Tag Archives: Chinese medicine

THE LOST SECRET OF IMMORTALITY by Barclay Powers

Lost Secrets

I’ve been taking some classes on a particular branch of Gnosticism and went in search of a book to help me see “the forest through the trees.” Certain things that were being taught on the transmutation of energy and enlightenment started to feel restrictive and I wondered how other spiritual traditions approached the subject. Author Barclay Powers has a BS in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has studied meditation, yoga, and martial arts for over thirty years. His book allowed me to gaze across several Eastern traditions while confirming almost everything Gnosticism outlined.

Photo: Mark Donoher

Photo: Mark Donoher

Once upon a time, the secrets of the East were tightly restricted to advanced followers of personal lineages. That has all changed with new translations of ancient texts and a proliferation of skilled teachers. The internet itself can even act as a guru. Ancient wisdom is available from India, China, Egypt, Tibet, Japan, and eastern and western alchemy. Powers sees a paradigm shift coming. Science is now looking at states of mind through brain imaging and he feels science will eventually look at the phenomena of the “rainbow body”* (the dissolving of the body into pure energy). When that happens, the world has the potential to change and manifest the best of humanity resulting in a global Bodhisattva* civilization.

 

Photo: Dennis Jarvis

Photo: Dennis Jarvis

 

As we wait for science to catch up, individual practitioners all over the world are taking up techniques like meditation, yoga, tai chi, gi gong, kundalini awakening, and the internal martial arts. All of the methods begin in the body and ultimately unite the body, soul, and spirit. Instead of a psychological transformation, Powers is talking about a physiological process that spans traditions. The ultimate freedom of enlightenment is found when the individual transcends birth and death, as well as time and space. The bulk of the book is devoted to examining Indian (Kundalini), Chinese (Tao), and Tibetan (Tantra) teachings for their similarities of energetic enlightenment. This was a good book for getting an overview of the systems of enlightenment. I enjoyed learning more about Taoist philosophy and the difference between the internal and external martial arts. The book could be expanded to include more about western mysticism and the Kabbalah, but those are not Powers’ areas of expertise. This is probably not a book for someone without burning questions about the nature of reality and enlightenment. For the novice, these practices will, at times, be shocking. They are meant to be having spent a millennia being well guarded by the masters of many traditions.

Photo: Joe Mabel

Photo: Joe Mabel

*Rainbow body- a phenomena well-recorded in the East, especially when a great spiritual teacher dies

*Bodhisattva- someone who postpones full Enlightenment to return to help others: the ultimate expression of compassion

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Buddhism, Spiritual/Mysticism, Uncategorized

Which Element Are You?

five elements

Charles Moss, MD explores the wisdom of ancient Taoist medicine and its application in the Power of the Five Elements. Dr. Moss has been involved with integrative medicine combining the best of western and eastern medicine since 1978. He opened one of the first integrative clinics and has been on the forefront of bringing acupuncture and the Five Element system to the US.

By completing a survey in his book you can identify which element (wood, earth, fire, water, metal) in the system best explains your reaction to stress. Once you’ve identified your element, the good doctor explores how to make the most of your natural strengths while combating your weaknesses. You may be able to skim through one of the early chapters to identify your primary element but even with careful reading, I thought I was metal only to find through the questionnaire that I was primarily wood followed by metal. Interestingly, my husband turned out to be metal and then wood. In this system, every one of us is a unique combination of all the elements. There is no good or bad element.

Each of us experiences stress in our lives and the five elements reveal our typical response to those. Here are the stress responses for each of the elements. You may resonate with one or two of them.

WOOD– anger, frustration

EARTH- search for sympathy, attention, understanding

FIRE– loss of joy, emotionally flat

WATER– paralyzing fear, fatigue, immobility

METAL– depression, isolation, rigid morality

Acupuncture Points- by Permacharts Inc.

Acupuncture Points- by Permacharts Inc.

 

The Taoist system in place in China in 200 BCE, emphasized physical health and spiritual well-being. The Nei Jing, the textbook of the first holistic health care system, described a method on adapting to stressors through knowing how. The greatest insight into a long and healthy life came from self-knowledge, a positive attitude, and spiritual practice. These are the same realizations western medicine is beginning to embrace. This book provides the necessary insights to learning the knowing how of good health through the Five Element system. Some of what is suggested will already be familiar if you have some experience in mind- body science. I am most excited to learn and incorporate the acupuncture points that Dr. Moss suggests for regaining adaptation for each of the elements. Having some experience with EFT (tapping acupuncture points) I know first-hand the power and therapeutic value of acupuncture and I’m eager to incorporate these. I hope you will explore the Five Element system to learn more about yourself and how to take care of the precious vessel that is your body.

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Filed under Energy medicine, Spiritual/Mysticism