Qi Gong and Nibbana

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Michael, modified 6 Years ago at 2/28/16 5:55 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/28/16 5:55 PM

Qi Gong and Nibbana

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/30/15 Recent Posts
Dear DhO sangha,

Are there many other Vipassana practitioners who are cycling and who also explore reality with Qi Gong as not only a technique for energy cultivation and incredible health and power, but also for liberation? Are there any practitioners who know much about Taoist models of liberation?

At the climax of a recent qigong retreat, I was dropping the qi low, surrendering it to it's flow in the dan tien (gut area) and beyond, as per the instructions. The master instructed us to find the hard side of the leg (the outside, the yang side), then find the soft side (the inside, the yin side). Then find what's in the middle. I drop into not. No experience. A moment later I come out, feeling as if I've just taken a big tip in the most cleansing waters of the universe. The body is fresh, supple, light, hardly there, milky and smooth from the inside and the bliss wave is incredible and still. It felt like how after fuition does.

Just briefly before, there was a vision of a me falling into a a vast void before everything shut out.

It was super intersting looking back because what tends to happen in my vipassana practice and experiencing a fruition, is that the energy rises high up, through the crown and beyond, not down low like it was in this qigong period.

This only makes sense to my understanding mind because of the paradoxical nature of reality. Nibanna is Samsara.

So I don't know what it was. And I'm fine with not knowing. If it was a fruition, it's interesting that is could be attained in this way, of just surrending to the middle-ness. If it wasn't a frution, interesting that nibbanic reset elements and benefits can be experienced outside of looking at tripple characteristics directly. And maybe it was something else entirely. I wonder if the same occurs for qigon practitioners in whom consciousness has yet to be freed from entanglement with form. Can Nibbana be found in between the yin and yang of your fingers? In between the outside and inside of your very legs? What is in between the front and back of your body?

(You don't need to answer those questions)

This life is far too strange and mysterious when you actually look at it. I just wanted to share that with other explorers.
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Kim _, modified 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 1:56 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 1:56 AM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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I've practiced chi gong and yiquan for years. For a long time, both perception and feeling kept turning off momentarily, like turning off the electricity of a building, and then *snap* back on. For several years I didn't know what it was but later realised it was cessation/nirodha. I also had the highest of the four dantiens become so active during standing, that is completely froze my body. These don't happen anymore but used to.
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CJMacie, modified 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 3:38 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 3:37 AM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

Posts: 856 Join Date: 8/17/14 Recent Posts
Michael and Kim:

Can you describe more specifically what you mean by "qi gong / chi kung"?

(It's a generic term, invented in the 1930's, meaning "breath work", a general term like "aerobics" in the West, which literally means roughly the same thing; used also in the meantime to label a range of modern exercise styles, s/w standardized in Chinese TCM teaching, and as an umbrella term incompassing a number of older methods, such as daoyin, yangsheng, and "soft" martial arts.)

Kim:

What do you refer to as the "four" dantien?
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tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 5:45 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 5:45 AM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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howdy michael,
very cool.  it seems to me that you, as a practitioner in qi gong and vipassana, are in the best position to compare both experiences and determine whether they are the same, different or not the same, or not different or neither the same nor different.

what do you think?

cheers
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Kim _, modified 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 12:09 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 12:09 PM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

Posts: 707 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Chris J Macie:
Michael and Kim:

Can you describe more specifically what you mean by "qi gong / chi kung"?

(It's a generic term, invented in the 1930's, meaning "breath work", a general term like "aerobics" in the West, which literally means roughly the same thing; used also in the meantime to label a range of modern exercise styles, s/w standardized in Chinese TCM teaching, and as an umbrella term incompassing a number of older methods, such as daoyin, yangsheng, and "soft" martial arts.)

Kim:

What do you refer to as the "four" dantien?

Right. Chi gong can mean many things from grannies doing stretching in the morning all the way to mystic practices. My understanding of chi gong is mostly the granny thing, hah. See here my Japanese zen calligraphy master doing his form of chi gong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ6FHg9IIJo

To me chi gong means a combination of breathing practices, study of the physical body structure, moving mechanism, natural movement, waling meditations of various types and standing meditation where you can explicitly study ati yoga (unification of three spaces) or use of intention (yi as in yi quan).

Four danties are particular areas of the energy body connected with the physical body: 1. lower belly and lower back, 2. heart area, 3. head area and, 4. area above the head.
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CJMacie, modified 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 9:13 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/29/16 9:09 PM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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re: Kim Katami (2/29/16 12:09 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

"Four danties are particular areas of the energy body connected with the physical body: 1. lower belly and lower back, 2. heart area, 3. head area and, 4. area above the head."


Is that another of your inventions, or from some special (unusual, esoteric) tradition?

"Three" dantien-s ("elixir-fields", also called "3 burners") are commonly known in classical Chinese medicine:
1) the area mid-body a bit below the navel (aka center of gravity of the body in Western medicine/sports-science);
2) center of the abdomen, midway between navel and costal angle/xyphoid bone; and
3) center of the thoracic cavity.
These associate with 1) power-root and constitution, 2) digestive organs/function, and 3) lungs-heart governing qi and blood motion.

And also 3 in classical Taoist "internal alchemy" (where the dan = elixir term comes from):
1) center of pelvic cavity (similar (1) in the above set) – "sea of jing";
2) center of the thoracic cavity – "sea of qi"; and
3) center of the cranial cavity – "sea of marrow" (nao), aka the brain and shen (mind-spirit).
This system, which in original Taoist usage is an elaborate (and difficult) training system along the lines of a path of awakening, is commonly used in modern times as the jing-qi-shen axis of many popular (and mostly s/w superficial) qi-gong systems – along the lines of relaxed bodily motion, relaxed breathing & heart function, and mental-emotional (nervous system) stress-reduction.

Your system sounds more like something from Alice Bailey (theosophy) or the like.

The genuine Taoist system, which I've studied with two masters, is quite rigorous, but I wouldn't consider it "mystic".

In Thai-wilderness Buddhist tradition (e.g. the lineage Ajahns Mun, Lee, Fuang, Thanissaro) there is a system of breath-work very much like the Chinese system, used as a method of developing anapanasati samadhi (breath-object focused concentration). This has been mentioned in this forum.
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Kim _, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 1:42 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 1:42 AM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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No, the four dantiens are not one of "my inventions". It's been a while since I've read any taoist books/sources but I think mantak Chia has something on this. Also my shiatsu teacher, John Lewis, the director of the Finnish School of Shiatsu, teaches four dantiens. He has studied with several meditation and healing masters, including some Chinese folks, but can't remember whom exactly.

An American hindu swami called Subramuniyaswami had drawings the chakra system above the head in his books, referring to this fourth dantien.
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Michael, modified 6 Years ago at 3/4/16 12:34 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/4/16 12:34 AM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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Chris,

That's interesting.

I'm not as familiar yet with the terminology, but when I say qigong here I'm refering to a specific kind of energy practice that works with the subtle energy experience of the physical body. It works with specific points (such as just in front of the heel), gentle intentions and explorations of energetic movement (such as dropping the qi or prana down to the earth) as well as physical posture to allow for the qi to flow freely where it wants in the body, opening up certain cavities, correcting imbalances both energetic and grosser physical ones, and cultivating and circulating the energy in a particular way for increased grounded energy, clarity of mind, and releasing of unhelpful emotions/ and tensions in the body.

I've heard the style I've been practicing called a more 'cosmic' style, as opposed to martial. I've heard it's a system that can be used not only for health and optimal organ functioning, but also for realization. 

The overlap between yogic terminology (for lack of a better word) and classical taoist terminolgoy as they relate to specific areas of the body and nervous system is an interesting one. I've heard Reggie Ray refer to the lower abdomen area as where the ego resides, and from one perspective and depending on how the word 'ego' is being used, I can see where that observation comes from. When I experience difficult emotions and a strong sense of "me", there is a somatic clenching that seems to happen, a resistance that's often felt down there. Given more Theravada semantics and my experience, one could say that defilements (delusion, greed, hatred) are in the mind, and given the mind-body connection, these defilements are reflected in the body (especially in this lower abdomen area). Some traditions seems to emphasize 'clearing out the dan tien' area first, before allowing the energy to rise up to the third eye area and above, and other traditions don't (the way I practice vipassana), perhaps implying that the grossest of the egoic manifestations will clear themselves out anyhow along the way, and as long as we don't resist them, there's no problem. Anyhow that's my take on it and my experience. I hope it doesn't confuse anyone or go against what other people are experiencing or understand. Whatever helps you see the reality of this mind body experience and its empty nature. And don't take my word for anything. I'm just a guy on the internet.
 
Jorge, modified 6 Years ago at 3/25/16 10:31 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/25/16 10:31 AM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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Michael,

Where did you go for a Qi Gong retreat?

-Jorge
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CJMacie, modified 6 Years ago at 3/27/16 4:57 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/27/16 4:57 AM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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re: Kim Katami(3/1/16 1:42 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

"Four dantiens" doesn't seem established. In Taoism it's definitely three, and also with ManTak Chia, a Taoist popularizer (at least from his books, and a weekend class with him decades ago).

The basic, familiar system of 7 chakras clearly demarcates the 3 bony cavities of the body – 1) below the pelvis, 2) within it, 3) at the edge between pelvis and thorax, 4) within thorax, 5) at the edge between thorax and cranium, 6) within cranium, 7) and at its upper edge.

Other systems (e.g. Alice Bailey "Theosophist" version) "see" (literally – an "aura-reading" system) further chakras ascending above the head at regular intervals, and from below the feet descending downwards. Perhaps some use a terminology mixing chakra and dan-tien using 4 or more "dan-tiens"?

A s/w renegade MD once taught a course in Bailey-style aura-reading as a medical diagnosis & treatment system (which I attended). The idea was visualizing s/w standardized colors in / around a subject-patient's body at chakra positions; also extending above and below the body; as well as with reference to the s/w familiar nested spheres of "physical", "etheric", "mental", "spiritual" etc. "bodies". The teacher was able to induce collaborative experiences of such visualizations, but overall the system was being used more in a psychological sense, and lacked the rigor to be considered a true medical system. (On a whim, I searched that guy out on the internet acouple of years ago; he was still going strong, now positioning himself as a sort of mystical cabalistic (Hebrew) guru-healer, which wasn't surprising.)

QiGong
has a fuzzy identity, bordering on the one side with soft-style martial arts, and on the other side with medical arts. China has fabricated a new thing called "medical qigong", taught formally, with MA, PhD degrees, that has also caught on in the USA (though those degree are not be accredited here). That's a curious historical development, as traditionally qigong / "energy-healing" was a long-standing practice, but as a healing art, not a medical science, and clearly separated from the classical Chinese medical traditions. (An authoritative book – "The Transmission of Chinese Medicine" – by Elizabeth Hsu fully documents this.)

Qigong's
relationship to spiritual development traditions comes by way of traditional lineages, mostly Taoist and/or Buddhist, reformulating themselves under the qigong generic label and emphasizing more health and self-improvement kinds of development. That's partially because their more original forms, with often strong religious associations, were initially heavily persecuted, even banned, in the earlier years (e.g. Cultural Revolution) of the current dynasty. More recently they are more tolerated (except for the "FaLunGong" sect, which has "dangerous" political overtones), as they proved popular in the West, and became significant export commodities in disseminating Chinese influence throughout the rest of the world.
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Michael, modified 6 Years ago at 5/21/16 5:00 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/21/16 5:00 PM

RE: Qi Gong and Nibbana

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Jorge,

Apologies for the delayed response. 

I did the Qi Gong retreat with Chris Fernie from the UK who has an organization called the Institute for Internal Transformation (IIT) that works out of Berkeley, California. He's an excellent Qi Gong teacher and a good human being.

hope this helps!

Best,
Michael