Interview with Dr. Bernard Shannon

The Empty Vessel Interview with Dr. Bernard Shannon




I am here with Dr. Bernard Shannon, executive director of the   International College of Medical Qigong as well as Abbott of the Temple of Peace and Virtue.  Welcome Bernard.


Bernard: Thank you Solala, I am happy to be here.


EV: I have been wanting to get together for some time now so I am glad you found some time in your busy schedule. You are not only running a medical qigong college but you also have a thriving practice in medical qigong, correct?


Bernard: That’s correct. Though with my teaching schedule, my clinic practice has been greatly diminished.


EVA: So you are teaching more than you used to?


 Bernard: Yes, currently we are teaching about forty-three weeks a year, teaching medical qigong and Daoist practices.


Bernard: I think there’s a great need for it and a great interest as well. Medical qigong is just becoming known here in the West.


Bernard: That’s correct and it’s been well received.


Dr. Shannon treating Vanessa at XiYuan2 2004-10-05_512 021


EV: In China when you see a Traditional Chinese medicine doctor they might give some acupuncture, some herbs and then they give you a prescription of qigong exercises to do until you see them again. That’s a pretty normal thing to do in China but people are not used to that here.


Bernard: Yes, when we do treatments with people we give them prescriptions, whether it is dynamic medical qigong exercises or visual meditations.


EV: I think that’s great because it gives more of the healing process in the hands of the patient.


Bernard: Yes, we feel that it is important to take ownership or responsibly for the fact that they create the disease and they have an ownership and have an empowerment to heal themselves from the disease as well.


EV: That’s wonderful. Where did you get your training?


Bernard: I started my initial training in 1987. This school that I am working with now primarily I started working with Professor Jerry Alan Johnson in the year 2000. (IS THIS LAST SENTENCE CORRECT?)


EV: I see. I think he was one of the first Westerners to teach medical qigong in this country.


Bernard: Yes, Jerry was one of the first teachers in the West. In 2005 he retired from teaching medical qigong and made me executive director of his school, which I did until 2012 when he closed the academic side of the International Institute of Medical Qigong. That is why we created International College of Medical Qigong. It’s an outgrowth of the seven years that I ran his school for him.


EVA: What I find interesting about you is not only do you have the training in medical qigong but also have a lot of training in Daoist practice.


Bernard: Yes, we do both. Most of the time is in teaching the medical qigong. Then this year we will be having three week-long classes in what you might call a Daoist seminary. We go to China every year. This year there will be a continuation of a trip we did in 2011, when a Daoism ordination that I performed for them here was recognized at the monastery where we work.


EVA: Which is on Qingcheng Mountain in Szechwan province?


Bernard: That’s correct.


EV: So when you first started working with Jerry Alan Johnson, had you any experience with Daoist studies before that?


Bernard: Yes, in 1987 when I was attending university I had taken a number of comparative religion classes and my instructor introduced to us some meditation practices and body movement practices, which he didn’t give a name for but that I later discovered they were qigong in nature. He didn’t really give names to anything. He just said this is meditation and this is movement practice.

He just didn’t like giving labels to anything. He felt that if you gave labels to anything that created a limitation for the potential thereof. As a matter of fact, I didn’t consider myself a Daoist of any nature until a roommate of mine introduced me to a friend of his and said, “This is Bernard. He is a Daoist.”

I later had a discussion with him and I said, “How dare you call me that. I am not a Daoist. I have no label for what I do.” And he said, “Well that’s a Daoist answer.”


EV: (Laughter) Yes, I guess that means you are a Daoist. The other thing I have noticed that in China, when you meet a master there, if you say to them, “It’s great to meet you. I hear you are a master or you know a lot about something” they will answer, “Well I know a little.”


Bernard: Of course. That’s the humility that’s supposed to be represented of one’s self. It’s a whole concept, as you know, from the Daode Jing of being like water, of being humble and low. One of my favorite pieces of calligraphy that I have received is Hou De Zai Wu.  Hou is generous and de is virtue. Zai is to support and wu is things. It’s basically, as it was explained to me as: “below and humble and open and receptive as the earth and all things will manifest from.”

It’s sort of a code of conduct or process, as long as one can be true to it. Of course we often see people with a sense of false humility. They bow their head and say “No, no, no” but they actually want you to praise them.


EV: Yes I see here in the West where people have studied for a relatively short amount of time who are calling themselves Master so and so.


Bernard: I do find that interesting. In the Chinese process, at least with my understanding, in the Daoist lineages that I have worked with, my formal Daoist students address me shifu and they address my teacher as shiye. This uses the usual term for teacher, shi, followed by ye from yeye or grandfather. Literally it means grandmaster.

It has nothing to do with skill necessarily; it just has to do with the lineages of teaching. Anything beyond that just gets into ego, which is what we are trying to clear ourselves from — our false personality, our acquired mind, our sense of entitlement or self-importance. Those things do us no service.


Bernard teaching theater at XiYuan3 2004-10-05_512 050


EV: Do you have a basic philosophy that you use in your teaching?


Bernard: Yes. On the first day of class we introduce calligraphy that I have hanging on the walls and we discuss each one. Hou De Zai Wu is the first piece of calligraphy that I received but was actually the second piece I was given. I know that doesn’t make sense. But on my first trip to Qingcheng was in March of 04. The abbot  (NEED NAME HERE) there had two pieces of calligraphy on the temple wall and I thought they were beautiful and I asked if there was a calligrapher who could copy them for me and there was not so she offered to give them to me. I was, of course, just taken aback. She said she would give them to me the night before I left.

The night before I left there was a documentary filmmaker who came to make a movie about the mountains and he donated a million yuan to the monastery. He looked at these two pieces of calligraphy and he said he really liked them. Of course, that is their way of saying, please give them to me. Jiang (?) said I cannot give them to you, they belong to the temple, they’re not mine to give. So then she came to me right before we were to leave and she said, “I can’t give them to you now,” and she explained the situation. She told me that next time I came she would give them to me.

Then in September of that year I went to China with Jerry Alan Johnson and we went to Maoshan, where I received the calligraphy Hou De Zai Wu, which I already explained, meaning being open, yin and receptive and that all things can manifest. So that was the first piece of calligraphy that I received and I took that as a sort of code of conduct and way of being. Kind of like when my mother would say, “You have two ears and one mouth, you should listen twice as much as you speak.”

The next year I went back to Qingcheng and she gave me those two pieces of calligraphy. The first one is Dao Yang Tien Di.  This means: dao as in the dao, yang means to cultivate oneself and tien di, heaven and earth. So it’s the way to cultivate heaven and earth. I explain to people that you can’t cultivate heaven and earth within yourself until you’ve cultivated some level of Hou De Zai Wu.

The other piece of calligraphy that she gave me was De Run Qun Sheng, which means to cultivate the virtue of all living things. Again, once cannot cultivate the virtue of all living things unless you have cultivated heaven and earth within yourself.  And you can’t cultivate heaven and earth within yourself unless your are open to receive.

Then the last piece of calligraphy we have is a common one, Dao Fa Zi Ran, which could be translated as the natural Dao or the law, the natural Way of the Dao, the natural method of the Dao. So if we practice all these three pieces the Hou De Zai Wu, De Run Qun Sheng and Dao Fa Zi Ran then we are manifesting the natural Way of the Dao. That’s the perfect harmony.

So I explain these three pieces of calligraphy on day one and say, this is our map, this is our path. Whether you are in qigong, whether you are in Daoism, whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist, it doesn’t matter. All traditions have these concepts within themselves.

When we look at the De Run Qun Sheng, the virtue of cultivating all living things, this is what the Buddhists would call the awakening of the heart. Here you have heaven coming down through the crown or the upper dantian, down through the middle and out the root and earth coming up through the lower dantian through the middle and out the crown but they blend in the middle dantian, which of course creates the third treasure, (COULD NOT MAKE OUT THE WORD HERE), which is the manifestation of our virtues. Virtue not as a moralistic thing but the prenatal sense of virtues.


EV: Did you say in the prenatal sense?


Bernard: Yes, when many people think of virtue they think of a moral basis but when I think of virtue I think of the manifestation of the middle dantian, which is our innate inheritance of integrity, dignity, wisdom, compassion etc. They’re virtues of being.  To act with integrity does not necessarily have an emotional component but your energy flows when you act with integrity.

So when I talk about the prenatal virtues, these are all thing that are born within every single person that are active or dormant based on their karma or what they brought in and how they were raised with their parents, society and their environment. In the medical process, how we look at this is, what is out of harmony, what virtues are not manifesting and what acquired emotions are dominant such as anger, grief, fear, guilt, worry? And how to clear those so that energy can flow more freely and to allow that natural conduit of heaven and earth to flow through the obstruction of the emotional component?

My Chinese teachers taught me that there are only three causes of disease — that’s genetic, environmental and emotional. Typically it’s a blending of those three. So support someone’s constitution, through herbs, exercises and meditation and proper diet and things. We can deal with the pre-natal constitution energy in that fashion. We can deal with some environmental stressors, like whether they should move from one location to another, such as if they are in an apartment building that is really noisy or if they are near a heavy power line where emf’s are affecting them. Of course here the dynamic qigong or the quiescent qigong practice can also help boost their immune system to handle that.

But where they have the most control over is their emotional component. Whether they are aware of the emotional trauma or not is immaterial. The fact that it is there they have blockages in those organs that are starting to manifest locally or distally within the body.


EV: I love how Chinese medicine views emotions as energetic states rather than just psychological states so that you don’t just have to go somewhere to talk them through but can actually access and clear them energetically.


Bernard: Yes, you are a musician, so you understand music. Each note of music is a frequency, which moves up and down, depending on how you play your music and what scales you are working with. Now each organ in the body has a different frequency and each emotion has a frequency that can create a disharmony frequency that goes out and creates energetic stagnation.

For example, in the class that I will be teaching next week, which is a second year class, one of the activities they will be doing is working with a partner and manifesting each emotion of each organ. The trick with this is that it is not a mental activity. So if you and I are working together and we want to go back to say working with the liver you have to find something in your mind that is either real or imagined so that you can feel anger. It’s not a mental thing; I need you to feel it in your body. Then the other student will palpate and really be able to feel the quality of what that feels like. Then you come back to neutral. Then you go to the emotional of rage and the other student is able to feel the difference between anger and rage and irritability and frustration and jealousy and so on. Each those emotions, even though they manifest locally in the liver, can then migrate to diffident parts of the body, like anger goes up and rage goes in and down. Though they originate from the liver, each one has a different frequency.

In this way the students start to learn the different frequencies or notes of the different emotions. They’re able to dip into the patient’s field and be able to feel the difference between sadness and grief. Then, when you go into the discussion part and ask the patient what is going on in their life or what happened to cause you grief. Then they can help the patient go and in bring that memory back to the surface and then we can unravel the stagnant energy that is creating the disharmony within them.

I had a woman with breast cancer come in and lays on the table and I say this is grief and anger because anger comes up and grief or sadness or shame just holds there. And we find that out what it is and she says, Well, I dealt with that already. She saw a shrink for fifteen years and I say, well obviously didn’t clear. Why is it still manifesting? She had released it mentally but it was not connected with her body so that she never released the true emotion.


EV: So the tricky part is training people so that they can discern these various subtle levels. That is quite a challenge.


Bernard: It is and that is the approach that we use in the training at the International College of Qigong. It’s a multi-level progressive training that we do. You could almost think of it as a progressive science. It’s an art but it’s also a science of subtle awareness Then, as the student’s understanding and energetic awareness increases we’re able to teach them much more subtle physical mechanics to maximize their potential energetically and refine their energetic techniques of awareness or qi emission.


EV: Which makes them much more powerful healers


Bernard: Yes, in each seminar we do or teach internship in which each experience builds on one another to help the students evolve into the natural healer that they want to be and prepares them to work in the outside world in an integrative clinic or by themselves.

We work analytically and intuitively to develop both of these lines of sight so they can comprehend and utilize the medical qigong they way we do it, not only for personal cultivation but for the clinical application as well.

Solala, as you know, whether it’s martial, medical or spiritual traditions, all of them are a continuum of vibrational frequency. Martial being the most gross and spiritual being the most refined and medical being that in-between state. The depth of knowledge that can be gained from any of these traditions is just profound.

And we also know from our study of the Dao that the deepest meanings are beyond words and they can only be grasped through direct experience. If we can get a student to have even a partial understanding of this their life is changed forever. What I see every year is that students come in from all walks of life, from professional people to novices, from people who have done twenty years of qigong to people that just learned what it was from Dr. Oz last year.


EV: That’s one of the things I want to ask you. For someone who wants to come to your school who wants to become a medical qigong practitioner or if they want to just learn it for their own healing, do they need to be a licensed acupuncturist already or can they be a total beginner?


Bernard: A total beginner is great and in many ways they are easiest because their cup is empty. Everyone who comes in, regardless of their background, we really like them to start with the introduction course where we go through the theory and understating of what we are doing. We deal with the agents of the organs — the hun and po, (WORDS MISSING HERE) the shen, and how we work with them, the attitudes as well as organ energies and the emotional processes.

There are also twenty eight meditation exercises that are taught in the first week that purge, tonify and regulate the body. That becomes kind of a toolkit for the students for their own self healing, whether they continue with our program or not. They now have that and can use it for the rest of their life.

In my experience, with qigong and reiki and other energetic systems, it’s really pretty easy to get people to cultivate a large amount of energy. It’s really easy to get them to bring it through, to download a lot of energy, to even emit a lot of energy. That’s not hard to do. The challenge we have for the practitioner is to build a constitutional vessel strong enough to handle that charge.  And that’s what takes time.

I have people who ask if they can just come for the first five weeks and not for the whole year. But I have to say, “You won’t get anything, because it will all be in your mind.” We can get you moving but your body is not going to understand because your body has to adjust, has to acclimate. It’s kind of like getting up to base camp at Everest. You have to sit there for a week or two before you can go higher because your body has to get used to it. Otherwise you will never get to maximize your potential.

Basically we’re taking people to 220 from 110, if you look at it in electrical sense, so you can handle a greater amount of energy with efficiency without doing damage to your own body, your own nervous system. Because if you get too much you can fry yourself. This is why I call it a progressive science.


EV: So you don’t have a set up where someone could come and take one course.


Bernard: We do. They can come and take the introductory course. Occasionally some of the Daoist classes we teach are open to the public. Later on this year we have two Daoist classes we will be offering. One will be open to the public, to anyone interested in studying Daoism,

I like to use the term daoyou for these kinds of people. Dao is of course from Dao. The other part is from pengyou, which is friend. So literality what it means is “a friend of the Dao.” They can be taiji students or acupuncturists. They are not interested in being a Dao-ist. They’re just kind of curious. They want to check things out.


EV: I haven’t heard that term before. I like it.


Bernard: In China, if you have been ordained as a priest you are a Daoist, if you have not you are a daoyou. Some of the aunties who have been at the temple there for twenty years or have home altars and do all sorts of stuff, they don’t want to take the admonitions, they don’t want to have the responsibility and the sacrifice of being a priest. They want to come and play, they want to have multiple teachers and learn but not be restricted. So they are daoyou.


EV: Would they have the term lay Daoists, much like in Buddhism where you have the priesthood and then the people who are doing Buddhist practices and are called lay Buddhist?


Bernard: Those are all daoyou’s. That’s a really big area of someone who read the Daode Jing once and thought it was pretty cool to someone who has an altar at home and does morning and evening prayers but they have not taken the step into ordination.

When you’ve gone thought an ordination ceremony there’s a “vouching for” that takes place. When that happens things shift and you’re accepted in a different way, not only physically but also energetically and spiritually. Certain things manifest in a different way.

When I look at people who are followers of the Daoist philosophy or the more religious ceremonial side, I say it’s all still one Dao. My teacher told me that there are ten thousand ways to practice the Dao. Not that any one is incorrect, they’re just different. It depends on what the goal is that one has. Is it just being comfortable in life or is it practicing ritual and ceremony, and for what purpose? I mean, you don’t do ritual just for ritual’s sake. Are you trying to help people? The question that comes, is what is your intention?

I had a student recently who had something going on with his eyes, some kind of eye infection and I drew on the talismans I learned from my teacher for the eyes and the next day it cleared up. That is an example of using ritual to help people.

One of the major tenents that I focus on is that qigong and Daoist practices is not just a daily event; it is a life-long practice. You train daily and you practice 24/7. So if I am cultivating oneness with the Dao and I step out of my apartment or my house and I immediately go into road rage it (my practice) didn’t serve me. So how can I maintain this quiescence or awareness?

Everything that I teach, everything that we do is functional and operational. You can take this qigong exercise, you can focus on cultivating what we were talking about heaven and earth; you can do it as a martial practice, you can do it as a medical practice, it can be for your own spiritual development.  Everything is meant to be integrated, whole and total. So you can be fully present in your life.


EV:  Fully present in your life. That is a wonderful thing. Can you say something about your China tours. Do the people have to already be training with you to go to China with you?


Bernard: It depends, some years yes some years no. They’re listed on the website whether they need to be a student of mine or not. We tend to do one or two trips a year. I like to go to Qingcheng Mountain because that is my root monastery, my root mountain, even though I was ordained as a Tienshi Fu (IS THIS CORRECT?) and taken as a disciple at Mao Shan. But I feel my home is at Qingcheng.


EV: That is a beautiful area, I have been there several times. That walk up the mountain is so beautiful, through the forest.  I love that you can’t just drive there. I think it makes it more of a pilgrimage when you have to walk up the mountain.


Bernard: You’ve earned it.


EV: Yes, its’ quite wonderful that way.




Bernard. Yes, it’s gotten busier over the years as everything in China has but you can still find quiet places and nooks and crannies. You can walk down dirt paths and find some of the temples that are less well known, either on the front of the mountain or the back of the mountain.

One of my favorite places is to sit at a little tea garden at a 1200-year-old gingko tree. You’re sitting there and looking up at this massive tree, 100-200 foot tall, and just thinking of everything this tree has seen.


EV: You once mentioned to me that there are a number of hermits up on that mountain.


Bernard: That’s correct. I have not met them myself. I have not had the fortune of meeting any of them yet. But I also acknowledge that they have chosen that level of asceticism for a reason and I think that should be honored. If you are walking and you happen to meet someone like that great but I also don’t think that one should consciously seek him or her out and take them out of what they are trying to do. That whole area has a rich history with Daoism that goes back to Zhang Daoling and Lu Dong Bin.

I do have one teacher there who can control the wind. I have seen him in room where he can create a wind that makes all the papers move around. There’s a ceremony that they do there where they invite an immortal to be present. They hang these streamers down from one red cloth, which it is cut into streamers. They do a ceremony where the cloth will actually roll up against gravity and tie itself into knots. Then they pull out an old book and they look up the knot and they can tell which immortal is present.

So Daoism is still alive. Of course those things can be traps of power. My teacher who does that with the wind, he always gives the admonition that those things will naturally come as we evolve, as we become more and more aligned with the Dao, these natural gifts will manifest within us. But we should never be attached to them because if we do we create separation between us and the Dao and then we will lose it.


EV: You once mentioned something to me about what one of your teachers said to you about the path of power vs. the path of enlightenment.


Bernard: Yes, my teacher told me that there is a path of power and a path of enlightenment and they aren’t the same path. On the path of power one cultivates their energy to develop a skill. For someone who is really good at medical qigong, they have to develop their energy. Or is someone decide to learn talismans. Or feng shui or Yi Jing, those are all life-long pursuits and they are worthy but that is not the goal of achieving the Dao.

So there can be issues of power, where you go into ego and acquired mind and you can get caught up in the pursuit of power, fame and money. I have seen that happen with qigong teachers here in the West as well as Daoist teachers here in the West as well as in China.  (CAN YOU EXPLAIN HERE A LITTLE OF WHAT THE PATH OF ENLIGHTENMENT WOULD BE?)


EV: I think that is fascinating that you teacher told you that.


Bernard: Yes her name, if I translate it into English, means Bright Heart. She’s compassionate and she’s strong and she’ll lay it straight out.


EV: Do you see these Daoist practices becoming a part of Western culture? Or will they end up being modified a little bit for Western culture? How do you feel about that?


Bernard: All of that above is already happening. We have people who say that classical Daoism is too hard or rigid. When my teacher made me an abbot I said I don’t know enough to be an abbot. I don’t know all the ritual, all the ceremony, the talismans etc. I know some but I don’t know them all. She said there was a school for training abbots and I was welcome to attend but it is a twelve-year training.

Then she told me that the reason people do rituals is to connect with the immortals, to be able to invoke the immortals to assist you in whatever it is you’re trying to do. Then she said, I can see when you meditate and when you do your work the immortals are coming to you. So if the purpose of the ceremony is to get the immortals to come to you and you already have them coming why do you need the ceremony?

Like in the Zhuangzi story about using the net to catch the fish. (When you’ve caught the fish you don’t need the net anymore.) She asked me if I thought the hermits in the caves do ritual and ceremony. She said no, they are just there. She said, “I do ritual and ceremony because the public expects it. I don’t do it for me.” She just goes back to her room and sits and meditates.

It’s all a show. But there are important practices and understandings within the show. Because everything is symbolic and if we understand the symbology then it makes those things more important.


EV: So how will that translate to what you do in the West?


Bernard: Well our initiation ceremony doesn’t look like what happens in China. When they do initiation ceremony in China there is a band, an orchestra, and there are half a dozen or a dozen priest reading scriptures. And I’m by myself.

But if we understand what is the purpose of the orchestra we learn that the purpose of the orchestra in Daoist ceremony is to create sacred, energetic space. So it creates a vibration that holds space within the field that keeps it pure and sacred.

So if we can achieve that by other means we can achieve that in a similar sense. Is it the same, no, but is it similar, yes.  Can we create sacred space? Of course we can. Then can we do something and hold it? That is a certain level of difficulty. We do part of the ceremony in Chinese but I don’t do that whole thing in Chinese. When I am speaking to the candidate, the onewho  is taking the vows, we do that in English because they understand English.

I created a ceremony and I brought it to my teacher in China, who I respect a lot, and I said, this is what I am doing, is this ok or would you like me to do anything different? She watched me do it with a student and said, that’s perfect, that’s fine. Because she acknowledges that things have to be done a little differently because of culture and the limited training of people to be able to do this.

When we do the morning and evening prayers we do them in Chinese although I have translated them into English. Though when I do a translation I don’t do a literal one, I do an understanding because I want the spirit, not the literal. But there is also something about chanting them in Chinese. There is something about the pacing and the syllables of the Chinese that creates a different kind of energy.

The way I work with students is they get a prayer that they have to do for a minimum of eighty one days, minimum one hour a day and when they think they are ready to move on to the next one they have to do it in front of me and I watch the energy and watch for certain shifts.

The first prayer of the morning is to purify the heart. And when I am watching this I am watching to see does their heart open, does the heart take the role of the emperor or the empress? And does it rule the other organs? In other words, is there still a big wound or gash in the heart? If there is I tell them, you need to keep working, you’re not ready yet.

One of the other prayers is for purifying the earth. Why I like the prayers is not for the prayer’s sake and not just for the resonate energy that it creates that makes them operational. I can use the purification of the heart prayer on a patient. I can tap on their Gate of the Heart point and I can open that heart center up. I can say that prayer out loud into their heart and then close that down and watch that purification happen.

Another one is about bringing harmony or peace to the earth. That’s used in burials. When you do that one, all the entities and spirits of the earth, whether they are ghosts or little pixies and sprites and fairies or whatever, you say that into the earth and anything that is not clean is moved. And all that’s left is a beautiful, peaceful space. So if it’s for a burial you do that. If you’re going to do construction and you’re going to break ground somewhere you do that because you want to be harmony.

And if you’re doing a purification of a house there’s the next one in line, whih  is the purification of heaven and earth. Once we’ve brought harmony to the earth, cleared any turbid yin, now we can bring in the heaven and earth and purify both. Then that will be a harmonious house. All of the virtues have been able to manifest inside that dwelling.

So it all comes down to what you want to open yourself to, how much time do you want to spend training and studying and what do you want to do, what is your intent? I have people who go through the whole medical qigong program who have no intention of ever opening a clinic. But they realize what they are getting for themselves even though in class they’re treating each other and other kinds of training. But they are seeing themselves shift.

We’re looking to move in the next few years to create a conscious Daoist community and school. We’ve been working on it for a few years and just haven’t found the right place yet.  I went and looked at a piece of property in the Midwest and I got onto the property and I met with a realtor and he asked me what I did and I told him I was a Daoist priest and a practitioner of Chinese medicine and he was like, what’s Daoism? and I explained a little bit. He looked a little puzzled as we were in the hard-core Bible belt.

I said, “Let me put it to you this way. A lot of people farm here and farmers are all Daoists.” And he goes, “Not in my family.” So I said, “To be a farmer you need to be in harmony with the seasons. You have to know when the right seasons are to plant. You have to know the crops you are planting. You have to know your soil; you have to know how to amend your soil. There’s a feel for it. There is science but there’s also this gut feeling that the farmers of old had, before all the agribusiness came in.”

So this being in harmony with nature is also a Daoist principle. I was once interviewed by a Chinese magazine, it was kind of like the Chinese National Geographic, and they asked, how would you define the Dao? I said the simplest way, if I had to use words, is finding harmony within myself and without. If I am in perfect harmony internally, which allows me to be in harmony externally, then the world is well. That’s how I explained it to the realtor and he got it.


EV: That’s a beautiful description of the Way.


Bernard: Let’s just be in balance. And if we are in balance there is no duality and then we’re in the wuji and then from wuji we just dissolve back to Dao.