Lineage… what is it?
By Thomas Leichardt, MTCM, DMQ (China) About Tom
Recently, a student asked me to elaborate on the significance of lineage in the field of martial arts, medical qigong, and spiritual practices. I would like to share this resulting piece on the subject with everyone here.
There are many levels at which lineage can be explained, and I will touch upon just a few here.
First of all, lineage is grounding in a certain tradition, both on the level of form and more importantly, on the level of energy and spirit. On the level of form, there are various beliefs, practices, and traditions that are unique to each lineage. While these are important to know and understand, they are akin to the outer wrapping of a package, or the outer skin of a fruit. What is inside, underneath that wrapping or skin, is where the real inner dimensions of lineage lay, and where the real sweetness can be experienced. These inner dimensions are the essence, energy and spirit of lineage.
The inner aspect of lineage is a vibrational “knowing without knowing,” realization of principles, felt deeply in one’s body, psyche, and spirit. This type of knowledge cannot be taught through theory and external practices alone, rather, it is something that “dawns” inside the individual, it is something that one awakens into. A teacher of lineage holds this energetic psychic space inside him or herself, making it readily accessible to their students, and those who are ready can then more easily realize it in themselves. Thus a lineage teacher not only teaches external beliefs, practices, and forms, but they also teach through transmission, such that the students get a glimpse of this reality through their close proximity to the teacher, who embodies those principles, and abides in that state of awareness and realization.
One of my spiritual teachers, Amma, is an example of just such a being, who abides in transcendental states of awareness, and makes those states available to all who come to her. This energy has a way of awakening itself inside those in close proximity to her, much like a log placed next to another log consumed in fire, itself also catches fire. This is a realization of energetic and spiritual truths through transmission. Amma also teaches on the level of form, by example, and through stories, practices, and systems of beliefs. While these are important, for me the real juice is in the transmission of realization, in which the truth spontaneously arises from within. Of course, it is by following the example, and committing to the practices, that makes one’s mind fertile ground for awakening through transmission. However, transmission is indeed a mysterious agent of inner change that is not predictable, and beyond any understanding of the intellect alone.
One aspect of transmission is that, whether in her physical presence or not, I can tap into Amma’s energy, and let that move through me and do what needs to be done. I don’t feel like I am doing it all on my own, but rather tapping into something much greater.
I use Amma as an example, however this can apply to any teacher who truly embodies the specific principles they teach. While Amma, on a grand scale, teaches the art of living in love and service, others may teach in terms of inner awareness through movement, such as that found in the martial arts.
In practical terms, lineage also indicates where teachings come from. In terms of time and space, one can trace back generations to the source of the teachings and have an appreciation of the various permutations along the way.
In cosmic terms, one can think of any lineage as a mandala. Imagine each spoke in this mandala as a separate time period. As one taps into a specific lineage through a teacher, one is tapping into that lineage’s manifest form as it exists in that current time. However, if the teacher is worth their salt, they are able to tap into the entire mandala as it exists across time and across planes of awareness, giving anyone who is seeking knowledge and wisdom, an access point into the vastness of that lineage as it exists across time and space. A great teacher will teach others to access lineage themselves, however, in the interim they offer themselves as a vehicle through which others can access that lineage’s wisdom and medicine through them and with their guidance. A lesser teacher will recite theories and practices, however, a true master is able to move into the heart of that mandala and deliver its truth as potent and living medicine, and will in turn teach others to do the same.
Some people take lineage into the realm of ego, and so try to align themselves with the greatest teachers as a way to boost their own confidence and to impress people, but this is not at all what the spirit of lineage is. However, today this is quite common. The energy of such people seems to be saying, “Hey look at me I studied with so and so and I have the best teachings – I have a better grasp of the truth than anyone else.” This is using lineage as a way to bolster a weak and deficient ego, and demonstrates that these individuals haven’t yet grasped the deeper meaning of the teachings they are aligning themselves with.
A lineage is a psychic blueprint, which helps form and outline awareness into specific patterns of behavior. Buddha, in that sense, is an example of a psychic blueprint, or model, which stimulates the psyche of individual followers towards growth and development. That psychic blueprint is like a seed that is nurtured and cared for through practices and right attitude, such that Buddha nature awakens from within. The psychic blueprint is potential, then, existing as a stimulus and impetus towards growth and realization.
How does one tell a great teacher from a mediocre one? If one looks at the fruits of their actions, this becomes self evident. Using Amma as an example, again, one need not look hard to witness the vast reaching humanitarian efforts that spring forth from the hands of her followers, and witness the positive effects of her teachings in action all around the world. Any great teacher will in turn have this effect on the physical and psychic space around them. The effects may be overt and/or subtle, however, always, you will know a teacher by their fruits, by the effect their presence and actions have on the world around them.
If you enjoyed this piece, or have something to add, please post a comment below. I sure do love to hear feedback!
About the author: Thomas Leichardt is available for consultations in all things energetic and spiritual. As a holistic medical practitioner, he applies various modalities to help restore his patients’ natural alignment with health, vitality, joy, and clarity. Thomas has an acupuncture and energy medicine clinic in San Jose, CA. He also teaches classes in energy medicine and is faculty at Five Branches University. Make an online appointment, or for more information, visit the author’s main site.