Sunday, December 28, 2014

Prof. Cheng's Mastery

"Altogether I've had fifteen teachers. I have to say of all of them, Prof Cheng was the best."
-Master T.T. Liang

I heard the above quote many times in my classes with MasterT.T. Liang. Liang was a long-time student and disciple of Prof. Cheng Man-Ch'ing, as well as being an assistant instructor and translator. Liang accompanied Cheng to America as the Proessorfs translator and partner for classes and demonstrations as well being invite by the U.N. to "introduce" Tai-Chi to the U.S.

I recently looked at a document where Master Liang was lamenting over the death of his teacher. Liang enumerated many of the Professor's achievements and signs of Tai-Chi accomplishment and mastery. I went back and looked over my notes, re-read Master Liang's writings and books, and talking with my elder classmate, Master Paul Gallagher. I soon began compiling a list,which grows each time I do research. I was blown away.

Not only was the list impressive and inspiring, I quickly realized that I could easily write a blog about each achievement. I might do that in the future, but for now, I'm going to share with you the list and hope it inspires you to practice more, ask questions, and bow in respect to my grand teacher, Professor Cheng Man-Ch'ing. Namaste!

Relax and Sink
Center of Gravity
Single Weighted
Withdraw-Push Techniques
Firmly Rooted
Issuing Energy
Hands everywhere on his body, nothing to do with hands
Whole body as one unit
How to apply Ward-Off and Roll-Back
Receiving Energy
Everything he did was according to the Tai-Chi Classics
Swimming in Air
Pushed so suddenly and terribly
Explained and showed how to apply the Classics
Knocked M. Liang out on three occasions
The softest teacher with the sharpest energy
Highest level without external training
Small in stature but huge in ability
No one equal, no one a close second
No one can do sword, so softly yet effective, like him

"I practiced for a long period of time, reflecting on what he (Prof Cheng) had taught me, learning from other teachers and from books. I found that what he (Prof Cheng) taught me is perfectly correct and accurate."
-Master T.T. Liang

Three photos with T.T. Liang in the place of honor and rank, to his teacher's right.

Carleton "Bels" (not misspelled!)

Learn Tai-Chi a.k.a. Jingle Bells

Learn Tai-Chi! Learn Tai-Chi!
Aim to be like Ray
Oh how good it is for us
When we practice every day

Verse One
Dashing through the form
In the studio at school
Shouldn't be the norm
"Soft" and "Smooth's" the rule
Use a metronome
Set it to tick slow
"Keep together and begin" are words to help us flow

Verse Two
A year or two ago
I thought I'd take a chance
And check out this new class
Cuz it may be a dance
The "Teach" is lean and lank
Misfortune not his game
We got into a thinking tank and now we share some fame Oh!

Verse Three
Now the groundwork's done
We'll keep on getting strong
Always having fun
While singing this new
Bring some friends to class
Teach them how it goes
Soon we'll have a group so large there won't be any woes Oh!

By "J.T."

Thank you so much to my Carleton Rec Class. You have made impressive progress and I look forward to working with you in 2015. Namaste!!

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Poem

I tied for first with this poem...

Dr. Seuss and the Wild Bee
Imbolc 2011

My old musty book about long, long ago,
Opened my mind about some things I know.
About Druids and Wizards, and Sages long dead,
Then a wild bee came buzzing and circling my head.

“You’re looking for something,
Your heart’s not at peace,
Your mind is in trouble,
Your worries won’t cease.”

So I asked the wild bee what all Druids knew.
She said “opposites are three, not merely two.
Three contains magic and wisdom and light,
Seen from the middle, both sides can be right!”

“The Druids knew pleasure, and peace, and knew calm.
Their knowledge brought healing, their wisdom, like balm.
Their seeing was clear and so full, full of love,
And sun and the moon gave them peace from above.”

But what of the Druids and what did they know?
And what did they do and where did they go?
The bee gave a smile and said “Listen to me,
And I will give answers to your questions three.”

“Druids knew cycles and seasons and change,
And when to step back and let Gods rearrange.
And when to be quiet, and passive, and still,
And how to enjoy, and of life, drink their fill.

The Bards wrote their poems, sang songs, and brought art.
The Ovates went inward for healing to start.
The Druids gave teachings and guidance and rite,
And all shared their blessings by day and by night.”

Now where are the Druids, and where did they go?
“They’re here with us now and this you should know.
For all are a Druid who love, live, and learn,
For a life lived in nature, for peace they do yearn.

“Now leave this wild bee alone for a while,”
And she buzzed away fast, with a mischievous smile.
So I put back my book on the library shelf,
And sat down with a Druid who was simply…

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Training in Harmony With the Seasons

"One's skill will increase during the Winter and Summer."
-Yang Ch'eng-fu

How we train is just as important as what we train. Unless we live in a region that has a constant climate, we need to adapt our training so that we can make improvement in the cold as well as the heat.

When it is hot, it is a good time to work on flexibility and strength. Our bodies expand and open up with the sun and we can safely add stretching  to our regular warm-ups. We also don't need as much time to get our joints loose or our muscles warm. Of course, we have to keep hydrated and avoid over-heating in our training. Lower stances and slower rounds are preferred in Summer.

When it is cold, it is a good time to work on breath and mindfulness. Our bodies contract with the lessening sun and we have to take much more time and care before we exercise, especially as we age. Proper clothing helps. Higher stances and more flowing rounds are preferred in Winter, especially in sub-zero weather like in my home state of Minnesota.

As the seasons change, we can slowly change and adapt to be constant in our training. The times when the weather is neither hot nor cold can also be times of great improvement.

There are many more ideas and practices but they are beyond the scope of my blog. Here is a quote, and guide, from the Tao Te Ching:

"Movement overcomes cold.
Stillness overcomes heat.
Stillness and tranquility set things in order in the universe."

-Number 43

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Visiting the Blue Ridge Mountain Immortal in Asheville

In April I had the great good fortune of visiting my elder classmate, teacher, brother, and friend, Master Paul Gallagher. I stayed at his house near Asheville N.C.which he shares with his partner Becky. Paul and Becky treated me like a spoiled brat, a little Emperor, King, and most importantly, like family. As it always does in good company, the time flew. Lessons were learned ,hearty laughs laughed, wonderful memories evoked and wonderful memories made.

Just hanging out with Master Paul was like having a private lesson 24 hours a day. We talked and discussed about so many subjects and topics. And I learned so many more details about Paul's amazing life and some of the teachers that he had that I didn't know about. Like Philip Kapleau, the famous Zen teacher. Paul studied Zen meditation with him for five years. We also talked extensively about Paul's three main Masters, Sophia Delza, T.T. Liang, and B.P. Chan. He shared the teaching from Sophia Delza about the Tai-Chi solo form " you use long postures to develop long breaths and short postures to develop short breaths." He told the story of Master Chan giving the secret to martial arts which is" we practice to know that our hand is our hand." He also gave me a copy of a personal letter that he helped Master Liang compose on the occasion of the death of Prof Cheng Man-ching, Liang's teacher. In the letter the very essence of Master Liang's 10 Guiding Principles, the mastery of Prof Cheng, and other gems from Master Liang's own art are revealed in a depth and honesty that humbled me.

Master Paul also shared with me yet another wonderful combination of postures in the solo form: Needle at Sea Bottom into Fan Through the Back.  He said that the "sea bottom" is the name for the energy center more commonly called the "tan-t'ien." The Chinese word for fan and lightening are the same, shan.  So shan could be lightening in the back.. He said the combination of the sinking motion of "needle at sea bottom" into the rising motion of "fan through the back"  is again, another physical encouragement for the energy to circulate in the Small Heavenly Cycle.

I got to spend time with Becky and got to know her on another level. She is an amazing healer and she gave me an energy healing using stones, her energy, and some very powerful affirmations which I noticed began to take effect right away. Becky and Paul  live on the side of a mountain. The air was fresh, the view was beautiful, and their home was a haven and spa for me both in body and soul. They took me to the Biltmore estate and I got to see some of the most amazing American architecture, as well as the grounds and landscape which are months ahead of Minnesota! I was also treated to many fine meals including real BBQ!!!

The most important thing for me was just to be in the presence of a person who has so deeply changed my life and affected me in so many aspects of who I really am today."New friends are silver, old friends are gold" and Paul Gallagher is the most golden of golden light.

I studied with Paul at Wu-Ming Valley House and at Deer Mountain Taoist Academy, two gorgeous places in New England. But I have to say that the Abode of the Monkey King in Asheville, North Carolina is his most amazing temple yet. I'm planning on going back in July!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Sufi Master, Shaykn Nazim Adil Al-Haqqani An-Naqshbandi passes away

My Sufi master, Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqanni passed away Tuesday, May 6 at age 92. I was looking for a Sufi teacher after doing extensive work and research into the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. I mentioned to someone that I would like to meet a real Sufi master and a few weeks later a round trip airline ticket to London came to my house in a plain letter with no return address. I went to London and met Shaykh Nazim in 1989.

As I walked up to the second floor, there was Shaykh Nazim sitting in a big open room full of people. He looked up, motioned for me to come and sit beside him, and said he'd been waiting for me. I said, "I am Ray from America" and he said "I have been waiting for Ray from America, welcome." He gave me the name Ali Ihsan, but because I couldn't pronounce it, he made it an easier name, Ali Haidar.

I went back to London 6 times and also met Shaykh Nazim two times when he visited the U.S. I had many dreams of Shaykh Nazim and a few amazing spiritual experiences and insights.I ran a Sufi Meditation Center in Minneapolis for years. One time a fellow Murid , a Sufi student or follower, came to MPLS from Malaysia to give me a message from Shaykh Nazim that his students not travel in September. That was June of 2001.

I studied with him from 1989-1998. Many aspects of my life during that decade were intimately wrapped up in my spiritual journey, like marriage, children, and lots of soul searching. Too much personal connections to mention here, but if you are interested, I have many of his books and tapes and lectures you can borrow.

Now with our master's death, I fear we will see too much politics and in-fighting among a group who are supposed to love and enlighten. Alas, there are many reasons I could not continue on the Sufi path. I still live a few of the wonderful lessons I got from Shaykn Nazim. Here are a few I still try to follow;

-Always keep good manners.
-Never intentionally break a heart.
-The time you spend with your eyes closed and your mind awake is your true spiritual life.
-There are oceans of mercy coming to you every second.
-What are you worrying about that will never come to pass?

Rest In  Peace dear teacher, thank you.

Monday, April 28, 2014

World Tai-Chi Day Demonstration at Carleton College 2014

What a great day doing guerrilla demos and  sharing Tai-Chi with people at the Weitz Center with demonstrations of Tai- Chi solo form, Tai-Chi sword, Two-Person Dance, Tai-Chi Fan, and Pa-Kua Chang. My Carelton Rec class demoed the first section of the Short Form and they looked relaxed and comfortable, as well as being in sync! Veterans Tim, Lynn, Jane, Margo, and Dan added many levels and facets to one of my best demos ever! Thank you all! Thank you to Jane for the great idea of a moving demo and Renee for organizing as well as leading with Judy and Chris.

 Tai-Chi Movements

Tai-Chi Sword

Tai-Chi Two-Person Dance

Ta-Chi Fan

Pa-Kua Chang

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bullying - A Follow Up

I receive so many wonderful messages, comments, and thank-yous for my "Bullying" blog that I feel a follow-up is due. I've been in therapy for the past few years and as I go over my life story and some of the events that happened to me, my therapist Kristina Lund always remarks that I should either be in jail, or a raging alcoholic. She points out that somebody went out of their way in my life to actually care about me and help me. She always points to my Tai-Chi teacher Master T.T. Liang. She showed me how his attention and time and teachings helped me discover the moral and social fabrics of martial arts. He truly emphasized good health, well-being, and peace of mind. Liang's kindness,concern, and subtle, and not-so-subtle, guidance were the major turning point in my developing adult life.

There is another person who truly helped me in my formative years, transitioning from a teenager to young adult. That teacher, friend, and brother, is Paul Gallagher. 16 years my senior, he befriended me and nurtured me and open my eyes and heart on many levels. He introduced me to many things in nature and art and culture, as well as Tai-Chi and meditation. Paul gave me many books that changed my life and continues to be an inspirational example of a cultured and realized human being.

 These two helped me go past the punch/kick aspect of martial arts and explore the spiritual and healing treasures that are the true hallmark of the internal martial arts, especially Tai-Chi. It's to these two men, who mothered me, and saw past my many flaws to reach out and help me realize other options in life, that I am indebted to and grateful for.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


The first two bullies in my life were my father and my brother. My father used yelling, anger, slaps, trips, and occasional punches to give pain and get my attention. He was very strong and liked to use his finger to jab me, which felt like a spike especially to an eight-year-old boy. I remember one time when I was four years old, I had an ear infection and I was on the couch being cradled by my sister and crying from the pain. My father loomed over me, screaming for me to stop crying, slapping me in the head and shouting at me saying “if you don't stop crying I'll give you something to cry about." My sister was yelling at him saying he does have something to cry about, he has an ear infection and we need to take him to the hospital.

My brother was mean and hurtful before he left for Vietnam. When he came back he was relentless. He would punch me, pinch me, pull my hair, and make me cry, which would shame me in front of everybody. He would jump at me when I walked by and I was always tense and on edge when he was around. Sometimes he’d be talking, then jump out of his chair and tackle me and tickle me so roughly that I would have bruises. He would verbally abuse me and criticize me, and point out to anybody who would listen that I was putting on weight and that I needed a bra. One time when I was in the bathroom he posted his Doberman pincher outside the door and told the dog to guard the door. Every time I tried to leave the bathroom, the dog would snarl and snap at me. I was only rescued when an adult needed to use the bathroom. What I never understood was that my mother allowed these two grown men to bully and abuse me and would only intervene when I was either really crying hard or in noticeable and extreme pain. It wasn’t bullying, it was boys being boys I guess.

I began martial arts training at my allergist’s suggestion. I wanted to, not just because it was the Bruce Lee/ David Carradine craze or to improve my health, but really because I wanted to defend myself from these two abusers. I wanted to learn how to hurt them. Of course I never thought of them as abusers or their treatment of me as abuse, maybe because they were family. I never thought of my father as a bully, just mean.  I did think of my brother as a bully. When I would learn martial arts I only had two opponents in my own life. They were the ones I researched how I could defend myself from and what I could do to hurt them, to cripple them, to even kill them, to get them to stop or to defend myself when they confronted me. And yet I never considered telling anybody, talking to someone, that I was being abused. We never use the words abuse or abused. In those days you just didn’t say anything. So I trained my martial arts diligently, consistently, and with deadly seriousness.

The day came when I had many years of training under my belt, no pun intended, and I was strong. Scary strong. I was working driving a produce truck and throwing boxes of fruit and vegetables around all day long and training martial arts every night. Weekends were marathon training sessions. No girls. No beer. No fun. Except martial arts fun. I slept four hours a night and practiced tung-sze kung. One day when I went to the house, my father and I got into a confrontation and my father began to verbally bully me and tried to intimidate me physically by stepping into my space. I angled my body slightly, looked him in the eye and said "let's go.” I saw my father hesitate, and then for the first time in my life, I saw doubt in his face. And then he did what all bullies do when facing real resistance. He caved. He walked away saying "the day I can’t beat one of my kids with my fists is the day I get a gun and shoot them." I took that as a full victory and never backed down from him again. The day he died was the day I stopped training martial arts to hurt people and begin training for my own well-being and peace of mind.

Like all bullies, my brother kept an eye on my martial arts progress, sizing up his victim, and was always wary and on guard around me. It's a good thing because I was always on guard around him, ready to unload and go to any extreme. He quickly stopped putting his hands on me and later when he became a broken-down, over-weight, has-been bully, I actually regretted not having it out with him when he was in his full prime and a worthy opponent.He's not dead, just dead to me.

As I said, because they were family I basically rolled over and played dead to these two bullies. I did have a third bully in my life. He was my classmate in fifth grade. A lot bigger than me, and with my asthma, he was also a lot stronger and healthier than me. He would also physically abuse me and verbally abuse me all under the guise of being my "friend." One day out on the playground at recess he wrestled me to the ground, which he done many times, and tickled me violently, which can truly be a form of torture when you don't want to be tickled. I was a weak little boy. I could not resist. This day, a Friday, I will never forget it. After he had me on the ground, he reached between my legs and grabbed one of my testicles, and began to squeeze. It was excruciating. I was both writhing in pain and paralyzed at the same time. I begged him to stop and he wouldn't. To make it worse in my eleven-year-old world, four girls were watching the whole proceeding and I was mortified to think that they saw him squeezing one of my balls. He was laughing and experimenting with various pressures and at one point I thought I was going to pass out. The girls were laughing too. I was in agony both physically and emotionally. Only the bell ringing stopped his rampage of my being.

That whole weekend I stewed over it. I was angry and ashamed and then an ice cold feeling of vengeance came upon me. I didn't care if he was bigger than me or that he would beat me to a pulp when I took my revenge. He had accomplished what my father and brother had started. He had destroyed me and there was no one left. I decided the first thing I would do when I saw him Monday morning was to punch him in the head as hard as I could.

The whole weekend I thought about it, visualized it, and even practiced it. For once I couldn't wait to go to school! As soon as I got in the hall and I saw him standing at his locker. I went over to him with full intention in my stride. When he saw me he smiled, that smile of knowing, like he got away with the craziest thing with me and now our relationship has truly changed. He started laughing and said hi to me and that's when I hauled back and I hit him as hard as I could. He was able to turn his head but I caught him full in the ear and it smashed his head against the locker. I braced myself for his return onslaught. He was big, he was strong, and he was used to hurting me. It never came. He sat down and held his ear and said “what did you do that for?” He started to cry a little. I said it was for what you did to me on Friday. He gave the most cowardly answer he could, “I didn't mean to hurt you, I was just playing around."

Bullying equals abuse and needs to be looked at that way, felt that way, and spoken about that way until we stop bullying on all levels. With the new bullying law in Minnesota and all the different social and psychological ideas about how to handle bullies, in my personal experience, the only way to handle a bully is head on...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Poem

From Cernunnos

Lust is easily satisfied.

Love is easily pacified.

Only when lust and love are joined

Does the inner fire ignite,

And true communion begin…


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Guest Blogger, Fred Sparks

 My guest writer is Fred Sparks, my fellow Massachusetts-ite, Sufi seeker, and T'ai-Chi practitioner. Thank you Fred for your beautiful words and wonderful insights.-R.H.

                                                      (Demo, Lexington MA. 1979)

There once was a young man who needed guidance and hope. He was raised in a place and time where such things were sparse, and like most young men of his town, his future was in jeopardy. Young men either went to college or joined the military, or faced a future of trade or factory work, or crime and institutions. Most ended up in the latter. He could have become anything he set his mind to but he did not know that. But some else did.

Through his own interests in martial arts, perseverance, and chance- at a young and impressionable age- he met Master Liang, a man who would change the course of his life, and through him, countless others. Master Liang saw the good in him and the potential. As was his traditional proven ways and life experiences, he did not make it easy for the young man, nor did he do it for free, but he did it none the less. The old master had his own secret agenda hidden in the best hiding place of all; right out in the open. His own art and life would never be complete without it. He had to help someone. He had to make a difference in a stranger's life. He believed in the power of transformation and possibility. And he had a vehicle by which to do it, his art of Tai Chi Ch'uan.

                                (Master Liang, Alex, and Ray Hayward, St Cloud MN, 1988)


Slowly over a period of time, the Master's wisdom and vision proved true. Through his patience, skill and wisdom, and the effort, determination and perseverance of the young man, the dream came true, the "imagination became reality". The work was not in vain. The young man grew, and grew, and grew.

But the Master's teachings were not ordinary teachings. They could not be obtained by a signature or through a fee. They would continue to change and aid the young man throughout his whole life. They held an enormous power. Arguably the most powerful thing in our human experience.

This power, this transformation, and the epitome of the Master's art is hidden out in the open, recorded here in this one simple photograph, for all the world to see. That power is love. And his work of art is you. May God's peace, blessing and strength be with you and everyone life you touch. Namaste.

Fred Sparks

                                            (Omega Institute, Hoosick Falls NY, 1979)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Joe Lang

I have had the great good fortune to have had many teachers, mentors, and masters in my life.In my pursuits of Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, Alchemy, Rosslyn Chapel, Scottish history, and life, Joe Lang stands as one of my closest masters and teachers, as well as being my brother and friend, my pal.

                            (Joe, me and Todd J. at the Apprentice Pillar in Rosslyn Chapel, 2004.)

Joe is not only a teacher, historian and poet, he is a blacksmith, carpenter, and stonemason. Having spent a lot of his life in Roslin village, he learned these trades in the old master/apprentice tradition. Joe also worked building power-plants and setting up power lines. He had a job offer in Australia, to help build new power plants and update old ones.As his wife was finishing the last of the packing, Joe told Ruby he needed to take one more walk through the glen, around the castle, and have a last look at the chapel. When he returned, he saw Ruby un-packing! He said "You know me better than I do myself. You knew I couldn't leave!."

     (Joe and the love of his life, Ruby. I drank scotch and lemonade with Ruby as we ate pancakes.)

I got to tour Rosslyn Chapel with Joe many times, and he took me to visit lodges and go on various adventures around Edinburgh. We also went many times to Temple, known as Balantrodoch, to visit the old Templar site and see Masonic gravestones. Joe encouraged me to walk the old Templar road behind the stone wall that is now mostly overgrown.

                                     ( Meeting Joe at Roslin to work on his book of poems, 2007.)

Joe recited this poem for Todd and I in the Glen, we all shed tears and it is one of the best memories of my life;

In Rosslyn's Glen

When the licht i' the lift gauns aa stottery,
Braw Rosslyn's Glen wad be nae-mair.
Then aa the warld wad quit its rotary an aa wad dee.
Then aa thing wad be turned tae stoor
And time wad birl into its langest hoor,
Ner wad we sit in yon flowery-bower again,
In Rosslyn's Glen.

The Esk wad gie ower its sweet churmurmin'
And cannie-nannies stop their burmerin'
Then stoot castle waa's wad aa be tummilin'
Oot ower the kingfisher's nest.

Then hind and stag wad freeze until bleck bleck naethin'
Braw leaves on trees wad never be.
Then I wad greet ayont eternity,
For Rosslyn's Glen

-Joseph Lang, copyright 2006

From Joe's book

                                (Joe's last tour of Rosslyn Chapel with Susan Jones and me, 2011.)

I hope to see Joe this year in June.Either way, he is always in my heart and thoughts. Namaste dear teacher...


Saturday, February 15, 2014

A face for radio

Last week I was interview by Wayne Eddy on KYNM in Northfield. It was fun to talk about T'ai-Chi, teaching, learning, dog sledding and my life story. He asked great questions and two hours flew by. I hope I get asked back, hint, hint. Here is a link to the episode;

Thank you to Renee and my Carleton T'ai-Chi students for making this connection. I did make a shameless plug for my T'ai-Chi classes and for the dog sledding. Here is a link to go mushing!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Burns Night 2014

 January has proven to be an exciting and busy month for me! Dog sledding, Burns Night, my birthday (precious) and so many new classes and opportunities, plus I'm finally finishing my books on my family ancestry and A.T.C. Pierson......WHEW!! Chinese New Year next month, guest instructing, and my new classes keep me jumping, plus Jim and Yaseen are a special part of my weekly schedule that I look forward to, being with them and yes...Game of Thrones baby!

I went to the Duluth Scottish HeritageAssociation's Burns Night last Saturday with my friend Dan and we had an amazing time honoring and celebrating the Bard and hanging out with my Masonic mentor, Judge David Sinclair Bouschor, who is writing the forward to one of my books.Cock-a-leeky soup, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, and a wee dram, Och Aye that was grand!

In spite of the freezing weather I'll keep you posted on how my February is heating up!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A New Apprenticeship

"Each age tends to create a model of apprenticeship that is suited to the system of production that prevails at the time."
-Robert Greene

Reading the book Mastery by Robert Greene I am struck with how perfect was the apprenticeship I received under Master T.T. Liang. His advice of "learn from many teachers, read many books but only by constant practice can you discover the truth for yourself" is a timeless theorem for the path to mastery. 

With the advent of the "information era" and social media, plus access to more information and knowledge than we could ever process in anyone lifetime, we still must follow the correct path to mastery which includes an apprenticeship. Here you must learn as much as you can. When you have some experience and competence, you become a journeyman or a fellow of the craft, and it is from there that you graduate to become a master. Modern Freemasonry uses these three steps to gaining self-knowledge. Ancient chivalric code required you start as a page, advance to become a squire, and the be acknowledged as a master by becoming a knight.


Even just a few generations before Master Liang's it was rare for a student to get their hands on any kind of written materials on T'ai-Chi, Ch'i-Kung, or meditation arts. Not only did Master Liang study with many teachers, he had an extensive library and collection of books. 

He also took numerous photographs and 8mm movies. Sometimes he would come to class with a China Airlines satchel which was full of books and papers and we would begin class with him reading and discussing what we were going to practice or learn. As a special treat sometimes he would come in the door with a movie screen and projector under his arms and he would show us movies of his teachers and give us commentary and  descriptions of what we were watching. Indeed I not only learned how to observe but how to learn from movies and photographs.YouTube is a great way to see many of the older generation of Masters in action. 

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then a movie is worth 10,000 words, but a feeling is worth 1 million words!

Not only was I exposed to many different arts but I was given insight into teaching and learning. I also watched how Master Liang adapted ancient principles to an ever-changing modern world without losing the essential and invaluable theories and principles. He introduced exact counts and music to help students with the rhythm and flow of the movements.

A classical education does not mean learning old-fashioned methods. It means learning time-tested lessons and values. Seminars, workshops, weekend retreats etc. are all part of the learning process. They cannot, however, replace regular instruction and guidance under a mentor or master who unlocks for you the secrets of your own learning style. Master Liang's teacher, Prof. Cheng Man-Ch'ing took four years to shorten the 150 posture long form into a more easier version for learning, his 37 posture short form masterpiece. Master Liang saw the professor revise this form 11 times during his own 20 year association with his teacher.

Our challenge today as teachers, and students, is to learn how to take what is good and discard what is bad. To learn by imitation, understand by assimilation, and master by innovation.

I would suggest two books;

Mastery by George Leonard

Mastery by Robert Greene