HSIN TAO: THE WAY OF THE GODS
A secret tradition of movements, highly beneficial for the mature body,
brought to America for the first time
by Ratziel Bander
Interviewed By Celeste Adams Ratziel Bander is one of only two people teaching Hsin Tao, also known Zen Buddhist Yoga, outside the Shaolin Monastery. This secret tradition of movements, practiced in China 1,350 years ago, is designed specifically for the mature body. It is profoundly effective in rejuvenating the body, revitalizing and calming the mind, and rejuvenating the spirit.
This powerful healing practice leads people into a deep contemplative state while strengthening the body. It is a combination of breathing techniques and circular movements, and forces energy into vital centers, tones internal organs, and revitalizes metabolism. Ratziel was recently directed by his Master to bring this ancient practice to America.
Celeste: What does Hsin Tao mean and how did this tradition develop?
Ratziel: Hsin Tao is ĎThe Way of the Gods.í In America it is called Zen Buddhist Yoga just because people can relate to that name. It was started by a Buddhist monk, about 1,350 or 1,400 years ago, who went by sea to China from India.
When he reached China, the monk settled in a cave next to a ramshack-led old monastery in Shaolin. He decided to meditate in a cave for nine years because he was seeking enlightenment. When he finally stood up he was a Buddha, but couldnít move his body. He discovered these movements in this enlightened state and started to move, rejuvenating his body.
The monk took these movements into monasteries where the monks were all sick from sitting in meditation all day and they all healed themselves. This practice has been kept a secret in the Shaolin Monastery ever since.
Years later these techniques were developed into the Shaolin style of martial arts. The most famous is Kung Fu, but there are many other styles including sword fighting, Tai Chi, and Chi-Gung.
Celeste: When were the techniques of Hsin Tao revealed to people outside of the Shaolin Monastery?
Ratziel: Itís only now, in the last three years, that these techniques have been released outside of the monastery. They are used as the basis for a fighting style, but theyíre not a fighting style. Theyíre a rejuvenating style and they offer healing for the body, mind and spirit.
It is called ĎThe Way of the Godsí because they say if you practice enough, you develop siddhis, you develop perfection, and you become like a god. You are no longer restricted to the rules of mortality. There are some exercises in this technique that are said to have been passed on from the immortals, which are to help with physical immortality.
Celeste: Why are these secrets being revealed to the world at this time?
Ratziel: Weíve been living in a different era up until now. Itís been an era where people have coveted power over each other. It corresponds to the Kali Yuga in the Vedic teachings. It has been dangerous to pass on powerful techniques to people because they would use them for their own selfish purposes.
The fighting styles of the Sha-olin Temple were always used as an adjunct for a journey towards enlightenment. These styles were developed to protect the poor and the weak from people who were taking advantage of them.
Weíre in a different era now. There are so many prophecies regarding this period which say that in this time, in the quickening, many secrets will be revealed. Many secrets are being revealed, not only in the tradition of Hsin Tao, but in other traditions as well.
Thirty years ago, the world was in a very different place spiritually. The breadth of spiritual opportunity that we have nowadays and the abundance of things that are being channeled and released, like these teachings Iím talking about, were almost impossible to find. Weíre in a situation now where there is an abundance of spiritual opportunity in the world. This is steam rolling and I feel very lucky to be a party to this secret healing technique, which is being released to the public.
Celeste: How can people open up to deeper spiritual experiences through these techniques?
Ratziel: Hsin Tao is a secret healing technique for the body as well as a fast path to still the mind. Iíve worked with people who with-in one session go into a deep meditation, although they may never have been able to meditate before.
This practice takes you to a place of silence and tranquility. From the place of tranquility, it takes you to the place of bliss. It calms the mind and makes the mind expansive and clear. If people do these exercises regularly, theyíre not only calmer, but theyíre clearer. It also opens your mind to a level where you are available for deeper and more profound spiritual experiences.
Thatís why it is used by the senior monks. It not only keeps them alive, it enables them to go deeper and deeper into their spiritual journey. They say that a person who practices this, if they leave their body, they will be reborn into the realm of the gods. From the realm of the gods, they can choose to come back into this realm where they can teach.
Celeste: I know itís not easy to find words to explain the specifics of the techniques you teach ó these movements need to be demonstrated. But I wondered if you could speak in general terms about how these movements work?
Ratziel: The techniques are a combination of breathing and movements. Whatís so wonderful about these exercises is that you need no propensity for exercise whatsoever. You donít have to be able to stretch or be strong. You donít have to be free of pain. You donít have to be able to balance well, but it will increase your ability to balance and stretch. It increases your strength and energy dramatically.
There are three sections: Exercises to rejuvenate the body; exercises to rejuvenate and calm the mind, that take you to a place of silence; and exercises to increase spirit in the body. The exercises to rejuvenate the body are done standing up. The others are all done sitting down. You can either sit on a cushion, cross-legged on the floor, or you can do them in a chair. The sitting ones are basically a combination of breathing with hand and arm movements. The breathing is very similar to martial arts or yogic breathing. There are a few fundamental differences and there are a few very easy additions, which have been kept secret until now.
I can work in a class of 50 people and I can give them two keys to this breathing. Within three minutes the whole room comes to a state of absolute stillness. They donít have to practice breathing for weeks and weeks to get it right. This is like a fast track to where weíre going.
ĎThe Way of the Godsí does not try to achieve spectacular results. One gets results like kun-dalini rising, heat and emanations of energy from the hands, but itís all side effects of the exercises. This is not what we try to achieve but what we notice happening on the way. Thatís a much healthier point of view because itís not forcing these things to happen. They happen as a natural consequence of the body rejuvenating itself. The body starts getting energy flowing in the correct way, in a natural way. Weíre not saying to the body, ĎYouíve got to do this now because they say itís good for you.í Weíre saying, Ďentire mechanism ó body, mind and spirit ó all at once, rejuvenate yourself!í
As they work together synergistically to rejuvenate and regenerate themselves on all levels at once, these things start to happen as a natural consequence. We donít force anything to happen, and thatís the beautiful part of this technique. Itís also called ĎThe Art of the Enlightened One.í
The movements themselves are exquisite. As you do them, they get deeper and deeper, and you can refine them more and more. At times, it feels as if you are just shifting energy around you and in you. Thatís what you are doing. Youíre no longer moving your body; youíre moving energy. When people watch you, theyíre captivated by the exquisite beauty and depth of the movement because as you work with them, they become less and less physical.
For people who are mature, this is a great advantage. You donít have to get more physical and more strenuous with them. You have to go the opposite way. They become less physical and more energetic. They become easier and easier and in fact, the body starts to crave them.
Celeste: Can you describe the effect that these movements have had on some of your students?
Ratziel: I had a client just reaching 50, who practiced Chi-Gung and Taekwondo for 13 years. He practiced Hsin Tao, ĎThe Way of the Gods,í for six weeks. He told me that he dropped those practices because heís getting greater results from doing Hsin Tao. He feels better when he wakes up, feels more alive, has increased energy and is more relaxed.
Another client Iíve been working with had done all sorts of yoga. Sheíd been practicing ĎThe Way of the Godsí for about two months, when she called the other day and said, ĎYou know, I canít stop doing this stuff. Iím increasing the time Iím doing it, because Iím getting the effects of energy rising up my spine, and Iím not trying to make it happen. It just is happening for me and Iím feeling great.í
I worked with a woman a psychologist sent to me, who was suffering from clinical depression. She just couldnít shift. Her psychologist thought that maybe this technique would be something good for her. It was very tenuous working with her because she was in such a delicate state. She felt at ease with me, liked what she saw and started to practice. Halfway through the class, she expressed with astonishment that she felt a breakthrough. She never turned back from that day. Not only did she recover from her depression, but she moved into a new space where she felt a level of confidence and inner strength that she had never known before. And this was just halfway through an hourís lesson!
It works in different ways for different people. Everybody goes through a different process. Iíve been astonished with the results.
Celeste: How did you first become involved in learning these techniques?
Ratziel: I was stricken with post-polio syndrome ten years ago. When I came in contact with these exercises, I was so weak that I was unable to brush my teeth, or hold a book up in bed. I was getting spasms throughout my body, which left me unable to walk for three to four weeks at a time.
I had a vast knowledge of herbs and homeopathy and had a very in-depth knowledge of meditation. I also had expert knowledge of the practical Kabbalah and how to apply it in everyday situations, down to the musculature and anatomy of the body. I was too far gone and nothing was working anymore. I had also developed a tumor in my lung. I was able to abate the decline. I was prepared for death and was actually quite excited about the prospect of experiencing that.
I prayed for something to come along because I could no longer use my techniques successfully for my body. At least my mind was at peace and I was happy to go. I prayed for something that would be gentle enough for me to do, that would give some relief. I was quite happy about dying, but suffering along the way was absolutely not something I had wanted. I had suffered enough by then.
Out of the blue, a Master appeared and offered me this technique. He said he thought it was time, that it should no longer be a secret because it could help so many people. He told me that once you learned it thoroughly, you could heal anything. You could even reverse the aging process.
When I was stricken with my spasms, I was unable to walk, but I could stand and do these exercises within my pain limit. The movements can be small or big, fast or slow. By doing them within my pain limits, I wasnít hurting myself. He told me that in nine-monthís time, if I practiced everyday, my life would completely change. I didnít believe him, but within two weeks I found enormous benefits and radical changes within my body.
I was able to go to where I had often gone much more quickly, with much more ease. I was actually able to still the mind without going into meditation. This was all in a matter of weeks. So I followed the practice and was very enthusiastic to see my results.
Celeste: When did you decide to start teaching Hsin Tao?
Ratziel: After two years of studying Hsin Tao, I had recovered to such a state that the Master told me to go and teach these techniques. I was also being told by different clairvoyants and by divine guidance, that Iíd have to start teaching. There was even an oracle, in a remote mountain in Bali, who started talking about how I needed to go to America to teach.
I thought there was no way for me to get to America. I imagined that I would arrive in the U.S., stand at the airport and announce that Iím here to teach, if anyone is interested. As it turned out, a month later, someone gave me a ticket to come to Las Vegas.
Iíve been trying to get this to the right groups of people. Iíve recently been invited to London, and Hong Kong, and am looking forward to teaching in cities around the United States.
For more information about Ratziel Banderís upcoming classes and to propose additional venues, please e-mail Ratziel at: Zby@mac.com . He can also be reached at (310) 350-4780.
Celeste Adams writes and consults on documentary narrations and metaphysical screen-plays, and is the author of the forthcoming novel, ďKeepers of the Dream.Ē She can be reached at Gleamings@aol.com and at www.CreatrixStudio.com
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