by Lawrence Young, M.D.
When I was twelve and had just begun my grammar school education in Hong Kong under the British system, I was at an age of fantasies and hero worship. I was crazy about physics, mathematics, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and nuclear reactors. Albert Einstein was my hero and I wanted to be a physicist, discovering the smallest particles of energy and matter, while exploring the galaxies and the ever expanding universe.
Oddly enough, it was during the same time period that I read about the esoteric experience of Master Yun. It was written in Chinese, and I had the good fortune of having been taught how to read classical, modern and simplified versions of the chinese language. I did a lot of reading, staying in school and public libraries in Hong Kong several hours a day after school was over. There I read about Master Yun's strange experience.
Master Yun was 28 in the year 1900. Pulmonary tuberculosis was rampant in his village. Many villagers had died, including his cousin. Then he came down with a cough which lingered for several months. One day he coughed up a large amount of red blood and went into a panic. He checked with his village elders, as well as the traditional herbal doctors. They all confirmed that there was no treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis in 1900. Sunlight, fresh air and adequate rest were the only hope.
However, they did come up with an idea — the last chapter of the book: Annotated Chinese Medicinal Formulae recommended Taoist Meditation as the best form of adequate rest. It suggested that completing the Small Heavenly Cycle through the practice of Taoist Meditation might activate the bodily defenses powerful enough to overcome disease. Master Yun had practiced Taoist Meditation since his teens but without any significent effect, except that he always felt stronger when he practiced it regularly. Threatened by death, he read the methodology in the Annotated Chinese Medicinal Formulae carefully and consulted the village elders for clarification of certain details. Then he commenced practicing four times a day for two hours at a time, isolating himself in a small cottage.
On the eighty-fifth day, a sudden vibrating in his navel area caused heat to rush up his spine to the back of his skull. The same sort of vibration occurred on six consecutive nights with heat traveling up through his spine to the top of his head each time that he practiced. When it was all over, he seemed to have a new body. All symptoms of his illness were gone and he felt light and bright like never before.
One night, two years later, the vibration started up again in his navel. This happened on three consecutive nights. The vibration and heat rushed up his spine on its own, hitting the back of his head (at the occiput) and causing considerable pain. One night his 'skull suddenly felt as though it had cracked open and a sensation of heat swirled round and round in the top of his head. This began 'to happen every time he sat down to practice.
After another six months, a vibration again started suddenly in his navel and the heat again rushed up to the top of his head, swirled around in the vertex, came down his face, continued down to his chest and went on to again reach his navel. Thereafter, during every practice period, the heat went up his spine to the top of his head, then came down his face and chest and returned to his navel, after which, the heat circulated round and round without stopping. Master Yun remained healthy until his passing in his nineties, living a normal secular life.
I recount Master Yun's personal experience because his autobiography, first published in 1914, is an important landmark in Taoist Meditation. Before him, no one had written about the actual methodology, personal experience, benefits or side effects in simple, explicit language. There are volumes and volumes of Taoist Esoteric writing in Classical Chinese but the methodologies and accounts of experiences are hidden in a cryptic language. The benefits are written more explicitly, but the side effects are frequently clouded.
At age twelve, fascinated by the personal experience of Master Yun, I started to go through all the available Taoist classics that I could lay my hands on. But I was disappointed because I simply could not break what seemed to be a code, although I could understand every single Chinese word literally. It was then that I started an unending pilgramage to Taoist and Buddhist temples. I went to temple after temple but found that there was a lot of ritual, philosophy and religious data built into the meditation programs. Because I refused to do the rituals. I could not be initiated into Taoist practice. I was concerned by the fact that Master Yun had no teacher, he learned from a Chinese medicine book and was never initiated into Taoist practice via rituals. Never the less, I managed to talk to several Taoist teachers and many of their students, whom are now scholars and successful businessmen in Hong Kong, and was able to learn of their personal experiences in terms of energy flow and improvements in health similar to Master Yun's.
Initiated Taoists spoke of step by step guidance into the experiences that Master Yun had described and then higher levels beyond that. Master Yun had no such step by step methodology. He had only one step and one method that carried him through the experience described above.
Unfortunately, university life was demanding, and there were so many new attractions and distractions, that I stopped researching Taoist and Buddhist meditations after I entered medical school. The busy internship and residency years carried me even farther away from my investigations. My resurgence of interest began several years after my residency when I was in private practice. Although I was using every means available to modern medical science, many of my patients were still suffering and some of them continued to die, perhaps needlessly.
The memory of Master Yun's experience came up one day, along with the advice the many Taoist and Buddhist initiates and teachers I had seen. I had the thought, "If a patient has exhausted all forms of available medical care, he should at least have the right to try some safe mental techniques like meditation." I set out on a new pilgrimage to Yoga, Taoist and Buddhist meditation teachers, biofeedback and stress reduction programs.
Mantak Chia is one of the teachers I have met in my new quest. He is able to reproduce what Master Yun was able to do and goes beyond that, doing what the Taoist initiates can do as well. He is a Taoist initiate himself, but he does not include any of the Taoist rituals, religion, or philosophies in his program. A Christian by conversion, he is a doer, not a talker. He teaches his students solid steps without any high-sounding philosophy.
I have interviewed many of his students and I estimate that over 50% of his students who put a reasonable effort into their practice, open up the energy channels with vivid sensations and with noticeable improvements in health. The rest of them open the channels, without the vivid sensations, but with improvements in health. A very small number drop out. I have observed no side effects in his students, although all of them were prepared to meet all sorts of unusual bodily sensations. His students come from practically all walks of life, and many different races.
All in all, Mantak Chia is one of the few living heirs to the great Taoist tradition. He has access to the codes in the Taoist Classics. He is writing the Taoist Esoteric Encyclopedia in simple English for everyone, dispensing what had been secrets for centuries in simple, solid, easy-to-follow steps. Many other Taoist Masters and initiates may not agree with him for giving this esoteric knowledge so freely.
If used for the improvement of health and the treatment of illness, it is morally justified to disseminate this knowledge far and wide. Fortunately, Chia refuses to teach higher levels of achievement that might lead to paranormal abilities, unless the student can prove himself to be a law-abiding and trustworthy citizen, willing to serve mankind and use his or her esoteric knowledge to help the needy in a selfless and generous manner.
I wish Mantak Chia every success in his ambitious endeavor.
Lawrence Young M.D. is an internist in private practice in New
York City. He is the Director of the National Clearinghouse for Meditation Relaxation and Related Therapies and publisher of its National Report.
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