The Ancient Chinese Art of Healing
By George Mera
5. Nei Dan, Wai Dan, and Fang Jung, the sciences of refining one's personal energy through alchemy, chemistry, and the cultivation of balanced sexual energy.
Taoists believe that every individual is a hologram of the entire cosmos operation, that we all possess inside the DNA of the organism called universe; realizing this truth that is in front of your nose but so elusive to grasp, you can purify your essence and draw the attention to your center to become more aware of the intrinsic potential, if we understand the nature of our own forces we can understand the nature of the universe which is made of vibrations, energy, and waves.
So in life there is not really a destination to arrive and nothing to accomplish that will make existence more valuable or meaningful but the meaning of life is life, just to become more in tune with our source of being, to become a Buddha (peak of consciousness), to kindly reflect upon the riddle of our existences and find contentment with the simple, the unadorned and trivial occurrence. The word universe means union and if you fallow your true nature and you become natural you might find its center which is called Tao, Dharma or God, all human beings share the same center but we all live in the peripheral of our existences, completely unaware without understanding ourselves.
Chinese alchemist from the first to the third century AD experimented with different animal and mineral products looking for the pearl of immortality, commanded by the emperor's alchemists were encourage to investigate all aspects of life, researching in the internal transformation of the three essences of existence, Chi, Jing, and Shen.
Chi is the vital force without it life is impossible if you have in a laboratory all the chemical components of an egg you can't reconstruct it because is missing the vital energy, or you go to a funeral while observing the corpse the feeling is that something has left, that there is a void.
Jing is the sexual energy with which we identify, act, and see the world every single moment of our lives and is the second more powerful drive after Chi, and Shen that is the spiritual more refine energy that is the subtle essence that makes individuals transcend.
The cauldron is a metal kettle that since ancient times was used to cook; in a Chinese temple the incense is placed in a three-legged pot, meaning that a spiritual transformation is like cooking, combining the ingredients in the right proportions; therefore Chi is the fire aspect of the cooking your survival instinct, the lizard part of your brain; Jing the sexual energy the liquid element which needs to be warmed and the result of the cooking, the vapor is called Shen which is the more refined spiritual essence necessary to understand the meaning of life and the supernatural, to disperse doubts and fears and become one with the universe.
So cooking or anything that you do in life could be a spiritual activity putting the best of your physical energy getting totally involved, offering your heart your emotional force and the best of your knowledge in every action you do. There is no better meal than your mother's food (not in all the cases), it might not the most tasteful one but it has better vibrations; when you go to a restaurant you don't know who is the cook, he could be a criminal or drug addict and all that confusion is in the food.
Chi must be relaxed, strong and flexible (read an article on chi in Myinnerchi.com), the balance of chi is important you don't want chi to be too strong, too much fire or excessive yang can cause health problems like hypertension and in the process of internal alchemy you will burn the ingredients, nor to be too weak you will never be able to cook.
We have a miniature sun in the abdomen is called Dan Tien and is the center of chi, in Japanese is called Hara, is the masculine principle, the source of your vitality so the idea behind Tai Chi and Qi Gong is to make Chi balanced and governable so for this it is essential to dominating your Dan- Tien; in my first lesson of Tai chi many years ago my teacher said, nourish the Dan-Tien, it is the first point from which the web of your body was formed, return to your center, function from it.
Jing is the liquid element, the nutrients, glands, hormones, secretions, and the sexual energy, which need to be heated to become vapor. Jing has been repressed in almost all cultures; for Chinese Taoists anything in life is sacred and could be used for spiritual cultivation so fighting against ourselves against our nature is futile, we all supposed to have that force to be a complete human being, but the drive is so powerful and no other satisfaction is comparable in life that according to with the majority of religions, if the urge of sex is not controlled it might become ungovernable and could carry humankind into perdition, decadence, and debacle.
Every culture teaches that is not civilized to talk about sex, like you normally and unemotionally talk about your lack of sleep or the news of the day without any shame; I've been joining a Shanga (a community of Buddhism practitioners) to meditate every Sunday and after the practice we discuss about any subject that is troubling our lives or the reading of some sutras. I'm not sold to Buddhism or any other Ism since I'm not a good follower; I like the life and teachings of the founders of the religions and not too much the organized liturgy, the sense of exclusivity, rituals or rules involved.
In more than a year of discussions, it's been mentioned every topic of confusion from metaphysical to mundane but it has never been touched in any way the subject of sex and I am pretty sure not all of them has resolved or understood completely this aspect of their lives but I can sympathize with them since just to talk in public is fearful and even more embarrassing regarding this awkward theme and besides they probably believe that it will spoil the sacrosanct idea of spirituality.
Lin Chi Zen Master said, "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. If you meet a Patriarch, kill the Patriarch." Zen Master Seung Sahn says that in this life we must all kill three things: First, we must kill our parents. Second, we must kill the Buddha. And lastly, we must kill him!
What it means is not literally kill them, Lin Chi encourages you to reconsider with new eyes the origin of your thoughts and weed the incorrect preconceptions impregnating in your mind as a result of being raised in a culture, religion group or family, ideas that we unconsciously accepted as dogmas sometimes being them absurd or illogical, these indoctrinations has been done with great intentions for our own good and they also had been imposed the same way to our parents; and with time these views will constitute the forte of our personalities and opinions and without enough introspection they will be transmitted in the same way to our kids, even though we realize deep inside they've been a heavyweight oppressing us all our lives.
Buddha said before he dies "Life is very short, please investigate it closely." He didn't want you to be a follower but an explorer of all the aspects of life, his teachings were of the acceptance of life not like others religions the negation of life and anything that is pleasurable.
Freud said, sex is a part of our subconscious mind which is not accessible to ordinary introspection; he elaborated the theory that deep inside the reason of most of our problems is the libido, hidden energy that can conflict with civilized behavior, biological urges included sex that is manifested in our conscious activities; so from that premise the exploration of the subconscious mind has been discouraged because you cannot be sure what are you going to find, maybe powerful forces that you won't be able to control, all the monsters and dangers are buried in there and you might lose your mind, but if you want to find the truth you have to explore that road, unafraid of the subconscious, in complete trust in ourselves.
Even younger and more contemporary generations, might feel while they are making love that deep down they know they are doing something wrong, the guilty feeling is creeping around and such condemnation of sex has been for so long that has conditioned the psyche of people and for thousands of years sex has been considered the greatest sin.
The innate urge for Sex cannot be drop, you can start repressing, hindering it and will accumulate in the unconscious becoming a laceration and the more you repress the more obsess and guilty you become , so the exploitation of sexuality which is a vulgar representation of sex is everywhere, to sell anything and you are bombarded by it all the time; society is hypocritical is playing with your brain it gives you a set rules of moral behavior that as a group we accept and on the other hand the reality of the world is exploiting your desires, so following the instincts can destroy the life and careers of public figures, we are prompt to condemn as a group their lack of repression, but this is deceit, because we have what we condemn in our minds, it should be honor among thieves, when you are young you commit sins when you become old you forgot you give advice.
Sexual energy is not different than the spiritual one both come from the same source, the attitude of sex in Tantric yoga is of a witness of the dissolution of your ego, you merge into somebody else unconcerned of the consequences, unaware of your actions, mad in love, obsess with another person, so this can only be experienced in the present moment as meditation, so this experience could be the best platform of observation of yourself; but the moment we want to guarantee this feeling, to grasp this moment forever is when love starts dying and obligation and roles appears.
For a while you are intoxicated with the presence of the other person but then you sober up realizing that somehow you were tricked that things were not totally disclosed, your ego finds the way back to claim possession of your calculating mind, becoming conscious that in some way you were hypnotized and trapped and in this incorrect contemplation of reality you are ignorant, missing the mysterious paradox that instead and maybe for the first time in your life you were completely awaked and you are falling asleep again, that being in love is really being awaked.
But now you are not a lover anymore you have a title, you are a boyfriend, girlfriend a husband or wife, a role, a character, and another mask to assume, so you feel deceived and blame the other person because that magic moment which was so close to being a spiritual experience is gone, we cannot reproduce that experience anymore, we've lost the hope to arrive and every sexual sensation becomes more a fail act of repetition of the first experience, causing resentment, sadness or nostalgia, frustrating us, so in our perplexed mind the solution is perhaps to find another partner who doesn't betray us.
The beauty of a relationship between men a woman is that both are a mystery to each other, they cannot understand the other person behavior and there are a constant attraction and rejection, so never break the fascination of the discovery, the moment you decode all the aspects of the other person mind the appeal dissolves, so expectations of complete harmony and total understanding and agreement in a relationship need to be disregard and without doubts expect the opposite as natural as it has to happen as it is absolutely necessary, the important thing is the awareness and attitude towards disagreement if you master that aspect of your relationship love will endure.
There is a story of a girl who was giving a bunny rabbit as a birthday gift, she was elated with the mascot and driving back home she hugged and kissed it, she pressed the animal with so much passion that when they got home the rabbit was dead; in the same way there are some people that feel so much love that is holding the other person to the verge of suffocation, they claim ownership and the urge to possess is so immense that if they could, they will eat or kill their lovers, they want to have power over their eyes so they cannot see another man or woman; and this is totally illogical, the only way to retain a person is to give it the freedom to leave, that there is no obligation but immense gratitude but the exit is always available, the door has never been locked, insecurity and jealousy are the destroyers of love .
What attracted your partner to you in the first place was the appreciation of the beauty and differences of the opposite sex that you represented, so that is not going to stop because it finds you, your partner and you might have to pretend that any attraction for another person has died inside when meeting you, but this is a complete fallacy but if you want to maintain the relationship in peace you have to introduce hypocrisy and lies but the appreciation of beauty of the opposite sex should never die because love will die with it.
To investigate the sex topic without feeling guilty, but remember enjoyment in life doesn't finish when sex is gone, the transition should be a natural process like anything in life; when sex is gone is gone don't hold to it as it was the only reason to live, have no regrets but if you still need to investigate do it with the intention of self-discovery, rekindle your romance be in the present, meditate when you are making love.
Our knowledge and investigation of sex usually comes from negative attitudes, we have to teach sex to our kids to prevent premature pregnancy or STD'S, the famous talk is threatened every parent and kid in the world, in the old China parents used to drop in the newlywed chamber the pillow book, it consisted of twelve pictures so they won't be completely lost in their first night, so love has never been seen as a blossoming of a human being but as something to worry about, to hide, to be ashamed.
There are many books about this topic which collect ancient knowledge that can help you to approach this important drive from the spiritual perspective, probably the most well-known book is Kama Sutra and Ananga Ranga translated by Sir Richard Burton; I would say that the life and adventures of the author are as interesting as the book he translated, the publication of his book and his personal life shocked the proper puritan behavior of the English Victorian society.
Richard Burton spoke twenty-nine languages and he traveled in disguise to Mecca preaching the Koran incognito as a Muslim scholar; he was an explorer, translator, writer, soldier, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat. Kama Sutra is not really about poses and eroticism but the quest for spiritual transcendence, the Kama Sutra tackles kama (or sensual pleasures), the Nyaya Sutra delineates paths for achieving Moksha, or spiritual liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Other excellent sources of knowledge are the Tantric texts which indicate that sex has three specific and differentiated intentions procreation, pleasure and liberation. For using sex as a liberation there are some recommended practices like balancing energies of Pranic Ida (feminine) and Pingala( masculine) channels, the Sushumna Nadi (principal channel or spine) is awakened and Kundalini ( the mother of the universe), the dormant energy sleeping in the sacrum rises up upon the spine which culminates in samadhi (liberation) but with the addition of a cultivated force of a lover of the opposite sex Kundalini will have more power to rise, the energies Shiva and Shakti together will produce Soundaryalahari (waves of beauty).
There are many Tantric texts some very interesting like Shatki and Shâkta, HYMNS OF THE GODDESS and Hymn to Kâlî: Karpûrâdi-Stotra by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe); Kundalini: The mother of the universe BY Rishi Singh Gherwal.
Mantak Chia is a modern Taoist master who touches this subject in many of his books, his approach to sex is in a more practical way with Qi Gong exercises; his books should be read with a touch of caution since some of his practices could be controversial and are more directed to prolong your life and less in spiritual transcendence but nevertheless is worth reading.
Hindu tradition has this wonderful concept Shingara or love; Peter Marchand writes: "Creation only happens for the enjoyment of Shingara, when Shiva and Shakti, the male and female energies, who are one, decided to play the game of hiding and seek. Love is the most extreme happiness that two people can create together, living as a god and goddess in the universe of their own. In this way, the relationship becomes a rehearsal of surrender to the universe and the divine"
Meditate on the subject be a witness and when sex desire arrives, become focus without any judgment, don't say to yourself this is good or bad or evil, don't evaluate anything because any assessment comes from the mind; awareness, meditation or witnessing doesn't belong to the mind. Divisions of good and bad come from the mind, pay total attention as you pay attention when you are hungry, and total attention is powerful energy like fire, observe the fire and the burning of the desire just be a witness.
If you cannot relax sex will always be in hurry and timing incorrect; a woman constitution is electrical in the head and magnetic in the genitals, men is magnetic in the brain and electrical in the sexual organs. The conscious mind in the man is yang masculine the subconscious mind is Yin feminine; a woman has a feminine yin conscious mind and deep inside a yang masculine unconscious mind. The entire woman body is erotic and men more in the sexual organs, so the differences and complements need to be understood so yin and yang integrate in the most profound way, being a powerful force in your life.
If anything I would change about the world, will be the vibration in which our brains process the word sex, there is so much consensus and effort in condemning this word in almost every civilized culture, volumes of religious texts have been writing about the evils of uncontrolled sexual thoughts. A baby doesn't know about sexual organs the entire body is a delight to touch, but the moment it touches the genitals, the distinction is established on what is proper and what is wrong so it is conditioned to disconnect the body and mind, the baby is doing something natural to know the body, but our mind is so full of conditioning and guilt that we cannot distinguish the natural from the perverted.
So education and culture are a necessary evil make you a good predictable individual in society but is very oppressive; it is like a meat preserved in kosher salt, before you cook it is necessary to wash out many times the salt, so the indoctrination needs to be wash; so sometimes psychoanalysis is necessary when the damage is severe, but we all need to wash the salt to reestablish a more healthy mind-body connection
6. Tai- Syi, the science of revitalization through breathing and visualization techniques.
The mind doesn't recognize between positive and negative thoughts if you are surrounded by people that are constantly bragging about their poor health or are an encyclopedia of diseases or a great aficionado of prescription drugs, run fast, because your mind will respond by this negative input saying, I don't want that illness and guest what, if that harmful thought is constantly in your mind it will manifest in reality, that which you precisely are trying to avoid, pictures in our minds can manifest in the future since the universe is like a mirror it can only reflect what you are sending the reflection of your own vibration your visualization.
Visualization techniques should not be confused with praying, in reality, praying is not as many people think to ask for things but it has a more sacred meaning, it is the act of unselfishly giving without ulterior motive nor recognition; but churches, synagogues or mosques are full of people begging for something or bribing God, they tell God if you do this for me I would sacrifice something I will do a good deed I promise to correct my behavior; they are even asking for something very profane like the ruin, sickness or death of their enemies.
The human organism is the most amazing, surreal and complex entity; millions of things have to gather simultaneously on a microscopic scale, in complete synchronization to allow all our systems to work; our conscious mind as complex and developed as it seems to be is just one ten of the capacity of our subconscious mind, your conscious mind has limits, it is convinced that you cannot affect your internal functions, it might believe in the possibility of miracles but has no trust in itself, the subconscious mind is vast has no worries and possess ancient wisdom; visualization is not imagination is the total trust in your subconscious mind.
This visualization is not with the expectation of influencing or manifesting things nor to vary the outcome of the future, neither for luck or love but for the revival of your energy, the renewal of your lust for life, to embrace the present, to live life at its maximum potential, to accept death as your friend, to love yourself and once more to fall in grace with reality as when you were a kid.
The point of revitalization is not to get more energy since we have more energy that we can possibly use, but to create space for this energy to flow, the human body is a plumbing and pumping mechanism, if we put our ligaments, veins arteries, tendons, etc, together it will be 25,000 miles long enough to go around the earth, this plumbing mechanism needs and efficient pumping mechanism, so the basic function of your body is to pump; from your muscles, organs, spine, to your brain.
In order to revitalize our bodies is necessary to be aware what are the enemies of the expansion of your vitality; the first one is the compression of the atmosphere at a rate of 14.7 pounds for square inch, so the entire surface of a human body has a total air pressure between 10 to 20 tons.
The second enemy of the energy expansion is stress and improper posture, in stress the muscles contract more, especially when we are in a fight or flight response mode, the breathing is inefficient; and in order to maintain homeostasis the expansion of your being should be also of 14.7 pounds for square inch, with age the expansion of energy diminished and we shrink, the complete cease of expansion is death.
The third enemy is the force of gravity, this terrestrial attraction that allows as to be in place and it is in direct proportion of your body weight, so gravity will win at the end as it always does but, in reality, the obstacles of energy expansion are not enemies but necessary friends.
The way your body energy expands is sometimes perceivable with instruments or by a naked eye it is called aura, which reflects all the aspects of your being, some auras are expanding in certain areas more than others, so what is really reflecting is the state of your being the outer projection of your energy, so the real purpose of revitalization is to keep expanding all the layers of your being harmoniously.
Space is freedom, the first part in your body to expand should be the spine which is the center of your being, in bad posture the space in between your vertebrates shorten or compressed; in some visualizations space is created between the vertebrates which will allow the 31 nerves of your nervous system to regulate more efficiently all the functions in your body enhancing the endocrine system and allowing the information that your spinal cord is sending to every part of your body to be more efficient.
For some people the brain is just a growth of the spinal cord; Chinese medicine considers the sacrum bone as the master bone which regulates all the other bones and the bone marrow, so the visualization starts in the coccyx or tailbone which is also the fusion of three to five vertebrates and the sacrum which is the fusion of five vertebrates.
There is a technique in Hindu tradition called Yoga Nidra (sleep) it is a conscious state of deep sleep, in order to get there you lie down to meditate and scan parts of the body to relax them, you might use guided imagery, affirmations, visualizations and concentration in 61 points in the body and chakras, until you get to the stage beyond dreams in a complete awareness where there are not pictures, words, worries or thoughts beyond the subconscious mind.
Yoga Nidra is the ultimate state beyond meditation but first the spine needs to be liberated from compression, miss alignment and pain, some techniques visualize a clock in all of the seven chakras (wheels) starting in the sacrum and staying in every hour of the clock for five breaths completing five cycles clockwise and counterclockwise, then you continue in the same way with the other seven chakras, it is more helpful if you are guided so you know the meaning and functions of the chakras before you can experiment by yourself.
The Secret of the Golden Flower is a Taoist classic which describes the energy paths in association with breathing as an internal wheel vertically aligned with the spine. When breathing is balanced, the wheel turns forward with breath energy rising in the back and descending in front. Poor breathing patterns, bad posture, and negative thoughts can cause the wheel not to turn or move backward, inhibiting the circulation of Chi.
The techniques are some many that could be subject of a book, just the practical part of the visualization is an alternative way to deal with sickness related with pain like fibromyalgia and arthritis, and there are so many tapes and books related with the subject.
Hindu tradition believes that in the first breath of life something miraculous happened, you didn't breathe by yourself something breathed through you, the subtle law of the universe moved inside, Prana possessed you and stays with you till the adventure is finished and then it will leave you.
The breath is a subtle rhythm that is not different than the ocean's waves it comes and goes but since the beginning of time no wave is exactly the same that the previous one, they are in fact like fingerprints, unique it is the same with the breath but if you persist in observing the breath you might find behind the scenes what is the essence of life, if you look underneath the wave you might find stillness where there are not fears you might realize that you have always been a part of the bigger ocean, the universe.
If you hang around the breath and play with it, if you give it tasks to do, in this experiment you might get more than you bargained for, your breath will become stronger, flexible, your health will improve, and finally if you could just let it rest and observed what the breath wants to do next if you don't control it, transformation will happen.
Buddha was awaked through the observation of the breath; there are nine ways to observe the breath; being aware of the sensation of the air touching your nostrils; the air touching you third eye; focusing in the beginning of the inhalation; the end of the inhalation; focusing in the space after the inhalation; focusing in the beginning of the exhalation; the end of the exhalation; after the exhalation; the air touching your lungs.
Good news, learning how to breathe properly is not that difficult; losing some pounds or building some muscles can take time and effort, but breathing and regaining balance doesn't require that much time and you can improve your energy, internal functions, and heal some chronic problems (read breathing article in MyinnerChi.com for some techniques).
The Taoist canon is a great example of sublimation of the art of breathing, it is a collection of 1400 Taoist texts which were compiled around 400 AD it not only talks about breathing but different practices; there is a breathing exercise from every minute of day and year according to with the seasons and the changes in the cosmos.
7. Chwun Shi, the transformation of one's spiritual essence through keeping one's thoughts in accord with the Divine Source.
To understand our thoughts first we need to be acquainted with the mind, most of our proudest achievements as humankind has been attributed to the faculties of the mind: will, memory, perception, reason, intuition and imagination; but what is the nature of the mind, is it an entity or a process, is it substantial or is simply an illusion, without understanding the essence of the mind we cannot resolve our life problems.
What we unsuccessfully do is trying to resolve the individual problem and the more we try the more predicaments we pile up because we are not focusing on the core of all problems that is the mind, but the mind is hidden underneath like a root; when we come across a problem the vision of it is really on the surface we don't see the origin, the root is invisible if we don't focus on the source more troubles will blossom, what is manifest in front of us is never the root is a shadow of it, never fight a mirage work on the origin.
Transformation never comes from pacifying the mind; the nature of the mind is to be in turmoil, in confusion to be unclear, we can't ever resolve the problem with the mother of all problems; clarity, tranquility, and silence comes without the mind, but before we drop the mind, first we need to understand and know how the mind functions.
What gives us an illusion that the mind is an entity or a unity is the existence of millions of thoughts together like forming an assembly but this congress is formed by the union of individual cells called thoughts, the mind is nowhere to be found you just find thoughts; as an experiment to observe the train of your thoughts for five minutes, you will notice the erratic and jumping nature of the thoughts, the simian character of them; then try to find the mind and you will encounter more and more thoughts but never the mind.
Continue with the observation of the thoughts as you watch a movie that you have seen many times before so don't get involved, don't allow the free association of thoughts. This is a classic example of the nature of the association of thoughts. You are observing with amazement the Grand Canyon and something spiritual is emerging from the core of your being; then you find yourself thinking in a wedding you attended in the Waimea Canyon in Kauai, then you are immersed in the couple problems since they are divorcing now, you are asking what is happening with the kids and properties, maybe this is already happening in my marriage, you start worrying since you notice a coolness in your relationship, and in a minute the moment of awe turns into an unnecessary anxiety. Then you turn your head to look at your spouse and she notices something in your eyes, she perceives the divorce thought in your mind and her free association leads her into doubt of your fidelity and this goes on and on.
Continue with the experiment without any free association of thoughts; since there is no fuel for the thoughts they will drop and you go beyond the mind, thoughts will appear of course but you will ignore them and then the real knowledge of yourself will begin and then things can start changing, you will observe long intervals between thoughts but if you are unconscious you don't see the gaps just thoughts, the deeper you go the bigger the spaces, the longer the gaps the closest to Satori.
In those gaps the truth is playing peek-a-boo with you, something is taping the egg. In Zen stories, you can tap the egg from outside but the bird has to peck from inside, God is knocking at your door. Then thought which is really the mind will become a visitor not a threat and you are the host, the master of the house. Of course there are visitors who behave properly and others who are trouble makers, as a good host you will treat them the same without judgment because that comes from the mind, seeing them just as travelers, they don't belong to you, they are not there to stay, if you identified just with the good thoughts if you choose them, you will be evicted and the good thought will become illegally the host.
The host is No Mind is never a thought, any thought that stays as a host only creates misery because it is not the truth, is an impersonator of the truth, so the real problem is identification, Gurdjieff used to say that only one thing is needed, not to be identified with what it comes and go.
So who are really you if you are not the mind? in Jnana yoga they chant Neti Neti that means neither this nor that, this chant prevent you from identification the morning and night comes and go is not you, the days run, the years move, you tolerate them not as you because that is identification but as consciousness, so no name to identify, not body because that is also a thought, no form, just purity, the only thing to tolerate is awareness. The mind is really an identification with the body, the form and the name and those become who you are.
We forget the everlasting and the impermanent becomes substantial, the world is temporary the perpetual is divine.