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Climax is Only Half Way of the Journey

Mount Rainier from the Silver Queen Peak
In the Yin Yang theory, everything – every process, every transformation, and every object – has both a Yin and a Yang aspect. The Yin and Yang energy roles represent different qualities: Yang energy manifests outwardly, and tends to be aggressive, dynamic, initiating and expansive. Yin energy reflects inward, and tends to be subtle, responsive, unseen and withdrawing.

The highest level of Yang energy is the reaching of a goal or climax. The completion of Yin energy is the return from Yang’s climax to its point of origin. Climax is like reaching the top of a mountain, but the energy cycle is not whole without the Yin journey from the mountain top back to the base. Since Yang is dynamic and expansive in nature, it needs to be balanced by an element of restraint or control (Yin energy). Since Yin is naturally reserved and contained, it needs to balance by the quality of unblocked openness (Yang energy).

This pattern is vividly illustrated in sexual relationships and is a good model for sexual encounters. Men tend to focus on manifestation, and, once a climax is reached, their journey is complete. For women, however, it is essential to go through the whole process; the second half of the journey is as important as the first. Just as in a symphony, the music leads us along a journey, lifting us up, and then bringing us back at the end. The symphony doesn’t stop at the third movement, nor should a sexual encounter.

Carrying expansive energy, men should exercise control over themselves during love-making. Carrying restrained energy, women should allow themselves to let go. When men control themselves, they can more easily delay their climax. When women allow themselves to be completely free and unrestrained, they find it easier to reach their climax. In this balanced way, together, the male and female energies can achieve a climax with a greater feeling of union and wholeness.

The same pattern can again be seen the life span of a person. In the course of any life, there are Yin and Yang phases. However, generally speaking, the phase of growing up, studying, entering society, having a family, establishing oneself in a profession or career, achieving goals, and reaching the highest point of achievement or climax is the Yang phase of life. Often, success is defined in terms of the accomplishments of this phase of life. But the Yin phase of life which follows is just as important.

For many people, retirement from work is retirement from life. It can even become a matter of simply passing time until they die. Small wonder, then, that people can have a hard time handling retirement.

Actually, “retirement” may be a poor term to use. It is better to think in terms of settling into the Yin phase of life, perhaps even a Yin career. In the Yin phase of life, energy and physical strength may not be as intense as during the Yang phase, but mental maturity, emotional stability, and cultivated values can come to play a much deeper and more rewarding role. The breadth of view and wisdom of the Yin phase can make it possible to do more, and do it differently, than one could during the Yang phase, even if its achievements are not as obvious.

Former U.S. President Carter did not stop working when he stepped down from being President; he continued to work effectively in many different directions without the need for public recognition. The renown and much loved actress Audrey Hepburn spent the second phase of her life as a special ambassador to UNICEF. Bill Gates, after retirement from his climactic achievements at Microsoft, is devoting his time to a Yin career in educational and health charity projects through the Gates Foundation. Retirement from one’s career is the completion of the Yang phase of life, but it is the beginning of the flowering of the Yin phase of life.

Many people manage the Yang phase well, but do not consider that the Yin phase needs management. They do not see that they bring to the Yin phase the skills and maturity they have gathered during the Yang phase. After completing the Yang phase, instead of turning inward, many simply burn through what they have achieved, waste what they have accomplished, or gradually slip into a kind of decay, falling apart like a house that isn’t maintained.

A successful life means a successful Yin phase as well as a successful Yang phase. The Yin phase may not be as dynamic or exciting, as forceful or as openly recognized by the world as the Yang phase, but it has different kind of fulfillment. One can donate his time and energy to family and society without thinking of material compensation. There is plenty of time to read and chat with friends; there is leisure time to appreciate reading, traveling, and enjoying coffee, tea, or wine; and there is time to turn inward and discover the inner joy of meditation and Chi-energy cultivation.

So, delete the term ”retirement” from your vocabulary, and live a successful Yin phase of your life!

The Power of Yin –The Magic of Whispering

whisper-408482_1280In communication, we often think strong delivery will help get the message through better. But in a very real sense, a soft, even whisper-like delivery, which is Yin, will tend to resonate more with the receiving entity, which is also Yin. This is why in many situations it is better to whisper.

Whispering has a special magic. Often school teachers who have a hard time controlling a rowdy class can get better results with a whisper than a shout. All the students become quiet, because they want to hear the secret.

Human nature has a tendency to underestimate the power of Yin, of non-manifestation, of subtlety. Projection, manifestation, and delivery have to do with the Yang or masculine force. But Yin is a power as real as Yang. A quiet voice, a soft touch, a light thought, or a vague image, can be more effective than their Yang equivalents. If you hold a pebble with a strong grip, all you can feel is the tension in your muscles. Only if you hold it lightly, you can feel the texture and quality of the stone itself. The same thing is true for all our senses, all our avenues of perception. Strong projection can provoke resistance, and the receiver experiences primarily the rigidity of resistance; gentle projection creates attention, and then the receiver can attend to what is being communicated.

Communicating at the right time, in the right way, will help to provide a good basis for a good relationship. However, despite all good intentions, there is often another issue: that of perception.

The different energy patterns characteristic of male and female lead to different ways of perceiving situations, and lead to different perspectives on the human world. This often leads to a gap between the male and female perception of a situation.

Often a woman will perceive issues or problems in a relationship that the man does not recognize or even perceive. Regardless of whether the problem or issue is “real” or not, when one person perceives the existence of a problem and the other does not, there is a very real problem between them. This is why it is crucial for men to be sensitive and to pay attention when such issues arise. This requires the right attitude, the willingness to pay attention, as well as awareness and sensitivity — the capacity to pay attention.


Uncle’s Tea

My Uncle's TeaMy father’s only brother was ten years younger than my father. As a traditional older brother, my father felt a strong sense of responsibility for him. So when my uncle turned twenty, my father began to try to find him a wife. My uncle refused to get married and ran away.

Many years later, my uncle resurfaced again. He had become a monk and lived on Wu Zhi (“Five Finger”) Mountain in northern Taiwan, in a cave that he had chiseled out of the rock mountain by himself. The only memory I had of him from when I was young was his annual visit to our home.

He would always come late in the afternoon on the day of the winter solstice. He would arrive before dinner. He was an vegetarian and ate mostly fruits and nuts. For dinner my mother would serve him a plain piece of white tofu sprinkled lightly with salt. After dinner, he would continue to chat and have tea with my father. When we went to sleep, he would close his eyes, sitting on a rattan chair in our living room. When we awoke in the morning, he would already be gone.

This was how things went every year throughout my student years. On my uncle’s visits, my father would always give him a few pounds of very special tea – the oolong tea that farmers normally kept for their own use. My father could always manage to get some from a farmer with whom he was a close friend. My father called this tea “ten-steeping oolong,” since it could be steeped ten times and still be potent.

When I was about to leave for the United States to continue my graduate studies, my father told me that I should pay my uncle a visit before I went abroad. Over the years, my older brothers would describe my uncle’s cave temple, which always aroused my curiosity, but I’d never visited him. At last, I took the journey.

It was an hour train ride and then three more hours by bus on a bumpy country road to the nearest village, where I spent the night. Then, on the morning of the second day, I hiked up to the temple.

Upon arrival, I was surprised to see not a cave but a newly built temple. When I asked a young monk in the temple about my uncle, he said, “Oh, the Master doesn’t live here. He still lives in the cave. After the temple was finished last year, we tried hard to get him to move here, but he prefers to stay in his cave.”

The young monk led me to the rock cave about a five-minute walk from the new temple, at the base of a sharply rising rocky hill. The entrance was about two meters high and three meters wide, but the inside was very spacious. As we entered, the young monk told me that when the temple was finished the year before, they had also managed to bring electricity to the cave. I was impressed at how much space my uncle had managed to clear out with just a hammer and chisel, and I wondered how long it had taken him. But as soon as I saw my uncle’s smile, I forgot my questions.

My uncle didn’t seem surprised at my visit. When I presented him with the tea my father had sent, he smiled broadly and immediately turned on his electric tea kettle. I noticed that he had a nice gong-fu tea set – a typical Yixing purple clay pot with small cups – on a rock table. It was not really a table, but a shelf of rock that he had left in place when he carved away the rest of the cave.

When the tea kettle whistled, he rinsed and warmed the pot and cups with boiling water, opened the package I’d brought, and scooped tea into the pot. Gently he covered it with the lid and shook the pot, then he removed the lid and smelled the leaves – and passed the pot to me to smell as well.

“This must be from the spring harvest,” he said. Then he poured the hot water into the pot. I was very familiar with the process, since I had seen my father do this every day, but I was struck with how smoothly and economically my uncle moved. I could tell that he was an experienced tea drinker.

While we were drinking the tea, he did not say much; I found that I was doing most of the talking. It was a strange feeling. We had never been that close, and I was surprised to find myself talking so much. Most of the time, he just smiled quietly, nodding his head occasionally. As we finished one steeping, he would make the next.

At one point, I asked him if there was any advice he might have for me. He nodded, sat quietly a moment, then took off the lid of the tea pot and started to clean the leaves out of the pot.

“Uncle!” I said, “We have only finished the fifth steeping. This tea is good for at least ten steepings.”

My uncle looked into my eyes, and for the first time I realized how gentle his gaze was. “I know,” he said, and went on emptying the pot.

I expected him to say something more, but he didn’t.

After I came to the United States, I would occasionally remember how my uncle had stopped at the fifth steeping and puzzle over why he had done so. He was definitely a connoisseur and knew the tea was good for many more steepings. Many years later, after I had been in the working world for a long time, and my uncle had passed away, I began to realize what he may have meant to tell me: Everything has a beginning and an end, and from beginning to end everything goes through a series of stages. For the tea we had been drinking, the fifth steeping was the peak – the stage of greatest richness and abundance. He was, I think, telling me to stop at the peak and let it go, rather than stretching things out forever, hanging on to each little bit of flavor. As humans, when we reach a peak, we often try to hold on and stretch the peak out for as long as possible. We forget that this moment, like all others, is transitory. With holding on comes regret.

Often we see politicians who achieve power and never want to let go, holding on until they fall in disgrace. This is true for many people in all walks of life. It is better to let go when you are at your prime instead of clinging persistently to past achievements, so that you will be remembered at your best.

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Good Karma Is Still Karma

candlelight 2I formally became the disciple of Zen Master Pu Yu of Bubble Spring Temple on Drum Mountain in Fujian Province, China, right after the end of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970’s. At that time, the temple had few monks and hardly any visitors. After the private ceremony, Master Pu Yu gave me a pep talk that has guided my life since. He talked about Zen tradition, the temple’s history, and also spoke more informally and personally to me.

“Shantung,” he said, “I can see by looking at your big earlobes that you will be financially successful, so I know you will do much to support Buddhism and spiritual teachings.” He said this with a teasing smile. When I smiled in response, his expression became more serious. He then said something that surprised me and that has stuck with me ever since.

“Shantung, do no evil, and also do not do good.”

I was very surprised. “Do no evil: do good” is one of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism. Master Hui Neng, the Sixth Zen Patriarch, always stressed this teaching to his disciples. How could the master ask me not to do good?

Master Pu Yu looked at my puzzled expression, smiled, and added, “I know you must be wondering, why not do good?” After a pause, he continued.

“You know when you do bad things you create bad karma, and that is not good. When you do good deeds, you create good karma. But good karma is still karma, and karma is what we need to be free from. “ I became very quiet and attentive. The master continued.

“Why isn’t it good to do good deeds and accumulate good karma? Because when you do good deeds, something incomplete or unsatisfied lingers. For example, let’s say you’re a rich person who supports a young man by helping to provide a living and education for many years until he graduates from college and enters society. You do this with a good heart, selflessly, without any expectation in return. Later on, when the young man becomes successful and well known, and people mention that he received a lot of help when he was younger, he denies that he ever received any help from you, and even goes so far as to bad-mouth you. At that point, you will think, ‘But I have given you so much, without expecting any return, why on the contrary you bad-mouth me!’ You will inevitably be upset.

Or, as another example, you might contribute much to people in your village – food, clothing, and so on. People love you and praise your generosity. But one day another rich person moves to the village. He builds bridges and roads, establishes a hospital, and does good deeds on a much larger scale. You will inevitably compare yourself to him, and feel that your good deeds don’t measure up to his.

Do you see? This is what I mean when I say that good deeds are somehow incomplete or unsatisfied.”

I was puzzled. I was about to ask, “So, Master, what should I do?”

Before I could speak it, Master Pu Yu continued.

“Do not try to do good deeds. Just work on yourself. Be a candle. A lit candle can illuminate a small space.  Continue to work on yourself; expand the light, so that the candle becomes a torch. A torch can illuminate a larger space. Then make yourself into a bonfire that can illuminate an even bigger space. A candle, torch, or bonfire, each gives out light naturally, according to its size. There is no trying; there is no effort involved. If you are a candle, you can’t choose to illuminate a larger space; if you are a bonfire, you can’t limit yourself to a smaller space.

“Just focus your work on yourself. Knowledge comes from outside, but wisdom comes from a tranquil mind. As you work on yourself, the capacity of your heart will increase to embrace more and more space and time, on an ever-larger scale. This is the change from candle to torch to bonfire. As this happens, whatever you think or do is naturally good and beneficial to people, society, and all living beings; but it is so natural that there is no effort toward “good deeds”. When you live your life this way, and you are not thinking about whether what you do is good or great, then there is no good karma, and you are set free from karma.”

This is in line with Taoist teaching about being in tune with nature. Nature does not need to make any effort, but everything still happens. So work silently on yourself. People on a spiritual path usually do not draw public attention to being on spiritual path. Spiritual people are not aware that they are spiritual. They cultivate themselves, and everything is done in accord with nature, as revealed through self-cultivation.

Apple, the FBI, and the Five Element Theory

Apple vs FBI 2The FBI’s war against Apple’s strong iPhone encryption has recently been much discussed in the United States. The FBI ruled that Apple must help to see what’s on an iPhone that belonged to one of the shooters involved in the mass killings in San Bernadino, California.

The FBI wants Apple to create software that can defeat the encryption of the phone. Apply wants to avoid creating such a tool, arguing that, once it exists, it will threaten the security of all iPhone users.

The two sides are embroiled in a conflict that will have repercussions in the future on the way Internet companies handle encrypted communications, and on legislation to regulate encrypted devices and services.

Public opinion is divided. Some say the FBI is right while others side with Apple. The FBI is right to want access to information that might help with a high-profile investigation of suspects linked to terrorist organizations. Apple is also right to defend its security and to argue that weakening encryption is not the way to go.

Whatever intellectual merit the arguments may have, from the point of view of the underlying natural laws, the FBI, in other words the government, will eventually have the upper hand, and Apple will have to yield or find a way to compromise.

At its highest level, natural law is described by two theories: Yin-Yang Theory and Five Element Theory.  Natural law is the highest governing principle in the universe; whether or not we are aware of it, we are “controlled” by the patterns of natural law.

5 Element TheoryEverything in the universe is always changing, is involved in unceasing transformation. The patterns of change follow the Five Element Theory. The theory use the material substances of metal, wood, water, fire and earth as metaphors for the different processes of change. These fundamental modes of change are illustrated in the diagram. In other words, these physical substances are not just used for their physical properties, but represent all possible modes of change and transformation.

The theory has a built-in structure by which the different modes of change enhance and restrain each other, in the process of seeking equilibrium, as described in Yin-Yang Theory. This means that each element relates to the others both to nourish and be nourished, to restrain and be restrained.

Because all manifestation is change, all events and situations can be analyzed in terms of the Five Element Theory –  to everything social, educational, or political, from war to resolving conflict, and from developing a business to creating systems.  And it also applies to the conflict between Apple and the FBI.

Apple, and all internet companies associated with intellectual work, such as Microsoft or Google, belong to the Water element.  Water is related to intelligence, flexibility, change, and flow.

The FBI, as an agency of the government, is characterized by its exercise of power to support and control. It belongs to the Earth element. According to the Five-element diagram, Earth controls (restrains) Water. This is true for all internet companies: when they come up against governments, it is always a matter of the relationship between Water and Earth.

This has already played out in many familiar cases.  We can see this in Microsoft’s 2001 antitrust encounter with the US government and in its recent $732 million fine by the EU commission. Similarly, Google has had problems with the Chinese government, and it has recently lost its appeal in a Russian anti-monopoly case.  These are all examples of the normal cycle of Earth restraining Water.

In nature though, sometimes there are abnormal cycles, such as Reverse Restraint and Over Restraint. In Reverse Restraint, instead of Earth restraining Water, it is Water that restrains Earth –when water overwhelms the earth, it creates a flood. . The Over Restraint occurs when Earth makes water disappear, or limit its flow. When this happens, Water will not nourish Wood which is the element that represents growth.  When Wood is weak, the economical growth of the country slows down.

Right or wrong, logical or irrational, this is how the energy of change in the universe proceeds.

Thus, in the conflict between Apple and the FBI acting on behalf of the government, the outcome is very clear.  According to the normal cycle, Apple will ultimately be controlled by the FBI, the government, and the courts.

It’s important to prevent control that leads to an over-controlled situation. When Water is over-controlled, it cannot nourish the Wood element, or economic growth.  Thus, when the government exercises its power, it has to be careful. If not, economical problems could arise from uncompromising over-control.

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Chi Energy in Tai Chi Movement

Chi Energy in Tai Chi Movement

Body, Chi and Mind are the three essentials in Tai Chi and other internal or healing arts.

Chinese medicine says: The Mind leads the Chi and the Chi leads the Blood.  Our mind aspect can transcend personal limitations. Our Chi energy can nourish our physical and emotional health. Our movements can manifest as physical beauty.

Dr. Hsu will present these often neglected, though essential aspects of Tai Chi practice.   His presentation will guide you through the practice whilst applying the principles of Mind and Chi energy to the movements.

This workshop is appropriate for all levels of tai chi practitioners or those who wish to learn to apply these principles.

Time: Saturday October 25, 2014

2 – 4 PM

Place: Mercer Island Community & Event Center

8236 SE 24th Street, Mercer Island, WA

Suggested Donation: $20:00

Dr Shan-tung Hsu began teaching Tai Chi locally in 1971. He was one of the first to introduce Tai Chi to the Pacific NW. He was the inspiration for founding the Five Willow Tai Chi Association. Dr. Hsu has been a committee member of the International Medical Qigong Association. He is the former publisher of World Qigong magazine.  He has lectured on Chi energy and design globally for the past 30 years.

For further information contact: Diane Exeriede, 425-452-5581

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Mountain and Water

Mt. Rainier, Seattle, USA

Mt. Rainier, Seattle, USA

In Form School feng shui, mountain and water are the two key features of the Four-Feature model that is used in analysis and design. (The Four Features are Mountain, Water, Guardian Hills, and Energy Spot. These constitute the keys to interpreting the energetic composition of any structure.)
A mountain is static and stable, and is thus associated with power and support. Water, in any of its forms (river, lake, or ocean) represents flow; it is dynamic, and thus associated with economy and finance. From a feng shui perspective, any strong country will have at least one substantial mountain range and any rich country will always be associated with an abundance of water. The presence and balance of Mountain and Water make for good feng shui, and are ideal features for a country.

In accord with the holographic principle, the qualities that constitute a good place are also applicable metaphorically to people. An ideal person should have the qualities of a good mountain and good water. More concretely, these qualities should apply to one’s life and one’s work. What does this mean?

In one’s life, one should have the quality of water: flexibility, adaptability to any environment or circumstance. Like water, one should be able to embrace everything, yet maintain one’s own essence. In work, one should be fully dedicated, trustworthy and dependable, like a strong and stable mountain.

The ancient Chinese sage, Lao-tzu praised water as having the highest virtue. It is said, “The highest good is like water. Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive. It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao”. In nature, a river never moves in a straight line. When it meets obstacles or blockages, it simply turns, without backing out, and finds a way to continue moving forward. Water is soft, and yet it overcomes the hardest things. As a person, one should be like water, soft but aiming forward with strength, pure but able to embrace and contain everything with a big heart.

Mountains emerge from the flat earth, pushing up, lofty and steep. It’s silhouette, moves up and down like a dragon, looking into the distance. As a source of guidance in their work, people should be like mountains: standing tall, with clear vision, standing firmly with determination, having capacity, strength, and high standards.

This is summarized in a Chinese saying: “The ocean is large because it can take in all rivers; mountains stand firmly, with strength that comes from being without desire”.

If one can be humble like a valley, one can gather all rivers to become an ocean; if one has few desires and does not strive, one can stand up like a cliff, reaching to the clouds.

But the key is equilibrium, the balance of softness and flexibility with firmness and solidity. This makes an ideal person.

Shan-Tung Hsu
Blue Mountain Institute