Hi Ron, what do you want us to know about Goji berries?
Millions of people now know of Goji and have heard it is good for
you. What many people don't realize is that there is much more to
these berries than their simple antioxidant qualities. But the Goji
berry itself is primal to Asian Taoist cultures because Goji promotes longevity, opens the heart, protects our vision and senses,
and when you consume it over time, it is said to make you happy.
The chemistry of Goji affects us in a positive way beyond simply
the physical. In Taoist cultures, people consume it for its spiritual
and transformational qualities.
That’s a powerful berry!
Absolutely. Goji is much more than just a snack food or a light
superfood. It has special qualities; that’s how I came across it in
the first place. I had a teacher who was able to explain that Goji
builds primal energy. Goji is a tonic herb, and by their very nature, tonic herbs reach into all of the cells of the body. They are
transformative because they affect how our body manifests our
genetics. Tonic herbs have a more profound effect on the immune
system than the superfoods. The tonics are so deep, regulatory,
and balancing that they give you an inner power.
Goji is the quintessential tonic herb. If we take tonics, we are protected and we grow. But I do feel Goji is not understood as a powerful tonic food. People think of it as another kind of raisin; I'm
not putting down raisins, but they are not tonic in the way that
Goji is—the chemistry of tonic foods is way beyond even the super
foods. They are human potential potentiators, meaning they can
expand us, fine-tune us, and optimize us.
Are there other tonic herbs you feel are misunderstood?
One of the most misunderstood herbs in the world is Ginseng. The
depth of some people’s perception is seeing it in little ampules at
7-11 being sold as an herbal stimulant or sex tonic. Some people
complain that Ginseng is too hot or gives them headaches. That is
because the Ginseng roots used are not mature, probably only one
to two years old. Good Ginseng has to be at least six years old to
have the chance to develop balanced chemistry. So for example, all
Dragon Herbs’ Ginseng roots are at least six years old, but some of
them are even 100 years old, which is even better.
Ginseng is called the “king of herbs” because quality Ginseng (not
the kind that is found at a convenience store counter) is grown
at high altitudes in remote places or volcanic areas. This kind of
Ginseng is so regulating and so amazing that it builds our Qi, our
adaptability, our ability to handle stress, fight off challenges (both
infections and emotional challenges), and it gives us the adaptive
energy to handle life and grow as people.
We need energy to develop. Development is not something that we
can just take for granted. In spiritual practice, people have to work
on themselves. Something like Ginseng is a powerful tool to make the
body more receptive to information, transformation, manifestation,
and the energy to practice yoga, qi gong, or to meditate. Nearly everybody should take some form of Ginseng, but not cheap Ginseng.
Another important but misunderstood tonic herb is Reishi. This is
a hugely popular herb right now, but when I was just starting out,
no one had heard of it. Reishi is commonly regarded as an immune
tonic but it is much more than that—it is the most important Shen
tonic, which is used to build spiritual power over time.
Each of us is on our own path toward spiritual growth. Even
though we have our own business or career, family, sexual, and
academic life, we also each need to grow and become a greater
human being in an enlightened sense. We each need to understand
the Divine. It gives meaning, purpose and direction to everything
we do. This is what Reishi is most famous for in Asia.
However, commercial grade Reishi is often made of “mycelium,”
grown in a hot house. Good Reishi should be grown on wooden
logs in the mountains so its environment closely simulates that of
wild Reishi. This is the only way for Reishi to live up to its ancient
spiritual reputation, not hot house, not mycelium.
Can you explain how herbs can actually assist people in the
process of spiritual development?
There is no spiritual development without the foundation of physical health. We are, after all, living as physical beings on this planet.
Our body is our temple. Physical health must be the beginning
point of spiritual growth. If you are eating poorly, you are not
even at the beginning point of developing yourself. You are just
trashing yourself and creating a distorted view in your own soul
and spirit and mind of how the world is. Once you have entered
the path of self-respect, then taking care of yourself—eating well,
doing yoga, qi gong, or some kind of practice that develops yourself—all become paramount. Energy channels reflect our spiritual
body, but can be influenced physically. Our hormones influence
how we think, feel, emote and behave. These hormones can certainly be influenced by our physical life. The body, mind and the
spirit are one. This is where tonic herbs come in.
Tonic herbs do more than just stimulate health—beyond building
physical health, they are protective and build energy and ultimately contribute directly to our spiritual well-being and growth. In
the Orient, tonic herbs are considered holy and transformational.
They are a fundamental tool of the yogis. Tonic herbs are different
from medicinal herbs in that they are extremely safe. You can take
the tonic herbs over the course of a lifetime. They are part of our
diet and they contribute to our general well-being.
So…a little like preventative medicine?
Yes and no. Yes in that they prevent disease and help prevent
problems in our lives, but no in the sense that they are more than
preventive. They are health-promoting beyond the focus of prevention. Prevention implies that you have something specific to
prevent, but health promotion is all about becoming radiantly
healthy, which is defined as “health beyond danger.”
The whole point is to help people grow and develop a greater potential for the peace needed to transform humanity. Tonic herbs
are part of the transformation process just as meditation, yoga,
and other practices are. Tonic herbs are critical because they get
into our cells and help us to change to become more beneficial to
the world on a larger scale.
Categorically, all Taoist practitioners and masters in Asia have
used tonic herbs. Most yogis have used tonic herbs. Wise people
and elders worldwide have used tonic herbs. These are plants that
aren’t taken for their immediate benefit, but these are the herbs
people take for next week, next month, and next year. Tonic herbs
are like deep breathing, they are a source of life force.
How is it possible to sustain a healthy life in Los Angeles
where we are always subject to stress?
If you live in the city, for example, you probably have a job that
requires you to travel through traffic and you are dealing with
deadlines and all kinds of other daily stress, without real relief. >