About the Dragon Gate Lineage

The Mission of the American Dragon Gate Lineage is to promote Daoist self-cultivation and the spreading of the teachings of the Daoist worldview.

Platform Statement of The American Dragon Gate Lineage

The American Dragon Gate Lineage (ADGL) is under the umbrella organization of the Qigong & Daoist Training Center (QDTC), a sole proprietorship. The ADGL was founded by Michael Rinaldini (Li Chang Dao), a High-Level Qigong Teacher, and a 22nd generation Longmen Daoist Priest. Shifu Michael was ordained by Priest Ji Zhi Tong, a Longmen Daoist of White Cloud Temple, Beijing, China in 2003. Shifu Michael received a second ordination on December 4, 2016, by Abbot Bernard Shannon of Temple of Peace and Virtue as a 22ndgeneration Daoshi Priest of the Longmen lineage. Hence, the ADGL is linked to the Longmen Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) school of the Daoist religion, founded by Wang Zhe (Chongyang, 1113-1170) and his direct disciples.

The American Dragon Gate Lineage is a non-monastic order of Daoist practitioner-priests whose mission is to promote self-cultivation and to the spreading of the Daoist View. Membership in the American Dragon Gate Lineage is limited to those candidates who are in training to become ordained priests or those who have completed the training program and are ordained.

Daoism is a philosophical and religious tradition, which has its roots in Chinese culture, history, and philosophy. The ultimate concern for Daoists is the return to the Source, which is the Dao. The Dao may be understood as the Primordial Origins, the Source of all that is. It is unnamable and all-pervading mystery. The Daoists goal is to cultivate alignment with the Dao.

Historically, for the Quanzhen adepts, the goal of the practice was to overcome the limitations of this world, realize complete perfection, merge with the Great Mystery, and ascend to immortality. For present-day Daoists of the American Dragon Gate Lineage, the goal is the same. It is a path of emptying the self of distractions through spiritual disciplines leading to the direct experience of one’s true nature, which is identical to the essential nature of the Dao.

A Daoist in the ADGL studies the history of Daoism specifically the teachings of the Quanzhen-Complete Perfection school and its founder Wang Zhe (Chongyang) (1112-1170), which eventually resulted in the Longmen Dragon Gate sect in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The founder, Wang Zhe also emphasized the study of Buddhism and Confucianism as important to Daoist cultivation. The ADGL, therefore, encourages the integration of Buddhist and Daoist practices into one’s self-cultivation methods.

The Three Lineage Treasures of The ADGL:
Meditation, Scripture Study & Reciting, Solitary Retreat

 The core of the priest training program is a focus on the Daoist meditation methods of zuowang and the koan method of resolving the question of what is “Not two.”  Historically, the practice of zuowang, “sitting and forgetting” meditation in the Quanzhen tradition dates back to the early Quanzhen Patriarchs. It is recorded in ancient records that Fifth Patriarch Zhang Jingding,1450 (Wuwo) practiced “sitting and forgetting” and attained the state of “Egolessness.”

Ancient Quanzhen adepts also practiced a form of koan practice, which was initiated by Quanzhen founder Wang Zhe in his discourses: “The problems and riddles (gong’an, a Chan Buddhist term) posed by men of old should be investigated.” These meditation methods lead to the experience of emptiness and as scripture says, “The Great Way is not difficult” but it is long, and through long practice and direct realization experiences, the adept naturally becomes one with the Dao. Furthermore, the current tradition of Longmen Daoism came into existence because of the reformation within the Longmen tradition by the Seventh Patriarch Wang Changyue, 1656. Patriarch Wang emphasized the cultivation of the innate Nature through meditative discipline, which regards clarity, stillness, and non-action as the keys to self-cultivation. Of less importance are the alchemical methods, which speak with obscure language and have nothing to do with the true nature of things.

The American Dragon Gate Lineage follows in the tradition of Wang Changyue’s with its emphasis on meditative clarity, stillness, and non-action through its daily practice of zuowang’s sitting and forgetting method.

In addition to the core practice of meditation, ADGL adepts have a daily practice of reciting texts from a collection of Daoist scriptures (Gongke) in their own residence. For 1000 consecutive days, adepts recite texts from this collection. The life of Wang Zhe was the key source of inspiration for this practice. It is recorded that upon his mystical conversion experience, he entered a solitary three-year retreat, followed by another long retreat. A secondary inspiration came from the Daoist mystical text, the Scripture of Western Ascension  (Xisheng Jing). In it, Laozi says to Yin Xi, the keeper of the pass:  “Practice it very carefully, cherish it like a treasure.  In deep serenity, he meditated on the Dao, concentrated his will, and guarded the One.  He recited the scripture ten thousand times and in 1000 days he attained inner sincerity in his essence and pervasion in his meditation.”

The study and recitation of Daoist scriptures are an integral aspect of our beliefs and practices.  Beginning with the Daode jing, and including other important practice-scriptures, like the Qingjing jing, Yinfu jing, Mind Seal Classic, Neiye or Inward Training, Zuowang lun, and related appendixes, Faith Mind Sutra, and Cultivation Poems by Wang Zhe on Clarity and Purity, and more.

To support and nourish the above practices, the ADGL adept spends time in solitary retreat. Historically, according to Quanzhen practices, this was named “huandu” and meant enclosure in a meditation cell for a long period to foster self-cultivation, interior silence, and detachment from worldly ways.  Modern-day ADGL adepts similarly go on solitary retreats or group retreats for the same purpose.  Additionally, ADGL adepts broaden the definition of retreats to include daily meditation practice to all-night meditation sessions in the privacy of one’s own home.

In addition to the above practices, members of the ADGL practice a variety of energy techniques, like qigong, tai chi, martial arts, healing arts and other practices that support inner cultivation and compassionate actions.  These arts are not part of the ADGL training program. For candidates who have a weak background in qigong, additional studies during the Levels 1 and 2 may be required.

Perhaps the best way to conclude the platform statement of the American Dragon Gate Lineage is to present the Precepts:

I take refuge in the Great Dao.

I take refuge in the Canon.

I take refuge in the Teacher and Hidden Immortals of the Great Way.

I vow not to steal.

 I vow to tell only the truth.

I vow to practice kindness to all, humans and animals.

I vow to Practice

Not misusing sexuality.

Not clouding the mind with drugs or alcohol.

Not being greedy, or angry.

I vow to cultivate

Humility, humor, and simplicity.

I vow to Practice

Being compassionate to self and others.

Being mindful and paying attention to things in my daily life.

Cultivating the Three Treasures of Jing, Qi, and Shen.

Developing a spacious view of self and others.

Dedicating the merits of my cultivation to all beings, both the living and the dead.

I vow to practice reciting scriptures, in silence and solitude,

 until I realize Complete Perfection.

I vow to practice sitting in oblivion, in silence and solitude,

 until I realize Complete Perfection.

I vow to practice Not Two, in silence and solitude,

 until I realize Complete Perfection.

 New American Daoism and the ADGL

 The spread of Daoism to the West in all its diversity and variations of theory and practice also needs to consider the membership of who makes up the new American Daoism. In the most inclusive manner of speaking, new American Daoists and the ADGL will be practitioners who are interested in an authentic Daoist path (spiritual and religious expression) and come from diverse ethnic backgrounds: European-American, Afro-American, Indian and Southeast Asian, Latin-American, Native American, and mixed heritages.

Daoism is an all-inclusive path to the Dao, Original Nature, regardless of particularities, persuasions, preferences, and so on. In the big picture of spiritual and religious freedom, all peoples are entitled to walk the path of the Daoist.

American Dragon Gate Lineage:
Contract of Rules, Procedures and Requirements

Introduction

Becoming an American Dragon Gate Lineage priest candidate is a process of developing a firm foundation in Daoist theory and practice. At a more subtle level, it is a process of emptiness from our false ways of perceiving and being in the world.

In addition to the above practices (The Three ADGL Treasures), members of the ADGL practice a variety of energy techniques, like qigong, tai chi, martial arts, healing arts and other practices that support inner cultivation and compassionate actions.  These arts are not part of the ADGL training program. For candidates who have a weak background in qigong, additional studies are required. See below for details.

Additionally, there is a need to establish a strong connection and commitment between the new candidate and the ADGL. Thus the requirement is for the candidate to attend an annual retreat prior to starting the 1000-Day Retreat.  All practices are done at the candidate’s own place of residence, except for the ADGL annual retreats, or when the candidate goes on personal retreats.

One of the criteria of becoming a priest of the lineage is to reflect on what will the new priest give back to the lineage. It is not just a one-way flow of energy. The new priest, as well as the priest candidates and even the seasoned ordained priests, should always be asking themselves, what will I give back to the ADGL? Any organization needs its members to take active roles in its ongoing operations and future development.

Details of Training Levels

Novice Phase- 9 months

The Novice Phase is an introduction to the history of Daoism, Daoist meditation, Daoist scriptures, solitary retreats, Qigong practice, precepts, and spiritual direction. There are required books/articles to read and write brief reports.

Qigong Studies

Candidates for the 1000-Day Training who do not have a solid foundation in Qigong theory and practice are required to participate in a brief period of Qigong studies. The studies will consist  of shifu Michael’s Modified Qigong Certification 200-Hour program. Candidates will receive the full 200-hour training material but will not be required to complete the written assignments as is required for full Qigong Certification. This course of studies can be integrated into Level 2 studies or at the end of level 2 studies, but before entry into the 1000 Day Training.

One of the final requirements prior to ordination is to successfully demonstrate one’s understanding and performance of Qigong Circle Walking. This takes place at the candidate’s ordination annual retreat.

The 1000-Day Training

To enter this level of training, candidates must have completed the Novice Phase, and the Qigong studies, if required, and attended an annual retreat, and submitted a Letter of Application for the priest training of the ADGL.

This is the full training program with specific requirements and training assignments broken down into several phases of study and practice. Details of this level will be given as a candidate progresses in their preliminary studies.

 Financial Responsibilities

The cost of the training is divided into the Novice Phase and the 1000-Day Training, and the optional Qigong training. The cost for the Novice Phase  is $350, the cost for the modified Qigong studies is $200, and the costs for the 1000-Day Training are $600 annually. Any training costs are non-refundable. Any extra materials, like books, retreat costs, clothes will be at the candidate’s expense. It is recommended that new members to the training begin a savings plan to save for future expenses so whenever annual dues, retreat expenses, or the expenses at the end of the training arrives (Daoist clothes, retreat, travel), the candidate will be prepared to meet those financial obligations.

 Priest Companions In The Dao

Candidates who have completed the 1000 Day Training, and received ordination as a Daoist Priest are considered Priest Companions In The Dao.  An annual membership fee of $100 is required which supports the growth of the ADGL. The first year’s annual fee is due at the completion of the 1000-Day Training. Annual dues are paid the beginning of every January. Membership dues contribute to the overall support of the QDTC/ADGL.

 Conclusion

Entry through the Dragon Gate is like the ancient Daoist Quanzhen story about the gorge called the Dragon Gate gorge. It is said that if a carp could swim through this gorge, it would come out the other side as a dragon. This is what we have to do in our practices as Daoists, swim through the illusions of life and connect with the heavenly aspect of our being, symbolized by the dragon, the primordial Source of the Dao.

If interested in training with the ADGL, please Contact Us!