Friday, 20 February 2009

Signal Healing in Qigong...What about Awareness?

"Qigong," says Master Chunyi Lin, "is signal healing. It is about giving the right signals to your body so that it will heal."


Feng Shui is also about signals. The way I view it, it is earth acupuncture, although of late there has been a tendency to discard the metaphorical needles in favour of energetic hammers.

So, our bodies have energetic patterns, according to the qigong masters. Our houses have energetic patterns, according to the Feng Shui masters. It seems to be at least a possible conjecture that our minds and thus our awarenesses themselves have energetic patterns.

That's my current story, and I'm sticking to it. It's a view of reality I propound in my classes. The really interesting question is what transforms a signal into a permanent pattern. It is a remarkably simple process, although the variations of the mind make it look complicated. Thus, when we find it, we also discover the process of freeing ourselves from the prisons of our minds.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Skill Absorption Through Handwriting

Confession time. If not for this particular little trick, I wouldn't be anywhere near as good at math as I am. (Yes, I'm not brilliant at it, but I did get through the Economics Tripos, okay? You wanna hear this or not?)

Simple trick, really. You can take upon the characteristics of anyone you choose by emulating the handwriting. I guess the basis of the principle is "how you do anything is how you do everything". Of course, I had no idea of anything of the kind when I discovered this as a kid.

Here's what I ran into. I had some friends who were great mathematicians but really lousy writers. Then, there were the great linguists who were incapable of doing anything with numbers. Upon studying their handwritings (easy when you're in the same class), I discovered that their mental tendencies or traits became visibly enshrined in the form of their handwriting.

There seems to be something in this, and Project Renaissance has made some progress in this direction by experimenting with the different mental reactions one gets from using completely different handwriting. I believe that our handwriting shows our mental tendencies, the signatures of consciousness. There is nothing mystical about it. If you are the type who likes fluid thought, who likes ideas to link, then that mental tendency will show up in the way you wield the pen, probably in the form of connected handwriting. In fact, I've found that a lot of good essayists of my acquaintance display this trait. Mathematicians, on the other hand, use decidedly blocky handwriting. It displays the tendency of stopping to think at every step, and carefully checking.

How do I know all this? Well, experimentation, for one. Funny how people throw up their hands in horror when I suggest that. It's not that difficult: Get a sheet of white, unlined paper. (The unlined helps you to see the tendencies up and downward. If you're interested in the technical version, get a good book on graphology.) Then, copy someone's handwriting. I mean, really copy it. Down to the slant, flourish, (dis)connectedness, height, depth, size, closeness of characters. Notice what differences exist between your version and theirs. More importantly, as you do this, notice what is going in your mind. Are you having to effort more in one direction than the other? Is the handwriting too meticulous for you? The handwriting will reveal the tendencies of consciousness.

Okay, pal. What use is this to me in real life? Well, I invoke the mathsy handwriting for math exams, and they are the only reason I am able to trigger carefulness. You see, I anchored my friends' traits further into my version of their handwriting, so I can access different talents with just a twist of the pen. Cool, huh? Think about what you can learn from Newton. (That one had BAD handwriting.)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

2009 - The Predictions

Okay, okay. I'm not a great fan of making predictions, but here's what Chinese metaphysical systems say for 2009. I bear no responsibility for these predictions, but they are a fun way of getting to know the systems nonetheless. And they have some surprising things to say.

- The year is strongly an earth year - the annual pillar is earth upon earth (read: an abundance of earth). So, anyone with earth as their favourable element will do well this year. It also tells me that this will be an extreme year for people. People will either do very well or very badly. Fortunes will be lost by some. New faces will definitely enter the halls of fame, regardless of which hall.

- Out of the 8 yearly elements, 3 are earth and 2 are fire. That makes more than half the chart support earth. What that says is that in spite of worries in the housing and construction industries, they are actually supposed to turn around this year. I am further assured of this by the fact that the annual star 9 flies to the centre of the luo shu map. The volatility of the 9 will hit the earth, but will be stabilised by it. It definitely suggests a turnaround in the housing sector.

- The power element of the year is fire. The daymaster of the year is metal, and it is sandwiched by power. That says two significant new world leaders this year. The first one is in the first half of the year and the other in the later half, perhaps even into the last quarter of the year (to be really precise - December). Since America is going to be the first one, one assumes Britain is the other, and Gordon Brown will hold the general election in 2009 rather than wait till May 2010.

- Interesting news is, both fire elements will be sapped to a degree to support all that earth - both leaders, whoever they may be, will be sorely taxed. The one who comes in later in the year will be even more taxed. The first one has the wood energy of the tiger beneath him.

- Oh, and the second leader will attempt to stimulate the economy through the housing market, although his efforts will likely be ineffectual.

- The weakest element of the year is water. This is the energy of communication and transportation. It suggests trends in protectionism, and increased obstacles to international trade. There is a move for nations towards introspection.

- This is not a good year for the metal element. Expect continued scandals in the banking AND legal sector. Banking will not be a surprise. Legal will probably be accounting standards and banking law, but it also applies more generally. There may also be corruption in the legal system that is exposed.

- The most volatile months for the stock market (according to the systems - I bear NO responsibility for any consequences!) will be in the second and fourth quarter. First quarter will be stagnant. Third quarter will be a consolidation phase. Remember that when I say quarter here I am measuring the year from February 2009 to February 2010.

- A rather disturbing phenomenon - expect at least one major center of government, court or bank to burst out in flames. One is the least - it could go up to nine.

- Possible difficulty with flu and mouth-related diseases in the western countries.

I could go on, but that's quite enough of doom and gloom, I think. Quit bugging me for predictions! Life goes on and we can moan and groan or make the best of it. And remember, nothing is written in stone. I personally believe that with humility, compassion and sincerity we can make huge changes in our lives.

The (Not So) Little Gremlin Named FWI

I was in a bookstore the other day (again), flipping through a book (again). A meditation caught my eye. I forget the details, but it went something like this:

- Focus on the room around you. Contemplate that eventually it will be collapse.
- Focus on the people you know. Contemplate that they will fade away from your life.
- Focus on your body. Contemplate that eventually you will grow old, and die.

I'll stop there. Not the cheeriest of meditations, I think we can say. Rather made me wonder what the point was. I can see the hypnotists throwing up their hands in horror at the mental suggestions this will be giving to the subconscious.

However, on further thought, I believe this piece has value. Much of daily human life has its hustle and bustle, but not basic sanity. We get caught up in this busy-ness, the insanity of it all, and don't realise the subtle but (usually) ever-present mental distress until it develops into "stress" or "breakdown". Even then, most cures treat the symptoms, not the cause.

Okay, Kaye. I'll bite. What's the cause?

Lots of names for it. I don't want to name it by any of the traditional ones, so let's call it FWI. FWI is present when we hiss in frustration at the crowd on the Tube. FWI is present when we hope to get that raise. FWI is what makes us spend dinner hating the boss. FWI is the little gremlin who teases us in dreams and invades our daydreams. FWI is stress. FWI is tension. FWI is dis-ease. FWI is Fighting What Is.


Okay that was probably bad naming, but it got you to read, didn't it? We FWI when we do anything that stops us from being completely present in the moment. And it arises because we have a fundamental dissatisfaction, a deep argument, a fight to pick, with what is happening at this very moment. Want me to prove the point? Take a very deep breath and exhale. Yes, right now. Got it? Okay? Okay.

Now, notice what you experienced during the breath. Probably thoughts of "What's he on about?" or "What's for dinner?" Did you notice the experience of breathing itself? Did you notice the moment beyond thought, beyond description? That's enlightenment in a breath, that is. And you probably didn't experience it. Why? You FWIed.

Okay, let's say I take your point. What's the cure?

No real need to cure it. It's just a different experience. It's noticing that we are run by our thoughts. But if you are really interested in the experience of EJI, then that meditation at the beginning is one way. We FWI because we have a sense of individuality. We want things to be a certain way, or we don't want things to be a certain way. If we're upset, there are really only two causes. Wanting, or not wanting. What's beyond that? Nothing. And everything. That is the experience of EJI. Everything Just Is. (Hum, maybe I should change the url of this blog. Nah...)

FWI dies a natural death when we realise that everything is cyclic, that life itself is impermanent. That life gives way to death, that riches and poverty interchange, that fame only coexists with obscurity. Common wisdom, but who has the courage to take it to its conclusion? When you do, up is as good as down, for it just is.

What's so great about it? It just is. It's always there. And it's a different experience from FWI. Am I advocating EJI? Or am I on FWI's side? Neither side is better. It's just more interesting when you get to peek at the cards on both sides.

Photo courtesy of

Lessons in Reality from the Trading Floor

I've been trading for awhile now, and it was whilst studying a price pattern chart the other day that it dawned on me how trading can teach us a few lessons about life itself.

In particular, many trading systems involve the use of plotting indicators on the price chart - moving averages, stochastics, MACDs, ADXs and RSIs. Some people do very well with these indicators. Others don't. Some swear by them, others swear at them. And price keeps doing whatever it is doing regardless of what your indicators tell you. Note that one could just as easily substitute the word "price" for "life". So I learnt my first lesson:

"Whatever you think or believe or rely on, Life will keep doing exactly as it pleases, as it has always done. Deal with it."

The second observation I had was a saying by Van Tharp that "one always trades a belief". To me, each indicator represents a belief. When it gives a signal, it is really saying that given that belief about the market, you might wish to exter or exit. When generalised to life, this is what I got:

"One always interacts with life through the filter of one's own beliefs, and it is easy to become so habituated to the belief that one follows it without question. This may or may not be a good thing."

A truism in charting is that as you keep plotting more and more indicators on your chart, it tended to get so busy that it gets difficult to see or "predict" (not that I believe trading is particularly about predicting) where the chart is going next. In fact, most of the time, the charts will give contrasting signals, which is hardly surprising when you trade different beliefs. They are premised on different foundations after all. So:
"The more beliefs one carries about, the more potential problems and mind freeze can occur when they do not agree with each other i.e. when they are not congruent."

Some traders argue that by the very virtue of having so many indicators agree with each other, you have an extremely high probability trade. I refer them to observation 1, and also note that as the number of indicators increase, the number of trades decreases. That might be acceptable in a trading system, but it does pose a rather perplexing problem in life:

"The more conditions you impose on reality before you are willing to participate, the more withdrawn from life you will become."

I am certainly not advocating being constantly in the market. Some people do very well with their systems. It might well stem from the fact that they understand their beliefs very well, and the blind spots those beliefs engender, and have come to learn how to deal with it. Which says:

"It is less about the belief itself, and more about how the belief colours experience. If you know how the belief biases you, for better or worse, you can take the appropriate actions."

It also tells me:

"Beware the man who is constantly discarding belief systems and jumping around, for he knows not what he does."

I could go on, but I think that's more than enough food for thought.

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

On the Practice of Deity Visualisation

I will leave the exact treatment of the method of deity visualisation to the experts, particularly since it is considered a secret in the Vajrayana vehicle of Tibetan Buddhism. This is not a religious blog and I do not profess to be an expert on the subject. I did, however, want to offer an observation or two on the visualisation of deities. Or rather, how not to visualise them.

It appears that certain disciplines require an exact and precise discipline in the image visualisation of deities. I have no quarrel with this. What appears to be infinitely more interesting is the mind's ability to assign attributes to the deity, and the degree of control one has over this process. I have never seen a description of this particular point in my travels, although that could well be my ignorance showing.

To make my point, consider the Bodhisattva Manjushri above. He is a particularly beloved deity of mine, being the embodiment of all the Buddhas' wisdom. That is an attribute he has - wisdom. When people meditate upon his image, they also meditate upon the wisdom aspect he represents. And that's all we are usually given - "wisdom". The exact details of his wisdom are certainly written up, but the average person will probably remain unexposed to this.

And herein seems to be a problem. For when we visualise the divine Manjushri, we automatically assign to him our personal version of wisdom, however correct or incorrect this may be. This means that as we meditate upon him and admiring and taking on his qualities, we may in fact simply be falling in love with our own story and projection about wisdom. Whilst I'll grant that the average practitioner is probably well-meaning, it also means that any blind spots in his conception of wisdom will continue to remain blind spots. If he successfully reaches what he believes to be wisdom, then he will only have attained his conception of it, at whatever level that may be. In not addressing this point, problems arise in the development and perhaps even dangers if the conception of wisdom is particularly flawed. This could happen if the practitioner comes from a culture of "should" and "should not" and subconsciously imposes that upon his deity, who may or may not have such attributes in the first place.

[Note: I have decided to edit out the final paragraph to this piece, as it had contained a couple of hints on the finer details of meditation. These, in retrospect, should be left to each person's personal teachers.]