September 7, 2006 at 9:17 am #17694
There was a string of postings that revealed how different Taoists use terms like “hun dun”, “wuji”, etc.
There is no consensus on these terms as far I am able to tell – different writers use them differently, depending on the application they seek to highlight. So Chinese medicine and martial artists and buddo-Taoists and neidangong specialists all used these terms differently over the thousands of years of use, which implies changes in culture and language.
The vast majority of writers are not practitioners of innner alchemy to any deep level, and so they have little use for making detailed distinctions between, say, wuji and yuan shen and early heaven. It’s unimportant for someone practicing chinese medicine, TCM doens’t even believe that shen can be manipulated for speeding up the healing process.
And Wuji-Taiji-Wuxing is a simple and sufficient cosmology for a martial artist – anything beyond the tangible physical is formless or empty, practically speaking, and no further distinctions are really useful to learning their movement forms or applications.
But I found, over 25 years of trying to make sense of mass of conflicting terminology, that I had to select out the terminology that was practical and useful for inner alchemy cultivators. “Hun” (from hundun) is the anceint term used to describe the primal state that precedes taiji. Ames and Hall (in Philosophical Daodejing) note that “hun” does not imply “emptiness” in classical use by early Taoists, but rather a positive connotation of “spontaneity” within the arising of the original self.
“wuji” is a later cosmological term that was added many centuries later, probably to match taiji.
Wu means “not”, “ji” means “to know”, so together we get “the not known”, what I render more poetically as the Supreme Mystery.
The brilliant french scholar Claude Larre in his excellent Survey of Traditional Chinese Medicine notes that radicals of the characters used to write “wuji” does not imply a void, but rather an opening from which the original breath comes.
Even modern quantum physicists have not been able to find a true void – there are just mysterious levels of “dark energy” that they don’t yet understand but can measure as having energy and presence.
Many Taoist writers, especially the syncretic ones from Song Dynasty onward (last 1000 years), use “wu” as Emptiness and use it interchangeably with the term Tao or Buddhahood. However I consider most of these syncretic writers to have deviated from the original sense of “hun” as original state of spontaneous self-arising, which is very different from the state-oriented Buddhist metaphysic of emptiness.
The syncretic writers are expressing the Chinese cultural value (Confucian) of creating “surface harmony” and trying to paper over differences, and that is fine with me on the cultural level. But for training purposes, clear language and clear intention are important.
The problem is compounded with translation into English, and the level of ambiguity is increased ten fold.
The translated words become meaningless when “non-being” and “emptiness” and “immortal self” and “dao” are all used interchangeably as concepts representing knowable ‘states”.
The whole point of spiritual science and using method to accelerate the evolution of self-realization, self-healing, and harmonizing personal and collective self is to be as precise as possible in defining the intention behind every method used to deepen one’s process.
If one simply wants to “have a religious belief about a state of mind that pre-exists or in a deity”,
then that is not method-based spiritual science, it is religious belief.
There is no point in arguing about religious belief – one either chooses to hold it or not, and arguing rarely convinces someone to change their belief.
That is why I focus on practice and the experience it engenders. The cosmological language is a useful adjunct in allowing practitioners to discuss more subtle levels of intention. If your religious belief does not include those subtle levels of existence, but is divided into only “here in the physical” and “there in the absolute/emptiness”, then alchemy will be of no use to such a person and their beliefs will interfere in the experiences of subtle bodies and subtle planes.
The life force is always listening to your intent, and responding.
This use of cosmological terms to clarify the subtle details of the alchemical process is why I have chosen my particular definitions of the terms – they correlate to practical and attainable levels of experience.
Whatever was once in an undifferentiated process of spontaneous self-arising has now differentiated itself, and thus the yuan shen-chi-jing in motion in early and later heaven I view as a different level of process than the primordial passive state (cosmic egg before it cracks open).
There is no right or wrong here, only a discussiosn about what is useful or not.
michaelSeptember 7, 2006 at 10:50 pm #17695
Very nice post.
Do we all share the same experiences walking through each of the formulas? In other words is the energetics of each formula and its corresponding Qi Field the same for all who walk this path?
baguaSeptember 9, 2006 at 9:56 pm #17697
This is a complex question to answer, since each person is having a private experience when they practice, and each person’s experience is filtered by their own unique yin-yang/5-phase constitution and their unique process (or Way-making) as they resonate with the method taught to them.
It’s probably why inner alchemy was mostly taught one on one historically, to allow the teacher to adapt the method to the individual constitution and level of mastery of each student. I try to do the same thing by offering an option to use methods in each formula that are more yin or more yang but can achieve a similar kind of self-completion. And I am careful to instruct practitioners to allow for personal response and spontaneous development to occur during guided practice. I make it clear I am offering a method and a principle to be used as a loose guide, and that my personal guidance should not limit their personal experience.
Since I am not physically present when someone who is practicing far away from me I will not comment on that, even though it is possible to attune to someone at a distance and share their experience energetically. But in that case I have no feedback to verify their experience of someone else, tand thus cannot know to what degree their experience correlates with my experience of that formula. Nor is it important to me that they have my experience of it – their experience and unfolding of the alchemical/transformational process is all that matters.
So the closest answer I can give to your question:
My experience, as the teacher monitoring the group chi field of students with different constitutions practicing together, is that each person is having their unique experience of a common field that is being stabilized at a particular frequency as a group process by myself and the group’s intention.
It is clear in the sharing that occurs afterwards that each person can be having very different experience/response to that group chi field/process. And its equally clear to me that their unique individual responses are triggered by the group’s practice of that particular formula.
Before practice, each individual was undergoing transformation, but at a slower rate and less intense frequency of change. Whne we joined together and focused on a single process designed to accelerate change, the change happens faster and more deeply.
A process involving transformation of consciousness is metaphorically well described by a river. A river has boundaries, it has a path, it folows principles (gravity leads it downhill, it concentrates smaller tributaries and rainfall, etc). But what the water does in the middle of that river cannot be predicted by the general principles or controlled by the banks of the river. Imagine each drop of water has having a degree of free will – they have to obey the general principles, but each drop can express itself.
The water in the river could be hitting massive boulders (resistance) and might generate mighty turbulences as it flows around them. Or it might be flowing serene as glass.
We are all drops in the river of Humanity’s flowing consciousness, and we all share the common banks of Heaven/formless/ sky above the river and Earth/form/land below the river.
But our individual experience within that flow is unique. We can expand our awareness and our skill at self-expression as long as we don’t violate the general principles of balance and harmony.
If you follow the metaphor of the river all the way to the ocean. It doesn’t really end in the ocean, which is commonly used to describe the whole. The ocean itself has vast currents hidden within its deeps that are commingled and affecting each other, and affecting the entire climate/whole of heaven-earth, and affecting the larger cycle of water evaporating and feeding the more clearly bounded aspect of Humanity flowing as a river on land (physical plane).
The individual drops of most humans lose their individual awareness when they arrive at the Ocean. An immortal is just a drop that has the ability to hold its consciousness/memory of being a drop, to simlultaneously concentrate itself with others into a whole new river of drops, or to shape-shift and exert its individual drop-will anywhere within the process (depending on its level of attainment) – and shape some aspect of the ocean-sky-river cycle/process.
I believe that with each cycle of personal flowing through this cycle/process of incarnation, Humanity refines its path and relationshiop to heaven-earth.
Long answer to a short question.
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