by Celeste Adam
Ratziel Bander is one of only two people teaching Hsin Tao, also known as Zen Buddhist Yoga, outside of the Shaolin Monastery. This secret tradition of movements, practiced in China 1,350 years ago, is designed specifically for the mature body. It is profoundly effective in rejuvenating the body, revitalizing and calming the mind, and rejuvenating the spirit.
This powerful healing practice leads people into a deep contemplative state while strenghthening the body. It is a combination of breathing techniques abd circular movements, and it forces energy into vital organs, and revitilizes metabolism. Ratziel was recently directed by his Master to bring this ancient practice to America.
Celeste: What does Hsin Tao mean and how did this tradition develop?
Ratziel: Hsin Tao is 'The Way of the Gods.' In America it is called Zen Buddhist Yoga just because people can relate to that name. It was started by a Buddhist monk, about 1,350 or 1,400 years ago, who went by sea to China from India.
When he reached China, the monk settled in a cave next to a ramshackled old monastery in Shaolin. He decided to meditate in a cave for nine years because he was seeking enlightenment. When he finally stood up he was a Buddha, but he couldn't move his body. His body was wrecked. He discovered these movements in this enlightened state and he started to move to rejuvenate his body. This monk took these movements into the monasteries where the monks were all sick from sitting in meditation all day and they all healed themselves. This practice has been kept a secret in the Shaolin Monastery ever since.
Years later these techniques were developed into the Shaolin style of martial arts. The most famous is Kung Fu, but there are many other styles including sword fighting, Tai Chi, and Chi-Gung.
Celeste: When were the techniques of Hsin Tao revealed to people outside of the Shaolin Monastery?
Ratziel: It's only now, in the last three years, that these techniques have been released outside of the monastery. They are used as the basis for a fighting style, but they're not a fighting style. They're a rejuvenating style and they offer healing for the body, mind and spirit.
It is called 'The Way of the Gods' because they say that if you practice this enough, you develop siddhis, you develop perfection, and you become like a god. You are no longer restricted to the rules of mortality. There are some exercises in this technique that are said to have been passed on from the immortals, which are to help with physical immortality.
Celeste: Why are these secrets being revealed to the world at this time?
Ratziel: We've been living in a different era up until now. It's been an era where people have coveted power over each other. It corresponds to the Kali Yuga in the Vedic teachings. It has been dangerous to pass on powerful techniques to people because they would use them for their own selfish purposes.
The fighting styles of the Shaolin Temple were always used as an adjunct for a journey towards enlightenment. The fighting style was developed to protect the poor and the weak from the people who were taking advantage of them.
We're in a different era now. There're so many prophecies regarding this period which say that in this time, in the quickening, many secrets will be revealed. Many secrets are being revealed, not only in the tradition of Hsin Tao, but in other traditions as well.
I was also involved in a similar release of secret knowledge, back in the 1970's, when I was a teenager. The oral tradition of the Kabbalah, which was kept underground for thousands of years, was finally revealed and practiced in a non-secret way. When we do this, the hundredth monkey effect comes into play and other secrets become revealed and things that are practiced catch on.
Thirty years ago, the world was spiritually in a very different place. The breadth of spiritual opportunity that we have nowadays and the abundance of things that are being channeled and released, like these teachings that I'm talking about, were almost impossible to find. We're in a situation now where there is an abundance of spiritual opportunity in the world. This is steam rolling and I feel very lucky to be a party to this one secret healing technique, which is being released to the public.
Celeste: How can these techniques transform the mind?
Ratziel: Hsin Tao is a secret healing technique for the body as well as a fast path to still the mind. I've worked with people and within one session they go into a deep meditation, although they may never have been able to meditate before in their lives. People are astonished by this work.
I've worked with psychologists who are amazed at the depths to which it's so easy to go. I've worked with people who have had no inclination to spirituality at all, but after a number of months of working with this technique, they've found an inner resource within themselves that is infinite and deep. It is something much bigger than the self that they had known. Not only have they connected with it, but they're able to acknowledge it as some sort of spiritual depth to themselves. Some of these people were completely agnostic when they started working with me. It works on all levels at once.
Celeste: What is the purpose of rejuvenating the body through these movements.
Ratziel: One of the ways we prolong life is to start a rejuvenating process to enable the cells and the smaller levels of our body, to hold more and more spiritual light. When we reach our capacity to hold spiritual light, we usually drop the current body and come back in another, which will hold more light. And so the process continues over thousands of years, until we attain a body, which can hold the ultimate spiritual light – and then we are said to be enlightened. Or, as I did, when I was ready to pass over from a lung tumor, you rejuvenate the body to the extent that it can hold more spiritual light. So often you find people who go through a death experience, then have some miraculous recovery, come out the other side with a deeper spiritual capacity. That's common.
When we continue this rejuvenation process, we enable ourselves to hold more and more spiritual understanding, and we go deeper and deeper into the spiritual realm. Rejuvenating ourselves helps you look and feel better, but the point of it is to enable us to go deeper into the spiritual journey, to accumulate more knowledge and to be able to hold more light.
Celeste: How can people become more open to deeper spiritual experiences through these techniques?
Ratziel: This practice takes you to a place of silence and tranquility. From the place of tranquility, it takes you to the place of bliss. It calms the mind and makes the mind expansive and clear. If people do these exercises regularly, they're not only calmer, but they're clearer. It also opens your mind to a level where you are available for deeper and more profound spiritual experiences.
That's why it's used by the senior monks. It not only keeps them alive, it enables them to go deeper and deeper into their spiritual journey. They say that a person who practices this, if they do leave their body, they will be reborn into the realm of the gods. From the realm of the gods, they can choose to come back into this realm where they can teach.
Celeste: I know it's not easy to find words to explain the specifics of the techniques that you teach—these movements need to be demonstrated. But I wondered if you could speak in general terms about how these movements work?
Ratziel: The techniques are a combination of breathing and movements. What's so wonderful about these exercises is that you need no propensity for exercise whatsoever. You don't have to be able to stretch or be strong. You don't have to be free of pain. You don't have to be able to balance well, but it will increase your ability to balance and stretch. It increases your strength and energy dramatically.
There are three sections: There are exercises to rejuvenate the body; exercises to rejuvenate and calm the mind, that take you to a place of silence; and exercises to increase spirit in the body. The exercises to rejuvenate the body are done standing up. The others are all done sitting down. You can either sit on a cushion, cross-legged on the floor, or you can do them in a chair. The sitting ones are basically a combination of breathing with hand and arm movements. The breathing is very similar to martial arts or yogic breathing. There are a few fundamental differences and there are a few very easy additions, which have been up to now kept a secret.
I can work in a class of 50 people and I can give them two keys to this breathing. Within three minutes the whole room comes to a state of absolute stillness. They don’t have to practice breathing for weeks and weeks to get it right. This is like a fast track to where we're going.
'The Way of the Gods' does not try and achieve spectacular results. One gets results like kundalini rising, heat and emanations of energy from the hands, but it’s all side effects of the exercises. This is not what we try to achieve but what we notice happening on the way. That's a much healthier point of view because it's not forcing these things to happen. They happen as a natural consequence of the body rejuvenating itself. The body starts getting energy flowing in the correct way, in a natural way. We're not saying to the body, 'You’ve got to do this now because they say it's good for you. 'We're saying, 'Entire mechanism—body, mind and spirit—all at once, rejuvenate yourself!'
As they work together synergistically to rejuvenate and regenerate themselves on all levels at once, all these things start to happen as a natural consequence. We don't force anything to happen, and that's the beautiful part of this technique. It's also called 'The Art of the Enlightened One.' It's so absolutely beautiful.
The movements themselves are exquisite. When you do them, as you do them, they get deeper and deeper, and you can refine them more and more. Certain times, it feels as if you are just shifting energy around you and in you. That's what you're doing. You're no longer moving your body; you're moving energy. When people watch you, they're captivated by the exquisite beauty and depth of the movement because as you work with them, they become less and less physical.
For people who are mature, this is a great advantage. You don't have to get more and more physical and more strenuous with them. You have to go the opposite way. They become less physical and more energetic. They become easier and easier and in fact, the body starts to crave them.
Celeste: Can you describe the affect that these movements have had on some of your students?
Ratziel: I had a client who is just reaching 50, who practiced Chi-Gung and Taekwon-do for 13 years. He practiced Hsin Tao, 'The Way of the Gods,' for six weeks. He told me that he dropped those other practices because he's getting greater results from doing Hsin Tao. He feels better when he wakes up, he feels more alive, he has increased energy and is more relaxed. With his Chi-Gung, he was getting spectacular results, like shaking in the arms, feelings of this and feelings of that, but he didn't actually feel that much better in himself.
Another client that I've been working with had done all sorts of yoga. She'd been practicing 'The Way of the Gods' for about two months, and she rang me the other day and said, 'You know, I can't stop doing this stuff. I’m increasing the time I'm doing it, because I'm getting the effects of energy rising up my spine, and I'm not trying to make it happen. It just is happening for me and I'm feeling so great.' I worked with one man who had asthma as a child. He's now in his late thirties and was using a puffer everyday, at least five times a day. I worked with him for two weeks and he reduced his puffer use. In a month he was down to half a puff, once every four days. He said to me that that half puff was all that he could take, he couldn't take a whole puff.
I worked with a psychologist, in Santa Monica, who had lived with a split disc and a slipped disc. She had lived with it for ten years because she didn't want to have major surgery. She was practicing her own method of pain management. She'd see a lot of practitioners every week just to keep it under control. She moved like a board and when she sat on a chair, she couldn't twist to the right or left. I worked with her twice a week in private sessions and she came to me one day and she was moving her hips like rubber. I looked at her and I asked, 'Is this the same person that came to me six weeks ago?' It was such a total transformation. It had happened in such a subtle manner, that she didn't notice until I said something to her.
I worked with a woman that a psychologist sent to me, who was suffering from clinical depression. She just couldn't shift. Her psychologist thought that maybe this technique would be something good for her. It was very tenuous working with her because she was in such a delicate state. I was briefed by the psychologist. She said you had to be careful about everything you said and how you said it. She felt at ease with me, she liked what she saw and she started to practice. Halfway through the class, she expressed with astonishment that she felt a breakthrough. She never turned back from that day. Not only did she recover from her depression, but she moved into a new space where she felt a level of confidence and inner strength that she had never known before. And this was just halfway through an hour's lesson! I was astonished.
There was another woman that I worked with on just one occasion. I gave her exercises to practice at home. The day that she came to me for the second session, she had a big car accident, yet she cruised into the place where I was staying. She told me about the accident and I said, 'Gosh, you're incredibly calm about it all.' She said, 'I know. I couldn't believe how easily I handled it. Normally I'd be screaming and yelling and going into a panic.'
It works in different ways for different people. Everybody goes through a different process with it. I've been astonished with all this stuff. It's one thing for it to work on you, it's another thing for it to work on other people. That's even more amazing to me.
Celeste: How do these techniques release blocks in the mind and body?
Ratziel: It processes stuff automatically. Some people have trouble with these techniques if they practice just a bit and then stop. These movements quickly start to repattern people and things start coming up. If they keep practicing, it processes automatically and it never seems to come into the conscious mind. Nothing turns into an issue or crisis. If they stop the practice, they usually have to deal with an emotional issue or some form of anger, resentment or blame, or a physical thing like a cold or flu.
I've worked with these exercises a lot and I've discussed this process with some psychologists. We looked at it and it wasn't just me observing it. These exercises are a phenomenon. If people start the practice and then drop it, they may release something that comes up and it may become an issue or crisis to go through. If they continue practicing or resume practicing, everything seems to smooth out. It's fascinating stuff.
Celeste: How did you first become involved in learning these techniques?
Ratziel: I was stricken with post-polio syndrome ten years ago. When I came in contact with these exercises, I was so weak that I was unable to brush my teeth, or hold a book up in bed. I was getting spasms throughout my body, which left me unable to walk for three to four weeks at a time.
I had a vast knowledge of herbs and homeopathy and I had a very in-depth knowledge of meditation. I also had expert knowledge of the practical Kabbalah and how to apply it in everyday situations, down to the musculature and the anatomy of the body. I was too far gone and nothing was working anymore. I had also developed a tumor in my lung. I was able to abate the decline, but I was still in decline. I was prepared for death and was actually quite excited about the prospect of experiencing that.
I prayed for something to come along because I could no longer use my techniques successfully for my body. At least my mind was at peace and I was happy to go. I prayed for something that would be gentle enough that I would be able to do, that would give me some relief. I was quite happy about dying, but suffering along the way was absolutely not something I had wanted. I had suffered enough by then.
Out of the blue, this Master came along and offered me this technique. He said that he thought it was time, that it was no longer a secret because it could help so many people. He told me that once you learned it thoroughly, you could heal anything with it. You could even reverse the aging process.
When I was stricken with my spasms, I was unable to walk, but I could stand and do these exercises within my pain limit. The movements can be small or big, fast or slow. By doing them within my pain limits, I wasn't hurting myself. He told me that in nine-months time, if I practiced everyday, my life would completely change. I didn't believe him, but within two weeks I found enormous benefits and radical changes within my body.
I was able to go to where I had often gone to much quicker, with much more ease. I was actually able to still the mind without going into meditation. This was all in a matter of weeks. It wasn't huge amounts of years and years of practice. So I followed the practice and was very enthusiastic to see these results in myself.
Celeste: Did your life change radically after practicing these techniques for nine months as this Master had promised?
Ratziel: My wife and I looked back on the year and not only had my physical state radically changed, but my emotional relationship to the world had shifted enormously. Our position in the world was in a much more harmonious state than it was previously. Everything had changed, down to the people that we saw. We were still living in the same home, but there was virtually nothing else that was the same. It was quite incredible. I can't say that happens to everybody, but it was what he told me would happen.
Celeste: What kind of spiritual experiences did you have before you discovered Hsin Tao?
Ratziel: I wrote a book, which was based on my spiritual diary. I thought if I was going to leave the planet, I should write my spiritual experiences, which were quite unique. The book is called, Confessions from Behind the Veil: An Adventure in the Principles of High Magic. The book describes my spiritual experiences from the time I was paralyzed in bed with polio, at the age of five. The people around me were waiting for me to die.
Twenty-five years after you get polio, the symptoms kick in again, and it's much more debilitating than the original symptoms because by then, your nervous system is completely depleted. Everything deteriorates—your muscles, your nerves—everything. That's quite amazing because you think you're over it by then. Anyway, I was about to die and I was going in and out of my body and I had experiences in different universes.
Then one day, a woman dressed in white came into my room and stood by the cot and said, you can sit up now. So I sat up and stood up. It was a miraculous recovery. That woman disappeared. I don't think she was a woman, I've surmised that she was some sort of angel.
When I was 14, I secretly ran off to the Spiritualist Church and also learned yoga. These were very taboo things to do. In Australia, in those days, many spiritual things were very unsavory and not mainstream at all—especially for a boy.
By the time I was eighteen, I was introduced to a group of Kabbalists who were practicing the secret teaching, the oral tradition that had never been written. It was a practice, not a study. They had altered the Tree of Life back to the way it was before the cataclysmic floods of 26,000 years ago. This tradition states that the asteroid belt was created at that time through the explosion of a planet in our solar system.
The work that we did with this was to revert the Tree of Life back to the way it used to be by making one very small alteration. Like Hsin Tao, this system of knowledge went underground, so that it wouldn't be used for power over others. But now the time is right for it to be revealed because we are in a new era. This Kabbalistic tradition goes back to Abraham, and further to Melchizedek and beyond. It is an oral tradition that has been handed down all these years through different cultures.
Celeste: Do you believe that it was a kind of divine alignment that you discovered Hsin Tao?
Ratziel: Absolutely. I prayed for these exercises to come along. That's what I wanted. I knew that everything is available, so I prayed for something that would be gentle enough for me to do, but powerful enough to bring me results. I was absolutely fed up with having spasms.
Two weeks later this Master told me he wanted to teach me something. He demonstrated it sitting down, and I said, well I can do that—it's so simple and easy. That was it. There is a divine alignment for everything. There's a divine alignment for us speaking to each other now and making this connection.
Celeste: When did you decide to start teaching Hsin Tao?
Ratziel: After two years of studying Hsin Tao, I had recovered to such a state that this Master told me to go and teach these techniques. I was also being told by different clairvoyants and by divine guidance, that I'd have to start teaching.
There was even an oracle, in a remote mountain in Bali, who started talking about how I needed to go to America to teach. America was featuring quite strongly in many of the messages I was receiving. I said, 'What is this? I don't know anyone in America. How can I just turn up in America and start teaching. Teach what?' She said, 'You're going to have to start teaching from your experience and start bringing people peace.'
I thought that there was no way I could get to America. I imagined that I would arrive in the US and stand at the airport and announce that I'm here to teach somebody, if anyone is interested. As it turned out, a month later, someone gave me a ticket to come to Las Vegas with some spending money.
Celeste: How did you happen to come to Los Angeles?
Ratziel: I knew one person from Bali who was visiting Los Angeles. She rang me in Las Vegas and said, come and visit me for a weekend. So I came for a weekend and it all steam-rolled from there. Then I was invited to demonstrate at a workshop that Sondra Ray was giving, which was her first workshop in I don't know how many years. She had come out of seclusion. I demonstrated these techniques and I was about to get on a plane to Australia, but people begged me not to. They wanted to learn these techniques. They wanted to hear more about my experiences with the Kabbalah. This was America, in any other country people wouldn't have been so enthusiastic. It's incredible here.
I've tried to leave here three times. The last time I was really tossing up whether to leave or not, and a little Indian guy at the Thunderbolt Bookshop tapped me on the shoulder and started talking to me. Apparently he was a reader of chakras, from Sri Lanka. He was visiting here and was about to go back to London the next day. He said, you know, you really have to stay here and teach what you have to teach. I gave up. Fine. That's it. I said, just send people to look after me and help me because I have no idea how to get by here. All I know how to do is help people with this work. I'm just following the guidance that comes.
Celeste: What kind of help do you need to get the word out about this practice?
Ratziel: I need help getting this to the right groups of people. I'm a great teacher but not a great business person. I've been getting the message that I should be travelling around the country and the world doing workshops. I've recently been invited to London, and Hong Kong, but as yet haven't taught anywhere in the States outside of LA.
Celeste: I hope this information reaches the people that could benefit from this practice and I hope it helps you connect to the appropriate venues where you can teach this remarkable technique.