Category Archives: Spiritual

Harmony with nature Fengshui principle

Dr Hsu Feng Shui Talk
#39: What is “In Harmony with Nature”?

To be in harmony with nature is a popular ideal, especially in light of the increasingly popular environmental movement.

In fact, when Blue Mountain Institute was founded, we used “In harmony with nature, in tune with the heart” as the motto of the Institute. But what is in harmony with nature? And how can this harmony be achieved?

Continue reading

Good Karma Is Still Karma

I 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.

Continue reading

A Memory of Tea with Master Pu Yu

master pu yu smallPu Yu (普雨法師) was the 133rd head master of Yungquan (“Bubbling Spring”) Temple on Gu Shan (“Drum Mountain”) in Fuzhou, China. Established in the Tang dynasty, this monastery has over 1,200 years of history. I formally became his disciple in the late 1970s, just a few years after the end of the Cultural Revolution. At that time, due to the long suppression of religion in China, the temple had few monks and hardly any visitors. As a result, I was able to enjoy quite a bit of time with Master Pu Yu during my stay.

Once I visited him in his private room while he was making tea, and he handed me a cup of steaming brew. The cups in the monastery were bigger than the tea cups usually seen in homes. It was a Song dynasty design, with a soft celadon glaze. I bowed, accepted it with both hands, and carefully took the first sip.

This was a special oolong tea known as “rock tea,” which has a bittersweet taste but a robust aroma with a hint of smoke in its flavor. While we had tea, I asked, “Master, what exactly is Zen mind?”

He smiled, but went on talking about tea.

After a while, when I had nearly finished my cup, I was about to repeat my question. He looked at my nearly empty cup, looked at me directly, and said very quietly, “So, do you remember?”

I was puzzled.

After a short moment, I asked, “Remember? Remember what?”

“Didn’t you just ask me about Zen mind?” he replied.

I tried to figure out what he meant, but was still confused.

“Do you remember the very moment you took the first sip?” he asked, looking right into my eyes.

After pausing briefly, he continued, “Do you remember that moment? Before you could tell whether the tea was hot or warm? Before you could differentiate smell from taste? Before you could tell what kind of tea it was? Do you remember that moment?”

As soon as I heard Master Pu Yu’s words, I understood: that moment is the state of Zen mind.

I looked at him and smiled in silence. He nodded and smiled back. It was but a brief moment; yet I have retained this memory for decades.

The foundation of Zen teaching is this: no matter where we are or what we are doing, we must fully live at that moment.

So, do you remember?

More on Fasting

On my birthday, I began my routine fasting, following the method I posted on my previous blog “The Secret of Successful Fasting”.  After a couple days, I did not have any hungry feeling what-so-ever.  However, eating is an important part of living.  Without food you are missing a lot of fun in life.  Though not hungry, I felt bored.  So, I decided to ask for help.  Right before I slept, I lay in bed and talked to my body: “fasting should not be boring, please help”.  And magically, the following day I felt happy and lively, the boredom and any desire for food had simply gone.  I was able do my writing throughout most of the whole day as well as fit in a one and half hour walk.

If we see a human being as a Taiji, based on the holographic theory, the external features, internal organs, and single cells are the same Taiji but are on different levels.  From a Taoist perspective, by communicating to micro levels; there is a more intimate connection. In mobilizing the support of the WHOLE body, the resonance brings forth empowerment to manifest what you are asking for.

Try to talk to your body on all levels. You might be surprised to find out that indeed, it listens and works.

The Secret of Successful Fasting

No riceTwo years ago, I used fasting to cleanse my body as a way to celebrate my birthday.  The fasting resulted in more energy, better mental clarity, and boosted spirits—as well as weight loss. I felt so good during the fast and hoped to continue as long as I could. However an important consulting mission in the Ukraine ended the fasting on the 24th day. Today, I still maintain the weight I achieved at the end of fasting.

Most people find that one day without food is their limit. People who are able to fast for 1-2 weeks often find that days 3 and 4 of the fast are the most difficult period to overcome.  However, in my case, I did not experience any physical or emotional uneasiness from the first day onwards.  My fasting experience was simple, easy, and even enjoyable. Yes, there is a secret! The secret to fasting is to bring the full body on board.

When the president of a country wants to implement a policy for the good of country, not only will he need the support of all of his cabinet members, he will also need the support of all the citizens.  He needs to clearly explain to the citizens the necessity and benefit of implementing a particular policy. With the majority of citizens voting in support, the policy could then be successfully implemented.  This is the same way with fasting.  Deciding to fast with only your head, the president, is not good enough; we must lobby for and obtain support from all of the body’s  cabinet members—the  12 major organs—and all of the citizens, or cells.

Here is how to do it: the night before fasting, lie on the bed with your body relaxed and your mind clear. Then visualize all of your organs and talk to each one, explaining the necessity and benefits of fasting. These benefits could include cleansing the body, rejuvenating the metabolism, removing a block for better energy flow, and/or your own personal reasons. Once you have explained these benefits, feel all of your organs happily agreeing and move on to the cells. Visualize all of your body’s cells, from toe to head, and talk to each of them. Explain to the millions of cells how this fast will benefit the whole body.  As your cells agree, you will feel the body relax and warm a bit. Give thanks to your organs and cells, and then use abdominal breathing to go to sleep.

When you wake up the following day, follow the fasting routine you have chosen. You will not experience any hunger or emotional disturbance. I base my fast loosely on the lemon-juice method, and I also drink tea. You do not need to make life too complicated by strictly following any one system to fine detail.  As long as you have the support of your whole body, you will find the fasting is simple and easy.

Remember, the natural way is the simple and easy way.  Fasting should not require “suffering”. Simply follow the method above for a good surprise.

Happy fasting!

Natural Law Perspectives on Vegetarianism as a Spiritual Path

image by:  marioanima
Vegetarianism has been a popular topic among nutritionists and spiritual seekers, as well as in political circles. About 400 million people, roughly 6% of the world population, claim to be vegetarian. Their reasons are varied, from seeking better health to adhering to cultural and religious codes, to respecting sentient life. One question I often hear is, “How important is vegetarianism on the spiritual path?”

There is no shortage of arguments on this question. It has been split between vegetarianism vs. non-vegetarianism for those on a spiritual path.  Both sides of the issue have solid logic, but neither side’s arguments are all-encompassing. To blur the matter even more, among vegetarianism there are several categories, including ovo-vegetarian, lacto vegetarian; ovo-lacto vegetarian, vegan vegetarian, fruitarian, etc.

How do we view this from a natural principle perspective? Natural principle is universally applicable; it should be simple, easy and economical without effort. Any rule that is not universal or is overly complicated, is not in alignment with natural principles. Therefore, neither argument on the matter aligns with natural principles.  To address this issue, we must expand the scope of the argument. We need to move to a higher dimension, to see things from different perspective.

Nature does not force things to happen in a particular way. Vegetarianism, even with its good supporting reasons, does not apply to all. To force someone to be one way is not proper on any path. So to answer this question, I would say: It is important to be a vegetarian only if it is one’s path. To adopt a value or another person’s belief because it seem beneficial to that person, does not mean that it will be beneficial to you.
There are those for whom vegetarianism represents respect for life, which shows a sensitive understanding of nature and a beautiful balance. However, there are others for whom the service they need to offer to this planet and the work they need to do requires healthy nourishment and for this reason, they are able to eat meat. Both paths are spiritual, depending on the person who would walk them.

There are many vegetarians who live with hatred in their hearts, making them apart even from their own brother. Though they do not kill for food, living with hatred in their hearts is, in its own way, a kind of killing. Conversely, there are highly spiritual people who because of climate, have literally no access to fruits and vegetables, and subsist only on meat they kill. So vegetarianism on its own does not constitute a spiritual path, nor does eating meat exclude one from a spiritual life. When an individual is true to the practices of his own heart and follows nature, that determines what is the right path for him. Neither eating meat nor not eating meat is spiritual in and of itself; yet both can be spiritual depending on the person. Rules should be made to guide people, not to limit people.

Above all, follow natural law to determine what diet you need. If you are in a climate that is warm, you may not need meat. However, if you are living in a very cold region, where more strength is required just to subsist, eat whatever and all that is there. Look for natural food. If there is a bird, or a fish, or an animal that is plentiful in the region and is easy for you to obtain and you feel the need for this meat, then eat it.

Yet you must always take whatever it is that nourishes you—whether that is fruit, vegetable, animal or grain—with great respect for the life that was given up to sustain your own. For we are all here to support each other and it is right that they should be your food. All you need to do in order to replenish and to restore this, is to be thankful and grateful. You must be conscious of what you are partaking and to know that another plant or another animal has given their life for you, in order to sustain you so that you may, in turn, give life to others. This is a natural cycle. It is love and as it should be. In this way, no killing is taking place.

For if there is respect for all life then there is the understanding that it does not need to be in any particular form so it cannot be ended, not with killing, not with the taking. Life, or energy, is never lost; all energy transforms from one state to another. In accord with this way of being, we can walk in balance with the earth. And in this way we are true to our path, which can be spiritual no matter what we would label it.

Indeed, many find it beneficial to be a vegetarian on their spiritual path. However, the spiritual path does not exclude those who chose to eat meat.
Enjoy living and be thankful; you are on a spiritual path.

The Beauty of Imperfection

A good old friend, an architect, came to visit from out of town.  He brought along a few house models to discuss the design from a feng shui perspective.  My friend is a Black Feet American Indian, who is tall, handsome and a gentlemen.  In contrast to his commanding physical presence he creates intricate and beautiful beadwork.

There is a special bead-ring he designed showing five different color figures:  white, black, yellow, red and brown.  Each color represents the different colors of people in the world.  The design of these five people, hand in hand, symbolizes world peace.  He had shown a similar bead-ring to me a long time ago and I always remembered it because it impressed me so.  During lunch, he showed me another bead-ring that he recently made.  While I was admiring it, putting it on my finger, he said, “I do not want to give it to you because there is some flaw”.  I smiled, put the ring back on my finger and said “it is mine now”.

People are always looking for perfection, appreciate perfection and have difficulty accepting imperfection.  If a beautiful blue and white, Ming dynasty vase has a small chip or has a fine hairline crack, the commercial value will drop dramatically. This is true for many objects.   Why is it, that a vase with a small chip, no longer looks beautiful to us anymore? Why can’t we enjoy something with flaws, even though we are aware the world is full of imperfections?

Navaho and Hopi Indian tribes, purposely leave some flaws and mistakes in their work when weaving carpets or straw baskets.   It is their belief that only God can make perfect things.  This is an attitude of humbleness, the wisdom of learning to accept and enjoy imperfection.

We tend to focus too much on small flaws, and lose sight of the whole picture.  This habit can be seen in our daily lives through our actions toward others, material things and events in our life.  For example, we may think, “this is a beautiful piece of pottery, too bad it has a chip at the bottom” or “he is a nice boy, unfortunately he does not have much patience” or “the party was just perfect, except the soup wasn’t hot enough”.  We always pay more attention to small mistakes, and lose sight of the whole picture.  Such thoughts add to the stress and unhappiness of our lives.

It is inevitable that in life, we will always encounter some flaws, mistakes and imperfections.  If we can learn to accept small flaws, learn to appreciate the beauty of imperfection, we will be a person with more tolerance and compassion and at the same time be more loving.  In turn, it will make us more relaxed and happy. So give yourself and others a break from time to time, as only God can make things perfect!

From a spiritual perspective, how important is it to be vegetarian?

It is important to be vegetarian only if it is your path.  To force oneself to be in one way is not proper on any path. To adopt a value or another person’s belief because it seems beneficial to that person does not mean that it will be beneficial to you. It is true that some are vegetarians out of respect for life.  And this is a very beautiful understanding of nature and a very beautiful balance.  There are others for whom the service they need to offer to this planet and the work that they need to do require that they be nourished in a strong and healthy way and it is for this reason they are able to eat meat.  Both paths are spiritual depending on the person who would walk them. There are many vegetarians who live with hatred in their heart by being apart from their own brother.  This is not killing but in its own way is responding to the lower self and is akin to meat eating.  It is for this reason neither one is considered spiritual in itself. But for the individual to be true to the practice of his/her own heart and to follow his/her own nature should be the one to determine what the right path is.  Both can be spiritual and yet neither is in itself spiritual and so there are no rules.
You must follow what you need.