Liu Ming was a Euro-American who studied Asian culture, history and religion for nearly half a century. During that time he had the great good fortune to meet, study and practice with several accomplished Tibetan and Chinese adepts from whom he learned Tantric Buddhist and Daoist meditation, ritual, yoga and neigong. His lifelong interest in Asia lead to decades of study of traditional Chinese astrology, medicine and divination arts. He held a degree in Asian Aesthetics from Antioch University.
In 1984, he was the founding director of 5 Branches, a college of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Santa Cruz, California and served on its faculty for twelve years. He taught Continuing Education for Licensed Acupuncturists in the State of California for nearly twenty years.
He was the founding director of Da Yuan Circle, founded in 1994. In his last thirty years as a teacher, he offered instruction in Buddhist and Daoist meditation, ritual, contemplative and practical alchemy.
He is co-author of Dragon's Play (1991), and author of his translation of the Yijing entitled Changing Zhouyi: The Heart of the Yijing (2005, 2nd Edition in 2016). In the beginning of 2016 Da Yuan Circle published his long awaited translation of and commentary on Laozi's Daodejing entitled Observing. He has also contributed to a number of academic and popular journals.
About his life and work, he said: “It is important to understand that participation in any of the Asian contemplative traditions is not simply a means to achieve expertise – it is committing to a life-long path of self-cultivation. In Asian traditions, education is not only a method of gaining knowledge, but also of developing empathy and a way to artfully express that empathy in the world. Empathy develops when we abandon the notion that expertise is a kind of perfection. In fact, recognizing that we are irreversibly the way we are is a truly great accomplishment. As it turns out, great accomplishment does not offer certainty.”
When asked to help us write this piece he said: “The thing is: nobody should really be too interested in anybody else’s biography. It’s hard enough trying to find value in our own experience; finding value or meaning in someone else’s story is absurd.”
“In contemplative traditions, when we rely on a teacher it is for the purpose of self-discovery, not investigating the teacher. Being a teacher is a role for an individual, but not the culmination of the path for everyone on the path of self-discovery.”
“Realistically, none of us, teacher or student, ever really needs to give or transmit anything to anyone else, but simply to try our best to be as we are – as openly as possible. It is through this openness to others that we realize the depth and nature of our own experience.”
Liu Ming passed away in April of 2015, and Da Yuan Circle continues his legacy.