Category Archives: Mental Health

Trauma Release Exercise


Dr. David Berceli has come up with a siveteransmple way to alleviate the suffering of those who have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  He offers a suitable method to induce what is sometimes referred to as “neurogenic tremors” in the human body. 

His technique is called the Tension Release Exercise or Trauma Releasing Exercises or just TRE for short.  It is another excellent way to help re-balance the Autonomic Nervous System and get closer to the root of the problem. 

This method has been used with thousands of soldiers, emergency organizations around the world, areas where natural disasters have occurred, and general populations in war-torn and politically oppressed countries.  It has been taught as a way of addressing PTSD and more programs are being offered in the United States

“Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives.  That’s a suicide every 65 minutes.  As shocking as the number is, it may actually be higher.” — Department of Veterans Affairs

The statistics above were taken from 1999 through 2011 in 21 states.  That’s a staggering 8030 veterans dying each year!  David Berceli has found a method that is helpful for anxiety disorders, PTSD, general stress, and the myriad conditions caused by trauma.  It has also been found to help decrease tremors and seizures in conditions like Parkinson’s, MS, restless leg syndrome, and Epilepsy. 

On a positive note, athletes are also finding it to be great way to speed recovery after workouts.  A common response from most people who do TRE’s is sleeping better and feeling more at peace.  The key to the various benefits of TRE is that it is addressing the core reason for these problems and conditions instead of merely chasing symptoms.

Testimonial:

Frank B. has one of the most important and inspiring testimonials that I have read.  He tells us that, “I have two military sons that have served in Bosnia and IRAQ.  Both have returned with strong symptoms of PTSD but were unwilling to seek out professional psychological help.  They will not discuss their war time experiences with anyone.”

“After hearing about Dr. Berceli’s Trauma Release Process and learning that physical exercises were the key, not years of verbal dialogue with therapists, I immediately ordered books for my entire family.” — Frank B. 

“Although we have all benefited greatly from the exercises it was the psychological improvement of both military sons that was absolutely astounding.  Being soldiers, they had no problem doing the exercises and both saw improvements within weeks.  What a miracle!  They continue to do the exercises and are amazed at the results.  I can not thank Dr. Berceli enough for bringing peace back into their lives.”

The Theory:

Dr. David Berceli was looking for an easy way to relieve stress and trauma for humanity.  In studying other mammals, he noted that every mammal except for humans has a natural way of relieving tension that is elicited during the fight/flight/freeze response.  He discovered that humans have this capacity as well, only we have used our newer cognitive brain to subdue it. 

From the sunrise website:

“Tension Releasing Exercises elicit neurogenic tremors to release the body’s tension and the resultant physical and emotional blocks that can be causing tension, anxiety, PTSD, and numerous other symptoms associated with holding patterns.” – Rick Stockwell

Dr. Berceli has developed a technique that elicits these neurogenic tremors in the human body quite effectively.  It is said that fear and pain is something encoded in our DNA (if not our subconscious mind) and this method is available for all of us to tap into to find relief.  The results in relieving chronic tension, trauma, and trapped physical and emotional patterns in the body can be amazing when experienced for oneself.

Example:

As anyone who has researched this method in the past knows this information has been almost non-existent and kept more or less hidden.  Recently, Rick Stockwell has taken this program a step further and explains the principle behind this unique methodology in a comprehensive way.  He explains that the best way to understand this comes from observing how animals shake their body after a frightening experience.  If we own a dog, cat, or bird it may be easier to see how this behavior in the animal kingdom works.

“What they’re doing is something all mammals (including humans) have ingrained in their system as a way of ‘shaking off’ stress, anxiety, and fear.  Once they are done shaking, the stress is gone from their body.” — Rick Stockwell

He goes on to say,  “I’ll never forget our poor little poodle when we were huddling under an alcove in Utah as a huge clap of thunder rang out and lighting simultaneously struck just outside the alcove.  The poor thing shook for almost 2 hours as my wife comforted her.  But then she was done.  It was out of her system, and she was back to normal.  She didn’t hold onto that traumatic experience for years or decades like humans do.”

With this simple explanation, it seems quite apparent that animals have an innate ability to heal a traumatic experience and remove it completely out of their system without the pain of having a higher brain/mind that constantly stores that information. 

The Method:

There are two known positions that we can gather from the all-too-brief YouTube videos.  The first is lying down with legs butterflied open and the other is standing with your back up against the wall and sinking down slightly.  For some people it may not be wise to do these exercises on your own.  If you already have a severe trauma and are isolated (without a good support-system in place) then it is best to err on the side of caution and refrain from these exercises.  When it is likely that painful things might come up for you; it is best to work with a qualified therapist to help you get through the heavy emotions together.

Of course, the temptation is always there.  Just make sure this is something you can handle all by yourself.  If you are an intermediate or advanced yoga practitioner it probably would be alright to explore this healing modality.  As always, you are likely to gain more intricate understanding when you reach out for help.

Principle: Two opposing forces are in play here to initiate the body tremors.  For instance, when you let your legs go towards the floor (with the natural weight of gravity) and then pull your legs up in the opposite direction, then an automatic shaking begins.  You just have to find the right balance for it to work.

VARIATION ONE: Lay flat on your back.  Have your feet flat on the ground.  Keep your legs and thighs off the ground but at an angle.  Allow gravity take the weight of your legs (towards the floor).  Next, move your legs in the opposite direction ever so slightly.  You should start to feel tremors kick in spontaneously.  This tends to be isolated only within the leg area.

VARIATION TWO: Lay flat on your back.  Have your feet flat on the ground.  Keep your legs and thighs off the ground but at an angle.  First, allow gravity take the weight of your legs.  Second, move your legs in the opposite direction ever so slightly.  This time add a third element.  Press your feet towards the ground with just a slight force.  This has the most amazing affect of spontaneous gyrations resonating throughout your whole upper body and spine as a continuous shaking occurs.

VARIATION THREE: Lay flat on your back.  Have your feet flat on the ground.  Keep your legs and thighs off the ground but at an angle.  Lift your bottom slightly off the ground.  At the same time, allow gravity take the weight of your legs and move your legs up in the opposite direction.  This is done ever so slightly.  You should start to feel tremors kick in spontaneously.  This tends move the lower and upper body side to side.

To get a visual, the first two variations move the body like a dolphin’s tale does – with an up and down motion.  The third variation moves the body, side to side, like a shark or fish naturally does.

Note: Years ago when I was working on this method, I could feel the neural network being formed and strengthened along the spine.  It was interesting to experience the nerves or channels develop from the bottom of the spine upward towards the head.  With all other healing modalities such as standing stake, chi kung or boading-balls… the nervous system would develop from the top of the head down to the base of the spine.

It is quite thrilling once you get the hang of it.  And with some contemplation, you can figure more ways to work the other portions of your body and limbs as well.

Good luck!
Neo

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Skunk Medicine


Skunk cannabis, along with traditional marijuana, is typically used for recreational use.  However, it is becoming popular amongst the medical community as a form of pain medication and management in such debilitating illnesses as HIV or seizures.

skunk

Skunk weed, similar to every other strain of cannabis, has both physiological and psychological side effects.  These side effects include: rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased rate of breathing, red eyes, dry mouth, increased appetite, slowed reaction time, distorted sense of time, paranoia, magical thinking, short-term memory loss, anxiety and depression.

While skunk weed and marijuana in general can produce negative side effects, it can be beneficial to aid individuals with severe medical conditions.  With that said the debate on whether or not it is beneficial will always be based on you intention and how you use it.

What I wanted to point out is the mythology, origins, and inherent dangers of what this plant does on a deeper level.  Since most people have various strong or weak faculties it is not always easy to determine the truth.  Therefore, a higher perspective is really NEVER shared with someone from a more material point of view.  So those that disagree on these topics will almost always lack any calm sense of detachment and serious reflection.

Since it is now becoming more and more legalized and popular you can take this information to benefit the few loved ones that are willing to listen.  The different spiritual and shamanic views can be discovered in the following categories:

From the Marijuana Syndromes website:

When a young child smells marijuana for the first time, they often share a simple but profound insight: Marijuana smoke smells like a skunk.  Many Mexican shamans agree.  Marijuana shares two main qualities with the skunk at levels of what the shamans call Skunk Medicine.

Positive:

Any interesting book came out in 2012.  John Mini, a licensed Acupuncturist, wrote the book called: “Marijuana Syndromes: How to Balance and Optimize the Effects of Cannabis with Traditional Chinese Medicine“.  The captivating and well-researched book is 824 pages long.  He dedicated over twenty years of research into the effects of marijuana and how to balance them using Traditional Chinese Medicine.  He says that:

Marijuana can help you let go of appearances and materialism.  But if you let it take you too far and you don’t do something to balance it in your life, marijuana can also turn you into a slob that can’t get anything done.  This effect is one level of the shamanic testing arena.  It’s where many of the lessons of plant medicines reside.

“These tests are built in mechanisms, or proving grounds, that only allow those that make it through in a good way to progress further on the path.  The ones who don’t make it are left to the demons and psychotherapists.” — Dr. John Mini

Root origins:

Have you ever wondered where in the world the name marijuana comes from?  It’s not a botanical title.  The word comes from Mexican shamans.  We first started hearing the term marijuana here in El Norte at the end of the 1800s, when Gringo soldiers first had continuing contact with freedom fighters from Mexico, who were mostly Pancho Villa’s supporters in Sonora.

So what does marijuana mean, anyway?  Mari means Mary.  It means Virgin in the Christian sense and all that goes along with that icon.  But a Juana is a whore.  (If you’re deeply aching to verify the truth of this statement, click here.)  This leads us into a dichotomy that is the essence of what marijuana’s medicine is all about.

Ashir Pandey, Cannabis Advocate and Activist, from California says,  “My favorite reference in the book, which encapsulates the major theme of Mini’s research, is the Mexican Shamans who refer to Marijuana as part “Virgin Mary” and part “Whore.”  Meaning that Marijuana’s dual nature is encapsulated in its name.

“When used correctly it can act as beneficently as Mother Mary.  When used incorrectly it quickly has the opposite effect and becomes a Juana …’Prostitute’ over time.” — Ashir Pandey

Negative:

In a recent publication on February 9th, 2015 it is said that psychosis is five times more likely for people who are cannabis users.

London (AFP) – A British study released Monday suggested that the risk of psychosis was five times higher for regular users of cannabis, adding to a growing body of evidence linking drug use and mental health disorders.

The six-year study published in the medical journal The Lancet reported on 780 people living in south London, 410 of whom were being treated for conditions including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Marta Di Forti from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London says:

“Compared with those who had never tried cannabis, users of high potency skunk-like cannabis had a threefold increase in risk of psychosis.” — Marta Di Forti

By continuously breaking the laws of nature, it is rather difficult to become whole again.  Most will never know what is true happiness or a natural state of well-being because it is outside their range of awareness and direct experience.

The Reality:

From a deeper perspective, no illness need remain forever in one’s mind-stream.  Yet, this is one of the hardest illnesses to heal simply because it affects the mind so greatly.  Those that don’t believe in karma and how the subconscious mind imprints everything we experience will never understand.

One thing that I have noticed is that when all the proper conditions come together then mental illness will occur as a matter of consequence.  When more than one of these conditions are met: such as meditation, fasting, occult study, conspiracy theories, and bad diet coincide with marijuana-use then results such as bi-polar or schizophrenia have a greater chance of happening.  We all can agree that a trip to the psych-ward or hospital is no fun.

Once marijuana is used, most love to experience the high or euphoric feeling it gives.  This is what is grasped onto the most.  Yet, most forget that there was also a sense of paranoia that came with the trip.  And this is the key-point.  This deep feeling of paranoia becomes imprinted on the subconscious mind.  Later, this feeling of paranoia can be triggered many years later.  Sadly, as one’s life spins out of control and the mind races and fear overwhelms the person…a sense of what the Buddhist scriptures describe as “unbounded joy” and what psychologists refer to as “manic-behavior” is produced.

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Neurological rehabilitation


With my father recently being diagnosed with early-onset dementia, it has been a trying experience for our family.  It literally was a test of wills in trying to get quality care.  With many individuals in the alternative health-care field not returning our phone calls and emails it was like pulling teeth to find someone compassionate and understanding enough to work with us in this difficult situation. 

After a year of being unable to persuade my father to try an alternative method of healing it became apparent that he was having trouble speaking logically and unable to have a coherent conversation when it came to handling money issues.  My main wish was for him to heal and grow in a positive direction no matter what the outcome was.  I would rather move forward with hope than succumbing to medical’s pessimistic attitude that there is “no known cure”.

As we got more and more concerned, I finally looked at all the medication he was taking.  It was not surprising to find that each one had a particular side affect that caused memory loss.   My research came up as follows:

  • ASPIRIN – Causes an increased risk of cerebral micro-bleeding showing on MRI Scans of 5 to 10 mm or smaller.
  • HEART MEDICATION – Each one leads to memory loss as a side-effect.
  • NEUROLOGICAL MEDICATION – Also results in memory loss.

Dementia:

Dementia is basically a neurological disorder, with various degrees of severity.  It is not a specific disease itself as it is more related to a symptom of reduced or impaired cognition.  The person who has been diagnosed with dementia may have trouble in areas related to memory, attention-span, language, and problem solving.  More specific forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease to name a few of the 50 forms that are categorized.  It is important to understand that:

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and certain subcortical regions.

When we know exactly what the disease is then we can gather all the facts and utilize the proper biological principles of health to get to the root cause of the problem.  Due to the various conditions that impede our progress, such as a poor diet and environmental toxins it sure is an uphill battle.  However, even if we cannot achieve a full cure and complete recovery we can still alleviate our loved ones suffering to some degree.  As this anthropologist says about the Feldenkrais method:

“This is the most sophisticated and effective method I have seen for the prevention and reversal of deterioration of function.  We’re condemning millions of people to a deteriorated old age that’s not necessary.” — Margaret Mead PhD.

At the very least, we can improve the lives of a few people that are currently in nursing homes suffering from pain, agitation or boredom by being in a semi-vegetative state.

Current information:

I was fortunate enough to come across Joyce Ann’s website after weeks of research.  Each day I spent hours researching the web for a suitable healer for my father.  As many alternative healers doubted the principles of rebuilding new neural patterns I set about to find substantial science to back this up.  It wasn’t an easy task.  It was quite exasperating to note that chiropractics and even a few Feldenkrais healers were skeptical.

Therefore, I offer this information to others going through the same situation with their parents that would like to have a suitable path to travel on.  By doing so, hopefully we can make it easier for the next generation to be “armed” with the proper facts and knowledge when it is time to show doctors and family members what the real potential is for recovering from this terrible disease.

I contacted Joyce Ann and she was the first person who was friendly and helpful enough to understand what we were going through.  She even gave me permission to convert her original article to a .PDF file and share it with others without my asking.  With this change, I believe that it is now a more enjoyable read and a lot easier to see when printed out.

She wrote an article in the Alzheimer’s Care Quarterly 2006 Oct-Dec; 7(4): 278-86. which is a peer reviewed magazine that holds a lot of weight within the medical community.  It is called “Individuals With Dementia Learn New Habits and Empowered Through the Feldenkrais Method”. 

You can read her article that depicts six case studies that have shown positive results after just one session.  She seems to be the first healer (in her field) to report positive progress with her geriatric patients.  As you read the information you can see that her patients were able to overcome various limitations with dementia that ranged from Stroke to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  They were advanced cases of men and women in their late 70s and 90s that showed improvement in their functional level in relation to procedural memory and awareness of surroundings etc.

Download her article here:  Individuals With Dementia

Feldenkrais method:

The principle of Feldenkrais is simple stated as: Awareness through Movement.  What this means is that with simple movement lessons, our awareness and perception can be increased, improved, and refined.  Since the way we move (in our day to day lives) consists mostly of unconscious actions, these habitual patterns can be seen for what they are, followed by a release of any holding patterns to form more functional ways to moving.

Normally, our habitual tendencies while sitting, eating and walking are not optimal and can be greatly reorganized.  Once improvement has been achieved, then when we want to excel in sport or dance there will be more joy and freedom in the body.  When this happens then all our activities become more effortless and extremely efficient.

Shockingly, I had found that some Feldenkrais healers weren’t fully up to date that movement therapy can be a significant benefit to geriatric patients for increasing their memory and spatial awareness.  Currently, this therapy has been wonderful in helping those suffering from pain and trauma.  Yet there is more that can be done for those undergoing memory and speech problems.  As more and more practitioners add their knowledge and experience, there will be a greater shift in awareness of what the full potential this healing modality has to offer.

The current trend is to help children who are autistic or handicapped with muscular dystrophy.  One common therapy is to have these children ride a horse on a weekly basis.

Since the child has to consciously adjust themselves to remain on the horse it literally trains them to have better motor skills and balance.  This really is the principle of movement therapy that Moshe Feldenkrais had discovered long ago.

When it comes to old people receiving help, it should be the same principle.  Since the current consensus is that it is impossible for new neurons to grow in the brain it is frustrating when our loved are suffering without a suitable remedy.  It is certainly understandable that most people would be skeptical that a movement therapy can connect and repair the damaged synapse in the brain.

Yet, there are so many people who are suffering all over the world who are mostly ignored or go unnoticed while we enjoy our lives.  To make a positive difference in this world, then we need to increase the range of this healing modality and identify a third layer to this healing.  Since this Feldenkrais principle holds true for autistic children, then it must follow that it would help older people who are suffering with dementia.  The three layers could be categorized as follows.

Feldenkrais Layers of Healing:

  1. pain and inflexibility
  2. accidents, sports injury or birth trauma
  3. memory loss in old age

As Dr. Weil says, “I have been intrigued by this subtle form of retraining the nervous system, which I recommend to patients whose movement has been restricted by injury, cerebral palsy, stroke, fibromyalgia, or chronic pain.”  He goes on to say:

“I find it to be much more useful than standard physical therapy.  I also believe that the Feldenkrais Method® can help older people achieve greater range of motion and flexibility, and help all of us feel more comfortable in our bodies.” — Andrew Weil, M.D.

Neuroplasticity:

During most of the 20th century, the general consensus among neuroscientists was that the brain structures become fixed and cannot change past early childhood.  This has been the popular belief among the masses as well as alternative healers who respect science over healing principles and personal experience.  As Neil Sharp M.D. explains,

Indeed it was only in 1999 that the Nobel Laureate Torsten Wiesel admitted in print that he and David Hubel had been wrong in declaring that neuroplasticity is impossible beyond the critical period of infancy.”

This admission has helped pave the way for the knowledge that Anat Baniel and her teacher Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais have accrued through their experience over decades of transforming the lives of children and adults whom conventional medicine had believed were beyond help or recovery.

From the ABM website:

Principle of neuroplasticity:

Decades of research done by thousands of neuroscientists has shown that the brain can change itself.   The brains of infants and children are extremely changeable needing to form all the brain patterns associated with voluntary action.  Their brains are constantly expanding and mapping new territory.  The science of brain plasticity shows how, under the right conditions, the adult brain can also restructure itself in remarkable ways.  Even the birth of new brain cells can occur in adults, as well as children!

“As a neuroscientist interested in the development and plasticity of the nervous system, it is gratifying to see how the Feldenkrais Method demonstrates these principles.  The Feldenkrais Method has also greatly improved my personal quality of life – physically and emotionally – by reducing the restrictions and limitations I thought were permanent due to multiple sclerosis.” — Marla Luskin, Ph.D., Emory University Medical School

NOTE: The “birth of new brain cells” could be further researched and analyzed later on.  We could infer this to mean growing new stem cells – which is a hot topic in itself.  Anyway, we have two choices available to us.  We can either rely on the principles of movement therapy or wait until science has it all figured out.  Since functional integration healers are currently improving the quality of lives then there really is no need to wait and do nothing.  The honorable and compassionate thing to do is to try our best to alleviate our loved ones pain and suffering.

Diet aide:

After doing further research I discovered some people were able to get off their medication and utilize Coconut Oil in their daily life.  It has been found to be very helpful in protecting the brain with the appropriate, healthy fats.  In reality, there is no difference in whether one uses olive oil or coconut oil.  It’s just the current research has been with coconut oil to improve the ketones in our body.

Substitute Coconut Oil in cooking where other oils are called for – consume at least two tablespoons a day, minimum.  You can use it as a preventive if there’s dementia in your family history.

Since I noticed my dad unconsciously eating excessive amounts of yoghurt I believe that it was his body’s way of protecting itself from the harmful damages occurring in the brain by eating more fatty foods.  Of course, a much better choice than fish oil and yoghurt is something that obeys nature more closely like Coconut Oil.   You can read this book for more exact guidance: Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?

Testimonials:

Without all the facts and proper knowledge there is always going to be fear getting off the pharmaceutical medication.  That is perfectly fine.  There is no need to push or force someone into making a change.  In fact, it is best when they make the choice once they have full confidence in what they are doing.  And that means growing at their own pace and having a cognition about their situation.  It really takes a lot of work to break through these deepest fears; especially when it comes to following our own path to natural health.

Whatever the case may be, it is good to try this physical therapy until one sees promising results.  It takes work and discipline to grow and make progress.  When there is progress and gains are made, then healing becomes a fun and joyful participation.  At any rate, here are some amazing testimonials to inspire our family and loved ones become more interested in taking health into their own hands:

“Feldenkrais is not just pushing muscles around, but changing things in the brain itself.”  — Karl Pribram, M.D., Neuroscientist, Georgetown University”

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais developed a system that is many years ahead of conventional medical understanding.”  — Martin Rossman, M.D., Author, ‘Healing Yourself’

“The system developed by Dr. Feldenkrais has as much potential for understanding the mind/body relationship as Einstein’s general theory of relativity had for physics.” — Bernard Lake, M.D.

More testimonials can be found here: David Zemach-Bersin

Conclusion:

We finally did find someone compassionate enough to work with my father.  I was extremely fortunate enough to sit in with my father on his first Feldenkrais session.  Even though he couldn’t differentiate any changes taking place I could discern at least ten major energetic-releases of various holding patterns.

When sitting in the chair, I noticed myself able to relax some bodily tension as my father released his own physical and energetic blocks.  This lead me to believe that every family member should participate together in order to achieve a basic harmony so badly needed within the modern family.

Since we are all connected at a subconscious level when one person heals everyone benefits.  In addition to standing taller and walking straighter, he looked impressive as an expert martial artist would, when pushing hands against the therapist.

After eating a late brunch I noticed that he still had trouble communicating what type of eggs he wanted.  Rather than being introverted and give up at least he expressed himself with words.  Of course, this will be an ongoing process and when most people have trouble hitting the root cause by changing their diet – this therapy has a lot of hidden potential.

many blessings!
Neo

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an old story


I hesitate to write this article as most of my peers would consider it a form of spiritual materialism but this is definitely not the case at all.  Since our health is adversely affected by greedy corporations, then proper information along with the right conclusions are surely needed.  If the antidotes are non-harmful then they need to be spread far and wide.  As we wake-up and see the suffering all over the world and within ourselves it is quite alarming.  Yet these harsh lessons help us to really know how to live life properly.

We must quickly realize that our bodies are so overwhelmed by radiation, toxic pollution and heavy metals right now.  We get them from the air we breathe, unnatural food we eat, and cosmetics/shampoos we put on our body.  All the commercial beverages we eagerly consume quickly add to the problem.  The following story was taken from Dr. Subhuti Dharmananda and revised to make it clearer.

The secret:

The Buddhist priest Wenxiang was devoted to the art of nourishing life.  In 812 A.D. he was on Maoshan early in the morning, and there, in the vicinity of Huayang cave, he met an old man and said to him: “You have the appearance of an immortal.  I will reveal to you a secret formula.”  The priest related the following story to him:

An ancestor of He Shou Wu, who lived in the district of Nanhe in Xunzhou, was originally named He Tianer and was later called Nengzi.  He was born impotent and had turned to drinking wine.  At the age of 58, he returned home drunk one night and was overcome by sleep while still outside.  When he awoke again, he noticed on the field two shoots of climbing plants, which stood about 3 feet apart.

The sprouts of these shoots were twisted around each other and then separated, three or four times.  Thus, the original name of the plant is called jiaoteng or Chinese cornbind.

Tianer considered this to be strange and, therefore, dug out the root of the plant and asked all the people in the village and the wilderness, but no one was able to tell him its name.  Thereupon he dried the plant in the sun.  A man living nearby was an excellent jester and said to Tiener:

“You are impotent, you are old and childless.  This climbing plant struck you as peculiar, now surely it is supposed to serve you as a divine drug.  Why don’t you take it?”

Thereupon, Tianer sifted out a fine powder of the drug and took it with wine.  After 7 days, he suddenly recognized clearly the principles of human life.  After several tens of days had passed, he felt unburdened and strong, and he could barely control his sexual desire.

He married a widow named Cen and continued to take the drug regularly after that.  He then increased the individual dose to 2 qian [about 6.2 grams].  After over 700 days, all of his previous complaints had disappeared, he regained his youthful appearance and begot a son.  The people in the neighborhood were very astonished at this.  During the following 10 years, Tianer became the father of several sons.  He ascribed all this to the drug and said:

“This was caused by the climbing plant.  When one takes it, one can live to be 160 years old, and yet it is neither listed in the old prescriptions nor in the materia medicas [bencao].

Herbal elixer:

Ho-shou-wu (pinyin: heshouwu) is derived from the roots of Polygonum multiflorum.  The herb was originally called jiaoteng, referring to its form: an intertwining vine (jiao = intersecting, teng = creepers).

Synonyms:  Chinese climbing knotweed, Chinese cornbind, Chinese flowery knotweed,  fo-ti root, he shou wu (Chinese), and zhihe shou wu

He Shou Wu is a tonic for the endocrine glands, it improves health, stamina and resistance to disease.  It is used to reduce cholesterol because of its lecithin.  It is used for angina pectoris (coronary artery disease), hypoglycemia, diabetes, schizophrenia, epilepsy, chronic bronchitis, head injuries, impotence, malaria, bloody stools, night sweating, sores, cuts, and ringworm.  It promotes red blood cells, helps rid intestinal parasites, and is good for resistance to cold.

If oregano leaf is the king of herbs, as MH puts it, then jiaoteng certainly is the king of elixirs since there have been a few recorded cases of people who lived well into their hundreds.

Longevity cases:

1. Ho Shou-Wu:

A monk advised Mr. Ho to eat jiaoteng gathered from a mountain, which he then consumed regularly.

Soon after, he was able to father several children, his hair turned from gray to black, his vision improved and his body became more youthful.

He lived to age 130 although some say he was really 160, still with black hair.  Since then, the herb has been called Mr. Ho’s hair is black (shou = head; wu = black).

2. Li Ching-Yun:

It seems that Li Ching Yun consumed mostly a diet of wild plants and fruit.  On occasion he did eat fish and wild meat.  He was also a firm believer in the movement exercise called the Eight Brocades. In addition to practicing alchemy the herbs he consumed regularly were He Shou Wu, Ginseng, and Wu Wei Zi (Five Tastes Fruit) along with wolfberries (goji berries).  He ate the fruit raw and cooked the He Shou Wu with the Ginseng. In a New York Times article on May 6, 1933 the headline wrote: LI CHING-YUN DEAD; GAVE HIS AGE AS 197

My experience:

Living in these times is quite a challenge and even dangerous.  While this present generation has gotten the worst of it, it is important to have qualified help and seek solutions that alleviate all these physical and mental problems.  In my case, I have mostly ignored my body in favor of practicing meditation.

Recently, I had a tooth/gum problem that I had chosen to ignore for several years.  It seemed to be getting worse when I finally chose to examine it in detail and up close.  I had gotten to the stage where I either needed to do something or suffer the consequences.  Since I didn’t like the consequences, I chose to take action.  I began by taking some of MH’s herbal formulas that had plenty of minerals in them.  I figured I could add minerals to my body and hopefully see improvement.  After a week there were clearly no results that I could perceive. 

So, I looked around and noticed I had several 5 year-old bottles of Fo-ti root in liquid form.  For several days I had contemplated throwing them away.  First I wanted to check if it obeyed nature or not.

I went on line to research it.  Since it came from a plant I decided to try it out.  I took one dropper full and immediately within one hour I found my hair was revitalized and I actually felt good.  Amazingly, after three days taking the product about 80 percent of my gray hair is now gone. My hair seems to be coming in thicker and stronger too.  I immediately stopped taking all the other herbs in order to distinguish what the fo-ti root was doing to my insides.  I read that it creates red blood cells and increases circulation in the body.  It detoxifies the kidneys and liver and increases the yin jing.  While this may be true that wasn’t the real discovery.

After a few days of taking the herb, I placed it under my tongue and let it sit there for a few moments.  Soon, I could sense exactly where the energy was going – right to my thymus center.  I felt a little pain just below my collar bone and took that as a signal that my thymus was toxic and slightly damaged.  The key area that was being detoxified was the thymus gland.

UPDATE:

After two months of trying three different brands of fo-ti, it seems the only condition that lead to hair growth and a reversal of grey hair was the aged and partially used bottle that sat on my shelf untouched for over five years.  I wasn’t able to duplicate the same results with any other brand even though the root was reported to be aged eight years.  Then I found this quote by MH that may shed some light on the reason why this happened:

“Luckily properly handled herbs don’t spoil, “IF” herbs spoiled, I would have never gotten into collecting such things as a hobby….I LOVE THINGS THAT GET BETTER WITH AGE……and like most all education, we are lead to believe things get worse as we get older, but the opposite is the truth, we humans should get better with age…”

Light,
Neo

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Guru Devotion


About a year ago someone relatively new to the dharma emailed me asking if he could begin posting sutras on our Buddhist Sutras Yahoo Group.  Unfortunately, he suffered from the mental disease called schizophrenia.  Last January, we talked many times through email before he signed up.

I told him of the positive benefits others have received just by copying and printing sutras and he became inspired.  Later, he received consultation from a lama about the merits of reciting sutras.  The lama told him if you do so, then all his negative karma would be gone after a year.  A few months shy of a year, I got this wonderful letter:

Hi neozen,

I completed my massive chanting homework.

I recited the High King Sutra 21,000 times since May, and the Padmakumara mantra over 1.35 million, and true Buddha sutra 2,000 times. I’m trying to complete the High King avalokitesvara sutra 30,000 times by the end of the year.

I feel like my negative karma is gone already.  For the first time in 1 and a half years, I was able to go out into public without fear or anxiety.

I just finished my last post on a sutra.  So, I might be taking a break from the site.

Thanks for all your help.
A mi tuo fo

Merits:

The merits of posting these sutras are not well known.  Dharma students often skip the sutras in favor of tantras.  That is understandable.  Yet the sutras offer a firm foundation for all the tantras to stand upon.  The disciples who EMBRACE, READ, RECITE, EXPOUND and COPY these sutras receive immeasurable benefit.  From the Sanghata Sutra:

“If all the sentient beings of the million world-systems were bodhisattvas, compared to the mass of merit of one who makes charity to all of them, if the mass of merit produced by one whose mind becomes inspired with trust towards one Tathagata, and one who makes their mind inspired with trust towards a million world-systems completely full of Tathagatas, and one who hears this Sanghata dharma-paryaya would produce a much greater mass of merit than that.”

Benefits:

To understand how we can heal from these negative karmic afflictions that are latent in our subconscious mind, we need to know the benefits of guru devotion.  If we have a qualified master leading us, we can be free from the most troublesome mental, emotional and physical disease.

The benefits of guru devotion are not well known in the west.  To us it is either a foreign concept or we reject it because so many charlatans have deceived us in the past.  Because of this, we think of surrendering our will to somebody as unwise.  From the 50 Verses of Guru Devotion:

It is from your Guru that powerful attainments, higher rebirth and happiness come.  Therefore, make a wholehearted effort never to transgress your Guru’s advice. – Verse 25

When we find a qualified lama it is more precious than anything we ever encountered before.  Since we have accumulated negativity over beginningless lifetimes it is worthwhile to take note of how to reverse this condition and develop virtue.

Consequences:

Since the benefits of proper guru devotion are so high, the consequences of belittling a highly-realized master is quite deep and serious.  The law of karma is quite exact.  Vajrapani once asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha what the negative consequences of belittling the guru were.

Taken aback, Guru Shakyamuni replied, “Oh, Vajrapani, please don’t ask me that!  If I were to enumerate those consequences, humans, gods and even dauntless bodhisattvas would be terrified and die of shock.”

When Atisha came to Tibet he told the Tibetans:

“All the major and minor realizations are developed by relying on the guru but since you Tibetans regard your guru as simply an ordinary man, there’s no way you can develop any realizations.”

Download:

If you are a Buddhist then there is a very important text that is a must read.  The 50 Verses of Guru Devotion was written by Ashvagosha in the first century BCE.  In Tibetan it is called Lama Nga-chu-pa.  In Sanskrit it is called Gurupancashika.

After a disciple has taken refuge in the Triple Gem and developed a pure (Enlightened) motive, he should be given this (text) to take to his heart (how to abandon his own arrogant self-will and) follow in his Guru’s footsteps (along the Graded Path to Enlightenment). – Verse 48

In order to help such disciples and save them from the worst consequences of belittling and transgressing their guru-disciple relationship, Ashvagosha wrote this book.  Click to download the .pdf file: 50 Verses of Guru Devotion

It is a wonderful text to read over and over again.  If we pay close attention to it, there is no doubt we will be perfectly mindful in his presence and receive the most blessings from our guru.

Light,
Neo

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foundation of health


The past four weeks I have been self-experimenting with protein shakes.  Normally, I wouldn’t do such a thing.  However, a friend of mine gave me a left-over container and I was curious to know its effects.  I have always been amazed at those people that claim it helps them reduce weight or repair their muscles faster in their workout routine.

As I went deeper into this mystery, I tried a particular GNC brand of whey protein, a form of soy protein, and the “Rolls Royce” of protein shakes from Isagenix.  I did a little research online and I found that: whey contains all the essential amino acids your body needs.   That sounded real good.  So I was motivated to jump in.

At first, I wondered if the protein would give me any insight into how people lose weight with it.  Then I wanted to see if there was any connection to how breatharians achieve their goals.  After trying it for a few days, I went to the store to find out the various other brands.  As I held up each container some felt strong and powerful while others felt weaker.  I found two that felt particularly suited to me, one whey and the other soy.  This crude form of muscle-testing seemed to indicate that it would be a good choice.  I took no other supplement to keep them from interfering with discerning the proper results of this experiment.

Sadly, each of the three products failed.

From the vegetarian guide:

“The largest land animals in the world, elephants, are exclusively vegetarian.  They grow up to 10,000 pounds, by eating nothing but plant matter.  They couldn’t grow so big if plants weren’t loaded with protein.” — Michael Bluejay

Upon taking each product, at first I felt real good.  You feel that strong and a powerful effect and you think to yourself this is what I have been missing.  I need this every day.  In short, you get hooked.

However, after a while the strength fades and turns into muscle weakness.  With the first product, on three different occasions I felt a serious weakness upon waking up each morning.  I continued taking the product and eventually upped the dose from 25 to 60 grams of protein each day.  As I continued taking it, I felt pain in my back, an acidic stomach and feeling cold.  This feeling of cold got worse which lead to going under the covers and being depressed for a while.  After I stopped the product, in as short as a day, I coughed up some sputum and immediately felt terrific as the toxins released out of my body that way.

The next day, I tried again with the same protein shake.  I wanted to see if it was just in my mind or would I get the same results.  Each time I would feel cold, depressed and back pain.  Then I moved onto the other two protein shakes.  All in all, I discovered it was a dead end.  What typically happens when taking a new supplement, vitamin, or even a B12 injection is that you first feel great.  You feel wonderful and terrific inside.  You feel strong.  You literally become high.

Sadly, the laws of life tend to seek balance.  If it is your wish to experience strength you will have to accept weakness too.  To experience just one side of the spectrum guarantees you will feel its opposite at some point.

Notice:

  1. Primary feeling:  strength, increased energy, high
  2. Secondary feeling:  weakness, acidic stomach, back pain, coldness, depression

It’s never easy to see the long-term, detrimental effects of a supplement.  I don’t believe many people will ever put these things together because there are so many factors to weed through in our busy lives.  As these secondary feelings come about, it is quite difficult to figure out its cause and for some it is just below the threshold of our ordinary awareness.  For the most part, we are not taught to look for these types of side-effects.  Unfortunately, I believe many retail sellers are counting on that.

Holistic View:

Here is what the Master Herbalist has to say about vitamins:

“THROW ALL YOUR COMMERCIAL VITAMINS IN THE TRASH OR ON THE SOIL, THEY ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.” — MH

Further, this is quite shocking to hear this Letter from Dr. Schulze:

“Many so called natural vitamins are made from horrible substances.  All the vitamin B-12, cyanocobalamin, on the market is made from either ground up toxic cow livers or activated sewage sludge.  These cow livers are overloaded with steroids and antibiotics, and the pesticides the cow assimilates while eating.  The sewage sludge is just that, fecal matter.  — Dr. Richard Schulze

Is this true? 

What a frightening thing to hear.  So, I went online to research this further and found no one else saying the same thing.  Then I went on to Wikipedia and searched Ascorbic Acid:

“Eighty percent of the world’s supply of ascorbic acid is produced in China.”

What is the industrial preparation for this vitamin?

“A more biotechnological process, first developed in China in the 1960s but further developed in the 1990s, bypasses the use of acetone protecting groups.  A second genetically-modified microbe species (such as mutant Erwinia, among others) oxidises sorbose…”

What is Erwinia?

Erwinia is a genus of Enterobacteriaceae bacteria containing mostly plant pathogenic species which was named for the first phytobacteriologist, Erwin Frink Smith.  It is a gram negative bacterium related to Escherichia coli, Shigella, Salmonella and Yersinia.

Whether you believe Dr. Schultz or not becomes moot at this point.  Now we can understand more clearly that the source of ascorbic acid is indeed of pathogenic origin.  In short, it literally is a poison.

Then, how do we get the essential vitamins we need?

“YOUR SKIN MAKES VITAMINS FROM SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE.” — MH

It is quite simple if you read, research and understand correctly.  You will find good tips to follow when you abide by Nature.

SOLUTION FOR THE BODY:

The key to mastering the body and acquiring proper physical health is not something the average person will ever discover. 

Why is this? 

Because the real and long-lasting solution is in the absence of something.  Since this is an abstract concept it is quite invisible to the ordinary person.  A solution that has long-term benefits and lasting results is almost never found in the presence of a synthetic pill or drug.  That is why so many miss out on discovering the truth and all the cognitions that come about from natural health and perfect balance.

To obtain good health, it is like peeling away the layers of an onion.

The principle of absence is seen in distilled water and fasting.  Fasting is a universal method that spiritual men and women have used in basically all religions.  Whether we think of Christ, Ghandi or Yeshe Tsogyal…these spiritual leaders fasted for a reason.  Once the body was purified of its unnatural impulses; it returned to a more normal functioning.  Only then was it much easier to focus on purifying the mind.

Two perfect ways to remove impurities from the body that Obeys Nature:

  1. Water:  distilled water removes all inorganic minerals
  2. Fasting:  naturally removes the most difficult poisons

SOLUTION FOR THE MIND:

This principle of absence is not only found in the body.  To obtain an enlightened mind there must be a sense of purification where something is discarded and certainly NOT added to.  As it states in the Shurangama sutra:

“Ananda, what is meant by the upside-down state of living beings?  Ananda, the reason that the nature of the mind is bright is that the nature itself is the perfection of brightness.  By adding brightness, another nature arises, and from that false nature, views are produced, so that from absolute nothingness comes ultimate existence.” — Shakyamuni Buddha

BASIS FOR HEALTH:

So if you are seeking a real and authentic health, rather than adding a synthetic pill or vitamin chemical to your body, you must first obtain a foundation of health.  To create this basis for health you need to be more scientific in your process.  In science they have what is called a control group.  The control is the standard against which the researcher compares the results from each treatment group in the experiment.

Since, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to do proper research for the benefit of society on a mass scale you have to be an independent researcher.  And that means pitch all your vitamins and pills and get back to basics.  When you do this, it becomes the control where you can discern more accurately a healthy body.  If you do the safer OJ Fast for 3, 7 or 14 days you have a chance to discover the truth for your own body and what its actual needs are.

Just as dirty water in a glass will settle down and become clear on its own.  In the same way, if you interfere less, this will give you a foundation for health you have been seeking all along.

“I think that as you evolve spiritually, automatically your body tells you what is acceptable for your body and what is not.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

After an extended fast, then you can add good or bad foods and supplements to your diet and get a correct feeling of what is good and healthy for your body and what is not.

Last point:

Balance is the law of life.  After taking the supplement, right away I was feeling strong.  After some time, I felt weak and unable to sit up properly to type on the computer or sit in meditation practice.  Even so, I understand that most people may not be sensitive enough to agree.  And that is fine.  MH relates the irony of all this in one perfect anecdote:

“Tell a child that a person is very sick because they are toxic, then tell this child that this person must go to the hospital, not to receive fresh fruits, but toxic drug therapy………the child will be puzzled, because it makes no sense to believe that a person is sick because of poison and that giving more poison would be the cure.”  — MH

At the very least, just keep this information in the back of your mind the next time you take supplements.  Notice the primary and secondary feelings while you are on it.  The primary feelings are usually wonderful.  And that is what makes a product become a hot item.  It sells.  Then notice what happens after a week or a month’s time.

Hope that helps!
Neo

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Assertive Discipline


GoodWhen we examine our internal reactions to the game of chess it is a lot like life itself.  In one way, it can lead you in the wrong direction and bring up pride and ego.  I may have played too many games in the past several months to know that.  But I really wanted to distill the essence of the game and see what it had to offer in the game of life as well.

Losing in chess can be hard to take especially when the other player arrogantly disobeys the principles of the game and is certainly not as smart as you are.  You later smile at how his pride mirrors your own.  It is a difficult game to master.  In a deeper way, it is a thorough analysis of fear.

“Fear has its use but cowardice has none.” – Mahatma Gandhi

You see, in chess there are empty threats and there are real threats.  Empty threats instill fear in a beginner which leads to an immediately retreat.  But, the advanced player knows that it takes exactly two moves before that piece would be captured.  You learn you have to respond positively rather than react negatively.  You learn to lead and take charge rather than being passive and being lead around by the nose.

Early fears:

In the same way, growing up can be rather difficult.  We may have had harsh and unreasonable parents punish us all the time.  We may have often heard preachers yelling ‘fire and brimstone’ creating unnecessary fear and guilt in us.  We may have had heard so much from the medical community using fear to gain our compliance.

We may even watch reality TV-shows and find them to be quite disturbing.  I recall a pregnant mom say, “Please don’t let my baby die.” many times over and over as she gave birth.  There was no reason to suspect anything was wrong.  It was an irrational fear.  Now, more than ever, we can see before our very eyes that small children are literally born into a world of fear.  It is more disturbing when you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that infants are adversely affected in a subconscious way by the fearful things they hear.

Officiating sports:

For over twenty years, I had officiated sports as a part time job.  My father got me involved with it near the end of my high-school year.  As he was in charge of our local area, he knew it would be a great way for me to make money starting each spring.  Unfortunately, I always seemed to get into conflicts with the worst and most aggressive people around.

Since it is inevitable that one team must lose, the resentment always seemed to be focused on the umpire.  I never wanted any trouble and it was always hard to keep everyone happy.  I wished to do a good job, as best I can, and be on my way.  I wanted to make the right call and take pride in hustling and knowing the game.  I wanted peace but the nature of competition brings out the worst in people.  Things would often go much differently than I had planned.  The reality was, I could never please or satisfy everyone.  I never knew if this job was my lot in life – a curse or not.

Fortunately, I made a breakthrough a few weeks ago that I wanted to share with all of you.  It was something that I wish I had discovered twenty-years ago and hope it may benefit someone.  In a world that appears to be getting worse and worse, the bullying more rampant and goodhearted kids committing suicide I thought to express this.  It certainly would have saved me a lot of effort and emotional stress if knew this from the start.

The major problem is, this sort of success is hard to come by.  It can be very complicated.  It cannot really be learned from a book but it is a start.  Each situation needs to be well-thought-out in a general and specific way in order to handle people successfully.  To treat people with respect and tact should always be the ideal to follow.  For best results, it needs to be worked out with a partner or coach for life-long changes to take place.

The classroom:

I remember, a long time ago, when I was a new teacher.  I had been assigned a small fifth-grade class that had major behavioral problems to such a degree that they were separated from the ordinary class.  I tried many techniques to reach them and nothing really worked.  Finally, I tried to display anger without any words by smacking a yardstick on the table.  It broke right in half.  All the kids laughed.  That wasn’t exactly the effect I wanted to get across.

I sort of gave up researching how to effectively manage behavior problems in the classroom.  I must have read hundreds of books but nothing clicked until now.  A few weeks ago, I came across an older white-haired gentleman during a softball tournament.  He was an umpire.  Yet, I had never seen him before and we immediately began talking about the game as he was a fist-year umpire and I was an old-veteran.

After giving him some advice of the different leagues in our area and how each of them behaves and which ones are easy-going and which ones were tougher – I related a problem I had.  I told him things seemed to be getting worse and worse in this degenerate age.  The adult players are getting more and more aggressive and even the young girls have been talking back.  He asked me what had happened.

Breakthrough:

I went on to tell him that I made a call at first base that (an adult male) player didn’t agree with.  This player had yelled and argued as he drifted down the right field line.  He yelled that the first-baseman’s foot was off the base.  After I took my position behind the catcher the same player came jogging in and went on to show me how much the player’s foot was off the base.  Then, he proceeded to bump his elbow against mine to make a solid point and continued off into the dugout.  Come to think of it, I was being bullied.

In my mind, the internal process that is felt first is shock.  It is a definite surprise.  I thought: How could anyone do such a thing?   Shock is a form of fear.  It stems from aggressive behavior.  It is a form of manipulation we call intimidation.  A real gentleman wouldn’t do this.  It is not respectful and often used by those who have no class.  I assured him that he was still out, but did nothing else.

So this fellow umpire says to me.  This is what you say whenever this happens:

“Coach, if any player EVER touches me again they will be ejected from this game and possibly suspended for life!”

I was surprised how I felt when he said this.  It was surprising because he was talking rather quietly.  He didn’t have to yell at all to get his point across.

I put myself into the offending player’s shoes as he delivered his warning.  I felt slightly fearful upon hearing what he had to say.  Later on, as I contemplated what had worked most effectively in his delivery, I discovered there was a key element underlying his whole line of reasoning.  What he said was completely TRUE.

It is true that you can’t touch an official.

It is true that I had the power to eject him.

And it was also true that if I reported him he could be suspended for the year if not for life.

So something clicked inside me.  This was something I had been looking for.  This was something that each adolescent needs to hear in their own way to create healthy boundaries in life.  So I let it settle down into my mind to see if I could work out the steps intellectual.  In order to pass it on, I first needed to have success in the “battlefield”.

Five Steps:

  1. Create the boundary
  2. Bring their negative behavior to light
  3. Issue a warning
  4. Threaten punishment
  5. Administer the consequence

When I got back on the field I immediately had a successful experience.  Tying in the words of the sagely-advice of this umpire and the patterns of chess it started to make sense.  But I needed even more proof.  So I tried it again the following game to see if it worked well and could be duplicated.  It did.  Here is what I discovered:

The first step is to create the boundary.  It can be easy as saying “Stop.” or “No you can’t do that.”  The key is to stay something you object about their behavior.  Start out being peaceful and calm.  There is no need to yell.  It should be effortless on your part.  Too often we get lazy and say nothing.  When we fail to speak up we usually will have more problems later on.  Better to nip it in the bud from the very beginning.

The second step is to bring their negative behavior to light.  This means you verbalize their wrong and offensive behavior.  If you are already a thoughtful and ethical person then you have the advantage as you know what is right and wrong and what is acceptable or not in society.  You might say, “No swearing, please.”

Too often we get overwhelmed because we know that people can react unexpectedly in an infinite variety of ways.  So make it easy on yourself by directly pointing out whatever it is that you find offensive.  When done right, there is a sense of joy that is felt.  It is very satisfying when you can remain in the moment, and not be disturbed.  When it comes about effortlessly then you know you are on the right track.

The third step is to issue a warning.  You just say something like “You can’t do this or we will get another pitcher.” or “You shouldn’t do this as it is dangerous.” or “You can’t do this, as it is against the rules.”  Most reasonable people will respond appropriately.  If they don’t understand you, now is your chance to explain the rules in detail.

The fourth step is to threaten punishment.  Most of the time we threaten to punish someone out of the blue.  A threat without prior warning is not right.  You have to look at this from both sides – your side and their own.  If you threaten punishment by ejection or detention and skip all the previous steps, then it doesn’t allow anyone to learn their role or what is expected of them.

Furthermore, when you skip the previous steps it doesn’t allow them to process their emotions or analyze if their behavior was in fact bad, wrong, disrespectful or dangerous.  I used to do this and start out at the fourth step.  It can come across as overbearing and irrational.   I would get angry or defensive stares and never knew why.  Now I know better.  From their point of view it is like you are being hysterical or unreasonable.

In the first few steps you should be calm and peaceful and now is the time to be a bit stern or wrathful.  You might say something like, “If you swear again, I am going to eject you.” or “If you put a fake tag on a player again, you will be ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

Note:  If you go overboard and threaten someone’s life then that is not what we are talking about here.  It is always your responsibility to set safe boundaries and at the same time build up someone’s positive self-esteem.

The fifth step is to give a consequence.  When you give a consequence it is your chance to eject someone with the proper arm motions of your favorite professional umpire.  It is important to follow through on your previous threat to show others that you are serious and your word is good.

If you are in an authority position it is your duty to protect the group when one person jeopardizes the harmony or safety in the classroom or on the playing field.  So you might yell forcefully, “You’re ejected!” or “You’re outta here!”  Then when they kick and scream, you simply explain to the coach that this person has to get off the field in a timely manner or they will forfeit the game to the other team.

KEY POINT:  If you go slow and listen to their responses after you state your objection then you allow others to save face.  What this means is that they have the opportunity to come clean and apologize to avoid any further embarrassment.

After they apologize this is where saying, “Thank you.” or “I appreciate it.” comes in handy.  A proper role-model sets the example of good manners to educate people on how to be, talk, and act properly.

A useful insight:

The first argument occurred during the very next softball game.  An adult male displayed some very childish behavior because he believed he tagged a man out at second base and I missed the call.  This time something unusual happened:

When I told this grown man to stop jumping up and down like a child having a tantrum, it felt as if a rubber-band was being pushed back.

It was quite amazing to know that I was getting some positive feedback in an intuitive way on an etheric level.  It was not confined to a small area but it was all-pervasive to the size of the diamond.  Perhaps this was occurring on the subconscious level – the aware mind meeting the unconscious mind and his energy being pushed back.

Whatever the case may be, the main thing is he stopped his behavior immediately.  Just by my verbalizing and pointing out his negative action; he calmed down.

What usually occurs when one person abuses their power over another…the weaker and more sensitive person takes on so many emotions.  The majority of it is not even their own.  When we don’t understand these emotions and are unable to process them, it often leads to suffering and depression and possibly suicide in certain people.

IMPORTANT:  We do best when we follow the middle path.  If I had been too extreme and threatened to eject him at this point, it would have backfired.  He would have been angered and even justified in his confusion as to why he was being talked to in such a harsh manner.

Two types of people:

Basically, there are two types of people.  There are those that are PEACEFUL and gentle and there are those that are WRATHFUL and aggressive.  The gentle person is someone that has a conscience while the aggressive person does not.  Whenever you point out a person’s bad behavior they will react in one of two ways: either shame or fear.

Those who are peaceful and have a conscience will react first with shame.  More often than not, when you bring to light a conscientious person’s negative behavior a person will later apologize.  To keep your sanity, don’t expect it.  But do give them space and allow some time to go by.  They need to process their feelings.  When you do it properly, by allowing them to “save face,” a good person will usually come around and apologize.  If you are over handed and skip the above steps you won’t allow this to come about.  So be patient for their benefit and growth.

The aggressive person, who doesn’t have much of a conscience, will react first with fear.  He usually behaves badly out of pride or just to impress his friends.  If you expose his faulty behavior he can no longer be covert about it.  He thrives in pushing past all boundaries.  It is thrilling for him to do so.  He just needs to have you push back in the right way.  When you do this properly and with skill you are actually helping him develop a conscience.

Ultimately, we hope this fabricated conscience develops into true compassion and responsibility later on.  On the other hand, if you don’t say anything to either type of person, they lose respect for you and you lose the chance at developing self-respect.  If you do nothing, then you as a sensitive person will take on much suffering and depression later on.  Don’t let it get that far.

Final Point:

In the second day’s experiment, I had only utilized the first four steps during the game and I was delighted to get the right responses.  It took time for them to come around but each of them did.  I got three apologizes during that night and was satisfied with the way things went.

When this works out well, it is really beautiful to behold.  There is an art to the game of life and it is best lived effortlessly.  In addition, it is truly freeing when there is no further thought or anxiety about your past actions or theirs.  Meditation and other important activities can resume.  Rather than taking home all their baggage along with its depression there is peace and contentment.

hope that helps!
Neo

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The art of sacrifice


I was never good at chess but always loved to play.  There are certainly good points and bad points to the game of chess.  But if you don’t get too involved or obsessed with it we can analyze the principles and take only what is good from it.

chess set

Value:

The relative value of pieces must first be known.  The pawn is worth one point.  The bishop and knight are worth three points.  The rook is worth five points and the queen is worth nine points.  The king, because he can be captured and the game lost has infinite value.

Once you understand this you can make an educated choice on how to move or capture your opponent’s pieces.  As you learn to make better choices, you can definitely apply this to your life – whether it is raising a family or developing yourself on the quest.  Chess teaches us to utilize our often neglected reasoning skills.

Sacrifice:

Compassion is the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others.  It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love and foundational to the highest principles in philosophy and religion.  It is much needed today in our society yet it starts with a good intention and proper goals in life.

In chess, one of the great tactics is to sacrifice material to gain a special advantage later.  This teaches us a nice lesson not to be greedy solely for the purpose of material gain.  This is the heart of the bodhisattva’s way of life.  He or she lives on good principles and not bad ones that consist of harming others.  In other cultures, this type of hero is called a good Samaritan in Christianity or a Caretaker in the Native American religion.  It is a universal principle that shines through in most religions.

Needless to say, one of the most surprising moves is considered the queen-sacrifice because her value is among the highest.  When executed properly a master will, more often than not, win the game.

“Combinations with a queen sacrifice are among the most striking and memorable.”  –  Anatoly Karpov

There are two types of sacrifices.  The good sacrifice and the bad sacrifice.  The good sacrifice helps gain an advantage later on.  The bad sacrifice is done without proper forethought and planning.  It would be more of an unconscious impulse – something akin to a martyr complex.

In the spiritual world, it is often thought that we must sacrifice our self in order to attain enlightenment.  Of course, this is very true but how you give up your self is very important.  Without the guidance of a guru and without the guidance of proper scriptural sources you may just believe that suicide is the answer.  Therefore, without any consideration you end up seeking your own death without thinking of how it will affect your parents, children or spouse.

You truly will be creating negative karma if you act selfishly and without awareness.  The results of suicide are told over and over that you end up in a hell realm or a bad migration in your next lifetime.  One must contemplate this, consider the consequences correctly and receive proper instruction before one can gain confidence to act correctly in all situations.

Vipashana:

Chess may have a hidden element in it that could be the starting point to proper insight (vipashana) meditation later on.

I always wondered what would happen if two Buddhas played chess with each other.  Who would win?

By studying the texts of the great chess masters, the answer is already known.  They tell us that the perfect game will consist of neither a win nor a loss.  If either player doesn’t make a mistake then the game will certainly end in a draw.

Two important questions:

  1. What is his intent?
  2. What is his weakness?

If you keep these two questions in mind; you will be ahead of the game.  Often you will just look at your side of the board and rush to make your move.  But each move consists of an intrinsic advantage and weakness.  You just have to discover it.  When you get stuck ask the question, “What weakness did he leave behind?” and you will learn to expand your awareness to his side of the board.

Life stories:

Here are two beautiful stories that hit the essential point.  In the first, we might not see any immediate benefit to the Bodhisattva hero.  On the surface, it just seems like he lost his life.  But it was a conscious act of compassion that eventually leads to his full enlightenment.  In a future life he does awaken to Buddhahood.  Naturally, this act did not go unnoticed by the Buddhas who have the eye of omniscience.  This compassionate action sped up his development as positive karma was created.

In the second story, we see the power of a realized Buddha making a sacrifice with the principle of crazy wisdom.  Since he was a Buddha there were no harmful consequence to him and his action only enhanced and benefited all who heard, saw and believed the display-like miracle.

1.  The touching story of The Hungry Tigress is from the Jataka tales.  This is one excerpt from a collection of past life stories of Shakyamuni Buddha.

The Bodhisattva, in a lifetime before he became the Buddha, came upon a hungry tigress and her cubs.  Seeing the tigress was too weak to hunt, the Bodhisattva sent his traveling companions away to look for food.  While they were away, he threw himself over a cliff, thereby offering his body for food to the hungry tigress and her cubs.

2.  The story of the Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava is part of a long discourse given by the late Khenchen Palden Sherab in 1992 on the life of Guru Rinpoche:

With Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava we see the deep sacrifice of both the master and the disciple.  Wanting to learn the dharma from the Guru rather than lead a worldly life and get married, the princess was sentenced to prison for her actions while he was to be burned at the stake.

“The men ignored her and Guru Padmasambhava was captured.  His hands were bound and they led him off surrounded by hordes of people.  They wanted to make sure that he did not try to run away.  By royal decree, his punishment was to be burned at the stake.  Mandarava was sentenced to prison for 25 years, while all 500 of her attendants were sentenced to ten years.  All of this was the king’s decision.  A great quantity of wood was collected from the local households and soaked with sesame oil.”

Guru Rinpoche was tied in the center and the pyre was lit.  The king ordered that no one be allowed into the area for a week except those who were tending the fire.

“Now while Guru Rinpoche was in the midst of the flames, the fire transformed into water, which soon became a lake encircled on its outer perimeter by a ditch sporting a halo of upside-down flames.  In the center of this beautiful lake there was a wondrous lotus flower and above that, Guru Padmasambhava was sitting in the posture of royal ease, even more glorious than before.”

Sutras:

Vimalakirti explains, in The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti that even sharing the dharma with others is a great dharma sacrifice.  It definitely is not an easy action to perform.

Vimalakirti explains that:

“Those who teach it to others, whether it be no more than a single stanza of four lines, or a single summary phrase from this teaching of the Dharma, will be performing the great Dharma-sacrifice.”

The truth is that obstacles can arise when doing any type of good deed.  Furthermore, it is much harder to spread the dharma that helps liberate sentient beings lost in confusion.  As one common axiom explains:  No good deed goes unpunished.  People often reject unsolicited advice.

Computers:

Most people that love computer programming and chess believe that calculating up to fifteen or twenty moves means more intelligence.  In reality, that is just the power of the intellectual mind and not necessarily intelligence in the sense of having Awareness and Compassion.  For basic game-play, one just needs to utilize three half-moves as the chess coach Bruce Pandolfini advises.  You move once, your opponent moves, then you move again.  This is called a combination.  Only in certain instances does one need to calculate up to ten moves and that usually is near the end of the game.

In Buddhism, there are explicit instructions on how to develop the mind.  With a little thought we can see how our body and mind is also like a computer.  Our ordinary mind, while still unenlightened has a glitch.  The main misconception – the belief in an inherently existent self, needs to be corrected.  Once we can organize our mind properly we surely gain better clarity.  One way to do this is to study and reflect on the scriptural teachings.  And if you are fortunate enough to participate in shedra courses you will be all the better for it.

Final point:

The sutras and tantras tell us that on the eighth stage of a Bodhisattva’s realization there is no longer any separation between meditation and post-meditation.  At that point, there is no compulsive reification of concepts.  What this means is that when you turn away from the chess board, the next moment you no longer have the same habitual thought-patterns going on.  If you lost the game, you can let it go.

In fact, you can let anything go – whatever good or bad things happen, you just abide in the nature of mind.  This is Mahamudra.  In the next moment, you can bring your awareness to the task at hand.  This is something we should all aspire towards.

good luck!
Neo

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The peacock’s grove


One great master that has given us such compelling instructions on Lojong which literally means “mind training” in Tibet certainly is Dharmarakshita.  He was one of Atisha’s masters in the tenth century and the author of Training the Mind: The Wheel Blade of Mind Transformation.

peacock with Buddha

We are told that the process of karma is like a “wheel of sharp weapons” which can be visualized as something we throw out, which then later comes back to cut us – like a boomerang.  In the same way, Dharmarakshita explains, these non-virtuous causes we create through our self-interested behavior come back to ‘cut us’ in this life or in future ones.  This pain and suffering return as the ripening of negative karma such actions create.

This really is the source of all our unhappiness.  He thoroughly admonishes us when he explains that all of this is the result of our own selfishness.  This habitual grasping and clinging to our ego and material things is the main problem getting in the way of true happiness.

In The Wheel of Sharp Weapons he explains how a Bodhisattva (spiritual hero) takes on suffering just as the peacock eats poisonous plants:

1) In jungles of poisonous plants strut the peacocks,
Though medicine gardens of beauty lie near.
The masses of peacocks do not find gardens pleasant,
But thrive on the essence of poisonous plants.
 
2) In similar fashion the brave Bodhisattvas
Remain in the jungle of worldly concern.
No matter how joyful this world’s pleasure gardens,
These Brave Ones are never attracted to pleasures,
But thrive in the jungle of suffering and pain.

Another text:

Dharmarakshita also wrote The Peacock’s Neutralizing of Poisons that helps us see how our ego interferes with discovering true happiness.  These few stanzas should be spread far and wide in all new Buddhist tantric texts so that we can gain a clear understanding how Buddhism differentiates from harmful worldly tantric practices.

Here are a few excerpts that hit the essential point:

Even though, like Upali, you’ve reached the perfection of industry;
And, even though, like Ashvajita, your conscientiousness is highly commendable;
If you do not lead your parents on the path to enlightenment,
This is the way of a mere shepherd for you fulfil only your liberation and wellbeing.

Even though you wear robes you do not observe the precepts,
Your perceptions remain permeated by the various tasks of attachment;
And you criticize and denigrate the noble beings.
This is deserving of being exterminated by the Dakinis.

Important quote:

This wonderful book by Thupten Jinpa Ph.D. had further quotes of Dharmarakshita that I have not been able to find online or anywhere else.  It is called Mind Training: The Great Collection (Library of Tibetan Classics).

This quote is very important:

THE DELUDED WHO ARE CHASED BY AFFLICTIONS AND KARMA

ARE CARELESS OF THE DOCTRINE AND SENTIENT BEINGS AS A WHOLE,

YET THEY ANGRILY DRIVE ENEMIES WHO HARM THEM

TO THEIR AFTERLIFE WITH INCANTATIONS.

WHETHER LAPSED IN MORALITY OR NOT,

THEY ARE MOST INTRIGUING!

Discernment:

And these additional quotes are most valuable since it is so hard to differentiate an authentic teacher from the charlatan:

For sake of material gains you adopt the guise of a noble one;
Yet, like the dogs and pigs, you indulge in sexual acts [with no restraint];
Those who deceive others by professing to be practicing tantra,
Deserve to be thrown into a [burning] hearth by the realized Vajra holders.

Those harmful ‘mystics’ who possess little learning,
When they see common feats they become supremely inflated with conceit;
Such people who lead others with no guidance through the stages of the path,
They deserved to be belittled and brought to shame by the learned ones.

You can read this full text here: Progretto Free Dharma Teachings

Or you can download this same text (with added images of beautiful peacocks) as a .pdf file here:  The Peacock Neutralizing of Poisons

best wishes,
Neo

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Blazing away mental illness


For over twenty years, I had enjoyed reading Paul Brunton’s books over and over again.  I loved contemplating all of his works especially the sixteen volumes in his Notebooks series.  At the time, I believed his vision of creating a synthesis of eastern and western spirituality was quite fascinating.  Because of PB’s high ethical standards, I regularly used his knowledge to evaluate each worldly doctrine and healing modality that I was researching until I met my own teacher.  Therefore, with reluctance I write this article as some may misconstrue what I point out stems from hatred or jealousy.  Nothing could be farther than the truth.  I hope this warning and cautionary tone comes across as a form of constructive criticism.

A few things need to be pointed out so every quester can see through their dark misconceptions that are gathered by working alone.  If this advice is perfectly understood then he/she can continue safely on the path and avoid any harm.  Since PB’s work, over the last century, has sunk into the collective-consciousness of our world a few bad seeds need to be uprooted.

As mental illness has drastically increased over the last ten years this topic surely needs to be addressed.  Suffering on a grand scale has occurred with such painful conditions as Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia to name a few.  It is my wish that a few guiding principles can be placed in the hands of practitioners, health-care providers, and psychologists for the benefit of spiritual beings lost in such confusion.

PB writes:

Here is one of the paras that PB writes that I took to heart for many decades:

“If the voices which he hears are audible in the same way that one hears the voices of people through the ears, it is merely psychic and undesirable.  If, however, it is a very strong mental impression and also very clear, then it is the mystic phenomenon known as the “Interior Word” which is on a truly spiritual plane and therefore is desirable.” – Paul Brunton

This is quite a dubious para for the sole reason that any voice, whether audible or mental, can deceive you.  It got me in trouble in the past and once I clearly saw the specific patterns of mental illness I was able to pull myself out of it.  If I could easily be mislead so can other serious students.  Unless it is clearly pointed out, this type of mistaken belief can result in spiritual ruin.

It is important to note that the Buddhist doctrine has never said to follow your mind, sense impressions, or intuition.  These mental impressions really derive from a false source which is none other than our subconscious mind rather than a wisdom mind.

The Buddha said, “Be wary of trusting your own mind, for it is deceptive.  Be wary of situations that may incite lust, for those will lead to disaster.  Once you have attained arhatship, you can trust your own mind.” — The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters

It is understandable that most westerners have an aversion to following a guru or a master.  We all start off with a certain pride that we can walk this path on our own.  However, since the subconscious mind is so entrenched in negative karma and emotional obscurations it is good advice to follow someone who is ahead of us on our meditational path.

Guiding principle:

Just as an Arhat can trust his own mind, a Bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi can truly discriminate what comes from ordinary mind or wisdom mind.  He can now clearly see what comes from a demon or master.  Since the faulty discriminating mind has come to an end for the Bodhisattva at this stage, the enlightening being can see what is illusory and real.

“Mahamati, at the eighth stage the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, Sravakas, and Pratyekabuddhas cease cherishing discriminative ideas that arise from the Citta, Mana and Manovijnana.” — The Lankavatara sutra

From talking to many people, I know all too well that most people would prefer to be guided by an internal master rather than a living Master.  We all would like to advance on the quest without having to do much work.  Of course, it would be nice to have a shortcut and not have to put much effort in traveling to see a lama or all the expenses that it entails.

Eight Worldly Dharmas:

The surest way to check if we have gone astray is to understand our ethical motivation.  As soon as we have a selfish agenda we need to immediately recognize this wrong intention.  We need to recognize these strong feelings that lead to harmful ends.  We would be fortunate if we became properly instructed to go beyond the eight worldly dharmas.

These worldly dharmas or mundane concerns are the key to recognizing our base impulses.  Once we are aware of our afflictive emotions then we can see our patterns of behavior.  With this knowledge we can avoid grasping onto whatever the ego wants.  As we become familiar with this, then we can easily dismiss any mystical message that would cause us to become grandiose or inflated.  If we want a completely healthy mind we should follow the middle path and avoid the constant:

  • hope for HAPPINESS and fear of SUFFERING
  • hope for FAME and fear of INSIGNIFICANCE
  • hope for PRAISE and fear of BLAME
  • hope for GAIN and fear of LOSS

If we are fortunate enough to sit at the feet of an authentic, enlightened master we can gain confidence in following a correct path.  Once we surrender in the right way then we can relax with an alert mindfulness.  We never want to surrender and then act on our false intuitions.  Only with right instruction in our mind and a pure motivation in our heart can an authentic samadhi will develop.

When it does, then it will be more than a glimpse that comes and goes.  This type of samadhi would bring us to a level of permanent peace.  Once this way of abiding is realized, then this stable state of Pure Being is always priority.  Thereafter, any grandiose thought, elevated intuition, or wrong message that arises in the mind will pale in comparison.  They are seen for what it is – a display of the mind and certainly NOT acted upon.

Fault of intuition:

One of the things that I took seriously was being a good student and following instructions perfectly.  In many PB’s paras, he states repeatedly to obey your intuition.  I figured that is what I must strictly adhere to in order to succeed.  For example:

“The intellect ought to work only as a servant, obeying intuition’s orders in practical life or filling in details for intuition’s discoveries in the truth-seeking quest.” – Paul Brunton

The problem we have here is that our wisdom-mind is not fully developed until a stable realization takes place.  When this is the case, then our own subconscious-mind can play tricks on us.  If our mind is fragmented it surely can take on a life of its own.  Furthermore, one must take into account that there are many planetary forces, nagas, and king-like spirits that are wandering about ready to cause mischief.  They often act like authority figures and like a military general they are often in a disposition of shouting orders…wanting you to obey their command.

How would anyone know what the source is?

It is a simple fact that, when you deepen your meditation you become quite adept at hearing your own thoughts.  Once this happens, it is never easy to discern if these are our own thoughts or someone else’s.

Furthermore, we all want to become the favored and chosen practitioner.  We all want to be enlightened as soon as possible.  And at a desperate time we would obey any faint intuition to get it.  Unfortunately, this is not the proper way to go about it.

Just like the story of the monk on solitary retreat.  He heard a mental voice tell him to throw his ritual bell against the wall in order to see a fantastic miracle.  He did so only to shatter and break his precious dharma instrument.  In the end, all the Buddhas want you to do is practice the six perfections and ultimately achieve non-action.  One really needs discriminating wisdom, proper scriptures, and an enlightened master to keep us safely on track.

Proper use of Intuition:

A few circumstances where right intuition can be followed:

  1. Pertaining to the physical body
  2. Pertaining to interpersonal relationships
  3. Pertaining to travel

The following examples are correct ways to utilize your intuition which have no fault accompanying it:

First, when you are practicing yoga or exercising it is only beneficial to recognize the warning signs of pain and stop what you are doing.  Women seem to have an easier time understanding this.  Nonetheless, anyone can balance their intellect with their feeling and increase their level of skill through bi0feedback.  Because of the reference point of pain and pleasure it can be mastered rather easily.

Second, when you are in relationship with another person (or someone you just met) and you feel a negative warning or a “red flag” comes up…it would be wise to follow your intuition and avoid this individual.

Third, when you are about to travel someplace and have a bad “gut” feeling.  It is beneficial to follow that feeling and avoid getting in the car with someone.  The negative warning sign may save your life.

The Lankavatara Sutra:

The Bodhisattva after achieving a direct perception of emptiness, on the path of seeing, has ten stages or bhumis of further enlightenment to enhance.  To do more accurate research in this direction you can read this excellent sutra:

“The first seven of the Bodhisattva stages were in the realm of mind and the eighth, while transcending mind, was still in touch with it; but in the ninth stage of Transcendental Intelligence (Sadhumati), by reason of his perfect intelligence and insight into the imagelessness of Divine Mind which he had attained by self-realization of Noble Wisdom, he is in the realm of Tathagatahood.” — The Lankavatara sutra

Then the Buddha goes on to say:

“Gradually the Bodhisattva will realize his Tathagata-nature and the possession of all its powers and psychic faculties, self-mastery, loving compassion, and skillful means, and by means of them will enter into all the Buddha-lands.”

Click here to read the Lankavatara sutra online.

Click here to download this version of The Lankavatara Sutra.

Best wishes!
Neo

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