In the year leading up to arrival at 5 Immortals Temple I had hit somewhat of a crossroads of learning in my life. It had been maybe 6 or 7 years since had got really serious on this road of trying to understand my true self and the universe in which I lived in. During that time I had been to University twice,once studying Sociology,Religion and Psychology and then secondly, Philosophy of which I am currently a student. Along with my academic study I had been on a major mission to expand my consciousness through understanding of the many different branches of spirituality and esotericism which have become open to us in modern times as well as doing some deep research into the global government, the banking system, extraterrestrials, the suppression of ancient wisdom and many other areas which could be deemed as conspiracy theories. I had come to a dead end, I had been filling my head with more and more intellectual concepts for so long that I had put the application of what I had learned to the side. I suffered from information overload, could not be sure who or what to believe and had lost a real sense direction. I had also been experiencing some mind and body problems for some time which western medicine and lifestyle were certainly not helping.
I first heard about 5 Immortals from a friend of mine who had just returned from an 8 month stay here. He showed me a lot of the things he had learned here and also shared much of the knowledge he received during his stay. I was very interested in making a trip here myself. The most reasonable time for me to come fell during the Daoist medicine course. I had relatively no experience in the practice of medicine but my friend assured me that the master here was teaching methods on how to be an all around better human being, mentally, physically and spiritually regardless of which course you happened to attend.
Upon arriving at the temple it took me some time to adapt to the pace and lifestyle of the temple in contrast to back home in the city. For me personally it was immediately a major benefit to be away from the constant barrage of stimulus from different types of media we have in modern society, in particular television and internet. Over time this was one of my favorite aspects of life in the temple. With more time to focus on myself without the distractions of the outside world, I could really see how out of balance I was in my life back home. The Daoist medicine course was full of methods for healing ourselves and other people. Through regulation of the formless body we were in turn benefiting our physical body and our mental health. My friend had shown me some QiGong in the months leading up to my visit here and I had already seen the benefits of practicing it every day. So, I was delighted to find there was such an emphasis placed on QiGong ,Longevity and Tai Chi during the course. Practice of these helped me get back in tune with my body. It allowed me to shift my consciousness from messy thoughts up in my mind and relax back down into the physical body and get grounded and centered. This was one area I was massively lacking in previously. I had not being doing any energy(Qi) work, and in way of physical exercise I had mainly been doing upper body weights which had allowed a massive amount of tension to form in my shoulders. My goal instead now was to relieve the stress which had built in my body and let Qi and blood circulate more fully. This in turn would regulate my health better overall.
Stillness Meditation and eating vegetarian were two things I had been trying out at different stages in recent years before coming to the temple, but, I had never been able to keep them up. In both these areas I feel my time at the temple gave me a massive boost. We only ate vegetarian in the temple and Shifu imparted in us much wisdom on the dangers of meats and other processed foods to both our physical and spiritual health. This really hit home for me and I really see my attitude to my diet as having changed permanently for the better this time. As far as meditation, I had understood the importance of practicing stillness for many years but had struggled to free myself from messy thoughts and distractions in my mind when trying meditation back home. Again the wisdom and methods from LiShifu helped to focus my mind, concentrate and persevere through the distractions and diffulties which arise. In particular I felt the emphasis Shifu placed on the neccesity of ‘changing your thoughts’ was a major benefit to me personally as far as meditation and clarity of mind are concerned.
Overall my time at the temple during the Daoist medicine course really opened my eyes to the amount of work I have to do to walk this path. Where before I spent countless hours cramming my brain with more and more information in an attempt to crack the code of the mysteries of the universe for my own personal benefit, I now really shifted my focus on how I could use these teachings to help others as well as myself. However although I am became clear on the huge amount of work which lay ahead I also was finally given a true sense of direction from my time here as well as methods to do so. In this course alone during the two months LiShifu instructed us on a fully comprehensive Daoist lifestyle system which encompassed everything from diet and the physical body down to advice and precepts for moral conduct back in society. The vastness of content given by Shifu during the course and his knowledge of healing and medicine were literally incomprehensible for one man. The type of wisdom it would take numerous lifetimes to acquire one would think.