Alchemical Garden Forum

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Roots of Virtue

At Your Service
Staff member
Moderator

Repurposing the Alchemical Garden Forum​

The first year of this forum's existence is closing in and it's timely to have some thoughts about the Alchemical Garten Forum future.

If we look at how other discussion forums operate, The Dao Bums works well because it allows good practices to exist even in the midst of questionable advice. Somehow, this is very Dao. People make mistakes and then after re-examining their motivations they may discover gems they had glossed over.

When a wise man hears the Tao, he follows it.
When one of average mind hears it, he holds to it a while and presently loses it.
When a foolish man hears it, he only laughs at it.
If it were not held in derision by such men, it could not rightly be called Tao.
— Dao De Jing, chapter 41, translation by Walter Gorn-Old​

It is my opinion that technical cultivation details and really advanced topics can't be discussed without discretion if the sincere respect and care for the traditions is anyhow at questionable ground. There is a definite limit for what can be disclosed on public fora before it becomes a detriment to cultivation and training. This is especially true to a forum such as this which has no general discussion that stimulates social participation and off-beat ideas. Thus, I would deem it relevant to consider whether this forum is currently shaping up the best it could be, and if not, then what would be done to realign and readjust in its premises to make the virtuous changes possible?

First, this discussion forum has been designed with sincere practitioners in mind through it's foundation. Second, introductory articles and discussion around the internal arts in general has been developed in order to support the first principle and invite people to investigate about spiritual cultivation topics. As such, I can only conclude that our current motto, "Serious Discussion about Wisdom and Spiritual Cultivation in a Relaxed Company", is not serving the prime idea well enough, but it gives an impression that there is an emphasis on discussion, which only is a superficial perspective.

Being a practice oriented forum means that we should put more energy and design into making Alchemical Garden a credible meeting point for committed practitioners who want trustworthy and long-term company. I would vastly prefer a 50 active members making their way ahead with a simple but regular practice to having countless talking heads that keep on jabbering and promoting their self-conscious agendas instead of practicing and not making a splash about personal recognition.

The key issue therefore is: How do we really create an attractive community for internal practitioners? Are they all digital hermits or volunteer workers engaging elsewhere? Who needs the framework that we can uniquely offer? Then how can we turn this momentum outwards, so that it radiates well-being outside of this digital space?

It's challenging, to be honest. We don't yet have any especially attractive quality that would make the forum really stand out, except a few well-enough written articles for fresh initiates and few budding forum branches with novel themes. There is something missing in terms of human association yet, and the only viable way might be that we get into the business of promoting these arts (Sifu Dolic and Sifu Terry) where people could actually enjoy the chance of sharing togetherness through video chats and otherwise synchronized meditative experiences. What else could we offer in order to make ot a more lively training place or gathering point?

What do YOU want?​

Playing around with some ideas: Are we a library for scholars? Or a gym with sports fields? Then how do we get people play those sports with their full heart? How about a place where good students and proficient practitioners could share their knowledge and learn new insights? Mentorship programs could be one interesting venue, but the sincerity and commitment of students is the real question.

I really can see fruitful tangents in offering shared training experiences in wisdom, ethics, magic, Xinyi, Flying Phoenix, Sleeping Qigong, Fragrant Qigong, herbalism, and Buddhist insight meditation and tantra. What could we ultimately offer to people who practice outside of these paradigms, but would nevertheless like to join us?

We already promote great ethics, wisdom, self-examination, and some of the best available practices. Shuigong, Tao Tan Pai, and Flying Phoenix all have the clear capacity to take to the proper meditative concentration or Samadhi. Many other minor styles from Sifu Dolic have a good capacity to attain Samadhi also, depending on your own practice and ethical life. Stillness-Movement Neigong is an example of another style that we sometimes mention in positive regard, even if we don't currently have any members who have formal ties to it. This is to emphasize that we are open to people's diverse practice goals and orientations as long as they align with the pursuit of universal wisdom and ethical self-development.

We have plans to publish the instructions for Golden Flower Meditation and I will later offer training courses for the Buddhist meditation. What else could we do for people to realize that the experience we offer is genuine and worth their while?
 
  • Equanimity
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Showing Fruits of Practice
Practitioner
I enjoy more Daoist or Spiritual "meme" pages on Facebook than I do any other that claims to be a serious spiritual page. The latter are fine for if you're just getting into Eastern/Esoteric practices, but these days, I'd rather just laugh at stuff
FB_IMG_1641466067942.jpg
 
  • Sympathic joy
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Roots of Virtue

At Your Service
Staff member
Moderator

Is Alchemical Garden Useful to Anyone? How Is This Verified?​

This is the topic I have been wondering about. I have not reached any solid conclusions yet. I invite our members to take part now if you want your voice to be heard.

Please don't take granted that this forum will continue as you would like it to if you don't have any concern or participation. It's also possible that this forum will cease to operate if it's found to be purposeless.

Problems with Infobank Phenomenon and Influencing​

Since having started this forum, I have become acutely aware of two trends in communication culture that are negative to people's healing and wisdom journey. These are the infobank phenomenon and subtle influencing.

Infobanking happens when people collect and distribute information as if it was a source of wisdom or learning by itself. This leads to a tendency to self-initiate and to put misplaced trust on the infobank's power to provide some benefit. Moreover, the infrastructure of the Internet and the deployment of AI tools is reaching such heights that every appearance of information can be appropriated and introduced into other infobanks for the sake of appearing as more complete infobanks. The curation of infobanks is in a very poor shape in general, and even on this forum I can't vouch any further on the quality of our writings other than that we try to be discerning human beings and try to make verification checks at the very least. The possibility of my often incomplete and inaccurate writings becoming digital seeds for AI driven chatbot gives me a sense of uneasy dread.

My personal philosophy simply aligns with the aspiration that I could help others become the best people and realize the highest potential permitted by their life karma. This is why I have wanted a practice oriented community where people discuss their experiences and personal learning instead of staking on intellectual theory or what (soon to be popular!) trends of practice important looking people claim as the immediate gnosis for personal accomplishment and success. The irony comes through the fact that we in the staff have our own biases and learning experiences, so our publicly discussed interests and insights have some qualities of influencing, although our forum service is not for personal profit or gain, nor for the want of making people followers of any particular spiritual vision. There is zero income or missionary intent. On the other hand, I give the full benefit of doubt to any dissenters.

With this I want everyone to understand that I take having clarity and achieving the forum's purpose very seriously. I don't want to keep offering service that doesn't ultimately service my original vision of being actually helpful for fostering people's better qualities, namely wisdom and altruistic conduct.


What Does This Mean for the Future of Alchemical Garden?​

The future of Alchemical Garden is still undecided, by the way. Its Buddhist and wisdom content would service the audience the best in the long-term, but I feel particularly bothered that there has been so much diversion into scrutinizing unlikable teachings or personalities. It's a boorish appetite. A focus on cultivation technicalities isn't much better because they create diversions and too much intellectual reliance. In retrospect, the biggest mistake was allowing the "amateur" discussion on Chinese internal cultivation technicalities. I'm deeply dissatisfied with my output and attempts to bring clarity into these. I guess another mistake was to keep an entire training diary section behind closed doors, but I wanted people to have the chance for personal space.

What should the forum accomplish? Currently it's a small hobby ground and has some value for encouraging mature and grounded views about internal training, but I'm not sure if it's worth the time and effort to keep it going. If our invited teachers aren't interesting to the readers, then it's best functioning as a stop-and-go station until more solid teachings are met. Personally, I feel like I have learned something of the importance of intact traditions and having a discerning eye during this while, but my overall learning isn't so easily shared. In general, the biggest social issue is that people seek to fill their lives with entertainment, movement, and various appetites, which are not the qualities that readily agree with wisdom. The ultimate problem from the forum perspective is that we can't properly transmit any effective wisdom yet because we, the staff, don't have real spiritual insight into karma and haven't learned deeply enough in any living wisdom tradition either. We would lack commitment and purpose if our wisdom development was divorced from a traditional and authentic basis, i.e. having a valid lineage. For authentic wisdom, even if meager, the forum optimally is a place to exhibit personal mistakes and journal how to rise above these. Who is willing to stake themselves into that when the community spirit is frankly distant and somewhat careful in watching over that no one introduces poor content? I could go on, but you get the point: the original vision is difficult to implement because it's bottlenecked and has subtle contradictions.

Another thing that I really want to spell out is that I have become to loathe the Chinese internal arts discussion culture and its grasping at context-specific technicalities. Freely pointing out universal equivalences in these is a trap for the curious mind, but I understood it relatively lately in hindsight that I was actually promoting this error. The real Daoists wouldn't get dragged into that type of silly nitwit business – energy deviations and what is correct alchemy procedure –, but they would either ignore, scoff it off, or laugh their asses off. We actually are appropriating carefully curated secrets if we talk about Neidan openly without being in the lineage and within the proper limits of what can be discussed and with whom. The real openly and traditionally discussed Dao is wisdom and virtue (De) because these never fail and are (almost always) universal. People make terrible mistakes because they neglect the openly transmitted Dao and don't seek proper lineages. Some want power and healing, but they ignore the foundation, so they only receive morsels for benefit.

Overall, the phenomenon of inflated talk has resulted in that I have a growing dislike in the "mainstream" of Neidan and qigong being marketed and taught as “the secret”. The biggest delusion I ever accepted from the internal arts teachers is that particular skills and forms are important for effective training. This I have only found to be true for Xinyi and similar arts that demand very precise understanding of body mechanics. Everything else is accessed through the heart-mind. People would benefit so much from having an applied understanding of Confucian or Buddhist ethics before embarking to any journey to attain healing or higher meditation. There is so little in terms of correct preparation being offered in the "market" of Chinese internal practices. It's impossible to pitch wisdom and ethics because the market is more open to hip "new age" flavored lectures about prodigality than frank talk about the hardships of self-transformation. Who has got the time and dedication if the lessons of ethical behavior have to be learned by awareness, presence, and observation, not through ignorant aping of outward formalities?

As such, I'm wondering how much of our content actually is beneficial or could be helpful to our readers. My experience in particular now says that discussion about magic and esoteric miscellanea is best left as marginal sidenotes and that the only common esoteric art worth any while is divination with solid traditional roots, i.e. I Ching and Geomancy. Even drawing Tarot is too mutative and disconnected craft in my eyes. We probably could have gotten by with a far lesser number of themed forum branches besides our teachers' presence: De of Dao (Confucianism & Daoism by their wisdom and ethics perspectives), Mahayana Buddhism (currently unavailable), Talk about Authentic Tradition (i.e. what are lineages and how to be part of them), What Went Wrong?, Holistic Living, Personal Journals and Training Logs (plus a members-view subsection for privacy), and Self-Defense. Everything else is superfluous to the goals that I mentioned earlier, and even these suggested themed forum branches are not all absolutely mandatory.

Now it's the time for everyone to give their input: What do you you want this forum to offer?
 
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quack

Student
As entertaining as it is reading about some guy getting zooted out by practicing hours upon hours of horse stance on the dao bums, the curated nature and well thought out perspectives on how to navigate through the early stages of these practices bring a great more deal of guidance compared.

If you ever do close the forum down, perhaps add the posts your fine with being public on a blog, substack or something, so they are still accessible.
 
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Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Moderator
Now it's the time for everyone to give their input: What do you you want this forum to offer?

Comparative analysis may not be your cup of tea, but in the spirit of discourse and guidance as many people lack access to good teachers or the ability to discern garbage from treasures, providing what we have always offered makes this forum a service even if we have limited engagement and mostly lurkers.

Up to now, I still get people contacting me for my post son TDB, reddit, and here. Treasures will be found and if you remove it all, you are taking away a valuable resource for people to refer to so that they don't waste hours in the rubbish you find in other posts from self-appointed authorities and false egalitarianism that refuses to acknowledge the dangers to mental and physical health.
 
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Pak_Satrio

ꦥꦏ꧀ ꦱꦠꦿꦶꦪꦺꦴ
Practitioner
Comparative analysis may not be your cup of tea, but in the spirit of discourse and guidance as many people lack access to good teachers or the ability to discern garbage from treasures, providing what we have always offered makes this forum a service even if we have limited engagement and mostly lurkers.

Up to now, I still get people contacting me for my post son TDB, reddit, and here. Treasures will be found and if you remove it all, you are taking away a valuable resource for people to refer to so that they don't waste hours in the rubbish you find in other posts from self-appointed authorities and false egalitarianism that refuses to acknowledge the dangers to mental and physical health.
I agree here, some valuable info here you won’t find on any other site.
 
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Roots of Virtue

At Your Service
Staff member
Moderator
I'm first announcing here a quick update that I recently made some arrangements to the board structure and content. There might be more changes as I see fit, and I don't feel like done yet.

As entertaining as it is reading about some guy getting zooted out by practicing hours upon hours of horse stance on the dao bums, the curated nature and well thought out perspectives on how to navigate through the early stages of these practices bring a great more deal of guidance compared.

The most important underdeveloped asset would be to teach wisdom more systematically. The caution with this is that many people are averse to negative talk, so it should be kept to minimum. This is why many of the ancient and classic wisdom teachings have a decidedly carefree or humorous point of view: it's not so serious, so no reason to get upset either.

For positive solutions, the only thing we can decisively offer is awareness of authentic traditional lineages and their teachers. In my opinion we have covered this adequately so far. My real regret is that our emphasis might not have been good enough and we allowed some "spiritual dabbling" interests for a while.

Comparative analysis may not be your cup of tea, but in the spirit of discourse and guidance as many people lack access to good teachers or the ability to discern garbage from treasures, providing what we have always offered makes this forum a service even if we have limited engagement and mostly lurkers.

It's not the lack of access which is the issue, but a supersaturated market with fluff and dung. This is coupled with the flawed expectations that giving money and having genuine good will are enough protection from harm. We also contributed to these negative tendencies with our early interest in esoteric pursuits that allowed a comfortably low level of self-initiation (i.e. divination and some types of magic).

Up to now, I still get people contacting me for my post son TDB, reddit, and here. Treasures will be found and if you remove it all, you are taking away a valuable resource for people to refer to so that they don't waste hours in the rubbish you find in other posts from self-appointed authorities and false egalitarianism that refuses to acknowledge the dangers to mental and physical health.

Maybe everyone should be giving a good thought for the fact that many people don't understand nor value traditions. Why is that? How can this forum help elevate worthy traditions and their appraisal?

Yeah, it really can be a full circus out there if you look in the gutters and dark alleys of the internal cultivation social scene, but no amount of awareness campaigning that there are dangerous ideas and people that might get you hurt is going to resolve the prime issue: Good traditions need credible defense by unrelenting ethical conduct and always timely demonstrated sharp discernment. Otherwise, how could anyone demonstrate a tangibly real inner resolve and an unshakable calmness?

I agree here, some valuable info here you won’t find on any other site.

Now I want concrete examples. What are you referring to?
 
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Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Moderator
It's not the lack of access which is the issue, but a supersaturated market with fluff and dung. This is coupled with the flawed expectations that giving money and having genuine good will are enough protection from harm. We also contributed to these negative tendencies with our early interest in esoteric pursuits that allowed a comfortably low level of self-initiation (i.e. divination and some types of magic).

Yes, complete sincerity and paying for what is perceived as good teachings isn't enough discernment, I agree with you there.

My former instructors told me, "Don't take my word for it, validate things yourself, otherwise, it's all just information." Validate in your body, changes in your mind, quality of life--including relationships--these should be apparent.

This is why I probably won't teach anymore, period after this year and will just refer people to other instructors.

Maybe everyone should be giving a good thought for the fact that many people don't understand nor value traditions. Why is that? How can this forum help elevate worthy traditions and their appraisal?

Perhaps it's not just a lack of understanding (or even refusal to), it's outright rejection and dismissal because it clashes with their identities and modern values, religious dogmas, sociopolitical ideologies and reframing of history.

Yeah, it really can be a full circus out there if you look in the gutters and dark alleys of the internal cultivation social scene, but no amount of awareness campaigning that there are dangerous ideas and people that might get you hurt is going to resolve the prime issue: Good traditions need credible defense by unrelenting ethical conduct and always timely demonstrated sharp discernment. Otherwise, how could anyone demonstrate a tangibly real inner resolve and an unshakable calmness?

Good guidance, willingness to learn, and demonstrating it with sincerity. I think the stick in equal measure to the carrot has been helpful with me, and I've found most scammers are all carrot while hoisting it away from you, letting you be content with pats on the head.
 
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Roots of Virtue

At Your Service
Staff member
Moderator
I recently realized that the biggest issue with the forum is that we don't talk nor emphasize enough about altruistic love and compassion.


I know some of us like to act as tough guys of some measure, but I strongly suspect everyone can cope with icky, yucky love.
 
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