I'm in Tainan, which is the old capital of Taiwan, meaning it was a place of early settlement. I get the sense that governance was not universal until about halfway into the Japanese occupation, say 1920.
My first night here I met up with a friend of Professor Hsieh named Sharon Lee, who generously offered to translate for me. We went to Luzhu to meet a Qigong master who was treating people for free at a steel bolt factory. Sharon is getting regular treatments from him. I watched him treat several people with a minute long vigorous painful massage which was heavy on the vibratory poking side of things. We then sat in an office and drank tea for over an hour. The tea was good. I got to ask a lot of questions, but there were about 10 people in the room and most of them were asking questions too.
If I got the story right, he did begin studying with a Daoist teacher in the forest but he then went on to do his own practice which is a sitting still practice of some sort. At a certain point he realized he could heal people and so naturally he started studying Buddhism as that is the biggest cult here which has a doctrine of compassion that involves fixing/curing people.
However, he side stepped Buddhism too, after realized that he found it impossible to memorize Sutras. At some point after he had been treating people he looked into Chinese Herbal medicine and found it easy to understand. He soon began writing long herbal prescriptions. Interestingly he doesn't actually write the prescriptions himself, he channels Yao Wang (Medicine King) a Tang Dynasty God who does the prescriptions for him.
But besides this, he said no gods are involved in his healing ceremonies. He is a vegetarian and encourages others to be also, he often tells people to skip dinner, and he does not allow payment for healings. He does drive a fancy German car however, so he has some big donors. While he says he can not teach what he does, he holds ceremonies for an inner circle at his home, which has some sort of altar. At these ceremonies he has other people read the Heart Sutra.
He said I have a kidney problem which is manifesting in my chest. He is clearly from what I would call the "Structure School" of Chinese medicine. I don't know if he thought my problem was acute or chronic, but that's how he operates. The heat in Southern Taiwan undoubtedly has given me an acute kidney problem, but I recover instantly in the presence of air conditioning, which by the way he says is bad for everyone's health. He didn't give me a full one minute treatment, I got only the 15 second version on my sternum, but that was three days ago and I can still feel it. Last time I had a treatment like this I think I was 13. Back then we called in a chest "nuggie."
My long time readers know that I call this kind of guy a Qi Jock, and I'm generally not impressed. But as a student of religion I think he has an interesting take on what a body is. He refused to be pinned down on any definitions of things like jing, qi and shen. He does have the idea that in stillness jing and qi differentiate and that leads to an extraordinary type of freedom. I think he is fulfilling a real need in people's lives.
The orthodox Daoist in me says don't get in the way of other people subordinating themselves with the idea that they need extraordinary powers of healing. I can make this point very simple. At the end of the day, after violating the most basic of Daoist precepts--"don't waste jing and qi"--a person wants to give in to something. Some people rent "Die Hard 3" and fantasize about being Bruce Willis, others go and get a Qigong treatment. Which is more effective is a question of perspective and circumstance.
UPDATE: I must have temporarily blocked this out. In addition to saying I had a kidney problem he said, "Ni shi tai peng." (You're too fat.)