Muscle and Chi: The Yin-Yang of Physical Self-Development

I recently heard a self-defense instructor mocking the traditional Asian schools for their insistence that students cultivate Chi (subtle or internal energy, similar to Kundalini) which, the self-defense instructor claimed, did not exist.

Within the traditional Chinese and Japanese martial and healing arts (such as acupressure and Chi-Gong), Chi is generally regarded as connected to the breath, and as being stored up in certain specific points in the body, especially the Tan Tien, which is located close to the navel. But this subtle energy is also linked to food, air, and even to the earth and the directions. Continue reading “Muscle and Chi: The Yin-Yang of Physical Self-Development”

Committing to The Spiritual Search: An Interview With Mitch Horowitz

Mitch Horowitz is one of the most respected contemporary historians of the occult and related spiritual movements, such as New Thought (the movement that gave birth to the idea of “positive thinking” as a practice to change oneself and one’s life for the better). We recently spoke with him about the influence of occultism, Freemasonry, Hermeticism, and esotericism on the modern world (especially America), and what he believes authentic spiritual practice requires.

Phalanx: You’re the author fo the widely-acclaimed Occult America, as well as the more recent One Simple Idea, which explores the positive thinking movement from its origins in New Thought. Can you tell us what drew you to these subjects, and why you feel they’re relevant to our understanding of the world?

MH: I felt that the figures and ideas in these cultures were getting lost to mainstream history, as most of the historicism was being written by people who had no sense of the values that emanate from the spiritual search. Also it occurred to me that we cannot understand ourselves when we draw neat lines between “alternative” and mainstream culture. Ideas tend to enter our society, and all societies, from the fringes. This phenomenon is true not just for trends or popularizations, but it goes to the foundation of American history. Continue reading “Committing to The Spiritual Search: An Interview With Mitch Horowitz”

When The Enemy Brings Enlightenment

“The knight of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies,” says Friedrich Nietzsche in Ecce Homo, “but also to hate his friends.”

Why should we love our enemies? This has always struck me as an absurd and dangerously masochistic and moralistic belief. Yet, there is something extremely aggressive about it, too. Over and over again, in the name of “love,” the political claim to speak for others while denying those people a voice. Countries are invaded on the basis of “human rights.” And rights are taken away in the name of “safety,” “peace,” and setting an example to “the children.” Continue reading “When The Enemy Brings Enlightenment”