November 14, 2006 at 1:56 pm #19210
Recently Mike Winn wrote the following comments regarding David Verdesi’s relationship with the qigong master and the practice I have shared about here. I have included those comments and my response in order to share a different perspective on these important topics:
MW: Because there was such a hyped up initial presentation on this topic, now that things have settled down I will be making further comments on what I term “extreme yang practices” that result in manifestation of very yang energy and phenomena.
For the moment, I will just say that I think this path, at its higher level, is suitable for very few people. The romance of tangible “real power” is not what it appears to be. Most of the seekers after these powers are trying to fill the vacuum of powerlessness they feel in themselves. Like all paths, it has it rewards. But the more extreme the energy, the more extreme the danger.
I base this on my own investigation into the yang/fire path, as well as on extensive conversations with my webmaster, James, who is the ONLY western inner door student of the mysteriously named “Sherfu L-” in Thailand. James had Sifu L– live in his home in Canada last year for a month and a half. So I have been hearing about “L–” for quite a while.
James is the only Westerner that was invited into L–‘s Grandmaster’s circle in China, a traditional Taoist bagua- cell of eight adepts and the Grandmaster, who are engaged in these extreme yang practices. Since David was explicitly NOT invited into the higher level/inner door group in China, I trust james’ take on this over David’s promotions.
I am sure David Verdesi’s forthcoming book, whose manuscript he has been dragging around for years, will be fascinating, informative, and a great entertaining read, and I will be one of the first buyers. I totally support his investigations and adventures. But the reality on the ground of what path is suitable and effective for each seeker in developing “te” (as in Tao Te Ching) – spiritual power/virtue – is a different matter. The subject of a future essay.
MY RESPONSE: The achievement of objective results is simply a useful side effect of effective practices. It allows one to measure progress in a concrete way; not the goal of the practice, but rather a natural outcome to be moved beyond. To say that those who are seeking through the practices of the Lei Shan Dao or who have achieved these abilities are compensating for a feeling of powerlessness is really inaccurate. Power is simply a necessary, basic measure of the progress one is making toward immortality and enlightenment in this life and the after death state. If enlightenment and immortality were such effortless endeavors that required no practical achievement, then the world would be full of living immortals; in reality, this is not the case.
Enlightenment has always been a fuzzy thing; therefore its easier to play around with it. Immortality on the other hand is quite a word, and even Chia in the early books clearly stated that the immortality he was referring to was pretty physical; with reference to achieving the rainbow body and daylight ascension. It has now become a rather diluted word, subject to creative interpretation and nobody ever addresses the main point: what are the practical results and implications of the immortal practices of the HT?
People are numbed by the use of words they have no understanding of, and again, the fact that there is no standard of reference (nobody is able to demonstrate and prove anything) makes the actual meaning and implication of those words all more fuzzy. It could be argued that the basic formulas are good and beneficial; and, for the most part, there are no false expectations behind them. For example, one does not become enlightened or immortal from practicing the microcosmic orbit and does not expect to; the basic formulas also do not imply the development of preternatural powers. However, when a student moves on to the HT immortal practices, the convenient fuzziness begins.
In the Lei Shan Dao, no Pai (school) makes promises of physical immortality or rainbow body characteristic of Xian Tian Fa, but they do promise and prove the Yin Yang Gong and that after level 4 one can go and come back. Logically if someone never witnesses this, it is hard to believe.
The same issues apply for enlightenment. Everyone that has some cosmic revelation is enlightened and writes a book on it. But, why, since the death of Buddha and Christ, have millions of people closed themselves in monasteries and temples to find the Divine, to realize this enlightenment and yet few succeed? Are they all stupid? The Dalai Lama has clearly stated he is not enlightened or immortal and that he has met only a few who are. Others in equally meaningful positions have said much the same. Do we really know better? Conceptually speaking, if by immortality and enlightenment we mean psychological comfort, an idea that helps Christians without enough faith that the lord has already saved them, then qigong, as it has largely emerged in the west, is as good as anything else. But this is not the way that Daoists in China understand the topic.
Gross displays of power, if you have never met a master, are easily misunderstood. The burning of a newspaper by John Chang in the now famous Ring of Fire documentary is a good example. If you understand or have this power, then you know its the fire that burns away the very karma that binds us to this mortal body and leads to enlightenment. The outer manifestation of this power is just the shell. If you dont have the contextual knowledge to recognize this truth, then such things will have no meaning.
Let us remember that the same phenomena, such as healing and other manipulations of material reality, are written about in many faith traditions such as the Christian faith, were they are considered a sign of sainthood. Individuals such as Saint Teresa of Avila, perhaps one of the more well known examples, was widely believed to levitate in the ecstatic state of devotion on a regular basis; is she too fulfilling some ill perceived need for power? In orthodox Christianity, the basis of the main doctrine taught is the achievement of sainthood. Sainthood, and its requisite power, for them are equal to striving toward the realization of the resurrected body of light displayed by Jesus for the disciples on mount Tabor.
The same is true for all abilities or miracles such as walking on water and resurrecting the dead. Only the ignorant see them or seek them as empty manifestation of power. Those who know the difference between empty power and achievement see the purpose, the allegorical meaning behind the power.
It is true that this path is not for everybody and teachings were given to help also those who wouldnt or couldnt undertake such commitments, but to be honest the careful reading of the scriptures leaves much to debate by what achievement really means and if those who did not give their lives to reach measurable results would actually achieve salvation or immortality. In the view of real Christian hermits, Buddhist and Bon practitioners, interestingly, it is not enough.
So, again conceptually, if by immortality and immortal soul/self we mean actually psychological comfort or an understanding, then HT is as good as anything else. If the HT maintained only these humble goals, wellbeing and simple qigong for health and emotional management, there would be no flaw; the point is that since the beginning, the HT was presented as a way to immortality also.
Although most people are confused about such matters, it should still give rise to questions when people of no provable achievement and without a lineage or a master of concrete achievement talk of such matters like it is the most natural, effortless thing on earth, fundamentally coaxing people into believing that by attending Kan Li courses and practicing them for a few years they will have an immortal fetus, having realized their immortality.
The point is simple yet not many want to see it. Too much talking as usual is done on major ontological matters like immortality or enlightenment and logically if there are not objective standards (too uncomfortable and therefore denied) anyone can claim to know the truth about such things, which is fine as long as it remains in the realm of pure debate or friendly conversation. But, when even one person, not to mention 1,000 people, put their heart, belief, life, destiny and time into someones hands looking for an answer, a solution and the realization of their dreams, then the chosen person has an ethical duty to search for something beyond subjective reality. He or she needs the humility to accept that, like the Daoist-Buddhist story, it is one thing to know the Dao and to speculate on the Buddha fields and another thing to walk the Dao and be able to go and come back from the Buddha fields carrying the fruits of objective realization. Like the Buddha said, dharma is beyond theories; dharma is to be tested, manifested and realized here and now. The unforgettable story of Ling Zhi chopping off the finger of his disciple upon hearing him claiming he was enlightened in the masters presence, even after many years of retreat in the mountains, should make one reflect.
So, whoever claims a spiritual truth and makes promises of immortality for example, or rejuvenation, if he or she is in the role of teacher, there is an ethical duty to be able to prove at least certain achievements that simply show the ability to bring the student into uncharted. Otherwise the blind lead the blind.
If a teacher is not yet in that position but he or she chooses or is chosen to open the way for others, then, even more, there must be a root, a lineage of representatives to guide from the top down; a lineage of beings in the flesh, accomplished in their practice, not just in the mind. If its Daoism we speak about, then we should know that Daoism implies not only the realization of powers but their application and manifestation.
A few of lines to address the accusations of Mike Winn:
James McConnell is the second westerner David introduced to Shi fu Luo in 2002. David and James are still close. Mike Winn makes too many assumptions here. From what Im told James has said very little about his apprenticeship.
Luo had five masters and of all his western students, David is the only one who met three of the five. The One James met does not accept students and James only met him as a student of Luo who forbid him to look for him on his own. David has also met and worked with this master on many occasions and it’s not true that James was accepted to the so called inner circle and David was not. The opposite, if anything, would be truer. Luo had five masters and of all his western students, David is the only one who met three of the five.
The bagua circle” Winn is talking about is just a fantasy, there is no such thing. Hes drawing this from the fact that one of Luo’s masters produced eight masters. Luo is the youngest of eight. For the record, the master that James met is Luo’s Tong Ling teacher not the Lei Shan Dao (thunder path) one. Tong Ling is the so called religious line of the Dao.
All this is really quite beside the point as David knows many Hsien (someone who has achieved immortality) of greater accomplishment then Luo. He has been accepted as a so called inner door student by four masters. His current teacher (not Luo), has safely produced over thirty students who have reached the first stages of Hsien, or Daoist immortality (the so called level 4/5), and beyond. These are all healthy, well adjusted people, many with normal families and children. I wouldnt classify them as extreme yang. Nor would I say the practices are for the few; although its true they require a lot of discipline. On the contrary, the Lei Shan Dao is considered one of the few Dao thats realistically achievable by lay practitioners.
Recently David was accepted as a family student by his current teacher; this is a step beyond inner door student. Youll have to forgive all the dramatic labels, becoming a family student simply means that the student becomes part of the masters family in virtually the same sense as a biological child, with all the rewards and responsibilities that come with the position. This is unheard of (for a westerner) in the Lei Shan Dao and represents a big step, both for David and, even more perhaps, his Shi fu. Over three hundred masters and practitioners traveled from all over China to be present at Davids acceptance ceremony, which I attended. Many of them came from remote, little known areas of China to be there.
Im not here to spark further debate on the subject, but I would ask those listening to carefully weigh the criticism and judgment Mike Winn has made against David and others over the past decade. Just know that there is a different perspective out there than the one hes giving. All these stories of Davids past as an Orphan and other such nonsense are largely a falsehood, or at least misperceptions that have been exaggerated beyond the pale.
There is a lot more that could be said, but its not my intention to dwell on the subject. I hope there can be some closure on the topic and old judgments can be put to rest. We should really be working together in service.
Sincerely, Sean D.November 15, 2006 at 3:08 am #19211
>”Power is simply a necessary, basic measure of the progress one is making toward immortality”<
I prefer to think of power as an illusion, as the goal in my view is to try and acheive balance. Whatever power one holds over another force will have to be repaid in kind.
My understanding of immortality is achieving a unified, integrated inner consciousness of the five shen, which in turn will affect the physical health and allow ones consciousness to pass through dimensional barriers into other simultaneous vibrational fields. To take the body there is a very high level practice, but probably more useful to integrate as much jing into shen as possible, to give substance so that taking the whole body may not be necessary.
What is your view of immortality, and when ascending in broad daylight, where do you go?
It sounds like your cosmology is very influenced by buddhism, what is your view of the role of karma? What is karma in your view? Is it bad to be in a physical body?
If David is not now studying with a Lei Shan Dao Master, and you give examples of his thirty well-adjusted students, what path does his current master practice, and how is it similar or different than the thunder path?
When you say "go and come back", from where and to where are you referring to?
On the path to clarification,
oceanNovember 15, 2006 at 2:15 pm #19213
Just a quick note- David’s current teacher is a Lei Shan Dao master; sorry if my letter somehow suggests otherwise. As to the other questions, first you have to understand the context in which I’m using the word power. Perhaps we should let those who have achieved immortality (a state that is really beyond our ability to fully understand anyway) make comments on what immortality is or is not; I would only like to suggest that it is beyond a mental construct and those who have achieved it can demonstrate that fact. I would invite you to the forum David’s students have set up for further discussion on the matter. This topic has been addressed at length there and It’s not really my intention to continue any further discussion on this board.
SNovember 15, 2006 at 6:08 pm #19215
Where is David? Why are you defending him, for which he doesn’t even do himself? When will he get the courage to speak for himself? This reminds me of the battles in Chinatown of San Fransico in the 1970’s who’s the better master.
This bantering doesn’t ever go anywhere, he (David) should really respond to this discussion if he truly wants to defend his school of thought, teachers. If he don’t it will be stuck in his field of being and for this will be nagging at him forever.
I personally wouldn’t follow someone who cannot, or won’t speak for himself any good teacher is open to constructive criticism, Questions or views, and would gladly respond.
You for sure have passion for him and his people but I really would like to hear him respond to all that has been said;- here not on some secluded process through a controlled message board. It’s really a matter of the head teacher trying to
lead scuccessfully and being credible.
No conflict with you, lets keep it real and respond like adults…it’s david’s turn to act like a leader not a follower.
Pondering in the snow………..SnowLionNovember 15, 2006 at 8:03 pm #19217
I don’t see why David has to speak up for himself. If both David and Michael stand for what they believe there is no need for arguments. If one shines that inner believe words are meaningless and even distracting, a way of trying to explain something that is clear for who can see… So for those who need real clarification go see David.
I am absolutely clear what Michael offered me, no matter what others vomit.November 15, 2006 at 8:22 pm #19219
To see what all the hullaballoo was about, I signed up for David’s site that Sean Denty runs; you can too.
I read some of the student postings, read some of David’s writings, and will go back sometime to read some more and sense into it all. I don’t plan to post there, because I am not a student of David’s and feel no need to judge anyone else’s path.
I like that David has not come on this site to post, and am happy with how Sean Denty is trying not to engage in a flame war but is just trying to present the perspective of his teacher.
ChrisNovember 15, 2006 at 8:38 pm #19221
s> Where is David? .. >
It’s common for teachers to keep some distance from each other; potentially too contentious, otherwise. The main duty of each teacher is to run their school – not go into some other’s school and this-&-that. It’s a matter of staying to what is important.
Just my point of view.
s> not on some secluded process through a controlled message board >
Writing a short introduction of one’s self prior to being allowed on a world-wide-web based discussion board is a really remarkably open set up, imo. If you’ve tracked this board for any substantial amt of time, you’ve seen that there has been all sorts of intentionally disrespectful (to put it mildly) posts. Michael and James have been very generous and lenient in their intent to maintain this very open format. Also, however, imo, a board that is limited to sincere, serious cultivators has its appropriate place, function, appeal.November 15, 2006 at 9:28 pm #19223
My question for Sean Denty and anybody else who cares to reply is:
In your opinion, what makes the kan and li method of internal alchemy ineffective, and how is the method you are practicing better?
I’m interested in nudging this conversation into the realm of a practical comparison in alchemical technique.
In my understanding kan and li involves inverting and coupling yin and yang energies in the core channel.
Is this similar to the Lei Shan Dao?
I want to understand the general differences and similarities in these alchemical systems.
thank youNovember 15, 2006 at 11:20 pm #19225
I find the main issue here to be Sean’s lack of responsibility for his own actions and practice.
If you can’t back up your statements with even a brief discussion, then how can we see validity in any of them?
If you deflect responsibility onto your “master” who has secret practices on a secret forum, then who is really being served here? Is it the collective humanity or are the “real secrets” being kept from us because we might “hurt ourselves” with them? If the practices are harmful then what is their value unless we want to gain power over others?
I agree that alchemy reaches beyond words, that is why I am willing to discuss based on MY EXPERIENCE.November 17, 2006 at 1:06 pm #19227
Just checked the site. It demands a permanent vow of restriction to certain expressions that are judged in retrospect by a third person by the rule of law.
Such injunction is against the rule of change and the rule of virtue.
Such a vow, looking from a unlimed linear time line, cannot be upheld by no man of word.November 17, 2006 at 1:34 pm #19229
This is based on tapes.
It is dragon or thunder practise.
A preparatory foundation.
Extreme closing of lower gate. To feed the upper centers (mainly upper dan tien and higher, female also middle)
All internal and external means.
Including the external method of golden bell training; nauli (front abdominal muscle isolation) and basti (inhaling air and water through the anus) techniques of shatkarmas from hatha yoga pradipika.
One of the sign of such trainning is retraction of testicles.
(David published five, but it seems female video is off the new market. It seems he does not control copyright so they are still available)
As such it is not a question of alchemical techniques, more dedication to a techniques.
There is also a question of aboundance in the insistance on extreme retention.
There is also a question of clan control over its ‘manifestations’.
But it is true, no earth no here. Still heaven, but not on earth.
(If you are into Kumar books, Wang(fat bald man standing in pajamas on photo) was into this; this is also a sumo technique; Shaolin also do this; of course this is not all their trainning)
some more on david tapes:
http://forum.healingdao.com/philosophy/message/10523/November 17, 2006 at 2:25 pm #19231
The user agreement you are refering to is just an automated message that the boards server puts out. It just asks you not to use profanity and not to threaten or harrass people. Anyone can join the forum, which is very open and requires no vow.
SNovember 19, 2006 at 4:34 pm #19233
so> If you can’t back up your statements with even a brief discussion, .. >
A brief review of Denty’s posts shows that Denty’s posts here, while few in number, have often been very lengthy and quite considered. Similar to his posts at TTBs. Considering that his intent was only to make short forays at both sites, that is home root is elsewhere, – it’s clear that he’s put in a fair amount of thoughtful communication. .. well beyond “even a brief discussion”.
so> secret practices on a secret forum >
Another mis-charactization. The forum address has been given (not secret), and participation is open after a respectful introductory e-mail. Not unreasonable.
Most of the statements in your previous post similarly don’t bare thoughtful deconstruction – which is uncharacteristic of your posts – but I don’t want to be so long winded as to address each one.
I am not defending Denty (nor attacking you), per se, but am more encouraging clear and fair posts.
I hope that I am not just stirring up what is pretty much a finished thread, but I thought your comments should be acknowledged.
so> ..gain power over others? >
Seems to me that the sometimes mis-use of power gives power a bad rap overall. I have the power to walk across the street, to dig a ditch, occasionally to shine a little light, and I’m glad for it. Anything that can be done needs power to get it done. Helping others requires power, skillfully and sensitively applied. Simply resonating with the Vastness is a kind of returning to power, and is purifying. It seems to me that profound development of power goes hand-in-hand with profound development in submitting one’s self (i.e., submitting conscious knowledge to real knowledge), purification, the process of humility. Exclusively equating “power” = “being a bully” is a very narrow view of power.
TrunkNovember 21, 2006 at 2:53 am #19235
> Brief discussion: >
> he glosses over, .. without giving an adequate explanation of his own practice, and the transformations it acheives to convert jing to shen and VV. >
I can see how one could look at it that way. I always just took it that it was not his role to teach.
> I also wonder why if Sean only believes in concrete results such as shocking people or lighting newspaper on fire, is he not sensitive to different frequencies of qi like raw jing or yuan qi? If he only beleives in concrete results, maybe he does not believe in qi at all or does not have faith in his own experience so far to trust what he experiences? >
(previous font-bolds added by me)
I never thought that he only believes in those external, concrete, results – just that they were one (or several) examples. I thought it obvious that there was relavent internal work and transformation, palpable to the student though perhaps not externally visible.
> Gain power over others:.. coercion. >
On this topic I’m mostly going with my own impression of what power is. In my view, activities like “power over others”, “coercion”.. display no real development, but rather a pronounced lack of development, lack of profound power. To me, real power is about having conquored one’s self, become profoundly aligned and mature, to the extent of being able to assist others in aligning, purifying, and rooting, never against their will, but in harmony. “Coercion” is not a sign of power, but just of mundane pettiness. Even if the coercer is using a large amount of force, imo, it is still just mundane and petty activity.November 21, 2006 at 4:07 am #19237
“He who conquers men has force,
He who conquers himself/herself is truly strong”
(#33, Dao De Jing)
I couldn’t agree more! This is why each person has their own experience of cultivation and ultimately there is no power or competition in the inner realm. Of course, one has to balance the inner and the outer as well. I also think this is why outer displays of “power” are not as useful as outer manifestation of inner harmony. Maybe lighting things on fire is evidence of inner harmony, I don’t know, but how can someone from outside judge the level of inner achievement of another that does not use outer displays unless they can communicate on an inner level???
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