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Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. continue reading
Ch’an Lineage Discipleship Part 2 – The Er Mei Lineage and Master Fu, Wei Zhong.
With what sort of man of the Tao should one associate, so that one will hear constantly what one has never heard? – Ts’ao-Shan Pen-Chi
This is the story the way I understand it. Er Mei (or E Mei) was founded by a Taoist monk named White Cloud who adopted Buddhism during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). The mountain and monastery became one of the four main sacred mountains of Buddhism in China. The following quote is from http://sacredsites.com/asia/china/sacred_mountains.html
In the 1st century AD, merchants returning from India via the Silk Route began the introduction of Buddhism into China. Over the next few centuries adventurous Chinese pilgrims traveled to India to visit the sacred places of the Buddha’s life. Like Taoist hermits, the Buddhists monks favored quiet mountains and deep forests for their meditative practices. Small hermitages and later great monastic complexes sprung up at many peaks (some previously held sacred by the Taoists) and over the centuries the Buddhists began to regard four peaks as having primary sanctity:
- Pu Tuo Shan, Buddhist mountain of the east, Zhejiang province, 284 meters. Sacred to Kuan-Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
- Wu Tai Shan, Buddhist mountain of the north, Shanxi province, 3061 meters. Sacred to Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.
- Emei Shan, Buddhist mountain of the west, Sichuan province, 3099 meters. Sacred to Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Benevolent Action.
- Jiu Hua Shan, Buddhist mountain of the south, Anhui province, 1341 meters. Sacred to Kshitigarbha, the Bodhisattva of Salvation.
Each of the Buddhist sacred mountains is considered to be the dwelling place of a Bodhisattva. These particular Bodhisattvas are mythological spiritual beings that have dedicated themselves to the service of assisting all sentient creatures in the transcendence of worldly suffering and the attainment of enlightenment. These Buddhist mountains and the Taoist peaks listed above became the primary pilgrimage destinations of both China’s masses and also the ruling elite. Over many centuries the monastic centers developed into great centers of scholarship, art and philosophy, with hundreds of temples and thousands of monks and nuns. This extraordinary way of life continued unbroken until the Communist Revolution of 1949. Readers interested in more in-depth study of sacred sites and pilgrimage in China are recommended to consult the works of Naquin and Yu (and their extensive bibliography), Birnbaum, and Geil.
Ok – so much for the scholarly part. Please remember the following is my understanding and there may be errors in it. One of the unique things about Er Mei is that they have alternating Monastic and Layman lineage holders. One generation the lineage holder engages entirely in monastic practices, the next generation the lineage holder gets trained at the monastery and then goes out into the world to teach; and then brings information back to the temple to train the next generation.
Er Mei lies to the West in China, not far – at least in relation to other parts of the country – to Tibet. The integration of complete Taoist and Buddhist lineages with indigenous Tibetan and Chinese Shamanic practices made Er Mei unique among the Chinese lineages. According to a holder of another lineage, and this may be coming from some many generations old grudge, or “my school’s better than your school” attitude, or who knows what – Er Mei was known for being a bit “out there” – mystical and superstitious, possibly involved with sorcery. This kind of thing is easy to assert and difficult to disprove once the suspicion has been raised, regardless of the possibility or reality of the charge.
Grandmaster Fu, Wei Zhong,(AKA Weizhong Fu or Master Fu) is the 13th layman lineage holder of the Er Mei Lin Ji Sudden Enlightenment School of Ch’an Buddhism. He was another of the fully vetted teachers of verifiable Buddhist lineage I had the fortunate karma to meet while in Florida. My experiences with him, as might be expected, were to be very different from those I would have with the Vajrayana Lineage Khenpo Brothers……
To Be Continued: Next Installment – Part three – Meeting Grandmaster Fu, Wei Zhong.
Ch’an Lineage Discipleship
It was official: I had just landed on another planet.
Got off from my late Friday shift at St. Mary’s ER in West Palm Beach, drove up to Hobe Sound, cleaned up and drove back down to Jupiter to have a drink before the bars closed. It was a full moon and I braided my hair myself, something I rarely have the coordination to do. It was already an odd night.
Walking in to the bar shortly after midnight the place was still crowded and noisy, and everyone was already pretty well lit. Noticed I was the only hippie in the place but had ties to the area that went back decades and had been living there for over a year. I was working at two hospitals, I belonged as much as anyone else in the land of transplants and tourists. I figured it was home.
Bellied up to as good of a space as there was to get a drink, which was behind a couple seated at the bar. Had to reach around the guy to make the transaction and he seemed a little tense. I got my drink and stood a little to the side and backed away from him, but the space was tight. I kept aware of him because he seemed to be continuing to be agitated over something.
After a couple minutes he suddenly put both hands on the edge of the bar and pushed his chair back forcefully, trying to knock into me. I thought for a flash about putting my foot at the base of his chair and watching him go over backwards and brain himself on the floor, but just shifted the few inches it took to get out of the way and turned to face him. He was standing and appeared to be ready to fight. His partner said something to him and grabbed his arm as I moved away to the wall on the other side of the bar, which I should have done minutes before.
OK – this is another world from New Mexico alright, and I don’t fit in. Gonna finish this drink and get the hell outta here and never come back to this place… hope that jerk isn’t out in the parking lot……
“Excuse me, but you’re not from around here, are you?” I turn at the sound of a female voice and look into the clear, bright eyes of a woman about my age, maybe a few years older. We connect. Maybe she will get it, and if not, I am out of here anyway. “No – I’m from Arcturus. Tell me – do Earthlings use that line a lot?”. She does get it, and laughs. We learn we share an interest in Asian Martial and Healing Arts. She is a massage therapist and studies T’ai Chi under a Lineage Master and would be happy to introduce me to him. The night, rather than being a bust, is turning into a jackpot……
To Be Continued: Next Installment – The Er Mei Lineage and Master Fu, Wei – Zhong.
” There is an old folk song that teaches that very clearly. It goes:
There once was a traveler
who happened upon ten men by the seaside.
Each of the men was over a hundred years old,
and each was healthy and strong.
The traveller came close and begged them
to tell their secret: how did they live so long and stay so happy?
The first old man stroked his beard and said: I don’t drink.
The second old man smiled and said: After every meal, I take a short walk.
The third old man laughed and said: I am content with eating fruit and vegetables and grains.
The fourth old man carried a heavy stick by his side and said : I enjoy walking wherever I can instead of riding.
The fifth old man rolled up his shirt sleeves and said: I take pleasure in doing my own small chores.
The sixth old man , with a graceful movement, said: I follow the example of the sun and the moon and practice T’ai Chi.
The seventh old man rubbed his big nose and said: I open the windows and let the fresh air in.
The eight old man touched his mustache and said:My way is early to bed and early to rise.
The ninth old man rubbed his cheeks and said: I bathe myself in the sun and let my skin absorb its radiance.
The tenth old man raised his eyebrows and said: I always keep my mind clear of emotion, and allow neither anger nor worry nor fear to stay there.
If anyone can follow these simple guide lines, he will find happiness and enjoy a long and healthy life. They are the source of many good methods and practices which can enable one to overcome all mental, physical, and spiritual problems; they are the true religion of mankind.
After achieving oneself through objective experiment and personal realization, one should then teach others to regard their own body as a temple, their own mind as a high priest, and their entire life being as the true substance of worship. This is by no means self worship in the ordinary sense, for through developing one’s own life being, one’s achievement becomes the truth of human achievement. Thus it is people who develop themselves in this way who are the true leaders of human progress.”
Master Ni, Hua Ching, The Uncharted Voyage Toward the Subtle Light
“We come unbidden into this life, and if we are lucky we find a purpose beyond starvation, misery, and early death which, lest we forget, is the common lot. I grew up and I found my purpose and it was to become a physician. My intent wasn’t to save the world as much as to heal myself. Few doctors will admit this, certainly no young ones, but subconsciously, in entering the profession, we must believe that ministering to others will heal our woundedness. And it can. But it can also deepen the wound . . . You live it forward, but understand it backward.”-Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese