in recommended sequence (downloadable)
I recommend people start off with minimum of 15 minutes of qigong movement exercises each morning, and 15 minutes qigong movement or sitting meditation in the evening (Healing Sounds or orbit). The Inner Smile meditation you can do all day long. Of course, if you have good discipline and can practice more, you will get even more powerful results.
You can vary or switch the qigong exercises and your practice times around to suit your schedule. Some people close the door to their office and practice there during breaks or lunchtime. Some practices, like the Healing Sounds, can be done sitting in your car while you are stuck in traffic. They are really great to release frustration and anger at other drivers. I lived in New York City for 20 years, and used to meditate on the subway instead of sitting around aimlessly.
Most people find they get so much benefit they naturally begin to practice a little longer each day. Some people sleep very heavily for the first few days of practice, part of an energetic detox or de-stressing process. After that is passed, your energy level goes up, and you often need less sleep. That frees up more time for practice.
The most important thing is to do something every day, even if for only 5 minutes. That starts to build an awareness of your relationship to the Life Force. That is the most important relationship you will ever have, and the only one that will survive death.
The Number One mistake made by beginning practitioners is to say to yourself, “Oh, I am a bit rushed today and don’t have time to do ALL the practices I’ve learned. So I will just skip today.” This is a act of self-sabotage.
It’s your Resistance trying to gain some territory back and derail your moving to a higher level of practice. It is just FINE to do PART of your practice if you hit a time crunch, even one movement from a qigong set you’ve learned. It is the intention to stay connected to the cultivation process that is important. So on the days you have less time for external movement practice, try ot increase your internal awareness practice – the Inner Smile or the Orbit are both suitable for this.
I have found qigong (chi kung) to be one of the FASTEST “self-help” modalities for both the prevention and/or healing of chronic illness as well as the maintenance of higher level of wellness. This includes high blood pressure, heart illness, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis up through terminal illness treatment like cancer. But results vary with each individual, how much you practice, and what kind of health challenges you are facing. Qigong therapy often combines well with western medical therapies and can reduce their side effects or dosages of drugs taken. Some people feel dramatic results from qigong practice in minutes, others take a few days of practice to start feeling a new experience of flow. Others may take a few weeks or months to notice health effects.
Those slow to experience chi flow are often very energy depleted or very stressed, and might need longer to recharge. So it can require some patience and faith in the process while your “energy tank” – your body’s energy channels and vital organs – is being refilled. But it will be filled with energy that is naturally balanced and healthy and that strengthens your inner self-will, all ingredients in recovering one’s health.
If you have a serious illness or mental, emotional, or spiritual crisis, you need to practice longer. The reason is that a deep imbalance has already come to surface, and it may take longer to reorganize its “sick” energy pattern with repeated practice of qigong and meditation.
It’s very imporatnt to know that some people get measurable improvements to their health WITHOUT tangible experience in their physical body of chi flow. Do not confuse “chi experience” with “good health results”. Some people get positive results without feeling any new or different “chi sensations” of tingling, vibrations in various body parts, seeing internal light and hearing internal sounds.
Once a student complained to me that she could not feel any chi from her qigong exercises. I asked her what had changed in her life during the month she had been practicing. She admitted that she had quit smoking and changed spontaneously to a much healthier diet – things that she had been unable to achieve in the past. She hadn’t connected it to the qigong because she was over-focused on noticing sensations.
If you take a live course or retreat, results are usually far quicker as there is a direct and powerful transmission of chi, both from the teacher and the collective power of the group. I’ve had people suffering from a chronic injury for DECADES find it has mysteriously disappeared after ten minutes of qigong in a class! The best approach is to simply be open and neutral, yet observe closely what changes occur.
You may find it very informative to read the summary of the 3500 scientific studies on the effectiveness of qigong and “energy medicine” in healing chronic illness. .
Strictly speaking, the Inner Smile is not qigong, but rather a “neigong” practice. Neigong means “inner skill in cultivating the self”. The Inner Smile cultivates the core inner heart, which is distinctly different from the outer physical heart that pumps blood and vitality, or the wild fluctuations of the emotional heart that charges us up with enthusiasm and all kinds of feelings, from good to bad to indifferent. The inner heart operates at the soul level, deeper than these two.
The reason the Inner Smile is so foundational is because it cultivates a very profound sense of unconditional acceptance, first in oneself, and secondly of everything that is “other”. I have found that without cultivating this deep self-acceptance in one’s inner heart, all other qigong and meditation practices eventually feel limited or imbalanced.
Its my experience, that without self-acceptance, even the intention to express love or compassion can become unconsciously distorted by our need to be accepted by others. We are most effective in transmitting our natural virtues of love and kindness when it comes from a heart that is well grounded in our inner self. Smiling grows our ability to first be present in a safe way, beyond conflicts that are happening on the surface as arguments or even violence.
It takes practice, but inner smiling allows us to offer empathy to someone else without encountering any resistance. The feeling of warm,smiling acceptance silently transmitted to someone creates a rapor at the soul level that opens the way to communication and conflict resolution at the personality level.
I’ve noticed that people may only do a moving qigong practice that emphasizes harmony of breath, posture, and mind. They may skip over the inner smile because it seems too simple or too subtle to produce the dramatic energetic results they are seeking.
For a while these qigong practitioners will get very fast progress in improving their physical and emotional health. But if they practice deeper, beyond filling up the “chi deficit” in their stressed out body-mind, that is where the limitation can arise.
As soon as you begin using qigong to generate a surplus of energy, the question arises: where does that extra chi flow? If you haven’t opened up the smiling, self-accepting core consciousness, it begins to flow in patterns within your Energy Body that may amplify unconscious struggles still going on within deeper levels of yourself.
That means, in Taoist terminology, there is the possibility of it flowing into “false yin” or “false yang” energy patterns. These may be in the form of dysfunctional sexual or emotional or mental patterns that get dumped internally (false yin) or projected outwardly onto others (false yang).
The Inner Smile cultivates a special type of chi called “yuan”, or Original Chi or Original Breath. It is essentially neutral energy that stabilizes the flow of all the yin and yang chi flow in the body. This kind of neutral energy has no judgment, no blame, no guilt. The heart center, or middle dantian, is the balance point between the belly (Earth) and head (Heaven) centers. Ultimately our heart is the center where we cultivate our deepest sense of Humanity, as the mediating point between physical and spiritual processes.
Inner Smiling is a simple and practical way to connect these polar forces inside our body. You could cultivate a powerful energy in either the belly or the head centers, without becoming a better human being. You can get more power in the belly, or more awareness in the head, without actually changing negative patterns in those centers, and without changing one’s behavior or personality for the better. What defines a “better” human?
For me, “better” defines someone who is more accepting, more loving, and more spontaneous in expressing their soul pattern. It is someone who exercises their divinely given free will to create greater balance and harmony within themselves and within their community. All of these qualities involve cultivating the heart center at a deep, silent, soul level.
Are you smiling from your inner heart every day? If not, your soul may not be getting the connection it needs.
Yes. You can learn Qigong Fundamentals 3&4 first. You can go direct for the grounding, there is no “contra-indication” to reversing the sequence I’ve chosen. That’s why I have no pre-requisite for students attending the 3&4 workshop.
The ideal is to learn the Qigong Fundamentals 1-4 together, then you see how they work synergistically. The week I teach at Dao Mtn. summer retreats is always intense, with people going into very deep states within their body they’ve never experienced before.
I consider 1&2 to be an easier and thus a better introduction to exploring chi flow for most people. It has clear correspondence between the three core Tao principles: Unity (=Inner Smile), Balance/Polarity (=Microcosmic Orbit), and Harmony (=5 Animals/6 Healing Sounds).
The standing and rooting practices in 3&4 I consider a little more challenging, because they require greater internal concentration. Most modern people are too fidgety to stand and breathe through their bones, they get impatient and need movemen to circulate their chi.. But if that is what attracts you first, there is absolutely no reason to wait. Grounding is the most essentail piece that modern people are missing. Go for it!
The Ocean, Sky, and Great Heart Breathing Qigong in Qigong Fundamentals 3 is really a stand alone qigong form. You could learn it separate from the standing-in-stillness poses or the bone breathing, or the three types of internal chi breathing. It is a very simple and powerful moving qigong, with very clear breathing patterns in each movement that connect your physical breath to your deep energy channels.
Sometimes peoples want to skip Qigong Fundamentals 3&4 inorder to get more quickly into Fusion or Healing Love. I think it is an unconscious aversion to facing their grounding issues. But if you skip the standing and deep bone breathing practices, you’ll have to face your grounding issues when you deal with your emotions in Fusion or your sexual energy in Healng Love. They are much eaiser to handle if you have already developed the ability to ground your physical chi in Qigong Fundamentals 3&4.
The full original question: I practiced Fundamentals 1 & 2 for six months – it is really fantastic! I feel energy moving up my spine and down my chest – but how do i know my orbit is really open? Could I be imagining it?
Don’t even worry about it. Trust your feelings.
The orbit is very likely open in your case. But understand that the quality of chi flow in the orbit will change over your entire lifetime. It’s a PROCESS, NOT A GOAL. Just like the Tao itself, its an endlessly changing river. Don’t try to fix your idea of “opened orbit” into a small box. It won’t fit.
The orbit is like a small stream that starts as a trickle, then gradually becomes a large river that gathers strength. Sometimes the flow is dramatic and turbulent, other times it is smooth and hardly noticeable.
The orbit helps you to gather your strength for a long spiritual journey. It keeps you in balance during the difficult times. It is like a spinning gyroscope, that is self-righting and self-navigating.
Also, you may want to consider dropping any unconscious judgment against the word “imagining”. You are concerned you’ve imagined the orbit. Who is imagining your entire reality? Who is imagining the shape of your body, the color of your hair, the traits of your personality?
When you claim that power of imagination, you claim the power that is embodying as “you”. You are on the path of becoming a responsible, spiritual grownup accepting your role in co-creating (or co-imagining) all levels of your reality. Eventually you will learn to imagine your own soul destiny. Imagination gradually becomes reality. All clear “mind intent: is just a form of imagination. The chi field is shaped by the imagination into feelings, thoughts, color, or sound.
The same answer given for the previous question (from a seasoned martial artist) applies to the many people who took a Mantak Chia course a decade ago and are just now getting back into it, and want to skip ahead. Or they have read the books I edited/co-wrote for Mantak Chia on the Orbit (Awaken Healing Energy of the Tao and Awaken Healing Light of the Tao) and believe they have all that INFORMATION already.
We live in the age of Information Junkies, and this is the achilles heel – the weak point – of learning to cultivate your internal energy. “Head information” and reading a ton of books does NOT cultivate your internal energy. It is just thoughts “about” chi culitvation or Tao, that or may not initiate the actual cultivation process itself. Books open the door for many people, but you still have to walk through the door into a new self that is in a totally different relationship with the Life Force.
I cannot tell you how many hundreds of times I have met people who have been collecting the books I edited/wrote together with Mantak Chia. They love the books. It totally changed their awareness and thinking of what is possible. They may have tried to practice from the books for a bit. But mostly those books sit on their shelves, valuable stores of information, that have not yet tipped the scales of the reader into a committed internal chi cultivation practice.
I have found very few folks who are really capable of practicing from the books to a deep level. So it is especially important even for those well read cultivators of Tao philosphy and information “about” qigong that need to LISTEN to an audio course and WATCH a DVD. The information will enter through different learning pathways that are far more likely to stimulate a productive, life-changing practice.
The other important point here is that my Qigong Fundamentals 1-4 training program is completely revamped, based on what I learned teaching many thousands of students over the last 25+ years. It includes qigong forms like the” Five Animals” and the “Open Chi Flow in the Orbit” that are NOT part of the standard Healing Tao /Universal Tao curriculum.
My audio course Qigong Fundamentals 2 includes a totally different method for opening the orbit as an internal meditattion practice than the method taught by other instructors. I have found this method from Wudang Mountain in China to be at least TEN TIMES MORE POWERFUL (if chi flow density could be quantified) than the other methods I taught previously.
I use this new orbit method during various stages of my Seven Formula training program. So if you skip this, and jump ahead, you will feel lost and be operating from a different level than students who are better prepared than you.
To sum it up: if you want to have the latest and most effective chi cultivation tools I’ve tested, get the home study audio-video course. The books were published 20 years ago. The principles are unchanged, the books are valuable reference materials. But they make the material too heady and complicated, as if you could visualize and direct everything from your head/eyes which are reading the book.
It is possible to get some progress this way, but eventually the head tires of the game. That is why I’ve created qigong forms to bypas the head, and internal movement forms that are self-sustaining. These are the cultivation tools that are most effective, and they are pre-tested for you and cheap to buy.
These methods will serve you for an entire lifetime. Qigong Fundamentals 1 & 2 will get you oriented to how qigong exercises work and the theory behind them. After you take this course, you will be able to more intelligently choose from the rest of what I offer.
The package is heavily discounted. You’ll save $110. over buying the items separately. You have an entire year to test it, see if it works for you. My One Year – 100% Money-Back Guarantee removes all risk. You can’t lose. More likely, it will be the biggest WIN of your life.
Some people will have special needs and may choose to start with a longer medical qigong exercise like Deep Healing Qigong. Others may feel attracted to starting with a graceful movement form like Tai Chi for Enlightenment, aka Primordial Qigong (“wuji gong”). Both of these stand-alone qigong exercises offer a wonderful portal into the experience of harmonious high energy. But they take a little longer to practice and hence require more discipline.
But even if you begin with a different qigong exercise, learning Qigong Fundamentals 1 & 2 will greatly enrich your experience of longer qigong forms. If you buy both the Fundamentals and something else that interests you at the same time, you’ll save on shipping, and have valuable resources for personal growth easily accessible in your home.
Full question: I’ve been doing martial arts for 15 years and studied different styles of qigong. I’m not a beginner. Do I still need to learn Qigong Fundamentals?
I understand and appreciate your eagerness to progress to higher levels suitable to you. But please understand that “qigong fundamentals” does NOT mean “beginners qigong”. In this first course, I teach advanced inner alchemy concepts and theory to go along with simple breathing and movement practices.
Each person will get what they are able to absorb. A beginner will be busy trying to breath and move their body as one piece. If you have previous training, you will be way ahead of other students. But you will learn more than them – you’ll absorb the info on a deeper energetic level.
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking, “I will take a shortcut and skip the Qigong Fundamentals 1 & 2, I’ve already been exposed to much of that”. All the later courses, from Healing Love, to Fusion of the Five Elements and “Kan & Li” (Water & Fire), assume you have knowledge of the precise practices and principles taught in Qigong Fundamentals 1 & 2. All later courses build on this foundation. It is much faster to learn these in the beginning than to try to add it later into your practice.
Remember, it’s not about how fast you go, it is about how DEEP you go. Having a good FOUNDATION is essential to going deep.
Please read the qigong testimonials from folks who have been studying martial arts for decades. They took the Qigong Fundamentals and it revolutionized their understanding and their practice.
There are many excellent qigong teachers, Chinese and Western, who are great at their particular form. But some Chinese can be very secretive (its part of their culture) when you try to probe deeper. Other really excellent qigong teachers simply don’t have the facility, experience, or language skills to teach the DEEPER PROCESS of qigong and neigong cultivation that comes into focus if you’ve studied Taoist internal alchemy. Movements that look the same on the outside may be producing very different internal experiences.
My final advice to seasoned practitioners considering testing the waters of my training program: Get the Fundamentals 1 & 2 discount package with its two DVDs, 8 CDs, and two eBooks. If you are not satisfied with the Fundamentals 1&2 package for whatever reason (i.e. I have already covered most of this material), just return it for a full refund within one year, no questions asked.
You learn four types of qigong in the first two-day home study course, Qigong Fundamentals 1 & 2. But this is no ordinary weekend workshop – it distills down 30 years of experience into a single, time-tested, take-home tool kit that WORKS.
The Inner Smile is a quiet or meditative qigong, but can be done anywhere, anytime, during any daily activity. It gives you a practical process to come to peace with yourself, your body, the people in your life, and with your personal destiny, both worldly and spiritual. Inner Smile is the simplest and most heart-centered Way to connect to the Life Force. It cultivates the heart-ground of unconditional self-acceptance as the basis for loving others, loving the whole of Nature, and most important, loving the process of the Life Force itself. Without this core self-acceptance at the soul level, other types of cultivation are more difficult to stabilize.
The Six Healing Sounds (done in relaxed sitting pose) and the shamanic Five Animals Play (moving qigong) are the fastest way to release all stress and start communicating with your vital organ spirits. You learn to move stuck energy (chi). It can energize and heal you of many chronic diseases. (To read more about the many chronic illnesses healed by qigong, see the 3500 science studies on energy medicine).
The Micro-Cosmic Orbit is the most famous dynamic Tao meditation for activating flow in the deep energy channels in your spine (yang energy) and chest (yin energy). It’s a safe, gentle method for opening a truly balanced flow of “kundalini”, which is poorly understood due to partial teachings in India. This spiraling orbit of energy flowing around your body can be experienced as a grounded, continuous communication between your spirit (shen) and your sexual essence (jing).
Many yogis get problems because they shoot the energy out their crown chakra. I know, because I did kundalini yoga for years after mine opened up. I used a special breathing method to open my kundalini, a method taught in Qigong Fundamentals 3 & 4.
In the Qigong Fundamentals 2 audio course I survey the different methods used in India and China to open this core orbit pathway. I make it simple and SAFE with a customized qigong exercise and a special lineage internal practice from Wudang mountain in China. This method concentrates your energy into a spinning “pearl” or “ball of chi”. In later courses, I train how to use this concentrated ball of Life Force for many things – such as dissolving physical illness, releasing blockages in your blood/ancestral line, or to balance sexual energy.
The spiritually inclined, with deeper training in the higher alchemy formulas, can use the pearl as a vessel for their soul to rebirth itself and travel in spiritual realms. Everyone chooses their own path and gets to enjoy the freedoms – and responsibility – of whatever they choose to do with the energy cultivated with qigong and neigong.
“Qigong” is a modern term that became popular less than a century ago. It literally translates as “skill in cultivating the subtle breath of Nature”. Note that “chi kung” (Wade Giles system) and “qigong” (pinyin system) are identical. They are two ways of translating the same Chinese ideogram, or “picture writing”. Both chi kung and qigong are pronounced “chee gong”.
What is Qigong? From the outside, qigong looks like a slow moving exercise. From the inside one feels the Life Force is breathing you and causing your movements. When one enters the qigong state of “flow”, it feels like the breath of life is pulsing in every cell of one’s body and beating within the very heart of one’s soul.
Long time qigong practitioners don’t really think of qigong as limited to physical exercise, although most started off with that assumption. To many, qigong becomes a Way of Life. Some think of it as a kind of personal religion that honors the divine principle of “harmony as energy flow”. They feel this way because the Life Force principle underlying qigong penetrates into every moment of daily life. The energy that you get flowing during the exercise continues to flow all day long!
Every breath, every thought, every feeling, every action becomes part of one’s qigong practice of cultivating the flow of harmonious and balanced chi (qi). Inner and outer life processes gradually merge together into one. The “formal” qigong exercises are just concentrated moments of that process, where you devote 100% of your attention to feeling it.
A short description: “Qigong is the mother of tai chi”. Qigong movements look like graceful tai chi movements that most people are familiar with. Most qigong exercises are shorter, easier to learn, and give faster results.
The qigong forms I teach are mostly for medical and spiritual benefits. Most of my qigong exercises come in sets of five movements. Over time, one learns different sets to cultivate different types of subtle energy or create specific health benefits.
By comparison, a Tai chi chuan (taijiquan) long form often has up to 150 movements. Tai chi movements are designed to have fighting applications, and thus are often more complex to learn. Tai chi has secondary health benefits that over time are similar to qigong. But I’ve found that modern people are very busy, and few will make the time to learn and practice tai chi chuan deeply enough to get its benefits. Learning short qigong forms is a much more practical and effective strategy.
A second short description: “Qigong is a Way to practice Chinese medicine on oneself without acupuncture needles or herbs. Instead, one uses breathing, movement, and intention.”
In ancient China, qigong was called “yang sheng”, or “Long Life Nourishing Exercises”. Sitting and lying forms of qigong were called “dao yin”, and may appear to resemble Indian yoga even though the internal dynamics are quite different.
The earliest Chinese drawings of qigong we have are on silk scrolls found in a tomb in Mawangdui, China dated to 216 b.c. These scrolls illustrated medical applications of humans doing animal movements, while making healing sounds that were listed below each picture. They suggest shamanic origins of the exercises which I teach in Qigong Fundamentals 1: the Five Animals Play the Six Healing Sounds. This form integrates two of the oldest forms of qigong. They have survived for thousands of years because they are simple and they work to build good health.
Qigong embraces a wide variety of gentle, often circular movements and sometimes vigorous gymnastics designed to open specific energy pathways. Some exercises strengthen specific vital organs or body parts such as bones, tendons and joints. It may include special breathing or mental focus. Qigong is basically part energetic science and part experimental art. Your body-mind is the laboratory for developing super-efficiency of physical, mental-emotional and spiritual health.
The lower dantian (a.k.a. tan tien) is similar to your belly center or “hara” in Japan. This is widely used in the martial arts. Medical and Spiritual qigong also work extensively with a middle dantian at the heart center and an upper dantian in the head. These three dantian together reflect the trinity of the Life Force’s three energetic streams of receptive/yin, creative/yang, and primordial/yuan.
The Taoists cultivated the dantian to very profound levels. It should not be confused with the Indian yogic third chakra in the belly center – that is a different system (see separate FAQ on chakra vs. dantian). There are many different systems that describe both the location and function of the dantian differently.
I locate the dantian in men two finger widths below the navel, in the center of the body/center of gravity. In women it is often described as being at the level of the navel, on the grounds that women have a sligihtly higher center of gravity due to their breasts. In ancient times women were described as having their center of gravity at the heart, between the two breasts. Modern qigong teachers in China consider that women today are much closer to men physically and in their social function, so they share a similar center of gravity.
Martial artists first popularized the term in the West. They commonly use dantian to describe a space where one accumulates and stores chi, that can then be accessed or projected outwardly for self-defense.
My notion of dantian is a bit different. I experience it as a portal, an inter-dimensional opening. It is not a physical point; if you cut someone open, you won’t find anything. On one side of the portal is the external or manifest sea of chi, called dantian. On the other side of the opening is the inner formless sea of unborn chi, called “mingmen” , or the Door of Life.
Dantian is the inner space where our essence is refined and rebirthed. It receives chi from both the outer manifest world as well as flowing in formlessly through the Door of Life. This is where our “karma” or “destiny” chi is flowing in from our core self or soul.
Dantian is originally an ancient term borrowed from external or laboratory alchemy, where various herbs and minerals were fired in a round cauldron or alchemical furnace. So dantian implies a place where transformation occurs.
Dan literally means “elixir” or “pill” and tian literally means “field” or “open space”. So it is the field where internal alchemists cultivated the Inner Elixir. The simple idea is that your body-miind contains the raw ingredients of higher consciousness, but that they need to be mixed together and cooked into a more refined state.
This “cooking” happens naturally in life as we face challenges and find the resources within to change and evolve who we are. Qigong and inner alchemy are just powerful ways to speed up that process of developing life wisdom. But it important to note that one’s “field” does not automatically have an “elixir” or “pill” in it. That elxiir must be cultivated. Until then, your field is open space, it does not yet have any “dan” or fullness of the elixir in it yet.
Dantian in this sense is similar to the space of a woman’s womb. It is an empty space, that potentially could become fertilized and grow the embryo of a physical child. But the process of spiritual pregnancy requires proper preparation.
In the Healing Tao system, One Cloud’s first formula is about purifying and preparing the “field” or “tian”. Inner Smile, Orbit, Six Healing Sounds, Rooting, Fusion of Five Elements, and Healing Love are all methods to first detoxify and then strengthen one personal chi field or Energy Body so it ready to rebirth a truly manificent inner child or newly embodied spiritual self.
The second formula, Inner Sexual alchemy or Lesser Water & Fire, is the stage in which the spiritual seed is planted in the field once the yin-yang and five -phase energies are harmonized and receptive. Then the fertilization and pregnancy can happen, and a special feeling is ignited.
The other 5 formulas are about cultivating this reborn inner self into a mature Sage who can function equally well in the physical and spiritual planes.
I think sports and physical exercise is great, its one way to enjoy your body and explore its potential. I’ve tried just about every sport. I am a top skier. I was a professional white water rafting guide, with 40 trips down the Grand Canyon. I’ve hiked in many of the world’s most famous mountains. I swim a mile in the Caribbean ocean every day during my winter retreat. I especially love outdoor sports – they put me in direct contact with nature’s energy field.
But none of these sports ultimately can compare to the benefits I’ve received from daily practice of qigong. If I do a sport, I also practice qigong the same day. If I can I also practice the qigong outdoors, to absorb more natural chi. Five reasons I find qigong a superior form of exercise:
1. Qigong is a whole mind-body exercise.
The main difference is that qigong is not just a physical body exercise, it is a body-mind exercise. The mind could be defined as our ability to shape energy into thoughts, feelings, sensations, or other perceptual patterns.
When you exercise the full spectrum of your body-mind using qigong, a completely different experience happens. You begin to shape energy into flowing patterns of harmony and balance and peace. You connect your body to the sky above and the earth below, and your heart opens up a vast open creative space inside the body.
If you practice qigong in a group, you begin to experience the “group heart” of your fellow practitioners. If you practice alone, it opens a peaceful space in your heart that is easy and wonderful to share the rest of the day.
2. Qigong overcomes our resistance to physical exercise.
Qigong is so much fun, it becomes a “healthy addiction”. People love being relaxed while they exercise. Many folks tell me they cannot wait to practice it each day. Unfortunately, most people treat physical exercise as something that you “do to your body” or to your muscles or “to” your heart. They hate going to gym.
Why do so many people hate physical exercise, and drop it as the first excuse? Their mind is separated from their body. Hence, there is an unconscious fear and sometimes loathing of the body. The modern top-heavy mind sees the body like a difficult and needy child, that cannot really be controlled.
Many modern people live in their head, and just visit the lower part of the body occasionally to get it into shape. They exercise mostly so the head/face will look good sitting on top of the body. Others can only experience their body through sex. Then they quickly shift back into their head immediately afterwards. People engage in sex-ploitation of their own body without realizing it. It’s much healthier to have a full time relationship between your mind and your body.
Example: many joggers listen to music as they run in mindless circles around the block. They are not focused on what their body is experiencing while running. They ignore the joy of movement or the exhilaration of moving through space. Instead, they listen to their favorite band because they find their body incredibly boring to hang out with. Exercise is a chore. They resent having to work hard, to sweat to get the fat off their flabby muscles. There is no deep mind-body communication happening during their exercise.
With qigong it’s different. You don’t push the river, you find a gentle rhythm and you repeat it with slow, relaxed, often circular movements. Different movements open different energy channels in your body. The process invites to go deeper. You gradually find the body moves by itself effortlessly, as if propelled by some invisible energy field. You relax and enjoy a ride on an easy feeling of flow.
3.Qigong delivers better & quicker health benefits than ordinary exercise.
I could go on for an entire book all the health benefits that come about from this kind of relaxed movement. About how ONLY gentle circular movements will stimulate your lymphatic system, which is the backbone of the body-mind’s immune system. Jogging and aerobics actually shut down the lymphatic-immune system during vigorous exercise!
Why would fast exercise cause your immune system to shut down? When you go running, your body assumes that you need to conserve energy. It thinks (in the deep instinctual brain) that you are running away from a bear chasing you down for a meal. Your belly-instinct brain doesn’t see your $200. nike running shoes, it thinks you are in survival mode, so it kicks the adrenaline on and shuts the immune system. It considers your immune system an optional at that survival moment.
So vigorous exercise is not optimal for your lymphatic and immune system. It may do other things for you, and is certainly better than rotting in your chair! Does your heart need the “fast” aerobic exercise? According to Chinese medicine, no. It posits that the heart is already over-worked, and actually needs a vacation. Qigong gives the heart a vacation by getting the chi meridians and blood vessels of the entire body to take over the heart job of blood circulation.
That is why top athletes have low blood pressure – their circulatory efficiency is so high that the heart doesn’t need to overwork. Chinese sports athletes already know that qigong training will give them a secret edge over their competitors, but they don’t advertise it.
Does science back up the claim that qigong offers superior health benefits? Please check our the research from the past director of the Stanford Research Institute on the 3500 science studies proving the health benefits of qigong. (link is on the homepage, or go to Articles page).
4. Qigong gives you more energy than you expend practicing it.
You get more energy back from qigong than you put into it. When you do qigong, you are exploring the natural of perpetual motion. Your body is really a “free energy device”. Physicists admit that humans expend more energy than they take in from food, water, and air. But they cannot answer the mystery as to where the extra energy comes from.
If you practice qigong regularly, it is like making a really safe, profitable investment. You get all your invested principle back, plus huge interest. Most physical “body-only” exercise result in a net energy loss. People work hard, they sweat, afterwards they feel pleasantly exhausted. The addiction here is different – it is the need to release pent up or stuck energy in the body.
So even this type of physical workout is healthy for you, up to a point. But consider this: body builders who develop huge muscles often die young of heart attacks. Why? Because as they age, their heart has to feed blood to all that muscle, and it gets exhausted early. The big muscles turn to fat, and reduce efficiency of circulation.
Qigong in my progressive training has you store the extra chi gained in your bones, tendons, and vital organs – not in the muscles. These require far less maintenance and are part of the qigong secret to producing longevity.
5. Qigong is easy, fun, & all ages can practice it anywhere.
You can learn qigong and begin to feel the chi flow within minutes. It’s really a universal exercise – it’s super easy to learn, whether you are 8 or 80 years old. You can practice anywhere, anytime – indoors or outside, even in a small apartment space.
With qigong exercise, less is more. Less effort gives better results – the more relaxed and soft you are, the more the chi can flow through you. Forget the “no pain, no gain” exercise theory. When you push the river, you get tired of it eventually. Ordinary kinds of exercise can make your body strong, but they wear you out energetically.
With qigong exercises, you can forget the sweaty workout. Stop treating the body like a dumb sheep that needs to be herded by a head that ”knows” what is best for the body. Qigong exercise is about appreciating your body-mind, respecting its intelligence, and giving it love and energy while you are moving it. The body-mind together keep you young and healthy. Qigong doesn’t push or stress the body into a hard sweat – it seeks to release stress from the body.
This question gets asked a lot, because of the publicity-stunts performed by some qigong “masters”. These stunts include: walking on eggs without them breaking, breaking boards on your forehead and bricks with your bare hand, tying a rope around one’s waist (or genitals) and stopping a truck from driving away; emitting hot chi into a coin that then burns your skin, or using chi from your palm to set a newspaper on fire. Levitation for brief periods. Bending steel rods or swords that are pushed into one throat. Throwing chopsticks into a wooden door so they stick like darts. Emitting fragrances. Speaking in celestial tongues. The most popular one is a teacher waving his hand and his student goes flying across the room. The list goes on.
I call most of this “circus qigong”. Many of them are merely magician tricks. Some of them of real but are not as difficult as they appear. Some require quite a bit of training and skill. Some are special abilities that a person is born with and further developed with qigong.
But in my opinion, none are important enough to chase after, and thus are not taught by me. You can train your bodily chi to do many amazing things. So yes, you can obtain “super-powers” from qigong training – but not from me.
I choose to NOT teach circus qigong. I will teach you some amazing feats. But these are not tricks. For example, just learning the basics of rooting structure will allow you to stop 10 strong men from pushing you over. It looks amazing, but in reality is simple to do if you know the secrets of bone structure and rooting.
From my view, no single trick is as amazing as simple good health, inner peace of mind. authentic clear feelings, and an abundance of sexual-creative energy. If you have that much centering in your life, why would you need special powers? The only “higher power” I seek is greater balance and harmony, experienced at “higher” levels of my Greater Self.
Our greater self is embodied in the greater field of Nature – sun, moon, earth, planets and star levels, and in the collective spirit of humanity. Here I use the map offered by the Taoist hermit One Cloud’s Seven Formulas for Attaining Eternal Life. If you choose to practice these levels of Tao alchemy meditation, the portals to higher dimensions within your body gradually begin to open.
The most amazing magical super power of all is to find a higher level of freedom, right here inside this tiny human body-mind. That freedom gets expressed as love and wisdom. At the very high end you may have the satisfaction of cheating death itself. Using inner alchemy, you can train yourself to stay conscious at the moment of death (either soul or spirit immortality). So if you are going after a “super-power”, that is the one I would pick. And I do train how to cultivate that possibility.
Because qigong has been around for thousands of years, there are thousands of qigong (chi kung) exercises to choose from, ranging from martial to medical to spiritual. Some exercises are taught as family qigong styles, some as part of “big schools” or organized religions. Some teach “spontaneous” qigong where your personal chi is encouraged through ecstatic-in-the-moment movements, to unwind any blocked chi in the body.
Most qigong exercises are good for cultivating a particular kind of energy. IF taught properly, most qigong will improve your health and give you some particular kind of energy. But please know that not all “energy” is the same. As you mature in my system of progressive training, you will learn to distinguish between the different kinds of energy and what they are best used for.
If you want to duplicate what I have done – and spend decades chasing around after dozens of teachers to figure out which qigong exercise is best, and spend thousands of hours testing how the internal mechanics of qigong and inner alchemy meditation work – please go for it!
Some folks are in love with the Search itself. I don’t want to deprive any one of the pleasure of their personal process. I do not wish to control anyone’s great hunt for optimum health and enlightenment – that is part of the thrill of each person having a unique Tao or “Way”. One of my favorite mottos is: Your Life is Your Path. Only you can walk that path.
But it would greatly please me if you start off (or continue) your Search with the best tools available. I know you will get practical results a lot faster. Qigong is known as China’s “miracle exercise”. It will satisfy my soul to help you quickly cut to the core of what is most important in practicing qigong. In this way, I believe my Qigong Fundamentals package will save you a LOT of time and money on your own quest!
Even if you choose to use what I’ve taught to go elsewhere in your Search, that also fulfills my mission. My soul mission is to help you complete the unfolding of your true Self. My notion of Self is of an open ended process that is unfolding uniquely for each person.
My approach to qigong is quite different from many other teachers. I am not just teaching qigong exercise forms – there are plenty of weekend warrior “masters” to offer you that. And plenty of legitimate martial arts “sifu” (teachers) offering lineages and eager to prove themselves in competition.
What I am offering in my Qigong Fundamentals is a combination of qigong and neigong (nei kung). It is my integration of the “outer” (waidan) and “inner” (neidan) paths of chi cultivation that make the Qigong Fundamentals uniquely powerful.
This combination helps you tap into the free energy from the outer environment as well from the hidden infinite space inside your body. I offer both a quick way to “feel the chi flow”, and more important, show you practically what to do with the chi once it begins flowing.
I have little interest in fighting, although I recognize the value of the discipline and skill that martial art training offers. If you mainly want to study fighting applications, you should study with the great teachers at my summer retreats at Dao Mountain. (See HealingTaoRetreats.com, or click on navigation bar on the right). If you are a fighter who wants to go deeper inside your self and your chosen movement art, then you will have plenty to learn from me that will complement your previous training.
Please note that my father was a gifted heart surgeon, and I have no bias against Western bio-medicine. I believe in using whatever works best – at the least cost, both financially and in terms of side effects. In regards to healthcare, I hope everyone will listen to their direct guidance from the Life Force first, to health care professional second, and to then follow their personal ‘Tao or Way.
Western medicine has made many sophisticated and fabulous discoveries, especially in the area of acute illness, diagnostics, and surgery. But the reality, based on numerous studies, is that most of the gains in life span in the last century have come from improvements in sanitation, public health, or from one single wonder “drug” – antibiotics, which is is really just natural nold put to good use. Most drugs are just likewise just extracts from traditional herbal remedies.
But western medicine has an abysmal record of either preventing or actually CURING chronic illness – most of its wonder drugs are suppressing symptoms, not treating the whole person illness. And because of this, they often have serious side effects that compound quickly if taking more than one drug. Death from side effects is now one of the leading causes of death in the USA.
Both prevention and cure of chronic illness is the major strength of Chinese medicine, and qigong therapy is part of Chinse medicine. Medical qigong is standard curriculum at traditional Chinese medical schools. When you cultivate using my Qigong Fundamentals training program, you are getting the oldest and most effective proven forms of medical qigong in China.
Plus my Qigong training program includes custom qigong forms I’ve developed from my knowledge of “internal medicine” – which is another name for Taoist internal alchemy. i believe that the principles of Classical Chinese medicine all originated in internal chi cultivation practices, and were later codified and applied out into herbology, acupuncture, massage, etc. But these externally applied methods are secondary, someone else is “fixing you up”.
Qigong and inner alchemy are both primary treatments, together form the most powerful combination of internal medicine I’ve experienced in my vast search for the fastest and most effective healing available. The oldest Chinese medical classics such as the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine were not strictly medical-physical, they were primarily based on Taoist cosmology and thus must be considered primarily medical-spiritual texts.
Admittedly, this combination of Qigong and dynamic meditation based on internal energy pathways requires some discipline and practice on the part of someone seeking to heal themselves. But it is much cheaper that external medicine (both Eastern and Western) and carries infinitely richer long term benefits. For chronic illnesses that are not yet at the acute life-threatening stage, I believe it is far superior than going the way of dependence on drugs, surgery, and buying insurance for expensive hospital and nursing home care.
Qigong training is self-care at its highest level, and I believe that especially the wave of aging baby boomers will gravitate to these cheaper and more effective qigong methods for raising their quality of life. Even if you invest in a qigong practice for its prevention benefits along, you will likely save a fortune in expensive medical care and needless suffering and disability.
Note that I put my money where my mouth is: I have not had health insurance for the last 30 years, and relied on my energetic practices to stay healthy. The money I saved on insurance I’ve invested and keep safe in a fund for use to buy both alternative and conventional health care as needed. At age 55, I’m far richer for it, both financially in terms of money saved, and in terms of not psychologically being weakened by dreaming that “health insurance ” will keep me healthy. The ONLY insurance anyone ultimately has is to take care of themselves. This comes down to determining the best prevention method. Qigong – along iwth a healthy diet and lifestyle – is the best prevention plan you can find in my experience. Note: I am NOT recommending that everyone who studies my qigong training go out and immediately cancel their insurance. It certainly may make sense for people with families or in certain states of health to have insurance. This is a complex personal decision that each of us must make based on a variety of factors, ranging from financial to one’s committment to a qigong lifestyle to one’s level of development.
Short answer: take what you need, a little at a time, and leave the rest.
This is why I structure my Energy Body training as progressive. You take each qigong exercise or internal method one bite at a time, digest that bite, and then take the next bite. My qigong exercisess are not long – usually 5 or 6 movements to a set. By comparison, a long tai chi chuan (taijiquan) martial form will have up to 150 movements – more than all my qigong forms combined.
The secret to rapid progress is to take these short qigong forms and practice them a lot. Repetition of a few movements is the key to rapid success in feeling chi flow. When you approach qigong in this way, it always stays simple and natural. Your capacity to “digest” deeper practices will happen naturally over time.
It’s really no different than growing up. You discard your old clothes when you outgrow them. In this case, you temporarily leave the old qigong exercises behind when you graduate to the next level of internal process and its qigong exercise.
Say you move from Qigong Fundamentals to Fusion of the Five Elements or Healing Love. Then when you later return to the qigong fundamentals exercises, you discover that they feel totally different. Because your experience of chi flow is totally different after integrating the emotional chi from Fusion and the sexual chi from Healing Love. You are actually expressing the same through a different body. You body is fundamentally comprised of flowing chi.
Keep a perspective: I am posting on the site the distilled essence of 30 years of exploration. You may be trying to stuff it all in your head at once as “information”, and it won’t fit. Qigong is about the experience of flowing chi, not about accumulating mounds of information in the head.
I am putting a large amount of information on open display on my website so each person can evaluate its potential. And I want to stimulate public awareness and discussion of an emerging energy science. But don’t imagine for a moment the mental information received from reading the website will change your life – only qigong and meditation practice will do that!
There is an old Chinese saying: “Talk does not cook the rice”. Likewise, reading too much information from the website at one sitting can overload your brain. Only in-the-body practice will change your life. That is why I focus on offering oral and visual homestudy courses. You cannot learn qigong or inner alchemy meditation from a book or online text. The combined oral and visual transmission is the most effective, apart from live transmission. Books can help focus and stimulate one’s practice, but they should not be mistaken for replacing one’s practice.
Here are five common reasons that attract people to my qigong teaching:
1. They study qigong to take charge of their health.
Some are stressed out from job or marriage, seeking quick relief. Some realize their health insurance won’t keep them healthy, that they need to preent ill health from ever happening. Others cannot afford health insurance and want to protect themselves. Some are aging Baby Boomers seeking to prevent the chronic illnesses they saw their parents die from. Many don’t trust drugs and surgery and doctors, or worry about their side effects. Some want to mix western and conventional medicine. Some are perfectly healthy, but want to experience an even higher level of wellness.
This category also includes health professionals who are seeking practical methods to improve or supplement their own healing modality. They also come to learn to protect themselves from “healer burnout”. Yoga teachers who have hit a plateau and want to deepen their energetic skills. Acunpuncturists and herbalists, massage therapists, psychologists seeking more body-centered techniques, and psychiatrists seeking to empower patients beyond the use of drugs.
Energy healers from all different schools ranging from reiki to shiatsu, physical therapists, hospice workers, senior citizen catetakers, medical doctors who want to understand alternative and complementary care better. Corporate types seeking to be more effective in managing themselves and others. Artists seeking creative breakthroughs. The list is endless. Every professional can use more energy and creative flow in their work.
2. They study qigong & Tao alchemy to explore sexual energy.
They want to improve a sexual relationship, or relieve sexual frustration. They want to heal sexual dysfunction or PMS, both medical and psychological. A big one is folks seeking to integrate sexual desire into their spiritual path. A lot of people interested in inner alchemy have Scorpio in their astrology chart – it pushes them to explore the relationship between sex & mysticism. The “elixir” used in inner alchemy crystallizes the sexual essence of the body into a subtle energy vessel that allows continuity of consciousness after death, i.e. immortality.
3. They study qigong to have “high energy” experiences.
They want to “feel the chi”. They’ve done drugs, had intense emotions, taken big risks in business, or tried other adrenaline stimulators like romance. Now they want something pure, natural, self-renewing, to dependably feel effortless chi flow. They intuitively believe a field of free energy exists, but haven’t figured out how to tap it yet. Underneath, they want to feel magically supported by Life itself.
4. They study qigong to get grounded.
Physical, mental-emotional, or spiritual grounding is desperately needed by most people. Grounding is same as centering. Hidden underneath need for grounding is desire for Divine Embodiment, i..e matter as the embodiment of spirit. Most humans haven’t yet realized the human body is their primary spiritual ground.
I feel the planet is going through a cyclical vibrational shift right now, and that makes grounding even more essential. As energy levels go up globally, people who aren’t grounded willl feel “itchy” at the soul level and feel like jumping out of their skin for no apparent reason. It will be passed off as “the crazy times we live in”. Grounding is the main thing everyone needs while adjusting to the new frequencies coming in daily.
5. They study qigong & Tao because they are done with dogma and gurus.
The independent spiritual types are attracted to qigong and Tao. They love God, but don’t want someone else telling them what God is. They don’t trust Big Religion or priesthoods. They don’t trust big Master-egos seeking to consume or enslave Little-ego followers. They do trust the Life Force, as its something they can directly experience.
Qigong Fundamentals is suitable for any age, sex, race, religion, and any body or personality “type”. So you could meet just about anyone at my courses.
Those who make the effort to attend live workshops & summer retreats discover a wonderful community of free-thinking souls. These folks want to play with their life energy in healthy, deeply fascinating ways.
We have fun. We laugh a lot. We get “naturally high” on the free energy in the chi field all around us and inside our body. We work hard, and we play hard to transform ourselves. We steadily grow our relationship with the Life Force. Sometimes people cry. Many people have spontaneous healings and visions and powerful energetic breakthroughs.
There is no “group think” about the way people should behave or believe. So everyone feels relaxed and open, with no expectations. Deep friendships and love affairs are born. I met my wife at a Taoist retreat in 1983. Its a place for like-minded souls to gather and play, and explore joy and freedom within their bodies.
Qigong is really about taking that mystical talk and making it useful, practical and experiental-in-the-body. The fact that the ordinary chi (qi) in our body is super-initelligent and flows through multiple dimensions also gives it a mysterious quality. But if you focus on your personal relationship to it, it will stay tangible, and be a very good guide for you moment to moment.
There is a lineage behind the hermit One Cloud. These alchemical formulas originate with one of the “Eight Immortals” in China — Lu Dong Bin, who is considered the “patron saint” of internal alchemy in China. He is real person who lived during the 10th century Song Dynasty in Shaanxi province, near the ancient capital of Xian. You can see similarities in the structure of the 20th century One Cloud’s formulas with formulas attributed to Lu Dong Bin a thousand years earlier. That is the historical side of it.
One Cloud was a hermit who felt limited by his Taoist monastic tradition. His abbot suggested he leave, and try to find a higher teacher of inner alchemy in the mountains. One Cloud left, and succeeded in finding a neidan gong teacher, a hermit on Long White Mountain (Changbai shan) in northeast China. His Seven Alchemy Formulas thus come from a “mountain Tao” lineage.
Mountain lineages includes those “wandering” Taoists who lived alone or in pairs in the wild mountains of China, where they lived in deep harmony with nature. They usually built a small hut or lived in a cave. One Cloud attained the state of “breatharian”, which means he was living on subtle breath rather than solid food for many years. Please note it is not necessary that you to become a breatharian in order to study these practices! Consider it a spontaneous side effect rather than a goal to be sought after.
I resonate deeply with the Seven Alchemical Formulas for Attaining Immortality that were transmitted by the Taoist hermit One Cloud through Mantak Chia. The Seven Formulas are a beautiful and naturally simple map to help anyone navigate the depths of the Great Way-making. This map charts a journey that begins inside one’s body, and gradually absorbs the essence of the entire cosmos into that human body. I’ve used One Cloud’s Seven Formulas as the inner structure for my progressive training. I have integrated insights from other lineages, both Taoist and other, into this seven formula super structure. Linked below is a long paper a wrote on One Cloud’s system of internal alchemy, for a national conference of Taoist (Daoist) scholars and adepts.
The first part of the Taoist or Way-making process is to strengthen and integrate one’s body-mind, or “heart-mind” (xin in Chinese, pronounced “shin”). This is One Cloud’s first formula – open up the chi flow between the five vital organ intelligences. These are the five “shen” or spirits that make up the heart-mind and their functional pathways through 12 regular meridians and eight extraordinary or deep vessels. The practices taught in Qigong Fundamentals and the Fusion of the Five Elements train you to open up this level of communication with your “mind”.
The western concept of “mind” is best described as the combined function of these different types of chi (or “qi”), or what some Taoists would call the Energy Body. Mind in the west defies any scientific attempt to measure it – it is a concept for describing what we know exists, but cannot prove it. The Taoists don’t bother trying to “prove” anything, they just want to make the mind more effective in creating good health and harmony with its environment.
The second stage of the inner alchemy process is to open a clear communication with the “ling” or personal soul, and to help it complete its destiny and unfold its virtues in the world.
The third stage is to cultivate one’s inner spiritual essence (“xing” or “shing”) by opening the three portals within the core of each human and functionally integrating them into the greater fabric of the cosmos. In the West this might be described as the “oversoul”, or “soul collective”. This goes through different stages. This is the merging of the essence of Heaven, Earth, and Human into a being that is immortal, i.e. continues to function beyond physical death.
Neither Confucianism nor Chan Buddhism focuses on the process of the Life Force and its primordial, yin-yang, and five phase principles. However, because these Taoist principles became so deeply embedded in everyday Chinese culture, there were strong cultural forces that periodically sought to integrate the “three teachings” of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. This resulted in Taoist ideas being absorbed into these other traditions, and vice versa.
Confucius (Kon tzu, or Konzi) sought to be in harmony with Tao. Confucius promoted his idea of the Tao of society, and his teachings could be considered as a philosophical or secular religion. Confucianism supported a civil bureaucracy – in effect the world’s first super corporate state – that offered Chinese culture great stability over the last two millennia of change. So it didn’t matter if the Emperor was overthrown or the Mongols invaded, because the Confucian civil servants remained effectively in charge of operating things.
Confucius focused on the human social aspect of the Tao, rather than the Taoist focus on the broader process of all Nature and the mystery of human embodiment. But unfortunately Confucius considered women inferior, refused to educate them, and created the notion that they should always follow men. Taoism, on the other hand, could be considered one of the world’s earliest feminine-honoring, earth-centered religions with an underlying sense of eco-responsibility.
Buddhism entered China as a foreign religion via Tibet, and then morphed into Chan Buddhism, after appropriating Tao as its ultimate goal. Chan Buddhism, called Zen after it moved from China through Korea to Japan, also appropriated many Taoist meditation methods, especially the preliminary clearing process in which Taoists focused on the stillness at the center of a turning wheel, and on “forgetting the self”.
Chan dressed up Buddhism in Taoist spiritual terminology in order to be accepted by the Chinese, who are by nature suspicious of foreign beliefs. This connection to Taoism in Japanese Zen can still be seen in phrases like the “do” in Aiki-do or Ju-do, as the Japanese term for Tao or Dao. Shinto in Japanese derives from “Shen Tao” , literally “spiriti of the Tao” in Chinese.
In the five elements of the native Taoists and in Chinese culture, the center element is Earth. The other four elements or phases the Life Force flows through are fire, water, gold and wood. The Taoist 5 Element/5 Phase theory is a symbolic system used to describe cycles that the Life Forces flows in, whether inside the body’s organ or in the seasons of nature.
The foreign or “imported” elemental theory of Buddhism remains visible in its use of the Hindu set of four elements: fire, water, earth, air, plus Ether as the center or fifth element. Thus Hinduism and Buddhism tend to be more “ethereal” and Taoism, with Earth as the center elements, more “earthy” and grounded. This is not a “right/wrong” issue, just two different approaches to a single underlying truth. Having practiced both systems, I prefer the more grounded, body-centered Taoist approach.
Chan Buddhism softened and simplified the complex pantheon of Tibetan Buddhist deities. The male god Avolokiteshvara morphed into the female Goddess of Compassion – Kuan Yin – in China. Tibetan Buddhism had many esoteric schools with similar underlying principles to Taoism, although its practices, rituals, cultural images/archetypes, and hierarchical priesthood are quite different.
Scholars used to divide Taoists into two types, philosophical and religious. But these were categories created by and for Western intellectuals, and didn’t really exist in China. It is now widely accepted by most scholars that Taoism is the only native religion of ancient China that has survived into modern times.
It is true that there were “literati” types who focused on Taoism using the seemingly philosophical language of their day. But if we define religion broadly, as “any method or belief used to connect the individual with the divine”, then Taoism is a religion. But because of its uniquely flexible spiritual process, Taoism produced a range of religious forms, ranging from esoteric and martial schools, folk cults and festivals, as well as Emperor-supported public temple traditions. These expressions of Taoism surfaced over thousands of years, and differed widely in their appearance, beliefs, and practices.
For this reason Taoism wasn’t recognized as a religion by the Christian missionaries who first arrived in China and were the first to translate the philosophical sounding texts of early Taoism such as Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. Because there was no clear Taoist dogma or revered divine figure, no “God-ruling-from-the-top” hierarchy, similar to other world religions, early Western visitors didn’t realize Taoism was the native religion. They certainly were not privy to the secrets of the inner alchemy tradition and other esoteric schools.
It took Western scholars an extra century to figure out that despite all the diversity and freedom of belief embraced by Taoists, there were common underlying spiritual principles that constituted a kind of natural religion. (but not pagan). The principles of Tao center on the Life Force, or chi (qi) field. The diverse expressions of Taoism all accept that humans can consciously experience the three main principles of this chi field:
1. Underlying ground holding Unity, the primordial (yuan) chi. Non-dual stillness stabilizing the center, while paradoxically transforming itself into yin-yang and five-phase movement.
2. Balancing process of Yin-Yang, the polar flow of chi. Governs all male-female, sun-moon, night-day, inside-outside, good-evil heaven-earth processes.
3. Harmonizing process of the Five Phase flow of chi (also known as Five Elements or Five Agents). Governs all cyclical relations. In Heaven the four quadrants & center of the zodiac, on Earth the seasons in Nature, in Humans the five vital organs in human body.
So instead of worshipping a “hier-archy” with a Ruler God or Absolute-State-of-Being on top, Taoist religious process is a “sphere-archy”. It envisions Heaven as a sphere, and Earth as a cube inside the sphere. Humanity embodies both Heaven and Earth, and mediates between them.
That is why every human being has a free will. It inwardly arises from the common center/ primordial ground of being that is at the unknowable, mysterious center of both the Earth-cube and the Heaven-sphere. That free will gets individually expressed in the yin-yang and five-phase manifesting process as the “Ten Thousand Things”.
Taoism embraces a kind of Divine Natural Process that integrates the Ten Thousand Things born from Heaven and Earth into a single process. Qigong and Tao meditation is designed to help us integrate this continuum of form-formless energy. It is accessible through every day human experience of living in a body. The key to finding our Way is to integrate one’s inner spiritual and outer worldly experience.
A human being is considered a microcosm of the larger macrocosmic process of Nature. By knowing our human self and our process of embodiment deeply, we can thus discover inside ourselves the Original Wholeness, or the Great Tao.
View symbol and description of Taoist cosmology based on I Ching
First, let me be clear: I do not have a hidden agenda to push “Tao-ism” on anyone. Qigong and inner alchemy are not religions in the conventional sense of the term. Nor do I advocate following any one Chinese lineage controlled by a particular master. A lineage represents a vibrational frequency and a set of energetic boundaries. It is controlled by specific spiritual and physical beings, who helped someone in the past to connect their individual self to the greater divine process of the Tao.
My attitude is, lineages are valuable holders of pathways used in the past. But why limit yourself to just one lineage? Just see a lineage like you would any teacher – as a potentially valuable resource. I recognize that no one teacher or lineage can “know it all”, however powerful they may be. A lineage can only know what it has tested. Any lineage is only a small part of the larger process of the Tao. I have gathered together within myself a whole library of lineages, but I’ve only kept aspects from those lineages that I felt I could integrate in a very practical way for myself and other Westerners, living in the 21st century.
In the old days, travel and communication was slow, so studying with more than one teacher was more difficult. There were strong cultural and economic pressures in China to stay with one teacher – you became like family, and were expected to support your master in old age. But even with these pressures, Taoists in ancient times were famous “wanderers” who traveled about for years, gathering practices and insights from different teachers they found on different mountains.
Whatever the pros and cons of the “old way” of following one lineage, it is not practical for most Westerners in modern life to move in with their teacher as an apprentice. I have integrated into my progressive Energy Body training what I’ve learned from many dozens of different qigong masters in China and in the West.
As I studied in many different meditation lineages, Taoist and other, I was fortunate to have the structure of Taoist inner alchemy from One Cloud as a way to organize and sort what was valuable. Otherwise, you can end up with a soggy mishmash of practices that really lead nowhere. I am constantly refining what I know, boiling it down to its most essential aspects.
My goal is NOT to re-create a “Chinese” lineage in the West, or to build physical Tao temples. I envision the ancient Chinese tradition of Tao nourishing a new integrated energy science in the West that is embodied, heart-centered, and embraces the alchemical process of change. I want to re-birth the principles of the ancient Tao masters in the West – but not with the same cultural packaging that one finds in China. That won’t fly in the West.
We need to live in the moment, and in the present cycle of time. There are many Taoist lineage groups whose methods and beliefs I do not fully share, as I feel they are from a past cultural reality or do not contribute to the new spiritual science I envision.
I completely support people having whatever religious beliefs or lineages anyone feels will support the integration and unfolding of their soul’s natural Way. I’ve benefited much from my experience in other meditation and health traditions, both Eastern and Western. This is our destiny in modern times – to live an intense period of creativity and synthesis.
So I am eclectic, but have settled on what I feel is the most practical and effective process from all that I have studied. It is my experience that everyone – Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Moslem, esoteric, pagan, atheist, agnostic – can greatly benefit from the body-centered methods of specific Taoist qigong and inner alchemy meditations used to cultivate the Life Force. There are many powerful models for spiritual growth, but many do not fully incorporate the importance of “whole body enlightenment” into their path.
My Taoist Energy Body training takes you through a progression of qigong exercises, each a little different energetically. As your skill grows, your experience deepens. The end result is that students of this progressive qigong training learn to quickly spot the operative principle within any qigong exercise, whether its moving or meditative.
The Energy Body is really just another way to describe the functional levels of the western concept of “soul”. You could say you are learning to merge your personality with your soul in a very practical, grounded, and safe process. You begin by moving energy (subtle breath, or chi) in the field very close to the physical body, also known as the astral body. Then you gradually shift to other layers of the Energy Body, such as the emotional and mental bodies (western terminology).
Eventually you shift from training the personal or micro-cosmic levels of the Energy Body and begin to work with the larger Energy Body of Nature, the macro-cosmos. This involves attuning to and absorbing into our personal energy body the energetic fields of the planet Earth, the five core planets, the sun & moon, and the energy bodies of the stars and the formless beings beyond the stars, who are so vast that we can also say they are already inside of us as well.
Ultimately I am not interested in getting you fixed on any one qigong exercise or inner alchemical method, but rather to get you comfortable with the energetic process itself. I want you to learn to communicate directly with the Chi Field, the intelligent field of energy that permeates all realities. I want each student to unfold their destiny and experience deep balance and harmony in their life.
Note: Tao is pronounced “Dow” (like Dow Jones stock index) and in the pinyin system used by modern scholars is spelled as “Dao” or “Daoism”. Tao and Taoism is however still the preferred popular spelling for the Western public, so I mostly use it.
Tao is an umbrella term in China used by many spiritual groups as a way to speak about the highest level of spiritual realization. Loosely translated Tao means the “Way” or “Natural Path”. It can have multiple meanings; Tao can also mean “true speaking”.
Tao is sometimes called the “pathless path”, because Tao is neither dogmatic nor fixed, and thus cannot really be followed, but only “allowed to unfold its natural essene”. It is thus a path that is only revealed in the spontaneous process of the present moment.
My favorite translation of Tao is “Way-making”, as the “-making” highlights that any path that one chooses to follow or to create is always in process. This definition of Way-making was suggested by Tao scholars Roger Ames and David Hall in their brilliant philosophical translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. Their book is titled in pinyin: Dao De Jing: Making This Life Significant, by Laozi.
Taoist qigong is famous in China for being the most sophisticated and developed type of qigong. Qigong itself is probably older than any organized group calling themselves “Taoist” (or Daoist). Since ancient times the Taoists were keenly interested in exploring the human body, not just for good health, but also for its importance in spiritual cultivation.
This led Taoists to adopt and refine ancient shamanic movements, such as the Five Animals and the Six Healing Sounds qigong taught in Fundamentals 1. Taoists also developed “nei gong” or “inner skill”, a meditative form of qigong movement in which energy moves through internal channels in the body, even though the body is still.
I believe that parallel to this shamanic tradition, the Taoists developed a very advanced energy science called “neidan gong”, usually translated as “inner alchemy”. My Qigong Fundamentals offers a simple and practical integration of qigong and neigong, as I have found the combination offers the most powerful results.
Qigong Fundamentals also lays a good foundation for studying Tao inner alchemy, which maps out seven stages of growth for a human seeking complete integration of Heaven, Earth, and Humanity. Alchemical methods offer a practical way of harmonizing oneself with the natural process of change.
The Tao Te Ching is most commonly translated as “The Way and its Power”. This famous text was compiled about 400 b.c., but clearly holds the gathered wisdom of ancient Chinese masters that is hundreds or thousands of years older. It is densely packed into eighty-one poetic verses, filled with insights, wise sayings, and advice about “te”, or “spiritual power/virtue”. Some scholars believe Lao Tzu, the author, is in reality a composite of many generations of masters that came before him.
The 5000 characters in the text are in classical Chinese and thus hard to translate, so the dozens of translations into English vary considerably. But its main focus is the spontaneity and simplicity of the Tao itself, that operates unseen within the complexity of the Ten Thousand Things of manifest life.
The first line of this Taoist classic is perhaps its most famous.
Two CORRECT translations:
“Way-making that can be put into words is not really Way-making”. (Professors Ames & Hall)
“The Tao that can be spoken is not a constant Tao”. (Prof. Chet Hansen)
Both of these translations by top Taoist scholars emphasize that the Tao is always in process. Thus it cannot be fixed or limited or made constant by any description or concept of
Many translators, unfamiliar with classical Chinese from the period of 400 b.c. China, and unfamiliar with the nuances of Taoist process-thinking, miss this point by mis-translating the opening line as:
Common INCORRECT translation:
“The Tao that can be spoken is not the Eternal Tao”
This common mis-translation can lead to the wrong implication in Western minds that there is some fixed or absolute Eternal Tao to be sought elsewhere, like the permanent “heaven above” or God found in conventional dualistic religions. This translation might imply that the Eternal Tao is separate from the ordinary every day Tao, and different from the physical plane changes that each of us is experiencing each moment. This in turn can lead to dualistic thinking, common to many religions, that separate Heaven and Earth, good and evil, absolute and relative, etc.
There is only one Tao, and its Way-making embraces fully everything in Heaven-Earth, spirit-matter, absolute-relative, and all other yin-yang polarities. Taoism is not an “other worldly” philosophy or religion. Heaven-Earth is a single continuum. So Tao should not be confused with “heaven” or the “formless” of Western or other Eastern religions, which often imply a creator God or Absolute Nirvana state that is somehow separate from its process of Creation.
Tao is a “here-and-now” approach to self-realized living that emphasizes simplicity and spontaneity. Its main practice is how to live in complete attunement to the eternally changing process of the Life Force – in this human physical life. It does NOT defer the rewards of this life to the next life. All meaning is to be found in the present moment.
Humans able to consciously merge with the Life Force’s process during their life in a physical body on earth are called Sages. Humans who stay conscious with the Life Force’s process after physical death are called Immortals.
I have taught many thousands of Western students these sexual methods without any negative side effects. That is because I properly prepare my students with Qigong Fundamentals 1&2 (at a minimum).
I’ve experimented with the best and safest way to teach Westerners to ground their sexual energy, using body-centered qigong to achieve sufficient grounding before using stimulated sexual energy to expand the Energy Body. In general, I train adepts to use “non-stimulated” sexual energy during their training as it is much cooler and easier to control.
Your Chinese martial artist friend is also right but he ignored a key point. Sexual practices are more dangerous for CHINESE people. What makes them dangerous is the degree of cultural sexual repression. In China, the collective or group “face” is very influential, and so people must suppress their individual sexual desires in order to fit in with their society. So when a Chinese person begins to unleash those suppressed sexual and psychic forces using qigong, there is a greater possibility of that chi being expressed in a way that is considered “crazy” in Chinese society. But that “crazy: behavior might be considered “normal” individual variation in the West.
Please remember that in China, even though things have loosened up considerably in recent years, even pornography on the books carries the death penalty. The Chinese govt. in 2009 clamped down with threat of heavy fines on search engines for displaying sexual content. The Chinese live in a very different world than us. The govt. campaign against Falun gong fundamentalist-style qigong resulted in all qigong being suppressed and a general climate of fear. The pressure to conform in Chinese society is much greater than in the West.
Westerners need not be so concerned about sexual qigong training; there is more danger of “over-expression” of the individual will in the West, and corresponding lack of respect for the collective. We are proud of expressing who we “are” individually, and that includes sexual expression. So there is very little to “un-suppress” except our own excesses. Mostly we need to learn how to channel in more healthy and constructive ways the sexual energy that is available to us. And that is exactly what the Taoist model empowers.
All that being said, if you attempt to prematurely FORCE sexual energy without having the proper skill or background training in Qigong Fundamentals (or its equivalent), then you can get health problems. If the sexual energy is driven into the wrong channel or forced to mix with unconscious negative emotional patterns, then those negative patterns will be amplified and it will be very, very uncomfortable.
You could get insomnia, mysterious disease patterns that doctors cannot treat, general anxiety, etc. But in all cases of these symptoms I have treated, it is always the case that the person had little or no energetic training in qigong and tried to force the sexual energy.
Sometimes the problem can be cleared up just by both partners studying the Qigong Fundamentals 1 & 2: Inner Smile, 6 Healing Sounds, Open Chi Flow in the Orbit. In any case, I would definitely learn those practices.
I would at the same time get the Sexual Vitality Qigong DVD and the Healing Love home study audio courses as followup for when you’ve finished the Qigong Fundamentals. That will educate you as to how your sexual energy really functions and teach you how to build it up and protect it. Most infertility is simply a result of stressful lifestyle, and can be healed energetically.
You can further speed up the process by either getting CNT (Chi Nei Tsang) treatments or by learning CNT and practicing on yourself and your partner. This opens up blocked energy in the abdominal area that is often the cause of fertility problems.
If you want additional support with fertility retreats and fertility books aligned with these Tao practices, I can recommend several. Randine Lewis, (MD and licensed acupuncturist) and her daughter Theresa (in acupuncture school) are both students of the Healing Tao and offer retreats in Asheville, North Carolina (where I live. Randine has authored two excellent books and can be accessed through www.TheFertileSoul.com
On the West coast Angela Wu is a Healing Tao instructor and combines CNT and qigong in a similar fashion. www.wushealingcenter.com
Many women have slowed their period by de-toxifying their blood of physical, emotional, and sexual toxins (possibly absorbed from male lovers). This reduces the woman’s biological burden of replacing so much lost blood each month. This frees women from cramps, PMS or lesser levels of fatigue and irritability. That saved energy can then be spent on building a healthier body or living a more creative life.
I know of one female Healing Tao Senior instructor who stopped her period completely, then restarted it, then stopped it again. It is not quick, as this is a deep biological program.
Many women have used the Tao Sexology methods to reduce or completely eliminate hot flashes. It is the best natural method I have heard of for this purpose. In many cases the results are very quick. Once the sexual chi begins circulating in a harmonious pattern, the blood, glands,and hormones return to balance and the problem is solved.
The question reveals a judgment against the sexual aspect of the self, which is essentially your body. “Sexual wisdom” is the MOST essential prerequisite to achieving Sagehood in my opinion. Why? Because your body is how you gain spiritual wisdom.
First, just ask yourself the question: where do my sexual desires come from? I have spent decades exploring this question, and my answer is simple. Sexual desire IS soul desire, converted into tangible feeling. It is just that we don’t understand the relationship between our soul and our sexuality, and so we mis-use and confuse our soul desire with the person to whom we are attracted.
Our volatile male-female bodily sexual desires are only a reflection of the polar split between the male and female halves of our soul. Each side of your soul is trying to learn about itself, and find the true center between the two halves. This is how we embody the split between Heaven as formless spirit and Earth as sexually embodied form.
But here is the closely guarded secret of Taoist alchemists: sexual desire, including both sexual fluids and sexual energy, is the alchemical elixir that can heal our soul.
If we know how to tap our sexual volatility and put it to work, we can quickly transform ourselves spiritually. Taoist sexual practice with a partner (dual cultivation) OR solo cultivation – meditative inner sexual alchemy – both use tangible sexual essence to “capture” and crystallize the invisible essence of our soul.
This union of our sexual and spiritual selves births a “third self” – an androgynous, bi-sexual Inner Sage. When I say “bi-sexual”, I am NOT talking about sexual lifestyle preference. This Sage is able to convert our immortal Original Nature, and individuate it within the physical plane. Our inner Sage has the power to convert primordial or non-dual energy into polarized soul and sexual energy AT WILL.
So the Sage is not controlled by unconscious sexual drive. S/he manifests or responds to sexuality consciously. Our Inner Sage is able to embody non-dual energy (yuan chi) while present in a sexually polarized male or female body. And at the same time, s/he simultaneously expresses our unique individual will.
The true sage integrates the apparent “lowest” polarity with the”highest” non-duality. Achieving non-duality does NOT mean being physically non-polar, i.e becoming sexless. Non-dual means you’ve embraced both poles – male and female – of your soul, and brought them into equilibirium.
Duality is NOT the same as polarity. Dual sexual identity implies a sexual split between the male and female sides of the soul. Most people are split, they only can identify with a male or female identity. Polarity is the lawful celebration of the co-existence of male and female within an integrated androgynous being. You can be androgynous, but still CHOOSE to go deeply into either your male or female aspect for learning purposes.
This discussion may seem very abstract, which is why we need grounded energetic Tao practices to actually experience what I’m talking about.
Originally Egg Exercises were used for improving health, both physically and spiritually. The Jade Egg “sexercises” provide more power to the Chi Muscle to lift the sexual energy inward and upward, where it can be circulated to the other vital organs and help to balance the monthly flow of blood and daily cycle of hormones. Suitable for both younger women, those recovering from childbirth, and those dealing with menopause or later. It is absolutely the safest and fastest method for women to re-tonify a vagina stretched loose by childbirth.
The womb of a female is the most powerful center of gravity in her body. Unfortunately. the womb tends to concentrate unprocessed (often negative) sexual and emotional energy. The egg “sex-ercises” can help to move that stuck energy and help you to own the inner space of your womb, which is the core power of the divine feminine. This topic of helping women to “own” their womb space and clear it of emotional toxins through meditation is covered in depth in the 17-CD homestudy Healing Love course, along with jade egg instructions.
We recently found a new mine with much higher grade deep green jade eggs. The price has thus gone up – but it is important to have a quality vibration inside the most sensitive part of one’s body. We now also include a lovely silk bag for protecting and transporting the egg. This is an intimate, elegant, health-enhancing, and sexy gift to give yourself, a lover, or a friend.
Find one or two that work for you and do them intensively. There are three main qigong forms featured, any and all of those should help heal the kidney weakness which then causes muscle weakness.
If your back problem is more structural and spine related, or trauma-induced (accident, etc.), then I would get the Feldenkrais/Qigong guided movements by Joyce Gayheart. She was in two serious car accidents and was a master at figuring how how to relieve that pain. These exercises are more gentle and done lying down. She has four wonderful audio CDs in a set called My Body Moves Easily, I Feel Graceful and Light(click on it to access).
Whoa, slow down. The process of “super-charging” one’s sex life is not as simple as swallowing a pill or taking a single weekend course. That might be the hype for selling a California-style Tantra course. You might have fun, but how lasting will the results be?
Taoist sex is a long term PROCESS of cultivating a new energetic level of skill in yourself, ideally supported by both lovers. Sexuality is incredibly complex, and its power penetrates deep into the roots of your body, mind, and soul. Do you really think a single weekend or a simple technique will grant you mastery over all those deep levels of Self?
I recommend you start with Qigong Fundamentals 1 & 2 course, as that will give you the core skills for managing any type of energy, including sexual energy. Qigong (Chi Kung) Fundamentals 1 & 2 package What are those core skills, and how will they help your relationship?
The Inner Smile cultivates an open heart and a space of neutral acceptance so you and your lover have a safe space to meet each other – free of power struggle, arguments, etc. which often sabotage joyful celebration of sexual love.
The Five Animals/Six Healing Sounds will help you release fears and old emotional patterns that are the main culprit in dysfunctional sexual relationships. You will get in touch with the “inner movers and shakers” – the Body Gods – that control your personality and sexuality. You will feel more energized and sexually available to communicate energetically with your lover.
The Microcosmic Orbit will give you a practical method for balancing the core yin-yang flow of chi in your body. Once you start to ramp up sexual power with Taoist Secrets of Sex, you need a safe and balanced pathway to circulate that boost of jing chi or sexual energy. The orbit pathway up the spine or front channel is not the only safe pathway, but it is a key path you want to have open before you start tinkering with changing your sexual psyche around.
After you feel comfortable with the Fundamentals 1&2, and you feel the urgent need to skip right to the sexual skills, you could get either the weekend or the weeklong Healing Love/Tao of Sex home-study audio course with Sexual Vitality QigongDVD. If you want your girlfriend to grow together with you in these skills, get the week-long retreat as it has a lot more material for women, including three entire CDs by Joyce, a high level female adept, on women’s practices.
If you are not feeling sexually pressured by your relationship or by your own need to more quickly manage your sexual energy, then I would study the Tao home study courses in their recommended sequence. You would take Qigong Fundamentals 3 & 4 to learn more about internal chi breathing and deep rooting of your tendon and bone marrow. This is where your blood and sexual hormones are CREATED, so awareness and mastery of this practice will eventually lead to a much higher level of sexual skill.
The next course would be Fusion of the Five Elements, levels 1-3 . This will give you some mastery over your emotions and the 8 deep extraordinary channels (the orbit teaches you the first two, so this is six more channels of psychic power). Your sexuality is largely controlled by your feelings. So Fusion will further amplify and refine your sexual skill, and give you a vessel or pearl to begin capturing the sexual power of your lover and putting it to spiritual work.
You can use the Sexual Vitality Qigong DVD as a stand alone practice, without studying any other courses or DVDs. This will help you to build up your kidney chi, which generates sexual energy in the body. You could do this without learning anything else before hand, not even the Qigong Fundamentals.
It will likely benefit your sexual life by building up your physical sexual stamina. But the result will be more physical, and not extend as deeply into the cultivation of an energy body and or any real skill of understanding or control over what happens during sexual exchange or what is driving your core sexual impulse even while single.
The absolute best source is to find a live teacher. The best retreat you can find on this topic happens every summer at our Tao Summer Retreats. I currently teach this with Senior Instructor Minke de Vos from Canada. Together we have more than 50 years experience in integrating qigong, Taoist sexual techniques,and Western depth psychology and sexual-spiritual relationship counseling. Healing Tao Summer Retreats at Heavenly Mountain
Sexuality is actually the most complex area of Taoist cultivation. Few modern writers have dared to venture into this area beyond simple re-hashing of ancient methods of preserving and sharing sexual essence.
Because modern Western sexual culture is so different from ancient China, the Tao methods need to be re-examined for cultural factors. Integrating the male-female dynamic into the path of cultivating immortal consciousness is a key aspect of my spiritual mission in this life.
I suggest for starters you read the lecture I gave in Switzerland on the topic of sexual cosmology:
For a cultural perspective, I suggest you read the paper I presented at an international conference of top Daoist (Taoist) and Tantric scholars. It shares some of my experiences in this field over three decades and points out the differences and similarities between the Tao and Tantric paths.
I would also consider adding your you Tao library the two modern classic title. The first,Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy, I co-wrote with Mantak Chia. He gave me the techniques I tested them and put them into a cultural perspecctive. The experiences described in that book are actually my own.
The second classic I ghost wrote for Mantak and Maneewan Chia, called Healing Love Through the Tao: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy. I felt the book was a little dry, being written only as technique and no real woman’s voice, so I added an interview at the end with my girlfriend (at the time) Joyce Gayheart to juice it up.
I consider these books useful reference materials for students who have actually “gotten their feet wet” by practicing qigong and the internal chi cultivation practices taught in live classes or the homestudy courses. Remember, it is not easy for most people to learn these practices from a book, and I’ve updated my teachings considerably since they were published. So the best “material” I can suggest is the audio and DVD material Healing Love: Taoist Secrets of Sex Homestudy CoursesYou can find other sexual qigong titles in my online bookstore section titled Sexual QigongA good book for couples with children just beginning this path is Beyond Tantra: Healing Through Taoist Sacred Sex. This is an excellent book written by a Danish couple.
it is one of many sexual techniques that I have updated in my Healing Love/Tao Secrets of Sex homestudy course, based on my teaching thousands of students over many decades. There are better ways to recycle the sexual energy than stopping it physically with your finger. If you cannot master those sexual energy methods, which teach you the best way to recirculate the powerful jing essence hidden within your sperm, then it is useless for you to stop ejaculation with your finger on the Million Dollar Point.
After you stop the sperm from moving with your finger pressing the Million Dollar Point, what next? You HAVE to move that stopped sexual energy up to higher centers in the body to relieve the congestion, and hopefully recycle it to achieve full body orgasm.
But here’s the point: If you have the skill to move that sexual energy, then you don’t need the Million Dollar Point. If you DON”T have the skill to move that energy after blocking it with your finger, then you should NOT be using the Million Dollar Point as it will just create congestion in the area of your sexual organs.
Men are learning to re-direct their orgasm away from their penis and into their whole physical and energy body. You are EXPANDING your sexual potential. Right now it is very constricted when a man tries to force all his sexualized Life Force out through a penis. Genital orgasm certainly feels good, but when it expands to the whole body it feels even better.
We must remember than “ejaculation” and “orgasm” are NOT the same event. You can have an orgasm energetically without ejaculating. If the method results only in longer love-making and allows for deeper exchange with a women, that is far more satisfying than a premature genital ejaculation. Once ou have lost your sperm, it is hard to come back. But if you’ve held the seed while allowing an orgasm, the seed is still available to produce another orgasm.
For some older men, with deeply engrained sexual habits, it can take time to change and allow new patterns of sexual energy flow. But I’ve learned over the decades what are the fastest and most effective methods for western men. So people who take my summer retreat or use my Taoist Secrets of Love and Sex homestudy courses have a very high success rate.
All of my course materials are sensitive to differences in sexual orientation and energetic nature. Men can be very yin and women can be very yang. Tao is about balance and unfolding one’s essential self and its virtues, about accepting what is and working with refining that to its highest level. Judgments about others’ sexual orientation I view as disguised self-judgments and fears. Love knows no sexual boundary, at the physical or the soul level.
Everyone has sexual energy that they need to manage and balance. The Taoist sexual energy work is largely internal and solo in the beginning. Many male gays have told me Taoist methods of recycling sexual energy have liberated them from compulsory horniness and dumping randomly of their sexual impulse.
Likewise, everyone can achieve enlightenment and immortality regardless of their sexual orientation. One of the Taoist eight immortals appears to be androgynous, i..e half male and half female. Many Taoist monks I’ve met in China have a very androgynous appearance.
So it is not politically correct to teach it openly in China, although I heard there were a few sex clinics attempting to spread some of the information contained in ancient Tao sexology texts. The sexual dysfunction rates in China are said to be extremely high, but the problem largely goes un-addressed due to cultural inhibitions.
Best place I think you will find to get information is on my site. 🙂 I’ve experimented on myself and my students for decades. This has allowed me to update the books I wrote for Mantak Chia with audio courses giving my latest refinements and improvements.
It is not easy to master these methods from a book. You need qigong and neigong (meditation) skills to get very far. That is why I haven’t written new books, which would have been an easy sell. I happen to know that DVDs and audio training is far more effective.
There are many levels to answering this question. Simplest answer is to divide the topic into three: medical sexology, bedroom arts, and spiritual practice.
Overall, Taoist sexual practice – movement qigong + internal meditative methods – offers the possibility to sexually rejuvenate the physical body to be more youthful and healthy. The premise is that sperm and ovary are “seed” essences that control hormone and blood quality, and that these can be energetically managed so that:
1) loss or waste of sexual energy is reduced. This results in medical healing of male erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, and female PMS, frigidity, cold womb syndrome, to name just a few.
2) better circulation of sexual energy is achieved internally (solo practice) or in exchange with partner (dual cultivation). This results in longer sexual staying power for the male and deeper love-making exchange between lovers. It reduces sexual frustration and unwanted horniness and allows masturbators to capture health benefits from their own seed.
3) higher quality orgasm will result. This may be felt as improved genital orgasm, multiple orgasm, vital organ-specific energetic orgasm, whole-body orgasm, or spiritual orgasm.
Whether you are single or coupled, young or old, sick or healthy, celibate or available, gay or straight, total newbie or energetically sophisticated – Taoist sexual practice can be customized to serve your core needs and refine your sexual energy.
Full question: Do you believe your inner alchemy path is supported by immortal beings?
On the personal side, I know there are immortals behind these teachings. Soon after I began studying with Mantak Chia in 1980, Taoist immortals began showing up in my field and affecting me in very powerful ways. I never believed in immortals previous to this, I had no idea they even existed. I am certain, however, that I was not hallucinating.
One of them zapped me in my navel center with a kind of “laser beam” of pure chi that set off an explosion in the different layers of my Energy Body. I felt like I became one of those mushroom clouds you see in photos of nuclear blasts. It was wonderful and ecstatic – but the immortal immediately disappeared. I figured out later they don’t like to hang out in the slow, chaotic vibes of the physical plane – they want us to cultivate ourself up to their level, or at least meet them halfway.
Because of my experience of having contact with these ascended human beings, I personally feel a very deep connection with the Tao Immortals. But more important than chasing after human immortals, is that everyone get linked up to the immoral lineage of Nature.
The Earth, planets, sun, moon, and star beings are all immortal beings. Immortal doesn’t mean they live physically forever – just that their spirit is consciously participating in the Great Way of creation. They are present in every moment, and are tranmitting chi directly to each of us. These Natural Immortals of the Tao are all around us, smiling through their radiant bodies and shining their subtle light upon us. Can you allow their light to smile through you?
The focus in Taoist alchemy is on becoming whole or Immortal yourself, not worshipping God/dess(es) separate from you. All ancient Mystery schools attempt to grow the divinity within each person, and thus have valuable techniques. In other Mystery schools into which I was initiated I made contact with their lineage of immortals/ascended masters. So there are immortals in many traditions. I have integrated methods from other schools into my alchemical teachings where appropriate. This is in keeping with the Taoist tradition, which was to use whatever method works, while adhering to Tao prinicples of cultivating the Life Force.
The ancient Taoists thus absorbed the most useful methods of Confucianism and Buddhism as long as they could be integrated into the core Tao principles. I know of modern Taoists who are absorbing elements from sufism, kaballah, and Christianity. I have done the same with my studies in various mystery schools, while maintaining the core integrity of the Taoist process.
Ultimately, following the Way, the Tao, means following the essence of your own inner being, doing qigong/chi kung and meditation to help it unfold naturally and effortlessly. There is really no one to follow other than yourself. It is the path of spiritual freedom, of balance and harmony with nature and society.
But at the core of this process is the slow but steady growth of our immortal inner self within. As this grows, our fear of death dimnishes. My mission is to develop a heart-centered energy science that empowers humans to discover this immortal authentic self, using primarily very practical Tao methods of cultivating the Life Force.
I completely accept that this is an experimental process that is unfolding in our unique time/space/culture. But I believe the “map” offered by this structure will speed our evolution, even as each of us adapts it to our personal constitution and path in life.
I hope Westerners will find ways to adapt these Tao methods to their current needs. It is impossible to live in China’s ancient past – the modern needs of humanity and of planet earth are very different. I believe that we can improve on the ancient methods by openly sharing them and creatively testing their applications.
My mission is to develop a heart-centered spiritual science that empowers humans to discover their authentic self, using primarily very practical Tao methods of cultivating the Life Force. I completely accept that this is an experimental process that is unfolding in our unique time/space/culture. But I believe the “map” offered by this structure will speed our evolution, even as each of us adapts it to our personal constitution and path in life.
I hope Westerners will find ways to adapt these Tao methods to their current needs. It is impossible to live in China’s ancient past – the modern needs of humanity and of planet earth are very different.
I believe that we can improve on the ancient methods by openly sharing them and creatively testing their applications.If you feel attracted to such a path, I welcome you as a companion on the journey!
There is a saying in China: “Talk does not cook the rice”. Likewise, reading Taoist philosophy or thinking “I am a Taoist” is not to be confused with the experience of Tao. Tao is more than a head trip. Scholars have shown Lao Tzu’s classic, The Tao Te Ching (or “Daodejing” in pinyin) was not a philosophical text, but a practical meditation manual. Read “Original Tao” by scholar Harold Roth for a brilliant reading of this classic text that many translators who are not educated in Taoism fail to grasp.
Tao is a way of life, based on the natural spiritual science of chi (qi) flow. Cultivating chi flow unfolds awareness of one’s original spiritual essence. Cultivating self-wareness or “waking up” to the flow of life is the first phase, It is sometimes called the “purification” stage of inner alchemy. In this phase we energetically clean our body, our thoughts, our emotions, and our sexual energy so that we can experience the essence of our soul.
The second or “refining” phase of alchemical self-cultivation empowers us to SHAPE our worldly and spiritual destiny. What exactly are we shaping? The Life Force, our co-creative partner. The Life Force is the chi field that exists inside our body as infinite Intelligence and love, and outside as the magnificence of Nature.
Everyone can and must find their own Way, their own process with the Life Force. Taoists traditionally start within the personal self (micro-cosmos), expand to embrace Nature (macro-cosmos), and refine the two to manifest our original nature (proto-cosmos).
We must each learn to express our free will or creative imagination, and use it to navigate our own destiny through these vast inner and outer realms. It is an axiom that internal alchemy cannot be mastered from a book. It requires an oral tranmission.
This is one reason I offer audio-video home study courses rather than books, as I found the recorded voice is an acceptable substitute for live tranmission. Certainly live voice and presonal presence at a retreat or workshop is more powerful, but many have gone very deep with the recorded oral tranmission on my homestudy courses.
Alchemy is not simply mental “information” that goes into our brain. Rather it is a magical transformation of our body, mind, and spirit. Books can guide and inspire us, they can take us to the open doorway of transformation. Transcripts of retreats can help us consolidate important details – but only after you have gone through the oral process. To step through the doorway of transformation, and cultivate deep alchemical wisdom is only possible with a teacher.
I have never met anyone who was able to learn alchemy from a book. I tried it myself, using Charles Luk’s “Taoist Yoga and Immortality” . This book has very intersting and detailed procedures. Nevertheeless, I found it impossible to follow experientially. Mantak Chia told me he had the same experience – and we both had a lot of background.
It is even more hopeless for the average Western intellectual-armchair alchemist to try to practice Taoist internal alchemy from a book. this includes Chia’s short booklets on alchemy, which are designed to stimulate interest and awareness in the process, but are not a shortcut to learning it. This is often very difficult for Western intellectuals to accept, as they are very deeply trained to mentally grasp for everything in life. But to succed at inner alchemy you must learn to “think with your whole body”, not your brain. That is why qigong is the best preparation, not books (or even internet FAQs!)
Without a guide, you can waste a lot of time and effort finding out what is hidden at the core of Tao (Dao). You need deep centering and grounding on this path. The Healing Tao has been a pioneer since 1981 in bringing practical methods from China to the west, beginning with Mantak Chia’s transmission of Taoist hermit One Cloud’s Seven Alchemy Formulas of Immortality.
In 1981 there were virtually NO books or videos on Taoist alchemy or qigong. But today, the number of books and videos can be dizzying, even scary. I am also responsible, having co-written seven books with Mantak Chia. Plus there are hundreds of other chi kung (qigong) forms and meditation styles. How to choose, where to start? That is the purpose of this website – offer a clear sequence and path in this progressive training.
Note two important things. One, I have been exploring internal alchemy for 27+ years. Two, inner alchemy meditation by definition is an experimental energetic science. The process can be quite different for different people. Two people can do the same practice and have different experiences. I found out when I began travelling around to remote parts of China, that every sacred Taoist mountain even today has its own unique spiritual methods.
My research into ancient alchemical texts resulted in my developing some different interpretations of Tao cosmology than I was originally taught. Taoism does not have rigid doctrines, it is a vast complex with great variety in the nuances of its cosmology and practice. My study with many masters of both Eastern and Western alchemy resulted in my developing some new ways to practice the same seven alchemical formulas passed down to me by Mantak Chia from his teacher, One Cloud.
But essentially the approach of Mantak Chia and myself harmonize with each other. It is more a reflection of different personalities favoring different methods. Ultimately, you can only transmit who you are at a deep level, and hope that inspires others to discover who they are.
Mantak Chia has a very powerful yang (expansive) energy, and thus he originally tended to emphasize the more yang aspect of practice. You have to be yang in nature to be the multi-cultural icebreaker and pioneer in the West that he is. Because he is so deeply grounded in his energy body, it was natural and easy for him to keep personal balance. But few Westerners have that kind of grounding or “innate or structural yin” to balance out such strong expansive yang energy. In recent years I’ve supported Mantak Chia in incorporating more yin methods into his teaching for Westerners, and they have been well received.
This “yin vs. yang practice” issue is complicated by the presence of “false yang” as an epidemic social disease, embedded into the very fabric of Western culture. We tend to “over do” and over-achieve and over-control. Over my decades of teaching I observed Westerners, being ungrounded, tend to eventually exhaust themselves with yang practices and then quit practicing entirely. What happens is that Western people try to visualize chi or practice from their head, and it doesn’t work in the long term.
You need to “activate” chi, NOT visualize it. One needs to ACTUALIZE one’s whole body-mind, not use the mind to dominate the body or its chi field. To avoid this kind of fallout amongst students, I discovered by testing over decades of teaching that Western students had much higher success using gentle yin practices, such as “soft” qigong typically used in medical and spiritual qigong.
I developed a progressive training, a series of qigong movement sets, customized to stimulate opening the deep channels in the energy body. I feel it has worked fantastically well, and really helped people to quickly “get” the deep chi flow activated within. Then you can really use your body-mind as an alchemical cauldron, and are ready to experiment with intensifying and refining the spirit-matter continuum within the self. The next question on “yin practice” will further clarify my ideas on this issue. Link below is to the Articles page, which has many interesting articles on Taoist (Daoist) inner alchemy meditation. The one linked here was a long paper presented at a conference of Daoist scholars and adepts in 2001, organized by Professor Livia Kohn.
It’s about unfolding who you already are. Unlike most religion, you are not asked to believe in something or someone else who is long dead, that you can’t see or feel. You are not trying to eradicate your unique self into oblivion/void/oneness. You are growing the uniquely creative individual nature of your soul at the same time you expand your awareness more deeply into the common ground of primordial oneness that all beings in this cosmos share. You are giving the Original Oneness (actually a trinity) a fresh opportunity to embody and co-create with the Life Force.
A Taoist first trains in chi kung (qigong) to feel the chi field and understand how it shapes your body, your worldly destiny, and your spiritual destiny.. You regulate your breathing, your posture, and calm your mind. This level heals physical disease as your physical chi field comes into balance. Different chi kung forms affect your chi field in different ways. It is good to learn more than one, then you natural have the pleasure of variety in your daily practice.
As you get more advanced, you study neigong meditations in which your mind cultivates the chi. Taoist Water and Fire (“kan & li”) alchemy is a special class of dynamic meditation that shapes and refines your chi field. It connects and harmonizes your Spirits. That’s right, your body-mind has more than one spirit – (your soul is a collection of them). The challenge is to integrate your personality with its diverse voices into a unified soul team.
There are both yin practices (centered on receiving & building structure) and yang practices (centered on reaching out & dynamic movement). There is a third type of practice (yuan) based on stillness and spontaneity of interplay between yin and yang. This is an incredibly elegant and profound meditation path that leads to realization of the Mystical Body or Light Body,, as well as Music of the Spheres (“Stringless Lute” in the Tao tradition).
I love all spiritual systems, they all work, i.e. they advance your awaremess. But they don’t “deliver” the same experience. I think a lot of people have the misconception that all spiritual paths lead to the same experience. I think it is exactly the opposite: we all begin from the same Oneness, and our path individuates us into the Many. This is why evolution in the physical plane moves towards greater complexity, i.e. greater individuation.
Many paths are designed to “transcend” by taking you out of your body. These paths often seek to end your individual uniqueness and creative potential. I discovered the hard way that this creates a body-spirit split. Your spirit wants to “go home” to the formless planes, while your physical body-mind wants to live longer in the physical plane. <
This kind of spiritual transcendence can become one-sided, a movement towards the formless only. It may devalue the physical plane as a “low” or “gross” place that one should evacuate as soon as possible. Unfortunately it can lead to a kind of spiritual suicide. The body is individuated and wants to continue exploring its physical experience. The personal mind-soul is connected to the unifying Original Spirit.
So some spiritual seekers mistakenly abandon their body, they sacrifice it, thinking they will then achieve oneness with spirit. But you cannot achieve oneness if you have a body-spirit split happening. I found the path of Taoist alchemy integrates the two. The goal of alchemy is to unite your body/matter and mind/spirit into a third, immortal being that is BOTH individuated and merged into the collective. It can travel between the physical and spiritual planes at will, because it has integrated the form (water) and formless (fire) aspects of the soul.
Taoist qigong and internal alchemy I fd to be the most practical in dialy life. Its principles are nearly identical to that of Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many other arts and sciences. Of all the paths i have explored, it is the most grounded, the most honoring of both sexuality-water as Divine Mother and the Divine Father heart-fire within the human soul. The integration of the two is the restoration of the Original Trinity, the primordial Spirit, Breath, and Essence.
Once you understand the Taoist alchemical language of “jing, chi, shen, and wu” – essence, breath, spirit, and the Unknown — you possess a “spiritual language” for communicating with everything in nature and the Cosmos.
Most systems use complicated mantras in foreign languages or deities shaped by a culturally foreign imagination to do this communication. It can work ,but you must first merge with the imagination of the culture that created that pathway of spiritual communication with a system of local “gods”.
The Tao is about direct experience of the universal chi field — right under your nose. Its language is shaped by natural entities like herbs & flowers , animals, mountains and rivers, fire and water, sun and moon, planets, stars and space. The is little or no cultural filter between human culture and these natural “powers”.
But all these natural beings talk to one another using a wave form language of chi. This moving chi field is what connects all of nature into a vast organism. It is so wonderful to learn to speak this natural language, and feel connected again to what is truly real!
Inthe beginning, it is best not to mix teachings. Once you have made something your own, you’ve practiced it until it feels like it is part of you, then is the time to experiment with hybrid methods. I have done the same, as I studied many differnet systems. But I was careful not to mix them until I was absolutely confident of my mastery of the methods involved.
The One Cloud transmission of the Seven Alchemy Formulas was really just my starting point in exploring the alchemical process. It provided a superstructure for the many refinements I have since discovered along the path of cultivating the Taoist Energy Body. My Tao Home Study courses are the distillation of nearly 30 years intense searching out many different masters, and study of dozens of qigong and meditation systems. But those refinements are all now the “flesh” on the skeleton/structure of One Cloud’s Seven Formulas.
I made 10 trips to China to study with Taoists and deeply attune to the source in Taoist caves and mountains. I found those sacred mountains are literally awake with the energy of the adepts who meditated in them for thousands of years. This was another line of direct transmission that I added into my alchemical process.
I understand that many people come to my website or my classes, after having spent years shopping around the spiritual marketplace. They want to know if they have to start all over. If you read each home study course description, in sequence, you will intuitively know if the tools I amoffering will assist your unique path though life.
There is a profound synergy between all the courses. The material was recorded AFTER 25 years of continuous refinement, so it is getting very polished. Yet I still honor the experimental nature of inner alchemy, that it is an open process and an evolving spiritual process. So I know that everyone will bring their own learning from other schools and practices into the alchemical process. I am fine with that, it can be very creative and exciting. But the process will evolve much faster and deeper if you first master what is offered.
Getting Tao ultimately means “getting to the essence of oneself”. This requires diving deep into the Unknown Center of your chi field. Consider me a diving guide. The audio & videos contain a fabulous collection of pearls I’ve discovered and want to share with you. But most important, I want to help you develop your own diving skills.
In meditation, the yin side can be experienced as receptivity to the Life Force and the awakening of the intelligence of the vital organ spirits, which normally is subconscious in humans. One way to cultivate this is by simply smiling into each organ and opening up a conversation internally with them – in short, developing internal relationshiop skills.
This is really just a refinement of the Inner Smile. You accept that the dynamic process of the Life Force is collective, both inside our personal body-mind, and in society and Nature. But that means we have to develop relationship skills at all levels of our inner and outer self. This requires development of our yin side as we listen and empathize before we act.
Another yin method is personal surrender to and effortless absorption of one’s natural virtues (“de”) into each of the vital organ spirits. This allows a gentle opening of the Inner Heart. This process of “downloading one’s essential strengths” is developed to a high level in my version of Fusion of the Five Elments, which I think of as “Taoist depth psychology”.
The yang side is equally important, as it involves directly shaping the flow of life force to express one’s will. Ultimately we all need a balance of yin and yang methods. Which method we cultivate our “heart-mind” with depends on our personal constitution. Yin types usually benefit from more yang methods, and yang types benefit from more yin methods.
This is also the approach of Lao Tzu: In the Tao te ching he advises to keep the upper yang center of the head cool (“empty the mind”) and the normally yin, cooler belly full of warm vital chi. What does Lao Tzu’s advice mean practically?
It means each student begins with accepting the desires of their body and mind as they currently are, rather than trying to mimic someone else’s spiritual ideal. It means avoiding the Western male tendency to force fast results with a Fire or yang practice at the expense of the body/feminine. It means – for both men and women – to cultivate the “female fire” hidden within the yin. It means that rather than worshopping others as heroes or divine beings, you honor your own divinity within. We can absorb the essence of those we admire into our soul essence with making them our center.
I recognize that both the yang and the yin approaches have their virtues. The yang approach is sometimes very useful in the beginning, when one is first trying to feel the chi flow in one’s body. Sometimes yang practices can help break up big blockages. I try to offer a combination of both styles of practice at every level of the alchemy formulas. That way, every one can choose for themselves what works best.
At the higher levels, a third type of practice emerges, centered upon the Yuan chi, or neutral force. This is the Way of “wu wei”, or spontaneous action. But true wu wei is invisible, intangible and virtually impossible to perceive in the beginning stages of Tao self-cultivation. Most people have ta lot of programmiing in their personality and energy body that they need to first clear.
At the higher levels of meditation, there are other differences between my approach and Mantak Chia’s. I emphasize use of outer sound – toning to the elemental beings – and follow it with silent listening in meditation to the inner sound current. The celestial music of the spheres was described by the Taoist sage Lu Dong Bin as the “string-less lute”. I find this is truly the most effortless yin practice – just listening to the tones of one’s formless subtle bodies, the invisible half of oneself which is continuously flowing into physicality.
I have discovered that some of the methods I llearned from my study of Western internal alchemy integrate beautifully with One Cloud Seven Formulas. An example of this yang practice would include method of spinning special shapes in the chi field at very rapid speeds. So I include these methods in the higher levels of my inner alchemy training. These are very yang practices, and I offer them only after I feel adepts-in-training have a strong inner yin structure to really benefit from them.
My short definition of internal alchemy: a systematic process for changing oneself from the inside out. By contrast, a behaviorist would try to change your outer actions and hope to stimulate an internal change.
A second definition: Inner alchemy is the science of self-transformation that results in an individual evolving into a higher level of vibrational balance and harmony with the whole of creation.
A third meaning: Inner alchemy is the art of turning matter into spirit, and spirit into matter. Hence the famous alchemical saying:
“As Above, So Below. As Within, So Without”.
Internal alchemy is mirrored by external alchemy, which accomplishes the same transformations using herbs, minerals (turning lead into gold), breathing exercies, sexual fluids or other external substances.
In modern times, all empirical or scientific materialism could be classified as a school of external alchemy. All modern technology involves manipulating some fundamental level of matter in order to change it into something else. Dupont turns petroleum into nylon stockings, a seeming feat of magic that requires re-arranging the molecular structure.
Some internal alchemy writers think external alchemy should be called the “spagyric arts” so as not to confuse it with the inner process of transmuting consciousness into its pure and original uncorruptible “golden” nature. But both are designed to speed up the evolution of matter.
No one is certain as to the origins of the word “alchemy”. I accept that it may derive from “al-kemi”, Egyptian for “dark/fertile earth”. What scholars do know is that alchemy is far older than our modern notions of religion by many thousands of years.
Alchemy seems to be one the earliest systems of spiritual knowledge on the planet, as recorded in myths. The renowned scholar Mircae Eliade wrote an excellent book detailing the dominance of alchemy and its sister, metallurgy, in all of the myths of ancient human culture. Read Eliade’s book, “The Crucible and the Forge”, for a definitive study on the origins of alchemy in China, India, Egypt, and Africa. He found Chinese alchemy to be the best preserved and that its principles are still intact within Chinese culture.
I have studied Western alchemy, both internal and laboratory, and the principles are identical. But most western inner alchemy knowledge has been lost, i.e. how to transform the mortal personality-body into an immortal being. But there are extensive and excellent Western laboratory alchemy texts and websites.
“Science” is originally derived from the Latin verb sciens, “to know”. Spiritual science is thus simply any systematic method for knowing or experiencing oneself spiritually. How does it differ from modern empirical-materialistic science?
Material scientists try to “prove” their hypotheses about physical reality by conducting experiments with results that are verifiable and repeatable by any other scientist.
Spiritual science makes the opposite assumption: every human being is a unique experiment. If you give a group of humans the same method of meditation or other technique of spiritual cultivation, even though everyone conducts the exact same “experiment” on their body-mind, each person has a unique result that cannot be duplicated by anyone else.
Taoist spiritual science is a set of consistently teachable methods of “knowing”, developed over thousands of years. But these methods are designed to help each person unfold their unique essence or destiny.
There is no assumption that everyone will have the same experience of the Tao, or Way. Rather, the process is one of each Taoist using similar methods to realize their unique worldly and spiritual destiny.
The simplest answer is lack of grounding, or inability to get out of their head and into their body. You cannot solve deep energetic issues from your head, you have to get into the whole body-mind, i.e. your Energy Body.
Underlying this, I believe the most common cause is because the practitioner did not get a solid enough foundation in the Qigong Fundamentals 1-4 and Fusion of the Five Elements. Basically, they need more time with the 1st Formula. Some are impatient and want to skip ahead.
Maybe they learned some sexual practices that stimulated them, but they never took the time to get inside to really connect deeply with the mechanics of their energy body. Or there was some deep sexual or emotional energetic issue that they really haven’t come to grips with, making it difficult to work at the soul level of the Kan & Li. Our sexual demons can be especially powerful.
It’s OK to move “quickly” to One Cloud’s 2nd Formula on Inner Sexual Alchemy, the Lesser Kan & Li. Some may do this within two years starting qigong, depending on their background in meditation and how developed their power of internal concentration is.
But then most adepts need to go back and work on their physical, emotional, and sexual layers of their Energy Body. The Kan & Li level gives you a really valuable perspective on the basics of the 1st Formula. Kan and Li can help you go more deeply into the Inner Smile, Healing Sounds, Orbit, Rooting, Fusion, Healing Love. These are all aspects of integrating the heart-mind. Kan & Li begins the soul work.
That is why I encourage students to train to that first level of Lesser Kan and Li as soon as they feel comfortable. The Inner Sexual Alchemy process lies at the very heart of Tao self-transformation, as it works onresolving our core male-female sexual tension. This is a process, we’can never truly say “I mastered that, I will never deal with another emotion or sexual feeling again”.
It’s important to know that learning the Lesser Kan & Li will need to be followed by a period of re-consolidation and grounding in the basic practices.
Here are my own internal rules, honored live and in all my Homestudy courses, which are just recordings of live trainings:
1. TEACH ONLY WHAT IS SIMPLE AND TRUE. In the books I wrote with/for Mantak Chia, some of the practices seem mentally complicated. I wanted to simplify them at the time, but did not always have final editorial control. In the many years since I wrote those books, my own practice has evolved towards the simple. The current Home Study courses were retaped many times, each time refining the practices to their simplest essence. I rigorously avoid the excess mental complexity present in some of the books, which seemed necessary to reach Western minds at the time.
2. NO SECRETS. Give students whatever they are ready to digest. The time for secrets is past. Many excellent Chinese teachers have unfortunately not yet realized this! The people I want to reach don’t have the time or inclination to play this game of follow the leader, begging for secret drops of wisdom. I pour them on you, hoping you can absorb any part of them, and want you to become your own leader rather than my follower.
3. NO GURU OR MASTER TRIPS. Hierarchies of Ego Authority bore me and stifle creative chi flow. Spiritual Transmission can occur without developing co-dependent teacher/student relationships. I’m not interested in followers clinging to my shirt tail. The Life Force itself is the True Teacher, I am just a guide to help you develop your own relationship with the Life Force. We are all brothers and sisters on the continuous two-way journey between Source and Creation.
4. TEACH ONLY FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. Means no bullshit about level of personal attainment. I test every method thoroughly to make sure it works and is safe.
5. HAVE FUN!!! Playing with the chi field is meant to be fun. While refining the elixir, laughter is the best medicine. If you don’t get the Cosmic Joke, it may get you. The Inner Smile is about getting the punch line before the joke is even told.
6. Product Warning: Consumers of Qigong/Chi Kung Home Study Courses may likely become a “Chi-aholic” and may be exposed to the epidemic “Mad Dao Disease” that has widely infected many students.
This question gets asked a lot, so best to answer it up front.
One major difference is my integrating qigong movements into the practice of each of One Cloud’s Seven Alchemy Formulas for Immortality. This happened organically, as I observed what worked and what did not over 25 years of teaching the practices. My extensive study of qigong and neigong (meditation) with dozens of masters led me to discover this was the most effective training method for Westerners.
My love for this work took me deeper into Taoist cosmology, and led me to explore the vast and rich texture of different Taoist pathways to self-cultivation. After testing innovative methods using a dynamic body-centered approach, I found ways to apply the Taoist theory of “shen gong”, or “spirit skill” to Western psychology and spiritual training. Shen gong is based on the five vital organ spirits. I feel it makes the health benefits of the Tao path – physical, psychological and spiritual – far more accessible.
I have endeavored to take the meditation practices into some new and profound directions. Every Taoist will have their unique experience of the chi field and express it according to their own nature.
Mantak Chia was the bridge across the Pacific Ocean for a powerful stream of Taoist teachings. He was a pioneer in bringing the elusive and secret alchemical practices to the light of Western minds. But Chia couldn’t do it alone – I helped him greatly by writing and editing his first seven books that put him on the map. And many others helped him found and build the Healing Tao organization in the early 1980’s. It was a collective effort.
I honor Mantak Chia as my “root” Tao teacher, although I studied with many masters after him. He is also a good personal friend for nearly 30 years. We have our differences, but these are always overshadowed by my gratitude to him for sharing the seven Tao alchemical formulas transmitted by Taoist hermit Yi Eng (One Cloud). Those seven formulas remain the solid infra-structure for my own teachings.
But when you get to a certain level of Tao practice, you experience the truth for yourself and it demands that you honor it and unfold your own path or “tao”. As a Westerner, I realized that the practices developed in ancient China need to be put into a fresh language and adapted to the psychic structure of Western body-minds. These marvelous practices and the profound Taoist cosmology need to be made more accessible and integrated into the Western phase of post-modern spiritual development.
What am I specifically talking about? Western emotional and sexual energetic bodies are very different from the Chinese. I feel Western INDIVIDUAL psychological understanding is more developed than it is for the Chinese. Orientals, by contrast, have a more developed sense of the COLLECTIVE will or integrated social mind of humanity.
I have witnessed many other differences emerge between Western and Chinese Taoists. These differences are expressed through karmic and ancestral influences, psychological archetypes, and a different sense of destiny at the soul level. These differences inspired to take Chia’s One Cloud transmission to a new level of refinement and expression more suitable for Westerners. So this naturally led to some divergences with my Chinese-cultured teachers.
For the last 30 years I’ve explored many esoteric systems (called Mystery Schools in the past) to find the most effective methods of improving health and refining spiritual awareness. Principle ones (besides various Taoist/Taoist schools) include: tantric kundalini yoga, kriya yoga, dzogchen (Bon) and Tibetan Buddhist vajrayana practices, and Atlantean alchemy (Original, pre-Egyptian and pre-Hebraic Kaballah).
I took many teachings and initiations with the Dalai Lama, including the week-long Kalachakra. I worked closely with Swami Hariharananda for years to edit his Bhagavad Gita in the Light of Kriya Yoga. I have a book on Atlantean alchemy nearly ready for publication. Its working title is Stellar Mind speaks: How to Shape your Life Energy. All this shaped my practice, but I always return to my roots in the Dao (Tao) because of its natural simplicity and practicality.
I have tested — always on myself — some 60 different qigong forms and taoist/taoist meditation systems. I have sought out dozens of different taoist masters, often only to get one superb movement or tiny but valuable insight they had. Master T.K. Shih lived in my NYC apartment for two years. I edited BK Frantis’ Opening the Energy Gates of the Body and studied his excellent neigong and pa kua chang forms.
I studied Wu style tai chi with Grand Master Ed Yu in China town (also Mantak Chia’s tai chi teacher), and Northern Wu Classical Tai chi style with David Dolbear, National Gold Medal champion. His particular tai chi lineage was infused with alchemical energetics by a Taoist master.
I completed a three year training in Classical Chinese medicine (CCM) with Jeffrey Yuen in New York, who is also a Taoist priest. CCM differs from TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), which was invented by the communists in the early 1950’s. CCM retains the classical focus on the spiritual (shen) aspect of Chinese medicine, which is ignored in TCM because it is too “unscientific” and doesn’t match the communist ideal of the new scientific man.
I travelled to China ten times, to be in the presence of its holy mountains and sacred places. I took many groups to study medical qigong in top Beijing hospitals with the World Academic Medical Qigong Society. I have a network of Chinese nei dan (inner alchemy) practitioners in China, both from the temple tradition and in the wandering “mountain” tradition.
Each year I invite top masters to teach at Healing Tao University, partly in order to trade secrets with them. I’ve been on the organizing committee for the Annual National Qigong Conference since its inception in 1997, giving me exposure to the top qigong teachers in the U.S. and a chance to absorb their favorite methods.
Cultivating one’s chi is a life long process. But no need for everyone to repeat my long journey. Better to start off equipped with the valuable tools offered in my courses, distilled from years of testing. I only teach what I myself practice. I hope you will use those tools to go to a new, higher, and unknown level that is perfect for you alone.
Over 30 years experience in teaching subtle energy methods.
Past President of the National Qigong (Chi Kung) Association for two terms. This is the umbrella organization for all the different qigong/chi kung schools, teachers, healers, & practitioners in the U.S.
Founder and Director of Healing Tao University summer retreat program (campus at Dao Mountain in New York’s Catskill Mtns. The largest Tao arts program in the West, with a faculty of 20 master teachers offering 25 retreats every summer. (see www.HealingTaoRetreats.com)
Writer/editor of seven of Mantak Chia’s books, best known as co-author of Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy. Many other articles & book chapters, including Qigong chapter in Physician’s Guide to Alaternative & Complementary Medicine.
Past Chairman of Healing Tao Instructors Association of the Americas for 9 years. They set and maintain standards for certification, ethics, issue a newsletter, etc. Member of the core group of original Senior Instructors that launched an organization that globally has certified close to 1000 instructors and brought the Tao teachings to hundreds of thousands of people.
Completed three year training in Classical Chinese Medicine with Jeffrey Yuen in New York City. Acupuncture, herbology, and Taoist energetic medicine.
Published a dozen home study courses using DVD and audio CD to train people in Taoist qigong and inner alchemy.
The Short Story
Michael Winn has been a key figure and pioneer in promoting qigong and Taoist meditation in the West since 1980. He was a two term President of the National Qigong (Chi Kung) Association • USA, the umbrella non-profit organization serving all qigong teachers, healers, and students. He continues to help organize the Annual NQA Qigong Conference each year, which keeps him in contact with high level national teachers and methods of qigong development in the West.
He was Chairman of the Healing Tao Instructor’s Association of the Americas for nine years, a network of 200 qigong teachers affiliated with the Healing Tao system founded by Master Mantak Chia (abroad called Universal Tao). He founded in 1995 Healing Tao University in the New York Catskills; with 30 retreats it may be the largest offering of Tao Arts and Sciences in the world. Winn has taught internationally in Europe, Asia, and South America, as well as at major centers in the USA like New York’s Open Center and Omega institute.
Winn has published widely in the Empty Vessel, Qi Journal, and dozens of other publications. He co-authored the chapter “Qigong Therapy” in the Physicians Guide to Complementary & Alternative Medicine. He has been invited to present papers at numerous international scholarly conferences on Daoism (Taoism). The papers are posted on his website.
Winn has synthesized his studies with dozens of Tao masters and qigong systems into ten Tao home-study courses (audio-video) that use simple qigong movements to activate spontaneous experience of the energy channels used in inner alchemy meditation. In addition Winn edited or co-wrote seven books with Mantak Chia that propelled into public view in the West the formerly esoteric and hidden teachings of Taoist masters.
The Long Story
Note: this is an edited version of bio that first appeared in the Empty Vessel, Journal of Contemporary Taoism.
In 1980 Winn was one of Mantak Chia’s first western students in Chinatown, New York. He played a key role in founding The Healing Tao in 1982 and directly wrote or heavily edited many of Mantak Chia’s books on nei gong and qigong as General Editor of Healing Tao Books. His titles included Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao, the first book in English on the microcosmic orbit; Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy; Healing Love: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy; Iron Shirt Chi Kung; Bone Marrow Nei Kung; Fusion of the Five Elements: Meditations for Transforming Negative Emotion; and Awaken Healing Light of the Tao., an advanced study of the microcosmic orbit. Winn also edited a newsletter for Healing Tao instructors entitled From the Mouth of the Immortal Child.
The noted qigong master T.K. Shih lived in Winn’s New York city apartment for two years in the early 80’s: “I taught him English, and T.K. taught me how to move like a cat” is how Winn described their relationship. Winn studied with many other Taoist teachers, and edited B.K. Frantzis’ Opening the Energy Gates of the Body. He studied qigong and ba gua with Frantzis, and the northern wu style tai chi as taught by David Dolbear, a Wu style gold medalist and lineage holder. “I waited ten years before choosing a long form. David got a transmission in Beijing that teaches tai chi as a form of alchemy, emphasizing the changes between jing, qi, and shen.” He went on to study in Beijing with David teacher, Master Liu Jiang Chang.
Winn sees his life “as an alchemical journey flowing between outer adventures and inner adventures, a process of cultivating “my worldly life” and “my inner essence”.
He travelled to 30 countries before the age of 17 and ran 35 whitewater rafting expeditions as a guide down the Grand Canyon by the time he graduated from Dartmouth College in l973 as a Senior Fellow with a degree in Russian/comparative literature. After a successful meteoric three year career in New York publishing he got fired “for being too creative”.
He became a free lance war correspondent and adventure travel photographer that took him on 30 trips to another 50 countries in Africa, the mideast , and Asia from 1977 to 1985. His writings and photos appeared in the New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Outside, Village Voice, Harpers, Connoiseur, People, Adventure Travel, National Jewish Monthly, and many others. National Geographic financed his rafting expedition in North Yemen.
Included in this wanderlust period was a four month journey across China tracing Marco Polo’s footsteps. Winn, who is not Jewish, ran an underground railroad smuggling white American Jews into Ethiopia and black Jews out of Ethiopia into Israel. In 1981 in New York’s Soho district, Winn opened Abyssinia, the first Ethiopian restaurant in America, and operated it successfully as a side business for 20 years.
While in Africa in 1978, Winn accidentally self-induced his first kundalini awakening, which led him to begin studying and teaching kundalini (hindu tantric) yoga in the late 1970’s. This eventually led him to Taoist alchemy. “In college I studied comparative literature”, Winn says, “and in real life I found myself training in and comparing the esoteric alchemical methods from different cultures.”
He studied kriya yoga with Swami Hariharananda, successor in India to Paramhamsa Yogananda, and kept a close friendship with this yogi renowned for mastering the breathless state of nirvikalpa samadhi. He died recently at age 97. Winn edited his The Bhagavad Gita in the Light of Kriya Yoga. Winn notes that kriya yoga, the essence of all yogas, has many parallels to Taoist alchemy but “it’s finally a pure fire path. The Taoist preference is to mix the fire and water, which is more accepting of the body.”
Winn also studied Dzogchen and tantric Buddhist teachings from the Dalai Lama and other rinpoches in the 1980’s. “Tibetan and Hindu Tantra is philosophically very similar to yin-yang theory, but in practice uses more mantra, mudra, and deity worship. Dzogchen is the closest brother to the Tao with its emphasis on cutting through quickly to the clear or original light. But I like the refining process in Taoist alchemy, the many practical connections they developed with Original Chi (yuan qi). Taoist alchemy is a shortcut, it focuses on direct relationship with the life force. When you combine alchemy with qigong, the effect is a super-charged Energy Body.”
Winn also studied the Celtic approach to earth based spirituality with R.J. Stewart. “All the mystery schools are great”, Winn commented. “The ancient Celts used a mirror approach to Taoist alchemy, they first connect to the outer five elements/directions and then work their way inside the body. This is the opposite of the Eastern way. I love all the ancient meditation systems, but finally you’ve got to focus your practice on one approach. Ultimately, I find Taoist alchemy to be the simplest, the most practical (body-centered) and the most complete.”
He reached this conclusion after 25 years of studying and testing many different systems of qigong (chi kung), with dozens of teachers in the USA and China, both famous and unknown. He uses the Seven Tao Formulas for Immortality offered by the Taoist Hermit One Cloud (Mantak Chia’s teacher) as the superstructure for holding the immense knowledge and skill he has acquired.
Winn has continously integrated qigong and inner alchemy with the practice of Classical Chinese medicine. In a Chinese medical school, this would traditionally cover the four pillars: acupuncture & moxa, herbology, tui-na & chi nei tsang (massage), and qigong therapy. He organized several groups to study with the top medical qigong masters in the major Beijing hospitals with qigong clinics. He also completed a three year training in New York City wiht Jeffrey Yuen, who was classically trained in Chinese medicine as well as being an ordained Taoist priest. He considers Chinese medicine as a form of “external alchemy” that has its orgins in the practice of neidan gong or “internal alchemy”.
His quest for deeper knowledge of the Tao has taken him to visit the sacred mountains of China nine times, where he has cultivated many friendships with Taoist adepts. He was the first to offer trips to China for western Taoists that included staying in caves on Huashan (Flower Mountain) used by Tao adepts for over three thousand years (of written history). The local Taoists arranged this after realizing that Winn was cultivating a serious lineage of Taoist practice amongst Westerners.
“The Chinese have a genius for boiling down everything to its core essence”, Winn notes. “ I have done the same with everything I’ve learned from all my teachers – I just keep cooking it down, refining it to its essence, and clarifying its practical application. It’s just my small part in the great collective process of the Tao. Somebody will take my refinements and improve on them. That is the experimental, evolving nature of Tao spiritual science. In fact, I hope they do it soon – I’d like to enjoy those improvements myself!”
Winn, who lives in a log home in the Blue Ridge mountains outside of Asheville, North Carolina, maintains a private practice in qigong therapy and Taoist sexology. Winn is currently finishing a book on the energy science of how people can shape the life force to manifest what they truly need. The book is inspired by contact with a spiritual being who claims to have ascended with his body – at the age of 2,300 years old – into the “Stellar Mind”, i.e. a full celestial heaven immortal.
He is also working on a book on Taoist internal alchemy, but claims he is “in no rush to finish it. I don’t want to put out books based on half-baked insights to make a quick buck. I’m happy to write just one high level, fully-baked book. A book based on genuine experience and that can actually be useful to others. It takes a few decades to really road-test inner alchemy and its potential interactions with qigong.”
Every summer Winn organizes what has become the largest qigong and neigong (Taoist meditation) program in America, at Dao Mountain, New York (near Pinebush in Catskill Mountains). It offers about 30 low cost, week long retreats on all aspects of Taoist meditation (with five full weeks of internal alchemy), qigong, oriental body work, Taoist dream practice, feng shui, sexology, Taoist astrology, qi healing, tai chi, tao yin (Taoist yoga), ba gua chuan, weight loss and medical qigong and more. He teaches a number of courses in the core Taoist internal alchemy & qigong curriculum, sometimes with his partner of 20 years, Joyce Gayheart.
It helps to keep clear what is spiritually free, and what costs money in life.
The Life Force itself is totally free, it is offering itself to you each moment. You can take as much chi as you are able to absorb, digest and then take responsibility for sharing it.. Entry of our soul into this body was free, nobody collected tickets at the door- womb entrance. In the same way, your inner being always remains free.
But spiritual methods and teachings,including physical products like videos or retreats that deepen your relationship to the Life Force – that is what costs money.
The people who want the products or teachings free usually did not get enough support from their parents or family when they were young, and are looking for someone to take care of them. They are really looking for a spirtual daddy or mommy who loves them for who they are, and wants to devote all their time and expense to showering love upon on them. This is a case of arrested development at the child stage.
Once you can transfer these projections onto the only parent who will always be perfect – the Life Force – then you will have the opportunity to achieve completion.
I sometimes hear this complaint from people living in certain European countries, where the welfare state gives away many free things. So they come to expect the same treatment from their chosen spiritual teacher. I would frankly love to give away my teachings if a government or a sugar daddy stepped in to ttake care of all the bills – with absolutely no strings attached. But none has yet. And I expect to be fully immortal long before the US govt. begins financing Taoist schools with no strings attached. I’d rather be a struggling non-profit that is free, than a rich slave to Uncle Sam or some demanding donor.
Money has its virtues. I feel it is much more balanced to have a clear energetic exchange with my students, even if the exchange is money for education. Otherwise, energetic debt can be created and fuzzy boundaries developed that are dysfunctiona for both teacher and student. So it is healthy to use money as a convenient boundary-marker. It doesn’t have to be a symbol of greed or filth.
Money is considered by Taoists to be a form of water chi. Water needs to flow and circulate to stay healthy. Our relation to the economy is part of our relationship to humanity. The question is, is the relationship balanced and harmonious? Is there equal giving and receiving? We can legitimately need a lot of money if we take responsiblity for wisely spending/circulating it.
What about the complaint that my home study courses have turned alchemy and qigong training into a commodity, rather than the deep personal master-student relationship it traditionally was?
I think one-on-one teaching relationships are ideal. But they are also the reason why these profound internal arts in China are slowly dying. There is too much secrecy and not enough teachers open to sharing. It’s the openness of Westerners that will cause qigong and alchemy to ultimately flourish in the West and surpass the skill level in China.
Just ask yourself: Why has Western technology become the dominant force on planet earth? The Chinese, up to the 15th century, were the leading developers of technology (compass, printing press, gunpowder, the wheelbarow, water clock, earthquake warning devices, etc.). Why did the West later surpass China? Because once they got past the stifling control of the Catholic church, the scientists published and shared their scientific advances with each other. And they paid for their research by selling their ideas in books. The sharing allowed others to grow and develop.
The same thing needs to happen with spiritual technology now. It has to be shared and subjected to public testing and experimentation. Then it will grow and with it, a spiritual wisdom will develop to balance our excessive fascination with material technology. We need both types of technology to evolve. But the growth of spiritual technology is lagging behind material technology. It needs to spread faster, and on a broader scale than one-to-one.
That costs money and requires the use of great modern technologies that the ancient did not have, like CDs and DVDs. The biggest single cost is not the overhead of staff and product production. It is marketing, which is another way of convincing people that they can actually change their body, their personality, and their soul using the combined spiritual technologies of qigong and internal alchemy. Of course, there are many other spiritual technologies available, and many of them are very good.But many of them are one-shot methods – chant this one mantra, do this one thing and get its benefit.
I am offering a very low cost progressive training program that is effective and comprehensive. It is a question of value. Most people are willing to blow $1500. on a one week vacation at the beach – but they balk at spending that much money to buy my entire home study program that would keep them busy expanding their consciousness and health for years.
Why? People have resistance to doing the hard personal work of self cultivation and transformation. It’s easy to spend money on a nice meal, or a massage, or a vacation at the beach, or the latest technology toy. The benefits are immediate and easily received.
But if you buy a spiritual training, you have to work hard to get the benefit from the money. The fact that you are learning to gather what is most essential about life and health and that if successful, will survive death – is not calculated by the short-sighed personality. That is why spiritual teachers in this culture are forced to market their wares if they want to grow their audience. Partly to pay the bills, and partly to get the attention of the overloaded consumer that a particular spiritual technology even exists for them to choose.
I am fine with all this, I accept the reality of this culture, and I don’t let the money replace my love for the spiritual process of the Tao or for my students. If anyone feels they were hyped and the teaching material is not authentic , effective, and heart -centered, they can just return it!
I choose to not use use the title “Master” primarily because I feel it would create an energetic separation between myself and others, especially between me and my students. I also do not want to create a division between me and myself, my personality and my soul.
In my book, everyone has the same Master. That Master is the presence of the Life Force itself. This is the master that never allows any boundary between itself and us; it lives inside us and records every second of our life. So if my job is to introduce people to their True Master, it will distract them if I also have that same name.
My goal is to cultivate the power and purity of “direct perception” in every soul. This happens as we are able to merge more deeply with the Life Force. Putting a title before my name adds layers of cultural assumptions and a psychological boundary between myself and others. I don’t need or want that boundary.
I recognize that a tradition in China of “master-student” has a long history. It satisfies some students’ need to know that they are training with an authority in a lineage or sect, and thus inspires them to train harder and respect the demands of their “master”. It may inspire some teachers to hold themselves up to a higher standard. I have no judgment against those who choose to use the title.
I am wary of the title for other reasons. First, the term “master” in English has secondary connotations that do not exist in Chinese. The Chinese often use “sifu” or Shi Fu, which translated is “teacher”. This is much more neutral and accurate description which I would allow but not encourage. In China they may use a term of respect such as “lao shr”, which means “venerable” or “old” teacher, implying seniority or greater wisdom. If someone needs to give me a title, “Brother” or simply “Michael” (consider it my birth title) are just fine.
The term “master” in English is unfortunately also associated with ideas of “rulership” and “master-slave” relations. The may act as an subconscious source of DIS-empowerment in a student. They will always be inferior or ruled by their chosen master, as a kind of feudal enfoeffment of a serf to his lord.
There are many students who are unconsciously seeking an authority figure to replace the imperfect parental authority of their mother or father. So they end up projecting all their authority issues onto the chosen “master”. This transfers a dysfunctional and often co-dependent relation into the new “master-student relationship”. (For more on this topic, read The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, by by Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad).
I am not interested in playing spirtual daddy-mommy to my students. It just adds a disstracting and unnecessary extra layer of work for the teacher and the student. Rather I prefer to treat students as if they were mature, and not enter into their unconscious drama. If they have parental and/or authority issues, I prefer to give them the tools to free themselves from any psychological patterning.
Finally, calling oneself “master” can and usually does create unconscious illusions in the teacher’s ego. The self-inflation is dangerous especially if it creates or hardens spiritual egotism, which is especially difficult to recognize and dissolve. There is enough responsiblity being taken on as a spiritual teacher. No need to add psychological baggage to an already tough job.
The teacher may not have anyone available to help them release this fantasy of fame or power. Now the teacher is dependent on his following for self-worth. The students are the real masters, as they are in reality conferring worth on the teacher. So even though the teacher is walking around wearing the “master” title, their students are masters of their teacher’s ego.
If they wake up and leave the teacher and stop playing the game, the teacher’s ego feels threatened, the prop is suddenly removed. Again, I find this a boring and destructive game, and don’t have the time or energy to sustain it. I have watched some of my teachers caught up in this game, and never seen anything positive come from it.
As a matter of record, one of the reasons I was attracted to Mantak Chia initially was because he did not use any title. He treated all his students as friends. I have never laughed so hard as I did in the early years of training with him, and it created a relaxed atmosophere in which transmission was far more powerful.
I was frankly quite disapointed when Mantak Chia decided to adopt the “master” title. I understood that in his native Thai-Chinese culture one needs a title, it is built into the feudal social structure. So in public I will honor his choice and use the title, but in private we are simply friends without titles. This satisfies a fundamental human need for “untitled” companionship. It gets very lonely sitting on top of a pedestal created by other people’s projections of your alleged “mastery”.
Bottom line, call me Michael. “Mi-Ka-El” is an ancient Hebrew name that means “beloved of God”. In my Way, “God” is just the whole or collective consciousness, and it loves everything it creates, including you and me. So Michael will do just fine to help spread that loving creativity around. And who knows, some archangel might even show up. cross-dressed as a Tao Immortal. 🙂