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.

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

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!

From the Journal of Shifu Rinaldini: 1/19, 1:17pm

Okay, back to the article on harmonizing with the winter. And that is
what it is all about in a nutshell. In fact, the ideal is to harmonize
with all of the seasons as each season has a distinctive flavor about
them and being nature ourselves we want to be in sync with nature.
This wisdom was written about a long time ago in ancient China and one
of the pivotal works about the seasons and human harmony is the Huang
Di Nei Jing, called Nei Jing for short. The Nei Jing describes the
winter season as the time for “closing and storage.” This is all part
of the Yin and Yang and Five Element or Five Phase Theories of
Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to these theories, the summer
and warm times of the year are the Yang phases of the year, and cooler
and cold times of the year are the Yin phases of the year. This past
Winter Solstice was on December 22, 2013 which marks the peak day of
the Yin phase, known as the Greater Yin.

So what are some of the key things that we should be aware of in order
to stay in harmony with the winter phase? To begin, the Nei Jing
recommends very strongly that we “go to bed early and rise late. You
must wait for the rising of the sun.” P.17 (editing note underline
wait) This is to harmonize with the Yin and support the Yang which is
in decline in the winter. In other words, we must as the Nei Jing says
nurture our Yin energy by slowing down, getting extra sleep, and
turning our attentions to quiet contemplations and activities. Or, as
I would say, spend some time in silence and solitude during the
winter. Here is a long quote from the Nei Jing on the core principles
of the winter phase:

The three months of winter denote closing and storage. Water freezes
and the earth breaks open. Do not disturb the yang-go to bed early and
rising late. You must wait for the shining of the sun. Allow the
mind-will to enter into a hidden state as if shut in-not unlike
someone with secret intentions, not unlike having already made secret
gains. Avoid the cold and seek warmth. Refrain from sweating as it
causes the Qi to be carried away quickly. This is in resonance with
the Qi of winter and the Way to nourish storage. P 18

There is so much more in McCann’s article, I recommend getting back
issues of the Qi Journal to read it and his other articles on the
seasons. However, I don’t want to leave his article until I discuss
his recommendations for eating and drinking during the winter phase.
As you will guess by now, the key practice is to stay warm during the
height of the Yin phase. Staying warm during the winter is essential
for Kidney energy and thus what we eat and drink become vitally
important to our health and strength. So we need to eat warming foods.
These are foods that are energetically warm, not simply warm because
they were heated. Here are a few guidelines for winter warming foods:
most animal meats are warming, vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes,
garlic, ginger, squashes and root vegetables. Spices like pepper,
nutmeg, cumin, and fennel seeds are warming and great for digestion
during the winter. But wait, I really like what McCann recommends for
drinking. He advises to avoid the cooling Chinese teas like Green tea,
and suggests the warming dark processed teas, like the oblongs, black
teas, and puerh teas? And here is something that I really like to
hear, “Pu Erh is perhaps the best of these”:

This wonderful tea from Yunnan Province is traditionally made from the
leaves of wild deep- mountain tea trees. The leaves are harvested and
then put through a process of fermentation and aging, and some high
quality Pu Erh teas can be aged for 15 to 20 years or more. Not only
is this tea warming but it also encourages the inward movement and
storage of Qi that is desirable in winter. P19

As I read this article and write these entries, I have been enjoying
my High grade Tibetan Puerh tea.

From the Journal of Shifu Rinaldini: 1/19, 12 Noon

I took a break from writing and practiced some standing meditation or
what is called Zhan Zhuang, standing like a tree or the many other
variation of names. Years ago I practiced standing meditation much
more than I do now, and I even was inspired to create my own variation
of stationary standing that I call Compassionate Buddha Qigong. It is
a slow moving version of standing still with the arms very slowing
moving with intervals of holding the arms motionless in the various
positions while the mind is fully absorbed in a process of letting go
and expanding out to the cosmos until the practitioner feels their
unity with the universe, to the point of becoming the universe and
from that perspective to then act as the Buddha, but I also say the
Christ, and send out radiant healing energy to all beings, including
the planet earth. I still practice and teach this form, but I am
beginning to go back and practice some of the traditional standing
forms with variations of my own.

For instance, I just stood on the porch, starting in the basic wuji
stance, arms relaxed down at the sides, standing straight. I turn my
left foot out 45 degrees, and step forward with my right foot. The
weight is nearly even on both feet, slightly more to the rear leg, and
my legs are slightly bent. I raise my arms up in front of me as if
reaching forward, palms down, and my hands in the same open posture as
when circle walking. My arms are almost fully extended, but not. I
sink into the ground and lift to the sky; I tuck in the tailbone, and
breathe into the Lower Dantian, and eventually the whole body
breathing. After a few minutes I pull back on my arms and they lower
in front of my chest as if they are going to push something forward, I
sink down more, relaxing, breathing. In my practice I switched to the
other side and also practiced some standing on one foot. When I was
done I sat on a chair and was just present to the surrounding hills,
hawks flying overhead, and warmth of the gentle breeze.