July 14, 2013 at 11:47 am #7753
Liked the brain 🙂July 14, 2013 at 11:56 am #7754
On a recent thread on NBL I made many comments pertaining to taoism and chi and other related matters.
There are thousands, probably tens of thousands, of websites that mention chi, and there are innumerable books.
It’s a concept that is not recognised at all by Western science and medicine and not part of Western culture so it is not easy to explain or to talk about.
Here I will attempt to explain my personal views concerning chi, as I would to a sincere person sitting opposite me who had enquired.
First, the cultural part.
In my youth, having been schooled in science, I remember opening a book in a library and finding descriptions of the chakras and becoming quite indignant and angry that people were allowed to be so irresponsible as to distribute such misleading nonsense. It was several years later that I had my Aha ! moment. ‘So, THAT’s what those yoga people were talking about !’
So, before beginning to think about chi, please suspend prejudice and dogmatic beliefs. Scientism is not scientific.
From a truly scientific perspective, this phenomenon is absolutely fascinating, and to dismiss it is ridiculous. Like dismissing electricity or magnetism in the days before they were understood.
Recall that people knew how to create sparks from static electricity, and to make hair stand on end, as a party trick, for centuries, before Faraday and others took a serious interest in the matter.
And we STILL do not know how electricity ‘flows’ along a copper wire. ( I’m quoting a physicist on a TED talk there, whose name I didn’t bother to remember, but I assume he knew what he didn’t know.)
So, chi, or qi, or ki, or prana, or several other equivalent terms, depending upon language and culture and tradition, can be assumed to be some weird mix of electricity and breath and consciousness and love and emotion and energy and attention and cosmic force and … well, it depends upon whose website you visit, hahaha.
Eventually, maybe, science might figure it out, but who is going to pay for research into something science says doesn’t exist ?
There was some research but it wasn’t really pursued
The Chinese, however, WILL research it scientifically. Indeed they have and are. So there is a lot of interesting information coming from that direction.
But I can’t wait for that. You don’t need to understand what this chi thing IS, to be able to use it. People have been using it for several thousand years without knowing what it is.
WARNING. Because I state that there IS something called chi, which is real and of great interest and which is some sort of force field associated with the human body, which can be used for healing and in martial arts, that does not mean that I endorse anybody who uses the word. At a guess, I’d say that more than than three quarters of the people on the internet talking about tao and chi and even more talking about yin and yang, have no idea AT ALL about the real thing, and they just use the words frivolously, or worse, they are charlatans and unscrupulous frauds.
Please exercise scepticism, don’t fall for hype and bullshit. There is something important and marvellous, but it’s not easy to find because of all the crap and nonsense.
So, that bit is out of the way. How can a person find this for themselves ?
I think it is not easy and it takes a long time. At least, it has taken ME a long time. Earlier in my life, at various times, I have thought I have understood something about it, and I have been using it every day for many years. For several years, I had a very experienced shiatsu practitioner who came every few weeks, and I learned a lot from that, to add to what I had learned from tai chi, etc.
But now, even since a year ago, I have found so much more, that I am just astonished, and wonder where it ends, or where it leads ?
I have read all that I can find and there is almost nothing that has any guidance or descriptions to help me, but I found this :
“ The mind already knows everything before the thought is moved. “
“It seems that the muscles and bones are missing. “
“As the internal Qi is unsettled and breaks through the body surfaces, the body will be merged into Qi between heaven and earth and the feeling of boundaries of the body will be lost.”
Those sentences exactly describe the experience. I am familiar with those experiences from the Jhanas, from sitting in zazen, but not from moving activity, or ‘action in the world’, so to speak.
I suppose one could paraphrase the state roughly thus, the mind is perfectly clear, and composed, still, serene, relaxed, knowing everything, without any necessity to dwell upon any aspect.
The body has no physical weight, it’s as if gravity has stopped pulling. And the physical form has no sense of a boundary, one is everything.
But I’m still ‘me’. It’s not that I’ve lost myself in oblivion. And my left hand is intensely concentrated. As if all the chi from my whole being were held there. It takes some effort and concentration and the decision to enter this state, but once in it, it seems to maintain itself, and I walk, for twenty minutes and it is effortless and unbroken.
The sense of power, vigour, well-being, exhilaration, cosmic wholeness, etc, that it engenders is quite indescribable. All this without any drugs, without any of the ‘aids’ that people talk about, dancing, drumming, fasting, chanting, whatever.
So, there are all sorts of accounts in the Chinese literature describing how a person can train themselves, many very confusing, some quite contradictory, a lot of it in archaic language using ancient imagery. Bear in mind, a lot of this stuff was kept secret, esoteric martial arts schools, with traditions they wanted to hide, and a lot was written down hundreds of years ago by people who spoke in very different terms.
Whatever this experience, this state of being, is, it is wonderful and extraordinary, and a good thing to know about. Good for health and well being and for wisdom and as a resource in the face of adversity. So I try to share it, and think how someone could learn it as fast and effectively as possible, so it didn’t take as long as it took me, hahaha…
I think it is still not easy.
This might be the route. If you rub the soles of your bare feet on the carpet, on the floor. Right, that’s the signal you want. The sensation from your feet. You need to get that.
Then you need to be able to keep that. You have to train yourself. It takes sustained effort. You have to keep forcing your attention to the signal from the soles of your feet and keeping it there.
Every time you find that you have lost it, that your attention and concentration has wandered, take it back to the soles of your feet. If something else demands attention, give it some, but keep some on the soles of the feet, and then go back to 100% on the soles of the feet.
It’s fine for some awareness to attend to other sensations, to other matters, you want to do all your daily activities, but notice that happening, and keep returning as soon as possible to 100% on the soles of the feet.
You need to work REALLY HARD at this. It’s easy for me because I live in a peaceful place without many distractions.
This is the training. The aim is to be able to attend to the feeling from the soles of the feet, without a break, from when you wake up, until when you go to sleep.
I can do that. I don’t know how long it will take you to be able to do that. It’s not easy, it takes a LOT of determination. Like climbing a hard mountain, in a way. The good part is that you only need to do it once. Once you CAN do it, it stays with you. You can forget about it.
I’d say that’s the quickest, simplest, easiest entry.
There are literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of martial arts schools and all kinds of mystical teachings and yogas and whatnot that aim at the sort of things that I have described above, and you have to learn all kinds of techniques and get belts and pay for classes and so forth, and I’m not saying those are bad if you find a teacher with integrity.
What I’m saying, if you train your self, on your own, this one very simple thing, the power that it gives you is enormous and can later be applied to other aspects, and anyway, as you try it, I think you’ll find that what happens will probably be quite a surprise 🙂
For one thing, walking across a room will never be quite the same, ever again…. 😉
July 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm #7759July 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm #7760July 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm #7762
CH’AN ANCESTORSJuly 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm #7763July 14, 2013 at 3:56 pm #7764July 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm #7768
Someone who changed their belief system, at a fairly late age, in their twenties… kinda interesting…
July 15, 2013 at 11:47 am #7770
Here are the views from a Kung Fu martial arts school regarding Zen and Tao and other interesting related matters
It should be noted that there is no real agreement about any of these things. For example, it’s mentioned there that Bodhidharma this and Bodhidharma that, but it’s not even agreed by scholars that any real individual identified as Bodhidharma actually existed, ‘he’ may have been a sort of composite figure representing or symbolising the origin of the introduction of certain teachings.July 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm #7773
Meditation affects a person’s brain function long after the act of meditation is over, according to new research.
“This is the first time meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” said Gaelle Desbordes, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Boston University Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology.
“Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”July 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm #7775
Posted before somewhere, on that same subjectJuly 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm #7776
Another guy’s take on tao
Tao ThemesJuly 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm #7777
Huang Po’s Teaching
All Buddhas and all sentient beings are no different from the One Mind. In this One Mind there is neither arising nor ceasing, no name or form, no long or short, no large or small, and neither existence nor non-existence. It transcends all limitations of name, word and relativity, and it is as boundless as the great void. Giving rise to thought is erroneous, and any speculation about it with our ordinary faculties is inapplicable, irrelevant and inaccurate. Only Mind is Buddha, and Buddhas and sentient beings are not different. All sentient beings grasp form and search outside themselves. Using Buddha to seek Buddha, they thus use mind to seek Mind. Practicing in this manner even until the end of the kalpa, they cannot attain the fruit. However, when thinking and discrimination suddenly halt, the Buddhas appear.
The Mind is Buddha, and the Buddha is no different from sentient beings. The Mind of sentient beings does not decrease; the Buddha’s Mind does not increase. Moreover, the six paramitas and all sila, as countless as the grains of sand of the Ganges, belong to one’s own mind. Thus there is no need to search outside oneself to create them. When causes and conditions unite, they will appear; as causes and conditions separate, they disappear. So if one does not have the understanding that on’es very own Mind itself is Buddha, he will then grasp the form of the practice merely and create even more delusion. This approach is exactly the opposite of the Buddha’s practice path. Just this Mind alone is Buddha! Nothing else is!
There is much more to enjoy… 🙂July 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm #7778
He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world….
Vivekananda revitalised Hinduism within and outside India. He was the principal reason behind the enthusiastic reception of yoga, transcendental meditation, and other forms of Indian spiritual self-improvement in the West. Professor Agehananda Bharati explained that, “…modern Hindus derive their knowledge of Hinduism from Vivekananda, directly or indirectly.” Vivekananda espoused the idea that all sects within Hinduism and, indeed, all religions, are different paths to the same goal. This view, however, has been criticised for oversimplification of Hinduism.
Complete WorksJuly 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm #7779July 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm #7782
Nice accessible version of Legge’s translation ( which I think is not the best ) of Chuang TzuJuly 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm #7783
“There’s nothing quite like wu chi in Western philosophy or religion. By and large we in the West adore positivity. We want to be filled, not emptied. We want to acquire, not divest. We want to become more, not less. We want to be raised up, not driven down.
Even when we claim to aspire to a state of lowly humility and egolessness, the envisioned end result is to be elevated: saved, enlightened, God-realized. I’m not saying that people of the East are less prone to ego, but at least philosophies such as Taoism and Zen—when unencumbered by religious trappings—present to spiritual aspirants a goal of inner emptiness.”July 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm #7784
“This ultimate basis of reality, Samantabhadra Buddha, also on occasion termed rigpa, is taught to reside in all beings and to be realisable – it is wisdom, the immortal essence, that is beyond thinking and which permeates the nature of mind and all things. It is the spontaneous, thought-transcending instant presence of all-encompassing awareness. It might be linked to the notion of Tathagatagarbha, which (e.g. in the Angulimaliya Sutra) is stated to be the pure essence at the very heart of mind. However, all figures, i.e. Samantabhadra, Vairochana, Vajradhara etc. are traditionally understood to be personifications of emptiness, the true nature of all phenomena (although emptiness is not a major theme of this particular tantra). This being is the personification of Shunyata or emptiness; that all phenomena lack true existence yet still appear, this basis that is found in all phenomena.. Other Tibetan traditions (notably those of the Jonangpa School of Tibet) envision this tantra in quite a different manner and see not a negative emptiness, but a fullness and all-fulfilling perfection of Buddhic Mind and virtue as constituting the heart of all that is.”July 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm #7785
In the Shingon school of Buddhism, (formally introduced into Japan by the Master Kukai, Kobo-Daishi, 774-835 AD) it is taught that all things of this world -all creatures,as well as all inanimate things – are in essence the body of the chief deity, the Buddha Mahavairocana (Dainichi Nyorai). All of the various other schools of Mahayana Buddhism posit in their world view the situation wherein man finds himself separate from the ideal state, from Buddhahood, and so must work himself up to that state. All schools of Buddhism view Enlightenment (Buddhahood, satori, or Nirvana) as a mental state, a state of mind wherein the mind is totally awakened to its real nature (totally and truly self-aware). Thus, other schools would view the religious life as a life devoted to eliminating the evil in one’s mind, to purifying the mind, and to concentrating the mind in and through meditation. The Shingon school, however views the world as coming into existence through the permutations or changes in the mind of the Buddha Mahavairocana. Thus Enlightenment for the Shingon Buddhist consists in the realization that he is, here and now, truly one with Mahavairocana. As long as he does not fully realize this, he is enmeshed in the realm of birth-and-death (samsara). When once he does realize this true state of things, then he attains full Buddhahood in this very life (sokushinjobutsu). A state of awakening in this life is thus the goal of Shingon Buddhism.July 15, 2013 at 9:07 pm #7786
Kalachakra TantraJuly 15, 2013 at 9:10 pm #7787July 15, 2013 at 9:17 pm #7788
Vinay Gupta on Hinduism and EnlightenmentJuly 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm #7789
It is philosophically important to distinguish Kashmir Shaivism from the Advaita sidhantha as both are non-dual philosophies which give primacy to Universal Consciousness (Chit or Brahman). In Kashmir Shavisim, all things are a manifestation of this Consciousness. This means that from the point of view of Kashmir Shavisim the phenomenal world (Śakti) is real, and it exists and has its being in Consciousness (Chit). In comparison, Advaita Vedanta holds that Brahman is inactive (niṣkriya) and the phenomenal world is an illusion (māyā). Thus, the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism, also called the Trika, can be seen in contrast to Shankara’s Advaita.
What is commonly called “Kashmiri Shaivism” is actually a group of several monistic and tantric religious traditions that flourished in Kashmir from the latter centuries of the first millennium C.E. through the early centuries of the second. These traditions have survived only in an attenuated form among the Brahmans of Kashmir, but there have recently been efforts to revive them in India and globally. These traditions must be distinguished from a dualistic Shaiva Siddhānta tradition that also flourished in medieval Kashmir. The most salient philosophy of monistic Kashmiri Shaivism is the Pratyabhijnā, or “Recognition,” system propounded in the writings of Utpaladeva (c. 925-975 C.E.) and Abhinavagupta (c. 975-1025 C.E.). Abhinavagupta’s disciple Kshemarāja (c. 1000-1050) and other successors interpreted that philosophy as defining retrospectively the significance of earlier monistic Shaiva theology and philosophy. This article will focus on the historical development and basic teachings of the Pratyabhijnā philosophy.July 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm #7790
Good general overview of Hinduism from Encyclopaedia BrittanicaJuly 16, 2013 at 8:19 am #7793July 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm #7807
“In East Asia, ‘mountains’ are often synonymous with wilderness,” writes American poet and mythographer Gary Snyder. “The agrarian states have long since drained, irrigated, and terraced the lowlands. Forests and wild habitats start at the very place that farming stops. The lowlands, with their villages, markets, cities, palaces, and wineshops, are thought of as the place of greed, lust, competition, commerce, and intoxication — the ‘dusty world.’ Those who would flee such a world and seek purity find caves or build hermitages in the hills — and take up the practices which will bring realization or at least a long healthy life. These hermitages in time become the centers of temple complexes and ultimately religious sects. Dōgen says:
” ‘Many rulers have visited mountains to pay homage to wise people or ask for instructions from great sages….At such time these rulers treat the sages as teachers, disregarding the protocol of the usual world. The imperial power has no authority over the wise people in the mountains.’ “July 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm #7810July 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm #7811
Life is not about something … no desire for it to be one way or another …
it is unfolding by itself …July 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm #7842
In an exquisitely written memoir, Tales from a Traveling Couch, psychotherapist Dr. Robert U. Akeret begins and ends with a basic thesis: Did my psychotherapy practice truly make a difference in my client’s lives?July 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm #7848
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