Ki Breathing

by Koichi Tohei Sensei

Replenish Ki when sleeping
Sleeping is important to replenish Ki.
Human beings consume Ki constantly while awake. Everyone sees things, listens, smells, tastes and touches things by using their five senses.
All those actions are actions of Ki. Therefore, we need to replenish Ki which we have consumed. Sleeping and Ki breathing are the best way to replenish Ki efficiently. Sleeping is the action to replenish the Ki of the Universe.
At night, when we are asleep, the mind is calm. At that time, the Ki of the Universe fills our bodies. When we awaken after sleeping soundly, Ki is charged fully and our strength is renewed and we feel great.
However, if our brains are in turmoil rather than at rest, this will block an adequate flow of Ki. When we awaken in the morning, because our supply of Ki is not high, we cannot get up immediately and recover mentally and physically, even with10 hours of sleep.
Sleeping medicine reduces the sensitivity of the brain and makes people sleep. When the brain is calm and you sleep soundly, we can replenish the Ki of the universe. However, if you sleep with your brain in a state of dead calmness, you cannot replenish enough of your Ki.
If you regularly use a sleeping medicine because you can’t sleep, you will become Ki deficient soon. You will feel listless and lose motivation for everything. Furthermore, you will lose your vitality and physical strength and become susceptible to diseases.
Because you extend Ki, Ki will go into your mind and body.
An extremely high number of people disregard the need for sleep as a necessity to replenish the Ki of the Universe. They disregard the importance of their sleep time to work longer hours. They get an insufficient supply of Ki and get sick. They then have to use sleeping medicine or they cannot sleep at night. They are carelessly shortening their own lives.
Because people who learn correct Ki development always maintain the one point in the lower abdomen and keep a calm mind, they have no problems with falling asleep quickly. If you have ten or fifteen free minutes during the day and want to sleep, you should be able to sleep calmly.
Pour some water in a tub and stir it up. Now try to calm the water with your hands. You will succeed only in agitating it further. Let the water stand undisturbed a while, and it will calm down by itself.
The human brain works much the same way. When you think, you create waves in your mind. Trying to calm the waves by thinking is only a waste. People who cannot sleep and lie awake thinking, “Go to sleep, go sleep,” are creating more turbulence in their mind.
It is difficult for them to sleep because, as they try to, they are constantly thinking and upsetting their minds. They trouble themselves with thoughts like, “If I don’t get some sleep, I won’t be able to work tomorrow,” and then move on to even more useless reflections about things that are bothering them, until sleep becomes totally impossible. When your mind is upset, lie completely still, and it will calm down by itself. When your mind has calmed down sleep will come.
The old habit of counting to ten until you fall asleep works on the same principle.
You do not have to think about counting to ten, and while you repeat the series mechanically over and over, your mind calms down and you fall asleep. This could help sometimes.
On the other hand, many people find that this kind of simple trick does not work for them.
People of a nervous temperament cannot even count to ten simply, because they cannot stop thinking about the fact that no matter what they do, they can’t fall asleep.
We have to maintain a firm conviction that if we cannot sleep, we might as well be awake. Humans cannot live without sleep, and sooner or later, it will come naturally.
If you are really sleepy, you cannot stay awake. Suffering to put yourself to sleep is foolish. When you are awake, exercise sufficiently; and when you go to bed, you will be able to sleep. If you cannot sleep, do not feel that you absolutely must.
Often the body’s blood rushes to the head and makes it feel hot, leaving the feet cold resulting in making sleep difficult. From olden times, people have correctly held that the healthy way is to have a cool head and warm feet. If you follow this advice, you will find that you can sleep soundly.
In cases like these, practice shifting your concentration by calming your Ki into the one point in the lower abdomen. By doing this, you will be able to sleep soundly anytime, and replenish your Ki.
First, lie on your back with your hands and feet comfortably outstretched. Then, think with all your mind that the blood is continuously flowing down to the tips of your toes. “Mind moves body”, therefore, it will do so. Your blood circulation will improve and your feet will become warm.
When you feel your feet become warm, you will fall asleep. Even before you feel your feet become warm, you many times will fall asleep.
Some people eat and/or drink just before going to bed. However, the purpose of sleeping is to rest both your mind and body fully. Ki is used to digest foods, therefore, Ki is not replenished fully.
The quality of sleep is decided by how well we can exchange Ki of the Universe. It is important to sleep with oneness of mind and body.

Reference:
The article is translation of Koichi Tohei sensei’s book, Ki Breathing by curtesy of Shinichi Tohei universalmind.way-nifty.com

Tai Chi Chuan Method Of Breathing And Chi Direction

Written by Chen Yen Ling
Translated by Tchong Ta-Tchen

Some people call Tai Chi Chuan an “inside family fist”. There are three reasons for doing so. First of all, Confucianism discriminates against foreign influences. Secondly, the Tai Chi Chuan technique concentrates upon grabbing the joints of the opponent;s body so that whatever bodily harm that is inflicted is internal and invisible to the opponent. Third of al, Tai Chi Chuan concentrates upon directing the chi to circulate inside the body (to cultivate vigour, chi and spirit).

The basic breathing of Tai Chi Chuan uses the nose only, not the mouth. This differs from the common people who use the nose to inhale and exhale through the mouth. After mastering Tai Chi Chuan to a higher level, the chi inside the chest can be separate into two levels (usually people call this “pre-birth chi” and “post-birth chi”). When exhaling the upper level chi (post-birth chi) is breathed out from the nose and, at the same time, the lower level chi (pre-birth chi) sinks to the dan tien. When inhaling, the upper level chi is breathed in from the nose and, at the same time, the lower level chi rises from the dan tien, along the spinal cord, to the area between the shoulder blades. When a person can achieve this technique, we call it “unobstructed chi” (the chi is able to circulate through the body freely). Everyone who practises the correct form of Tai Chi Chuan for a certain period of time and to a certain level may achieve this “unobstructed chi”. However, the beginner does not have to concentrate upon this breathing technique, but concentrate instead on the forms for the correct movement and postures. The only requirements for hte beginners are slow moevements, natural breathing, and a relaxation of the entire body. If there is too much pressure to push the chi to sink into the dan tien, it will head in the wrong direction. This may cause interstinal diseases or haemorrhoids may flare up.

After practising to a certain level, we have to know how to breathe. If we do not understand the breathing theory then we cannot strive to attain the highest level of Tai Chi Chuan. The Tai Chi Chuan classic, “Thirteen Postures: Comprehending External and Internal Training”, states:”Able to breathe, one may be agile and alive.” Meaning that the breathing and movements must be coordinated. When one sould exhale, then one must exhale; when one should inhale, on must inhale since inhalation is insubstantial whereas exhalation is substantial. If performed correctly, the body will be agile and alive. Otherwise, one cannot discriminate the substantial and insubstantial, and the meaning of practising Tai Chi Chuan is lost since Tai Chi Chuan emphasizes the substantial and insubstantial.

Usually a teacher teaches the students to learn Tai Chi Chuan in two parts: the internal and the external. The internal is breathing while the external is the forms. If both parts are taught simultaneously and the student is unable to get it right, then there will be difficulties. Therefore, the beginner should let the breathing be natural and not emphasize the breathing technique. In this chapter, we study the breathing knowledge. Therefore we cannot avoid discussing the breathing technique in detail simply due to the above problem.

The details of the method are: when practising the forms, one exhales when extending the arm and inhales when withdrawing the arm; one inhales when rising and exhales when sinking; to lift is to inhale, to lower is to exhale; when opening up, one inhales, when closing, one exhales. When turning the body and in between movements, there should be a “little breathing”. A “little breathing” means taking short breaths quickly and has the quality of relaxation and stoppage. Generally, breathing is used to lead the movement. Themovement must be coordinated with the breathing. The body opens up and the chi closes. The chi opens up and the body closes. In push hands, to push is to exhale; to roll back is to inhale; to ward off is to exhale; to neutralize is to inhale. If one is rolled back by an opponent, there shouldbe a natural “little breathing”. This “little breathing” should direct the mind to calmness. When the mind is calm, then one is able to see and hear the opponent’s movements and void being caught off guard. If one is pressed or pushed by an opponent, one should inhale. However, if one is unable to inhale, then one should exhale because the chi from inhaling circulates to the hands and legs. Therefore when one exhales to the extreme, there should be conversion to inhalation; andwhen one inhales to the extreme, there should be conversion to exhalation. Inhalation and exhalation can be converted alternately.

In big roll back, to strike the face is to exhale; to push is to exhale; to shoulder strike is to exhale; to roll back is to inhale. If one is shoulder struck by an opponent, one should inhale. If one is rolled back by an opponent, there should be “little breathing”. When turning the bodyand just before pushing, a “little breathing” should occur. When performing other footwork and before striking, thre should be a “little breathing” as well so that one is calm and able to see and listen as well as have a sticking power. The method in which the breathing is performed in the use of knives, swords, spears, and sparring is the same as that when practising the forms.

The method to circulate the inner chi is separated into two types: from pre-birth to post-birth and from post-birth to pre-birth. The first is from the front to the back, meaning that the dan tien chi travels down to the hai ti and reverses to the tailbone, travels along the spine to yu zhen up to tian ling, down the forehead and the nose to ren zhong, to the throat, chest, navel and finally back to the dan tien. The second is from the back to the front, meaning that the dan tien chi heads up from the navel to the chest, throat, ren zhong, forehead, reaching tian ling, down to yu zhen and continues along the spine to the tailbone, and finally reaches hai ti and returns to the dan tien. Note, the second is the opposite of the first.

This type of “chi moving method” may seem very vague at the beginning but after a long period of time, one will be able to fully understand and achieve it. These two types of inner chi circulation must be used during solo practice as well as in sparring practice with an opponent and in striking practice. Otherwise, even if the strike is made with much power, it is still not good enough. Tai Chi Chuan masters not only use the inner chi circulation method but can even listen and know the opponent’s inner chi: when it rises or lowers, moves to the front or back, move left, right, up and down. This kind of supreme technique is never achieved until after a few decades of good training. Of course, for the beginner, this is difficult to understand.

Thre are two sounds “Heng” and “Haah” produced when inhaling and exhaling (the great masters can also use mouth or naval to do their inhaling and exhaling). The masters, when they practice, whether in solo or with an opponent, their mouths produce these two sounds naturally for three reasons. Firstly, it makes the internal chi smooth and comfortable; the internal organs will not get hurt by the pressure. Secondly, the internal power can be released completely; none of it remains inside. Thirdly, it scares the opponent (if an opponent experiences fear, their movements become loose or scattered, their mind gets lost, their footwork becomes undisciplined and therefore is unable to defend themselves and one has a chance to win). Therefore, the two sounds of “Heng and Haah” are very useful and the learner must pay close attention to them. One make sthe sond “Heng” when one is neutralizing and the inner chi is inhaled. The sound “Haah” is usually produced when one grabs or strikes and the inner chi is exhaled. The Old Tai Chi Chuan Classic of Ching Chyan Long Dynasty states: “Hold the dan tien to practice internal kung fu. The two chis of Heng Haah are wonderful. Move open, quite close, bend and extend to follow your opponent. Slow or fast, respond, follow the thoery and understand thorughtly.” Another Tai Chi Chuan Classic state: “To apply (push hands) on forth and back earlier or later, to close or to strike is like an arrow. It cultivates a lot. ONe chi “Haah” then push far away. It needs to be taught by mouth and secretly then open the door and see the sky.” From that we can understand the two sounds of “Heng Haah” are marvellous and infinite.

Reference:

The Annotated Theoretical And Practical Tai Chi Chuan by Tchong Ta- Tchen

The Secret Method of Release

The Four Characters: Support, Lead, Relax, and Release
Support the opponent’s power and borrow his force. This involves agility. Lead the opponents power to the front of your body, then begin to store your force. This involves concentration. I relax my force without bending. This involves stillness. I release my force from the waist and feet. This involves completeness.

The important Points in Form, Application, and Power Training
The ancients have said, “If you can entice the opponent to enter and then cause him to fall into emptiness, you may use four ounces to deflect a thousand ponds. If you cannot entice the opponent to enter and then cause him to fall into emptiness, you will not be able to use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.” This statement is very deep and has broad applicability; it is beyond the scope of beginners. I will continue with an explanation so that those who have made the decision to study may make progress as they practice. If you want to know your self and know others, you must first give up yourself and follow the opponent. If you want to give up your self and follow the opponent, you must first obtain the opportunity and superior position. If you want to obtain the opportunity and superior position, you must first move the entire body as a coordinated unit. If you want to move your body as a coordinated unit, the whole body must be without misalignment, your spirit and qi must be stimulated. If you want to stimulate your spirit and qi, you must first raise your spirit. If you want to raise your spirit, you must not let your spirit be dispersed externally. If you want to prevent your spirit from being dispersed externally, you must concentrate your spirit and qi in your bones. If you want to concentrate your spirit and qi in your bones, the front of your hips must have power, the shoulders must be relaxed, and the qi sunk downward. The force (jing) must come from the heels, transform in the legs, be stored in the chest, and moved in the shoulders. The leader is the waist. Above, the arms coordinate in attack. Below, the legs follow. The force is changed internally. Withdrawing is closing. Releasing is opening. When still, all is still. Stillness is closing. In the midst of closing is the desire to open. When in motion, everything moves. Movement is opening. Moving through the forms is the gung fu of understanding the self.

Before moving, first check to see if the whole body is conforming to the above described principles. If any part of the body is not in alignment with any of the principles, immediately make corrections. This why the forms must be done slowly and not quickly. Striking Hands (pushing hands) is the gung fu of understanding others, of knowing others in movement and stillness. All this still involves questioning the self. If positioned correctly, as soon as the opponent strikes I do not have to disturb his actions in the slightest but take advantage of his movement and enter. I am assured of borrowing his force. The opponent throws himself. If you are not in a position of power, you still not have remedied the problem of “double-weighting.”1) The answer is found in yin/yang and opening/closing. This is what is meant by “Know yourself and know others, and in a hundred battles you will taste victory a hundred times.”

1) “Double-wieghting” refers to using force directly against the force of the opponent, there by creating two centers or “weights.”

A Study of Taijiquan
by Sun Lutang, Translated by Tim Cartmell
ISBN 1556434626

p. 219-20

Five Energies Meditation

Every day you should spend from twenty minutes to two hours harmonizing and adjusting your internal energy. If you can balance your emotions, you will have no anger or sadness and will not be easily excited. In doing this Five Energies meditation, it does not matter what position you sit in, but it is important that you are not disturbed during the time that you do it. So unplug your telephone.
As you sit, you correspond a specific color to certain internal organs. Begin with the heart and visualize red Ch’i or a soft red cloud that is transformed from your heart and watch it carefully with your internal vision. After a few minutes, watch the red cloud move to the area of the stomach and then gradually change to become yellow. This is a pure mental practice; you need to do it until there is no “me,” only clouds. From the stomach, the cloud moves up to the region of the lungs, expands to cover both lungs, and becomes white. Then, after a while, the white cloud sinks down to the kidneys and bladder where it becomes dark, like the water of the North Sea, deep, dark blue with a little gray in it. This cloud surrounds all your water organs and then moves up to the liver area just to the right of your spleen and gallbladder. When it comes to this region, it changes from blue-black to green. From here, you can begin the cycle over again by moving the green cloud to the heart where it becomes red, and so forth.
Do this cultivation calmly and gently, following theorder I have given you. Do not change the order. Water gives birth to wood energy, which gives birth to fire; fire gives birth to earth, and earth gives birth to metal; metal gives birth to water and the cycle repeats itself. By your visualization, you burn away negative energy, and your internal movements harmonize your sexual energy beautifully. People are made of living energy. Someday the physical house of your soul will die, but these five clouds will be your new home that can carry you flying. The minimum goal of this practice is to fortify your energy and balance yourself.
Be gentle when you do it; be gentle when you stop it. After several circulations, you should take a break or stop. If you have done the circulation for two hours, then slow down before you bring it to a close. Collect your energy back to its original order. just calm down. You do not need to use strength to do it. Use your gentle mind.
The second stage of the Five Cloud Meditation is to sit quietly and visualize the center of the chest or the area one half inch above the navel. I recommend that women use the point in the center of the chest.

Reference:
Entering the Tao by Master Huang Ni

Thirteen Important Points in Taijiquan

Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows; contain the chest and pull up the back; the qi sinks to dantian; an intangible energy lifts up the crown of the head; loosen the waist and kua; distinguish empty and full; upper and lower follow one another; use mind intent, not strength; inner and outer are united; intention and qi interact; seek stillness in movement; movement and stillness are united; and proceed evenly from posture to posture. These thirteen points must be attended to in each and every movement. One cannot neglect the concept of these thirteen points within any of the postures. I hope that students will be cautiously attentative, and test and verify these in their practise.

Yang Chengfu (1883-1936) The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan translated by Louis Swaim
ISBN 1556435452

p. 12-13

The Heart of Da Cheng Chuan

Inwardly alert, open, calm.
Outwardly upright, extended, filled with spirit.
This is the foundation of stillness.
Add the hard and the soft, the powerful and the relaxed,
Motion and stillness, contraction and extension:
In the instant these converge, there is power.

Wang Xiang Zhai

The Way of Power by Lam Kam Chuen
ISBN 1856751988
p. 18

The Treatise on T’ai Chi Ch’uan

Attributed to Wang Tsung-yueh [Wang Zongyue] (18th Century)
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

T’ai Chi [Supreme Ultimate] comes from Wu Chi [Formless Void]
and is the mother of yin and yang.
In motion T’ai Chi separates;
in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi.

It is not excessive or deficient;
it follows a bending, adheres to an extension.

When the opponent is hard and I am soft,
it is called tsou [yielding].

When I follow the opponent and he becomes backed up,
it is called nian [sticking].

If the opponent’s movement is quick,
then quickly respond;
if his movement is slow,
then follow slowly.

Although there are innumerable variations,
the principles that pervades them remain the same.

From familiarity with the correct touch,
one gradually comprehends chin [intrinsic strength];
from the comprehension of chin one can reach wisdom.

Without long practice
one cannot suddenly understand T’ai Chi.

Effortlessly the chin reaches the headtop.

Let the ch’i [vital life energy] sink to the tan-t’ien [field of elixir].

Don’t lean in any direction;
suddenly appear,
suddenly disappear.

Empty the left wherever a pressure appears,
and similarly the right.

If the opponent raises up, I seem taller;
if he sinks down, then I seem lower;
advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long;
retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.

A feather cannot be placed,
and a fly cannot alight
on any part of the body.

The opponent does not know me;
I alone know him.

To become a peerless boxer results from this.

There are many boxing arts.

Although they use different forms,
for the most part they don’t go beyond
the strong dominating the weak,
and the slow resigning to the swift.

The strong defeating the weak
and the slow hands ceding to the swift hands
are all the results of natural abilities
and not of well-trained techniques.

From the sentence “A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds”
we know that the technique is not accomplished with strength.

The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people,
how can it be due to swiftness?

Stand like a perfectly balanced scale and
move like a turning wheel.

Sinking to one side allows movement to flow;
being double-weighted is sluggish.

Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize,
and is always controlled by his opponent,
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.

To avoid this fault one must distinguish yin from yang.

To adhere means to yield.
To yield means to adhere.

Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.

Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other.

Understanding this you can say you understand chin.
After you understand chin,
the more you practice,
the more skill.

Silently treasure knowledge and turn it over in the mind.
Gradually you can do as you like.

Fundamentally, it is giving up yourself to follow others.
Most people mistakenly give up the near to seek the far.
It is said, “Missing it by a little will lead many miles astray.”

The practitioner must carefully study.

This is the Treatise

Reference:
T’ai Chi Ch’uan Classics www.scheele.org

Spirit – Shen Concentrated

Having the above four, then you can return to concentrated spirit: if the spirit is concentrated, then it is (continuous and) uninterrupted, and the practice of chi (breath) returns to the shen (spirit). The manifestation of chi moves with agility. (When) the spirit is concentrated, opening and closing occur appropriately, and the differentiation of substantial and inubsubstantial is clear. If the left is insubstantial, the right is substantial, and vice-versa. Insubstantial does not mean completely without strength. The manifestation of the chi must be agile. Substantial does not mean completely limited. The spirit must be completely concentrated. It is important to be completely in the mind (heart) and waist, and not outside.

Not being outside or separated, force is borrowed from the opponent, and the chi is relased from the spine. How is the chi released from the spine? It sinks downward from the two shoulders, gathers to the spine, and pours to the waist. This is chi’i from the up to down is called “closed”. From the waist the chi mobilizes to the spine, spreads to the two arms and flows to the fingers. This is chi from down to up and is called “opened”. Closed is gathering, and opened is discharging. When you opening and closing, then you know yin and yang. Reaching this level your skill will progress with the days and can do as you wish.

Red.: from Li Yi Yu’s Five Character Secret (Calm, Agility, Breath – to gather the chi, The internal force – the complete chin, Spirit – Shen concentrated).

Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
ISBN: 0938190776

Page: 55

Cat Walk Benefits

by Mei Ying Sheng Translated by Ted W. Knecht

Late Grandmaster Yang Cheng Fu described in his book, “The Practice of Taijiquan”, that “the two legs be differentiated into yin and yang, and should raise and lower as if walking like a cat”. In the book entitled, “Essentials of Free Sparring”, Master Wu Yu Xiang wrote that “one should step like a walking cat and move like pulling (drawing) silk”. Students of later generations called the advancing steps and footwork found in Taijiquan as the “Taiji Cat Walk”, “Taiji Tiger Step”, or plainly as the “Taiji Step”. The Taiji Cat Walk appears a total of 58 times and is the most basic stepping method in the Yang style 108 posture routine.

The Taiji Classics state that “if the hands advance three percent, then the legs advance seven percent”. This demonstrates the importance of stance work and stepping in Taijiquan. There is also a saying which says that if one can perform a proper “Taiji Cat Walk”, it does not necessarily mean one’s Taijiquan is good, but in order to be very good at Taijiquan, one must have a proper “Taiji Cat Walk”. The legs move slowly and evenly under the control of the waist and spine while performing the “Taiji Cat Walk”. Close to half of the largest muscles groups found within the body are below the waist and abdomen. The “Taiji Cat Walk” will allow all the muscles, ligaments, joints, etc. to obtain maximum range of exercise with the least amount of resistance. The action which occurs in the legs is similar to the motion of twisting (draining) a wet towel. All of the fibers within the towel (legs) will receive varying degrees of twisting and pressure. This action which will naturally harmonize the body in varying degrees can produce the following physiological health benefits:

1) Benefits on the Cardiovascular System: In one’s lifetime, the legs and feet are under the pressure of the body’s weight for approximately two thirds of the time. The feet are the furthest extension of the body from the heart. Consequently, the blood which is pumped from the heart to the feet and recirculated back to the heart will have an increase in difficulty in it’s ability to circulate. This may lead to various ailments in the legs and feet. The “Taiji Cat Walk” will allow the repeated twisting and wrapping of the muscles to produce a very prominent overall pressuring action on the walls of the blood vessels in the lower extremities. The blood vessels will have more strength to contract and expand and will enhance the circulation of blood back to the heart. The heart will in turn have a greater supply of blood to nourish the body. The “massaging” effect of Taijiquan on the muscle walls of the blood vessels can prevent the deposition of cholesterol on the walls of the blood vessels. This will, therefore, increase the elasticity and strength of the blood vessel walls. Among all exercise therapies which aid in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the “Taiji Cat Walk” is at the forefront. A few years ago the author conducted a study on the effects of practicing Yang style Taijiquan (with emphasis on the “Taiji Cat Walk”) on 220 middle-aged and elderly people. The result of the study concluded a positive decrease in blood pressure for those suffering from high blood pressure. The degree of exercise in Taijiquan is determined by the distance between the feet while in a bow stance. A wide and low stance will result in the greatest degree of exercise; while a stance which is high and narrow will result in a lower degree of exercise. After one has partaked in a round of Taijiquan using a low and wide stance, one will greatly perspire, the internal energy (Qi) will be harmonized, and the heart rate will be slightly raised as compared to normal activities. The heart rate may raise up to 100 beats per minute (athletes possibly lower). Some people may consider this quality of movement to be minimal; however, this phenomena is quite different from ordinary sporting exercise. The movements of Taijiquan are under a so-called “Qi State” which is very difficult to describe in words. The author with over 40 years of practical experience in Chinese and Western medicine has found that people who have practiced Taijiquan for many years have a lower pulse rate than those who do not participate in Taijiquan. No matter under what type of activity, either active or passive, the pulse rate is slower and more even in Taijiquan practitioners. According to scientific research of doctors in China and abroad, a pulse rate which is slow and even will allow the rest period of the heart’s muscles to increase and will also allow a greater release of blood from the heart’s chambers. A beneficial effect of this will decrease sediment built up in the blood and will also decrease the hardening of the blood vessels. Furthermore, high blood pressure will be lowered which is one the main reason for heart disease and death. Based on recent medical research, findings have shown that heart rate is inversely related to longevity in animal studies. Mice have a heart rate of approximately 900 beats per minute and live for approximately two years; on the other hand, the heart rate of elephants is approximately 30 beats per minute and they can live from 40 to 50 years. The length of life in humans which is also correlated to this inverse relationship has been know for quite some time in Chinese medical theory. Taijiquan, in general, has the perfect quality of motion to allow the heart rate and the movements of Taijiquan to be directly proportionate.

2) Benefits on the Meridians and Acu-points of the Body: The normal function of internal organs, skin, muscles, tendons, and bones rely upon the complete openness of the meridian network. Among the twelve ordinary meridians in the body, there are three yin and three yang feet meridians which ascend or descend at the toes. Moreover, there are 41 acu-points below the ankle joint of both feet which have a very direct relationship to one’s health. These 41 points are connected along channels to the top of the head and to various tissues and organs in the torso and arms. The physiological ability and pathology of the tissue and organs receive stimulation from the feet. This is related to a saying which states that “when one meridian is in disharmony, the body will not be in perfect health”. In regards to the study of meridians in traditional Chinese medicine, “Foot Reflexology” has become very popular and of interest in Europe, America, and Japan. They have been able to utilize state-of-the-art equipment to pin point 36 reflex points on the bottom of the feet. Various methods of stimulation are used on these reflex points to achieve the goal of curing illnesses and improving health. At a factory in Japan, a 75 meter long rock road has been designed in which small, sharp pebbles protrude out of the ground. The employees will walk this “road of health” twice before beginning work. This is conducted to stimulate the bottom of the feet to reach the goal of optimal health. The “Taiji Cat Walk” promotes a reflex action on the feet against the ground to massage the bottom of the feet and to stimulate the meridians and acu-points. This method is much different than ordinary walking and jogging; and it is more natural and complete than “foot reflexology” and the “road of health” methods described above. The following is a description of the reflex response of the “Taiji Cat Walk” which uses a left bow stance stepping into a right bow stance: Because the “Taiji Cat Walk” is conducted with the legs half squatted down, the body must maintain a balanced and level posture throughout the motion. When the right heel slowly and evenly leaves the ground to advance forward, the reflex action of the right foot against the ground results from lifting motion starting in the heel, then the ball, and finally in the toes. This reflex response is from weak to strong. When the toes leave the ground, the reflex response towards the toes is from strong to weak. When the right foot lowers back to the ground first on the heel, then the ball, and finally the toes, the reflex response is again from weak to strong. During the process of the right foot advancing to the front to form a right bow stance, the weight maintained on the left leg has a reflex action on the heel, ball, and toes which is from strong to weak and then from weak to strong. The reflex response on the feet against the ground evolves into a slow, gentle, and even massage from the heel down to the toes and is very beneficial to the stimulation of the 41 acu-points on the feet. The reflex response can also lead to the opening of the meridians and to the regulation of the blood and internal energy. The “Taiji Cat Walk” will cause a relatively strong person to break out into a sweat within two or three minutes of continuous practice. The quality of movement in the “Taiji Cat Walk” and it’s massaging action on the feet is, in general, an “exercise” which surpasses other forms of exercise conducted in the same amount of time.

3) Benefits to the Muscles, Bones, and Tendons Below the Waist and Abdomen: The “Taiji Cat Walk” is performed while the two legs are half squatted down and the weight of the body is continuously changing back and forth from one leg to the other. Because the movement is like a “cloud floating and water flowing” and the weight of the body is maintained on one leg during slow and even movement, all of the muscles, bones, joints, and tendons below the waist will become stronger and more agile. People who practice Taijiquan for a long time will see an increase in muscle size and strength. In Chinese medicine the saying, “the legs are the mirror of one’s health”, means the health of the legs are of prime importance to one’s overall health. Because the “Taiji Cat Walk” can harmonize and combine the blood and internal energy of the lower body together, this can aid in the prevention and/or healing of lumbar hyperplasia, heel spurs, deformed knees and various other degenerate aliments which commonly occur in old age. Some women over the age of 40, for unknown reasons, get edema (swelling) of the legs. Because of the water retention in the legs, this will chronically lead to unfavorable effects on the stimulation of the meridians and acu-points of the feet. The “Taiji Cat Walk” is one of the most ideal ways to alleviate this problem. The abdomen must correspondingly conduct circular motions in order to turn and relax the waist. This will allow the lateral, vertical, inner oblique, and outer oblique muscles to be interchangeably stretched and contracted; thereby, allowing the flexibility of the muscle layers to be increased and strengthened. Besides having a massing effect on the internal organs in the torso, it can reduce excess fatty deposits on the abdomen wall and also heal ailments such as a “collapsed stomach”. Consequently, the “Taiji Cat Walk” is a very effective prescription for one’s overall well being.

Dr. Mei Ying Sheng has been researching Yang style Taijiquan and practicing both Western and traditional Chinese medicine for the past 40 years. He was a physician and surgeon for many high ranking Buddhist monks and lay people in Tibet for 20 years. Through the healing benefits of Taijiquan, Dr. Mei was able to help cure a high ranking government official from Si Chuan Province of a cancerous stomach tumor. Doctors could not operate due to the size of the tumor. Consequently, the man came to Dr. Mei Ying Sheng for traditional Chinese medical treatment. Dr. Mei assessed the condition of the patient and by isolating and then teaching various movements found within Taijiquan, as a supplement to the form, the tumor gradually reduced in size and finally disappeared. To this day, the man goes into the Emei Mountains every morning and performs Taijiquan. Since retiring from a professional medical career, Dr. Mei and his family have recently moved to the city of Shen Zhen located in Guang Dong Province, China where he teaches Yang style Taijiquan, straight sword, broadsword, push hands, and qi gong with his youngest daughter. Dr. Mei is also utilizing his abilities in medicine and Taijiquan to help patients in a more quicker recovery from drug addiction at various drug rehabilitation center in southern China.

Hook Hand of Yang Style Taijiquan

by Dr. Mei Ying Sheng, Si Chuan Province, China Translated by Ted W. Knecht, Shen Zhen, China

From the books of many famous traditional Yang style Taijiquan practitioners (Diagrams 1, 2) and also from the books of the newly formed styles of Taijiquan (Diagrams 3, 4), one can see that the basic method for performing Single Whip seems rather similar. For example if the front of the diagrams face south, noted as 12 o’clock, then the hook hand is located at 2 o’clock. Afterwards, the left palm pushes out from 2 o’clock over to 9 o’clock. Diagram 1 and 2 show the hook hand at the 2 o’clock position and Diagram 2 shows the left palm at the 9 o’clock position. From these diagrams one can see that within the process of pushing the left palm out to 9 o’clock, the right hook hand barely moves.

Over the past several decades the author has observed the above mentioned method for performing Single Whip by numerous practitioners; no matter if it is being performed in the traditional Yang style routine or from the newly created competition routines. It has been suggested that this way of performing Single Whip is a “method of habit” rather than what was originally taught. The following is a discussion to suggest a more concise definition of the practice of Single Whip as taught by Yang Chengfu.

Yang Chengfu’s Single Whip

An explanation of the practical application of Single Whip can be found in Yang Chengfu’s book entitled “Taijiquan’s Practical Applications” published by Wenguang Printing Press in 1931. In this book, Yang Chengfu explains that “if an enemy attacks from the rear [as you stand in Push from Grasp Sparrow’s Tail], I would use my right hand to form a hook hand to dissolve the attack; at the same time the left palm would straighten out from the front to the left attacking the chest of the enemy…. The dissolving of the attack and the palm strike must be conducted simultaneously”.

In Yang Chengfu’s book entitled “The Complete Volume of Taijiquan Usage” published by the Zhonghua Book Company in 1933 explains the use of the right hook hand and the left palm in Single Whip. “If the enemy attacks from the rear, I would move my center to the left foot…. When the two hands wipe over to the left, the right hand forms a hook hand. The left palm moves inward with the center of the palm facing out. The waist and hips should relax as the left palm attacks the chest of the enemy. This pattern of movements must be conducted at the same time.”

Even though the words used to describe the usage of the hands in Single Whip’s application are different, the meaning is essentially the same. From the aspect of observing the postures in these two books, there is only the one posture of Push from Grasp Sparrow’s Tail prior to the stationary posture of Single Whip. Unfortunately, there are no transitory pictures from Push into Single Whip to illustrate the complete motion of the hook hand.

From only observing the diagrams one would assume that the hook hand basically does not move while the left palm pushes out to the left. However, this does not conform to what Yang Chengfu describes in his explanation of the application. He states that “the hand movements must be completed in one motion”.

Principles in the Taiji Classics

In the “Taijiquan Lun” it states that “there is no place that is concaved or convexed. There is no place that is disconnected”. The “Explanation of the Thirteen Posture Moving Abilities (Shisan Shi Xing Gong Xin Jie)” states that “when one point moves there is not one point that does not move” and “when one point is silent there is not one point that is not silent”. The “Five Character Song” states that “when raising the hands, they cannot be stiff… the two hands must be suspended up and penetrating in one breath”. It also states that “the internal strength of the body must be completely united into one”. The “Zou Jia Da Shou Xing Gong Essentials” explain that “the upper body movements must be coordinated with the lower; when one part of the body moves, then all parts move; movement is termed opening but within opening there is also closing.”

Yang Chengfu taught in his “Taijiquan Ten Essentials” that “when the hands, waist, and feet move, the spirit of the eyes follow with the movement; if there is a discontinuity in movement either in the upper or lower body, there will be chaos in motion”. It also states that “the frame must contain opening and closing and full and empty movement; the so-called opening, not only includes the hands and feet, but also the opening of the intent; the so-called closing, not only includes the hands and feet, but it too includes the closing of the intent; one must combine the internal with the external to form emptiness”. Presently, the way in which many people perform Single Whip is very far from the way in which it is stated in the Classics.

Martial Requirements

In the book, “The Complete Volume of Taijiquan Usage” Yang Chengfu was able to describe in detail the usage of the hook hand in Single Whip. He states that “if the enemy attacks from behind, I would shift my body weight to the left leg… allowing the two hands to move to the left….” There are several meaning to the above sentence in terms of moving the weight onto the left leg. Firstly, it is a way for closing distance. Secondly, it is a way for the two hands to adhere to the on-coming attack. This will allow the practitioner to focus on listening to the energy (Tingjin) of the attacker. Next, Yang Chengfu goes on to say that “I hook the right hand with the fingers pointing down”. The right hook hand is used to dissolve the attack and to also stick and not allow the enemy to escape. This will then allow the left palm to issue internal strength “fajin” to the enemy’s body. In this way, the attacker will lose his center and fall into empty space. As seen from the above scenario, the way in which Yang Chengfu describes the use of Single Whip can satisfy the requirements of “listening (Tingjin)”, “adhering, connecting, sticking and following”, “leading the attack into empty space (Yin Jin Luo Kong)”, and “not loosing the attacker and not resisting attack (Bu Diu Bu Ding)”. During the moment in which the attacker’s center is lead off balance, the hook hand and left palm are positioned to the south. The left palm moves inward with the palm facing toward the outside. Following, the left palm issues out toward the attacker’s chest. At the same time, the right hook hand is arcing to the right rear corner.

As Yang Chengfu states in his book, “the left palm and right hook hand move to their designated positions simultaneously as if drawing a bow and arrow”. As can be seen, this satisfies the requirement of “when one thing opens, everything opens”; as well as, “within dissolving there is attack, and within attack there is dissolving”. If one practices the Single Whip posture as many people do today whereby the right hook hand is placed in position prior to the movement of the left palm, then it will not conform to Taiji fighting principles as taught by Yang Chengfu.

During the process of dissolving the oncoming attack with the right hook hand, one can also borrow the attacker’s force for one’s own benefit. When using the right hook hand to borrow the attacker’s force, one must use the “waist as the center of the wheel and the arm as the spoke”; thereby, the left palm simultaneously attacks the enemy. This can be viewed through the theory of rotational mechanics. If you were to push on the front end of a rotating door, the rear end will swing around and push you. Whatever the amount of force you use will be the amount returned by the swinging door. Another example of this principle is when an acrobat jumps onto the end of a seesaw from three feet high, the person on the other end will be propelled up into the air three feet. In terms of Taiji theory, one borrows to attack just as “four ounces can deflect one thousand pounds”; as well as the Taiji practitioner “stands like a balanced scale and moves lively like a cartwheel”.

For example, in Single Whip, the right hook hand dissolves and borrows, let’s say, 50 pound of force from an attacker and is diverted to the left palm for a counter attack. When one also adds into the equation the ground connection of the feet that is transmitted up the legs, controlled in the waist, and issued out through the arms, this 50 pounds of force that the attacker used may increase several times when used in the counter attack. The method in which Taiji uses to fight is not based on how much force oneself puts forth, but is based on how much the attacker puts forth. A common phrase in Taijiquan is “if you ask me how much force I will use to hit you, it is best first to ask yourself how much you are going to use.”

The most commonly seen way most Yang stylist perform Single Whip is by using the hook hand to dissolve the enemy’s attack starting at 9:00 passing through 12:00 and ending at 2:00. During this time period of dissolving the attack, the left palm has yet to attack out. It is only after the hook hand has arrived at 2:00 that the left palm pushes out for the counter attack. By this time, one has already lost the opportunity to borrow the striking force and revert it back upon attacker. Not only this, but one has also lost touch with the requirement of “within dissolving there is attack, and within attack there is dissolving”. Through the lose in the opportunity to borrow the force of the attacker, one has also lost the Taiji fighting principles of “guiding the attack into empty space (Yin Jin Luo Kong)” and “no excess and no deficiency (Wu Guo Bu Ji)”. One other important point is that while the two hands are moving to the right side prior to the hook hand formation and left palm pushing out, one leaves the left rib cage open for attack by the enemy. In the past, Taiji masters called this type of motion “Getting Close to the Fist (Ai Da Quan)”.

Presently there is also another way in which the hook hand of Single Whip is performed. Some perform the hook hand by first forming the hook hand at 3:00 and then as the left palm pushes out, the hook hand moves over to 2:00. The application for this way of practice is very difficult to comprehend. (Please note Diagrams 3 and 4 for an example of this method).

Yang Chengfu wrote that “when the two hands move to the left, the right hand forms into a hook hand with the fingers pointing downward” during the transition into Single Whip. The above statement is identical to his disciple’s (Chen Weiming) description in the book entitled “The Art of Taijiquan” published by the Zhong Hua Shu Ju Press in 1925. Another of Yang Chengfu’s high ranking disciples, Li Yaqian, also explained the usage of the hook hand in Single Whip as “after the two palms wipe over to the left side, the right hand forms into a hook”. The above methods of conducting the hook hand during the performance of Single Whip quite obviously conform to the principles of Taijiquan. In addition, the manner in which Yang Chengfu’s disciples practiced the hook hand was quite different from the way in which it is most commonly practiced today.

The above two different methods imply the usage of the hook hand in Single Whip. Yang Chengfu’s fighting methods used the theory of “first arriving, then issuing (Hou Fa Xian Zhi)”. During the process of dissolving the oncoming attack by the hook hand, one will be able to borrow this force to turn it back upon the attacker. One other type of explanation for the use of the hook hand in Single Whip is to “use the nape of the hook hand to strike the enemy”. The author finds that this is not very practical. It is more practical to use a fist or palm to make an attack rather than the hook hand. Moreover, the hook hand has a shorter striking distance than both a fist and palm. The amount of force that can be applied to a hook hand technique is relatively minimal. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the wrist could be easily injured while striking with the hook hand. In terms of the application/scenario as related by Yang Chengfu, the attack is originating from the left side. To use a right hook hand to attack a person on the left side would be impractical.

Another method often mentioned for the use of the hook hand is to use the nape of the right hook hand to strike an attacker on the right side while using the left palm to strike at a second attacker. This is quite obviously contrary from the Taiji Classics which state, “when emitting internal strength, be calm and relaxed, concentrated in one direction (Fajin Xu Chenzhe Songzheng, Zhuanzhu Yifang)”. When meeting an oncoming attack during Taiji free fighting (Sanshou), one must utilize the principle of “being calm and relaxed while concentrating in one direction”. Yang Chengfu was very careful to illustrate this principle of “concentrating in one direction” with each stationary posture in his book, “The Complete Volume of Taijiquan Usage”. The Taiji Classics also state that “the reason for not being able to neutralize and control the enemy is the result of double weightiness; in order to avoid this fault, one must understand Yin and Yang”.

Artistic Requirements

The natural beauty of Taijiquan is based on the principles of the Dao. The theoretical basis of this can be found in Laozi’s Daodejing which states “the Dao produces all natural things”. The practice of Taijiquan can aid in returning to a natural form. It has its own universal viewpoint and artistic expression. It is to strive for a meaning between human-being (ren) and nature (ziran). It unites coordination between the form of motion with that of the mind to achieve a higher plane of awareness. Much of this beauty can be found within the poetry of the Taiji Classics.

The Taiji Classics state that “one should perform Taijiquan like a cloud floating in the sky and as water flowing in a river”. When clouds float in the sky, they move in a slow, smooth, and soft manner as a complete unit. Moreover, each and every water particle within the mass of clouds is in constant motion. Water flowing in a river is a complete body in constant motion and conforms to the laws of nature.

The Classics also state that “when the wind blows, the branches of the willow will sway”. During the gentle breeze of spring time the branches of the weeping willow will gently sway back and forth. As stated in the Taiji Classics, “When one part moves, then all will move”. And when the breeze ceases to blow, the willow will come to a peaceful state of silence. The Taiji Classics relate this to “when one part is silent, then all is silent”. The willow branch is in harmony with the dynamic state of mother nature. The willow’s characteristic of this dynamic state exhibits flexibility by continuously regulating itself to the conditions brought upon it by nature. Chen Pu states in his book entitled “Discussions of Taijiquan”: “Coming and going, bending and straightening like the wind blowing the willow tree, nature’s mysteries are in turbulence; lively is it without stagnation”. If by chance when the wind blows upon a willow tree and one of the branches looses its flexibility to move with the wind, this must mean the branch has stiffened and is most likely dead. Consequently, should the hook hand found in Single Whip imitate this stiff and non-moving branch of the willow tree?

As the Taiji Classics say, “Taijiquan must be completed in one breath” and “the entire body is a complete unit”. The degree of difficulty in Taijiquan practice is extremely high and the meaning of the principles are extremely important. The harmonization of the postures is produced by the movements of the four limbs of the body. The way in which the hook hand is commonly conducted by many practitioners today looses this harmonious regulation of the body. Not only does it loose the combative nature of Taijiquan, but at the same time it looses the artistic flavor found in classical Taijiquan. As a general rule, no matter what the posture, if the martial aspect is lost, then the artistic characteristic of the posture is also destroyed.

Qigong Requirements

Taijiquan uses the principle of being relaxed and tranquil in practice and soft and round in application. The shape (xing) guides the internal energy (qi); the internal energy congeals the spirit (shen); and the spirit connects the form. This must be completely controlled by the mind or intent (yi) in order to express the calm, comfortable, and full feeling of each posture. Only in this manner can one guide the circulation of internal energy. Through the many years of practical experience in Taijiquan, the author has found that if a movement does not conform to the principles of Taijiquan, there will not be any sensation of obtaining internal energy (de qi). However, once the posture is corrected and conforms to Taiji principles, not only can internal energy be felt, but the entire body becomes more invigorated and energized. An example of this phenomena is when the lens of a camera is about to be opened. If the conditions/settings are not completely atuned, then the photographic negative will not be exposed correctly. Taijiquan can be seen in the same light. If one does not set up the correct posture by conforming to the principles as stated in the Taiji Classics, then all one is doing is “externally training the tendons, bone, and skin (Wai Lian Jin Gu Pi)”, not “internally cultivating the one breath (Nei Lian Yi Kou Qi)”.

Based on recent scientific studies in China, there will be a variety of influences on the body’s health due to changes in postures during the practice of Taijiquan. When the practitioner is in a so-called “qigong state” during practice, the electrical impulses of the muscles and skin, the particle flow within the body, and the constitute of “qi” will be under the direct control of the brain’s central nervous system. Due to this controlled state, there will be a wide range of beneficial effects on the physiology of the practitioner. During the practice of Taijiquan, the sayings “when one part moves, then all will move; when one part is silent, then all is silent”; and “changing, turning, emptying, and filling must have intent, then the internal energy will not stagnate” all directly relate to the circulation of internal energy and blood within the body.

Even though only the right hook hand and arm do not move in the “modern” version of Single Whip’s hook hand, however, this causes all the various muscle groups on the right side of the body to come to a halt. When this occurs, there will be an imbalance in the motion of the muscles found within the entire body which will injure the opening and closing of Yin and Yang of the entire body’s internal and external components. It will also influence the circulation of internal energy within the body’s meridian network. Only by allowing the internal energy to develop through the regulation of properly trained Taijiquan will one be able to obtain beneficial effects of improved energy and blood flow.

Conclusions

Every technique found within Taijiquan has a “rising”, “carrying”, “turning”, and “closing” motion. The beginning of each technique must have a “rising” motion with the coordination of the entire body behind the move. This will then satisfy the saying of “when one part moves, then all will move”. After going through the process of “carrying” and “turning” within the technique, the “closing” will occur with the entire body coming to rest. This will satisfy the requirements in “when one part is silent, then all is silent”. The body’s way of expressing the motion and calmness of each technique is shown through the hands, eyes, bodywork, and stepping/footwork. However, among these the most obviously seen expressions are in the hands and footwork/stances. Due to the differences in hand and foot positions within each posture, there is a very high degree of difficulty and sophisticated intent to coordinate the continuous motion of “rising”, “carrying”, “turning”, and “closing” so that everything (hands, eyes, body, feet) concludes at the same time.

The initial wiping motion of the two hands in the Single Whip posture, that follows the posture of Push in Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, is considered the “rising” component of the posture. As the hands continue wiping to the east, the motion goes through the “carrying” component of the posture. The “turning” component occurs when the hands move back toward the west. When the hook hand arrives at 2:00 and the left palm pushes out to the east (at the same time), the posture has completed the “closing” component.

When the two palms move in a wiping manner to the east from the Push posture of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, the two palms should gradually change from erect palms (Lizhang) to prostrated palms (Fuzhang). The reason for this is because the erect palms of Push are the final “closing” component which is consequently considered the “substantial” or “Yang” stage of the individual posture. The “rising” component of Single Whip is considered the “insubstantial” or “Yin” stage of that individual posture. Therefore, there must be a gradual change from Yang to Yin during each transition of postures in order to fully conform to the principles of “knowing Yin and Yang (Xu Zhi Yin Yang)” and “clearly differentiating substantial from insubstantial (Xu Shi Yifen Qingchu)”. The change from Yang to Yin must be gradual so that the motion conforms to the Taiji symbol where the Yang polarity gradually spirals to the Yin polarity. This is not a sudden and quick change.

When the right palm gradually forms the hook hand after moving to the east and then moves in toward the body, it forms the Yang polarity. As the right hook hand begins to move toward the south, minor Yin begins to arise. As the left palm wipes back toward the south from the east, the palm reaches the Yin polarity and gradually continues into the on-start of minor Yang. As the right hook hand continues to move to its destination at the 2:00 position, it goes into major Yin. At the same time, the left palm simultaneously pushes out to the east (9:00) to become major Yang. The following principles are met through this process: “Yin and Yang is the root (Yin Yang Huwei Qigen)”; Yin polarity produces Yang, Yang polarity produces Yin (Yinji Sheng Yang, Yangji Sheng Yin)”; “among Yin there is Yang and among Yang there is Yin (Yinzhong Shu Yang, Yangzhong Shu Yin)”; “Yin does not leave Yang and Yang does not leave Yin (Yin buli Yang, Yang buli Yin)”; and “a single Yin cannot become Yin and a single Yang cannot become Yang (Danyin buneng Cheng Yin, Danyang buneng Cheng Yang)”.

In traditional Yang style Taijiquan there are many movements where the transitional distance of the two hands are quite varied. Examples of these include Diagonal Flying, Advance Step and Raise Hands, Hands Play Pipa, etc. In some of these postures the movement of the right hand might be very short while the movement of the left hand is relatively long. Trying to coordinate the two hands can be quite difficult to conform to the requirement of “when one part moves, then all will move; and when one part is silent, then all is silent”. However, in Single Whip the two hands have approximately the same distance to cover during the process of “rising, carrying, turning, and closing”; thereby if the same speed is maintained for both hands, then the above stated requirement of moving and stopping all at once can be easily satisfied.

Chen Wei-Ming on Internal Power The Complete Chin

The chin of the (whole) body, through practice becomes one unit. Distinguish clearly between substantiel and insubstantiel. To fa chin (discharge) it is necessary to have root. The chin starts from the foot, is commanded by the waist, and manifested in the fingers, and discharges through the spine and back. One must completely raise the spirit (pay attention) at the moment when the opponents is just about to manifest, but has not yet been released. My chin has then already met his (chin), not late, not early. It is like using a leather (tinder) to start a fire, or like a fountain gushing forth. (In) going forward or stepping back, there is not even the slightes disorder. In the curve we seek the straight, store, then discharge; then you are able to follow your hands and achieve a beneficial result. This is called borrowing force to strike the opponent or using four onces to deflect a thousand pounds.

Red.: from Five Character Secret (Calm, Agility, Breath – to gather the chi, The internal force – the complete chin, Spirit – Shen concentrated).

Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
ISBN: 0938190776

Page: 54

Song of Application

Light, agile, and alive, seek Dong Jin (understanding Jin);
Yin and Yang cooperate mutually without the fault of stagnation;
If (you) acquire (the trick), four ounces neutralizes one thousand pounds;
Expand and close, stimulate the “drum,” the center will be steady.

“Alive” here means alert and active. In practice you must pay close attention to your partner. In time, you can interpret his intentions from the slightest of motions (i.e., understanding Jin). Where your parter is heavy your are light. When one part of you is light, another part of you is heavy. You and your partner continually follow one another, never resisting, never separating. In this way the motion will continue to flow. In time you will acquire the knack of being light enough to avoid your partner’s attack, and substantial and controlled enough to deflect or attack him. Your postures alternatively open and close with the circumstances. The drum is the abdomen, in the area of the Lower Dan Tian. You stimulate the Qi centered there with sound, attention, breathing and movement. This strengthens the Qi and exercises the control of it. When you attention and actions are thus centered on the Lower Dan Tian, your stance will be stable, and your mind calm and clear.

Reference: Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters Selected Readings with Commentary by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
ISBN: 188696971X

p. 73-74

Sitting Still Doing Nothing

Let the Void be your cauldron; let Nature be your furnace; for your primary ingredient, take stillness; for your reagent; use quietude; for mercury, take your vital essence; for lead, use your vital energy; for water, use restraint; for fire, take meditation.

[Union of the Triple Equation]

Triple Equation of essence, energy and spirit unites to form the Golden Elixir of immortality during deep meditation. According to Master Chao Pi Chen the generative force changes into vitality when the body is still; vitality changes into spirit when the heart is unstirred; and spirit returns to nothingnessb because of immutable thought. The Elixir Field (Dantien) under the navel is where the genrative force [essence] is sublimated into vitality [energy]; the middle Elixir Field in the solar plexus (Middle Dantien) is where vitality is sublimated into spirit; and the upper Elixir Field in the brain (Upper Dantien) is where spirit is sublimated for its flight into space.

“When the mind is stilled, the spirit radiates a brilliance that illuminates all the great mysteries of the universe”. Chao Pi Chen

Reference: The Tao of Health, Sex & Longevity by Daniel P. Reid
ISBN 067164811X

P. 373

The Golden Flower

By Master Lu Tzu

1. Heavenly Consciousness of the Heart
Master Lu Tzu said: That which exists through itself is called Meaning. (Tao). Meaning has neither name nor force. It is the one essence, the one primordial spirit. Essence and life cannot be seen. It is contained in the Light of Heaven. The light of Heaven cannot be seen. It is contained in the two eyes. Today I will be your guide and will first reveal to you the secret of the Golden Flower of the Great One, and, starting from that, I will explain the rest in detail.

The Great One is the term given to that which has nothing above it. The secret of the magic of life consists in using action in order to achieve non-action. One must not wish to leave out the steps between and penetrate directly. The maxim handed down to us is to take in hand the work on the essence. In doing this it is important not to follow the wrong road.

The Golden Flower is the Light. What color has the light? One uses the Golden Flower as an image. It is the true power of the transcendent Great One. The phrase, “The lead of the water-region has but one taste,” refers to it. The work on the circulation of the Light depends entirely on the backward-flowing movement, so that the thoughts are gathered together (the place of Heavenly Consciousness, the Heavenly Heart). The Heavenly Heart lies between sun and moon (i.e., the two eyes).

The Book of the Yellow Castle says: In the field of the square inch of the house of the square foot, life can be regulated. The house of the square foot is the face. The field of the square inch in the face: What could that be other than the Heavenly Heart? In the middle of the square inch dwells the splendor. In the purple hall of the city of jade dwells the god of utmost emptiness and life.

The Confucians call it the center of emptiness; the Buddhists, the terrace of life; the Taoists, the ancestral land, or the yellow castle, or the dark pass, or the space of former Heaven. The Heavenly Heart is like the dwelling place, the Light is the master. Therefore when the Light circulates, the powers of the whole body arrange themselves before its throne, just as when a holy king has taken possession of the capital and has laid down the fundamental rules of order, all the states approach with tribute, or, just as when the master is quiet and calm, men-servants and maids obey his orders of their own accord, and each does his work.

Therefore you only have to make the Light circulate: that is the deepest and most wonderful secret. The Light is easy to move, but difficult to fix. If it is allowed to go long enough in a circle, then it crystallizes itself: that is the natural spirit -body. This crystallized spirit is formed beyond the nine Heavens. It is the condition of which it is said in the Book of the Seal of the Heart: Silently in the morning thou fliest upward.

In carrying out this fundamental truth you need to seek for no other methods, but must only concentrate your thoughts on it. The book Leng Yen says: By collecting the thoughts one can fly and will be born in Heaven. Heaven is not the wide blue sky, but the place where the body is made in the house of the creative. If one keeps this up for a long time, there develops quite naturally in addition to the body, yet another spirit-body.

The Golden Flower is the Elixir of Life (literally, golden ball, golden pill). All changes of spiritual consciousness depend upon the Heart. Here is a secret charm, which, although it works very accurately, is yet so fluent that it needs extreme intelligence and clarity, and complete absorption and calm. People without this highest degree of intelligence and understanding do not find the way to apply the charm; People without this utmost capacity for concentration and calm cannot keep fast hold of it.

2. The Primordial Spirit and the Conscious Spirit
Master Lu Tzu said: In comparison with Heaven and earth, man is like a mayfly. But compared to the Great Meaning, Heaven and earth, too, are like a bubble and a shadow. Only the primordial spirit and the true essence overcome time and space.         

The power of the seed, like Heaven and earth, is subject to mortality, but the primordial spirit is beyond the polar differences. Here is the place whence Heaven and Earth derive their being. When students understand how to grasp the primordial spirit, they overcome the polar opposites of Light and darkness and tarry no longer in the three worlds. But only he who has looked on essence in its original manifestation is able to do this.

When men are set free from the womb the primordial spirit dwells in the square inch (between the eyes), but the conscious spirit dwells below in the heart. This lower fleshly heart has the shape of a large peach: it is covered by the wings of the lungs, supported by the liver, and served by the bowels. This heart is dependent on the outside world. If a man does not eat for one day even, it feels extremely uncomfortable. If it hears something terrifying it throbs; if it hears something enraging it stops; if its is faced with death it becomes sad; if it sees something beautiful it is dazzled.

But the Heavenly Heart in the head, when would it have been in the leased moved? Dost thou ask: Can the Heavenly Heart not be moved? Then I answer: How could the true thought in the square inch be moved? If it really moves, it is not well. For when ordinary men die, then it moves, but that is not good. It is best indeed if the Light has already fortified itself in a spirit body and its life force gradually penetrated the instincts and movements. But that is a secret which has not been revealed for thousands of years.

The lower heart moves like a strong, powerful commander who despises the Heavenly ruler because of his weakness, and has seized for himself the leadership of the affairs of state. But when the primordial castle can be fortified and defended, then it is as if a strong and wise ruler sat upon the throne. The two eyes start the Light circulating like two ministers at the right and left who support the ruler with all their might. When the ruler in the center is thus in order, all those rebellious heroes will present themselves with lances reversed ready to take orders.

The way to the Elixir of life recognizes as supreme magic, seed-water, spirit-fire, and thought-earth; these three. What is seed-water? It is the true, one power (eros) of former Heaven. Spirit-fire is the Light (logos). Thought-earth is the Heavenly Heart of the middle house (intuition). Spirit-fire is used for effecting, thought-earth for substance, and seed-water for the foundation. Ordinary men make their bodies through thoughts.

The body is not only the 7 ft. tall outer body. In the body is the anima. The anima, having produced consciousness, adheres to it. Consciousness depends for its origin on the anima. The anima is feminine, the substance of consciousness. As long as this consciousness is not interrupted, it continues to beget from generation to generation, and the changes of form of the anima and the transformations of substance are unceasing.

But, besides this, there is the animus in which the spirit shelters. The animus lives in the daytime in the eyes; at night it houses in the liver. When living in the eyes, it sees; when housing itself in the liver, it dreams. Dreams are the wanderings of the spirit through all nine Heavens and all the nine earths. But whoever is dull and moody on waking, and chained to his bodily form, is fettered by the anima.

Therefore the concentration of the animus is effected by the circulation of the Light, and in this way the spirit is protected, the anima subjected, and consciousness is annulled. The method used by the ancients for escaping from the world consisted in burning out completely the slag of darkness in order to return to the purely creative. This is nothing more than a reduction of the anima and a bringing to perfection of the animus. And the circulation of the Light is the magical means of limiting the dark powers and gaining mastery of the anima. Even if the work is not directed toward bringing back the creative, but confines itself to the magical means of the circulation, one returns to the creative, If this method is followed, plenty of seed-water will be present of itself; the spirit-fire will be ignited, and the thought-earth will solidify and crystallize. And thus can the holy fruit mature.

The scarab rolls his ball and in the ball there develops life as the effect of the undivided effort of his spiritual concentration. If now and embryo can grow in manure, and shed its skin, why should not the dwelling place of our Heavenly Heart also be able to create a body if we concentrate the spirit upon it?

The one effective, true essence (logos united with life), when it descends into the house of the creative, divides into animus and anima. The animus is in the Heavenly Heart. It is of the nature of light; it is the power of lightness and purity. It is that which we have received from the great emptiness, that which has form from the very beginning.

The anima partakes of the nature of darkness. It is the power of the heavy and the turbid; it is bound to the bodily, fleshly heart. The animus loves life. The anima seeks death. All sensuous pleasures and impulses to anger are effects of the anima; it is the conscious spirit which after death is nourished on blood, but which, during life, is in direst need. Darkness returns to darkness and like things attract each other. But the pupil understands how to distill the dark anima so that it transforms itself into Light.

3. Circulation of the Light and Protection of the Center
Master Lu Tzu said: Since when has the expression “circulation of the Light” been revealed? It was revealed by the “true men of the beginning of form”. When the Light is allowed to move in a circle, all the powers of Heaven and earth, of the light and the dark, are crystallized. That is what is described as seed-like, or purification of the power, or purification of the concept.

When one begins to apply this magic, it is as if, in the middle of one’s being, there was a non-being. When in the course of time the work is finished, and beyond the body is another body, it is as if, in the middle of the non-being, there were a being. Only after a completed work of a hundred days will the Light be real, then only will it become spirit-fire.

After a hundred days, there develops by itself in the middle of the Light, a point of the true Light-pole. Suddenly there develops a seed pearl. It is as if man and woman embraced and a conception took place. Then one must be quite still in order to await it. The circulation of the Light is the epoch of fire.

In the midst of primal becoming, the radiance of the Light is the determining thing. In the physical world it is the sun; in man the eye. The emanation and dissemination of spiritual consciousness is chiefly brought about by this power when it is directed outward (flown downward). Therefore the meaning of the Golden Flower depends wholly on the backward-flowing method.

Circulation of the Light is not only a circulation of the seed-blossom of the body, but it is, in the first place, a circulation of the true, creative, formative powers. It has to do, not with a momentary fantasy, but with the exhaustion of the circular course (soul wanderings) of all the eons. Therefore a breath-pause means a year – according to human reckoning – and a hundred years measured by the long night of the nine paths (of reincarnation).

After a person has the one tone of individualization behind them, they will be born outward according to the circumstances, and not until he is old will he turn a single time to the backward-flowing way. The force of the Light exhausts itself and trickles away. That brings the nine-fold darkness (of rebirths) into the world.

In the book Leng Yen it is said: By concentrating the thoughts, one can fly; by concentrating the desires, one falls. When a pupil takes little care of his thoughts and much care of his desires, he gets into the path of depravity. Only through contemplation and quietness does true intuition arise; for that, the backward-flowing method is necessary.

In the book of the Secret Correspondences, it is said: Release is in the eye. In the Simple Questions of the Yellow Ruler, it is said: The seed-blossom of the human body must be concentrated upward in the empty space. That refers to it. Immortality is contained in this sentence and also the overcoming of the world is contained in it. That is the common goal of all religions.

The Light is not in the body alone, neither is it only outside the body. Mountains and rivers and the great earth are lit by sun and moon; all that is this Light. Therefore it is not only within the body. Understanding and clarity, knowing and enlightenment, and all motion (of the spirit), are likewise this Light; therefore it is not just something outside the body. The Light-flower of Heaven and earth fills all thousand spaces.

But also the Light-flower of one body passes through Heaven and covers the earth. Therefore, just as the Light is circulating, so Heaven and earth, mountains and rivers, are all rotating with it at the same time. To concentrate the seed-flower of the human body above in the eyes, that is the great key of the human body. Children, take heed! If for a day you do not practice meditation, this Light streams out, who knows whither? If you only meditate for a quarter of an hour, you can set ten thousand eons and a thousand births at rest. All methods take their source in quietness. This marvelous magic cannot be fathomed.

But when the work is started, one must press on from the obvious to the profound, from the course to the fine. Everything depends on there being no interruption. The beginning and the end of the work must be one. In between there are cooler and warmer moments, that goes without saying. But the goal must be to reach the breadth of Heaven and the depths of the sea, so that all methods seem quite easy and taken for granted. Only then do we have it in hand.

All holy men have bequeathed this to one another: nothing is possible without contemplation. When Confucious says: knowing brings one to the goal; or when Buddha calls it: the view of the Heart; or Lao Tzu says: inward vision, it is all the same.

Anyone can talk about reflection, but he cannot master it if he does not know what the word means. What has to be changed by reflection is the self-conscious heart, which has to direct itself toward that point where the formative spirit is not yet manifest. Within our 6 ft. body, we must strive for the form which existed before the laying down of Heaven and earth. If today people sit and meditate only one or two hours, looking only at their own egos, and call it contemplation, how can anything come of it?

The two founders of Buddhism and Taoism have taught that one should look at the end of one’s nose. But they did not mean that one should fasten one’s thoughts to the end of the nose. Neither did they mean that, while the eyes were looking at the end of the nose, the thoughts should be concentrated on the yellow middle. Wherever the eye looks, the heart is directed also. How can the glance be directed at the same time upward (yellow middle), and downward (end of the nose), or alternating, so that it is now up, now down? All that means confusing the finger with which one points to the moon with the moon itself.

What is really meant by this? The expression, “end of the nose,” is very cleverly chosen. The nose must serve the eyes as a guiding line. If one is not guided by the nose, either one opens wide the eyes and looks into the distance, so that the nose is not seen, or the lids shut too much, so that the eyes close, and again the nose is not seen. But when the eyes are opened too wide, one makes the mistake of directing them outward, whereby one is easily distracted. If they are closed too much then one makes the mistake of letting them turn inward, whereby one easily sinks into a dreamy reverie.

Only when the eyelids are sunk properly halfway, is the end of the nose seen in just the right way. Therefore it is taken as a guiding line. The main thing is to lower the eyelids in the right way, and then allow the Light to stream in of itself, without trying to force the Light to stream in by a concentrated effort. Looking at the nose serves only as the beginning of the inner concentration, so that the eyes are brought into the right direction for looking, and then are held to the guiding line; after that, one can let it be. That is the way a mason hangs up a plumb line. As soon as he has hung it up, he guides his work by it without continually bothering himself to look at the plumb line. Fixating contemplation is a Buddhist method which by no means has been handed down as a secret.

On looks with both eyes at the end of the nose, sits upright and in a comfortable position, and holds the heart to the center in the midst of conditions (on the fixed pole in the flight of phenomena). In Taoism it is called the yellow middle, in Buddhism the center in the midst of conditions. The two are the same. It does not necessarily mean the middle of the head. It is only a matter of fixing one’s thinking on the point that lies exactly between the two eyes. Then all is well. The Light is something extremely mobile. When one fixes the thought on the midpoint between the two eyes, the Light streams in of its own accord. It is not necessary to direct the attention especially to the central castle. In these few words the most important thing is contained.

“The center in the midst of conditions,” is a very fine expression. The center is omnipresent; everything is contained in it; it is connected with the release of the release of the whole process of creation. The condition is the portal. The condition, that is the fulfillment of this condition, makes the beginning, but it does not bring about the rest with inevitable necessity. The meaning of these two words is very fluid and subtle.

Fixating contemplation is indispensable, it ensures the strengthening of illumination. Only one must not stay sitting rigidly if worldly thoughts come up, but one must examine where the thought is, where it began, and where it fades out. Nothing is gained by pushing reflection further, One must be content to see where the thought arose, and not seek beyond the point of origin; for to find the heart (consciousness), to get behind consciousness with consciousness – that cannot be done.

We want to bring the status of the heart together in rest – that is true contemplation. What contradicts it is false contemplation. This leads to no goal. When the flight of thoughts keeps extending farther, one should stop and begin contemplating. Let one contemplate and then start concentrating again. That is the double method of strengthening the illumination. It means the circular course of the light. The circular course is fixation. The Light is contemplation. Fixation without contemplation is circulation without Light. Contemplation without fixation is Light without circulation.

4. Circulation of the Light and Making the Breathing Rhythmical
Master Lu Tzu said: The decision must be carried out with a whole heart, and, the result no sought for; the result will come of itself. In the first period of release there are chiefly two mistakes: laziness and distraction. But that can be remedied; the heart must not enter into the breathing too completely. Breathing comes from the heart. What comes out of the heart is breath. When the heart stirs, there develops breath-power. Breath-power is originally transformed activity of the heart.

When our hearts go very fast they imperceptibly pass into fantasies which are always accompanied by the drawing of a breath, because this inner and outer breathing hangs together like tone and echo. Daily we draw innumerable breaths and have an equal number of fantasy-representations. And thus the clarity of the spirit is depleted just as wood dries out and ashes die.

Should a man have no images in his mind? One cannot be without images. Should one not breathe? One cannot do without breathing. The best way is to make a cure out of the illness. Since heart and breath are mutually dependent, the circulation of the Light must be united with the rhythm of breathing.

For this, Light of the ear is above all necessary. There is a Light of the eye and a Light of the ear. The Light of the eye is the united Light of the sun and moon outside. The Light of the ear is the united seed of sun and moon within. The seed is also the Light in crystallized form. Both have the same origin and are different only in name. Therefore, understanding (ear) and clarity (eye) are one and the same effective Light.

In sitting down, after dropping the lids, one establishes a plumb-line with the eyes and shifts the Light downward. But if the transposition downward is not successful, then the heart is directed toward listening to the breathing. One should not be able to hear with the ear the outgoing and inhaling of the breath. What one hears is that it has no tone. As soon as it has tone, the breathing is rough and superficial, and does not penetrate into what is fine.

Then the heart must be made quite light and insignificant. The more it is released, the less important it becomes; the less important, the quieter. All at once it becomes so quiet that it stops. Then the true breathing is manifested and the form of the heart can be made conscious. When the heart is light, the breathing is light, for every movement of the heart brings about breathing power. If breathing is light, the heart is light, for every movement of the breath affects the heart. In order to steady the heart, one begins by cultivating the breathing power. The heart cannot be influenced directly. Therefore the breathing power is used as a handle, and this is what is called protecting the collected breathing power.

Children, do you not understand the nature of motion? Motion can be produced by outside means. It is only another name for mastery. One can make the heart move merely by running. Should one not be able to bring it to rest then by concentrated quietness? The great holy ones who knew how the heart and breathing power mutually influence one another, have thought out an easier procedure as a way of helping posterity.

In the Book of the Elixir, it is said: The hen can hatch her eggs because her heart is always listening. That is an important magic spell. The reason the hen can hatch her eggs is because of the power to heat. But the power of the heat can only warm the shells; it cannot penetrate into the interior. Therefore with her heart she conducts this power inward.

This she does with her hearing. In this way ash concentrates her whole heart. When the heart penetrates, the power penetrates, and the chick receives the power of the heart and begins to live. Therefore a hen, even when she has left her eggs, always has the attitude of listening with a bent ear. Thus the concentration of the spirit is not interrupted.

Because the concentration of the spirit suffers no interruption, neither does the power of heat suffer interruption day or night, and the spirit awakes to life. The awakening of the spirit is accomplished because the heart has first died. When a man can let his heart die, then the primordial spirit wakes to life. To kill the heart does not mean to let it dry and wither away, but it means that it is undivided and gathered into one.

Buddha said: When you fix your heart on one point, then nothing is impossible for you. The heart easily runs away, so it is necessary to gather it together by means of breathing power. Breathing power easily becomes coarse, therefore it has to be refined by the heart. When that is done, can it then happen that it is not fixed?

The two mistakes of laziness and distraction must be combated by quiet work that is carried on daily without interruption; then results will certainly be achieved. If one is not seated during meditation, one will often be distracted without noticing it. To become conscious of the inattention is the mechanism by which to do away with inattention.

Laziness of which a man is conscious, and laziness o f which he is unconscious, are many miles apart. Unconscious laziness is real laziness; conscious laziness is not complete laziness, because there is still some clarity in it. Distraction comes from letting the spirit wander about; laziness comes from the spirit not yet being pure. Distraction is much easier to correct than laziness. It is as in sickness if one feels pains and itches, one can help them with remedies, but laziness is like a disease that is attended by loss of feeling. Distraction can be overcome, confusion can be straightened out, but laziness and absent-minded are heavy and dark. Distraction and confusion at least have a place, but in laziness and absent-mindedness the anima alone is active.

In inattention the animus is still present, but in laziness pure darkness rules. If one becomes sleepy during meditation, that is an effect of laziness. Breathing alone serves to remove laziness. Although the breath that flows in and out through the nose is not the true breath, the flowing in and out of the true breath is connected with it.

While sitting, one must, therefore, always keep the heart quiet and the power concentrated. How can the heart be made quiet? By breathing. The heart alone must be conscious of the flowing in and out of the breath; it must not be heard with the ears. If it is not heard, then the breathing is light; if light, it is pure. If it can be heard, then the breathing power is heavy; if heavy, then it is troubled; if it is troubled, then laziness and absent-mindedness develop and one wants to sleep. That is self-evident.

How to use heart correctly during breathing must be understood. It is use without use. One need only let the Light fall quite gently on the hearing. This sentence contains a secret meaning. What does it mean to let the Light fall? It is the radiance of the Light of one’s own eyes. The eye looks inward and not outward. To sense brightness without looking outward means to look inward; it has nothing to do with an actual looking within.

What does hearing mean? It is hearing the Light of one’s own ear. The ear listens only within and does not listen to what is outside. To sense brightness without listening to what is outside, is to listen to what is within; it has nothing to do with actually listening to what is within. In this sort of hearing, one only hears that there is no sound; in this kind of seeing, one only sees that no shape is there. If the eye is not looking outward and the ear is not harkening outward, they close themselves and are inclined to sink inward. Only when one looks and harkens inward does the organ not go outward nor sink inward. In this way laziness and absent-mindedness are done away with. That is the union of the seed and the Light of the sun and moon.

If, as a result of laziness, one becomes sleepy, one should stand up and walk about. When the spirit has become clear one can sit down again. If there is time in the morning, one may sit during the burning of an incense candle, that is the best. In the afternoon, human affairs interfere and one can therefore easily fall into laziness. It is not necessary to have an incense candle. But one must lay aside all complications and sit quite still for a time. In the course of time there will be success without one’s getting lazy and falling asleep.

5. Mistakes During the Circulation of the Light
Master Lu Tzu said: Your work will gradually draw itself together and mature, but before you reach the condition in which you sit like a withered tree before a cliff, there are many other possibilities of error which I would ;like to bring to your special attention.

These conditions are only recognized when they have been personally experienced. I will enumerate them here, My school differs from the Buddhist yoga school, in that it has confirmatory signs for each step of the way. First I would like to speak of the mistakes and then the confirmatory signs.

When one sets out to carry out one’s decision, care must be taken to see that everything can proceed in a comfortable, easy manner. Too much must not be demanded of the heart. On must be careful t hat, quite automatically, heart and power correspond to one another. Only then can a state of quietness be attained. During the quiet state the right conditions and the right place must be provided. One must not sit down (to meditate) in the midst of frivolous affairs. That is to say, one must not have any vacuities in the mind. All entanglements must be put aside and one must be supreme and independent. Nor must the thoughts be directed toward the right procedure. If too much trouble is taken there is danger of doing this. I do not mean that no trouble is to be taken, but the right behavior lies in the middle way between being and non-being. If one can attain purposelessness through purpose, then the thing has been grasped. Supreme and without confusion, one goes along in an independent way. Furthermore, one must not fall victim to the ensnaring world. The ensnaring world is where the five kinds of dark demons disport themselves.

This is the case, for example, when, after fixation, one has chiefly thoughts of dry wood and dead ashes, and few thoughts of the resplendent spring on the great earth. In this way one sinks into the world of darkness. The power is cold there, breathing is heavy, and many images of coldness and decay display themselves. If one tarries there long one enters the world of plants and stones.

Nor must a man be led astray by the ten thousand ensnarements. This happens if, after the quiet state has begun, one after another all sorts of ties suddenly appear. One wants to break through them and cannot; one follows them, and feels relieved by this. This means the matter has become a servant. If a man tarries in this state long he enters the world of illusory desires.

At best, one goes to Heaven; at the worst, one goes among the fox-spirits. Such a fox-spirit might also occupy himself in the famous mountains enjoying the wind and the moon, the flowers and fruits, and taking his pleasure in coral trees and jeweled grass. But after he has been occupied thus for three to five hundred years, or at the most, for a couple of thousand years, his reward is over and he is born again into the world of turmoil.

All of these are wrong paths. When a man knows the wrong paths, he can then inquire into the confirmatory signs.

6. Confirmatory Experiences During the Circulation of the Light
Master Lu Tzu said: There are many kinds of confirmatory experiences. One must not content oneself with small demands but must rise to the thought that all living creatures have to be freed. It is not permissible to be trivial and irresponsible in heart. One must strive to make deeds one’s words.

If, when there is quiet, the spirit has continuously and uninterruptedly a sense of great gaiety as if intoxicated or freshly bathed, it is a sign that the Light principle in the whole body is harmonious; then the Golden Flower begins to bud. When, furthermore, all openings are quiet, and the silver moon stands in the middle of Heaven, and one has the feeling that the great earth is a world of light and brilliancy, that is a sign that the body of the heart opens itself to clarity. It is a sign that the Golden Flower is opening.

Furthermore, the whole body feels strong and firm so that it fears neither storm nor frost. Things by which other men are displeased, when I meet them, cannot cloud the brightness of the seed of the spirit. Yellow gold fills the house; the steps are white jade. Rotten and stinking things on earth that come in contact with one breath of true power will immediately live again. Red blood becomes milk. The fragile body of the flesh is sheer gold and diamonds. That is a sign that the Golden Flower is crystallized.

The Book of Successful contemplation says: The sun sinks in the Great Water and magic pictures of trees in rows arise. The setting sun means that in Chaos (in the world before phenomena, that is, intelligible world), a foundation is laid: that is the condition free of opposites. Highest good is like water, pure and spotless. It is the ruler of the Great Polarity, the god who is revealed in the sign for that which greatly disturbs, Chen. Chen is also symbolized by wood, wherefore the images of trees in rows appears. A sevenfold row of trees means the light of the seven body-openings (or heart-openings). In the northwest is the direction of the creative. When it moves on one place farther, the abysmal is there. The sun which sinking into the Great Water is the image for the creative and abysmal. The abysmal is the direction of midnight (mouse, north). At the winter solstice the thunder (Chen) is in the middle of the earth quite hidden and covered up. Only when the sign Chen is reached, does the Light-pole come over the earth again. That is the picture representing the row of trees. The rest can be correspondingly inferred.

The second part refers to the building of the foundation on this. The great world is like ice, a glassy world of jewels. The brilliancy of the Light is gradually crystallized. That is why a great terrace arises and upon it, in the course of time, Buddha appears. When the Golden Being appears who should it be but Buddha? For Buddha is the Golden Saint of the Great Enlightenment. This is a great confirmatory experience.

Now there are these confirmatory experiences which can be tested. The first is that, when one has entered the state of meditation, the gods are in the valley. Men are heard talking as though at a distance of several hundred paces, each one quite clear. But the sounds are all like an echo in a valley. One can always hear them, but never oneself. This is called the presence of the gods in the valley.

At times the following can be experienced: as soon as one is quiet, the Light of the eyes begins to blaze up, so that everything before one becomes quite bright as if one were in a cloud. If one opens one’s eyes and seeks the body, it is not to be found any more. This is called: In the empty chamber it grows light. Inside and outside, everything is equally light. That is a very favorable sign. Or, when one sits in meditation, the fleshly body becomes quite shining like silk or jade. It seems difficult to remain sitting; one feels as if drawn upward. This is called: The spirit returns and pushes against Heaven. In time, one can experience it in such a way that one really floats upward.

And now it is possible to leave all three of these experiences. But not everything can be expressed. Different things appear to each person according to his gifts. If one experiences these things, it is a sign of a good aptitude. With these things it is just as it is when one drinks water. One can tell for oneself whether the water is swarm or cold. In the same way a man must convince himself about these experiences, then only are they real.

7. The Living Manner of the Circulation of the Light
Master Lu Tzu said: When there is gradual success in producing the circulation of the Light, a person must not give up their ordinary occupation in doing it. The ancients said: When occupations come to us, we must accept them; when things come to us, we must understand them from the ground up. If the occupations are regulated by correct thoughts, the Light is not scattered by outside things, but circulates according to its own law.

Even the still-invisible circulation of the Light gets started this way, how much more then is it the case with the true circulation of the Light which has already manifested itself clearly. When in ordinary life one has the ability always to react to things by reflexes only, without any admixture of a thought of others or of himself, that is a circulation of the Light arising out of circumstances. It is the first secret.

8. A Magic Spell for the Far Journey
Master Lu Tzu said: Yu Ching has left behind him a magic spell for the Far Journey:

Words crystallize the spirit in the place of power.
The sixth month the white snow is suddenly seen to fly.
The third watch the disk of the sun sends out shining rays.
The water blows the wind of gentleness.
Wandering in Heaven, one eats the spirit-power of the receptive.
The deeper secret within the secret:
land that is nowhere, that is the true home. 

These verses are full of mystery. The meaning is: The most important thing in the Great Meaning is the four words: non-action in action. Non-action prevents a person from becoming entangled in form and image (substantiality). Action in non-action prevents a person from sinking into numbing emptiness and a dead nothingness. The effect is in the two eyes. The two eyes are like the pole of the Great Wain which turns the whole of creation; the cause the poles of Light and darkness to rotate. The Elixir depends from beginning to end on the One; the metal in the middle of the water, that is, the lead in the water-region. Heretofore we have spoken of the circulation of the Light, indicating thereby the initial release which works from without upon what lies within. This is to aid one in obtaining the Master. It is for the pupils in the beginning stages. They go through the two lower transitions in order to gain the upper one. After the sequence of events is clear and the nature of the release is known, Heaven no longer withholds the Meaning, but reveals the ultimate truth. Disciples keep it secret and hold to it strictly!

The circulation of the Light is the inclusive term. The further the work advances, the more can the Golden Flower bloom. But there is a still more marvelous kind of circulation. Til now we have worked from the outside on what is within; now we tarry in the center and rule what is external. Hitherto, it was a service in aid of the Master; now it is a dissemination of the commands of this Master. The whole relationship is now reversed. If one wants to penetrate the more delicate regions by this method, one must first see to it that the body and heart are completely controlled, that one is quite free and at peace, letting go of all entanglements, untroubled by the slightest excitement, with the Heavenly Heart exactly in the middle. Then let one lower the lids of the two eyes as if one received a holy edict, a summons to the minister. Who would dare disobey? Then one illumines the house of the abysmal (water) with both eyes. Wherever the Golden Flower appears, the true Light of polarity goes out to meet it. The principle of that which adheres to (lightness), is light outside and dark within; it is the body of the creative. Darkness enters and becomes master. The results is that the heart (consciousness), becomes dependent on things, is directed outward, and is tossed about on the stream. When the rotating Light shines within the heart, it does not become dependent on things, the power of the dark is limited, and the Golden Flower shines with concentration. It is then the collected Light of polarity. Things that are related attract each other. Thus does the polarity Light-line of the abysmal press upward. It is not only the Light in the abyss, but it is creative Light meeting creative Light. As soon as these two substances meet each other, they unite inseparably, and unceasing life begins; it comes and goes, and rises and falls of itself, in the house of primordial power. One is aware of effulgence and infinity. The whole body feels lighter and would like to fly. This is the state of which it is said: Clouds fill the thousand mountains. Gradually it (life) goes here and there quite quietly; it rises and falls imperceptibly. The pulse stands still and breathing stops. This is the moment of true creative unity, the state of which it is said: The moon gathers up the ten thousand waters. In the midst of this darkness, the Heavenly Heart suddenly begins a movement. This is the return of the one Light, the time when the child comes to life.

But the details of this must be carefully explained. When a person looks at something, listens to something, eyes and ears move and follow the things until they have passed. These movements are all underlings, and when the Heavenly ruler follows them in their tasks, it means: To live together with demons.

If now, during every movement and every moment of rest, a person lives together with people and not with demons, then the Heavenly ruler is the t rue man. When he moves and we move with him, the movement is the root of Heaven. When he is quiet and we are quiet with him, this quietness is the cave of the moon. When he continues to alternate movement and quietness, one ought to go on with him unceasingly in movement and quietness. If he rises and falls with inhaling and exhaling, we must rise and fall with him. That is what is called going to and fro between the root of Heaven and the cave of the moon.

When the Heavenly Heart still preserves calm, movement before the right time is a fault of softness. When the Heavenly Heart has already moved, the movement that follows afterwards, corresponding with it, is a fault or rigidity. As soon as the Heavenly Heart is stirring, one must immediately mount with all one’s feeling to the house of the creative. Thus the Light of the spirit sees the summit that is the leader. This movement is in accord with the time. The Heavenly Heart rises to the summit of the creative, where it expands in complete freedom. Then suddenly it wants the deepest silence, and one must lead it speedily and with one’s whole being into the yellow castle. Thus the eyes behold the central yellow dwelling place of the spirit.

When the desire for silence comes, not a single thought arises; he who is look ing inward suddenly forgets that he looks. At this time, body and heart must be left completely free. All entanglements disappear without trace. Then I no longer know at what place the house of my spirit and my crucible are. If a man wants to make certain of his body, he cannot get at it. This condition is the penetration of Heaven into earth, the time when all wonders return to their roots.

The One is the circulation of the Light. If one begins, it is at first scattered and one tries to collect it; the six senses are not active. This is the care and nourishment of one’s own origin, the filling up of the oil when one goes to receive life. When one is far enough to have gathered it, one feels light and free and need take no further trouble. This is the quieting of the spirit in the space of the ancestors, the taking possession of former Heaven.

When one is so far advanced that every shadow and every echo has disappeared, so that one is quiet and firm, it is safe within the cave of power, where all that is miraculous returns to its roots. The place is not changed but divides itself. It is incorporeal space where a thousand and ten thousand places are one place. The time is not changed, but divides itself. It is immeasurable time when all the eons are like a moment.

As long as the heart has not attained complete peace, it cannot move itself. One moves the movement and forgets the movement; this is not movement in itself. Therefore it is said: If, when stimulated by external things, one is moved, it is the instinct of the being. If, when not stimulated by external things, one is moved, it is the movement of Heaven. The being that is placed over against Heaven, can fall and come under the domination of the instincts. The instincts are based upon the fact that there are external things. They are thoughts that go on beyond their own position. Then movement leads to movement. But, when no idea arises, the right ideas come. That is the true idea. If things are quiet and one is quite firm, the release of Heaven suddenly moves. Is this not a movement without purpose? Action in inaction has the same meaning.

As to the beginning of the poem, the first two lines refer entirely to the activity of the Golden Flower. The two next lines are concerned with the mutual interpenetration of sun and moon. The sixth month is the adhering fire. The white snow that flies, is the true darkness of polarity in the middle of the fire sign, that is about to turn into the receptive. The third watch is the abysmal water. The sun’s disk is the one polar line in the sign for water, which is about to turn into the creative. In this is contained the way to take the sign for the abysmal and the way to reverse the sign for the adhering fire. The following two lines have to do with the activity of the pole of the Great Wain, the rise and fall of the whole release of polarity. Water is the sign of the abysmal; the eye is the wind of softness. The light of the eyes illumines the house of the abysmal, and controls there the seed of the great Light. “In Heaven” means the house of the creative. “Wandering, in Heaven, one eats the spirit-power of the receptive.” This shows how the spirit penetrates the power, and how Heaven penetrates the earth; this happens so that the fire can be nourished.

Another source of translation of The Golden Flower:
The Secret of the Golden Flower translated by Thomas Cleary
ISBN 0062501933

Buddha Palm Chi Kung Set

Resting Posture

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, toes and heels in line pointing straight forward. Bend the knees slightly so that you can’t see your shoe laces, but you can still see your toes. Knees should be centered vertically over the feet, not collapsing in toward each other. Have a slight crease at the hip joint, so the bowl of the pelvis is level. The torso is erect, but relaxed into the bowl of the pelvis. Arm pits open to fit a small ball under the arm pit. Elbows turned out to the sides. Fingers extended, but relaxed. The arms should resemble a horse shoe shape. This is the same posture as the Grounding posture.

Notes

1. Three sets of five repetitions of each posture will take 25 to 30 minutes. Three sets of three reps will take about 15 minutes. Two sets of three reps will take about 10 minutes.

2. Pause at the Resting Posture between each set of repetitions. Run the energy routes with the breath alone. Keep the fingers open and still.

3. Yin route:

Inhale – the energy flows from the balls of the feet up the inner sides of the legs to tantien.
Exhale – the energy flows from tantien up the chest to the shoulders, down the inner sides of the arms to the palms and finger pads.
4. Yang route:

Inhale – the energy flows from the fingernails along the backs of the hands, outer sides of elbows, shoulder blades, spine and down to mingmen (a point on the spine opposit from solar plexus, T-11).
Exhale – the energy flows from mingmen to the buttocks, down the outer sides of the legs, back to the balls of the feet.

Reaching

1. Inhale yin route – the arms rise from the resting posture to shoulder height extending forward, relaxed. (Hug the tree posture)

2. Exhale yin route – bend knees, tuck pelvis, round the back, hollow the chest, reach strenuously with the hands, pulling the shoulder blades away from the spine. Do not hinge at the waist and lean forward. Your weight should remain centered in the feet.

3. Inhale yang route – straighten knees and torso, arms relax at shoulder height – same position as #1.

4. Exhale yang route – arms float back down to Grounding Posture.

Phoenix Wing

Begin as in Reaching #1 and #2.

1. Inhale yang route – open arms to sides like the wings of a bird.

2. Exhale yang route – fingers lead the way down and toward each other at waist height, wrists and elbows follow, rounded back, hollow chest.

3. Inhale yin route – fingernails meet, then backs of hands, then elbows touch. At nose height, hands unfold like holding a book. Then pinkies “unzip” and heels of hands and thumbs connect.

4. Exhale yin route – with thumbs and heels of hands still connected, stretch fingers back as elbows straighten the arms forward. Bend knees, tuck pelvis, round the back, hollow the chest.

Repeat or finish as in Reaching #3 and #4.

Swallowing the Bitter Pill

1. Inhale yin route – stay in Resting Posture and expand rib cage like wings.

2. Exhale yin route – arms float up to hold a ball (gold on the outside and silver on the inside) at chest height. Keep fingers and hands still, shoulders relaxed, elbows below the wrist-shoulder line.

3. Inhale yang route – ball expands, pushing arms to sides, still at chest height.

4. Exhale yang route – ball contracts to the size of a grapefruit at base of the throat, elbows drop as hands ride the ball in.

5. Inhale yin route – hands draw the ball down to tantien (just below the navel) and place it inside the cauldron of the abdomen.

6. Exhale yin route – wrists relax, hands float slowly back to Resting Posture as a fountain of purified energy rises from tantien up chest, out shoulders and down arms to hands.

Repeat and the energy routes will alternate.

By courtesy of www.chionline.com