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Arrival: Beijing #15

by Bernard H. Wood on September 13, 2013

Trips and Tales: Part 126

Truer paths #2

The thread underlying PA‘s tales (see last blog post) seem to be one of authenticity: the search for the real deal. Well, as close as he can realistically achieve at least. Hence the bicycle hop from hostel to hostel across the Hutongs in Beijing and beyond rather than narrated tourist excursions and stays in plush hotels – “with all the comforts of home”. He balks at the mention of the British ex-pats, as if these interlopers wish to draw a line around their community and call it Little England. That, for him, would be missing the point.

An image from a visit to Beijing University

It’s interesting to see that whole issue from a different perspective. I mean, complaints are made here in the UK about them coming-over ‘ere and wanting to bring their culture, laws, way of life, and yes, their flaws and hostilities, too. Don’t we as a nation often do the same elsewhere? In very crude terms, the Pilgrim Fathers certainly didn’t hit the New World with the intention of living in teepees; that’s for sure.

So much for multiculturalism; although I’m a subscriber I have to wonder: did it ever really exist outside the documents of some well-meaning but naïve political initiative?

PA found the most interesting company in those who were just passing through on one quest or another. Those homing in on that same thread of authenticity that laced the Hutongs, the traditions, the spirituality and the cultural history. Let the tourists argue over back-home football results, and complain about how over-crowded the shopping centres are. This is not about a city-break or where you buy fish and chips, but part of the process of sorting out and re-arranging PA‘s existence, to prioritise the important, deal with the adverse and obtain insight and perspective. Some truth in other words (and hopefully more…)

You see, PA is ill. He has leukaemia and has been dealing with it since his diagnosis in 2007. Time for truth, then. A major resource in tackling it has been the life-path that he had already started upon, embracing the teachings of Qigong. It means “life energy cultivation” and encompasses the whole being: mental, physical and spiritual. It is exercise, meditation and medicine combined with a philosophy that centres on the truth of being, awakening a practitioner’s true nature in the process.

PA has gained a perspective on life – and his illness as a part of that – and remarks upon how it gives him “room to deal” with thoughts as they arise, acknowledging their presence without allowing them to drag him off on some wild, destructive ride.

So, in control, he ventured in mind and body and spirit, to and through the land in which the practice originated – homing in on the mother lode.

Outside of the everyday “management” tools at his disposal, PA recalls tales of the abilities and exploits of true Qigong masters that border upon the supernatural. The ability to look directly at the sun for 20 minutes (just don’t even attempt this – even for seconds), the viewing of internal organs – either literally or in terms of their life-force, and the healing or complete cures at the hands of such luminaries. These are amongst some of those whom he met first-hand.

He speaks the most highly of Master Wei, who gave him some healing of his own, administered silently through massage in two, hourly sessions. This, within a Chi-field created by the master himself. “It felt like a curse had been removed,” PA reflected. “For two days I was convinced I was disease-free.” Then, perhaps rashly, he left to pursue his travels, buoyed up by the strength of this new conviction. But, it seems, these things take time. For, away from the Master’s hands and on his own path again, the symptoms of the disease – now unchallenged – slowly, surely, like a shadow, returned.

More next time.


[Photo by Peter Mooney]

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