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The First Talk
 

Truly Taking You to Greater Spiritual Heights

From the start, my teaching has been motivated by a sense of responsibility toward the world and to those who want to learn our practice. People have been very receptive to it, and the practice has had a widely positive impact. In recent years there have been many figures teaching energy practices, but their instruction has always been geared toward health and wellness. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. My point is that they haven’t taught anything of a more advanced sort. I have a good sense for the state of energy practices in China today, and can say that no one here or abroad is offering a practice like this, which really takes you to greater spiritual heights. As for why that is, there are bigger, and broader, reasons at work, some of which stretch far back into the past and can be controversial. Not just anyone can teach something like this, as it entails dealing with complicating factors from a host of other practices. The problem is especially acute these days, when many people jump from one practice to the next and make a mess of their bodies, ruining any spiritual aspirations that they may have had. They go in for all sorts of things, rather than committing to just one solid approach that could take them somewhere, and each new one that they dabble in only conflicts with the last. All of which only dashes their spiritual prospects.

We have to straighten out all of those things for you. What’s good will be kept and what’s bad disposed of, and this will make spiritual progress possible for you. But there’s a stipulation, which is that you have to be serious about this practice. It doesn’t work if you are motivated by the wrong things, like attachments, or wanting psychic powers, or healing, or are here out of intellectual curiosity. Remember that what I am doing is unique. Something like this is hard to come by, and I won’t be doing this forever. So I think that by being able to sit here, and hear my teaching in person, you are really… you will grasp the significance of it later on, and realize how fortunate you were. We subscribe to the idea of destiny, and I would say it is your destiny to be here.

It’s worth pausing to consider what it means to be learning a practice that truly takes you to “greater spiritual heights.” It means deliverance from this world, for you will be engaging in genuine spiritual practice, and not just something meant for health or wellness. This means that there are high expectations for your personal character. You are here because you want to learn Falun Dafa, so you have to really see yourself as part of it and let go of whatever things might have initially motivated you. You will get very little out of the practice if there are impure motives still with you as you try to learn it. In truth, the spiritual journey is none other than an ongoing process of learning to let go of the things of this world that we may be attached to. If you are someone who competes fiercely with others, who tries to cheat and outwit people, or who even tramples on others to come out on top, then you really have to change your ways. It’s especially imperative for you as someone who is here to learn the practice today.

I won’t be teaching you how to heal, as that’s not part of our practice. But an ailing body is a real impediment to anyone serious about spiritual practice. And so I will purify your body for you. But I can only do this for whoever is sincere about the practice and the teachings. And so I have to stress that we will be powerless to help you if you are still set on getting healed and can’t get past that idea. Why, you might ask? It’s because the way that the universe works, according to Buddhist thought, is that everything in a person’s life normally has “causal reasons” behind it, and the ordeals of existence—such as coming into the world, aging, getting ill, and dying—are as they should be. The ailments and travails that people experience result from their karma, and karma is the product of past wrongdoings. So the ordeals that people face are how they pay for their karma. This means that nobody may change them. Changing them would be like letting people build up debt and never having to pay. So people’s lives can’t be freely changed, and it would be wrong to do so.

Some people are under the mistaken impression that they are being helpful when healing people. But as I see it, in no case is the person actually getting healed. His ailments are just being postponed or turned into something else, and aren’t really removed. To end the person’s ordeals you have to eliminate his karma. And to really, thoroughly do that and heal the person you have to be someone quite spiritually advanced. And anyone like that would be aware that the workings of this human world can’t rashly be tinkered with, [as by healing]. That said, it is allowed for those who are in the process of spiritual development to do a few acts of charity, such as healing someone or helping a person regain his health, if they are moved to do so by compassion. But any healing done wouldn’t be thorough. That’s because it would not be right to remove the person’s ailment at the source, by dissolving his karma, and completely free him of it, since he would still be his same old, worldly, self afterwards and go back to his competitive and self-interested life. So truly healing someone like that is out of the question.

But purification can be done for those who engage in sincere spiritual practice. It is because they are valued above all others. The desire to work on yourself and become a better, or more spiritual, person is the greatest aspiration there is. It is a reflection of your innate divinity, and so higher beings will support you. This takes a little explaining. The practice that I’m teaching is quite advanced, and so higher matters and bigger things are involved. From a higher vantage point in the universe, it can be seen that the lives of those on this earth didn’t come into being here. Their souls were born in the higher realms of the universe. There are many, many things in the universe that can, when working in conjunction, generate life, and so it was in the greater universe that each person’s soul first came into existence. The universe is by nature good and kind, and so when a person is first born he shares in its defining qualities: zhen, shan, ren. As more lives come about, people enter into community with one another, and some grow selfish and no longer worthy of the realms they are in. And so they must fall to a lower plane, since they are not allowed to remain where they are. But then, in that new realm, they may again change for the worse and not be allowed to remain, whereupon they drop again. And the cycle could keep repeating itself until, in the end, they fall to the human plane.

All of humanity is on this one plane. Upon arriving at this level, lives were meant to be, if viewed with higher powers, or as divine beings see it, destroyed. But divine beings, acting out of compassion, decided to give these lives another chance, and created this unique setting, or realm, much as we know it. The lives in this realm are different from those in all other realms of the universe. From here, the lives of other realms cannot be seen, nor can the universe be seen as it really is, and so the lives here are as if under a spell of ignorance. So the only way for someone to be healed, to be free of adversity, and to be unburdened of karma, is to engage in spiritual practice and return, pure as he once was, to his true home. This is a belief common to a range of spiritual traditions. And this is in fact the meaning of life. And it explains why the wish to become a better, or more spiritual, person is considered divine, and so it is prized; it means that the person wants to return to his true, heavenly abode and be freed of this world.

In Buddhism there has long been a belief that when one’s divinity shines through, it is moving to all higher beings of the universe. All who behold it will wish to provide help, and will do so unconditionally. Higher beings want to save us from this world, and expect nothing in return; they don’t affix any price, and their help is always unconditional. And it is on these grounds that we can do much for anyone who takes up our practice. By contrast, the average person, who just wants to be how he is, can’t be considered for healing. There are also people who bargain that they will do the practice on the condition that they’ll get healed. But it’s not for you to set the terms. Just start practicing if you are inclined to. Naturally, there will be some who come to the practice with ailing bodies, with bodily energies all out of sorts, or with no prior experience with energy practices like ours; and even those who have done them, have usually been at it for decades without ever moving past the most basic stages of practice to actual spiritual progress.

So what do we do? We cleanse their bodies for them so that progress in our practice will be possible. The first, most basic stage of the spiritual journey involves thoroughly and completely cleansing your body, and along with this, clearing out all of the bad things in your head, the cloud of karma engulfing your body, and the factors compromising your health. Without this cleansing it would be hard for you to make spiritual progress, plagued as it were by a body dark and foul, and a mind that unclean. Our practice doesn’t work on the basic kind of energy known as chi.* You needn’t work on such basic things with our practice. We boost you past that stage, so that you begin with a body free of ailment. But at the same time, we still provide you with everything that one would normally develop at the basic stage of practice, ready-made. This means you start right off at an advanced stage.

In Asian spiritual practice there are said to be three stages of practice, if the beginning one, which involves chi energy, is included. But true practice only begins after chi, so there are just two main phases: that of the human realm, and that of beyond the human realm. These shouldn’t be confused with the religious concepts of renouncing the world or returning to secular life, which might sound similar. The two terms we are using refer to the two main stages of bodily change that occur in true spiritual practices with a physical component. In the first stage, of practicing in the human realm, the body is being purified constantly, again and again, until ultimately the body has been fully remade with high-energy matter. The second stage, of practicing beyond the human realm, is essentially practice that’s done with a divine body. It is a body made of high-energy matter, and it will now be developing all powers anew. These are the two stages of practice that we’ll be referring to.

We believe in destiny. So by virtue of your coming to this class, I can do what I’ve described for you. And I could still do what I said even if we had not just two thousand people, like we have in attendance today, but even several thousand, or over ten thousand. So none of you need to worry about practicing for the basics, as I said. I will purify your body and advance you past the basic stage, and provide everything you need to make spiritual progress. So just by taking this class you are starting off at an advanced stage of practice. But this is only true for those of you who are sincere about the practice and about making spiritual progress. It’s not enough just to be here, enrolled in the class. There may have to be a deep and dramatic change in your way of thinking before you get the benefits I’ve described. And there are more in store, in fact, as you will find out later on. While we don’t do healing here, what we will do, to use our term for it, is bring your entire body into balance. Doing this will make it possible for you to do our practice. If you were trying to do the practice with a disease-ridden body, you really wouldn’t be able to develop higher energy, or gong, as it’s called. So don’t ask me to heal you; I don’t do that. I made this practice public because I want to really, truly bring you to greater spiritual heights.

 

The Many Levels of the Way

Chinese energy practices, known by names like chi-gong and tai-chi, have taught that there are three phases of practice—beginning, intermediate, and advanced. But as it turns out, all of those phases are at a basic stage since they work on the lower form of energy known as chi. Most who are involved in those practices have little to no idea about higher stages and what they entail. By contrast, right from day one all of what we will be teaching will be the higher Way of advanced practice. Along the way I hope to help give spiritual practice the status it deserves. This means that I’m going to have to shine a light on some of the questionable things that are happening out there, and suggest the proper way to look at them. And by teaching a higher Way, as we are, bigger and broader things are going to be hit on, and some of them are quite controversial. But they need to be addressed. Some of the things troubling this world, and in particular the spiritual arena, trace back to other dimensions, and these need to be addressed and remedied for our students. If I don’t take care of these issues, your practice will be doomed from the start. But to deal with them on a fundamental level means that I have to regard you as true practitioners. Of course, you might not be able to change your way of looking at things right from day one. But I think you will in the days to come, and I hope you can listen attentively. I teach in a different way from others in this field, who typically just run through the basics of their practices, impart energies to you, and teach a few exercises. And this is what many people have come to expect.

But real guidance takes more than that: there needs to be a moral component, or Way, to the teaching. And that is what we will provide over the course of our ten sessions. We will teach the deeper workings of spiritual practice in great detail, and this will be what makes your spiritual growth possible. Without this, you really wouldn’t be able to get very far. The instruction offered in most other settings is simply about healing and physical well-being, and doesn’t provide a higher Way or teaching that could guide you to advanced stages of spiritual practice. It’s analogous to trying to go through college by studying primary school texts: you would come out with an elementary level of education. Some people have studied many practices and have a stack of certificates to show for it, but it hasn’t taken them anywhere. That’s because they haven’t understood the heart of spiritual practice or all that there is to it, even if they think that they have; they don’t realize that they have only scratched the surface and gained just a small, partial picture of it. But there is much more to traditional practices like chi-gong and tai-chi. They are forms of spiritual practice, and far-reaching and profound. And it’s important to know that the Way and its guidance is different at different stages of practice. It’s not like what most people, who just do basic practice, imagine—that the more one learns the merrier. To give an analogy, you could toil away studying textbooks gathered from around the globe—from England, from America, from Japan, from China—and if they were all just elementary school books, you would only come out of it with an elementary level of education. And in the case of energy practices, you’re even worse off: the more instruction you take in of a lower sort, the more harm it will do. Your body will pay for it.

I want to emphasize, then, that as ours is a spiritual practice, it is vital that we teach a higher Way. This doesn’t sit very well with some monastic Buddhists, particularly those who are Zen, and they turn a deaf ear to us. The reason is, in Zen Buddhism it’s believed that higher, spiritual truth, or dharma,* is not something that can be taught, or it’s no longer truth. They believe there is nothing to be taught, and that any higher truths are just to be intuited on one’s own. And so as it now stands, the dharma is no longer taught in Zen. This traces back to the figure Bodhidharma, who based his ideas on one line from the Buddha, Shakyamuni,* who had said: “No dharma is definitive.” So the discipline of Zen was built around a single sentence. To us it seems that the discipline has essentially revolved around splitting hairs, and gone down a dead end. I say that because it has found itself in more and more of a predicament with each successive generation, going from having an idea that seemed quite deep at first and allowed ample room for reflection, when Bodhidharma began things, to one that was less so by Zen’s second patriarch, that still had a little to it by the third, barely any left by the fourth, and that had basically bottomed out by the fifth. By the sixth patriarch, Hui-neng, the original idea had been mined to the point that nothing was left. Today, if you go to a Zen temple in hopes of gaining insight into the dharma, you’d best not ask any questions or you might just get rapped on the head with that “waking stick” of theirs—since you’re supposed to just intuit the truth yourself. But that’s pretty confusing, as the whole point of going there would be to learn something, and now you’re supposed to figure things out for yourself—or otherwise get whacked with a stick! This suggests that Zen really has reached a dead end, and has nothing left to teach. Bodhidharma himself had said that his teachings would only survive down to the sixth patriarch, which was hundreds of years ago. But there are now people who just insist on the wisdom of Zen and stick with it. But we should think about what might have been the true meaning of the Buddha’s statement that, “No dharma is definitive.” The Buddha was by that point divine, having attained the rank of tathagata, as it’s known. Very few people, including the monks who followed in his footsteps, have achieved the degree of enlightenment that he had or his realm of mind, and so it’s been hard for them to know the true meaning of his dharma teachings or what he said. And this accounts for the wide and confusing array of interpretations that you see—including, even, the Zen idea that nothing should be taught and that whatever is, isn’t truth. But that wasn’t what the Buddha meant. When the Buddha became enlightened and his powers came to him under the famous Bodhi tree, his awakening was not at its highest point. He continued to make regular spiritual progress throughout the forty-nine years of his ministry. And with each successive breakthrough he would find, looking back, that what he had previously taught wasn’t quite right. This continued to happen again and again, with each new spiritual breakthrough being followed by a re-evaluation of what he had taught before. And this went on for forty-nine years as he kept progressing; he kept finding that what he taught before was inadequate. He came to realize that the spiritual insights from the Way that he was perceiving at each new level of attainment were specific to those realms, with different truths existing at each realm, but with none of what he perceived being the ultimate Truth of the universe. However, he could see that at each progressively higher realm, the Way [he had awakened to] grew closer to the true qualities of the universe. And so this was what led him to proclaim that no dharma is definitive.

In the end, the Buddha also remarked that he had “never taught the dharma.” And this was taken by Zen to mean that there is nothing to be taught. When the Buddha remarked as he did, he would have been in his later years and had fully achieved the divine state of tathagata, so it’s worth reconsidering what he meant. What he meant was that he could not make out, at his stage of spiritual achievement, what the ultimate Truth or Way of the universe was. And so he didn’t want those who came after him to take what he had said as absolute or final Truth, lest his words limit people to his degree of achievement or lower, and prevent higher breakthroughs. Later generations misunderstood his remarks, taking them to mean that no verbal instruction could reveal the Way. But what he meant was that the Way offers different spiritual truths in different realms, though none of these would be the ultimate Truth of the universe; however, the Way observed in a given realm does serve to govern that realm. So this should give a sense for what he meant.

Many people have had a radical take like Zen has, and been wrongly biased against the idea of teaching a higher Way or dharma. But that’s just not sensible. How is a person to make progress in spiritual practice without instruction or anything to serve as a guide? There is a Buddhist story that might be familiar [and that sheds light on what the Buddha meant]. It tells of a person who ascended to a heavenly realm, where he saw a well-known Buddhist text called the Diamond Sutra. Yet this version of the sutra was completely different from the one in the human realm, from the words of the text to the insights it contained. This might seem puzzling, then. It has likewise been said that the scriptures in the Pure Land paradise have no similarity to their counterparts on earth, with everything being different—from their words and insights to the ideas they contain. What accounts for this is that the manner in which the Way reveals itself changes, in both form and substance, according to the realm. And in this way it can always provide guidance to believers, at whatever level they may be, in their spiritual journey.

Similarly, there is a Buddhist booklet that some of you might be familiar with, titled A Journey to the Pure Land. It tells of a monk whose soul left his body while he was meditating and went to the fabled Paradise of Ultimate Bliss and beheld what was there. His soul spent a day there, only to find, upon returning to the human world, that six years had passed. And yet it wasn’t a dream, if you’re wondering. He did see what he saw. But he didn’t see the Paradise as it truly is, because his realm of spiritual attainment didn’t qualify him to. So what he beheld was only a divine expression of the Paradise as befitting his level of attainment. A Paradise like that is an embodiment of the Way, and so he was not allowed to see it as it truly is. I believe these stories should help give a sense for what the Buddha meant by saying that no spiritual truths, or dharma, are definitive.

 

The Sole Measure of Goodness: Zhen, Shan, Ren

The “Way” has long been the subject of religious discussion and inquiry. But that doesn’t mean that all that can be known about the Way has already been revealed by past teachings and scriptures. When the Buddha gave his teaching twenty-five hundred years ago, it was meant for the relatively simple people of his day whose civilization was still in its earliest stages, and whose understanding of the world was quite rudimentary. And he spoke of a future time, or “latter day,” when his teachings would no longer be able to guide people’s spiritual development—and that time is in fact our day. He indicated that in the latter day it would be hard for even dedicated monastics to free themselves from this world, let alone laypeople. So what he taught was geared towards the people of his day, and didn’t include all of the insights he had gained into the Way at his stage of attainment. And there would be no way to keep his teachings from being altered in the centuries that would follow.

People’s minds have grown increasingly complicated as civilization has progressed, and the old ways of spiritual devotion have become increasingly hard to follow. It should also be said that the spiritual truths of any one tradition are only one part of the Way, and couldn’t possibly capture all of it. And there are still other, lesser known, practices that similarly follow the Way and have been passed down outside of any religious institutions, in a private, lineage-type manner. Truths differ from one plane of existence to the next and from dimension to dimension, since the Way is revealed uniquely at different planes of existence and in different realms. All told, there are only a dozen or so known Buddhist disciplines—such as Zen, Pure Land, Tiantai, Flower Garland, and Tantric—and yet the Buddha indicated that there are eighty-four thousand avenues to enlightenment, or divinity. So the few that we know of couldn’t possibly represent the full array of spiritual insights that exist. And this is atop the fact that, as I just mentioned, the Buddha didn’t publicly teach all that he had come to know of the Way, but rather, only what was suitable to his audience at the time.

 Then just what exactly is the Way? Its highest expression is the fundamental qualities that underlie all of existence: zhen, shan, ren. These are the essence of the Way. The Way is expressed differently at different levels of existence, and serves to govern each accordingly, with its expression becoming increasingly intricate at lower planes. The qualities of zhen, shan, ren are imbued in all of creation, from particles of air to stones, wood, earth, metal, and the human body. And so too are these qualities found in the “five elements” of classical Chinese thought, which were believed to make up all of existence. Those who engage in spiritual practice will only come to know the expression of the Way unique to the realm that their attainment has brought them to; its revelations reflect the success of one’s spiritual efforts, or realm of attainment. In higher realms the Way is found to be quite simple, for its structure can be likened to that of a pyramid whereby at the very top everything can be summed up in three simple words—zhen, shan, ren—while as you go downward toward the base, things get increasingly complex. A parallel can be drawn between man and the universe, as ancient Chinese thought has done. While you may be endowed with a physical body, that alone isn’t enough to make you a complete person. You also must have other invisible elements such as disposition, temperament, personality, as well as a spirit, or soul, to be a complete and independent individual. By the same token, the universe has a Milky Way, various planets, living creatures, and water—with all such tangible facets of creation being its physical side. Yet at the same time, behind it all, it has the invisible qualities, or spirit, of zhen, shan, ren. So these qualities are imbued in the particles of anything and everything that exists, at its deepest, most fundamental point.

And it is these qualities that act as the measure of good and evil in this universe. They are what define good and evil, as well as what has traditionally counted as virtuous. People’s values have undergone a change, however, and many people’s moral compasses are now askew. For instance, many would now think it’s silly for someone to try to learn from the example of selfless figures from the past, like the once-popular Chinese figure Lei Feng. But it wouldn’t have been seen that way in the 1950s or 60s. People’s values are eroding at a dramatic rate, and seem to be getting only worse by the day. Many people now put their own gain before all else, even at others’ expense, and will do whatever it takes to come out on top. But what will become of our world if it goes on like this? Most people won’t even listen if you try to point out the error in their ways; and they really can’t see what’s wrong on their part. This is because people often see themselves through the distorted lens of modern values, which makes them look good. But however much people’s values may change, the qualities that define this universe will not, and they are the sole measure of your person. These are the values of the universe that must come to define your life if you are to lead a more moral, or spiritual, existence. It would be a mistake to go by the values now in vogue. If you would like to regain the purity you once had, and return to your true home, if you would like to develop spiritually, then you must live by the cosmic qualities of zhen, shan, ren. Anyone who abides by these is a good person, while anyone who lives a life contrary to them is in fact a bad person. So these qualities, rather than the praises or criticisms of your colleagues or whoever it may be, are ultimately what count. You must try to really embody these qualities if you hope to become a spiritually realized being. It’s rather simple, in fact.

In the Daoist tradition of China, practice focuses on the zhen of zhen, shan, ren. And so it teaches followers to develop their true nature, speak and act truthfully, become a person of truth, return to a true state of purity, and ultimately become a truly awakened being. Ren and shan do appear in their practice, but the focus is upon zhen. In the Buddhist tradition, meanwhile, practice focuses on the shan of zhen, shan, ren. By cultivating shan, compassion develops in one’s heart, and one becomes sensitive to the suffering of others. And this gives rise in Buddhism to a wish to deliver all lives from suffering. Zhen and ren also appear in their practice, but the focus is upon shan. What makes Falun Dafa so powerful is that we integrate together all three of the universe’s highest qualities—zhen, shan, and ren—and work on them all together.

 

Energy Practices Predate History

Many instructors of traditional energy practices have sought to explain what these are all about. My take is quite different from theirs, as I look at the practices from a higher, more spiritual, vantage point. Some instructors might date them back two or three thousand years in China, or as far as five thousand years—which is roughly as old as Chinese civilization. But even the furthest proposed dates, which are seven thousand years back—and would predate Chinese civilization by a bit—don’t ultimately go much beyond human civilization. And going by the calculations of those who subscribe to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, civilization in any form wouldn’t really have begun earlier than ten thousand years ago, when people with the thought and culture of modern man are believed to have come about; and this would be after his evolutionary journey from aquatic plant life, to aquatic animal, to land and eventually tree dweller, and then finally, once settled on land again, as ape. With the idea being that before the advent of civilization, people would have had no written record of any sort and lived a supposedly wild and savage existence, covering themselves with things like leaves, eating raw meat, and with no knowledge of fire.

But there are problems with this view. Many artifacts have been discovered around the world that far predate the earliest era of civilization now known. Many of the remains display a sophisticated level of craftsmanship as well as artistic taste. The arts of the past had a high aesthetic value and almost give the sense that modern man was just following in their footsteps. And yet these remains date back hundreds or millions of years, with some even exceeding 100 million years. It would seem to radically challenge modern views of history. People are always trying to push the boundaries of what human beings are capable of, or can be, by making new discoveries, and this is how humanity progresses. So people’s initial findings and views about themselves are likely to have been incomplete.

This leads to the topic of prehistoric civilizations, or prehistoric cultures, which you might be familiar with. In the world today we have Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Oceania, which are all considered in geology to be continental land masses. These settled in their current configuration tens of millions of years ago. So some land masses emerged from the ocean floor, while others, now no longer with us, became submerged under the ocean’s waters. The current land masses have been in place for tens of millions of years. Yet discoveries have yielded ancient megastructures at the bottoms of several oceans. And these structures are covered in intricate carvings bearing no resemblance to the works of any known civilization. Yet they must have been built before having sunk to the bottom of the sea—many millions of years ago. So they are certainly not the product of this civilization. But then who would have built them, if man, supposedly, wasn’t even a monkey yet? It doesn’t add up. Another enigma surrounds the discovery by archaeologists of a certain trilobite fossil. This is a creature that dates back to some 260 to 600 million years ago, and has long been extinct. Yet an American scientist discovered a trilobite fossil with a human footprint on it—the footprint of someone wearing shoes. And the print was unmistakable. It stands to turn everything we know about the past on its head. Darwin’s evolutionary model can’t explain the existence of human beings that long ago.

Another telling case is a rock in the museum of a national university in Peru that has a human figure carved on it. An analysis determined that the person was carved on it thirty thousand years ago. But the person wears clothes and a hat, has shoes on, and is holding a telescope and observing the stars. And while it might be hard for us to imagine people weaving clothes like those back then, it’s even harder to fathom the presence of a telescope and the possibility that they knew something of astronomy. People have always thought that it was a European, Galileo, who invented the telescope, some three hundred years ago. So there is no explanation for how a telescope got there thirty thousand years ago. And there are many unsolved mysteries like this. Another is the cave murals that have been found in various countries including France and South Africa, as well as in the Alps. These were painted skillfully, in a very lifelike and vivid way, with the use of mineral pigments. But what’s striking is that the figures depicted in them are dressed like people from modern times, with clothes like European-style breeches. And some are holding what look to be tobacco pipes, while others have canes or wear hats. These are hardly the things you would expect from our supposedly primitive ancestors.

Another example goes further back. Uranium ore is present in the African country of Gabon, but they haven’t the means to refine it, and so they have exported the ore to more developed nations. When a plant in France imported some of it in 1972, they were surprised to find, after chemical analysis, that the uranium had already been processed and depleted. They thought it was rather strange, and sent over scientific and technical personnel to investigate onsite. And eventually scientists from many other countries went as well. Ultimately, what they determined was that what was thought to be the uranium mine was in fact a well-designed, large-scale nuclear reactor—one built better than could be made today. But most startling of all was that the reactor dated back to 2 billion years ago and had operated for around five hundred thousand years. All of which makes no sense within an evolutionary framework. And there are many anomalies like this, in fact. There have been more than enough scientific discoveries to rewrite the books. It’s hard for people to be receptive to new ideas or findings if their views on things are set and have formed into a mode of operating and thinking. So they will shy away from the truth, even when it comes to light, or instinctively reject it. Owing to longstanding biases, nobody in the sciences is systematically reviewing or trying to make sense of these anomalous findings. And so the theoretical frameworks aren’t keeping pace. New findings continue to be written off as “pseudoscience,” even if they are valid, though not well-publicized.

A number of scientists in other countries who are a bit more courageous have openly voiced their opinion that these finds do bespeak of earlier cultures prior to written history or civilization as we know it. So this would mean that they did indeed exist, and it’s believed that there was more than one—judging from the artifacts that have been unearthed so far. It is now believed that on multiple occasions something catastrophic befell civilization and left the population decimated. The few people that survived would have lived a most basic existence at first, until, with time, the population had grown again and civilization developed anew. And this cycle would have repeated itself many times, with phases of destruction and renewal. All changes throughout creation follow patterns, much like how in physics the motion of matter follows patterns.

It would be hard to imagine that things have always gone smoothly for this Earth as it moves within the vast universe and within this turning Milky Way, and chances are it has at some point collided with another planet or experienced some type of catastrophic event. But I have seen that this was part of a larger plan. I once looked into it in some detail and saw that humanity was nearly destroyed eighty-one times. In each episode little of civilization and very few people remained, and they would then enter a new phase, and live primitively, before the population recovered and a new civilization emerged. So while I observed eighty-one cycles of this, there were still more to look into. There is a longstanding Chinese belief about “the coming together of the right people, in the right place, at the right time,” and it reflects a profound truth: that there is a timing to everything in this world, and that larger, cosmic forces shape it. Just as how physics holds that the motion of matter follows patterns, the way that things unfold in the universe does as well.

The reason I’ve delved into all of this is because energy practices like chi-gong trace back to cultures predating history, rather than this civilization. And they were each transmitted in unbroken lineages of considerable length. We can see hints of this in certain religious scriptures. The Buddha, for instance, indicated that he had completed his spiritual journey and gained enlightenment “many eons before.” This amounts to a mind-boggling figure. In Buddhist terminology one eon is equivalent to hundreds of millions of years. But this starts to make sense in light of the larger history of civilizations and the earth that I’ve been describing. The Buddha also remarked that there were six earlier Buddhas before him, each of whom themselves had teachers, and so on, with all of their spiritual enlightenments having taken place hundreds of millions of years earlier. You might wonder whether authentic spiritual practices like those, with such an ancient pedigree, still exist in the world today. I can answer in the affirmative, that they do, for sure. But they are rare, and their number is dwarfed by that of the false masters and charlatans, who have entities attached to them and invent things at will. And it’s hard to tell which category a practice falls into. The true practices aren’t easy to identify or find.

There are other things that date far back, similar to how energy practices do. Examples from China include the tai-chi symbol, the mystical he-tu and luo-shu diagrams, the Book of Changes, and the Eight Trigrams. All of these were handed down from before this civilization. And that is why each has proven hard for regular scholarship to make sense of. Their secrets won’t be revealed to those whose thinking or perspectives are steeped in a secular worldview.

 

Energy Practices Are for Spiritual Development

So if energy practices have such a long history, you might be wondering just what exactly they’re for. I can tell you that ours is an advanced Buddhist method of spiritual practice, and so it seeks to bring you to divinity, or what’s known as “Buddhahood.” And Daoist methods, similarly, seek to foster enlightenment, or enable you to “attain the Way,” as it’s called. The idea of becoming divine shouldn’t seem absurd, or far out, as it may to some. For example, take the concept of Buddha. It’s a term from the ancient Indian language known as Sanskrit. The term has undergone various permutations in China since arriving there long ago, being translated phonetically as foah-toah, foo-too, and eventually just foah. But in any case, the term simply means “one who has awakened,” and refers to any being who has gained a state of awakening through spiritual discipline. So it shouldn’t seem that far-fetched.

Consider that extraordinary powers can come to those who engage in spiritual discipline. While six types of powers are now well-known, there are in fact a myriad number that exist. There are individuals who can, just while sitting in place, do things that would normally require physical action, or who can see the workings of the universe in multiple dimensions, and how it really is, and see what is invisible to others. It seems only right to acknowledge, then, that they have achieved a certain level of spiritual awareness through their efforts. As they are clearly not the same as regular people, it seems only fitting to call them spiritually awakened, holy, or divine. This is where terms like “Buddha” come from, and this is what these practices are in fact meant to achieve.

Some people can’t imagine why anyone would want to do practices like chi-gong or tai-chi for anything other than health. The implication being that that’s all they are for. But that’s a very shallow view of these. People can’t be blamed for thinking this way, though, because many instructors of these practices are giving people that impression, and nobody is offering guidance of a higher, more spiritual sort. I don’t mean to imply anything bad about what these teachers are doing. That’s the role that they are meant to play—to keep it at the level of health and popularize these arts. But many people are looking for something more, for something spiritual, that can take them further. Yet without a true spiritual teaching to guide them, it’s going to be hard and they are apt to get into trouble. Instruction of a higher sort involves bigger things, and so you have to really know what you are doing if you’re going to offer it in a way that’s responsible to people, or the world. That is something we’ve made a point of with our instruction, and we have had good results all around. What we talk about is a bit lofty, for sure, and it might sound hard to believe. So I’ll do my best to draw scientific parallels to help make sense of things.

Some of the things we’ll be discussing provoke strong reactions from people, who quickly dismiss them. They think that anything that isn’t known to science or that they haven’t personally experienced isn’t possible, and must be nonsense and divorced from reality. But is that the right way to look at the world?—to write off anything not known to science, or not discovered yet? It seems to me that this line of thinking puts a little too much faith in science, and itself is divorced from reality. If everyone had this mindset it would utterly stifle any scientific discovery or innovation. And you would see few developments in the world, more broadly. Every technological development represents a step beyond what was formerly known. If the world’s innovators had treated the unknown as “nonsense,” we wouldn’t be where we are today. Many people simply don’t understand spiritual practices like chi-gong or tai-chi, and think they are nonsense. But that’s not the case. There’s plenty of scientific evidence suggesting otherwise. Scientific instruments have detected that the bodies of true masters of these practices emit everything from infrasonic waves to ultrasonic and electromagnetic waves, to infrared rays, ultraviolet rays, gamma rays, neutrons, atoms, and trace metal elements. All of these are very much real and physically exist. There is a physical basis to everything. And the same would certainly hold true for the other dimensions and realms that we discuss. There’s no grounds for writing them off as nonsense. Since these practices are meant to make us divine, any discussion of them is naturally going to touch upon a lot of deep things, and we won’t shy away from them.

It’s curious that practices like these, which have such a profound purpose, sometimes have very ordinary-sounding names. For example, chi-gong simply means “energy practice.”* But they are more properly referred to as spiritual practice—or in traditional Chinese culture, as self-cultivation. For that is their purpose. Of course, in different traditions and contexts they’ve been given different individual names, but as a whole they should be referred to as spiritual practices. The case of how chi-gong got its name is telling. It has to do with the state of affairs twenty years ago, when these practices first started to gain in popularity. China was still in the midst of the Cultural Revolution at the time, and there was a strong stigma and hostility surrounding traditional thought and culture. Without getting into the earlier spiritual names for chi-gong, which predate known history, we can see just from the names it’s had in this cycle of civilization what the issue would have been: they were very much religious, owing to the times they date back to, and have what people would have considered “feudal,” or backward, overtones. Examples included the Great Way of Practicing the Dao, Vajra Meditation, Way of the Buddhist Saints, The Dafa of Buddhahood, and Nine-Step Method to Immortality. Naming your practice something like that during the Cultural Revolution would have seen it denounced and attacked—even if you were sharing the practice with people out of good intentions, like to promote better health. And so nobody dared to use traditional-sounding names. What most instructors did, instead, was to extract two plain-sounding words—chi and gong (“energy” and “practice”)—from traditional Chinese spiritual texts to refer to their practices. And this way they wouldn’t be controversial. So even though you now see some scholars researching the history of “chi-gong,” there’s not much to it. It would have just been referred to as spiritual practice, or self-cultivation, before. So the term chi-gong is just a recent invention that was meant to suit a modern, secular sensibility.

 

When Practicing Doesn’t Bring Results

When doing an energy practice doesn’t bring the results that one would hope for, people typically attribute it to not having been taught “the genuine stuff.” They tend to think that they would see their energy levels shooting up if they could just get in on the best techniques or learn “the secret.” Around ninety-five percent of people think this way. But that line of thinking is funny to me. That’s because these practices are not some worldly skill, but go fully beyond the ordinary. And so it takes a different, and higher, logic to make sense of them. I’ll share the truth with you. When people don’t see the results they hope for, it’s because they are overemphasizing the physical aspect of spiritual practice, to the neglect of its moral component. The keys to success do not lie in outward, or physical, techniques. It’s a stretch to think that you could develop the kind of higher energy you seek just by the power of your own human hands, body, or thoughts—as those techniques would have you believe. And so that’s what strikes me as funny about it. It’s never going to work out if you are pinning your hopes on superficial techniques.

Spiritual practice doesn’t work like worldly skills, where you can pay some fee to learn a technique and then it’s yours. It’s something altogether different, as it operates on a plane beyond the ordinary, and thus has higher demands. I’ll explain. With this kind of practice you have to work on yourself, not on anything else. And yet many people are doing just the opposite, trying to learn one thing after another and even harboring attachments to psychic powers. You see all kinds of motives. Some even want to become energy healers so that they can make money from it! But true spiritual practice is about working on the mind, or character. For example, it entails learning to worry less about the disputes that might surround you, and value less the worldly things that people normally want and feel strongly about. You shouldn’t expect many results from your practice if instead you are all caught up in competition with others and pushing hard to come out on top. In that case you are just like everyone else, and shouldn’t expect to get any higher energy from it. This is why you need to put character at the heart of your spiritual practice. And if you can do that, you will find yourself developing spiritually and the energy you hoped for coming to you.

What does character consist of, then? It includes being virtuous (as virtue is physically real), practicing self-restraint, having faith, letting go of what others normally desire and hold onto, and being able to suffer gracefully. So there is a lot to it. We should strive to perfect every facet of our character. And by doing so you will make real spiritual progress. It is one of the keys to developing powerful, higher energy.

Some people have objected that character is just a moral concept, and something theoretical, whereas what they are interested in is getting real energy, which it has no bearing on. But that’s just not true. There have long been philosophical debates in China about whether reality is fundamentally something material, or mentally constructed. But ultimately, I would say, material and mental phenomena are the same in nature. Scientists have found that there are physical properties to the thoughts that take place in the brain. So this means that thoughts materially exist, yet at the same time they are certainly mental phenomena. This would suggest, then, that the two are actually the same. It’s similar to what I said about the universe: that it is something physical but which has its own qualities. The qualities of zhen, shan, ren that are imbued throughout all of creation aren’t perceptible to the average person, who dwells on the plane of ordinary existence. They only become perceptible to those who rise above the ordinary. Let me explain. Every single thing that makes up creation, wherever it may be in the universe, is alive and has thinking, and whatever it does, no matter the level that it exists at, is an embodiment of the Way of the universe. And so you will not be able to progress to higher levels of existence, or attainment, if they do not agree to it. Their reason would be that your character has not grown sufficiently. There is a standard for each level of existence, and you must meet it—by ridding yourself of bad intentions and whatever is unclean in you—if you are to go there.

With a change in character will come a significant change in your body; physical changes in your body are guaranteed to accompany positive changes in your mind. What will happen is that the bad material that composes your attachments will be cast away. To help you picture what happens, imagine that there is a bottle filled with dirt and that’s capped tightly. If the bottle is tossed into water it will sink to the bottom. But if you pour out some of its dirt, and toss it into the water again, it will float up this time; and the more that’s poured out, the more it will float. Pour out all of it and the bottle will float all the way up. And that is what we try to do in the process of spiritual refinement: to rid ourselves of all that is bad within us, so that we may rise up. And it is the qualities of the universe that act as the gatekeeper. If you don’t work on your character, become a more moral person, and remove the bad material and thoughts in you, then those qualities won’t let you progress. I think you would have to agree, then, that matter and mind are the same. Here’s a funny scenario for you that should drive home the point. Just try to imagine what a mess it would be if a regular, average guy who was still brimming with human desires and emotions were allowed to go up and enjoy a seat in heaven. Upon beholding the beauty of the angels he would probably start having indecent thoughts. And because he would still be prone to jealousy, he might start feuding with the divine beings there. It’s a scenario that would absolutely never happen. And so a person must rid himself of all bad thoughts and intents while he is still in this world, before possibly being allowed to ascend.

What this means, then, is that you need to make a focus of perfecting your character, ground your practice in the cosmic qualities of zhen, shan, ren, and rid yourself of any worldly desires, bad thoughts, or wrongful intents. Just by elevating your realm of thought ever so slightly, the bad things in your body will have been purged to some degree. You also must go through some painful things and experience a bit of adversity in order to eliminate some of your karma. And by doing so, your level of attainment will rise somewhat, for the qualities of the universe will no longer be holding you back as before. You put in the effort and your teacher will handle the rest. What he will do is to provide you with a mechanism for developing higher energy. The mechanism will then do the work for you of transforming your virtue—a material around your body—into a higher energy. And as you continue to progress and elevate in your practice, the column of energy that you have will continue developing upward to new heights. So the task for you, as someone doing spiritual practice, is this: to work on yourself spiritually; to painstakingly perfect yourself; and to constantly work to weed out any attachments or wants that you have, all while a part of this human world. Often what is considered good or desirable in this world is seen as bad at higher planes. Most people think that the more that you gain materially in life through trying, the better. But in the eyes of higher beings above, you are worse off for it. In what sense? Your material abundance may come at other people’s expense, and not all be rightfully yours; and it might only make you more attached to worldly things like status and wealth. And all of this would be at the expense of your virtue. So you must make a focus of perfecting your character if you want to earn the higher energy we seek.

People of faith have long believed that the soul is immortal. The idea of “the soul” has met with suspicion in certain circles of late, but consider the following. The insights of physics have revealed that the body is made up of molecules, protons, electrons, and at deeper levels, quarks and neutrinos. At that point the body’s composition is beyond the powers of microscopy to behold. And yet it is still far removed from the plane that is the ultimate source of matter, or of your life. You may be aware that it requires a powerful collision to trigger nuclear fission, or extraordinarily high heat to induce nuclear fusion. So do you think that when a person dies, the atomic nuclei in his body would simply perish along with his death? And this explains why we have found that when a person dies, it is merely that his gross molecular body, of this dimension, has been shed. His bodies in other dimensions have not in fact perished. Just consider what the human body looks like under magnification. Even if a person is just sitting still, all of his body is found to be in motion. The cells of the molecular level are moving, and all of the body seems to be loosely composed, as if it were granular. So the body under magnification looks nothing like what it seems to the naked eye. So our eyes play tricks on us, in a sense, and don’t allow us to see the body as it really is. The inner eye, however, can see in a magnified way once it has opened. This is an innate ability, even if it’s now thought of as an extrasensory power. To gain powers like these you have to recover, via spiritual practice, the purity you once had.

Let’s turn our attention to virtue now, and see how it’s related to what we have been discussing so far. I’ll explain it in some detail. Each individual has multiple bodies that exist across many dimensions. The largest component of the body that the eyes can see is the cell, and cells make up the physical body. But if you were to enter into the space between cells and molecules, or one molecule and another, you would experience what it’s like to enter another dimension. To go there, however, your body would have to first meet the requirements for existence there. But the concepts we have here wouldn’t enable you to understand the very different bodies you saw there—bodies that can expand or shrink. And those are unimaginably vast realms. But I am just describing one simple form of parallel dimension, which exists in the same place and at the same time as ours. A person has a different body in each of various dimensions, and in one particular dimension he has a body that is surrounded by a field filled with virtue. Virtue is actually a white material, and not just a moral or theoretical concept. It is very much physical. And this would explain the old sayings in China about “accumulating” or “losing” virtue. There was really something to them. Virtue surrounds a person’s body and forms a field. And so in the Daoist tradition the common practice is for teachers to seek out disciples, rather than vice versa, since a teacher can see how much virtue someone’s body has and what his spiritual prospects thus are. Someone with much virtue would have good prospects, while someone with little would not, and it would be hard for him to develop higher energy.

At the same time, there is also a black form of matter on the body, which we call karma, or which in Buddhism is referred to as “the karma from evil deeds.” So both a white and black matter exist at the same time. I’ll explain the dynamics between the two. The white one, virtue, comes to us when we suffer, are dealt a blow, or do something meritorious. While the black one, karma, comes from doing evil or wrongful things, or mistreating people. Nowadays some people will do anything for their own gain, including all manner of evil. People will stoop to just about anything for money, they even commit murder or hire others to kill for them, and both homosexuality and drug abuse are now common. But doing wrongful things costs a person virtue. I can explain. When a person speaks abusively to someone he might think that he’s the better for it and has let out his frustrations. But as the universe works, everything comes at a cost, as we’ve said. You can’t get something for nothing, and if you don’t personally pay, you will be forced to. And by whom, you ask? It will be enforced by the underlying qualities of the universe. So you can’t get away with not paying, wish as you may. Here’s what happens in a scenario like I was just describing. When one person speaks abusively to another, and pushes him around, he will give his virtue to the other party. It is given to him as compensation, since he counts as the party that’s been hurt in this circumstance, given that he suffered to some degree and it was at his expense. So while the one person is hurling abusive words in this dimension, in another, which corresponds to his body, a portion of his virtue is sent over to the other person and lands on his body. And the amount of virtue sent over will be proportionate to the severity of the abuse. The same happens with physical altercations as well. If one person strikes or kicks someone else, his virtue will go over to the other party according to the severity of it. The average person can’t perceive the workings of all this. And so he might be incensed by the abuse, and fight right back. But when he punches back, for instance, he will be returning the virtue that he had just been given, and as a result, neither one gains or loses anything from it. But then suppose the second person now feels like he won’t be able to let it go unless he lands one more punch in return. Well, if he punches again, another portion of virtue will fly over from his body to the other party.

To appreciate why we value virtue so much, just pause to consider what becomes of it in spiritual development. There is a longstanding religious belief that blessings will come to the virtuous, in the next life if not in this. The blessings, for the very virtuous, might take the form of a coveted position of office, great wealth, or having their wishes in life fulfilled. For all of these would come to them by cashing in their virtue, so to speak. Another belief is that a person who is devoid of all virtue faces the extinction of both body and soul. It means that his soul will be destroyed at the time of his passing, and nothing of him will remain. For those of us engaged in spiritual practice, however, virtue has a different value: it can be remade straight into higher energy.

Let’s look more closely at how this happens. There is a saying in spiritual practice, that, “One only needs to worry about putting in the effort of practice, and the rest is in the hands of one’s teacher.” This contrasts with the approaches that some take or consider important, such as doing elaborate visualizations of alchemical processes within the body. But I would say that those really aren’t what is important, and in fact, they might become an attachment if they occupy the mind too much. If it weighs heavily in your thinking it would seem to be an attachment. If we take to heart the saying about just putting in the effort and leaving the rest to your teacher, then the initial intent that you had—to develop higher energy and progress—is enough, and there’s nothing more to dwell on. It will indeed be your teacher that handles the rest for you; they aren’t things that you could possibly manage. There is absolutely no way that you, with your ordinary body, could possibly fashion for yourself a supernatural body made of high-energy matter. Just the thought of it is humorous. The processes involved in transforming one’s body in other dimensions are highly mysterious and intricate, and by no means something you could do yourself.

What your teacher will do is give you a mechanism that develops higher energy. The true higher energy that you develop will be born from virtue, which resides outside of your body. So it is ultimately virtue that’s responsible for your degree of spiritual attainment and the strength of your energy. The mechanism I just mentioned transforms your virtue into higher energy, which grows upward in a spiraling manner. This higher energy in fact determines your level, and it develops on the outside of your body; it spirals around it, upward, until it reaches the top of your head, where it forms into a column of energy. Just by glancing at the column’s height one can see how much energy a person has, and it indicates his degree of spiritual attainment—or divine rank, in religious terms. And this explains how it is that some people’s souls can travel to certain heights as they meditate, but at a certain point go no further, even if they want to. What allows them to reach the heights that they do is that they are boosted there by their energy column. And this explains why they can’t climb further; they had reached their column’s limits. So this sheds light on the religious concept of having “divine standing.”

There is also a measuring stick that gauges one’s character. This stick and the column I was just describing are not to be found in the same dimension, though they exist concurrently. Let’s look at what happens when you work on your character. Suppose someone out in the world swears at you or berates you, yet you manage not to say a word in reply, and keep calm. Or suppose someone hits you, and you don’t say anything and just shrug it off with a smile. In either event it would mean that you have made progress with your character, which is excellent now. Then what’s in store for you, as a practitioner? You will get higher energy for it. The level of your energy will rise in proportion to your character. It will always be capped by your character, however, and there are no exceptions to the rule. And this explains why some people, who were at one time devout about whatever energy practice they did, never had higher energy to show for it or were never freed of illness. They might put in great efforts practicing their exercises wherever they did them, be it outdoors or at home, but afterwards they would turn around and go back to their ordinary ways, contending with people over worldly things. So that’s why they never got the health benefits they hoped for in spite of all their efforts. Energy exercises are meant for spiritual development, which is something higher. They aren’t just another routine form of fitness. And so character has to feature prominently in one’s practice for there to be any healing or higher energy.

Some people believe that by doing elaborate visualizations of alchemical changes in their bodies they can form a concentrated cluster of energy, which they take to be a form of higher energy. But it’s not. It only contains a certain range of energy from throughout the spectrum, and not all of it. Let me put it into context. As you’re now aware, there is a physical component to our practice, and our bodies will develop higher powers and many miraculous abilities. The majority of these will be sealed up and not available to you. As each of the many, myriad powers come to you they will most likely be sealed up as they are formed. The purpose is to prevent you from using them freely out in the world and impacting it, or foolishly showing off with them. Doing so would disrupt the designs of this world. Many a person’s spiritual journey depends on the exercise of faith, and it would be a problem were you to start unveiling your powers around them. Who wouldn’t believe, or want to practice, if they saw such miraculous things. Even the most wicked of people would get interested. All of which would be a problem. So you won’t be allowed to display them. Another factor is that you would be apt to misuse them if you had free rein over them, since you can’t perceive the deeper causes behind things, or their core. What you took to be a good deed could turn out to be the opposite. And with your misuse of them your level of attainment would fall, undoing your spiritual efforts. So for this reason many of a person’s powers will be sealed up and unavailable. Then what becomes of them, normally? When the day arrives for the person’s enlightenment and the freeing of his powers, the energy cluster will be used like a bomb. It will be used to blast open all that has been sealed up in the body as well as its acupuncture points, freeing all of the person’s powers. Sometimes when the bodies of deceased Buddhist monks are cremated, they are found to have small, beaded, crystal-like relics known as śarīra. Skeptics have tried to dismiss them as just being bones or teeth. But that would just raise another question: why aren’t these seen when others are cremated? What they are, in fact, are the remnants of the energy cluster after it was ruptured and its powerful energy released. That energy cluster was every bit physical; it consisted of matter from other dimensions. But it didn’t have any purpose beyond what I’ve described. People now consider these objects to be precious, and they do have energy, are luminous, and hard. So this gives you a sense for what they are.

Then there is another reason why people might not get the results they expect from their practice: they haven’t any higher teachings to guide them. Spiritual progress isn’t possible when that is the case. To understand, recall the analogy that I made earlier. I explained that learning a large variety of practices doesn’t do a person any good. That’s because if all that someone learns are just basic things, he will still be just a kid in terms of spiritual practice. Basic, beginner teachings aren’t able to guide a person to higher stages of spiritual practice. And as I said, if you try to go through college by studying books from elementary school, you won’t get a college education—no matter how many of them you study. And it will only make things worse. The Way offers different spiritual truths at different levels, and these truths each govern practice in their respective realms. And so the insights of a lower plane can’t guide you to higher ones. The insights we will be offering here are all of what you need for spiritual practice of a higher order. I am building into my instruction insights spanning many planes, and so the teachings will always be able to guide your practice from here on out. I have several books as well as audio and video recordings of my teachings. You will find that after you finish them the first time, and return to them again, you will get new insights from them. I guarantee it. And they will keep providing you with new insights and direction as you keep progressing. That is the nature of the Way. So now you know the two reasons why people might not get results with their practice: one is that they can’t make spiritual progress if they don’t have the higher guidance of the Way; and the other is that they won’t get higher energy if they don’t work on themselves or strive to perfect their character. These two reasons sum it up.

 

What Sets Falun Dafa Apart

Our practice of Falun Dafa is one of the eighty-four thousand avenues to enlightenment spoken of in Buddhist thought. And while it hasn’t been taught publicly during this cycle of civilization, it was in a previous one, and was then a widespread means of deliverance from this world. In these final times I am making it public again and available to all, so it is something to treasure. I have disclosed the means by which virtue gets rendered straight into higher energy. And now you know that this energy does not come from exercises, but from spiritual development. Many people are looking to build up this energy, but are focusing solely on energy exercises to the neglect of the spirit. And yet higher energy is always the product of working on your moral character. We do, however, have a place for energy exercises in our practice, and I’ll explain why. But first it’s worth considering why no such exercises feature in the Buddhist monastic tradition. Its monks mainly focus on meditation, recitation of scripture, and working on the mind, and yet they do manage to develop higher energy—a form of it that determines one’s level of spiritual attainment. The reason they don’t make use of any bodily exercises is that the Buddha taught his followers to forsake all that is of this world, including even one’s own body. Circumstances are very different in the Daoist tradition, however, where they don’t aspire to benefit all of humankind, [as Buddhists do]—and thus won’t find themselves in the situation of having to deal with people from all walks of life with all sorts of attitudes toward practice, different degrees of spiritual understanding, and varying degrees of selfishness. Daoists are selective about who they take on as students, and it’s no surprise, for example, if only one of the three students they select ever receives the true teaching. And so they are assured that whoever is taught will be a good and virtuous person, and not apt to run into trouble. Bodily practices are thus used in Daoist practice, and feature prominently, since they seek to extend one’s life and develop supernatural powers, which requires this approach.

Falun Dafa is a practice of mind and body, and so there is an exercise component to it. One purpose of the exercises is to increase your spiritual power, which, in turn, serves to strengthen the powers of your body. Another purpose is to develop a number of supernatural beings in your body. And this is what, at higher stages of practice, Daoists describe as the “birth of the immortal infant” and Buddhists the “developing of an incorruptible body.” Many special powers are to be developed in the body as well. Physical movements and techniques are needed to develop all of these, and our exercises serve this purpose. For a practice to really be considered one of mind and body, there has to be both a spiritual and a physical component to it. I think you’re now aware that the kind of higher energy that decides your level of attainment is ultimately not the product of exercises, but of spiritual development. Your ascension to higher realms comes from working on your character while in this world and embodying the qualities of the universe, such that they no longer hold you back. Your virtue will be transformed into higher energy as this happens, and this energy will only continue to grow as you raise the bar for your moral character. So all of these go together.

Ours is genuinely a practice for mind and body. The higher energy that it develops will be stored in the cells throughout your body, and not just the body of this dimension, but those in other dimensions as well, reaching all the way to your cells in the tiniest and most invisible of realms where your physical existence begins from. Your energy will increase in both density and power as it grows in strength. It will be a high-energy matter that is alive and that has its own intelligence. And because it is stored in the cells of your body all the way down to the starting point of your life, it will, over time, assume the same shape and appearance as your cells, molecules, nuclei, and so on. So while your appearance may be the same, your cells will change in substance; you will no longer be composed of the same physical material as you once were. And so you will transcend the five elements, naturally enough. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your spiritual journey will be done. You will still have further spiritual refinement to undergo while a part of this world. So your appearance will still be normal. The only difference will be that you look young for your age. For all of this to happen, however, your body first needs to be cleansed of the bad things it contains, including any diseases. We will not be healing you though, but rather, cleansing your body. We avoid using the word “healing” and simply refer to it as “cleansing.” This is something we do for whoever is sincere about our practice. It’s not done for those who come just for healing. People with serious medical conditions are not allowed to enroll in our classes, because their minds are going to be occupied with thoughts of getting healed; they won’t be able to let it go, understandably, since their condition is serious and causing them pain. That makes it very hard to think about spiritual development. And so we have always maintained a strict policy that the seriously ill may not take our classes. Our classes are about spiritual practice, which is something far from their minds. They might be able to find others who will instruct them, but that’s not our approach. That said, there are many people with normal ailments who are sincere about learning our practice, and we can cleanse their bodies.

After practicing Falun Dafa for some time, the changes in your appearance might be dramatic. Common ones include the skin becoming soft and fair, with a rosy glow, and a lessening of wrinkles—sometimes quite dramatic—among those who are older. And I’m not making outlandish claims, as many who are seated here and who have been practicing a while will attest to. Another change that will happen is that older women will have their menstrual period return, since there is an essential energy involved in this blood that’s needed in mind-body practice. So while their period will start up again, it won’t be heavy; it will be just enough to serve the purpose for this stage of practice. And this too is common, since the development of your body would be impeded without it. Meanwhile men, both young and old, will experience changes as well, such as a feeling that your entire body is becoming lighter. The changes that I’ve described will come to you if you are sincere in your practice.

Our practice is based on something big—something simply enormous, in fact. This contrasts with the many practices that base their exercises on the movements of wild animals. The teachings given by the Buddha and the Daoist sage Lao-tzu were informed by the workings of the Milky Way. But the practice of Falun Dafa is informed by the processes that underlie transformation throughout the universe, and it is based on its highest expression: the qualities of zhen, shan, ren. And it is this standard that guides us in practice. So the scale of our practice is so big, you could call it cosmic.

Then there is another feature of Falun Dafa that’s incredibly unique and that truly sets it apart. All of the energy practices currently in this world and that are available to the public take the approach of developing an energy cluster, like I described. But with that approach it’s awfully difficult for someone to achieve enlightenment and the realization of his powers while still part of the secular world. We take a different approach in Falun Dafa. In our practice you develop a falun* at the position of your lower abdomen, and I personally bestow it during our classes. As I teach the practice we systematically provide it to each of you, whether you can sense it or not. Most people can, but the qualities of people’s bodies vary. So our practice develops the falun, not an energy cluster. The falun is essentially a miniature universe and is capable of all that the universe is, and so it can turn automatically of its own accord. It will forever turn in the area of your lower abdomen, once provided to you, and continue to do so without ceasing, year in and year out. When it turns clockwise it automatically draws in energy from the universe, transforms it for you, and delivers it to whatever parts of your body may need this energy for development. When it reverses direction (turning counterclockwise), it sends out whatever matter is no longer needed by your body, in the form of energy, which disperses once it has been sent far away from you. New energy is then taken in again, thereafter. And I should add that the energy sent out will be of benefit to whomever is nearby you. This is in keeping with the Buddhist belief in helping all of humanity, in saving all life—not just oneself. And so others might benefit in any of various ways, such as by having their bodies put into balance or healed, even though you didn’t intend it. But you won’t be losing energy when it’s sent out. New energy will be brought in again when the falun turns clockwise, and this cycle will continue perpetually.

Some people find it hard to imagine how the falun could manage to turn, or keep doing so. It’s hard for them to make sense of, even though they might be accustomed to the idea that energy can be condensed into a cluster, as in other practices. A parallel might help to explain it. The universe is moving, as are all of the Milky Ways and galaxies; the nine planets of our solar system are orbiting the sun; and the earth itself is constantly rotating. But you wouldn’t be able to make sense of how they move or what drives them if you were to try to do so with the common logic of our world. There is simply a mechanism at work behind it. The same holds true for our falun. It simply turns. And by doing so, it extends the time that your practice sessions go for and resolves the challenge of finding enough time to practice while still living a normal life. How so? By turning constantly, it allows you to continually be drawing in energy from the universe and transforming it. So when you go off to work, for example, it will be doing the work of practicing on your behalf. And this is true not only for the falun, of course, but also for the many mechanisms and capabilities that we provide to your body, which will be automatically operating and moving in connection with the falun. So this is a practice that automatically transforms you, leading us to say that “the mechanisms are practicing for you,” and that “the Way is working on your behalf.” Even when you aren’t doing the exercises, the mechanisms will be working on you, just as when you are doing the exercises. And these mechanisms will be working to transform your body even as you are eating, sleeping, or doing your job. This might lead you to wonder what need there is for doing them, then. Doing them serves to strengthen the falun as well as the many capabilities and mechanisms that I give you. And this is characteristic of spiritual practice at higher stages, in that you needn’t direct or will things with your mind, or via breathing techniques, and the physical movements that you do will simply be following along with the mechanisms that are in place.

In our practice you also don’t need to worry about the time or location that you do the exercises at. I am sometimes asked what phase of the day is optimal for doing them—such as late night, early morning, or midday. The phases of the day don’t matter in our practice. The mechanisms you have will always be at work, practicing on your behalf, whether it’s at night or in the morning, and no matter whether you are sleeping, walking somewhere, or at work. So this greatly cuts down on the time you need to spend exercising, as you’d imagine. Many people come to our practice with a sincere wish to gain enlightenment, and that’s of course the goal of spiritual practice—to ultimately become enlightened, or divine. But some of these individuals might be faced with a challenge, which is, that there aren’t many years left in their lives, and so normally they might not have sufficient time to achieve that goal. Falun Dafa can solve this issue by shortening the course of spiritual practice for them. And along with that, ours is a practice of mind and body, and so a person’s life will be prolonged as he or she continues to practice. This means there should be enough time for those who are older and who have good innate foundations. But there’s one condition, in this scenario: the days that you may gain beyond those originally allotted to you, are only provided so that you may continue to practice. And so you may be at risk if your thinking gets off track, for your life was supposed to have already ended. The exception to this rule is when someone progresses in practice to the stage where he is no longer subject to the laws of the human realm, which is a different matter.

You also don’t need to concern yourself with things like which direction you face while doing the exercises or how to “close” each session, as in other practices. That’s because our falun turns constantly and never needs to be “closed.” In our practice you can stop abruptly if you need to, as when you have to take a phone call or answer the door. That’s because when you switch gears like that, the falun will promptly respond by turning clockwise and drawing back in any energy that may have been scattered around your body at the moment. By contrast, in other practices that involve things like directing energy into the crown of the head, the energy would be lost if you stopped abruptly, no matter how long your session had gone for. The difference is that the falun has its own intelligence and will know what needs to be done. Facing in certain directions isn’t a concern for us, meanwhile, because our practice is attuned to the workings of the greater universe. Even if you wanted to pinpoint North, South, East, or West, you couldn’t with the scale we are working at, since all of the universe is in motion, the Milky Way is in motion, the planets of the solar system are orbiting the Sun, and Earth itself is revolving. So whichever way you face as you exercise amounts to facing every way, to all four of the cardinal directions at once. Another feature of Falun Dafa is that our students will be protected. This takes some explaining. The falun will protect those who genuinely do our practice. My roots are planted in this universe, and so someone would have to be able to harm me in order to harm you, which means that they would have to have the power to harm this universe. Don’t worry if this sounds a bit far out. It will make sense later on as you come to understand the practice better. I could say more, but I don’t want to divulge things that are too advanced for you right now. What we will do is to systematically explain the higher insights of the Way to you, going from the simple to the profound. But things might not work out well for you if something isn’t right on your part, and you have other agendas mixed in. I’ve seen many students who have practiced for a while but who now have deformed falun. But how could that be? They have added things in from other practices, which they like. The falun didn’t protect them from those things since it had been given to them and was theirs, and so it heeded their will. It’s a principle in this universe that you are the one who decides what you want. So if you don’t really want to practice, nobody is going to force you to; it would be wrong to, in fact. Nobody can force someone to have a change of heart, after all. You are the one who sets the bar for yourself. When you start “drawing on the strengths” of other practices, and learning all sorts of things from others, it’s usually driven by a wish to get healed. But it never works out in the end. At most it will only serve to postpone your condition. With advanced practice you have to commit to one discipline and devote your heart to it. It’s only acceptable for you to learn something else after you have gained enlightenment and all possible powers in one practice, as you would be dealing with a whole new system then. Any authentic spiritual practice will have been carefully passed down over many centuries, and the means by which it transforms one’s body will be highly complex. And so it’s foolish to think that you could combine sophisticated practices like these and figure out something new just going by what feels right to you. The real changes that one’s body goes through in spiritual practice take place in other dimensions, and are exceptionally intricate and profound, with no margin of error. The processes are no less exacting than assembling a precision instrument, where adding even just one wrong component would result in a breakdown. With our practice your bodies in multiple dimensions are undergoing changes, and it’s incredibly profound, and here too there is no margin of error. What I said earlier applies here as well: you only need to do your part practicing, and your teacher will handle the rest. If you freely add in other people’s things, the energies they carry will disrupt our practice’s workings, you will be heading off course, and the problems that result will manifest themselves in your regular life and be similar to the kinds of problems that non-practitioners have. But as I said, you are the one who decides what you want. If that is what you want, then I can only say there’s a problem with your judgment. Whatever you add into the practice will foul up the mechanisms I gave you and ruin your spiritual prospects. But I have never said that anyone has to practice Falun Dafa. I’m not opposed to your learning some other, true practice if you don’t do Falun Dafa. But I would just remind you that you must commit to one practice if you want to ever make significant spiritual progress and reach a higher realm. And there’s something else I should share. Currently there is nobody else offering instruction like this that truly brings people to great spiritual heights. You will one day realize what I am doing. So I hope that you make the right choice. Many people have longed to become better, more spiritual people, and to go to a higher place. I am now laying this out right before you, offering what I have—only you might not realize it. You could spend a fortune traveling the world to study under spiritual mentors far and wide but never find something like this. And today I am delivering it right to your door. I just hope you can realize what this is! Ultimately, whether you can be saved from this world is up to you, and it begins with your discernment.

 


Footnotes:
* chi: The term chi (also spelled qi) is often likened to, and thought to approximate, the well-known Indian term prana and the ancient Greek term pneuma. It is the same word as what in Japanese is called ki.
* Way … dharma: The Chinese term used here, fa, is normally rendered by translators according to context, as it is wide-ranging in meaning and sense. In the Chinese Buddhist tradition, fa is itself a translation of the originally Sanskrit term dharma (or dhamma, in the Pali canon), which initially referred to the Buddha’s teachings and has thus long been synonymous with “truth,” “way,” or “law” (in a moral or spiritual sense). The term is translated variously as “Way,” “teachings,” and “spiritual truths,” in this book. It might be noted that this same term, fa, appears in the two-syllable word Dafa, which is part of the practice’s name.
*the Buddha, Shakyamuni: In keeping with the conventions of English, the historical Buddha—“Gautama Buddha” or “Shakyamuni Buddha”—is referred to as “the Buddha” elsewhere in the text. His full title is used in several passages where multiple Buddhas are discussed, for disambiguation. The title “Shakyamuni” means “Sage of the Śākya clan.” This is the same figure who was known as Siddhârtha, prior to his enlightenment.
* chi-gong: Falun Dafa is considered a type of chi-gong, or “energy practice.”
* falun: Literally translated as “wheel of law,” or “dharma wheel,” this refers to the wheel-like entity depicted in the color insert at the front of the book. It is a term used in the Buddhist tradition, dating back thousands of years.