What you are about to read could literally save your life. What I have recently discovered (even though others have known for over 3,000 years and nobody bothered to tell me but who’s complaining?) could fundamentally alter your health, your happiness, your view of life itself. Really. Scout’s honor. But first a few words about objective reality, skepticism and me. To those of you who believe or even tolerate the fashionable, or should I say faddish, notion of “relative reality” offered up by some academically inclined used car salesmen, let me offer one simple comment: mortadella (extra fancy baloney). With a nod to Samuel Johnson, go stand on a railroad track just before a train comes by. Pretend the train isn’t there. It will become quickly obvious even to the keenest pseudo-intellectual that there is a reality independent of his or her perceptions.
The belief in an objective reality is the foundation and motivation for every scientific discovery ever made in the history of mankind. It is the cornerstone of what we call knowledge. And it’s really all we’ve got. State a hypothesis, run an experiment, collect data, analyze data, accept or reject the hypothesis. This is what I do for a living. I care deeply about demonstrable truth.
It is with this hardheaded skepticism of anything unseen or ethereal, this life-long desire for evidence-based truth, that I first met Master Zhao, a practitioner of the ancient Chinese healing art of Chi Gong. I was not buying any mortadella that day (or any other day, either, for that matter-I’m not the mortadella type).
I had been suffering from a painful back, a pinched nerve in my L4/L5 joint that had severely limited my daily activities for almost a year. I had tried everything: chiropractors, acupuncture, yoga, physical therapy, physiatry, cortisone injections. And, almost, neurosurgery.
It was because I was considering surgery that I, as a desperate last resort, visited Master Zhao in the first place. My physiatrist and two independent neurosurgeons all agreed that the only alternative left to me was surgery. I was not thrilled with the prospect of being cut open like a watermelon. On general principle alone, that didn’t seem like a good idea. The fact that it was my very own, my very personal backside and spinal cord that were playing the part of the watermelon made it an even poorer idea. I needed to try every avenue open to me before agreeing to surgery. My body deserved due diligence.
But what to do? I couldn’t exercise at all. I could barely sit in my office chair for a half hour at a time. My quality of life had diminished substantially. A friend, whom I very nearly respected, an intermittently intelligent, occasionally logical human being, told me that Chi Gong might help. It had helped him (sort of). He recommended a man in my area, Master Zhao.
I like to think I’m rational (I have been accused of being more linear than the Stanford Linear Accelerator). I have a degree in mathematics. I want evidence, data, logical argument. I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. I do believe in modus ponens, Russell’s Paradox and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem.
I went to Master Zhao a committed skeptic. I promised myself that if my attitude was required for Chi Gong to help, it wasn’t going to help. Just like the train, if Chi Gong was real, it wouldn’t need my assistance. It would run me over all on it’s own, regardless of my frame of mind.
Master Zhao had me lay on a bed while he stood a few feet away and looked at me. He then proceeded to tell me a dozen or so things that were wrong with me. And he was essentially correct. That was pretty strange.
Then he “treated” me by waving his hand over my body, starting at my head and working his way down to my feet. That was basically it. He didn’t touch me at all with the exception of a few encouraging pats and a brief exposure to the worst massage of my life. That was very strange (not the massage, the “treatment”).
Before meeting Master Zhao, I had been taking 12-15 Advil a day for pain. Every night I would be awakened several times by pain, each morning I would be driven from my bed by pain.
After the first session with Master Zhao, I slept all night and got up the next morning because I wanted to, when I wanted to. I dropped to 9 Advil a day immediately. After the third session, I dropped to 6 Advil. After five sessions, I stopped taking Advil entirely. I had been taking Advil at the rate of 12-15 per day for over five months. I had been taking either Advil or prescription pain killers at least daily for almost a year.
This was breathtakingly, shockingly strange!
I felt looser in my core, deep within my lower abdomen. I could stretch easier, my muscles releasing more willingly and for longer periods of time. What’s going on here? This can’t be happening. If something seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Isn’t it?
But, for me at least, it was impossible to deny. Chi Gong had worked.
I still have brief flare-ups. But they aren’t as intense and they don’t last as long. Any form of exercise still causes me problems. But if I do not improve one whit more than I have to this point, the effect of Chi Gong on my body appears undeniable. It has made a substantial difference. Honesty demands that I reject the null hypothesis.
I am hopeful the progress will continue and that one day I will be able to say, as ridiculous as it may sound, Master Zhao, virtually without touching me, did what only surgery could have done: he completely cured my bad back with Chi Gong.
Based on the data I’ve collected so far, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Dick McCullough is a free-lance writer living in Los Altos, CA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (2001)