MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS ON CLEANSING, BUILDING AND NOURISHING
If we follow (or don't follow) instructions, and if we trust the Master (or think that we know better than the Master), how will this effect the processes of cleansing, nourishing and building?
Sifu Mark Blohm
If students follow instructions and trust their master, the processes of cleansing, building and nourishing will be smooth and they will get the best benefits.
The master may sometimes make mistakes in his judgment, but the chances of his making mistakes are much lower than those of the students themselves. It is more likely that he will realize the mistakes faster, and recommend remedial exercises for the students.
On the other hand, if students don't follow instructions or think they are smarter than their masters, at best they do not obtain as good a result as they should get, and worse, they may harm themselves due to deviated practice.
This is true if the master is genuine. If he is a great master, the benefit or harm applies not just to the arts the students practice but to life in general too. Some students, often without their conscious knowing, think themselves smarter and act against the master's sincere advice, resulting in harming themselves.
Let us look at some examples.
When cleansing occurs, some students do not realize it and stop practicing. Hence, they deny themselves the chance of overcoming their pain and illness, and obtaining subsequent benefits. If it is over-cleansing, the master will realize it and recommend slowing down or remedial exercise.
When building occurs, the students are pleased, and in their desire to want more benefit, may over-practice resulting in over-building. The master will recommend less powerful exercise. If the students ignore the advice, they may head for serious trouble.
When nourishing occurs, especially in high-level arts where the students' spirit may expand beyond their physical body, some students may become afraid which may harm them psychically. The master would lead them step by step so that their progress will be safe and pleasant.
Is it correct to say that both non-practitioners and chi kung practitioners experience cleansing, building and nourishing throughout their lives but randomly haphazardly in the former and progressively systematically in the latter?
No, non-practitioners as well practitioners of chi kung experience cleansing, building and nourishing in the same order. This is natural. The difference is in degree, not in kind.
The processes of cleansing, building and nourishing of non-practitioners are little and take a long time. The benefits are often negated by other activities in their daily life.
If we presume that there were no counter-activities, a non-practitioner would naturally overcome his illness (without taking any medication), attain general well-being, and attain emotional, mental and spiritual balance. But in real life, disease-causing agents will attack him again, stress will affect his well-being, and other activities will affect his emotional, mental and spiritual balance.
Where does a non-practitioner obtain his chi flow for his natural cleansing, building and nourishing? Chi flow is natural. But practicing chi kung enhances it.
What is the method for and nature of cleansing, building and nourishing in sentient beings like immortals, arahants and boddhisattvas?
I believe the method and nature of cleansing, building and nourishing in sentient beings like immortals, arahants and bodhisattvas are the same as those for mortals, except that the former operates at the supra-mundane level, whereas the latter operates at the mundane.
I believe supra-mundane beings practice chi kung and meditation like mortals do. At the supreme level of cleansing, building and nourishing, they merge into the Cosmos, described variously as attaining Buddhahood, attaining the Tao and returning to God the holy Spirit. Mortals, too, may attain this highest and most noble achievement.
What are the similarities and differences between building and nourishing?
Sifu Adam Bailey
Semantically, building enables a practitioner to become stronger, whereas nourishing enables him to become richer (in the sense of spiritually purer).
The similarity between building and nourishing is that both add on to what a practitioner already has, in contrast to cleansing which takes away unwanted things from him. All the three processes make him better. Over-doing any one of the processes may be harmful.
The difference is that building relates to quantity, whereas nourishing relates to quality. In building the amount of energy increases though the quality may be the same. In nourishing the amount remains the same but the quality increases.
When we face fierce, intense (but upright) emotions through cleansing; should we embrace our fire or find the middle path (cool down) in these extremes?
Name Removed as Requested
When you have not reached the optimum point of cleansing, you can embrace your fire, i.e. continue your fierce, intense and upright emotions. For example, when a timid person finds that he is becoming confident and have zest for life, he should continue and make good use of the benefit.
If you find that you have reached or passed the optimum point, you should find the middle path or cool down. For example, if a robust person finds that his confidence and zest are overwhelming, he should slow down or stop his training, and spend his energy on wholesome activities like performing kungfu sets or spending time with good friends.
It may not be easy to know what exactly the optimum point is. Hence, under-training is always better than over-training.
How does one judge whether to keep practicing through a cleansing period, or to stop practicing for a while?
Sifu Andy Cusick
In theory, one should keep practicing through a cleansing period when he has not reached the optimum point of cleansing, and stop practicing for a while when he has reached or passed it.
In practice, he knows the difference from direct experience. A general guideline is that when he feels pleasant, including feeling good pain, he should continue. When he feels unpleasant, like feeling sharp pain and being nauseous, he should stop practicing.
Experience will improve his judgment. To be safe and comfortable, he should follow the principle that under-training is always better than over-training.
Several times when I began cleansing, I incorrectly guessed that the symptoms were the beginning of a cold or flu. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that we should treat cleansing differently. How do we tell the difference when the symptoms are similar? Should we treat cleansing differently than a minor sickness?
I should add that I have rarely been sick in the six years I've been practicing Chi Kung. When I have been sick, the symptoms are so much milder and the progress of healing is so much faster, that I cannot use my older references for how healing happens.
Cleansing and the beginning of a cold or any minor sickness are different descriptions of the same reality. The symptoms are, therefore, the same. You can treat them similarly though you can describe them differently.
When a cold or any minor sickness is about to surface, cleansing occurs as a result of chi kung training to clear out the disease-causing agent so that the sickness is overcome before it happens. The same operation applies to serious sickness like heart problems and cancer.
Cleansing may occur at different points of time. For convenience we may classify the occurrence into three points of time, the initial point when disease-causing agents have entered the body but have not caused any trouble, the intermediate stage when the illness is surfacing, and the established stage where it has surfaced as a clinical disease.
For many of us cleansing occurs at the initial stage. That is the reason why you have rarely been sick since practicing chi kung. It is not that disease-causing agents do not attack us -- they do to all people all the time -- but we overcome them before they have a chance to create trouble.
To some it occurs when the illness is coming out. Here is where practitioners find it hard to distinguish between cleansing and illness, which are actually the same process but described differently from different perspective with different emphasis.
For others the cleansing process occurs when the illness has established itself as a clinical disease. Here practitioners may not call it cleansing, but overcoming their illness.
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Stages of Cleansing, Building and Nourishing: 10 Questions to the Grandmaster in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
Click here to find out more about the UK Summer Camp