Karen Anderson

Goteborg, Sweden

Karen is qualified to teach Balancing Gong and Healthy Living Gong. She can be contacted [email protected],vgnegion.se

I have had an interest in Chinese culture and philosophy for many years and I became interested in Qigong practice in the early 1990s. In my work as a physiotherapist I had been looking for ways to integrate western medicine with eastern health practices. Qigong seemed to be a very good method for relaxation and health improvement. I had the opportunity to attend one of Sifu's courses in Goteborg some seven years ago. His method of teaching was refreshingly natural and skilful at the same time and I understood at once that this was something for me. The first time that I saw Sifu demonstrating Wild Goose Qigong it brought tears to my eyes. At that time it seemed impossible to imagine myself going through those beautiful flowing movements but I was deeply inspired to try. That inspiration has continued and I hope to continue learning, practising and "polishing" for many years to come.

During these years I have also been working with war and torture survivors and I know for sure that without Qigong practice, I would never be able to manage this. There is a most extraordinary feeling whenever I feel overwhelmed by my work and take the time to do some Qigong practice. I can literally feel the stress melting away and after a few minutes I come into contact with a relaxed and natural state of being.

I have often asked Sifu for advice in treatment for my patients and his suggestions have always proved useful. As I have gradually been able to integrate Dayan Qigong theory and practice into my daily work the benefits for my patients has become increasingly clear. Quite often I find myself telling one of Sifu's stories to emphasise different principles (especially the importance of practice). Being an instructor I hope to be able to relay the qualities of heart and skill and to inspire others to realise their own healing ability, leading to natural balance and better health.

Karen is qualified to teach Balancing Gong and Healthy Living Gong. She can be contacted [email protected],vgnegion.se

In the first year of the Shenlong reign of the Tang Dynasty, a rich country gentleman in Zhushan County named, Yinke, hired workers to dig a water well behind the village. Two years had passed and the shaft had been already sunk to the depth of over 1,000 feet, but strange to say, no water was found. Yinke was resolved and would not give up.

One month into the third year of digging, the digger at the bottom of the shaft suddenly heard the muffled noises of roosters crowing and dogs barking coming through the ground! Afew more feet down and a tunnel appeared in the side of the shaft. With some hesitation, the digger ventured in carefully. He fumbled ahead for dozens of steps and then the darkness seemed to be dispelled by some natural light and he continued his descent.

Thetunnel suddenly opened onto a high mountain peak. There he stood facing another world. Mountain ranges of glassy rocks unfurled before his eyes and in each valley there were palaces of gold and silver. There were gigantic trees, too, whose trunks had joints like those of bamboo yet whose leaves were no smaller than those of a palm tree. Colourful birds, cranes perhaps, swooped amidst the tree tops. Multicoloured butterflies the size of fans were dancing up and down among the purple flowers which were larger than cushions. Among the rocks were twin springs, one in which the water was limpid and clear and the other milky white.

He climbed down to the palaces, hoping to see someone who could satisfy his curiosity. Above the gate arch hung a board inscribed in silver with the characters, "Celestial Osmanthus Palace".

Out from the caretakers's room hurried two men about five feet tall, theirfaces bean-curd soft, their lips naturally red, their hair silkily black and their clothes light and filmy like smoke. On their heads they wore a coronet of gold, but they walked bare-footed. They asked the digger who he was and how he had managed to come to this place. The digger did not have time to finish explaining when a throng gathered at the gate demanding to know why there was a such a smell of filthy mortal. Blamed for not reporting sooner, the caretakers meekly replied that a worker form the outside world, who had trespassed by accident was just asking his way.

Presently a messenger in red arrived with a decree, ordering the caretakers to send the intruder away with due courtesy. The digger bowed his thanks.

"Since you are already here, why don't you ask for permission to have a lookaround before you leave?" one caretaker suggested.

"I was afraid of being ill-mannered. If sightseeing is possible, do you mind putting in a good word for me?"

The caretaker then threw a jade slat into the sky and it returned as quickly as a boomerang. With the slat in hand, he led the digger first the clear spring to wash himself and next to the milky spring to rinse his mouth. It tasted like cow's milk, sweet and natural. The workerdrank several mouthfuls and it seemed to quench his hunger and at the same time brought on a slight feeling of tipsiness.

The caretaker guided him from palace to palace without entering any. In about half a day, they reached a walled city on the outskirts of the mountains. Even the walls were made out of bricks of gold and silver. Three huge characters in jade were inscribed above the town gate saying, "Stairway to Heaven".

"What place is this?" asked the digger?

"This city is where the newly converted immortals reside. They must live here for 700,000 days preparing themselves morally before they can rise to the heavens and have a place in one of the various paradises. Only afterthat can they be appointed to heavenly positions with responsibility, and then they will be able to travel through space."

"Since yours is a heavenly paradise, why is it below my world?" asked the digger.

"My country is in fact the upper sphere of the underworld, just as there is a heavenly paradise above your world exactly like mine. Now, it is time for you to return."

They traced their way up the mountains. At the milky spring the caretaker stopped to give the worker a chance to take a few more drinks. Reaching the peak, however, the digger could not find the tunnel through which he had come.

"Though it might have only seemed a moment to you here," said the caretaker, "decades have crept by in your own world. It is unlikely that you will find the old tunnel. Let me find the key to the Heavenly Gate for you."

The digger thanked him for his trouble.

In no time, the caretaker returned with a gold seal in one hand and a jade slat in the other. He led the worker up another peak to an imposing gate tower. The guards bowed most respectfully at the sight of the seal. The caretaker pronounced a command from the jade slat and instantly, the gate flung open. As soon as the digger stepped across the threshold, wind and clouds swept him off his feet so fast that all scenes were blurred and only a trailing string of words from the caretaker's lips were caught..."Farewell. Remember me to..."

Before long the clouds dispersed and he found himself in a cave on top of Mount Lone Star, ten miles to the north of Fangzhou Prefecture. Asking about Yinke, he learned that he was now in the seventh year of Zhenyuan reign and Yinke's great-grandson had come into inheritance of the farm. Nobody remembered that anyone had tried to sink a well behind the village.

The digger left them and made his way to the village and to a huge pit where the well had once been. It must have caved in long ago. He looked for his own kinsfolk but they seemed to have passed into oblivion.

The mortal world no longer appealed to him. Even food became distasteful. With no family, no home, he wandered about for some time. Years later, rumour had it that he was seen in the Cockscomb Mountains that was the last anyone ever heard of him

Translated by Zhang Guangqian NOTE: China has a long history of stories regaling exotic tales of fox spirits, ghosts and goblins. This story is takenfrom the famous "Records of the Taiping Era", which is a collection of over 7000 stories datingfrom the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220AD) to the beginning of the Song Dynasty (978) recorded in 500 volumes. This story is a fancifultale that is entertaining as it is imaginative.

Chinese New Year

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