Who the Hat Fits

Who the Hat Fits, Let Them Wear It: Scams and Con Games Brought to Light
Good teachers in the Taoist Arts are rare, but they do exist. I will talk about two of the excellent teachers I encountered in China who are exemplary human beings, generous, and benevolent (Dr. Wang and Shirfu Qian Zhaohong) later in this article. They are worthy of being called true teachers.
Lying is part of the human condition; we have all lied at one time or another. Hopefully, we notice that one lie invariably leads to another, and before you know it, you have one huge mess on your hands that you feel obligated to defend and rationalize.
In fact, you become trapped in a dangerous cycle of misery and ignorance by lying. This goes on in nearly all societies, organizations, and human gatherings. It’s especially true in the martial arts world. Even the best of men and women fall prey to this maya, and become trapped.
Money, title, fame, and power can corrupt and ensnare almost anyone, especially if your spiritual intent is not to dissolve the ego into “emptiness/original consciousness” and return to the Natural State. If your intent is to increase your ego and become larger than life, you are hopelessly deluded. Pride, arrogance, jealousy, insecurity, and envy are poisons that destroy you and the arts.
You must have the intent to dissolve into “emptiness/ consciousness”, and you need to see the process all the way through. This is the real Kung Fu, not who can kick ass, make the most money, become “famous”, and then, spin a web of lies and deceit and pawn it off as authentic teaching to a gullible public.
Truth is the Highest Tapasaya.
Here are some questions that need to be asked, to root out the games, cons, and scams that many of these so-called “masters” play:
Does your teacher play ‘favorites’ on a consistent basis? Does the class and school have a lot of jealousy, backbiting, and hypercritical analysis that creates conflict and a negative learning environment? Are people put down and played off of each other in a dysfunctional manner that creates unnatural competition and chaos?
Are the senior students trained to teach and help others?
Does the teacher promote students who make him or her money and ignore/dismiss the individual practitioners? Does he/she promote students whose skills and knowledge are marginal, but make the teacher money? If those same students/associates are unable to promote the teacher and make money for the school on a continuous basis, are they then, marginalized and ridiculed?
Does the teacher work with everyone in the class and give clear, practical advice and instruction on how to improve? Are the students learning and improving? Can the students problem solve on their own?
Is the class atmosphere positive and supportive? Is the teacher positive and supportive?
What does your teacher do for a living? Traditionally, martial art masters earned a living as healers and were available to their community for help, advice, and support. If the teacher teaches fighting then ask yourself these important questions: Does the teacher know “iron shirt”? Are there training medicines for bruises, injuries, internal bleeding, and “iron palm” training? Does the teacher treat the student’s injuries?
Does the teacher know Taoist and/or Buddhist Nei Gung? Does the teacher teach applications and usage of Kung Fu: eg. meditation, healing, herbal medicine, and self defense?
Does the teacher clearly explain and describe the principles of yin and yang, the Five Elements, and other underlying principles of Tai Chi, Hsin Yi, Ba Gua, medicine, nei gung/chi gung, Taoist philosophy, etc? Does the teacher clearly demonstrate these same principles in an understandable manner? Again, are the students learning anything of any real value?
Does the teacher consistently act in a manner that is intelligent and compassionate, especially if discipline needs to be exerted?
Does the teacher tell you that other masters lie and cheat, and that he/she doesn’t? And, then does he/she lie, dispense half truths, and withhold information?
Does your teacher give you “privileged” information and then tell you to keep it secret? Does your teacher opine that the art is dying and declare that they only want to pass on the art before it dies, and then, act in ways completely contradictory to the stated goal?
Does your teacher use a clear, understandable methodology to impart information?
Are you improving? Is your health and state of mind improving? Is your enthusiasm for the art increasing?
Do you dread your teacher’s analysis and instruction? Are you “cringing inside” in your teacher’s presence? Do you even enjoy your art anymore?
Do you rationalize your teacher’s lies and manipulation out of fear, intimidation, guilt, psychological weakness, and the threat of being ostracized? Do you find yourself trying to please your teacher and win approval in a dysfunctional and irrational manner, rather than calmly studying the art? Are you, the teacher, and the school on an emotional roller coaster ride, and experiencing depression, burnout, and anger?
Does you teacher have an integrated psyche? Does you teacher encourage independence and healthy adult/peer relationships?
Is you teacher psychologically and spiritually adept, and demonstrates that fact in real life behavior? Or, is your teacher merely a ‘kicker of ass’ and an unredeemed egomaniac?
Does your teacher lord his/her superiority over others and ridicule their attempts at improvement and practice?
Again, what are you actually learning, and how does it benefit yourself and others?
Statements such as “I’m the best”, “our style is the best”, or “China, America, or Russia is the best” are red flags that are not signs of solid mental health. Compulsive Alpha male/female posturing, bragging, comparing and negatively judging everyone and arriving at the conclusion that “I’m the best”, “my Kung Fu is the greatest”, and “only I have the real Kung Fu” are signs of insanity and megalomania.
In contrast, being in the presence of a good teacher is enjoyable and rewarding. One feels positive, peaceful, strong, clear minded, and happy. You often marvel at how much you are learning. These feelings are reflected throughout the school in the behavior and relations between the students, and between the students and teacher. The arts are supposed to be enriching, healthy, fascinating, and enjoyable to learn, not a ride through hell and back! Dr. Wang and Shirfu Qian Zhanhong, both of Shanghai, are the two finest teachers I know.
It is very important to clearly understand your goals and motivation for studying the Taoist Arts and find a teacher that is in line with your goals, philosophy, and spiritual direction. Again, the real goal of all spiritual disciplines, yogas, meditation paths, and martial arts is to return to the harmony, strength, peace, and sanity of the Natural State. Anything less is a formula for suffering and perpetuating the cycles of frustration and misery that is the unfortunate condition of much of humanity
Truth is the Highest Tapasaya.

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