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    The Principle is without form.
    Its function derives from the instrument.
    Without the instrument, the Principle is unrecognizable.
    Chozan Shissai - Master Swordsman, Japan 1728

    The Design of the Cheng Hsin Studies

    Cheng Hsin was designed to be an instrument for discovery and training, and it was created for people like yourself.

    The design of the Cheng Hsin communication and studies is non-random. It was designed consciously, to follow, express and articulate the founding principles of each domain of study, to make them visible through practice and action, and the development of real skill.

    Over time, and through working with thousands of people, Peter has refined and adapted the communication to accomodate human abilities (and in-abilities) to listen and learn outside of what is already known to them. (In and of itself, the study of this aspect of Cheng Hsin alone would be a very powerful study of the nature of learning, communication and facilitation.)

    In each of several domains of study, distinct pursuits and practices have emerged to express and reveal the principles upon which they are founded. As we've mentioned, the Cornerstone Principles found the inquiry as a whole. The Zen Body-Being work and book emerged to support the expression and learning of the Principles of Effortlessly Effective Body-Being, The Art of Effortless Power to support the expression and learning of the Principles of Effective Interaction, and so forth.

    Here we'll give you an overview of several domains of study that are growing today, and point you in the direction of further opportunities for study, practice and transformation.

    An optimal training ground

    Thus it is important to teach men how to acquire discretion, great insight, forthright conviction, and an honest Heart. To teach them to acquire a personal awareness and self-discipline and thereby place them on the solid ground of practice.
    Chozan Shissai - Master Swordsman, Japan 1728

    The studies of Cheng Hsin have been developed and refined over decades to become an integrated set of Arts of great depth and power, an optimized training ground where the principles can be discovered, trained and mastered.

    Peter created The Cheng Hsin Center to host intense workshops and provide support for the focus and effort that longer term training requires to master the depths of the Art. The coursework offered there is the best opportunity to make it real. The Cheng Hsin Retreat in the spring and The Fall Workshop Series are the best opportunities to get started with or immersed in the work.

    Working with the Body

    Cheng Hsin is pursued through a study of the body. We study its design, function, movement, awareness; and the pursuit of an effortlessly effective, fully functional and integrated body-being.

    We work on learning, training and incorporating the Principles of an Effortlessly Effective Body-Being, the principles upon which effective use of the body depends.

      The Principles of
      An Effortlessly Effective Body-Being
    • Centering:
      locating and being able to focus mind and feeling-attention on, as well as move the whole body from, the body's center.
    • Grounding:
      developing a stronger connection and feeling-association with the ground - drawing power from the ground.
    • Being Whole and Unified:
      being capable of feeling every cubic inch of the entire body and learning to unify this whole in awareness and action.
    • Relaxing:
      being able to let go of the mind and muscles and allow the body to attain a natural, open, and unused state.
    • Being Calm:
      learning to allow the mind and attention to be undisturbed by circumstance, and to refrain from creating negative or inappropriate thoughts and reactions.

    The goals are oriented around developing the qualities and functional skill inherent in the Cheng Hsin Body-Being.

    We work on developing and increasing a feeling-awareness of the whole body and body-mind which is responsible for skill, health, and the effective use of the body for any purpose.

    We investigate the principles that make up an effortlessly effective use of body structure, moment, and power.

    We work to uncover, explore and train Intrinsic Strength: using an inherent power of the body-mind to create effortless results.

    We work on developing 7 basic structural points for more effective and correct mechanical use of the body (see the book: "Zen Body-Being").

    Interaction, Relationship, Skill and Martial Arts

    Cheng Hsin is pursued through the study of interaction. We explore the principles of interaction, relationship and ability. How is interaction constructed? What determines effective interaction? How is ability or skill created?

    The Principles of Effective Interaction ground our work here.

      The Principles of Effective Interaction
    • Listening:
      Accurately perceiving what's happening in every moment.
    • Outreaching:
      Making a feeling-connection with what's there.
    • Neutralizing
      Nullifying any disruptive force. Developing the skills of yielding.
    • Joining:
      Blending with another's actions to produce your own results. Joining the other's actions allows us to use their actions to accomplish our own ends without conflict.
    • Leading
      Instead of just yielding we actually move so as to lead their actions and take control.

    There are many other sophisticated interactive principles not mentioned here.

    The Art of Effortless Power is the main arena for this work.

    "I would like to see martial arts turned into a place for the development of human beings, and of honesty. A place where we can see what it is that we do in life that really makes us suffer and hurt, or be ineffective and incomplete.

    Martial arts are an excellent place to see that, if done right. Otherwise -- and ninety percent of the time it is otherwise -- it is done like everything else, just to add to our survival and protection, our "rightness." It's the same approach we have to everything else, and only ends up increasing resistance and separation.

    I'd like to see these arts become as functional as they can be. A very valuable tool, the way of a Warrior, not the way of pretense and struggle. A tool for growth, not self-deceit.

    When the words "martial arts" are mentioned, people generally think of something very crude or limited. Cheng Hsin is so much more than that. However, when talking to a publisher of a "consciousness" magazine and mentioning consciousness in fighting, his response was, "What does fighting have to do with consciousness?" I'd like to answer that question."

    Peter Ralston, 1978

    Goals for Interaction, Skill and Martial Arts

    • Developing an Effortless Power learning to produce results without having to use strength to do so.
    • Relaxing deeply and being able to stay relaxed while in action, even within competitive interactions.
    • Real yielding for us goes beyond a passive state to a very intelligent and effective way of handling aggression without strength.
    • Our focus is on developing calm balanced skill rather than reactive brute strength.
    • We use an experiential intelligence which is more than intellect, it is a wisdom that comes from developing a deeper body and relational consciousness, as well as insight into the nature of interaction, perception, mind, and the principles that govern effectiveness.
    • In the martial aspect of Cheng Hsin we develop effortless and effective skills, and a centered and powerful mind and body.
    • Learning and incorporating the Principles of Effective Interaction through understanding the principles upon which interaction takes place.

    We move our mind and perception beyond a simple and gross relationship with what is happening to a very conscious and sensitive awareness of every action as it occurs within an interaction. This provides us with a heightened and accurate perception of what is happening, empowering our ability to handle it.

    It is possible to develop a reflective response that can accurately and immediately relate to what another is doing, rather than being caught in a reaction or stuck in the intellect.

    The more we can include in our awareness and mind, the more skill we have.

    We consider the nature of interaction, relationship, and skill for the purpose of discovering the nature of interaction and the principles of relating effectively.

    Working with Consciousness

    Cheng Hsin is pursued through the study of Being and Consciousness, also called ontology. We ask as directly and authentically as we can "What am I?" "What is Mind?" "What is the nature of Being?" Looking beyond morality, cultural conventions, limitations in our own thinking and perception, we ask, "What are the dynamics and principles in which we exist?", and "what is the truth of our own nature and event"?

    In the ontological aspect of Cheng Hsin we learn about our self-mind down to the bone, and work to become conscious of the true nature of "being" and existence.

    We make new distinctions: recognizing something unseen in one's experience, perception, or mind.

    Here we also consider the nature of interaction, relationship, communication, and skill, for the purpose of discovering the nature of interaction and the principles of relating effectively.

    We study the self, mind, perception, and experience -- to experience what they are and why they exist.

    We learn to perceive things the way they are rather than how they relate to us, providing us with a new and alive experience of reality, self, and others.

    We work to directly experience who we are, and ultimately to directly experiencing the true nature of being and existence.

    Investigating Mind

    Discovering that the self-mind dominates all that we perceive creates the possibility that we can set out to experience beyond this limitation.

    Penetrating the unconscious mind mechanisms that determine our sense of self, our perceptions and interpretations, and the impulses that direct our actions, reveals what stands in the way of inner freedom and clarity. Through introspection and insight we are able to discover and dismantle the programs that run us.

    Getting beyond judgment and self serving perceptions allows us to create real communication where one's experience is actually gotten by another or theirs by ourselves.

    Becoming responsible for how the mind works and what goes on in our own minds, even at an unconscious level, allows us to create new relationships to things.

    Developing a Zen Consciousness through Contemplation

    Contemplation is a powerful ability that can be learned and developed, and which provides us with access to the inner workings of our own minds as well as to the possibility of discovering the true nature of self, mind, reality, or anything else.

    There is a difference between experiencing yourself in the way that you normally do, and experiencing the true nature of existence. Our goal here is to directly and consciously experience the true nature of the existence of ourselves.

    Our main goal is to become directly Conscious of the Nature of Being.

    Some of the Goals in our Ontological Pursuits

    • Learn about ourselves and the world around us.
    • Become free of the domination of our own self and mind.
    • Dig out from our unconscious mind the assumptions and programs that interfere with being fully healthy and effective.
    • To be unaffected by or non-reactive to what we encounter so that we are no longer dominated by our past programming and knee-jerk egoic concerns, and can more powerfully experience and relate to what is actually there.
    • Be able to experience things for themselves rather than how they affect us.
    • Learn to stop habitually judging others and things, so that we can see them for what they are and more effectively interact with them.
    • Develop our ability to really communicate -- to get our experience fully across to another, as well as be able to fully grasp what another's experience is that they are communicating to us.
    • Develop our ability to powerfully contemplate so that we can become personally conscious of the truth of any matter.
    • Learn to make new and effective distinctions -- recognizing something in our experience that we haven't yet perceived.
    • Directly experience the true nature of our own Being and the nature of reality and existence.

    This life-changing exploration is advanced by participation in the ontology workshops. Find out more here.

    Personal Transformation

    Cheng Hsin is pursued through demonstrative personal transformation. We work to create a powerful and "free" human being.

    By addressing obstacles and ineffective patterns of thinking and emotion, and embracing a shift in the mind and body toward what is effective, free, and whole, we transform our experience and our selves.

    Peter also works personally with advanced students on their skills in teaching and facilitation.

    Cheng Hsin work supports personal transformation in all of its facets and pursuits. The pinnacle of this work, however, and worth pointing out, is the Apprentice Program. The Three Month Training Program also supports dedicated, personally motivated students.

    Open to New Possibilities

    Cheng Hsin is an open-ended endeavor open to the discovery and exploration of Cheng Hsin principles, and the creation and development of new pursuits and practices as well. Learning, facilitation, communication, and instrumental artistry of many kinds are all worthy fields of endeavor, just to name a few.

    Working together, Zen Consciousness, Body-Being Skills and the Art of Effortless Power begin to transform the whole human being. Mind, body, skill, and every other dimension in which you find yourself is empowered, becoming more awake and effective.

    You might say that Cheng Hsin provides a kind of "Renaissance" development, since we aim for a well-rounded transformation, and not just intellectual or physical improvements. The very principles that found such a transformation can be uncovered by you in an authentic and direct manner in Ontology Work of Cheng Hsin.

    All of these pursuits, and more, are founded upon the same essential principle. However, transferring functional understanding from one domain to another is not easy. Development of that level of skill requires a fundamental and authentic experience of the principles involved such that they can be recognized in any form.

    All of these pursuits are in fact specifically designed to facilitate just this sort of fundamental and authentic experience.