I offer the following for your consideration regarding the seven-month Consciousness Apprentice Program.
First let me try to orient you a bit to such an undertaking. This Program will be grounded in such principles as clarity, honesty, accountability, keeping one's word, commitment, and integrity. The objective is personal transformation, and we may also tackle the subject of facilitation. It will be a very challenging course, and a very rewarding one. The essence of this undertaking is a reorientation of one's relationship to life, self, reality, and others. Although in this particular Program we will focus primarily on becoming increasingly conscious of self, mind, the nature of reality, there will also be occasion for learning some of the Cheng Hsin martial skills as an addendum to our consciousness work and to assist in physical health and improvement. The vast majority of the work, however, will in the area of contemplation, confrontation, and consciousness. The Program will not be easy or remain in the abstract or philosophical domains, but will be grounded in hard work and demonstrable success.
This work requires trust and discipline, which is why I want every applicant to have done some work with me prior to this program. Some have expressed interest without having attended an ontology workshop or Intensive. This is not a good idea. You'd be getting into something of which you have no experience, and only a slight idea of the reality of such an undertaking. It will be hard work, NOT a fantasy. I suspect that many of the people who would like to entertain such a fantasy will in the end find it "impossible" to attend. Yet, consistent with the apprentice programs of the past: one creates commitment, all else follows. I am always ready and willing to be surprised by an individual’s level of commitment. This work is about creating possibilities, not being stuck behind circumstances.
Of all that has been accomplished within Cheng Hsin, I’ve always felt that the most important thing — and what I'd really like the whole world to do — is the personal transformation aspect of this Program.
Here are some comments from past apprentices and a well-known student:
I want you to know that I see it as my job to confront you on more levels then simply intellectual understanding or accumulating knowledge. How you learn, how you think and react, beliefs you have that don't serve you, are all subjects that will be addressed. And of course there will be a lot of daily contemplation! This can be challenging in a psychological sense, and also in an emotional sense. Working with others day after day, running into frustrations, being asked to do more than you feel capable of, living with other people - these can all create friction and distress. You should be prepared and mature about your decision to undertake the program. You will also be asked to help out on the property on occasion, helping to prepare for the month-long, keeping the dojo clean and functional, helping to clean the pool, etc.. The program includes your participation in the entire month of the Cheng Hsin Retreat as well as the Fall Series ending in the Contemplation Intensive. You will be BUSY for the whole seven+ months!
The Center will be like a Zen Monastery during this time. All of the ontology work such as done in ENB and described in The Book of Not Knowing will be addressed. Many, many hours of contemplation will be undertaken -- mostly in diad form but also as solo contemplation. Serious psychological probing will occur, intending to unearth the uncognized matrix of mind that establishes you as a self. New forms of thinking and behavior will be demanded that are consistent with increasing integrity and consciousness and help to create the right environment for personal growth. Clarity in communication, a more powerful and real personal presence, and a greater ability to control one’s mind and attention will all be central objectives for those attending. Apprentices support one another and work as a team toward greater consciousness. Simple martial interactions will be studied a little every day (t’ai chi and stretching work, a few easy techniques and games) to assist in physical consciousness and development, increased mind control, and conscious awareness under stress. We may also work toward empowering you to become capable of communicating and to some degree facilitating this work.
I repeat: this is not a fantasy or a laid back retreat. It is serious and challenging work that requires commitment, courage, and persistence. Your mind will be blown, and you’ll enter into realms of consciousness and thought that you are not familiar with. The main goal is: Consciousness — to become enlightened as to the nature of yourself and reality, and to transform as a person.
I'm sure there is more to communicate, and I'm completely open to questions, but I suspect this letter should give you an impression of my intentions. Consider in earnest if this Program is something you want to do. If it is, then make a commitment and you will find a way.
Consciousness Apprentice Program Outline:
Length: Seven+ months: mid-March through October
Hours per day doing exercises, contemplation, and facilitation: 10-12 hrs. (conscious awareness is practiced all day)
Ralston Facilitation and Teaching per day: approximately 2 hrs. (depending on what’s needed at the time)
Sample Schedule: Monday - Saturday: 7:00 — 9:30 am
10am — 12:00pm
6:00 — 9:30pm
(Sunday: 8 -- 10am and 6 — 9pm)
Apprentices will sleep in the Meditation Hall -- cots, bags, foam, etc. will be supplied
Apprentices will keep the Meditation Hall clean and spotless
Apprentices will buy their own food and cook their own meals at the Meditation Hall
Plates, cups, hot plate, microwave, refrigerator, etc. are supplied
The Apprentice group must have at least one car (no more than three)
The pool and hot tub are available at certain times.
Cost for the entire program: $14,995 (Cost includes the month-long Cheng Hsin Retreat and Fall Series).
This is definitely the least expensive value offered. The equivalent cost for the amount of small group private lessons, workshops, and private intensives that will be given during the seven months would be $40,000 - $60,000; and this would not include studying and contemplating an additional 1,275 hours while living at the Meditation Hall).
A non-refundable deposit of $3,995 is due by Nov. 1, five months before the program starts, (missing this deposit date the cost will go up $1,000). The remaining tuition will be due up front on arrival. I'm not open to people "trying" it out for a while, or giving up in the middle.
Depending on the needs of the participants, the program may be open to some modification. But commitment and discipline are not optional.
Previous Apprentice programs have been a great successes! This is really the way Cheng Hsin was meant to be learned! Think about it long and hard. If you are ready to take on this program and to commit yourself to some serious personal transformation, let me know and I will consider your application. If accepted, I will inform you of registration procedures and what to do next, and will begin coaching you on ways to prepare. If you have any questions or concerns, let me know and we will see what we can create together.