I Ching DAO
The I Ching Dao system is a program of personal development founded by Juan Li
that is based on Daoist teachings. It uses the I Ching, a classic of the ancient Chinese Culture, as a guide to the various stages of self-development. The program of I Ching Dao is divided in five levels, which allows the practitioner to get familiar with the physical body, the energy body, the emotional body and the mental body
in order to gradually access to the state of origin, which is called, in the Daoist system: “The Original Mind” or the “Body of the Dao”.
The various energetic techniques of the five levels will eliminate progressively the obstacles, from the physical level, to the more subtle levels, thanks to a working sequence adapted to the requirements of daily life.
The numerous disciplines that form part of the I Ching Dao build a structure like a “tree of practices”. In the trunk are found the techniques of concentration and meditation essential in order to develop the potential of the individual consciousness.
The branches are supporting energetic techniques, that refine the individual consciousness, for example : massage, right nutrition, sequences of physical movements like Tai Chi or Qi Gong, dream practices, practice of transcendence, pilgrimage, etc.
This program of personal development takes into consideration not only the benefits for the life here and now, but as well the process of transcendence, after death.
I CHING DAO FORMATION PROGRAM
LEVEL 1 - DEVELOPING THE ROOTS OF THE TREE OF PRACTICES
- The Inner Softening Smile
- The Six Healing Sounds
- Basic Stretching
- Structural Alignment 1: Embracing the Tree
- The Microcosmic Orbit
- Energy Principles 1: The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching. The Guiding Principles of Energy Work
LEVEL 2 - DEVELOPING THE TRUNK OF THE TREE OF PRACTICES
- Awakening the Inner Guide
- Healing the Ancestral Line
- Harmonizing the 5 Elements 1: Transforming Negative Emotions
- Harmonizing the 5 Elements 2: Empowering the Positive Emotions
- Harmonizing the 5 Elements 3: Harmonizing the Meridian System
- Harmonizing the 5 Elements 4: Transforming Anger and Hate and Empowering Forgiveness
- Harmonizing the 5 Elements 5: Transforming Self-Rejection, Guilt and Shame into Self-Forgiveness and Self-Acceptance
- Harmonizing the 5 Elements 6: Transforming Fear and Anxiety in Times of Crisis
- Harmonizing the 5 Elements 7: Keeping the Center in Times of Rapid Change
- Energy Integrity & Psychic Protection
- Energy Principles 2: Introduction to the I Ching: The 64 Hexagrams
- Energy Principles 3: I Ching Advice for the Spring and Summer.
- Energy Principles 4: I Ching Advice for the Autumn and Winter
- Opening the 3 Knots of the 3 Cauldrons
LEVEL 3 - DEVELOPING THE BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF PRACTICES
- Refining Sexual Energy 1
- Refining Sexual Energy 2: The Tao of Harmonious Relationships
- Structural Alignment 2: The Six Postures of Qi Gong
- Bone Marrow Breathing 1: Regeneration of the Bone Marrow and Healing the Family
- Bone Marrow Breathing 2: Memory Nei Kung
- Structural Alignment 3: Tai Chi 1 The 13 Movements
- Structural Alignment 4: Tai Chi 2 Refining the 13 Movements
- Clearing Obstacles 1: Clearing Obstacles in Practice
- Clearing Obstacles 2: How to Practice
- The Yogas of Food and Nourishment
- Feng Shui
LEVEL 4 - GENERATING BENEFIT: EMPOWERING THE SPIRIT
- Love and Healing Light Practices
- Chi Nei Tsang
- Mantra 1: Basic Mantras
- Mantra 2: Healing Mantras
- Mantra 3: Divine Feminine Mantras
- Sacred Arts
- Leading Review Groups in the Basic Practices
LEVEL 5 - TRANSCENDENCE PRACTICES
- Dream Practice 1: Introduction to Dream Practice
- Dream Practice 2: Dream Incubation
- Dream Practice 3: Yogas of Death and Transcendence
- Dream Practice 4: Dream Practice for Death and Transcendence
- Dream Practice 5: Dream Interpretation
- Introduction to Original Mind
- The Union of Fire and Water. Developing the Full Potential of the Central Channel
- Energy Principles 5: I Ching Guidance for the Higher Practices
- Preparing for Transcendence. The Yogas of Pilgrimage
- Stabilizing the Mountain. Silent Retreat
- Enriching the Ancestral Lineage. Teacher Training
DESCRIPTION OF THE INDIVIDUAL I CHING DAO LEVELS
LEVEL 1 - DEVELOPING THE ROOTS OF THE TREE OF PRACTICES
- THE SOFTENING SMILE
This is the first step in the Dao and the most important. The Softening Smile is the opening key to the world of communicating with ourselves through feeling. Without the ability to feel there is no Daoist practice, just ideas and mental concepts. Feeling focuses the awareness on the present moment which is where the energy is available at all times. The Softening Smile connects us directly with the life force.
- THE SIX HEALING SOUNDS
The ability to influence the energy flow in the basic organs is developed through the Six Healing Sounds. By improving the energy flow through the organs we begin to have a direct effect on the emotions and the way we feel. This is also the first step in learning to revitalize ourselves through energy practices. The ability to feel begun with the Softening Smile is now developed further feeling each organ. This practice is also called ‘Falling in Love with the Organs’ and the outcome is greater self-care and self-respect. -At this level one begins to open a direct dialogue with the intelligence in the organs themselves by asking what needs to be done to help them work best. Through this initial step, one begins to recognize that there is a superior consciousness operating through each of the organs. The communication which develops opens the way for the relation between the Inner Guide and positive ego. A relation that becomes crucial in the process of self development.
- BASIC STRETCHING
A simple sequence of stretching from the toes to the head for increasing energy flow and unifying the body. A sequence of sounds clears and empowers the different energy centers along the central channel raising the level of consciousness from distracted to centered. The important breathing exercise called Spinal Chord Breathing helps change the quality of the blood and the mind thus improving the ability to focus clearly and experience calmness. This stretching sequence is the prelude to all the energy practices. Its daily practice increases the feeling of self-esteem.
- STRUCTURAL ALINGNMENT 1
EMBRACING THE TREE POSTURE
An essential part of energy work is having the proper physical alignment between the two key sources of energy, namely the earth below and heaven above. Without proper alignment it is impossible to focus the mind clearly and for long periods of time without growing fatigued. The standing position called Embracing the Tree aligns all the bones in the most efficient way possible. The bones through their crystalline structure are ‘antennas’ through which earth and heavenly energies blend and circulate. This posture energizes the body with a minimum of effort and in the beginning stages helps discover within minutes where blockages preventing proper flow are located. Its daily practice lays the foundations for personal integrity in our actions and thoroughness in what we do.
- THE MICROCOSMIC ORBIT
This is the first practice in which we make direct conscious contact with the life force and its flow through the meridian system. It is very difficult to deepen energy work without having a clear and conscious experience of what energy feels like. The Microcosmic Orbit is a circular path through the spine and the front part of the body connecting with the complete meridian system all over the body. It is considered the ‘Main Street’ of energy flow therefore it is essential to maintain this avenue open and moving. Each time we consciously complete one circuit of the Microcosmic Orbit the personal level of vitality increases. All Daoist energy practices at the end lead to the Microcosmic Orbit and it is through this practice that we begin a life-long friendship with the life force. Daily practice generates the feeling of personal power and the ability to efficiently carry out our purpose.
- POINT OF VIEW 1
THE EIGHT TRIGRAMS OF THE I CHING. THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF ENERGY WORK
Working creatively with energy is not just a long series of techniques applied mechanically. For long range work with energy techniques we need a motivating force which can carry us gracefully in times of opposition and difficulties. The motivating force to persevere is provided by having a clear and powerful point of view orienting our actions. The most highly motivated practitioners are people terminally ill with a death sentence from their doctors, who decide to live and set out to do whatever is required to attain it. Their motivation for practice could not get any clearer than that. One finds that if the motivation for practice is strong it becomes a source of energy for carrying out techniques and overcoming obstacles. If motivation is not strong then the most powerful techniques will not be enough to bring about lasting transformation. Without clear guiding principles energy work falls back on improvisation and guess work and may ultimately prove ineffective in generating lasting change. The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching are the eight fundamental principles for carrying out energy work in a balanced way. They provide a point of view designed to carry the practitioner from raw beginner to transcendence from limitations. Acting on a regular basis with the eight principles in mind generates a powerful sense of destiny and clarity.
- THE SIX FOUNDATION PRACTICES OF THE INTRODUCTORY LEVEL
The six practices from the introductory level work together as a unit. Each practice generates a particular range of energy frequencies which combined set in motion the process of personal transformation toward a new level of health and well-being. In order for these practices to take root a minimum of three months of daily work is recommended before one moves into the level 2. The most important aspect of the Level 1 practices is that they provide an introduction to the lineage of Daoist practices. The lineage is made of all the extraordinary beings who opened the way for us, plus their powerful intention of generating benefit for everyone. Thanks to their altruistic motivation the teachings have come to our lives. The lineage is a river that effortlessly carries us in the right direction.
LEVEL 2: DEVELOPING THE TRUNK OF THE TREE OF PRACTICES
- AWAKENING THE INNER GUIDE
In the ancient Daoist accounts of the creation it is mentioned that before a being incarnates it makes an agreement with the Creation (Heaven) as to the purpose for its coming into the dimension of change. The agreement consists in that the Creation will provide all the necessary conditions for that being to carry out its purpose. The individual agrees to fulfill its purpose by working with whatever conditions the Creation provides. This process is named “fulfilling destiny”.
So that the incarnating being does not forget or gets lost in fulfilling destiny after taking birth, the Creation places a tiny seed of itself within the heart center of each being which comes into form either in the physical or subtle dimensions. This includes all animals, plants, humans and spirits. The seed of light at the heart center becomes the compass pointing the way where we are supposed to go to fulfill destiny. This tiny seed of the Creation is the Inner Guide or Inner Teacher or the Self as Carl Jung named it. Its sole purpose is to help us fulfill destiny by not losing the way.
The ancient alchemists, wisely observed that, “within everything created is the seed of its own perfection”. The Inner Guide is not only the spiritual compass, but also the seed of perfection within everyone. Carl Jung observed that the Self/Inner Guide is the one administering the process of self development. Everything that happens to us, in one way or another is part of the design of the Inner Guide in helping us find the way. Recognizing a higher authority than the limited ego is an essential first step in the journey of self development. In this class we are going to focus on awakening the Inner Guide function through meditations, mantra and clarity of purpose in our lives.
- HEALING THE ANCESTRAL LINE
It is often assumed that our ancestors belong to the past and their absence from the physical dimension is an indicator they are absent from our present lives. This assumption is specially strong if they have been dead for many years or we never got to know them personally. This assumption is a belief from our part, not a fact of life. The energy reality concerning our ancestors is that they are ever present in every aspect our lives.
They are present in the genetic code; in our blood; in the physical features of our body; in the emotional structure we have woven in our lives; in the situations that keep recycling and repeating through our family structure. They are present not only in the negative things we have inherited but also in our talents and abilities; the professions we chose and even in the locations we chose to live. The traumas our ancestors experienced; the wishes they were unable to fulfill; the promises they made and emotional patterns they developed have been inherited by every member of the family structure as cycles seeking resolution in a positive way. The personal path of inner development doesn’t follow the route of Lao Tze or the Buddha, it follows the road established by our ancestors as they crossed through the world making good and bad choices. The work with the emotions deals with clearing obstacles from our past. The hexagram 18 in the I Ching, names this stage, “Working on What Has Been Spoiled.” One powerful assumption we need to transcend is the belief that the past cannot be influenced or changed.
- HARMONIZING THE 5 ELEMENTS 1 - TRANSFORMING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
One of the eight principles for energy work is learning to complete whatever we start. Finishing is important because every time we start something we set in motion a cycle of energy flow seeking resolution. If a cycle is not completed then the energy it carries is not liberated for other purposes. Our unfinished situations from the past are all cycles holding a tremendous amount of potential energy; enough to succeed at whatever we set out to do. The ability to set a goal, sustain it and carry it to fruition depends on efficient energy flow between heaven, earth and our energy system.
Negative emotional states are like speed bumps and roadblocks we present the life force with. Harmonizing the Five Elements 1 is designed to help us bring closure to the cycles from the past and open the energy system to receive the infinite flow from the universe. Whatever we set out to do is accomplished not through hoarding energy but rather through allowing the infinite ocean of the life force to flow through us and be an assistant in fulfilling destiny.
The ability to dig into our past and persevere at resolving old issues is made possible through everything we have set in motion with the introductory practices and the level of personal integrity which has emerged. One of the products of the Harmonizing the Five Elements 1 is a powerful sense of inner stability unaffected by the turmoil in the world. This is manifested as a sense of self sufficiently strong to negotiate powerful obstacles and overcome difficulties without falling into self pity or feeling victim of circumstances. Without a sufficiently strong sense of self the process of transformation cannot be carried out with consistency and regularity.
- HARMONIZING THE 5 ELEMENTS 2 - EMPOWERING THE POSITIVE EMOTIONS
In Harmonizing the Five Elements 1 we work clearing the past, finishing cycles and learning to transform negative emotional states into pure vitality. As we clear negative patterns, we are simultaneously making room for the positive emotional state to manifest more often and last longer. The positive emotions arise when the organism is operating at high consciousness.
Negative states manifest when we are operating from lower levels of consciousness. This means that our emotions arise in our minds, before they manifest through the organs, as a result of thoughts and interpretations we make from our experiences. In Harmonizing the Five Elements 2 we nurture the positive emotions manifesting through each of the organs by cultivating high levels of consciousness and positive states of mind. We consciously blend the variety of individual ‘virtues’ manifesting through the organs into a synthesis with the potential to manifest pure compassion when combined with altruistic intent.
At first these positive states are experienced for a limited time only; however, with regular practice the energy system begins to change and eventually reintegrates itself at the higher frequency of the positive emotions. This results in a shift in consciousness and a qualitative change in our relationship with ourselves and others. The energy of pure compassion is the means to develop the potential of the central channel and the second cauldron.
This level of work begins to lay the foundations for the right alchemical ingredients in the higher practices of Fire and Water. Harmonizing the Five Elements 2 gives us the ability to generate extraordinary energies in order to bring about extraordinary results. A common mistake for those who rush through Harmonizing the Five Elements 1 and the basic practices is that they approach the higher alchemy with ordinary energy, mixture of unresolved emotional states and obstacles of all sorts, hoping to obtain extraordinary results. Ordinary energy is only capable of producing ordinary results.
Higher alchemy requires extraordinary ingredients of exceptional quality and integrity coupled with a life style that is actively engaged in generating benefits for everyone, beginning with our own family. The attainment of a stable positive emotional state allows the organism to reintegrate at superior levels of consciousness and vibrate with frequencies which can truly unfold the potential of the advanced practices.
- HARMONIZING THE 5 ELEMENTS 3 - HARMONIZING THE MERIDIAN SYSTEM
The higher frequencies of compassion and sustained positive states are utilized at this level to harmonize the entire meridian system. In ordinary circumstances, the central channel is the only meridian where yin and yang interact generating Creative Energy. The rest of the meridian system is polarized as either yin or yang. In the third level of Harmonizing the Five Elements, Creative Energy is circulated through the whole meridian system rapidly raising the frequency of the energy body. This level brings the practitioner to the very limits of the yang practices where personal effort and personal initiative are the sole driving force. The Creation doesn’t take place with yang perseverance only; the yin perseverance or receptive is also essential. Beyond the Harmonizing the Five Elements 3 begins the stage of receptivity where the quality of our previous actions begin to generate a reaction from the universe. This is the stage called ‘The Yin Practice’ and the theme of the I Ching hexagrams from 31 to 64.
- HARMONIZING THE 5 ELEMENTS 4 - TRANSFORMING ANGER AND HATE AND EMPOWERING FORGIVENESS
When faced with a hurt there are two roads to take: the forgiveness road or the road of holding on to the victim role: One choice empowers and the other condemns to a lifetime of bitterness, remorse and very uncomfortable limitations. Choosing the road of no forgiveness signifies choosing to remain stuck indefinitely in negative emotions of the worst kind; not only in this lifetime, but in the life of our family structure for generations to come. Until a courageous-high consciousness being incarnates in our family, capable of making the right choices, the situation of hurt will keep reappearing generation after generation.
The choice to forgive or ask for forgiveness, is one of the most difficult steps to make if we attempt to make it from the perspective of the limited victim or guilty ego. What is required is that we make the choice from the highest and unlimited perspective of our Original Mind-our transcendent, true nature consciousness. In this stage of practice we develop the capacity to bring about true, unconditional forgiveness. A type of forgiveness or asking for forgiveness, that accelerates and empowers the process of personal and family evolution that is so urgently needed today.
True Forgiveness is a choice made from the highest consciousness possible, it cannot arise from an intellectual decision made by the limited ego. When someone is capable of attaining the state of True Forgiveness, a resonance effect is generated rippling through the whole family structure, past, present and future.
But the effect is not limited to our families, the resonance affects all human beings stuck in the tight space of the victim role. It sets a precedent that is now open to anyone. It is a contradiction to aim for the higher levels with a load of unresolved conflicts requiring forgiveness or asking for forgiveness. In all families of the world are plenty of precedents of injustice, falsely accusing others, abusing women and children, murder and betrayal. There are also plenty of curses which have been made in both directions, from our side of the family and from others towards us.
All these are unresolved issues that keep us tied to the victims and to the aggressors. These are karmic issues that do not decay with time or because nobody remembers. Every action generates a reaction and every decisions carries its own karma. We ask for forgiveness and forgive, not only for ourselves, but on behalf of the whole family structure and our country that is the larger family we belong to.
- HARMONIZING THE 5 ELEMENTS 5
TRANSFORMING SELF-REJECTION, GUILT AND SHAME INTO SELF-FORGIVENESS AND SELF-ACCEPTANCE
One of the deepest forms of suffering in our culture is the pain that comes with the feeling that something is wrong with us. Left untreated, this deep insecurity engenders chronic critical mind, anger, aggression, fear, depression and addictive behavior. It prevents us from living and loving fully and gives rise to the intolerance and violence that plagues our world today.
One of the great obstacles that western practitioners bring to their practice is holding extremely negative views about themselves. Culturally, the belief that there is something wrong with us is often the motivating force behind entering a path of self-development. The way that we think determines the way that we feel.
Self-hatred, self-denigration, feeling inadequate and dislike for oneself, are feelings that are suppressed deeply in the unconscious mind, preventing the experience of wellbeing that is our true nature. Whatever is suppressed intensifies and grows in strength, seeking every available means to surface. This means that as we unconsciously hold negative views about ourselves we are going to keep attracting people and situations that will prove we are inadequate, and something is truly wrong with us. If the view we hold about ourselves is distorted, the way we view others and the world is going to be distorted also.
Being in conflict with oneself is projected unto the world as conflict between nations, between religious, political and racial groups. The outcome of self-rejection is self-destructive and addictive behavior preventing our highest potential from manifesting in the world. In this workshop we intend to carry the supreme practice of True Forgiveness, to the next and most challenging level which is that of True Self-Forgiveness. For a person fallen in the trap of self-rejection, it is easier to forgive someone, than to forgive themselves. The habit of self-punishment is very deeply ingrained in our culture through centuries of believing that one is born bad and that goodness is somewhere outside ourselves.
- HARMONIZING THE 5 ELEMENTS 6
TRANSFORMING FEAR AND ANXIETY IN TIMES OF CRISIS
Fear is one of the most primal human emotions and one of the main underlying cause of illness and dysfunctional relations. These days, it seems, we face a daily barrage of new things to fear: economic crisis, worldwide epidemics, environmental collapse, terrorism, wars, crime and natural disasters. Fear has a paralyzing effect on the whole organism. As fear takes hold of our minds, our level of consciousness plummets to the most primitive stage of selfish survival. The immune system practically shuts down. The way we relate to each other becomes polluted with an intense sense of separation and distrust.
These days an increasingly dense aura of fear surrounds the planet as it resonates from the minds of billions of human beings worldwide preoccupied with economic survival, illness and war. Fear is a survival response which manifests in two phases: first, the dynamic stage where the organism mobilizes to the maximum of its capacity in order to overcome a threat to its survival. If the threatening situation is not resolved quickly and continues, the second phase of paralysis sets in, where the energy system begins to shut down preparing for surrender and death. Sustained fear paralyzes and kills.
This class has been designed to help us understand the nature of fear and the overwhelming negative impact it has in our lives when sustained for long. In this class we learn ways to radically work with fears through inquiring about its nature.
- HARMONIZING THE 5 ELEMENTS 7
KEEPING THE CENTER IN TIMES OF RAPID CHANGE
The title of hexagram 38 of the I Ching is ‘Opposition’ and its main theme is maintaining the center no matter how challenging the situation becomes. We are living in a period in which high stress has supplanted happiness as the most common state of mind. Despite great advances in technology and abundance of material goods, the quality of life and mental health of most human beings has markedly deteriorated during recent years. The very things which are supposed to make life easier and give more opportunity to relax and enjoy life are too often the cause of worry and stress. Being able to flow with rapid changes and at the same time remain centered is one of the basic goals of the yoga practices of all of the great traditions of self development. The moment we are unable to remain firmly grounded energetically, emotionally and mentally, the quality of our thoughts and actions deteriorate. The tremendous increase in new illnesses which are appearing since the middle of the last century are due to high levels of stress and lack of inner resources to cope with rapid changes. We come to the world with a clear purpose to fulfill, but as the quality of our thinking and decisions deteriorate we lose sight of our reason for being here and life becomes a struggle for survival at any cost.
- ENERGY INTEGRITY AND PSYCHIC PROTECTION
One very common problem encountered in energy work is lack of energy integrity due to poorly defined personal boundaries. This problem translates as being very easily affected by negative energies; extreme sensitivity to people and places; difficulty protecting personal property; being easily overpowered by strong personalities; going along with situations we do not agree and possession by entities. All of these factors are indicators that the energy system and specifically, the energy centers along the Microcosmic Orbit are either blocked or lacking their proper frequency; as a result it is very difficult for the organism to maintain energy integrity. Buried emotions may generate the view that we are victims of circumstances or ‘unlucky’.
Structurally, the person may lack proper connection with the energies of heaven and earth and as a result are ‘undercharged’ below their potential. The foundation for remedying these problems begins with connecting with the earth as a daily practice; working the meridian system more intensely through the Microcosmic Orbit; and the clearing of the emotional load to promote better flow through the Six Healing Sounds and Harmonizing the Five Elements 1. In addition, the excessive focus on oneself and one’s problems needs to be reduced by shifting the attention toward generating benefit and truly be of help to others. Paradoxically, it is when we shift attention from oneself that we can perceive our situation with greater clarity.
If we try to generate integrity through methods setting barriers and walls or through some magical means the result is an increased sense of isolation and paranoia which furthers blocks the flow of the Creative Energy through the organism. Energy integrity is an expression of energy balance and cannot be forced with artificial methods which leave unaffected our negative emotional states. The ability to lovingly maintain our energy integrity translates as respect for the boundaries of others and a sense of being at ease anywhere and with anyone. One important aspect of energy integrity is guiding possessing entities to the Light of the Upper Astral Dimension.
- ENERGY PRINCIPLES 2
INTRODUCTION TO THE I CHING: THE 64 HEXAGRAMS
The eight trigrams we encountered at the Introductory Level form the basic language spoken in the I Ching. The I Ching is an ancient classic first set in writing some 2600 years ago. It is the inner guide on how an ordinary person can develop its creative potential to the utmost and open levels of consciousness beyond the ordinary. The authors of the I Ching determined that human beings go through 64 energy situations as we make our way through the labyrinth of personal transformation. The 64 situations cover every stage of evolution from beginner to higher realization and transcendence.
At this point the study of the I Ching presents us with the complete scheme of personal evolution and what is needed at each step. How to manage creatively the interaction of yin and yang to further the process of transformation. How to act with a minimum of effort and obtain the maximum result.
The I Ching is the advisor teaching us how to develop the art of living with harmony and integrity. The study of the I Ching begins the gradual process of breaking down mental barriers and limited beliefs; the mental speed bumps and barricades which limit evolution. The outcome is an expanded point of view where everything is possible. This outlook combined with the increased flow of Creative Energy being developed, lays the foundations for the emerging of a universal consciousness with an ever expanding radius of benefit being generated in the world.
- ENERGY PRINCIPLES 3: I CHING ADVICE FOR THE SPRING AND SUMMER
- ENERGY PRINCIPLES 4: I CHING ADVICE FOR THE AUTUMN AND WINTER
Harmonizing means remaining centered, and that in turn means being one with the Creative Energy. As the seasons progress there are varying cycles of energy flow facilitating certain practices or making them more difficult. At this level one begins to work more consciously with timing, specially right timing. Right timing is one of the key elements in energy practices. At the right time, effort is minimal and results are maximized.
At the wrong time we may need to apply a maximum of effort in order to obtain barely passable results or no results at all. Becoming aware of how energy flows in the year cycle makes the sun, the moon, the earth, the planets and the stars partners in our creative efforts. The point of view that we are alone fighting the obstacles thrown at us by the universe crumbles and is replaced by the expanded view of harmonizing instead of struggling.
One of the most often-repeated advices in the Daoist classics is to avoid improvising practice, implying that there is sound advise to be found if we look for it.
The Wheel of the Hexagrams designed by Shao Yong divides the energy year cycle into two halves of 32 hexagrams each, providing practice advice for each day of the year. In this level we focus on the advice for the four seasons.
This level is designed to help us know better how to invest our limited practice time in a more efficient way.
- OPENING THE 3 KNOTS OF THE 3 CAULDRONS
At the moment of conception we all receive from our ancestral lineage the ‘Three treasures’ of Essence (Jing), Vitality (Qi) and Spiritual Potential (Shen). It is with the power of the ‘Three Treasures’ that we are capable of fulfilling our spiritual destiny. In order to develop fully the potential of the ‘Three Treasures’, we are supposed to administer carefully the Essence (Jing) so that it can be transformed into Vitality (Qi ) and flourish into Spiritual Potential (Shen).
The ‘Three Treasures’ are developed following an ascending path, opening the three levels of consciousness known in the Dao system as the three cauldrons. The first cauldron is our level of ordinary living with our limited ego at the center of our personality. The chief characteristic of first cauldron living is “me first”. The idea of helping others makes no sense at all.
The second cauldron is centered at the heart and the altruistic “us together” perspective of generating benefits for others. This is made possible by having placed the Inner Guide at the center of our personality. The ego has found its right place as assistant to the higher consciousness and absolute trust in what we are doing and how we are living expands. Self-doubt or self-rejection have been left behind.
The third cauldron is the consciousness that has gone beyond taking as real the ego of the first or second cauldron. The perspective now is of Oneness based on existence being a projection of the mind. The journey through developing the potential of the three cauldrons is not just an affair of energy or techniques, is how we live, how we relate to others and how seriously we hold on to things we assume to be real.
LEVEL 3 - DEVELOPING THE BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF PRACTICES
- REFINING SEXUAL ENERGY 1
The sexual energy is the most concentrated energy the body is capable of producing. This energy is intended for creating another human being when directed out into the world. When directed upwards through the meridian system it fires the alchemical transformation of Essence (Jing) into Pure Vitality (Qi) and Spiritual Potential (Shen). At the ordinary level the refining of sexual energy generates good health, high vitality and a dynamic personality.
At the extraordinary level it opens the possibility of opening the second cauldron if the ego is no longer at the center of the personality. Since our emotions are intimately connected with the vital organs the recycled sexual energy is capable of multiplying the intensity of the emotions flowing through the organs. We are capable of multiplying great generosity to the level of infinite care or anger of the most destructive kind. The recycling of sexual energy requires a sustained regular practice transforming the negative emotions otherwise it becomes a double-edged sword in the hands of the inexperienced beginner.
If the Introductory Level has generated a good flow through the meridian system and organs, the sexual practices will empower that flow with higher frequencies. The organism will eventually re-structure itself at a higher level of vitality and health. However all this empowerment depends on the altruistic motivation of the second cauldron, otherwise, if the ego occupies the center of our personality, there is great risk of sexual manipulation of others and the karmic consequences it brings. A product of successfully recycling the sexual energy is a greater sense of energy integrity, personal boundaries and social relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
- REFINING SEXUAL ENERGY 2
THE TAO OF HARMONIOUS RELATIONSHIPS
At present in developed countries three out of every four marriages terminates in divorce within six years or less. The risk of divorce is the highest in marriages of twenty years or more. It is hard to estimate what percentage of children are growing up with only one parent due to separation. In our educational system, young people are taught all sorts of topics which are considered important for their future development and wellbeing, but curiously enough, how to develop lasting love relationships is not one of them.
It is assumed that we are born with the knowledge, ability and skill to relate, love and raise a family. The sad truth is that in adolescence when we the hormonal shifts of puberty take place and sexuality comes to the forefront, young people and parents have no clue what to do to channel properly the powerful energies of sexuality.
Later when deeper relationships are sought, most people have no idea of how to go about creating the right conditions for that to happen. Worst of all, when relations end, we have no clue of how to energetically dissolve the bonds which have been established. We attempt to go into new relations with the energy links of the previous relations still intact.
In this class is explored the energy processes which are set in motion from the instant we are attracted to someone to the moment we separate. We learn the shifts in consciousness which have to take place for a relation to operate from the heart center. Also the complex sequence of steps to fully liberate and dissolve the energy links once an intimate relation has ended and how to energetically cleanse and reorient the living space when a relation has come to a close.
Another important aspect of relationships explored are the interferences to healthy relations which take place through sexual molestation in early life and how to heal such trauma at the personal and family level.
- STRUCTURAL ALIGNMENT 2 - THE SIX POSTURES OF QI GONG
The creative alignment of the bone structure begun at Level 1 with the Embracing the Tree posture is now expanded and deepened with five other postures. These postures help stretch the connective tissue, a layer of micro-meridians bathing every organ and muscle in a rich ocean of energy. Also stretched are the muscle tendon meridians running from the toes to the hands. The tendons not only give elasticity to movement but also function as a separate meridian system.
If the tendons are regularly exercised they remain flexible and with good flow till the end of our lives. If they are neglected we stiffen, lose range of motion and physically become more limited. The stiffening taking place at the physical level is reflected automatically in our mental and emotional outlook. We become emotionally inflexible and limited in our ability to express our deepest feelings or carry out profound changes. Healthy living organisms are extremely flexible in contrast to dead bodies which are stiff and cold.
The Six Postures are givers of life and bringers of warmth. The versatility developed through these postures, gives a powerful support to the work with the emotions taking place with the Harmonizing the Five Elements practices and the Six Healing Sounds.
- BONE MARROW BREATHING 1: REGENERATION OF THE BONE MARROW AND HEALING THE FAMILY
Our skeleton is the most solid part of our physical body. Like all solids, our bones have a crystalline structure that absorbs and transmits energy from heaven and earth. In its functioning, the bones are equivalent to the central channel of the individual consciousness; as such they are an indispensable element for developing our highest potential. The bone marrow, as a solid, is part of the earth energy. Our conscious decision to be here on the dimension of change, is essential for the health of the bones.
Any rejection to being here on earth which has taken place, even for an instant, affects the heath of the bones and our level of vitality. In this workshop we investigate in depth the root causes which deteriorate the bones and the family history which is linked with those causes. The loss of bone mass is not an isolated cause, but a symptom of decisions which have taken place all along the family history. Each individual born within a family structure, has the power to heal the root causes affecting the health of the whole family. In this workshop we focus a great part of our effort, on healing the family at the same time that we develop the techniques for revitalizing the bone marrow. Our level of vitality and spark of life depends in a great measure upon the health of our bone marrow and the manner in which we relate with the energy of the earth and the family.
- BONE MARROW BREATHING 2: MEMORY NEI KUNG
As we age there is a tendency for the body systems to decline in function. One of the places where decline is most noticeable is in our short term memory. Memory loss is not only a brain phenomenon; sometimes there is an unconscious decision to forget traumatic events from our infancy or situations which in general are not welcome at the forefront of our consciousness. It is often assumed that memory loss is a problem of the aged, but recent studies indicate that the symptoms of memory loss begin early before they are evident. Memory loss may begin as early as when the person is in the early 30’s.
In the ancient Chinese view all functions associated with memory are under the administration of the kidneys and the marrow within the spine and the brain. Ultimately the kidneys are under the direction of the heart-mind. What decisions we make with our minds are the ultimate cause of bone marrow loss.
- STRUCTURAL ALIGNMENT 3: TAI CHI THE 13 MOVEMENTS
The work with the structure that has been carried out up to this level has been done with static positions, either standing or seated. At this level we learn to put the structure in movement while maintaining the alignment and integrity cultivated in the previous levels. The blending of earth and heavenly energies taking place through the bone structure is specifically the interacting of the two polarities which make life possible: yin and yang, negative and positive, female and male, flexible and firm. The interaction of yin and yang results in a third force named ‘The Creative Energy’.
All creation takes place through the Creative Energy. All the work with the structure we have carried up to this level has as a deeper purpose the welcoming of The Creative Energy. Tai Chi consists of a series of slow movements done while maintaining alignment between heaven and earth. This is not limited to physical alignment, but most specially, alignment with the Creative Energy manifesting as a silent, clear mind. The movements increase the flow of Creative Energy. This skill in movement becomes the way we move in ordinary situations in life: aligned, centered, connected, grounded, full of purpose without effort and self-confident. Tai Chi is the step which brings energy practices into the ordinary situations of our lives by the way we move and flow. Living and practice become one with a minimum of effort and striving. The flowing movements of Tai Chi mirror the way we flow through situations in life.
- STRUCTURAL ALIGNMENT 4: TAI CHI 2: REFINING THE 13 MOVEMENTS At this level further refinements are made in working with the structure. The synthesis of intent, physical body and energy flow becomes more unified. The yin practice developed in sitting meditation, where the mind remains silent because the consciousness is steadied in the central channel is now put in motion with the Tai Chi sequence. Inner silence is the expression of spiritual wisdom and spiritual intelligence. The challenge at this stage is to move from the center not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually as a whole. The energy structure as a whole becomes more cohesive and capable of sustaining effort without the strains of a fragmented personality. The skills developed at this level provide the base of support for steadiness of mind in the dream practices and at the moment of transcendence.
- CLEARING OBSTACLES 1: CLEARING OBSTACLES IN PRACTICE As a practitioner develops a wide range of abilities in working directly with energy, the way the new energy resources are invested is in clearing increasingly more subtle levels of obstacles. The potential difficulties encountered in energy work appear to be endless, ranging from physical to emotional and mental ones such as pride, inflated ego or intensified self-importance. If not made aware, increasing powers can easily be deviated toward manipulating others and forcing our way through the world. The practices which are originally intended to clear obstacles and promote union, through misinterpretation, become a means of furthering division and the negative emotions which arise through the mind of separation. At this level we go over a long list of potential mistakes which practitioners can stray into in the most innocent manner, once certain powers have begun to manifest through sustained energy work.
- CLEARING OBSTACLES 2: HOW TO PRACTICE
How to design a personal self-development practice is one of the greatest challenges faced by practitioners from the beginner to the experienced level. It is relatively easy these days, to accumulate a lot of powerful transformation techniques, and equally easy to abandon them once the initial stimulation after learning has worn off. With time, we accumulate a great deal of resources for self-transformation, but are unable to coherently organize them into an effective self-sustaining program of daily practice. As a result, a sense of unease and not feeling good with oneself gradually grows from the very practices which are supposed to point the way. We know we have the tools to feel better, we know this is what we wanted to have, but do not know where to begin to streamline a sequence that could finally get our lives going in the direction we really want to grow.
In this workshop we look into the essentials for designing a successful practice program capable of generating favorable conditions for lasting transformation and high self-esteem. We learn how to establish short term, intermediate and ultimate goals with the collection of transformation techniques we have acquired. We also learn: . How to develop clear focus of a goal . How to develop high motivation for practice . How to maintain enthusiasm once we know where we want to go . How to develop the extraordinary mind of achievement . How to think big by developing spacious mind . How to divide daily time in the most efficient way . How to develop the 7 traits of a successful practice
- THE YOGAS OF FOOD AND NOURISHMENT
Nutrition is defined by the I Ching not only in terms of solid food but also in the quality of thoughts we cultivate in our lives, the emotions we nurture, the company we choose to keep and the ideas we allow to seed in our minds. The nourishment we take can help or hinder our progress. Our mind is like a mirror reflecting what is taking place in the totality of our organism. The wrong foods can generate states of mind which do not support what we are doing. At this level we learn to choose properly, in every sense, through cultivating discernment and greater self-love. One of the teachings concerning nutrition in the I Ching is that we need to be extremely flexible in working with nourishment. This is not a stage where we follow strict rules based solely on information we have heard, as the risk of rigidity and intolerance is very high. The challenge is to develop discernment based on perceiving with Original Mind the qualities of the moment and what is presented.
- FENG SHUI AND THE ENERGY INTEGRITY OF OUR ENVIRONMENT
The key concept for efficient energy work in the I Ching is being at the right time at the right place; facing the right direction; generating the right feelings; doing the right things and being in the right company. Energetically there is only one place where everything can be accomplished and that is the center. The center is not a physical space but is rather a psychic state where the energies of heaven and earth interact as one and the mind is focused, calm and clear. In the human body this is the central channel or ‘cauldron’. Our homes and the space surrounding it are the physical cauldron where the energies of yin and yang interact through the power of our intention and perseverance and the quality of actions we bring into the world. The home as a living organism has also a meridian system equivalent to that found in the human body. The purpose of this level of internal Feng Shui is generating the auspicious conditions for optimizing potential by establishing a series of meridians and energy patterns in the living space and the land around it. It is childish and naïve to believe that mirrors, bells and aquariums with fishes of the right color are able to optimize our human potential. According to such point of view our well-being would depend on having the right objects in the right place regardless of our emotional state or how we treat each other. Our negative behavior and the resulting negative consequences would be neutralized by having the door facing the right direction!!! This level of Feng Shui is not only for generating personal benefit, because we are not separate from the environment we live. Through energy work coupled with pure motivation and a good relationship with the Creative Energy, it is possible to heal the earth in the places where it has been wounded by careless selfish action. In the process of healing the earth we embody the advice of the I Ching of leaving the places we go through better than we found them.
THE STEPS TAKEN THROUGH THE FIRST TWO LEVELS
The steady development of the different stages of Level 1 and 2 generate the foundations for opening the potential of the second cauldron of the altruistic mind. The practitioner develops a series of skills which result in an increased ability to manage life and greater fluency in establishing and realizing worthy goals in which everybody wins and nobody loses.
The Creative Energy for healing imbalances past or present becomes increasingly available. The ability to better manage our emotional and mental states eliminates from our lives a great deal of psychic friction that manifested as fatigue, weariness or illness. One outcome of these two levels is a greater sense of self-confidence, personal magnetism and certainty in what we are doing.
The issues from our past which need clearing require patient effort. Patience itself is the result of improved energy flow through the heart and the rest of the organ family. A minimum of fifteen months of daily practice is needed to begin breaking down the old emotional structure and begin building a new one with greater possibilities. Many practitioners make the great mistake of rushing through this stage. The result is a lack of drive and poor results in the intermediate and advanced levels. At worst the practitioner becomes discouraged and gives up. Abandoning the practices leaves the person devitalized, with a lowered sense of self esteem and perhaps reluctant to try again with some other discipline.
LEVEL 4: GENERATING BENEFIT
- EMPOWERING THE SPIRIT LOVE AND HEALING LIGHT PRACTICES
As the pace of change increases in our lives, so does the speed at which structures change and the rate at which living structures come into stress. This is reflected in the speed at which living organism are disappearing from the planet. It is estimated that every 2.5 seconds a species, which has endured for millions of years, vanishes forever from the planet. But before a species vanishes it undergoes a long process of weakening and illness. One of the essentials in the process of self-development is the need to bring into the world the benefits that we are obtaining with our personal practices.
In the Image of hexagram 11 in the I Ching, it is advised that the practitioner, “regulates the gifts of heaven and earth, and so helps the people.” The ability to help others heal and alleviate suffering is one of the essential skills that allow us to grow beyond the mind of isolation, develop the heart center at the second cauldron and mature as human beings. In this workshop we learn to alleviate suffering and heal the subtle layers, known as ‘The Body of Light’ by combining the Power of the Intention with the Light of Original Mind, the ultimate healing power. We learn skills for properly using the intention, which are first applied at the personal level, since the healer needs to be healed in order to be of service to others, and then apply, either in person or at a distance, to a receptive person or place. Healing practices with the Light of Original Mind are not only limited to human beings. As Hippocrates, the ancestor of western medicine, wisely observed, “The health of the human being depends on the health of the Earth.”
In this seminar we learn to heal places in the Earth which have been damaged, by opening a strong connection between Original Mind and the ground. As the pace of change increases we are all encountering more often, family and friends desperately seeking help after being diagnosed with serious illnesses. At such moments, the good heart in us wants to do something to alleviate suffering, but often, even though we have sufficient knowledge of energy to be of real help, lack the precise skills to do it. At such times, the most common is to turn to our teachers and mentors to ask for advice or help. In order to correct such situation, this workshop trains us in a variety of simple approaches, as well as what conditions are essential to be truly of help in times of need. The skills learned in this workshop can be brought into the world through the ongoing Love and Healing Light Project of monthly practices.
- CHI NEI TSANG MASSAGE
The abdomen is the crossroad where heavenly energy coming down passes through on its way to the earth and ascending earth energy finds its way up to heaven. Blockages in the abdomen affect the totality of the organism. The abdomen is a zone where most of the vital organs can be touched through deep massage. Chi Nei Tsang helps us work with the organs and the emotions in a most simple way. It is a way to complement and support all the previous levels. Most of the facets are done using the Six Healing Sounds. Chi Nei Tsang can be practiced as an auto-massage for self-maintenance, and as a way of generating benefit to others. Personal evolution is not something that is done in isolation with all the attention focused on oneself. That would result in a situation of extreme isolation and lack of flow.
The I Ching suggests that as a point of view we adopt that of Mother Nature and generate benefit to all beings in whatever manner possible. When energy practice is focused on oneself only, Nature provides energy for just one person. Instead, if our goal is generating benefit to all beings and become active in doing so, then energy will be provided to benefit all beings we can reach. Chi Nei Tsang is one step toward enlarging our circle of influence and become, in the words of the I Ching, “The assistant of Heaven.” With an altruistic point of view and actions taken to manifest it in the world, curiously enough, we are the first ones to benefit by growing happiness and a deep sense of wellbeing.
- MANTRA 1: BASIC MANTRAS All energy work can be summarized in one word: vibration. The process of manifesting physical and subtle reality begins with an idea which is expressed as root sounds and creative vibrations. In this era of rapidly changing structures, one of the characteristic of most human beings is the inability to manage the inner dialogue. Sometimes such internal talk is of a most self-defeating kind or critical of others. All of our actions and decisions arise in the mind, therefore it is in the mind that the karmas are born. Our internal talk can be an endless source of generating negative consequences. Since it is impossible for most ordinary people to manage their internal talk, the repetition of mantra is a powerful, simple tool to bring mental chaos into unity by reducing mental talk to just one sound or series of sounds.
Not ordinary sounds, but the sounds of the creative functions of the universe. Mantra practice, or the repetition of root sounds, has the ability to silence the activities of the ego; silence instantly mental chatter; unify the energy system into a set of creative vibrations; cut through negative states of mind; put the breath into a rhythmic pattern; stabilize the consciousness; refresh the stressed nervous system in a short time and connect the energy system to a higher frequency of vibration. All of this is accomplished with a minimum of effort because mantras are the sounds of the creation itself. Mantras are not sounds from our ordinary language or prayers reinforcing the sense of duality between self and a divine principle.
Root sounds are universal sounds which constitute the vibrations of particular processes. These root sounds were discovered in the most ancient past by practitioners at the highest level of awareness. There are root sounds for attracting, repelling, removing obstacles, unifying, healing illness, generating compassion energy and so on. The list is as vast as the creation because every living being and every energy process has a particular set of vibrations unique to that process. Vibration is also a connecting link between dimensions. All energy is vibration. As one reaches the limits of physical consciousness, mantra functions as an interdimensional bridge for “crossing the great water” as the I Ching calls it. Mantra practice introduces the very important factor of numerical rhythm in energy work.
The I Ching calls rhythms “helpers” because they are able to take over energy processes and carry them out without the intervention of the ego. When a rhythm is active we don’t have to do anything and in the process become tireless because Creative Energy is flowing with a minimum of effort. Of all energy practices Mantra has the distinction of being the most versatile because it can be carried out internally or externally in the midst of any situation or emotional state and its ability to silence mental chatter and overcome distracted states works instantly.
- MANTRA 2: HEALING MANTRAS
The mind is a space upon which all thoughts and experiences are projected, like the cinema screen. From the moment we are born the mind continuously generates thoughts, experiences emotions, formulates opinions, creates likes and dislikes and generates the conditions for either happiness or suffering. This process is continuous and goes on even when we sleep. The word “mantra” is defined as “an instrument for structuring the mind”. Mantra is capable of generating balance where there are chaotic thoughts and emotions. Like a continuous drop of water on a hard stone, through repetition, mantra begins to breakdown even the most resistant and insidious ideas, obsessive thoughts or negative emotions. But mantra does even more; it is capable of generating a conscious experience of the luminous and blissful nature of the Original Mind itself-our true nature.
In this level we focus on the use of mantra for healing the mind, the emotions and the direction we are headed in life. This will be accomplished through the structuring and centering effect of creative sounds. Mantras are learned for activating the Universal Healing principle and for accelerating different aspects of healing; as well as mantras for clearing karmic factors which could result in illness or untimely death. Together with mantra we explore the root causes of illness according to the ancient Daoist, Indian and Tibetan medical classics, so that we do not confuse the symptoms for the cause of illness.
- MANTRA 3: DIVINE FEMININE MANTRAS
Healing is a caring and loving function under the powers of the Divine Feminine. That change is possible, and that through change we are capable of correcting wrongs and evolve, demonstrates that creation is, as the Indian Vedas affirm, “forgiving”. The belief that the universe is punishing or that the divine powers are implacable in dealing out justice, has come about through lack of deep inquiry into the essential nature of the creation.
The universe we inhabit is feminine and its most essential quality is love, forgiveness, unlimited opportunity and transformation. The feminine principle is not only expressed through women; it is manifested each time we activate the caring, loving, nurturing, protecting and healing abilities we all have. The feminine is also manifested when we seek to simplify life. As the ancient Daoist saying goes, “the yang works through the easy and the yin through the simple.” The feminine principle is a vibrational aspect of our nature which the ancient sages were able to discern as mantra. Empowering the heart center through which the Divine Feminine flows, is essential for developing the second cauldron of the intermediate level. Generating benefits in the world for all beings sharing the creation is the way that the Divine Feminine flows enriching everyone it meets.
The Divine Feminine mantras strengthen the caring and nurturing aspect of our being and through them we harmonize with the Mother Nature and her tireless activity generating benefit for all.
- THE SACRED ARTS
The experiences with the Creative Energy and its impact in our lives can be expressed through painting, sculpture, architecture, music, poetry, writing, story-telling, dance, cooking or whatever we are skilful at. The essence of the Sacred Arts is the direct transmission of spiritual experience generated through our personal practice, for the inspiration and enrichment of everyone who contacts such sacred art. The Sacred Arts, in whatever form they manifest, are a means of transmitting the essence of the practices that are enriching our lives and expanding our perspectives. They arise from the altruistic heart of the second cauldron as a gift to the world.
Any place where Sacred Arts manifest, the Earth is enriched and the space transformed into a fountain of spiritual energies. Often all that remains of a great civilization of the past are just a few temple walls and a few sculptures testament to the spiritual attainment of that culture. In the museums of ancient art, we may notice, the sacred arts are the most abundant remains. Through the Sacred Arts we transmit the essence of the energy practices directly into the unconscious of another person. It is a way of instantly communicating the essence of a tradition without having to explain or make preparations. The Sacred Arts are also a way of inspiring others to develop their excellence and express the Creative Energy and its centering power. When the energy of spirit is strong everything said or done is a form of Sacred Art.
- LEADING REVIEW GROUPS IN THE BASIC PRACTICES
The I Ching recommends that one third of the way down our path of development we begin to lead groups in the basic practices for self-empowerment. This is done not only for the benefit of others but also as a step for broadening our field of activity, shifting emphasis from oneself and developing a vaster perspective of what we are doing. Having to present to others, the practices we have been doing, forces us to clarify what is essential from what is not.
Questions asked by the students force us to re-examine more deeply problems and situations we may not have encountered by ourselves. The positive changes experienced by the people we teach will deepen our basic trust in what we are doing and the power of the practice lineage we are part of. The practitioners who never develop this stage remain in a kind of isolation which makes them potentially vulnerable to self-doubt and distrust in what they are doing. At worst one is continually ‘shopping around’ for something better or just different; this is because we are not truly grounded in what we are doing and our practice is not deep enough. Teaching others is a direct way of developing deep practice-it is also an opportunity to work even deeper on our ego personality.
LEVEL 5: TRANSCENDENCE
- PRACTICES DREAM PRACTICE 1
INTRODUCTION TO DREAM PRACTICE
Every time we fall asleep a process of overwhelming importance takes place. Our consciousness which is operating through the physical body, while we are awake, is projected out of the physical body into our habitual dimension of operation. Our emotional and mental state is conditioned by our level of consciousness. First cauldron consciousness is characterized by intense self-centered selfish activity and the lower astral dimension where the mind of separation reigns supreme with all the conflicting emotions that characterize it. The second cauldron is characterized by having the Inner Guide at the center of our personality, instead of the ego as in the first cauldron. Second cauldron personality is ruled by the heart and its altruistic perspective. Second cauldron consciousness is established in the Upper Astral dimension of the harmonized positive emotions.
The separation of consciousness from the physical when we sleep, gives us a true picture of which dimension we are operating from. If the dreams show conflicting emotions, or deep unconsciousness by being unable to recall our dreams, there is no doubt that we are in the lower astral and our program of practices needs to be seriously redesigned. One characteristic of Upper Astral dreams is that they are few and far between, but have great clarity and we always awaken, regardless of the number of hours slept, fully vibrant, recharged, and fully awake as soon as we open the eyes, there is none of the gradual awakening of the first cauldron. Another salient quality of the Upper Astral is self awareness through recognition of the dream for what it is-a projection of our own minds. Lucidity is an expression of being very conscious and capable of recognizing the essence of situations behind their appearance.
What we experience in dream state is the result of what we experience when we are awake and how seriously we are holding on to what appears to be real and solid. The recognition of the projected nature of dream experiences is the training ground for recognizing the projected nature of waking experiences. This is why the dream practices are essential for developing the third cauldron. As children from the moment we start learning to walk we begin a long process of manifesting the intention through the physical body. Through all the years of schooling and growing self discipline we keep refining the ability to manifest intent through the physical body. In the Dream Yogas we extent this process into the realm of the subtle body and the dimensions outside of time and space. The reason for doing this is transcendence of consciousness.
The physical body is limited by time and space, and regardless of the good care we take, it dies at some point. The individual consciousness is outside the limitations of time or space and if cultivated through the yogas of sleep and dream, is capable of recognizing the experience of death and unite with Original Mind-our true nature. One of the main purposes of the Dream Yogas is developing the ability to operate fully conscious outside time and space through the subtle body (Yin body). This training gives coherence to the subtle body and gradually makes intent and realization an instant reality. The Dream Yogas gradually transcends the fear of the unknown at the moment of death. Instead, a seamless continuity of consciousness is experienced between the physical and the subtle dimensions.
- DREAM PRACTICE 2 - DREAM INCUBATION
Historically, one of the most important aspects of dream practice has been the incubation of healing dreams in temples and power places. People have incubated dreams for healing; obtaining answers to difficult problems; contacting the departed; receiving initiations and developing familiarity with a particular dimension of transcendence. Dreams are traditionally incubated in a sacred spot such as a temple, shrine, cave or powerful tomb.
At present, it is extremely difficult to sleep within a temple, church or sacred spot, as all these places do not allow overnight stays and dream incubation is best done at night. So in this level we learn to transform our sleeping place into a sacred spot where dream incubation can be done at any time.
Dream incubation is done within a ritual context, so one learns to develop the basic steps to activate the magical aspect of the mind, capable of generating magical results. Magic is defined as going beyond the limits of what was believed to be possible. The ultimate purpose of dream incubation is developing a creative relationship with Original Mind, the ultimate healing power. The dream yogas are the foundation for developing the Yogas of Death and Transcendence.
- DREAM PRACTICE 3: YOGAS OF DEATH AND TRANSCENDENCE
In this level we examine the mysteries surrounding the process of transcendence and the crossing of interdimensional gates at the moment of death. The training for transcendence begins during life when we are still capable of taking charge of our lives. In modern western society the greatest taboo subject is the topic of death. It is socially considered a morbid subject. Within the medical profession, death is treated as a form of illness to be fought by all means possible, even to the point of stripping the person of all dignity. In the modern circle of Daoist practitioners there is a huge blind spot concerning death.
Practically all the energy practices are focused on vitality, health, physical and mental power, with no knowledge on how to guide one’s own consciousness at the moment of dying or that of a dying relative. The process of dying is the most important moment in our lives. It is the culmination of everything we have attained in terms of consciousness, emotional balance and mental clarity. It is the space where we face who we truly are with total nakedness. Ancient practitioners in all the great traditions have focused the totality of their energy work on “crossing the great water”, as the I Ching calls it.
Paradoxically, the modern blind spot in this most important phase of existence, is due to the subconscious belief that we are the physical body and that the end of the physical body is the end of everything. It is necessary to become familiar with the signs of approaching separation of consciousness from the physical, through the actual phases of dying and the orientation of consciousness toward a dimension of transcendence or reincarnation. The subject is extremely vast and the choices open are, literally, infinite. One characteristic of the intermediate state, after the consciousness separates from the physical, is its intense clarity. This is when truly valuable teachings we have come across, even as a passing comment, come to the forefront as true resources for generating stability and continuity of consciousness. An important aspect of this training is how to help others transcend toward the dimensions of light. In the words of one of my Tibetan teachers, “Death is a potent reminder to use life well.”
- DREAM PRACTICE 4: DREAM PRACTICE FOR DEATH AND TRANSCENDENCE
The crossing of dimensions which takes place each time we fall asleep, is the model of transition which takes place at the moment of dying. Each time we go to sleep, a monumental portal of opportunity opens before us. The simple practices that can be done at the moment of falling asleep are learned in the branch of energy work known as the ‘dream yogas’.
All the complete systems for fully developing human potential are designed for transcendence, taking into account the continuity of consciousness experienced during sleep, dream and the intermediate state of death. To develop a personal program of practices in which there is no training in crossing dimensions and no provision made for transcendence, seriously limits energy practices to short-term benefits. This shortcoming manifests as profound emotional chaos and regret, at the moment of dying, when the clarity of consciousness intensifies. In this level we develop a coherent practice for crossing dimensions, in which we train progressively in maintaining continuity of conscience; recognition of the stages of dissolution of the elements at the moment of falling asleep; and the Witness mind which does not react with attachment or rejection to the projections of the mind.
- DREAM PRACTICE 5: DREAM INTERPRETATION AND DREAM ALCHEMY
The ability to recognize that there is a higher consciousness that guides our entire process of self development is central to the proper unfolding of our potential as human beings. One of the means through which our higher consciousness communicates is through dreams. Everybody dreams, even if one does not grant them any importance or are unable to remember them. Dreams are messages about our life and the direction we are supposed to move in life. They function as a compass helping correct from day to day the way we perceive situations and make decisions.
Being able to remember a dream is a sign of a degree of continuity of consciousness when we are unconscious asleep. The initial way to develop such continuity is through taking the dream communications as important to our self development and happiness. The ability to interpret accurately our dreams is one of the oldest practices of humanity. No manuals of dream symbols are needed as the dream language utilized by our inner guide is personal and based on the dictionary of people, places and experiences making up our circle of life. Everyone and everything experienced represents something to us beyond the social role they play. We experience the world symbolically in a personal way that is beyond any manual of dream interpretation.
The interpretation of dreams helps us further the communication with our Inner Guide, and at the same time is an accurate reflection of the dimension in which we are operating on a daily basis. Through dream work we develop further the foundations for guiding the consciousness at the moment of death and transcendence.
- INTRODUCTION TO ORIGINAL MIND
The sustained experience of the true nature of the mind, what is called in the Dao, “Original Mind”, is the ultimate purpose of the Daoist, Buddhist and Hindu practices. For western practitioners, understanding, working and integrating the concept of Original Mind poses one of the greatest obstacles in self-development. Because of cultural and religious beliefs that we are born with original sin and are fundamentally bad and in need of an external source of grace to save us from ourselves, accepting the yogic concept of fundamental goodness within, faces a monumental wall of unconscious resistance.
Among western practitioners a tremendous charge of unconscious guilt and self-hatred is brought to the practices because of the concept of original badness which underlies our minds. We often turn the practices which are supposed to benefit us and generate lasting joy, into another instrument to feel bad about ourselves by not being disciplined enough or obtain quick results in the manner we expect. In this class we develop ways and means of contacting Original Mind and gradually integrate the experience, while systematically replacing the program of original badness with the fundamental truth of our intrinsic good heart and our desire to lead meaningful lives of benefit to oneself and everyone around us.
- THE UNION OF FIRE AND WATER: DEVELOPING THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THE CENTRAL CHANNEL
The practices of Fire and Water have the ultimate purpose of opening the full potential of the three cauldrons. This is not a process of energy techniques or manipulation of sexual energy-it has to do with raising consciousness and developing a progressive quality of ego that evolves from self-centeredness to union with Original Mind.
Raising the cauldron from first to second is done through going beyond selfish-self-centered mind to altruistic mind in action generating benefit in the world beginning with our own family. It is naïve to assume that by manipulating energy while having a load of unresolved emotional issues will bring lasting transformation.
The success of the Fire and Water practices depends on a whole life style shift from self, to others to recognition of our true nature. What the sitting practice does, is help us focus our aspiration for true lasting change in a simple coherent format that is purely abstract and symbolic. Countless extraordinary beings have realized their true nature of mind simply by helping others in need. It is through a good heart of unconditional love that we access the alchemical fire and through the deep heart of trust that we access the alchemical water. The unconditional loving heart of the second cauldron is complemented with the unconditional trust in the Inner Guide and the proof that our lives are guided by a greater power than the individual ego. When these two difficult to obtain ingredients are available, in the words of hexagram 29 in the I Ching, nothing can stop us.
- ENERGY PRINCIPLES 5: I CHING GUIDANCE FOR THE HIGHER PRACTICES
It would be naïve to believe that the Union of Fire and Water practices could be successfully carried out through sheer improvisation and good luck. The I Ching, which is the Inner Guide speaking in book form, provides timely counsel on the different stages of the practice. More than half of the hexagrams are devoted to the subtleties of the Fire and Water practices.
- PREPARING FOR TRANSCENDENCE. THE YOGAS OF PILGRIMAGE
Traditionally, the Yogas of Pilgrimage are carried out at the end of a long training to mark a transition from one state into another and to put to the test everything which has been learned and integrated. This stage is often misunderstood as just wandering from sacred place to place taking a break from ordinary routines. Nothing could be further from reality.
The Yogas of Pilgrimage begin with finishing in a graceful way all the unfinished situations in our lives. One pays all debts, clears misunderstandings with family and friends, lets go of all attachments to property, relationships and places. One prepares for death leaving all affairs in order before setting out on the journey. The pilgrimage begins when all the cords of attachment having been cut. The goal of the Yogas of Pilgrimage is freeing all energy caught in unfinished cycles and thus experience fully conscious, ultimate freedom from limitations. An important aspect of freeing energy is freeing oneself from the fear of death and dying. The pilgrim makes the decision to go on the journey even if it means dying in the process. We stand by our decision and beliefs with our whole being. Before setting out the pilgrim transcends the paralyzing fear of dying and goes forward with its plans.
The fear of dying may remain, but it is no longer a deciding factor on whether we do something or not. From that moment onwards a space of limitless freedom opens and a milestone in personal development is crossed. Nothing stops the pilgrim now. This is the theme of hexagram 28 in the I Ching. The Yogas of Pilgrimage are a preparation for death. A preparation for letting go of the familiar and venturing into the unknown regardless of the consequences. It is the practice for going from a familiar structure into no structure at all. With this perspective it can be said that the Yogas of Pilgrimage are the most difficult and demanding of all the stages of energy work. It is not a holiday vacation!
- STABILIZING THE MOUNTAIN: SILENT RETREAT
One of the ways that the Creative Energy makes itself known when it is fully active is through silence and clarity of mind. It is not difficult during a good meditation to tune to a high frequency of Creative Energy generating deep inner silence. The process of stabilizing the central channel at increasingly higher frequencies manifests as inner silence sometimes called ‘The Void’. This void is not a state of drowsiness or mental paralysis, instead it is the state of supreme clarity and bliss of experiencing Original Mind. The purpose of the Silent Retreat is for stabilizing higher frequencies, strengthening the cauldron and experiencing the bliss of unobstructed Original Mind. Silent Retreat generates powerful waves of bliss and clarity. The sense of separation between self and others melts away and inner and outer become one in a continuum of energy of a most subtle and luminous nature.
- ENRICHING THE ANCESTRAL LINEAGE: TEACHER TRAINING
In the Daoist tradition it is required of the practitioner who develops superior insights into the practices, to share it with at least two other people following the same path. Sharing one’s insights into practice; transmitting the waves of joy and benefit received through the infinite wisdom passed down by the ancestors of the practice; imbuing others with our enthusiasm and appreciation for having found our purpose in this life, is something that can only be done when our being overflows with clarity and gratitude.
Teaching is more than passing techniques and information in a mechanical way. A video or a book can do a more thorough job at that. Teaching has to do with the transmission of experience and the state of consciousness realized through the practices, and most important of all, it is the transmission of greatness at finding the way. In the Daoist tradition teaching was done by those already on the stages of transcendence; with a complete view of the process and lots of personal experience on the terrain of the path.
Teaching is not a job, it is the stage where one ensures the continuity of the illustrious lineage of the teachings for future generations. Teaching is the stage where, through deep experience, one refines and makes the teachings accessible to the present generation under the present conditions. Teaching is an updating of the stages without altering the essence. The transmission of experience and wisdom carries the greatest responsibility.
If the teacher, in the words of the I Ching, ‘gets his tail wet’ with power, greed, desire to manipulate others and direct the teachings for personal gain, then all is lost and the person stands truly alone in the most desolate place of the creation. That place is the space where the ancestors have withdrawn their support and guidance; the support which all along has complemented all personal effort. It is an accepted thing that developing spiritual power is a positive thing, but one is headed for big trouble if one ever loses control over it. The ego which arises through a little knowledge is the worst trap of all because it goes to the head and makes the practitioner remain just outside of the truth, never making the final step of giving up self-importance.