Michael Sternbach

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Everything posted by Michael Sternbach

  1. Hey Chi Dragon! Welcome back to TDB!
  2. simplify

  3. Sumer: the "black-headed" vs. the "red-faced"

    Depends on who you ask.
  4. simplify

  5. Sumer: the "black-headed" vs. the "red-faced"

    Another possibility is that the builders of Gobekli Tepe - or their instructors - were the representatives of an advanced civilisation yet unidentified by archaeologists but the subject of so many legends from all over the world. It then makes sense to assume that it was that mother culture/civilization that also introduced the concepts of agriculture and city dwelling to the natives of Anatolia.
  6. That's an interesting change of perspective. Reminiscent of the notion held by some Christians that it is never God who turns away from us, but it is us who may turn away from God. Gotta reflect on this some more, though...
  7. internal anger

    I totally agree. However, there's but a narrow line between anger and determination. And it is this line that separates the true warrior from a raging maniac.
  8. The Torus and the YIN/YANG

    You can actually see this as a progression: Two raised to the first, second, third, and sixth power.
  9. The Torus and the YIN/YANG

    That depends on how far you wish to break things down. But just looking at the Taiji symbol, I would say four: Greater Yang Lesser Yang Greater Yin Lesser Yin These four poles are also what the Yijing is based on.
  10. simplify

  11. Daoist way to leave porn addiction?

    And you inquired specifically about a Daoist way to handle this. So I will try to reply from a Daoist perspective. That's fine. The way is the goal! It seems to be mostly a Western idea that you always need to have a goal in life. Instead of simply living in the here and now. This is not to say that it is always wrong to have goals. But I suggest that you don't try to set one for yourself. It will find you - when you are ready. According to Chuangtzu, the Daoist sage has plenty og of money to spend, yet doesn't even know where it comes from. What you are describing actually seems to approach that ideal. If you do that alot, then it might indeed be considered a waste of kidney qi. Now the Daoist approach of dealing with any kind of undesired behaviour is not to resist it, but to observe it. Be with your addiction, study it, find out at what moments it most likely befalls you? What increases it?What diminishes it? What do you get from it? What does it take from you? Don't fight it... It will fight back and most likely get the better of you. Rather, use it as a springboard for introspection and self-exploration. According to Laotzu, the sage travels everywhere without even stepping out of his house. Do you have a girlfriend? It will be hard to leave this addiction if you don't have another way of satisfying your natural sexual desire.
  12. Mixing systems

    Like several of the previous posters, I have once been an ardent believer in well defined, traditional systems. As such, I made an effort to submit to the boundaries set by their masters - while my ever inquiring mind kept peeking over the edge. I could not help seeing what the others were doing better. And I could not keep myself from integrating what I saw into my own practice, if it fit like a glove. I also learned that that was actually the way new systems had been created all along, and that few of them (including the most 'traditional' ones) had remained unchanged over a time period as short as the last one-hundred years or so. So here is my advice to the OP: Notwithstanding the warnings of those jealous lineage holders that you will inevitably be going off on a tangent and get lost in space, be free to supplement your current practice with whatever YOU need to truly make it work for you. Although it is true that as a beginner, generally you should "empty your cup" and be in more of a receptive mode - once you got the basics down, there is no valid reason not to look at the bigger picture and let it inspire you. Systems are there for the people, it is not the other way around.
  13. What are you listening to?

    Suffering from a cold and a headache, today I felt strangely compelled to listen to some old Madonna songs, including her popular "Miss American Pie." As I wasn't quite sure what the lyrics meant, I decided to do some searches and learned not only that I was not the only one with that issue, but also something I am sure most of you American bums are already well aware of: This song was first presented by Don McLean in 1971 and reached the first place in the charts of the US and of other countries, despite its considerable lenght of eight-and-a-half minutes. More importantly, it reflected the changes in mentality from the beautiful, unspoilt world of the 50's to the growing dissatisfaction and social criticism of the 60's, climaxing in the revolutionary spirit and invocation of Anarchism at the end of that decade. Moreover the song made me wonder, what are we (in Western society) at now? Did the music really die - and that's that? Or are we writing yet another song? Thoughts?
  14. Should I or shouldn't I ?

    You should!
  15. Is this the so called Cinnabar Field

    This brings to mind one of my early 'energy experiences'. I had started doing zazen not long before. One night, I was meditating at the beach side. Soon after, back at my holiday house and sitting on the front porch reading a book on Zen, I had a powerful sensation of energy in my lower dantian and radiating through my body. It was exhilarating. I adjusted my posture, hoping to prolong the feeling. I also went to a nearby place in order to practice Karate forms. The sensation lasted well into the morning. It had taken me by surprise as it was not mentioned in the books I had read so far and I too had questions. Alas, there were no forum boards yet at the time... In retrospect, I consider it an opening of energy channels in the LDT. And I assume your experience is of a similar nature. Best of luck! Michael
  16. New member - long introduction (sorry)

    Nice example of British understatement, you slick cat! 😺
  17. New member - long introduction (sorry)

    Hi Nier And welcome to the forums. I am confident that many here will see themselves mirrored in what you described in your interesting introduction. In fact, parts of it strongly reminded me of the path I walked myself so far. I look forward to exchanging thoughts and insights with you. Cheers Michael
  18. However, it seems fair to say that occultism leans more towards a rational understanding of "the other world" whereas shamanism emphasizes its (subjective-mystical) experience. There is a reason for the term occult sciences... In ancient Egypt, those complementary approaches may have been represented by Thoth (Hermes Trismegistos, the legendary founder of occultism) and Anubis (being the archetypal soul guide) respectively. Their mystery schools may each have laid their emphasis accordingly.
  19. Indeed. Both occultism and shamanism are approaches towards "the other world". Jeremy Naydler's book Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt demonstrated in academic terms what occultists knew all along.
  20. Chat Room?

    Those were the days! Who knows, maybe they will be revived? Time is circular...
  21. Chat Room?

    I and a few others are using it almost on a daily basis. Others chime in occasionally. We would be really sad if it ceased to exist... Michael
  22. And all that I am interested in is if a practice leads to real results in my own experience. This is the crucial criterion also according to the Buddha and other great masters. Anything else is of no consequence to me.
  23. Hi! First post.....

    Hi Tim Nice to have another Taiji instructor here. I'm more of a dabbler in Taiji while my principal art is Parker style Kenpo Karate. Welcome to the forum!
  24. Once upon a time, while chatting with a store's cashier, she let me know that she was a black belt in Jiu-jitsu. I asked her about the particular style she was practising and she said to me, "why, it's the original one! The real thing, you know..." She was obviously totally unaware of the fact that - already long before the advent of BJJ and other modern variants - Jiu-jitsu existed in the form of numerous schools spread out all over Japan. It was not uncommon that they were rivals and would jealously guard their secrets from one another. I experienced similar things when I was training Aikido at various schools. I would ask a senior what style of the art we were actually practising and would consequently earn a blank look. Once a female black belt rushed off to ask the head instructor about it. His reply was "Ueshiba style" - said with an undertone as if he was stating the obvious. Alright. Fair enough. In those days, I was practising Aikido at the same time at another dojo in Kyoto simply because the two evenings a week the aforementioned one offered were not enough for me. Its respective head instructors were from the exact same lineage, yet there were some significant technical differences between the two schools. Sometimes I would find one school's version superior over the other and absorb it for my personal practice - ever hoping not to upset the other school's instructor too much by doing so. Now I have experienced the very same phenomenon even in so rigorously defined a style as Shotokan Karate, even though to a lesser degree. And I have definitely seen it in Yang style Taiji. - All of which left little doubt in my mind that, invariably, a style changes not only over time, but with each instructor. Please bear in mind that I am sharing this as someone who (in my younger days) used to be rather adamant about doing things 'the right way' in martial arts! And I would be quite unhappy if it was hard to ascertain that right way because different instructors (from the same school!) would tell me different things. Sometimes I would enlighten them as to a particular detail not being in keeping with what grandmaster so-and-so shared in his manual (which allegedly were authoritative to us). A rectification that was not always appreciated... Due to the dojo's strict hierarchical structure, I sometimes felt compelled to back down, even though I knew I was right. For I was making in-depth studies of the relevant literature, much more so than my instructors... At present, my principal style is Kenpo Karate in the tradition of Grandmaster Ed Parker (who was my principal instructor's direct teacher). Actually, the term 'tradition' sounds a little odd in reference to Ed Parker's Kenpo as the system defines itself as non-traditional. Mr. Parker was continuously developing his system over the 30+ years he was teaching it and was encouraging his students to adapt it to their own needs and preferences - to 'tailor' it as he put it. It is said that his greatest fear was that it would be set in stone and stop evolving when he was gone! Maybe he went through a somewhat similar process like the one I described above. Perhaps at some stage he too was comparing different styles and instructors. And rather than blindly following one or the other, he decided to combine the strenghts of all of them into a new system of his own making... Many (if not all!) arts (long since considered traditional) were the result of just that kind of synthesis. Ed Parker's genius lies in not only admitting this fact in regards to his own system, but to invite further development and evolution. Upon watching one of his senior's (Barbara Hale's) class, he enthusiastically congratulated her: "Excellent! Not one of your students moves the way you do!" As a matter of fact, it was his vision that every black belt would be "a style unto themselves." It is said that Bruce Lee was inspired to create his famous Jeet Kune Do (called Kenpo Karate's sister style by some) along similar lines of ongoing exploration due to Mr. Parker's influence (the two martial artists knew each other well). What Mr. Parker's spirit of progression led to is a martial art that the CIA (after an extensive study conducted over a time span of seventeen years) considers to be the most effective of all due to its adaptability and practicality. It has spread all over the US as well as to other parts of the world. Following the guidelines given by its founder, among the numerous individuals teaching it, many have taken it into various directions according to their individual strengths and preferences. I keep watching quite a few of them on Youtube. Sure enough, I don't always like what I see. However, I may choose to integrate anything that fits into my own practice - thanks to this style's open approach. The same holds true even for elements from the other systems that I got involved with to one degree or another during my three decades of studying the martial arts. At some stage, I became concerned about people expecting to learn the original Parker system from me, when in fact what I was teaching deviated from whatever that may be in certain ways. I asked the senior instructors on a Kenpo forum about it and was laconically told not to worry about it. That said, at some stage I may indeed want to give my system a name of its own... Right now, there seems to be no need for that, despite its various features assimilated from Japanese Karate, Aikido, Taiji and other arts. True, the lack of a binding curriculum does not exactly facilitate qualification in Parker style Kenpo. Then again, as I have seen, methods and content of instruction can vary from one school or instructor to another even in the more traditional arts. So when people ask me what style I recommend to them, I tend to suggest they go and visit the various schools in their vicinity and choose the one they most resonate with. (As an aside, I essentially give them the same advice for finding a doctor, babysitter or whatever.) At the end of the day, it is that personal resonance with a school and teacher and with what they have to offer that should be the criterion for seeking them out for instruction - far above their belonging to a particular tradition or organization. It is likely going to be the one that you can learn from the most, provided who and where you are.
  25. This thread's header made me wonder: What makes an original source original? There is no text, practice, or system that didn't have some kind of predecessor. Many a form of cultivation is called 'traditional'. The implication generally being that this is the real thing, not some modern fad. Something created long, long ago by a legendary master. Something that stood the test of time. Something you can have faith in. But take a closer look and, in all likelihood, you will find that your time honoured traditional system is hardly more than 100 years old. And that even in that period, it has been subject to various alterations and modifications for reasons you may or may not approve of. Every living thing is in a state of flux and change. Yes, there is value in preserving not so much the outer form of things, but their essence. And in restoring the latter when some of it has been lost (as so often is inevitably the case) - going back to the sources. Ideally, the result will be a blend of that old 'original' material with the best which innovative practitioners from later generations have found. Such is the nature of true evolution.