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Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
Timothy M. Leonard's books on Goodreads
A Century Is Nothing A Century Is Nothing
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.50)

The Language Company The Language Company
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)

Subject to Change Subject to Change
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Ice girl in Banlung Ice girl in Banlung
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)

Finch's Cage Finch's Cage
ratings: 2 (avg rating 3.50)

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If I grow up I die

Being nine Lucky helped 4th grade geniuses become more human.


Everyone had fun. Students learned that whining was boring and useless. Smart ones knew without understanding. They knew what they didn’t know.

Kids shared Socratic discussions. They explored and expanded creative imagination journal writing, cross-disciplinary art, chess and teamwork development projects. They built and flew kites.

They practiced good manners and treated everyone with respect.

They focused on developing character: zest, courage, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, curiosity, fairness, generosity and integrity.

They shared soft eyes, relaxation techniques and meditation mind maps. They accepted personal responsibility for learning and exploring the process of becoming.

He assisted them to develop critical thinking skills outside imaginary social and educational conditioning traps. “I am here to help you make mistakes.”

One day a young teacher kid said, “We need challenges, Teacher Lucky.”

“What kind of challenges?”

“We need hardship and deprivation.”

“Yes,” said another teacher, “we need to take more risks.”

“How do you develop courage?”

“Through failure. We love to fail better."

“Correcto mundi. Welcome to The Think for Yourself Academy. Everything we do is an experiment.”

They planned, designed and constructed an elaborate high-risk rope and creeper vine obstacle course in jungles challenging body, mind and spirit. Teamwork skills blossomed like orchids.  


Residents near his garden sanctuary passed a tall green spiky cactus stretching arms into bluebird songs. A nanny carrying an infant memorized the echo of white cat paws trailing flip-flops. Faustus, seeing through innocent eyes rode behind his pedaling Chinese father.

A laughing skipping girl negotiated freedom.

A beggar wearing broken shoelaces studied pavement.

A man spinning in his labyrinthine puzzle struggled with an activated cell phone in worn green baggy shorts hoping the call would save him from loneliness, boredom, alienation and metaphors like death.

Children in pink pajamas collected brown leaves and fragrant yellow-white hibiscus flowers.

In Bahasa sun a middle-aged daughter spoon-fed her mother in a wheelchair. Swallowing love her smiling mother remembered when she did all the feeding.


Jung Institute

“A dream is an unfulfilled wish,” answered a kid with a Ph.D. in Psychoanalysis from the Jung Institute.

“What else did he say?”

“He said, ‘There is no royal road to wisdom. To arrive at the future I must journey into the past. To attain the sanity of oneness with the One, I must risk the whirling madness of the possessed.’”

One year I spent three days at the Jung Institute of Psychoanalytical Study while hitching south toward the Mediterranean and Israel.

In June 1976, I slept on the lawn behind a stonewall at a biological institute on the outskirts of Zurich. Every morning women cleaning glass sang, Get up. Get up. I stashed my sleeping bag and backpack in a garden, walked to the Banhof for a roll and coffee and uphill to the Institute that opened at 11 a.m.

In a fine old brown stone residential castle with turrets and secret unconscious passages the institute offered classes and lectures on Jungian work. Professionals from around the world studied, attended seminars and completed their post-graduate education or audited classes for personal growth.

Between lectures, lawyers, theologians, teachers, philosophy majors and academics, some with a Ph.D. in Life, discussed Jungian thought.

The common thread was how their life, their quest for knowledge and greater insight into the human condition had led them through various disciplines and years of study to the institute. They said something totally incomprehensible was missing from their lives.

The truth is in the mystery.

The only book I pulled at random from a shelf in the Jung library was The Third Eye by T. Lobsang Rampa.

One morning people crowded into a lecture room. Languages filled space waiting for a lecture on the “Symbolism of Fire.” I took a small hourglass out of my pack and turned it upside down. Sand flowed.

“Jung talked about the spiritus contra spiritum, a god of ecstatic vision,” said the speaker. “He talked about the need for ecstasy without the chaos and how the archetypal ecstasy was for a god and soul.”

“Is the female ego in charge of the animus?” said a man.

“Yes. The animus speaks of women with a deep connection. It is a force that can seize you.”

“Is that why there is pain and delight in human relationships?” said a woman.

“Yes. The collective unconscious is too big to live out our personality so we create outer projections saying ‘bear my anima for me.’ This creates the pain and suffering. When there is individuation there is a strong ego personality.”

“Can you please give us an example?”

“Well, war is like a falling in love experience. The shadow, the dark side exists with the bright side and is misunderstood. The shadow is projected in dreams. Veterans carry images of losing, darkness, violence, destruction and evil inside them.”

“What is the healing tendency?”

“One must find meaning. It requires self-honesty. One respects dreams and the unconscious. They play. Fantasy is good, dynamic play. It is about symbolic levels. The collective unconscious is manifested in all cultures. This is why Jung was attracted to Asian symbols. He believed they existed near the bottom of their unconscious in an instinctual life.”

“People in the western cultures are afraid of death. Why?”

“Old age is a value feeling. Unfortunately, in some cultures it is perceived as insulting. It is the archetype of the old fool. It is fuller than the wise man. We create meaning. The imagination is the reality of the psyche combined with pure play. We listen to the wisdom of the dream. Everything we do is from the heart.”

When I was Jung I was Freudened. Ha.

I attended a lecture on the symbolism of fire. Cosmic creation or water first in Oriental thought, quality of energy and quantity of substance. Satori fire-power emanating life and consciousness. Fire is spirituality. Yogic symbolism. Applied in India the thunderbolt kills the enemy and brings rain.

Surya is reception and light. Dream analysis symbolism of passions. Negative burning fires of hell.

Dream interpretation changes psychic energy into new conscious arrangement.

Bohme, said ‘then your heart is a dark valley where the devil kindles the heat. Leads to forty questions of the soul.’ In yoga Indian texts the soul essence is energy consciousness. Fire consumes ignorance: source of fire in soul and spirit. The yogic fire meditation is with the noon sun, meditating on physical process, digestion, and identifies with sun and fire to reach experience. Tapas transform energy. Concentrated introversion consciousness.

A Tibetan fire mandala with five colorful flames is a spiritual place. Created as psychic energy with five elements through creation. Fires of transformation creates spiritual regeneration as catharsis. Solar and lung energy and integration through dream interpretation.

Tibetan Book of The Dead = freedom. Fire is a driver, sexual desires. Soft wood and hard wood together create energy. Psychological use of fire, inner psychic fire from the lowest chakra spine sleeping serpent rising, united through to ‘eat the fires of energy’ as the libido is a power of regeneration through consciousness.”

During the lecture a worn copy of the I Ching, the Chinese book of divination translated by Wilhelm fell out of my bag. A female lawyer preparing to unlock the unconscious motivations of incarcerated juveniles saw it.

“Ah,” she said in a German accent. “I see you are reading a great book.’”

“Stumbling through it. I am curious about it.”

“Interesting. Have you heard of Madame Chang?”

“No. Who is she?”

“She’s a Sinologist. She is an authority on the I Ching and gives consultations. She has her office near here. Perhaps you could visit with her.”

“Yes. Thank you.”

I called her up and made an appointment to see what would happen. I arrived at the house, went through the back gate, approached a door and rang a bell. I entered a foyer. I looked up through a long ornate spiral staircase. At the top stood a woman. I climbed and climbed. Madame Chang was slight with close cut brown hair, glasses, about fifty.

“Hello, I’m the fellow who called your secretary asking to see you.”  I offered my hand.

“Yes,” she said taking my hand momentarily and then dropped it. “I was expecting you. I am Miss Chang. Won’t you come in?” She gestured to the open door.

The room was narrow. Along the walls were shelves holding stacks of books. To the left was a table with old Chinese books. One was open to a map. She offered a chair in the middle of the room under a slanting roof. I took a seat and she sat opposite me where she could gaze out the small window into blue sky.

She didn’t say anything for a moment and then looked at me. I felt penetrated as a fraud. Her gray eyes were distant. My first impression after sitting down was that I was in way over my head, that I was after some arcane knowledge and she knew it. Madame Chang sat silent and never said anything forever. She just sat there and let me look around. I realized I was out of my depth.

“I shouldn’t have come,” I said. “I am wasting your time.”

“Why did you come?”

I knew that her wisdom of the book was greater in scope than I’d ever begin to understand. Her vision was far away. I realized my small self.

“I’m not sure,” I blurted frightened by the sound of my voice. “It’s something about the I Ching about finding out the truth.”

“I usually give consultations to groups but am willing to meet with individuals. What is it you wish to know?”

“I came because someone said you could answer questions about the I Ching and I am curious about the book.”

“How many times have you thrown the coins?”

“Once. What should I do?”

“You should just study it. I would advise you to read the hexagrams and see the symbolism in the meanings of the text. See the intentions of the summary. It’s a very powerful book.”

I sat there looking at her and her books. It seemed like forever as my mind whirled around trying to come up with some semi-intelligent conversation. 

“It’s a long walk. Nothing more. It’s a long walk,” she said.

As if in a dream I got up and walked to the door.

“I usually accept contributions,” she said. I fumbled in my pocket, brought out a note and asked for half of it back in change. She returned the balance and showed me out.

“Thank you,” I said. “I appreciate your seeing me.”

I descended the spiral staircase to the ground floor. When I looked up she was standing on the top looking down at me. We waved goodbye.

Out on the street I looked up at the window. It was impossible to see the crease in the roof. There was only sky. I walked down the street as if in hypnosis, bought an apple and sat on a stone sidewalk meditating on our meeting. I opened the Book of Changes to #25, Wu Wang, Innocence, The Unexpected. “The firm comes from without and becomes the ruler within.

“I like it,” said a listener. “Inner directed like Rumi. What else?”

“Well, here’s a cool thing Jung said. ‘I liken the formation of a character to weaving a garment. You know what happens when you make a mistake? The whole pattern is spoiled. Then you have a choice: you can finish the garment, but it will always be botched and ugly, or you can unravel the weave right back to the first mistake and start again. That’s basically what analysis is about. It’s a tedious job. The patient is sometimes scared and hostile. The analyst has to lend patience, honesty and courage.”

A Century is Nothing



I am an old dialect of Kalapuya tribes. I respect spirit energies.

I hear with my eyes and see with my ears.

I understand your love for the spirit power guardian. I am an ancestor speaking 300 languages from our history. Now only 150 dialects remain.

A hunting gathering people speaking Pentian, we numbered 3,000 in 1780. We believe in nature spirits, vision quests and guardian spirits.

Our shamans, called amp a lak ya taught us how seeking, finding and following one’s spirit or dream power and singing our song was essential in community.

I speak in tongues, in ancient dialects about love. They are dialects of ancestors who lived here for 8,000 years before where you are now. In the forest near the river all animal spirits welcome you with their love. They are manifestations of your being.

I am blessed to welcome you here. You have walked many paths of love to reach me.

My dirt path is narrow and smooth in places, rocky in others.

I am the soil under your feet.

I feel your weight, your balance - your weakness and your strength.

I hear your heart beating as my ancestors pounded ceremonial drums.

I feel the tremendous surging force of your breath extend into my forest.

Wind accepts your breath.

I am everything you see, smell, taste, touch and hear.

I am the oak, the fir and pine trees spreading like dreams upon your outer landscape.

I am your inner landscape. I see you stand silent in the forest hearing trees nudge each other. “Look,” they say, “someone has returned.”

I love the way you absorb the song of brown body thrush collecting moss for a nest. I am the small brown bird saying hello. I am the sweet-throated song you hear without listening.

At night two owls sing their distant song and their music fills your ears with mystery and love.

I am warm spring sun on your face filtered through leaves of time.

I am a spider’s web dancing with diamond points of light.

I am the rough fragile texture of bark you gently remove before connecting the edge of an axe with wood.

You carry me through my forest. Your flame creates heat of love. I am the taste of pitch on your lips, the odor of forest in your nostrils filling your lungs. It is sweet.

I am the cold rain and wet snow and hot sun, and four seasons. I am yellow, purple, and red, blue, and orange flowers from brown earth.

Language cannot be separated from who you are and where you live.

I say this so you will remember everything in this forest.

I took care of this place and now your love has the responsibility with respect, dignity and mindfulness.


Leaving Laos

You lived in Laos for one year.

Miracle gift blessing.

Tourist visas last thirty days. In and out tourists do Asia.

Please don't rush. PDR.

You had a one-year multi-entry business visa as a volunteer to facilitate English with 101 H'mong people in Phonsavan. Plain of Jars. Archeologists hypothesize funeral jars. Burn bodies in nearby cave and stash bones in jars. Roll your bones. Bone oracle.

Illuminated ones know they are 4,000 year old drinking vessels of GIANTS.

Visa paperwork said you are a Soap Consultant.

Somebody paid off somebody in the food/money chain.

$500 bones.

How life works. Money talks. Hello. Before speaking put your hand out. A wink will suffice. You know how to play the game. Wiggle your fingers. Here comes the paper, see it. Do the numbers. Enough? No, wiggle again. See the paper. Love the colors. I like doing business with you. Here's the pepper. Thank you.

You dreamed to be a Soap Consultant.

Now you are.

The Phonsavan Ministry of Security requires an audience.

Bureaucrazy stamps, photographs, work permit card, residency permit card, all micro managed by droning gnomes sitting passive, hungry, tired and bored in obscure drab communist rooms inside old decaying cement buildings surrounded by rusting bard wire behind brown shuttered windows against blinding sun held together by corroded grated bars, confronting blaring Thai soap operas, imprisoned below portraits of smiling kings, white goateed Ho Chi Minh painting in his garden of early delights and grim faced suited officers in olive drab wearing burnished medals.

Each person has one job in a compartmentalized system. Only one.

One takes the papers, reads and enters data in a ledger. Passes documents to #2. They read the papers, acknowledge signature and stamp of #1, sign it, enter data on a form, passes it to a woman writing in a ledger. She checks the stamp from # 1 & #2 and enters critical data in her ledger. She hands it to #3 who reads all the names, studies all the stamps and ledgers, smiles, hands it back and says you cannot work here as a Soap Consultant. Thank you it was only a fragrant dream. Bubble drama.

Checks and balances.

You put your time in. You learned this phrase as a soldier in Nam.

Put your time in.

If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space. Get out take risks get your shoes dirty.

Phonsavan was dusty, cold and invigorating. Education was fun, helping 10-30 year olds develop courage. Drawing, speaking, chess, teamwork, critical thinking skills.

I need help.

A place to sit down and establish temporary relationships, explore traditional fruit and vegetable markets, process new languages, do street photography, write it down.

Make sense of it later.

After seven months new volunteers arrived. You briefed them.

1. Lao don't plan 2. They have no concept of time. 3. They don't accept responsibility for their actions. 4. Family and farming come first. 5. They are eager to learn. 6. Retention is a problem. 7. Practice meditation and comprehension checks.

Return to Luang Prabang for 90 daze. Sit in herbal steam baths every afternoon clearing accumulated gunk dust from lungs. Polish a new narrative nonfiction book entitled The Language Company.

Shiny. Dented from dialogue, drama, dreams.

All writing is garbage.

A friend recommends an opportunity. You make contact and get lucky finding a p/t volunteer job at an upscale eco-lodge seven hours by boat up the Nam Ou River helping with management and English practice with fifteen staff. Low season. Husband wife and daughter left for a Thai hospital where she will birth Emil.

Stay two months. Facilitate courage with kitchen, restaurant, and housekeeping staff.

Laughter is an effective elective.

Live next to a wide flowing brown river rushing south for 448 kilometers from China to the sea near Nam. Gardens of butterflies, red hibiscus, looming granite mountains, river, forests.

Dancing cloud thoughts.

Calm wisdom mind meditation.

Everything you do is a meditation.

Culture is what you are.

Nature is what you can be.

Linguistic Semantics. The map is not the territory.

Your visa will expire. No new job no chance to renew.

Return to Seems Ripe. Discover a new adventure. Let's go.

Luang Prabang - exit. Kiss your Lao artist lover good eye. You've known each other three years. In out love dialogue. She has the imagination heart. You've encouraged her skill these years providing her with watercolor paper, inks, and pens. She's created a nice portfolio.

You're not saving anyone.

Modern fancy glass and brass empty new LP international airport. On the second floor among rows of empty seats and shops, three steel accordion passenger tubes wait for big planes. Tourism=money=tourism.

The old squat French style fading yellow airport disintegrates down the road. It has character speaking memories. Remember when?

Heavy rain, clouds obscure mountains. Smiling security man said, nice hat, real style. It's an Akubra Traveler from OZ you say, showing him the sweat stained interior. Twenty rabbits made this hat. Rabbits love making hats when not nibbling in gardens or making baby rabbits. Wearing this hat brings me good luck. I can't be manipulated, fooled, folded, stapled or spindled. He smiles, have a nice trip.

Fifteen people go to Pakse on a prophet. 1:45 airborne. Clouds, blue sky. Clouds should know you by now.

In transit. 30 minutes. You walk out, free as a bird. A Lao man with a gold watch put his black attaché case down, lit a cigarette, made a call. A man pulls up in a black SUV, walks over to the man, talks and picks up the case. They board a flight to Vientiane.

The bag contains top-secret nuclear vision material and contracts with Chinese/Thailand developers to build twelve dams on the Mekong. Signed sealed delivered. COD.

Carlos and his wife from Mexico sit in 14 A/B. He's a government official. Sleek gray black hair and meticulous bushy moustache. You mention Gabo, yes, said Carlos, he was a great man and writer.

100 Years of Solitude

They're going to Angkor Wat for two days. You give them a quick vision - get a tuk-tuk at 5:00 a.m. Have a noodle breakfast on your way out. Enjoy exploding sun over fields. You get to Banteay Srei early. Before Japanese and Chinese locusts. It has the most intricate hand carved designs by women.

See Preh Khan-hall of dancers, Bayon, Ta Prohm, main Angkor temple. Ramayana story in stone. You show them Srei black and white images. Carvings, monkey guardians, stone stories. Did you take them, she said. Yes. They are beautiful.

Explore the jungle. See how you feel. Meet butterflies. They know the way through mysterious passages.

His questions: currency, safety, cost, typical Khmer food, scams, mosquitos. Brief them. I talk to airborne malaria insects. We speak the same language. They don't bother me. You need a hat, water, open heart-mind. Slow steps.

It's all a spiritual journey, said Carlos. Thanks for your help.