ball image is just a suggestion to the body. Do not think of this as "filling the dantian with qi" or anything like that; do not strive to imagine a clear image of a ball. It's just a feeling. You can also think of shaking a big sack of rice to get the grains to settle. The most important thing is relaxing and letting yourself get a chance to know what feels right. 3. If you wish and your environment permits, after you have done this for 20 or more minutes, you can let out a few loud "ha" sounds emanating from your lower abdomen. Three to five is of these sufficient; do not do more than that. 4. Close practice as you please. Best to stand in stillness for some time after you stop moving, until your body feels settled and normal. Then go about your day. Important notes: -If you have time, I recommend doing this 30-40 minutes per day when you begin learning. This will give you enough time to get accustomed to the method and get the desired result. What is the desired effect? After about 20 or 30 or 40 minutes you will clearly feel your whole body has become relatively "open and unobstructed" (通). This is an unmistakable sensation. For me it feels like a shock wave that emanates from my lower abdomen region and then hits the entire surface of my body at once; making the "ha" sound with your belly after 20 minutes can help to trigger such a reaction, but the sound is not necessary. When you shake unto the point of "open and unobstructed" you will feel subtly blissful and get a sense of "that's good, I'm finished now." Important: For the purposes of strengthening the immune system against external pathogenic wind-cold qi (and "breaking" pathogenic qi if you have already succumbed to a small amount of it but are not yet sick with a cold or worse), it is crucial that the wave of "opening" reaches the exterior of the body. This will happen naturally, though, and you must not try to force or guide it. -Your shaking frequency can and will naturally adjust as you practice. That's great, let it happen. It's vigor and up-down range may also naturally change, also great. However: do not sway left and right. Do not wobble or roll your head. Your body and head should basically stay upright, and your posture should be pretty straight. There should be no twisting or spontaneous movements except for small, subtle ones. This is not zifagong and if you trigger zifagong you will get different results. -If parts of your body feel sore during the shaking, try to let them naturally "connect" to the origin of the shaking in your lower abdomen. Feel the connection and observe it. Do not force anything. -Always keep your feet entirely flat on the floor. No jumping, tiptoes, no spontaneous qigong. You need to keep rooted. -Again, try to do 30 to 40 minutes the first many times until you are totally clear about what the "open and unobstructed" feeling entails. Once you understand this feeling, you can just stop when you get that, which might only take you 15 or 20 minutes. -This method is especially good to do if you feel you were exposed to wind-cold and you have the sort of feeling that you get right before you succumb to a flu or cold. If you use this method at this moment, you have a high chance of preventing the onset of a full-blown cold. Unfortunately, if you already have a full-blown cold, I have no idea whether or not this method will help at all (again, I haven't gotten one cold since learning this). -Going overboard past the feeling of "open and unobstructed" resulted in dry stool for me. No need to do this to excess. I think I saw a video where Andrew Nugent Head said that old men in the parks in Beijing in his day would do this until they got "that feeling" and then they'd stop and as, "ah, great, 'open and unobstructed,'" and then start training other things. -Never do this method right before lying down to sleep or rest. Only do it when you will remain upright and reasonably active afterwards. This is because doing this method stirs up a lot of "gunk" in the body, which then needs to naturally mobilize to the places the body will put it to help it leave the body (remember, for example, that lymph fluid only moves if your body moves, and cartilage only gets nourished and cleaned by intercellular fluid if you move). My friend said he once ignored this warning and did this for an hour one morning before deciding to go back to bed. He got back up an hour later feeling awful. -A very influential qigong master in China in the 80s and 90s included this method in his foundation practices required for all beginners. His idea about why it is so useful is very interesting, so I'll share it here. He pointed out that if you put iron filings on a flat surface and then cause that surface to vibrate at a steady rate, the iron filings will spontaneously organize into regulated patterns. He theorized that the various qi, electrical, and magnetic fields of the human body react in a similar way to shaking/vibrating. In other words, doing this practice takes a chaotic, disturbed "pattern" of qi and then "reorganizes" it. This, he postulated, makes it much easier for the body's natural defenses to operate, and has the effect of strengthening the factors that taken together are what Chinese medicine calls "defensive qi" (衛氣/weiqi). Given that I have not succumbed to wind-cold in several years and this method protected my friends in a very polluted and densely populated city in the same way, I think there is a lot of wisdom in this statement, even if it is just a hypothesis. If anybody has any practical questions please let me know and I will try to answer. Best if you try it a few times and then ask questions if any arise. Let us avoid theoretical and speculative discussion if possible, in order to keep this thread simple and accessible for people hoping to improve their immune systems. 祝 身體健康
  5. 24 points
    Dear Friends, I wanted to share with you an exciting bit of news (for me at the very least ). My new novel titled "The Mahāsiddha Field" is scheduled to release worldwide in paperback and Kindle eBook format on December 10th, 2019. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081SPR24B Some of you longer-term bums here have read the initial parts of the book a few years back (then under a temporary working title). I thank all those who encouraged me to complete the book, and for valuable feedback when I had requested it a few years back. I hope you will get a copy of the book and enjoy it. I know the words I am going to type below are used very frequently, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart, nonetheless. I thank all you Dao Bums for being such a constant part of my life since I became a member back in 2007. I couldn't have done this without you all. Love and Best Regards, Dwai
  6. 22 points
    Hey bums! Due to the Coronavirus my teacher asked me to translate and share around the following article. I wasn't sure where to publish it, but though you guys might find it of interest. It details a breathing method to boost defensive qi (weiqi) and help restore the body after an illness. The method is a little intense so be careful with it. Make sure when breathing out to complete release and relax the body. Moving Jing to Change into Qi: A Method for Restoring Health from the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic From a talk by Wang Liping Written by Hu Qiao Translated by Nathan Brine The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic can be split into medicine based on human physiology, and medicine based on scientific inquiry into the relationship between humans and the cosmos. With the later, the Inner Classic discusses how people can stay healthy and live longer by understanding the correct time and space to do things, and the relationship between people and things. When external disturbances do enter, such as wind and cold, the inside of the body might go through some small adjustments, but will we not get sick. The Inner Classic also pays particular attention to what a person should do if they are already ill. The Body’s Order of Life (人體生命之續 renti shengming zhi xu) is an important concept that arose out of medical research into organ function. The Order of Life refers to energetic processes in the body. In the old days, when illness had been basically cured after a serious illness or epidemic, there was still the issue of rebalancing The Body’s Order of Life. No matter if the person is still sick or not, there will be traces of the illness left behind. Mind and body, energy channels, and internal organs etc. will all be damaged to some extent. Therefore, we need to work with the four stages needed to rebalance the mind and body and bring The Body’s Order of Life back to normal. The Four Stages Rebalance (調整 tiaozheng) Condition (調理 tiaoli) Repair (修復 xiufu) Rehabilitation (康復 kangfu) In the rebalance stage, we follow the cycles of heaven and earth to rebalance daily life. We use the outer world, such as medicine and food etc., to rebalance internal energetic function (jing-qi, blood-qi etc.). Gradually, the Body’s Order is restored. In the condition stage, the emphasis is on rebalancing a person’s mental state and mood. In the repair stage, the focus is on repairing the harm done to the internal organs and energy system. At this time, The Body’s Order has already been restored to normal, but because of experiencing an epidemic, a person’s whole body will be weak, thus we will need to repair each internal organ one by one. In the rehabilitation stage, people can work to recover the body by doing baduanjin, tendon changing practice, tai chi etc. to nourish vitality and return to full health. During the repair stage we must make our body’s jing-qi (essence, vital energy) full, and bring the blood-qi back to normal. At this time we must use the yi jing bian qi 移精變炁 (Move Jing to Change into Qi) method. Yi jing bian qi is an ancient method using yinian (意念 intention/awareness), yishi (意識 consciousness), and shenyi (神意 energy of our spirit and intention together) to move the jing-qi and blood-qi to rebalance the energy channels, internal organs, and surface of the skin etc. Thereby returning the disarray of the body’s energy system back into a state of ordered homeostasis. In the old days, yi jing bian qi was divided into three stages: Use yinian to regulate the movement of the torso and four limbs to replenish jing-qi, to bring us back to normal in terms of daily activity. Use yinian and yishi to rebalance breathing and the movement of the torso and four limbs, allowing jing-qi and blood-qi to flow unobstructed. This will soften the breathing, still the mind, and relax the body. Use yinian, yishi, and shenyi to regulate the movement of jing-qi and blood-qi in our body. By using our yishi to regulate our qi, we will restore internal organ function, open energy channels, and allow the body’s entire energy system to run smoothly. This process reestablishes the Body’s Order of Life. Yi jing bian qi has many techniques. Initially we recommend a Taoist technique to rebalance the upper and lower parts of the torso, what medical practitioners call the upper and lower burners. There are four methods to rebalance the upper and lower burners: standing posture, stool-sitting posture, cross-legged sitting posture, and moving posture. How to do the three static postures (including how to use the yishi, yinian, shenqi, and shenyi) are all the same. For now, let’s discuss the three static postures. Standing Posture Use the wuji standing post posture. Stand naturally, feet shoulder width apart or a bit wider, both arms hanging naturally at our side with shoulders, arms, elbows, and wrists all relaxed, palms facing inwards, spine straight, chest relaxed, the two kua 胯 (two insides of the groin area) relaxed, two knees bent slightly, and two feet firmly planted on ground. Stool-Sitting Posture Sit on a stool with two feet naturally hanging down or touching the ground. Fingers naturally open, palms facing down, lightly placed on top of knees. This hand posture is called “Peaceful Form.” Cross-legged Sitting Posture Sit on a cushion or floor with legs crossed in front. Palms of both hands facing down on our knees. Relax whole body. After settling into our chosen posture, use both eyes to look straight ahead, look afar, the farther the better. Put yinian in the distance. Slowly bring the light of our spirit (神光 shenguang) from the horizon back to between our eyebrows. Slowly close our eyes. First, become still. Put yinian on our breathing. Make our breathing fine, even, and long. Inhale and exhale evenly. Slowly let our physical body relax. Let our heart beat more calmly. Practice Regulate Upper Burner Step 1. Breathe In Take a deep breath with our nose. Put yinian in our chest cavity and lungs. As we breathe in contract tightly. Let the qi reach the chest cavity and lungs (this is called Qi Fills the Metal Chamber). Breathe in until we cannot breathe in anymore. Do our best to also tightly contract the ribs. Hold Breath Now, do not breathe. While holding our breath, use yinian to expand the ribs, chest cavity, and lungs forcefully, at the same time let the spine become straight and centred. Hold it for a bit. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through nose (or nose and mouth together). As we exhale relax ribs, chest cavity, lungs, spine and whole body. Completely expel the old air from the lungs. Step 2. Breathe In Again, take a deep breath with our nose, use yinian and yishi to tightly contract the chest cavity and lungs. Do our best to fully inhale, filling the tips and lower parts of the lungs. Hold Breath Do not breathe. While holding our breath, figure out how to use yinian and yishi to expand our lungs, ribs, and chest cavity forcefully, and slowly extend the spine upwards. Hold it for a bit. Breathe out Slowly exhale through nose (or nose and mouth together), and completely expel the old air. Step 3. Breathe In Use yinian and yishi to breathe into our lungs, lungs contract at same time. Then breathe in again, and again contract lungs tightly, until we cannot inhale anymore. Hold Breath Do not breath. As we hold our breath use yinian, yishi, and shenyi to expand our lungs, chest cavity, and ribs. Figure out who to let the chest cavity expand to a point where the whole body gets hot, this will fill out the couli 腠理 (protective layer between skin and muscle in the body) of the body with jing-qi. Breathe Out Endure for a little, and then slowly and completely empty the breath out of the lungs. Regulate Lower Burner Step 4. Breathe In Take a deep breath with our nose. At same time lift up anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu 小腹 (lower abdomen. We lift up anus to seal in digestion qi, and contract genitals to seal in qi from our urinary tract). Use yinian to contract xiaofu. Contract as tight as we can, the best is to have the front and back of the body stick together. Inhale until we can not inhale anymore. Hold Breath Do not breath. Hold it. Use yinian to let the outside of the xiaofu and the xiaofu to expand. Then hold it some more. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together). When we breathe out, the xiaofu and the outside of the xiaofu relax. Step 5. Breathe In Breathe in, lift anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu. Contract as tightly as we can. Hold Breath Do not breath. Hold it. Forcefully expand the xiaofu inner cavity. Again hold it. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together). Step 6. Breathe In Breathe in, lift anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu. Increase yinian, yishi, and shenyi, contract as tightly as we can. Hold Breath Do not breath. Hold it. Forcefully expand our xiaofu. Make the xiaofu inner cavity, xiaofu, and outside of xiaofu expand. Expand until we cannot expand anymore. Again, hold it. Think of a way to expand the xiaofu cavity to a point where the whole body gets hot, this will fill out the couli of the body with jing-qi. Breathe Out Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together). The six steps above are done together as one set of practice. If our body still has strength we can repeat the whole set again, or even a third time. Things to Pay Attention To The upper and lower burner must be practiced one after the other. When we work on one area the shenyi will be in that area, if other parts of the body move ignore them. When working the upper burner, eyes look straight ahead and then move down slightly to look within the chest cavity. When we start working the lower burner, eyes look down. Use yinian to quickly move the eyes from chest cavity to the abdominal cavity. All the practices related to the yi jing bian qi method must be used with the Hold Breath and Cease Breath segments, otherwise nothing will change! In order to make it convenient for casual practitioners, and to avoid confusion, we have omitted the segment for Cease Breath. After doing this set of practices the body will be very hot. The body becoming hot is a manifestation of qi changing, this is the point of the practice. According to how tired we are after the practice, we can also Bathe and Cleanse (do silent sitting). Let the whole body relax. Let the hands hang at our sides and stand or sit quietly. Wait for the body’s internal energy system to change. No random thoughts. Do not think about anything. Just think about our body. When our random thoughts start up again, finish off practice by rubbing hands and face. The main point with regulating the upper and lower burner is to strengthen our defensive qi, and replenish our internal organs. This practice will definitely heat up the chest cavity and abdominal cavity, and even the whole body. This is an indicator that the defensive qi is full. The body’s couli is inflated by the defensive qi, and using yi jing bian qi is a great way to get it activated. Defensive qi goes from inner to outer to protect our physical body’s skin and body pores. When our couli is filled out then bad qi cannot come into our body. Therefore, if you are stuck at home with nothing to do, I suggest giving it a try.
  7. 20 points
    NOTE: This is not going to be a debate topic. I stopped debating right-wing dipshits many years ago for literally the same reason I don't argue with small children. Don't post right-wing bullshit in this topic. I'm in a mood and you've been warned. I'm curious if there are any actual leftists on this forum? To be clear, I don't mean neoliberal or "progressive" Democrats. I mean bonafide anti-fascists, left-anarchists, left-libertarians, Marxists, socialists or communists. I haven't been active on here in years. (Short story: I fell in love, crisscrossed the country twice, leveled-up my engineering career, got married, bought a house in a new town, adopted an enormous dog.) It's been incredibly disheartening to see that many of the loudest, most active voices here are right-wing reactionaries and conspiracy theory bros. Frankly, it makes the entire forum feel juvenile and toxic to me. I can barely imagine wanting to share anything in this environment, let alone intimate, personal details of my spiritual practice. Is this just what happens to online communities post-Trump now? The vulnerable aliveness slinks away slowly from the boorish spectacle, slipping quietly out the back door? Trying times y'all. I remember often hearing this trope when I was young that I would eventually "grow out of" being a lefty. At 43 now it appears the prophecies were mistaken. I've only grown from Chomsky to Kropotkin to Marx. (With a cringe laissez-faire libertarian phase in there somewhere.) Hi, my name is Sean. I'm a leftist. 👋 I read a ton but also (hopefully) avoid retreating into purely theoretical astronautics. "If it's not accessible to the poor, then it's neither revolutionary nor is it radical." My perspective continually evolves, but "anarcho-communist" is a shoe that fits well enough. I'm active in community politics and not ideologically opposed to involvement in electoral politics. I vote for the least garbage candidates both nationally and locally. I don't shame people who conscientiously abstain from voting. I think pressuring the generally shitty, center-right led Democratic party leftward is worthwhile even if only as an exercise in shifting the Overton window and organizing solidarity. On a national scale, I believe universal healthcare is a medium-term fight worth focusing on given its populist support and massive capacity to reduce human suffering and death. So, that's a bit about my politics. Any other leftist comrades hiding out here? I'd love to hear from you. Also, feel free to PM me if you're not yet ready to come out as a commie infidel. 😆 Sean
  8. 16 points
    Master Wang Liping took a group of his Chinese students to the Antarctic in December 2019 -- January 2020 for some empirical research into the practice under extreme conditions.
  9. 16 points
    Hmm... Perhaps we might want to compare this sad state of affairs "today" with "way back when" of taoism. E.g., let's take a closer look at the Eight Immortals, who did achieve something... if immortality and god-like powers count as "something." He Xiangu was, by today's standards, anorexic -- in her teens she started eating only powdered mica and became like a wraith. Cao Guojiu had family trouble that brought shame and persecution, that's why he became a recluse. Li Tieguai was irritable and bad-tempered, a disheveled beggar, lame and walking with the aid of an iron crutch. Lan Caihe never made it clear whether they were a boy or a girl, and it's couldn't have been all that easy "way back when" for someone sexually ambiguous (and still isn't). They alternatively dressed as either male or female and were carried to heaven by a crane while in the state of drunken stupor. Lü Dongbin, scholar and poet, was also a womanizer and a drunk prone to bouts of anger. Han Xiangzi didn't have any flaws of character, but unlike in the case of others, there's no evidence he ever existed as a mortal. Zhang Guolao preferred drinking wine to nearly everything else, and could go for many days on that alone. Zhongli Quan was a general and led his army against Tibet. He was beaten in battle by the Tibetans, escaped into the mountains and traded in his damaged military career for taoist studies. So, it's not impossible to have less-than-stellar health, troubled or failed social life, and all kinds of character flaws and still accomplish "something."
  10. 15 points
  11. 14 points
    Dear Bums, It's that time of the year and I thought to experiment in a new tradition, in the spirit of being merry and where usual aggression, be it passive or active, can be turned into affectionate roasting and toasting, ribbing one another because through it all, we're a dynamic community and family, who bring each other up and piss each other off, like the Addams Family and the Honeymooners, even with a few odd ones out like the Archie Bunkers and Al Bundys out there. Begin with any member, conversation, thread, or memorable event of the year and celebrate it with a roast, a toast, or a jingle. You can do this as many times as you want, but you must do so in a manner appropriate for the season. And if you're Jewish, come right in and give us Hanukkah fun too. Let this go through Kwanzaa to New Year, folks. Whatever you do in this thread, don't be dicks... be Dickens! I'll start out with a little jingle, to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, a toast for Sean's triumphant return, I give you, Sean The Man is Cleaning up House You better not shout You better not fight Better get out If you're the Alt-Right Sean the Man is cleaning up house He's making a list And checking it twice Gonna find out who's naughty and nice Sean the Man is cleaning up house He sees what you've been posting He knows when you're a bloke He knows if you've been bad or good So be good, don't just be Woke! O! You better watch out You better not cry He's kicking them out Kiss the Alt-Right trolls goodbye Sean the Man is coming, Sean the man is ready, Sean the Man is cleaning up house.
  12. 14 points
    Mixing practices and looking for advice? Earl Grey tells it like it is, he doesn´t care about nice. Chia says be celibate, get your immortal peach. Freeform says be careful, you´ll become perverted leech. Taomeow knows her yin and yang, she´s a genius cat But if you try to fight her, she´ll swat you like a knat. Guys come here to get power, attract all the girls It´s a real Taobum bummer, why aren´t you casting pearls?
  13. 14 points
    I guess everyone will recommend an approach based on their own rodeo. Some, on their not-my-first rodeo. So my suggestions will be based on mine. Start with mastering one taoist practice. One. But master it. That's the only way to find out if you have what it takes to have more than one, or even need more than one. You can have three or four or ten thousand. It doesn't matter, they're all connected, but if you're master of none, it doesn't matter how many you have dabbled in. I know ten thousand things, and personally engage in three. A moving practice, a sitting practice, and theory explorations. None of these three are at odds with the other two, none contradict, overrule, take in an altogether different direction, or invalidate each other. All of them complement each other and serve each other. Which one is stronger at any given point depends on which one begs strengthening. It's a moving equilibrium, where overemphasizing one may take away from the other two, and then I try to self-adjust. But I started with just one, expanded to "ten thousand," then shrunk it back, scaled it down, identified three venues to explore and took the rest from there. I like this approach because it is capable of providing a "second" and "third" opinion on any one of my practices from the other two. Oh, I also had and have teachers and, despite being naturally all the things that would seemingly make following a teacher to a T impossible -- rebellious, creative, eclectic and familiar with many different cultural traditions (including empirically), I chose to learn without challenging and see what happens. What happened is, the more I learned, the less I felt like challenging or rethinking or "creatively approaching" much of what I learned, while at the same time highlighting all the places where I do feel qualified to question, modify, use a different approach. The difference being, now it can be done not to humor some inherent personality traits causing a beginner or a spiritual business person to seek opportunities to establish "my very own" "bigger-better" but because of some gradually acquired competence that increased my trust in my own judgment. Trusting one's own judgment on faith alone is usually a trap. Weaponize your curiosity, sharpen it, polish it, give it an edge capable of penetrating any mystery like a butter knife penetrates a stick of butter. Use it in a battle for your best judgment. Don't treat your curiosity as a junk drawer to throw half the world's arsenal into, every spear's handle broken, every arrowhead dull and rusty, every pistol jammed, every pouch of gunpowder wet. You don't need a drawerful of junk. You don't even need an open carry permit. You just need, to allude to a popular culture item now drawing some attention due to the ongoing BBC TV series, a subtle knife. Also sprach Taomeow.
  14. 14 points
    I still remember the first branching of "daoist" off the "general" and the reason it happened. It happened because taoists (it was still TTB then) and taoist sympathizers were vastly outnumbered and incessantly outshouted in the general area by members of far more densely populated denominations, chiefly buddhists and new agers. Some of the latter, encouraged by their strength in numbers, derailed every single taoist-proper thread by pointing out that it's not real dharma, it's samsara, it's maya, it's against the Law of One, against the Law of Attraction, and not what Jesus would have done. The embattled taoists, ganged up on and cornered and bruised, used up all their qi on hissing and meowing back in response to all these allegations, in a cloud of cat fur torn out by mala-twirling, khorlo-spinning hands of the hordes of pious sages, occasionally swinging back a paw and tearing a claw mark into a priestly robe. Well, one or two of them may have done it, not saying all taoists fight back, but when it was proposed to give taoists a place for taoist-proper exchanges, all taoists and sympathizers rejoiced if memory serves. Considering this past experience, I propose a choice of two possible solutions: 1. still keep a daoist proper area alongside general, and maybe put daoist textual studies there as well; or 2. extend some minority protections to daoist-proper discussions. I don't know what shape or form those might take, but I anticipate the need for them. And a far more important proposal: reinstate mod rotation and stipulate that this rule can never be suspended again. I believe this particular rule is needed more than all other innovations combined. Just imagine this on the news tomorrow: the president has decided to abolish all rotations in the oval office. No more presidents coming and going, end of story, whoever is in the office is forever. Regardless of anyone's subjective feelings about this or that past mod, objectively, we were stuck with a Putin-like and possibly a Kim Jong Un-like deal, though even Putin and Kim Jong Un were at least pretend elected. The unelected mods who come and never go away are perhaps wonderful people when they start out -- then complete lack of accountability coupled with this realization at the back of their minds -- I do whatever I want so suck it up because I'm here to stay -- forever -- changes even the best (yes it can, and yes it does) into, sometimes, screwy mods, sometimes triumphant abusive bullies, and sometimes just into burned-out whateverists. Please let's not risk it happening again.
  15. 14 points
    Many of us come to political activism by way of personal trauma. We take up causes to correct systemic injustice that we know only too well because we ourselves are the victims. Women fight sexism, gays homophobia. Others come to activism not because they´ve experienced injustice directly, but out of a strong sense of empathy and compassion. Some of us experience the pain of others so powerfully, so viscerally, that we´re moved to fight against the injustice of the world. Either way, emotions often run strong. Understandably so. Our efforts to effect change are fueled by hurt and rage. I´d suggest that this emotional turbulence, however justified, won´t bring peace or harmony or even justice. The true revolution will not happen because we´re angry and sad; it will happen because we´re awash in love and joy. An effective activist is a happy activist. We need to work through our trauma first – in therapy or on the meditation cushion – before taking the fight to the streets. Otherwise left-wing distress begets right-wing distress, and vice versa. Otherwise we´re caught in an endless circle of recrimination and contempt. In the best circumstance, political action and spiritual cultivation intersect at the heart. I´d like to propose a politics of love. Namaste: the divine spark in me bowing to the divine spark in you. Can I see through the ways my conditioning has lead me, has lead you, to put up walls of hate and resistance...can I see through all this to the innocent child still there beneath the hurt? Can I feel the infinite human depth of someone who sees life through a political lens that feels impossibly foreign? May we approach each other with softness, with gentleness, and with unbounded respect.
  16. 13 points
    正人用邪法,邪法亦是正。邪人用正法,正法亦是邪。 When upright people use crooked methods, the crooked methods are also upright. When crooked people use upright methods, the upright methods are also crooked. This saying, originally from a Chan source (The Platform Sutra of Huinen), has become proverbial. In the context, the meaning is this. When a practitioner of experience and appropriate transmission engages in an unorthodox practice, they transform the practice. When a person of no attainment or transmission engages in an orthodox practice, they will make the practice unorthodox due to the inappropriateness of their engagement. A master can set up the altar however she wants, a faker can make it perfect and go through all the motions and it will remain meaningless.
  17. 13 points
    Prefacing Note On behalf of those who may benefit from this question as part of a distinct thread, and in the case that the original poster of the question would like to further their thoughts, I am moving this question here to its own thread. Though I am the originator of this post, I do not intend on hosting the thread since I seldom respond to a thread repeatedly. So this is a welcome open space for reading and sharing by those who have deep accurate intellectual knowledge or clear experiential understanding in Consciousness on the matter and are moved to share from its essence. If you are newly with seed and posting about the matter at any time, remember that what you say contains the sacred. Therefore, the post does not need (and could be harmed by) explicit vital detail, rather it needs your transmission. Therefore, speak from the place of what is essential. And If you are someone who has been in process for a while, welcome to you… welcome all. —————— How We Must Live and Become To Develop the Immortal Fetus Prior to the development of the Immortal Fetus, cultivation is usually necessarily multi-faceted and must take place on a variety of planes and dimensions within and through the individual- this can involve not only various internal and external alchemical practices, meditation, regular and deeply integrated lifestyle wellness practices and habits, but more importantly, the development of one’s consciousness and connection to such Consciousness itself. What is often overlooked during this process are the fundamentals of character and perspective, and the importance of how Being is refined through the very ordinary and unglamorous mundane of the seeming day-to-day. In this way, many of the precepts of virtues and methods extolled in Buddhism (though also spoken of in Taoism but are less accessible) can be readily practiced as a way of guiding the process to new birth. The recognition of Essence and Nothing through the baseness in living is the cultivation of form and formless, and its reconnection in purity to Original Essence and Spirit will ensure the natural development of the Golden Seed when: -an individual’s mundane process is sufficiently fulfilled (this contains within it an aspect of Ming which is not often understood correctly or completely) -the whole of the system is adequately refined (this refers to more than only the corporeal body) -and there is continuous proper spiritual alignment in integrity to both your own soul and the Tao itself Fundamentally Spiritual Consciousness Inspires Creation, and Proper Form Allows for it In my personal experience, the physiological processes of alchemy are secondary to one’s Nature: the importance of this is profound. In fact the capacity of our physiology for subtle energetic refinement is part of an inter-dependent process originating firstly from our own spirit which is then expressed often through mind and emotion. Therefore, our own spirit, character and consciousness refines the body, and in doing so, the energies of the body in return continue to refine the understandings of spirit, mind and emotions. Remember that mind, emotions and spirits are also just energies, so at its foundation, this is a cyclical process of energy refining energy, and the source inside yourself making this possible to the level of profundity required for the Golden Seed has to come from direct connection to your own Spirit. (If you are looking at this process through the lense of Taoism, recognize that things like ‘energy’, ‘connection’, ‘alchemy’ and ‘spirit’, are not ephemeral metaphysical concepts- that is, they may be conceptually abstract, but these are technical substances and therefore to willfully manage the process you must have an in-depth knowledge of its mechanisms, it cannot be lay knowledge- whether it comes about organically through awareness and Consciousness, or you came to know it through academic study, or guided mentorship, it doesn’t matter: your experiential understanding must be substantive enough to allow for clear, honest and refined distinction. So therefore and for instance, for those who experience and think Qi is just one thing, and that the Tai Ji are simply two different things- you need more foundational intellectual and experiential insight to progress as deeply as is required for the development of the Golden Seed). Ultimately, it is less about the perfection (of the maya/illusion) of ‘form’ and more about the purity of spirit and its connection to origin that allows for the transcendental changes and formations such as this. The body then is a vehicle for deliverance, so to speak, and the reason so many people begin with cultivation of the body is because the body is for many an obstacle. But when form is no longer an obstacle (meaning that without identifying with the body that you can still be firmly rooted in it and know the methods to care for it very well. If you can do this free of anxiety and fear, and do not consider such existence a misery or burden regardless of circumstance, then you will have transcended the fear that is death and living, and have found peace through the simplicity in being. This will allow for more subtle sensitivities to develop in your awareness.)- not even because of its supposed materiality but more because of your quality of awareness through perspective and experiential understanding of what form actually is, then this allows the energies to flow in greater harmony and resonance with not only your life, but with the universe and eventually the Unnamable itself. Ultimately the incubation of the immortal fetus and its development cannot be conceived nor its process complete without the necessary depth of clarity and connection to spirit and what is prior to essence: this can only be understood by one whose nature is not only truly clear but also has become consciously and truthfully simplified. In addition to the processes of deep and essential inner transformation that allow for the conception, one must already have consciously connected to the Unnamable, so this witness cannot be a happenstance glimpse. Thus, this connection has to be deeper than just an Awakening or even a series of Awakenings, and it is more subtle than the metaphysical- so for those who have had fantastic experiences of light, of emotional feelings of beauty and gratitude, of angels and heavenly beings, or time and space, or energy and kundalini- viewed from the Utmost, these are just other facets of the 10,000 things in its myriad of display. As this is a co-creative process between you and Consciousness itself, you must already be not only in witness but in relationship. Caring For the Golden Seed in the Early Stages without a Teacher Once you are seeded, the development process is not as complex as the various specific instructions may sometimes feel or appear (though they are very sophisticated in their simplicity). If you have come to this point of bearing the seed, then you will have already recognized the simplicity in essential nature and its condition of movements unobscured. In many ways, it is then simply a continuation of this wisdom through yourself from the depth of the Void. The self is a simply a container, and in right connection, there will be natural right movement and thus right development. If at this stage if you are without a teacher, then you will recognize that the two most important guiding points here are actually one and the same: 1) In your living, be in Source unobscured and unceasingly. Always be in alignment with Consciousness through all states, all conditions and at all times. There is no other way to live and it is the only true ‘living’ to be done. To support this, there is also one essential meditation and one essential process in living that I would recommend specifically. 2) In your living be wise- this is not cognitive intelligence, but deeply held wisdom from Source itself. Within this wisdom, practice safety: do not do anything to obscure or harm the natural process of gestation and birthing- see the first point again. (People who are wise are not reckless and have no concern for forms of indulgence. They live plainly, simply and are safe- not from fear, intertia or inhibition; but because they recognize what is truly needed: "Freedom to do what one wants is suffering, freedom to do what one needs is true freedom") Note that if you are without a teacher and/or in any way uncertain about the firing and steaming process, this lack of doing from within Presence is vitally important. Also, the seed in early stages is very fragile and real improper firing is not only a failure of method, but it is actually the (very subtle and insidious) exercise of desire- therefore this would actually be the application of unconsciousness even if you know the technicalities of ‘how’; so do not do it voluntarily without clear transmission. The firing and steaming schedule is not merely a mechanism of physics- at the transcendent level, these are actually methods of Consciousness you are applying. Therefore, they are powerful and must be done with an extremely refined precision from a depth of origin greater than the methods themselves. Either way, during this period, it is best to be in relative or complete peaceful retreat from society, even if you think you are and appear to literally be ‘doing nothing’ at this stage. As with what allowed for its conception inside of you, remember it is not the result that matters, but process, and in right process is contained result. So be at peace regardless of the progress of the fetus, just as you would all things; there is a Consciousness at work of which the fetus is one manifestation; your reverence to any eventuality must transcend even the precious embryo itself… In Source there is never impatience because there never was time; there is never agenda or possession because there was never something to be had. Remember that creation comes from Nothing as wei wu wei. [As an aside to those two main points (and I will not get into the details of why), I would offer that in your humility, give and share in benevolence as the Buddha spoke, if you can and if it is rightly for your path. One of the Three Treasures - sanbao 三寶 in Taoism can also be translated as compassion or love. Know that the spirit residing in each organ is illuminated from the spirits of virtue (known as the Five Virtues- de 德, they are: righteousness, trust, integrity, wisdom and benevolence and they are united in the consciousness that is shen 神)- these are important processes in culmination to the journey of the Ethereal Soul beyond this life time, and they are regardless of all things, worthy of our efforts. Give and share these teachings if it is rightly and you are able to do so from a place of transmission from Source… the world needs perhaps less teachers who know the materials academically and intellectually, and more who can hold true space in deep Nothing through experience.] So as with previous understanding that would have allowed for the seed, your lack of desire in radiant equanimity, your unceasing and sincere diligence, and your ability to remain in Source unobscured (this is actual True Presence) is what will allow for the support, knowledge and wisdom of its completion; the techniques are an intellectual recognition of natural process. While your understanding of its technicalities can help its advance and guidance, whether you are receiving precise information or not, at this level the instruction cannot supercede wisdom itself (known in Taoism as True Knowledge) or you will have prevented the very thing you are seeking to fulfill through improper force rooted in improper intent. Thus True Wisdom must be sustained and foundational through any attempt at practice of the firing and steaming schedule. True Wisdom becomes you when your Original Nature has come to a depth of merging with Source- on the mortal plane, this may take a little time, hence again, practice point number one. Be in that wisdom so what is right may blossom. And from this place of Nothing, you will recognize then that at its utmost, how Consciousness radiating through the illusion of forms is the creation of immortality.
  18. 13 points
    So maybe it's worth talking about how Qigong and Yi work together to mobilise Qi during movement? First of all, there are many prerequisite principles that need to be in place for significant Qi mobilisation. This includes relaxed major muscles (muscles hanging off the bone)... and engaged fascial network that acts like internal rubber bands (your Jing Jin): Song - which is a quality of active release (that allows you to get into the springy fascia network above) Ting - which is a quality of 'listening' - a kind of passive absorption of consciousness into form (your body). Now when these things are all in place - (and ingrained enough so that when you move you don't lose them) - you can finally begin 'doing qigong'. At this stage, even a slight movement of your hand will have cascading effects all through your body (felt physically as pulling, stretching tensions like in the tensegrity model above) - every small movement becomes a whole-body movement. Now if you hold your hands in a particular area - it's as if you're focusing your Yi, without using your mind... Your body becomes like a collection of guitar strings along which vibration can travel - both physically and energetically. These 'strings' slip, slide and stretch throughout your whole body as you move. As soon as you start using muscles to move - you lose all of this connection. So movement in this way has a very different effect to 'waving your arms around'. Moving with all these qualities in place is very hard! As in - it's difficult to make even basic movements. That's why when you see authentic practitioners doing qigong (in the early/intermediate stage) - you'll see big puddles of sweat by their feet - even though all they're doing is opening and closing their hands at the belly.
  19. 13 points
    Whaddya frowning for? Beat a drum! If Ram Dass isn't doing just fine wherever he is now, then we're all just as good as fucked! Be Here Now was one of the first things I read when I started looking for ways to change my life. The other was a copy of Red Pine's Diamond Sutra translation, that I got a friend to steal for me from the bookstore he worked in. I couldn't make heads of tails of the Diamond Sutra, but Be Here Now had cool pictures, was totally unlike anything I'd ever seen before and yet similar in a way to all the comics I grew up on, and it resonated with my then-frequently-extremely inebriated, always stressed-out mind. Shit, reflecting on these old memories, I can feel the temperature of the underheated house I lived in back then, recall the stale smell of the living room, see the poorly lit spaces I occupied as I poured over the book, often late at night after shifts coming down from that manic work high waiting tables in an understaffed fancy restaurant or alone on late mornings in an empty, silent house. I never returned to Be Here Now after I finished it and my path was nothing like Alpert's, but the book changed my life. Moreover, as soon as I was done with it it ended up in the hands of a roommate of mine, a wild-ass felon who stabbed and shot at people and was otherwise totally O.C. for years. To my surprise he read it cover to cover and instead of mocking me for reading such a weird tome, it affected him deeply. I suggested Autobiography of a Yogi to him six months later when he'd skipped town to avoid a beef, and when he was reading it at his security guard job in another state a coworker of his strolled by, noticed the book, and said, "hey, never knew you were into that stuff-why don't you come with me to learn to meditate at the local SRF?" He spent a year or two meditating there and went his own way eventually, but he's been on straight and narrow for years, is a downright jolly and pleasant person to be around nowadays, and is even a mentor to some younger men he coaches in muay thai and Crossfit. I haven't thought about all this in years, but Be Here Now really was what kicked off those changes in my friend. Ram Dass did some wonderful, wonderful things during his not-short not-long time in this world. I am deeply grateful to have received a bit of influence from him, and to have seen that influence touch my friend's life, too. May his passing be a blessed one! May the teachings and students he's left behind continue to touch countless beings! Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!
  20. 13 points
    My practice advice? (1) Don´t fight with Earl Grey. Ditto for Freeform. You don´t have to take everything they say as gospel or choose to follow their path. I don´t. Freeform has explained at length and with great passion why males shouldn´t engage in a certain practice that shall go unnamed, but do I listen? I do not. But I don´t challenge him either. Believe it or not, both of these Bums are disciplined, knowledgeable, practiced, and helpful. Warring with people on the internet is a big distraction from your practice. (2) Cultivate humility. (3) Embrace boredom. There´s no need to chase after alledged high-power practices. Often it´s the simple things, so often overlooked, that turn out to be the most potent. You won´t always recognize the magic when it´s happening. Sometimes you´ll be bored doing the same basic practice for the uumpteenth time and won´t know till later how deeply it´s transforming you.
  21. 13 points
    Hi, I see you stepped straight way into the maelstrom which is Daobums! I'm going to say a few things at odds with advice you've already had just for the sake of thickening the stew. If you are based in the Western tradition you are bound to be eclectic. Its in the blood. There's something about the western approach which is like this and no bad thing in my view. I have studied/practiced (for years) Ancient Egypt, Hermeticism, to a certain extent Kabbalah and Christian mysticism, taken refuge as a Tibetan Buddhist, practiced qi gong and neidan and read about practically every thing else. I should be a mess apparently - but I'm not (I don't think ). If you have the right attitude then you can't read too much. I agree if you read in the wrong way then you can confuse yourself - but if you read in the right way you will enrich yourself. The secret is not to be grasping at truth or power - but more like a beachcomber wandering through the landscape picking up morsels and interesting objects here and there. I like Damo Mitchells books but I haven't followed his system so I can't say how well they work. You seem to get plenty of physical exercise which is good. But you live in the high crime area - I've done this and it can be quite disruptive. The thing is that the level and discordancy of energy coming at you can be hard to assimilate and leave you toxic. So you need to address this somehow (maybe the best way is as you say moving to Holland). In terms of your energy drain from shamanic practice - I am guessing here - that you have the idea that your energy levels are something which requires effort from you to maintain. But although this is true on a minor level and you do need discipline - generally your energy level is dependent on the field around you - sun, season, moon, earth and so on - and you may like to think more in terms of letting yourself recharge rather than putting great effort in. Simple meditation on breath will do this provided you relax mental control - or this is what I experience anyway. The best thing for your subtle body and its health and integrity is conduct. Being positive towards those around you, helpful if needed, be disciplined in diet and sex and so on, guard the three treasures - most of all treat your own being with respect as if you were someone you are taking care of. Over time these things build up a really strong and radiant energy body. Cheers A.
  22. 13 points
    My friend, Jim, has left this mortal coil. His passage is a loss for me, and for all who had the opportunity to come to know him, but I am not -- and have not been -- sad for him because it was not a loss for HIM. Jim completed one section of the trail and moved on to the next section. I would like to think he reflects with fondness upon his memories of us as we do upon our memories of him but I suspect he is "in the moment." I usually am. A warrior, a philosopher, my friend. Fare thee well, Marblehead. Light, Brian P.S. If anyone feels up to it, fill me in on major changes here in the last two years (via PM...)
  23. 13 points
    It seems most fitting that the thread is in the Daoist Discussion as he was a stalwart 'philosophical daoist'. He had asked on his deathbed for no announcement and attention of himself on TDB but a coming 1 year eulogy from members seems useful to remember him. My only regret is that he was here in FL and I never made time to meet him. In a weird way, I was able to observe and interact with him on TDB like I was in his living room anyways. I felt like I could always find him on any day discussing any and every topic. And that was part of his soul: While he maintain a strict individual sense of chinese daoist philosophy he saw the equality bestowed to all. I don't think I ever saw someone so capable to so staunchly defend their own beliefs and yet affirm his opposites they had a right to theirs. Due to this nature, he could talk in every single forum and subforum with ease. There is no argument his posting count is something nobody may likely ever get to and it is not because he was verbose but because he saw the value in everyone posting. He was the consummate welcomer. He defined how to treat one and all who came, and found something in their post, however brief, to raise the welcome flag. As I said, he was a strict philosophical daoist and even I butted heads with him at times. But his position was not because he did not believe in religious daoism but rather, there was no practical use to him (in his life). He did not debate whether another might find value in it and use of it. Herein was his greatness, his own naturalness in action.
  24. 13 points
    This is actually not an uncommon occurrence. Chanting Amitabha's name is widely understood as a slow but reliable and safe way to clear karmic obscurations, create good karma, train the mind, and greatly increase one's chances of finding an appropriate teacher/path in this lifetime (i.e., its value is not solely limited to praying for rebirth in Amitabha's Pure Land, and it is widely held that some practitioners who simply use this practice can reach enlightenment in this lifetime). Part of the reason that Daoists offer this teaching is that ecumenical attitudes have been quite common for centuries. Another reason is that Daoism doesn't really have (to my knowledge) an equivalent "one size potentially fits all" practice like this one. Still another reason is that Zhengyi Daoism is extremely complicated. If you've ever had the opportunity to observe an all-day Zhengyi ritual it's just insane. Non-stop chanting, singing, playing instruments, dancing, martial arts, coordinated steps holding torches... all this stuff memorized (!)... barely any breaks, Daoists pouring in sweat under their robes. There's little from that repertoire that could be offered to a person who is just visiting a holy mountain, whereas the practice of chanting Amitabha's name can be mastered in under a minute, and bear gifts for the rest of a person's life. It is indeed an admirable contribution and indeed one of the reasons that Buddhism has touched so many lives. While some with Daoist affinity has a dis-affinity for Buddhism, it's hard to deny that many, many people who chant Buddhas' names or mantras report phenomenal effects. Yes, the Daoist "easy path" has been referred to as 上品 or 上乘 since at least the Song dynasty, when some of the ways of sorting, categorizing, and "ranking" various parts of Daoist praxis that are still used today came into vogue. These practices really just center on "doing nothing" (but they might involve some postural or light mental focus instructions) and are spoken of in some detail by the Book of Balance and Harmony (中和集... I remember its translation being somewhat confusing, but it might be better than nothing) and maybe some other texts that are in English. Such practices really are, from a certain standpoint, the easiest thing imaginable, and their proponents tend to argue that they also slowly but surely lead to the very highest attainments. The big caveat is that "doing nothing" is an instruction of unparalleled subtleness, vagueness, insubstantiality, elusiveness, ass-backwardness, boringness, "am I doing not doing right-ness." Thus, Daoists tend to be acutely aware that It is, paradoxically, extraordinarily difficult for the vast majority of practitioners to do the easiest thing. That is why discussion of 上品 /上乘 more often than not make the point that exceedingly few people are ready, as beginners or potentially even after years of seeking, to understand such teachings. This does not mean they must be kept secret from beginners. Quite the opposite, their gist can be discussed quite openly, beginners really can't make heads or tails of this gist. There is no real secret. "Do nothing." There you have it, the whole cat (well, minus a few details, perhaps), out of the bag. If you say to Daoist master (and I am speaking of people I know, not hypothetically) that that makes no sense, he or she very well might laugh, say, "I know," and then suggest you go and recite Amitabha's name for a few years to cultivate wisdom, remove obstacles, and so forth.
  25. 13 points
    A few thoughts on BKF... 1. I am 99% sure he just made up the whole "Buddhism is fire, Daoism is water thing." If anybody can point to any source in classical Chinese for this distinction, please let me know. I will find the original text, read it, and try to translate it here. (I have never heard any such distinction be made, and as far as I am concerned it is silly--there are thousands of different techniques in Buddhism, and thousands of different techniques in Daoism. In both Buddhism and Daoism, some ways of practicing are a bit more "firey" and some are a bit more "watery." This whole water path thing just seems like half-baked marketing to me, from a nearly-bygone era when very few westerners could read any Chinese and very few had lineage holding teachers. I think it mischaracterizes both traditions. But, again, if anybody can point to a source other than BKF himself that discusses this fire-water dichotomy, please do so). 2. Nobody in the Beijing baguazhang world seems to have heard of BKF's Yin-style teacher. This doesn't mean he didn't exist or that he wasn't badass, but it's an eyebrow-raiser, as supposedly the guy was such a badass that if he bumped into a wall while circle walking, chunks of concrete would go flying. If that was the case... you'd think locals would have heard of the guy... 3. Have heard stories about BKF's fighting skills from sources I trust that make it seem like they're much exaggerated. I watched some of the videos of his students demonstrating circle walking form that "mastery program" a few years ago and they were super eff'ing meh. 4. In his Daoist sexuality book, IIRC (please correct me if I'm wrong), BKF claims to have slept with 3,000+ different women in Taiwan while he was training with his Daoist sex teacher. Yeahhhhhhhhhhh. Ok. I'm not saying this guy is not a mack, but I will go out on a limb and say he's definitely not a mack like that. So let's suppose he finished his homework by using prostitutes. Question 1: were there even 3,000 different whores in Taiwan at that time? 2: How did he find all of them? 3: Okay, so BKF had the time and money to go track down 3,000 different prostitutes, and he slept with them all. Let's say he did this six days of the week for years. How many years would he need? How much money? Somebody else can do the math. Do you still believe him? If you do, and you still want to be his student, can you please ask him how much ginseng he needed to rub on his 小鷄鷄 to cure his gonosyphaherpolaids? 5. P.S., ginseng will not actually cure gonosyphaherpolaids, that was a joke, don't get any big ideas, kids.
  26. 13 points
    I was practicing meditation with a group last night. We practice together and then share our experiences, both on the cushion and off. We discuss how we are using our practices to address the challenges we face in our lives. One common theme is the degree of pain people are feeling in their daily lives related to our current conditions and leadership in the US. It really is considerable and destabilizing. My observation has been that the more empathetic people are, the more their hearts are open to others (especially those more vulnerable), the more they are struggling with this nightmarish situation we find ourselves in. After 3 years of this, we are now facing the very real possibility of another 4. I think it's healthy to be reminded that we continue to reify our story through giving voice to our pain. On the one hand, voicing can be cathartic and useful. On the other hand, if voicing doesn't lead to letting go and allowing the frustration to liberate, it is simply reinforcing and magnifying our pain. So I'd like to thank Spotless and a few others for giving voice to a lot of what I am feeling and struggling with. I'd also like to thank Rene and Wanderlaar and others for holding up a mirror and showing us how we look to others who are less wrapped up in the situation. Trump really is that horrible and yet we need to find some way of preventing this horror from poisoning our hearts and minds. What is far more frightening to me than Trump is the fact that he has shown what is possible in this country and the next Trump may be far more intelligent, far more cunning, and far more malevolent.
  27. 13 points
    Astonishing. And very sad. WTF is wrong with you people. The spew from the right has been replaced with spew from the left. The energy in your words is no less vile and destructive than the words of those you denegrate. It is possible to clean your house without burning it down. Best of luck, keep well, stay safe. Peace Out.
  28. 12 points
    Speaking as an Asian who's mingled and lived among Europeans for many years, the observation is that Europeans are way more inquisitive and demanding than Asians. (Im referring to cultivation). Asians tend to be more patient, laid back, obedient enough to follow instructions to the letter, and most would have no hesitation to trust their teachers' words implicitly. Asians are also a lot more subservient. Maybe because the old masters cannot stand prickly and arrogant attitudes, and in order to gain access to the master's inner circle, they learn to accept all sorts of menial tasks, like emptying the master's spittoon, putting shoes on his/her feet, giving the master foot massages, doing the master's laundry and what not. Some westerners can dig it, enough to see the benefit of reverence and subservience, but most would have none of that. Its not a fault - just the way the Western psyche is wired. They think money talks, and so as long as they're willing to pay, they expect the exchange of goods to be mutually understood and accepted, but unsurprisingly, thats far removed from the truth, relative to finding an authentic guru or sifu. Resisting the urge to be humble enough to serve the guru is the SOP of the western psyche, so not a lot can be done, except where, once in a while, the odd westerner makes it to become a close disciple, and get to learn all the secrets from understanding the value of patience, devotion and humility within the sphere of spiritual/martial cultivation. Without the deep penetration of these 3 virtues, most western wannabe students seldom get much result from whatever they practice. Whats worse, they jump from path to path, school to school, without once realising the real impediment is not the system or the path or the school, but their own lack of understanding and self-awareness.
  29. 12 points
    That's a delusion. The specific pattern of arm-waving has little to do with the effectiveness of Qi gong... You can 'wave your arms' in the pattern of the most advanced qigong technique and get zero out of it. And yet you can easily delude yourself - because hey, this impressive master with hundreds of students all bowing to him told you it's the highest form of qigong, so like a good hypno subject you create feelings and experiences inside yourself. The effect of Qi gong is from the application of the fundamental principles underpinning the movements. It's not the movements themselves. The movements just aid in putting those principles into form. The principles are often kept secret - yes. But these days they're pretty out in the open - it's just very few people train diligently enough to get them to work. They tend to just run from one shiny object to another without putting in time and effort. Fundamental principles are often mentioned in classical texts. But deciphering them, and understanding how to put them into practice involves working with a teacher that trusts you enough to pass on the real method. Yes exactly. Because 'Qi follows Yi' is a super simplified classical statement - which means it needs unpacking... You can unpack it in all sorts of ways... but a genuine teacher will unpack it in a specific way that actually works. And stillness and wu wei are at the core of the meaning of "Qi follows Yi"... Yi is not just intention in the way we tend to think of - like a focused direction of the mind. Yi is the quality of your mind. So for example, when you want to sink your Qi (which is a difficult thing to do - and takes months of diligent practice)... if you think that Yi is 'focused intent' - you'll just focus your mind on your feet or on your Dantien... But Yi isn't focused intent - Yi is the "quality of mind"... So you just created a focused and willful quality of mind - and guess what that means that Qi rises to your head immediately. The correct Yi is based on the principle of Song - or 'release'. Sinking only happens when you're able to mentally and physically release and let go into form (this is both physical form and 'energetic form'). So if you have some energetic form in your DT, you can just Song your mind, which naturally sinks just like muddy water settling until clear... and so it sinks to your DT - and if you're still, undistracted and remain sunk, then the Qi will follow. But usually people don't have an energetic form in the DT for the mind to anchor, so it will not sink. More preliminary work to be done Qi follows Yi is just one of many such principles - and all of them need to be understood, developed and put to work in your training - this in itself is years of diligent work - not one class. Feeling Qi (or at least the effect of Qi) is not subtle! It's not subtle waves or warmth... That's all just your nervous system reacting to your attention being led inside your body. I've seen a guy pass out from the pain and intensity of Qi moving (too) strongly through his Du. When Qi truly mobilises it's very uncomfortable - hot, shaky, sweaty... there's strong emotional resistance (or attachment)... Usually, people will have wild spontaneous movements when the Qi touches the nerves and starts to work through the body at this level. Once your channels are open (and they're opened using Qigong movements with fundamental principles in place) then things change... it's only then that you can actually say that you're 'doing qigong'... before that, it's all preparation. I've met many people that think they've been doing qigong for years - but in reality, they've just been waving their arms in time to their breathing - which is lovely and relaxing - but it's not qi gong.
  30. 12 points
    Some people like vaginas more than others. If you´re not a fan, I can´t say I blame you. Still, genitally speaking, I think Earl Grey would be more accurately described as "cocky." But that´s neither here nor there. I´d prefer it if we not use anatomical parts, however beloved or villified, as catch-all negative adjectives for undesirable qualities and behavior. This being a spiritual forum and all...
  31. 12 points
    As someone who lives a fairly reclusive life, I come here for community to some degree. I like connecting with other people whose spiritual life is foremost. At times I feel the real warmth that comes from genuine connection. And there’s plenty of variety in personalities and perspectives here. Also there’s occasionally information I find particularly helpful. However, the nitty gritty of my experience is in working through difficulty. I live within a semi-wilderness environment and my communion is mostly silent interaction with nature. That’s the core of my life. I don’t need any shields against intrusive human vibes or to expend energy on projecting an identity. But that in itself can lead to inner weakness. I’ve learnt that I also need meaningful opposition. That’s what I find on Dao Bums. The forum abounds with heavily defended city dwelling people, sensitive people who have needs for strong psychic shields. There’s so much unexpressed emotion lurking behind the words, so much psychic content to contend with. Strong ego’s, forceful opinions, powerful identities, hostility both expressed and covert. You name it, it here in spades. All these attributes help me gain insight into similarities within my own psyche; reveals to me my weaknesses and shows me how fragile my serenity can be. Shows me what work I need to do to strengthen myself so that my heart can remain open amongst difficulty and opposition. If a community could ever be perfect then none of us would need to develop inner connection with Spirit, with the Divine. Of course, I appreciate the effort people here, including myself, have made in the past and continue to make to try to maintain some degree of health here. That’s vital. It's in all of our interests. However, it will always be a futile task to try and impose that from the outside using rules. Ultimately the quality of discussion can only ever be a reflection on our collective de, with the most active contributors having the greatest influence. To my mind, Dao Bums is very good for an online community. Underneath all the surface froth there’s real Spirit at work here. And that can only ever be something that's revealed to us in glimpses.
  32. 12 points
    Hi Josh, I took the time to listen to your story from start to finish. I also read everything else you wrote in this thread. I appreciate your good humor and candor. I think there are some things that need to be said, though. I am glad that you freely admit to not having availed yourself of the opportunity to seek out living Daoist teachers, to ask them to teach you, and to possibly put their teachings into practice. I hope you will understand, however, that if you have not done these things that it is not really accurate to call yourself a Daoist. Regardless of whether one uses "Daoism" to refer to 道家 or 道教 (and regardless of what one thinks the relationship between those two words is), it is hard to deny that this is not a convert seeking tradition. Furthermore, entry into the "doors" of Daoism has always been done through teachers, and entry is not an ambiguous process. If one has established a teacher-student or teacher-disciple relationship with an elder in Daoism, this is generally quite a formal thing. Given your interest in rituals and ceremonies, it probably should not surprise you that entry into Daoism more often than not involves a rite--perhaps a simple one, perhaps a complex one, but always significant one. Using analogies that might make a bit of sense to a person who has only lived in the western cultural milieu, this is a bit like joining Judaism. Judaism does not offer mass conversions like some Christian churches do, nor does it allow you to join by doing something as simple as some schools of Islam require--merely affirming that you have full faith in the "Five Pillars of Islam." In a close friend's synagogue, his rabbi typically turns away people who wish to become Jews at least three times before he will even consider whether or not he would accept them as converts. If (and this is very rare) the person persists in seeking to become a Jew and the rabbi decides to convert the person, conversion is not a simple matter like a baptism. It requires a significant period of study followed by ritualized formal acceptance. My good friend's wife went through this process and it took a few years to go from start to finish. While Daoism is very different from Judaism and (like Judaism and most other ancient traditions) has numerous disparate "sects," a long period of interaction between student and teacher before formal initiation into Daoism is common to all of those schools, unless they have become corrupted (as with the many dubious places in China that will sell you Zhengyi registers and the like). The Judaism-Daoism analogy only goes so far though, because Judaism is a religion with a small group of clergy and large group of laity, whereas Daoism, while it has always served communities who of course "believe" in the Daoists, does not really have such thing a "flock" of "believers." In this way Daoism is very unlike Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. There are lay Daoists, but even they go through rituals and traditionally spend a significant amount of time observing and being observed by their teachers (this includes study and practice, too) before there is a formal initiation. Now, it is interesting that you have studied some books about Daoist magic and, possibly, have developed some abilities on that basis (frankly, the one video of your weather magic that I watched looked a lot more like some pretty low-brow editing tricks, cutting between images of you pacing around with a sword and scenes of roiling clouds... but... it's not impossible that you've figured something out...). Well, does developing abilities on the basis of a book that is associated with Daoism make one a Daoist? No. Here's another analogy: a fellow could study karate manuals for several years and develop his own ways of training on the basis of those manuals, much as you said that you studied weather magic books and developed your own rituals. The guy who studied karate manuals, if he trained hard enough, might even become better at fighting than most people, even though he never met a single actual karate master. So, he could end up winning a few real fights, thanks to having thrown hundreds of thousands of practice punches he learned from the manual. But would that make him a real student of karate? Not really. There is much more to karate than one can be captured in books, and those things need to be encountered in person, in a dojo or wherever a master teaches, with a real sensei. Otherwise, all we're talking about a novel form of fighting that was based on a book, not karate itself. This problem is only the tip of the iceberg, though. I understand from your video that since you were in your boyhood or early teens a voice has been speaking to you, it tells you that it is Zhuge Liang, it has taught you some things and directed you to do certain things, and you believe it is Zhuge Liang. That is an interesting claim, and not that far from the sort of thing that one hears quite often if one spends time around Daoist teachers. Daoism has much to say about "teachers" of the sort you say you have. In a nutshell, usually what Daoist teachers offer when stories like this come along is a burst bubble. Certainly there are many people on earth who hear a voice or voices like you did/do. Daoism recognizes that sometimes when this happens, the person is lying, delusional, or has gone mad. But sometimes there really is a voice coming from some kind of a disembodied "life form." Here are some of the many possible reasons Daoist teachers and friends of mine have discussed: The person is being helped be the ghost of a dead cultivator who advanced far enough in life to become something of a powerful and neutral or benevolent ghost, which finds itself "trapped" in an intermediate state, unable to advance without obtaining a new body, and lacking the merit required to obtain one. This being therefore finds an appropriate human or humans to help, doing good deeds such as helping healers to heal their patients or helping fortune tellers to give more accurate readings. Sometimes the human knows he or she is being helped (as when a voice can be heard), and sometimes the human is not clear about this, and is just good at something without knowing why; however, those with open third eyes may see what is really happening. This is not a terrible situation to be in, but it becomes a major pitfall when the human involved mistakes this sort of relationship for actually "cultivating the Dao," and/or becomes attached to the benefits such a relationship creates, and/or becomes drunk on this relationship and unwittingly steps onto the path of a fraud. The person is being pranked by a mischievous ghost who is getting thrills of some sort from this relationship. The person has a deep desire for something like power, influence, fame, uniqueness, escape, or ability (including a benevolent ability like healing) and unwittingly invites a disembodied being into his/her life and develops a symbiotic relationship with that being (this relationship could have started in a previous life and may be the fault of family rather than individual karma). Illness, drug abuse, weak constitution, mental illness/disturbance, being unlucky and being at the wrong place at the wrong time, black magic, or occult dabbling unwittingly invites a disembodied being into his/her life and develops a symbiotic relationship with that being (this relationship could have started in a previous life and may be the fault of family family rather than individual karma). The person is being used by a malevolent ghost with some power or a demon in order to further that being's agenda on earth. That powerful ghost or demon may have the ability to masquerade as a seemingly-benevolent figure and may be able to grant quite a bit of power, knowledge, and special abilities to the recipient of its help. In such a situation the price that is paid in the end by the human who is used is said to be extremely high. The person is actually being guided by a highly realized being, such as an immortal, buddha, or bodhisattva. This is profoundly rare. It is generally not safe to assume that one has been blessed in such a way. I do not even know if Zhuge Liang, whatever his accomplishments in the earthly realm actually were (remember that the Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a novel that scholars say lumped various legends and stories into Zhuge Liang character's story), is recognized as having reached immortality. This is a question that a quite highly achieved master might address. But you're likely to have to do a lot of wandering and seeking before you encounter anybody capable of lending insight into these matters, and those with such insights tend to divulge minimal information and instead give their students simple instructions and push them towards sobriety and simplicity... With the above, I hope to relay the sense that, way more often than not, if one goes to a real Daoist master and says "I am hearing a voice that teaches me things, I think it might be this-or-that highly realized being," the Daoist master does not reply with, "why, you're right!" And thank goodness for this! The consequences for the above scenarios can range all the way from simple wasted time that might've been used on actual cultivation, all the way up to truly hellish outcomes. If one has a deep affinity for Daoism and wishes to learn what it has to teach, then one may have the opportunity of avoiding many pitfalls. But this, of course, requires actually going and looking for a teacher, not declaring oneself to be a Daoist without having ever met a master, much less been taught and initiated into a school or lineage. Another major issue you raise with what you have shared here relates to the possible consequences of playing with magic without proper training, as you are likely doing (unless you are extremely blessed and Zhuge Liang is a Daoist immortal and is really teaching you). Daoist teachers have many warnings about such things. They include: The dangers of unintended spiritual consequences, for performing magic that influences beings who one is not qualified to influence and draws their ire, resulting in a rebuke or rebukes. The dangers of exhausting one's three treasures of jing, qi, and shen as well as one's ling by engaging in magic, which likely draws upon these resources quite heavily; without having been trained in the ways of replenishing and building these resources, one undermines one's ming and gradually deadens one's spirit. The dangers of karmic consequences. For example, I mentioned your posts on the phone to an English friend and he laughed aloud, joking of course, saying that if you've caused the flooding and storm England has had in recent years, then there will be hell to pay. He spoke in jest, but he points towards something Daoists consider real. The dangers of receiving a heavenly rebuke and/or heavy negative karma if in fact you have stumbled upon real teachings and, because of your YouTube activities and the like, they fall into the hands of people who misuse them. Regarding the first four in that list above (and some of the points in the list higher up), Daoists will add the additional warning that one often does not know what one "has coming" until one reaches a later stage in life, when the natural process of aging leaves you with weak, deficient qi. In a young or middle-aged person, naturally strong qi provides a certain amount of defense for a human being, which can keep ghosts and weaker spirits from being able to exact revenge, and which masks the cumulative effects of excessively using one's three treasures to fiddle around with magic. After a serious illness or simply after becoming old, one's qi is no longer able to keep the consequences at bay, and ill fortune befalls a person. One of the sad results for these things is dying an unfortunate, tormented death. Then there are of course warnings about what comes after that tormented death. Chinese Daoists I have known usually call this "不得善終," or "not meeting a good end." I have been sternly warned about some people who were trying to do good in life but were not trained properly or unwittingly violated spiritual principles (including acupuncturists and exorcists) and died terrible deaths as a result, when their qi was used up and could no longer protect them. I cannot diagnose your situation. I simply lack the ability. But I strongly recommend that if you have a strong affinity for Daoism you consider whether or not it would serve you to find a highly experienced, wise, capable teacher who could help you sort through your unique experiences, possibly guide you in viewing them through the lens and in the context of Daoist teachings (if you believe you have a strong affinity for Daoism), and possibly guide you in your cultivation henceforth, if you decide to become a Daoist and have the opportunity to do so. I have two other things to bring to your attention. First, it is cool that you embrace eccentricity. I'm not sorry for clowning you (sorry, man, might just be my personal baggage but anybody who needs the world to know he lives like a Cash Money Millionaire has to get pfffffffffft'ed at... maybe I should work on that, but I'm just not ready, I'll work on it when I'm rich ) but I am sorry to hear that you've faced actual violence simply because of how you dress. Evidently English Eccentricity is a time-honored tradition unto itself, and if you've found a niche you're happy in, I am happy for you. I hope you can occupy this niche in safety and among friends who understand you. That said, your eccentricity strikes me as encompassing quite a bit of cultural appropriation, even if that appropriation has at its base a sincere interest in Daoism and/or Chinese culture. I suggest considering whether your "I do whatever I want, I don't care what the world thinks, you can judge me as much as you like but I'm just gonna do my thing" attitude does not contain elements that actually disrespect the very tradition you're enamored with and claiming to be a member of. "Tuesday Lobsang Rampa" aka Cyril Hoskin may have been an English Eccentric and a very nice guy who sincerely believed that he was occupied by a Tibetan master's soul, but he ultimately did not help those who were looking for authentic Tibetan Buddhist teachings. He also wasted time writing fiction books that he might have better used actually learning Buddhism, although in his day opportunities were much rarer than they are now. (Also, as an aside, returning to the warnings about beings occupying bodies of people, you might want to look at that link and take note of a similarity in the circumstances you narrate on YouTube--including deep dissatisfaction in life--and aspects of Cyril Hoskin's story, which, if not just imagination, sounds like possession). If what I'm saying doesn't make sense, then I ask, would you not find it a bit off if a neighbor of yours started to declare he was a Jewish rabbi because he had a voice that claimed to be an ancient Israeli magician and military strategist speaking to him? Or a Shotokan karate black belt because he did the punches and kicks in a karate book and managed to win some fights? The other comment relates to your statement to Flowing Hands that you have no "pai" or lineage." There is something a bit disingenuous to me in that response, as in fact you end your YouTube monologue by talking about how you have started some kind of institution to glorify the spirit of Zhuge Liang and his teachings. Now, I would not call that a Daoist school for reasons that should be clear, but I think you need to admit that you are starting something that aspires to be one. I would call it a "folk cult devoted to Zhuge Liang" (I use "cult" in the neutral sense for now). Paraphrasing, you say in your video that you are not establishing this organization for yourself, but entirely for the glory of Zhuge Liang. And that may be the case, but time will tell. Few religious groups that go awry are started by founders who don't claim to be starting their groups for the "greater glory." In any event, as far as I can tell you do have a "pai"--the one you yourself founded. I guess there is a small-but-real possibility that everything you are involved with is exactly what you say it is and is a wondrous example of a Daoist immortal who has found a worthy disciple on earth who is on the cusp of doing wonderful things for humanity. But if there is any chance that is not what is happening, I hope people who are interested in your claims will return to the first bullet list above and ask what kind of spirit needs a young human to help him establish a cult on earth. All of these things (aside from cultural appropriation) reflect issues Daoist teachers and friends have discussed with me in seriousness over the years. I hope you will give them some thought.
  33. 12 points
    I think the issue is just as bad in China - where Chinese esoterics are part of the culture - but so mixed up, confused and misunderstood, that most modern Chinese cultivators are just as lost as the western ones.
  34. 12 points
    2020, beginning on January 25th according to the Xia calendar, will be the year of the Yang Metal (White) Rat. Metal produces Water, and Rat is a Water sign. So the relationship between the Heavenly Stem (Metal) and Earthly Branch (Water) will be harmonious enough... with many caveats. The main problem is of course Yang Metal. A fierce warrior energy -- strong, arrogant, aggressive, it can manifest as a Terminator... Arnold was born on a Yang Metal day, by the way, and the list of famous Yang Metal dudes is positively scary -- Alexander the Great, Mohammed Ali, characters like that. Even Emilia Clarke whose protagonist led huge armies and didn't hesitate to sic her dragons on King's Landing essentially portrayed her real-life Chinese horoscope taken to the movie extreme. And, just like the Terminator, she is a mixed bag -- she starts out good and ends up bad, while the Terminator starts out as a bad robot and terminates as a good robot. Such is the Yang Metal warrior -- whether the cause that drives them is noble or ignoble, fierce determination is injected into both. Another caveat is that Yang Metal in the Heavenly Stem sits on top of Water in the Earthly Branch. Yang Metal is not some aluminum foil or manicure scissors or fine gold earrings or a diamond ring -- essentially it's a huge chunk of metal. A ship. A battleship. And the position in 2020 will be rather precarious for it, because Metal lacks the support of its Mother phase, Earth. So it will be arrogant enough but not at its peak strength -- there will be a lot of bark that won't necessarily result in bite. The most dangerous time for the bite comes in autumn, Metal's proprietary season when it's at its strongest and can back up any amount of bark with a very sharp and painful bite of its metal teeth. Let's hope not. In the Xia calendar, the Rat is the first of the 12 animals. The Hour of the Rat is also the first and begins a new day (23:00 to 01:00). 24 hours in a day and 12 animals -- so every animal rules 2 hours of every day. The Rat is unique though in that it is comprised of the “Late Rat” and “Early Rat.” Late Rat rules 23:00 to 0000. As the day changes at 0001, Early Rat begins and lasts until 0100. So the Rat sign covers two different days—half on a Yang day and half on a Yin day. The sequence of the animals is interesting in that the order in which they are lined up is based on the number of the animal’s toes (or fingers). An odd number of toes is Yang and an even number is Yin. While all other animals' front and back legs or paws have the same kind of digits of the same number, the Rat’s front legs have four fingers (Yin) and hind legs have five toes (Yang). This exactly matches the idea that the Rat represents both Yin and Yang.
  35. 12 points
    Just sharing this cos i like it . Especially this part 'So therefore, if you let it be, in fact, the things we want the most actually come.' Sounds quite Daoist for a Buddhist
  36. 12 points
    I like the title of the thread. Before Western interpretations were put on top of the concept of qi -- the way a cowboy might put a saddle on a panda because he knows how to handle horses -- a five-year-old in China might get this explanation: His mom would light a fire, put a pot of water on, and as soon as the water comes to a boil, add some rice and cover the pot with a lid. Once the water comes to a boil again, the lid on the pot would start to jump and rattle. She would then ask the kid, "What do you think causes this jumping and rattling? Is it fire, water, pot, rice, lid, steam?" "No," the smart and observant five-year-old would respond, "it's all of them put together, they work as a team and change each other, and this change is what causes the jumping and rattling." "See," the proud mom would beam, "you've figured it out! Now you know what qi is."
  37. 12 points
    This is actually a very broad and in-depth question you are asking; more than we can get into over a forum post. To give a concise introductory synopsis, the Yuan Shen “Original Spirit”, also known as the “Great Shen” (‘shen’ can be translated to mean consciousness, awareness, or spirit) manifests as five different aspects of consciousness through the yin organs of your body. It’s anatomical relationships are: -Liver houses the shen Hun -Heart houses the shen Shen -Spleen houses the shen Yi -Lung houses the shen Po -Kidney houses the shen Zhi Though you may prefer one meditative form over another, ultimately, when your meditation becomes realized, all living is a meditation through which effortless action will flow forth. The intercourse of consciousness to form is the totality of awareness pervading every level of your system, from the subtle to the coarse. The greater this penetration, the more realized the being. To strengthen a spirit, one does not add substance to it. Rather, one purifies it. This purification allows for it to connect to its origin of substance: physiologically, these are pools of energy that traverse throughout the body in the form of meridians and into the universe through what are known as ‘Source Points’ along those meridian channels. Pure consciousness, or pure spirit is powerful beyond the human mass: so to have greater consciousness is to have greater strength of spirit. At some point, through deep cultivation and meditation, it is possible to connect to the organ spirits directly and affect their processes consciously. This communication is not of mind or language, but rather facilitated through forms of energy, light and awareness- all of which are similarly interrelated dynamics of state. To note, the usage of the terms “energy, light and awareness” are not an unrooted, disembodied new-age-feel-good-idea, rather these are tangible substances of force that can be directed through intentful awareness at minor levels through such things a needling and acupuncture, to more substantive directed movements like in the external arts, to much deeper things such as the internal arts, medical qi gong, meditative transmission and more. Although there are many other things called ‘spirits’ in the universe (aka- disembodied beings), the term spirit here is meant as ‘shen’ of the physiological and meta-physiological body. More spirits of the system are not created in this particular case- as that moves away from Source, rather the existing ones are refined, cultivated and transmuted into their original nature as Yuan Shen, so they are rarified until they are unified… less is more. As for each of the “little shens”, each one has a different quality of emanation and function both physiologically in the corporeal body and spiritually in the essences of the universe. When one cultivates their spirit, they do so not only within form but beyond form. When this cultivation of insight and realization is deep enough, indeed, a new birth occurs: it is known as the Immortal Fetus and it is the beginning of a transformational journey of the human into the transcendent.
  38. 12 points
    I appreciate that Lifeforce has been here for a good long time. I also very much (and very much more) appreciate why Sean is not putting up with this shit any more. I can't know exactly why Sean has made the decisions he has, but I don't need to, 'cause know the reasons why I understand them. And it all boils down to: I don't think many if any transexuals had any more choice in the matter of their gender than I had in the matter of growing two arms, two legs, and a head instead of any other combination. And had I come out with six arms I might've even done something so drastic as ask a surgeon to make changes that made me feel at home in my own body, if my body did not feel like home. And I believe that anywhere along the way in that process I for sure would have received so much bullying and disrespect that it would be hard keeping my head high and breathing easy in this world, because I know I've felt plenty cruelty from others--especially in childhood and adolescence--for far lesser "abnormalities" and "transgressions." And I understand that that cruelty is a big part of the reason there are many suicides among transexuals. And the very least we can all do is make this a place where somebody who has been ostracized their whole life breathe easy and find acceptance. Because one thing is for Daodamn sure: all people got spat out of the exact same Dao that births one that births two that births three that births ten thousand things. The process that gave birth to this fool I call "me" gave birth to people who look, think, and act not at all like me. Therefore, tracing things back to their root, I have only two choices: accept that we are of one and the same plant, or cut off my own branch to spite those I have not yet learned to understand, but ultimately cause the withering, ossification, and dry shriveled death of my own shen. Word. Is. Bond. Of course, one can make the argument that one I just said is totally hypocritical and I should open my arms to oppressors in the same spirit open my arms to oppressed, and therefore I should be opposed to Sean's recent decisions. Duly noted, but I view Sean's actions as more like taking a weapon out of the hands of a drunk. A different kind of compassion manifestation of compassion may be needed in different situations. Now, when you've got a bit of qi the universe has a way of answering your questions very quickly. And Lifeforce's post yesterday made wonder what some of the old Daoists I know might make of transxexuality. Lo and behold, this morning at 8:30am I paid a visit to an 87-year-old Dragon Gate master (grandmaster, really) I study with, who is originally from Shandong province in China. He had asked a few of us male students there in the morning to clarify some teachings specific to the male reproductive system, and wouldn't you know his storytelling suddenly veered to talk to some of the young fathers in the room about how it's good to regularly pat kids on the head--but maybe not too much, if the kids are hanging out around cultivators and therefore getting tons of head pats from adults whose laogong points are pulsing with qi. He then told the story of a young man, born in 1981, whose parents were both practicing Daoist qigong regularly in the 1980s, and therefore the kid was often hanging around the school. He was a bright kid and friendly, so he ended up getting a lot of head pats--eventually this had the effect of "opening" (開竅 in Chinese) the spiritual centers in his head, and he quickly turned into a bonafied genius. I will not share the name of the person in the story, but this person is famous, influential, and indeed widely regarded as being truly brilliant, a prodigy. He skipped high school and college and went into the workforce and continues to make contributions in the world. Now, much as I respect him, the master telling this story is close to 90 and not especially abreast of how notions of gender have evolved in the last few years. On the other hand, as you would expect from a devoted Daoist teacher, he displayed no hardness or cruelty or even judgement in his assessment of what happened next to this young man. Continuing the story, the teacher said that one side effect of the boy's qi changes that were brought on when some of the spiritual centers in his brain "opened" was that he started to get frequent, persistent erections--"priapism" this is called. The boy did not have an affinity for Daoist practice, however, and never learned the practices that would have helped him circulate the powerful amount of energy that was stimulating his genitals. In fact, he did not even dare tell his parents about his problems with priapism, which caused him much shame. According to the old Daoist, the unfortunate result was that he came to develop a certain disgust for his physical situation and eventually went to Thailand in his 20s and got a sex change. Now, was the old Daoist right in his assessment? I suspect that at very best he was telling half the story. As I said, the person he was talking about is quite famous, and I looked her up this afternoon and discovered that she has told her own story publicly. One thing she said translates to, "I am 'post-gender.' My choice is to stand on no side of the debate about gender. This is not at all because I feel that this issue is unimportant. Rather, it is because I am of the opinion that debate will not solve any problems." My hunch is that if I asked this woman to tell me about her boyhood changes, she might think that the old Daoist's idea that it all started because people with qigong hands patted her on the head too much is total malarkey. Then again, who knows!? My point is definitely not to try and say, "ooh, look, the octogenarian qi master knows alllllllll, don't rub your kid's head or he'll turn into a girl." Sheesh, please do not let that become TDB sex-related qigong misconception #5,203! (Probably the cat is already out of the bag, sigh) My point is simply to say: the old Daoist who came from a very conservative society (trust me, even today Shandong province, where I spend a lot of time, is not an easy place for misfits of any kind to live in) told this story as even-keeledly as though he were talking about the weather; he talked about how he and this young woman are still friends; and he spoke glowingly of her brilliance for learning languages and many other things. Of the surgery had little more to say than, "well, that was a big thing that might have been avoided if we had realized what was going on, but she never dared tell anybody, which is a pity." But in his mind the problem wasn't that the young man socially transgressed by getting a sex change and becoming a woman... He thought it was a shame mostly because Daoists just generally tend to advise against avoiding all kinds of surgery if that is possible, because they think cutting up the body is really bad for qi! As far as he was concerned, though, in the end this was a choice the man made, and now he is a woman, so be it! They're still friends! She still visits for tea! The Dao keeps rolling! Yeah! That's how you make it to 87 and remain full of vitality and freshness, not grumbling on the internet about how everybody sucks and this and that change is insidious and I just want my pub lunch. Somebody here said that if there must be political discussion here, let it be from the standpoint of "how might a Daoist look at this." I agree, although I also know that we've got too many people here who think they know every last thing there is about Daoism because they read a translation of the Daodejing once and it evidently told them that you can be a chauvanistic pro-Trump "anarchist" because Zhuangzi said so or some other such nonsense. Nevertheless, in the spirit of whoever said that about politics, I ask, how might Lifeforce have worded his above post in a way that perhaps embodies a bit of the Daoist spirit whilst remaining true to the man that he is? My thoughts on a better way of wording these sorts of things: Obvvvioouusssllyyy (and oh-so-fucking-predictably), a solid number of the people who probably aren't too interested in what I have to say except to argue at it are gonna see what I just did and think: SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR, LOOK AT THIS POLITICAL CORRECT BULLSHIT, SNOWFLAKE, STOP STIFLING MY FREE SPEECH, etc, etc. I get it. As you wish, as you please. All I can say is I refer you to what I said above about cutting yourself off from the root to spite the branches whose shapes, colors of leaves, and pinkness of their flowers you evidently do not like. Bad for shen. Bad for qi. Not the Way. You suffer in the end. I speak from experience. I have been cruel to many people. And harmed myself plenty in the process. Hope you get a chance to learn. Hope you get a chance to meet more old masters. Hope you soften up, because Laozi said that the opposite is death. And if you're not interested in what Laozi had to say... why the fuck are you wasting your precious, finite, sooner-than-you-believe-to-be-very-finally-over life bathing in your computer monitor glow staring at this load of bullshit?????? Turn off the computer and go outside and smell a flower or smile at a toddler or help an old lady carry her groceries to the bus stop forchrissake! Sigh, like Sean said, it takes SO much more effort to refute bullshit than it takes to poop it out. Trying to offer a little water and fertilizer to the other branches takes work. But really, there's no other option, 'cause nobody makes it alone.
  39. 11 points
    First of all, I have not viewed the link you supplied so I am not addressing the content in there, just your question about the substances themselves and their processes. The "goal" is what you make of it. It's easy to dismiss this, in fact many students when I say something so simple do dismiss this while acting in theoretical courteous agreement - "Of course, right right" they nod their head vigorously, while lazily internally waiting for a seemingly more tangible answer that they really want to hear to be handed to them. The world is full of answers- but what could be better than realizing that all the resource you have to Become already lies within you? This is not a PC statement or a clever statement, it's the transcendent recognition of self beyond illusion and it needs to be taken seriously. This chosen path cannot be resolved in understanding to transcendence by those who need mental answers and desire social satisfaction, this is the path for those who are able to find true resolve and harmony in being without in every moment- and I mean that in many deep, deep ways. It is not to say that one may not experience forms of measurable change through practice and cultivation, but if you believe these moments of flux to be the arrival of the 'goal' or 'the ultimate' then you will have already seeded misunderstanding in the experience that you just 'grasped'. A profoundly truthful recognition at any level or layer of form is always beyond measure because it transcends the human device even if it can be witnessed in and through us. So students who tell me they want a teacher who will make them feel something specific and tangible, who are thus driven by the experience of phenomena- these are the people who enjoy the perpetuation of phenomena, who ultimately, are afraid to be without. And these are the same people who easily fall prey to strong intellectual minds and are seduced by imagery (ie. academics, powerful and persuasive egos, the look of monastic robes, fancy romantic tai chi moves, amazing displays of qi projection, etc.,.), who get caught up in their own emotionality of fantastical occurrences (ie. psychotropic drugs, mystical occurrences, impactful collective experiences, etc.,.), and who continue to crave affirmation to espouse validation (ie. credentialing, titles, audience recognition, etc.,) and thus are easily led astray and seduced by persons, groups and experiences seemingly more prestigious and enlivened than they actually perceive themselves to be. This is the weakness of insecurity and highlights the importance of doing the internal work necessary for a deep self-knowing... after all, from what source do you think immortality and enlightenment arises- somewhere outside of yourself? is it just floating somewhere in the universe of dimension? do you think a school will grant you a title and in that moment it becomes so? will society thinking you are a guru make it true? do you mistake the heavens for the Unnamble Source? So no matter what your lineage, who your teacher is, in order to walk this path truly, it must come from a guidance deeper and even more profound than the thing you think to be yourself. There are levels of exploration that can be done in the comaraderie of peers, or for the joys of health, etc.,. and in some of those exploratory or beginning stages, the simple practice of tai chi, qi gong, or basic knowledge of Taoist esoterics can provide an excellent foundation. For those who are are committed, there is incredible benefit to be had through selecting an area of study with great depth beyond a general workshop or class- at this stage learning must be continuous and your lifestyle reflective of each piece of knowledge; thus diligence and discipline are required. At later stages (and by late, I do not mean external progression, but internal: who you are, not what you have yet appeared to do or not do- this is about a maturity of sincerity), a private mentorship with a true teacher and the appropriate application of meditation can be profound. Thus the level, school, teacher or lineage you select may affirm to yourself the level with which you are ready to understand- assuming that instruction meets the substance of your willingness. Those who walk the true path deeply have already seeded in themselves a profound honesty- an honesty that will help them select or discover a true teacher, they will be sincere in their willingness and because of this they will arrive and know in concert with the Tao in their own time, not even because of their true teacher or a great lineage, but because of who they are. So the answer to this question is not for someone to tell you, not for the thing called "Taoism' to decide, or even your teacher. You come to the teaching because you are ready. And what you select- in consciousness and in ignorance, will continue your chosen path. Ultimately, the true substance is not found in any matter of phenomena- you will discover once you arrive there that even the substances of these Treasures in their most pure essence are so subtle, that they too nearly surpass anything which could give it name, including their own given names. When you are transmuting, in some ways, the pathway doesn't matter. I say this in part because you will notice that each school or scholar talks about the order slightly differently and yet each is still possible. The orders are different simply because of the starting point that is chosen. Since the substances and mechanisms are entirely inter-related and inter-dependent, one will not go without having at least some affect upon the other- the degree and quality of effect dependent on the quality of teaching and practice. The most basic understanding is to know that the energetic physiology of the physical system begins at the root- so this is jing and moves through the triple burner converting pre- and post- natal essences into qi through the middle dan tien before it arrives in the upper dan tien to nurture shen. This is the foundation of formations from the energetics of the mundane, especially when we are looking at how post-natal processes enable human life. However, even our systems exist in layers and dimensions, so again, the understanding of point of origin needs to be guided by a greater sense than just human dictates and esoteric sciences. If you arrive in Original Consciousness, this will make sense (if you follow my posts, you will notice that they are focused on shen and not jing. There are many reasons for this but an essential one being that you can worry about the form all day, but the form really only becomes whatever it is because of our quality of Consciousness- form is ephemeral and transient, its only purpose or value is as a vessel to enable Consciousness in its many manifestations, hence this is why immortality is possible. So even if the root of the energetic body is in jing medically speaking, the root of both form and formless of any manifestation and its capacity for transformation is ultimately found in (yuan) shen. Hence, immortality only has the potential to begin after passing through the threshold of enlightened strata). Thus, though the wealth of the post-natal substance can be arrived at through intense focus in still fortification and drive in conservation, as well as substantive knowledge of the medicines to enable longevity- to the degree that you are moved beyond having a substantively healthy form, you will begin to explore what is 'original'- the yuan. Here, at this point, there can be no "goal", as you spoke of. If you put the goal before you, you will obscure the very thing you seek. To be able to transmute and recognize what is so pure, requires that you have come to a peace of mind, heart and form. Desire must be arrested and greatly diminished if not entirely extinguished. What is pure is not tainted by semblances. Thus the pre-natal essence becomes through not only the principles of health that guide the bounty of rightful mortal living but also the processes of purification and release- here is where one starts the process of truly being without. Being without may be reflected in form, but more importantly is the source of your understanding and orientation to form, so that form in its infinite manifestations is immaterial from within the perspective of those who reside in Nothing. Caring for the Three Treasures exclusively in the post- or pre- natal state does not automatically guarantee that each will affect the other condition entirely. There are many, many factors that influence what is longevity and immortality and how it manifests in an individual including the stage of life in which they begin their cultivation, the overall path of their soul across time and space, their existing quality of health and clarity at the time the cultivations begin; and at later stages- the choice of manifestation they select, the depth of embodiment, the core of their focus, their ability to influence time and space including that of their own soul or 'karma' , as well as how strong deep and pure their spirit is in connection to Yuan Shen and Tao. In general, those that have mastered nothing, need to just focus on good quality health and greater self-awareness, in short, being a good human being and becoming a more self-aware person; they can further their being through substantive theory and disciplined practice. Those that are able to cultivate longevity will not only have attained requisite knowledge, but live in an applied understanding and thus will set the later stage to begin the purification process. While those who began this lifetime in a state of purity, will likely have automatically attained a measure of longevity and can begin the process of the Golden Seed. Most people are in some complex mixture in between and all people will benefit from the understanding of the care of form more foundationally, while self-reflecting upon their spirit through forms of meditation no matter the semblance of their stage. I want to offer that those who are later in life and/or have not been regular in their practices, who feel that they may be behind or think they would fail to complete milestones in cultivation (ie. perhaps because of health issues, trauma, past transgressions, or simply because they feel so exceptionally 'ordinary', etc.,.) and thus are resigned to lesser 'achievements'- do not doubt and do give up: live every moment as deeply and completely as you know how in health, awareness and self-cultivation- for this is the way of every Being who has ever come into immortality- they realize the eternality of the moment and they live accordingly, for there is only this moment to be and become. Remember too, that from a much greater existential perspective the path of your spirit is non-linear, so all that you give to this moment transcends this exact place and time. This is one of the understandings you can come to realize and (yes, palpably- lol) experience when you reside deeply in presence. So do not look to a later time to become, do not assume impossibilities from fear and doubt. Carry a light heart, be present, live honestly: always. ----- And so as for speaking, the next time you post a question to the forum ask yourself why you ask at all. Ask yourself what is worth knowing and why. Ask yourself to the utmost of the self you know, what is the answer. Then stop. Be still. Listen as infinitely long as it takes to understand- that is meditate and live in meditation- not dream, not human ideas of peace, but deep still inner awareness penetrating the silence. Be willing to move in both the knowledge and mystery that becomes each moment of what you are. Be content not to understand, instead be an honest person- discover whether your own questions are sincere, because the honesty of your understanding in reply depends on the quality of your sincerity in asking. Students and practitioners who do not recognize answers through the very simplicity of nature and being in the everyday, will limit their own understanding even when presented with the most profound of direct teachings. The answers are everywhere; existence in itself is an answer if you can recognize it and even more so, if you can penetrate it: there is only you who has yet to discover your own capacity to truly realize and become.
  40. 11 points
    The problem with self-study is two-fold: it typically hinders cultivating the peace of heart and body correctly. Without confessing these as the primary way there is no true cultivation or satisfaction happening, but the genesis of agitation. It's an evergreen fare on this forum that people come looking for practices as a means to satisfy some fixed personal desire. Often this fixity is then channeled as meeting some whimsical aim and urge to take forceful control that deviates from the laid back wisdom of true contemplative and peaceful heart. Therefore there's a lot of room for creating errors. Not only are many people dissatisfied with simple and efficient exercises, but also they want to modify what they have previously seen or create their own brand new fad methods in order to evoke a sense of external mastery. Some are more modest and publicly only claim high mastery in kungfu or meditation without making alterations to established standards. All these are signs of self-initiation, which is in contrast to an open minded and respectful self-study. Yes, it's entirely possible to train energy in a multitude of different ways, but not all of them are beneficial in the long term or fostering fair character development. Safety is another factor that can't be neglected especially when learning on your own. Static standing exercises like Zhan Zhuang in internal martial arts offer simplicity and stability, but finding the correct beneficial physical alignment on your own can be very difficult, and especially so if starting when in ill health and a tense body. There are simple moving exercises in many Qigong styles, but even in these people may err while learning on their own or forget to foster adequate physical relaxation. Also, this forum has witnessed many occasions where a disgruntled practitioner lashes out against his teacher because the physical movement apparently invites overtly critical examination and experimentation. Therefore I have a bias against recommending very physical practices for people wishing to study on their own. Visualization practices are an endless mire because they don't easily offer the mind to really relax and diffuse the baseline agitation nor shed the desire to imagine new ways to cut the practice short. How could it then result in correct outcomes? The most difficult part really is that no instruction is foolproof for teaching how to not stir the heart, but gracefully accept even difficult emotions and thoughts that may surface and witness them with laid back awareness. If this obstacle is overcome, then the self-study has a chance to bear fruit. Some practices are more forgiving with them such that Flying Phoenix doesn't require mental stillness for effectiveness and Fragrant Qigong encourages an idle mind so much that it's okay to watch TV while practicing. There are upsides and downsides to every practice. Some don't mix well with others, some require adhering to specific precautions. Video instructions only rarely feature complete exercises without withholding the internal development and lineage skills as closed secrets. These that I have found have in-built safety mechanisms that also reinforce good results, unless deliberately acted against that design. However, the characteristic feature always is simplicity and effectiveness. Written instruction often are the best of complete arts that were detailed in popular booklets during the China's booming Qigong craze. These are simple enough instruction that they could be printed out and distributed. Video Instructions Flying Phoenix - Breath sequencing that quickly activates energy, which makes its static standing exercises uncharacteristically very safe for self-learning Fragnant Qigong (Xiang Gong) - Very simple movements, but apparently there are flawed public demonstrations circulating in the Internet, so it must be learned from an authentic source Wu Wei Qigong by George Xu - Supposedly activates an esoteric wheel in the belly to cultivate energy for the practitioner, which is similar to Falun Gong but without its limitations Written Instructions Relaxation Qigong (Fang Song Gong) - Relaxation as a way to deep meditation, therefore dismisses forms and takes it easy Longevity Self-Massage (Bedside Baduajin) - A quick and simple set of external massages, but supplements with an internal aspect I will keep updating this list if I receive convincing arguments why some certain practice should be included above. Please bear in mind that I am keeping the bar very high and I will not include anything without careful examination. Examples of what will not qualify for self-study: Taiji Qigong Shibashi, all spontaneous Qigong styles without any exception. If you don't understand why, then read my article again and contemplate what might be missing.
  41. 11 points
    This is a very good video series explaining some basic errors that can be met while trying to engage in practical Daoist meditations. The first video is a great summary even for experts. The best benefit however is for self-initiates and newbies who are often clueless where to begin and whether they can safely practice on their own. The answer to that is: it depends on many conditions chiefly involving health and the purity of mind, but being too sure of oneself is more evidence of Dunning-Kruger effect than real skill. Deviations are not fun and can take a long time to heal, yet very often we can witness on this forum also how someone's pride and arrogance reveal unwise disregard for their own continued well-being. As if they were completely immune to any shortcomings and mistakes, and as if mastery was attained with the snap of fingers! It's good to be informed that these deviation conditions exist and why it's especially important to have contact with a knowledgeable teacher who can observe and help you correct yourself before unwitting mistakes and errors escalate into sickness. As a related note, it would be wonderful to poll the Dao Bums about how many of us have completely managed to avoid any deviations. I for sure haven't been such an outstanding student, but then my entry to the world of internal training was in order to get healed from imbalances caused by traumas, which is far from optimal. Video 1: Video 2: Video 3: Video 4: Video 5:
  42. 11 points
    The worldview of a lazy centrist: The world is just fine for me so I know there can't be that much wrong with it. So I am justified in never cultivating the kind of moral clarity that would lead me to actually help anyone less fortunate, especially if it would rock the boat. Furthermore those who disagree with me must be stupid, mentally ill or fanatical for not seeing, as I do, that the truth is relative and certainly never clear enough to motivate action, especially if impolite. Therefore I care much more about perceived civility than those who dare oppose the current status quo. I will never stop being firmly planted in a lazy, false compromise of centrism defined entirely by the poles of the situation I happen to find myself in. I will never be bothered to fight, god forbid, for so-called "justice". Left, right or religious - what does it matter, I'm doing pretty OK ... ... Anyway, I appreciate everyone's feedback. Not an excuse , but I'm having a very rough month to be honest. I've unsuspended Limahong and I'm sorry if I've disrespected the memorial topic. Sean
  43. 11 points
    The Big Dipper actually has nine stars. Two were still visible at the time of the eight immortals and are present on the astronomical maps of the time. But they aren't that. They are the archetypal characters who embody the Eight Trigrams as they manifest in human personality. Generally speaking, there's deities who are indeed "star gods" and planet gods too -- but the star or planet is like an office they take, a job they assume. There's 64 gods taking turn assuming the office of Grand Duke Jupiter, e.g. -- which one of them is the planet Jupiter? The one in office. The office will be putting forth regulations -- we may call them qi -- that will reflect the personality of this particular boss, not of his predecessor and not of his successor. Even the Jade Emperor was a person. The cat's meow of taoism is that you can cultivate your position in the universe. There's fixed stars but there's no fixed destinies. Matter of fact, even stars descend to assume offices on earth and go back to heaven when that's what they fancy.
  44. 11 points
    I'm OK. The fire front hit early evening Friday. It was a fast moving inferno propelled by a strong, gusty westerly wind. I was up all night defending my house and studio and managed to save both. But many houses have been lost in Nymboida including my neighbour’s and a number of my friends. We're a rural community with people living on a minimum 25 acres of mostly forested land. About half of the 12 or so houses on the road where I live are gone and more than half in the community at large, at least on this side of Armidale Rd. Many large trees have fallen, some still smouldering. The surrounding forest is devastated, all blackened trunks and bare earth. No understory or ground cover remains. I weep for the wildlife that’s perished. The forest that used to be alive all day with birdsong is now quiet. It’s even sad to see the few remaining birds flying around in a futile search for food. So many native animals have perished, with those few survivors likely to starve. I have a couple of pademelon’s (small wallabies) sheltering under my house. They’ve taken refuge here because there’s still some unburnt grass around my house and I have a small pond for them to drink from. A possum is here too and I’m putting out food for it. I’m slowly recovering from feeling totally exhausted. I feel calm enough as long as I stay in the moment, centred in my breath-body. I've been very much focused on my own situation here and getting some overview of the fires's impact and what it means for myself and the environment. I've been wandering around the surrounding forest, connecting with the damage, and doing a few small, simple things like tidying up some of the mess around my house. Today is the first day I've felt up writing something about it. I've needed to be in my own space. So much emotion to process. It was almost inevitable that such a catastrophic fire would come through here, given how dry the forest is and with fires burning in the region’s forests for the past month. All it took was a very hot day with high winds and low humidity for the fires to break containment lines on multiple fronts. I was well prepared and knew the fire was unstoppable. A recommendation to evacuate came through Friday morning. My plan was always to stay and defend my home but even so I had second thoughts when the fire front crested the hill to the south west of here. It was a fast moving monster. I wasn’t sure I could save my house but I knew I could always take refuge in my fire shelter if I needed to. As it was, the two fire-fighter pumps and several fire hoses I had set up got me through. I was own my own. The Rural Fire Service could do nothing to help. It’s a small community here with much support but, even so, people are in semi-shock. Although fires are common in this area, there’s never been anything like this one before. Even for people like me who haven't lost their house, it's been a traumatic experience. Yet also one that's very connected with the reality of natural forces, with the reality of life. This too is of the Dao, perhaps more so that much of contemporary life. But it's certainly not something I'd ever want to go through again.
  45. 11 points
    It's a great topic. So actually I believe there are 3 ways overall - not just the 2... (assuming we're focusing on spiritual cultivation) The way you haven't mentioned (but actually described to a certain extent) is the 'consciousness only' method - what most people think of as Buddhist or meditative practice. This is the idea that your body is not real, it's impermanent and it's a hindrance to your consciousness. The other approach is 'top-down' - the idea here is you transform your Shen through various tantric methods (by tantric, I mean working with the underlying energetic framework)... The changes on the Shen level then cascade down and transform your body in turn. This is, for example, Max's Kunlun method. The classical approach is the 'bottom-up' approach. It's as you described - you work from the densest aspects, layer by layer, eventually moving into the realms of cosnciousness. So here's my own experience. Baring in mind that I've had some experience in all three forms of practice and I've spent several years full-time, travelling and meeting teachers all around the world, and particularly all over Asia. I've had the great fortune to meet some extremely advanced teachers and have witnessed things that appear pretty miraculous. By this I'm saying that although I'm no 'master' myself, I have dedicated years to searching and decades to practicing these arts... in a very determined way. So my opnions aren't so much from books, but from personal experience and discussions and meetings with people. The first approach - consciousness only. This simply doesn't work for most people. As in 99.9999999% of people. It does work for some - but these people are usually ones who have achieved what's known as 'Path Knowledge' in a past life (or a similar attaniment in the Jhannas). Basically this means they are 80% of the way to full enlightenment and have managed to let go of the majority of their karma - and although they are still on the cycle of death and rebirth, they generally do not accumulate any more karma, and the karma they 'fruit' is generally of the most wholesome kind. They can effortlessly enter samadhi, they manifest all sorts of abilities etc. These are the 'spiritual geniuses' of the world. I've trained with one (western) Buddhist teacher that demonstrates this. He went to a meditation class in his early 20's and discovered that he could see into peoples bodies, pinpoint illnesses, and access information about their lives (this is the first time he sat)... Within a couple more attempts he entered smadhi and then through a range of coincidences met high level buddhist teachers, discovered he already knew by heart much of the Pali cannon etc. For him, practice is mostly on the level of consciousness - he sits, enters jhanna, and is able to make internal change on the causal level. The way he teaches his students, however is quite different. His focus is on body first... then moving onto meditative practice... then body-based vipassana. He takes a 'bottom up' approach - however his toolset is not quite as advanced as the Daoist set for this approach and I've not seen many of his students advance that far. The second approach - Top-down. This approach doesn't deny the body. But it starts with Shen (or Ling, technically) and moves down. I was also very much into this approach. I trained with Max for a several years. I lived at his house for a couple of weeks at a time, doing this work. However, I started to have doubts about the method. I saw lots of people damage themselves badly. I saw a lot of delusion in the school - and it seemed the only people that made good, safe progress did in fact start with a 'bottom-up' approach before coming to Kunlun. In fact Max himself had decades of 'bottom-up' training with quite traditional teachers. I began to lose trust in the method (I was quite sad about that as it was the first time I discovered that all this stuff is very real, tangible and very powerful). The bottom-up approach. When I started to get into the 'inner door' parts of a couple of schools in Asia, that's when I began meeting some extremely advanced people. Both in terms of the meditative aspects, skill with energy, alchemy, healing, siddhi etc. I have met one person who I'd consider 'fully enlightened' and they came from the 'bottom up' approach. When you start working on aspects of consciousness with advanced teachers (that expect results from you - or you're out), you begin to realise just how much internal strength, stamina, effort and energy is required to achieve something like Jhanna. I know a lot of people think they've achieved Jhanna... but let's just say that maybe they've been misled on what Jhanna really is... For example as you enter and stabilise the 1st Jhanna, you can discern the full cause and effect chain on any body or mind you choose to focus on... that sounds abstract... as an example the whole of Chinese Medicine and it's understandings of cause and effect came from insight at the level of 1st Jhanna... If you enter 1st Jhanna at the moments before death your body will not rot. After death in 1st Jhanna, you're able to choose when and as whom you are reborn... To even get a chance at entering 1st Jhanna you first must be able to enter and stay in samadhi for several days straight... That in itself is a superhuman ability... Imagine the most intense mental focus - like attempting to solve the hardest puzzle you've ever solved - and keeping that level of focus completely steady and unwavering for 72hrs - and not straining, pushing or using any effort to do so. To be able to do that you need to have a lot of energy. Your channels must be clear. Your Shen must be bright as the sun. Your body must be strong and resilient. and that's all achieved by the bottom-up method. I realise I've been using buddhist terminology - because actually at the higher stages it's easier to communicate, but this is certainly the case with the Daoist approach too - just substitute Jhanna with Shen Ming, and samadhi with Xin Zhai etc. In fact I believe that the Daoist approach overall in the preparatory stage is very much superior to the Buddhist appraoch. Once you get to the higher stages though, things are less differentiated. The Daoist understanding is that the body is the mind. So when you're working with the body, you're also working with the mind - it's just approaching change from the direction of the body is far less prone to delusion and error. Your Ren Mai is either open or not (there are specific physiological signs for it) - an open Ren Mai also has specific qualities of mind - but knowing whether you've achieved them is almost impossible (unless youre teacher is able and willing to enter into Jhanna to check ) There is much wisdom in the bottom-up approach. It's all understandable, discernable, testable and makes 'sense'. The Top down approach is the opposite - you must completely drop any attempt at making sense and surrender your whole self to your teacher and the method... The only teachers I met that I could fully trust in this way have been bottom up teachers... and they don't want all this dependency - they want you to figure stuff out by yourself - to understand what you're doing and why. Anyway - I hope this makes at least some sense. I know it's all a bit rambling, but I don't have the time to make it more coherent. Happy to answer any questions to clarify anything here though.
  46. 11 points
    Good question. Sung is of primary importance in all of Daoist internal training. The key is to first understand sung... it's releasing, but not a floppy sort of release... It's an 'active' release... it has an alive, springy feel to it - not soft and floppy. Think of a flower bud tightly compacted... as it releases, it actually opens up and expands outward - the petals are sung - they're not contracted, they're relaxed, springy, alive and they're not floppy like when they wilt. The next thing to understand is that there is always more sung available... You release, sink and as that opens your body a little, another layer of sung makes itself available. It never stops. Standing is a good way to train sung, but there's definitely a glass ceiling to it. as Miffy says, you need to move too. In fact, in the beginning, you should move more than stand. As Ride says, you need to release into the correct structure. If you just sung, without having the correct structure, you'll just relax into your habitual posture. You probably know this already. But it's important to always remind yourself of the correct posture. When standing, Ting and Sung work together. Ting is the 'scanning' you're talking about... but this also needs to be studied... Ting means listen... which is a passive sense - scanning suggests 'looking for' which is active... Ting, once it's developed in quality will have an intensity 'dial' to it... When you ting through a correct structure, it will systematically engage the 'soft tissues' (not muscles)... this will connect your body together. Then you sung into that connection... the expansion as a result of sung will slightly loosen your connection, so your ting must go deeper, re-establish the connection - then you sung that... then you ting that in turn... and so on The intensity of ting is important to get right - too intense and you'll cause too much 'activation' - too gentle and you'll not cause enough activation... So as you can see it's a very in-depth study. To build skill in Sung with movement, you can learn a lot from this video... there is unfathomable depth to it if you're obsessive enough to pursue it.
  47. 11 points
    I was an active member ten years ago, before I got married and had a child. I had more time for nei kung practice and forum participation back then, but I eventually stopped participating inTDB for a few reasons. #1, to the extent that I maintained animosity toward myself and was still subject to the power of my own negative, unconscious conditioning, I inevitably projected that animosity toward others, and had a well-earned reputation for being less than honorable when it came to voicing criticism of others and their ideas. If we remain true to our practice of awakening, the reality of interdependence begins to replace the delusion of an isolated self, and the very idea of attacking others in any way becomes untenable, even in the midst of strongly differing opinions. #2, It was not until 2015 that Developmental Trauma Disorder become recognized as a specific condition with the publishing of The Body Keeps the Score. And it wasn't until 2018 that I actually sought and received help for this. (It's possible a DTD thread could be valuable here.) #3, I was having multiple surgeries on my skeletal system back then, and was clearly acquiring a fondness for extra doses of Vicodin, not to mention plenty of weed. This practice is not helpful in the battle over delusion. I own all this and categorically apologize for the hostilities I unleashed in this forum. I was quite arrogant and haughty and justified my style under the guise of being intellectually rigorous. That being said, there were inherent conditions of TDB I could no longer tolerate. Foremost was the sheer volume of lunacy, anti-intellectualism, and magical thinking that prevailed during the era of 2009+/-. I did my best to cite references to support my claims, a practice which often elicited ridicule given my arrogant style, but I still maintain that intellectual honesty is the bedrock of a functioning inquiry. Even discussions of a spiritual nature require a basic respect for critical thinking and definition of terms, perhaps even more. I was taken aback by the volume of right-wing conjecture that was prevalent even then. My earliest posts were attacked and ridiculed through the looking glass of paleo-conservative ideology, void of of any meaningful substantiation. Almost everyone seems a little guilty of confirmation bias these days but the truth is available wherever it whenever it is respected. Ironically, I have actually become more conservative during this last decade, but my conviction has only grown that both Taoism and Buddhism recognize the interpenetration of all phenomena, ideas as well as the entire web of life, and that a sensible and sane politics that prioritizes happiness over the pursuit of pleasure is inconsistent with modern industrial consumer capitalism. So,yeah... ecology is real. And it's radical. I commend Sean for taking his recent actions. Our current leadership is taking cues from the ancient authoritarian playbook to obliterate reality by denying any objective truth, by slowly whittling away the belief that people can be certain of anything. They live beyond the bounds of reason and cannot be reasoned with, not in life, not in forums. Anicca, the Buddhist expression of impermanence of all things, remains the only solution.
  48. 11 points
    (Bolded for emphasis). Well said. I'm no Daoist general or anything, but FWIW I'm not relishing this. Quite the opposite. This is cumbersome labor and something I've avoided and tried to imagine alternatives to for years. Also, my felt sense is not that I'm banning human beings, or treating people with antisocial ideas as if they're discardable in real life. I'm halting the language of memetic bigotry from spreading uncontested in one online space. Sean
  49. 11 points
  50. 11 points
    @joeblast Since you would prefer discussion of martial ethics/virtue to be kept separate from discussion of martial technique, and since I think Starjumper has to accept closer scrutiny than just your average TDB blowhard since he's now selling his books and videos here, I am splitting the threads. I write the following to anybody who cares, although it addresses your post directly. (Anybody who wishes to troll this thread, go on ahead. But at least read this first so you can say something genuinely witty and germane. And Starjumper, if you wish to continue mocking me here, you're welcome to. Go hard. Consult a thesaurus even. Why not get it out of your system once and for all, and then try and remember that you're never too old to grow up.) Thanks for your thoughts. If I come across as one who was sheltered and therefore does not understand street violence, thank you for that too. I say that without guile or irony. I take your comment as a compliment, as it was not easy to go from being a person regularly consumed by anger and involved with violence of many kinds to a person who rarely feels the need to even think about harming other people or vandalizing my environment. My most important martial arts teachers would also be satisfied if I told them that it appears I do not carry an aura of violence, even online. They (two from the Shaolin tradition, one from Wudang, neither famous) were exceedingly clear that gentleness and calm were the the most important things we would ever learn, even though to be certain in the Shaolin school there was often bruising and bloodshed as we trained in a way that reflected a real need for self-defense in that time and place. My recollections of the violent side of the world that I passed through are very relevant to my opinion that Steve Gray. It is because of those experiences that I say that if he is going to be selling spiritual books and videos online (and hawking them here), then he needs to assume more responsibility for his words than XYZ random forum member does. One who sells teaching materials related to spiritual practice (even if he denies that's what his books and videos are about) must exercise real discernment and be cautious about publicly disseminating violent fantasies or bigotry, even when in jest or when acting out an outrageous online persona. Those who decide to be teachers, especially when they're selling the types of books young people like (Power! Jedis! Dragons! CIA! Kill you with merely a thought! Bruce Lee! Aliens! Wizards! Harry Potter!), need to know that silly young fools may actually end up taking them as role models. Their words may manifest in their students' and fans' actions. These are things that virtuous teachers keep at the very front of their minds--for the sake of their students, society, and their very own karma I will explain why I feel strongly about these things, but first I will apologize, because I know it is all too easy for discussion of a "dark past" to turn into a sort of dick measuring contest (that keyword is a T-ball pitch for you if you need it, SJ). Nevertheless, here it is: sheltered though I may seem, in fact from mob brawls to 10-against-2 beatdowns (on both sides of that ratio) to bottles smashed over heads (more times than I can count, with a goodly scar on my forehead for when I got to taste it myself) to baseball bats and table legs to stabbings and all the way up to gun play (on both sides for that, also, though by grace of the Spaghetti Monster no altercation I was personally involved with resulted in a bullet hitting a body; yet I've been within fifty feet of a drive-by as well as dumb kids shooting a dude to death because he stopped his car to confront them when they threw rocks at it... cold world indeed), to multiple close friends and acquaintances losing people to murder, to friends falling apart in the crack game, to stick up kid friends who turned into the psychopaths who cut people after getting the money, to friends locked up... I have seen a fair bit, and the list goes on. That's just the violent crime, making no mention of the other crimes as well as my habitually foul behavior towards women, gay men, people weaker or stupider than me, etc. All that said, I came from a comfortable enough household and was not as hard as I aspired to be. I learned I was definitely not hard when my propensity for violence increasingly put me in contact with people who were in much deeper than me. Participating in beating up and apparently stabbing a BPSN one year meant having to keep a gun in the apartment and lay low on paranoid mode for quite some time. Less than a year later, I put a rifle in my friend's hand and he licked a shot at a group of BDs who damn sure knew who we were, so I had to leave my home and nearly everything I owned and permanently camp out on my friends' sofa. Having all that go on while becoming a little too well-known to police and also expelled from college in large part because I was involved in a brawl turned stabbing there, well, it ended up being enough to convince me that I needed to get my shit together. But... Getting one's shit together when one is a young, selfish, antisocial retard who didn't have a good male role model in the home is exceedingly difficult. One of the biggest blessings in my life was that I had encountered and trained with both the Shaolin and the Wudang teachers before I went feral. I was able to remember that while training Shaolin martial arts I had been healthy and in high spirits, and also easily avoided conflict. In my twenties, when I finally realized the need I had for discipline and guidance in my life, I knew that these things existed, and I was able to go back to them. Far more important than the physical practices was the availability of responsible, mature, sane men to teach me how to stop being a fucking fool. That was many years ago. I have not needed to fight with anybody since then. The two times people tried to jump me since then, I just ran away, which was easy, as few goons are in better shape than I am, and also because there was simply no compelling reason not to run away. This last fact I was able to see clearly because my teachers were men who offered their students very clear teachings about what kind of behavior reflects integrity, and what kind does not. The two Shaolin teachers were both cops in an area where violence was a part of life. One teacher's teenage son had died because he was shot in the face at point blank down the street in a convenience store for answering a question about his gang affiliation by saying he had none. You can imagine that we were reminded about this story on a regular basis, especially if anybody in the school got into conflicts in the neighborhood. So, we trained and became strong and punched and kicked each other but we also were fed a steady stream of moral instructions from men who were mature, upright, strong, confident, dangerous, very familiar with violence, and yet never ever ever ever prone to sitting there making light of it, or bragging about it, joking about killing people, name-calling those they did not like, etc. I am sure they behaved the way they did in part because they were aware of how volatile and impressionable all the hormonal, teenaged and early-twenty-something minds around them were. To be unclear about what constitutes virtuous behavior is to fail as a martial arts teacher, regardless of how skilled one may be at teaching people to punch, kick, grapple, etc. My own life example proves that even if you do teach properly, kids will still fail to get the message. Yet, despite the fact that I strayed far from what my teachers had taught me when I was a teenager, my great good fortune was that they planted seeds that remained fertile until I finally began to examine my life in my twenties. Had they not done so, I do not know how I would have found the power to change the direction my life was plummeting along in. Perhaps I would have have failed to extract myself. I can only remain grateful that they upheld the martial culture as excellent role models and mentors who helped me cease harming myself and others. What they demonstrated was 武德, "martial virtue." The character 武 simply depicts stopping (止) and a bladed weapon (戈). Partially this refers to self defense, which helps you stop others from harming you. But when viewed as the basis of moving from simple martial arts training into a spiritual existence it reveals a deeper meaning of learning to stop yourself from harming self and other. This is not easy to do, and yet it is core of all Chinese martial arts that can legitimately claim to have their roots in the teachings of the sages. Those of you who view this place as The Dao Bums and not simply "the bums," please be aware that the Daodejing makes no bones about this issue. If you can't remember where, it is time to read the book again. This brings me back to Steve Gray, who claims to have inherited one of the greatest Chinese martial arts ever--one that indeed comes from the spirit realm and turns people into sages. In choosing to use this shared forum as a platform from which to hawk his book full of purported spiritual teachings, his neigong videos (including those expressly meant to activate shen), and to attract students to his brick-and-mortar school, he has chosen to move from the role of simple forum member into a more public role. I do not suggest that anybody needs to force him to speak and write in one way or another. But given Steve's transition to public figure, I think there is no reason to treat him differently from any other author, video maker, or "master" plying his/her trade on the internet. Given that he is selling teachings, there is plenty of reason to take a serious look at just what kind of teacher this is. That is why I hold his fantasy about killing the BJJ practitioner in a different light than I would if it were posted by a random TDbum. That violent fantasy and all the name-calling that goes on and on and on and on... what kind of person does it reflect? What kind of teacher does it reflect? What kind of energetic, spiritual, and martial development does it reflect? Is it just little jokes, or is this man perhaps deranged and dangerous? If he is not deranged, why does he feel the need to play the role of a somewhat crazy, bullying person when he is posting on the internet? There is another issue which also demands some scrutiny: Starjumper is spreading videos online of shen practices which he admits that he himself cannot safely practice. Today, regarding the videos he recently posted he wrote: It is well known that improper shen practices can and often enough do lead to mental illness and spiritual disturbances. That Starjumper is using the Dao Bums as a platform to advertise and distribute video instructions for practices that he, as their teacher (creator even?), does not fully understand is eyebrow-raising to say the least. My opinion is that simply tacking warnings onto the beginning of videos (or covering your book with the word "spiritual" and then denying it is about spirituality) is a lame cop out, and demonstrative of a man who lacks the sense of responsibility required of a person in the role he is trying to occupy. Anyway, I feel I have made my point. Food for thought for some, hopefully. Maybe some will think I'm overreacting. I was taught by people who took this sort of shit very seriously and took pains to explain why. My hard-won life experience lends me to think they were right in doing so, and thus I take my time to express these things as clearly as I possibly can. People should be very careful when choosing teachers. That is all.