Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Heart of True Mastery

 Master Lao Nai Xuan, the teacher to Richard Wilhem. Richard Wilhelm considered him to a true Master of Taoist Yoga, Taoist philosophy, rituals and teachings of Confucius. Richard Wilhelm translated the most used I Ching still in today's standards, as well as many other classics. Master Lao would qualify I believe as a true Master. But was he satisfied with his own understanding of his teachings?  
The current age we live in seems to favor commercialism, marketing and making a business model of anything we can get our western hands on. A rather strange occurrence over the last 50 + years has been the marketing of the East Asian Traditions and anything that can be deemed as not  mainstream health and wellness; we use to call it alternative health at one time.

The marketing of Karate is a perfect example how things really took a wrong right turn in the Karate traditions. Anyone can become a Black-belt, if you pay the fees and can perform the so call "Dan" test and past with average favorable results. Its all about the brand not so much upholding the lineage Masters tradition anymore; anytime money enters the equation things become slippery and agenda based. 

The Age of the Absent True Master  

Where are the unique, leaders and specialist who seek to rise above the fray rather than run with the masses? Thanks to the gifts of the digital age, anyone today can become an “expert.” But this leaves all of us wondering where are the true Masters today. Every year I travel during the spring time reaching out to see what real Masters are there really anymore. In today's age many have passed on or retired, the ones who really proved themselves are in their late 70's and up, so its few left anymore. Many rather be left alone for their discontent for the modern age. I can hardly blame them for being this way. 

In today’s 24/7 digital culture, I believe “experts” are a dime a dozen. In contrast, to a true master, remains rare and valuable. I see many so called self declared Masters out there teaching parts of lineage systems under new names or business plans for their agenda, this is really sad. They opted out to hold the torch for their lineage Master and rather push their book, DVD or workshop. Everyone needs to stop doing this and honor the real Masters.

 I can remember when you had to have above average credential to publish a work with a publisher, now everyone has a something on sites like or This has created alot of confusion; so the slick can make alot of money from the naive public. Hardly anyone is promoting the true teachers and most of the books out there are from someones private teaching or family system. Its a double edge sword of exposure; the traditions longed for people to come forward and share their traditions, now its really become likened to Pandora's box..a chaotic mess.

What is True Mastery? 

 True Mastery a mix of factors. First, one of the most important things in achieving mastery is to recognize how you think about it in the first place. That is, when you look at your own capabilities, do you see them as fixed, unchangeable, and simply part of your DNA, like hair color? Is it really a matter of just doing your time in a system and being there the longest because everyone else has quit or moved on? Or do you look at them as actually malleable, things you can improve, you can get better at? Too many people take that first view — that being good at something depends on whether you have it or you don’t or just doing time and paying your fees to get the certificates. Poof...I am now a Master, please bow to me.

 The problem with that belief, as many true Masters would teach is that’s incorrect. It’s not how mastery works. Indeed, if you start with that belief that you’re either good at something or you’re not you won’t achieve mastery. Period. But if you think you are capable of getting better at something, then you have a real shot. Along with thinking about mastery in the right way, the next component is what you actually do because true mastery is really, really hard. I think that’s one reason why few people really achieve it today. It requires enormous amounts of work and persistence. It requires time. It requires grit. It requires effort. It requires setbacks. This is  the true meaning of the universal meaning of Kung Fu. And many practitioner's aren’t willing to accept that deal. We want to achieve mastery without pain. And that’s not possible.

Another point is you also have to come to grips with your mind around this unhappy fact: "you can never actually achieve mastery". When we become content and satisfied we lose the edge; the tangible skill will surely weaken. As time goes on previous levels will no longer serve us it has to evolve. You will get closer and closer and closer to it, but you can never reach it. That’s the nature of  true mastery. A great teacher friend of mine said it best "We are striving to be less incorrect each and everyday we practice as well as when teaching"; true wisdom is it not!    

It does not matter how good you are at something, how blessed you are with the opportunity to improve, no one can ever achieve full mastery. Tai Chi Chuan Master Yang Lu Chan never achieved full mastery. Bruce Lee never achieved full mastery. Bagua Master Tung Hai Chuan never achieved full mastery. Mastery is ever evolving, and that makes it simultaneously frustrating and alluring. So I think the way we can get better at achieving mastery is just to get real about what it takes. And what it takes is thinking about your ability as something you can change and elevate. It requires a lot of pain, effort, and hard work, (Kung Fu) and it brings a certain amount of frustration in realizing that you can never actually achieve it fully.

Key meaning: Cultivation of the Tradition 

All of this is my insight and to enter the realm of encouragement; take it as just that. I consider my teachers in my life to "be Real Masters"; but they would probably just remind me  that gifts are malleable and fluid, like the wisdom of the Tao. Yes, we’re all born with certain gifts and important. But those gifts can grow, mature, and develop. Great men and women in any field recognize their natural gifts but then hone those gifts over time. If we believe that our level of mastery is only a function of our innate makeup, we will never reach our fullest potential.

Famous Kung Fu Masters are born with great talent, but without developing that talent, they would have remained average amateurs. We can always get better. A true one always tell you that no matter one’s level of success, they can always can become better. If we could resurrect people like Yip Man or Taoist Master Lu Tung Bin and ask them what their perfect work of tradition was, I doubt they would be able to name a single aspect or technique....Cultivation of the Tradition is key; Perfection is impossible and a misleading concept.

More to come in on this in coming days enough for now...


Sunday, November 2, 2014

 Understanding Self Healing

Its the teachers job to teach their students to "be able to do what they do". Often time I see the bondage develop with teachers, students & healers; causing the people they see creating unhealthy bondage. It a polarized relationship which is usually caused by them wanting to keep the money flowing in. So they are in essence using each other for their own unhealthy reasons.

Offering these practices in the modern world is a interesting experiment for the most part which is driven by the healer for hire mentality. I often wonder if all the traditions became wide open and accepted and practiced in all communities how much better everyone would much richer the tradition would become. I always tell people watch and see if the relationship with the person they are seeing changes once the money flow comes to a halt. A true person will have the same motivation if its $1.00 or $100.00. A teacher of mine in the 1980's had the greatest line ever I asked how much is class and he said "$1.00 and other valuable considerations"! I said to myself now there is someone who sees the end game first.

 The best teachers I ever had the are ones who charged almost next to nothing; the ones that are the charlatans were the "Tao of Dollars teachers" who are truly deluded by their own silliness. So this is my opinion, many would disagree with me and that's ok everyone has their opinion. My experiences in these traditions have been unique and follow a more Orthodox look at things and a more grand picture. My goal is teaching anyone I meet to find their personal power in this. My school here in Michigan is a small-medium community in which I focus on smaller student count and high quality. I never position myself into the marketing side of these practices but rather look for the special ones that can do exciting work with others.  

The main teaching of East Asian Wisdom is that anyone can adequately take control of their own health and destiny. This is achieved by monitoring and balancing one’s lifestyle habits to heal, prevent illness, and develop longevity. The traditional healers of any indigenous tradition, I believe teaches that people are their own best healers. One’s intuition is better at discerning health imbalances than relying on another person. All that is needed is some basic guidelines offered by a experienced teacher whom truly lives the path they advocate.

The greatest gift a friend, teacher or anyone is to give someone the ability to inspire or motivate someone to  take control of one’s health which inspires self-worth and self-empowerment. The most powerful healing therapy I have done for anyone is teaching to heal and re balance themselves. The faith in our intuitive abilities is further engendered when we see actually the positive results from our efforts. Realizing that we have ability to take control of our health is itself a key factor in true healing.

 The wisdom of true Masters is in "self reliance" which is also the most important component in personal healing and spiritual development. Anyone can learn to rely on their own intuition, along with guidelines from a teacher. As one begins to see positive results developing in their personal life, doubts begin to disappear and true clarity, confidence, and contentment begin to dawn. A real teacher instills this philosophy in the friend, student or client; who then experiences and respects inner intuition and personal power. When people visit the mentor they believe they have such qualities as well by the success of their own health.

We all understand the value of expectation. For example we can take two healers with two different groups of students with average abilities. One healer believes their class was above average; while the other healer  believes they have an average class. The first healer went to teach class expecting exceptional results from the students and treated them accordingly, believing they are special ones. The other Healer just taught the class as best as possible expecting for the best possibly. The average class although had the influence of a teacher who offered healing space unconditionally and empowered the students to just practice and do their best.

The supposed above average class performed average. This is due to the hubris of the healer and themselves putting themselves in a so called higher status.The below average class excelled way beyond expectations. This is due to when the "healing teacher" treats everyone with respect, recognizing their inner intuitive abilities, the students  automatically develop a greater sense of self-worth and faith that they can take control of their health. I have seen this time and time again in my travels. 

As ones self-worth develops, people are not as easily swayed by things that use to; having someone recognize one’s inner power to heal themselves and self healing abilities develops confidence. Experiencing positive results from self healing and personal empowerment further generates confidence, health, mental peace, and real enlightenment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Concentrating the Mind to Remove Hindrances

Todays journal entry is on Traditional Buddhist Meditation. The focus of this entry is on Concentrating the Mind. As written and taught in many of my classes throughout the years the importance of Meditation and connecting to tradition cannot be underestimated. Qigong is a modern adaptation to selections of the Taoist and Buddhist Tradition. Its not for everyone, but one cannot deny the depth of skills found within these practice systems. In Traditional Buddhist Meditation, the practice of concentrating the mind is known as Samatha (Serenity). Samatha removes the Five Hindrances (Nãvaraõa) and prepares the mind for Wisdom (Vipassanà) meditation. The Five Hindrances are attachment to sensual desire, ill-will, inactivity or sleepiness, anxiety or restlessness, and doubt. Our mind is accustomed to drifting from object to object in the outside world. Concentrating the mind and bringing it inward does require effort, but the mind cannot be forced. Therefore, the Buddha taught various concentration methods/skills.

Concentration Methods/Skills

Within Traditional Buddhist Spiritual Traditions, it is taught that the Buddha taught "forty concentration" skills for meditation; for calming the mind. They are the ten recollections (Anussati), ten meditations on impurities (Asubha), ten complete objects (Kasiõa), four immaterial absorptions (Aråpajhàna), four divine abidings (Brahmavihàra), one perception (âhàre patikålasaññà) or contemplation of the impurity of material food, and one defining contemplation  (Vavatthàna) on the Four Elements (Earth, Water, Fire, and Air).

The Ten Anussati or recollections are: 

(1) Buddhà-nussati or recollection of the virtues of the Buddha
(2) Dhammà-nussati or recollection of the virtues of the Dhamma
(3) Sanghà-nussati or recollection of the virtues of the Sangha
(4) Sãlà-nussati or recollection of the duties of morality
(5) Càgà-nussati or recollection of generosity
(6) Devatà-nussati or recollection of celestial beings
(7) Mara-õassati or recollection of death
(8) Kàya-gatàsati or mindfulness of the body
(9) ânàpànasati or mindfulness of breathing
(10) Upasamà-nussati or recollection of Nibbàna or peace.

The ten impurities or kinds of foulness (Asubha) are:

 (1) The bloated
 (2) The livid
 (3) The festering
 (4) The cut-up
 (5) The gnawed
 (6) The scattered
 (7) The hacked and scattered
 (8) The bleeding
(9) The worm-infested
(10) A skeleton

The ten Kasiõa or complete objects are:
(1) Earth
(2) Water
(3) Fire
(4) Wind
(5) Space (âkàsa)
(6) Light (âloka-kasiõa)
(7-10) the four colors or Vaõõa-kasiõa (blue, yellow, red, and white)

The four divine abodes or Brahmavihàra are loving kindness (Mettà), compassion (Karuõà), sympathetic joy (Mudità), and equanimity (Upekkhà).

A student of Buddhist Meditation teachings can select any one or combination of these forty meditation subjects, according to ones own character. For example, Kasiõa concentration is very suitable for those with sensual desire, restlessness of mind, or inclination toward anger, hatred or ill will.

For those whose habits areintellectual thought, devotion or delusion, mindfulness of breathing (ânàpànasati) and recollection of Buddha’s virtues (Buddhà-nussati) are most suitable.


  •  The forty are listed in the Visuddhi-magga. Some teachers maintain that only 38 were specified by the historical Buddha and that two were added later. If you would like a copy of this work, its a nice large ebook written through the Theravada Council ~  email me at
  • This short journal entry is based on teachings from Theravada; which uses original Pali terms and concepts of Traditional Buddhism. They are shared teachings even in Mahayana with minor differences and dialects. All the credit goes to my teachers and Mentors for allowing me access to their Notebooks and personal teachings.   
For further Study on Buddhist Meditation below are very excellent self guides if one cannot find a teacher, community or temple.

Zen is for Everyone by Su Lao Shr (Michael Saso)
The Essential of Buddhist Meditation by Bhikshu Dharmamitra (book I)
The Six Dharma Gates to the Sublime by Bhikshu Dharmamitra (book II)
The Sweet Dews of Chan by Ajari Chen Kuan


Saturday, October 18, 2014

 Practice is Key in Anything!

Recently I certified a student in one of the traditions I teach; it was a real joy since the student earned every inch of it from practice, hard work, and personal study. They took regular group classes along with private sessions and attended weekend study workshop's throughout the last 15 months. I never look to "mission-size" what I teach for the public, but every now and then you find students that hold potential for the better good of the community. So I pour my experience into them and hope for the best they will last the long training ride! Then wha-la you have a new member of the tradition that can spread the tradition for the betterment of people seeking health salvation.   

 We live in age where people pay a fee to learn a traditions and sometimes expect instant results. It does not work that way in these traditions. The price you pay no matter what the price is providing you access to apprentice in the teachers life traditions and approach. What is most worthwhile and meaningful cannot be accomplished in a weekend or a few months.  True achievement is accomplished through years of dedicated practice and study, under the guidance of a teacher who also practices daily and studies and has achieved through many years of dedication and discipline the true essence of their given Art.

In Qigong Practice, the practice reveals it's knowledge over time through a process of energy enlightenment. Different levels of this knowledge come through when the person's mind, spirit and body are ready. Study is also important to gain insight into the vast knowledge available, through different master teachers,  who through the process have received energy knowledge, evolved it and offered their unique insight into the understanding of energy healing for the self and others. This rich knowledge has been contributed to over 1000's of years by the many teachers and masters of the past.

Wisdom here is that focusing on the discipline of practice, internalize the instruction that is given verbally in class.  Over time as the person attends classes and practices at home, they will learn more and more about the particular set/tradition being offered in the class.The classes are offered this way to encourage the discipline of practice and reveal the benefits of studying heart-to-heart with a teacher and also the benefits of practicing in a group. Once the student has shown dedication and genuine desire to learn by attending classes and practicing daily, they may, if they so desire after one year be introduced to higher instruction.

Those advanced students who have shown dedication and discipline of practice may through an agreement between teacher and student receive certification as a qi gong instructor.

The Certificate is only as good as the practitioner makes it; having credentials does not give a sense to stop learning pondering and trying to refine what they know. The best Sages I have known in life are the ones who don't stand on their "Scholarly Title and affiliations" but know the practice from living the tradition. As the old saying goes "You cannot cook anything from talk"; and "words and thoughts will pull you further away from the Tao".  The overall thought here today is focus on practice, because without it you cannot experience anything that all the great sages have recorded. 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Meditation Notes

For all who seek to understand reality or the true meaning of life as well as those who seek inner purification. Wisdom and Virtue develop hand-in-hand this is in essence the teaching of Centering Meditation Tradition. As a student progresses beyond the distortions of the passions, insight sharpens and understanding deepens.
Meditation does not require blind faith.

 You do not have to believe in the practice systems or Asia to benefit from it. It is a method for training the mind to become concentrated and aware, focused inward at the center of the body. With practice, you will encounter new experiences for yourself and will develop confidence. The Taoist & Buddhist Centering Tradition for the most part share similar aspects approach to meditation. I say don't be close minded use the best of both worlds, everyone can for sure try and be less wrong from previous times in their practice. The more open we are the richer the comparative traditions can develop.

 Some give affinity to certain historical teachers ones does not really know for sure. Its ones of these things in Asia that has always existed and always will.  Whatever the school of choice, technique leads the practitioner directly along the path to enlightenment and emancipation by combining concentration and insight meditation skills.  It is thus, extremely focused and effective. Meditation begins with turning the powers of observation and awareness inward. We are accustomed to perceiving the outside world, but introspection requires special effort. Often times today we are drowning  in technology and science; and we have prided ourselves on “objectivity” while remaining largely unaware of inner biases. Traditional scientific objectivity required isolation from the object observed. Since quantum mechanics was introduced, science has recognized that we are part of the world we perceive and what we see depends on how we look at it. Meditation is like polishing a lens to enable us to see more clearly. Skill in meditation develops the ability to perceive experience directly without the distortions implicit in conceptualization.

 Many of us turn to meditation because of health reasons or dissatisfaction with life. This is the universally experienced sadness / suffering / tension on which Orthodox Buddhism base the Four Noble Truths. 

But, this motivation to ease tensions or cope with anxieties is only a starting point. Many meditation techniques will provide relief on this worldly level, but the beauty of "Centering Meditation Traditions" is that it leads directly upwards from this point to more and more refined, purer and purer levels of awareness. The effectiveness of  Centering Meditation approach derives from focusing attention at the center of the body and combining three meditation techniques simultaneously. Some people often debate the efficacy of concentration versus insight.

The Centering Tradition employs elements of both. Higher and higher levels of concentration enable personal insight to progress from a more worldly view to Right Understanding and ultimately to supra-mundane Right Wisdom.

To close this entry I would recommend anyone interested in Meditation to find a teacher or a group that understands the centering tradition and begin to practice with them. There is nothing like hands on experience to where you can interact with a real teacher or group of like minded practitioners. More to continue in thew future.

Gary W Abersold    

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Root to the Tangible Energy: Traditional Meditation


 Often times in my Classes I get asked from many students wanting to know what was the first "break through" practice I did? It is the Root to everything I follow; meditation.  This usually sometimes confuses people since not many teach it in the popular Qigong circles.

Most authentic teachers with you're best interest at heart will promote the importance of meditation in the pursuit of whatever they consider to be the ultimate perfection or final goal, whether it is called enlightenment, emancipation, total realization, etc. In traditions of salvation, the emphasis is rather on faith, divine grace, prayer, redemption, etc., but the practice of meditation is not excluded. 

In the Taoist Tradition, Buddhist Paths, Aramaic Christian tradition, Christian Cistercian Order & Jesuits the contemplative life is upheld as the model lifestyle, life path tradition although it is only promoted to a small minority of practitioners. This was made extremely clear to myself by very good teachers of Thailand, China, Japan & Taiwan. Its also taught within orders outside of Community Christian Church followers. You can find it in the Aramaic Christian Community,  Jesuit Community, and  Christian Cistercian Order as well. The practice of Meditation is so universal its almost in any tradition. It will take someone with wisdom to share their insights to aid one in this path, but its ok they are very all comparable to a certain degree.   

What is Meditation?

  In general, the term meditation includes a great  range of practices, from breathing exercises, concentration, visualization, deep meditation, and higher contemplation to mystical ecstasy. All these forms, and more, are found within  the traditions of East Asia Traditions that being of Taoism, Buddhism and inner traditions of Christianity. The tradition essentially return us to our true nature and all is balanced, harmonized and cleansed. Nothing is dissipated or dispersed easily. This is the goal of the practice in a nutshell.

Many Traditions Similar Practice 

The Taoist & Buddhist of Central China, have indeed adopted principles and practices from each other, share the tradition of the Centering Meditation Way. According to one my teachers that traveled and studied in the Tien Tai Mountains there is much historical documentation of the Interaction of early Taoist and Buddhist. It is believed as well that some of their methods are identical, while only the object of attention and the goal to be pursued are different. The Orthodox Buddhist Traditions of Theravada, Mahayana & Tibetan have been excellent in documenting and sharing their beliefs on Buddhist meditation, from Theravada practices focusing on "tranquility", "concentration" and "insight" to Chan or Zen methods used in China & Japan. There truly is no shortage of information to learn this tradition from the Buddhist.  

 The Taoist tradition is not so well represented, yet, indirectly, because the Chan/Zen tradition has shined in the mainstream way more than the Taoist. Its not for a lack of credible teachers, many just would rather keep a low profile and fly under the mainstream radar. Often times its due to lack of bilingual teachers as well. The Buddhist do owe much of its systematization to Taoist Traditions of many traditional lineages.

Give yourself a Keeper Tradition

 Whether it be Taoist, Buddhist or any of the available solid Centering Traditions, becoming "one" with the universe inside yourself and outside all around of you is a wonderful feeling attainable anywhere at anytime. Meditation through practice will give meaning of your life and your personal essence, in which you are presented with a fantastic chance to conquer your current circumstances. The deep self healing training offered by the various practices enable us to vanquish self-doubt and negativeness and see through life obstacles. The tradition of Meditation allows the taking of a mental silence. Through meditation we can go beyond the restricted framework that we call our self, and connect with the greater consciousness of the universe. Reaching a universal consciousness that transcends mere self-consciousness, we are brought into contact with an immense force through which miraculous healing can occur. 

Final Thoughts

Having a practice group that are "Qigong friendly" is a good idea for most likely will be able to accelerate the deeper learning of the tradition. Buddhism & Taoism from a traditional pointe of view is not Qigong in a sense; they are spiritual indigenous traditions that became reorganized from Mao Tsu Tung and coined under the umbrella term "Qigong". Christian paths have nothing to do with Qigong or East Asian Spiritual traditions what so ever. They share the "sameness" in their practice of Meditation.

  Good luck on your Path!

Gary Abersold