Martial Art principle qigong taiji Xingyiquan yiquan

Santi Shi or Trinity Pile Standing

by Zhang Yun courtesy of

Santi Shi or Trinity pile standing is the most important and fundamental training in Xingyi Quan practice. It is said that “Santi Shi is the source of all skills.” In traditional training, beginners need to learn Santi Shi and practice it for a long time before they can be taught other skills. Practicing Santi Shi can help practitioners improve their movements and the integration of internal and external components. Stability and rooting can also be increased by this practice, as can relaxation and the control and use of shen, yi, qi and jin. Santi Shi training is emphasized in every Xingyi Quan group and will be presented here as a foundation training for martial arts fighting skills.

Santi Shi practice includes several steps. First, you need to study the Santi Shi movements and stance carefully. Correct movement will facilitate the development of correct feelings, for example feelings of qi flow, at all key acupuncture points throughout your body. It is important to maintain relaxation during Santi Shi training, especially for beginners. Secondly, you should learn to generate jin – trained force and fully express it in your physical movements. As in all internal martial arts training, your practice should be led by your mind. Adherence to the Twenty-Four Key Points (will describe later) will further enhance your training.

At different stages of your training, your mind should be used in different ways. Because the training process takes a long time, you should practice daily and have patience. Beginners may be able to maintain the correct posture for only three to five minutes. When you can stand correctly for about thirty minutes, you will have developed a strong foundation for further progress in your practice. Some ancient masters were known to have required that their students practice Santi Shi for at least one to two hours everyday. Without this discipline and the strength that such practice engendered, it was considered pointless to teach other skills.

Basic Principle
The inspiration for Santi Shi comes from the Daoist principle that describes the creation of the universe. It states: “Dao generates One, One generates Two, Two generates Three and Three generates all the things of the world.” The Dao originates from xuwu or wuji, the undifferentiated state of the universe. From the Dao, a qi force is generated which initiates change within the universe and produces yin and yang. Thus, although the xuwu state appeared to be empty, it had within it a creative force that could bring order and balance out of chaos.

Taiji is the “One” referred to in the Daoist principle of creation. It describes the state of the universe just after the undifferentiated state of xuwu has become ordered by the emergence of Dao and the movement of qi. The entities of yin and yang are differentiated within Taiji but are not yet fully separated. Yin and yang are the basic attributes of the universe, and the existence of each depends on and is clarified by the existence of the other. Each attribute also contains part of the other within it.

Liangyi, the “Two” in the principle of creation, is the point at which yin and yang become separated into two entities, each with its own attributes. Yin and yang are qualities possessed by all objects in the universe. When yin and yang interact, a new entity is generated. So yin, and yang, and the new entity is called Sancai – the three essentials.

Sancai, or the “Three Essentials,” is the generative point from which all perceptible things derive. Sancai contains within it the three most valuable treasures of the universe: sky, earth and humans. Sky is characterized by the attributes of yang; earth, by the attributes of yin. Humankind is generated from the interaction of sky and earth.

According to Daoist principle, the Sancai can be found within even the smallest units of matter. In every occurrence of Sancai, there are three treasures or Sanbao and in each treasure, there are three more treasures. The sky, for example, a treasure of Sancai, contains the three treasures of sun, moon and stars; the earth contains the three treasures of water, fire and wind; and man contains the three treasures of jin, qi, and shen.

In Xingyi Quan, the trinity or tripartite structure is called Santi or Sanjie. This structure includes three external parts of the body and three internal components. The three body areas defined by Santi or Sanjie are: Shao jie, the tip section which includes the arms and hands; zhong jie, the middle or trunk section which includes the head and torso; and gen jie, the root section which includes the legs and feet.  Consistent with the tripartite principle, each of these three sections can be divided into three smaller sections.  Shao jie includes: a tip section comprised of the hands; a middle section comprised of the elbows; and a root section comprised of the shoulders. Zhong jie includes the head as the tip section, the chest as the middle section, and the waist or stomach as the root section. In Gen jie, the feet are the tip section, the knees are the middle section, and the hips are the root section. The three internal components of Santi or Sanjie are shen, qi and jin.

Santi or Sanjie is the foundation of all skills in Xingyi Quan and the starting point for all change and development. The post standing practice Santi Shi, also commonly called Sancai Shi, is a technique that embodies the tripartite principle. It can be divided into three component parts known as Wuji Shi, Taiji Shi, Liangyi Shi, and Santi Shi. Santi Shi practice incorporates the core concepts of Xingyi Quan and generates all other Xingyi Quan skills.

Sancai Sanbao Santi Sanjie

Movement to Form Standing Posture

Wuji Shi
Wuji Shi – Wuji Standing is a preparatory form that involves simply standing upright. In this form, the body should be relaxed and the mind should be empty. Everything should be quiet, with only a glimmer of intention inside the mind to initiate movement. If you are thinking about something strongly, even about your practice, you are not yet ready to move. You should maintain Wuji Shi until your thoughts have quieted completely.

Movement Description for Wuji Shi:
Stand upright with both feet together. Your arms should rest naturally alongside your thighs with your palms facing in. Hold your body erect and look straight ahead. The tip of your tongue should touch the upper palate behind your teeth. Your chin should be slightly withdrawn.

Focus your mind on the Jianjing points to encourage relaxation of your shoulders and on the Quchi points and Shaohai points to cause your elbows to drop. Then, focus your mind on the Jiaji point to expand the middle of your upper back and straighten your spine. Focusing your mind next on the Tanzhong point and imagining that water is trickling down your breast bone to your navel will cause your chest to withdraw slightly and feel hollow. After using your mind to achieve these effects, forget everything and just experience the comfortable relaxed state of your body and the quietness of your mind. Your shen should be fully alert, and you should feel as though qi were gently impelling your body to begin moving.

Taiji Shi
Taiji Shi –Taiji standing signals the beginning of the form. Your mental intention and the flow of qi will cause change to occur inside your body. It is important in Taiji standing to distinguish between yin and yang. Yin is a substantial quality and represents stillness in your body. Yang is insubstantial and characterizes movement. Although yin and yang are separate and distinct, they should mutually embrace and support each other in all physical processes. Taiji standing creates an inclination to move and to keep the mind quiet. The practitioner should follow these feelings as he begins the form.

Movement Description for Taiji Shi:
All physical movement starts from this point. When you move, you should always keep your body erect. Do not lean in any direction. Focus your mind on the Baihui point on top of your head and imagine that your body is suspended from this point. Turn your right foot on your right heel about forty-five to sixty degrees to the right. Relax your shoulders and drop your elbows. This will cause your hands to feel like moving. Follow this feeling and slowly move both hands in front of your abdomen. Your left hand should be over your right hand, and the pad of your left middle finger should be over the nail of your right middle finger. Look at the nail of your left middle finger.

Relax your hips and knees. This will cause a feeling in your legs of wanting to move. Follow this feeling and slowly bend your knees and lower your body until your knees are over your toes. At the same time, drop your elbows down and slightly back. This will cause your hands to move slightly up. Let your fingers point forward and your palms face the ground while you slowly shift your weight to your right leg.

Liangyi Shi
It is said that Liangyi Shi is generated by the changes in Taiji Shi. These changes result in the separation of yin and yang and end when yin and yang become integrated and generate Santi Shi. Liangyi Shi embodies the dual principles of motion and stillness, rising up and dropping down, stretching out and drawing back, going forth and moving back. Although yin and yang remain separated in Liangyi Shi, they are always in balance. When your body is moving, for example, your heart should be quiet; as your body rises up, your qi should sink down. When yin and yang are balanced and become integrated in the Liangyi posture, Santi Shi arises.

Movement Description for Liangyi Shi:
Imagine using the nail of your right middle finger to hold up your left middle finger. This will cause your left middle finger to move forward. Relax your left shoulder and drop your left elbow. Then, stretch your left hand up and forward. Simultaneously, step forward with your left foot and pull your right hand, which it is in front of your abdomen, back to touch your body tightly.

Look straight ahead and stretch your left hand out until the tip of your index finger is at the level of your nose. Your left palm should face forward. Keep your left elbow slightly bent. Pull your right hand back until the Yuji point on your right wrist touches the Shenqie point on your navel. Your right palm should face down. Step forward about two to three feet with your left foot. Shift about thirty to forty percent of your weight to your left leg. Keep your left knee slightly bent.

Keep your body erect and stable. Imagine that your waist is pushing your shoulders and hips, that your shoulders, in turn, are pushing your elbows, and that your elbows are pushing your hands. Be careful during this sequence that you do not lean forward. Imagine that your hips are pushing your knees, which are then pushing your feet. The movements of your upper and lower body should be fully coordinated. Internal and external components should be integrated. If this posture is done correctly, yin and yang though still separate, become integrated. Physically, Liangyi Shi is a dynamic posture that generates Santi Shi through the integration of yin and yang.

Santi Shi
It is said: Dao came from xuwu, the insubstantial and empty state, and generated qi; then, qi generated yin and yang which became integrated and generated Santi. Finally, Santi generated all things in the world. In Xingyi Quan, Santi Shi is called “the source of all skills.”

When Santi Shi or Trinity Standing is generated from Liangyi Shi, there is no overt physical movement. The Santi Shi posture should be held for at least several minutes. This will help develop strength, particularly in your legs, and will also help train your mind to integrate the different parts of your body.

Although there is no physical movement during Santi Shi, strict attention should be paid to the various postural requirements. It is important to keep your body and head upright, your neck and spine straight and your shoulders and hips level. It is also important not to lean in any direction.

If done correctly, Santi Shi will improve many of your gongfu skills because it will significantly increase your leg strength. To hasten the strengthening of your legs, imagine that you are trying to raise your front knee slightly. This will create a feeling of expansion and a very hot, burning sensation in your back leg.

The internal feelings that develop through Santi Shi are very complex, and so this practice can be very helpful for learning to focus your mind so that it can lead the internal components that direct your physical movements. The mental aspects of Santi Shi training should be developed step-by-step.Changing-Side Form:

When your left hand and left foot are in front during Santi Shi, the posture is called left-side Santi Shi. The opposite situation is referred to as right-side Santi Shi. You should practice equally on both sides.

Movement Description for Changing-side Form:
In left-side Santi Shi, focus your mind on the right Jianjing point to relax your right shoulder and on the left Huantiao point to relax your left hip. Then, imagine moving your tailbone over your left heel. This will cause your weight to shift forward onto your left leg. While your weight is shifting forward, relax your left hip. This will cause your left foot to turn on the heel about forty-five to sixty degrees to the left. At the same time, pull both hands back slightly.

Focus your mind on your left shoulder. This will cause your right hip to relax as your weight shifts to the left. Touch your right foot to the ground in preparation for stepping forward but keep your weight on your left leg.

Focus your mind on your left elbow. This will cause your left arm to drop down and move back until it is in front of your right hand.

Then, focus your mind on your left shoulder. This will relax your left shoulder and cause your right foot to step forward lightly. At the same time, pull your left hand back until it is in front of your stomach with your left palm facing the ground.  The fingers of your left hand should point to the right and forward. The Yuji point on your left wrist should touch the Shenqie point on your navel. At the same time, push your right hand forward until your right index finger lines up with your nose and your right palm faces forward. Shift your weight forward until about thirty to forty percent of your weight is on your right leg. Keep both knees bent slightly. Look straight ahead.

Santi Shou Shi(Closing Form)

When it becomes difficult to focus your mind on maintaining the correct body positioning and intention, you should stop Santi standing.  Continuing to hold the posture beyond this point can increase your leg strength, but it will not benefit your internal practice. When you are ready to end your standing practice, use the ending form, also called the ending form for trinity standing or, more simply, the closing form. This form will provide a feeling of refreshed completion to your practice.

Movement Description for the Ending Form:

If you have been standing in the left-side posture, relax your left shoulder. This will cause your arms and legs to withdraw. Follow this feeling and withdraw your left foot and left arm. Bring both feet together. When your left hand pulls back, raise your right hand slightly until both hands meet in front of your chest. Then push your hands down slowly in front of your stomach. Keep both knees bent.

Turn your right foot on the heel until your feet are parallel. At the same time, straighten your legs slowly until you are standing upright (fig. 6).  Continue moving both hands down and gradually separate them so that each hand rests along the corresponding thigh as your legs straighten up. Relax your whole body and breathe deeply, smoothly and slowly several times.

Six-direction Force
When you have developed the physical ability to hold the Santi Shi posture correctly, you should begin to train your mind in more detail. Although your body will appear to an outside observer to be motionless during Santi standing, many changes and feelings of movement will be occurring inside your body. It is said of this state that “Outside there is stillness but inside there is movement.”

Typically, six-direction practice is the first step in training your mind during Santi standing. It provides a simple way to focus your mind so that your mind can lead your qi and your internal force. Diligent practice of the six-direction force will stabilize and coordinate all aspects of your external posture. It will also integrate your internal force and develop an internal state of comfort and clarity.

The six-direction force practice is of central importance for the development of jin. In this practice, internal force is developed simultaneously in six directions: forward; backward; leftward; rightward; upward and downward. Often, training in Santi Shi emphasizes force primarily in one direction, but unless one develops the ability to support or express force in all directions, it will be difficult to change and maintain balance during movement, especially when fighting.

Internal force should be expressed in all directions, but for convenience of training, only six directions are delineated. If you can express force in these six basic directions, you can quite easily expand your skill to the release of internal force in all directions. Internal force should follow the flow of qi and fill your body as air fills a ball. When inflated by air, a ball becomes springy and strong, and equal pressure is exerted at every point on its surface. Internal force should similarly affect your body.

The following instructions for six-direction force practice assume that you are in the left Santi Shi posture, that is, your left hand and left foot are in front. Each direction force is described individually.

Upward Force: Focus your mind on Baihui, the acupuncture point at the top of your head. Imagine that it is pushing upward. Imagine, too, that your feet are being inserted into the ground. This will create a reverse direction force that will push your body up. The greater your feeling of your feet’s being inserted into the ground, the more upward power you will feel. Be careful that the force is directed straight upward. It is important that your body always be upright, especially your neck and head.

Downward Force: Focus your mind on the Dantian in the center of your lower abdomen. Think about relaxing every part of your body and about your qi sinking down to the Dantian. This will cause your body to feel heavy and drop slightly. Imagine also that your legs are pushing down into the ground.       

Forward Force: Focus your mind on the Laogong point in the center of your left palm and feel as though your left palm were pushing forward. Feel power coming up from your back foot. Your right rear foot should press down into the ground, and power should feel as though it were flowing up through your right leg to your waist, then through your back, your left arm, and finally out through your left palm. You should feel a forward-pushing force from your back foot, in this case your right foot, all the way up to your front or left hand. At the same time, imagine that your right shoulder is chasing your left hand.

Backward Force: Focus your mind on the Jiaji point in the center of your back and imagine that it is pushing backward. This feeling is often characterized as “leaning on the mountain.” Imagine that your left foot is pressing down into the ground. This will create a feeling that your torso is pushing toward your back. At the same time, imagine that your right hand is pulling something back and then coordinate this feeling with the downward force in your left foot. The integration of the feeling in your right hand with the downward press of your left foot will augment the backward force.

Leftward Force: Focus your mind on the Shangyang point in your right index finger and imagine pointing with this finger to the left side of your body. This will enhance the integration of your right arm and left leg and will create a feeling that your body is twisting to the left. The sense of twisting will generate a feeling of power rotating to the left inside your body.

Rightward Force: Focus your mind on the Shaoshang point in your left thumb and imagine your thumb twisting to the right. This will enhance the integration of your left arm and right leg and create a feeling that your body is twisting to the right. This twisting feeling will generate a force that seems to rotate to the right inside your body.

In the beginning of your practice, you should concentrate on only one of the six directions of force. When you feel comfortable with one direction, proceed to work on the next one. Remember that this training involves using only your mind to lead your practice and to create internal feelings. There is no overt physical movement. Sometimes, a strong, clear feeling inside your body may cause some slight movement. You should neither seek to increase such a feeling nor struggle to stop the involuntary movement. Just maintain a relaxed state and continue with your six-direction training.

When you can practice each direction of force separately with confidence, you can practice pairs of force. First, practice upward and downward forces together; then forward and backward forces and finally leftward and rightward forces. This gradual process is recommended because most practitioners find it difficult to focus on more than one point or direction at a time. When practicing pairs, concentrate on each side of the paired force directions. Initially, change your mental focus slowly and with clear intent from one force in the pair to the other. Eventually, you will be able quickly to switch your mental focus back and forth between the two different directions. Eventually it will come to seem as though you are focusing on the two directions simultaneously. When you can do this routinely, your mind will generate a powerful, clear feeling.

Acquiring this ability takes a great deal of practice, so be patient. With sustained practice over a long period of time, focusing your mind on a pair of directions will seem almost effortless. Then, you can extend your practice to include all three-paired force directions. The goal of such training is to increase your ability to generate or withstand power from any direction instantaneously and without conscious thought.Integration Force

Basically, the six-direction force is an expanding force. He jin or integration force is the other important force that can be cultivated in Santi Shi. It balances your energy, makes you more stable and allows your internal components to be comfortably coordinated. Integration force can also increase your internal power. As with six-direction force, integration force concerns mental intention and physical awareness but does not involve overt physical movement.

Integration force in your arms works to coordinate the use of both arms so that they can work harmoniously together as one. Integration force flows from your back to your arms and hands. To feel this force, first imagine strongly pushing your front hand forward. At the same time, imagine pulling your rear hand backward as though trying to tear a stiff and resistant piece of paper in half. Next, imagine pulling your front hand back and pushing your rear hand forward as though trying to put two heavy things together. Remember that all these “actions” should occur only in your mind. The images should not be accompanied by overt physical movement or by isometric tensing of your muscles.

Integration force in your legs is also a coordinating force. It can help develop rooting. To practice leg integration force, first imagine that your body is sinking down. This will create a feeling that your feet are being inserted deeply into the ground. Your front foot should slant down and forward, and your rear foot should slant down and backward. Next, imagine that you are standing on an icy surface. The surface is so slippery that your feet feel as though they are about to slide apart. Imagine that your front foot is sliding forward and your rear foot is slipping backward. In order to maintain your balance and avoid falling down, you will feel as though you need to use force to bring your feet together. Once again, all of this occurs only in your mind. There should be no overt physical movement and no isometric tensing of your muscles.

Integration force in your arms and legs results in the coordination of your upper and lower body. A simple way to practice integration force is to use three specific points on your arm and a corresponding set of three points on your opposite leg. The three points on your arm are: the Jianjing point on your shoulder; the Quchi point on your elbow; and the Lao Gong point on your hand. The three coordinating points on your opposite-side leg are: the Huantiao point on your hip; the Yanglingquan point on your knee; and the Yongquan point on your foot.

The first step in integration force training is to mentally connect one arm with the leg on the opposite side of your body. Focus first on the Laogong point of your left hand and then expand this thought to the Yongquan point on your right foot. Then, focus your mind on the Quchi point on your left elbow and connect that thought to the Yanglingquan point on your right knee. Next, focus your mind on the Jianjing point on your left shoulder and make a connection in your mind to the Huantiao point on your right hip.

Then, shift your mental focus to the other Jianjing point, that is, the Jianjing point on your right shoulder and connect it to the Huantiao point on your left hip. Continue by focusing next on the Quchi point on your right elbow and connect it to the Yanglingquan point on your left knee. Complete this part of your practice by focusing on the Lao Gong point on your right hand and connecting it to the Yongquan point on your left foot. Repeat these six steps until all the connections feel natural.

In the second part of integration force practice, you should try to coordinate the feelings in both arms with the feelings in both legs, at each of the three sets of points. This integration training is commonly called bao or “holding and embracing.” In bao practice, you should focus your mind first on both left and right Laogong points and then connect the feelings at these points to those at your right and left Yongquan points. Then, mentally focus on both left and right Quchi points and make connections to your right and left Yang Ling Quan points. Thirdly, focus on both left and right Jianjing points and connect them to your right and left Huantiao points. Next, focus on your right and left Jianjing points and connect them to your left and right Huantiao points. The fifth step is to focus on your right and left Quchi points and connect them to your left and right Yanglingquan points, and the sixth step is to focus on both right and left Laogong points and connect them to your left and right Yongquan points. Repeat these steps until the paired connections feel natural at each set of points.

Integration force practice will strengthen your qi, increase your mental control and concentrate your shen. The physical training of movement in your arms and legs will gradually cause internal changes. This is what is meant by the traditional adage that “outside training leads to inside training.” As training improves sufficiently, the internal and external can be integrated. At this point, you can reduce your concentration on external movement and focus more on training the internal components. Gradually, your internal feelings will grow stronger, and any internal change will automatically cause an external change. At high levels of mastery, it is possible to focus exclusively on shen because everything else, that is, mind (yi), qi, jin and physical movements, will follow naturally. With this ability, you will have fully achieved the integration force.Twenty-Four Key Points

For more detailed practice of Santi Shi, one should keep in mind and conform with the Twenty-Four Key Points in order to achieve high level skill.

The Twenty-Four Key Points come from Ba Zi Ge – the Eight Word Song, which is one of most important traditional formulations in Xingyi Quan. One should be mindful always of these essentials throughout one’s practice. Before one can apply all these considerations in one’s moving practice, one should learn and practice them well in Santi Shi – a stationary posture.

The eight words of Ba Zi Ge are: ding, kou, yuan, min, bao, chui, qu, and ting.

Most people believe the “Eight Word Song” was written by Master Li Luo Neng. It should be used in everywhere in Xingyi Quan. It is very important for all movements. Sometimes people refer to it as the “twenty-four key points in Santi Shi” because each of the eight character/words includes three points, resulting in a total of twenty-four ideas.

Xingyi masters traditionally introduce the Twenty-Four Key Points when students start to practice Santi Shi which is the first focus in traditional training.

The Twenty-Four Key Points include some internal and external ideas. Even so-called external points, actually should be done internally, i.e., using internal components to lead external training. Some of these ideas look similar on the outside, but are different inside. Some of these ideas may appear to be opposites, however they describe how to balance these points in practice. One should practice and then try to understand all of them in detail.

Because Santi Shi is a stationary practice, students may find it easier to learn and feel each point in the right way. When every point can be done well in Santi Shi, finally all points should be applied to all moving skills.

Below is Some Explanation of Twenty-Four Key Points:

Ding means go against, push forward or upward slowly but hard, withstand, support, or stand up.

* Head (back of skull) should be ding (pushes up), like it wants to fly up and smash the sky. This will cause one’s qi to ascend along the back to the upper Dantian, which is on the point which inside between eyebrows and underneath Baihui point.

* Palms should be ding (pushing outside or around), as if trying to push down a big mountain. This will cause one’s qi and internal force to extend to the tip of hands and feet.

* Tongue should be ding (pushes up to gums behind incisors), like a lion wants to swallow an elephant. This will cause one’s qi to sink to Dantian.

Kou means withhold, suppress, restrain, hold, keep, control, lock up, or button up.

* Both shoulders should be kou (held a little bit forward), like they can withhold something on chest. This will make one’s chest comfortable and qi can go to elbows with internal force.

* Back of palms and feet should be kou (suppressed), like hands can grip or lock up something and feet can grip or lock up on the earth. This will make one’s hands really strong and one’s steps really stable.

* Teeth should be kou (suppressed), like gritting teeth. This will make all your bones and muscles are tighten back.

Yuan means circular, round, smooth, or flexible.

* Back should be yuan (round), as if internal force pushes the body forward. This will keep one’s tailbone in the center of body and make one’s shen rise to the top of head.

* Chest should be yuan (round), like chest take sunken slightly. It will make both elbows stronger and breathing smoother.

* Tiger mouth (the area between thumb and forefinger) should be yuan (round), hands should open like eagle talons. This will train one’s binding and controlling force.

Min means quick, nimble, agile, sharp, acute alert, or sensitive.

* Heart should be min (nimble and quick), like an angry cat that wants to catch a mouse. This will make one’s mind alert and sensitive, increasing the nimbleness of one’s movement.

* Eyes should be min (sharp), like a hungry eagle seeking to catch a rabbit. This will train one to capture the best chance (timing) in combat.

* Hands should be min (quick), like a starving tiger wants to spring on a goat. This will train one how to move just before one’s opponent moves.

Bao means hold, carry in arms, or embrace.

* Dantian should be bao (embrace), like holding qi in Dantian and never to be destroyed. This will train one how to concentrate, collect, and use one’s qi.

* Xin qi – qi of heart (mind and shen) should be bao (kept quiet), holding the mind and shen in a constant and concentrated and relaxed state. This will train one never to be nervous and never to be confused in combat.

* Both sides of the chest should be bao (held in), like carrying something in the chest. This will train how to use one’s qi to protect one’s body.

Chui means droop, hang down, or vertical.

* Qi should be chui (sink down), like always move qi back to Dantian. This will make one’s body stable like a mountain.

* Both shoulders should be chui (sink and relax), as if using shoulders to chase elbows. This will make one’s arms become longer and more agile. Qi can move to arms and hands smoothly.

* Both elbows should chui (drop down), as though the qi can move in the inside of one’s arms. This will make both sides of one’s chest stronger and train side-to-side force.

Qu means curve, bent, crook, or winding.

* Arms (elbows) should be qu (curved), like a crescent moon. This will make one’s internal force in the arms become stronger and like a bow.

* Legs (knees) should be qu (bent), like a crescent moon. This will make one’s internal force in the legs become more springy and thicker.

* Wrists should be qu (curved), like a crescent moon. This will make one’s internal force concentrate in the hands, capable of moving forward and backward continually, freely and smoothly.

Ting means press onward, upright, erect, stiff, or straight.

* Neck should be ting (upright), the chin should be tucked back slightly. This will enable one’s qi to rise to the Baihui smoothly.

* Spine and waist should be ting (erect), like keeping straight. This will make one’s internal force move smoothly, extending through the arms and legs freely, and also exciting one’s qi to permeate every part of one’s body.

* Kneecap should be ting (stiff), like making stronger. This will make one’s qi comfortable, extend one’s shen, and deepen one’s rooting.There are a lot of things on which one should focus during practice, but no one can do these all at one time. It is important to note that one cannot fight while focusing on these points either. One should only practice one of them at one time. So, one should practice one idea until it becomes ingrained, so that one does it naturally without focusing on it. Then one can move to the next practice point.

One should practice until all points become ingrained, i.e., one can apply all of them naturally without thinking. When this is achieved, one will experience a totally different feeling. Only when one reaches this level, can one say one has really mastered these points.

From the above description of Santi Shi, one can understand why people traditionally refer to it as the source of all skills. This practice establishes a good foundation for Xingyi Quan training. From internal and external practice, each of the twenty-four key points is trained and the benefits of this training can then be applied everywhere in one’s movements and applications. How well one can perform internal skills will determine how high a level one can reach in Xingyi Quan. Thus, Santi Shi skill is emphasized greatly.

Santi Shi – Trinity Pile Standing
With pictures demonstrated by Lu Shengli

Martial Art principle pushhands qigong taiji

4 ounces deflects a 1000 pounds

Please see the October issue of Tai Chi Magazine for an article about Master Dong Bin and his theories on “4 ounces deflects a 1000 pounds“ and other Taiji classic principles.

Translated by Mr. Wang Ming Bo and Rose Oliver
Story by Rose Oliver

One of the most famous places in Shanghai is People’s Square. It is considered the heart of Shanghai and from where every other place is measured in distance.

At the centre of People’s Square is a very famous landmark, the Shanghai Museum – a very beautiful and modern building dedicated to the exhibition of many of China’s ancient treasures.

And here just behind the museum, in a small alcove by a fountain, meet many dedicated and serious practitioners of Taiji Quan with a combined age of several centuries.

However, both young and old alike are drawn to this centre of Shanghai to study and play with the heart of their group – Master Dong Bin.

Master Dong, who is now over 85 years old, is a very sweet, old man, who at first sight looks nothing like the image of a great Taiji master. Many of those around him look strong and powerful, in complete contrast to his slight frame and stature, but he is the heart that binds us all together with his kindness, generosity of spirit, knowledge, expertise and love.

In Chinese, the word for museum is: “Bo Wu Guan.” “Bo” can be used to describe somebody who knows many things as in Doctor of Science etc, and “Wu” means many objects from everyday life. So literally the word “bo wu guan” means a large centre of knowledge, home to many objects of beauty taken from life.

This in a nutshell also very aptly describes Master Dong Bin.

I first met him in 2004, when I was introduced to him by my “Shixiong” (elder brother) Mr. Wang Ming Bo.

I had heard a lot about him already, as he was my then current teacher/shixiong’s (Mr Wang Zhi Qiang’s) teacher. (Also known to his friends as “Dr. Wang because of his interest and research into traditional Chinese medicine, although he isn’t a qualified practitioning doctor).

I had been told that his skill was of a very high level and for some reason I had a mental image of a powerful, big man. So when we arrived I looked around for someone who would fit my idea. But as I looked, I couldn’t quite pick out who it could be, until my Shixiong pointed to a small, wizened old gentleman, sitting on the ground. He stood up as we approached, and I felt amazement as I realized that this was Master Dong himself and then a sudden feeling of pleasure when the realization hit me that of course this was exactly the kind of person who would be a Taiji master. The last person you could imagine.

Master Dong welcomed me and after hearing that I was studying with his student “Dr” Wang, asked me to perform the first third of the Yang style form that I was studying.

I proceeded to do so, after which Master Dong said to me with a slight smile, “Do you want to hear politeness or the truth?”

Of course I replied that I would prefer the truth, whereupon he told me, in a kind and gentle manner in his broken English, “All is mistake”!

He went onto explain that there wasn’t even one correct thing about my form, and demonstrated for me what the movements should look like and why, so that I could understand what the functions of the movements really were and why my body in the form that I played couldn’t possibly make the movements work.

He also told me about how the body should feel when it’s performing and described the relationship required between the waist, the body movements, the energy and the intention (Yi).

Master Dong said nowadays many students, Western and Chinese alike, have unfortunately lost the real purpose behind the movements as well as the correct intention, as he said many of the “old” teachers have already passed away and there are fewer and fewer people who have caught the essence of Taiji, or understand the individual postures.

Many of these original postures were created at a time when people always worked with their hands and bodies, before machines and automation and when modern accessories like electric weaving machines, carpentry equipment, construction equipment etc, were not invented or employed. Thus, these “applications” within the form were all taken from everyday life and work, so their real “secrets” were tied to the knowledge of how to work, use or play these particular instruments.

Take for example, “Yu Nu Chuan Suo” or “Fair Lady Weaves the Shuttles”.

Master Dong explained that in the past many women or young girls, usually stayed in the house not going outside to work like farm hands etc, so that their skin would be almost white like jade (Yu), as it was not tanned by being out in the sun. They would work at weaving cloth and clothes.

These women would be soft and very gentle and unused to heavy manual work. So, naturally their touch would be light and very sensitive as they plucked or threaded the wool or silk and not grab or grasp at the threads in a “strong grip”. They would also be so familiar with the movement of threading, that the action would be entirely natural and smooth, without the need for conscious thought when doing the movements and therefore completely relaxed without the need for strength.

Thus, a practitioner must keep this mentality in mind when executing this movement and not try to use force or strength in the application against an opponent, as this is not real Taiji.

He went onto add that this doesn’t mean that you are weak or cannot use the application against a strong opponent, but that your own hands and energy must be light and relaxed, reading and listening to what the opponent is doing, but without giving him the opportunity to “hear” what you are going to do through heavy-handedness.

Plus your own action must be honed by familiarity, so that you can execute the movement with ease.

Master Dong began his own studies in Taiji Quan when he was about 13 years old.

He was born in the countryside in Ningbo, (which is a coastal city not far from Shanghai), to a poor family; and at the age of 13, he came alone to Shanghai to study carpentry.

This was also when the Japanese were occupying Shanghai, at around the time of the 2nd World War, and it was a period of great chaos and confusion, as well as being one of unpredictability.

He took an exam to enter work as an assistant in a small shop and began working, but because of the situation in Shanghai at that time, business was extremely unstable and prices were constantly rising. Consequently, many shops were forced to close down, and if you could sell goods, the money raised was not enough to buy new merchandise, as inflation was rampant.

Because of these circumstances, many shops didn’t open their doors until much later in the day, so Master Dong often had free time in the morning in which to go to the local “French” park to watch others practicing.

He saw many old people in the park playing Taiji, who although obviously very advanced in years, looked very young and supple when they played Taiji and he admired them very much.

This led him to start practicing Taiji, as he felt that it would be a good way to protect his health and keep from getting ill, which would have been a disaster in those days.

At first he watched from a long distance away and tried to imitate their movements; he was afraid to come closer as he never knew from day to day how much time he would have to play in the park and didn’t want to embarrass himself or inconvenience a teacher, but more importantly he had no money, so was worried about affording any fees that might be charged.

However, one teacher Mr. Chen, who worked for the same company as Master Dong and who was also from Ningbo, was not worried about collecting money for his teaching, and after observing Master Dong over a long period of time and seeing that he was very serious, offered to teach him.

Mr. Chen’s speciality was a particular style of Shaolin kicking form, and he began by teaching him some very basic Shaolin movements, namely 4 kinds of kicks.

Master Dong though, felt that his stamina was insufficient for this kind of training and asked Mr. Chen if he could learn Taiji instead. Master Dong believed that because Taiji was performed slowly, it would therefore not be tiring! Thus, he commenced learning Taiji.

On his way to the park, he would also see another master Tian Zuo Ling, who practiced Tong Bei Quan (like the style practiced by Master Wu Mao Gui). Most other people didn’t dare to challenge him, but one day Master Dong saw another practitioner dressed in white practicing alone very closeby Mr. Tian.

Intrigued, Master Dong stayed to watch, and when the opportunity arose he asked the man what he was playing and why Mr. Tian didn’t object to his proximity. He also commented on the difference in his style to others. The man (Mr. Xia Ming Zhang) laughed, and in a Ningbo accent asked Master Dong to demonstrate his Taiji. After doing just “Lan Que Wei” (Stroke the Bird’s Tail) he laughed again, and said that it was all wrong and of no use.

Master Dong questioned him as to why it was of no use, to which he was invited to push Mr. Xia.

Dong pushed at him with all his strength but couldn’t move him, but when the roles were reversed Dong fell to the ground.

He immediately asked to study with Mr. Xia, but Xia replied he could only give him advice on a few movements, like Single Whip (Dan Bian) and “Luo Lu” or circles made with the hands and waist in three different planes, to train how to change the hand position correctly in order to dissipate incoming force and strike simultaneously, but without using strength.

Mr. Xia who was a student of Mr. Dong Shi Zuo, told Dong Bin to practice these two movements for a month and then after that they would see.

Dong Bin did so, and to this day feels that Mr. Xia put him on the road to learning the real essence of Taiji, as well as giving him the opening to meet and study with Master Dong Shi Zuo, student of Mr. Dong Ying Jie.

Dong Bin says that everyone has their own destiny, and often fate gives us chances to change our lives or meet new people when the time is right for us to do so, and this is how Dong Bin feels about his meeting with such great masters as Dong Shi Zuo and Mr. Ye Huan Zi (also a student of Dong Ying Jie) came about.

Dong Bin got the chance to begin training from Dong Shi Zuo through another friend Wu Zhen Pei, who also studied with a student of Mr. Dong’s.

Dong Bin and Wu went to the school building where Dong Shi Zuo taught Taiji after leaving church on Sundays.

They peeked in the windows to watch the classes in secret, as neither had been given an introduction.

The students would practice 200 or so different basic training exercises together, after which they would play the form. This they did, not in the traditional way that we usually see groups playing, that is one person in front and others following behind, but they would face each other and be at diagonals from each other. This way the teacher could walk between them and be able to see their mistakes more easily and comprehensibly from the different angles they stood at.

Following form practice they’d then push hands. During this, Mr. Dong would allow the students to strike his face, but surprisingly the students would be bounced away by Mr. Dong’s face or knocked down!

Dong Bin was very impressed and perplexed at how this could be, and so went to watch Mr. Dong secretly for over six months.

Again fate took a hand when the school where Mr. Dong taught posted a notice to say that all students wishing to study Taiji had to supply a photo and address.

Dong Bin desperately wanted to register, but was worried about whether he’d be accepted and the assistant went to enquire if he could enroll. Dong Shi Zuo told the assistant that as it was the same man who’d been peeping in at the windows for the last six months, he was welcome to start training!

So, Dong Bin again thanked the forces that gave him this lucky chance.

He said that Mr. Dong was extremely kind and sympathetic to Dong Bin’s financial situation and whenever they all went out with some of the bosses and people in high positions; which happened quite frequently, as Mr Dong was an extremely highly respected martial artist, he often invited Dong Bin to accompany them. Dong Bin says he now feels very embarrassed to think back that his teacher never let him pay for a meal!

At these meals, Dong says, most of the “real” teaching took place. They would discuss Wushu principles and their own understanding of them and occasionally put them into practice too. When eating (and drinking) people often open up and freely discuss many “secrets” that they wouldn’t normally talk about in class.

Mr. Ye Huan Zi, who was Mr. Dong’s Shixiong, kept in close contact with Mr. Dong and they often shared information, as well as students.

Dong Bin got to meet him because of circumstances where he and another student were practicing “Kong Jing” or Empty or Invisible Force.

They started experimenting with this and pretended to “grab” the spiritual force of somebody walking past and use it to “hurl” at the other as they pushed hands, which each felt made the other seem very powerful.

Mr. Ye heard about this through mutual contacts and worried that they were going down a wrong path and misunderstanding the essence of the practice of Taiji jing (energy or essence) invited them to his home.

Dong Bin entered the house and saw an oldish, slender man dressed in white casual clothes sitting on the floor. He looked nothing like what Dong Bin had expected or what a great master might look like.

Dong Bin said underneath his garb he was a very sweet and humble man, without any pretensions, and in fact a very great man who knew some wonderful information but was unchanged by the wealth of knowing it. Dong Bin said he immediately felt like a young child with his favourite uncle.

Mr. Ye was very modest, saying that here they didn’t practice; they just played Taiji for fun.

Often Dong said the students would practice “jumping”.

They would stand in front of a mirror or wall and reach their hands out in an “An” or “Push” posture, and then lean backwards, but to keep themselves from leaning back too far and to remain straight and keep in their original posture, would jump backwards and stamp their foot down to regain their equilibrium.

The idea was to “borrow” the energy from the reflection or the wall, and most important was that the body should stay relaxed to let the qi flow evenly through.

This training method was to make sure that the practitioner should right their central equilibrium when an opponent’s incoming force threatened to upset their balance or to help dissipate their force. Dong Bin said that this also increased sensitivity or “Ting Jing”.

This jumping is a vital part of Taiji study, and something often overlooked by practitioners as both a way to protect oneself from being thrown or knocked down by incoming force and as a way to reconfigure your own structure to put you back into a correct posture again, so as to be able to deliver a counter attack of your own.

Many people when they’re struck or pushed just tilt at the waist or wobble. They appear not to move their feet, so feel that the opponent hasn’t really “beaten” them, but in fact Dong says the opponent’s force has actually entered their body, and they are unable to feel the force coming in or be able to ground it through the feet by jumping.

Jumping he says, lets you allow the force to pass through you, rather like electricity passing through an object without letting it stay in the body as an electric shock.

Many people view this jumping or stamping of the feet as phony or false, but Dong Bin says that it’s a very important aspect of learning Gongfu.

Over the years Dong Bin continued to study with both Dong Shi Zuo and Ye Huan Zi.

At Mr. Dong’s, he says he also acted as the “protector” for students pushing hands with the teacher.

Dong would “catch” those sent flying backwards by the teacher, but he had to try and remain soft and relaxed and anticipate just the exact amount of effort necessary to help “right” them.

As there were both male and female students, large and small, being pushed around, Dong would also have to be sensitive to holding or touching the students appropriately and not allow them to fall down and injure themselves, so this he feels also helped to develop his “Ting Jing” or listening sensitivity.

Mr Dong also told him that a very important aspect of learning is to constantly check ones own practice.

Dong says you must always question why you are doing something, or why something isn’t working.

There is a constant need for research and self-analysis. In order to understand the principles one must keep asking questions:

Why is it called Taiji, why are the movements so slow, why should you use Yi (intention) not Li (strength), why should one appear to yield to or to flow with the opponent instead of resisting him, why shouldn’t one be self-centered when one is practicing, why in push hands does this action not work, why was I uprooted?…. to name but a few.

In Taiji, he said, you should always see yourself as “the weak” and not use your innate body strength to defend yourself. Only by following this principle can you truly master the idea of “Si liang bo qian jing”, or “4 ounces deflects a 1000 pounds”, or the idea of “If the opponent doesn’t move, then I don’t move, but if he moves then I move first.” One can never become one with the opponent or master Taiji’s requirements, if you think you are the strong one.

Every person has physical strength and it is both unavoidable and natural to want to defend yourself using this. However if you want to learn Taiji, you must follow a different way.

If you see yourself as “the weak”, how can you still aimlessly defend yourself with strength? The two concepts are contradictory.

One must attempt to reduce one’s physical strength to “zero”, and reach a state of “emptiness” or “Wu wo!” This literally means “No me!” This way allows an opponent to grasp nothingness or no physical entity or strength and the more he tries the more off balance he will become.

Master Dong embodies this concept, and constantly stresses to his students to forget themselves and their muscular or structural strength.

In push hands he says, this concept of “No me” forms part of the essence of “Four ounces deflects 1000 pounds.”

Here when an opponent strikes or attempts to grab you, you must be able to remain in this state of emptiness, or “No me”; this way his complete physical force is exposed and allowed to manifest, in contrast, he finds nothing in you to grasp or manipulate as you are “empty”. Once his physical force is completely spent without you manifesting your own strength, you can “dissipate” or “Hua” his force using the minimum of effort on your part and taking full advantage of his weakened state.

To reach this level though, requires a long period of time in practicing being empty and of forgetting the self.

This is a mental state that the practitioner must learn to achieve and one of Master Dong’s long term students, Mr. Ren Gang, has achieved this level through constant practice and through his own research into Buddhism, which teaches one to forget the self.

Pushing with him, one feels that one touches nothing, but what is returned to you is like a fierce wave that literally blows you off your feet and gives one a very frightening feeling, as well as a sense of being winded deep within!

Master Dong also advised that one way you can teach yourself to not resist the opponent’s force, is to imagine that you are an egg.

He said that as the person touches you, you think of your own arms and body as being as fragile as an eggshell. You mustn’t let the opponent rest or lean his force on you or push back against him as this will break your shell. This idea that you are so fragile and delicate lets you foster a sensation that your body is empty and teaches you not to resist force.

At first one may feel that one becomes “diu” or lost and weak, but over time one can begin to be aware of the natural energy force (Shen qi) that surrounds our own bodies and which we should maintain through awareness and relaxation.

Master Dong talks a lot about the correct intention or “Yi”, and says that the lack of the correct Yi is one of the main problems in today’s practice of Taiji.

The movements of the hands in Taiji superficially look separate and disconnected, but in fact these moves are a continuous flow of interconnected movements governed by the waist and “Yi” or intention.

For example, if the hand first moves forwards and outwards and then backwards and inwards, as in “white snake sticks out its tongue”; it might at first appear that these are two movements.

But actually, when the hand is drawn back inwards towards the body, your yi still remains outwards, forwards and surrounding you, filling the empty spaces between you and your opponent.

In this case the movement of the hand going back outwards again is a natural extension of the first movement and NOT a separate one.

The application is to mimic the fast and constant flicking out of a snake’s tongue, which tastes the air and the surroundings such as you are tasting/striking the opponent continuously without pause or loss of contact with the “prey”.

Therefore, each movement in Taiji is as a natural consequence of all the others. They are interconnected and cannot be separated, just as the “o” cannot be separated from the “k” in the word “ok”.

Your physical body can sometimes pause between movements or even appear to stop according to the situation you are in, but your intention must never stop or break.

This is called “mian mian bu duan” in Chinese.

When one sees Master Dong performing the form, you can clearly see this principle in evidence; his movements flow smoothly but it is his “yi” that is continuous and one can see the individual applications become faultlessly woven together in a constant, smooth flow.

Master Dong also talked about the “Dan Tian” in Taiji and push hands practice.

Many people separate the Dan Tian into an entity below the navel and restrict its movements to this one centre, as is often the case in Wu Style Taiji.

But he says in Yang Style Taiji we should think of the whole body as the Dan Tian and not just within the body itself.

The energy or spiritual and energetic force surrounding the body or “Shen qi” is also part of the Dan Tian.

If we only think of the Dan Tian as a small part of our abdomen, then we cannot utilize the full potential of our own body and the energy around us. We minimize our own force and create tension in the mind and body.

When executing the movements, we should be aware of our connection between the earth and the sky and make use of the full force of our intention.

When the opponent pushes us, we should think of ourselves as the sky. This is the “Xu Ling Ding Jing” (or the energetic force that connects our body to above). This makes the opponent feel that I am too big to push, bigger even than a mountain, because the sky is all around, so my intention is enormous.

But when I strike, then I am the earth, “Qi Chen Dan Tian” (the energy sinks to the Dan Tian). The opponent will feel that my force is irresistible, like the earth coming at him to force him away.

Master Dong clearly demonstrates this by crouching right down onto the ground with his face on the floor, and allows you to grasp his arm behind his back to help keep him in that posture.

He then smoothly and effortlessly stands up – sending you flying away.

I have seen him do this with strong, young men too, not just myself, and he says that the secret is his intention (Yi).

He doesn’t think about the opponent’s force grasping him, if he did he would certainly not be able to move with someone very strong holding him down. Instead he imagines their force becoming diffused with the space around and through him so that he doesn’t “feel” their pressure anymore, then he “forgets” the opponent and imagines his “Yi” shooting up into the sky as he gets up. He never focuses on the opponent’s strength.

Dong says that practitioners usually limit their own power because of their inability to either understand or use their intention correctly, rather than because of mistakes with their structure. (Although he says of course beginners do need to work on their structures too).

He said one needs a teacher to nurture this understanding and to help the student to cultivate their own potential. Somewhat like a parent raising a child in the rights and wrongs of what to do and the whys.

Certainly when is teaching the form, he constantly describes the correct feeling or intention behind the movements, in addition to occasionally acting as “dummy” for you to try out the applications, so that the students can get a real sensation of what they are doing, not just have a rudimentary idea about which way the hand points or where the weight is.

The most important movements, Dong says, are actually the linking moves, the ones in between the postures. Many people just concentrate on the end posture, for example in

“Lou Xi Ao Bu” or “Brush Knee”. But this is where the application has already finished and the energy spent and applied. The journey of how you get to this position is most important; this is what makes the application work.

In Master Dong’s form, which mirrors that of Dong Ying Jie, there are many circular and spiraling movements, or hidden applications, just as in the late Master Wang Hao Da’s form there were lots of small “Fa Jing” or “issuing” movements. Dong says these are the important steps to dissipating the opponent’s force and putting him into a weakened position whereby you can strike him, without them the form’s applications become useless.

That is why in many cases people’s form and push hands skill seem to have no correlation, because they cannot use their form in push hands practice and rely more on strength or “tricks” to catch someone off balance.

If the middle of the application is missing, then the energy of the movement is incorrect and although the end posture looks good in a photo, it cannot be used.

He said in the past, masters like Dong Ying Jie, Dong Shi Zuo and Ye Huan Zi, paid great attention to these linking moves, and never simplified the form. Through simplification, the real essence is lost, and without this one cannot perform real Taiji.

These linking moves are all about “Lu Shun Mao” or “stroking the fur the right way”.

Just as one would stroke a cat’s fur the right way to make it feel comfortable, we should treat the opponent the same way. We don’t use force or resistance against him, that way he is unaware of our attentions, and he just feels “helped” into the position we want, then we can either strike effortlessly or simply brush him aside.

In Taiji, there is never the intention of a blocking movement, always this smooth stroking aside or away of the incoming force, and there is never a cessation of our strikes/movements, just a continuous flow of defence, attack and counter-attacking moves.

With Master Dong, one feels that one is with a living encyclopedia of martial arts.

I have been studying with him for over two years, and I feel the same excitement when I see him now, as when I first met him.

He has a timeless, magic quality about him, and despite his years and hardships, (he endured many years of hard labour during the cultural revolution for his love of martial arts) he has a true heart and a love for his fellow beings, especially the serious student who is prepared to “eat bitter”.

He respects those who sincerely want to learn the essence of Taiji Quan, and even though my studying with him caused both he and myself a great deal of heartache and unpleasantness, (when his student Dr Wang, who was angry that I was studying from him, tried his best to put a stop to it) he refused to give into the pressure; saying that if a student loves Taiji and seriously wants to learn, a teacher should help them. Teaching and studying is not about money, it’s about the mutual love and respect both have for the art, and the effort, endurance and sacrifice that a student is prepared to make.

He has been exceedingly generous and kind to me as to many others; treating us as members of his family and welcoming us to his home.

He sincerely hopes that those who love Taiji as much as he does, can truly get a helping hand along the way, just as his teachers helped him.

He said that fate played a hand in his meeting and studying with such great teachers of the past, and I too, feel that it was fate that brought me to this “heart” of Shanghai, and gave me the chance to study with one of the last of their kind.

A truly great person and teacher, somebody who maintains the same integrity, generosity of spirit and love for their art as the masters of the past, and someone who is a teacher of life not just martial arts.

To all Master Dong’s students he is an example of how to behave and conduct oneself, of valuing kindness and sharing, not fame and money, and of searching for the truth inside Taiji, not being content with superficial appearances.

To me he is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and someone for whom I will always be eternally grateful to have the privilege of knowing, let alone studying with.

And for all his suffering and hardships in life, he really does embody the concept of “No me”: true humility and calmness of spirit.

He is a teacher, a friend, a role model and inspiration; a genuine Chinese treasure.

by courtesy of

Energy Martial Art principle qigong taiji

How to train your spirit and energy to drive the body

Ren Gang

Many people have already tried to explain what Taiji is, and what makes this art so special or different from other Chinese martial arts.

Some translate it as “The Supreme Ultimate Fist” – giving students an idea that it is a great fighting art, based on strength, speed or martial skills.

But to Ren Gang, who is a long time student of Master Dong Bin of Shanghai China; its origins and explanation must be traced back to the concept of “Wu Ji” or “a state of emptiness”, that is before Yin and Yang separate.Ren Gang began studying martial arts when he was a young boy of about 12 years old.

He was born in the mid sixties, and grew up in a turbulent time in China’s history.

During the Cultural Revolution he and his family lived with a very famous Shaolin master, Wang Zi Ping and his daughter Wang Zhu Rong, for about seven years.

Ren Gang, as a child was sickly and his family deemed themselves lucky if they went two weeks without having to take him to the doctors! So they encouraged him to begin studying under the tutelage of Miss Wang, who was then about 50 years old.

After his family moved home a few years later, he still carried on studying form from her.

At age 20, he felt that he hadn’t really become proficient in shaolin, but rather just enjoyed playing martial arts for fun.

Some time later, whilst in Fu Xing Park he saw a gentleman teaching Taiji Quan. This was Master Dong Bin.

Dong Bin had learnt from Dong Shi Zuo and Ye Huan Zi, who in turn were both students of Master Dong Ying Jie.Ren Gang was instantly attracted to his movements and style and began to go to the park regularly just to observe Master Dong.

He did this for over six months, but didn’t have the courage to openly ask Dong Bin to teach him.

However, once, Master Dong having become familiar with Ren Gang always being there, showed him a few basic training exercises (Ji Ben Gong).

Unfortunately, at this same time Ren was beginning his university studies, and didn’t go back to the park for over six months, so regrettably lost contact with Master Dong.

Ren Gang finished his university studies and after graduation, whilst working as an apprentice, bumped into Master Dong on the street. Ren, who was so excited to finally meet up with Dong again, immediately asked if Dong would teach him, but Master Dong said he was too old to teach now and wasn’t taking on any students. Ren was too embarrassed to ask again, but enquired if he could meet Dong sometimes, just to chat or spend time together. He felt merely being with Master Dong made him happy and he really enjoyed his company. (I felt the same way when I first met Master Dong myself, just being with him made me feel at peace).

Dong agreed, and after a long time of meeting like this he finally started to teach Ren Taiji.

Master Dong would often share his experiences of studying Taiji and encouraged Ren to study hard. Master Dong’s shixiong/di gongfu brothers also welcomed him and tried to motivate him to train diligently. They all felt he had great potential to reach a high level in Taiji.

Ren explained that in meeting and training with Master Dong, he felt that he had found a teacher that “knew” and understood the real meaning of Taiji.

Firstly, he felt that Master Dong was a very nice, generous and kind person. He treated Ren Gang with respect and like a friend, despite their forty year age difference.

His Tui Shou (push hands) was also very special. In China, as in every other country where Taiji is practiced, the principle of 4 ounces defeats 1000 pounds (“si liang bo qian jing”) is little in evidence, as can be witnessed by the wrestling and grappling that often takes place in parks and competitions, etc.

But Master Dong understood this principle and more importantly could utilize it, and one felt that he used no physical effort in deflecting an attacker, only qi (energy) or “kong jing” (empty power).

Master Dong also knew many “shou fa” (martial applications) and just seemed like an encyclopedia of Taiji and Wushu.Ren Gang said that sadly, with work pressures and commitments, he knows that he hasn’t been able to put in as much time as his teachers and gongfu uncles wished, and so his practice has not reached as high a level as they had hoped, but believes that he has a good idea of what Taiji is and how it works. I would add that I feel for somebody of his age he has already attained great ability and embodies many of the genuine principles of internal arts.

He believes very strongly that practitioners should follow the classic texts and principles carefully and try to find the meanings within their own bodies and feelings. People certainly shouldn’t suspect or try to change the meanings within the texts as he has heard some teachers do.

He said if you want to know if your practice is on track, you should check yourself. If you’ve spent a short amount of time practicing and have made lots of progress then you know you’re right. But, if after practicing several years, you cannot push with or do well against an opponent who has practiced the same amount of time in other arts, then something must be wrong.

You need to know where you’re wrong and be able to address the problem.

He said many people say that Taiji takes years to learn and so they say don’t expect quick results. However he feels this is misleading. The honing and refining of Taiji skills has indeed no end, it is a lifelong study and not something that one can perfect in a few years, but one should be able to see definite progress inside three to five years.

So what is Taiji?
Before we move we are in the state of Wu Ji. But after we move or the opponent moves, the peace and calm are broken and emptiness gives rise to yin and yang, (separateness in harmony). (In Chinese: “Wu ji er sheng dong fen yin yang”).

Taiji’s foundation is from the principle of wu jie, not from the movements of “beng, liu, ji ,an.” (Expansion or ward off, dissipate or roll back, press and push).

When the opponent moves, he destroys the state of wu ji or emptiness and yin and yang develops.

In this change, his “neng liang” (energy) and his “shi” (potential force and energy) are yang. For example, if he uses his right fist to strike you, then his right side is yang but his left side becomes yin.

What the practitioner should do is, at the point where the opponent is striking towards, one must “hua” or dissipate his potential force, where he is yang, you must be yin. But this apparent yielding or dissipating is not becoming “diu” or lost and lacking in substance, or “ruan” soft like tofu; it is accepting and welcoming his force like letting the wind blew through and out. Then your strike (yang) can fill the opponent’s yin or weak place, now that his strength and force have been diffused. The adversary’s energy is now completely spent, because you have emptied out his strong yang part by dissipating it. He becomes weak and unstable and empty. This concept of emptying out his force is called “yin jing luo kong” in Chinese.

At this time, when he is completely empty and weak, you can issue power, “fa jing”.

One can only successfully issue power when the opponent is truly empty; otherwise if he is still strong and stable it becomes force against force.

When you issue, you must be able to release all your neng liang (energy) to the opponent. Your body must be “tong tou” empty and almost transparent inside, with no tense places.

To be “tong tou” we must first be “song” (relaxed) says Ren. But people often have a mistaken view of what “song” or relaxed means.

They know that being hard or tense is wrong but they then go to the other extreme and become “ruan” soft and collapsed in structure. This he says is an even bigger mistake. Like this, one can still not be truly relaxed and one loses one’s own “neng li” the body’s integrated and unified structural strength.

If one is just soft, one cannot use Taiji as a martial art, it just suffices as exercise. This is why many other disciplines scorn Taiji as a fighting system, because of this misunderstanding of “song” relaxed.

Ren Gang says the body must be turned into a flowing, free-moving entity where one can move in an even, nimble and alive state. Some people like to imagine their bodies move like water, as this conjures up this feeling, but he says to move like air is an even better analogy.

When one is genuinely relaxed, one can not only move smoothly, quickly and naturally to deal with the opponent, but one can face life’s challenges easily too.

Of course, Ren says when one first learns the Taiji form, one needs to have the correct body posture and movement, particularly in relation to the waist and kua (hips).

Sometimes, new practitioners will feel that their body or hips etc are not in the right position, and thus they will feel that their own bones are holding them back; at this juncture it’s very hard to use one’s shen qi (energy).

Once your body postures are correct you can start to move freely and you will start to discover your shen qi.

In Chinese, Ren says, the waist eventually becomes an energetic centre of the body, not a physical muscular or skeletal centre.

At the outset, when one begins learning, students will treat the waist as a physical entity which they will turn and move using bone and muscle, but this is a preliminary stage. The heart “Xin” first decides what to do and tells the waist, (this second energetic centre or second heart and mind) and the waist then controls the energetic field or shen qi and the shen qi moves the rest of the body.

He said that this concept of the waist is not easy for beginners to grasp, but over years of practice one can obtain this feeling of it being a non-physical centre. Without this sensation, he says he would not be able to smoothly and effortlessly remove an attacker’s grab to his throat or body.

If he said, he treated his waist as a hard or physical place, then an attack on his throat in particular, would cause him to tense up and try to resist, thus allowing the attacker to gain an even stronger hold.

When the waist moves, the legs and feet should follow the waist; this is what the principle of the waist being the commander means.

So what is “shen qi”?
When somebody practices Taiji form, they will slowly get a feeling that as they move, the air and energy around them is moving with them. (Taiji is often described as swimming in air.) Later one will feel that one is moving within an energy field, that one is connected to the surrounding environment, and that they can control and move this energy all around them.

This energy is shen qi.

To explain more about the different types of energy connected to the body, Chinese says

“Gu rou de neng liang shi li liang, jing shen de neng liang shi shen qi”.

Basically translated, it just means that physical strength (li liang) is the expression or manifestation of energy (neng liang) from the physical body (gu rou), and an invisible but yet tangible feeling of energy surrounding a person (shen qi) is the manifestation of the (jing shen) spirit’s energy.

When you meet somebody who is usually quite strong and energetic, but who at that time is ill, you will feel that they have no vital force, no shen qi, so you don’t feel intimidated or afraid of them, and are able to overcome them.

He says this kind of invisible energy force and spirit is what drives the body’s movements, not your physical structure that carries out the movements.

In Taiji we should constantly try to practice, develop and enhance this shen qi. In doing so, one will also change not just one’s physical movements but one’s character as well. The more relaxed one becomes, the greater their shen qi will be and the more generous, calm and open one will become.

He said this sense of calmness is a fundamental part of tui shou (push hands), fighting, or life in general.

In push hands or san shou (sparring) one must be calm and still inside. You must allow the opponent to fully take up his position or stance. Let him show you what he intends to do, this way you can clearly see where his faults and weaknesses are, thereby allowing you to take advantage of them and overcome him.

If you act as most people do and immediately try to go against him or react out of anxiety or impatience the moment he opposes you, then you and he become locked in a battle, the outcome of which rests on the big overcoming the small, the strong overcoming the weak, or the fast defeating the slow. None of which are part of Taiji’s internal principles.

Going against him also allows the opponent to espy your weaknesses and utilize them to defeat you.

Here is where the practitioner must again invoke the state of Wu Jie.

In English we use one word to mean “emptiness”, but in Chinese the idea of empty or nothing has many different meanings:

“KONG” – empty or free

“DIU” – empty, lost or without any firm structure or spirit

“MEI YOU” – without, nothing

So the problem for foreign students learning Wushu or the Chinese language itself is how to understand what real emptiness is, as in the state of “Wu Ji”.

We must realize that emptiness is not just nothing, but that it is emptiness and fullness combined. It is nothing and everything in complete harmony.

Before one moves, thinks, talks etc, one is first empty – wu ji. An integrated whole which is in complete harmony with its surroundings.

So, wu ji is in fact a quiet balanced state, where one thing exists peacefully and in harmony with another.

Ren Gang says that in push hands or sparring etc, one must first look upon the opponent not as a separate entity that you must defeat – The Enemy – but as a part of you, a part of your energy circle.

Chinese philosophy looks upon a person as being as one with the earth and sky; they are in harmony not separate. If you can fully realize this and have a sensation of this state, than you can cultivate the feeling that the opponent is also one with you.

But, it’s not just his physical body that is one with you, his spirit and “shen qi” vital energy around him, is part of your energy sphere too.

So in Taiji, we want to first become aware of and later be able to harness this shen qi.

Often people play the form and have a feeling of energy moving the body’s structure, but as soon as they push hands with someone, they go back to using physical strength or their structure, and are more concerned about winning and thus lose control of their shen qi.

In “Nei Jia Quan” internal arts, like Taiji, we want to forget about the body’s structure and strength and utilize the shen qi to move our own body and deal with the opponent.

In Chinese they say the “Xin” heart or unconscious thought controls your waist, the waist controls and moves the shen qi and your shen qi moves the physical body.

If you want to do something, you feel what it is you want to do, and then your body responds.

Ren says that you must train yourself to use your heart (Xin) and waist to control your shen qi and thus change your old habits of the physical body or your rational thought moving the energy.

He said that when one moves, whatever one wants to do or decides to do, the body will just follow precisely what you intend. In push hands, when you see the opportunity to dissipate or strike the opponent, your body immediately obeys this “thought” or feeling with action.

He said if you have to wrestle and struggle to try and overcome the opponent to move him, then this is wrong.

At first, Ren mentioned, your body won’t listen to your intention or your waist, but over time, as you concentrate on this aspect, you will start to cultivate a sensation.

Ren says that he personally doesn’t think that a person’s form postures are so important, for example if your hand is higher, lower etc; but a student’s basic postures and structural position must be correct.

It’s like eating, he said, it doesn’t matter if you use chopsticks or a knife and fork or how you hold them that matters, but that you get the food in your mouth and not your nose that’s important!

Finally I asked him about his hopes for the future of Taiji.

Ren replied that he hopes that all practitioners of Taiji can learn the genuine art, and not have a false impression that Taiji is either an art based on physical strength or some mystical, magical art that is so complex that a student can never master or comprehend it.

He said if he ever reaches a stage where he understands the secrets of Taiji and can use them, then he would certainly want to share this knowledge with everyone, so that all lovers of Taiji can share in the splendour of this wonderful art.Finally, he reiterated, that you must be open and generous in spirit. Your shen qi (an energy field that surrounds you and is interconnected with your spirit) and your “qi liang” (generosity of spirit) is connected, so if you’re a mean person your shen qi will also be small, and you’ll be able to utilize very little of this force. Personally, I think that he is already well on the way to reaching this state, and apart from Master Dong Bin, I can safely say that I have learnt more about Taiji and internal arts in the short time that I have known him, than I have in over twelve years of study from many teachers around the world.

His belief in Buddhism has certainly been instrumental in understanding many of Taiji’s principles, and his generosity in sharing with all who meet him, is a testament to the fact that having an open mind and generous spirit, really does raise and benefit one’s Taiji practiceHopefully those attending the event in Shanghai China in November this year, will have a chance to find out for themselves!

by courtesy of

Classic principle pushhands qigong taiji


Cheng Man Ch’ing

I have been practicing Tai-Chi Chuan for over fifty years. Only two years ago that I started to understand the word “relax”. I remember my Tai-Chi Chuan teacher Yang Cheng-Fu who did not like to talk much and he used to sit all day without saying a word if no one asked him questions. However, in our T’ai-chi class he would tell us to “relax” repeatedly. Sometimes it seemed like he would say the word hundreds of times during the practice so that the word could fill up my ears. Strangely enough he also said that if he did not tell me of this word that I would not be able to learn T’ai-chi in three life-times (meaning never). I doubted his words then. Now that I think back, I truly believe that if he did not keep reminding me of the word “relax”, I doubt if I could have learned T’ai-chi Chuan in six life-times.

What is the meaning of “relax” in T’ai-chi? Here is an example to help you understand the word. When we go visit a Buddhist temple we usually see a statue of Me-Lo Buddha. The one who has a big rounded stomach with a big smile on his face. He carries a large bag on his shoulder. On top of this statue we see a motto: “Sit with a bag. Walk with a bag. It would be such a relief to drop the bag.” What does all this mean? To me, a person himself or herself is a bag. Everything he or she owns is baggage, including one’s children, family, position and wealth. It is difficult to drop any of one’s baggage, especially the “self” bag.

T’ai-chi Chuan is difficult to learn. To relax in practicing T’ai-chi Chuan is the most difficult phase to go through. To relax a person’s mind is the most significant obstacle to overcome in practicing T’ai-Chi. It takes a great effort to train and exercise one’s mind to relax (or drop one’s “self” bag).

Breath Classic Energy principle qigong

Chang San-feng on Chi

Its said that when you breathe out you contact the Root of Heaven and experience a sense of openness, and when you breathe in you contact the Root of Earth and experience a sense of solidity. Breathing out is associated with the fluidity of a dragon, breathing in is associated with strength of a tiger. As you go on breathing in this frame of mind, with these associations, alternating between movement and stillness, it is important that the focus of your mind does not shift.

Let the true breath come and go, a subtle continuum on the brink of exisence. Tune the breathing until you get breath without breathing; become one with it, and the spirit can be solidified and the elixir can be made.

A Complete Guide to Chi-gung
by Daniel Reid 2000 (Thomas Cleary Vitality, Energy, Spirit)

p. 38-39

Anecdote Classic Philosophy qigong

Two Scholars

Once upon a time in Xinye County, Hunan Province, China, there was a temple known as the Jade Emperor Temple. It was quite far away from town, but many people still liked to visit it. The temple was very popu- lar as it made a lot of people’s wishes come true.

One day, two young scholars, Zhang and Li, were on their way to the capital to take the Imperial Examination and they decided to visit Jade EmperorTemple before they went on to the capital. At that time, the Chi- nese government held this special examination every four years in order to find the most talented people to help them run the country. If they passed with high marks, then they would be very famous in the whole country and earn a lot of respect from other people and be able to get a good position.

Zhang and Li came to the temple. Inside was a table behind which stood a Daoist named Ci Hui. On the table he had a sign which read, ‘Your date tells your life and death. My prediction tells your good and bad. I can save you, if you believe me.’ The two young men looked at the sign and then looked at the Daoist and then said to each other, ‘He does not look like an ordinary man. He looks like an Immortal! Maybe he can tell us our future as we are going for the Imperial Examinations.’ Although they were strangers, the two young gentlemen sat down at the Daoist’s table together and asked Ci Hui if he could tell their fortunes. First, he asked for Zhang’s date of birth and looked at his face.

Then he started to do some calculations on his fingers and murmuring certain words as he touched the pad of each finger with his thumb. This is actually a traditional way to find out the Five Elements for the hour, day, month and year of birth of a person’s horoscope.

He then looked at Zhang and said, ‘Congratulations! You will pass tomorrow’s Imperial Examination with high marks. You are in luck. This is because in your last life, you did a lot of good things and you are going to be rewarded in this life.’ Of course, Zhang was very happy to hear this. He bowed to the old man and paid him and then left to go back to the place where he was staying.

Next the old Daoist looked at Li and did the same calculations and looked at his face. After a few moments, he said to Li, ‘I am sorry, but your fortune is not good. In fact, it is very bad. Forget taking the Imper- ial Examination because today you are going to die. You have this ill fate because in your last life you did a lot of bad things and so now must pay back.’ Li was shocked. He felt all his Qi leave his body and his face become pale. He paid Ci Hui and stumbled from the temple in a daze, feeling his whole life turn upside down.

Zhang, on the other hand, was so full of happy spirits that he was like one in a good dream. He wandered here and there enjoying the scenery around him. He suddenly arrived at a rope bridge that crossed a power- ful river. The bridge was not that stable and only had loose wooden planks as a walkway. As Zhang was crossing over, he accidentally kicked some of the planks and they dropped into the river, leaving a big gap.

He guiltily looked around to see if anyone had seen what he did. When he saw that no one had, he turned quickly to run away. However, as heran back up the pathway, in his hurry he knocked over an old man who was coming around the bend in the path. He did not think about help- ing the old man up, but continued to run.

Li had been also walking and he came to the bridge from the oppo- site side. He was very depressed. As he walked across the bridge, he was so lost in his thoughts that he almost fell into the gap left by the missing planks. The gap was big enough that he could easily have fallen through if he had not caught himself in time. He stood gasping on the bridge with his heart beating fast.

Just then, he looked up to see an old man coming towards him on the other side of the gap. Li thought about what Ci Hui had told him. If hewas going to die today, he thought he would try and do something good and maybe atone for some of the bad things he had done in his previous lifetimes. So he called out to help the old man.

He shouted, ‘Sir, be careful, there is a gap here. You should turn and go back! Don’t come this way!’ The old man replied, ‘But I must go across here as I have to go to my home. My old wife is waiting for me. There is no other way. I am sure that I will be able to find some way to cross.’ Li thought for a moment and then said, ‘OK, how about this. I will lie down and cover the gap and then you can walk over me.’ The old man was very impressed by this and he was able to cross over the gap. He started praising Li for his goodness when suddenly it started to pour down with rain. Li took off his coat and covered the old man and helped him the rest of the way to his home. The old man said to Li, ‘You are a good-hearted person. You must have a good future ahead of you.

Live long and take care.’ Li decided to find a hotel to hide himself in, hoping to avoid any bad fortune that might be the cause of his death. After the dinner, Li went to bed and covered himself with the blanket, waiting to see if he would be able to pass the night alive. Eventually, after much worrying, he fell asleep without even realising it. The next day, he was so surprised when he woke to find the sun shining in his face. He was not dead! He was so excited that he hurried to pay his bill and go back to the Jade Temple to see Ci Hui.

He walked into the temple and saw the old Daoist, the same as yes- terday. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his hands folded as if he was waiting for him. Ci Hui said to Li, ‘Good morning, Mr Li. It is good to see you again. Today, your face is in luck.’ Li said, ‘Sifu, I don’t understand. Yesterday you said I was going to die and yet today you say I am lucky. How can this be?’ Ci Hui laughed loudly. He said, ‘You must have done some good things yesterday. Maybe you did something to help someone else, think- ing about more about their well-being than your own. These good deeds changed your fate.’ The Old Daoist then leaned over the table and clapped his hand on Li’s shoulder and said with a great smile, ‘Hurry up and go to the capital to take the Imperial Examination! You will place number one!’ So Li hurried off to do as he was bid.

After some weeks, the results of the examination were announced, and it came about that Li had, indeed, won first place. He received much attention and praise and became very famous throughout the country. However, Zhang did not place at all and did not get any title.

Upset, Zhang went back to the Jade Emperor Temple to talk to the old Daoist.

He saw Ci Hui sitting in his usual place and he knelt before him and asked, ‘Sifu, when I came to visit you before, you said I was very lucky and that I would come first in the examinations. However, I did not place at all. Why is this?’ Ci Hui said to Zhang, ‘Ask yourself, what did you do in the time before the examination to change your fate?’ He then told Zhang to look at the statue of the Jade Emperor behind him. When Zhang did this, his face went pale. The face of the statue was the exact image of the old man whom he had knocked down that day by the bridge.

Watching Zhang, Ci Hui said, ‘Sometimes we think no one sees our actions. However, all our actions will eventually have their result’.

Qi Gong for Healing and Relaxation: Simple Techniques for Feeling Stronger, Healthier and More Relaxed
by Michael Tse
ISBN 0749924675

p. 35-39

aikido Breath Energy Martial Art principle qigong Zen

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.

The article is translation of Koichi Tohei sensei’s book, Ki Breathing by curtesy of Shinichi Tohei

Breath Energy Martial Art principle qigong taiji

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.


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

Breath Classic Energy Martial Art posture principle qigong Structure taiji

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

Energy Exercise Meditation qigong

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.

Entering the Tao by Master Huang Ni

Breath Classic Energy Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Shoulder Structure taiji Waist

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

Breath Classic Energy Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Zen

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

Breath Classic Energy Meditation Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Zen

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

Energy Exercise qigong

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.


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.


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

Exercise qigong

Grounding Exercise

Stand in relaxed position with the feet placed directly under your hips, knees slightly bent, ankles relaxed and the armpits open. Press the tip of the tongue against the soft palate of the mouth. This connects the energy circuit of the governing (back) channel with the energy circuit of the functional (front) channel. Breathe by pulling the diaphragm down toward navel as you inhale. Imagine a weight hanging between your legs, attached to your coccyx by a cord. As the weight pulls your coccyx toward the floor, allow your sacrum to relax and sink down and forward with it. Relax the ankles. Relax the knees. Relax the waist. Imagine there is a cord attached to the top of the head that is gently lifting your head, allowing it to float above your shoulders. Fix your gaze on the horizon to infinity.

After fulfilling the above requirements, imagine that everything inside your body is comprised of nothing but thick water molecules and that the skin is made of rubber. Feel the water molecules pressing against the skin as gravity begins to pull the water molecules down through the body, toward the floor. As the water molecules are pulled lower and lower, you can feel the arms and chest begin to swell. The fingers feel as though they are swelling to an enormous size.

As gravity pulls the water molecules even lower, the thighs become thick and heavy. The molecules flow deeper into your legs and feet until your feet feel as though they are going to burst out of your shoes. Feel the feet spread. Feel the toes spread. Your body now feels like a pyramid, heavy at the floor and light at the top.

Continue to breathe deep into the lower abdomen. Allow your attention to move to your feet and notice where the primary weight is located. It should be in the middle of each foot. If it’s not, adjust the position of your pelvis until it is. An imaginary plumb line should travel through the crown point of your head, to a point just behind your ear, through your shoulder, hip, perineum and ankle. Don’t forget to be aware of the imaginary weight pulling down at your coccyx and the cord pull upward on your head. Relax the waist and allow the coccyx to sink down and forward.

Once you have accomplished the feeling of being grounded well into the earth or floor, imagine that the floor is pushing up against your feet, trying to up-root you. This is one of the most important aspects of the exercise. The more relaxed and grounded you become, the harder the floor pushes up against your feet. Use your imagination to keep the floor from pushing you upward. Hold the floor down. Do not allow the floor to push you up. Your feet will now feel as though they are glued to the floor.

After about 10 minutes, your feet will feel energized and your hands will become warm. Stand in this position for 10 to 30 minutes. Be sure to keep the knees bent.

by courtesy of