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Master Duan: no ill energy

August 17, 2012

“There is no such thing as ‘ill energy'”.

– Master Duan Zhi Liang, Qiqong workshop, Portland, Maine, circa 2002


About 10 years ago, somehow I got wind of a 96-year-old Qiqong master from China who was visiting Maine and giving workshops.  Since every new Qiqong exercise I learn adds a year to my life, starting with the one that helped me quit smoking, I resolutely tracked down where Master Duan was next teaching, and implored the host to let me in on it.

The day of the workshop, we all gathered in a large exercise room in downtown Portland.  After some time waiting, his interpreter entered, set up one bench on top of another, then gingerly stepped onto the top bench, wobbling precariously, and spoke to us, laying out the program to come.

When she finished speaking, a few minutes later, accompanied solicitously by a woman I assumed was his wife, entered a hunched-over old man, missing teeth, in heavy coat and Russian-style fur hat, long wisps of white hair sticking out.

Then, he opened his coat wide, doffed it, his hat, and handed both off to his wife, stood tall and strode briskly over to the stacked benches.  Without hesitation, he leaped in the air and landed on one foot atop the highest bench, arms outstretched, no wobbling, the picture of strength and balance.

For the next four hours, he taught us through his interpreter, leading us through Qi-generating exercises for health and longevity.  Imagine a large room full of 40-something men and women, all huffing and puffing, while their leader atop the benches doesn’t even break a sweat.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to pay close attention to what a vigorous old man is telling and showing me about how to move my body, and how to think about how I’m moving it.  I still do what he taught me today, though not nearly often enough.

Late in the workshop, there was time for Q&A.  One woman asked the perennial question:  how to protect oneself from other people’s negative energy?

Bypassing his interpreter, he spoke directly, emphatically, and in English.

“There is no such thing as ‘ill’ energy”.

That was that, no elaboration or explanation; he simply moved on to the next question, next exercise.  This was the only time he spoke in English, the only time he bypassed his interpreter.

When a vigorous, strong and mentally alert 96-year-old says something like that, so clearly and definitively, one has to wonder why it might  be true.  There certainly was going to be no argument or debate in the workshop about it, and it was clear he wasn’t going to explain himself.  Just do the exercises, and you will know, was his unspoken directive.

So, what do you think?

  1. Steve Robertson permalink

    Do you know where Master Duan is teaching these days? Thanks!

  2. Steve Robertson permalink

    Hi! I was trying to locate Master Duan, do you know what he’s up to? Thanks

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