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#85161 - 09/19/03 09:57 AM Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!
Kempoman Offline

Registered: 11/15/00
Posts: 1484
Loc: Houston, TX
From James "the Amazing" Randi

[QUOTE]Surprise, surprise! A man who visited Bali to test the "Yellow Bamboo" group, who make supernatural claims that they can knock down an attacker just by shouting, has reported to me that he actually fell to the ground during the test! As soon as I get around to looking into this further, I'll give you a full report. This might actually be something…![/QUOTE]

As some of you may know, James Randi runs the JREF(James Randi Educational Foundation) and said foudation has a $1,000,000 Paranormal Challenge. The guys from Yellow Bamboo agreed to the test protocal and a representative went to see them.
This is a preliminary test that all applicants must go thru before trying for the million, before this noone has passed the prelims. Looks like some of us may be having chi-ball soup if they win the million.

Check out the Randi Commentary and site


#85162 - 11/25/03 01:01 PM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!
Kempoman Offline

Registered: 11/15/00
Posts: 1484
Loc: Houston, TX
Well it seems our friends at Yellow Bamboo were just having a go with the boy. After viewing the video (which was of poor quality, on purpose?) the man falls but
lays and twitches on the ground kinda like he's being electrocuted. It seems as if a current was passed thru the wet sand while the attacker is running across it.

Cheating to prove chi, go figure.


#85163 - 11/25/03 09:40 PM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!
Fisherman Offline

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 1656
Loc: Colorado, USA
Man thats cheap!

#85164 - 12/04/03 03:02 AM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!
kman Offline

Registered: 05/15/03
Posts: 368
Loc: minnesota
glad than someone other than me knows about the james randi educational foundation. He's exposed a ton of frauds and the million dollars just keeps earning interest. His work on(against)theraputic is 100% aplicible to Reiki. Good stuff. Randi suspects that a handheld stunner was used on his unoffical rep who went to see the yellow bamboozles. K-

#85165 - 05/17/04 02:16 PM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!

it's all bs

#85166 - 05/17/04 11:25 PM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4065
Loc: Limbo
And people wonder why the "close minded skeptics" are so hard on some of these guys. They sparked the poor guy up to try and proove something they knew they couldn't do. Loosers.

#85167 - 05/18/04 12:43 PM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!

Hey, I believe all this and I think that's pretty damn low. It's people like that who make it unlikely that ki (whether it is true or not) will ever be accepted.

#85168 - 02/15/05 07:13 PM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!

Dear respected friends,

From your reference point of view, I am one of those you term "losers" because I truly believe in these sort of phenomena. 50 years ago, acupuncture was a scam, fraud and quackery too. It somehow is reasonably respected and accepted because it is accepted in the West. For us, it is a mere acceptance as a normal fact of life.

In the Orient, especialy in South East Asia, there is a widespread belief in these phenomena of invulnerability, great strength, and knocking down attackers (not opponents) from a distance without contact. These are religious as well as martial arts beliefs. Such beliefs are widespread in martial arts circles in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma.

Such beliefs and practices are more prevalent in rural areas where Western lifestyle, education and secular influences have not taken over the norm. They are thus closely associated with TRUE, AUTHENTIC, TRADITIONAL martials arts of the regions which have not yet been largely influenced by the so-called 'true' martial arts.

Such traditional arts in the fundamentalist traditional areas have been practised with deadly effect for many centuries without much changes. They have been used in self defence and warfare for centuries. They are not 'pussy' arts. They are as genuine, if not much more genuine, than their modern counterparts that we now are getting to know.

In Malaysia (where I come from and grew up), and Indonesia (my hometown of Tawau is just across the border in Kalimantan), it is expected that all Silat masters have such abilities. It is an assumed fact. It would be presumptuous to teach Silat without proficiency in such powers - generally called "ilmu" which means "skill or knowledge" in ordinary language, but it means something like "spiritual powers and knowledge" in Silat and mystic circles.

In fact, in a confrontation, the first resort of a Silat master in most instances is to use his "ilmu", and if that failed to resolve the situation, then only his physical fighting skills come into play. This is the norm.

Silat is an efective martial art. Its practitioners and masters are very good technicians. Just because they believe in such "ilmus" should not degrade their art, nor temselves as 'pussies' or 'losers' or 'woozers' - and as traditional martial artists, we are offended by such harsh abusive and vilifying comments.

In our view, we have what you have, and those are the physical techniques to resolve a confrontation. We have the same, if not more, ability to kill, as our arts are traditional combat arts, and not modern arts that you call 'martial arts'. Our arts are not 'sports martial arts', nor 'health martial arts' either. They have been used for centuries for life and death situations, and are only emerging to be known to the West. They are still to compete with the more modernised well-known counterparts of our traditions, as well as with what you think are 'true' martial arts - such as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, Ju Do, Ju Jitsu, Hwa Rang Do, Hapkido, Aikido, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Pa Kua, Muay Thai, Bando etc.

Yes, we do have the physical combat (not pussy techniques as many suggested) techniques which we use to injure, maim, or kill in actual defence or confrontation. BUT WE HAVE MORE! We have, in addition, the "ilmus".

We are thus, very perplex, and a bit upset, why you, the so-called 'true' martial artists, denounce us or speak of us in such demeaning ways. Are we not martial artists just because our system have the "ilmus" in addition to our physical techniques? Why this discrimination? Why the vilification and rude comments? Gentlemen?

Taking a case from my own personal experience. I am a teacher of a traditional blade-oriented style of eskrima called "Kalis Ilustrisimo". It was also called "Kali Ilustrisimo" "Kali Illustrisimo" "Ilustrisimo Kali" "Ollisistrimo Eskrima". Our master, the late Tatang Ilustrisimo (1900 - 1997) was an incredible fighter. He came from a family line of warriors and mystics. His uncle Melecio Ilustrisimo was a famous and influential eskrimador in North Cebu (the Saavedras, Romos, and later, the Canettes, were influential in the South and Central Cebu). Melecio Ilustrisimo has students stretching north as far as Luzon. Tatang Ilustrisimo's uncle, the famous Agapito Illustrisimo, was the head of the spiritual communities in sacred Mount Banahaw, the holiest mountain in Philippines. Agapito was accreditted with very strange mystical powers. There is even a book written about him by a Jesuit priest sent by the Roman Catholic Church to investigate those semi-Catholic mystical movements (similar to Brazilian ones). The book is called "Agapito Ilustrisimo - A Mount Banahaw Guru".

In addition, 2 other famous (to the West) eskrimadors are related to Tatang Ilustrisimo. His second cousin (maternal side) is the famous Floro Villabraille who migrated to Hawaii. Floro Villabraille was also undefeated in his life in actual unpadded matches. He was featured in Dan Inosanto's book "Filipino Martial Arts". He is also a believer, practitioner and possessr of anting-anting or orascion - the Filipino equivalent of mystical powers. He was originally a student of Melecio Ilustrisimo, and later, when he moved to Manila, he became a student of Tatang Ilustrisimo.

The other relation is Regina Ellustrisimo who is Tatang Ilustrisimo's youngest uncle who migrated to Stockton, USA. Dan Inosanto's book "Filipino Martial Arts" featured his photo with tattos inscribed in Latin. These are his anting-antings. He was also a healer.

Readers are urged to read "Filipino Martial Arts" to validate that the above eskrima masters do exist, and that they are truly masters and formidable fighters. If any reader disagree that they are 'true' martial artists, please email this forum publicly, stating so, and please email me directly stating so, and I will re-direct them for further investigations for an amiable resolution.

Our master Tatang Ilustrisimo fought many actual confrontations in his 97 years of life. He remained undefeated. His first kill was when he was 17 years old, in a drinking tavern (frowned upon in the Islamic south). Tatang Ilustrisimo was an adopted son inthe court of the then Sultan of Sulu in Jolo. The 'victim' was apparently from another rival royal house. The moment the victim drew his sword to attack, Tatang Ilustrisimo, a very quick and sharp fighter, saw an opening as the victim had drawn his sword too far in, and Tatang Ilustrisimo quickly drew his, and in a single stroke, decapitated the victim, whose head fell to the ground, while still standing and in a frenzy - probably unaware his head was already separated from his shoulders.

Tatang killed many during the World War 2 as a guerilla. He was also sent out to kill Filipino traitors. His code name during the war was "The Executioner". He is no fool. He is no pussy either.

Tatang was a believer, practitioner and possessor of anting-anting and orascion. Just like his famous uncles (Melecio, Agapito, Regina etc), he had used his spiritual powers many times for fighting. For example, against some bullies who intimidated all the town's folk and Policemen. He also used it successfully against an Indonesian Silat fighter for a match in Singapore around 1970.

After a debilitating lung collapse during which he was in comatose and was admitted to hospital for about a week or so, he suddenly got up and discharged himself, to the surprise of everybody, as the doctor had advised to prepare his coffin. This shows the power of his spiritual concentration. After he recovered a little, only then Tatang Ilustrisimo showed more of his 'stuff'. This is probably he knew he was already too old, and time is near, and nobody will challenge a weak old man anymore. He started to give demonstrations of the power of his anting-anting and orascion every Good Friday - drawing his mystical inscriptions on a piece of paper (about A4 size), and hanging it on the branch of a tree, or similar, and inviting all and sundry to shoot the pieces of paper. Many tried, but all failed. Even the shooting instructor of the Police academy tried his hand without success. He said that he simply could not shoot it, even at 5 metres. This is an illustration of Tatang's mystical power that he used to save his life many times.

Tatang's last kill was when he was past 90 years, and it nearly got him into jail. As with many encounters, this also ended very swiftly (most of Tatang's encounters end in only one or two strokes). Tatang merely stepped to one side and hit the attacker at the back of the head with his stick 9an iron rod), and the attacker fell down. When down, Tatang's friend stepped in and used a pig-stabber (a stabbing instrument used to pierce a hole into paper to for binding) to pierce the attacker's heart, and then he tore the ribs apart and pulled the heart out and ate it raw. It is believed that this makes one brave, and confers control over the victim's spirit. Tatang escaped jail again this time because his friend took the rap for him, arguing that Tatang merely fell the man, but the death was caused by the piercing of the heart.

If we insist that people who believe in such powers are fools, and those masters who practise and teach such powers are scam and fraudulent martial artists, then, we are also insisting that such great fighters such as Antonio Tatang Ilustrisimo, Floro Villabrialle, Agapito Illustrisimo, Melecio Ilustrisimo, Regina Ellustrisimo, and the Silat masters, and many others, are scam and fraudulent martial artists. This is a dangerous offensive insult and vilification.

Of course, we can excuse ourselves that our insults were unintentional (may have truth in this), because we have not investigated fully and practised enough of the systems to have an accurate picture. But by the same token, is that a legal or social excuse? Can I ratter my horrid mouth off at just anybody or any corporation, putting them down as scams and frauds and fools? And tell the court that I did not know the truth then, but now I do?

From the above real life stories (there are many more) of real masters of fighting, it can be gleamed that ancient traditions, and ancient warriors tend to use some form of spiritual power in their fighting arts. Whether these fighting arts can be called 'martial arts' is a matter of personal opinion.

If we define martial arts as physical movements of punching and kicking and striking only, and not other methods at all, then the fighting arts are fighting arts. Fighting arts, in this regard, are not martial arts. Then, probably the critics are right - these fighting masters are incredible masters of combat. They are not 'true' martial artists or sportsmen in the fantasised "area of death". It all hinges on what we consider to be 'martial arts'.

Many rude critics of people who believe in, and practise, such "ilmus" (powers) seem to have the idea that they know the topic of martial arts very well, and fully. They also convey the impression that they think that those who believe in such "ilmus" are either uneducated, know only a little, incompetent martial artists, or fools to be pitied. In actual fact, this is far from the truth because some of these masters are very knowledgeable martial arts (maybe not martial arts - but combatants and killers) and extremely competent technicians.

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". Before making judgements, especially rude remarks, about other systems, however strange and foreign they may seem to us (at the moment), we should study, investigate, and practise that system in depth, and only is our evaluation reasonable and sound.

The account of Tatang Ilustrisimo giving a public display of his spiritual powers is very unusual indeed. Traditional masters of martial arts deeply rooted in ethnic traditions do not give demonstrations. Even testing of the skills are frowned upon. You train in it. And you believe in it because either you heard eye witnesses accounts of your teacher’s powers, or at the time of your initiation, the master gave you a glimpse of his powers. That is all. The power is to be used for a REAL situation, not a faked and conjured up situation, such as a challenge test. It is not practised and tested out of curiousity. It is not tested as a bet to win some money. It must be used in a real life and death situation. We are warned that using it otherwise will not work. The spiritual power can not be used this way. Maybe that is why Tatang Ilustrisimo only displayed his power towards the end of his life. Even then, he had restrictions:- he does not allow the pieces of inscription to be tested on the human body. He said it can not be tested this way and it will fail. Shoot the paper as much as you want, but do not test it on yourself. On yourself, it must be real. Again, this is in accord with the traditional belief.

Self defence and combat is common to all races, nations, and cultures. Within the martial arts community, there should be mutual respect, and ideally, mutual learning.

Even though I have learnt martial arts since I was a boy, I am still very ignorant, and I am still learning! There are many things that I do no know, and have not heard of yet. New things will be strange and foreign to me. Instead of denouncing and ridiculing such strange things, I want to learn about them - continuing education in life. This is perhaps the attitude a modern martial artist should have? Even though I am a steeply traditional martial artist, I do treat all new ideas with an open mind. I hope my more modern counterparts can do the same.

I am sorry to bore you with such a long letter. I felt that we should try to educate ourselves with the subject matter before making derogatory remarks which may offend many 'legitimate' martial artists (fortunately, many of those affected are in rural areas and do not have access to the internet). I also hope that there is mutual respect, understanding, and co-operation between martial artists of different traditions. Lastly, I think that it is very unethical to insult and abuse very great masters like Tatang Ilustrisimo who we are a fraction of in fighting skills.

As for scams and frauds, yes, there are plenty! And there are not limited to those who believe in spiritual powers. Many scam schools have arisen that rely on purely physical techniques. In fact, traditionalists would complain about such schools.

With respects,
John Chow
of Kalis Ilustrisimo, under the tutelage of the great fighter Tatang Ilustrisimo, Tony Diego, Romy (Romeo) Macapagal, Raymond Floro.


#85169 - 02/15/05 09:53 PM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4065
Loc: Limbo
John Chow,

I'll start by informing you that profanity is not allowed on this forum and I do not tolerate it in any section i moderate. My comment of "losers" was directed to those involved in the fraudulent attempt with the JREF. The fact is the yellow bamboo group tested are frauds. Maybe you can explain why they were tested officially in Australia recently and failed. How could this happen if they are legit?

[QUOTE]Quote from JREF website:And, you might remember those blowhards who call themselves the "Yellow Bamboo." They were just officially tested in Australia, and failed miserably to perform. They literally "bit the dust." But I'm sure they'll bluster their way back into the media again, as always.[/QUOTE]

I have been to Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan and of the locals i've visited with only those involved in such organizations believe in this sort of practice. My mother-in-law is Malaysian and has stated on several occasions that it's all a myth and has no basis in reality. I have had several individuals both in the states and overseas claim to be able to knock people down with out touching them or conduct no touch KOs try them on me and fail completely. Believe me i know the difference between an opponent and an attacker. I do believe the intention of an individual can affect the out come of your technique and can be sensed but the ability to force an attacker to the ground with out touching them is something that yet to be proven to myself or anyone not directly involved with the person making the claim. I personally would love to see proof of such claims.

The responses of the majority of the members of this forum section are directed at those frauds making such claims and failing when tested. If you are not one of these individuals then there is no need for you to feel offended. However if you claim you can perform such a technique i'm sure we can find someone in your area to test you or maybe you should take up JREF and prove it to everyone.

#85170 - 02/16/05 02:42 AM Re: Yellow Bamboo Suprise!!!

Dear Mr. Moderator,

Thank you for asuring me that you will not tolerate profanity in your forum (unlike other forums where obscenities were hurled).

The answer to your question is already evident in my precious letter, as with all my other responses in other forums, and my own website.

That is, this type of spiritual powers can not be used (or rather abused). It can only be used in a real (we really and truly mean REAL) life threatening situation. It can not be used for showing off or making bets. They can not be demonstrated or used as tests. They must be used only in a real, a truly REAL life and death situation. Abuse of such a power will not work.

The above rule is not an artificially imposed restriction. It is a universal spiritual law. It has nothing to do with any master who has arbitrarily imposed it. I, myself, would have been happy if it were, because I would love to test it out myself. But it is not that way, as far as I have known since I was a boy, and it is not a recent ruling - it has always been for centuries. It is the tradition and belief. It simply will not work - is what is believed by tradition. Our forefathers should know. They used and tested the power, and they know when it will and when it will not work. Those who go against their advice will likely FAIL the tests. Be warned.

I note Tatang Ilustrisimo's method of getting around this restriction in his very old age (past 90 years old, and still very much a warrior - no pussy!!!!!). Tatang's power also included the skill of writing down magical latin inscriptions of power. Thus, he was able to get around this by using a piece of paper instead of test it directly. I was going to ask him for learning this, but never got the chance. Tatang passed away without passing on this particular set of skills. I have not heard of any other eskrima master who does this. In any case, Tatang only did this in the last few years of his life. He kept it secret and did not demonstrate this earlier in his life. We know he has anting-anting and orascion because of his life stories, but he did not demonstrate it earlier on.

Please also note what I mentioned about the Malay/Indonesian Silat masters not demonstrating this. They have the same belief. Therefore, we have faith that this is not an arbitrary restriction imposed by any master, but is a universal law. Beware of transgressing the universal law!!!!! It is a sin to abuse your spiritual powers. Use it legitimately - to save your own human life. This is a serious warning.

Frankly speaking, I myself, was surprised and taken back, when Alvin Donovan of Yellow Bamboo advised to do knockdown tests with outsiders. I was rather confused. From what I know, the conditions are not correct, so why would it work? The warnings from our forefathers are from their experiences. I would trust our forefathers. In any case, I have some reservations about ............ a private matter I do not like to disclose outside of Yellow Bamboo (but one of the testers know my views on this). Of course, as a martial artist, I was also very curious and wanted to confirm my understanding of our traditional beliefs and the universal laws by knowing the results of the Alain Konier knockdown test.

As for whether Yellow Bamboo has the power to execute the knockdown, I have no doubts it has, but it must comply with the universal law that it is not to be abused. It must be a REAL life threatening situation that is natural and random, and not artificially faked. I have heard life stories from Yellow Bamboo practitioners when they had accidents or 'unfortunate incidents'. These are not artificially induced.

In short, this testing would not have worked. I have no idea why we got into this knockdown test. Yellow Bamboo should forget about this testing and move on. Yellow Bamboo is a spiritual path, and should continue on its sacred crusade, without distractions such as this silly challenge knockdown tests.

As the testing has already been performed, and we know the results, I am satisfied it confirms my understanding. I am happy that the advice of our forefathers is correct.

I hope I have answered your question of :-
"Maybe you can explain why they were tested officially in Australia recently and failed. How could this happen if they are legit?"

Just a passing comment here:-

I am not sure whether this test was officially sanctioned by the founder Pak Serengen (He was a Silat teacher until he received a major awakening and gave up his Silat to concentrate on Yellow Bamboo). I can confirm that it was sanctioned by Alvin Donovan who is the International Director for Yellow Bamboo, as he helped arrange and encouraged it.

Just because the group in Perth failed the test does not necessarily mean that the group is a fraud, or Yellow Bamboo. As I said, it would not have worked because it was an abuse of spiritual power. It was something yellow Bamboo should not have done. In addition there is also another thing, .......... which I would rather not mention in public, but I have mentioned this to one of the testers, Fraser Johnson, in a PRIVATE capacity. It was for his eyes only, but if you want to have a look at it, I will send it to you if you give me a private email address and promise not to divulge the information.

As for your comment:-
"the ability to force an attacker to the ground with out touching them is something that yet to be proven to myself or anyone not directly involved with the person making the claim"

As mentioned, this is not possible, and will not work. At this point, I will be 'thick-faced' and ask you to trust me. [IMG][/IMG] [IMG][/IMG] [IMG][/IMG] It won't work! Fullstop. I have seen other strange things though, as a martial artist. But a no-contact knockdown as a test with outsiders - never. By the way, Alvin Donovan admitted to me a few times while I was in Bali that he himself is curious whether it will work with outsiders. He has 'tested' this as part of the standard exercises of Yellow Bamboo - within Yellow Bamboo, with Yellow Bamboo practitioners, in the Yellow Bamboo practice grounds, but he has never tested against outsiders. This is perhaps an important point. DOES IT WORK IN A TEST SITUATION AGAINST OUTSIDERS????

I have one more question:-
I am aware that in the universal law, that the places where we train and meditate are imbued with some power, and that our deities make their presence there. Practising in such places is easy, and it is easy to attain feats. I suspect that even 'testing' (a poor use of the word in this context) with Yellow Bamboo practitioners in an unfamiliar ground may present 'some problems'. Your thoughts?

Now, my doubts were further strengthened when I visited my host in Bali who is an Islamic mystic, and he questioned me on Yellow Bamboo practices, and he said, it won't work if you use a new place. You must use the same place Yellow Bamboo temple is. Other places do not have the power because the Yellow Bamboo deities are not there. It is not their place. Now, that strengthened my opinion. Unless, you are a very powerful Yelow Bamboo practitioner, such a Pak Serengen himself, maybe? This Islamic mystic is no lover of Yellow Bamboo, I can tell you. But he does not deny Yellow Bamboo has the power - in its usual places of practice in Bali.

I see an interesting scenario here. Even 'tested' against Yellow Bamboo practitioners may fail under certain conditions. This idea, I have to test out. I might be going to Bali at the end of May, and then to Malaysia etc after that. If you like, I will try this theory out with a video camera as evidence. Stay tuned after June 2005.

Your comment:-
"I personally would love to see proof of such claims"

Oh gee, so would I. I was very interested in confirming my suspected outcome of the Alain Konier test. As a martial artist, I am very very very interested in such things. Learn new things, man! Be open to new ideas, however strange they are. Might open a new world. [IMG][/IMG] [IMG][/IMG] [IMG][/IMG]
Actually, I started learning such traditional stuff when I was a boy, but before I could graduate and be independent, 2 things happened:-
1) I ate a taboo item by accident. That set me back to day 1.
2) I had to leave for Australia to study and my dad made me promise to give up all my psychic studies 'because the world has changed and I won't need them anymore'. In tradition, once given up, not easy to get back in.

Regarding your in laws and friends, I do not wish to offend, but, in reality, I have always made remarks to our own Asian people that "We Asians are sometimes more Western than Westerners. We are so ignorant of our own traditions. Sometimes, we are so ashamed to be Asians". What I mean here is that Asians are trying so hard to be on par and catch up with the West that they discarded many precious jewels they have and ran after the West, and adopt Western things. As an Australian friend of mine who is very familiar with the Tibetan community remarked to me more than 20 years ago, "The younger generations of Tibetans have a fascination for the West. They would hop on a plane to come to the West immediately if they have half a chance. It is as if they have the word 'The West' written on their forehead". This, I am afraid, is generally quite true of many Asians. I am one myself, so this is not a negative racist remark. It is an acknowledgement one of our weaknesses.

The bottom line of the above paragraph is this:-
Many, if not most of us, especially those who live in the cities, are quite ignorant of the depth of our traditions. We know only the very superficial parts of our traditions, and that we know only because we were brought up in the environment. Beyond that basic, we do no, and have not, studied our traditions. Very sad. Very sad. But that is how the world is - evolving, and we need to keep up with the rest of the world to move forward.

To illustrate, I know for a fact, that Chinese allopathic (ie. Western Medicine) doctors in Malaysia are very very anti Chinese medicine. Most vehemently opposed to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). They really look down on it. They have advised friends of mine to keep away from Chinese herbs, even advising that Chinese herbs contain trace amounts of steriods (not knowing, in their ignorance, that the effects of trace amounts of naturally occuring steriods is different from those laboratory made concentrated chemicals). They say acupuncture does not work - it is a placebo only. This may surprise you. It not only surprised me, but annoyed me too, as I have been in the alternative medicine path for the past 29 years. I am doing my last subject to qualify for my TCM studies also. That is why I keep an ear out for these sort of comments. Coming from a Chinese in a Chinese community would surprise a Westerner's ears, but not mine, as I am very involved in the Chinese community, and really, many Chinese do not know their own traditions to much depth.

Another example:- Many Chinese are converting to Christianity, even in Asia. They simply re-iterate what they have been told about their own religion - that they are idol worshippers. That they worship stone or metal or wooden images only, and that these are only stone or metal or wood, and therefore not a god and such things have no power to help or save them. Only the Christian god or his son (who died under persecution) can save them. And because these Asians do not know what their traditions to any depth, they are easily convinced and quickly convert.

Well, I am a Buddhist and a Taoist. I do all my religious obligations, just like the (remaining) Asians. I do not worship stones, metals, or wood. Neither do I worship objects made of stone, metal, or wood. This is a misunderstanding of our own tradition! We pray to our own gods. These objects are statues or images made of these physical materials. When we kneel or salute or make offerings in front of these objects, we are paying respects to the gods REPRESENTED by these images. We are not praying to the objects. This is the very same idea as what the, for example, Roman Catholics, do when they kneel down, light candles, and pray to statues of Mary, the various saints, and to Jesus in the form of a dead or dying man on the cross. Buddhists and Taoist never abused and vilified Christians for worshipping such idols, but Christians never let up shoving this favourite 'happy hobby' down the throats of Asians who are ignorant of their traditions.

Actually, as a Buddhist and Taoist, I will never worship a god or spirit either. I worship only God, the Creator of the Universe. But I am free, ever so free, to pray to any god for assistance. I am free to pray to any human being for assistance, to extend this argument. Praying to somebody is a social thing - we are conversing with and asking that person (whether human or not) for a favour. It is just like talking! And we bring a gift to that person and we are polite and we tell them our problems, and we request whether they can help us. That is all. This is praying to the god, or anybody. Worshipping is to God the Creator. For a Buddhist, we take refuge in the Triple Gem. We are not idol worshippers!!!!! I have not heard this explanation from my Asian friends. I have to explain this to them whereever I go. A sad thing ......

For religious and spiritual things, don't be surprised if your Asian friends are ignorant of their native religions. Most Buddhists in Asia do not know even the basic tenets of Buddhism! Let alone asking them to list 10 sutra names, and so no need to try asking what each sutra is about. For the Taoists, it is even more sad. Other than knowing that we offer incense in the form of joss sticks and burning 'hell money', the local earth deity (Di Zhu or Datuk Kong), the name of Kuan Yin and Buddha and Kuan Kung, there is only a bit more of information we usually know.

In fact, many younger generation do not even believe in our gods, nor in Buddhas!!! Many parents also do not believe either. Remember - we have been colonised for the past 200 years. Without even realising it, we are more Western than we are Chinese. Most of us also try to appear 'educated' by telling you that these priests, mediums (equivalent of shaman) are frauds or Swindlers. 'Not real'. They may even try to raise their 'educated profile' by slamming their local religions as 'superstitions'.

Weel, I have news for these unfortunate brethens of mine - I am reasonably educated, I have lived in the West for 30 years too, and I am versed in both Western and Eastern traditions. I actively take part in all my native beliefs and practices. I am proud of my beliefs and traditions, including 30 years of living in the West, which is very nice, by the way. And I vigorously deny I am superstitious!!!!!

The above are generic statements applying to many Asians, and are not directed at your in laws, and at not time am I inclined to attempt to offend or vilify them. It is an admission, as I said, of our own defects. I would apologise to your in laws in advance if my words are construed otherwise.

By the way, what is JREF?

With respect,
John Chow
Kalis Ilustrisimo

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