January 2002 (Part 1)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I read in one of your Q&A sections about Jesus. How all the healing and miracles were done with chi. I have attended your intensive course and read all your books. Then I read the Bible again.
Seems that Jesus had incredible power. More so than I could imagine. Many people were healed just by touching his robe and he would heal long distance. He stated that with a little faith we could move mountains. But only through meditation and fasting. I found many similar accounts to chi kung. He was surrounded by the seven coloured auspicious lights. I believe this is purity. I would assume this level is unobtainable to us.
— Jeff, USA
Jesus was a great master with incredibly tremendous power of mind and energy. In other words he was a incredibly great chi kung master.
Like Jesus, great chi kung masters both in the past and in the present could heal others by their mere presence, and also over long distance. The great master, Yan Xin, regarded by many as a national treasure of China, is a modern example. Hundreds of people attended his chi kung seminars in China, and many sick people were healed by merely listening to him talk! He also transmitted chi over thousands of kilometres to change the molecular structure of liquids.
Some great masters in China could transport little objects by just using their mind. A senior classmate of my own master, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, and who lived in Malaysia, could do this too. I did not have the opportunity to witness such feats myself, but numerous persons who witnessed them independently told me so, and I did not have any good reasons to disbelieve them. Transmitting chi over great distance to cure others is certainly true. I have done that many times myself.
In principle, moving a small object and moving a mountain are similar. Both a small object and a mountain are composed of energy. And in principle, if you can use your mind to direct the energy flow inside your body, you can also direct the energy flow outside your body. But in practice the enormous difference in the amount of energy between a small object and a mountain makes the task of moving them, enormously different.
Similarly, in principle what Jesus did, other people could also do. Hence, theoretically the level of chi kung attained by Jesus is also attainable to us. But this is not so in practice, because of the great difference of faith as well as mind power and energy between Jesus and ordinary people.
Secondly, I don't understand why eastern religions believe in reincarnation but the West does not (majority). Mainly because the moment before death many people see heaven open up, all their family and friends who have died are there. If we are reincarnated they would not be there, correct? And the East believes in elders watching over their family. But, if they are reincarnated how can they watch over their family?
Actually in the past Christianity, the prominent religion in the West, believed in reincarnation. There are numerous examples in the Bible to substantiate this claim. Please see Q-A December 2001 Part 3, Question 1. Today many people in the West also believe in reincarnation.
The term reincarnation may be interpreted in different ways. One interpretation is that when a person dies in this world, he will be reborn as another person in the future also in this world. This is probably the interpretation you use.
Another interpretation is that when a person dies in this world, he will be reborn, but not necessarily as a human being, and not necessarily in this world. This is the interpretation generally used by eastern religions.
In Buddhism, for example, a human or a non-human being can be reincarnated in six different realms. Depending on his merits or dismerits, he (or she) may be reborn as a heavenly being, as a titan, as a human being, as an animal (including insects and reptiles), as a ghost, or as a being in hell.
It is inspiriting to know that there are not one, but countless heavens, not just in our solar system but in countless galaxies. The merits or dismerits which determine how and where a being will be reborn, are not melted out by a divine judge but are the results of his own thoughts and actions.
Thus, when people see heaven opens up just the moment before their physical death, and their family members and friends who had died earlier, waiting for them, it is evidence for reincarnation. Their family members and friends had been reincarnated in heaven.
Similarly, because there is reincarnation, elders who passed away from this world, can still return as heavenly or other beings to watch over their families. If there were no reincarnation, i.e. if there were only one life on earth, there would not be any family members and friends in heaven or elders returning to watch over their families.
Every religion has a different God. But is it not true there is only one truth and one God?
There is only one Truth and only one God. All the religions refer to the same one Truth and the same one God.
Due to historical, geographical, linguistic, cultural and other differences, the same one Truth and the same one God is often described and understood differently. Worse, due to shallow understanding or selfish reasons, Truth and God is sometimes mis-represented.
One way to verify the above fact is as follows. Take typical descriptions of Truth and God from different religious literature. Substitute all words which easily disclose the source of the religious literatures — words like Buddha and nirvana, God and heaven, with neutral works like Supreme and Ultimate. Show the texts to some friends, and see whether they can tell the religious background of the texts. They will not, because all say the same things.
Another way to verify is as follows. Take a typical religious text. Change its tell-tale words to those of another religion. For example, take a Buddhist text. Change words like “Buddha” and “nirvana” to “God” and “heaven”. Show the text to some knowledgeable Christians and ask them whether it is a Christian religious text. All of them will probably say yes.
Now change the tell-tale words to those of another religion, and ask fervent followers of that religion whether it is their religious text. Again they will probably say yes. Repeat the procedure with all the world's great religions, and the answers will still be yes. Why? Because all the great religions teach the same things.
Yet, “Buddha” is not exactly the same as “God”, and “nirvana” is not the same as “heaven”. Why are they different if the Truth is the same one. It is because we understand the same Truth according to our different levels of development.
Even in the same religion, the same terms or concepts are interpreted differently. For example, when we mention “God”, many people will conceptualize a Supreme Fatherly Being watching over us. But to some great Christian masters, God is everything there is. Implicitly, “everything there is” includes Satan and hell — a concept that would be sacrilegious to most Christians. These most Christians experience God as the Father, whereas the great Christian masters experience God as the Holy Spirit.
Similarly, when we mention “Buddha”, many westerners will think of Sidhadha Guatama, the transformational body of the Buddha who lived a few centuries before Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. But if you mention “Buddha” to most Chinese Buddhists, they will think of the reward body of the Buddha in some divine realms. But to great Buddhist masters, “Buddha” is everything there is, including all heavens and hells.
This is the great cosmic Truth taught in all great religions at their highest levels, but the same one Truth is described in different words like “God”, “Buddha”, “Tao”, “Allah” and “Brahman”. Seekers of Truth at the highest level cultivate to return to this same one Truth. Lesser followers cultivate to be reincarnated in heaven.
It is stated in the Bible we should have no other Gods. For it is a sin to pray to any other than God. But, it seems many in the East seek assistance from Buddhas and Immortals. Is this not a sin and a departure from the truth?
A question like the above is interpreted, or mis-interpreted, in different ways according to the levels of understanding of the persons involved.
At the ordinary level interpreted by ordinary people, where the concept of “God” is interpreted as the same in both instances above, i.e. in “other Gods” and in “other than God”, the question becomes enigmatic. If there is only one God, then it is a sin to pray to other Gods. On the other hand, if there are many Gods, then it is not true to say there is only one God. Such an interpretation, when carried out to the extreme, often led to bloodshed and wars.
The truth is that the concept of “God” is different in both cases. It would be clearer to use a small letter “g” for “other gods”, and a capital “G” for “God”. Hence, it is less enigmatic to say that there is only one God, but there are many gods. The concept of “God” and “gods” are different. Some examples of gods are Ra worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, Apollo by the Greeks, Mars by the Romans, and Kwangkung (the God of Righteousness) worshipped by the Chinese. Here, “gods” refer to “divine beings”, who as in the case of the Chinese Kwangkung may be human beings before.
On the other hand, “God” with a capital “G” refers to the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotent. Figuratively it is sometimes described as the Supreme Being, and as the Ultimate Truth. “God” is in English. In Spanish, the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotent is called “Dios”, and in German “Gott”. In Sanskrit it is “Tathagata”, and in Chinese “Ju Lai” (spelt as “Ru Lai” in Romanized Chinese).
This will remind us that “God” is just a word, and the word itself is not the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotent, and that the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotent can be represented by other words like “Dios”, “Gott”, “Tathagata” and “Ju Lai”. If people cam realize the difference between the words themselves and what the words represent, they may be less emotive or fanatical. And if they realize that words are often interpreted in different ways, much mis-understanding and antagonism can be avoided.
Interestingly, while there may be enigma in European languages to say “There is only one God and many gods”, there is no enigma in Sanskrit and Chinese because different words are used for the two different concepts: “There is only one Tathagata and many dewas” in Sanskrit, “There is only one Ju Lai and many shens” in Chinese.
God may manifest to us in numerous ways. In Christianity, the manifestations of God are expressed in the concept of Trinity, i.e. God may manifest to us as the Holy Spirit, as the Father and as the Son.
The same concept is expressed in Buddhism as the Triple Body of the Buddha, i.e. the spiritual body of the Buddha, the reward body of the Buddha, and the transformational body of the Buddha. The spiritual body of the Buddha is the Tathagata, which is omniscent, omnipresent and omnipotent.
The reward body of the Buddha are the numerous divine beings devoted followers may see or experience as a reward of their spiritual cultivation. They include the buddhas and immortals you mention in your questions, as well as bodhisattvas and devas (gods).
The transformational body of the Buddha is manifested as myriad entities in our phenomenal world, like living persons and mountains, flowers and galaxies. Two and a half millennia ago, it manifested, amongst countless entities, in the physical body of Sidhartha Guatama. In Christian terms, two millennia ago God the Son manifested in the physical body of Jesus Christ.
It is significant to note that the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent manifests not just in Sidhartha Guatama and Jesus Christ, but in everyone of us. In Buddhist language, everyone of us is a buddha. In Christian language, everyone has the divine spark of God in us.
In prosaic, scientific terms the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotent is the undifferentiated spread of cosmic energy. In our puny scale, we crave out a infinitesimal portion of this infinite universe and call it our world. Due to our very limited sense perception, we interpret this puny portion of undifferentiated energy as differentiated entities like persons and mountains and countless other things.
Due to our ignorance and arrogance, we think, and often insist, that this puny portion of energy is the only objective reality. It is indeed a great irony that not only this so-call objective world is just a spec in the universe, it also has no objective reality. Its appearance is subjected to our given sets of conditions, like how our eyes and brain interpret electromagnetic waves. When the conditions change, the appearance also changes, but the changes are usually too fine for our gross perception to realize. We also usually do not realize that what we perceive is less that 0.01 per cent of the known world.
Cultivated persons, in science or spiritual disciplines, may extend their perceived world. They may, for example, see gods and heavens. In Zen terms, this is “satori”, or awakening to other dimensions of reality.
If they continue their cultivation, they may accomplish the highest attainment, which may depending on numerous factors happen after countless lifetimes or in the next instance. They attain enlightenment, or in Zen terms they see their original face. In Christian terms, they return to God.
It is also stated in the Bible that it is a sin to call anyone Master for God is the only Master. I would very much like your thoughts on this subject, for it would be a sign of disrespect not to call you Master, but by religious beliefs it would be a sin for Christians to do so.
Again, the problem above is due to failing to interpret the term “Master” differently. “Master” referring to God as stated in the Bible in the case above, is different from “master” as a polite term for one's teacher.
In the same way, when devoted Christians refer to God as our Father, the term “Father” here means differently from “father” when they refer to their male parents. It is also different from the term “Father” as a polite address to Catholic priests.
The same words often have different meanings in different context. Also, words sometimes do not describe accurately what we want to say. Once we realize this limitation of words, not only there will be no more question of being sinful or disrespectful in the case you cited, many situations which may appear contradictory or puzzling at first can become clear.
This limitation of words become obvious frequently in disciplines like internal arts and spiritual cultivation. For example, in internal force training, a master would ask his students not to use strength, so that they could have a lot of strength. The first “strength” refers to muscular tension, and the second “strength” refers to powerful energy flow.
A spiritual cultivator may describe his experience as inexplicable. To say that he is self- contradictory because the adjective “inexplicable” already explains his experience, is to miss the essence of his statement, or to split hair. He may further describe his experience as beautiful, blissful, happy, expansive or exhilarating, but these are only hollow words to those who never have had such an experience.
Realizing the limitation of words allows us to use words as our servants. Some people are enslaved by words, often without their own conscious knowing. Emotive words like “God”, “freedom” and “rights” sometimes lead to mayhem and bloodshed. Some people claim to fight for God or die for their rights, often without knowing what God means or that they die in vain.
Right after a chi kung seminar I found that I had been pregnant for about four and a half weeks. That means I was already pregnant during the seminar although I did not know it. I would like to know what I should do regarding chi kung. Is it best if I practise chi kung later, after the baby is born? Or do you think I should practise right away? What are the most suitable exercises? Do I have to take any special care?
— Catarina, Portugal
Congratulations for conceiving a baby. It is one of the most wonderful things any woman could have.
You can carry on practising chi kung, but do so very gently. Just do the following.
Stand upright and relax. Don't think of anything. Just relax. When your chi flows, follow the flow gently for about 10 minutes. If the flow becomes vigourous, tell it to slow down.
Then go to standing meditation. Gently visualize or think of a pleasant and safe delivery of your baby when the time comes, and gently visualize or think of your baby being beautiful and healthy.
Don't do “Lifting the Sky”, “Pushing Mountains”, “Carrying the Moon”, and self-manifested chi movement. You can do these exercises a month after delivering your baby.
If I came into contact with poison gas, germs, etc,. is there any way I could cure myself with chi kung? Is there anything I could do to not feel the pain? I know this may sound unimportant to someone at a high level like you but if you could help me out I would really appreciate it.
— Jordan, USA
Chi kung works in accordance with Nature; it cannot go against Nature. For example, it is natural for us to overcome germs. We are doing this all the time, usually without our conscious knowing. This is expressed as yin-yang harmony.
However, if for some intermediate reasons our natural defence becomes weakened, or if there is an excessive influx of germs, we may become sick with an infectious disease. This is expressed as yin-yang disharmony, and is caused in the first case by insufficient yin, and in the second case by excessive yang.
We can overcome the disease by restoring yin-yang harmony. This can be achieved by numerous means, such as taking herbal medicine or antibiotics to kill the excessive germs. Here, yin-yang harmony is restored by reducing excessive yang.
We can also use chi kung, which overcomes the disease in both ways. The increased energy as the result of chi kung practice improves our defence system, and the energy flow flushes out the excessive germs. Hence, yin-yang harmony is restored by both increasing yin and reducing yang.
This chi kung approach to overcome infectious disease is useful when the germs are unknown or when, as in the case of viral attack, antibiotics cannot kill the germs. If the disease is acute, conventional treatment using antibiotics is better.
But we don't have to be sick to practise chi kung. When we practise chi kung while we are still healthy, we enhance our defence and other systems so that even some intermediate factors like a sudden change of climate or an excessive influx of germs cause other people to be sick, we still remain healthy.
This same principle applies in the case of poison. When poison gets into our body, which happens all the time without our conscious knowing, like when we take in exhausted gas of cars or traces of pesticide from food, we naturally detoxify and clear the poison from our body.
If we have been practising chi kung, we are able to accomplish this natural detoxification process more efficiently. This explains why when your neighbours may have asthma or bronchitis or chronic diseases, we remain healthy. But if the poison is acute, it is better to overcome it with an antidote of conventional medicine.
The more advanced you are in chi kung, the more skilfully you can detoxify yourself. Hence, if you are an average chi kung practitioner, when you come into contact with a little poison gas, your own system will naturally clear away the poison without you having to do anything and you will not feel any pain, whereas an untrained person may be suffocated and painful.
If the poison gas is more, you may have to consciously detoxify yourself. You can do this by generating a vigorous energy flow inside your body which will flush out the poison gas. Depending on how much the poison gas is present, and how effectively you can flush it our, you may feel no pain or some pain.
Pain is a symptom of energy blockage due to the poison gas or germs. When the blockage is cleared by internal energy flow, the pain will disappear.
If there is a lot of poison gas, an average chi kung practitioner will not be skilful enough to escape harm and pain, but a chi kung master may. Drawing upon his reserved energy, the master can temporarily suspend breathing, flush out the poison gas, and simultaneously run away to a safe place where there is fresh air. Whether he can successfully escape will depend on the balance between his skill and the amount of poison gas.
Hence, when other people may be killed by poison gas (or germs), a master may survive. Without deeper understanding, laymen may think the master supernatural. But that is not so. He still follows natural laws. He survives because he is more skilful than laymen in the natural ability to replace poison gas (or germs) with fresh air.
No matter how skilful the master is, he cannot escape if he is locked inside a gas chamber. As the poison gas circulates inside his body, it will cause him pain and death. Chi kung cannot enable him to take in poison gas and still live. This is against natural laws..
Nevertheless, if he is a great master he can escape pain although he cannot escape bodily death. He would go into deep meditation, and as his physical body dies due to the stoppage of energy flow brought about by the poison gas, the real he, called variously by different people as the spirit, soul or mind, is liberated from his physical body painlessly — and even blissfully.
You mentioned in your book, “The Art of Chi Kung”, a method of training to enable the exponent to jump very high. This sounds like an incredible skill, which would be very helpful when facing a large opponent.
— Christian, USA
I believe "qinggong" (or “hengkung” in Cantonese pronunciation), which means the art of lightness, was real. "Qinggong" enables the practitioner to jump very high and run very fast. My master, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, told me the following story which happened to him.
When he was young, he trained with an old master, whose name he did not mention. Every morning the old master and my sifu would enter a forest and run around a circle of marked trees. They started together, but the old master would soon be ahead and then disappear. Next, the old master, having completed the circle, would come up from behind, overtake my sifu, and hit him as he passed, shouting “Hi, young man, why are you so slow?”. This happened everyday for months.
One day, annoyed that he had been constantly hit, my sifu refused to train further. “You said you would teach me kungfu, but all you do is to hit me everyday,” my sifu complained. “Yes, I'm teaching you kungfu, and very good kungfu indeed,” the old master replied.
My sifu explained to me that due to his ignorance then, his idea of kungfu was just kungfu forms, which is what most people today conceptualize too. So that morning he refused to run with the old master in the forest. The old master asked him again, and again, and my sifu also noticed his simu, the wife of the old master, silently indicated to him from behind that he should continue his training. But my sifu refused.
“Right, follow me and I'll show you what kungfu I am teaching you.” The old master, with his long pipe in his hand, led my sifu to the back of the house. The surrounding wall was about ten feet high, lined with pieces of glass on top to deter thieves climbing over. The old master tugged the end of his long robe under his waist slash.
“Now, don't blink you eyes,” the old man said. He lowered his shoulders and in the next instant he was up in the air, did a somersault above the wall, scraped some pieces of glass away with his pipe, and landed elegantly on one foot on the wall above in the pattern “Golden Cockerel Stands Solitarily.” Then the old master jumped down from the wall and landed on the ground without a sound.
My sifu suddenly realized that the old master had been teaching him qinggong. He quickly knelt down and asked for forgiveness for his rudeness, begging the old master to continue teaching him. But the old master rejected, believing in an old tradition that if a student refused after being given three chances, he was not destined to learn the art.
Pitying my sifu, his simu taught him a kungfu set called “Seven Stars”, which was excellent for a small sized person against a big sized opponent. It was when my sifu taught me this kungfu set, that he told me this story.
Qinggong has many other benefits besides fighting a large opponent. On the other hand, there are many other ways, which are much easier to learn than qinggong, to fight large opponents. All kungfu styles incorporate some of these ways, and some kungfu styles, like Taijiquan, Wing Choon Kungfu and Monkey Style, are particularly noted for this aspect.
Is there enough proof of this skill for me to consider training in it, or is it merely legendary?
You sound as if it was easy for anyone to learn qinggong if he wanted to learn it. Today it is rare to find a master who knows qinggong, and even if you find him it is rare that he wants to teach you.
My sifu did not teach me qinggong directly, but he described to me the methods for training. Basically there are three levels of progress — the physical, the energetical and the mental.
I practised daily for a few months and was able to spring up on the spot for about four feet. However one day I slipped and fell, and hurt myself. It was a pity that after recovery from the injury, I did not continue the training. I was only at the initial stage of my training; I had not even progressed to the stage of strapping weights to my legs. One reason I discontinued was because I thought I could spend the time more profitably in other training.
Sometimes I wonder whether I made a right decision to discontinue my qinggong training. Although I am idealistic by nature, my Zen training has made me practical. I reasoned that while being able to jump elegantly from branch to branch was a novelty, its practical usefulness was limited. On the other hand, my training in qigong has enabled me to help literally thousands of people, including saving many lives. Nevertheless, years later my wife told me it was great to know qinggong. Had I known her wish earlier, I might have continued my qinggong training just for her.
It sounds like it would require a lot of time. How much time should I allocate to each section of training? And is there any alternative to strapping weights to your legs in the first stage? If not, around how much weight should be used?
All kungfu training requires time. It took me a few months to practise the first part of the physical level, which enabled me to spring up a few feet on the spot. To spring up a ten-foot wall would require at least a few years of dedicated training.
Strapping weights to one's legs is not the first stage. Weights are not essential, but very helpful. How much weight should be used, depends on your ability and mode of training. But if you are uninformed about qinggong training, it is inadvisable for you to strap weights, or even attempt qinggong training on your own — unless you do not mind risking injury to your sexual organs.