Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today my guest is Robert Peng. Robert is an internationally renowned qigong master, capable of generating healing energy through his hands with power equal to a potent electrical charge. He studied in China with a legendary qigong master, Xiao Yao, and became proficient in both the martial arts and the healing arts. When he was 15 years old, his qigong master had him do a 100-day water fast that opened up a world of bliss and transformed his life. He has used his extraordinary abilities to help countless people regain their optimum health and vitality, and to demonstrate to the world the incredible spiritual potential that human beings possess.

Robert currently lives in New York City and teaches qigong. He loves traveling and spreading the wisdom of qigong to people of all cultures and religions. With Sounds True, Robert Peng is a featured teacher at the 2013 Wake Up Festival, which will be held August 14 through 18 in Estes Park, Colorado.

In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Robert and I spoke about what it might mean to breathe like an immortal. We talked about early experiences he had with his master, Xiao Yao, including some amazing miracle stories. We also talked about qigong healing and how Robert transforms the qi during a qigong healing session. Robert also offered us a short practice that we could do on the spot for nourishing the qi. Here’s my conversation with Robert Peng.

I feel so happy, even tickled to be able to introduce listeners of Insights at the Edge to Robert Peng, someone whose work I’ve only become aware of recently. My experience is that discovering his teachings was like finding a hidden jewel, and I’m so happy to get to share that jewel today with you. Robert, to begin with, to orient our listeners a little bit to your background, can you tell us about your upbringing in China, and particularly how you met your qigong master?

Robert Peng: I started to practice my qigong when I was eight years old. At that time it was during the peak time of the Cultural Revolution in China. From 1966 to 1976 China was a disaster—a 10-year disaster—because a lot of things were banned or destroyed, if you know the history from that time. Fortunately for me, it was a big opportunity for me to meet my master. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been able to meet him.

When I was eight years old, I became seriously ill and the doctor couldn’t help. He said, “You have to quit school and stay at home to rest.” So I rested at home for a few days, and I became very bored. I began to sneak out of the house and wander outside my building. Not too far from my home, there was a resort hotel. We went there a lot, but when I was sick and alone I went even more. I wandered around there, and it’s a beautiful place; there was a swimming pool and fruit trees. At the corner of that resort hotel there was a boiler room, and the boiler-room attendant was my first master, and his name was Xiao Yao.

Nobody knew that Xiao Yao was a top martial artist, and he was also a legendary healer. But because of the Cultural Revolution, he was driven out of his monastery; he had been a senior monk far away from where my hometown was. So he found a very humble, low-paying job as a boiler-room attendant, and literally he lived in that boiler room. So when I visited him, I think he was very happy to see a little boy visiting. For me I went there to look at the fires. I liked to watch the fire; I could just watch the fire for two hours with no break. Afterward he said, “You can come again, anytime.” I did come again, every day. In any case, we became friends, and he did a treatment on me without telling me. I had had such severe pain before meeting him, and it just disappeared.

Not too much later, he said, “You want to practice wushu?” “Wushu” means martial art; you know, kung fu in Chinese. So I said of course I wanted to practice. I couldn’t find a good teacher at that time because all of the traditions were banned. He said he would teach me, but with some restrictions: One, I must keep it a secret, because at that time if anyone knew that I was practicing on the ground with some people burning incense, which was not allowed in the Cultural Revolution, my whole family would get in trouble. Another reason, he said, was that I must be very disciplined. I had to get up every day in the morning at 5 am and practice several hours a day. So I promised that I would do everything.

I kept the secret even from my parents for the first couple of months. Then my mother got worried, because normally a child was very lazy in bed in the morning, but I would disappear early for a few hours and come back hungry. So my mother asked me, “What are you doing every day in the morning?” I would say that I went jogging. But she was not convinced, so I told my master and he thought a while and said, “Bring your parents to my boiler room tonight.” So I told my parents. They were very surprised because they didn’t know about my master before. So they very timidly brought me to the boiler room so that they could meet my master. They talked for about two hours; I was kept outside of the room, I was not allowed in. Two hours later they came out very excited, and they told me to keep on with my master, and they promised to keep the secret as well. So that’s how I started to practice with him.

To practice martial arts, you have to be very strong at the horse stance. So the first practice he taught me was the horse stance, bending the knees with the body straight for twenty minutes at a time. After three minutes I began to shake, so twenty minutes was like a punishment forever. Once I finished that, I collapsed. That was my starting practice every day. So I was really quite intimidated for some days. I wondered whether or not I could keep on doing it.

Then one day, I went there and began to do my horse stance, and after just a few minutes I got into the trance, then I forgot the time. When I came back from my horse stance, my master was very happy because he knew that I had gone through some crisis. He asked if I knew how long I had been in horse stance, and I said no. He told me that I had been standing in horse stance for four hours.

TS: Oh my! Robert, hold on a second, I want to make sure that our listeners are tracking with you perfectly. So you’re standing for four hours in what you call the horse stance. What does the position look like?

RP: You stand with your feet a little wider than the shoulders, and bend your knees at 90 degrees, and your body is at 90 degrees as well. So you look like the letter “Z.” About several minutes of standing like that, it felt like someone was putting an invisible chair under my bottom. So instead of standing there, it feels like you’re sitting there. So that’s why it felt as if there was no effort from doing all of this for hours of practice.

TS: And at this point you’re how old?

RP: I was eight years old.

TS: Eight years old. OK. Keep going; tell me what your master taught you next. I can see this whole story like a film as you’re describing it.

RP: It is! When I look back, it feels like a film. I couldn’t understand how I was able to do that, even now. It’s just an amazing experience, and this is only one of them. Anyway, that’s how I started.

A couple of years later, my master said that I had very strong streams of internal power. He said that I could keep on going with martial arts, learning new forms and different weapons. Anything in the true martial arts can be a weapon; you don’t have to have a sword as a weapon in true martial arts. Chopsticks in your hand, brooms in your hand, or even a handkerchief in your hand can all be used as a weapon. He said that he could teach me even more. He said that the uppermost example of this kind of achievement is Jet Li, the movie star. He won many championships before he went to make movies, and my master said that I could follow that track if I wanted to.

The other track is to use this power internally as a healer. He said that he would teach me either way, and I could decide which I liked better. He told me to think about it for a few days and then tell him which I chose. I told him that I didn’t need a few days; I had already made my choice. I wanted to learn how to do healing, because I know how grateful people are when you are helping them with physical and emotional conditions. When I saw how grateful people were when my master was treating them, I knew that I wanted to do the same thing. Fighting with people is not who I am; it’s not my personal interest. My interest is doing the healing.

So then my master said that in order to purify my energies, to make them more concentrated, he put me on a water fast for 100 days in the basement of the temple in the mountains, which he had returned to after the Cultural Revolution was over. I had to literally take a train for five hours, then two hours by bus, and then I had to hike for about eight hours to get to the monastery. It was deep in the mountains. For that 100-day water fast, I was in a dark room. The only light I could see was lit incense in my master’s hand when he visited me every day. We talked in the darkness with that lit incense for about an hour, and then he would go, and he would put the incense in a jar where it stayed lit for another hour or so. It was the only light I could see for the 100 days. The first 20 days I had only three jujubes, or Chinese dates, to eat every day. After the first 20 days, I just had water.

Well, this is a life experience, actually a few life experiences, because everything I experienced went to extremes. Like for example, I could feel the coldness to the point that I felt that I would freeze to death. The cold would pierce my bones, deeply into my bones. I thought I would die. As soon as I would open my eyes, that feeling disappeared, but then it would come again when I was reaching to that level of meditation. This happens until you really go through that, and then it rewards you with a wonderful feeling of ecstasy, and the warmth coming back. After that, the coldness never came again during the meditation. All those kinds of sensations of experience, I experienced. The initial feeling was horrible, but the reward is a heavenly feeling. So all of those kinds of feelings are things you have to go through.

For about eight days, my breathing was getting so slow. Normally people breathe three to five times a minute, but how about a few times an hour, or a few times a day?

TS: Really? Now, hold on a second. You were really only taking breaths a few times a day?

RP: Yes. When it’s so slow, we call it “small death.” So literally you’re like a dead person. No pulse; the pulse is so faint that you can hardly feel it. And no breathing. One of the ways we test the breathing is to put a little tiny feather from a swan in front of the nose, and if it moves, you’re breathing. This is the critical moment when we say you are changing your body. You’re transforming totally from inside out. At this moment, you need a master who is more powerful to help you to boost your energy to pass through this, otherwise the small death will be the big death or real death.

So my master, for those eight days, sat beside me all of the time, or so he told me later. When I woke up after eight days, I could feel the energy healing every tiny hole in my body. I felt so rejuvenated, like I could jump on a wall; it’s like skating. I felt my fingers zapped with energies, like you want to kiss everybody by just touching them. As you touch them and focus, people can feel electric energies going to their energy centers, and they feel energized and healed. So this kind of power was amplified, especially after this 100-day water fast. My master warned me that I was still very young and that I shouldn’t abuse the power I had. I should wait until I was at least 30 years old; he said I was still too young. So I just kept on practicing different techniques after that.

When I was in high school, my master gave me a request. He said, “I live in the countryside, I grew up on the streets, and all my students are mountaineers; they don’t have too much higher education. I don’t care what you study, but you should go to the university.” At that time, the early 1980s, going to university was a huge competition. In all of China at the time, we had two million students taking the national entrance exam, and maybe only 5 to 10 percent could be enrolled in a university. So I said, “I will do that. No problem.” I chose English as my major, because as soon as I started English in my junior high school, I fell in love with it. So I said, “I want to keep going with my English studies.” I attended the university and majored in English and American literature for four years.

When I graduated from the university, my dean from the Foreign Languages department asked me to stay to teach English to science students, which was very special at that time. All the other teachers needed at least a Masters Degree to be able to teach people who were getting a Bachelor’s degree. Because of the Cultural Revolution, with all these years of closing the door in China, English and English speakers and foreign-language speakers were very rare. So we were the only exceptions that could teach the same level of students as ourselves. Of course, during my four years of college life and also in my six years of teaching English at the university, in my spare time I taught qigong to my classmates or to my colleagues and to my students.

My qigong teaching got very popular, so then I began to think that only teaching qigong at the university was not enough; I needed to have a bigger place to teach. So together with some other colleagues, we went to Hainan, which is an island in the south of China. Hainan is just a little smaller than Taiwan, and it used to be a region of Guangdong Province, but since 1988 the Chinese leader said it should be a special economic zone, and so it was appointed to be an individual province. There are a lot of special policies for this place, like making investments. Anyway people are freer there, so I thought it would be a good place to start a qigong school. So I went there and we did it for about five years, and it was very popular. So within five years, I trained more than 150,000 students just within a couple of provinces. In China it’s easy to get big numbers, we have so many people!

Among my students and patients was Bob Hawke, the Prime Minister of Australia, and he asked me if I could help his daughter, who was sick for nine years with chronic fatigue syndrome. I had never heard of such a thing at the time, but I was willing to try. So he flew his daughter to China and she stayed for about seven weeks, and she made a complete recovery. She literally looked ten years younger. When she returned to Australia, people couldn’t recognize her. Her story was published in Witness Weekly and I got thousands of phone calls and letters. So the Prime Minister’s family said that I should come to Australia. They said, “People like this; they want to see the master.” But I was so busy at that time, I think it was 1994, so I postponed it for about three years until I was more settled.

Then in 1997 I went to Australia. At first I had just planned to have a visit for about three months, but it was so beautiful. I think Sue Hawke arranged strategically some things that I had never experienced before, like sailing in the city harbor. And one experience that really caught me, really grabbed me, was when we went to a little restaurant on the water at night and then when we were waiting for the food, there was a bird, the kookaburra, that they call the Happy Bird because it’s always very happy, and it was an arm’s length away from me. When I stretched out my arm, that bird landed in my hand. That may be hard as an American to understand how much that means to me as a Chinese. In China, wild animals, especially wild birds, are very frightened by human beings because people shoot and eat them. So to have a wild bird just in your hand was unbelievable to me. Although my master played with wild birds, he communicated with them, so they’re naturally just beside you. So to me this was just a beautiful land, where human beings and animals are sharing the place in such a peaceful way.

So at the end of the end of three months, Sue Hawke asked me how I liked it. I said it was beautiful. She then asked me to stay. I said yes, so she helped arrange a four-year visa. So I stayed in Australia for four years, and then I ended up getting permanent residency. I never thought at that time that I would come to America.

In the year 2000, there was another patient from New York who visited Australia. She said that I should go to New York and I said OK. I made the trip to New York, that’s a totally different world from Australia, but very charming and the center of the world. So within a short time I got a lot of attention and made a lot of friends and students and patients. At first I planned to split my time between Australia and New York, but practically it has been difficult, so in the end I made a home here. So now I’m living in New York City, teaching qigong and enjoying my life here.

TS: Now Robert, believe it or not, I want to go back in your biography to this story of the small death you experienced. Here you are for eight days, you’re barely breathing, your master is sitting at your side. What did he do to bring you out of this experience? How did you come out of it when you did?

RP: Well, when you’re in that small-death situation, you have to shift your body deeply. Shifting your body is like building a new house: you have to demolish the old house and build a new house. And before the new house is built, you have no home, no place to stay. So that tradition is very tricky. Normally people stay in a friend’s home, or they have a hotel, but if you don’t have a place, you are homeless. So it’s the same for a body: when you transition from one level to the next spiritual level, for some time there’s some crisis. Your physical condition is very weak. By yourself, your power won’t be strong enough to keep going.

So my master was just beside me for all those days working on my energy points to empower them. He made sure that all of the energy meridians and points were flowing steadily. It opened up a lot of potential powers, then my own energies generated my consciousness back into position again, and then I woke up. It is really waking up. So when you wake up, you are a totally transformed person. You’re no longer the same person as before; you’re equipped with huge potential energies.

When we say “potential energies,” it is because the energy is not from somewhere else; it is your own energy that you are born with. So my master used to say that everybody is a gold mine of energies. Meaning, we’re born rich with energies. Nowadays, for a lot of people, they’re holding the golden bowl and begging, meaning that we assume that we are very poor. We are born with so much energy, but we think we don’t have enough. We always turn externally to borrow the energies. We try to have better food, vitamins, we go to doctors to help us—all of these are external things that assist us without knowing that we have tremendous power internally.

Now of course, to cultivate this internal potential power, we do practice, we do qigong. So when you practice deeply, you have deep cultivations; when you practice not so deeply, you still get some benefit. So practicing qigong helps us every day to have a happy day, because it gives you a good sense of intelligence, a good sense of emotional balance and vitality. So when energy comes to different energy centers, they give you different functions to serve you better, to give you better well-being.

TS: Now Robert, I have this particular fascination, if you will, with this 100-day water fast. And I think that part of it is that it’s not like you can just go on the web and type “100-day water fast with a qigong master for $1,900.” It comes from a different place and deep within a tradition. I’m curious, have you ever led any students on such a 100-day experience?

RP: Not 100 days; we did about 30 days in Australia. The conditions are very demanding in many ways. First, you need a lot of time commitment not only from the masters, but also from the students. Some come for one week and then they have to go away for any number of reasons. One is the fear of themselves, another is their families. For me, I’m fortunate because I had the chance to go with my master without interruptions and with the support of my family. But even 30 days is a tremendously powerful experience for any individual. I have no plan, but someday when I have good conditions, I might lead some of my good disciples and students to go through this, which would be great.

TS: And did you have a sense that it was from this small death that your healing abilities really opened up? And if so, how can you explain that, your healing abilities in light of this passage that you went through?

RP: Definitely it has very strong connections with this small death. Because my master, when he explains qigong generally, like the qigong healings, especially this fast, he says there are several procedures. One is jing chi [phonetic spelling] in Chinese; it means to purify your body and your energies. That’s why we want to do fasting, because eating food, no matter how nutritious it is, is not enough for you to purify your energies. We have a common Chinese saying: “Eating food is not so good as eating qi.” What is qi? Qi is the energy around us all of the time. You don’t have to walk twenty miles to get qi; it is just in your breath. Breathing in, breathing out, you get qi.

So the first step is to purify your qi inside your body, inside your meridians, and in order to do this you need fasting, you need to get away from solid food, to only drink water. After the purification, the second step is tri chi [phonetic spelling], to concentrate energies. Concentrating energy is based on the purifications, because after the purifications of the energy, the energies along your meridians are moving very smoothly and fast. It’s like traffic; when you have no blockages, the traffic goes so fast. This allows your qi to go so smoothly that anywhere you need it, the qi just concentrates over there. It doesn’t mean it just concentrates in one place.

For example, when we demonstrate the hard stone, students breaking chopsticks on their throat, or breaking marbles on their heads, all this demonstration is not for showing off. It just shows that when your energy is needed, it comes here. The moment that the marble hits your head, the qi goes there and forms an invisible cushion to protect you from getting hurt.

TS: So Robert, you’re saying that I could take a marble and break it against your head? Is that what you’re saying? I could do that and your head would be fine? I wouldn’t hurt you because you would bring all of this qi to your skull?

RP: Yes. So the qi, when it flows freely, it goes very fast, as fast as you can imagine. And it’s not breaking your head; it’s breaking the marble. And then it’s traveling all around your body constantly, and we call it an invisible layer of protections. We call it the “iron shirt.” A lot of people practice iron shirt without knowing what it is. The iron shirt, in Western medicine, is in part the immune system.

Another thing is that it really gives you a hard protection against external injury. Say if someone kicked you, you would get hurt, but when you have the energy to protect yourself there, it’s like you have ten layers of clothes to protect you. This is what it feels like. So this kind of guardian qi gives you a breathable layer of protections. So you sense the heat, but you don’t get burned. You sense the cold, but you don’t get injured by the coldness. In one way you’re protected; in the other way your awareness of all the different senses is also very sharp. So this all comes from concentrations of energies and having it flow well.

The third step is to bring out the potentiality. So all of these gold mines are hidden deep inside. When it is purified, when you can concentrate the energies and you have very strong drills to make all that come out, that is your potential power. The potential power can be a healing power, it can be intelligence, wisdom, or the broad love energy—some people just hug people and give people healing. So you present from different personalities these different potential powers. Some people are very smart or wise, and some people are very healthy, living long lives. All these are the potentials that we cultivate from inside of us.

TS: Now, I need to share something with our listeners, which is that it was just a few weeks ago that I visited you in New York and received a qigong healing from you, and I want to tell everyone just briefly what happened. We spent just under an hour together, and you worked for a while on my head and it was kind of like a deep scalp massage, if you will. But then you made a pointer out of your fingers and pointed your fingers onto different points on the front of my body, beginning with between the eyebrows, and then on the throat. While you were at those points between the eyebrow and on the throat, it was almost like a zapper. That’s what I felt coming from your fingers, and I could even hear the sound of a zapping. It felt like getting a slight electrical shock, like when you put your hands accidentally into an outlet. It felt like receiving a slight jolt like that. Can you explain what you were doing actually, and what your explanation is of how that works?

RP: OK, so actually it’s just how you mention it—zapping. Actually my students and patients have given a nickname to this special energy, they call it “zapping.” So you’re literally using that word. First, that energy is not me. I’m just transferring it; I’m just collecting all of the universal energies and shooting it from one laser line. I will come back again and say that the concentration of energy makes the difference. It’s like light: when it’s concentrating in one beam, it becomes the laser. So that’s the power of how concentrated you can put these energies once you’ve achieved a level of transforming the qi.

So for me, it’s like meditation. To tell the truth, I had some gift before I met my master. For instance, I could concentrate for five minutes and then for some people they would feel “Boom!”; they could feel static electricity. And that’s all. At that time I thought everybody has this, it’s just having fun. I think my master realized that I had kind of a potential gift that he could develop, so when I was following him with all the spiritual practice, especially with the 100-day water fast, it just made that power even sharper and more exposed to my control, because before I could not control that. Actually after the 100-day water fast, I mentioned that I felt that I could zap people, but I still I had to concentrate for a long time, to focus, with no talking. After years of cultivating this, now I can make it work. It’s like a second brain working; I can talk easily, but meanwhile transform the energies. It looks like I’m not doing too much effort, but there’s a lot of effort underneath.

And when I work—you mention that I worked on your head. Actually I work on people’s heads a lot, because the head is like a mirror for all the conditions energetically of your body. When I work on your head, it sends all of the energies into your organs, into your heart, your lungs, your kidneys. And you can adjust that. Meanwhile while I work on your head and all over the body, it’s also the way that we build up the connections of energy. So when our energies are connected, it’s like we’re tuning a radio. So when we tune connections, you can receive the signals from the radio station. So when I work on you, before really putting the zapping energy on you, that is the time we adjust to make our energy vibrations on the same level. That’s why when people say, “Oh, you zapped me! Zap me!” People ask me if I can light a bulb with my hands, and I tell them no, that’s a totally different thing. If I could light a bulb, I would be a conduit for electricity and I wouldn’t have to practice so hard. So anyway, when we’re connected, you begin to be very open to receive that energy.

Then I begin to work between the eyebrows, which goes straight to the third eye. The third eye in qigong’s concept is a very big center of energies. They hold tremendous potential power, a lot. So when I work over there, the energy goes straight there, and then it brings out your own healing power. So the patient begins to have better self-healing power. So after days, or even weeks or months, that power is still rippling out. So people feel that the healing keeps on going; that’s the reason why.

You remember, I also pulled my qi through your fingers, and that’s for the meridians, because we want to start with the end of the branches of energy. So all the organs have connections with the fingers, like the middle finger is connected with the heart, and the index finger is connected with the liver. It’s not the same as the acupuncture meridians; the empowering meridians are different from acupuncture. Otherwise the index finger for an acupuncturist is the large intestine, but when I empower the energy through transforming the universal energies, that finger boosts your liver energies. When I do the thumbs, it boosts your stomach energy. And the ring finger boosts the lungs, and the little finger boosts the kidneys. So all the fingers have connections with the internal organs. So it’s like just blowing them up, and when they are all empowered with energies, the organs begin to work together better.

You know, nowadays especially, people’s individual organs might be strong and healthy, but they just don’t feel good. The reason is that they are not working harmoniously. It’s like “A” and “B”: “A” wants to go to the left and “B” wants to go to the right, and then for yourself as a container, you’re tortured. So when we work, we want to make all of the energy flow in a harmonious way. So the very instant feeling is that you feel lighter, you feel that your breathing is getting deeper.

For some people, their breathing is shallow, it’s always only chest-height, or just beneath the neck, and they cannot have it go down. And this is very restrictive for their cultivations of energy. Lao-tzu says, “Ordinary people breathe with their chest, and immortals breathe with their heels.” It doesn’t mean that we really breathe with our heels; it means that when you have the breathing naturally going deeper, a lot of power can be generated by itself. And luckily we human beings are born with abilities of breath. The thing is that there are hundreds of kinds of breaths to cultivate different kinds of energies. And for ordinary people, maybe they just do one or two or three kinds of breathing, which is very limited at making their potential energy serving them wholly.

TS: Now Robert, I’m still curious about something as the qigong healing practitioner. You said that you transform the qi, that you’re doing something as you’re working on a client. What is that you’re doing inside yourself?

RP: It’s just focus, OK. Focus: totally surround and allow the qi to go through the top of my head. This is the big point where you’re open to the universal energy, and then another point down it connects with earth qi. So when you just totally surround, the qi’s begin to be drawn inside you. And I can use my mind to conduct it, to put it in place in the patient. I can point to your third eye and allow the qi to go to your liver, and it goes to your liver. I allow the qi to go to your heart, and it goes to your heart. So it goes freely with the mind. But first you just have to receive. Open. Yes.

Of course, it’s based on a lot of practice so that the connections with the universal energies are powerful and efficient. But that’s part of the exercises we do on retreat. One of them is a very precious practice we call the “Small Heavenly Circuit.” Some call it “Microcosmic Orbit.” This practice is a very powerful practice. I have several layers of training that my students do, from the very beginning to quite advanced, because we always circulate and cultivate energies of the third eye and the energy centers, and when they explode you are very powerful.

TS: Now Robert, I wonder if you could give our listeners, right now, a taste if you will of feeling this good qi in their body, so they could even right now even just get a feeling or a little taste of what you might be talking about when qi runs through the body in the way that you’re describing.

RP: We call it “nourishing qi.” Nourishing qi is actually opposite to training the qi. With nourishing qi, you’re just letting go. Let go.

Well, what we do is that you’re either lying down or sitting down—lying down is best. Close your eyes, and begin to be aware of the temperatures, the sounds, noises, and the texture feelings of your bed or chair. Be aware of this. Now be aware of your breathing. Then you begin to be aware of the inside of your body. Meanwhile, be aware of the breathing in and out.

Now imagine your whole body is like a sponge. In the sponge, you have holes. A sponge soaking in a hot tub. So you’re absorbing all of this warm water inside of you and the warmth of the qi. So the qi is in you. Meanwhile you soaked in these oceans of qi. You are in qi. Qi is in you. You are in qi. Just soaking in this warmth of qi. Allow all the energies to seep deeply inside every tiny particle of your body and flow like an ocean, up and down. Allow the up and down of the waves of qi to bring you deep into the ocean. I am in qi. Qi is in me.

Allow the qi to go deeper and deeper. Smile. Allow the smile to spread like the wrinkles of the water spreading all the way to the horizon. If you can feel some waves of energy in your palms, or some little itches or tickles or pins and needles on your face, then these energies are connected. Breathe in and breathe out.

TS: Beautiful!

RP: Then you inhale very deeply, and you sigh out. Inhale, then sigh out. Until you begin to yawn, or you have tears come out. That is very good, because when tears come out, toxins are coming out from the tears. Just doing this for three to five minutes, you can refresh energies like a reset button. So all the hassles of the day will be resettled. And this is beautiful nourishing qi, this passive way of practicing qi. My master, when he was teaching me, said this is even more important to practice every day. This is something that you can do twenty-four hours a day; there’s a long story about this! But you just have a little taste of how qi very subtly sits inside of us.

TS: Now Robert, I have to say that there are so many things that I want to ask you, but I’m going to try and get right to the ones that are the most thrilling to me, which is you’ve described how your master was such an amazing figure. And I’m curious if you witnessed anything you could share with us that you think really blew your mind.

RP: There are so many; I put some in my book, some I didn’t. I’ll tell you one thing; maybe people won’t be able to comprehend this, but that is what I witnessed in front of me. It was when I was still a teenager—because my master, he had some students, but not a lot, and one day we all went to the river and he had another two much older disciples than me, together. He and the other two disciples carried paper umbrellas; in Japan and China, they use these umbrellas. Each of them held one umbrella and my master was in the middle, and they walked into the river and they walked through the river without the water even going above their knees. He told me that when they were walking, the water goes through the bridge on the other side in another hut. So I just literally saw them walking. And while they were walking, they would just swing the umbrella. I think that was the only force that held them, that they could do; it wasn’t just bare hands, they had umbrellas in their hands, walking through. That is amazing; that is amazing. He didn’t explain to me how this works, but he just said one thing. He said, “Well, when you have the energies up on your top upper dan tien, meaning your upper elixir field, they can make you float like a cloud. That’s what he explained.

TS: So, OK, I want to be sure I’ve got this correctly. So what you’re saying is that they crossed a river and the water was actually quite deep, so they walked on water, basically.

RP: Yes, yes. It’s very deep. Every year people swim across the river, and every year some people drown there. So it’s quite deep and wide. It’s more than 200 meters wide.

TS: So you watched these two senior disciples of your master and your master, and all three of them walked across the water. And the water maybe came up to their knees, but it was quite a bit deeper, and they were carrying—what did the carousels of the umbrellas have to do with it?

RP: Well, they just spin it. They spin the umbrella.

TS: I gotcha.

RP: So I think the three of them, when they were spinning, they created some sort of floating power. I don’t know. It’s just amazing.

Another very funny thing is that his practice is so deep that he can dislocate his joints. So one day we went a friend’s home, he was in a very good mood. And this friend had a little child, I think about four years old, a little son, and my master said to the little boy, “Can I borrow your clothes, ’cause it’s hanging there?” “Yes.” “Can I put them on?” So his father said, “Oh yes, if you want to try.” So he just put one arm in the little jacket. He can hardly go through with his hand, but he goes through and then gets one in, then he tries to get the other arm in, then he buttoned it. Then he looks really like a puppet, because all the other parts were normal, but when it comes to the chest, he’s shrunk. It was so funny looking and an amazing experience.

Later he told me that normally with the skeleton, you cannot control too much, but when you reach some points, you can dislocate them like you’re folding a stick, a long stick that you’re folding into three parts and putting in a little box. So that’s how you can do that. While living with him for so many years, I’m just amazed at how many things he could do. I’m still trying to figure them out.

TS: At another time, Robert, I’ll going to have to talk to you about more of these, I think I might call them miracle stories, because I have to say that they amaze me and I love hearing about it. But to end our conversation today, just one final question, which is: What do you think are the most important things that you learned from studying with your master? Not necessarily the most dramatic, but the most important.

RP: Actually, you know what is the most important thing I learned from him? It’s happiness. To be a happy person. You know, he was a senior monk in a monastery all of his life, he’d never been out, and then he was driven out of the monastery and found a humble, very low-paying job as a boiler attendant. He had a million reasons to be angry, to be depressed, to be very ironical, but he was just always smiling and always very grateful. Each time when he ate something, he was just overjoyed at every mouthful, at anything he could put in his mouth. That’s what I learned when I was beside him. He is such a joy himself. The whole of him, every tiny piece of him is joy.

And I think I got 10 percent from him to be a joyful person. It doesn’t mean necessarily how powerful you should be and how great a healer you are. You can be a good healer of yourself, just being joyful. To appreciate every moment. And sometimes he would just go there, close his eyes, breathe in and breathe out for two hours, no interruptions, and he’s smiling. You could see how enjoyable he was at that moment. So the simple breathing for him is like a huge feast. That’s what I learned most powerfully, most influentially to me, rather than hundreds of practices that he taught me. It’s the attitude toward this mother universe of energies.

TS: Beautiful. I’ve been speaking with Robert Peng, qigong master and teacher. Robert will be at Sounds True’s second annual Wake Up Festival, from August 14 through 18, 2013, in Estes Park, Colorado. He’s offering a two-day pre-festival intensive on qigong empowerment, and then at the Wake Up Festival he’ll be teaching happiness qigong, harmony qigong, and guardian qigong. Really it is such a treasure, Robert, to be able to have a chance to be with you and to study with you, so thank you so much.

RP: Thank you, Tami.

TS: Soundstrue.com, Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.