Mantak and Me – Part 10

Pathwork Center August 1992  Mantak did gather interesting people – myself included, having at the age of 51 dropped my career, dispossessed myself of a property portfolio and all belongings apart from a few clothes, a narrowboat and a Moto Guzzi, picked up my rucksack and set off round the world making the most of the mid-life crisis.

Almost falling in love with astonishingly beautiful Marie S, a philosophy professor who, having decided six years before to have children, chose a lover she could be sure would leave her alone after the event, gave birth to a girl and a boy a year apart, saw no doctor or obstetrician, went to no classes, bore each child at home, in the squatting position with only a friend present in case anything went wrong. She cut the cord when it stopped pulsing, which was about an hour. She allows the children to eat what they like and sleep when they want for as long as they want, and taught them at home until they said they wanted to go to school (they’re 4 and 5 now) to be with other kids. From their photographs they look healthy and extremely beautiful. How unusual for someone to take their beliefs all the way!

I learn that actually everyone is interesting once you get past the BS!  But there does seem to be a lot of it about. Sitting at the back of the class with my friend Richard R, scion of a family whose business was supplying wine to royal households, who had dropped out to photograph animals and later found Gene Keys after an encounter with a man in a cave, we listen to the questions Mantak so patiently answers and come to the conclusion that they all have but one meaning: do you love me?!

We’re going into the third week, the second of Chi Nei Tsang and I’m getting more familiar with the politics of the Taoist Court.  A burly guy, big bushy beard, dark glasses and baseball cap, voice like a high-pitched chainsaw, talks in the third person, seems to have influence. Turns out a power broker who helps me with my own coup ten years later.

Meanwhile people are starting to head out, Michael M to Florida to open a scuba school, Gary to somewhere his pendant hovered over on a map of the US, me to New York and a dancer in Harlem.

Before I go, a last deal at Pathworks, trading a few pieces of my fake turquoise – yes, I told them what it was – at the Pathwork Gift Shop for $40 cash and $135 gifts to take home.  Thanks, Mantak – I took your advice and followed the money!

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Mantak and Me – Part 9 : Chi Nei Tsang

Pathwork Center July 1992  I wasn’t going to the afternoon classes and after a few days Mantak asks me why not.  ‘Not sure I’m ready for the Healing Love stuff,’ I answer, ‘we Brits are a bit inhibited.’  (Plus I don’t want to give up my uninhibited afternoon tulip-plucking but that’s my little secret.)

‘Oh,’ he says, ‘so what do you think we do?’  I admit I don’t know, not having attended.  He spreads his arms and grins, ‘So how can you learn?’  No sex in class, I discover, to the disappointment of some and the relief of others.  Handy work, no relief, but get into trouble a few years later introducing a bit of reality into my own classes – although it eventually pays off on reality TV.

I suspend my afternoons in the woods until revisiting suspenders in Amsterdam and instead start learning the secrets of stemming the squirt.  Takes me a while to get into it – in fact the full hundred days.  Meanwhile he introduces the Magic Elbow and I relearn how different from my own is his concept of pain.  In those days I needed Valium at the dentist: he said in Chiang Mai they didn’t even give injections!

Seventy-five of us are here for Chi Nei Tsang training: several doctors, a sprinkling of scientists and many body workers, acupuncturists, healers etc and Mantak is bursting with enthusiasm, declaring, ‘In five years this will be standard practice in every hospital!’

Alejandro, a former heart-surgeon who turned to acupuncture and now moving into Chi Nei Tsang is amused at our thirst for detail. ‘Relax,’ he tells us, ‘it’s not surgery.  There’s over four thousand precise moves in a heart transplant – not much room for creativity…’

Alejandro was just one of the interesting people hanging out with Mantak and me at the Pathwork Center.

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Next week – Interesting people.

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Mantak and Me – Part 8: Conspiracy

Pathwork Center July 1992. We’re a rowdy bunch, we Young Taoists, full of fun and belly-laughs, too noisy for some in this strange and beautiful place nestled in a steep valley covered in woods, a stream running through the middle, different buildings for admin, meditation, lectures, eating, accommodation, shared by different groups.  I hear chanting here, music there – a cello from heaven – shouting and crying, singing and laughing, and the wind in the trees.  I find the Sanctuary, a septagonal building in a secret glade where I pass pleasant afternoons in dalliance with the saucy hollandaise.

Having spent the first morning under Mantak’s guidance energy-cleansing our lecture hall following its use by an anger-management group we are enjoying a boisterous lunch when a pious looking fellow of gentle demeanour approaches our table.  ‘Say,’ he pleads, ‘can you guys be quiet,’ indicating a nearby table of glums, ‘we’re having a silent retreat here.’ Quick as a flash, one of the Michaels retorts, ‘So! Then why are you speaking?’

Evenings we gather around Mantak on the deck as he shares stories of the past and his vision of the future.  Friendly, approachable, and always witty, ‘Laugh and learn,’ he would say. I love the atmosphere in those evenings after the scheduled training, like-minded people drawn together by a common bond, Mantak a great teacher, Maneewan at his side.  And yet, as I get to know the more senior people, I hear disquieting rumors.  Everything on the surface looks serene, but there is a move afoot, a conspiracy some call it, to force a change at the top.  Was the Taoist Double-Master tradition to be broken?

Meanwhile I have other things on my mind: my then and soon-to-be-ex wife, no longer languishing for my return to London, celebrates our tenth anniversary by scarpering off to foreign parts with a redundant coal-miner.  But who am I, sampling the delights of the house of orange, to point a finger?

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Next week – Chi Nei Tsang

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Mantak and Me – Part 7: America!

Now I had to find the money to pay for the training.  I already had my round-the-world ticket and arrived in Los Angeles to find it smoking.  The airport people advised us not to go downtown because of riots over the killing of Rodney King.  I took the next shuttle, watching from the window as smiling people ran out of stores carrying new tv sets and other goodies.  Outside the Greyhound station the whole street was lined with menace.  A huge guy put a heavy hand on my shoulder, growled, ‘Man a’m hongry and you gonna buy me a burger!’

Following Mantak’s advice to make friends with money energy I headed south to Mexico, catching the last bus out of LA before they put the whole place on lockdown.  My plan had not included visits to the dentist in Mexico City but I used the time between drillings to haggle with the gypsies in the Zocala and stock up with turquoise beads I strung into bracelets and necklaces to sell back in the States.  Plus the exchange rate was going my way.

I got the money!  Tao friends I’d met in Pattaya put me up as I hitched east, bought my turquoise, and enthusiastically helped me sell it in bars along the way.  But I got a shock in Memphis: the friend there was a jeweller who told me my stones were fake!  ‘Yeah, man, those gypsies conned you!  Look,’ he shows me, ‘rub it on nail-varnish-remover on paper,’ and there it was, undeniable dye.

On Monday July 27th 1992, after many adventures hitching and hiking across America (arrested for ‘stepping on the highway’ but released because the sheriff didn’t want the paperwork), I arrive at the Phoenicia Pathwork Centre in upstate New York.  Encountering a pack of people running barking through the woods, I kind of get an idea of what the place is about.  I thought Healing Tao a bit far out, but nothing in comparison with some of the stuff going on here. Or so I thought.

It’s good to see Mantak and Maneewan again and to reconnect with the Michaels.  Most of the group are American, with a quota of Swiss and Germans, a couple of French, two other English and a saucy Hollandaise.  I make a new friend in the nether lands, learn strange new (to me!) practices, but  gain a disturbing insight into the inner court.

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Next week – Conspiracy!

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Mantak and Me – Part 6: The End of the War

January 18th, 1992.  We picnicked on a a pretty coral island off Pattaya, not a scrap of shade but a soft breeze kept us cool and the mosquitos at bay.  Most of the other men were clustered as usual around Hatsumi, a beautiful Japanese whom we thought to be with Michael M, an Italian-American who claimed to be in the Witness Protection Program.  Would he have told us, really?  Or was this to warn us to keep off his girlfriend?  Which she really wasn’t, as it turned out when she traveled with me around North Thailand the next week. But he did play the guitar well.

Sitting nearby, Michael C, wrapped in a Tibetan robe of purple, meditated a few feet from two tall Dutch girls basking topless. Alvin L sat like a seaside Buddha, his giant belly glistening white in the light, while Vassilis performed Salutation to the Sun.  I found myself talking with Christoph, whom I had helped over the high sides of the boat that brought us out to the island, he missing his left arm and right leg, and his artificial limbs getting in the way.  I restrained myself from suggesting he pull them off and toss them on board separately.  We spoke about World War 2, the war that cost him his limbs in October 1944, his brother in February 1945, and me my father in 1942.  Christoph said he had been forced into the Hitler Youth as a boy and conscripted to fight to the end.

Mantak in shorts was showing Garry from Los Angeles how to eat crab and giving advice on the financial aspect of teaching the Tao. ‘If I had a dollar for everyone who said they were coming on a course I would never need to run any.’  I learned the truth of this myself over many years of runing courses!

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Next week – America!

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A Winners Alphabet

A book to win by! And to win in a way that suits you, fits your style, utilizing resources you already have, inspiring ways to find more. Direct, no-nonsense, practical without preaching, North has written a handbook of help to find the inspiration to get what you really want and how to go about it, how to look before you leap and, having looked, leapt and still fallen in the ditch, to clamber out and seek a better way, practical steps to turn dreams into reality, simple steps, proven by time and experience.

Supported by a team. A panel of experts. An battalion of Winners, From Marilyn Monroe to Mother Teresa, Bob Marley to Jeff Bezos, HH the Dalai Lama to Warren Buffet, Pablo Picasso to Cristiano Ronaldo, Bill Gates to Joan Collins, Steve Jobs to Diana Princess of Wales, Dale Carnegie to Mahatma Gandhi, and hundreds more, each and every one who got what they want, often making the best of difficult circumstances. As Bruce Lee said, ‘To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities!’

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Mantak and Me – Part 5: Follow the Money

‘Make friends with money energy!’ finally resolved my issues with filthy lucre, from the childhood program ‘We don’t discuss money.  So vulgar,’ to the grown-up riches-and-success program that had me chasing after it in a constant race to make it faster than I could spend it.  Which, admittedly, had provided the wherewithal to take a few years out and indulge myself in traveling the world and meeting cool people such as the one I was talking with now.

He said, ‘In the presence of a great healer everyone feels good.’  And I did.  For the first time I felt relaxed about money and as a result found myself free from my budget.  I was able to follow him to the States, pay for all the training there and in subsequent years and, indeed, to make my living doing what I love ever since.  Meanwhile, listening to wonderful stories of how he started in the Tao, I heard how, raised as a Christian, at the age of six he went on a school trip to a local Buddhist monastery.

Buddhism is the offical religion in Thailand so to a pastor’s son growing  up in a Baptist household, passing shrines and temples everywhere would have been at least intriguing, not to mention the begging monks swarming the streets like yellow lice.  Men in Thailand have to do six months in a monastery at some point in their lives.  I guess members of other religions were exempt as we never heard Mantak mention monking other than to disparage.  (The monk I had been traveling with in the North had, at twentyseven, interrupted a career as a carpenter to perform this religious service but, disillusioned with monastic life which, he said, consisted of chanting prayers and watching TV, quit to become a hermit living in a cave behind a waterfall.)

Meanwhile, our time in Pattaya drawing to a close, we students were getting excited about a planned boat picnic Mantak and Maneewan had organised for us.

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Next week – The End of the War

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