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Dragon Gate Exercises for Self-Cultivation

The deliberate, systematic cultivation of the mind-body organism is the great legacy of the Taoist Complete Reality school. Although it’s easy to get lost in the complexities of the systems, there are plenty of simple ways to put these principles into practice whenever you have a few minutes to spare, or even in the middle of an everyday activity. Jonathan Blank’s book Secrets of Dragon Gate with Dragon Gate sect lineage-holder Dr. Steven Liu provides an accessible overview of some of these exercises:


The following are a few exercises that can help you to become more effective and maximise your potential in everyday life.


Exercise for the Mind

A system of exercises for consciously building up your mind’s inherent abilities is part of the Dragon Gate tradition, and there are some easy preliminary exercises you can practice anytime. Some are related to watchfulness techniques you may already be familiar with through our programs, standing apart from the thought-stream and watching the arising and ending of thoughts. There are also exercises designed to boost attention and memory.

Attention Exercise: This exercise begins in a meditative posture and focuses attention on different senses in turn for one to two minutes. With your eyes closed, reach out with your sense of smell, and note all the different smells you can identify and what they tell you about your environment (this may be best done outdoors). Then the sense of touch- what do you feel? Is there a breeze? Are you warm or cold? What are you sitting on- is it hard or soft? Then the sense of hearing- do you hear cars, birds, insects, the wind in the trees. Finally, open your eyes and take in your surroundings in detail. Notice subtleties of colour and texture, the shapes of plants, the even just the cracks in your wall if you’re indoors.

Memory Exercise: Related to the attention exercise, this memory exercise focuses on a past event that you remember well and have positive associations with. Focus on each of your senses in turn, and try to remember everything that they took in, the small details of your surroundings that you might otherwise have forgotten, just as you did for the attention exercise. This practice can help cultivate powerful observational skills and recall.

Manifesting and Mindset Exercises

The Dragon Gate teaches that the quality of our experiences flows from the way we think about them. As the I Ching says, “The auspicious and the ominous both arise from the same circumstances.” In other words, it is how we respond to our circumstances that most often makes them good or bad. The dualistic practice of assigning judgment to a situation therefore harms us more than it helps us. It is better to “nurture your dreams” with optimism and look for a way to turn a problem into an opportunity. Going along with changes while remaining true to the pattern of the universe is a Taoist paradox that encompasses the dual reality of the cosmos- everything changes, and everything remains the same.

Two specific meditation exercises that are used to aid in manifesting are as follows.

In the first, visualise an empty space in front of you. Then invite whatever you would like to manifest in your life into that space. Observe the manifestation and any thoughts it brings as it is established and ultimately dissolves.

For the second exercise, choose one thing that you have a powerful desire to manifest. Visualise yourself in the state of having manifested what you desire in as much detail as possible. See your surroundings, the clothes you are wearing, the activities you are doing. Employ all of your senses to make it as real as possible. Next, spend several minutes creating a feeling of trust that this manifestation is as real and solid as your everyday world. Focus on the feelings of pleasure you get from having attained your goal. Close out by focusing on a feeling of gratitude for what you are manifesting.

Everyday Intention

Almost any activity can be performed as meditation if you treat it as such, staying mentally present and paying attention to your movements and breathing. Another aspect which Dragon Gate practice introduces is the establishment of proper intention.

For example, when preparing food, breathe deeply and consciously relax your mind and body on the exhale. Set the intention of preparing food that will nourish and sustain you and your family with the nutrients and energy you need to attain your goals. As you prepare the food, focus on your breathing and make an effort to maintain proper abdominal breathing.

A Holistic Approach

While the exercises we have covered relate to only a few areas of self-cultivation, they are part of a larger and deliberate system for enhancing each aspect of the mind-body organism and its relationship with the world, while remaining conscious of the deep interconnections between different aspects. From cultivating energy and absorbing it from the natural world to enhanced perception to all aspects of physical exercise to sexuality, every area of life is encompassed in one way or another in this planned and deliberate approach to life.
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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

Building a Resilient Romance

Calling all Couples (and singles who would like to find their soul mates)!

If you’re in a committed, long-term romantic relationship or you’d like to be, you’ll want to read this very carefully.  It could be one of the most important things you ever read.

Healthy human relationships are one of the indispensable keys to building a resilient and fulfilling life.  And for most human beings the single most important relationship in life is with their spouse.  

Healthy marriages mean healthy homes, healthy kids and a healthy society.  And yet, as we all know, the chances of any marriage lasting for the long haul these days are barely fifty-fifty, if that. Part of the reason is that almost none of us are taught how to create a true romantic relationship, one full of trust, respect, mutual affection and everything that goes with that.  

What most people are unaware of is that this was turned into a science by at least two ancient cultures – the Hindu  and the Taoist – and it’s a science that anyone and any couple can learn with just a little dedication.  

Yes, I’m talking about “Tantric Sex” (TS).  Before you stop reading, I’d ask you to bear with me while I explain.  First, most people who’ve heard of TS buy into one of the many misconceptions out there, such as the idea it’s about using gymnastic positions for love-making, or it’s a hedonistic search for the ultimate orgasm.  

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The truth about this ancient science is that its real purpose is to introduce you to the spiritual potential of romance and love-making, and to build emotional and spiritual intimacy that not only lasts a life time, but goes far beyond what most people consider humanly possible.

As a Qi Gong expert, I’ve known about the Taoist versions of this for ages.  With further research, though, I’ve noticed that most of the Taoist writings about this available today will send you spinning off in the wrong direction.  Fortunately though, there are some excellent resources out there for you, resources that can make a huge difference in your relationships very quickly. 

That’s why I’m delighted to inform you that I’ll soon be interviewing two of the world’s most respected experts in TS, Pala and Al Copeland, on Thursday, August 26 at 9pm Eastern / 6pm Pacific.  

Pala and Al are a married couple who have devoted the last decade and a half to helping couples to find a true spiritual connection through their romance, to keep that romance alive and  to elevate their overall health and quality of life in the process.  They’ve helped thousands of people worldwide and they can help you too.

You’ll learn:

1.       The difference between falling in love and creating love.

2.       Why sex fizzles, love fades, and passion dies after couples have been 

together for a long time.

3.       How couples can create love that will thrive for a lifetime together.

4.       What sexual nutrition is and why it is so important.

5.       What Tantra is.

6.       What spiritual sex is

7.       Simple practices any couple can do to re-introduce zest, spark, and 

sizzle into a stale relationship.

Now you may be asking yourself, “Does this stuff really work?”  Well, I can tell you from my personal experience that it is startlingly effective on all levels.  In fact, the only reason I’m bringing up this topic at all is that I believe it’s a crime that couples are not taught how to deliberately create the affection, the friendship, and the intimacy that they and every human being crave.  

So whether you’re in a committed relationship or you want to be, take note of that date (August 26) and mark it on your calendar.  Feel free to bring your spouse along and to invite anyone else who could benefit from this priceless information.  
I’ll be sending you further information over the coming weeks, including the call-in details.
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger