The Great Bird Spreads Its Wings

35 years ago, I got curious.

In particular, I was curious how the teaching of Western mystery schools compared with what I was learning from the Eastern traditions. So I got a bunch of instructional materials from the Western tradition and dove in.

In those days, when I got interested in something it became somewhat of an obsession. I studied in every spare moment. Over about six months, I spent an average of about 40 hours a week pouring over the lessons.

Towards the end of that time, I reached a point where the theoretical material led naturally to the practical exercises. So of course, I started practicing.

What I realized was that both traditions were approaching the same concepts. However, they were approaching them from very different perspectives. Here are some examples of that comparison:

  • In the West, you start with theory and later go to practice. In the East, you start with practice and only later go to theory.
  • In the West, the teaching is much more centered on explanations. In the East, especially at the beginning, the explanation is, “You practice.”
  • One of my focused interests was how the Five Elements of the West compared with the Five Elements of the East. Although they covered the same kinds of ideas, they did so very differently.

Interestingly, the outer form of some of the personal development exercises had some similarities. In the Western tradition I’d been studying, there was an exercise that physically was almost exactly the same as one of the Shen exercises from the Eastern tradition called, “The Great Bird Spreads Its Wings.”

Of course the instructions for the Western version were very specific about visualizing certain changes and expanding your awareness. When I’d first learned the exercise from Grandmaster Lew, he gave us the usual, “You practice” instructions.

Later, however, he shared the name of the exercise. And he gave us very particular details about what the name means. At that point, I realized that it was essentially the same exercise as taught in the West. The visualization that came out of the Eastern description was surprisingly similar to the Western one.

Next month, in May, 2017, I will be teaching the Standing Shen exercises. The Great Bird Spreads Its Wings is the first of these. I will be going into detail about the visualizations both from the Western and Eastern perspective.

The class will be on two Saturday mornings for 3 hours each. The first class is May 13. There are still openings as of writing this message.

If you want to learn more about the class, click here:

All the best for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger



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