Category Archives: Modern Daoist Articles

Journal writings from Shifu Michael’s next book – May 24, 2015

I came across an interesting article in the latest issue of The Empty Vessel magazine (Spring, 2015) a few days ago. It was an article on the female master Sun Bu’er, one of the seven Daoist disciples of Wang Chongyang, founder of the Quanzhen tradition during the 12th century. The article was interesting enough that I decided to find out more about the article’s author and the book the article came from.

A Reflection of the ADGL 2015 Retreat

nicole_stoneMy experience of the Wood Sheep retreat was one of shedding. It was my first retreat with shifu Michael and the ADGL community and going into it, I did not know what to expect. As a budding Daoist, I decided it was best not to expect anything. This opened up some space inside myself for discovery. What I found was quite a lot of things. At first, I noticed my strong desire to connect with others and ask so many questions. You see, for the most part, I have been studying qigong, TCM and Daoism in the privacy of my home, so being in a community of fellow enthusiasts was almost too much for me. I was bursting with desire to hear from others and share some of the fruits I have harvested in the last year. After I got the opportunity to connect with others, I began a process of slowly shedding– shedding the concern about my husband and son at home, shedding the desire to know more, shedding the need to belong, shedding the need to ‘get it right,’ shedding the grief from personal losses I’ve had in the past couple years, and more. There were times when this shedding felt painful, and other times when it felt joyous. Each part of the retreat helped me to shed more layers– the silence, the sitting, the ordination ceremony, the 24 hour meditation, the circle walking, the readings on Anterior Heaven, the qigong, the burning of our Joss paper wishes, the divination sticks, the tea drinking and poetry reading, the healing transmissions and simply chewing my food well– all of these things helped me shed more rigid layers so that I could touch a deeper inner well of silence. I ended the retreat feeling completely nourished, needing very little. Thank you.

Nicole Stone
Alameda Qigong and Meditation Teacher

Shifu Michael’s Journal Entry – 3.15.15

Shifu Michael Rinaldini

March 15, 2015
Wow, my 65th birthday flew by this past week. I am now really 65 years old. Congratulations to myself for this achievement.

Presently, I am trying to finish reading the book by Master Sat Hon from NYC who wrote a book on his cancer story. It’s called Healing Cancer with Qigong, One man’s search for healing, love and a cure for his cancer through complementary therapy. I plan to finish reading it today. In this insightful book on the fight to be cured from cancer using both traditional western medicine and the healing practices of qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices, Master Sat Hon weaves his story of his recovery back to health. His book even inspired me to learn the simple, yet powerful qigong walking exercise called the Gou Lin Healing Walk Qigong. I learned it easily, at least on the beginner’s level of understanding it, and even shared it with my Saturday qigong class. I mentioned that it is good to know even if they don’t have cancer, but at some point, someone they know may get cancer and they can then pass this knowledge onto them. And for now they can think of it as a way to practice spring cleansing qigong.

Carving the Block = Knowing the Context.

In Daoism we often refer to something called The Uncarved Block. For most Daoists the lesson goes something like this: In the Dao De Jing, Lao Tzu says “the name that can be named is not the name, naming is the origin of all Things”. In a nutshell this means that if you use language to separate things from each other, you ultimately deny yourself any chance of seeing the interconnectedness of all things. Or the “Not Two-ness” of the Universe. But what does this mean for everyday people? How can we use this in practical life?

Priest Patrick’s Record of China Trip 8/21/14 – 9/4/14

Group photo with Tian Yuan

Official Record for China Trip Aug 21st 2014 – Sept 4th 2014

On Aug 21st 2014 at 1:00 am I traveled with 14 of my students and two of my Daoist Priest brothers from Houston TX to Beijing China. We arrived at 4:50 am Aug 22nd 2014 at Beijing Int’l airport. We spent the day at a local hotel to rest and acclimate. The next day, Aug 23rd 2014 we flew from Beijing to the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province which is 1.5 hours’ drive by bus to the Daoist sacred mountain Mt Qingcheng (place where Celestial Master Zhang Dao Ling first instituted Daoism as an organization instead of unaffiliated wandering mystics and holy men).

Shifu’s 24-Hour Retreat

Shifu Michael Rinaldini

July 27
10:15 am

Today is the day that I am going to do my 24-hour sitting meditation practice. Review what I said about it in my October 13, 2013 entry. Obviously I haven’t worked on this practice in smaller increments, it would have been reported on in these journal entries. I am finding myself to be too busy to devote to any extended sittings, and so I decided, oh well, just go for it. One of my priest students made an attempt but he was not able to complete the full 24 hours because where he was practicing-in some remote place in Mexico, there were storms that interfered with his meditations. He’ll be sending me his own notes from his experiences, which I’ll include in my journal.

2014 ADGL Retreat

The 2014 Annual ADGL Daoist Retreat was held at Black Mountain Retreat Center in Northern California. Here are some pictures from the retreat!

 

From the Journal of Shifu Rinaldini: 1/20, 12:35pm

After I did my clean-up, I sat on the porch to do my goodbyes to the
silence and solitude of Sky Farm Hermitage. It was already warm but
with a slight hint of a cool breeze. I decided to practice some
stationary standing before I left and maybe to practice some of the
postures I wrote about yesterday. Something didn’t click for me though
and I knew what it was-the postures. I quickly realized that what I
practiced yesterday seemed a little too contrived, not natural for me.
And I knew what was to come-practice standing qigong while holding the
same postures as when I circle walk. BINGO. That was not a big
brainer. I thought of my local qigong students and the difficulties
they have with both the traditional ball-holding standing postures and
the postures while circle walking. Won’t it be nice if there were some
commonality between these closely related qigong practices. And now
there is.

Another thing that I realized was that I need to go back and teach and
practice myself standing qigong with the overall emphasis on
“RELAXATION.” While browsing through another article in the Qi Journal
on Zhan Zhuang I saw the author’s recommendation that relaxation
should be emphasized over the strict structural guidelines which seem
to be present in a lot of articles and books on standing qigong. It is
interesting to note that many of these stricter structure directions
are by younger western qigong teachers or martial artists. When I
first started reading about standing qigong by Chinese qigong masters
their emphasis was on relaxation and posture secondary? This is what I
remember but couldn’t swear to it. Anyway, stand like a tree, let your
roots sink deep into the earth, hold your posture of Lifting Palms To
Heaven, and attain the Qi and Dao.

From the Journal of Shifu Rinaldini: 1/19, 7pm

I’m now looking at a new book on Daoist studies by Louis Komjathy.
It’s called The Daoist Tradition: An Introduction. Honestly, I don’t
know why books like this are called “introduction” when there are so
many similar books on the same or similar topics. But with all respect
to the author, let’s move on.

There is a lot of information in this book and it is taking me time to
go deep into the book as a whole. At present, I am only digesting
parts of it as I find areas of concern to me.

One area of concern for me now is a deeper understanding of the Daoist
term “wuwei.” I’ve said elsewhere that I am frequently encountering
others who are using that term to describe their Daoist practices. And
I still say they are using it or understanding it incorrectly. They
sound like they are repeating phrases from the 1960’s and 1970’s when
it was in style to “go with the flow.” So let’s see how Komjathy
defines and talks about this important Daoist principle of
cultivation.

The practice of wuwei involves “effortless activity, non-interference,
and non-intervention.” It does make use of effort, though the effort
used is the least required for a situation. Komjathy says it is the
cessation of doing things that “prevents one from being attuned with
the Dao.” So, you see, wuwei still employs practices that require a
certain degree of effort as long as the intention or goal is ultimate
attunement or alignment with the Dao. Komjathy states clearly that
wuwei is “not ‘doing nothing,’ which is impossible.” Instead, wuwei is
about relaxation, ease, complete presence and conservation, or
non-dissipation. Wuwei is closely connected to the principle of ziran,
which is translated as “spontaneity or naturalness,” as well as
“suchness” and is the “state or condition realized when one returns to
one’s innate nature, which is the Dao.” This term is also confused in
modern culture as “following one’s own desires.” I like how Komjathy
sums up this discussion on wuwei and ziran by saying: “Practicing
wuwei and abiding in ziran requires the mastery of Daoist principles,
including decreasing desires.” P. 88 The Daoist Tradition

Thus to acquire “mastery” of any subject takes prolonged practice,
effort, discipline and commitment to a goal. This is far from simply
going with the flow, following one’s desires, and accepting things the
way they are. This is the “gong,” as in qigong or gongfu, that is, the
necessary work of perfecting a skill.

From the Journal of Shifu Rinaldini: 1/19, 5:41pm

Wow, I just read a prediction of the coming Year of the Yang Wood
Horse. Hold your horse by its mane as it is going to be a wild of a
ride. Yes, I said that correctly, it is going to be a wild year and
those who do the best will be the dreamers, the visionaries, the
mystics, the artists, those who have ambitions to burst out of their
comfortable bubbles, and seek the new in adventure, business, personal
goals and so on. This is the year to follow your intuition like no
other. This is my interpretation of what I just read, let’s see how
this all plays out in the coming year. Yeeehaaw!