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Book Review: Nei Kung: The Secret Teachings of the Warrior Sages

In his first book, The Magus of Java, Kosta Danaos wrote of his encounter with a Taoist master living on the island of Java.  Nei Kung is the sequel, attempting to amplify the teachings of this particular Taoist lineage in light of Danaos’ knowledge and experiences onto a much broader set of issues related to human spirituality, society and understanding of the world.

 

It is difficult to adequately convey a unifying impression of Kosta Danaos’ second book; it seems to defy single interpretation, perhaps by design.  It is challenging, diverse, mixing personal experience, concrete technique and informed speculation into something that is less a synthesis than a series of thematically-related inspirational materials.

The book takes a great deal of time explaining Danaos’ speculative views of the spiritual underpinnings of human history, pre-history, evolution, physics and many other subjects, but the real treasures in the book are the fruits of personal experience, some his own and some from those he has encountered along the way.

What really commends Danaos’ book to any spiritual seeker are the personal accounts of spiritual life, almost any one of which would individually have made the book worth reading!  In one passage, Danaos finds himself conversing with the spirits of a mountain in Greece, who ask him to intervene to stop a strip-mining operation.  Accounts of such spirits inherent in the natural world are common to many traditions, including Taoism and both Celtic Druidism and the Celtic Christianity which succeeded it (Celtic saints’ lives are often predominantly accounts of their power in the natural world).  The Eastern Christian mystical tradition is filled with similar phenomena as well.  Consideration and study of these beings, in whatever mode they may exist, is more than timely as we are faced with the damage done to the earth by modern man.

In another account, Danaos meets a man who was literally a week dead and about to be cremated when he returned to his body, having had a profound spiritual encounter.  He woke up with a sudden perfect knowledge of Mandarin, though he had spoken only English before.  These narratives are coupled with a call to meditation and self-cultivation that is earnest and backed by a profundity of experience and conviction.

 

Danaos’ speculations, while undeniably interesting and occasionally enlightening (particularly those pertaining to spirituality in the distant past), are given in something of a shorthand way, leaving the picture too incomplete for the reader to draw conclusions one way or another.  That said, there are many points on which I feel that Danaos is undeniably correct, such as his observations about the enhanced natural faculties of so-called non-civilized peoples.  I believe he is also correct in his reconciliation of divine love with human suffering on the basis of freedom of choice, although how exactly it fits in with the foregoing discussion of guided evolution is not clear.  These passages are worth reading as part of ongoing discussion of these issues, but not enough of a clear picture emerges to evaluate their merits as theories.

Reading what Danaos had to say on the difference between religion and spirituality was timely, as we’ve just finished the first unit on Spirituality for the Resilient Life Code, which contains a detailed account of the institutionalization process as it affects spiritual traditions.  Danaos perhaps doesn’t have a complete picture of the process as it affects Christianity (nor for that matter a very complete view of the original Christian spiritual tradition, though as a Greek, he is more aware of it than most other authors), but he’s on the right track on many points.  In particular, his characterization of the Emperor Constantine’s character and motives is highly amusing.

Danaos’ views on the nature of (human) spirits struck me as the oddest thing about the whole book.  His account is either incomplete or imprecise.  He identifies the spirit with the unconscious- a lower, yin faculty without the power of active thought or decision, a simple reservoir of whatever impressions it gains in life, and helpless to think, learn or act after death.  He advocates meditation as a means not just of merging the conscious with the subconscious, which it is, but of more firmly imprinting the image of the conscious mind onto the subconscious so that we can maintain a more substantial “selfhood” after death.

I am not certain this view squares even with the experiences he recounts, still less with the broader view of many authentic ancient traditions.  Most traditions would identify the spirit not as the subconscious mind, and definitely not as an impotent lower faculty, but rather as the higher faculty on which we are working through meditation in order to render it clear, to bring it to its true nature.  This being the case, we need not have any doubts of the power of a realized spirit, in the body or out of it.  Not only does the reversal of the classical yin-yang associations of body and spirit strike me as odd, but Danaos’ position on the issue reminds me of the conversation of Odysseus with the shades of his fallen companions at the gates of the underworld.  The shades are portrayed as miserable, lifeless shadows, whose only ambition is to drink the blood of living things sacrificed to them, in order to taste a little of life.  Achilles’ shade even says, “I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man’s house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead.”  And remember, these were the great heroes, entitled to the Elysian Fields, not the common mass of humanity.  This was exactly the kind of existential pessimism that the late Romans began to reject in perhaps one of the greatest spiritual awakenings in history.

Don’t expect to actually encounter an abundance of practical Nei Kung teachings, despite the title.  At most, this book provides a guide to basic energy-cultivation meditation, coupled with a theoretical picture of what the higher levels look like.  As no doubt with many ancient lineages, when it comes to spreading knowledge beyond the traditional master-disciple relationship, this one is still dipping a toe in the water.

I don’t wish to come across as overly critical; this is a marvellous and inspirational book.  Its overall message is sound, even if its speculations are sometimes scattered or incomplete.

Now, if you would like to acquaint yourself with Kosta’s master, “John Chang”, just click on the link below and turn up your speakers:

 

~Dr. Symeon Rodger


Never Before Revealed: Resilience Secrets of the Hobbit…

[Spoiler Alert – book and movie!]

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit…”

…and you find true resilience in the unlikeliest of places!

J.R.R. Tolkien created the hobbits to represent everything stable and ordinary and decent about rural Britain.  Hobbits tend their farms and eat too much and have fun, but are absolutely harmless and uninterested in adventures or the affairs of the Big People.

And yet, in The Hobbit, the fate of three kingdoms will hang on the actions of Bilbo Baggins, just as the fate of the entire world will hang on his nephew Frodo in Lord of the Rings.  It all comes down to a mysterious decision by Gandalf, the great wizard.  Thirteen dwarves intent on wresting their mountain kingdom from the evil dragon, Smaug, have need of the services of a burglar.  This dragon is a creation of Morgoth, a fallen higher being and the worst threat the world had ever faced; there are suggestions in the Silmarillion that dragons themselves may be spiritual creatures turned to Morgoth’s side.  Gandalf would know- he himself is a higher being, called into the world by Galadriel.  Having taken up human form, his mission is to protect the world from the next foray by the dark powers.  That means Smaug and his kind.  Gandalf’s answer?

 

Gandalf decides to back thirteen vagrant dwarvish warriors and their forlorn quest.  But, he emphasizes, the quest may depend on securing the services of someone even more formidable- a hobbit.  This decision to counter a fire-breathing dragon with a creature whose main concerns to that point had been eating, drinking, pipe-smoking and gardening might seem rather odd.  Even stranger, Bilbo’s role was to be The Burglar.  Not only was he no warrior, he most likely hadn’t stolen anything more than a few peeps at the neighborhood girls.

Bilbo certainly thought little of the idea: “We don’t want any adventures here- nasty, inconvenient uncomfortable things.  Make you late for dinner.”  Gandalf, however, would not take no for an answer and invited thirteen dwarves to dinner at Bilbo’s to make him listen to the whole thing.  You see, Gandalf knew that, once presented with the whole picture, Bilbo wouldn’t be able to bring himself to refuse.

 

But what made this hobbit ideal for his pivotal role?

Bilbo was stalled in his own personal development, so much so that he saw no need to develop.  But although stalled, he was neither corrupt nor cynical.  He had the values of an ordinary, decent person, and this is why he first embarks on and then sticks with the quest.  He doesn’t want to go- but the thought of turning down the opportunity to see the world and be part of something really significant was too much for him.  Although hardship does tempt him to abandon his friends, Bilbo chooses to stick with them when they are confronted with orcs and giant wolves, precisely because they don’t have a home to go back to as he does.  Bilbo was willing to sacrifice for his friends.

Zhuge Liang, Chinese strategist, administrator and polymath, once wrote, “Straight trees are found in remote forests; upright people come from the commons. Therefore when rulers are going to make appointments they need to look in obscure places.”  Gandalf certainly couldn’t have picked a more obscure place than the Shire and Bilbo is more “upright” – meaning he has more character and can be relied on to do the morally right thing where others would cave in to their own short-term convenience – than many of his fellow adventurers.

 

Bilbo’s second asset is his immensely flexible mindset.  Whatever circumstance he is dropped into, he reacts with presence of mind and does whatever needs doing to move forward.  If that means playing a game of riddles with a wizened schizophrenic cannibal in a dark cave, he goes along with it.  If it means charging a wolf to rescue his friend, he’ll do that.  If it means flattering a dragon silly to get it to delay eating him and reveal the chink in its armour he’ll do that.  If it means negotiating the dwarves’ mistrust and doubts with some hard-headed bargaining, he’ll do that.  If it means discussing the culinary vices of roast dwarf with three trolls until the sun rises, he’ll do that.  He keeps putting one foot in front of the other, and when he’s at his wits’ end, he changes the rules.  During the riddle game, Bilbo is one riddle away from being eaten and can’t think of another riddle, so he asks Gollum what he has in his pockets- breaking the rules of the game, but putting off being devoured.

Bilbo’s no great fighter, nor does he have any non-culinary talent worth mentioning other than this ability to be dropped into any situation and come back again better than he arrived.  That last bit is important, because it isn’t just ingenuity that gets Bilbo out of tight squeezes – it’s the universe rooting for him.  He’s open to what comes his way, and while it can get him into trouble, it saves his life several times.  He isn’t relying only on himself, and it is for that exact reason that he always comes out of a situation a little better than he arrived in it.

 

There is a rather weak scene in the film where Gandalf attempts to explain to the beautiful Galadriel exactly why a hobbit is necessary baggage on this mission.  The truth is that Gandalf does not like to, and until his transformation into Gandalf the White generally will not, rely on great power or might to do his work.  Good, as he says, is found in the little people of the world, not in armies or empires, and in order to work for the good, Gandalf will always rely on a small and unlikely band of people armed with courage, faith and sharp wits (your mileage may vary) and bound by integrity over armies or magic.  That his closest friend among his own order is the bird dropping-adorned naturalist Radagast reinforces this bent in Gandalf’s character.

 

On the other side, of course, there’s Bilbo, middle-aged, comfortable, not accomplishing anything in particular when Gandalf shows up.  Gandalf has faith that given the opportunity, this anonymous little scrap of hobbit will rise to the occasion.  He doesn’t force Bilbo to go, but he has faith that Bilbo will, not for the gold, not to have his name remembered or even because he particularly wants to but because the dwarves have given him something to believe in, a chance to matter, an opportunity to help their whole nation.   Without that chance, and without Gandalf’s belief and persistence, he would have remained just as he was until the end of his days.  With it, his actions lead to the downfall of the enemy of all life.

Throughout Tolkien’s work, Hobbits are the poster children for resilience and the certainty that ordinary, decent people can do surprising, amazing things when given the chance to do something that matters.

 

Dwarvish Brittleness

 

The Dwarves are an effective counterpoint to Bilbo’s form of resilience.  While on the face of it, the dwarves seem in every way tougher and more resilient than the hobbit, the reverse is true.

On the one hand, the dwarves are strong, courageous, extremely determined and have kept their cause alive throughout long years of wandering and exile.  But this limited form of resilience is offset by a rigidity that renders them extremely brittle, particularly where their leader Thorin is concerned.

 

Thorin sets out with twelve loyal companions to recapture his grandfather’s kingdom, showing courage and faith.  But he frequently quarrels with Gandalf, a rather powerful being and his most important ally.  When Gandalf proposes they take Bilbo, Thorin disputes the choice, and will continue to doubt and quarrel with Bilbo throughout the journey, even once Bilbo has repeatedly proven his worth.  Thorin likewise does everything possible to avoid getting any help at all from the elves, near-immortal beings of immense knowledge, at least some of whom might have been willing to assist the dwarves.  Thorin is bitter that the elves who lived near his homeland didn’t charge into certain death in a hopeless attempt to save the dwarves from Smaug, and this feeling extends to all elves, including the ones who weren’t there.  This inflexibility will continue to get Thorin into trouble, to the point where his admitted virtues will not be able to save him (I did remember to put a spoiler alert at the top, didn’t I?  Anyway, read the book.)

 

We hear that Thror, Thorin’s grandfather and king-under-the-mountain, was corrupted by his love of gold and of the Arkenstone, a gem found within the mountain.  Thror was deluded into believing that his kingdom was eternal, and not only ended up with few friends in the outside world, but attracted a creature even more gold-hungry than himself.  After Smaug drove him out of his kingdom, Thror spent the rest of his life fighting hopeless battles until at last, even his armour-plated beard couldn’t save him.  The dwarves united to avenge his death, and though they won in battle against the orcs, the dwarves were severely weakened.  Perhaps it is no accident that when Thorin attacks Azog, the orc who killed Thror, the theme music is the same used for the Ringwraiths in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  This pattern of rigidity, insularity, greed and general inability to get along with people who are on their side continues for the dwarves until Galadriel finally manages to get through to Gimli in Fellowship of the Ring.

 

Consider the Following

 

We all know a great many “hobbits” and a few “dwarves”.  In this world, the “hobbits” are not only looked down upon, they are taught to look down on themselves.  How many do you know that are ripe for new challenges and a more meaningful life?  What can you do to help?  How many people around you could do something extraordinary if given the chance?  How many are so far gone that they wouldn’t even believe in the possibility?  How can you help to restore their faith in themselves?

On the other hand, how many people do you know who have fallen prey to the tendencies which dog Thorin, and are suffering for it, some without even knowing it?  Chances are, a number of them are in leadership positions, and a number of others are collapsing into a state of bitterness.  What can you do to help them?

 

The Hobbit and the Dwarf, in fact, represent two sides of the resilience coin and both are necessary.  Another way of describing this that we’ve used before is the “Yin” and “Yang” of resilience:

The Dwarves are all too much “Yang” in their approach – they have the determination, ferocity and bravado, as well as the physical skills to match.  Yet they’re not entirely in charge of their own thinking – all too easily they’re carried away by their own prejudices, assumptions and preconceived ideas.  They allow their own eyes to deceive them.  And they don’t always have the character to do the right thing even when that’s damned inconvenient.

The average Hobbit, being much more “Yin” in his approach, does have that character and, when the moment arises, that character is what allows him to rise to the occasion in an astounding way.  He is far less the prisoner of his own limited vision and his temper seldom gets the better of him.  Now, let’s be clear; Bilbo could use a healthy dose of the Dwarves’ warrior skills, no doubt about it!  However, those skills can be taught and learned much easier than character and mastery of one’s emotions.

As we cultivate our own resilience day in and day out, we need to be conscious of precisely this “yin-yang” balance in our approach.  Some of us think resilience will come entirely from working out at the gym.  Others of us expect it to come exclusively from our meditation sessions.  In both cases we’re fooling ourselves – we need to strive for this balance in our training.

~Dr. Symeon Rodger 


Rid Yourself of Myths, Lies and False Assumptions

READING!  It’s a vital component in your quest for personal resilience.  When you engage with new information that challenges your assumptions and expands your horizons, you enter on a journey outside your intellectual comfort zone and embrace the great mysteries of life.

You may have heard me talk about how vital this is.  In fact, if you’re in the Resilient Life Code program, I’ve been going over this with you in some detail.  First, your personal resilience is built on TRUTH, where truth is to be understood as the way the universe works, the way things really are.  Get this wrong and you’ll have a really hard time growing and thriving as a person.  Fundamentally, there’s only ONE question that all of us individually and we as a species need to continually ask ourselves:

“What do we, as the collective human race, actually KNOW?  What can we absolutely prove, what can we definitively disprove and what appears, on the basis of all the evidence, to be very likely true?”

When you start asking that toughest of all questions and you’re open to the real answers, your life will change.  You’ll start to see how many false assumptions and sometimes outright lies we, as a civilization, have settled down to live with and, surprisingly, how those untruths are sabotaging your own life on a daily basis.

To help you along with that, I’d like to recommend you read this amazing book by best-selling author Gregg Braden.  It’s called:


Deep Truth: Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny and Fate

Gregg uses his own scientific background to break down the barriers between the various silos in the scientific community and between science and spirituality to produce a real tour de force on what we individually and all of us together will need to do to survive and thrive the massive changes coming down the pipe within the next 5-10 years.

The book brings to light 6 Deep Truths:

1. To deal with the crises threatening our world, we have to accept what the latest science is revealing about who we are and where we come from – about human origins.  As he puts it, “The false assumptions of long-standing beliefs regarding evolution and human origins make little sense in the face of recent discoveries throughout the sciences.”  This requires all of us to look at the big picture and to objectively evaluate the real evidence – something many people, including many scientists and academics, are notoriously reluctant to do.

2. The reluctance of mainstream education to embrace the latest discoveries is keeping us stuck in old ways of thinking that cannot address the problems we now face.  Instead, much of what is taught in our educational institutions was proven incorrect decades ago. The way we have thought about ourselves, each other and the earth for the last 300 years in particular (the era whose thought has been formed by Newton and Descartes) is based on outdated and incorrect science, yet we persist in living our lives and teaching our children as if it were actually true.

3. We need to work together and stop pointing fingers, because the multiple crises we now face are all reaching their tipping points at the same time (food, water, climate change, population growth).

4. New discoveries of advanced human civilizations dating back to near the end of the last ice age provide clues as to how we might overcome some of the same challenges our ancient ancestors did.  These discoveries also prove that our conventional 5000 year linear timeline of history is wrong.  Egyptology is one shining example among many of where the experts have spent the last century altering the facts to fit a preconceived theory.

5. A growing body of scientific evidence from various disciplines, gathered using the latest technology, proves beyond any reasonable doubt that humankind reflects a design put into place at once, rather than a life-form that emerged randomly through an evolutionary process over a long period of time.  In other words, the theory of evolution is wrong in several key areas – the scientific evidence is very much against it. [ However, biblical creationists should not take heart, because they are also mistaken].

6. More than 400 peer reviewed studies have concluded that violent competition and war directly contradict how the human being is wired internally.

What I Love about Gregg’s Book

Gregg looks at all the evidence dispassionately – he doesn’t have an agenda other than finding out what’s really true.  He integrates massive amounts of information and synthesizes it for you so you can readily understand the implications for your own life and for the planet as a whole.

So if you want to get the big picture – and it’s a lot harder to build your personal resilience without that big picture – I would strongly suggest you consider reading this book!  You’ll get the bottom line on the latest discoveries related to things as diverse as quantum physics, developmental biology, epigenetics, ancient history, climate change, evolution and the Mayan calendar ending in 2012.  Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be very well equipped to evaluate some of the other information you’re being exposed to by the media, you’ll be much more resistant to subtle manipulation and you’ll have a firm foundation in FACTS to move forward with your life.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂




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