June 27, 2007 at 5:39 am #22680
Interesting piece by a NYC teacher. – Michael
ps. Very busy, but enjoying breaking in the chi here at Heavenly Mtn.
Sun Lutangs Martial Enlightenment & Structural mechanics
-dedicated to the late beloved Sun Jianyun and the Legendary Sun Cunzhou (from Sep/Oct Kung Fu/TaiChi Magazine, 2005)
By Ping zhen Cheng
Enlightenment or transcending above the ego-centric self, attaining inner actualization and joy has always been the shining light of Chinese Zen and Taoism Practice. However, throughout the martial arts history in both East & West, only a few great beings caught glimpses of certain stages of Enlightenment through the means of practicing martial art. One of the most influential masters of all times is Sun Lutang(__?, 1860-1933), the Martial Sage of China. As the pioneer of integrated internal arts, a reformer of all three styles of the Internal Family, his teachings on Marital enlightenment is not only systematic, but it also can be validated by both Taoism Alchemy principles and Jungs theories of actualized SELF and collective consciousness, as well as certain components of Zen and Vipassana teachings.
During an individuals limited existence, three issues have been causing major conflicts towards living a balanced and joyful lifethey are conflicts between the body, emotion, and the mind, or disharmonies between the lower, middle and the upper Dantians, or the 3 centers. The greatest obstacle preventing reaching oneness and Enlightenment has always been the constant struggles caused by random energies or opposing Needs and Wants between the body, the emotion and the mind. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, different Qi Patterns or Karmic Patterns are always influencing and pulling an individual toward opposite directions. Making any major or minor decision in life is ALWAYS a confrontational challenge of persuading the 3 centers to work together as one unit, and many times, the persuasions fail.
In marital arts training as well as in the school of life, the three Dantians are never willing to co-operate. Much energy is wasted during the conflicts and very little is accomplished. Without reaching Oneness, much of a practitioners martial arts training is just a sport of escape instead of an art, a study to remove the root of the inner problems. Realizing that much of the lifes energy is wasted during this never-ending vicious cycle and the short, precious nature of life itself, sages from all spiritual traditions have been creating PATHS, to observe, balance and unify the 3 Dantians or Chakras. Sun Lutang is simply a Master with martial arts as a skillful means to serve the purpose of inner liberation.
Sun style Xingyis core training, using Santi posture to align the upper, middle, and lower Dantians, is one of the most direct paths to solving this basic human dilemma. The Enlightened Martial Study(????_ QuanDao HeYi Xue) is based on self-observation and inner communication through movements, movements that create effects directly on the Channels and the 3 Dantians.
Xingyi practice starts with the Santi Posture(?__). The first stage of Santi training is: Creating an Observer: In Neidan practice (_?_ ), this is called LianJi( __), meaning the Alchemy or Practice of the self, transforming & polishing from a scattered, non-unified self to a balanced SELF, in order to serve the later stages of deeper meditation and realizing the freedom of no self. This stage utilizes two self-diagnosis and healing methods to observe while practicing the Santi Posture.
The first method is the 5 elements breathing diagnosis: the 5 unbalanced breathing patterns are: longer exhalations than the inhalations, -reflecting a Fire or heart imbalance; longer inhalations than the exhalationsreflecting a Water or kidney imbalance; Windy or noisy breathreflecting a lung or Metal imbalances; Interrupted or frequently paused breathreflecting a Wood or liver imbalance; and a combination of the previous 4 would be an Earth or digestion imbalance. Simply quieting the mind by applying awareness to listen to the breathing will not only serve the self-diagnosis purpose, but will also heal and remove all inner imbalances. As the practitioners breathing becomes more even and peaceful, a solid, non-scattered observer is created for the next stage of Xingyi practice.
The second self-diagnosis method is the 5 finger diagnosis, the balance and the unbalance between the internal organs & the 5 elements will be revealed vividly at the tip of the fingers. From the pinky to the thumb, the corresponding organs are kidney, liver, heart, spleen, lung. (note that this system is different from the meridian system of TCM). The Excessive or Yang elements would be expressed by a warm or expanded feeling of certain fingers, and the Yin or deficient ones would be expressed by cold and numb sensations. This diagnosis will not only diagnose and heal, it will also determine what the individual emphasize should be when learning Fajin training with the 5 element fists-which elements should be focused on the most for self-practice (the weaker elements for self-healing), and which would be the easiest arsenals to develop for successful martial applications & sparring. (The stronger elements.)
The second level of development in Santi is: balancing the 3 Centers with Expanded Awareness by applying some of the 9 essentials of Sun Style. When a relatively more stable observer is established, one can utilize the observer for inner alignments: the secrets of relaxing and unifying the 3 centers is to use a so-called expanded awareness based on Alchemys principles of holistic observation and avoid falling into the traps & common patterns of mind the narrow and limited ways of focusing, meditating or collecting the Qi (?_),. Any partial efforts of artificial breathing patterns, including all versions of the so-called Dantian or abdominal breathing are strictly prohibited during this stage of training. Otherwise work would be wasted and fell into the category of Post-natal or limited Qi (???_)training. It would disable the practitioner to tap into the pre-natal or unlimited Universal source (???_).
According to this principle, over 90% of todays Qigong or New Age meditation styles would fall into the Postnatal categories would not be able to reach the stage of true inner unification. If this sounds too extreme, readers can simply use some traditional standard to evaluate todays Qigong styles.
The traditional standards for a practitioner who has successfully completed the very early stage of real Qigong and Alchemy training, a pre-stage before forming the Neidan are the simple measurements of the practitioners Jing, Qi, and Shen(?_? ) level in daily life, corresponding to the 3 centers: When the Spirit is enriched, very little sleep becomes necessary, When the Energy is enriched, very little food is needed, When the Essence is enriched, very little desire is un-transcended. Looking todays world filling with Masters and healers, obviously not too many meet this basic standard. Not only does Suns life stories fully proved these standards, practitioners may also validate these standards with self-experience-1-3 months of correct Santi training would lead to the above results. Some of the following details of Santi are from teachings of Master Tong Xudong(??_), the most accomplished author and integrative master of both Sun Jianyun and Sun CunZhous ( __?,_??) teachings in China today.
The intellectual or mental center, the Top Dantian, is located near the forehead region, corresponding to all mental conflicts, and non-stopping inner chattering of the mind. They can all be transformed by a HOLISTIC VISION together combining with the 4th essential of Sun Style-Ding or align the back of the cervical with the rest of the spine: emptying the vision, dis-attach the eyes from ANY SPECIFIC TARGET and yet projecting a RELAXED vision toward the EMPTY SPACE before the index and the middle finger of the leading hand, only utilizes a small percent of focus. If standing on a left Santi stance, with short time of correct practice, energy sensation connecting the left middle & index fingers with both sides of UB1 would be felt. The key is to only lightly focus. In Neidan Alchemy as well as Zen meditation, the Percentage of focus or HuoHou(__), Intensity of the Fire, IS THE key whether a practitioner becomes enlightened or De-lightened. In Santi training, using this method incorrectly will lead to high blood pressure, sleeping disorder, excessive ego and violent temper and other fire syndromes. Both Shanxi and Hebei Xingyi teach a whole system of Reducing Fire Qigong to counter this possible side effect.
The Second Center is the middle Dantian or the emotional center. All emotional conflicts, the sum of all pressure and baggage from the past, can be balanced by constantly softening the chest and expanding the back both VERTICALLY AND HORIZONTALLY. This piece of Taiji and Xingyi Classic is the most widely misinterpreted as hollowing the chest and rounding the back.
When both relaxation and quietness is attained, without any efforts of trying to activate, Dantian breathing will be activated. When applying this correctly, all the excessive, negative emotion carried inside of the sternum region will naturally transform into healing forces, the fire will naturally drop downward by a simple commandment of INNER RELAXATION, poison will be transformed into medicine. Longer, abdominal breathing will be naturally formed. The second Sun essentials states: when Qi becomes smooth, the Yin Qi will drop downward following the Ren Channel. (Chapter 3, Bagua Quan Xue )
If this classic holds any validity, then again, many of todays martial arts, Qigong and Yoga practitioners practice the breathing incorrectly. Today, instead of working on inner personal issues and letting go, many of us are busy using our limited, ego-centered will to prolong the length of breathing, or to visualize Dantian, or to create warm sensations. All these will only carry one further away from the DAO, regardless how much self-created Qi sensation is experienced during the beginning stage. There will never be any real personality-transformational effects in the long run.
The 3rd center or lower Dantian deals with control, sexual and contentment issues, mostly issues related with the most primitive parts of the bodys desires. Following part of the Sun-Styles first, third and 8th essentials Ta, Ti, and Suo (___), folding the pelvic region and tucking the tailbone and the groin region SLIGHTLY upward, dropping and yet filling the kidney and waist regions downward. This downward and upward opposite adjustment forms a pair of powerful Yin & Yang forces, allowing the primitive energy from the bottom to communicate with higher energy sources from the top. The union of the opposites will thus bring true transformation to the inner personality. All 3-center related issues will be transformed into healing energy and Qi food for the two higher centers.
Eventually with constant training of balancing the 3 centers, qi on all 5 fingers or 5 elements would be balanced, the stage of healing is basically completed. Many issues from the past would also be resolved. Only if one is able to heal him/her self, one is able to help & heal others, not necessarily with Qigong or miracles, but simply by living with a natural being that is free from heavy issues and imbalances. Issues of the 3 center are the causes of most personal issues within as well as the external chaos in the world.
Overall, there are 2 mental traps and common faults for most practitioners during the first 2 stages of training: Either too much effort in getting result, therefore relaxation never becomes possible; or too easy-going in the head, believing that following the Shifus instruction or standing in the Santi alone can bring real results, while all the internal detailed are ignored and never actualized.
The Third Level of Santi Training: Establish 6 harmony and detailed mind-body connections in 8 directions. All structural connections in front-back, upward-downward, left-right as well as diagonal directions must be established not only in the head, but actually inner tendon stretching along the 8 directions must be felt physically. This is a must for developing Fajin and to expand the consciousness to the maximum potential. This indoor part of the training is whats missing in many of todays Xingyi teachings. Drawing B are some of the energy lines that have been considered as secrets in the lineages of Xingyi.
The greatest difficulty during this stage is to observe & stretch ALL the structural and energy lines at once. Many times only a partial Fajin or a Fajin with harmfully effects to the body is developed which is not rare in the internal history even among teachers. The best solution is to feel & stretch each pair of line connections at once, spending about 1-2 weeks of daily practice and still never sacrifice the relaxation of the 3 centers while applying SOME effort on the line connection. Then without sacrificing the previously established line connection, gradually add more lines. This progressive way of developing Fajin & tendon stretching has been widely adopted by many modern internal Masters of all styles in Mainland -Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji, Yiquan, to train the indoor disciples since the early 80s.
Eventually, when all 4 directions of projections are connected and performed with expanded awareness, every posture and every move will become a 3 dimensional sphere. Infinite techniques can be developed and created from 8 spherical Fajin patterns as both healing Qigong exercises and applications simultaneously.
As relaxation, observation, unification, energy projection get refined deeper and deeper, all layers of the mind-body connection will be established, and it will eventually lead the practitioner automatically merge into an ideal stage of training-the transformation of the Tendon, Bone and the Marrow, achieving the legendary effects of Internals 3 levels of Fajin-the visible Jin, subtle or invisible Jin and transcended Jin, systemized by both Sun & Guo Yunshen(??? ?.?.??_).
Just as in life, in a martial arts application, many times, even the best technique would fail because of the lack of coordination between the 3 centers. Lack of coordination in the body simply reflects inner disharmony of the psyche as well as imbalances in the channels, meridians and organs, which are all connected with the 3 centers. Sun style is simply a mirror, to reveal the unbalances of the practitioner in order to transcend above. Even facing an external opponent, or life & death situation, the real disturbance is still from within. Realizing this is the key to transcend all internal violence even if one has to kill externally in the battlefield.
Marital Enlightenment is like Enlightenment in Buddhism and Taoism in the sense that it is not something that is blurry and supernatural. Just like the martial ability, the level of Enlightenment or Realizing the Dao can also be examined and tested, and the best test is how a person lives and dies. Looking back in the history of martial arts, Sun Lutangs death was as much a legend as his life was, not only that he was fully conscious and ready to leave the earth when the day had came, he actually predicted (or chosen) the exact time in deep meditation and stated: To me, coming and leaving is the same as a game, a show , and left the earth in complete peace, like sages and saints in spiritual schools did.
Some of the principles in Sun Style are extremely sophisticated because it represents the highest level of martial arts development in Chinas history. Suns principle does not only transform a practitioners body, but equally transcends the practitioner personality & inherited weakness as well. This possibility of transformation and reconstruction of a new SELF is what makes Sun Style a milestone in the history of martial art. It actually breaks the limited boundary of the definition of Martial Arts, levitates the Art into the unlimited Martial Dao or Path, bringing true freedom to the practitioner, freeing the self from an unbalanced existence which is conditioned by the cycles and patterns from the past. It creates a new SELF in the light of consciousness, adding positive forces into the spiritual evolution of not only martial artists, but also to the whole human race.
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