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.