Qili nong — The Way of Occlusion
To many people in the Western world this will have no meaning whatsoever, but this is not very surprising as even the majority of Chinese do not fully appreciate its true and total depth, although some may have heard or read about little parts of it, or may have seen demonstrations of some of its usages. Even so, it is still quite a mystery to them.
The whole of this art is based on the many different types of energies or vitalities that exist or should exist within the human body if you are truly healthy. This was another of the wondrous teachings that was handed down to the Chinese by the ‘Sons of Reflected Light’ (Fǎnguāngzǐ 反光子), and humanity has received the benefits of it for thousands of years. In the Chinese health arts this is a very important factor, for part of it you were born with and learned to develop and strengthen during the stages of growing up, while other parts have to be acquired through sensible eating and drinking habits and a more cultivated way of living.
All these energies fall into five main categories, these being physical, mental, internal, external and spiritual, and they all pass through three stages of development.
The first section is the physical energy of our human body, which we automatically use every day of our lives, whether we are at work or at play, and this energy is being used whenever you sit down or lie down to relax, and we all accept it so naturally that very few people even give it a second thought.
Physical strength and/or brute force is not a sign of great physical energy, and as a matter of fact, in most cases, this is the complete opposite, for big muscles have a tendency to retard growth, create tensions, restrict the flow of the blood, encourage water retention, makes some organs swell in size while others contract and all in all allow the full dynamic potential of the physical vitality to be run down or lost.
Of course, all those who are sincere and dedicated and who want to build up their physical energy, and to attain constant good health, through purification of the bloodstream, improvement of the circulation and strengthening of the organs, should first change their dietary habits. They should adopt Chang ming, the sensible eating and drinking formula, founded by the Taoists, which helps everyone to balance the Yin and Yang within themselves. Through this simple means of changing the diet, all weaknesses in the organs are eradicated, then illnesses and sickness become just a distant memory, and you will then attain the perfect good health that is the natural heritage of every human being. In other words, physical health perfection that was once a dream now becomes true reality.
Once you attain the true health of your own body so that not even a common cold will ever enter your life again, then your physical energy will have the strength to fight all bacteria and viruses that happen to come your way, and you will be able to grow old in years, yet retain the vitality of your youth in conjunction with excellent physical good health.
Mental energy (Jingshen) is also used in a great variety of ways, such as through the normal channels of thinking, for the discipline and control of the movements of the limbs, counteracting the emotional drain on our lives and the replacement of vitalities imposed by stress or strain. It is also used at a very high level under all conditions of everyday life — playing, working, driving, etc, as well as being used in directions of which you are not always aware, such as your sense of taste, intuition, sensory perception, hypersensitivity, and. of course, all the various aspects of Mó gùn 魔棍 (Taoist Wand) and Mó Xiǎng 魔想(Taoist meditation), both of which are vast fields in themselves.
Then of course the mental energy is used to control, harness, channel and develop all other vitalities within the human body, and not only during the day when the body is active, but also at night when you are asleep. So you will appreciate that complete and utter relaxation of the mind, body and spirit is absolutely essential for the retention of good health, but it is also a major key to our personal life, for when we relax completely the channels within the body and the head can be thrown wide open to allow the free flow of vitality. They can also be closed by your own will and control, to ensure that such energies are not wasted unnecessarily, and therefore you can learn how to store them until the time comes when they are wanted for an essential purpose. That is why it is important for the attainment and the reinforcement of good health, and is of primary importance to positive advancement to even further goals in the mental and spiritual aspects of your life.
Let this be your aim in life, to get a truly healthy body (and not necessarily a physically fit body), by adhering to the Cháng mìng way of eating and drinking, so that you will be able to gain retain, store and recharge your mental energy, then you will be able to increase the power of your internal energy, and then go on to the next step, which is that of developing the external field of force as well. Whilst these things might all seem to be separate, which indeed they are — in their own particular spheres of operation, it is essential that they can also be harmonized, under your mental control, so that they can eventually become one entity.
The next sections are the major fields of Qili Nong. Unfortunately most people allow them to go to waste, or they allow their little-used — yet vital — physical and mental energies to be depleted to such low levels that they are unable to gain control of them. Thus they are frittered away and lost for ever. So the average person will never know the joy and happiness that these vitalities can bring, nor really appreciate how important they are to their own physical, mental and spiritual lives.
The whole health of the human body is based on ‘internal energy’ (Nèi zhōng qì 内中气), more commonly known as the ‘vitality power’ (Shēngqì 生气), or simply Qi and it is one of the most important aspects of the ‘Eight Strands of the Brocade’ (Bā jǐn xiàn 八錦线). Its force is truly dynamic, its utilization is fantastic, and its benefit to a person’s good health is beyond normal comprehension. Everyone practicing our Taoist arts endeavours to develop, activate and cultivate Qi, for not only is it an important factor in the good health of the body and mind, but it also has spiritual ramifications as well.
The ‘Supreme Spirit’ (Yùhuángdàdì 玉皇大帝) has created some wonderful things in this world, and Sheng Qi is one of them, but to try and explain it to you in simple terminology, and still give you a real understanding of what it is all about, is difficult to say the least. The Taoists of China have benefited from their awareness and understanding of it for many thousands of years, and have attained very long lives, some of them being reputed to have lived to be 150 or 200 years of age.
It is the natural internal power of the human body, and it is a far greater force than sheer physical brute strength can ever be, and what is more amazing is the fact that you were born with it, but over the years you have allowed its power to decline or become dormant within your own body. In its own way it helps to fight germs and bacteria within the body, and so effectively that you will find that colds and flu will not affect you, and your general health will improve beyond your wildest dreams.
We know what it is, how it can be stored, how it can be controlled, activated, and cultivated, and where it emanates from, and we also know the effects that it has on the health of our own bodies. We also know that we can heal others with it too and that it can be expressed from the human body over many hundreds of yards. It is an intangible force, invisible to the eyes, cannot be heard, and it has no smell, and whilst it consists of an immaterial substance, yet it is very materialistic It is substantial yet enormously insubstantial, it is unresisting yet at the same time, it can be pliability itself. It has no weight at all yet it cannot be lifted, it is soft and gentle like a morning breeze and yet it can be as hard as iron. It can be sensed, however, if your sensory perception is strong enough or has been sufficiently trained to recognize the symptoms. It is life and the centre of your own life, for all humanity is born with it. It came into being when you were in your mother’s uterus, and it will only leave you when you take in your last breath.
Your Qi is always with you, but unfortunately, when you were about five or six years of age you started to use your physical and muscular strength more and more and your Qi less and less. In some people, it lies almost dormant through poor health and lack of use. Therefore it has to be revived and reactivated, and initially, there are a few obstacles that have to be overcome, but once having coerced your Qi to flow, then you can spend time in cultivating it day by day so that it becomes stronger and stronger as each day goes by. Everything will depend on your own personal dedication, for there are no shortcuts, and everyone has to go through all the stages, one by one before the absolute ultimate can be obtained. Then, and only then, will you have obtained the dynamic benefits of constant good health, a tranquil mind, peace and happiness, and longevity. There are many records of the Taoists of China living to very ripe old ages, all in perfect health and with all their mental faculties working as efficiently as when they were much younger. But of course, with the greater maturity of age, they had the greater understanding, appreciation, experience, and wisdom that only time can bring, with the added benefits of the dynamic energies that guaranteed them greater spiritual outlook and strength.
The first principle involved in gaining Internal Power (Qi) is to relax in mind, body and spirit, but we know that true relaxation is one of the hardest objectives to achieve. It is no good going to the nearest armchair and flopping into it, for this type of relaxing is merely giving up all your physical energies, and thereby your muscles, tendons, tissues and mind become slack and lazy. In our Taoist arts we use the periods when the body should be relaxed to store energy, so that we always have the power available whenever we require to use it. There are no prescribed periods when you should relax, but you must be able to adjust yourself so that you can learn to do it whenever you wish, whether you are at work or at play, walking or sitting down. So you may fully appreciate that one of the first steps on this upward path, is to throw the whole of your physical and mental spheres wide open, so that there is not the slightest obstruction internally, thereby there is not the slightest stress or strain. Going strictly on to the Cháng mìng diet will help you enormously to attain this goal.
The next stop in this first phase is to build up the natural energy of the body. Liken yourself to a storage heater: when it is working it is pumping heat out into the room, but when it is not doing so during the off-peak period, then it stores the heat within itself to be used at a later time. This is exactly the same principle on which your Qi works, for when we give ourselves time to relax, then we use that period to conserve and store further energy, and as internal power or Qi is heat, then you will readily understand the relationship that exists.
However, we do need something to speed up the process of making more energy, at the same time ensuring that we have adequate storage. So at this stage, you should not only eat the Taoist Cháng mìng way but should also incorporate into your daily life the various Taoist breathing exercises which will help in the process of relaxing and will also aid the generation of more heat so that more energy can be produced and a greater capacity made available to be stored.
This stage is known to us as the ‘Propelled Movement- (Tuījìn yùndòng 推进运动) period, when the trainee will start to learn how to direct the Qi from the lower abdomen to various parts of the body at will. If you turn on a tap or valve you know that you can open the channel so that the water will start to flow down the pipe, without having to activate the pipe, or you could, for instance, switch on an electrical connection and know that as soon as you do so, the electricity will flow along the wires, without you having to move the wires in the process. Your bones, muscles and tissues become the pipes and the wires, and inside them are the channels along which the energy of your body will flow, and they will carry your Qi to any part of the body, without any physical movement on your part. In other words, you do not need a single ounce of physical or muscular strength to help the flow of your internal energy.
Again in this stage there are specialized Taoist breathing exercises that are incorporated to give an added stimulus to the flow and an aid to the mental control over directional diversions, and they also assist in locking the Qi at specific points in the functional and control channels of the body, as well as within the psychic centres that are themselves central emanation points.
There can be no time limit set for the length of this stage, as it is entirely dependent upon the individual’s capacity for personal dedication, strength and attitude of mind, and depth and control of relaxation, as well as on overall bodily health, the amount of heat generation, the quality and quantity of the storage centres, and the ability to control and fully utilize the energy flow.
The golden rules of this stage are:
- Gain complete mastery of yourself.
- Attain complete and utter relaxation of the mind, body and spirit.
- Get the feel of generating this internal energy and heat.
- Learn how to hold and store it carefully.
- Learn how to control and direct it to any part of the human anatomy where it might be needed.
This is the most advanced stage of internal power, but it is within the reach of everyone providing they are willing to allow themselves time to reach it. If you have the mental aptitude and constant dedication you could reach it in five or six years, or it could take you fifty years, and there again, there are many who never reach it at all. It all depends entirely upon your own personal dedication.
Qi, as we have already mentioned, is a form of heat, and it can be propelled to any part of the body at will. Your abdomen (Dāntián 丹田), where the Qi energy is stored has only a very limited capacity, and therefore, sooner or later, it will begin to overflow. This is the initial aim, to be able to make so much vitality that it will overflow more and more. A further Taoist breathing exercise is introduced at this point to increase the overflowing action, and then to try and ensure that this overflow is maintained on a more permanent basis, and in so doing the heat potential is also boosted, and the health of the body becomes so good that even the common cold or a headache becomes a memory of the past. We in the Taoist arts have ways and means of proving the amount of flow and the degree of its force, and at various intervals in time each practitioner can gauge his own rate of progression through these simple tests.
At first, internal power will fall from the abdomen (Dāntián 丹田) into the lower extremities of the pelvis (Ku Pan) and as the action continues, the force of energy is driven up the spine, over the top of the head, through the control channels which are operated by the mind, and then down the front of the body through the functional channels, and finally back to the abdomen. Whilst making this journey, the overflow action will also fill the muscles, tendons and sinews of the body, giving them added strength, greater flexibility and more pliability. However, everything depends on good eating habits such as those of Cháng mìng. If bad eating habits are normal (as in most Western families) then restrictions and deep contractions hamper or stop the flow of energy to various parts of the body, and then sickness prevails.
The bones of the body are a different proposition for they are all sealed units, which makes the penetration of inner power very difficult and the process of intake very much slower. It can and does penetrate to the innermost part of every bone, however, providing the Qi energy is strong, by a process which is known as osmosis.
Without becoming too technical, osmosis can be explained as follows. As the muscles, tendons and tissues of the body become heated through the flow of Qi energy, that heat is passed automatically to the outside surface of the bone, because they are all in very close proximity to one another. Then slowly the bone itself becomes heated all the way through, and this heat, in turn, is transmitted to the marrow.
The bone and marrow become tempered through a sweating action that takes place in the process. This tempering will make their texture so hard and resilient that they become like steel, and yet, in the same process, they both become more supple than ever before. That is why amongst the Taoists bone marrow diseases are unheard of, and that is another reason why the development of Qi is encouraged by everyone who practices our arts.
Once this supreme unification has taken place, then you will have reached the ultimate level of mastery and control of your own internal power (Sheng Qi); you will have reached the stage of rejuvenation; and you will be able to ward off all diseases, and also prolong the span of your own life.
It is not known how old the ‘Sons of Reflected Light’ lived to be, but my master said that he was told that it was believed to be hundreds of years of age. So why not let this be your way of life too, for not only will you be more evenly tempered, for all tensions will be taken out of your life, but you will be much happier, for nothing will upset your daily life. You will also attain constant good health, and extend your lifespan in so doing.
This source of energy is vital to our own personal lives. It is known as ‘macrocosmic energy’ (Jīng shēng lì 精生力) Macrocosmic energy is everywhere, and it passes through you constantly. Even as you sit reading this, this energy is passing through you. If you can learn to harness it, store it, control it and utilize it, then you can reach the realms of immortality as the Taoists learned to do many thousands of years ago. They also learned to use it for the purpose of healing others, and it is still being used for this purpose today. It is more dynamic than internal energy (Shēngqì 生气) and it can also be controlled through the mind. However, in this case, it is projected through the pineal gland, which the Taoists call the Golden Gate (Jīn mén 金门), and it is the first step towards the Supreme Ultimate (Zuìgāo zuìhòu 最高最后).
It gives life and vitality to all plants, for without it they would droop and die, and our own life pattern is dependent on it as well. In our Taoist arts, we have known for over 4,000 years that cancer is due to very low internal and external energy, and all that is necessary is to build up these two energies in a person, and cancer is eliminated. So work and strive for truly good health by eating the Cháng mìng way, and aim to obtain the ultimate goal yourself by developing your energies, and life will take on a new meaning for you.
Healing, unlike acupuncture, does not require special instruments, and we don’t need any special herbs either; all we need is personal good health, strong energies, an understanding of the Yin and Yang, and a good understanding of the meridian channels in the body. Remember, too, that we can practice healing on ourselves as well as on other people, although if you are truly eating the Cháng mìng way then you will never be ill unless you break the dietary rules, in which case your stomach will let you know very quickly.
This is accomplished in two entirely different ways. The first is either created by the patient himself or can be passed on by the helper through the vibration of a specific sound which will have a Yin or Yang effect on an organ or organs of the body. The second alternative is through the vibration of Qi down a specific meridian channel of the body, which again will have its benefits on a specific area or organ. It was only the positive and very deep understanding of the Yin and Yang, that enabled the ancient Taoists to explore the human body to such great depths.
Qi and Li Healing
As you will guess, these utilize both our internal and external energies for healing purposes, and both are used on a Yin and Yang basis, depending on the cause of illness. Both can be performed either by the patient himself or by a helper. With Qi healing it is important to have a good knowledge of the meridian channels, so that these can be fully utilized during a healing session. Each organ has its own meridian, which begins or ends at a certain finger or toe, so if we want to treat a lung complaint, then we place one hand on the lung and the other hand on the outside edge of the thumbnail. In the West this would probably be called palm healing. Li healing is very similar except that we must accept an adequate supply of Li energy, which means we must be very healthy, and on Cháng mìng preferably, through one hand whilst the other hand rests on the sick organ. The angle of the free hand will depend on whether you are male or female, in other words, Yin or Yang, and on the sex of the patient. Simple adaptations can then be made.
There are many ways of meditating in Taoism, and, whilst these can be listed as twenty basic and separate paths, they are divided into many subsections, which makes the field of Taoist meditation very large indeed. Yet, because of the balance of Yin and Yang, it is highly contractive as well as being enormously expansive, and this therefore allows us to explore deep within ourselves and others, and to travel all over our own world, as well as transcending to the astral plane, the celestial sphere, and even the heavenly orbit. If you reach the stage when you can meditate fully whenever you wish, and in any of the sections that you choose, then you may progress even further by exploring how to meditate with your eyes open. We call this ‘visual transportation’ (Shìlì Yùnshū 视力运输). Then there is a further stage, which is called spiritual transportation’ (Jīngshén Yùnshū 精神运输). Both are very advanced stages of Taoist meditation, and you need a very good teacher to help you through the various stages, but here are a few points that are worth remembering:
- Put your tongue into the roof of the mouth.
- Breathe in and out of the nostrils only.
- Breathe the Yang way for energy activation.
- Eradicate all rising thoughts and cleanse the mind.
- Erase all feelings, sounds and smells from your senses.
- Morning and evening are the best times for meditating.
- The minimum requirement is one meditation per day.
- The best time is in the morning.
- Start by meditating for fifteen minutes, then slowly work up to one hour.
- Each morning, massage the abdomen before getting out of bed, and before meditating, practise a few deep breaths, then go to the toilet. You are now ready to start.
by Chee Soo