Alchemical Garden Forum

Please visit Entering the Garden and discover what are our sustaining roots. You may only apply with us if you agree and consent to our Community Vision and Purpose and Ethos and Ethical Guidelines.

The registration includes writing a letter of application in which you sincerely tell us why you wish to join.

Questions & Answers

A reminder: It's not that there sometimes are stupid questions, but that insincerity and unwillingness to learn may make inquiring entirely fruitless.

Questions & Answers


Where can I introduce myself?

This forum doesn't have a separate section or specific thread for making introductions. The design philosophy here is that you have already told us about yourself when you wrote the application letter during the registration.

You can write an introduction in your user profile's About section which actually is the natural place for writing a public introduction or biography. Only registered users may be able to view your user profile in order to preserve privacy.

If this isn't enough, then there are two more options. You can introduce yourself when you post in the School section and tell something about yourself to the teacher(s), which hopefully integrates with the rest of your message so that the teacher(s) sees where you are coming from. Even a better choice would be to start a training diary with the journal prefix that you can select just before typing the thread title: here your first post is another natural place for making a very public introduction about yourself.


Can I join this forum in order to get emotional or psychological help?

No, this is not advisable. We are not a support community for emotional and psychological health. That is not our responsibility nor professional competence either.

We expect that every registered user is well capable of taking care of themselves and not drag others into solving their personal problems.


If I'm a relative beginner to internal arts, if I have serious misconceptions, or if I have trained wrong for a long time and don't understand why it has been so, then can I offer counsel and help to others from my very limited and inexperienced point of view?

No, eagerness to give counsel to others is extremely discouraged. One of the founding visions of this forum has been that only people with verifiable knowledge and real understanding may offer personalized advice about internal arts and possible training issues. Even then we recommend and expect that the users deliberate the words of advice carefully and don't take anything granted: All the training advice and consultations on the forum discussions are personal opinions with subjective value only.

Besides, even the proficient practitioners are careful about giving advice because it requires skill and pedagogical insight which might not be obvious: a real learning needs a right type of space and timing.


Can I join this forum in order to just socialize primarily or to have questionable social entertainment?

No, these both are in violation with our community guidelines. Please refresh your memory with our Ethos and Ethical Guidelines and point #9 especially:

9) Our paradigm is practice over social entertainment. Please understand that this place doesn't have a "general discussion" forum section for that very specific reason.

By the way, this prohibition particularly covers abusive social games like spamming, trolling, and any other such activities that disrupt our practice focused community vision.


Why can't everyone fit into this community so that we are all friends and sing the joyful "La-la-la" and Kumbayah together?

It's a good question. Everyone will be treated as fair applicants, but we discern who is let in: we only want people who can live up to our guidelines.

Some people haven't learned how not to be selfish assholes, but they reserve the benefit of doubt for themselves plentifully and often hide behind passive-aggressive behavior. Having these types of people around would be disruptive for the community spirit, hence the staff reserves full deliberation about who fits in and in which role.


Why do you have user tiers?

We separate between Students who are still learning the arts and how to be contributing members; and Practitioners who are committed and know well how to serve this community unselfishly. Both user groups are valued, but it's necessary to scrutinize contributors that the quality of their output is indeed trustworthy. People who don't really practice will not have practical understanding, and this place is not for couch surfers and sports commentators.

The user tiers are not fixed. It's possible for an established student to have his or her status upgraded to Practitioner once the staff is convinced that the change would enrich the public good. Quoting from the Community Vision and Purpose:

By a staff member's invitation based on your conduct and visible development while writing on the forum, or by applying to the staff through private message with an example writing that you wished to contribute.


Are you running a school here?

The Alchemical Garden Forum is not a formal learning institution. It has a mix of curated practices and community contributions much like a collection of workshops and open discussions in a convention rather than a university.

People will have traditions and systems that may contradict one another, but we do not purport any to be superior, rather we focus on how something works within its framework and with respect to its history and practitioners.

What may be considered useless to one system and lineage may be the primary focus of another, much like some food recipes are based off of allergies, availability of ingredients, nutrition, or religious restrictions. Individuals discuss what works for them and it is hoped that dialogue between practitioners allows for greater understanding and appreciation.

Come here to learn, teach, discuss, and scrutinize, but don't expect to get any degrees, certifications, or gold stars.


Can I have my advertisement on the forum even if I pay well for it?

No. This forum is privately owned and doesn't operate for profit. We only allow the commercial promotion of the select teachers who have their subforums in our School section.

Coming here with the motivation to promote yourself, your services, or your affiliated training traditions is unwelcome with few exceptions.


Can I ask teachings and private tutoring for free?

You are asking for a lot, and honestly speaking it seems to echo either entitlement or under-appreciation of how just much good your own parents have selflessly provided in your life.

The teachers around here are busy adults with professional competence. They may have families, paid day jobs, their extensive personal practice, and otherwise meaningful lives they wouldn't like to miss. It's basic courtesy to approach them with the expectation that their valuable time should be fairly compensated.


How may a teacher become affiliated with you and this forum?

It's a long process really. We have extensive training experience and personal rapport with our featured teachers so that we wish to keep them close and support their offerings the best we can.

We are open to featuring new teachers, but you should understand that our standards are very high and we offer no short cuts.


Are you biased or anyhow sectarian?

We are a focused learning and discussion community which highly values discernment, individuation, and free will. Everyone must discover their own path, and what we have to offer are suggestions only that might not be suitable for everyone.

We may highlight certain teachers, schools, systems, and lineages, but the reasons are on pragmatic basis alone. Ideological divisions and barriers are not our cup of tea.

There is no over-arching dogma or authority here, as we have an eclectic gathering of knowledge, experience, skills, styles, and systems. We do, however, have discerning eyes and disdain personality cults, promises of power, or easy attainment.


Are you hiding a cult?

No. We are not a cult nor do we allow any activity that we suspect as relating to cult operations.

The Alchemical Garden Forum doesn't support abuse, blind obedience, hypocrisy, or other cult-ish dysfunctions in any form.

On the personal level many of the current staff have endured abusive teachers who have had cult leader tendencies hidden from public scrutiny, hence we always are at vigil against such unethical conduct.


Why aren't you all peace, love, and sunshine?

Because we are normal human beings.

Additionally, we have the experience that people who seemingly are all peace, love, and sunshine usually hide a dark side personality, whether it is a conscious ploy to entrap innocents or a subconscious desire to suppress unwanted emotions. This becomes especially problematic and even dangerous if such superficially positive people practice genuine meditation that then empowers these traits. It's no joke or rumor to state as a fact that many internal arts practitioners suffer from psychological problems that may lead to delusions of grandeur and even sexual predation because the insufficient ethical commitments become compromised by ego, greed, lust, and certain types of meditative bliss. Be well informed and stay on your guard.


What is your political stance?

We are not a political site nor do we encourage political discussions. We are well aware that political discussions often lead to contention that distracts from the real spirit and the always scarce training hours of inner training.

While we may comment on certain global issues and world events, we are not endorsing any parties or individuals, though certain matters such those concerning human rights and the environment are issues our current staff take a strong interest in observing through apolitical lenses. If there's a problem with this, then it might actually be the case that some ignorant detractors can't appreciate us connecting with basic human decency and timeless virtues.


How much free speech do you permit?

This is aptly explained in the following thread: Plain Speak vs Political Correctness vs Free Speech

In short: say what you want and don't be an asshole, and don't assume someone is being an asshole (unless they actually are).


Are there some other discussions forums I could look around if I could fit in better?

Sure there are, but we don't endorse any of them. Note that the other forums have different discussion policies and design philosophies.

Here is a non-exhaustive list:

The Dao Bums

Original Dao

Rum-Soaked Fist


Is there some rivalry between another community and this?

No such thing at least from our side. Our vision is to have nimbly managed practice oriented discussion, which could only be realized from an independent footing and with enough technological control to make it possible.


What is the history of this forum anyway?

Look here:

  announcements - The History of This Board

The name of this discussion forum, Alchemical Garden, is not an accident and neither is the existence of this subforum of Herbalism and Naturopathy. I had already decided that in the future I would host a discussion forum that would be centered around external alchemy, mainly of Daoist waidan...
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