February 25, 2006 at 12:44 pm #10901
Below is a scathing review by Gunther Weil on Inner Alchemy from a 2003 article; What confuses me is that he wrote a nice forward for “Awakening Healing Energy through the Tao.
Maybe he was chewed up and spit out by the Dao also; for your reading pleasure..
Below is a excerpt that pertains what I read:
Risks of the Progressive Approach to Inner Cultivation
On the path of progressive cultivation, the seeker strives for higher and higher levels of realization according to a road map often derived from interpretations of ancient Taoist alchemical texts such as the as The Secret of the Golden Flower. And Taoist Yoga: Alchemy & Immortality.
From my perspective, there is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding attendant to this process. Although there are numerous classical techniques, as well as contemporary interpretations of these methods, designed to control and manipulate the energies of Jing, Qi and Shen, I consider most of them to be artificial and misleading. Following this path, the seeker is endlessly in a process of becoming or progressing through effort towards an imagined goal. This easily becomes a desired delicacy for the ego and has the real potential to fixate the mind on the mental form of a spiritual goal, thereby subtly creating just another dualistic illusion.
I have observed many otherwise sincere and dedicated practitioners of Qigong embrace internal alchemy as an entree into some kind of elevated spiritual real estate; a mentally created location characterized by the qualities of voidness, emptiness or the imaged goal of immortality that becomes the desired pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
One result of this is that after many months or years of dedicated practice, many students and teachers become identified with a self-image of attainment. The mental structure of the ego assumes an identity, albeit in this instance a spiritual identity, that superficially replaces the ordinary, more pedestrian, material ego or self. This is a particular danger in any teaching, but especially in those practices that emphasize the manipulation of Qi or Prana in the form of ascending or descending channels or meridians such as Conception and Governing vessels and the Thrusting Channel (Chung Mo), or focus on energizing specific centers or Chakras in the body as in some of the classic and modern interpretations of the Indian Yogic systems. Perhaps even more disturbing is the common phenomena of energy imbalances that often arise in practitioners of these forms. The level and quality of energy suddenly awakened in these practices is not easily integrated into the students body/mind in daily life and may result in mental, emotional or physical disturbances. This has sometimes been described as the Kundalini syndrome within the tradition of Yoga or Running Fire by Oriental medicine.
To be fair, it should also be pointed out that there are some teachers of the Taoist arts who warn that the mental manipulation of internal energies, channels, etc. is a dead-end. Their emphasis, beyond embodying desired attributes of virtue and morality, is to simply rest awareness in the body, initially in the lower Dantian, and allow the process of cultivation to proceed naturally and effortlessly. In their understanding, not only is this approach more consistent with principles of Wu Wei, it is also safer both physically and spiritually.February 25, 2006 at 3:41 pm #10902
“To be fair, it should also be pointed out that there are some teachers of the Taoist arts who warn that the mental manipulation of internal energies, channels, etc. is a dead-end. Their emphasis, beyond embodying desired attributes of virtue and morality, is to simply rest awareness in the body, initially in the lower Dantian, and allow the process of cultivation to proceed naturally and effortlessly. In their understanding, not only is this approach more consistent with principles of Wu Wei, it is also safer both physically and spiritually.”February 25, 2006 at 4:35 pm #10904
This post could be deleted..(james, webmaster) I found in the new improved archive process previous discussions 5/05..don’t want to waste space.. thanks snowlionFebruary 25, 2006 at 9:01 pm #10906
Since I missed out on the last discussion, let me add some additional light.
Gunther originally taught Chia how to set up a national workshop schedule and got him going in the early 80’s.
But he was older than Chia, wanted to be his own teacher, and there was no room next to Chia for him to grow. Chia was very ambitious, needless to say, and Gunther felt squeezed out slowly.
So he dropped out of the Healing Tao, and from what he told me, never got into practicing alchemy beyond the fusion, which he loved – and wrote a whole book on. But the book was too heady, and not practical enough, so got rejected.
Gunther also felt Chia was manipulating chi too much, same reason I restructured my teaching of Fusion and qigong by shifting it into shengong (which is based on 5 shen theory fundamental to Chinese medicine and most Taoist sects throughout its history). But this all developed after Gunther left the healing tao.
Later he got into Eckhardt Tolle. But Tolle doesn’t have any practical method, so Gunther found his niche by integrating qigong and tolle “being present” practice.
I know that Gunther’s comments are directed at his old association and competition with Chia, and not at the Healing Tao USA qigong and shengong method of teaching alchemy. The reason I know it is that Gunther borrowed my use of shen gong after I told him that was what he is really teaching.
The vague illusions to people being hurt by inner alchemy are usually people who never went through a progressive training.
They tried to jump right into doing sexual energy practices without the proper foundation. Or tried to force breathing too much. This was partly due to the nature of the materials being disseminated on a mass scale with too few qualified teachers to give students feedback – and equally the fault of students who didn’t bother or have the discipline to seek out a decent teacher or go to a retreat.
The good teachers of qigong and inner alchemy have very, very few students with problems, in my experience. And it is why I personally began offeirng home training courses, so that people would have a complete progression available to them that integrated all the different practices.
Progressive training is what makes the combination of qigong and inner alchemy both powerful and safe. Students who skip ahead out of sexual eagerness or typical western head-tripping – trying to eat more informaiton than they can digest – are almost always the source of problem, not the practices per se.
So don’t be fooled into throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Just because some people are bad drivers and get into accidents is not reason to stop driving.
michaelFebruary 25, 2006 at 10:00 pm #10908
Thanks Michael for elaborating on this, I agree with you on all of your points safe progression is the key to these practices. I re-balanced myself from life threatening ailments using Inner smile-fusion-Kan & Li practices. I have been practicing since I was in my mid teens and have never had any problems.
I love the new design I am able now to review any post and avoid the possible “oh god not this again post” responses.
snowlionFebruary 26, 2006 at 2:11 am #10910
maybe we can ask Gunther to give his ‘current” thoughts on this matter and not rely on others to summarize his opinions, experience and thoughts.
ba guaFebruary 26, 2006 at 9:17 pm #10912
I am in touch with Gunther regularly. So I know he is not in touch with what has been developed over the last 15 years since he left Healing Tao. But one of Gunther’s best friends, Stephen Joseph, who also dropped out about the same time, has come back and taken the kan & li courses recently. I think that makes him more qualified as one of the “old timers” as to what is safe and effective.
I enclose Stephen’s recently received and unedited commentary. I post it not to toot my horn, but to counter generalized statements like Gunther’s that, while they have a generaized validity about how excessive mental forcing of the practices is generally dangerous – don’t apply to what’s being taught here.
40 Years of Practice: Kan & Li Works Best
I have had a strong daily practice for about 40 years. After 17 years of yoga (hatha and kundalini) I started studying Mantak Chia’s methods in 1982. I practiced them steadily until 1992 when I switched to Bruce Frantzis’s system. In 2001 I began to practice Dzogchen which included some tumo practice. About a year ago I returned to Kan and Li.
I relearned it from Michael’s tapes (Lesser, Greater, and Greatest) and practiced it with very gratifying results. I practice Kan and Li daily for about three hours in the morning. I am amazed every day at its efficacy in supporting non-dual awareness that is inclusive of all kinds of energy – five shen, plus elemental, earth, heaven, planes, celestial, etc., etc. His tapes made it possible for me to get to the level I now enjoy.
I believe Michael’s understanding of the method is quite profound. He understands the deep psychology behind the fusion practice and how the psyche evolves in response to experiencing non-dual awareness (yuan chi). He is knowledgeable about much of the scientific underpinning of modern physicists’ attempt to understand the cosmos. He is a well traveled adventurer in both the outer and inner worlds. As a teacher and fellow traveler, he is profoundly experienced and sure footed. I highly recommend studying with Michael Winn.
Stephen Josephs http://www.changewise.bizFebruary 26, 2006 at 10:03 pm #10914
I think that the topics that Gunther’s article circles are very profound, and I am dubious of anyone’s answers to date. And I don’t view as realistic statements near the ballpark of “It works safely and effectively for everyone like this: 1-2-3”.
Reading biographies of accomplished cultivators is educational, I think. Unvaryingly the task of Realization is extremely harrowing and rare. Difficulty and danger are not foreign to the path. And these are the people who’ve done well; the exceptional practioners. In all the serious schools, everyone else is acknowledged as confused. That’s just the reality of it.
This goes triple for the sexual practices.
Watching this forum for the last eight years or so, my observation is that results have been a very mixed bag; on the whole: difficult. People vary. Life is difficult. Spiritual work is the deepest long term, most challenging – and, yes, risky – work there is.
Its just not as simple and reliable, nor as easily observed, as a Lego set.
I think that turning alchemy into a modern-day-product is problematic for teachers. We, as modern consumers, are used to buying stuff that is “all put together and works”. As a teacher, saying “life is so complex and profound, and each individual varies so, I hope I can help you without screwing up too much” is not a usual sales pitch, but is probably closer to realistic. And is, for me at least, a more interesting conversation.February 26, 2006 at 10:33 pm #10916
Thanks for the info. I still think if someone wants to hear Gunther’s opinion, or anybody’s opinion, they should ask the person. I dont think you want others summing your views, especially some on this site.
baguaFebruary 27, 2006 at 12:59 pm #10918
The answer to “Is alchemy safe?” is clearly “nope”.
Seems to me that the more constructive question is:
“What are the dangers of alchemy?”
“How, specifically, can we go about navigating through those areas more safely?”
These questions lead to all sorts of very specific, and educational, conversations. Too lengthy, obviously, for just one post or one thread – but on-going. Its a significant part of what an aspirant’s education consists of, or could/should consist of. I would suggest that that is what both Mantak Chia, Michael Winn, and various other teachers are working on doing: making the teachings increasingly effective, and increasingly safe.February 27, 2006 at 11:35 pm #10920
Keith, you are right. But this type of conversations can’t take place for now. Go to the bookstore on the site and see what is being sold- after all the fancy talk about incorrect information and dangers of forced breathing. For those who are too dense to get it, I’m reffering to the original male sex book and iron shirt related merchandise.February 28, 2006 at 12:37 am #10922
In this case, I agree with Max’s point:
> I’m refering to the original male sex book and iron shirt related merchandise. >
Personally, I agree with Max on the point of both books.
However, the case of the iron shirt 1 material is backed up by HT actions. ie, the following:
1. Iron shirt packing breathing is not being actively taught. In 1999 a HT instructor posted, “Everyone who has studied with Master Chia knows that the packing practices in Iron Shirt have not been actively taught for quite a few years. The reason is that these practices were originally developed to be used by experienced martial artists with highly developed energy systems. If the energy channels are not already open, there will be problems.”
That post was ~7 yrs ago and mentioned that teaching the practice had been discontinued for “quite a few years”. That puts it, reasonably, in the vicinity of a decade .. ouch.
2. Your warning article about packing breathing.
So, both branches of HT know that people are getting too frequently injured by IS1 packing – to the extent that the practice is no longer taught, yet the book & video are still being sold. Basically, both branches are selling a product that they (and you) know is hurting people. Yipes.
Know that this isn’t easy or fun for me to write.
KeithFebruary 28, 2006 at 7:00 am #10924
I haven’t dropped sale of the iron shirt book because it contains a lot of good material on structure.
It’s also my perception that most people seek out a teacher before getting very deep into the practice.
This doesn’t preclude the possibility of misuse, of course. But I haven’t been hearing of any cases for years since the practice was changed within Healing Tao.
My iron shirt article (digitially preserved on your site), will be restored to my site and linked to the book.
The “new articles” feature on the site was just restored last week so I can post new material without paying backed up webmaster.
Your reminder will also motivate me to include an insert into the book to read my article on the dangers of excessive packing.
michaelFebruary 28, 2006 at 7:13 am #10926
Alchemy is just another word to describe “accelerated process of change”.
Is change safe? Not if someone is afraid of it and of what they will find inside themselves.
I think its far more dangerous to avoid change. And that the vibrational increases in this time zone demand accelerated rate of change. Those who fail to respond face elevated levels of confusion and possibly madness – far worse than those who experiment and use qigong and alchemy to change/heal themselves and keep pace with the changes.
So I would say life itself, which is the process of change, has risk, and alchemy shares that risk.
I would be interested in hearing what dangers alchemy has subjected you to personally.
And its seems that you’ve oversome those dangers, given the nature of your website.
michaelFebruary 28, 2006 at 7:32 am #10928
I red this with big interest. I have just been learning the energy packing breathing from the book iron shirt 1 last weak actually. Didn’t know about this discussion of the dangers of this breathing method. My healing tao/universal tao teachers in Sweden haven’t teached so much of the breathing exercises at all. So what to do? Is it recomended to skip this packing breathing all to getter or is it possible to exercise it from time to time in a small scale. Is it better to use the deep abdominal breathing in combination with reversed breathing while doing the iron shirt postures? Asking for i was quite happy about extending this exercises with the breathing beacase the iron shirt exercises have always been the hardest for me to do all the other introductory exercises have been much more easier for me. One reason is beacase i do not feel any energy doing the postures so they became quite boring. All this is on the way to change now and I took some side steps into kundalini yoga and did some other qigong and the exercises in the beginning of “taoist cosmic healing”, “awaken healing light”, “Taoist yoga and sexual energy”. Here it had happened alot and I feel its much more easy to feel energy in new exercises and then also more fun. So I got the spirit to do more of the Iron Shirt 1 as well. And by the way what about the other explanations in the Iron Shirt 1 of how to guide the energy while doing the exercises. Are they ok?
While talking exercises I wounder about this Urogenital diafragm. I can’t really understund how to close it. I can distinguish easily betwean the top of the penis, the gate of the penis (the same as how to stop the urin flow I guess), the perineum, The anus in five directions, And Betwean anus and coxygis. My guess is that the urogenital diafragm is the same as
the gate of the penis, but its not quite obvious from the iron shirt 1 book at all. Can you please explain this for me.
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