2019 Apprenticeship in Ukiah, California

This year our apprenticeship program will take place on a beautiful piece of land outside of Ukiah, California.  This land is full of epic mountain vistas, oak woodlands, fresh air, blue skies and abundant wildlife, including wild ponies!

Students will camp in their own gear, anything from a regular camping tent to a canvas wall tent, trailer or volkswagon bus, whatever you have.  This allows the students to immerse themselves in nature and its seasons in a connected way.  Most students find the thought daunting at first, then leave the program feeling completely empowered.

The first thing we are most excited about with our new site location is the prospect of starting a Chinese Herb garden.  Here we will cultivate our own Chinese herbs such as Angelica, Mugwort, Dandelion, Plantain, Honeysuckle, Yellow Dock and many more.  Students from this year’s courses will hopefully get to take part in the start up of that project.  In the future we hope to provide herbs for our courses in medicine making, liniments, herbal concoctions and other TCM therapies, as well as supply healers and acupuncturists with a sustainable source of herbs.

The second thing we are excited to announce for this year’s apprenticeship program is bringing on Guest Instructor, Loan Guylaine Tran, Daoist title Cheng Feng.  Cheng Feng is my Daoist sister of 9 years.  We have trained, translated and taught together under our Shi Fu at the Five Immortals Temple and shared many life experiences.

She will be bringing a richness of knowledge in Daoist Medicine after having participated and taught multiple years of courses at the Five Immortals Temple, as well as having completed her clinical training in Acupuncture and TCM in hospitals in China.

Another very special area of expertise which she holds is in Daoist Scripture Recitation and Ceremony.  With her musical background, powerful voice, and dedication she is playing an important role in the transmission of such Daoist culture to the west.  She is one of the few westerners who is proficient at the complete chanting, singing, instrumental, and ceremonial components of Daoist Morning and Evening Scripture, Zao Wan Gong Ke.

Participants of this year’s apprenticeship, July 1st- August 11th, will follow a daily schedule of waking up with the sunrise to morning qi gong, mid morning martial arts training, and afternoon theory classes on Daoist Medicine, Internal Alchemy, and Scripture, finishing each day with sitting meditation at night.  There is nothing more healing than the experience of being in nature, and the consistent daily movement of the body.  Movement is life.  Breath is life.  This 6  week program is just long enough to gain momentum and stride in these habits and have, what we hope will be, for all, a memorable and sacred experience that one can look back on in joy and continually gather strength from the practices they have learned.

Explore our website to learn more about the program and how to sign up!

What is a Poisoned Dragon?

A poisoned dragon is a student who has great potential, but falls into the traps of the ego, becoming arrogant and full of doubt towards their teacher.

This student can no longer be taught, can no longer learn, because he or she believes they have already learned it all.   The student is a dragon because of their innate abilities for martial and spiritual skill.  However the dragon comes upon a plateau, one of many plateaus upon the path.  He or she feels they have accomplished much already, as if they have reached the top of the mountain.  Since the dragon is still young, it only sees as if through a small keyhole looking into the vast infinite universe, like a horse with blinders.

The dragon does not realize the true level of their teacher, because they can only imagine the world as far as they themselves can comprehend it.  The dragon believes they have reached the top, or even surpassed the level of their teacher!  But the dragon’s cup has become full.  Arrogance and doubt become like poison to the spirit of the dragon, and only negative and competitive energy can be felt.

If only the dragon could become humble again, like a child soaking up everything in their present moment, seeing each entity they come across as a teacher of great lessons.  Then the dragon’s spirit would fly again, and cannot help but learn from every friend or foe, as well as honor their teacher, and their teacher’s teacher, who has taught them everything they know.

To become a poisoned dragon should not be seen as a defining state.  It can always be transformed, and surely many of the masters of the world were once poisoned dragons.  We should see it is a transitory state, one in which we pass through, like all things.  We should hope, anyway, that all students may pass through to the other side and find humility and surrender.

The tip of the roof always wears away the fastest.  Why should one wish to always be the best at everything?  If you always consider oneself as the top, then where is there left to go, what is there left to learn or improve upon?  Put oneself down, make the self unimportant, and this is where the next level of skill will originate.