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Excerpts from Charlie Gerth's Paper

I can honestly say that if it were not for Jane Jin and her thorough knowledge, deep sincerity and selfless devotion to Zhening Qigong that I would not have continued with this course. Her ability to translate complicated discourses and make them easily understandable, plus giving us precise instruction in the nuance of the practice techniques, makes her about the best instructor I've ever had.

And without Shelly Benford's efforts to transcribe, edit and refine the English lectures, I wouldn't have been able to keep up. Shelly is the perfect classmate, always willing to share and assist everyone. If Jane had gone into retreat I would have continued with Shelly as our group leader. I admire them both greatly and I consider it a great gift to have them as instructors and friends.

With that being said, and rightfully so, let me begin with my personal overview and assessment of this class. Even with having supreme knowledge and assistance brought to me on a silver platter, and at a price I could easily afford, I have had difficulty maintaining a consistent practice schedule. I've had fits and spurts of good practice sessions and then my schedule goes haywire with the daily disruptions we all face. I'll recover, regain balance and begin again.

Our weekly online classes have been essential to my recovery and I draw strength from the group meeting and group practice. Being consistent is difficult for everyone and I'm saddened when someone leaves our group because I know how much effort it takes to try and maintain a steady practice and at least be encouraged with some personal improvement. Nevertheless, I continue with the mantra of 'Practice, Discipline, More Practice, More Discipline.'

The most important concept I've learned is that of 'Cultivation'. I couldn't care less if my dantians lit up like fireworks or I develop the super normal ability to grow hair if I wasn't becoming a more caring person, someone who can watch their reactions and not be easily provoked. Cultivation lends itself to greater compassion and definitely a control over your tongue. The cultivation is working for me, not always, but I can at least see where work is needed.

Here's a case in point. My cousin comes up to me and asks, 'How's that Chi-gong thing working out for you?' I stop and become completely silent. I look at him and say nothing for a long time. I have absolutely no reaction, no reply. I just looked at him with complete emptiness. We both fall into the silence. The change in the look on his face brings me back. 'Just fine, ' I say. Nothing else needed to be said. It was a completely intimate moment that I didn't anticipate or plan.

It was a cultivated moment. I know that in that moment I'm fully aware but thinking is noticeably absent. I'm completely relaxed and disarmed for no apparent reason. I can't explain it. Maybe this is the break to the karmic cycle? I don't know for sure, but I do know it supports a peace in me and brings a smile to my face. This seems worthy of cultivation and maybe this is how that Chi-gong thing works.

I never enrolled in this course for some kind of accreditation. I think the last certificate I received is folded over as a bookmark somewhere. I have no career interest here but I do know the other class participants do and they need a certificate of course completion. As for me, I feel very privileged to be a participant in this class and it's my hope that any contribution I've made has benefited the members of our group and Zhening Qigong.

Hun Yuan Ling Tong!

Charlie Gerth