This book chronicles the first seven years of an extraordinary apprenticeship that took place in Toronto between the author and a celebrated chi kung master from Shanghai. Chi kung is sometimes described as an internal martial art, and during the author’s apprenticeship, he learned how to manipulate the mysterious life force called chi. Originally, the author wanted to interview the chi kung master after watching him perform on Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Instead, the author became an unwitting apprentice and embarked on an incredible journey of inner exploration that continues to this day.
Many astonishing events occurred during the apprenticeship, such as frequent telepathic exchanges between master and student, the throwing of chi-energy over great distances, and at least one instance of what could be called Jedi mind control, right out of the movie Star Wars. To complete the first phase of the apprenticeship, the author had to pass a big test, but the nature of the big test was never disclosed. In fact, an important part of the big test was discovering exactly what the big consisted of, and this detective work is the narrative thread that pulls the reader through the story to its startling conclusion. By turns, suspenseful, philosophical and humorous, this book takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the mysterious world of chi kung.
The Sensual Nature of Knowledge
The first session. I empty my pockets of change and remove my watch. Dr. Chow has explained that during chi kung practice any metal on your person can take on an electric charge, absorbing energy that would otherwise move through your body. I climb onto the examining table, stretch out my limbs, and wait.
Dr. Chow whirls inside the room, takes my arms, which are folded across my chest, and gently places them by my side. Stepping back, he moves his eyes along the surface of my body as if tracing invisible lines of energy.
“One thing,” he says in a deep baritone. “No misuse my chi.”
“Misuse your chi?”
“Once have student misuse my chi, so take chi back. So give you this warning.”
I ask myself how someone could misuse the doctor’s chi. At this stage I can barely fathom how a person could use the doctor’s chi, but Dr. Chow’s prudential concern about his chi impresses me. He tells me to shut my eyes, and I do, thereby dashing any hopes of seeing him in action.
“How should I breathe?”
“Like bird fly and fish swim.”
“And while I’m flying like a bird and swimming like a fish, what am I supposed to be doing?”
“Pay attention, and no fall asleep,” he says.
“Pay attention to what?”
“To your body,” he says. “And no talk anymore.”
A few seconds pass, and then I hear the rustle of his sleeves. Is he moving his arms in the same corkscrew motion I saw on television? I keep my eyes shut, and when I open them, he has gone, and the room is in darkness. My attention shifts to my body where a tightness in my chest is causing me discomfort. Have I pulled a muscle? A sensation of heat begins in my sternum, and now a faint beating begins as if someone were tapping a finger in the small declivity. No, not a finger—a fingernail. The beating intensifies, taking on a sharp edge. It would be impossible to fall asleep with this sharp rhythmic beating. What am I to make of all this? Is this sensation the result of the doctor’s chi? Or am I just imagining it? I do not think this is my imagination, but how would I know for sure?
Half an hour later there is a light knock on the door—the first of the thirty-six sessions is over. In the waiting room the doctor hands me a sheet of paper with a line of Chinese scrawled across the top. Underneath the scrawl I am obliged to record my impressions, a ritual I must complete after each session. As I begin writing, a sudden surge of energy moves across my breastbone, and I include this in my notes.
The second session. Dr. Chow performs his unseen gestures, leaves the examining room, and the sharp beating in my sternum resumes. This is not my imagination. This is real. Within ten minutes the sensation has grown stronger. I can endure it, but it is not altogether pleasant. Chi kung better than sex? You would have to be a masochist. My mind begins to wander, but the rhythmic beating—now a stabbing—recalls me to my body.
The stabbing chi leaves my sternum abruptly and draws a line to my abdomen, lodging about an inch and a half below my navel. There it remains for about a minute, before traveling back to my sternum. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. This I have not expected; this I have not visualized; this I have not desired. And yet the sensation is as real and palpable as if a sewing machine were deep-stitching a line up and down my stomach.
In his office Dr. Chow explains that the sternum acupoint I have discovered is the heart point, also known as the shan chung or the middle dan tian. The abdomen acupoint below my navel, he says, is known as the lower dan tian, or simply, the dan tian.
I am glad he did not tell me any of this earlier. Ignorant of the ways of chi kung, I am bypassing the filter of my mind and acquiring knowledge directly through my senses. I ask Dr. Chow about the function of the dan tian. The dan tian, Dr. Chow says, is the furnace of chi and one of its main storehouses.
As he speaks I glance at his folded hands, which, in repose, are undistinguished, the youthful skin stretched across ropes of tendons. The square fingers are of medium length; the spatulate nails pared down and etched with thin white lines. Who would ever suspect these ordinary fingers could wield such prodigious energy? (http://sentientpublications.com/catalog/mysteries_excerpt.php)
Peter Meech was born in Toronto, is a citizen of the United States and Canada , and received a Master’s degree in communications from Stanford University, where he won a Stanford Nicol award for writing. He currently gives private instruction to students in chi kung and is a writer and producer. Peter has served as a script doctor on several feature films, and was a director of Island Films, which, in conjunction with Atlantis Films, produced Vincent Price’s Dracula and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s I Know a Secret. He has written for a variety of television shows, including Dracula: the Series, (syndicated), Ready or Not (Showtime), Tintin (HBO) Masked Rider (FOX Family), VR Troopers (FOX Family) and Emily of New Moon (Disney). Peter spent two years writing for German television. He also worked in Japan, producing a Japanese movie with Robbie Robertson entitled Jenifa, starring Jennifer Holmes and Takayuki Yamada, which premiered in Tokyo in May, 2004. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, the Animation Caucus of the WGA, the Writer’s Guild of Canada, the British Academy of Film and Television, and the Screen Actor’s Guild. Peter currently has several projects in development and lives in Los Angeles)