Daoist Medicine 2015
I came to the Daoist Medicine course after some trials and tribulations in obtaining a Chinese Visa. It was immediately apparent during my Visa chaos, that if I wanted this teaching, I would have to work hard, with much persistence, to get it. In the end, it was all 100% worth it. I arrived a little late to the course, and the other class members and Li Shi Fu welcomed me with open arms. We quickly recognized that the content of the vast subject of Daoist Medicine does not fit comfortably into a time period of 2 months. Li Shi Fu was well aware of this, and reminded us frequently, that what we are attempting to grasp in 2 months is what some go to school for 3-5 years of university study of Chinese Medicine. Instead, our scope was to grasp the basic theories deeply, learn and practice various healing methods (acupuncture, acupressure, sound therapy, cupping therapy to name a few), and combine them with the essential practice of gong, or meditation practices including Qigong, Taiji, Sitting and Standing Meditation.
Upon the outset of the course, I was most excited to learn about the practical healing methods of acupuncture and acupressure, but found my biggest takeaway was the spiritual aspect of healing. This meditative, or spiritual, gong was once considered an absolutely essential part of practicing Chinese medicine. The past generation of the great medicine teachers would never dream of practicing medicine without their own practice of gong, everyday. I feel very fortunate to have found a teacher who still understands this connection, and feels so inclined to share about it. Of course, the teacher can show us the way, but we have to walk the path. That is to say, we have to put in the immense amount of study, work, and practice required to guide others in healing.
As we learned how to heal others, we also shared frequently about our own healing processes, and our own body, mind, and spirit regulation, that occurred in our time on Bai Ma Shan. With the path in front of us, other students to walk beside us, with wise guidance from Li Shi Fu, all we have to do is take one step at a time, with patience and persistence. I found this easier said than done. My process was one of letting go of old thinking patterns, comforts, desires, and pushing myself everyday to be motivated to study, practice, and fully commit to our little family/community of the temple. These adjustments were not always easy, even on top of a mountain with few distractions. Opening ourselves to be vulnerable, learning from others, especially those we find most difficult to be around, these were the personal lessons I treasure most from my time on Bai Ma Shan. It is, indeed, a place of unconditional love and compassion, from which Daoist medicine and healing comes.
I would most strongly recommend this course to someone who would like to, or already has, or is in the process of, studying and practicing Daoist/Chinese Medicine further, formally. Anyone who would like this understanding, just to use on oneself, or even on close friends or family members, will get a lot out of this course as well. The one condition I would say is necessary is that one is willing to dedicate themselves to diligent study and practice, as these skills are useless without both. This course was a great perspective changer for me, so my advice for anyone interested is to come willing to open yourself to great ancient knowledge, love, light, and great change, and be prepared to put in the work to do it.
Feng Shui 2015
The Feng Shui course was a combination of two ancient Chinese bodies of knowledge: I Ching and Feng Shui. It was made clear from the beginning, that the Daoist perspective of these revered teachings, is one of highest esteem and purity. After all, these powers reach beyond the 3rd dimension, and into the formless energies, in order to help us regulate the inner and outer surroundings for health.
Unfortunately, the modern understanding of the I Ching and Feng Shui can be quite distorted and misused. It is the Western, and increasingly predominant Chinese practice, that these powers are used, rather, to increase one’s fortune, and to further one’s desires. To use these methods for purely selfish desires is, quite literally, like playing with the tail of a dragon. Like many ancient teachings from Chinese culture, the Daoist perspective has stricter requirements of honor and respect.
With our orientation and intention set purely towards the virtuous cause of regulating health, Li Shi Fu threw us into the world of orienting a new kind of compass, a luopan. With a much broader face than a regular compass, luopans have many rings of Chinese characters, each with a specific purpose. The rings we were taught were the earthly, humanly, and heavenly rings. Thus, the endless complexities of yin and yang type energies unfolded before us.
The placement of a house relative to its surroundings is the primary concern. Mountains, waterways, roads, and other buildings all have great influence on what type of qi flows through our living space, and through our individual energetic fields. If the qi of a house is inauspicious from the external perspective, there is no point to remedying the inside, and as Li Shi Fu would say, “it’s over!”
We learned how to find the greatly influential dragon qi, how to avoid or adjust sha qi, and work with existing water and mountain arrangements. Inside a house, the most important attributes are the placement of the doorway, bed, and kitchen. There are many subtle nuances to be regulated, and far too many to cover in this short class.
Integral to Feng Shui is the study of Ba Gua (Eight Trigrams), which is the basis for the divinatory system of I Ching. We studied ba gua in relationship to Feng Shui and the 8 directions, as well as the 64 hexagrams, and the meanings of each of the gua, and how to cast an I Ching oracle.
We were given a roadmap with valuable insights, yet the extra study and experience is up to us to integrate and use. Though we are far from Feng Shui masters, the basics were presented with a foundation to be able to integrate a few methods into daily life. Something that came through very clearly was Li Shi Fu’s perspective to never rely too heavily on these methods for guidance. They are simply to point one in the right direction, with one’s own intuition as the principle guide, especially in combination with the practice of gong.