October 24, 2014 at 12:03 am #43202
The white-headed old man’s eyebrows hang down to earth;
The blue-eyed foreign monk’s arms support heaven.
If you aspire to this mysticism;
You will acquire its secret. (tr. Wang 1992:145)
Well, it’s a proccess… All questions seem to lead back to the Unknown.October 30, 2014 at 4:23 am #43203
The Nei Jing Tu picture that you show is discussed in some detail in the book by David Twicken “Eight Extraordinary Channels: Qi Jing Ba Mai”. You may consider picking up a copy.
SNovember 2, 2014 at 7:07 pm #43205
The eight main psychic channels: (1) the tu mo or channel of control rises from the base of the penis and passes through the coccyx up the backbone to the brain; (2) the jen mo or channel of function rises from the base of the penis and goes up along the belly, passes throught the navel, pit of the stomach, the chest and throat, before going up to the brain; (3) the tai mo or belt channel from both sides of the navel forms a belt which circles the belly; (4) the ch’ung mo or thrusting channel rises from the base of the penis, goes up between the tu mo and jen mo channels and ends in the heart; (5) the yang yu or positive arm channels in the outer sides of both arms link both shoulders with the centers of the palms after passing throughthe middle fingers; (6) the yin yu or negative arm channels in the inner sides of both arms link the centers of the palms with the chest; (7) the yang chiao or positive leg channels rise from the centres of the soles and turn along the outer sides of the ankles and legs before reaching the base of the penis where they connect other channels; and (8) the yin chiao or negative leg channels rise from the center of the soles and turn along the inner sides of the ankles and legs before reaching the base of the penis where they connect other channels…
-LU K’UAN YU, Taoist Yoga: Alchemy & Immortality
…some Taoist Yoga texts refer to the arm routes as the Yin Yu and the Yang Yu. Acupuncture texts, in contrast, include only the leg, trunk, and head routes…
-MANTAK CHIA, Taoist Cosmic Healing
What is this Zhao Bichen system of eight psychic channels about?
The most famous Neidan picture of the human body is the Chart of the Inner Warp (Neijing tu), whose main version is drawn on a stele, dating from 1886, now found on the walls of a building in the Abbey of the White Cloud (Baiyun Guan) in Beijing, on a stele next to the Xiuzhen tu (Chart for the Cultivation of Reality). Like other Neidan pictures of the body, the Chart of the Inner Warp should be “read” from the bottom upwards. The three main parts of picture, which shows a side view of the body, focus on the lower, central, and upper Cinnabar Fields, following the course of the Neidan practice. In the lower part, a boy and a girl who represent Yin and Yang are working on a treadmill placed in the Caudal Funnel (weilü), at the bottom of the spine. Inverting the stream of energy (actually the jing or Essence, depicted by the water course along the spine), they avoid that it flows downwards and is wasted. Water thus turns into a fiery furnace, which heats the lower Cinnabar Field placed near the four Yin-Yang symbols; these stand for the four external agents (Wood, Fire, Metal, Water), with the fifth one (the central Soil) represented by their conjunction. On the left of the Cinnabar Field is the “iron buffalo ploughing the earth and planting the golden coin,” an image of the first seed of the Golden Elixir. At the center is the middle Cinnabar Field, shaped as a spiral and located in the region of the heart. Just above it is the Herd Boy, who holds the constellation of the Northern Dipper, a symbol of the center of the cosmos. According to a famous Chinese story, the Herd Boy (corresponding to the constellation Altair) only once a year can meet and conjoin with the Weaving Girl (corresponding to Vega), who is pictured below him. At the level of the Weaving Girl, along the spine, is the Spinal Handle. Even higher, above and behind the Twelve-storied Pavilion (the trachea), is the Jade Pillow. The upper part of the picture represents the upper Cinnabar Field. Behind the mountains, on the left, the Control vessel (dumai, which runs on the back of the body) emerges; the old man sitting next to it is Laozi. Below the Control vessel, the Function vessel (renmai, which runs on the front of the body) begins; the monk standing with raised arms next to it is Bodhidharma (who, according to tradition, brought Chan Buddhism to China). The two dots stand for the eyes, and represent the Sun and Moon.November 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm #43207
That little fox will learn to be careful when crossing the ice, one hopes…
#64 (a joke)
David Twicken has many fascinating books, and I suspect that I’ll be studying them for some time. Thanks for the suggestion.November 6, 2014 at 2:52 am #43209
>>>What is this Zhao Bichen system of eight psychic channels about?
This is a different alchemy system that I don’t know that anyone has been able to successfully reproduce, as to my knowledge it is only presented in this book without enough substance to provide an actual transmission. I doubt you’ll get much insight here, as I’d be surprised if anyone knows.
SNovember 8, 2014 at 4:56 am #43211
One of the more widely known of such lines of transmission is the Qian Feng Pai or Thousand Peaks school, whose popularity stems from a book by Zhao Bi-chen “Secrets of cultivation of Life and Destiny”. This book was translated into English by Lu K’uan Yu, known also as Charles Luk and published under the title “Taoist Yoga, Alchemy and Immortality”. The orthodox Wu-Liu Pai school does not recognize Qian Feng Pai as preserving the full transmission.
I personally think that those formulae really work as they should but they simply are energetically less aggressive than UT/HT formulas.
It’s the translation which for present situation is inferior.
Recently there also have appeared more and more material in English about their tradition.
Ps. If picture comes through Zhao Bichen is at the left and one of his masters (Liao Kong) at the right.
(Translators Note: This article has been published in the Winter Edition 2013/2014 of Qi: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness (Vol. 23 – No. 4).
Daoist Master Zhao Ming Wang (赵明旺) [b. 1966] is a contemporary neidan practitioner living and teaching in Beijing, China. His system of qi cultivation has evolved from the Quanzhen (Complete Reality) School of Daoism, through its Longmen (Dragon Gate) branch. Grand Master Zhao Bichen (1860-1942) was a student of many eminent Daoist masters, (which included a number of Buddhists and Confucians) and amassed an impressive body of spiritual developmental material. This knowledge and wisdom formed the theoretical foundation of Zhao Bichens school known as the Qianfeng Xiantian Pai (千峰先天派). This is the Daoist School that the modern-day Master Zhao Ming Wang has inherited and continues to teach to anyone with a sincere wish to learn. The following interview is the culmination of a process that has lasted several months. During that time many pages of notes have been accumulated, and thousands of Chinese words translated. Master Zhaos explanations are always very clear and concise. Where required, I have supplemented Master Zhaos answers with indepth background research.)
ACW: Master Zhao Ming Wang, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for Qi The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness.
Master Zhao Ming Wang: It is important for the survival of Daoism that a worldwide recognition and understanding is cultivated of authentic Daoist teaching both inside and outside of China, and that practitioners and translators are able to correctly convey spiritual and developmental concepts from one language (i.e. Chinese) into another (i.e. English). I am aware of your articles in English about my great grandfather Zhao Bichen (赵避尘) [1860-1942] and his key student Niu Jin Bao (牛金宝 [1915-1988]. This interview is an important step in this process and I would like to thank the Qi Journal for presenting this valuable opportunity.
ACW: Where are you from? Where is the Qianfeng tradition based in modern China?
Master Zhao: The Zhao family is from Yang Fang village, situated in Changping District, which is roughly 50 km north of the city of Beijing. The Qianfeng School of Daoist cultivation has been based in Beijingsince the days of my great grandfather Zhao Bichen. Beijing has not only been the capital of China for centuries, but also of many progressive developmental schools.
ACW: Can you explain your Daoist lineage? It is my understanding that you hold two important Daoist lineages and that it is your lifelong task to preserve these practices and teach them throughout the world.
Master Zhao Ming Wang: I have inherited the body of knowledge that comprises the Zhao family neidan tradition, (or those cultivational practices passed on from one generation to next), and I am also the lineage holder of the Qianfeng ascetic Daoist tradition, which I have inherited from my great grandfather Zhao Bichen. To be specific, my great grandfather Zhao Bichen was the 11th generation descendent of the Longmen (龙门 – Dragon Gate) School of Daoism, as well as being the founder of the Qianfeng (Thousand Peaks) school. I am the 14th generation inheritor of the Longmen School and my lineage name is Fu Ming. I am also the 3rd generation inheritor of the Qianfeng Xiantian School (千峰先天派), or Thousand Peaks Earlier Divine Sky School,which passes on the Daoist method of Xingming Shuangxiu (性命双修). In the old days Beijing was the centre of much cultural exchange and progressive thinking, and the Grand Master Zhao Bichen was very much a part of this developmental process. The family tradition and the ascetic Daoist tradition are distinct but related lineages.
ACW: I understand that within the Daoist tradition it is often considered something of a taboo for a father to transmit a Daoist lineage to a son. Could you elaborate on this distinction and explain why this is, and how the Qianfeng tradition has been affected by this idea?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: There are actually two traditions of neidan cultivation the family practice, and the ascetic Daoist practice. In the former one is married and living in society whilst in the latter, one is celibate and lives in remote areas away from society. The Qianfeng School is essentially an ascetic Daoist lineage with strict rules forbidding a father transmitting the lineage to a son. The reason for this restriction is due to various ascetic Daoist lineages historically advocating celibacy, and living apart from society as a means of refining qi energy and attaining immortality, without the usual distractions associated with everyday existence. Grand Master Zhao Bichen, of course, eventually got married and my grandfather, Zhao Feng Xian, was his third son. Zhao Bichen could not formally adopt his son into the Qianfeng ascetic Daoist lineage himself, (as he was no longer a celibate ascetic), but rather asked his first disciple Wu Wen Huan (吴文焕) [Daoist name Xuan Yang Zi – 玄阳子], a doctor from Hebei province – to transmit the ascetic Daoist Qianfeng lineage, to my grandfather Zhao Feng Xian, on his behalf. With regard to myself, my grandfather asked Master Niu Sheng Xian to transmit the Qianfeng lineage to me. This is how the ascetic Daoist lineage of Qianfeng has become directly associated with the Zhao family of Yang Fang village, and explains how the two pathways of neidan practice have become integrated through our family tradition.
ACW: Who was your main teacher in the Yang Fang village? I understand that you have been instructed in the Qianfeng family Daoist art since a very young age.
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Yes, this is correct. From an early age I spent virtually all my time with my (paternal) grandfather Zhao Feng Xian (赵风贤). He was a master of Qianfeng Daoism and as the son of Zhao Bichen, had learnt directly from him. Grand Master Zhao Bichen passed away in 1942, and so all my knowledge of him comes directly from my grandfather and teacher Master Zhao Feng Xian. He would spend hours telling me about his father Zhao Bichen, continuously telling and re-telling all the old inspirational stories about him. It was during this time that I received extensive training in the Qianfeng teaching of Xingming Shuangxiu (Combined Mind-Body Essential Cultivation). Grand Master Zhao Bichen met one of his most influential masters – Liao Kong in 1885. Zhao Bichen received the essence of Daoism from Liao Kong and this transmission effectively created the Qianfeng tradition. In 1920, Liao Kong came to Beijing to give Zhao Bichen official permission to teach and openly receive students. This may be considered a very significant event as it marks the founding of the Qianfeng School. At this time, my great grandfather Zhao Bichen was 60 years old and was at the peak of his psychological and physical power. This can be attested to by the fact that just one year later, at the age of 61, Zhao Bichen had another son my grandfather Zhao Feng Xian. His birth followed directly after Liao Kongs advice to ensure that the Qianfeng tradition be preserved within the Zhao family as a treasure to be passed on from one generation to the next. Zhao Bichen had many Daoist masters and studied self-cultivation over a very broad area. He learnt many different techniques, and the supporting philosophy that had given birth to them. Through the influence of Master Liao Kong, all this learning became highly focused and specialised this is the Qianfeng tradition which Zhao Bichen handed to Zhao Feng Xian. Zhao Feng Xian learnt this system in its entirety and passed it on to me Zhao Ming Wang making me the official 3rd generation inheritor of the Qianfeng Daoist lineage. Grand Master Zhao Bichen gathered the scattered (but very valuable) traditional Daoist teachings together so that they could be preserved for future generations to benefit from. We learn this system and pass it on out of respect for the efforts made on our behalf by Zhao Bichen.
ACW: Thank you for your very interesting answer. You received the Qianfeng transmission from your grandfather Zhao Feng Xian, did he teach anyone else during his lifetime?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Yes. My grandfather Zhao Feng Xian transmitted Qianfeng lineage to three other disciples (outside the Zhao family) during his lifetime; one disciple was from the northeast of China Changchun city in Jilin province, another disciple was from Renqiu city in Hebei province (north China), and a third disciple was from the far-southern Ping Dong County of Taiwan. However, my grandfather taught me the inner principles of Xingming Shuangxiu (Combined Mind-Body Essential Cultivation), as well as secret Daoist teachings that are only passed on by word of mouth. This was a very traditional training and transmission of sacred knowledge.
ACW: Master Zhao you are the only contemporary lineage inheritor of the Qianfeng School of Daoist cultivation, can you explain the circumstances behind the actual transmission of the lineage to yourself?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Yes. Shortly before my grandfather Zhao Feng Xian passed away, he summoned me into his presence and with tears in his eyes stated:
The Zhao family Daoist tradition I now pass on to you. You must study well and uphold the family tradition. The Zhao family lineage now places all its hope in your ability to preserve and transmit the teachings of Grand Master Zhao Bichen. In this way you will ensure that the future is great and bright for the Zhao family lineage. You are now the Grand Master of the Zhao family lineage of Daoist cultivation and I give you Grand Master Zhao Bichens book entitled Combined Mind-Body Essential Cultivation Manual (Xingming Shuangxiu Gongfa Shoushu) and entrust you to preserve (and treasure) its teachings and pass them on.
Coupled with transmission I received from Master Niu Sheng Xian – this how I became the 3rd generation inheritor of the Qianfeng School of Daoist cultivation as founded by Grand Master Zhao Bichen and passed on within the Zhao family.
ACW: When it comes time to transmit the Qianfeng Daoist lineage to the next generation of the Zhao family, how will the process be carried-out?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: It is my intention to follow the traditional practice of requesting a qualified disciple (external to the Zhao family), to formally transmit the Qianfeng Daoist Schoollineage to the next generation of the Zhao family. This course of action maintains the Qianfeng rules as passed on by Master Liao Kong to Master Zhao Bichen, whilst also preserving the progressive and advanced thinking of Zhao Bichen and his vision of transmitting neidan teachings without restriction to the people of the world. This is a matter of traditional procedure adapted to the needs of a modern world.
ACW: When the Daoist lineages are transmitted, and permission to teach formally granted, what is the nature of the spiritual transmission? In other words, what is the vehicle of transmission?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: In 1920, Master Liao Kong met Grand Master Zhao Bichen in Beijing and formally transmitted the lineage of the Qianfeng School to him. Later, Zhao Bichen would transmit this lineage to his fully developed disciples. My grandfather Zhao Feng Xian, received this transmission from an external disciple, and I received if from my grandfather because I am not his son, and not subject to the father-son transmission taboo. What is transmitted is the Tian Ming (天命), or Divine Sky Command. This is the ability to teach the highest spiritual truth because the qi energy is permanently and completely refined, so that what is above is integrated with what is below and all is in divine order. Only someone who has attained immortality and longeivity is considered fully developed in the Qianfeng School, and a potential candidate for Tian Ming transmission. Someone who possesses the Tian Ming has the ability (and the authority) to teach and bring order and harmony to the world.
ACW: Master Zhao what is the specific developmental background of the Qianfeng School of Daoist cultivation? From the biographies available of Zhao Bichen it is clear that he was prepared to preserve ancient teachings by adapting them to modern circumstance. Indeed, the Western scholar Vincent Goossaert refers to Zhao Bichen as a new type of Daoist master
Master Zhao Ming Wang: This is correct. My ancestor Zhao Bichen very much believed in the effectiveness of traditional methods, but also in adapting and developing those methods to different or new circumstances. Zhao Bichen gathered together the true Daoist teachings and passed them on. In the Daoist schools of China there is the method known as the Xingming Shuangxiu Wai Lian Mi Chuan Gong Fa(性命双修外炼秘传功法 – Combined Mind-Body Essential Cultivation and Refinement Secret Transmission Exercise Law). This Daoist method is taught in the lineage of the Long Men (Dragon Gate) branch of the Quan Zhen (全真 Complete Truth) School, in which our school the Qianfeng Xiantian Pai (千峰先天派 – Thousand Peaks Earlier Divine Sky School) originates. He systematically investigated the many Daoist teachings regarding good health and long life, and eventually compiled the Xiantian Shuangxiu Wai Lian Gong Fa Shi Ba Shi (性命双修外炼功法十八式 -Eighteen Methods of Combined Mind-Body Essential Cultivation Exercise Law).
In 1933 Zhao Bichen published a manual of Daoist self-development meditational techniques entitled the Xingming Fajue Mingzhi (性命法訣明旨 – Secret Cultivation of Essential Nature and Eternal Life). An English translation of this book has become very famous in the West where it is known as Taoist Yoga and was compiled by the well known Chinese Buddhist translator Charles Luk (1898-1978). It is my understanding that Charles Luk made this translation because he had trained in my great grandfathers Qianfeng School, and wanted to spread the teaching into the West. Today, this lineage is still practiced in the UK, and the book Taoist Yoga has inspired many other people across the world.
The Xingming Fajue Mingzhi continues to be a very important and useful book both inside and outside of China today, and its importance should not be understated. It is very popular amongst lay-people who wish to practice neidan shu (內丹術) whilst living in ordinary circumstances and going about their daily business. The Xingming Fajue Mingzhi is arranged around 16 levels, or stages of progression, through which a Daoist student must travel, so that the ultimate goal – immortality (仙 Xian) which Western scholars have previously translated as transcendence, and enlightenment – can be attained. Each stage has an associated illustration and explanation, and the entire system of development is explained through Zhao Bichens answers to the recorded questions of his students. In 1934 Zhao Bichen published another of his books entitled the Weisheng Shengli Xue Mingzhi (Clear Explanations of Hygiene and Physiology – 衛生生理學明指), a text that elaborates on the terminology found in the Xingming Fajue Mingzhi. This book is also known in the West as it was translated into French by the scholar Catherine Despeux in 1979. Although a traditionalist by nature, my great grandfather Zhao Bichen was also progressive and forward thinking. Our Qianfeng tradition is in reality an adaptation of an old and valid system of Chinese developmental medicine, which has been made relevant to modern social conditions.
This is a system of mind and body development that has its roots in the culture of ancient China, but which has survived into modern times. Great thinkers like Zhao Bichen (and others), have been able to adjust the old teachings to changing times, without diminishing the effectiveness of the ancient techniques. To achieve this, a scholar must train their mind to become equally aware of the validity of the past, and the realities of the present time. This means that a scholar must pursue a path of self-development whereby he or she becomes familiar with the greatest possible array of different systems of thinking, so that parallels can be identified and utilised in the transformational process. The Qianfeng tradition is an old path practiced in modern times with no contradiction. Zhao Bichen, through his advanced educational attitude, respected the past and the present equally.
ACW: I would like to enquire about Master Zhao Bichens attitude toward the West. He lived during a tumultuous time in Chinese history that saw the rise of Western imperialism in China, the collapse of the ancient Chinese imperial system, the establishment of the Republican era, and the invasion of China by imperial Japanese forces. How did Zhao Bichen respond to these events, and how did these experiences mould his ideas and attitudes?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Zhao Bichen was born and brought-up in Beijing, the capital of China. Many of the political, social, and cultural changes you describe as tumultuous, occurred first in Beijing. Even within the old imperial system, changes of emperor often led to changes of official policy that swept outward across the city and into the country. The people of Beijing have been used to change for many generations and this has created a great ability that simultaneously accepts change whilst facilitating adaptation to its presence. In a sense, the psychology of Beijing is one of a heightened state of prepared readiness to encounter the new. This is an important aspect of the Qianfeng tradition, which has enabled it as a Chinese tradition to appeal to those living outside of Chinain a meaningful way.
This attitude stems from Zhao Bichen himself, who advocated the exploring and experiencing of new ideas before developing a judgement about them. It should be understood that my great grandfather Zhao Bichen only became a full-time Daoist practitioner in his 60s before that time, he lived in society as an ordinary being, who got married and had children. At this time he integrated his Daoist practice with everyday life which included working as a minor official in the salt administration, and later as a merchant. Although some Daoist traditions do not encourage marriage, one of Zhao Bichens teachers Master Liao Kong was of the opinion that to get married and produce sons was an important act of filial piety that could not be ignored. If the passing on of generational qi was not achieved, then Master Liao Kong believed that immortality could not be achieved this is why Zhao Bichen got married, and aimed his teaching primarily towards the laity. However, he was not opposed to monastic practice, and saw the validity of both modes of development.
Zhao Bichen was in many ways a traditionalist as he respected the past and although he did look toward the West for inspiration, he was also a patriot of China. He was fascinated with Western systems of logic that seek to order the thoughts in the mind toward a specific subject of enquiry. In this regard Zhao Bichen was particularly interested in Western science, medicine and anatomy, and made a thorough study of these subjects. This body of knowledge may well have influenced his formulation of Qianfeng as a distinct tradition, allowing for what was seen as a foreign system of thinking at the time, to influence Chinese theorising and ultimately integrate with traditional Daoist thinking. However, it must be made clear that Zhao Bichen, although open minded, still believed that traditional Daoist mind and body cultivation techniques were very effective in their own right, and that they were based upon an ancient Chinese science that had developed separately from that found in the West. This reflects the traditional foundation of the Qianfeng School with its roots deep in the soil of Chinese ingenuity, whilst its outer appearance adapts to prevailing circumstance. Even this adaption finds its expression in old Chinese texts such as the Daodejing (道德經) and the Yijing (易經), amongst many others, and allows for the engagement of other cultures. Even Japanese scholars – such as Yokote Yutaka – have made a study of my great grandfathers teachings. Zhao Bichen reached out to the West in many ways, and I think he had a profound interest in Western things. This is why the Qianfeng School encourages people from all over the world to study its teachings, thus preserving and perpetuating Zhao Bichens advanced and progressive attitudes.
ACW: The Qianfeng neidan tradition has seated (meditational) practices, as well as various qigong and martial routines. It is an all round system of mind and body development. How has the Qianfeng tradition established such an all encompassing approach to self-cultivation?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: People should understand that in China even modern China self-developmental techniques premised upon daily practice are part of the psychological fabric of the Chinese people. It is not unusual for people to practice an exercise that suits them on a daily basis as a means to retain psychological and physical health. From this perspective the Qianfeng tradition is a specific reflection of a broader Chinese cultural habit. Zhao Bichen was brought up in a village that was full of many different spiritual practices. This was a diverse psychological and physical environment that gave much scope and opportunity for training in various cultivational arts. When young, Zhao Bichen was often ill as a child, and when he was around 15 years old, it was his mother who took him to a village Daoist by the name of Liu Ming Ru a very well respected and eminent neidan practitioner o the Quanzhen School. Master Liu cured him of his ailments and accepted him as a student. This was Zhao Bichens introduction into formal Daoist training. After this, he became a student of Liu Yun Pu (also in the village), who was himself a renowned martial artist and doctor. Liu Yun Pu taught his Daoist techniques openly and was well known for his generous nature. Village self-defence has been a Chinese tradition for thousands of years, but the fighting styles employed in this training, although designed to protect an individual from attack, have a much more profound and deeper meaning. Yes, on the surface the movements of these arts have an obvious martial application, blocking a kick or punch, tripping or throwing an opponent, punching an assailant, etc, but the physical movements have another function. Martial arts training strengthen and build strong muscles and bones. A healthy body is efficient in resisting an enemy attack. However, it must be understood that martial arts training in its basic form cultivates energy by taking the essential inner qi energy and directing it to the outside of the body – that is toward the external structures. This is why the Xingming Shuangxiu cultivation method of Qianfeng Daoism redresses these imbalances and re-directs the qi energy back into the interior of the body so that both inner and outer are developed equally. The refinement of essential qi energy is where both activities complement one another. The experience of this training process leads to self-healing, and often motivates practitioners to become doctors so that the suffering of others can be alleviated this is the application of Daoist compassion toward the broader society and the world.
ACW: Grand Master Zhao Bichen refers to his School as Qianfeng (千峰), or Thousand Peaks. Why did he choose this name and what is its significance?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Master Liu Ming Ru built a temple named Tao Yuan Guan (桃园观), or Peach Garden Temple, situated on the Qianfeng Mountain (千峰山), Changping County, in 1868. The other name for this temple is Ga La (旮旯), or Out of the Way Corner. When Zhao Bichen was a boy he was taken to this place to train with Master Liu Ming Ru this is where his illnesses were cured through the practice of Xingming Shuangxiu (Combined Mind-Body Essential Cultivation). Zhao Bichen, despite training with many other masters, never forgot the remote beauty of this place. When he received Quanzhen (Longmen) School lineage transmission from Master Liao Kong in 1920, Zhao Bichen named his school after the Qianfeng Mountain area due to his innate connection with this sacred place. This explanation may be added to the fact that Zhao Bichen wanted to teach everyone neidan techniques and the thousand peaks represent the multitude of the people.
ACW: The practice of neidan (內丹) is central to Daoist cultivation and practice. Can you explain its origin and purpose?
Zhao Ming Wang: Neidan are a set of exercises that vary from one Daoist tradition to the next, that are designed to work through the cultivation of inner (內- Nei), developmental medicine (丹 -Dan). This internal medicine cultivation makes use of the Three Treasures (三寶 San Bao), which are Jing (精), Qi (氣), and Shen (神). From a historical point of view, these practices are believed to date back to the time of the Yellow Emperor (2697-2597BCE), and are represented in the various Daoyin (導引) and Qigong (氣功) exercises. In the Qianfeng tradition, for example, neidan can be practiced in such away so that the mind (shen) is calmed through seated meditation, whilst regulating the breath (qi), and settling the body (jing). Qi circulation is enhanced by removing physical and psychological blockages in the mind and body, so that qi can flow to the centre of every inner organ without hindrance. The mind, of course, is linked to the nervous system (which are both included in shen), so that by calming the mind, qi can be directed by the will, with ease throughout the system. By building concentration and relaxation, the mind and physical structures are strengthened by a stronger (and greatly refined) circulation of qi within (and around) the living organism. Neidan builds awareness and sensitivity so that an ever deepening level of insight is developed within the practitioner. This culminates in universal awareness and a unification of jing, qi, and shen. Neidan is essentially the cultivation of qi this is the doorway to all advanced development. Zhao Bichen was taught by Master Liao Kong that at the highest level of neidan attainment, the practitioner realises a return to nothingness, so that an all-embracing presence is achieved within and throughout empty space. The mind becomes still and all movement ceases this is called hibernating dragon. All previous manifestations and transformations (such as riding dragons and storks, walking on the sun, or playing with the moon) return to this emptiness. Qi is no longer wasted and shen (mind) and body/environment (jing) are in perpetual harmony. There is a complete serenity of being which must be maintained until the falling away of the body (at death). This is the practice of longeivity and the attainment of immortality.
ACW: What is the relationship between Chinese Buddhism and Daoism? Although there have been incidences throughout Chinese history of different emperors preferring one religion over the other, and acknowledging that sometimes Daoist and Buddhist schools are openly antagonistic to one anothers teachings, how does the Qianfeng tradition approach this subject?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: The Qianfeng tradition has always maintained a good relationship with Chinese Buddhism in general, particularly the Chan tradition. Charles Luk who translated Zhao Bichens neidan text was himself a prominent and well known Chan Buddhist and disciple of Xu Yun (1840-1959). Master Liao Kong whom I mentioned earlier was a Buddhist master and Daoist practitioner in the Quanzhen School. Zhao Bichen respected him very much. This attitude of respect toward Buddhism may be taken as the official Qianfeng policy on this matter, and I shall explain why. Buddhism and Daoism are interlinked. Buddhist teaching is designed to acquire a very advanced state of mind and body this is enlightenment. Within the Daoist School much effort is needed to cultivate qi (energy) and refine the mind and body. Both systems rely on a great self-effort to achieve transformation and acquire a healthy mind and body. The important thing to remember is that throughout Chinas history, there has been Buddhists (both lay and monastic) who have simultaneously practiced Buddhist meditation and Daoist cultivation techniques without any contradiction or conflict. Whatever method one employs for self-development, it is important to remember that it is the same qi (energy) that is being cultivated. At one time (in 1895), Zhao Bichen spent time at the Jin Shan Chan Buddhist Temple (金山禅寺) situated in Jiangsu province (where he originally met Master Liao Kong), so you can see the close relationship between Buddhism and Qianfeng Daoism.
ACW: It is obvious that in modern China the Qianfeng tradition is open to anyone who wants to train in effective Daoist cultivational techniques. This broad and welcoming approach to the spread of authentic Daoist technique has its roots in the system established by Zhao Bichen. In other words, it appears to very much reflect his character. What can you say about the type of people Zhao Bichen attracted and accepted as students and disciples?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: In the post-1911 Republican era it was very much a case of modernisation across the board. Many of the old ways regarding secret societies, oaths, instruction by disembodied spirits, an emphasis only on monastic training, clannishness, and gender bias, etc, were all viewed as out of date by Zhao Bichen. He felt that the more appropriate way to guarantee the survival of authentic Daoist neidan techniques was by throwing the doors of the training hall wide open and thereby increasing the numbers of people receiving instruction in the school. This is exactly what he did. He had disciples from all walks of life, including couples, women, businessmen, merchants, soldiers, and even opera singers. Zhao Bichen encouraged anyone to train in Qianfeng Daoism even the elderly. He believed that practitioners should spend more time on specific self-cultivation training, and less time pursuing superstitious ritual and practices designed to produce positive merit. Although Zhao Bichen encouraged a broad appeal for Qianfeng teachings amongst the people, it should be remembered the higher teachings of the Qianfeng tradition involve retiring to a quiet place and engaging in intensive meditation usually assisted by a dedicated attendant. Zhao Bichen certainly popularised Daoist cultivation techniques, that is true, but at no time did he water-down the teachings, far from it. He possessed the ability to explain complex terminology in a manner that ordinary people could understand and apply to their self-cultivation practice, this why his students came from a very broad cross-section of society.
ACW: Master Zhao, do you have any experience, or can you give an example of how Daoist cultivation techniques have been used effectively within the context of the modern world?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Certainly, I can. From 1998 2001, I worked as the Drug Ward Director of the Beijing Drug Rehabilitation Centre. During this time I used traditional Daoist self-cultivation techniques, coupled with traditional Chinese medicine, as a form of all round therapy and treatment. This worked very well and assisted many people to cure themselves from the habit of drug addiction. This is a practical demonstration of how ancient Daoist techniques can be of specific use even in the most modern of societies, to assist the established medical profession to treat and cure patients. It is a matter of adapting to new circumstances, coupled with the ability to integrate old wisdom with new knowledge. Today, many people practice qi refinement and cultivation exercises (炼功 Lian Gong), and refrain from eating grain (辟谷 Bi Gu) for 10 days at a time as a means to develop the mind and body, but in reality it is the long term practice of the authentic Daoist practice of Xingming Shuangxiu that is required to improve all round health in the practitioner. It is important to remember that each individual must spend a lifetime dedicated to training in Daoist qi cultivational techniques if true development is to occur. This training requires a respectful state of mind that is thankful toward the true masters of the past, and which carefully studies, practices, and passes on the authentic Daoist developmental techniques in modern times. If a practitioner does not have a sincere mind and heart, and does not seek the advice of a genuine master, how can the true teaching be transmitted? Everyone who practices the Xingming Shuangxiu method of the Qianfeng School must first cultivate the mind toward good and virtuous thoughts and intentions. In reality, those who have realised enlightenment live and die according to the Dao (道) without any deviation from the correct path. Regardless of ones circumstance in the world, if a genuine and sincere mind is cultivated, then the true Daoist path will be discovered.
ACW: What are your plans for the future development of the Qianfeng School in the contemporary world?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Today, our school – the Qianfeng Xiantian Pai is growing very well. There has been a steady increase of students coming to train in our school not only from within China, but also from abroad. Some of those training in the Qianfeng tradition, and who have a sincere and genuine mind, often request to become disciples. They honour the master and respect the teachings of the Dao. It is my sincere intention to venerate the teachings of our predecessors, and transmit them to everyone without exception. This intention follows the teachings of the ancestral sages, who taught everyone regardless of whether they are rich or poor, providing they possessed a genuine mind and heart. In this way, everyone can learn the Qianfeng method of neidan without exception. Zhao Bichen (and his brother Zhao Kuiyi) contributed much to the preservation and development of Daoist neidan knowledge. He used the various social networks that existed in Beijing during his lifetime to perpetuate his Daoist knowledge and wisdom amongst the people. He did this very successfully. In many ways the use of the internet to connect with people around the world is a development of this policy. The internet is very important to connect different people together and disseminate important information. Instruction by the written word can be effective for self-development providing there is correct guidance available this is the basis of Daoist instructional manuals that could be copied and passed from one person to the next. Many people in the past have made use of these manuals and achieved a great deal even without the presence of a master. Zhao Bichen had no trouble gaining access to masters, and it is recorded that he trained with over 30 in number 36 to be exact. They were not all exclusively Daoist, as he placed equal weight on learning from Buddhists and Confucians alike. This is because Daoism has permeated into the other philosophical systems to a remarkable degree. Master Liao Kong, for instance, was a Buddhist monk who was the Abbot of a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing. It is interesting to note that as a Buddhist master, Liao Kong was a Daoist master of the Quanzhen tradition. This is why Zhao Bichen did not accept sectarian attitudes in the Qianfeng School. In the Qianfeng School, everyone, from whatever background, is invited to study the neidan techniques and attain longeivity and immortality.
ACW: Master Zhao Ming Wang thank you for answering my questions. If people would like to contact you regarding the possibility of studying in the Qianfeng School, how can they contact you?
Master Zhao Ming Wang: Those interested in the Qianfeng system should contact me through email, and read my (Chinese Language) blog:
Master Zhao Ming Wangs Traditional Chinese Daoist Health Blog
Master Zhao Ming Wang’s Email: email@example.com
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2013November 8, 2014 at 6:37 am #43213
Traditional Chinese medicine primarily is based on systems of correspondences, which reveal the relationships between the universe and the human body. Bridging the relationship between macrocosms and microcosms are classic Taoist cosmological diagrams, including the He Tu and Luo Shu. Each diagram has profound applications in the theory and clinical practice of Chinese medicine, including the classic pairings of the Eight Extraordinary Channels.
-http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=30314 (David Twicken article)
So maybe one can simply conclude that actually one can start energetic practices (pranayama/pranavidya)as well without very detailed theory about points, lines, symbolic diagrams etc.
But it very much helps if ones has enough information (like that M. Chia book ‘Awaken Healing Energy Through The Tao: The Taoist Secret of Circulating Internal Power’) which can guide in the beginning when one is confused about everything.
But one shouldn’t also ignore that certain draconian elemental constituent as a source of knowledge and wisdom.
Ps. Sorry for my broken English.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2ihIa5nsXY (mortalkombatXquanchitrailer)November 9, 2014 at 4:06 am #43215
It was an interesting interview.
It’s great to see more and more stuff coming out re: Daoist alchemy.
SNovember 9, 2014 at 4:09 am #43217
Really all a person needs is a set of spiritual practices . . .
Something that one can actually DO.
The rest is just technical and analytic detail that doesn’t serve as anything other than food for the mind. Ultimately not terribly important, except as maybe a guide to choosing the right practices when first starting out.
SNovember 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm #43219
Bring your awareness to mooladhara chakra. Your consciousness will slowly ascend the frontal passage of arohan from mooladhara to the frontal point of swadhisthana at the pubic bone, manipura at the navel, anahata at the sternum, the chest centrum, vishuddhi at the throat and across to bindu at the top, back of the head. As you travel upward, mentally repeat , ‘mooladhara, swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi, bindu’, as you pass through these centers. Do not make a serious, tense effort to locate the chakras as you pass through them. Merely glance at them as you go by, as you would view the scenery from a fast moving train. If you wish, you can visualize your awareness in this kriya as a thin silver serpent travelling in an ellipse within your body.
-SWAMI SATYANANDA SARASWATI, Meditations from the Tantras
When the 16th century Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci tried to introduce memory techniques to Chinese Mandarins studying for the imperial civil service exam, he was met with resistance. The Chines objected that the method of loci required so much more work than rote repetition, and claimed that their way of memorizing was both simpler and faster.
-JOSHUA FOER, Moonwalking with Einstein
“This is the shadows’ world,” the emissary’s voice said as soon as I was there. “But, even though we are shadows, we shed light. Not only are we mobile but we are the light in the tunnels. We are another kind of inorganic being that exists here. There are three kinds: one is like an immobile tunnel, the other is like a mobile shadow. We are the mobile shadows. The tunnels give us their energy, and we do their bidding.”
The emissary stopped talking. I felt it was daring me to ask about the third kind of inorganic being. I also felt that if I did not ask, the emissary would not tell me.
“What’s the third kind of inorganic being?” I said.
The emissary coughed and chuckled. To me, it sounded like it relished being asked.
“Oh, that’s our most mysterious feature,” it said. “The third kind is revealed to our visitors only when they choose to stay with us.”
“Why is that so?” I asked.
“Because it takes a great deal of energy to see them,” the emissary answered. “And we would have to provide that energy.”
-CARLOS CASTANEDA, The Art of Dreaming
At least M. Chia is teaching very exact routes and if normally the 8 extraordinary channels don’t have hand routes UHT formulae have.
So because channels and points are so exactly located, it’s also of course necessary to start in very hands-on manner.
If somebody don’t yet have that David Twicken book, next question would be if in his book, for clinical practice and neidan meditation, vessel routes are different?
Ps. Sorry for my broken English.November 23, 2014 at 4:23 am #43221
This is an area of BIG confusion.
Many HT instructors have gotten confused and put the Regulator channels (Yin Wei and Yang Wei) on the arms. This is a big misunderstanding. They have not–and never will–be on the arms.
Twicken’s pathways are correct and show the Regulator channels going down into the legs, just like the Bridge channels (Yin Qiao and Yang Qiao) do.
Many of Chia’s books on this topic are not correct. While they have the pathway down into the legs, they also incorrectly show a pathway down the arms added on top of it. For instance, the popular book “Fusion of the Eight Psychic Channels” (which is basically the Fusion 3 course) has this problem. Chia had a lot of different people help him write his books. While this was good in that it helped him get a lot of books published, it means that there is varying quality, consistency, and accuracy in his books . . . limited by whether these students/instructors were feeding him incorrect info.
So if you want the correct pathways for the 8 Extras, you need to get Twicken’s book.
The big part that people everywhere get confused on, is the difference between the Eight Extraordinary Channels—none of which go into the arms–and the Macrocosmic Orbit which includes all 8 of the extraordinary channels PLUS the arms additionally.
Unfortunately there are a number of Healing Tao instructors that are still teaching this incorrectly, either because they don’t know about the problem, or because they do know, but have stubbornly refused to admit that they made a mistake earlier.November 25, 2014 at 1:31 am #43223
Vidyâ or Vidhya means “correct knowledge” or “clarity” in several South Asian languages such as Sanskrit, Pali & Sinhala.
Yes, but here also Zhao Bichen formulas are different.
That’s the reason I have tried to ask about it several times from Twicken himself too.
I would personally say that one should take from the practices first of all elements which one can understand.
Also one shouldn’t fix anything too quickly as something terminally solved.
Sorry for my broken English.
Ps. In pranayama pranavidya exercises are not taught immediately dogmatically, but as a method to learn to know prana.November 25, 2014 at 2:25 am #43225
A lot of people who write up alchemy try to overlay a bunch of technical data (e.g. acupuncture routes) onto what they are doing, but the information they look up isn’t correct. Then this false info gets repeated by others who use them as a source, saying “XXX says so”.
The big problem is that even people who have heard that the Regulator channels are not on the arms still repeat this drivel because they say “but the master and coupling points are on the arms”. All this does, is make them appear stupid to anyone that knows anything. For starters, many of the 8 extra channels have master/coupling points on the arms, but the channels are not anywhere near these. For instance, the Governor/Du (spine) has its master point on the hand, so does the Conception/Ren (front of chest), but no one would be so foolish as to think that these channels go into the arms.
People just make stuff up all the time, and this is a big problem.
David’s info is correct.
I’ve seen his book.
ALL FOUR of the Bridge and Regulator channels go into the legs.
Here are the actual channels of the Bridge and Regulator channel system:
Yang Bridge (Yang Qiao)
Yin Bridge (Yin Qiao)
Yang Regulator (Yang Wei)
Yin Regulator (Yin Wei)
The Regulator channels are NOT on the arms. I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for folks.
SNovember 28, 2014 at 1:23 am #43227
I appreciate your saying so. I hope some clarification of course material is given in due course. Nice to wash those arm channels – now know that is macro orbit.
Getting used to tracing these feet to head ones as per the Twicken 8 extras book.November 28, 2014 at 3:31 am #43229
The diagram on page 205 of my copy does have the Yin Wei channel branching near armpit to run down inner arm. So it is a bit confusing.
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