Thursday, 31 July 2008

Actress, Mother, Star. Just...a Star

Here is a woman who is one of a kind. Graceful, loving, funny and beautiful, it is impossible for words to portray the full glory of this human being. The sight of her brings back fond memories.

Why do I love her so? Because of who she is, and who she encourages people to be, in both her acting and personal life. I'll let Mama Cass do the talking:

Nobody can tell ya;
There's only one song worth singin'.
They may try and sell ya,
'cause it hangs them up
to see somone like you.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sing along.

So if you cannot take my hand,
and if you must be goin',
I will understand.

You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin',
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.

So if you cannot take my hand,
and if you must be goin',
I will understand.

You gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.

And as long as Julie is remembered, I think there is hope yet for the world.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Sixth Step of Tongbeiquan

"You have learnt enough. Practice this diligently, and someday you will be exceptional."

Those were the words of my Master Yong Huafeng, who saw fit to take me in as a disciple at the age of 19. I remain the only disciple he has outside China. And so, after only 3 months of intensive training, I left for Cambridge, unaware that it would be 3 years before I saw him again. And so for 3 years I trained in the four steps of Tongbeiquan. Yes, only four. There are 5 in total, but the fifth step I was instructed not to train in until I had gotten the four. During that time, I gleaned all the information I could from my memories of his movements and the study of the Tai Chi classics.

When I met him next, he proceeded to train me in Tai Chi Chuan, Baguazhang and Xing Yi Quan. One day, he thought to ask me to demonstrate my Tongbeiquan for him. I began to swing my arms slowly. After watching for about a minute, he muttered, "Hai ke yi." (Still acceptable.)

It gave me great pleasure to reply, "I was just loosening up."

By the time I had completed my real demonstration, he had decided that I was definitely a touch better than "hai ke yi".

I'm excited today. As most readers will know, I have been restricted in my martial arts practice due to the back problems I've had earlier this year, which are now satisfactorily in decline. Lately, however, I have allowed myself some elbow room in doing a little practice. Today, I have developed what I believe to be the sixth step of Tongbeiquan. It is the backward punch. The power is generated through the back, in true Tongbei form, but the force is combined with the special strength associated with the last two fingers. Although throwing a punch is nothing new, I believe the generation of force is unusual, as it is not muscular. I will be studying this with great interest and, hopefully, in time, produce a video.

I also have been working on shortening the combat range of Tongbeiquan, so that it may be used not only as a long range fighting skill, but also as a short form. More on that later.

P/S: Tongbeiquan was apparently inspired by our furry friend in the picture.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Pat Schuler Interview: Real Relationships

“My clients typically increase their revenue by a minimum of 37%…”

“…There are very few universal principles, but boundaries are one of the universals…”

“…one of the most powerful things or skills that a person can learn if what they want is peace of heart and peace of mind…”

When it comes to approaching relationships, there are few people I respect more than Pat Schuler, President of the Gemini Resources Group. I have had the distinct pleasure of having Pat as a close personal friend since 2004. Since then, I have learnt many valuable lessons from this remarkable lady. Thus, it was easy to make the topic of this interview the area she has made the greatest impact on in my personal life: relationships. As a successful business coach, Pat revives flagging careers and drives successful ones to greater heights on a daily basis.

Pat, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview. Let's hop straight into it, shall we. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you honed your skills in the areas of relationship management.

I am a sales trainer and business development consultant. I've been doing this for 10 years. My clients typically increase their revenue by a minimum of 37% after working with me.


Please tell us a little more about what you do with your clients.

It's a combination of hard skills - learning how to ask questions appropriately; learning how to qualify - figuring out if someone is genuinely a client or if they are wasting your time; and how to ask for the business in a way that isn't pushy or manipulative or annoying. Those are the hard skills. Then there are the soft skills, which is basically how to get your head put on straight.

If you are small business owner or professional, your job is to add on clients. Small business owners don't have the luxury of delegating that task. So, you have somebody who is interested and you want to talk to them but when you are thinking about asking them whether they want to work with you, you're remembering every bad experience you've had as a buyer. I call that a bad sales person.

You'd do anything to avoid being that sales person from hell. You don't want that person to think you are pushy, manipulative or slimy, but you have not been taught how to do that. You are extremely effective at doing what you do. You spent decades learning how to do that. But how much experience and training have you actually asking for the business in a way that's compelling and natural.

Do clients generally need more soft skills?

They are usually inextricably intertwined. I can teach you the questions to ask, and specifically how to ask them, but when it comes time to ask them, if you have all this garbage going around in your head "I am too pushy, or I might be making them upset" if you have all of that stuff going in your head, you can know what to do, and still not have the courage and confidence to take that step when it's appropriate.

One of the big things that people get out of our work together is confidence. They know exactly how to ask for that relationship, and whether or not to ask for that relationship with that specific person, and we give them the skill sets to do that in a way that's in integrity.


How do you evaluate what kind of relationship to ask for, and how do you ask for it?

If you are a business owner or an independent professional or an independent sales representative, one of the most important things for you to know is what kind of person is most likely to value what you have to offer.

So, am I right in saying that, it has a lot to do with what you want to get out of the relationship?

It has to do with what you bring to the party. It has to do with knowing what problems you solve for that prospective client. Frankly, if you don't solve a problem, it doesn't matter how good you are, how expensive or cheap it is. Does that make sense?

Yes, what you're saying is, you better have a benefit for the person you are communicating with?

It needs to be solution-based.

So it helps if the other party knows he has a problem?

It's to help him see he has a problem, or that he doesn't! If he doesn't have a problem, one of the most effective things you can do is to see that to, and move on. When you want to know what relationship to ask for, you need to know what problems you solve, and you have a handful of questions and if the answers are right, then this person is a fit.

Is there a special way to ask these questions?

Yes. And it's a half-day workshop! There is a very specific way that is most effective. And by effective we mean, there is no chance that you are mistaken as the salesperson from hell. The salesperson from hell is the pushy manipulative person who doesn't listen, makes you feel unimportant etc. You don't want to be that person. You want to be the person who solves a problem. People spend money to have their problems solved.


So, coming back to the relationships in general. Do these same principles apply to every relationship or is it restricted to a business setting?

No. Think about when you are dating. You meet for coffee. You ask someone "What kind of movies do you like? What kind of music?" and after awhile "How do you feel about religion? How do you feel about politics?" "How do you feel about kids?" (laughs)

Those are your qualifying questions. I don't normally set my friends up, but I suggested that two friends meet. One of her first questions to him was "How old are you?" because she wants a family. And she didn't want to risk getting serious about somebody who didn't want a second family, another family, a late family. So that was her qualifying question. And because he was 18 years older than her, it qualified him out.

So, I'm seeing some differences here as compared to the business context. In that context, you seem to be focussed finding a problem you can solve whereas here there is a slight shift towards someone meeting your own conditions?

The qualifying process is the same. The qualifying questions are the same. But you are solving a different problem. If you are trying to figure out if you want to date somebody, the problem you are trying to solve is "I want a person in my life."


So, to generalise, there's a process where you define what you are trying to achieve first, and then you build the qualifying process around that?

Right. Think about it. We all do it. You meet someone at a party, or a friend's friend at dinner. And, after the first ten words out of the other person's mouth, there's a part of your brain which says oh my gosh, I have nothing in common with this person. They are not even on the same planet. There is no point in even asking questions. Have you ever done that? We all do that. That's a qualifying process you've gone through. Is it effective? Maybe not. Maybe it is.

How do you know if your qualifying process is an effective one?

How does it work for you? Qualifying and selling are all about "does it work?" If you're selling swamp land, you only need it to work long enough to grab the money and get out of town. You don't care about repeat business, referrals, or staying friends, even if you stop dating. But a good qualifying process gives you the opportunity to discover things that aren't obvious on the surface.

Great. So you've asked the qualifying questions. You back out if they don't fit.

Yes, you do it very graciously, but this is the key, and it is one of the things that gets a lot of small business people, and in relationships! I go out with this guy, he likes the wrong movies, the wrong music, but he buys me dinner. Next thing you know, you're in a relationship for three months, and you're not happy. Business people make the same mistake.


So what I'm hearing is, it's very important to know how to say no.

It's very important to know how to say no graciously and to accept that you can't be responsible for the other person's feelings. If you think about it, if you're going around being a jerk, saying "I'm not going to date you because I don't like your teeth or your ears." That may be the reason you're not doing it, but that's kind of mean, because frankly, the other person cannot do anything. Or they may choose not to do anything. You may decide not to date somebody who wears glasses. That's your choice.

What advice would you give as to the graciously part?

"This doesn't feel like a good match."

"This doesn't feel like a good fit."

"It feels like moving forward would be a mistake."

That might provoke a variety of responses ranging from ok to "you can't do that to me" and everything in between.

Yes, and the same thing happens in business. In fact, one of the things my clients discover is that when they start saying this doesn't feel like a good fit, is the response "Aren't you going to try to close me?" Well, no. So, you can't accept responsibility for the maturity or lack of maturity of the other person. You need to be prepared to deal with a variety of responses and that's maturity on your part. If you're in business, that's professionalism.

Okay. Let's go down the other path. What if you do decide to close? What if you decide it's a good fit?

Well, let's take it back to the dating thing. You know that you want somebody who likes reggae music, or Celtic music. And you know that somebody who likes Country Western, is not a keeper! So you found this person who likes Celtic music, likes Italian food, which is one of your things. What's in it for them? Okay. Why should they agree to a date?

And this is where you sell yourself?

It's not selling yourself. It's saying what are you looking for in a date. What are you looking for in somebody to spend time with?

The only way to find out if they would agree to a date is to ask them. Before you start selling yourself, you could be selling the wrong thing! You could be saying you're dependable. I'll be there on time. I'll take you to the ballet. What if this person rides a motorcycle and jumps through flaming hoops? You took off with a benefit that doesn't fit. Ask, "Tell me Wanda, what is important to you? What are you looking for?"

Does this always work? Say, in an interview process?

Absolutely. It works like a charm. If you think about interviewing, people make the mistake that they're supposed to sit there and let the interviewer pounce them with questions.

You mean that's now how it works?

That's not a successful interview. The most successful interviews consist of a dialogue between the interviewer and the applicant. Give and take, where both of you are asking questions. Both of you are qualifying.

Once the other person tells you what's important, whether in business or a personal conversation, then you know whether it is a match. The other person says, "Yes, I do like Celtic music, but what I really love is German opera. And my idea of a fun weekend is rock climbing."

Now, if you like rock climbing, you get to say "Wow! I'm really excited! I have been having trouble finding someone who really likes German opera. I have this event this Saturday. Would you like to go?" That's your close! But if you are like me, and German opera is your personal concept of hell. You get to choose whether to say "Well, it's not my top five things, but we have Celtic music in common. Would you like to go to the pub to listen to some of that?" You're qualifying them in. You are at a decision point. You could go a number of ways, but let's say that you can go two ways.

You know you're not going to be happy at German opera, but you're candid. "German opera doesn't do a lot for me, but we have Celtic music in common. Would you like to go to Murphy's pub on Saturday, have a beer, and listen to Celtic music?" At that point, you have qualified them in. You are prepared to take the next step.


Could you explain what “qualifying them in” means?

You can qualify them in or qualify them out. If you are qualifying them out, you say, " I could never get serious about somebody who likes German opera. I don't want to spend time with somebody who likes German opera."

Then you say, "You know, thank you for telling me about the German opera. It sounds like you and I are not going to be a real good fit. Thanks for the coffee, I enjoyed our time this morning, and I'll see you around." So you've qualified them out. They are no longer even somebody that you are going to consider. Qualifying them in doesn't mean you want to get married tomorrow, but it mean you are willing to explore, to take the next step.

The same thing happens in business. I have a client who sells software. And many times in this qualification process, they will get to the place where the client wants them to do extensive customisation. Now, when the company was young, they said yes.

Now that the company is more mature, they recognise that that is not good business for them. What they do then is ask a question, Kaye. "How important is the customisation to the client?" They ask the client "How important is this customisation to you?" And if the client says it is really important, the client qualifies themselves out. They take themselves out of the running. They are no longer a good match for this business.

Do you still keep them on for other things or aspects of the relationship?

It depends. If there are problems that you can solve, and it benefits you as well, you can keep them on. You simply have to set the boundaries in place. You have to know what is important to you and what you are prepared to do.

For instance, if you are selling a product that costs $300,000, and you can do the customisation, but what you've found over time is that clients who want customisation are never really happy with your product. So, you've learnt that it actually costs you money in the long run to agree to customisation. So, it's very tempting, as a business person, just as it is, if you don't have a date for Saturday night, it's tempting to sell and compromise, but it is not in your best interests.

When you are able to know what's in your best interests and ask for that or refuse to take a step that doesn't support your best interests, we call that putting a boundary in place. And most of us haven't been taught how to do that, Kaye. It gets us into trouble in relationships. It gets us into trouble in our families, and it gets us into all kinds of trouble as business people.


Can you give us a brief rundown on boundaries?

Let's start with an example. If you ever accepted an invitation that you didn't really want to accept. Somebody says, "Would you like to help me move?" and you don't know how to say no. It's the worst thing you can imagine, it's the last thingyou want to do, and you still find yourself saying "Oh, okay." That means you didn't have a boundary.

A boundary is your ability to take care of yourself. It's that simple. It's a skill that most of us aren't taught. Not to be sexist, but women especially are not taught, and certain cultures are not taught about boundaries.

So, say you were asked to help somebody move and you really didn't want to. There are a number of ways that you could put a boundary in place. All of these are done with a smile. "Thanks for asking. I'm honoured that you ask, but I won't be able to help." And you move on to the next topic. "What colours are you going to paint your new place?" "When do you get to move?" Do you see what I just did? You aren't making a bunch of excuses. You aren't saying my cat's sick, or my Uncle Louie's in town. You're just saying you won't be able to help. Thanks for asking.

Now, that's a concept that's fairly foreign to a lot of people.


How do you deal with someone who just has problems saying that? What's your advice?

In my experience, the reason most people have difficulty saying "I won't be able to help." is that they are afraid of consequences. They might be afraid that they'll hurt the other person's feelings. They might be afraid they'll disappoint the other person. They might be afraid that the other person might be angry or upset. So, ask yourself, when did you become responsible for how other people feel? How much of that can you control?

I had to learn how to do this from the ground up because I always did things that were making me unhappy because somebody else asked and I didn't want them to be upset with me. I had the illusion that by saying "yes" when I really wanted to say "no", that people would like me more. Does that make sense?


A lot of times we give up our boundaries in an effort to secure liking or loving. It's an effort at control but what happens is that much of the time we are actually liked and respected more if we do have boundaries.

And you'd give the same advice to leaders?

Absolutely. There are very few universal principles, but boundaries are one of the universals. What my clients and I have both found, is that if your boundaries are really strong, your friends, your co-workers, the people who work for you learn that when you say "yes", you really mean it. That is because it's something that you want to do, because it is important to you, and not from obligation or duty.

So think about if you ask a friend to help you move. And they say yes, but you know that they really don't want to. You know that they're doing it out of obligation. How do you feel the whole time they're helping you? Think about how you would feel if instead that person had said, "Kaye, I would really love to help you move. It would really please me to be able to support you that way."

You get a gift at that point. When someone has good boundaries and they give you their support, that gift is a living thing. It is full of life energy. How much life energy is there when that gift is done with resentment or obligation? You're right when you say it can't be easy to learn this, but it is one of the most powerful things or skills that a person can learn if what they want is peace of heart and peace of mind.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This article may not be reproduced without permission. If you wish to republish or post it, please drop me (Kaye) an e-mail.

Swallow Lovers (Reposted with Permission)

Note: Special thanks to Ken Lai for permission to repost this piece in its entirety. Ken's blog is accessible at:

The traditional love story of "Butterfly Lovers" is the Chinese version of "Romeo and Juliet", in which the human lovers turned into butterflies when they died.

"Swallow lovers" is the story of two real swallows. They are the hottest news during last Valentine in China. Almost every Chinese news agency has carried this story.

The story began with a literature-historian, Fan Xiang Yu (范翔宇) who found a motionless swallow on January 31, 2008, hid behind a building pillar in Bai-hai City. It was a cold day with temperature of 3 degrees Celsius. Fan wanted to find out if the swallow is still alive or not. He had poked the bird gently. It was dead many hours ago apparently. When Fan moved the dead bird, a sight had caused a deep breath out of him. The wings of the dead swallow embraced a smaller female swallow, also dead.

Fan guesses that the bigger swallow is a male bird. It tried to fend off the cold for the female bird with its wings covering the female. Both were eventually freezed to death.

Fan took pictures of the swallows before giving them a decent burial. Then he wrote a story with poem and put it in his blog. The blog titile is: 《燕殇——两只燕子至死不渝的故事》(Swallow obituary: The unwavering love of two swallows).

"Yesterday the swallows were flying in pair,
Today they died embracing each other,
Very sad!
Very Beautiful!"


Fan's poem laments that the swallow lovers' last act makes many human vows and promises on love look pale.

This blog message has generated over 10 thousands views within 3 days after it was posted. Readers are all touched by the amazing love of the swallows. Fan said "Swallow Obiturary" is a fable for human emotion and sensibility. The attention drawn by the story is the best footnote for it.

May the swallow lovers rest in peace and be reincarnated into higher level beings in their next life.

Ken Lai

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

What I THINK the Buddha Said

Note: Before reading this, please note the title. I am offering my interpretation of what the Buddha said. I do this from my experiences and view of life, and think it is the most useful one to me personally. I put it my interpretations bluntly, but it is not meant to offend, rather to provide a contrast to the language usually used and thereby provide insight. In short, no offence, mate.

I am asked from time to time about the Four Noble Truths that the Buddha discovered in his experience of enlightenment. Most Buddhists today would rank this one of the fundamental tenets of their religion. I talk about it here because I think it has value for everyone, regardless of religion or path.

So, to quote Wikipedia:

Truth Numero Uno: The Nature of Suffering (Dukkha): "Now this ... is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering."[8]
My interpretation: Life sucks.

That's it. The experience of suffering is very closely bound up with life. The very act of traversing life will bring up the potential for the experience of suffering. Why? Because life's intrinsic nature is cyclical. It has ups and downs. "Good" things happen and "bad" things happen. Simple as that.

Truth Number Two:
Suffering's Origin (Samudaya): "Now this ... is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."[8]

My interpretation: Life sucks because you want things.

The second truth is actually remarkably profound. It points out that it is not the intrinsic nature of existence which creates suffering. Rather, it is the emotional push-pull of want that creates pain. When reality exceeds our wildest dreams, we experience joy. When reality falls below our hopes, we experience suffering. It's rather silly, but there we are.

The proposition is actually obvious once you think about it: It's not life that is out to get you. You get yourself by setting desires and expectations one way or the other. Hence the saying, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."

Truth Number Three:
Suffering's Cessation (Nirodha): "Now this ... is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it."[8]

My interpretation: So stop wanting things. Then life won't suck anymore.

This is where it gets tricky. To stop wanting things is different from stopping to have goals and causes. It simply is an exhortation to free yourself of the chains of want. At no point was it said that you have to stop moving towards an end, or to stop choosing to create ends. I somehow doubt Buddha wanted us to become rocks, not even bothering to move or eat. A more likely interpretation is: You can have a destination, but enjoy the journey and quit going on those ego trips.

Truth Number Four:
The Way (Mārga) Leading to the Cessation of Suffering: "Now this ... is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."[9][10]

My interpretation: Deal with it.

I actually think Buddha pulled a quick one here. No kidding. I know he gave the path as the Noble Eightfold Path, but I have yet to see a clear exposition of what the right view, right intention, etc actually are. My own experience is that what is "right" changes as you advance through different life experiences. Thus, someone on the Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle) path would act in one way. The Mahayanist (practitioner of the Mahayana/Greater Vehicle path) would act in another. The Vajrayana/Tantrayana (Diamond Vehicle) path practitioner might do something totally different. Interestingly enough, each is likely to tell the other they've gotten it wrong.

So how do we deal with it? Hey, if Buddha saw fit to fudge that one, I'm not going to contradict him! (Actually, it's because I'd launch into a lecture, and we don't want that...)

PostScript: After I wrote this piece, I found this on YouTube:

The Dalai Lama on the subject of the Four Noble Truths. If anyone is qualified to speak on the subject, he is.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Feng Shui Wars in Hong Kong

See anything unusual in the above? Apparently, this particular set of buildings is famous for a reason most non-Asians would find stupendous. Feng Shui! Where the English nations regard Feng Shui as the art of making energy flow harmoniously in your home, the Chinese have, with their usual "better you than me" mindset have transformed it into a killing art.

How? Look closely:

Those are symbolic cannons they've got on the roof! It's a famous scene. And yes, that's the HSBC Bank of Hong Kong. It seems the local financial institutions aren't above resorting to some metaphysical aid, especially when they are competing with their rivals. The way I heard the story, that squarish building in the middle wasn't there initially. It was just HSBC shooting at the triangular building, which is the Bank of China. In case you were wondering, the Bank of China isn't so innocent itself:

Amongst the Feng Shui beliefs is the notion of "sha qi", or killing energy. This sha is generated, amongst other things, by sharp edges. So, a triangular building has very aggressive sha due to the pointy edges. The number of edges as been increased by the design, as is evident from the lit up lines in the photo. From a Feng Shui perspective, that building is killing everyone in sight!

If you take another look, you'll find that it has another nifty feature, visible in this photo. It is made of reflective glass, so the sun will reflect "light sha" or light killing energy into its opponents.

There is another tale about this. In Feng Shui, the theory of the Five Elements is extremely important. Banks, being related to money, belong to the metal element. Metal is burnt or "controlled" by fire. The fire element is triangular. So, by building a triangular building, the Bank of China is trying to "burn" HSBC! Perhaps those cannons weren't quite so unwarranted, although I don't know which one came first. There are other tales about this scene, but I'll save them for another day.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Tai Chi Push

Sometimes it is actually fun to show off!

This is known as the Tai Chi Peng Jing. It is a springlike energy generated throughout the entire body. This was a video taken at the Chinese New Year party 2008 in my room. And NO I don't normally dress like that! My friends thought it would be nice for me to look like a proper Chinese geek whilst I did the thing.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Tai Chi? Or Moo Duk Kwan

I was guest instructor at a Tang Soo Do class back in the US in 2005 when their instructor showed me this:

Song of the Sip Sam Seh

Never neglect any of the Sip Sam Seh.
The source of the will is in the waist.
Pay attention to the slightest change from full to empty.
Let energy flow through the whole body continuously.
Stillness embodies motion, motion stillness.
Seek stillness in motion.
Surprising things will happen when you meet your opponent.
Give awareness and purpose to every movement.
When done correctly all will appear effortless.
At all times pay attention to the waist.
Relaxed clear awareness of abdomen, the energy rises to the top of the head.
The body should be flexible.
Hold the head as if suspended from a string.
Keep alert and seek the meaning and purpose of your art.
Bent and stretched, open and closed,
Let nature take its course.
Beginners are guided by oral teaching.
Gradually one applies himself more and more.
Skill will take care of itself.
What is the main principle of the martial arts?
The mind is the primary actor and the body the secondary one.
What is the purpose and philosophy behind the martial arts?
Rejuvenation and prolonging of life beyond the normal span.
So an eternal spring.
Every word of this song has enormous value and importance.
Failing to follow this song attentively, you will sigh away your time.

- Hwang Kee, Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Vol. 2

Interesting, isn't it, when you consider the Song of the Thirteen Postures, a Tai Chi Classic:


by Unknown Author
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

The Thirteen Postures should not be taken lightly;
the source of the postures is in the waist.

Be mindful of the interchange between insubstantial and substantial;
The ch'i circulates throughout the body without hindrance.

Be still,
when attacked by the opponent,
be tranquil and move in stillness;
changes caused by my opponent fill him with wonder.

Study the function of each posture carefully and with deliberation;
to achieve the goal is very easy.

Pay attention to the waist at all times;
completely relax the abdomen
and the ch'i rises up.

When the tailbone is centered and straight,
the shen [spirit of vitality] goes through to the headtop.

To make the whole body light and agile
suspend the headtop.

Carefully study.

Extension and contraction, opening and closing, should be natural.

To enter the door and be shown the way,
you must be orally taught.
Practice should be uninterrupted,
and technique achieved by self study.

Speaking of the body and its function, what is the standard?

The I [mind-intent] and ch'i are king,
and the bones and muscles are the court.

Think over carefully what the final purpose is:
to lengthen life and maintain youth.

The Song consists of 140 characters;
each character is true and the meaning is complete.

If you do not study in this manner,
then you will waste your time and sigh with regret.

I am told that the Moo Duk Kwan practitioners have as their pinnacle the heart of softness, even though their art begins with hard stances. Tai Chi practitioners come at it the other way round. Those who know me know I favour the Tai Chi approach, mainly because I believe it is difficult to train softness once you have become overly hard in your martial approach.

The interpretation and application of the thing? Ah, but those are master level secrets!

Flowing Through Life

If the chap on the right looks eminent, well he should be. The name is Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and no, I will not be pronouncing that name for you anytime soon, although Paul Scheele did tell me the "correct" pronounciation, learnt directly from the horse's mouth.

Anyway, Mihaly here is a prominent psychology professor, responsible for the notion of flow. Flow is an almost sublime experience, where one's attention is completely absorbed by the task at hand, and creates incredible efficiency. It is almost too good to be true - to be enjoying something so totally and intensely and being great at it!

So how does one get into this state of flow? It is a matter of balance between challenge and ease. If a task is too easy, we become lazy and bored. The mind begins to wander. Thus, we need to up the challenge until our attention is focussed completely on the task at hand. At the same time we become stressed if the task is too challenging or difficult. This creates resistance in consciousness, and leads to disengagement.

Although I had read about flow for awhile, I really only began to work with it after I came to PhotoReading. Part of the reason why the PhotoReading Whole Mind System is so efficient is that the layering encourages peak experience. By giving yourself the freedom to pick and choose and probe in activation layers, one can adjust the "difficulty level". If one is bored, then it is too easy. If complete struggle is setting in, then the bar has probably been set too high. Adjust accordingly.

Of course, flow is just as applicable in other areas of life, but we will open that can of worms another day.

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Are We All Genius Material?

Are we all genius material? I'd like to think we are. It'a a curious term, genius, yet I have seen lots of posts in various human potential development forums about how to be a "genius".

Well, let's have a look at what trusty old Wiki says:

"A genius is a person of great intelligence, who shows an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work. Geniuses - or genii (see Etymology) - always show strong individuality and imagination, and are not only intelligent, but unique and innovative."

So, it seems, that geniuses have the following traits: originality

Wikipedia goes on to suggest that even between geniuses, there are differences. Polymaths are the well-rounded geniuses, whereas people like our all-time favourite, Einstein, most certainly were not. Is one kind of genius better than the other?

My opinion: Being a genius is inherently worthless (except for the ego trip from the title) unless you have a real reason to be one. More importantly, because we are all original, unique and never exactly alike, by the definition above, we are already geniuses!

"You're fudging, Kaye!" I hear the cry. No, I'm not. "Genius" is a crown conferred by others, and many unrecognised geniuses live on in obscurity. A great many die in obscurity as well. All in all, it seems a pretty silly deal, especially for someone of supposed great intelligence, to aspire to genius just to obtain recognition. If it's the recognition you want, be a saint. Or a martyr. Much more mileage in that.

More importantly, the "true" geniuses never set out to be what they became. They simply followed their passion. Genius is not in the mind. It is in the heart. I sometimes think that we human intelligence movement people overlook that. To be a genius is not about being brilliant, but about having the courage to be individual, to follow your passion. True geniuses seek flow (see my piece on Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi), the state of total absorption in the subject or activity that suits their individual personalities.

So, yes, I believe we can all be geniuses. We simply have to find the right thing to be a genius about. Further, it is not a title to be pursued in its own right, but allowed to arise itself, like a diamond in the rough.

The Sources of Genius
We tap our geniuses through
  • our unique mix of knowledge and exposure
  • our curiosity in discovering different viewpoints
  • our special stance on different issues
  • our ability to formulate and express
  • our ability to critique
Those are the mechanics, anyway. My experiences suggest that it is not those that trip people up. In fact, the faculties of genius are easily trained. Many people have done it, and many more will. Few geniuses are "born".

I think the things that trip more people up are:
  • the fear of being different
  • the fear of not being safe
  • the fear of being heretical
  • the lack of interest and curiosity
  • mental laziness
  • an unwillingness to give up an existing paradigm
  • the tendency for an individual at rest or in motion to remain at rest or in motion without ever trying a different approach
None of the above is comprehensive, of course!

"Many men stumble upon ideas that could change the course of history. Most get up, dust themselves off, and keep on walking." - Author Unknown

Monday, 7 July 2008

Sometimes, it really isn't about you

Rehabilitating Sex Workers!

No, you didn't read the title wrong. Ben here is headed off to Columbia as a volunteer to rehabilitate underage sex workers. I, on the other hand, will be doing nothing of the kind. Not that I don't support it. I think it is a very worthy cause. Will he survive the experience? Not so sure about that one.

Anyway, it should prove a refreshing change for poor Ben, who's been pretty reclusive most of the time I've known him. It takes a lot of courage to face a new situation. Fear inevitably kicks in, although my other friend Pat Schuler, President of the Gemini Resources Group and apparently raised by wolves (read her bio!), has this to say on that subject:

"Honor the fear. Acknowledge it. Thank it for showing up. Do not deny it, stuff it away, or anesthetize it with food, alcohol or drugs."

So, Ben, no drugs. No alcohol. Okay, you can have a bit of food. Just a bit. Good luck!

Anyone who wants to donate a quid or two to Ben's worthy cause, follow this link!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Guess Which Brainwave!

Whilst being a guest presenter (I was in it for the food! Just kidding.) at Paul Scheele's PhotoReading class in London earlier this year (hosted by the lovely Marilyn Devonish), I managed to sneak some time off to play with the toys. Amongst them was the typical brainwave measuring equipment. This latest version of the IBVA is pretty hip.

It shows you what each side of your brain is doing. Quick and dirty reference:

Left brain - Logical/analytical/linguistic
Right brain - Imaginative/intuitive/arty/musical

To make a gross simplification, for which I hope I shall be forgiven by those in the know, each side has brainwaves coursing through them. They are classified by the frequencies of these waves, and each brainwave has a specific type of attribute associated with them. Up until recently, there had been four main brainwaves:

Beta: 14-40 Hz
Alpha: 7-13 Hz
Theta: 4-7 Hz
Delta: 0-4 Hz

The specifics vary a little from classification to classification. While every part of the brain vibrates to a different brainwave, there is usually a dominant one. PhotoReading is the only process I know of that produces a double dominant brainwave. You can see that here:

It takes her awhile to get into mode, but you can see the double arches in each side of the brain quite clearly by the 1:26 mark. How do you do it? It's easier than you think, and, as Alex says in this particular post on PhotoReading brainwaves, don't get hung up over it.

Anyway, Luciana e-mailed me my brainwaves. It will be no surprise to my friends that they were certainly not "normal". In fact, she had to extend the screen to show the full extent of what was going on through my head as I did a certain little process. That is a different screen from the YouTube clip. Those spikes you are seeing there go past 120 Hz (the highest frequency on that screen), well past the normal studies.

Why is this important? Well, it's showing the Gamma brainwave. Why am I excited about this?

"Gamma waves (greater than 40 hertz) have the highest frequency and are involved in higher mental acuity, including perception and consciousness. They are thought to play an essential role in nerve cell communication."
Source: Stanford University Website (

More importantly, no currently publicly available method teaches you how to independently produce that brainwave. Yes, I am aware of Jeffrey Thompson's Gamma Meditation System. I have not tried it, but I have a good deal of respect for the man's work.

The Dalai Lama and it seems, high level Buddhist monks, have access to methods which accomplish this feat. (See the Stanford link.) I'd love to know how they do that.

What's my process? Ask!

Dragon Pearls!

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's Words...My Interpretation

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was one of the leading figures of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. His many exploits can be reviewed here:

His education at Oxford University must have been up to the usual mark, for his lucid accounts of what can be a religion shrouded in mystery are well known. The controversies he embroiled himself in suggest the acts of a Tibetan heyoka, a contrarian who by his very nature and behaviour forced those about him to examine their beliefs and perspectives.

His book "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" touches on a subject that was certainly close to his heart. Excerpts of this volume are available here. Quoting from his book:
"Walking the spiritual path properly is a very subtle process; it is not
something to jump into naively. there are numerous sidetracks which
lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can
deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when
instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual
techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as
spiritual materialism."

This doyen of spirituality goes on to define spirituality:

"According to the Buddhist tradition, the spiritual path is
the process of cutting through our confusion, of uncovering the
awakened state of mind."

The basis of the message, as I view it, is of not being fooled by ourselves. Disregarding the religion and tradition, the heart of the message is an important one. The pursuit of spirituality is an aim of many, but the attainment of but a few. Part of the reason, one suspects, is that the typical follower gets embroiled in the trappings of a given path and forgets to ask the simple question: What's this all about?

The answer varies (apparently) from path to path:

To be saved
Freedom from suffering
To be one with the universe
The middle way
To unlock the secrets of life
All of the above
All of the above and more

There is a certain glint of Hollywood glamour in each phrase. But what is enlightenment? What does it mean to be saved? Quite a few People-Who-Had-A-Clue had followings. (Of course, so did quite a few People-Who-Saw-An-Opportunity-To-Make-A-Quick-Buck with God, a credible partner who doesn't take a cut. Yes, I confess, I watch Frasier.)

My own experiences suggest that this "thing" which we consider the Ultimate Goal is quite a different beast from popular imagination. Trungpa says it is ending the confusion to get the awakened state of mind. In fact, this is not too different from what Hui-Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Buddhism said in the verse that got him that particular position (read all about it in the link):

Bodhi is no tree,
nor is the mind a standing mirror bright.
Since all is originally empty,
where does the dust alight?

So, there is no "getting", no grasping at something which isn't there. Rather, it is becoming awakened to what already is within. Continuing our interview with Trungpa:

"When the awakened state of mind is crowded
in by ego and its attendant paranoia, it takes on the character of
an underlying instinct. So it is not a matter of building up the
awakened state of mind, but rather of burning out the confusions
which obstruct it. In the process of burning out these confusions,
we discover enlightenment."
So enlightenment is basically uncovering the bright mirror that already exists. It is cutting through to find a basic sense of sanity in this apparently mad world of ours. Nothing more becoming aware of what is already there. If the mirror is bright, then what we have discovered is unchangeable nature, or unconditioned awareness. Ironically, Lao Zi, founder of Taoism, seems to agree. To quote from the Tao Te Ching, the key text of that lineage:

The Tao that can be Taoed is not the Tao. There have been numerous expositions of that profound sentence, but in this context, it becomes clear. By its very nature, that which is true nature has nothing (hence the term "emptiness") and everything. To point to any one thing to say that it is "Tao" excludes something else, whereas everything is included.

Thus, in the path of
seeking Truth, whatever that is, it seems that the Masters of each tradition have all hinted that there is a process of losing, not of gaining. The Bible tells us what is lost through the beloved Beatitude:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5

It seems to be pride. Pride as in loss of ego. Ego is not the condemned thing that it is usually made out to be, but rather it is an interlocking of consciousness that prevents us from seeing past the ends of our own noses.

Jesus tells us, again, that in discovering heaven, there is this fundamental price. Yet, it is not a penalty, I don't think, but simply the throwing of the sandbags over the side of the hot air balloon so that it may rise higher.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Trend is Your Friend? With Friends Like That...

DISCLAIMER: None of the information provided through this blog (and me) is intended as legal, tax, investment or trading advice, nor is it an advisor in any of the above. Nothing provided here constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of securities or futures. By continuing reading, the reader agrees that the author will not be held liable in any way for the use of this information.

"The trend is your friend."

The version I like better is legendary trader Ed Seykota's: "The trend is your friend, till the end, when it bends."

"The real money is to be made from the trend."

There is much that has been said about the art and science of technical analysis (translation: the art of reading a chart of historical prices in the hope of predicting where the market is going to go next). Trends, in particular, are a key subject although they can be tricky to define.

The problem with this is that it makes the assumption that the market is always trending. It isn't. In fact, there's a good proportion of the time when it isn't. I believe Curtis Faith in his book Way of the Turtle talks about four states the market can be in:

1. Stable and Trending
2. Stable and Non-Trending
3. Volatile and Trending
4. Volatile and Non-Trending

If you consider this chart. It's trending, right? Well, yes, from this perspective. If you consider just the period from March-April, though, it basically went nowhere. It wasn't trending. Feb was clearly a trending month considered alone. But if you looked at the chart for just Feb-Mar, it would be another potentially non-trending case.

Basic point: Trends are irrelevant unless you know your trading timeline.

Although in theory you can choose your timelines, I suspect that it is pretty much fixed with each individual. It's largely affected by

1. Degree of risk tolerance
2. Patience
3. Pain thresholds
4. Money management

It's a pity that traders tend not to listen to self-development experts and vice versa. The self-developers could teach them a lot of neat tricks to handle fear and greed, and a few of the problems in the human development edge could be solved by insights from the market, which actually mimics real life rather well.

Does God Respond to Disney Eyes?

I just noticed this on YouTube:

There's been a fair amount interest lately in the dvd called "The Secret". The idea is that when you use your mind in certain ways, the universe magically leaves presents on your doorstep.

Does The Secret work? Well, it's really The Not So Secret. That idea has been around for donks. There was the "think positive" movement of the hippie generation. Hypnotists still regularly "program" constructive thoughts into their clients to resolve issues like smoking and weight loss. You get more of what you focus on.

And here's a REAL Secret: God doesn't respond to this little fella:

That's right. Manipulating God/The Universe/Your Mind doesn't work.

And I'm NOT talking about abstract laws of metaphysics here.

It's simple, really. When you focus on what you want to have, you are impliedly saying you don't have it. Anyone who has tried looking themselves squarely in the mirror each morning saying things like "I want to be abundantly, really, greatly, supremely rich!" will tell you that if you listen carefully, you'll hear a tiny little voice in the back of your head go "Well, you aren't."

When the focus is on "want" rather than "have", your mind processes it as follows:

"I DON'T have it. So I want it."

And the mind goes: "Oh okay. He's affirming that he wants it." So the mind makes you want it. Guess what it takes to keep wanting it? Not having it. Bingo.

The same thing goes for what Lisa Nichols is saying in that YouTube clip. Gratitude can indeed get you places, but only if it is genuine. If you are "using" gratitude like a tool to "make" things happen, you're working against yourself. My thanks to Alex for reminding me of this recently - look to her if you want more details on what I'm going on about. More importantly, The Secret may be about how to improve your lot in life, but consider: Success is getting what you want. Bliss is wanting what you have.

Let's hear it for Snoopy's prayer!

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

The Man Who Couldn't Visualise

I was chatting with a friend the other day about how he would do for an interview the following day. I closed my eyes and consulted my Genius Intelligence. Then I told him exactly which parts of the interview process he would slip up on (not the one he expected) and which one he would ace (again, not the one he expected). He called me the very next day saying he would never doubt a word I said ever again. I love being able to consult with the Genius part of me who processes all the information I know, conscious and subconscious, to draw accurate conclusions. And yes, I have never known the Genius to be wrong yet, although I do occasionally misinterpret what he's trying to tell me (about once every 20 times or so).

Oooh Kaye, where do I learn this? Let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time, a man took a cutting edge course (at the time) at the very frontiers of mind development. Intrigued by the possibilities of discovering skills deep within ourselves, and the promise that we use less than 10% at the very most of our actual brain capacity, he investigated. And investigations took him through the realms of brainwaves, optimal behaviour, dream patterns, suggestibility and the modelling of excellence. Relaxing deep into the recesses of his mind, he found just one niggly little problem...he couldn't visualise.

Puzzled, he resorted to deep analysing (he is a highly intelligent individual). That didn't work. Using a special method, he tapped into a specific brainwave pattern known as alpha. This refers to the range of brainwaves betwen 7-14 cycles per second, associated with problem-solving, creativity and intuition. The answer came.

We may be thankful that Win Wenger did not give up, for in that moment, the process now known as Image Streaming was born. This is what has been said about that process:

"The Einstein Factor liberates mental abilities you didn’t know you had. I tried the techniques in the book and they paid off instantly. It’s almost scary."—Duncan Maxwell Anderson, senior editor, Success.

Jose Silva once said: "Intelligence is a measure of how well you solve problems. So, if you can increase your ability to solve problems, then you can increase your intelligence."

I'm with Jose. IQ tests are generally a good measure of how well you do in IQ tests. In the end, intelligence is ephemeral. We might as well get on with the more useful question of how it is going to improve our lives.

Well, Win went on to found Project Renaissance. To this day, they have developed more than 100 techniques that can benefit mankind. Actually, I should say "we", since I am also an instructor for that organisation, and proud of it. Stuff that you can do with the Project Renaissance material:

* Instantaneously gain multiple perspectives on any issue and how to resolve it.
* Discover how Einstein used his legendary mental resources, AND USE THEM AS YOUR VERY OWN!
* Potentially increase your intelligence and use a wholistic approach to studying.
* Extract outstanding behaviours from successful areas of your life and apply them universally.
* Extract OTHER people's outstanding behaviours and apply them universally. How'd you like to be Isaac Newton?
* Discover the power of Socratic learning - never have to consult anyone except your very own Genius.

And that's off the top of my head. Seriously, this stuff blows my mind.

And yes, that's the stuff I used to seemingly foresee the results of that interview with such startling accuracy. I must tell Win that story the next time I chat with him.

EXAMS...and getting away with laziness...

Yay! It's finally the end of Tripos. That's the Cambridge University examinations. It's my final year at this (the fifth, actually) having done both the Economics and Law Tripos. You'd think that I'd get the hint after the first round (2001-2004) that it's not exactly a walk in the park. As the porters say, "He's a glutton for punishment."

This year was a challenge: Four consecutive days of examinations, with a fifth tagged on the following week for good measure. I was the only one with that schedule too. And I thought I was being so clever taking unusual options. Still, it all came out in the wash...

At the Graduands' Dinner, I found myself seated by two First Class colleagues. That's Ryan and Ben next to me in that picture, in fact. Downright unsympathetic they were. Something about how I had an unfair advantage because of this "PHOTOREADING" (said with the appropriate mix of awe and disgust) technique that I use. I wonder about that name sometimes. There's this wholly unjustified rumour going around that all I need to do is flip through a book for a minute and then have instant photographic recall of it. Noooooo. I'll get Joy for spreading THAT rumour.

But then, it did change my life back when I learnt it in 2002-03. Got my own First Class that academic year, actually. A lot of it had to do with my mentor, Alex, who has put up with interminable ravings since the day she met me. And folks, this is your lucky day! Get particular saint's autograph for your very own for only for $29.99, just click...kidding. She is, however, a fully qualified PhotoReading Instructor now, and you'll find her here:

And her blog, with insider details on the how-to of PhotoReading:

I'm seriously miffed that she's letting all those secrets go for free into the public domain. Back in the day, it took me hours of interrogation over MSN before I extracted the real methods of speed activation from her. Thankfully, not that many people have found the blog yet. And even if they have, they still haven't figured out how to get the special mix of technique right.

And THAT, folks, is how I survived my Law Tripos. By knowing exactly how my brain works, and the very specific pattern with which to lay out my notes so that I could "upload" the details onto the memory system in less than 24 hours. In case you haven't figured out yet: I recommend PhotoReading. Like totally. In fact, you can catch other successful PhotoReaders (and moi) about it right here at the first ever PhotoReading Retreat in 2004:

Till next time!