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Everything posted by forestofemptiness

  1. Damo Mitchell Free MCO Course

    I'm still working through his Foundations of Qigong, but if anyone is interested, he is offering a free MCO course:
  2. Damo Mitchell Free MCO Course

    I'm not convinced that there is a single, universal "map" of spiritual awakening. Even within Buddhism, terms such as realization differs from tradition to tradition. And within each tradition there are variants. For example, per the Pali Canon, "entering the stream" usually means breaking the first three fetters: belief in a self, doubt in the Buddhist teaching, and attachment to rites/rituals. Not only that, but there are certain markers that are supposed to arise when this happens. In some cases, realization refers to realizing the three marks of existence: impermanence (anicca,) selflessness (anatta), and dissatisfaction (dukkha). At least the way one set of teachers taught it, the initial blooming of this realization IS stream entry. From a Zen perspective, the beginning of the path is when one glimpses the nature of mind, which then becomes the basis for further practice. In fact, Zen masters may talk of permanence, true self, and bliss as a way of teaching. The issue is that there are different paths for different people. However, the tendency to reify a particular path as THE PATH and use it to judge all others is a bit problematic.
  3. Damo Mitchell Free MCO Course

    As this is a Damo thread, I thought I would go with what he says. In his Comprehensive Guide he says: "There is much disagreement within Daoism over the meaning of the term Xian... or "immortal." Some say it is a metaphor for reaching a high level of spiritual attainment, but personally I understand it in its most literal sense." He also states that the spiritual embryo "is one of the final attainments of alchemical practice whereby your own consciousness has been nurtured to the point of being able to exist independently of the physical anchor of the body. This becomes the basis for spiritual immortality..." I've heard similar notions from other Daoist teachers.
  4. Damo Mitchell Free MCO Course

    That's weird. Most experienced teachers are aware of these things. Of course, different people experience different things. I have yet to meet a tradition that didn't have a superiority complex. I remember when I went to my first retreat, they told me they were teaching the "original teaching of the Buddha." Just the first of many "original teachings of the Buddha." Maybe a subject for another thread, but I'm not sure that Daoism and Buddhism are even going in the same direction. To make a gross comparison, for Daoism immortality is said to be the goal, whereas in Buddhism it is the problem.
  5. The 'money' mantra

    It is not possible to receive the proper empowerment anymore.
  6. Cultivation Systems and books we'd recommend

    For online Buddhist learning, I would recommend: There are two programs: one called the Joy of Living that teaches concentration and insight meditation with a specific Vajrayana flavor, and the Path of Liberation that is a complete path of Mahamudra. The second requires in person pointing out and empowerment. Basically, you can start as a beginner and go fairly far along the process. It is designed specifically for busy lay persons such as ourselves.
  7. Hi... What is Dao Bums really..?

    From my personal POV, the DB is about a bunch of mostly Western students who were disenchanted with traditional sources of religious authority and looked for practical spiritual practices that work, especially for modern non-monastics. People would try out different things and report on what seems to work for them. Many of us have tried out different spiritual modalities --- Daoist, Buddhist, Western occult so have a broad range of experience. Over time, a lot of people decided to split off due to various differences in approach and/or politics, which is unfortunate. Also interesting is how many DBs ended up settling into a more or less traditional path.
  8. The 'money' mantra

    From a traditional Indian Tantric POV, there is not necessarily anything wrong with physical wealth because in a non-dual world, everything is divine. I have learned some specific wealth practices and they appear to work. However, I'm not willing to pay whatever karmic cost there may be, so I stopped using them.
  9. Damo Mitchell Free MCO Course

    Interesting that you ask at this particular juncture, because I'm assessing what to do. Overall, I think what Damo is teaching appears 1) authentic and 2) produces results. The time and effort required for 2 varies by the individual, but there is no doubt for me that it works. Damo is a good instructor with a light heart and a lack of typical red flags. I was able to have fairly strong qi sensations, spontaneous movement, and felt the dan tian in the time I spent. Overall, I would say this is the best Daoist program I have come across. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested. One may think, well, why are you assessing what to do? A few reasons: 1. Current lack of access to live instruction. The Academy I think was developed as a supplement, not a substitute for live practice. I'm sure my forms are off, but getting any live instruction (due to pandemic) appears to be a year or more in the future. I am concerned about the bad physical habits I will have ingrained in that time frame. Post-pandemic, with regular in person meetings with instructors, this might be less of an issue. However, even with regular, ongoing contact with live teachers, it takes a long time to learn postures, and there are no LNG teachers in my immediate area. 2. It takes a lot of time/energy. The recommended minimum practice time is about 2 hours, which isn't a problem if you are focusing on one thing. However, I have my own practices and often have to choose between one or the other. The practices are not easy, so it requires mustering up will to do them regularly. Also, consistent formal practice is very important, which can be difficult for us lay people with families. 3. More qi = more problems. We all assume having more qi/qi flow is a good thing, but as often is discussed, it highlights the positive and the negative. There are some personal negatives that don't need strengthening. 4. The meditative aspects are quite different from what I am currently working on. I have reservations about splitting one's intention as I think it may limit one's progress. So I would say the program is great, but perhaps not for me at this current time. However, who knows how I'll feel in a week or a month. TBD.
  10. As I recall from my Zen days: Sentient beings are numberless, so there is likely no next. And if all beings are both finite and liberated, then time, as a product of ignorance would have no meaning. There is no next. Or maybe it all starts again, who knows? But becoming a Buddha for the sake of sentient beings is one of the key ingredients (from a Mahayana POV) to actually becoming a Buddha, so it is an important point of clarification. This reminds me of questions about the higher bhumis. Why not reach the first bhumi before worrying about the 7th?
  11. The point of becoming a Buddha from a Mahayana POV is to help all sentient beings become free from suffering.
  12. People give up on anatta/anatman too quickly. It is like a splinter that goes deep into the mind, wiggling out resistance, clinging and attachment. If learned over time with a proper teacher, it is clear and unmistakable.
  13. Your opinion about reiki?

    Sounds like about 75% of the alternative healing places in Boulder, Colorado.
  14. The TM rabbit hole

    Another important aspect is the condition of the student. For example, one's confidence or devotion in the teacher/lineage can make up for other aspects. An important aspect-- mantra for wisdom. A teacher once said that spiritual practice could go in two directions: horizontal for power and vertical for wisdom. Power in this case could mean many things: siddhis, health, feeling good, etc. He said that for every person practicing for wisdom, there were 100 - 1,000 practicing for power. I think most of us have mixed motives.
  15. Your opinion about reiki?

    Some food for thought:
  16. Teaching authentic neigong

    There's a vast spectrum between the 5 weeks person and a living Immortal though. There are lot of teachers with varying levels of skill and ability. Some people I have met are great martial artists, some are great with qi. In theory, some would be great with wisdom, but that is beyond my experience in Daoism (not saying no one had wisdom practices, but if they did, I didn't learn any). I have not really come across teachers who teach absolute nonsense. This is not to say that what is being taught isn't useful-- some people want to be good martial artists or have an increase in health. What is challenging in my opinion is finding an efficient, results producing practice for one's goals. And who is to say that sticking with a less skilled teacher for some period isn't just what some one needs before they meet the master/lineage they have a deep connection with. As it takes a while to build some discernment, I would imagine some amount of hunting and switching. But to me, this hunting is a sort of preliminary practice in and of itself.
  17. The TM rabbit hole

    It seems like everything else, results vary. A lot of people don't seem to get anything out of it. Robert KC Foreman seems to have gotten quite a bit out of it, and based an academic career on it. I remember at one point also being impressed by Jerry Freeman's descriptions. What I've learned about mantras in Tibetan and Shaivite contexts comports with what Dwai has said--- the mantra needs to be "living," usually meaning the person who gives it has accomplished it. I've also heard that traditional methods contain a type of power to them that is lost. One teacher likened it to directions in a jungle. It is easier to go down a path if some one else has chopped the underbrush.
  18. Kundalini equivalent in Daoism?

    Just curious: have you reached out and explained your financial issues to them?
  19. Teaching authentic neigong

    Sure. One example is working on strengthening muscle (or tendons or connective tissue). From what I've been taught, this can be counterproductive to internal type arts that start with qi. So for instance bodybuilding vs building a taiji or qigong body. Another I'm more familiar with are the different types of concentrative practices found in Buddhism. For example, in Theravada, there are intense forms of concentration (i.e. "hard" jhanas) usually based on Visudhimagga commentary. In these teachings, one pointedness often refers to focusing one's attention exclusively on a single object. Then there are less intense forms ("soft" jhanas) based on the suttas, which are more open and relaxed. In this case, one pointedness actually means unified with the sensory field. In this case, training one undoes the other. There is a similar dynamic in Tibetan Buddhism between harder "sutra" shamatha and certain Mahamudra types of shamatha.
  20. Teaching authentic neigong

    How would you discriminate between such practices? The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) never ends, in my experience. There's always another practice, lineage, initiation, etc. Even learning a short practice takes time away from other things/practices. Things are seldom as simple and clean as our conceptual mind would have us believe. Everything is on a spectrum, it is not all or nothing. Even something as simple as concentration can be presented in a way that is more or less conducive to less conditioned practices. Building up a foundation for one thing can tear down a foundation for something else.
  21. Teaching authentic neigong

    Well, some people may already be involved in Nei Gong already. COVID has really increased the availability of teachings. Great question. I have a similar question regarding conditioned/unconditioned practices. It seems the more you do one, the tougher the other one gets.
  22. Yin and Yang

    On the other hand, a lot of people like to engrain their value system into the Dao, God, the truth, etc.
  23. Oh look, I got covid

    It is strange how those lessons can shift. Suffering is always a challenge. One of the reasons I got into Buddhism was that it was pretty up front with suffering--- it didn't try to explain it or sugar coat. It's right there, the very first Noble Truth--- the truth of suffering. It is so raw, so primal, so beyond comprehension. Initially, it was suffering that brought me to the path. Then, suffering was the motivation for practice. But currently, I have realized we are all suffering, just in different ways. And what really unites us is the wish to be free. And knowing these are universal experiences, this gives rise to universal compassion. It is really hard to hate anyone knowing that, like me, they suffer and wish to be free. And if they were really free from suffering, they would be so beautiful. May your suffering bear something useful for your path.
  24. The Clarity Aspect in Buddhism

    I don't see how insight can be measured with tests. If anything, tests would measure physical/energetic transformation or power, but all of this would remain on the relative or material realm. At some point, I suppose it cannot be discussed since I presume the tests are secret. And of course, many stories can be spun. A Christian might see siddhis as the work of the devil. To give an example: when dreaming, one can realize that one is dreaming or not. However, this realization itself does not necessarily confer any dream powers--- the power to fly or put one's hand through the wall. Nor does flying or putting one's hand through the wall indicate that one realizes one is dreaming. Of course, it is easier to develop powers while one is lucid, but these are not necessarily the same thing.
  25. The Clarity Aspect in Buddhism

    Not sure about that. The Samye debate seems to suggest that the Indian gradualists were faced with the Chinese non-gradualists, and defeated them, yet you still have Mahamudra and Dzogchen. There is something parallel with these teachings and Daoism, at least to me. But I'm no scholar. Maybe for you, but different teachers have different approaches.