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Yin Yang

When asked if his master had treated him kindly, Mark answered, “No.” That's when I knew his teacher was the real McCoy.

The thing about Mark that is so disarming is the feeling one gets he is exactly who he appears to be. There seems to be nothing mysterious about him.  He has a winning but self-effacing sense of humor that fails to tarnish his obvious sense of complete self-satisfaction. He regularly reminds his friends that he is one of the great masters of Qigong in the world, but at the same time he remains remarkably unassuming. Indeed, there is nothing grand or intimidating about his presence or his bearing at all. Mark spends much of his time flying around in a little ultralight airplane and the rest of his time is consumed with meditation and watching cage fighting on TV. And he is also pretty good at ping-pong.

This book is a story of Mark's life told exactly the way he tells it in person. There is no straining for literary metaphor, no innuendo or overworked poetry, no obscure encoded messages or fancy word play for the reader to stumble through. Like Mark himself, what you see is what you get.

How can such an ordinary person be so interesting, and why read a book about his life? The answer is that he is one the rarest of individuals; a person who is completely comfortable with himself. He is, in fact, just as he is, and makes no bones about it; not to himself and not to others. His Daoist master has scrubbed him clean and gouged out all his melodramatic emotions, resentments, his impatience with himself and others, and any discomfort with the world as it is. His master did not treat him kindly while pushing his buttons but now he seems to be button free and enjoys his life of Play. And he has something to teach us all about living life in a spontaneous, lyrical, and non-intentional way.

Like Ram Dass, Mark's spiritual journey began in the Eastern United States and finally led him to the orient, where he met his principle Daoist master and teacher. During his early years in the Eastern United States, Mark met many significant spiritual teachers whom he describes in this colorful book. But it was in the Orient that he, like so many of his generation, found his richest spiritual inspiration.
Mark is the product of a small, Pennsylvania coal mining town. He attended Penn State University only briefly and completed his formal education at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His view of life is both artistic and practical, but not literary and philosophical. He was well suited to the no-nonsense, down-to-earth, attitude of Daoism. Indeed, he is a living representative of life as Play, as is his book.  His warmth and good will, his humor and intuitive intelligence radiate though these pages as they radiate through is life. He is nothing less than a living diplomat for the ineffable.

Allan Combs
Santa Rosa, California
July, 2008

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