July 2008 (Part 1)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I am attending the UK summer camp this July, and one of the courses I plan to attend is the Cosmic Shower course. However I am not certain if this skill is not what we learnt at the Intensive Chi Kung course in January. The course description lists the summer camp course as cleansing the meridians, and as I recall we did not receive any specific instructions about meridians during the Cosmic Shower session in January. Am I right to assume these are two different skills?
My reason for asking is that if the course offered at summer camp is the same skill as we were taught in Malaysia I would like to tell Sihing Marcus that I shall sign up for another course instead as he contacted me to confirm my courses.
— Omar, Norway
Yes, the skills you learned at the Intensive Chi Kung Course for Cosmic Shower are the same as the ones I shall teach at the UK Summer Camp. The approach and techniques, however, may be different.
Except for the special chi kung courses, like the Small Universe and the Chi Kung Healing Course, which are by invitation only, the skills taught at the Intensive Chi Kung Course are the highest I have taught to the public. It is indeed amazing that if accepted, a student can learn in just three days chi kung skills that range from beginners' to masters' levels.
Skills like being relaxed, attaining a one-pointed mind, regulating the breath, generating a chi flow, and entering into a heightened state of consciousness are beginners' skills in our school, though many people may consider them advanced. Skills like tapping energy from the Cosmos, directing chi to and massaging various internal organs, developing internal force, expanding the mind, and having a glimpse of Cosmic Reality are masters' skills that even many masters today may not achieve after practicing for 10 or more years.
Understandably, many people do not believe that it is possible to learn these skills in three days. Many of them do not even believe that chi is real. That is their problems, not ours. But those who have been accepted to the course have a rare opportunity to learn these skills, and if they are not satisfied they are entitled to have their money back.
It is important to note that students will learn these skills at the Intensive Chi Kung Course, skills that many masters themselves may not have. But this does not mean that the course will turn students into masters in three days. Having the skills and having mastered the skills are two different issues — a fact many people may not realize. These two issues belong to the same continuum, one at the start and the other at the completion.
A student, for example, can successfully learn how to generate a chi flow, but he needs to generate a chi flow daily for a period of time, generally about 6 to 9 months, before an illness can be overcome. He can develop internal force and have no doubt that it is real. But his internal force is nothing compared to the muscular strength of an external martial artist who has practiced for many years. But if the student continues to develop his internal force for a year, he may be stronger than someone who does external training for 5 years.
One of the masters' skills learnt at the Intensive Chi Kung Course is to tap energy from the Cosmos and let it flow down your body in all direction as a shower. This is Cosmic Shower. You may let the cosmic energy flow down freely, which was what we did at the course you attended. For some students, the cosmic shower may be focused at the skin, for others it may be along the meridians, and still others it may be along their nerves.
If you like, using a skill which you also have learnt at the course, you may direct the flow of the cosmic shower. If you let the cosmic energy soak into your bones and cleanse your marrow, it becomes Marrow Cleansing.
Students at my regional courses do not learn such advanced skills. If they wish to have a cosmic shower, they would choose an appropriate technique, like “Lifting the Sky” or “Carrying the Moon”. When they have generated a good energy flow, they will then let the energy flow down their body as a cosmic shower.
It is illuminating to note that “Lifting the Sky” and “Carrying the Moon” are techniques, whereas generating energy flow, cosmic shower and marrow cleansing are skills. In our regional Generating Energy Flow course, we use “Carrying the Moon” to generate an energy flow. In our Cosmic Shower course at the UK Summer Camp, we use “Carrying the Moon” to have a cosmic shower. In our Intensive Chi Kung Course, because of the many advanced skills we have learnt, we can use techniques or just our mind to generate an energy flow, have a cosmic shower, cleanse our marrow or perform other remarkable things.
I also have a question regarding the art of Marrow Cleansing, if you have the time. Once again thank you very much for passing these arts to us. I remember you telling us that it is enough to practice this advanced skill only once a month, or do I recall wrong?
For most people, performing Marrow Cleansing once a month is sufficient. Marrow Cleansing is a very powerful exercise, which should be learnt from a qualified teacher. Performing it too often may be harmful.
This does not mean that Marrow Cleansing once a month will provide them with enough energy to sustain their good health and vitality. They have to practice other more elementary exercises every day. If they practice Marrow Cleansing often, the tremendous amount of energy generated is too strong for their body to handle. Advanced practitioners may perform Marrow Cleansing often.
On the other hand, those with particular health problems like allergies, organic disorders and nervousness, may perform Marrow Cleansing more frequently. These disorders are related to the nervous system, which is referred to as “marrow” in Chinese medical philosophy. Marrow Cleansing is cleansing the nervous system.
But they should practice a gentle form of Marrow Cleansing where the energy produced is not powerful. And they have to learn from and supervised by a qualified chi kung therapist.
Hence, there is more depth in advanced exercises like Marrow Cleansing than what meets the eyes superficially. This is one of many reasons that chi kung teachers must be qualified to teach, and students should learn from qualified teachers.
If one learns from a book or a video, it is likely that he will practice the exercise wrongly, even when he follows the instructions exactly! If the exercise is not powerful, the harmful effect is negligible. If it is powerful, like Marrow Cleansing, the harmful effect can be serious.
The irony is that those who learn on their own from books or videos usually choose the most powerful exercises. To make matter worse, they also attempt to progress at a much faster rate than regular students learning from living teachers.
Shortly, how I recall your instructions for Marrow Cleansing is to focus at the lower energy point (huiyin) for a moment, send chi up along the spine to baihui, then focus there for a moment. Then work chi back down the spine to huiyin again. This is repeated about 3-5 times before finally when chi is placed at baihui, it is let to flow down along all the nerves in the body cleansing them.
Your description about Marrow Cleansing is correct. It is what we usually use in our school. The chi needed for the marrow cleansing is often generated by the pattern “Turning Head”, which is one of the patterns in the Eighteen Lohan Hands.
Years ago I taught this method in my “Massaging Internal Organs” course. Later I discontinued teaching this method, because some students might not learn the necessary skill adequately within the short time of this regional course. They might, therefore, harm themselves if they did not perform the method skillfully.
I replaced “Turning Head”, which was meant to cleanse nerves, with “Separating Water”, which massaged chests and lungs. “Separating Water” is more useful to most people who are more often inflicted by depression than by nervousness. Opening their chest and massaging their lungs with “Separating Water” is an excellent way to overcome depression.
There are also other techniques besides using “Turning Head” to accomplish the skill of marrow cleansing. Cosmic Shower can also be used. If you direct the chi in Cosmic Shower to flow deep inside the bones to cleanse the marrow, the effect is marrow cleansing. On the other hand, you may direct the chi in Cosmic Shower to flow on the skin surface, to cleanse the meridians or to perform other tasks.
At random times of the day I've been trying to flow chi through my body. Well, during a test in math class I felt stiff so I decided to stretch. As I was arching my back across the chair, I felt light headed. I thought it was just blood rushing to my head, but the next thing I knew, I felt a charge or flow of a warm tingling sensation through every corner of my body. Then, I was moving to the flow like a snake. After it was all done it took me a minute to calm down. I didn't make any noises (thank God) and I was conscious the whole time.
I was scared, yet it was very joyful and a pleasant experience. Was this chi? I think it was to tell you the truth. I'm still a beginner in the martial art world, even though I'm a probationary Black Belt. May you tell me if I'm on the right track with this experience?
— Nicholas, England
Yes, you are on the right track. In fact you did very well. What you described are typical examples of a good chi flow. You were not only energized but also attained mental clarity, which was excellent for your math test.
As you want to tell me the truth, you would like to know the truth too. Many people regard black-belts as experts in their arts. But for a genuine Shaolin or Taijiquan practitioner, handling a black-belt is relatively easy! Even in my regional kungfu courses, relative beginners including women more than 50 years of age, have little difficulty sparring with black-belts.
Many black-belts pant for breaths after about 15 minutes of sparring, whereas our students can spar for an hour or two without panting. The attacks of black-belts are quite straight-forward, but if our students grip their arms, strike their kicking legs or fell them onto the ground, they often do not know what to do.
My mentioning these facts, of course, is not meant to belittle black-belts. Black-belts have trained hard and dedicated themselves to their arts. And most kungfu practitioners today who only train external forms, regardless of the number of years they have trained, are scared to meet black-belts in sparring.
I read your paper “Qigong, a Cure for Cancer and Chronic, Degenerative Diseases?” which gave me a big hope and a new perspective for my father who learned two days ago that he had liver cancer and did not have much time left. Is there anything that could be done?
— Nelin, Austria
Of course, there is much that can be done to help your father recover.
First, be kind and loving to him. Spend time to listen to him, and talk to him about the good old days when you were together.
Then, convince him that cancer can be cured. This is a truth. Many people have overcome cancer. From the perspective of traditional Chinese medical philosophy, there is no such a thing as an incurable disease.
It may sound odd to those who view illness only from the conventional Western perspective, but from the Chinese perspective, all illness is due to yin-yang disharmony. Yin-yang disharmony is abnormal, yin-yang harmony is the norm. Once yin-yang harmony is restored, the illness — any illness — will be overcome as a matter of course. An excellent way to restore yin-yang harmony is to practice high-level chi kung learnt from a master.
I am looking for a full time apprenticeship. I want to train under someone full time, preferably in Asia. I have been in love with your way of life and culture since I was a little boy. How do I go about finding something like that?
— David, Holland
I am not accepting students for full time apprenticeship. So you have to seek elsewhere.
If you mean the way of life and culture of a master teaching kungfu professionally, there are many masters in the world today doing this.
There are three main ways you can go about finding masters leading this way of life and culture. An easy way is to surf the internet and e-mail these masters. But personally I don't think you can get good result, or any result, using this easy way.
A hard way is to take a year traveling through Asia and knock on the doors of these masters, begging to be accepted as a student. You may end up learning from a master, but you may not learn what you originally planned to.
A smart way is learn some basic kungfu forms from a local teacher, then apply to attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course, and hope to be accepted. If you complete the course successfully, continue practicing on your own at home and live your life by the Ten Shaolin Laws.
I have been studying Jiujitsu and do not feel I am doing any thing for my center nor am I under a teacher who has spent his whole life living in a peaceful state of mind. My instructor who has studied under a world known grandmaster is great, but he is a MMA fighter.
You made a big mistake which many students also made. You did not have a sound philosophy of the art you wish to pursue and you learned from any instructor without firstly finding out whether he ccould help you fulfill your needs and aspirations.
If you check past issues of my Question-Answer Series, you will find that I offer the following five-step advice to help students get the best benefits from their training.
- Have a sound philosophical understanding of the art you wish to pursue.
- Define your aims and objectives.
- Search for the best available teacher within your resources who can help you to realize your aims and objectives.
- Diligently and regularly practice what the teacher has taught you — not what you think you should practice.
- Periodically assess how well, or badly, you are realizing your aims and objectives through your practice.
You failed to fulfill Steps 2 and 3 above.
I want more out of a martial art than to be able to beat someone. I have learned over time and through studies that martial arts are a form of self discipline. I want to go deeper into that and fully study and learn. I have nothing but personal motivation and time to offer.
It is worthwhile to note that many students started with the same noble aims like yours, but still end up routinely beating their classmates and letting their classmates beat them. As mentioned above, they made the big mistake of not defining aims and objectives, and of not seeking the best available teacher who could help them realize their aims and objectives.
It is also interesting to note that you, like many other students, seem to think that masters have nothing better to do than waiting for students to turn up and do them a favour by learning from them. This, of course, is far from the truth. The truth is that masters are not in the least interested in your personal motivation and time to offer.
- Tantui at the UK Summer Camp of July 2007
- Glimpses Special Chin-Na Course June 2008
- Incredible but True — Dispersing Clouds
- Yin Yang, God and Health
- What is a Martial Art?