Omega: What inspired you to start studying with your spiritual master, Xiao Yao, at such a young age?
Robert: When I was eight, I developed a serious heart condition and the doctor couldn’t help. He said, “You have to quit school and stay home to rest,” but that was boring, so within a few days I snuck out of my building and into a nearby hotel. Inside, I found a boiler room where I liked to watch the fire. My master was the boiler attendant. He was such a nice person and a wonderful storyteller. I returned again and again.
I think he gave me a healing treatment without telling me, because I forgot how much pain I was in, and within a few weeks I had no pain at all.
One day, he asked, “Do you want to learn some wushu?” That means martial arts in Chinese.
“Yes,” I said, “but nobody can teach me.” All of the spiritual traditions had been banned, so if we got caught, we would be in big trouble.
He said, “I will teach you.”
I was surprised. He was a little shorter than me and looked like a weakling. I didn’t know that he was 80 years old. He looked like he was 40. I didn't know that before he went into hiding, he was a legendary healer, monk, and martial artist.
He agreed to teach me as long as I promised to be disciplined and keep our sessions a secret. Later he told me, “You can use all these energies you have cultivated in wushu into a healing energy.”
When I was 14, my master put me on a water fast for 100 days in the basement of the temple in the mountains, which he had returned to after the Cultural Revolution was over. When you do that, under the guidance of a master, you get transformed. You cultivate a very precious healing power. After the fast was over, my hands began to feel like they were buzzing with electricity. When I touch people, they get electrified.
Omega: What's the number one lesson you learned from Xiao Yao?
Robert: To be happy and compassionate, no matter what my circumstances are. Before the Cultural Revolution, Xiao Yao was a very high-ranking monk who had never left the monastery. When I met him, he was working and living in a boiler room. He had a million reasons to be angry and unhappy. But I never saw him complain, not even from his eyebrows. He was always easygoing—gentle, but resilient like a tiger.
Omega: What is qigong, and what are the benefits of daily practice?
Robert: Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) is the science of cultivating the life force (qi) through specific practices, as well as the art of applying this energy in the service of the Dao, or greater good. My master explained the benefits of qigong via the “Six No-Worries,” or six aspects of your life that you don’t have to worry about when you practice qigong daily and your qi flows smoothly.
- No-Worry Eating. Your digestion and your appetite are so refined, even the plainest food tastes delicious. Sometimes, just breathing in and breathing out makes you feel like you are having a feast.
- No-Worry Sleeping. You sleep like a baby and you wake up happy and rested.
- No-Worry Toilet. You don't experience digestive problems, such as diarrhea or constipation.
- No-Worry Energy. You have ample vitality to deal with whatever situation that arises.
- No-Worry Sex. Your sexual power is strong and prolonged; the sexual energy enhances your longevity and quality of life.
- No-Worry Emotions. You’re calm, your emotions are balanced, and you rarely get sick (physically or emotionally).
“When your qi flows smoothly,” Xiao Yao said, “you live like a shenxian," like an immortal in fairyland.
Omega: What is qigong healing? Can it help us think differently about disease?
Robert: In qigong, we say disease is caused by blockages. If your energy meridians are flowing well, then you are healthy. Anywhere you have blockages, you have disease.
If you have a stomachache, a qigong healer will check your stomach and large intestine meridians and clear them of blockages. Then the stomachache disappears. When that area has slow, strong qi, disease has no power to exist there.
In qigong, “no disease” does not equal “healthy.” Healthy should also be happy—so we do both physical and emotional healing.
Omega: Does everyone have the ability to heal themselves, or is that power reserved for the fortunate few?
Robert: In my master’s words, “Everybody is a gold mine.” They’re born with rich, potential healing energies—enough to do their own self-healing—but many people are holding a golden bowl and begging, because they cannot access their own richness. They think they don’t have enough energy, so they try to eat better food and take better vitamins. They think they cannot heal something on their own, so they turn to doctors and medicine to do the work—but you can cultivate your healing energies and power by practicing qigong.
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies