The fundamental principles of Hunyuan Qigong

The origins of Hunyuan Qigong go back many thousands of years to an era when those who were wise were very closely connected with Nature and themselves. At that time, one was considered healthy when one lived in unity with the cosmos, and ill when one subdued one’s own emotions. Animals were not enemies, but rather friends. Nature was not exploited, but rather respected. People schooled themselves in modesty and contemplation and learned from one another. Such Daoistic hermits – who still live in seclusion today in the sacred mountains of China – were the early fathers and mothers of these transformation techniques, which are aimed at living as one with the vast, unfathomable energy of Nature. Following this path of perfecting existence involves the training of the adept’s individual perception. The ancient texts could help convey knowledge, but only to the extent that the trainee is prepared to explore Nature and the further development of the teachings prompted by his own creative motivation. An elderly master can die peacefully when he knows that a capable student will continue to research his life’s work. In this manner, the teachings of the wise elders have been handed down and refined for countless years and historical epochs to the extent that the masters found potential successors who not only emulated their teachings, but also fostered life in their commitment to creation, to Dao. The mother of all learning processes for a Daoist is Nature. The natural scientist recognizes Nature’s movement according to the law of polarity between the cosmic elemental forces of yin and yang. Thus, the spontaneous naturalness of life – everywhere and in every form – is the fundamental principle of a Daoist. If you have the inclination, observe Nature when you are relaxed. Have you ever seen a straight rainbow? Have you ever watched a tadpole swim in a straight line? Or perhaps you have seen a straight cloud, a straight tree, a straight snake, a straight ravine, straight water, a straight head or spine or tongue? Everything which truly exists naturally is created in the shape of a wave. Every form of natural movement is like a wave, for everything undulates when viewed physically. Even the movement at the very center of a laser beam is not completely straight. It cannot be, for the laser beam is also subject to the law of polarity and moves in waves, even if this cannot be seen with the naked eye. More about this in the next chapter. Qi can be best imagined by placing oneself in front of a tree for an hour, remaining motionless and letting whatever happens happen. For one should not attempt to comprehend Qi intellectually, but rather to experience it. Nevertheless, I shall attempt to find a few words to help clarify it. Qi is not anything “new”. Qi is a collective term for a communicative sphere in Nature which combines everything on the etheric level and makes an exchange possible at this structural level, just as in astrology, for example, where Mercury can effect the physical as well as mental state of a living being. Qi is a connective term which the breath of the cosmos can be explicated with. Qi, or simply vibrations, does not need to be manifested in a visible form. There are countless types of Qi, depending on the surroundings and context it effects. Thus, we have a certain quality of Qi for each organ in our bodies, since each organ has its own typical character and specific task and consequently, its own energy. Biophotons are an essential component of Qi in Nature because they are the smallest carriers of light, which transfer and exchange light from one form to another. An interesting excerpt from Marcus Schmieke’s observation of the human biophoton field illustrates the scientific view of the light of life: Biophotons are characterized by an extremely high degree of order and can be described as a type of biological laser light which is capable of interference and appears to be responsible for many effects which ordinary incoherent light could not achieve. Its high coherency lends the biophoton wave the capability of creating order and transmitting information while chaotic, incoherent light simply transmits energy. An indication of the coherent characteristics of biophotons is exhibited through experimentally proven knowledge that the so-called induced emission of biophontons diminishes hyperbolically, which illustrates an exclusive characteristic of coherent emission. There are clear experimental indications that biophotons have an important regulating function within the single cells, but also between the various cells. It is possible that the entire living organism is pervaded by a coherent biophoton field, which influences and regulates functions on various hierarchical levels of control and organization. Single cells seem to communicate with one another with the aid of the biophoton field by creating continuous waves. Accordingly, the biophoton field would be a rigidly structured field of information and regulation which combines the single parts of the organism in a holographic manner at the speed of light and coordinates their function with one another. There is a broad spectrum of various frequencies and polarization and therefore, a very high density of information. According to current developments in research, the biophoton wave is emitted from the chromatin of the cell nucleus. Calculations show that the helix form of the DNA molecule exhibits the ideal geometric form of a hollow resonator, which allows it to store light very effectively. Just as light is stored in the internal alchemy in the cinnabar field – the center of gravitation for the human being – it also occurs in the biochemical processes of the cells and in the macrocosmic processes of the galaxies or in spirals of climatic currents. The body’s light of life is contracted, channeled, sublimated and stored at the central continuum of gravity. The cell is called “small space” in Chinese and is a counterpart to space, which can refer to a room or any type of spatial classification. Be it the DNA double-helix spiral or the galactic spiral, a spiral encompasses the energy of creation, just as the embryo, the snail’s shell and the sleeping snake are also wound in the spiral of creation. The Daoist learns from the embryo of a human being or an animal, or from the cat or a sleeping snake, to store energy at the center of the coiling spiral in a restful or sleeping position, or to preserve the energy of life in this position. The material quantity of time and space which is physically or technically perceptible can be deemed unessential when considering the ingenuity of creative constructions. Cosmos is cosmos, whether it be micro-cosmos or macro-cosmos. Space is space, whether it be the synonym for a body cell or for intergalactic space. Energy is energy, whether it be a minute hormone or the sun’s power of radiation. When one observes the amazing spiral of a double helix through the most sensitive electron microscope, it is very well possible that in fact, the vastness of a galaxy can be perceived without one’s realizing it – for the rule of cosmic synchronicity prevails independent of space, and this is a fractal design. Look at the sky and you will see your inner space. Look into your inner space – and you will discover the sky. The teachings of Dao instruct us: the smallest overcomes the largest, the softest of the soft penetrates the hardest of the hard; the only tangible fact is the void, which subdues our over-stimulation and lies beyond what is happening. It is the void which allows for free perception without ideological taint. Modern quantum physics, in spite of its intellectual bearing, is gradually converging with the ancient knowledge of the magician: Light is “creative”, the cosmos in an unpredictably magical change. Researchers at American universities experimented with dividing and manipulating biophoton light rays by giving the photons alternative choices of direction, reflected above a silver-plated mirror. The result, which was amazing for the empirical researcher and logical for the natural scientist, was that it was not technically possible to predict or manipulate the path of the light ray because natural light has its own dynamics. Therefore, it is the creativity which is capable of collecting the light, the energy, or better said – the spontaneity. Biophotons are so spontaneous that astrophysicists assume that stars very far removed from the earth are seen as double, that the creativity of the universe is playing tricks on us and that because of the spontaneity of biophotons, time and space will be technically unpredictable factors as long as the “cold” and calculating applied science and the “warm” and creative magic of nature continue to be viewed separately. The following is a scientific remark from the renowned physicist, John Archibald Wheeler: Of all the characteristic features of creation, it is the elementary quantum phenomenon – the most sensational delayed-choice experiment (as briefly described – LT). It reverts back to the past of the apparent opposition of the normal ordering of time. The length of the distance when splitting a ray in a laboratory experiment can amount to 30 meters and last one tenth of a microsecond. The distance, however, could just as well have been millions of light years and lasted years. In this manner, the observing trick in the here-and-now, in congruence with its ultimate effect in one or another unpredictable direction, has an irretrievable consequence of which no one has the right to claim about the photon. For the photon already existed long before any life in the universe. Daoists – like the Druids, the ancient magicians of Nature – have always viewed the light of creation as something spontaneous and inspiring. A fundamental, but most often ignored characteristic of Qi holds true even today: creativity, the spiral. Spirals, many thousands of years old, are seen by the hundreds in cave drawings in the Cisalpine region, and the same patterns are found in Chartres, the spiral labyrinths – influenced by the Druids – in Brittany, Ireland and Scotland. Such types of “snake universes”, as can be seen in the magical diagrams of the Daoists or African shamans, signify the spiral dynamics, the scientifically described “creativity” of the cosmic energy. Therefore, the creative human being is capable of producing the most Qi. For this reason, the practice of an art such as music, poetry or painting was a fundamental component of the education of future priests of Nature both in the Daoistic as well as in the Druid teachings. Perfect tone, poetry, color, light and vibrations, find your elemental personal expression of creation and perfect your Being through perfecting the arts. Gravitons are also of utmost importance for those practicing Qigong. They are the smallest of particles loaded with energy which connect and attract us to the earth and the cosmos. How we channel the gravitonal energies will be comprehensively described in the chapter entitled “Alignment”. Whoever cannot believe in the all-pervading gravitational forces of the planets and consequently, astrology, need only recall tidal power stations, where the effect of ebb and flow is economically used for energy: turbines are powered by the gravitation of the moon, by the shifting level of water. Immense energies are at play there, but the potential is hardly used; the effect of trillions upon trillions of particles of gravity to which humans are not immune. Thus, we are permeated and surrounded by various forms of vibrations, whether we like it or not. Dealing with these vibrations – channeling, concentrating and bringing them into a natural balance – is what the term “gong” conveys: more simply described as “work” or more elegantly as “unfolding”. There are various examples of living beings in nature which can store Qi as actual “bioelectric” energy and ensure their survival with it. Such wonders of nature are considered role models by Daoists. The study of such wonders has made possible the development of the most diversified life practices. Perhaps the most impressive animal in this respect is the electric eel. This fish, at times up to two meters long, has organs in which it can store current in order to later paralyze its victims with jolts of up to 600 volts before eating them. Incidentally, long before the time of Christ the ancient Romans also knew about the healing effect of the meat of the electric eels and prescribed it to patients suffering from schizophrenia: thus, an ancient form of electrotherapy. The deer is another example of the art of concentrating energy. It can let its entire Qi flow over its head, where it concentrates Qi in its antlers just as if they were antennae. The deer is an effortless mountaineer due to the upward movement of its Qi; a mountaineer that moves itself to the top of the mountain, flowing in its life energy, without any perceptible effort. In replicating the upward movement of the deer’s Qi, the natural scientist learns how to collect and increase his own Qi above his head in order to manage distances at high altitudes and the gravitational forces of the earth. Another examples are animals such as the gazelle or even the cat, which can accomplish tremendous leaps by storing and “increasing” their Qi. Cats are masters of Qigong, for these predators are agile and flexible due to the storage, increase and sinking of Qi. Observe how a cat concentrates (Yi), collects its energy (Qi), and then leaps or attacks (fali). When you also consider the fact that cats always land on their feet due to their command of Qigong, you are left in awe. An incredible amount can be learned from the Qigong of animals. The art of Qigong – and naturally, the matial arts which are based on it – was developed in that way. Unfortunately, the deer’s antlers have been commercialized in China as tonic medicines for the above-mentioned reasons and in the West they are considered a coveted hunter’s trophy, symbolizing the hunter’s virility. In Europe the deer in fact symbolizes the God of the forest, the masculine aspect of nature. It should appear logical as to why this is so: male Qi typifies rising (phallus, antler – rising yang – fire), the female typifies sinking (menstruation – sinking yin – water). When the female aspect is united with the masculine, the great art of circulating energy – the way of Hunyuan Gongfu – is attained. The primary factor in the Daoist teachings of transformation is as follows: storing, directing, regulating and refining life energy. At the same time, a distinction is made between esoteric and exoteric methods which always pursue the aim, however, of increasing life energies and thereby outwitting physical and/or spiritual death. The oldest Daoistic practice of body transformation is called Yangsheng, which refers to the body and indicates the “food” of the body (bones). Sexual practices also play an important role in it. The physical body, which should lead to immortality, is also included in these methods. The body is not viewed as the Buddhist/Hindu illusion (Maya) but rather as the contrary: as the indispensable laboratory, in order to obtain the elixir of immortality. The religious Daoist who practices Yangsheng transcends the mind through the body in order to experience a psychosomatic enlightenment. In contrast to the Buddhism-influenced philosophical Daoism, where the immortal spirit is striven for, in the very earliest Daoism it is the body, spirit and soul which search – in harmony with the whole – for the freedom of earthly independence. In Buddhism one strives for a state of enlightenment, which is very abstract in the beginning and through deep meditation appears ever clearer. It is a future state of enlightenment (Nirvana) which the Buddhist searches for through the “purification” of his karma. In contrast, a Daoist himself strives to be spontaneous nature in the present moment and is therefore, with his endeavors, committed to the present. Immortality should, however, never be understood literally. Everything changes, and so there is no absolute immortality. Above the Daoist immortality, which begins consciously at a physical age of eighty years old, stands the zhenren – the true human being. The true human being is beyond the desires of the dissatisfied spirit, which is ultimately what the idea of immortality can be. Immortality begins when the adept masters the directing of natural powers. It ends when the adept has successfully moved beyond the phase of transforming and storing life energy. Thereafter, the master can concentrate on the phase of the true cosmic phenomenon, which the spirit still bound by material things could not perceive. Immortality in the Daoist sense does not mean, therefore, not an eternal physical life, but rather overcoming the normal span of bodily decline and birth as a conscious being of light. Yangshen means “food of the soul” and brings about a channeling and sublimation of the etheric vibrations in the body at the mind/soul level, forming the basis for all psychosomatic structures. Yangshen means the above-described term of transformation and freeing of the mind and soul and can, however, also mean the conscious training of the astral body in order to consciously leave the earthly temple at a given time, experiencing physical death as a liberating transition into the astral world. Yangshen focuses mainly on the mind, the soul, philosophy, asceticism and meditation, and in the earlier Daoist Yangsheng described above also on alchemy, magic and geomancy. The various directions have often overlapped in the course of history. It is said that both Yangsheng and Yangshen lead to the same result of perfection, although the original Daoism and more magically oriented Yangsheng is considered a faster way to “immortality” than the ascetic way of Yangshen, which is influenced by Chan Buddhism. The latter is, thus, the slower, but therefore certain way. The early Daoist Yangsheng unites many shamanic elements of former times. Three types of Qi are distinguished in the human being. The first is the prenatal Qi, which is produced from our genetic code (Jing) and gives our body its individual characteristics. In the second, we have the “acquired” Qi, the life energy, which we develop by eating and breathing. The third is the etheric Qi, which we produce through our thought and concentration potential. Qi is a term for the etheric life energy which contains life-giving light in various frequencies. The authentic teachings make it possible for the adept to synchronize the three circles of human vitality and thereby to harmonize them, thus enabling sheer vitality to unfold. Hunyuan is a Daoist term which is difficult to translate, but which can best be imagined as the nucleus of a human cell. The chromatin, the genetic code which moves chaotically, that is spontaneously, is like prenatal chaos – the “primary mass”, the cosmic primordial ocean. In this prenatal and chaotic state the chromosomes are invisible, intangible. When cells begin to divide themselves, two energetic poles are created, and the previous “chaotic” chromatin begins to spiral toward the poles until the poles have gathered enough energy to produce a single cell. Hunyuan depicts this moment where the primary mass, or the “absolute highest” (Taiji), creates the polarity and appears in various forms only to ultimately return once again to the whole. Hunyuan is the sacred process of the creation of a form which is created from the void. Thus, what is typical of Hunyuan is that these processes flow in an extraordinarily circular manner. More about this in the next chapter. If Qi were defined as the universal energy, there would preferably be two fundamental characteristics to emphasize: the tangible and the intangible energy. I previously mentioned coherent energy, which affects the targeted steering mechanisms, and the chaotic, incoherent form of living light, which merely transmits energy. For the sake of simplicity, I would like to return to the illustrative example of the body cell. I equate the chaotic and intangible “primary Qi ” in the cell nucleus – the chromatin – with the masculine aspect of the cosmos: the Dionysian, ecstatic, dancing and occasionally also aggressive universal energy which embodies rage, which powers the heartbeat, the dance of the stars and the hormones, the sensuous feast, the overflowing, ecstatic and unlimited principle of Cernunnos, the Lord of wild things in the Celtic tradition, or Pan, the Pan Gu, who bursts out of his eggshell in order to lend his driving energy flow to building of the world. This Dionysian, unrestrained Qi energy is without a doubt yang; illuminating, rising, overexerting, productive, unlimited, but over-extravagant in its boisterousness – fire. The necessary Apollonian complement to the universal Qi is the “soft” spiral female energy, which extinguishes the unrestrained male fire, the spiral of creation, the security of the ovum – the amniotic fluid, the constructive, creative moment, the very essential “sinking” of Qi in Qigong and Taijiquan, the comforting rain after the storm. The authentic Taijiquan unites these two principles most aptly; carried by the spiral movement of the waves in the water, the escalating whirlpool of the masculine surge is created, only to continue flowing in the perpetual stream. Authentic Yangsheng, the original Daoist teaching of ultimate health, goes back to the initiation of emperors. According to tradition, Emperor Qin (221-207 B.C.), who united China, was led to the mountains of Kunlun in order to undergo the initiation rites in solitude, thus remaining true to the rule of the Emperor of the sky. Xi Wang Mu, Queen Mother of the West, one of the most important Daoistic deities, Mother of the stars and Western paradise, is the keeper of the divine peach which leads to immortality. It was the “Goddess”, the female aspect of Nature, which signified initiations in the cosmic teachings, also during the time of the sons of the sky – the emperors. The lesson of the peach is, like all myths, to be understood symbolically and depicts the initiation in the pure fruit. The divine fruit ripened into the elixir of immortality every six thousand years. The Daoist priests and priestesses were seen as the keepers of the sacred knowledge of the Emperor of the sky at that time. The priesthood was the earthly family of immortals on earth – the Emperor of the sky – and therefore, also the educators and mentors of the offspring of the sky – the emperors. The initiation and the magic of these strictly secret rites conceal the essence of the three circles in their core. The notable ancient Chinese medicine, which was reserved only for the priesthood and the imperial family, is based on the three circles. These three circles are connected, on the one hand, with the lunar cycles (namely with the waxing, full and new moon as well as the waning cycle), and on the other hand with the three centers of energy (the lower, animal, earthly cycle which creates sexual energy; the middle cycle which directs the actual human level; and the upper cycle which directs the mental level). The meridians of the body are secondary and subordinate to these three cycles. We work mainly with the lower cycle in this book – the gravitonal center of the being – although the other two are referred to again and again. The exercise for “opening the earthly gate”, described in following chapters, corresponds to the lower cycle, the “expanding of the middle cycle” to the middle cycle at the level of the solar plexus, and the exercise called “the cycle of the eye” to the upper cycle. Ultimately, the essence of this emperor’s schooling is to bring the three cycles into synchronic vibration. Only when these three spheres of human life are balanced and connected, can true and complete health be spoken of, and only then is one actually in the position to enter into the fourth cycle, the fourth dimension. You may gain insight into this mystery in my book entitled “Die Kreise des Goldenen Drachen”. The teachings of Hunyuan Gongfu go back to this time of unspoiled Daoism. Authentic exercises for health and the training of the martial arts, which are based on the observations of animals and natural phenomena, go back in history to the very first origins of man. Yangsheng – the teaching of transformation – and also Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, in short the internal martial arts, are the conversion into practice of these mysteries, which are only seldom found in their pure form in today’s world. It is interesting to note here that the continuing history of Daoism – for example, in the monasteries in the Wudang mountains, the sacred mountains of the Daoistic martial arts and magic – arose from the rebellion of the peasants who no longer wanted to live under the oppression of the imperial family and fled to the mountains. Daoist hermits and – according to the legend – the masters rising to the seventy-second rank took them in. The result was that one of the most important spiritual centers of China was created on the mountain crests. The peasants were assimilated through the energy of the sacred mountains and later formed the priesthood which has lasted until today. The many thousands of years of China’s history gave this land the widely diverse, and at times (for the Western mind) controversial periods of culture and empirical science. Today, the exponents of Qigong, also well known to the Western world, are the exercises of the legendary doctor and master Hua Tuo, who lived toward the end of the Han dynasty from 141-203. Hua Tuo is considered one of the fathers of Chinese medicine; it is said that he lived on the Huashan, at times as a hermit, where he tested the effects of medicinal plants. The “exercises of the five animals”, an actual original form of Qigong, which is later described in the chapter entitled “The Eight Wonders of Dao”, leads back to Hua Tuo. But also here the historiography is insufficient, for it is certainly an unlikely assumption that Hua Tuo learned medicinal properties of plants as well as Daoist Qigong from the priests living there, for they had already practiced such systems since ancient times. Another well-known Master of Qigong recorded in history was Quan Zhongli (608-905). He is considered to have been a great Daoist magician and is reported to have created the “eightfold brocade exercises” – “Baduanjing” in Chinese – which are widely practiced today around the world due to their simple movements. They are, however, most often only very superficially exercised because today’s “adepts” lack the magical understanding of Nature. At this time of the Tang dynasty, exceedingly diverse methods of the martial arts and body transformation were created. Daoists did not usually subordinate themselves to an earthly authority, but rather were bound only to Dao. If an emperor were of pure heart, they supported him, if not, they attempted to bring him to the right path, for he was considered the son of the sky. But ultimately it was all the same to the Daoists that they were left in peace to explore the cosmos and immerse themselves in meditation. In the eyes of many Chinese, the Daoists are only good-for-nothings who are a burden to society, for they do not earn money and, except for quite a few gifted artists among the priests and priestesses, rely on support. On the other hand, since the founding of Zhenyipai, which allows the combination of a secular and spiritual life, there have been tremendously wealthy business people and Daoist Free Masons who have influenced the business world in all of Asia and more recently the entire world. These circles support the monasteries and the thousands of priests and priestesses who live in seclusion. Many hermits do not, however, wish for support in the form of safe ladders that lead up the vertical rock faces in the mountains to the caves and simple dwellings of the masters. They also do not want the institutionalized delivery of food and mail, which limits their spiritual and ritual freedom and leads to a comfortable structure of dependence. The simplified paths also lead the novice pilgrims to the masters. Many priests saw themselves forced to recede to the highest mountaintops in the most remote and inhospitable regions due to the global complexity of materialism. Hunyuan Gongfu stems directly from the roots of Daoism, and has maintained an uninterrupted lineage from master to student up to today. I have taken on the responsibility of carrying on the lineage properly from Feng Zhiqiang, who still bears the magic of ancient China. The origins of Hunyuan Qigong stem mainly from the “Art of form from the power of the mind from the six treasures of unifying the heart and concentration (Liuhe Xinxingyiquan)”, the origin of the later Xingyiquan from the alchemic internal schools of religious Daoism, the Daoyin; the evolving of the “exercises of the five animals”; the breathing and meditation techniques of “Tuna Fa”; and the ” The art of Taijiquan” from the authentic Taijiquan. Through my own personal explorations in all modesty, there are additional alchemic elements which have sprung from the origins of the Taijiquan, the Wudang pai, the school of the polar star as well as the Huashanpai, the celestial axis, the secrets of the sacred Chinese mountains. In their original form, which hardly exists today, these ancient Daoist life practices include not only medicine and martial arts, but also the systems of transformation, which cover all areas of life – the arts of changing resonance, vibrations. Strictly speaking, the term Qigong is only partially true, for one could just as well mention Neigong, Gongfu, Jingong or Shengong. You will learn the reason for this in the course of the book. In summary, one can label all these levels as internal mastery – Neigongfu. Carrying over the authentic systems to today is without doubt a wonder when you think what the world has experienced recently. Vegetarians, for example, were considered counter-revolutionaries and thus, interrogated and tortured during the cultural revolution in China. Healers and masters of the internal martial arts as well as priests and monks, when recognized as such, were banished in re-education and disciplinary camps. My elderly teachers experienced this no differently. Under the Nationalists before them, it must have also been dire. The key figure of today’s Hunyuan Qigong is the Grand Master Feng Zhiqiang from Peking. He entrusted to me the continuation of his ancient, almost extinct traditions into the future. His most important teachers were Hu Yaozhen, gifted healer (doctor), and Master of Liuhe Xingyiquan (1890-1973) and his friend Chen Fake, the legendary Master of Taijiquan (1886-1957). My spiritual father, Grand Master Feng Zhiqiang, is in his seventies and in the best of health (he is still without gray hair), and one of the most well-known and important masters of the martial arts and Qigong in the world today. He is, for example, the official head of the Chen-style Taijiquan, the authentic shadow boxing. Feng Zhiqiang is one of the few people in this world who, as a bearer of culture, carries the legacy of the wisdom of thousands of years of history. A master of an extinct art – which I, as his successor, will carry on in the uninterrupted line of transmission in remembrance of the countless ancestors and in honor of and gratitude to all masters.

Reference: Luc Theler Hunyuan Qigong

2 Replies to “The fundamental principles of Hunyuan Qigong”

  1. That was a very in depth and interesting post. I have not typically thought of animals having qigong but it makes perfect sense particularly in the example of the cat. We have talked often in my kung fu and chi kung classes about being as light as a cat and how they get down low before pouncing.

    Next time I am around a cat, I will take more note of their focus when they are preying on something. If we could only be more like the cat. Relaxed yet capable of great bursts of energy then immediately relaxed once again.

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