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The Toronto Sun and Canada's Globe and Mail also ran stories this winter about Adam's work with rocker Hawkins, and both mentioned the restrictions Adam's family places on personal information. Guarding his identity and struggling with requests for time evidently have become the family's priority. Before Adam arrived in the Bay Area, his father, Frank, answered an e-mail request for an interview with his son by noting that it would be difficult, since the organizers had so much planned for Adam during the weekend. And if a meeting were to happen (it didn't), Frank said he would not allow a recording device. "We are torn between trying to live a normal life and sharing the knowledge that Adam has," Frank wrote. When members of the family made a recent appearance on Canada's Discovery Channel, their faces were blurred behind colored glass. Adam explained the obsessive secrecy to the show's host by saying, "I don't want the other kids at school to know."
Fair enough, but sooner or later, as Chow realizes, the masses will demand more from Adam. If indeed he has the ability to eliminate cancer using mental telepathy, his knowledge could be invaluable to Western researchers. "When the time comes, Adam will make himself available to researchers, and I will be happy to make those connections for him," Chow said recently. "Right now he's still young, so we must protect his identity."
Chow knows that her association with Adam, and the resulting press coverage, have brought qigong into the limelight. Even though Adam doesn't practice qigong, she says his Taoist worldview places him under its umbrella. "The way we foster cooperation, of course Adam will assist with qigong and qigong will assist with Adam's type of healing," she wrote in an e-mail. "Many people who have contacted us about Adam are generally new or first-time neophytes to the field of healing, and his book is the first healing book they have read, so for these people, through Adam, they are hearing about qigong. We are happy about that."
Since most people who seek Adam's distance healing go through his Web site, they need to do three things. They have to agree to buy and read the book; they have to send in a mug shot; and they must read a legal disclaimer that wouldn't otherwise be found inside a qigong studio. "I freely acknowledge that I am fully aware that Adam and his associates are not medical doctors," the disclaimer begins. "I have not been cajoled, coerced, threatened, or persuaded by Adam or his associates to undergo or partake in any particular treatment or medication or substance, and that I freely acknowledge that any unorthodox or unusual treatment or medication or substance that I may utilize is done with my full awareness and acknowledgment that it is of my own free will."
In the last few weeks, presumably to accommodate the potential rush in business, Adam has upgraded his Web site. His book is in its second printing and he is writing a follow-up. He also is planning six-hour workshops in cities across the continent, where he'll conduct "group healings." The first one will be held on February 14 in a Vancouver hotel -- and it's already sold out. According to Adam's site, 150 people will attend at a cost of $79 a head, which translates to $12,000 for the gig, not including book sales ($15 for one, $25 for two).
In San Francisco, Adam gave a skilled presentation. He took off his baseball cap, clipped a small microphone to his collar, and opened up a laptop for his PowerPoint presentation. The audience of about fifty included several qigong masters from China, a handful of Berkeley students, local massage therapy students, and a few of the simply curious.
Adam used his youth as both advantage and excuse. He started with a few disarming jokes about his age, but when someone asked a pointed question about the brain science behind his techniques, Adam turned bashful. "The brain is a collection of ... smooshes," he said, getting some laughs for his word choice. "It's easy for me to get lost in there. When I finish high school, I'll have a lot more time to learn. Right now, I have to read boring things -- like Shakespeare."
One of Adam's first statements to the crowd was that "negative thoughts aren't allowed" in the room. In Eastern philosophical circles, skepticism or ideological challenge can be viewed as negative energy, and are therefore unwelcome. So when Adam banned negative thoughts, he was in effect asking his audience to accept his claims outright, ignoring any red flags that might arise.
Adam talked about discovering his talents, then told about his vision quest. A couple years ago, he said, he dreamt he was flying over water and running through the woods when he came upon a large bird. The bird spoke a single word: "Nootka." When Adam awoke, he looked up Nootka, Canada, on the map, and convinced his parents they needed to take him there at once. After a short flight, a boat ride across a river, and a miles-long hike into rough terrain, Adam and his family arrived in Nootka. "I knew every rock, every tree," he told the crowd. "I had been there before."
Then, he said, they came upon a black bird that Adam said was four feet tall. It had a massive beak. As he projected a photograph of the bird onto the screen, several audience members gasped. "It's not an eagle," Adam said, "and it's not a hawk." The bird was unidentifiable, he said, although he didn't keep the pictures up long enough for anyone to get too close a look. He said his parents had taken the photo to ornithologists, but that they couldn't figure out what it was. He moved on.
Most of the audience showed the greatest interest when Adam began describing his distance-healing techniques. He explained it this way: We're all connected, and if he can heal you while he's in the same room, what's to stop the process from working twenty feet away? Twenty miles? Two hundred miles? Distance doesn't matter when we're all part of the spiritual universe, he said. Many heads nodded in agreement.
In his book, Adam explains that he's not actually responsible for healing one person's body. Ultimately, he's just an instigator, and the individual is really doing the work, as in qigong. But during his talk, his performance got out in front of him. He started to sell the idea that he was responsible.
As Adam boasted of using distance healing to awaken a woman from a four-year coma -- doctors could do nothing for her, he said -- his tone sounded awfully close to that of a savior. "You get people's images more vividly when they're in a relaxed state than when they're not," he said. He then talked about a man in a four-month coma, whom he'd allegedly also brought back to consciousness. One qigong master who'd traveled from China sought clarification: "You say you've healed many people," he said in broken English. "But is it you? Or is it you teaching people to heal themselves?"
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