Damo Mitchell Transcript

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Damo Mitchell Interview

RICK: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done over 580 of them or so now, if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to bat gap comm bat gap and look under the past interviews menu, where you’ll see them organized in several different ways. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there is a PayPal button on every page of bat gap calm. My guest today is daymo Mitchell. Hi de ma.

DAMO: Hello, how’s it going?

RICK: Good. I’ll read a quick bio, and then we’ll have him tell us more about himself. Daymo has studied the martial medical and spiritual arts of Asia since the age of four. His studies have taken him across the planet in search of authentic Masters is the technical director of the Lotus Neigong School of Taoist arts, and teaches Neigong in various locations around the world. He specializes in uncovering and studying with rare alchemical and spiritual lineages linked to the tradition of Taoism. And excuse me. And speaking of around the world, he’s in Bali at the moment is going to hang out there until COVID is over, he said. But he is well he’ll tell us in a minute or so. So even in the in reading that introduction, I probably lost a few people because I hadn’t heard the term net Gong until I started reading your stuff. I was heard of Qigong. And I have friends here in town who have practiced it stuff, they were whacking themselves with sticks and things like that. And also, I would like to hear more about your personal story, because I know it’s quite a lot more colorful than that brief little intro that I just read. So so let’s get into all that in whatever order you would like.

DAMO: Okay, sure. Well, Mekhong Yes, a term it’s, it’s not amazingly well heard of at the moment. Qigong is, as you said, but Neigong is a bit a bit more rare and a bit more vague. I used to hear the term when I was younger, and people used it to refer to a kind of very generic quality of internal skill. But then, as I explored as I met people, I discovered that actually, it’s, it has a meaning of a process that the body and the mind are taken through. It’s essentially it’s an enlightenment process. It’s our isms, alchemical process to lead towards enlightenment. So it, it’s very systematic.

RICK: Yeah, I was just going to mention, I mean, a lot of people get into the martial arts of various kinds, without any thought or in about our interest in enlightenment. But my orientation and the orientation of this broad this podcast, or whatever you want to call it, is definitely about that. That’s what most of the people will be interested in. So hopefully, that’s mostly what we’ll be talking about today. But we can also contrast it with the types of interests that other people may have, but our focus will be on, you know, what, how does this help you attain enlightenment or higher states of consciousness and all that?

DAMO: Yeah. Well, I mean, if something is linked to the tradition of Taoism, or Buddhism, or Hinduism or anything from Asia, it is about that process. That’s all it’s about. The traditions wouldn’t care if it wasn’t linked to that idea. Yeah, so yeah. You were asking about my background. I mean, I started in martial arts. I guess, like you’re saying, with no real interest in such things, but then when, as soon as I got older, and I started reading about what was possible in eastern arts, and that was all I became fascinated with. In fact, it was quite frustrating. Because I didn’t find martial arts particularly inspiring, or the people in martial arts. I’ll be totally honest. I didn’t find it a very inspiring path. But that was all I had for a very long time. And

RICK: it wasn’t just due to Yeah, yeah. Yeah. He wrote the preface to your book. Yeah.

DAMO: Yep, that’s right. i There’s no great spiritual truth or meaning as to why I did these paths. I just did what my parents did like so many other people. Basically, I came along to the class because they couldn’t afford a babysitter. Ended up with martial arts that I’ve never left. It’s just kind of evolved into Neigong and then meditation and Chinese medicine, but I’m still here, doing the same thing.

RICK: And you’ve been doing it for I think you said you’re about 40 Now see been doing it for 36 years or so?

DAMO: Yeah, that’s right. I don’t know if you could count the early years. I mean, how much do you do when you’re four? You just kind of flinging your arms and legs around on your butt? Yeah, I mean, my earliest age, I can remember a really becoming aware of what I was doing as about sort of seven or eight, or something. Yeah, that’s basically all I’ve done, as far as I remember.

RICK: So how far back to these arts trace their lineage?

DAMO: Well, you know, one of the most complicated things is unraveling Chinese history, I always think it’s quite funny that people can do sort of degrees or PhDs in sort of Chinese history, I don’t know how you manage that, because it’s so mixed in with mythology and folklore, and so on, and so on. So every teacher you speak to, has a different opinion. So 2000 years back, 5000 years back, 10,000 years back, the number changes all the time. But as far as I can make out, you’ve got kind of early 1900s would be the basis for a lot of what people are doing. And then very occasionally, you get older practices or go back to the sort of Tang Dynasty or something like that. But you know, they’ve changed, they’ve been modernized, a great deal. I think it would be delusional to say that things still exist in their their sort of original format, or whatever. I mean, that was evolved out of Chinese shamanism. So I mean, how far does shamanism go back? That’s a that’s a difficult question. Right?

RICK: Yeah. Yeah. All right. So keep filling us in. So you know, what, what one thing led to the next with you, you said, you know, at a certain point, you began to get interested in the spiritual aspect of it? And yeah, you know, how did it go? I mean, as you went from one thing to the next, I know, I heard, I listened to many hours of your podcast, and I heard you say that you went down some dead ends and met some teachers that were not very genuine or are qualified. But you also really persisted and found some good ones.

DAMO: I mean, really, probably, when I was a kid, I probably had the earliest experiences, people would kind of rather crassly label, spiritual or something, I kind of accidentally stumbled across them. So I didn’t really understand what they were. And I didn’t replace any great importance on them. Either. I actually, I was so young, I just assumed everybody had these experiences. I thought, that was it. I thought that was just kind of what happened. So then as I got older, and I found out that wasn’t the case, then I started reading about these things in books on Zen originally was where I started reading about them. So I started to try to find someone who could understand these things. And where I ended up was in Qigong classes, which became kind of frustrating, because I would read about people visiting the heaven realms and dissolving into light and things of that. And what I encountered was arm waving, and lots of discussion of sexual energies, which really didn’t really equate with what I was reading. But there was something in me, I guess, a desire, I suppose to understand it. And so I just kept pushing and kept pushing and kept pushing until I sort of broke my way into the Neigong. Lines, really? And that’s what I’ve been exploring. But yeah, plenty of dead ends. I’m very cutting, I suppose. So with regards to if I encounter a tradition or a practice, and I want to know, is it useful? Is it not and some people don’t like that sort of very black and white distinction. But I think, in tradition that is, has a lot of pitfalls, and a lot of confusion. That’s something that I need to maintain, to keep pushing through.

RICK: Of course, things have degrees of usefulness. And some things might be useful for some people and not for others. But you were just trying not to waste your own time, I guess.

DAMO: Yeah. And it felt to me that in Qigong, that a lot of people were talking about a medical practice, but talking about it in spiritual terms. So to me, the study of spirit or universe spirits, a very specific thing. So I had to kind of divide out the medical practices from the meditative practice, and then kind of follow that path. But I understood that the medical practices are really useful for the majority of people, but I just wasn’t sick. So it wasn’t something really appealed to me. I was very young and lots of energy and you know, I didn’t need to de stress or anything. So

RICK: yeah. Now my experience with Qigong here in town was you know, just not not direct secondhand because I had a bunch of friends who were into it and all I gathered was that they were kind of whacking themselves with sticks and building up a tolerance for that. And, you know, breaking things breaking through boards with their heads and one of them opened a tea house, some kind of a Qigong tea house in town or something for a while. But um, so I have a very sketchy understanding of what Qi Gong is. So probably, yeah, there was in

DAMO: Those are traditions I’m not involved in, I’m afraid. Yeah, those are. A lot of those kinds of things are sort of a subdivision of the martial arts, Qigong rather than the kind of meditative or alchemical practices. And in my opinion, I think they’re a little bit beside the point. Generally, I think all of is hitting yourselves with sticks, and so on. And so on a bit of a bit of a misunderstanding. There’s a lot there’s a lot of this from China ranges from, you know, beat yourself with sticks to swing and weights off your testicles and all that kind of stuff. It’s not, it’s not my scene. comi prudish, but it’s not. It’s not really what I’m into. Yeah, really.

RICK: I shouldn’t think that latter point would get you enlightened very quickly. No, that’s supposed to accomplish.

DAMO: Yeah, I’ve seen some very, I’m gonna use the word impressive, but pointless things involving testicles and weights? Yeah, in China, there’s little, it’s very popular.

RICK: Good way and yourself, I should think, Oh, I

DAMO: think the view is that it strengthens the essence, the Jing on the base of the body. But it’s, I disagree. I’m not so sure. Yeah, I think that a lot of it comes from Shaolin. As well as sort of Shaolin temples take on it. But to me, Neigong is, I mean, it’s closer to meditation than people think, to meditative practice. So there’s a kind of opinion that when you start the majority, 90% of your work is standing or moving. And then gradually, as you go deeper into it, 10% of your work is standing and moving and should be seated practice really, as much as anything.

RICK: Now you just use the word Neigong. So yes, maybe there’s two things you could do here. One is, you know, Qigong in its pure form, as you feel it ought to be understood and taught. But what’s that as compared to the sticks and the testicles and everything? And then what’s the distinction between that and Negan?

DAMO: Well, I mean, every teacher defines things in different ways. Of course, I mean, that’s one of the complexities when you meet a new teacher, you have to figure out how are they using the terms? You know, I mean, it’s a mistake to say think everybody has the same definition of anything. But to me, Qigong has a very specific purpose. So this Qi Gong is for your lungs, this Qi Gong is for headaches, this Qigong is for insomnia or whatever. Whereas Neigong is a process that really leads a person towards what they call their mortality within Taoism. So it’s not it’s not a very simple cause and effect relationship like Qigong has, basically,

RICK: okay, so, so then what you said about Qigong mean being medicinal. Sounds like it’s a bunch of bunch of practices that you would do for specific physical health problems. And Neigong is more of a spiritual practice meditative kind

DAMO: of thing. Yeah. 100%. Yeah. I mean, not all Qigong. But the vast majority of it is, yeah, so under that definition, I’ve met people saying they do Qi Gong, that, in my opinion, are actually they’re engaged in Qigong. And I’ve met many people doing a gong, but actually, they’re doing Qi Gong in that little subdivision. That distinction is difficult. But yeah,

RICK: yeah. And so you mentioned immortality, so what is the what’s the aim? Or the, you know, does this Neigong have a kind of a roadmap of the various levels of attainment that one could achieve? And how does it go about helping people achieve them?

DAMO: Yeah, I mean, if you if you divide, really 1000s highest level jumping right to the end of the process, highest levels, attainments, really, you’ve got the idea of a genuine, which you might call a sage, which is probably the equivalent to a closer equivalent to what we call awakening in the West. Really, that would be someone who’s awakened

RICK: Buddha head and Buddhahood, or something like that. That would

DAMO: be beyond that, that would be more in line with it would be closer towards immortality, which would be what they call a sham, which is a next level above there. So Taoism really draws a distinction between awakening which would be a pretty good attainment or immortality and enlightenment would be closer towards the mortality, but they don’t see them as the same thing. There’s very specific subdivisions of those two of those two kind of stages of realization, basically,

RICK: are they referring to physical immortality or more like immortality of the soul and realization of your immortal unchanging nature,

DAMO: immortality of the soul, so any kind of freedom from rebirth, that probably also involves the consciousness moving up towards resonance with the heaven realm, as they were discussed would be what they would call immortality. So spiritual immortality they have had accounts of people living for a very very long time but that’s longevity not immortality. So they’re they’re talking about this, right somebody who is a sage a Gen Ren awakened would still be subjected to the cycle of rebirth. So they would not consider that an immortal basically. So the, the alchemy part is really that’s where it came in. I mean one way of defining the alchemy path Yeah, so alchemy, a lot of people listen to this will understand that there’s something called the conversion of Jing to cheetah Shen or essence to energy to spirit is normally what they translated as. So the idea is that somebody could achieve awakening or Gen Ren stage through inquiry methods very similar to many other traditions. So by developing an experiential understanding of the nature of self and the observer, and so on and so on, someone could awaken and become a sage. But the alchemical teachings would say, or somebody become immortal, then then has to be a process of energetics underneath that kind of fuel and feed that state. So when somebody is a sage are genuine or awakened, the energetics from the alchemy feed that process repeatedly, that’s what they call nourishing the spiritual embryo in Taoism, and then gradually that awakening then leads to immortality, basically, so that that’s how that process works. So if you look at the powers path, you have this twofold tradition, you have an inquiry process, which is very similar to what you would encounter in say something like Vedanta. And then you have the alchemical process, which is used to fuel and stabilize that, that state of being.

RICK: That’s great. I love it, I’m in for a long time have appreciated that there’s a neurophysiological basis to any higher state of consciousness or to any state of consciousness. And that you, you know, you can’t neglect the physiology. No, I mean, you can, you know, you can pull one leg of a table and all the other legs are going to come along, but, you know, but you can really, if somebody’s dragging in the opposite direction on one of the legs, then it’s not going to be easy to move the table. And what that would mean is, if you are, you know, sick or unhealthy or doing things to your physiology that weaken it, then you can do all the inquiry you want, but you can make very good progress.

DAMO: Yeah, basically, and the view would be that everything that kind of counterweight to it, on the level of on the level of mind, so even if somebody has an awakening experience, maybe they experienced that union with everything or union with whatever they might call that trigger that state within that tradition, that eventually, over time, there’s a kind of downwards motion that comes that pulls you back out of that experience. So I met teachers like this, and I don’t mean to criticize them, not at all, you know, amazing at their work, but they had had that experience 20 years ago, they had had that experience 30 years ago, and we’re kind of either striving to get back there. Or we’re kind of now intellectualizing that path in their teachings or something. And the view would be from an alchemical point of view, that basically the energetics, the physiology, the chemical composition of the body, or as you’re saying that the brain wasn’t enough to support that state. So got pulled out a bit, basically. Yeah. This is where it comes into try to sort of negate that that difficulty, that arrow really

RICK: sure. And obviously, in other traditions, they have this understanding like in the, in the Indian tradition, you have yoga and various things to culture, the nervous system and the physiology. But then you also have all these subjective practices, and they’re not considered to be competitors with one another. They’re actually complimentary.

DAMO: Yeah, I mean, the closest tradition to alchemy would be some of the Indian practices, the yogic practices as a huge relationship there. I mean, the chances of alchemy not being influenced by or originating from India is quite slim. China’s very pragmatic as a kind of part of the world. And there was a merging of Hinduism and Taoism and Buddhism into kind of one homogenous blob, and really alchemy kind of grew out of that process. So it’s not quite the same as people would understand with Kundalini or something nice. But it does have parallels does have parallels.

RICK: Interesting. Yeah, I wonder if I wonder if as the tea if the teachings originated in India, and then eventually made their way to China, I wonder if it was totally natural and appropriate that they should modify as they did. So because China has different laws of nature, it’s a different culture, you know, it’s a whole different scene. And so you know, something that worked just fine. On the Indian subcontinent might not work as well in China might need to be different, I think. Yeah,

DAMO: I think so. There are there are true. It’s not politically correct to say in this day and age, is it but there are cultural leanings and differences and filters that things are passed through. So yes, I think so. I think the tradition had to change. I mean, even when the Indian monk Bodhidharma went into The Chinese small Forest Temple, I mean, it took him nine years supposedly to figure out how to interpret the Indian teachings for the monks in the monastery. So if it took nine years to figure out the cultural differences or spiritual differences between the people, then that would imply that there is quite a bit

RICK: interesting. So take us into more detail then in terms of the both the, you know, meditational subjective kind of practices and the physiological ones that build the foundation for those.

DAMO: Yeah, so I mean, essentially, what you have here is the strength and the risk of Taoism. Because as a lot of other traditions have identified, there is a bit of risk in Taoist practice, whether we like to identify it or not. And part of that part of the reason for this is essentially you generate a lot of energy within the body matters, especially within a gong, it’s more energy than than I thought was possible when I began. It’s kind of crazy. And when you see someone who is really a master of it, then it’s kind of incredible. But But what they do is they generate a lot of energy. On a really simple state, it’s a bit basic, it’s almost like rocket fuel, you know, you kind of build it up. And then what happens is it moves up and it fuels whatever state your consciousness might be in. So if, for example, somebody has managed to realize the nature of consciousness or something like this, then what will happen is that state kind of grows, it’s kind of like you, you build spiritual potential or something like that. So the energy converts to that. But if, however, you are power, hungry, money, loving, food, loving, sex, loving, whatever, I don’t know, indulging in all of the kind of lower base aspects of life that gets fueled instead. So that gets supported and pushed under by the energy from underneath. So part of the job of the teacher really within the traditions, was to guide the students through an inquiry process to understand the the nature of awareness, and then do the work underneath to kind of support it and take people through to the right place. But in Taoism, we have all sorts of story a kind of evil saints, if you like, went down a dodgy path or something like this?

RICK: Well, that opens us up to a number of interesting topics. So I guess I have several questions based on what you just said is, one is how do you generate that energy? And so and then what you’re saying is, if you lead a hedonistic life, rather than dissipating the energy, the energy generating might help you become a more flamboyant hedonist.

DAMO: Exactly 100%. It’s, if we want to describe Neigong, one term that’s been used as it’s a shit magnifier, that’s a term that’s kind of been thrown around, they will make it stronger that oh, sorry. I don’t know if I’m allowed to swear on you. Oh, wait, we can handle it. Okay, that’s all right. Yeah, it amplifies whatever it is. So if you take somebody who does very sort of gentle alchemical practices, it still generates energy, it still generates some so what you get is a gradual creeping towards that state. But if you get someone who does a very powerful practice, then that transition from amateur headedness to professional hedonistic, if you like, becomes very, becomes very, very quick.

RICK: Wow. Yeah, I remember hearing I think it was Rasputin in Russia, who was notorious for like, carousing and drinking and having orgies all night long. And then, you know, then he would next day be this brilliant guy. And that went on for quite a while. So he had this tremendous energy, but he was misusing it, I would say,

DAMO: yeah, definitely. There’s there’s lots of stories in Taoism about drunk immortals. And trick playing immortals, you know, the Joker’s, and they don’t behave very well. And sometimes people in Taoism have seen that and kind of used it as a way of saying, It’s okay, these behaviors are okay, they’re no problem at all. But what they miss is that those stories actually portray those characters as rather childish and kind of trivial people so that the stories are to show what can go wrong with the tradition as much as anything. The

RICK: teachers like that in the West to like Adi Da, if you’ve ever heard of him who repeatedly had this tremendous Shakti that he would radiate and all but then he, you know, he was just like, notoriously indulgent, and second drugs. And I don’t know about rock and roll, but definitely the first two. And, you know, it eventually took a toll on him. Same with children. Trumper Rinpoche Yep. But you know, still these guys were brilliant. And yet, this is what they were doing.

DAMO: Well, I mean, yeah, they hadn’t dealt with the most basic part of their mind, I would say on some level and the unfortunately, sometimes the human mind is capable of obscuring and kind of bypassing one very basic part of our makeup, I think, and this is where the issue comes from. As far as say, I mean, it’s funny as far as an id like, Taoism has that name, because I don’t know if you No, but Taoism has a name as a kind of the tradition of free wild. It’s the kind of Woodstock of the spiritual arts or something like that, whatever you like or whatever. But in actual fact, like the first thing that I encountered when I first went to China and I met the lone vampire that the tradition, sort of the the main northern tradition, was just how Puritan they were, in their mindset. It did not match what I presented, been presented with in the West, I mean, so much so that I remember one young initiate, how old was he, he was like 19, or something like this. And he had been put in the tradition, and he’d become a Dragon Gate sector member, right in the middle of the tradition, close to the core. And he had a child with a girl in the local town, she got pregnant, and he tried to hide it. And there was nothing sorted about it, it was a very standard relationship. But he was kicked out of the tradition immediately, because they’re not allowed to take wives are not allowed to take children or anything. And he was just excommunicated. So the reality of the tradition, compared to the Western presentation of the tradition just does not match not.

RICK: Is there a tendency in this, for the bad boys of this tradition? Is there a tendency to justify their behavior is Crazy Wisdom or something? And, you know, to go on about, oh, you really don’t understand me? I’m above your petty moralistic, you know, perspectives.

DAMO: Yeah, I’m working to a bigger database than us who can’t understand the cause and effect, or it’s a lesson or something like this. But I mean, it’s part of the danger, isn’t it? That I mean, there is I don’t want to get straight into the dangerous, I don’t wanna make the tradition sound terrifying. But I mean, there’s also a thing isn’t that if you’re going to spend a lot of time in self inquiry, one of the traps or the near enemies, would be self justification, which I think often tends to arise if we’re not careful. And it can start with very simple things, justifying a very small habit that we have, I’ve done this a million times justifying a very small habit. But then it’s not. So it’s not so difficult to see how maybe that justification could pass on to bigger acts at a later stage.

RICK: So in light of what you’re describing here, how you build up this tremendous energy, but there can be a tendency for it to go awry. And cause all kinds of trouble is there is a sort of a an emphasis in the tradition if you’re really practicing it in a pure and disciplined way to be on the lookout for this this kind of thing and prevent it from happening.

DAMO: There would have been originally there would have been originally when there was communities, the equivalent of saying goes and things within the Dalish tradition, but unfortunately, a lot of that’s kind of disbanded Taoism is a very fractured tradition these days are very fractured practice. So I think that those kind of things would have been there in originally specially when it was taught as an apprenticeship and apprenticeship kind of fashion. Yeah, definitely.

RICK: It’s, I think the reason we’re spending so long in this point, is that it’s not this kind of problem is not exclusive to Taoism, and it’s a problem and in many different spiritual practices and sagas and sad songs, and, you know, with teachers and everything, and it’s caused a lot, a lot of trouble, a lot of heartbreak and a lot of confusion. And so I think it’s somehow needs to be addressed in every tradition in order for you know, things to really progress nicely and for the tradition to live up to its to its open promise.

DAMO: I agree. 100% I think that if light should be thrown on the darkness in any particular field of human life, it should be the spiritual path for the simple reason that there’s so many people with such an open hearted faith and trust coming into the tradition that it you can get so damaged. I mean, if you say you walk into a bar and and somebody is manipulative or something you kind of half expected because it’s a bar, but there’s a kind of mental quality that that is there in the spiritual tradition that makes it so abusive. Yeah, I think it’s hideous,

RICK: I think it can be very disillusioning. Alright, well, I think we’ve made that point. But um, so let’s talk about like, how do they build up this energy? And how do they direct it upwards? Or does it happen spontaneously? And what kind of meditative practices are they doing and that kind of stuff?

DAMO: Oh, different traditions have different takes on it. This is part of what I do. So I’m very much involved in one particular line. That’s one lineage that’s, I guess, the main satnav of my path, if you like, that’s where I stick my direction. What is that? That word? As in? That’s, I think it’s very important that people follow a tradition. I’m not someone who likes to jump around like a butterfly from tradition to tradition, tradition, I think you need an orientation through the kind of confusion in the mire of this kind of path. So this tradition serves as that for me that is my road. But then I also go out and I study other traditions and try to unearth what other people are doing So for example, I’m in Bali right now. And that’s not just because I’d like being attacked by monkeys on a regular basis. It’s because I’m here to research a couple of particular branches of Balinese or Indonesian they got to try to they don’t call it a gong, obviously, but they have their own term for it. But this is what it is. And I want to understudy that. So I am a very thorough cross reference, if you like, but I try not to be a mixer. I’m very much on on this one line. So sorry, complex intro, but one, there are certain shared characteristics that are very specific to our chemical practice in Asia. And one of those is understanding the Yin and Yang and how these two interact with one another, it becomes the most fundamental and the most complex part of energetic practice within a gong how to get the energy and to interact with with one another. And this is the basis of how we generate the energy. Yeah. mouth or waterside?

RICK: No go for? So could you be more specific as to? How would you get the energy and to really interact with each other and how that generates energy? And so

DAMO: yeah, yeah, it took me a long time to understand partially because to understand intellectually, partially because within the east, for something to be a thing, and no thing at the same time is no problem. For something to be metaphorical and literal at the same time is no problem at all, which as an avid black and white simpleton, that didn’t really work for me, I needed to kind of understand what it is. So Yin, and Yang can be vague in comparative terms. But with regards to the development of energy, they’re very, very literal things. And there are two types of substance or energy within the body. Yin, essentially, with regards to NA, Gong, it’s a form of magnetism, okay, it’s, it’s a magnetic field. So Yin is described as being that which organizes that which structures that which gives form, and so on, and so on. So essentially, this is what it is. And Yang Qi is a form of electricity that originally or initially moves in the nervous system, but then you’re able to generate a lot more of it within the body. So Yang moves in a sick, cyclical fashion through the body, cyclical, I think you pronounced in America, then he threw that through the system. And then the idea is that what happens is you build up this magnetic field within the lower abdomen, there’s very specific methods. And then the Yang Qi is directed into the center of it. And this builds something called the dantian, the sort of love energy field within the abdominal cavity. It really is that crude. But it there’s also complexities in there as well how to actually get those two forces to operate together. And this is the root of how they build the energy within the body. Like building the dantian is the start point of all Neigong traditions, it doesn’t matter what tradition is they want that dantian built,

RICK: or the practices to build it. Kind of subjective. So you could be sitting there with your eyes closed doing this, and no one would know what you’re doing, or is it more physical, overt? Observing? No,

DAMO: it’s okay. Yeah, there are very specific methods. So you could kind of think of it like that, like, I got a I don’t want to get a name for this. But I got a name as the kind of wet blanket of the kind of Taoist art says, I generally kind of rain on everyone’s parade. But I don’t mean to it’s not the end. I just, I like clarity. And I like to know what things are. And I liked how things work. And the dantian was one of those things, because when I first started out in the tradition, the assumption was that ever happen, you just kind of it’s there, there’s a dantian, and you can kind of put your energy in it. But it’s not true. You don’t

RICK: have one, and then again, is that location in the abdomen where you build up this energy? Okay. Some people

DAMO: call it the Hora within Japanese. Oh, yeah, that’s more familiar to me. Yeah, something like that. But you don’t you don’t begin with one. Essentially, you can think of it like this, like you have this field when you were younger, when you’re growing, but it disperses as you age, normally around sort of seven or eight years old, and it kind of spreads. So it loses

RICK: its power. So one of the correlate with the chakra system at all?

DAMO: No, no, it’s different. Now it’s different. They share a common horizontal location in the body, but they’re different things. The dantian is much more crude chakra is much more refined. So this thing spreads, this field spreads. And one of the earliest stages of practice is to get it to regather or reconsolidate. So the analogy I’ve used to try to explain it to people is if you’re trying to put water in a bucket, you have to have a bucket first. So one of the first things we have to do is reconsolidate that once again, so it’s done through a combination of breathwork manipulation of fields within the body using the hand and then mental exercises as well until it builds and then generally what will happen is it will guide the Yang Qi into this space.

RICK: Are there qualifications for being able to do it? I mean, are certain people just not capable or I’m able to do it.

DAMO: I think that from what I’ve seen, I haven’t met anybody who hasn’t been able to gather the dantian. I have met people that can’t fill the dantian, I would say would be the distinction between the two. But the people who can’t fill the dantian, it normally comes down to mental qualities that are struggling rather than physical quality. So it’s not. It’s not like people struggle because of their lack of health or health or anything like this. It’s more they struggle with their mind.

RICK: I heard you in one of your podcasts, you’re mentioning how if you have bad habits, that’s going to kind of undermine your efforts. And you’ve got to deal with that in order to make progress.

DAMO: Yeah, habits erode the will, is the basis of how we kind of view them. So alchemy, Alchemy, and Taoism has one very interesting facet to me or the the part that I found the most fascinating was that this goes back to this idea of thing and no thing at the same time. That will, your actual willpower has an actual substance to it within the body kind of reflection of it, which is related to your gene, something called the gene. So if you wish to build up certain energies in the body, you can refine your mental qualities. So for example, someone who has very good concentration, very good stability of mind, very good discernment, very good clarity, will generally have a very, very good energy system, it just kind of happens like that the mindset brings that on. That’s why if you meet some of the era HanSe in Southeast Asia, their energetic work is incredible without ever focusing on it, because it just comes as a byproduct of the mind. But at the same time, you can also build the energetic qualities to develop strengthening of the mental qualities. So it’s kinda like a backdoor, if you like a kind of way into developing certain it’s not enough to, you know, lead someone to enlightenment but it’s enough to build certain mental qualities to a strong level. So we have certain mental qualities that are counterproductive for one another. And habits are counterproductive for well, because they erode free world because you’re running on autopilot. So habits are our biggest enemy because they deplete the essence the Jing making energy work very, very difficult.

RICK: Yeah, also, many habits are enervating you know, in and of themselves. If you’re taking drugs and drinking or, you know, doing certain things to excess, you’re going to be dissipating your your energies by any Yeah, anybody’s understanding.

DAMO: Even a habitual emotional pattern, or even a habitual way of viewing something, or an A pitcher way of reacting to something also erode well. So Taoism takes it to almost a nearly retentive level. So if, for example, you don’t think when you turn the light switch off, it’s just a habit about how you do that, that also erodes willpower to a certain extent as well. So there must be complete absorption of the awareness into every single action and process that you do. So that that kind of autopilot is kind of moved to the background a little bit. It’s kind of Dow isms version of mindfulness, if you

RICK: like, that’s interesting, kind of reminds me of the Carlos Castaneda books where his teacher was just, you know, advocating impeccability. And very close attention to what you’re doing. If you stumbled over something or stubbed your toe or something he would consider that a symptom of in attentiveness.

DAMO: 100% in agreement with that, yeah, definitely. Taoism just calls it listening. There’s a a high process of listening, ting that needs developing. In everything that you do. Yeah. You listen, and you listen until you your awareness absorbs into the action. So that habit is eradicated. And interestingly, I mean, that for me, some of the people who view this will kind of have an idea of this, that if you understand that process, you understand how to build the essence and how to build the gym. Because people often make the mistake of thinking you build the gym through refraining from sex from for 30 years, or, or through swing and weights off the testicles, if that’s your thing. But actually, strongest way to build Jing and build essence is to eradicate running on autopilot the habits, essentially.

RICK: So I asked you about, you know, whether certain people are not qualified to do this, or able to do it, and so on. Let’s say So those who are able to do it if they and it will get on? Well, there’s a few follow up questions to this. But if you start this practice, do most people notice some kind of benefit or influence fairly soon after beginning or does it usually take a long time?

DAMO: Yeah, yeah. I mean, there’s a whole process of opening and transforming the body in the early stages. So one of the first processes that people know is a transformation to their literal vitality, and to the way that the body functions. That that’s clear like that is that’s not It’s not subtle enough to be a subjective experience, either like you have a lot more vitality right from the beginning. And then afterwards, the consciousness changes are quite clear as well, for people to experience, I think that the I mean, if you forget anything profound, forget anything transformational life changing or anything like that, I think even the first thing that people notice is an inability not to be light hearted, that just naturally arises from Neigong. At the beginning, you basically have a community of people that why you wouldn’t want them running a large corporation or something like this, they’d be used a slightly, the ability to compete for something would be completely pointless to them. And so those changes are quite quick. And then after that there’s the controversial subject of city that arise from the practice. It is a city based path, which a lot of people don’t like, I understand. I get it. I know why they don’t like it. I think city based paths often attract,

RICK: use the word I understand what it means, but some of the audience might not.

DAMO: Yeah, I mean, it certain stages that develops abilities that are beyond what people would consider possible or normal, basically, super abilities, which are used as markers of where you’re at, in the process.

RICK: Have you seen that actually happen much in your own experience? either? Yeah. Within yourself or in others?

DAMO: Yes, yeah. I live in that world. Yeah, I mean, constantly.

RICK: What kinds of videos have you seen, or actually done yourself?

DAMO: Well, I’ll talk about the ones I’ve seen, if that’s all right. But yeah, I mean, in the early stages, when the yin and yang builds, the first thing is a mastery of electricity and magnetism. So the ability to issue electric current out of the body into someone else from the dantian is one of the first things that arises. And magnetic ability to control matter, very light matter, things like sand and small bits of paper and things. I’ve seen people transform the molecular quality of water in different ways

RICK: through the practice in a measure something you could actually yes, yeah, yeah. Somebody actually shaped check the alkalinity of it or something. I have

DAMO: more than that someone took the actual bottle of water and took it to a lab. Somebody I know and tested it, who works in university. And there was a I’m not very scientific, but a whole different molecule that have been produced in the water from the, from the issuing of qi energy into water. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, that this is the thing, right? And this is not a path of imagination. And I always tell people that like, if the experience doesn’t slap you in the face, put it down to your imagination, like, subtlety should just be thrown out the way because subtlety can to easily be mixed up with delusion. So know the processes are very, very strong. Pyro Kinesis, things like that. These are all part of the past.

RICK: That’s like starting fire. Power can Yeah,

DAMO: with mind. Yeah. With mind or your hand? Yeah. Literally,

RICK: like the X Men.

DAMO: Basically. Yeah. Yeah. And for every one person who can do it, that’s real. There’s 10 fakers, of course, especially in this part of the world, where there’s a kind of a long tradition of kind of circus and theatrics and performance and things of that kind of mixed into it. But yeah, these things are real. Yeah, definitely.

RICK: Yeah, you know, now, obviously, this kind of stuff could become a sideshow. And it could be, yeah, it could be distracting for the people themselves, they could go to their heads, and they can begin to think they’re special, and all that stuff. So it’s, there could be pitfalls. But on the other hand, you know, if this stuff could be demonstrated, and if people could maintain their humility, it would be very interesting, because there are a lot of scientists like Dean Raiden, and others in the Institute of Noetic Sciences, who are trying to demonstrate that consciousness is fundamental. And the the mind is not merely a product of, you know, brain chemistry and stuff. And, you know, they’re they’re trying to find ways of measuring this and demonstrating because it could really change the paradigm and change the culture. So seems to me you ought to collaborate with people like that, and help them improve what they’re trying to prove.

DAMO: The thing was zing with it. Yeah, I agree. That’s the thing with with all the Disabilities is, they’re not the aim. There are byproducts they arise. It’s interesting seeing how people react to them when you watch people. So for example, if you are with a teacher that demonstrates the production of electricity, or some of the less which I’ve met, like 1215 people who have this skill now in different traditions, if you watch a lot of people, there’s a general you can see all of the kind of insecurities about how inferior they felt at different parts of their life, all of a sudden go, oh, there’s a bandaid that could possibly fix that thing inside of me. And I think that’s where the unhealthy side of it comes from. Whereas I think that what happened Just I have a kind of irrelevance to most things in life in every element, both kind of mix up the boat, I find the whole of life completely ludicrous and unimportant. So I’ve always had this kind of part of my nature. I’m very that’s how I am. I find everything kind of amusing. So when I first saw these things, I was so nonplussed by it, that actually one of the teachers afterwards spoke to me and asked, Are you bored, but that that’s just how I am. That’s just my nature. So I think because I presented like that, I think that was part of the reason why I got brought into these traditions. And some of those other people got removed from the traditions very quickly, because I think being nonplussed by them is the key to them.

RICK: So in other words, you you’re kind of a safe one, because you weren’t going to sort of put on a Superman shirt, go on TV, doing things or whatever.

DAMO: The thought of having power over other people is terrifying, because ultimately, it just means you’ve got more responsibility, and I hate responsibility. So in the slightest,

RICK: I heard you say that you that you observed some degree of levitation, you observe somebody that they could sit and you could pull paper out from under him. Or then if they’re sitting on a scale, you can notice the weight actually changing?

DAMO: Yeah, yeah. But those are, those things are too easy to fake. So therefore, not so interesting to me. Not interesting to me. But you have to remember that every tradition talked about these things, right? I mean, how many minor miracles did Buddha perform? I mean, there was a lot, who actually go, especially the Mahayana, taxes, there’s loads of them. I mean, Jesus, and certainly lots of Hindu saints and things like this. So they were always used. I mean, they used it publicly and in the classics, aren’t they, but what they were used, what they used as now is for a master, a teacher, whatever, to show the disciple or the student where they are. And then the same way that there are tests for the disciple or the student to show where they’re at. They’re not really, they’re not really things that are, well, they’re not presented widely. Some of them are there even on YouTube. They shouldn’t be, but they are

RICK: saying that the ability to perform a certain city would be a sort of an indicator of a certain level of attainment, kind of like, a way of grading the students or something.

DAMO: Basically, yeah. Yeah. Similar to, you know, stories of how it’s been used in the Buddhist tradition. Yeah, yeah, definitely.

RICK: Yeah. Okay, maybe we’ve covered that point enough. People can always send in questions from the upcoming interviews page on bat gap, if they’d like us to elaborate on anything we’re talking about. But yes, please.

DAMO: One final point on it. One thing I’d like to clarify is, I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I’m not majorly interested in those, they’re not the thing that appeals to me. What appeals to me and alchemy is the direct and objective path that leads towards awakening and enlightenment as people would understand them in the West, those things are just,

RICK: yeah, I think on the edge, they’re only useful insofar as they help to cultivate enlightenment, I would say if they have value in that great, but if they’re a distraction, or you know, or whatever, then not so great.

DAMO: They can use medically as well, I suppose that is one of them. A lot of people put them into medicine.

RICK: I said, I was gonna say, actually, when you start generating all this energy, and you mentioned that you start feeling much more vital, and you know, it must, it must have a really good effect on your health, you know, some health problems must drop off.

DAMO: Yes, yeah, it can do. I mean, that’s always a tricky subject, isn’t it to talk about

RICK: but can’t guarantee it, but it could, you know,

DAMO: you can’t guarantee it, there’s two, there’s two processes. One is the ability to generate more vitality in the body, which ultimately means your body functions on a more efficient level. Everything from the cellular respiration through to metabolism functions better. But then there’s another process, which is some, which is letting go, which is a major teaching of Taoism, and when the two are combined with each other, that’s where a lot of the transformation takes place with regards to people’s health. One thing I tried to get people to understand, is because Qigong and Qigong have a name for being medical, is that the medicine should just arise as a byproduct of the practice. And sometimes people when they go to the arts, they have the wrong focus. And this kind of gets in the way. So for example, say you’ve got asthma and you come along and you’re I want to practice Qigong, or Neigong. To cure my asthma, I guarantee your asthma will not go away, they will not cure it at all because you’ve got too much of a mental attachment to that particular condition because aversion or attraction about clinging. So, rather with regards to this process, rather than focusing on specific ailments, what we do is we just improve the efficiency of the body and the mind functioning in general. And then this enables the body to make any changes that it needs. It sounds like splitting hairs. But it’s a major sticking point for people quite often within these arts. Yeah, I think.

RICK: And I taught meditation for many years, and very often people would come and their, their motivation and learning was they had insomnia, or they had headaches, or they had high blood pressure or something. And and I would say, Yeah, fine, go ahead. And it’s good reason to start. And it might help. It’s helped a lot of people. There’s research on it. But then what you’d find is after a while, they think, yeah, okay, I’m feeling better. I’m sleeping well, but Oh, there’s more to this isn’t there? There’s this whole enlightenment thing Now that’s interesting, you know, so it would be kind of an intro hook. And then and then later on, they move on to other motivations.

DAMO: Yeah, yeah. 100%, definitely. And as a teacher, the quicker I can get people, I can leave people out of that mindset of obsessing on this injury or sickness or thing they have, the faster that process unfolds.

RICK: Yeah. And of course, I mean, if you do have high blood pressure, you might die. And then you’re not gonna be able to practice Qigong, or if you if you have bothersome headaches or insomnia or something. So it’s good to get rid of that stuff, if you can.

DAMO: Well, death is counterproductive for practice. Yeah, definitely. Get that out the way the better.

RICK: Yeah. Um, so is this the kind of practice that you have to really have an unusual lifestyle in order to, in other words, like a lot of free time on your hands? Or could somebody be maybe, you know, working an eight hour day or raising children or something and, you know, managed to squeak in half an hour, twice a day or something like that and make get some significant progress out of it?

DAMO: I think the same thing applies to almost any of these traditions that that depends on how far you wish to go into it. As much as anything. And some I mean, that’s, there’s no justice there, because we don’t necessarily choose how much time we have. But yeah, I mean, if somebody wants to go all the way for want of a better term, then you had you have to adjust your life, you can’t have a nine to five or something. But at the same time, somebody who I have a lot of students who do well, that kind of schedule, and yeah, they derive all sorts of benefits from it massive benefits. Yeah, of course. Yeah. Just

RICK: started with at least on the nine to five, and then maybe have, you know, vacation time during the year where you could take a retreat or something and do more?

DAMO: Yeah, of course. Yeah, totally. Yeah, absolutely. But I mean, at the same time, I would never want to lie to people. And I think that if somebody is really this is all they want, and they want to, to master the tradition, then yeah, it has to become a full time lifestyle. Yeah, but at the same time, it’s a bit of a false economy, because I’ve known many people who had nine to five, and then something changed in their life, they all of a sudden had a windfall, or they’ve got lots of money, or they’ve inherited something, or whatever. And then they’ve quit, and then they’ve become full time practitioners. They weren’t full time practitioners, what they ended up doing was wasting a lot of time, and then doing the same amount of practice as they did when they had the job. So there’s even a kind of, I don’t know what you might want to call it a karmic life thing, a personality thing? I don’t know, that gets involved as much as anything. So practicalities are one part of it. But I think that who you are, is equally a part of that process.

RICK: Yeah. But it’s like anything, you know, I mean, if you play a little tennis on weekends, or practice the violin every couple of days for half an hour, you’re not going to become a professional in those things. You know, as if, as compared with somebody who just does it all day, every day and gets really good at it.

DAMO: You get the outliers, because I think with any rule in life, it probably only applies about 95% of the time. There’s always exceptions, but generally, yeah, generally, those annoying ones who don’t seem to put any effort in who still get it.

RICK: Well, you know, that gets us into the topic of reincarnation May, which I’ve heard you talk about which, you know, a person could have done a lot of spiritual practice in previous lives. And then they committed this life and they just take off like a shot with very little practice.

DAMO: Yeah, yeah. There are some traditions in parts of Asia, not ones I’m involved in, actually, but once I’ve encountered that won’t even eat you until they’ve checked your past lives and check you are, at least at the stage of I guess, maybe what you would call a stream mentor or something, but sort of equivalent to that. They wouldn’t even take you as a student. So they’re, they’re very picky on such things. But yeah, I mean, if we want to look at what these arts are for, I mean, if you want to break it down to its core, even even the kind of basis of it as they were to escape the reincarnation cycle. So that’s the basis of all Eastern arts, isn’t it? Whether whether they use for that these days or not, is a little bit of a question, but that’s what they were looking at originally.

RICK: So I presume they they check your past lives do some kind of spiritual insight that the master Have you can Yeah, yeah, very rare or something, figure out what your past lives were.

DAMO: Yeah, no machine like Scientology or anything? No. There’s a certain level of attainment that is beyond my personal understanding that they reduce. Yeah,

RICK: yeah. Do you feel motivated yourself by the hope of getting off the wheel and not reincarnate anymore?

DAMO: No, I don’t care at all. I actually really enjoy life. I love samsara. It’s a gilded cage that I’m quite happy to be in. But at the same time, my personal motivation is I’m completely fascinated by the arts. And I will go as far as I can, within the arts, and whatever happens happens, I’m in this for the love of the art. That’s it. I mean, it’s an eating. So I don’t have this deep existential crisis that I seem to see with a lot of people. It does upset me actually, I have to say, like, I’m quite a sensitive guy on a weird level, on some levels. So I get students come, and sometimes they’re so young, they’re like, early 20s, or something, and it says, desperation, they have to escape the reincarnation cycle as quickly as possible. I just think, what a shame, like, that’s terrible. But no, I’ve never felt like that.

RICK: Well, you know, I felt like that in my 20s and 30s, also, but I wasn’t as happy as I am now. And now. It’s like, whatever, you know, whatever, God wills, you know, happy to not not come back or come back or whatever. Whatever serves the higher purpose, you know,

DAMO: it’s just a state. It’s nothing, it’s nothing worth worrying about. I think that past lives are the least important things people should worry about with regards to their existence. And I think they should just find something in the practice that brings them joy. And if they happen to step out of samsara, more power to them. Excellent. I think with reincarnation as well. But the most damaging thing I see is I don’t like it actually, is when therapists diagnose your your past lives. And they say you have this because of something that happens in a past life or something like that. And I think traditions get too hung up on that. And I think that for somebody, I’ve had so many reads, tell me what mine were or whatever. And actually, they’re all rather boring. But it I’m not someone that would worry about something that happened in a previous life, because it’s just a thing. But I’ve known other people get very, very hung up on a very disempowered state, where all of a sudden, three lives ago, they had to head cut off. And this is why they can’t do this in their life, but they’ve never fixed it. So it becomes a little bit of a trap in its own right anyway.

RICK: I’d be rather skeptical of anyone who claimed to be able to know such things. I mean, you know, take it with a grain of salt and take it as an interesting hypothesis. But who knows if what what they didn’t really know.

DAMO: I’m skeptical of 99.9% of people are except

RICK: me, I’ve met people who were claiming to be psychic or channeling or whatever. And, you know, I just have this nagging suspicion that they’ve got a very fertile imagination.

DAMO: I am one of life’s greatest cynics, and skeptics. And I also believe that the mind has an amazing ability to produce a paradigm for us to understand that we can interpret some kind of information and we interpret it wrong. So yeah, I agree.

RICK: Where does God fit into all this in that in those traditions? Is there more Is there a kind of a sense of divine intelligence or all pervading intelligence or some such thing not God in the Old Man, this guy with the beard sense but you know, just some kind of, you know, orchestrating intelligence that pervades the universe?

DAMO: Specifically in Taoism, or in Qigong, because

RICK: both the one you just elaborate a bit on, you know,

DAMO: well Taoism takes the easiest copout to such questions you could possibly imagine, because if you want to define Taoism, it would be question mark is and that’s ultimately what it is. I mean, the whole tradition of Taoism said, we can’t know we can’t define so we won’t even bother. So they didn’t even come up with a with an effort. So I would actually define Tao in that way. So Taoism doesn’t have a stance on such things. But a gong obviously interpret in different ways. For example, here the Indonesian Neigong is very, very much mixed in with their kind of local Hinduism and everything. So they they have a very Yeah, they they would adopt the idea of Godhead as the sort of consciousness that pervades and filters through everything. Definitely. Yes, but it’s not a major part of the path not really. Okay. It’s certainly not a concern for me. I have to say that I was born. I mean, I was I was brought up anti religious, actually, I was brought up very anti religious with a kind of deep resentment for the Catholic Church and Protestant ism and everything and that’s how I was brought up. You know, that never trust a religious person because I’m probably going to reach under the quireboys frock or something like this was just kind of how it brought up. So I I was that that was me. But then gradually, as I developed an age, I would say that I am now religious. But my religious views are separate really from what Taoism or Nikon believes. Yeah.

RICK: Are you religious in terms of like believing stuff? Or would you say more that you’re spiritual in terms of kind of a deeper experiential orientation to it?

DAMO: My definition of religion is that I try to give myself over to and up to and dedicate everything I do, to something higher that I would equate with God. But my version of religion does not mean being in an organized structured religion, because I don’t feel that I personally need such things. But the term spiritual to me I find strange, because I think it’s kind of vague. I think it’s a vague term. But yeah, I don’t agree most people wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. But my take would be, say you follow a path. Okay. So say you’re a Tibetan Buddhists, or other Theravadan, or you follow Hinduism, or you follow down this path, you practice Nikon, to me, you are, by definition, religious, because you are now following a teaching that has been passed on down a series of generations, that goes back to a connection to Source, that would be how I would define religion. So that’s why I would call myself religious, I think that’s safe to say. But if someone is spiritual, I think that’s cool. I think that’s great. That’s how I defined myself for years. But in my experience, the majority people who call themselves spiritual, what they mean, is guessing, generally, often by having a crystal, and they got a dreamcatcher on the window, and they went to a yoga class a few times, and they’ve been to say, the Dalai Lama give a talk or something, I don’t know, there’s a kind of mix of everything. So I’m aware that it’s not a popular definition, but my definition of a religious person who’s somebody who has actually found a path that leads to source that they’re going to follow. So that would be why I would define myself.

RICK: Yeah, it’s important to define words, because, you know, obviously, a lot of these words, say you say a thing, and people hear 100 different things, according to how they’re defining the words. Yeah, what you just said sounded kind of spiritual, like, what I would define how I would define spiritual, just sort of this appreciation of kind of a higher something, and that you really have more of an experiential orientation to it, rather than just something that you want to believe in. And you know, there’ll be some benefit down the line, and maybe when you die if you believe in it,

DAMO: of course, I think that that’s the thing, right? If there’s any advice I ever give to someone who is new, who is going on the path, is, first of all, forget definition of the terms and more importantly, find out how does your teacher the person you are learning off to find that term? Because if you don’t know how they are defining the terms, you’re going to carry across all the definitions you might have from somewhere else. And that becomes very, very complicated. So in almost every tradition, I went to every teacher I encountered the first thing I asked them, when they said, Any questions, how do you define even the simplest terms? Because that’s what I want you to know. I want to know what we’re talking about. Yeah. Perfect. So I think I think it’s important. So is there a universal definition of every term? No. But I think each individual teacher has one. Definitely. Well, they should do

RICK: we spend a fair amount of time doing that, I think on this program, you know, someone will say, Well, I, I’m awake, I had an awakening. And I think, Alright, what does that mean? Because it could mean so many things.

DAMO: But exactly it completely. And I get people that disagree with me a little bit, because they think that I am not engaging with the abstract part of the mind or the soul or something like this by doing such things. But my counter argument would be well, how do we learn, we have to have a shared language in order to teach somebody, and later when that definition serves no purpose anymore, let it go. Like when it doesn’t serve a purpose, let it become abstract and conceptual, and experiential. But right now, at the beginning, we need a clear clarification for every term, stripped the art out of everything, take the poetry out, and let’s define the law.

RICK: That’s good. I mean, otherwise, you know, we were just working at cross purposes. You know, you can completely misunderstand each other. And especially if you’re working with a teacher, you don’t know what he’s talking about, if you don’t understand what he means by his terms.

DAMO: I’ve spent many hours in classes where I’ve got no idea what the teachers talking about until I’ve gone and defined the terms with them. Yeah. It’s very easy for us to overlay our own meanings onto something. Yeah.

RICK: And again, I think that’s true in this whole world of spirituality that anybody watching this show is interested in. There’s three stages in the in the sort of Advaita Vedanta approach. What is it? How does it go? Well, firstly, there’s there’s sort of listening to a thing and then there’s There’s pondering it, sort of, you know, thinking about it, and then there’s kind of deeply experientially exploring it. And all three things are considered important. You can’t just sort of have experience without understanding or understanding without experience. It’s unbalanced. It’s like a stool, or two legs or something.

DAMO: Yeah, agree completely. That, to me would be the most important part of the inquiry process, there has to be a conceptual model to lead you in, and then an experience of it, but there has to be a contemplation of your reaction to that experience. And in order for it to unfold,

RICK: there is a passage in your book, which I jotted down, it is a big book five or 600 pages, I didn’t get a chance to read the whole thing. As I was reading, this jumped out at me, I thought it might be interesting to talk about. I’ll just read your passage, visualization and generated mental imagery are not part of the system I teach. self development is essentially the practice of developing the self, whilst spiritual development is actually the ending of self. In the earliest stages of our training, we need to strike a healthy balance between these two practices, cultivating the self and the spirit, but it will reach a stage where they’re actually directly conflicting processes. Let’s talk about that a bit.

DAMO: Now, read it out. I’m quite inflammatory. On the way I write I’ve never really noticed. But yeah, it’s okay. Yeah, what I mean, what I’m talking about there is that I want to distinguish two things from each other one is psychology. And the other one is spiritual growth, which to me are not the same thing. So sort of in the early stages of, okay, let’s explain this another way. So you want to move beyond that identification with the kind of acquired layers of self. If this is something that somebody wants to do with any tradition, there is something that happens to a lot of people, myself included, that there’s a kind of kicking and screaming of the self that takes place, you know, it’s like, it’s got its fingernails, dug into the doorway, and it ain’t go in, you know, and it wants you to keep identifying with those kinds of things that are problematic for your development. So there’s a process for the self has to be kind of built up first, it has to be developed, it’s like it has to be strong enough to leave, you know, it’s kind of like, there has to be enough self esteem, in order to walk away from that relationship that you have with that part of your mind. So this is what I’m implying with that. So but a lot of people when they talk about this comes back to these terms. Again, I’m going to sound like a complete term Nazi, I don’t mean to. But it’s, it comes back to that thing that a lot of times when people are talking about spiritual growth or spiritual development, I think they’re often talking about psychological development, which is a slightly different thing, psychology things like, you know, the shedding of trauma, or developing a sense of self esteem or something. These are psychological things that almost need dealing with before that can step out of the way to access spirits to access the light that we’re searching for, in in alchemy. So this is a two fold process, you could call the first pose part of the process, maybe an empowerment process, and the second part of the process or realization process, but the empowerment process becomes counterproductive to the realization process after a while, because if you strengthen yourself, after a while, it becomes something you can absorb into more, if you understand what I mean. Maybe a

RICK: better word than strengthen would be kind of the word health or healthiness or integration or something. Like we spoke earlier about people who build up a lot of energy, but not really have their psychological act together and would become, you know, sex addicts or egomaniacs, or something like that. And there have been so many examples of that in spiritual fields. So seems to me there just has to be you know, certain certain psychological healthiness which has to be not not necessarily you have to totally perfect that before you can get on to spiritual practice, but somehow it has to come along a pace with spiritual practice so that you don’t get waylaid or you know,

DAMO: it’s very difficult to shed something if you’re still struggling with it. Yeah, would be would be my, my take on it. And this, I suppose then the other part of that section you wrote out was that I don’t use visualization at all. That’s absolutely key to the entire of Taoism. It really is because it buys it links up with a principle called Huawei, which means to none govern or non control or non action. people define it in different ways. And people think often that it means with regards to what you do your activity, so you’re supposed to become sort of fat and lazy or something, which is not the implication at all. Definitely not. It’s a very hardworking tradition. The idea is that your mind is not supposed to govern or engage. Not supposed to govern or control anything that takes place. So we basically the tradition is based upon awareness, and playing attention to something rather than intention So as soon as somebody uses some kind of visualization or mental object, ultimately, it’s a kind of intention rather than attention, which is directly clashing with the key principle of Taoism of applying awareness to what you’re doing. So I try to get people to understand that visualization may help you psychology psychologically, you know, like basketball players who imagine shooting a hoop and get it many times or, or, you know, someone who imagines that they are T, that maybe has some kind of consciousness or emotional qualities they would like to imbue within themselves. But that’s still not the spiritual path, it’s still only psychological, it’s not really going to assist someone with moving towards the highest parts of the tradition. So this is why I tried to take visualization out of the way, but you would not believe how much visualization takes place in the Qigong world, it is the most pervasive error through the entire of the tradition, so much so that you will be hard pressed to find a class that you walk into where the first instruction isn’t. Imagine a waterfall raining down over your body, or imagine a white light that’s here, or a lotus flower or a farting unicorn, whatever they have these visualizations, you know, that are that are not going to help you to move towards this state of Huawei. So this is what I was implying within the within this.

RICK: Yeah, I’ve never been a very good visualizer myself, whenever some kind of guided meditation, and people are asking me to visualize stuff, it’s just like, just don’t do that. But it does have a value. Like when you mentioned a basketball player, I remember watching the Olympics and watching Lindsey Vonn getting ready to, you know, ski the downhill. And she’s standing at the beginning of the slope. And she’s kind of going through all these moments. And you can see she’s actually visualizing every single gate that she’s got to skip through all the way down the slope. And, you know, and then obviously, I think she was able to actually see it better having visualized it. So it has its application, maybe,

DAMO: yeah, yeah, totally, for things like that completely, or for, like I say, psychological development. Sure. But I believe that it’s counterproductive on the spiritual path beyond the very certain stage. And when we use it in martial arts, definitely because the nose will fire up as if you’re doing the actual act even though you’re only imagining it definitely. So but I would not another controversial thing, I wouldn’t consider the martial arts a spiritual path, though. So yeah,

RICK: that’s good. You know, I like the fact that you’re willing to be a little controversial and, and open yourself up to taking flak from people because I’m sure you ruffle some feathers sometimes when you say these things, but you know, you’re doing in a kind way. You’re not You’re not like yelling and screaming about it.

DAMO: You don’t take flak you take negative comments on social media, that doesn’t count as like, yeah, it’s, it’s nothing water off

RICK: a duck’s back. Well, actually, there’s a fellow in New York named Michael, who’s a dentist, but he has done a lot of practice in this kind of area. And he sent in a bunch of questions beforehand. And I’ve already sent them to you. So you’re familiar with them. But the first one is what we were just talking about the way we were doing until you reach the stage of non doing.

DAMO: Yeah, that’s a good distinction. He’s made the Yeah, that’s ancient. Yeah. And he

RICK: brings up that famous quote of, you know, awakening is an accident, but practice makes you accident prone.

DAMO: I don’t know where that quote comes from. But I like that. I’ve never heard that before.

RICK: Yeah, that’s from I think, if I forget the guy’s name.

DAMO: I don’t know how much faith or having a dentist who’s talking about being accident prone anymore, maybe?

RICK: Well, yeah, but you know what I mean. But anyway, don’t think about non doing that. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about that sometimes, because at a certain stage of development, and perhaps you can elaborate on this one’s subjective experiences that even though you may be engaged in dynamic activity, there’s such a deep inner silence that the sense is, I’m not doing anything, you know, I might be like playing tennis or, you know, riding a bike obstacle course or something. And yet, there’s this silence. And that’s where I Well, that’s where I reside. And there’s other stuff is happening on the more manifest level. Yes,

DAMO: yeah. And there’s also another use of the term actually, that’s very way way is very directly applicable to meditation. And I didn’t understand it for a long time, already time, until I actually picked it up from talking to people who had had full awakenings, full awakenings. And what I found was universally within their stories. The same thing happened, the story was always the same, that I was doing nothing and then all of a sudden it hit me. So no one no one ever achieves awakening during meditation. Like it just doesn’t happen. Meditation practice. When did that ever happens? Anyone you’ll never find that in a story. They always say the same. I practice for 20 years I practice for 10 years. was living in a mountain in a shack at the cold. And then one day, I decided to walk into a town and boom, he hit me. Right. So sometimes that leads to the mistaken concept, I think it’s mistaken of saying that there is no need to practice. Which is not true. I don’t think so at all, I don’t think I think to say there’s no need to practice is almost an insult to those people who spent 50 years in the Himalayas practicing a little bit. But what happens is during the practice you are doing so you are way you are doing so you are actually trying to govern something, even if it might feel like you’re not, maybe you’re just observing the breath, you’re still governing something because you’re still giving an instruction to your awareness to stabilize into the object to the breath, or whatever you’re doing. But then when you are not practicing, and you’re non governing, that’s when the realization can come. So at that stage, what it means is that meditation practice is directly counter to the ability to awaken. And this is what the phrase way Wu Wei is pointing to. But it’s because as far as I can see, within every tradition, excuse my very mechanical way of explaining it, I apologize, but I’m a very simple fellow who likes to keep things down to earth, is that whenever it’s tradition, you have a series of tuning forks, within your consciousness is the way I understand it. So these are mental qualities that are required. So different traditions will have different mental qualities. So they’ll have their precepts. They’ll have their practices, they will have their kind of divine mental qualities that people use to access the tradition, right. So say you have mental qualities like concentration, humility, compassion, kindness, discernment, clarity, whatever different traditions will have their different qualities they think are important. The practices are the way they are they’re doing so what you do is you practice till you develop those qualities. And then when you relax, anyone none doing, then whatever qualities are habitually within you will then lead to the results. Yeah. So there’s no such thing as a meditation exercise, meditation, meaning to enter jhana to enter a state there are only met at their own your exercises to develop the qualities that when you undoing may lead to a realization of that state. This is kind of what the phrase is implying way we waited within within Taoism. So they have a saying that you must walk the path. But then at a certain time, you must step off the path, because the path is not the real path, implying that the path is the work you’ve done to develop the quality so that when you then relax, they innately rise within you. And the cause and effect is that you lead to awakening something like

RICK: something like that happened to Adi Shanti. If you know who he is. He was doing Zen meditation, and he was practicing like a son of a gun. He was just really gung ho, he said, You know, I am going to achieve this if enlightenment or bust, you know, and he was pushing and pushing, and you know, really going at it. And, you know, at a certain point, he was on some retreat, and he began to occur to him that if he kept pushing this hard, he was going to crack up. Yeah, so he left the retreat. And he went home. And he just had this attitude of surrender, like, I give up, he went and sat in his little meditation hut in the back yard, and boom, had this awakening when he finally just relaxed, you

DAMO: know, it’s the same story that I have had recounted, to me time and time again, by all of the masters for wonderful, better word that I’ve gotten to meet around the world. Because one thing I always try and do is I try to get a one on one meeting with them, I try to sit down and try to discuss what they’re doing. And I always want to know about that process. And yeah, it’s universal. That story is universal across the board.

RICK: Yeah. But this takes some make, as you just said, and as I heard you say, in one of your podcasts is that they miss the awakening seems so natural, when it finally happens. And there’s this realization, like, oh, this has always been here, how could I not have seen it? And so a teacher might make the mistake of telling students, it’s already here, you know, just don’t You don’t have to do anything, you just be it or something like that. And that, as you say, is a mistake. It’s kind of like if you’re, I don’t know, example, if you’re riding a bicycle race or something, and you’re, you’re pedaling for miles and miles, as hard as you can, then you reach the finish line. You could stop pedaling, and you’ll just coast across and you might say, you know, kind of slaughtering this example, but you might think, Oh, I could have just coasted the whole time. I didn’t have to pedal. But it was actually the pedaling that got you to the finish line.

DAMO: Yeah, yeah, definitely. It’s like, if if, if enlightenment is winning the lottery, say for example, you can win the lottery was one ticket. But it’s not likely but you can if you buy 5 million tickets, you’re far more likely to win the lottery right and practices. As the practice is accumulating all of these tickets. You still might never win, but that’s life. Yeah, no question. Some people do it with few tickets, and then claim that that should be the same for everybody. But I don’t think that’s true.

RICK: Yeah, and when you say the word accumulating, actually, you know, you’ve talked about this a little bit already, but there is an actual sort of energetic accumulation that takes place in your practice in your tradition, which, you know, that phrase from from 23rd Psalm of in the Old Testament, my cup runneth over, I kind of get the feeling like at a certain is referring to something like that, where you know, the energy, the inner, whatever you want to call it has built up to a point where finally, it just overflows.

DAMO: Yeah, you have no choice. This is always the idea. There should be such a momentum that is built that the potential is there and yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, these are these are these are really important concepts for Taoism that are explained in a damaging the kind of core key first text, isn’t it? The most translated book after the Bible? I’m not sure. But it you know, it’s kind of the most important Taoist texts. And it’s all outlined there. In the first few verses. It’s like Taoism is just told to you right there, but but often greatly misunderstood. I think, unfortunately, these phrases,

RICK: I think another related misunderstanding is that, you know, some teachers will say, Well, ultimately, there is no self, you know, and so if you’re making some kind of effort, if you’re, then you’re only going to reinforce the sense of self, or if you’re practicing, you’re going to reinforce the sense of a practicing. So it’s, it’s counter indicated, yeah,

DAMO: you can’t rise above what you can’t do, would be my counter argument to that. So that there has to be a, there has to be a lot of effort. And this whole idea of no self, there is no self was, for me, personally, one of the most destructive things that anyone ever told me when I was younger, not emotionally, or psychologically, but just simply I fixated on that idea. So what I did was I passed all spiritual teachings through that filter. And then I did it by a musical that there’s no cell phone or something like that. And then, yeah, the best thing I ever did was drop that idea. Because I think that those things when you see those writings from the past masters and the left behind, I often think that probably when they said them, it was relevant to the person who was in that room at that time, who wrote that thing down, and it was a little nugget they gave them. And then there’s little old me who’s only been involved in the spiritual arts for five minutes already knows that there isn’t a sense of self, but I haven’t realized it. It’s because somebody has told me Yeah, so it’s under that it becomes a little bit problem. Oh, it was for me, it was problematic. I had to shed all of the things I knew. And just kind of go with experience.

RICK: Did you pick that up for something that your teacher in the UK?

DAMO: Oh, yeah. I won’t name them. But yes, yeah, one of the earliest courses I went on when I was very young, was this kind of whole idea of anything you do is pointless. There is no self. There’s a few of them over there that beat that drum? Oh. Yeah, there is no. So when you get to that stage where there is no self? Yeah. There is.

RICK: Alright, here’s a question that came in from someone named Johnny in Illinois. The core of my spirituality is working with non physical energies such as Reiki or meditation. I have trouble explaining the validity of anything non physical to atheists, or those leaving religion. They seem to be hung up on physical evidence and throw out what they call anecdotes or pseudo evidence. How do I get through to people who refuse to even look into what they consider? Whoo.

DAMO: I would say why bother getting through to them?

RICK: What if it’s your family member, your your, your good friend or somebody like that?

DAMO: Oh, I still don’t worry about it. I’m not fussed at all I have. I have family members who really are not. Not direct family members. But I’ve just some families who are not interested in what I do and not believing. But I don’t feel that that matters. So it’s a difficult question for me to answer because I’m never that worried about it, I think. I think that people will come to their own conclusions when they’re ready. But if you wish to meet people, I mean, if you wish to make people realize that it’s real, I mean, you’re going to have to develop a lot of skill. Because there is a dense learning process if you like. So say, say you’re in the early stages, one of the early stages of practice is you can feel that you if you like, why, because there is an increase of movement through the nervous system. That’s really what it is anything you feel is through the nervous system. But that is for you. So what will happen is as as that energy gets denser and denser, if we use that as a model, you’ll be able to feel it more and more. But that doesn’t mean that anybody else can. So what happens is you have to keep going until your range gets to a point of density so that you can then almost force the somatic experience onto somebody else that will be The only way I would say that you ever consciously convince somebody that something like that is real, but that would be really hard work, you’d have to be very, very skilled to do such as, generally I find people have experienced it for themselves, and they want to understand it. And that’s why they come into these kinds of things. But as for convincing people, I always wonder why bother? There’s a similar thing in acupuncture actually, there’s a similar thing in acupuncture because I do that I, I run an acupuncture college. And one thing that always strikes me is everybody always wants to prove acupuncture is real, which I find really strange kind of concept. They want to do double blind, study this and that and prove. And I always say why, because if you ever prove that acupuncture is real, well, the first thing they’ll do is they’ll stop you practicing it, because they’ll move it into hospice. And then the surgeons that are in the doctors are doing and that load you runs a clinic will never be able to do it. So the greatest freedom you have is that nobody believes your therapy is real, they’ll leave you alone. And I think that that applies to almost all of these arts in Taoism, they call it being like a useless tree, no one will cut you down, is the idea. So I would say to Johnny, I feel your frustration, because I remember, I remember being frustrated, because I desperately wanted other people to understand this beautiful thing that I did. But then I stopped caring. And actually, it made it easier.

RICK: Yeah, I was kind of an obnoxious proselytizer in my earlier years. And and I think it is symptomatic, I think of a kind of an inner doubt, you know, that you feel like you need others to do what you’re doing in order to kind of justify what you’re doing or to kind of, you know, it’s like all Christians who come pounding on your door, you know, it’s not like they really want to save you, they really want to save themselves from the doubt that nags at them, because they’re, they don’t have really the experiential verification of what they believe.

DAMO: If you if you really believed in something, beyond belief, if you knew something, at its deepest level, you would not be upset at all by other people disagreeing so Exactly. If I tell somebody The sky is green, nobody ever gets upset. They just think you’re mad if I tell them that God is not real, they get furious. I would say that the reason is, because yeah, they’re not sure themselves. Yeah.

RICK: And related to this whole topic, there’s a there’s a Bengali saying, which is, if no one comes on your call, then go ahead alone.

DAMO: Yeah, yeah, well, life is made more complicated by other people. So yeah, I would agree with that.

RICK: Yeah. I remember when I first got into meditation back in the 60s, and I wanted my sister to do it. And she, and she did it for a little while. And then she said, You know, I don’t want to be different than my friends, different from my friends. And so she stopped doing it. And I just dropped all my friends. I mean, they’re all doing drugs anyway, and just, you know, walk the dog down to the beach every day for a few months. And eventually, I started accumulating new friends, but, you know, just just, you know, I could see what the life my friends were living was doing to them and had been doing to me, and I thought, Alright, well, if they don’t want to come along, I’m heading out on my own.

DAMO: I, you know, it’s funny, I, I take the opposite stance, I take the completely opposite stance. Because I spend so much of my life in communities or on courses or meeting teachers are like this, trying to explore a line that I really liked. My friends did not even have the slightest interest in this path whatsoever. So I love hanging out with people that have no interest in spirituality whatsoever, just kind of grounds me a little bit.

RICK: I have friends like that too, for sure. And I don’t discuss this stuff with them. But in those days, those friends were starting to do heroin, and you know, just you know, getting pretty messed up. And so it wasn’t healthy for me to hang around them.

DAMO: Okay, yeah, that’s a little counterproductive. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

RICK: I just want to wrap up a point that you mentioned earlier, on when we were talking about not striving or not practicing or anything like that, and some teachers saying that might be counterproductive. There was, there’s a teacher named Papaji, who you may have heard of who was in Lucknow, and a lot of people studied with him. And he was famous for saying, give up the search. And I wonder whether he might have been speaking contextually, as you as you suggested, where he’s speaking to the people in the room here, who, you know, hey, you’re here with me now, give up the search. This is a place where you’re going to find something, but I don’t think he necessarily meant give up all practice or any kind of spiritual, you know, discipline.

DAMO: Well, there’s two things I have for my take on it is, first of all, all teachings are only relevant to the person that teacher is speaking to. That that’s just a fact like that, unless they made unless they made it so generic, that it would be kind of weak, you know that but but those kinds of teachings Yeah, they’re for the people in the room. So it means that spiritual books, photo quotes are good, but can also be kind of counterproductive if you hang on to those a little bit too much. And the second thing is you have to strive your ass off. In these arts, you have to strive and push and everything. It’s just where is that striving coming from? That’s more of an issue. So if my striving and my pushing and my search is from that existential anxiety based, I’ve got to make my life better. I think that’s problematic if it’s that I got a strike because I got to develop X Men like powers, like we discussed, that’s problematic, if you’re striving and striving, because this path is really fascinating. And you just want to see what’s possible with it, I more power to you, I think that’s an absolutely perfect reason to strive. If you just have an innate striving within you, you don’t even know why you do it. But you just have to keep pushing and pushing this up. That’s okay to like no problem at all. It’s the, it’s always the motivation behind it. That is the problem rather than the act. And I think sometimes those things need clarifying a tiny bit and separating, because I’ve met plenty of people striving from a place of fear, or worthlessness or whatever, like something is going to get better if they push down this path. And often it gets worse, because I mean, it’s probably one of the most difficult things on earth you can do. It’s not easy is it like it’s, it’s not very simple. So if you’re coming from a place of feeling slightly inadequate, and worthless, and you’re going to push and push on this path, all that is going to do your constant failure to be enlightened, it’s just going to keep underlining into you just how, you know, insecure, or inferior or inadequate that you are. So I think that’s where it becomes problematic. I always try to instill in anything, anybody I teach, look, approach all of this with a good sense of humor and a certain degree of irrelevance. And just see where it goes.

RICK: Michael, the Qigong dentist, there’s a list of questions he’s sent in these still see them there. On the side of your screen, Damien.

DAMO: I can on this chat thing, Connor?

RICK: Yeah. Oh, yeah. On the chat thing. So scan down. And let’s, you might feel that some of them are too esoteric or irrelevant to the general audience that we have here. But um, are there any that jumped out at you that you’d like to address?

DAMO: I have a roll out, I’ll answer anything. Or I’ll tell people I don’t know the answer. Nothing’s too esoteric for me. I said, Look. Well, it’s not the top maybe good to get into some of the philosophical aspects that are somewhat known but maybe understood like Tao, would you tie in Yang in a different element? Okay. So was it Peter? Is it Peter, it was a Michael, Michael Michael. So Michael’s asking for definitions, or meanings behind some of the philosophical concepts like Tao, Wu Ji, Tae Ji, yin and yang, and what they mean. I mean, those are phrases that come up constantly in these ads. But the first thing we understand is, it depends on the context that it’s being used. So for example, if I’m talking about Tao, Wu Ji, Tai Chi yin and yang, in the context of Fung Shui, it’s going to have a different meaning from Chinese medicine, it’s gonna have a different meaning from from Neigong. But with regards to practice, these are really referring to levels of their states of mind. So Dow, that term Dow means one of two things. One, it means question mark, we can’t define it. So Dow ism is question mark ism. And the second one would be ultimately Dow you could kind of link with the word yoga union. So it is essentially unifying. With the original state, Wu Ji means without projections, or without limits. So essentially, with regards to your mind, when you are in a state of Wu Ji, what it means is there is no separation between object and observer. So because there’s no distinction, there’s no separation, there is no G, there is no projection within that space. So it means to be free of sense perceptions. Ultimately, on some level, Tai Chi is the next one. So Tai Ji is the movement that comes for them from within Mooji. So Tai Ji means essentially is the process of something moving from within that space. So as soon as you have a separation into thought, separation into action, then that is Tai Chi. So those three are kind of philosophical terms to describe states of realization or states of mind. And then yin and yang, within practice, as I already mentioned, are a lot more dense. So yin and yang, in philosophy are comparative terms, the sunny side of this hill and the shady side of the hill, and so on, and so on. And that nice swirly symbol that looks like the top of a coffee cup when you stir it. But yin and yang, in practice are referring to the two types of energy, the magnetism and electricity within the body that we manipulate in order to support the mind and its ability to move through those philosophical states. That would be how I would define those terms with regards to Neigong. Anyway,

RICK: okay, good. Yeah, that’s good. So we’ll just run through these. It’s, I mean, no one’s gonna remember these terms. But it gives us a insight into some of the things that This tradition deals with, right? Sure. So then the next one is dantian. What it is where it is? How does it function and the alchemy of creating it?

DAMO: This is what I was talking about earlier, the magnetic field in the

RICK: sort of the abdomen area and how you build up it. Was that the dantian?

DAMO: Yeah, yeah, dum dum, that’s actually done means Alexa. It’s the cinnabar. It’s cinnabar. It’s like a red aura of mercury. But really, what they’re implying is that there is a substance that can be generated out chemically within that part of the body, that will transform the functioning of the body in the mind. So that’s the dam. And it’s built in the field, the TN. So the TN the field is really what you’re building for a really long time, you can kind of forget the dam, that’s kind of like the highest aspect of what you’re doing there. That’s kind of that’s the end the end of the process. So we build the field of this magnetism and electricity and abdomen when the two are built. And then they combine that something called Yin Yang Gong, meaning the skill of yin and yang coming together and being crushed to generate the highest level of dantian development. It’s fascinating practice to build the dantian a very, very complex, very, very intricate, an art form in its own right, and when you’re moving through that process, it’s both beautiful and terrifying, I would say, but yeah, dantian is the basis of our practice.

RICK: Incidentally, How popular is all this in China or elsewhere? And is it sort of is it sort of

DAMO: China is illegal? So is it really? Yeah, yeah, it is. It’s a little bit freer. Now. It’s a little bit freer now. But I mean, you had the Cultural Revolution, during the late 50s, early 60s, late 60s, early 70s. I’m not very good history, but you had the Cultural Revolution, which involved a lot of Chinese culture being destroyed and a lot of records being destroyed, and then art. But then after that, what was more problematic was you had Qi Gong fever, which is where the Falun Gong controversy came in, and everything which people might have heard of, where Qi Gong was basically outlawed as a practice in China, because they were afraid it was going to send everybody insane. So Qi Gong is now all over China, but Qi Gong in China’s still has to be, it’s very closely watched. It’s very closely supervised and monitored. And I know of only two actual Neigong schools in the entire of China. And that’s from someone who’s traveled to every province in China, apart from one I know of only two actual Aegon schools there most of the Neigong survives in Southeast Asia, from the Chinese communities that that left, if you’ve never been to China, for anybody listening, I don’t know. I love China. There’s a lot of fun to be had there. But it’s a highly paranoid nation on the level of the government and the level of scrutiny is massive. And I think unless you’ve been there, growing up in the Western world, I mean, right now, everybody thinks they’ve been scrutinized by Facebook and WhatsApp and ad to know, forever that strange nerdy guy who runs Facebook, it’s called whatever he’s flying, like a bird. Yeah, I’m sure he’s listening in or so. It is. If it’s true or not, who knows? But it’s nothing compared to China.

RICK: Oh, yeah. I mean, we’ve seen the news stories about, you know, these monitoring cameras on every street lamp and every, you know, building and everything and there’s facial recognition. And, you know, if you jaywalk, they recognize who you are, and, and it’s all tied into your phone, and you can’t like, purchase anything anymore. If you misbehave, I mean, the whole thing is really, really

DAMO: credible. The Communist Party does not like spiritual development. So a lot of those kinds of things have slowly been eradicated quite well in China. So I spent a lot of time in China a lot of years. And most of the practices that you meet, or encounter meet, that sounds weird, but most of practicing in Canada are very, very watered down, and very, very sanitized. I would say,

RICK: spend so much time there if it’s so the suppressed

DAMO: trying to find something real. I spent a lot of my time following dead ends and dead parts and stuff like that. But most of my time is in Southeast Asia these days. Meaning I found

RICK: Why do things in white countries in Southeast Asia is it more lively in

DAMO: Malaysia as a hotbed for it? Indonesia, Thailand has a fair bit. Myanmar, it’s quite difficult to penetrate the culture. It’s quite close. But if you can, then there’s a lot going on in Myanmar as well. Yeah, most parts of Southeast Asia. I never had much luck in Vietnam, I have to say, but the rest of the places in Southeast Asia, there’s a lot of lineages that survived them.

RICK: So there tend to be a resurgence of this. Is it gaining momentum or is it kind of like dying out?

DAMO: It’s gaining momentum. It’s of interest, I would say. But the momentum of interest is in the West. And this is one of the most difficult things is that in Asia, people are practicing it but it’s not. You got remember, Asian Arts aren’t exotic to Asians. You know what I mean? Yeah, so even even the terms are exotic. It’s just what they do. So they There’s not a mate, there is some interest, there’s almost a respect for it rather than an interest, I would say. So everybody’s amazed by it, but nobody wants to do it. In the West, there is no respect for it. But there is a great interest in it. So there’s a kind of surge of people wanting to do it. But it’s very, very difficult to penetrate some of the traditions it is quite hard. So a lot of people are trying to learn on Facebook, which is not the easiest place to get authentic teachings about this thing anyway.

RICK: I heard a statistic the other day that there are many days in the week where Zuckerberg makes more money than the most famous movie stars making their entire career.

DAMO: Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised. Be surprised, man to evil genius. Yeah,

RICK: the tattoos on your arms have any special significance?

DAMO: No, not even slightly. They come from a misspent youth of ecstasy and alcohol and getting drunk and passing out in tattoos. No, they mean nothing. No, no, I was just, I was a troublemaking teenager. I do have some magic tattoos done with chanting and what have you in on my back? But no, the ones on my arms and nothing. Yeah.

RICK: Now it’s interesting what you just said. So even though you got under the age of four and you’ve been doing it more or less your whole life you went through a period of debauchery? It sounds I can. Yeah.

DAMO: Yeah, you got it. Yeah, I rebelled. I rebelled against it. There was a I still practiced weirdly, I used to go into. I remember being in martial arts classes completely hungover. And still in altered states of consciousness from the night before. I wasn’t safe for the people around me. Definitely not. But that kind of that behavior fell away when I moved deeper into the spiritual practices and the internal practices. But yeah, what I was doing martial arts as a complete waster. Yeah. The record.

RICK: Interesting. So yeah, so I mean, how many years did you go through that diversion?

DAMO: Most of my teenage years. Yeah. That’s typically my teenage years. Yeah. I like to do things as much as I can. So when I encountered intoxicants, I want you to see how far with that as well. Turns out, it was bad for your health. So yeah.

RICK: Yes. Janis Joplin used to talk about wanting to do the super hyper most. And so you can see where that got her. Yeah. Well, you made it past the age of 27, which is when Janis Joplin Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison all died.

DAMO: Oh, they were professional records. I was just an amateur. Yeah, no, I’m very clean living these days are extremely boring. Well, you

RICK: look at No, it’s good. I’m adult Erica. Yeah. I mean, that was my realization, to in fact, it was a Zen book that kind of turned me around. I was sitting there high on some psychedelic and you know, couldn’t sleep. And I picked up a Zen book and started reading it. And I thought, you know, these guys are really serious. Or we’re really serious, and I’m really screwing around, and where am I gonna end up if I keep going like this? So that’s it. I’m quitting drugs, starting meditation, you know, this kind of thing. The most

DAMO: amazing thing of that story is you may read a book on psychedelics. That’s incredible. No, I wasn’t.

RICK: I was reading a book on Zen while I was on psychedelics, that’s what I mean.

DAMO: Even more focus than me. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of people. I mean, I’m, I’m not anti drugs, from an ethical standpoint, whatever people want to do with their own body. But it’s not, it’s not helpful for the path. Yeah, something. It was a false, a false thing to follow false economy of practice.

RICK: Now, there are some actually really good therapeutic uses going on at Johns Hopkins, NYU and places like that, but right as a recreational thing, it probably tends to do more harm than good for people.

DAMO: Yeah, I’m, you know, I’m very austere in my approach. I, I’m really separating the psychology and the spiritual growth and the healing of trauma and awakening or enlightenment are very different things. To me, they’re very different paths, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be parallel with each other a bit, but they’re not the same thing. So I think, yeah, use of those to help people therapeutically great.

RICK: Actually, one of Michael’s questions here was does TCE deplete, and perhaps drugs would be one of things that deplete it. I mean, what would drive maybe talk about that a little bit, not just in terms of drugs, but depletion of TCE? And maybe, you know whether drugs do have a depletion area effect on

DAMO: the main reason she depletes? I mean, she is produced by the body.

RICK: And she again means sort of vital energy. Yep. I mean,

DAMO: it’s defined she first time so as a practice, in terms of practice. She is something that is produced in the body. So one of the mistakes people make is that they think they can pull it down from the stars from the trees from the earth, from the gods from Atlantis, I don’t know they try to draw it in fourth place. It’s not going to happen. She is produced in Body, and it is produced by how efficiently your body functions. So the main place your energy is producers within your cells that we use in the practice. So a lot of practice or to make your body function, it has an efficient level as it possibly can. So your Qi will deplete. It’s not like you have a certain amount that it runs out to depletion will be more your body is not functioning and efficient enough level to produce the energy that you require, it would be more of a way of looking at it. So naturally, as you age, there will be a depletion of your body’s ability to produce G. And this is what we try to counter. Okay. And then we do try to store it in the dantian to argue with myself, but the most important function of g, is how much energy can your body produce. And you’ll be surprised just how efficiently you can make your energy production in the body. It’s crazy if you’re, if you can really take it to a high level. So with regards to drugs, anything that causes the mind or the body to function less efficiently will deplete the cheap. So drugs we’ll do one will be one way so we’ll burgers and pizzas so we’ll overwork like anything is going to compromise that system. Yeah, sure. impact upon it.

RICK: Okay. A question came in from Kira in KY RA in a place called Felton, I have no idea where Felton is, but nice name. Yeah. She asked, are he I’m not sure. After 20 years of Tibetan name, and Native American meditation practices and ceremonies, I was asked to me, Hey, we’re talking about drugs. I was speaking to me, is there an explanation that helps those who are navigating these combinations of traditions? I have a western medicine degree. And oh, and then a Native American as well.

DAMO: Okay, so sorry, the question was how to navigate those practices. Yeah, I

RICK: guess she’s here she is saying, you know, she has this Tibetan practice Native American meditation practices and ceremonies. And then I Wasco came along, and, of course, certain kinds of solace, and gyms there are traditional in those cultures. But I guess she wants to, and she has a western medicine degree. So she’s a doctor of some kind, he and wants to somehow learn how to balance or integrate all these things?

DAMO: Well, I would say, I don’t, I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way. Because people sometimes miss here. And I don’t wish to be disparaging of that, I think it’s, I think it’s great to have access to all these things. But I would say that somebody who’s doing that, like I was when I was younger, has not yet been fully grabbed by a path. So I would say that they haven’t yet found their path. Because once you know, if every one of these traditions, Native American Tibetan, I was the other one, whatever that was, has a kind of gravitational pull to it, if you like, at some point, one of those gravities is going to grab you and drag you onto that path. And then naturally, all of the other paths are going to fall, by the by, they’re going to fall by the wayside. So the question of how to navigate it is almost a bit of a difficult one, because there should be an automatic absorption into one of those lines when it’s gravity. So I would say if you’re still experimenting with all of those things, you haven’t yet found your path. So I’ve not yet met anybody who I would say has successfully realized a great deal who was involved in multiple paths? Yeah,

RICK: maybe if we use the metaphor of digging multiple wells, you know, a foot foot deep rather than one well, 10 feet deep. You know, maybe we could play with that metaphor and just say, well, you start maybe with 10 wells, but then you find well, over on this one, the ground is softer, I’m actually getting deeper, more easily, and then forget these other wells, I’m going to go deep in this one.

DAMO: And then if we add to that analogy, at some point, something reaches out or one of the holes and drags you in. Yeah, choice. The only thing I would say in the meantime, is if you’re gonna use ayahuasca, again, nothing against it ethically, or anything. But if you have other practice, especially Tibetan practice, separate the two from each other for a little while. So say you have your meditation practice or your ritualistic practice, whatever line you’re in, I would give it a few months before and after each Ayahuasca ceremony, just because I was. I have my own views on it, but it can be very, very strong. And sometimes it’s not the best mix with certain other practices. So if you’re going to use it to have a little bit of a gap between them, just to make sure you don’t cause yourself any problems. Yeah. And your bill.

RICK: There was a young woman who was actually on this show. One of the first few people I did 11 years ago, and she was very bright and seemed to be doing well and she ended up doing some are getting into Ayahuasca. I didn’t hear all the details, but she has not been right since there’s just been this mental unbalance in it’s very unfortunate. So this stuff can be very powerful and she If it’s approached at all, it should be approached with tremendous caution. Plus going to South America to do it, there is a kind of a market down there and these days a cottage industry and you don’t really know the qualifications or ethics of people you might be getting involved with. So, question No,

DAMO: I, I think one of the greatest mistakes we can make is thinking one thing is going to work for everybody. There’s so many variables involved in who people are. So some people will take ayahuasca and have life transforming experiences. Other people will take ayahuasca and then that’s it, you know, there’s all sorts of hellish things going on their mind is there’s so many variables, and it doesn’t even matter. If you have the most skillful practitioner or ceremonial guide in the world, there is always always going to be some variables that are involved or difficult to see. But the counter to that is everything we do has risk. So, you know, if you’re an adult, and you understand that, then that’s your right to take them, I think, yeah, I have a I have a funny story with Ayahuasca don’t if you want to share it? Yeah, sure. Do you want using stories or something? Yes, please. I’d heard all these things about ayahuasca. And obviously, it’s not part of the Chinese traditions. So everyone’s coming back talking about these amazing things. And, and I thought, well, I’ve taken lots of hallucinogens, but everyone says I was always different. So I have this theory that I was actually was working because of the ceremony people do around it, they put you in a certain mindset, and it will create that which, you know, amazing. So I took Ayahuasca I went and I went through the ceremony. I actually I did it quite recently. I do quite recently. So I just want you to know, I thought I’d take I just see what it is. So I went and we’re, you know, here in Southeast Asia, to get in soundstage. So, you know, No, probably not the most authentic. But I was just curious. So the first time I kept an open mind and did it and yeah, I mean, it was, I can see how for a lot of people would be trade transformational. For me, it was just more mental stuff. So I wasn’t that fast, but I can see why it would. So then the second time I took it, I thought, right, I’m going to penetrate through what is auto suggestion? So I watched a load of cartoons on YouTube before I went along. And you know what, I sat there for going through the whole process, vomiting and seeing Smurfs, and Mickey Mouse. All the crap I’d filled

RICK: my mind with. So whenever impressions were in there, that’s what got stirred up. Yeah, the

DAMO: mental chatter, the mental clutter, just play through it. Now, I don’t want to say that that’s what all I was curious, because that would be an incredibly arrogant thing to disparage an entire shamanic tradition. But for me, personally, the experience I had Yeah, that’s that’s what happened to me. And I was had more fun on the second trip.

RICK: Watching the Smurfs? Yeah,

DAMO: definitely. Purpose. Most of us. I don’t think it was spiritually useful. But yeah,

RICK: that is funny. Here’s a question from Dana in Wakefield, Rhode Island. If you can give some, if you can give some basic or general Hallmark markers to your students that give them general insights as to what stage they are at, with their evolution of more pure consciousness. I would love to hear more about this. Of pure consciousness. I think she’s wondering like, you know, how do you gauge the level of spiritual evolution if you want to call it that of your students? Yeah. And she and she considers pure consciousness to be a kind of essential quality that would the, the clarity of which would develop as one evolves, virtually, or progressions?

DAMO: Yeah, well, we take a different take on it within Nikon, so you’re going to have what maybe you could call mundane realizations. At the beginning, I suppose they’re quite mundane, but they’re profound at the same time. So the first thing that I would explain to students is that there should be a comfort that arises at all times. And this is not something that other people have necessarily lied, because they think that comfort is too much of a kind of menial word for it or trivial word for it. But earlier stages you should be you will find that you naturally become comfortable with all and any situations, that’s the first step. So this will be the platform upon which everything else is built. So if you are still uncomfortable with things that are going on emotionally on some level, then you still have way to go, you’re not put your first foot on the path. That doesn’t mean you have to become apathetic to things at all. But it doesn’t throw you off of your center. So even though that’s a very, you know, sounds very mundane, that was where it would begin. And then beyond that, as people move into that process, then you know, because we are a path that combines energetics and consciousness it’s really easy for us because there are certain city that arise. So there are no there’s no room for delusion, because I have realized the state of complete oneness and I am now existing in an enlightened state. Okay, show us this. And then if that ability has not arisen, then that state is not yet there because the to go hand in hand because the energy builds, and then the mental state combines when it, the causation leads to a particular quality that is there. So, we have that, but I’m aware that by talking about that, a lot of people won’t like it because there’s such a negative feel towards those kinds of skills or those kinds of abilities, or the hunt for them on a search for them. But my view is that they give us the greatest degree of clarity.

RICK: Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting that you know, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They’re four chapters, and the third chapter is all about cities. And yeah, and a lot of people say cities are a total distraction. Nobody should have anything to do with it. But I always wonder like, well, he wrote a four chapter book, and the one whole chapter is about cities. What if they’re just nothing but a distraction? Why don’t you devote a chapter to them. And you know, this thing about a litmus test or, you know, a way of demonstrating a certain level of attainment might be a legitimate purpose for them.

DAMO: I’ve been to temples all over Asia, where people, far higher levels of achievement than me had to prove that they’re stepping over the gateway into the stream by placing their hand into the rock face and leaving a handprint. I’ve not seen them do that. I’ve been to the place where the handprints are actually I’ve seen many cities. I’ve never seen that one. But I’ve seen the results of it. I’ve seen the handprints in the walls, and even down to one the detail on one. Where was that? Coming where that was? Oh, that was in Malaysia, outside Kuala lumper. And you could see the almost the lines, the fingerprints. Yeah, it’s not just like a rough handshake. So if those things were going on, what is that if not a litmus test, as you call you know, and and I always think that the spiritual teachers that said you shouldn’t strive city frustrated cities are the ones that don’t have any, which is kind of convenient. Yeah, I would. I am. I was born in the Year of the Monkey. So I’m perpetually the monkey. So I like to tease but I do. I do think of such things.

RICK: That’s where the monkeys attack you because they see a kindred spirit.

DAMO: I think they’re trying to give me a very violent and thorough hug. Actually, that’s

RICK: it a couple more questions here. And then we should wrap it up. Here’s another one from Wesley in Salem, again, some teachings are deshante, for instance, talking about gut awakening, Adi Shanti, talks about head heart gut as being stages of awakening, there is a primal existential clench in the horror area. And when it lets go powerful, and powerful and irreversible death of any sense of separate self occurs, and brings about a deep and embodied level of awakening, does this correspond to any experience in your path?

DAMO: I can only say that I’ve never heard of that description before now. So obviously, this is first thoughts in drawing parallels. So I can’t vouch for the accuracy of my parallel drawing right now. But there is a similar thing. Yes. When the I mean, essentially, what happens is there is a practice when the dantian is kind of the manifestation of that clench and then is released, and then the energy rises up through the body to stimulate the mind, I would assume that there was some parallels there. But yes, okay. I would say there is a similar practice. Yeah. Because I’ve never heard that phrase by Adi Shanti. Before now, I can say with any accuracy, right?

RICK: Are there dangers in any of these practices? Or have the Dallas path in general?

DAMO: Yes, definitely. There’s a danger in every single path. There’s people who’ve practiced mindfulness and gone insane, because they’ve looked inside and realized, Oh, yes, I am really miserable. You know, there’s dangers that all of these things the public answer would be yes, there is so practice safely. The nun public answer which I’ll share publicly, would be dangerous often means effective.

RICK: Yeah. So now there was ventured, nothing gained kind of thing. Yeah, exactly.

DAMO: There is a risk to things and I think that the skill as a teacher, not even claiming to be a really skilled teacher, but the skill a teacher should have, in general, is knowing what practice is wise for what student? Because obviously, the risk of a practice is mitigated by how prepared are their mind and their body for the process you’re about to take them through? So most of the danger comes from an unprepared person engaging with a practice that’s not right for them, generally. Yeah. So an occasional

RICK: occasional

DAMO: fluke. I mean, sometimes right? Causation too complex and some people get problems. Yeah.

RICK: Okay. So two final questions I want to ask you. One is in terms of like, you know, what you teach and to whom and how people could get involved in it. And also, you know, what kind of benefits might want to expect what kind of benefits are are you seeing in the lives of your students? You know, how has it transformed their everyday lives or enhanced them in some way?

DAMO: Well, I run to schools, somehow. Yeah. So I basically I teach the arts that I study in my school, but I also, I run a Chinese medicine college as well. So I got these kind of two branches.

RICK: Is it all online? Or some physical location? Well, pre

DAMO: COVID as a physical location, but right now, who knows, but a Yeah, overnight and teaching online, but it’s easy to find me people can hunt me down, if they’re interested. I’m, I’m typically British, we don’t like to do the sales page so people can find me if they like, and whatever. And what was the other thing? The benefit was

RICK: the benefits, you know, what kind of transformations do you see in the lives of students? And, and also, I’m gonna ask you for a bit more detail on your courses. But go ahead and answer that question.

DAMO: Well, I see a great increase in their physical, mental psychological well being and a nice growth in eccentricity, which I think is a an added bonus in such things.

RICK: So they become more sort of what’s what’s that British comedy troupe that did life Brian Madiba, they become one Monty Python ish in their demeanor,

DAMO: basic, basic, like this, that comes a joy of life that arises from it.

RICK: That’s good. I mean, that’s an important thing right there if you know, just sort of joy of life, and what are we here for? You know, and it seems to me that more joy would be a good benchmark of the effectiveness of a thing.

DAMO: Yeah, don’t bother trying to escape life until you’ve mastered it. And learning to enjoy it. That would be my stance.

RICK: Okay, and so you have a website? I’ll show it on the screen here. Basically, there it is. I’m showing it and there you are looking very serious. Not so joyful in this picture, obviously. And if people go there, then they can poke around and find out what’s going on. Right, what you have to offer, how much it costs, how much time consuming it is, and all those kinds of things.

DAMO: Yeah, they can hunt me down and find me. Yeah, definitely. And I’m all over YouTube. They can listen to my ramblings for hours.

RICK: Yeah. Yeah, I listened to quite a few while out skiing in the woods.

DAMO: Okay. But didn’t ruin your skiing for now.

RICK: It’s nice. We have. We’ve had some I love it. And we’ve had some snow here. Best best snow we’ve had in the few years. So I’ve been huffing and puffing and going around the woods.

DAMO: Perfect. The opposite of here.

RICK: Yeah, really? All right. Well, it’s been great getting to know you. And I just mean the last two hours, I mean, you know, this listening to for hours, that’s how I prepare for these interviews. I really feel like I get to know the person by listening to quite a few hours of them beforehand and kind of tune into their personalities. And so, you know, you’ve it’s been fun because you’re such a joyful guy. And you’re unassuming and unpretentious. And, you know, kind of humorous. And so it’s been fun getting interacting with you.

DAMO: Well, thank you ever so much. And thank you for the conversation have been nice chatting with you.

RICK: Yeah, yeah. And thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching, appreciate you’re watching these live ones, it’s always good to have a little bit of an audience. There’s a upcoming interviews page on bat gap where we’ll we’ll see the ones we have scheduled. And when we keep revising that as new ones are scheduled. And there’s little thing off to the right, which if you click on it, you can add add it to your calendar, whether you use Outlook or Google or whatever, and it’ll, you know, send you a reminder when the live one is coming up. And that way you can, you know, tune in and watch it live if you’d like. Alright, and there’s a bunch of other things on the website, if you poke around and subscribe to the newsletter, you know, sign up for the audio, podcast and all that stuff. So feel free to do that. And we’ll see you for the next one. The next one is a woman named I think she pronounces it hell lanais watabe And she is a scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, who has been studying channeling and what channeling is all about. My most popular interview is with Chandler, Chandler, Darrell ankle, Daryl Anka, or Bashar he calls himself and number. A lot of people are fascinated with that. And, you know, so anyway, that’s what we’re going to talk about next week. And so stay tuned. See for the next one. Thanks, Dan. Demo.

DAMO: Thank you very much.

RICK: Thank you good spending time with you. Don’t let the monkeys get you.

DAMO: I’ll try and survive.

RICK: When I was in India, they would be very aggressive. Sometimes if you had any food or anything. They tried to grab it from me.

DAMO: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they make they make it more fun here. Definitely. Yeah. Thanks very much. All right. Stay in touch. Okay, thank you. Bye.