September 5, 2006 at 8:25 am #17575
I don’t know if you described the specifics of your breathing method, i.e. exactly what mental focus you use while watching the breath, is it concentrated in dantian only, or along whole pathway of the breath.
So I will just post some general comments. Taoists use hundreds of different breathing methods to concentrate the life force and focus it in specific ways. “Watching the breath” would be considered to be foundational method of self-awareness.
Benefits of Watching the Breath:
1. Calms the mind, which is most easily disturbed by insecurities and traumas of the lung spirit/po soul. This can be expressed by inability to breathe physically, or by ungrounded mental and emotional states.
2. Po soul is essential to integration with other shen. If Po is scattered, the others will be scattered. So practice induces a kind of pre-fusioin state, and fusion can also take place spontaneously if practice goes on long enough for adept to accumulate enough chi to jump to a deeper level of “breathing”, i.e. subtle body breathing.
3. Breathing practice develops one’s metal/gold element (does not exist in Buddhism, so accept this as outside viewi). Metal/po soul’s virtue is ability to contract the essence of chi into personal self. In fact, heaven cannot descend and sustain itself in individual human without assistance from personal will to breathe, which keeps us in the physical.
On other hand, po cannot exist without “outbreath” that returns something to the macro/larger field, regulated by our Hun/liver soul. So hun and po keep each other in balance.
4. it gives the body an immediate source of greater or more pure (assuming one is breathing clean air) post-natal energy, and thus temporarily strengthens the body. That post-natal chi can be converted into more spiritual forms of chi by skilled adept, or simply spent in the daily necessities of life.
5. If one goes deep enough into any method, one may shift into “witness” state, i..e some level of yuan shen
watching what the lung spirit is doing. This shift is caused by spontaneous fusion that happens when great one-pointedness is achieved.
1. Adept can get ATTACHED to physical breathing, to physical energizing of breath or its physically calm state, and even though that is beneficial initself, it can become a “wall” that can prevent one from shifting to more subtle forms of breathing/functioning. One stays at an energetic frequency of physical yin-yang that one should eventually outgrow.
2. This is the main problem with ANY physical breathing technique, and why I offer a Blissful Breathing Qigong (Ocean, Sky, and Great Heart Qigong on DVD) to integrate energetic channels/3 dantian with physical breathing.
3. Even though one may “fuse” and shift to inner witness level, if one get attached to that state of passive tranquility, one may not progress to next level of “acting” in the world from that state, i..e using it to fulfill one’s worldly and spiritual destiny.
4. Physical breathing method as the only engine of one’s spiritual growth i think is slower than using other methods of qigong and alchemy simultaneously. But certainly not inherently inconflict with either.
1. I had my first major breakthrough in 1978 while watching my breath for up to 5 hours a day (while in Africa, on journalistic assignment). This activated a kind of kundalini-like explosion that suddenly activated my subtle bodies and made me aware of possibility of breathing in other dimensions.
This was achieved by watching the PAUSE between inhale and exhale, and gradually lengthening that pause or neutral state between the yin-yang of in-out breaths. I believe I accumulated great neutral force/yuan chi which eventually converted itself into higher level yin-yang pulsation, as it always does. (to focus on Pause as Emptiness or project it as “wuji” might produce different result, cannot say).
Key is to relax into the pause, not force outholding or inholding of breath. Eventually the neutral state betweenbreaths becomes longer and longer as you get more deeply relaxed.
This is simplest method. In Qigong Fundamentals 3/4 I elaborate ont his experience and my understanding of counter-force breathing, which is another way of “watching the breath”, only you watch both your naturla breathing and your energy body’s yini-yang pulsation and you hold attention (one pointedness) on their neutral point of intersection in the lower dantian. It is more complex to master and cannot be taught by email.
Hope this offers food for practice.
Breathing from the same chi field with you,
MichaelSeptember 5, 2006 at 8:35 am #17576
>>This was achieved by watching the PAUSE between inhale and exhale<<
KNEW i was onto something! NNSeptember 5, 2006 at 11:51 am #17578
The point is that the moment is perfect. In the moment, everything is perfect and in balance. When we attune to the moment, without needing to change anything, we also attain perfection, realizing that we, ourselves are perfect.
So, we observe the breath in every moment. Not just the pause, but as it goes out the nose, or in the nose, wether it is warm or cool, deep or shallow, just observing it in order to become more aware of the moment. In one second, how many moments are there? Too many to count!
So we simply put all our attention to every single moment of the breath without changing it. The purpose is to experience it at its fullest. When we experience reality at its fullest, our ego cannot stand in the way and so it becomes still, disciplined. This is wu-hsin.
If you still the mind in any way, the breathing eventually goes deeper and deeper, and soon enough it can stop alltogether. Breathing is done mostly through the skin and internally (embryonic breathing).
I have your Qigong fundamentals 1-4 here with me in China and will get to it soon, just so busy with other things now.
I have tried your Wudang method of the orbit and it is an excellent method. Where did you learn it? Certainly not from the Sanfeng lineage here on Wudang!
FajinSeptember 5, 2006 at 6:13 pm #17580
1.If an adept can get ATTACHED to physical breathing, can she not get attached to the process of Fusion, or Kan and Li? If so, how should she release said attachment and where will that leave her once she is successful with the method of de-attaching?
2.While the state of “inner witnessing” is much closer to the Tao then the state of passive tranquility, is it closer to the Tao then is a common person’s state of awareness?
-PlatoSeptember 7, 2006 at 7:33 am #17582
Plato, happy to entertain your serious questions.
>1.If an adept can get ATTACHED to physical breathing, can she not get attached to the process of Fusion, or Kan and Li? If so, how should she release said attachment and where will that leave her once she is successful with the method of de-attaching?
Absolutely, any spiritual technique can create attachment, and thus should be approached as a processual tool that is used and then put down once its purpose is finished, and one moves deeper into the process.
Fusion and the kan and li’s methods produce less physical attachment than simple breathing methods because they are focused on a deeper level of self-process that cultivates more neutral force (which for simiplicity we will define as yuan chi at different levels of manifestation).
Alchemical methods are designed to gradually transfer more superficial attachments/fixities in the xin to a deeper soul level, so that one can become aware of soul patterns that are behind the “desires” of the mind expressed as thoughts or emotions.
The idea behind a graduated alchemical training is that integrating the ordinary mind/xin and the primordial mind is a vast, never-ending process. One can realistically only hope to shift to cosmic consciousness in stages, just like children grow up gradually and incorporate different life experiences into a cumulative wisdom self.
Structured education of any kind is designed to accelerate such a process, but structure/method doesn’t have to undermine the underlying spontaneous nature of learning itself.
I respect the Buddhist focus on not getting stuck anywhere along the process, but think a “positive” approach works better and supports a human’s right to Selfhood. I think metaphysical focus on a state such as “emptiness” can cause the self to gloss over the many levels of Self that exist between xin and original nature, in the west called soul and oversoul.
In the buddhist system these soul levels are generally, as far as I can tell,
lumped together under the heading “karma”. I think the Buddhist focus on emotions or desires surfacing at the heart-mind/personality level are misplaced attempts to change the karmic pattern, which is best dealt with by raising one’s frequency and focus to that level, and learning to balance Self at those levels.
>2.While the state of “inner witnessing” is much closer to the Tao then the state of passive tranquility, is it closer to the Tao then is a common person’s state of awareness?
The question implies that “Tao” is a certain knowable state of mind, albeit cosmic mind. Tao is not a state to be achieved, in my view, but a never ending process of experience by a self that is inherently immortal.
The definition I accept of Tao is “Way-Making” (proposed by Ames and Hall, two classical chinese scholars, authors of Yuan Dao: Tracing Dao to its Source). Every level of self is involved in some kind of way-making, from lesser to greater to primordial self. There is no fixed or permanent Way to be achieved.
Every level of self is equally close to their own process. There is a deep usually unconscious desire to integrate different levels of self, described in the Tao te ching as “Returning is the Nature of the Tao” (ch. 40, as I recal). Ames and Hall point out that this Returning is evidence of the infinitely cyclical, processual nature of Way-Making, that it is NOT evidence for returning to a fixed state, as it is commonly mis-interpreted assumed by readers who hold a fixed end in their own mind/belief system.
As I have pointed out, these differences in beliefs between”Emptiness” vs. “Immortality” between people following different paths (Buddhism, Taoism, however those might be defined) are unimportant at the level of mass worship or beginning methods of practice. Most people ignore the end point of a religion, it is too far away, they just want something that works for them, a community they feel comfortable with.
The differences in the paths emerge only in the higher level of cultivation training, which is what my comments are directed to here.
Hope this clarifies my views. I don’t want anyone to feel I am “attacking” their beliefs, or right to hold them,
just feel strongly about distinguishing the subtle effects of intention on results experienced by different practices.
ps. Fajin – I learned the wudang orbit from a white guy raised in Hong Kong, whose “nanny” was a Taoist monk from Wudang, forced out by cultural revolution. He was also taught to absorb lightning strikes – at the age of 9!
And don’t let my strong positions scare you away – would you want to study with someone who lacked the conviction of their own teachings? 😉September 7, 2006 at 12:01 pm #17584
Thanks for addressing my questions.
-PlatoSeptember 9, 2006 at 10:43 pm #17586
Thanks for comments, Max. I intuit from your comments that your level of practice has led you beyond the Five Denials, and allows you to accept the reality of selfhood in the cosmic process. Congrads.
But why make it hard for people to grasp this (if my assumption about you is true)?
Do Buddhists publicly embrace Selfhood?
Would it benefit struggling human selves if they did?
I believe so.
I am not claiming that any one path has an exclusive on developing self-hood as part of the “what is”.
As I have pointed out, many practitioners ignore the dogma of their religion and just take from it what they want.
That certainly applies to Taoist practitioners of qigong and inner alchemy as well.
I am just making people aware of the anachronistic language traps that can influence one’s practice and thus one’s experience and actions.
You are of course saying that all language is limited and must be transcended. I agree – but why use misleading language if you can avoid it?
My experience is that the more clearly aligned that our intention, our language, and our spiritual practice is, the more effective the collective process of change becomes.
Dismissing language as unimportant would be another denial of most human’s functional reality.
mSeptember 10, 2006 at 12:18 am #17588
>>Do Buddhists publicly embrace Selfhood?
*They publicly embrace the true self.
FajinSeptember 10, 2006 at 2:13 am #17590
True self denotes a false self. Do you mean to imply there is a false self?September 10, 2006 at 2:19 am #17592
Yes, there is a false self, that’s the ego.September 10, 2006 at 2:25 am #17594
Can you put it into Taoist Cosmology for me. Thank you.September 10, 2006 at 2:42 am #17596
Yes, there is a false self, that’s the xin.September 10, 2006 at 3:37 am #17598
If the heart-mind is “false”, does that imply that physical existence, to which the heart mind has the function of mediating, is also false?September 10, 2006 at 11:03 am #17600
First, the problem with this notion is that the heart-mind (xin) is created by the true self, which manifests the human being.
Because you’re using fixed categories to create separation between between these levels of consciousness, you may be blind to seeing them as one process of evolution. If the xin is a “false self”, then the “free will” exercised by thid “false” ego must be very powerful indeed to create a reality separate from a True Self that exists apart from it. Where does this False Self draw its Free Will to be “false” from?
Second question. I would be very interested in seeing any classical buddhist texts on the nature of the human True Self. And to know the term chan buddhism uses in Chinese for “true self”.
Third Question: What is the relationship between this True Self and the traditional notion of Emptiness as the absolute value? i.e. Where does the True Self draw its inherent existence from?
Wikipedia would be fine, or any chan texts. I am curious as to where you are getting this idea about Buddhism. My suspicion is that its coming from a Taoist-Chan Buddhist syncretic teacher like Hu who advocates a form of Taoist alchemy, or perhaps an adaptation of some branch of Tibetan Buddhism.
Appreciating your stimulating us all to go deeper,
michaelSeptember 10, 2006 at 11:10 am #17602
Zhang, Sanfeng says, ‘What is intent? It is the outward function of the basic spirit; it is not that there is also an intent in addition to the basic spirit.’
“Master Ziyang said, ‘Mind is the natural leader: when it is used without artificiality, then what activates it is the basic spirit. This is the alchemical use of mind.’
“So you should not overactivate intent. Once you overactivate intent, you are trying to force progress and not being natural. The problems caused by the toil of forced exercises are not trivial … If you have even a single thought of deliberate arrangement, then you are overactivating intent.”
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