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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Opening to the Spirit of China

Note: I no longer write in this blog. My new blog is

See you over there,


Here’s a confession. It’s not much of a secret really, and anyone who has read more than a few of my blogs will no doubt be aware of this at some level. So here it is. Sometimes I become frustrated at the typical mindset of people in China and Hong Kong. Ever since the late Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping declared “It’s glorious to get rich” around about 30 years ago, China has been hell bent on modernization and in particular, the focus is upon materialism. Money and social advancement are at the forefront of most people’s lives. Within this environment, there hasn’t been a lot of scope for the kind of ideas I talk about on this bog and in my books (well, my blog is blocked in mainland China, anyway!). For example, about four years ago I met up with a youngish woman in Beijing, and she was trying to begin a kind of spiritual/ New Age company there. I am pretty sure that nothing came of it, because she soon stopped responding to emails and I never heard from her, nor of her, again.

Yet there are changes afoot in China, in terms of a deepening of awareness, and like most changes in china, they are coming fast!

During the last days of my Beijing vacation, I attended a three day workshop with Australian spiritual teacher Leonard Jacobson ( at a beautiful “resort” about one hour out of the centre of Beijing. I really didn’t know what to expect, as I had only confirmed my place there two days before. I didn’t know who was attending, nor what Leonard was going to do. I just knew that I had to be there.

I should mention that Leonard’s thinking has inspired me much over the years. Before the workshop I had met Leonard on two previous occasions, the last time being in 2001.

I was driven out to the workshop by Amy, a Chinese woman who lives in Beijing with her American husband. I was expecting that there might be 10-20 people at the workshop. I shocked when Amy told me that there would be 130 people there from all over China, and I was the only foreigner attending! (not counting some Taiwanese).

Beijing is very urbanised place, and there is not a lot of green space in the city centre. However when we got to the grounds where the workshops were being held, I found myself in large open spaces. The whole resort was brand new, and I could actually smell the ‘fresh’ wood inside. The wide open spaces were bejeweled with large ponds (full of fish), and hot springs. Birds sang in the trees, and geese waddled around the walkways.

Once the workshop started, I was amazed at how receptive most of the Chinese people present were to Leonard's teachings and the simple - yet powerful - processes he used. Basically Leonard brings people into deep presence. His entire teaching centres on the single premise that “enlightenment” happens now, and that attachment to the past and thought of the future ensnare us in the mind and ego.

Incredible as it may seem, Leonard does no preparation for his workshops. Not even a four day workshop like this one! (I could only attend the first 3 days). Almost the entire event unfolds spontaneously. There was wonderful translator there, a Chinese woman named Tiffany, who had helped organise the event.

As the audience began to relax into presence, the same thing began to happen as happens with all Leonard’s workshops. Put simply, people's repressed emotional pain started to spontaneously emerge. I was quite shocked actually. I really didn't think Chinese people would allow themselves to be so emotionally vulnerable in public, due to cultural restrictions there.

Typically, what would happen is that Leonard would begin to talk about something, then someone in the audience would begin to sob or wail as their energy began to surface. Leonard would (on most occasions) then address the person, and quite often (though not always) he would invite them out the front. Leonard would then help them to connect with whatever pain they felt. This in turn would trigger some emotional release in audience members. Let me give just one example. There is something of a synchronicity involved in this one, for me.

There was a woman sitting right in front of me who kept putting her hand up. She was probably about late forties. I could see and hear that she was sobbing and shaking. She was a little scared, and kept putting her hand half up, but not high enough to actually attract attention. I wanted to help her raise her hand (the rescuer in me), but in the end she got noticed. The whole situation was perfect for me, because there was something I was meant to see (of all the people who could have been directly in front of me, it was her!). Finally, Leonard asked her what her problem was.  The woman was terribly distraufght, telling of how childhood was a nightmare. She began to sob deeply. Leonard invited her out the front, and allowed her to express what she felt (the whole process was incredibly loving and gentle). Then the little girl inside her started raging against what happened during the Cultural Revolution (a hellish social movement started by Mao Ze Dong, lasting a whole decade, 1966-76). As she allowed the pain to surface, she raged about how everything around her was darkness and pain and suffering, and nothing was safe.

People started to shift a little uncomfortably in their seats, as you can imagine, because all talk of this period in Chinese history is effectively banned in China, right to this day. Soon the woman began to rage with full fury against the government and the Communist Party for the living hell they had created. I was deeply moved by her courage. She simply let loose her murdrous wrath, expressing what the wounded part of herself had been wanting to “do” for 35 years – to kill and destroy, to take revenge against those who had hurt her and those she loved.

Leonard then helped her bring that wounded part of herself into the present, which is so vital for healing (As long as we are stuck in the pain, the suffering and the blame, we cannot heal). The purpose is to allow the pain and its accomanying story to surface, but to bring to deeper understanding that the story is not real anymore. It is only the pain that is real. The past is gone, and only the present moment is extant.

I must say I was deeply moved by the woman’s personal courage.

The next morning I was walking to breakfast, and the woman "just happened" to be coming out of her villa at the same time as me. So I started talking to her, and told her how brave she was, and how China needed more people like her who could face the pain inside themselves and express it responsibly. She agreed. She told me that she had talked to a friend beforehand and decided it was OK that she brought it up.

The whole workshop made me realise that there are people in China, many in fact, who are now willing to make the spiritual journey. Other Chinese people I spoke with told me that these kinds of ideas are booming in China now, and in the last year or two it has really taken off. One aspect of this is that life coaching using spiritual or intuitive consciousness is now increasingly in demand. I was told that there were many middle class people in there 30s and 40s who are well off, but who are asking themselves why they are not happy and fulfilled.

During my time at the workshop I was invited to give public talks and workshops at several different venues. During my vacation I also met with another women who has a group of about 40 alternative practitioners in Beijing. She invited me to do some work with her group.

In short, it is an exciting time in China for this. And there is much need of healing of the past in the country. The energy of trauma cannot be suppressed by book burnings and internet police. As long as that energy remains unhealed, there will always be the danger that it will be projected back into the world via violence and chaos.

Yet the truth remains that those of us who do this work in China tread a fine line. The day after that woman had raged against the Cultural Revolution, I discussed the issue with some of the workshop organisers. They accepted the woman's behaviour, but clearly felt slightly nervous about the whole thing. There were uniformed police at the event at various times, and it is fairly standard to have undercover government “representatives” at such gatherings.

What I really liked about Leonard is that he is not trying to overthrow governments. He is just getting people to take responsibility for the own spiritual evolution. I feel the same way. I have no personal interest in challenging any power structures in China, merely helping people who wish to open their spirits to a greater awareness and understanding.

My Beijing trip was an eye opener. I feel I now have a greater understanding, respect and love for the the Chinese people, and their courage.


  1. Very moving, Marcus, and very courageous on the part of the attendees and organizers. Perhaps if this sort of thing remains on a small scale it will stay under the radar of the authorities. What worries them most is large organized groups. Also, if people stay faithful to the idea of "opening their spirits to a greater awareness and understanding" and are clear about not challenging power structures, that will help.

    Good luck to you with this venture - I guess you'll have to take things one step at a time, feeling your way.

  2. All I can say, Simon, is that even in this one workshop Leonard Jacobson planted some real seeds of consciousness which will help shift even a nation of 1.3 billion. Even if they ban him today, that can never be taken away. As for me, it would of course be more problematical if I am banned, as I am married to a Chinese woman living in China! But both Leonard and I have a very gentle approach. I don't anticipate any problems - but in the end, I don't know what will happen.