An Interview with the Founder of Shinjido Budo

Shinjido inventor Danny Da Costa says:

Shinjido literally means Danny’s Way, a label given by one of my students to the variety of techniques that I have developed for martial art. I attempt to find the easiest solution to a problem either in attack or defence. My work is based on sound principles and the techniques serve to demonstrate the principles. I have applied this approach to judo starting from the premise that our sport is fighting within specific rules and limitations…

James Arthur Ray: Downfall of a “Spiritual Warrior”

March 2009

Times have been tough for Matthew Smith. A self-proclaimed “Star Wars” fanatic from Clifton, N.J., Mr. Smith, 38, was laid off from his job as a retail manager five months ago and has been living on unemployment ever since. His dream of starting his own business fizzled along with his marriage — one was directly tied to the other, he says. And his efforts to find a new job have so far been futile.

“My life has not been working,” he said, as he stood inside a huge ballroom at the Westin Hotel on Saturday along with 500 other people, many of them also unemployed and looking for something better.

But this was not a job fair. They were here to see a motivational speaker and self-help guru, and paying a hefty price to do so: $1,297 for a high-decibel, two-day seminar. In this case, the speaker was James Arthur Ray, one of the emerging names in the $11 billion self-improvement industry, and the event was called the Harmonic Wealth Weekend.

Continue reading James Arthur Ray: Downfall of a “Spiritual Warrior”

Miracle Yogi Prahlad Jani Gives Up Facebook, Food

From the UK Telegraph, April 2010

Prahlad Jani

Prahlad Jani is being held in isolation in a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gurjarat, where he is being closely monitored by leading Indian scientists, who believe he may have a genuine quality which could help save lives.

It is alleged that Prahlad Jani does not use, and has never used Facebook or Twitter. Also, that he has eaten nothing over the past sixty years.

Prahlad has now spent six days without status updates, food or water under strict observation, and doctors say his body has not yet shown any adverse effects from this electronic quarantine. He also does not appear to suffer from hunger or dehydration.

Mr. Jani, who claims to have left home aged seven and lived as a wandering sadhu or holy man, is regarded as a “breatharian” who can live on a “spiritual life-force” alone. He believes he is sustained by a goddess who pours an “elixir” through a hole in his palate, and who keeps him informed on all the latest news and entertainment trends. Continue reading Miracle Yogi Prahlad Jani Gives Up Facebook, Food

Mark Nesti on Chi, Consciousness and Quantum Gravity

This is the second entry in our special week-long focus on Qigong and energy arts.

Mark Nesti

Mark Nesti is not your average New Age flake. After five years’ service with a recon/sniper cell in the Australian army, his career shifted into helicopter testing and maintenance, emergency communications, and business development. When he eventually began to explore the fields of theoretical physics and alternative therapies, his broad engineering mindset granted him a unique perspective.

Mark wrote a book about his exploration and research into quantum mechanics, meditation, chi, and consciousness. He isn’t promising you a new car or a diamond necklace in return for your fealty, but you may find his work rewarding in other ways. Mark recently sent me a few words regarding his personal inspiration and investigation, which I share with you below.

Perhaps, in some measure, modern society has lost regard for nature, in a divine sense, or otherwise. If true, this can only be attributed to a loss of spirit within the individual. In an attempt to define the connection between science and spirituality, between the observer and the included, I hope that spirit will be reunited.

If We Are Anything: OM, Chi, Consciousness and Quantum Gravity

I would like to share with you a personal experience of just how powerful some types of meditation can be. Many of you already know that there are many forms of meditation, from practices which are designed to energize and relax, all the way to practices aimed at raising awareness, and some with the specific goal of raising the levels of Chi (accumulations called Kundalini) within the human system. I am of the belief that western society, in a general sense, is not yet ready to tackle the more advanced forms of meditation. My reasoning is that, as a culture, we have not yet been exposed to this type of practice as a part of our daily activities. Furthermore, we have not been raised from children with such disciplines integrated within our daily lives. You will see what I mean as we progress.

Several years ago, my partner and I brought over an Indian meditation teacher to conduct courses at our wellness centre and alternative therapy training institute; this became a regular event and one which attracted many students. One type of meditation he conducted, Dhyan, is a practice originally designed to promote prolonged awareness. However, the ancient Indian Hindu yogis referred to this particular meditation in a more appropriate manner: “the practice of dying”. Continue reading Mark Nesti on Chi, Consciousness and Quantum Gravity

Science and the Problem with Chi

Chi Gong: The Ancient Chinese Way to Health by Paul Dong and Aristide Esser

Chi theory is an ontology, in which it is pointless to declare one’s belief or disbelief prior to understanding. In this excerpt from Chi Gong: The Ancient Chinese Way to Health, author Bruce Holbrook addresses the root of the controversy, which is neither logic or science, but cultural impedance.

The concept of chi is confusing to Western readers, not because it is a difficult one, but because our own culture stands in the way.

Occidental civilization is based on certain religious and philosophical premises which invite false translation of chi and related concepts. For example, our philosophy forces a choice between two fundamental levels of reality, which in the Chinese worldview are but a single one. That historically recent epistemological expression of our civilization, science, forcefully fights against comprehension of a single reality. Through out this section, therefore, “science” and related terms such as “physical,” are used within quotation marks when they refer to Western concepts. This may promote correction of the false, but very widespread, ethnocentric assumption that Western science is the only form of science.

Our “science” is firmly based on inanimate models and data-recording devices, whereas chi (in the central sense of this book) is intimately related to distinctively animate phenomena and cultivated human sensing. An additional problem is that Western science–especially “medical science”–has become dogmatic, so that it rejects any logical conclusion which lies outside its paradigm. The prevailing attitude is: If we can’t deal with it on our terms, it does not exist, because only our terms are valid. Cultural anthropologists call such systematic ignorance “ethnocentrism”–being confined, unaware of the confinement, by one’s own culture.

Western scientists can describe in unparalleled detail a decline in metabolic energy and regenerative capacity, but as soon as they state or suggest that these are the causes of natural dying, they are refusing to answer the question at hand: How does a human die of natural causes?

Given such widespread ethnocentrism, it is only natural therefore that Western thinking beyond the scope of “science” has surrounded chi with a mystical aura, while “scientific thinking” has reduced and deformed the concept into something manageable on its own terms. Such terms are untrue to the original concept and reality of chi. Beyond that there is a natural difficulty with distinctions among different kinds of chi. This can give rise to the impression that Chinese thinkers indulged in unnecessary conceptual multiplication to compensate for their own weaknesses in natural scientific understanding. Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading Science and the Problem with Chi

Fasting For Health: Enlightenment Not Included?

For millenia, people have tried to reach a spiritual promised land by fasting. Jesus did it. The Buddha did it. Monks and saints and new age gurus have done it. And now, on the radio, This American Life contributor David Rakoff tries it. He does a 20-day fast, to find out if it brings him any form of enlightenment.

That was the official summary for this week’s episode of This American Life. Here is my unofficial summary:

David Rakoff does a twenty-day detox juice fast*, hoping for a quick glimpse of enlightenment. Other than his special diet and enema regimen, David does not follow any other guidelines that might define fasting as a spiritual practice, as prescribed by real spiritual experts. Instead, he reads the New York Times, rides the subway, and otherwise continues to lead his normal everyday life–to the extent possible, between his extended time on the toilet, and chopping and boiling vegetables for the fast. Continue reading Fasting For Health: Enlightenment Not Included?

The Religion of Inception

Inception

There are seventy thousand Jedi knights in Australia. Four hundred thousand in England and Wales. In New Zealand, Jedi is the second most popular religious affiliation, ahead of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and most everything else. So concluded the official 2001 census in each of these countries.

It is unclear how many respondents were serious about their Jedi faith, but their governments did not take them seriously. Tallies were ignored or reclassified, and citizens were threatened with fines for providing “false or misleading” information.

So it is forbidden. Religions may not originate in movies–at least not in movies of Star Wars mediocre quality. But with the unprecedented critical and commercial acclaim of the hit film Inception, some of the formerly irreligious are reportedly inspired to worship again. Continue reading The Religion of Inception

The Snake and the Angry Swami: A Cautionary Tale

Rolling Thunder

The following short story was excerpted from Rolling Thunder: A Personal Exploration into the Secret Healing Powers of an American Indian Medicine Man. In this section, Doug Boyd sits by the campfire with Rolling Thunder, sharing stories he heard from other spiritual teachers.

On the train to Brindavan a Swami sits beside a common man who asks him if indeed he has attained self-mastery, as the name “Swami” implies.
“I have,” says the Swami.
“And have you mastered anger?”
“I have.”
“You mean you can control your anger?”
“I can.”
“And you do not feel anger?”
“I do not.”
“Is this the truth, Swami?”
“It is.”

After a silence the man asks again, “Do you really feel that you have controlled your anger?”
“I have, as I told you,” the Swami answers.
“Then do you mean to say, you never feel anger, even–”
“You are going on and on–what do you want?” the Swami shouts.
Continue reading The Snake and the Angry Swami: A Cautionary Tale

The Lighter Side of Kundalini

Glass elevator

John Chang was a practical joker. I had been on an elevator with him one evening along with twenty other people. The elevator was a glass-walled unit that ferried people up and down the floors of a shopping mall; there was a steel railing all around that people rested their backs on. We were going out to eat that evening at a local restaurant on the top floor of the mall.

Suddenly a burst of current pulsed through the steel backstop. Women screamed and everyone pulled away, suspecting a short circuit. John pulled away too, as I had, but I needed only one look at the barely suppressed grin on his face to realize what had really happened: He had sent a pulse of bio-energy through the railing!

Serious training in meditation, qigong, or kundalini yoga is long, hard, often boring, and sometimes downright bitter. Yet when a student reports their discovery of an exciting fringe benefit, such as heightened or extrasensory perception, certain other members of the community are quick to scold them.

“Pay no attention to such things,” the lecturer instructs. “They will only distract you from the ultimate goal of cosmic union.” Well, maybe so, and maybe not, but in the meantime, I think it is important to keep one’s sense of humor intact. Continue reading The Lighter Side of Kundalini

Mantak Chia on Sex, Discipline, and Qigong

Mantak Chia
Mantak Chia

Mantak Chia was born in Bangkok, Thailand in 1944. His pursuit of Taoist teachings led him to meet the White Cloud Hermit Master Yi, a Taoist Master living in the mountains near from Hong Kong.

Over a period of five years, Master Yi transmitted to Master Mantak Chia the most sacred and closely held Taoist practices, formulas and methods of internal alchemy, culminating in the Reunion of Heaven and Man.

The author of dozens of books, booklets, videos and CDs describing these practices, Master Mantak Chia has taught hundreds of thousands of eager students the principles of Taoist internal practice over the past 40 years.

Following is an excerpt from a recent Blog Talk Radio interview with Mantak Chia:

Lama Tantrapa: What is the purpose of qigong practice?

Mantak Chia: The initial purpose of qigong practice is to become stronger, to heal yourself, and increase your wisdom and knowledge. The early stages are like Taiji, and afterwards we can begin what we call supreme inner alchemy practice. Continue reading Mantak Chia on Sex, Discipline, and Qigong