Recently I was in Manila ( Philippines ) as a delegate to the regional meeting of the United Religions Initiative (URI. See URI was conceived in 1995 by a former high-ranking United Nations official who realized that the UN, by its political nature and inherent structure ( eg. with powerful nations having veto power ), cannot solve many of the world’s problems. URI is a parallel organization with a different structure (grass-root community-based with equal voice and voting power) comprising representatives of peoples and communities of all religions from all over the world. Delegates do not represent their nations, nor their religions, but their multi-faith communities. URI was officially launched in June 2000 and has now spread across many countries. At the recent meeting, I was nominated to be one of the trustees of URI’s Global Council which monitors the implementation of its purpose and principles. The URI community organizes various localized and global activities.

The declared purpose of URI is to promote enduring daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. I invite all (individuals and groups/organizations) who share these ideals and who are interested to join this global community to contact me.


Now, what has all this got to do with the Art of Qi? Well, to my pleasant surprise, we started every meeting session with a set of energizing exercises. The exercises we did were called “Stillness in Motion” and had all the elements of Qigong in them. The exercises reflect our closeness to the four elements of nature ( wind, fire, water and earth ). The fifth element, as the seasoned movie-goers will remember, is of course, love.


Stand with your feet slightly apart, with knees slightly bent as in Qigong-standing. Imagine yourself as a bird, freely flying up above in the sky, with no worries, smiling, and feeling absolutely happy. Now, spread your arms sideways (palms facing down) like the wings of a bird, and gently “flap” your wings up and down as you also straighten and bend your knees. Breathe in on the up-swing and out on the “down-swing”. Do this ( and other exercises where applicable, for 6-12 repetitions ).

Next, imagine you are up in the clouds. With your arms now forward, gracefully and joyfully “bounce” your hands over the clouds. Look down upon the land below and see the people living happily in peace and harmony. This joy and happiness are our rights, if only we can ensure enduring peace and justice between peoples of different races and religions, and between nations.


Imagine a large, flickering flame is right in front of you. With your hands, follow the edges of the fire as it flickers, from top to bottom, in a wavy motion. Feel the warmth, and embrace its energy. Bring up your arms gently again. Breathe in as you bring your arms up and out as you bring them down.

Next, gather the flame into a ball of fire in between your palms in front of you and absorb the energy into you arms and body. Feel energized. Feel empowered. The flame represents our continuing hope for survival, and for peace, justice and love. It also represents our resolve to achieve our stated goals with a burning desire.


Imagine you are swimming in the sea, with both arms going forwards and then downwards as you also bend your knees. The movements are then reversed, with breathing-in on the way up, and out when going up. Note that all movements and breathing are slow as in Qigong.

Next, from the standing position, bend down slowly and “scoop” water with both hands and bring it up to “splash” on your face. Smile and feel the freshness as the cool water splashes your face. Say “ah!” in delight!

Water represents life, and the waves remind us that life goes on, with ups and downs, and that we determine whether we sink or float. Let us all join hands to prevent the human race from sinking down even further!


In the standing position, spread out your arms forwards, and then backwards as far as possible (with the palms facing forward) as you breath in deeply. Then bring your arms forwards and “embrace” Mother Earth in front of you as your breathe out. Continue in this embracing posture as you breathe in and out gently. Feel the vulnerability of Mother Earth due to our mistreatment, and make a commitment to protect her. If you reflect enough on the goodness that she provides and the rape and plunder that we have done on her in return, you may start crying.


Spread your arms sideways (with palms upwards) as you inspire, and then look up and bring your arms straight upwards as you expire. Keep in this position as you breathe in and out gently. Look up to the Heavens and thank God ( or the Universal Power, depending on your belief ) for giving us this universe, giving us life, and for giving us so many good things to thank for.

Finally, bring down your hands together in front of your chest in the typical Eastern greeting gesture, and slightly bow in respect and gratitude towards your parents, elders and teachers; and do the same in friendship towards each and every friend doing the exercise with you.

You will agree that this is a beautiful set of exercises to do before starting any meeting session. We also learned other simple exercises, some of which are useful enough for me to incorporate into the routines that I teach.

My students who attend the next revision on 3rd April at the PJ Astaka field can have a try at these exercises.


One of the things I thanked God for during the exercise was for the peace and progress of our beloved nation.

The last time I was in Manila was 24 years ago. At that time our country was only slightly better off than The Philippines. Kuala Lumpur and Subang Airport were comparable to Manila and its airport. Now the difference is glaring. Our country has surged far ahead. KL is comparable to many modern cities, and our KLIA international airport is among the best in the world. Metro Manila, with 22 million people, is overcrowded with terrible traffic jams, many “street-people” and still many slump areas. Its airport is the same old one.

We have to be thankful for the tremendous progress we have achieved together. But this will not have been possible without continued peace and harmony that we have enjoyed over the last three decades, as opposed to the Filipinas who have had to endure numerous political and social unrests.

We cannot take the peace that we enjoy for granted, and must continue to preserve and even improve it. I call upon all readers to actively involve in peace movements, interfaith organizations and other groups that work towards this goal. I also thank our past and present leaders for having the foresight to implement a formula of power and economic sharing between the citizens of various races and religions. It may not be the fairest formula in the eyes of the world, but it has proven to be the formula that has worked for us, and has given us the ability to live in harmony, and progress at an admirable pace.

May we all continue to live in peace forever!


Dr Amir Farid Isahak
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