January 19, 2008 at 4:38 am #27083
Note: this is from an abstract. I know XunLiu from Daoist conferences, and plan to get a longer article from him on this interesting character and neidan enthusiast. Interestingly, he supports my view that Chan Buddhism had led to disembodied spiritual practice, but went further in claiming it had weakened the national character of the Chinese!
Substantiating the Body: “Scientification” of Neidan Discourse in Early 20th-Century China
Xun Liu, University of Southern California
Spiritualized representation of the body has been a dominant theme in inner alchemy since its inception of the late Tang. In such representations, the temporal bodily elements of Essence, Blood and qi (jing, xue, qi) tend to be treated as secondary to the Spirit or the Mind (shen, or xing), the ethereal and elusive elements of the body. Indeed, such heavier corporeal elements were often seen as irrelevant to the alchemic transformation of the body.
Voicing a strong dissent was Chen Yingning (18801969), arguably the most influential inner alchemist of this century. Chens experience of illness and his ambivalence toward the “mind-centered” Buddhism led him to criticize what he perceived as “insubstantiation” (xu) of the alchemic body. He argued that the representations that privilege the Mind over the Body failed to capture the alchemic reality and have led to nihilistic practices that had corrupted the Immortals true learning, and enervated the Chinese national spirit and body. Chen saw science as the solution.
Adopting theories of atom and biology, Chen argued that alchemic body was ultimately based on substance no matter how infinitesimal and ethereal the substance may be. Chens more physical vision of the body now “re-substantiated” by science enabled him to reclaim the primacy of the bodily over the spiritual in inner alchemic practice. His “scientification” of neidan firmly grounded alchemic practice in the physicality of the practitioner, representing a significant departure from the dominant trend of spiritualization since the Song period.January 21, 2008 at 6:04 pm #27084
In the late Tang the emperior and his people tried to destroy buddhist in china, this is common knowledge, destroying temples, monks, etc. seems like this follower is just folliowing the party line of the time frame.
baguaJanuary 22, 2008 at 5:48 am #27086
I think your attempt to dismiss chen Yingning as merely being politically notivated is quite misplaced. His focus is not political, not calling for destroying Buddhism, but presenting his viewpoint as to their difference and to the consequences of different spiritual practices.
I feel its far more useful to deal with his ideas as they are presented, on their merits or weakness. But let’s wait and get more details. Xun Liu told me he is finishing up his book on chen yingning soon, and I’ve asked for an advance copy or article from him.
Your response made me wonder, is it possible that you are displaying an attachment to chan buddhism, despite its own principle of non-attachment?
michaelJanuary 22, 2008 at 12:41 pm #27088
My point is during the Late Tang Dynasty the emperor used his resouces to destroy buddhism, until that time taoism, buddhism and confucism all went through cycles of being supported and not supported by emperors/government, so it is not suprising to see his view at this time frame. Those with such a strong attachment to tao alchemy will never see the realities of others methods, this is there bias. And in my view a great barrier to their evolution.
This is old in chinese culture, the great Ge Hong and Tao Hongjing both dedicated their lives to integrated different views of China and of course Wang in the Song Dynasty in his Quanzhen – complete reality view, integrating the three great ways of china. He was a uniter not a divider!!!! As Lao Zi was, who knew the key to the Tao was not making distinctions but allow the Tao to unfold in a natural, spontaneous way.
bagauJanuary 24, 2008 at 1:54 am #27090
Chen Yingning (18801969)
Tang Dynasty (18 June 6184 June 907)
Interesting to note anyway, that the Nei Yeh, almost identical to the Dao De Jing, and placed earlier by some scholars, focuses almost entirely on methods of bodily alignment, guiding the Qi, and different forms of cultivation.January 24, 2008 at 5:17 pm #27092
I suggest you follow the original post, this aggressive view stems from the late tang, which politically was a time where they tried to destroy buddhism. The polarizing view of the author, such firery words, seems to stem from that time frame. Very attached to that time and view, not highly evolved way of communication.
Its not a debate whether buddhism is indegenious of china, of course not. But its clear some Taoists saw what the focus of buddhism was and in my view they knew was an part of tao and embraced the methods they had.
baguaJanuary 24, 2008 at 7:28 pm #27094
It’s of course true that Taoists and Buddhists borrowed methods from each other. But this doesn’t mean that in order to “embrace the Tao” one papers over the different outcomes of different spiritual practices. Embracing the Tao doesn’t mean that every religion is the same, just that one accepts that diversity is part of the Tao. It just as equally means that one accepts the necessity of making distinctions, as Lao Tzu does between yin and yang, at the same time he embraces what lies beyond yin and yang (yuan).
so to suggest that one should not criticise aspects of a religion because of the impact of its beliefs on its practitioners or the culture is to stick one’s head in the sand.
I don’t have the details of paper on Chen Yingning yet, but I doubt he is an echo of Tang dynasty voice that Buddhism should be eradicated. I suspect he is merely advocating more grounded practices be encouraged that bridge the physical and subtle realms and embrace both equally. That is truly embracing the Tao, imho.
michaelJanuary 24, 2008 at 7:37 pm #27096
Yes I agree. Lao Zi acknowleades Yin and Yang but suggests we dont be attached to their changing nature, dont try to stop the natural flows of life, retain a neutral, yuan or empty state to enjoy the dynamic nature of life.
baguaJanuary 25, 2008 at 2:06 am #27098
I agree with the essential core of what you are saying is, that we live from the core channel, which is neutral, or yuan qi/jing/shen. I wouldn’t personally associate emptiness as being the same, although if you mean it in a loose kind of way I understand. generally I associate emptiness with an absence of something, but isn’t yuan qi an essential underlying substance, though hard to grasp with yin and yang?
Of course, we also don’t want to “stop” the flow of life, but then free will comes in and we can shape it, not stand on the sidelines; eventually we have to make decisions that are based on yin and yang, but hopefully we are informed with the deeper guidance from the neutral self.January 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm #27100
I have been tracking back its Origin what that “guidance from the neutral/Original Self” might have felt like. It is NOT emptiness, I agree with you here, there is an OPEN background space, but its not the first feeling. The first feeling, i..e the arising of free will in human form, I track back the 3 Pure Ones. They are pure because no conflicts/history/karma has yet been generated.
When Heaven and Earth copulate, they birth the first Human, and that is the moment that love between Heaven and Earth is born. They have a child in manifest form. So that is the first feeling of humans – love , not emptiness. That is why loving – expressed as embracing Harmony and Balance in many Taoist texts – grows the original feeling. That must be cultivated, not emptied, imho.
This is my conclusion from going deeper into Heaven and Earth alchemy practice.
I think Chen Yingning is just trying to take neidan out of its secret position in Chinese esoteric circles and spread its ability to embrace deeply the “child” of physicality and embodied free will that neidan cultivates.
michaelJanuary 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm #27102January 29, 2008 at 2:37 pm #27104
Emptiness is just a word used to explain awareness or consciousnees, empty of preconceived ideas, emotions, etc. You do all the qi gong and nei gong to allow the state to manifest, to unfold in your life, to put yourself in this space. To us who practice this we know what Emptiness is, maybe another word would be better, but no matter what word is used it takes lots of explanation and experience to know what it really means. Tao Arts is full of words that are misunderstood.
baguaJanuary 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm #27106
I agree for the most part, but would not openess be a better word to help translate the spiritual science nature of Toaist Alchemical practices.
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