This next exercise from the Hoshinroshiryu is called Da Mo's Cave. Da Mo was the Hindu monk who traveled to China and, according to legend, revitalized the Shaolin Temple, introducing brain and marrow washing as well as chi kung and kung fu to the poor benighted priesthood of that far away and long ago era. Supposedly he sat in meditation in his cave for nine years. Like Christ, he felt it was important. He's usually painted with no eyelids, as legend has it he tore them off so he couldn't fall asleep when meditating, He's also the patron saint of tea drinkers. He's usually pictured as a rough-looking bearded gentleman. He is also regarded as the founder of Zen and sometimes referred to as the Bodhidharma, Da Mo, or Daruma. My first gift from Hatsumi was a watercolor cf Da Mo. Hatsumi paints him as shame-faced and worried-looking with a flaming aura.
This exercise is designed to increase your ability to visualize and fantasize, and to provide alternative ways to access your subconscious and chakra system. If you're print and auditory oriented like me, you may have to have someone read this to you while you meditate. Most of the TV generation have no difficulty with this at all, as it is just like going to the movies. I don't visualize nearly as well as my students. What I do to remember and create is like what you do when you read a good author whose words allow you to sort of see and feel the situation he or she is describing. (Very rarely do I get the detail that the youngsters get. Most often my visions look like holographs. If yours work out that way, don't worry. It's all processed in the brain eventually. I'm told that us lower-IQ types have greater problems visualizing.) Just treat it like a story except that you are the main character and get to fill in the details as you want them to be. This exercise is definitely part cf the oral tradition and similar to shamanistic journeying.
Hit the position of choice, do the PG-rated version of the Secret Smile, and then once you are relaxed and happy, picture yourself emerging from the water on a beach and then walking across a plain toward a mountain. As you walk along it seems as if your feet draw energy from the ground and every step makes you feel strong and confident. As you begin to climb the mountain you see ahead an old abandoned temple and graveyard, which you skirt but notice that there are bathing pools that still hold water within the ruined interior. You continue to climb and it is getting tougher. As you begin to tire and lean against the rocks and trees, you find that you can draw strength with your hands as well as your feet, and that gives you more energy to continue your climb. Ahead of you on a slightly different trail you see a cave with an inviting entrance. You go toward it and a guardian wearing a cloak that masks identity gestures to you to enter and bows so you feel accepted and a bit like a well-loved king or queen.
You enter the cave and find a long, downward-descending tunnel with phosphorescent walls that glow with enough light to see. This descending ramp opens into a large subterranean room. In the back at quite a distance there is a bed of glowing lava. On your left is a tall podium supporting a large leather-bound tome which has written across it in words of flaming gold, "All Knowledge Is Power. Seeking Truth, First Look Ye Here!" Behind this large book's podium is a room containing a massive communication and computer set-up, looking somewhat like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise You can see three seats in there. One is yours. There is a young woman and a young man working in the room. They don't see you yet.
To the right is a great stairway with five steps. Each step is a different-colored wide slab with a doorway opening off of it. The first step is red and its door is heavy and barred but you can see that it opens into a rugged and ancient desert, and in the distance you can make out a city built from stone. The next step is orange and its doorway is a Dutch door looking out on a babbling stream that flows down through a forest to a vast lake or ocean. There is a ship approaching. The next step up is bright yellow and its door is intricately carved and looks out on a city that is both modern and ancient and seems to be sheltering many different kinds of people. Some even look like elves. As you focus your attention there, you hear faint laughter and music and the clink of glassware. The next step up is green and seems to be opening into the sky. You can see a bird floating. It's like looking up to an upstairs window. The sky is cloudless and light blue. The last step is tilted and spirals off into the distance in various shades cf blue and violet fading into white. It almost seems to penetrate the dark rock of the cave in the distance. It is rather strange.
In the center, before you, is a series of rooms that are your living quarters. There is your bath, sleeping quarters, garden, library, laboratory, personal dojo and instructor, machine shop, stables, and kitchen. You explore to make certain all is as you want it. You are surprised to find an animal in a back room that regards you as its master. In one of the rooms you find a secret panel and in another there is a hidden trapdoor under a rug. You do not enter these at this time as they are dark. When you have familiarized yourself with the contents of your cave and feel certain you can return whenever you wish to improve it, for instruction or to play, allow your eyes to open.
My cave was initially rather austere. For a long time my bed was rock and I kept warm with the skins and blankets made from what I could capture. One day I asked one of my Hillsdale College students what her cave was like and she said, "I love my waterbed and masseuse. It's so nice to walk out into the desert with music blaring from the outside speakers when I want to be by myself." Angie Damm got me thinking that the cave might be wildly different from person to person depending on their interests and creativity. Da Mo's Cave has a lot of possibility.
Blake Poindexter's empire of the South would make Donald
Trump green with envy, and Mark Robinson's has cartoons living in his. What you may find out the doors, behind the panels, and down the traps is part of our oral tradition, but keep in mind Togakure means "hidden door" and one of the Taoist schools is "mysterious portal." Be careful as you explore the surrounding domains, and don't jump out the green door. It's a long way to the bottom of the abyss. There's climbing gear in the war room or you might try to ride the bird.
You should explore Da Mo's cave as an exercise in imagination. How real and yet how crazy can you get? Because the mythos of the cave is based on cross-cultural archetypes, as your chi builds your cave will change and you may find some very interesting connections to exterior reality as you also discover interior deities. Kevin Brown would write the answers to probable test questions in his cave's study and keep notes in the memory tome. If something slipped his mind during a test, he'd close his eyes, run into the cave, and get the answer. He carried a four-point average in Physics. Medical students may want to use the lab and visioning screens behind the book to explore their meridians or direct energy and other biological functions. Experiment—it's your cave and everything in it is also you. It gives you a fantasy arena to work out your psychosis. It's full of surprises.
My son once sat in on a session of my college class. As I was describing the stairs to my students, he decided to look in his tome. He told me the pages looked like Swiss cheese and then pointed out that I'd informed him once there were major holes in his knowledge that he should start repairing. He was a great kid and has become a remarkably good man and world-class chemist, cf all things.
A variation of Da Mo's Cave taught to potential POWs by Air Force psychologists was building their dream houses in exact detail. The reports of prisoners in Vietnam claim this technique was extremely helpful in terms of enduring boredom, deprivation, and torture. It is recommended in this process that one even attempt to involve the senses of taste, touch, and smell while working on the inner vision.
Was this article helpful?