Previously, we examined the American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia’s (AOBTA) definition of Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) using three styles of bodywork — amma, shiatsu, and Jin Shin Jyutsu (October/November 2004, page 114).
“If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.”1
— Ajahn Chah
A monk asked Master Haryo, “What is the way?” Haryo said, “An open-eyed man falling into the well.” The Zen koan was as much of a riddle as my pain and failing health. I was young, healthy and had been an athlete much of my life. I never thought my childhood was all that “alternative,” but my father was a chiropractor and treated us as we needed it. We also did not receive immunizations.
Bangkok, Thailand, a city famous for its exotic offerings, is also the site of Wat Pho’s Traditional Medical and Massage School — a center for the teaching, research and practice of the Thai healing tradition. It is a school unlike those seen in North America. At Wat Pho, massage and medicine are taught in a Buddhist temple — the “wat” — adorned with filigreed designs and garden statues of figures in various postures dating back to the 16th century. It is here, in these forms and in this temple, that we find both an ancient art and an age-old philosophy.
Ping Lee’s training as an engineer comes in handy when he’s explaining the concept of energy. “Conceptualize the word air,” he says. “The Chinese have a lot of expressions with the word air. It sounds insignificant, so when you say something is air, what type of thing is it? Can you picture a steam locomotive, do you know how powerful that is? When we use the word steam we think of a cloud, but it is only a condensation of air — energy. What I teach in class, when we talk about energy, is seeing the word air as energy. You can feel a person’s presence, that’s energy.