June 17, 2002: How to Teach Breathing to the Mind?

Picking up Master Ni for his bi monthly CD shuffle - Always going for the best interest rates for short terms of a year or less - “First Bank - Best rates in town - Then World Bank second.” He has done his research.

Going into the bank, the bank officer greets him, “Hello Mister Ni. Glad to see you again.”

He is well known, driving a hard bargain to get their best rates, threatening to withdraw all his money if there is a better offer elsewhere. Many times I have seen him negotiating one bank against another and winning a better return on his money than that which was advertised.

“Interest rates down.” He sighs. “It’s hard.”

“Yes, life is suffering.” We smile.

Here is an 88-year-old Tai Chi teacher. His $600,000 is home paid off - hundreds of thousands of dollars in CDs. Besides the interest on these accounts he earns some $40K>$60K a year on his Tai Chi classes. He doesn’t travel or wear nice clothes. He has no material needs. His 7 children are all doing fine - successful professionals with good careers.

Unattached to material objects - he is attached to money.

‘Why?’ you might ask.

It is the Universe’s way of throwing us together for our little chats. Otherwise he would have no opportunity to monitor my spiritual progress and give me some good and timely advice.

Speaking with an agenda as we drive to the bank in my beat up 15 year old rusted blue Nissan trunk, Ni: “Three people in Class ask me to review Breathing.”

According to Bill Powell, Professor of Asian Studies, our Breathing exercise initiated the Chi Gung movement. A middle aged Chinese lady cured herself of cancer through the constant repetition of this set of movements and became a national celebrity. It is called White Crane Breathing, - as it was intended to emulate the graceful movements of this elegant bird.

“How can I teach Breathing when it comes from the Mind? When someone angry - Breath rises and becomes quick. Like this.”

He gives a brief demonstration of short shallow breathing.

Ni: “This is evidence of how Mind effects Breathing.”

Me: “Mind also effects Body. When I am nervous, my shoulders rise, despite all intentions to the contrary.”

Ni: “Right. But how do I teach Breathing if it comes from the Mind?”

Me: “Teach the Mind?”

Ni: “How do I teach Mind, when it is independent. You say shoulders rise despite intention. Anger comes without asking. How do I teach Breathing to the Mind?”

I shrug shoulders, indicating my normal ignorance.

Ni: “Necessary to quiet Mind.”

Me: “Not teach, just quiet?”

Excitedly Ni: “Right. But how to quiet Mind?”

Me: “Still desires?”

He is testing me to see if I remember previous lessons.

Ni: “Right. But how to still desires, when Mind desires what it sees?”

Me: “Don’t look around?”

I’m flailing now.

Ni, thinking: “In Chinese easy to say, but my English no good. Has to do with growth. When a plant is weed must cut it down - Weed like desires that mind feeds. No attention, no weeds.”

Me, reiterating in my own words to see if I understand: “If we cultivate desires with our mind then they grow and we must cut them down. This is painful. If we don’t cultivate desires they don’t grow and we don’t have to cut anything down.”

Ni: “Necessary to keep Mind very still and quiet - For good and bad, not just bad.”

Me: “Any desire, even desire for quiet, waters a plant which will grow and have to be cut down. So keeping Mind still, most important to still desires.”

Ni: “Right. This good for breathing.”

Sincerely, the Channel called don