Harmony Dawn is a part of Andy James’ vision-dream, based on over 40 years of personal mind-body-spirit inquiry and practice and over 30 years of teaching. Around age 20, Andy’s life unexpectedly and dramatically turned to the Spiritual after nearly plunging his car into a Norwegian fjord and about the same time, discovering Buddhism. The crash pushed him to intensively inquire into the nature of life and death and Buddhism provided answers which had hitherto eluded him. He noted that most philosophical, political and religious belief systems result in a recurring cycle of action and reaction, like a pendulum swinging, effecting little Real Change, no matter how sincere our efforts. Buddhism provided him with a sudden and profound realisation how this cycle could be broken – through Non-attachment, which is not to be confused with detachment, avoidance, suppression, not-caring or not-feeling. Andy sought out and intensively practised under the direction of world-renowned teachers, namely Thai Vipassana- Mindfulness Meditation Master, Dhiravamsa, and Tai Chi Chuan Master, Miss Rose li. Later on, he would study with Professor Jerry Alan Johnson, Founder of the International Institute of Medical Qigong, and other esteemed Masters of the mind-body-spirit arts.
In 1984, at age 35, with a young family to support, he took another symbolic “plunge over a cliff”, giving up the financial security of a Chartered Accountant to be a teacher of Vipassana-Mindfulness meditation, Tai Chi Chuan, Qigong, the Enneagram of Personality and more. Andy realised that his audience would initially be small, since most people were unaware of these individual arts, much less how they constituted an integrated, comprehensive system of mind-body health and spiritual transformation. He thought these skills necessary for the future since they recognised Interconnectedness and Oneness “internally” (within ourselves) as well as in the “external” world and between internal and external. Years later, he built Harmony Dawn to physically manifest these principles.
In 2016, over 30 years later, Andy James thinks these skills are more necessary than ever since society, driven by “labour saving” technology, is now so complex, most people are overwhelmed, unable to cope and stressed. Some simply turn off. We seem to have lost the abilty to distinguish between Quality – the profound, essential and lasting – and Quantity, the superficial and fleeting allure of “success” and “recognition”. This is important not only in making personal decisions, but collective ones like choosing political leaders and social and economic policies. This is not good news for Humanity, which faces many serious global challenges including global warming and extreme climate change, massive displacement of populations, and unexamined implementation of powerful new technologies, which will probably bring what we think of as “sci fi” problems within the next decade.
Shifu James’ teaching organisation, the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre has been extensively covered in Canada by local and national media over his over 30 years of teaching. His students have won gold medals in national Chinese internal martial arts competitions, both in Canada and the United States. His senior students and teachers are required to be Warriors, Healers and Sages, in line with the traditional evolution of the Chinese “Internal Martial Artist”. All of this takes consistent practice and Quality instruction, way beyond “trending” or being an “internet sensation”.
Shifu Andy James (Wu Andao): A Brief Bio
- A graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) with a B.Sc in Economics, specialising in Accounting and Finance.
- A FCA (Fellow Chartered Accountant), recognised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. A Fellow is senior to an Associate (ACA)
- Personally trained to be a Vipassana-Mindfulness meditation teacher by Dhiravamsa, a Thai Vipassana Meditation Master, former Buddhist abbot and international teacher and author.
- A senior student of Miss Rose Li, a globally recognized Taijiquan and Internal Martial Arts Master, who was among the early masters coming from China to the West.
- Founder (since 1984) and Chief Instructor of the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre which offers classes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Taijiquan, Vipassana-Mindfulness meditation, the Internal Martial Arts of Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, Enneagram personality types and more. These are meant to give serious mind-body students the necessary tools for robust mind-body health and personal transformation.
- A Medical Qigong Practitioner (MQP) certified by the International Institute of Medical Qigong (IIMQ), which was one of the first western Medical Qigong teaching organisations recognised by a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) university in China – Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. IIMQ was founded by Professor and Master Jerry Alan Johnson, who also taught Qigong and Baguazhang (forms and fighting) to the students of the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre.
- Shifu James has been fortunate to that several other esteemed Chinese martial arts Masters have offered to share their knowledge with him and his students. These include Master Chang Chungjen from Taiwan and from China, Wudang Master Prof. Liu Yuzeng and Chen taijiquan master, Zhang Yufei.
- Andy James is an international Chinese martial arts coach and judge and has represented Canada as a Master demonstrator at the World Wushu Championships
- The work of Andy James and the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre has been repeatedly covered by both Canadian local and national media and beyond Canada – radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and more.
- Andy James has authored three books and co-authored one more with his wife, Nicola. He currently also offers several DVDs for sale and more are in the works.
- Andy helps operate Harmony Dawn, teaches at the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre, leads workshops and retreats and is a public speaker.