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Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations The Graduate School

2015

Liminality, Embodiment and the Six


Healing Sounds of Qigong
Patrick Emilio Carson

Follow this and additional works at the FSU Digital Library. For more information, please contact lib-ir@fsu.edu
FLORIDASTATEUNIVERSITY

COLLEGEOFARTSANDSCIENCES






LIMINALITY,EMBODIMENTAND

THESIXHEALINGSOUNDSOFQIGONG








By

PATRICKEMILIOCARSON






ADissertationsubmittedtothe
PrograminInterdisciplinaryHumanities
inpartialfulfillmentofthe
requirementsforthedegreeof
DoctorofPhilosophy






2015
PatrickCarsondefendedthisdissertationonApril29,2015.
Themembersofthesupervisorycommitteewere:



BenjaminD.Koen
ProfessorCoDirectingDissertation

KathleenErndl
ProfessorCoDirectingDissertation

DavidJohnson
UniversityRepresentative

SvetlaSlavevaGriffin
CommitteeMember

MartinKavka
CommitteeMember



TheGraduateSchoolhasverifiedandapprovedtheabovenamedcommitteemembers,and
certifiesthatthedissertationhasbeenapprovedinaccordancewithuniversityrequirements.

ii




DedicatedtomybelovedcompanionMona,withoutwhomIwouldhaveprobablyneverstarted
thiswonderfuljourney.

iii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

IexpressmydeepestgratitudetoKathleenErndlforherconstantsupportandencouragement,
andBenKoenforthemanyhourswespentdiscussingthesubjectandthemanypossibilitiesfor
researchthesubjectpromises.

iv
TABLEOFCONTENTS

LISTOFTABLES...................................................................................................................................ix

LISTOFFIGURES....................................................................................................................................x

ABSTRACT.............................................................................................................................................xi

CHAPTER1..............................................................................................................................................1
INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................................................1
Methodology......................................................................................................................................................................2
Autoethnography:APersonalnarrative...............................................................................................................2
TheExperience.................................................................................................................................................................5
TheHistory........................................................................................................................................................................6
Liminality............................................................................................................................................................................9
Embodiment...................................................................................................................................................................11
TheQuestions................................................................................................................................................................12
TheFundamentalNotionsofDaoismandQigong..........................................................................................12
TheBody..........................................................................................................................................................................13
TheBodysInnerLandscape...................................................................................................................................14
TheSubtleBody............................................................................................................................................................18
Qi...................................................................................................................................................................................20
ChannelsorConduits..................................................................................................................................................23
Orbs....................................................................................................................................................................................24
Jing................................................................................................................................................................................24
Shen..............................................................................................................................................................................25

TheFivePhasesWuxing()..........................................................................................................................27
YinYang...............................................................................................................................................................31
LiteratureReview........................................................................................................................................................32
ChapterOutlines...........................................................................................................................................................39

CHAPTER2...........................................................................................................................................41
QIGONG:ANCIENTORIGINS......................................................................................................................41
ShamanicRoots............................................................................................................................................................42
Daoyin...............................................................................................................................................................................45

v
EarlyMedicalManuscripts.......................................................................................................................................50
TheMawangduiManuscripts..................................................................................................................................52

TheExerciseChartDaoyintu...............................................................................................................55

TheStretch(ing)Book................................................................................................................................................58
PrincipalTextsThroughtheAges.........................................................................................................................60
FromHantoTang........................................................................................................................................................62
TheYangshengyaoji...............................................................................................................................63

Yangxingyanminglu .........................................................................................................................64
TheDaoyinJing.............................................................................................................................................................65
DaoLinLun.....................................................................................................................................................................66

CHAPTER3...........................................................................................................................................68
THESIXHEALINGBREATHS.....................................................................................................................68
TheSixHealingBreaths.............................................................................................................................................72
MasterDaolinMethod................................................................................................................................................76
MasterNingsMethod................................................................................................................................................80
TheYellowCourtVersion.........................................................................................................................................83

CHAPTER4...........................................................................................................................................88
QIGONG:RECENTHISTORY.......................................................................................................................88
TheInventionofQigong............................................................................................................................................89
QigongandChineseMedicine.................................................................................................................................93
QigongBecomesapartofTraditionalChineseMedicine(TCM)19491965..................................94
TheGreatLeapForward.........................................................................................................................................100
TheCulturalRevolutionandtheReversalofFortuneforChineseMedicineandQigong..........101
PostCulturalRevolution:TheQigongBoom..................................................................................................104
GuoLin............................................................................................................................................................................105
TheRiseoftheGrandmasters..............................................................................................................................110
TheCareerofaQigongMaster.............................................................................................................................114
FamousExamples......................................................................................................................................................116
YanXin...........................................................................................................................................................................119
TheEndofQigong......................................................................................................................................................121
AWordonFalunGong.............................................................................................................................................123

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CHAPTER5........................................................................................................................................128
MYQIGONGEXPERIENCEWITHDRZHANG.......................................................................................128
Dr.ZhangsTaiji..........................................................................................................................................................128
Dr.ZhangsMedicalQigong....................................................................................................................................130
SubtleAnatomyandPhysiology..........................................................................................................................131
ThreeMajorEnergyVortexes...............................................................................................................................132
TheMingmen ,TheGateofLife..................................................................................................................134
AnimalMovements....................................................................................................................................................135
OpeningtheJoints......................................................................................................................................................136
PengLuJiAn.................................................................................................................................................................137
TheSixHealingSounds............................................................................................................................................138
TheSounds....................................................................................................................................................................140

CHAPTER6........................................................................................................................................144
LIMINALITY,EMBODIMENTANDTHESIXHEALINGSOUNDSOFQIGONG..............................144
Introduction..................................................................................................................................................................144
VictorTurnersideaofLiminality.......................................................................................................................144
Communitas..................................................................................................................................................................146
TheLiminalState........................................................................................................................................................148
Rujing....................................................................................................................................................................151

Visualization.................................................................................................................................................................151
Embodiment.................................................................................................................................................................153
Liminality,EmbodimentandTransformation...............................................................................................156
TheGroup......................................................................................................................................................................157
ARitualofSorts..........................................................................................................................................................158
TheLiminalState........................................................................................................................................................160

CHAPTER7........................................................................................................................................163
CONCLUSION................................................................................................................................................163
Summary........................................................................................................................................................................163
LiminalityandEmbodiment..................................................................................................................................165
TheFutureofQigong................................................................................................................................................168

BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................................................................................................174

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BIOGRAPHICALSKETCH...............................................................................................................177

viii
LISTOFTABLES


1 CorrespondencesaccordingtoMasterDaolin......................................................................80

2TableofCorrespondencesaccordingtoMasterNing...........................................................82

3 Table1ofCoresspondencesAccordingtoTheYellowCourtVersion....................................84

4 Table2ofCorrespondencesAccordingtoTheYellowCourtVersion...................................85

5ExpandedtableofCorrespondences....................................................................................87

ix
LISTOFFIGURES


1 Daoistimageofthebodysinnerlandscape.............................................................17

2 Majorpointsandfieldsinthesubtlebody.............................................................................19

3 TheFivePhases.....................................................................................................................28

4FivePhasesChart....................................................................................................................30

5TaiChi symbolofYin/Yang............................................................................................31

6ThePaceofYu.......................................................................................................................44

7TheExerciseChartDaoyintu..................................................................................55

8GuoLin.................................................................................................................................105

9TheFivePhasesDynamics.......................................................................................................139

x
ABSTRACT

Thisdissertationstemsfromanethnographicexperience,i.e.,acourseontheSix
HealingSoundsofQigongtaughtbyDrYuZhang,whichIandotherstudentsattendedin1991
inLosAngeles,California.Thecourseledtothefollowingquestions:Whatisqigong?Whatare
theSixHealingsounds?Aretheclaimsofthishealingtraditiontoancientoriginsaccurate?
Thesequestionsledtothefollowingconclusions:Qigongisindeedapracticeofancientorigins,
albeitonethatcomesfromdifferentstreamsofDaoistandmedicalpractices.Itsnameisa
recentdesignbytheChinesegovernmentintheearly1950s,withtheulteriorgoalofcreating
aneffective,lowcosthealthcaresystemrootedinChineseculture.
Apartfromtheanswersprovidedabove,Iarguethatqigongisabodytechnologythat
usesslow,gentleexercises,visualizationsandstandingandsittingmeditationstoelicitastate
ofreverie,aliminaloralteredstateofconsciousnessthatisconducivetobodily,mentaland
spiritualexperiencesandtransformation.

xi
CHAPTER1

INTRODUCTION


Thisdissertationstemsprimarilyfromanautoethnographicexperience,i.e.,acourseon
theSixHealingSoundsofQigongtaughtbyDrYuZhang,whichIandotherstudentsattendedin
1991inLosAngeles,California.
Theinspirationforthedissertationistheautoethnographicexperiencedescribedina
laterchapter.Itissensibletoplaceqigongwithinthelargerhistoricalandtextualframework
firstwiththeintentionofunpackingtheexperientialaspectinachronologicalmanner,giving
thereadertimetobecomefamiliarwiththeideasandnotionsdiscussedthroughout.Afterthat,
andthefundamentalnotionsofDaoism,ChineseMedicineandQigong,i.e.,theirworldview
andterminologyareexaminedtheautoethnographicworkwillbepresented,andwillbe
followedbyaninterpretationoftheexperienceofpracticingthesixhealingsoundsofqigong
fromatheoreticalperspective.
Broadly,thisdissertationconcernsthesubjectofqigong,aChinesehealingand
longevitypracticeofancientoriginsthatusesgentlemovementandvisualizationsand
meditationstocultivateqi,thevitalenergiesthatalllivingbeingshavecirculatingintheir
bodies.Qiisanintimatepartoflife,somuchso,thattheDaoistsaythatweliveinanoceanof
qi.Ourownenergiescanbeexpandedandextendedoutsidethebody.Thepracticeofthesix
healingsoundsofqigongastaughtbyDrZhangmeritsfurtherexaminationforseveralreasons.
QigongisaChinesehealingtradition.Whoevertakesupaqigongcoursedoessoinsearchof
healingatsomelevel,beitphysical,emotionalorspiritual.Healing,understoodinitsbroadest
sense,isalsospiritualnourishmentand,especially,theexperiencingofthenuminous,here
understoodasalteredstatesofconsciousness(ASC).Induetime,andthisdependsonthe
individual,afterdays,monthsoryearsofpractice,thatexperiencebecomesaneverydaylife
event,anembodimentofthequalitiesofDao,andoneofthemajorgoalsofDaoistandqigong
practices.RootedinChinesemedicinefromancienttimesisthenotionthatthebestmedicineis
preventivemedicine,curativemedicinecomingonlysecond.Qigong,asamodalityof

1
TraditionalChineseMedicine,placesemphasisonpreventionaswell,butitisessentiallyboth,
preventiveandcurative.
Duringthecourseandpracticeofthisparticulartypeofthesixhealingsoundsofqigong
Iexperienceddifferentstatesofconsciousness,statesmarkedlydifferentfromordinary,
everydaystatesofmind,andwhichledtothequestions:Whathappenedthere?Whatare
thesedifferentstatesofawareness?Howwasmybodymindabletogotosuchplaces?These
questionswerefollowedby:Whatisqigong?HowdoesthesixhealingsoundstraditionorLiuZi
Jue,fitwithinit?Whatarethehistoricalparameters?Whatdoesthehistoricalrecordshow?
Fromherethetextualtraditionhadtobeexamined,alorethat,fromitsbeginnings,haskept
growingthroughthecenturies.

Methodology


Thequestionwhatisqigong?isapproachedfromananthropologicaland
phenomenological,aswellashistoricalandtextualstandpoint.Fromtheexperiential
componentstemtheotherquestionsrelatedtohistory,textsthroughtheages,andthe
theoreticalframework.Theunpackingofsuchexperienceisatthecoreofthiswork,since
withoutitthisworkwouldsimplynothavebeenpossible.Itismyownpersonalstoryandthe
insightsthatcamefromtheexperiencethatdrivesthedissertation.

Autoethnography:APersonalnarrative


WhenIattendedDrZhangs,IdidnotrealizeatthetimethatwhatIwasdoingwas
goingtobecomepartofanethnographicwork.Isimplyattendedandtriedtolearnasmuchas
possible.Itwasyearslater,whenIhadtoputdowntheexperienceintowordsthatIrealized
thatIhadtotellapartofmyownstory,anautobiographicalaccountofeventsIonce

2
experienced.Thismannerofconductingethnography,inanthropologicalterminology,is
describedasautoethnographical.1Thistypeofethnographyaffordsustheopportunityto
straddlebothworlds,thepersonal,intimateexperienceof,inthiscase,anageoldtradition,
thusconnectingautobiographicalstorywithitsconcomitantandselfreflectiveand
interpretativeelements,withalargeranthropological,historical,textualandtheoretical
framework.Itisaformofparticipantobservation,butitalsogoesbeyondit,sinceitsfocusis
mostlyonthesubjectexperiencingtheevents,i.e.,me.AsEdithTurnerpointsoutregarding
herexperienceswiththeInupiaq,IfIweretoattemptamedicalandstrictlyobjective
academictoneitwouldbeimpossibletoconveythetypicalintimacyofthescenes.To
pretendthattheanthropologistwasnotthere,ornotinvolved,wouldbefalse,aswouldthe
assumptionthatIwaswithoutreligionmyself.2
Autoethnographyisaworkofselfrepresentationandselfreflexivity,theessenceofthis
typeofethnographythus,istellingonesownstory.Thisactofselfnarrative3iswhatIam
doingwhenIdescribemyverypersonalrepresentationoftheeventsexperiencedinthatclass.
Theterm,writesDeborahReedDanahay,hasadoublesensereferringtoeitherthe
ethnographyofonesowngrouportoautobiographicalwritingthathasethnographic
interest.4However,accordingtoReedDanahay,theideaistobreakdownthatdichotomy.
Whenthedualnatureofthemeaningofautoethnographyisapprehended,itisausefulterm
withwhichtoquestionthebinaryconventionsofself/societysplit,aswellastheboundary
betweentheobjectiveandthesubjective.5GaranceMarechalisalsooftheideathat
autoethnographyisamethodofresearchthatinvolvesselfobservationandreflexive
investigationinthecontextofethnographicfieldworkandwriting.6
Thefactthatthisisworkbasedonmyownexperience,i.e.,anexplorationonmyown
livedevents,iswhatdistinguishesitfromotherformsofethnographiesand,furthermore,

1Someworksonautoethnographyinclude:KarenMcCarthyBrown.MamaLola:AVodouPriestessin

2EdithTurner.FromShamanstoHealers:TheSurvivalofanInupiaqEskimoSkill.Anthropologica,Vol.31,No.

1(1989),pp.324.p14
3DeborahReedDanahay.Auto/ethnography:RewritingtheSelfandtheSocial.BloomsburyAcademic;First

Editionedition1997.1
4Ibid.2
5Ibid.

6GaranceMarchal.Autoethnography.InAlbertJ.Mills,GabrielleDurepos&EldenWiebe(Eds.),Encyclopedia
ofcasestudyresearch(Vol.2,pp.4345).ThousandOaks,CA:SagePublications.2010.

3
makesthedissertationonthesubjectofqigonguniqueinthatitincludesanethnographic
work,thusdepartingfromcurrentscholarship.
Asmentionedearlier,qigongis,firstandforemost,ahealingtradition.Alsoimportantis
thefactthatitisalivingone.Itisadisciplinethathasbeenputintopracticebyperhaps
hundredsofthousandsormorepeoplesinceancienttimes,andmostcertainlymillionsinthe
modernera.SomeancientandmedievalChinesepractitioners,aswellassomemoremodern
ones,havewrittendowntheirthoughtsandexperiencesthroughtheages,andhaveleft
signpostsofwhatthepracticesentail;bynowithastranscendedthebordersofitsoriginal
cradle,i.e.,China,toreachclosetotheentireglobe.
Afterexaminingthehistory,itwillbeusefultolookatthistraditionthroughsomelens
thatallowsustoputitinperspective,andunderstandwhatqigongisfromasimplepractical
point.Forqigongissomethingthatonedoes.Thereistooanessentialinnercomponentthat
makesqigongapracticethatisbothcorporealandspiritual.TheChinesecallthisadual
practice.Thebodyisexercisedbutsoisthemind(andspirit).Thisbodytechnologyandthe
differentstatesofconsciousnessthatonemayexperienceduringandafterpracticemake
qigongaparticularkindofdiscipline.
Itisnotthepurposeofthisstudytoeitherproveordisprovetheeffectivenessof
qigong,rather,tolookatitinitsowncontext,aspartofaworldview.Moreover,afterthe
historicalandqualitativeapproacheshavebeenpresented,thesubjectwillbeaddressedfrom
aninterpretivepointofview.Thematterofhealingandofitssubsequentsideeffect,towit,
longevity,asclaimedbythetraditionfromitsincipience,willbeapproachedfromthis
interpretiveperspective;inparticularthelivedexperiencefrommyownstandpointandthe
lightIattempttoshedonitbybringingintheconceptsofliminalityandembodiment.The
formerisanotionputforthbyanthropologistVictorTurner;thelatterwefindwithinthe
traditionitself.
Thus,inthisdissertationIarguethatwhentheqigongexercises,eitherbodily
movementsorsittingmeditations,andanycombinationofthese,areperformed,theytakethe
practitionerintodifferentstatesofconsciousness.Fromthenotionsofuniverse,andqi,and
ofaworldthatiscompletelyaliveandessentiallyallDao,theWay,theultimatereality,the

4
worldofapractitionerthatimbueshisorhersoulwithsuchthoughtsandpracticesfallsor
entersintotherealmofwhatVictorTurnercalledliminality.VictorTurnerdefinedliminalityas
thethreshold,thatstatethatisneitherherenorthere;usingthisconceptandapplyingitto
qigong,wecansaythatitisastateofmindintowhichthepractitionerstepsandthatis
fundamentallyatypicalfromoureverydaymind,everydayreality.Turnersideasonliminality
willbepresentedanddevelopedmorefullyintheinterpretivesection.
Ifthemindentersintothatrealmofliminality,sodoesthebody.InDaoism,bodyand
mindareliterallyone,i.e.,facetsofqi,althoughtherearecleardistinctionstobeunderstood
betweenbothofthem.Theliminalrealmisenteredinqigonganditiswhileinthisbodymind
statethatthedoorsareopenforhealingandtransformation.Forthisisthestatethatembodies
thequalitiesofDao,offreeflowofenergies,ofbalanceofyinandyang,ofunitywiththeDao
and,asKarlfriedGrafDurkheimputit,transparenttothecreativeandliberatinginfluence'of
PrimordialLifewhosetranscendentalunityhesharesinhisownbeing.7

TheExperience


Thecoursewassuchapowerfuleventthatitleftme,foryearstocome,withakeen
desiretolearnmoreaboutthisancienttradition.Notmuchwasknownatthetimeabout
qigong,andfewwesternscholarshadwrittenaboutthesubject.Allwehadtogoonatthetime
wastheactualteachingsimpartedbyanumberofChinese,TaiwaneseandotherAsian8
practitioners/teacherswhohadmovedtotheUS,aswellasafewbookswhichsomeofthem
hadwrittenonthesubject.
Thus,Isetouttounpacktheeventsexperiencedinthatcourse.Theexperience
describedintheethnographicpiecewasabodyorientedpracticethatcould,atthesametime,

7KarlfriedGrafDurkheim.Hara:TheVitalCenterofMan.GeorgeAllen&Unwin.London1985
8ChinesecanbefoundalloverAsia.Malaysia,Thailand,Indonesia,andSingaporeamongothers.Theyoften

keepwhatevertheirvernacularlanguagewasbackinChinaalive,andmostothertraditionstheybrought
withthemaswell.AprimeexampleisMantakChia,aThaibornChinesethathasmadeanameforhimself
teachingqigongallovertheUSAandEurope.Ofcourse,manyChineseinstructorscanbefoundinAmerican
citieswithlargepopulationsofChinese.LosAngeles,andSanFranciscoarethemainonesintheUSA.

5
takeonesmindorspiritsoaringthroughdifferentstatesofconsciousness;theserangedfroma
lighttrancetoother,deeperstatesofbodyawarenessandsometimesfeelingsof
incorporeality,ofenergycoursingthroughdifferentpartsofthebody,warmand/orcoldspots,
tingling,etc.
Thecourseconsistedoftwosessionsperweekforfourweeks,and,althougheveryclass
wasslightlydifferentinoutcome,whenitcametosensationsandmindstates,theywere
consistentlydistinctconsciousnesswise.Thisfirstmadeanimpression,andsecond,Ithought,
obviouslymeritedfurtherexamination.Itwasevident,thattheeffectsofthepracticewere
consistentandseemedtobecumulative,meaningthatthemoreonepractices,theeasierit
becomestoenterinthatliminalstateofmindconducivetoembodimentandtransformation
(healing,wholeness,wellbeing).
Ifoundout,asaresultofconductingresearchforthisdissertation,thattheversionof
thesixhealingsoundsstyleofqigongastaughtbyDrZhang,washundreds,and,inprimitive
form,perhapsthousandsofyearsold.Butatthetimeofthecoursenoonehadaclearviewof
theoriginsaspresentedinthehistoricalrecords;andtoagreatdegree,noneofthe
participantshadanyinterestinfindingoutabouttheseprimordialoriginseither.Toknow,or
rather,tobelieve,thatwewerelearninganancientpractice,withoriginslostinthemistsof
time,simplyaddedtothesenseofmysteryandpowerofthetradition.Iwasfortunatetobe
abletotrainundertheguidanceofthisChineseQigongmaster,andmanyofhispracticesand
instructionsremainclearinmymindandformpartandparcelofmyownpracticeandteaching.

TheHistory


Fromtheexperience,then,alsocametheneedtolookatqigongandthesixhealing
soundsfromahistoricalperspectiveandfindouthowmuchwereallyknowaboutitsorigins
anddevelopments.Wheninvestigatingthehistoricalperspective,bothancientandrecent,Idid
notwanttotaintitwithanytheoreticalorinterpretiveperspective;rather,Iwantedtolookat
itfromapurelyconcrete,datacenteredpointofview.Iamomittingtheseperspectives

6
becauseIfindthattheywouldnotservethepointIammakinginthissectionofthework.The
mainquestionregardingthissectionistosimplyanswerthequestion:wheredoesqigongcome
from?Howoldisit?etc.,inotherwords,theWho?When?Where?Thus,Ifindnoneedto
examineitanyfurtherthanthat,andlayonitotherconceptsthatmightbogdownourinquiry.
Wewillhaveenoughtimetodothatwhenitcomestotheinterpretive,theoreticalpartofit.
Qigong,then,canbetracedto,firstshamanism,thentotheancientpracticesofDaoyin
thatmostlikelyderivedfromthelatter.DaoyinistheLongevitytraditionparexcellence.
TheearliestreferencestakeusbacktothewritingsofZhuangziinthefourthcenturyB.C.E.,and
thefindingsofMawangduifromthesecondcenturyBCE.Andthereis,however,somemore
fragmentarydatathatpointstoearlieroriginsaswell.
Itisimportanttonotethatthesixhealingsoundsmakeuponeofamyriadofqigongso
calledstylesorgongfa.Inotherwords,thesixhealingsoundsofqigong,isqigong.Itisone
moremanifestationandexpressionofthenotionsofqi,yin/yang,thefivephases,etc.,and
otherDaoistandChinesemedicinetenetsputintopractice.Thetextualtradition,oldandnew,
bearsthisoutbytreatingthesubjectofqigongandthesixhealingbreaths,asitiscalledin
them,inthesametexts,underthesamerubric.Thus,afterdescribingthehistoryofthesix
healingbreathswewereabletoputthatpracticesquarelywithinthelargerqigongor
longevity,tradition.WewerealsoabletodiscernMasterNisandtheyellowcourttraditionsas
theclosestapproximationstothestylesofthesixhealingsoundstaughtinmoderntimesand,
especially,astaughtbyDrZhang.
Therecenthistory,itturnsout,ismuchmorefascinatingthanthealreadyabsorbingand
mysteriousancientlore.Hereweencounteredwhatseldomhappens,inaclearanddeliberate
manner:qigongisaninventedtradition.Thisnewqigongwascertainlybasedonthe
ancientteachings,schoolsandlineagesofbothtraditionalmedicineandDaoism.However,it
broughtthemtogetherinawaywithwhichtheoneswhoholdtheseoldlineagesandtraditions
mightotherwisedisagree.Despitethisobjection,qigongbecameanumbrellatermthatwould
describealmostanyexerciseand/ormeditationsthatusedthenotionsofqi,ofquietude,Dao,
yinandyang,etc,i.e.,themajortenetsofDaoismandTraditionalChineseMedicine.
In1949,inwhatwasgoingtobeaveryfortuitousturnofevents,theChinese

7
CommunistParty(CCP)stumbleduponahealingmodalitythatwasnotonlyeffectivebutalso
essentiallyChinese.ThislatterpointwasimportantfortheCCP,whoseintentionsatthetime
weretosomehowunifythecountryunderthenewregime,andalsorescuewhatwasmost
valuableoftheoldfeudalandsuperstitioustraditionsandturnthemintorenewed
institutionsattheserviceofthepeople.Excisedofspuriousnotions,qigong,alwaysconceived
asanothermodalityofChineseMedicine,andusuallyprescribedbyChinesedoctorstrainedin
qigong,couldbecomeanexceptionallypowerfulhealingtechnology,alowcostinstrumentfor
thehealthandwellbeingofthenewnationscitizens.Effortsweremadetotransformthis
ancient,andoftentimesmysticaltradition,intoascientificendeavorsanctionedbythenew
authoritiesaswellasbrightestscientistChinahadproduced.Thus,qigongcouldleadto
revolutionarydiscoveriesofwaystoharnessthepowersofthehumanmind,somethingthat
containedthekeytothemysteriesTraditionalChinesewisdomwithoutthedrossofreligionor
superstition.9
Butthisnewapproachtoqigonghaditsdetractors,andalthoughtheyfoughttheidea
ofqigongbasedonthesamefeudalandsuperstitiousargument,andremainedalwayslurking
inthebackground,theywerenotablestoptheriseofqigongtothelevelofafeverinthe
80sand90s.Thus,duringtheperiodoftheqigongfever,severalnotablefigurescame
downfromthemountains.Thisisatraditionalpoeticimagetodenotethebeginningor
resumingofpubliclifeafteraperiodofisolationorretreatinpursuitofspiritualendeavors.
Thus,theybecameknown,andsomeofthemrenown,fortheirhealingpowerswhichthe
practiceofqigonghadconferreduponthem.QigonghadsurvivedtheGreatLeapForwardand
theCulturalRevolution,eventsthatleftmillionsdeadinitswake,tothriveinthefollowing
decades.

However,afteraseriesofeventsthatputqigonginthespotlightbutinadisapproving
lightthistime,qigongbeganseeingitstwilight.Thishappenedespecially,butnotonly,because

9DavidPalmer.QigongFever.Body,Science,andUtopiainChina.ColumbiaUniversityPress;1edition(March

27,2007).p5

8
oftheqigongdeviations,thenegativeeffectsthatqigongcanpotentiallytrigger,towit,loss
ofcontrolofqi,headaches,untraceableachesandpains,sensationsofenergy,andalso
exacerbationofpsychoticepisodesamongotherthings.Asthesenegativeeffectsbecamemore
widelyknown,itallowedtheriseoftheenemiesofqigong,whostillconsidereditnothingbuta
remnantoffeudalandsuperstitiousbeliefsandsuspiciouslysimilartoreligiousexpressions
thathadtobedoneawaywithandsupplantedbythepositivelyscientificandmaterialistic
westernmedicine.Tomakemattersworse,theFalunGong10debacleensued,bringingdownon
themnotonlythewrathoftheauthoritiesthatultimatelysealedtheirfate,butaffecting,and
virtuallyending,theentireqigongmilieu.AneraofsuppressionandpunishmentfortheFalun
Gongpractitionersfollowed,repressionthatlaststothisday.

Liminality


VictorTurner,basedontheworkofFrenchAnthropologistArnoldVanGennepsRites
dePassagedevelopedfurthertheideaofliminality.AccordingtoVanGennepsworkthereare
certainculturalritualscharacterizedbyperiodsofseparationfromtheusualsocialinteractions.
Thelatterarecharacterizedastimesofstructureofpositions,thebasicmodelofsociety.11
Wemustregard,hesays,theperiodofmarginorliminalityasaninterculturalsituation.12
VanGennepdescribestheritesdepassageasconsistingofthreephases:separation,margin(or
limen)andaggregation.Thistransitioninvolvesachangeofstate,which,accordingtohim,can
beunderstoodasachangefromonerelativelyfixedculturalconditionintoanother.ForTurner
thisperiodentailsaprocessofbecoming,andeven,oftransformation.
Thus,thefirstpartinvolvesseparationanddetachmentfromthesocialstructureby
symbolicbehavior,fromanearlierfixedpointinthesocialstructureorasetofcultural

10FalunGongisaanotherqigongstyle.Itwasmadepopularbyanotheroftheqigongsuperstars,LiHongzhi,

whorosetoprominenceduringtheqigongboom.Therewillbeabriefdiscussiononthisqigongmovementat
theendofChapter3.
11VictorTurner.1964[1967]BetwixtandBetween.InTheForestofSymbols:AspectsofNdembuRitual.Pp.93

111.Ithaca,NY:CornellUniversityPress.46
12Ibid

9
conditions(astate).13Thenextphase,however,isthestageofthepassenger,ofthe
ambiguoustraveler,theonethatisneitherherenorthere.Thepassengercomesfromaworld
tangibleandknown,butintheliminalstateheorshepassesthrougharealmthathasfewor
noneoftheattributesofthepastorcomingstate.14Inthecomingstateofreaggregationor
reincorporation,thepassageisconsummated.Oncemorethestabilityofthenewstatehas
beenestablishedandthevoyagerbetweentherealmshasarrivedathisorhernew
destination.15
VictorTurnersideasonliminality,then,willhelpinourunderstandingofhowthe
practiceofqigongbringsthepractitionertothethreshold,amentalorspiritualstateof
ambiguityandmarginality,thedoorthattakeshimorhertotheworldofembodimentand
transformation.Thisstatedoesnothavetobeadeeptrance,althoughitcandefinitelytakethe
practitionerthere.
Thestateofliminalityisnothatfarfromthecommonstateofmentalawareness.Butit
isfarenoughtomakeadifference.Justasenteringintothealphawavesfrequenciesofmental
activity,itdoesnottakeasuperhumanefforttoaccessthisASC.16Theslownessofthe
movements,forinstance,movementsuncharacteristicinournormalwayofconductingour
bodiesindailylife,forexample,isenoughtotriggerastatethatisdistinctlyother.Andthere
areadditionalelementsofthepracticethathavethesameeffectonconsciousness.
Qigongcreatesthatliminalatmospherewithoutandwithin.Theouteraspectsofthe
liminalstate,iscalledtheqifield.Practicingindividuallyorinagroupi.e.,unifyingthemind
intentoryi(),will,withalmostnoexception,generatethisqifield.Thisindividualorgroup

13Ibid47
14Ibid
15VictorTurner.TheRitualProcess.9495
16HerbertBenson.TheRelaxationResponse.HarperTorch;Reissueedition.2000.CharlesC.Tarteditor.

AlteredStatesofConsciousness,JohnWiley&Sons;1stedition(June1969),providesamorecomprehensive
lookatthesubject.
Theterm"alteredstateofconsciousness"wasintroducedanddefinedbyLudwigin1966.Analteredstateof
consciousnessisanymentalstateinducedbyphysiological,psychological,orpharmacologicalmaneuversor
agents,whichdeviatesfromthenormalwakingstateofconsciousness.
Someobservableabnormalandsluggishbehaviorsmeetthecriteriaforalteredstateofconsciousness.
Alteredstatesofconsciousnesscanalsobeassociatedwithartisticcreativityordifferentfocuslevels.They
alsocanbesharedinterpersonallyandstudiedasasubjectofsociologicalresearch.Wikipedia.LastAccessed
3/28/2015.

10
energy,anenergythatisalsoconsciousness,definitelysupportstheenteringintotheliminal
state.

Embodiment


Afewminutesofpracticehavenotonlyamomentarytransformativeeffect,butitalso
lastsforaconsiderablenumberofhoursafteroneisdonewiththeexercises.Whatthat
meansisthatahalfhouroronehourofqigongpracticewillleavethepersonfeelingcalmed
andcentered,relaxed,yetfocused,togiveafewexamples,and,ifpracticedconsistently,this
state,becomespartofthepersonsmakeupandthenaturalstateofmindandbody.This
naturalconditioniswhatwillbecalledthestateofembodiment,somethingthatbecomespart
ofthepractitionerspersonalityandcharacter.FromaDaoistpointofview,thestateof
energiesflowingfreelyinthebody,thebalancingofyinandyang,andthespontaneousending
ofinnerstrife,notfightingwhatis,ergothenotionoftransparencytotheDaoorBeing,all
theseelementsarereflectedashealth,butclearlypointtoaverydifferentdimensionofa
personsstateofbeing.ThisnotionofembodimentisnotfoundinDaoismandthelongevity
traditionalone.DiscussingthenotionofembodimentasfoundintheSufitradition,BenKoen
says,thatitisnotlimitedtothebody,nordoesitacceptamindbodydichotomy.Rather,
embodimentreferstoaprocessoftransformationthroughwhichahumanbeing,comprising
intellect,body,andsoul,knownasaql,tan,andruh,internalizesandmanifestsvirtues,positive
ideasandenergy.ThisisverymuchinstepwithourfindingsofhowtheChineseunderstand
embodimentbroughtaboutbyconstantpracticeofsomeformofqigongoranother,ofwhich,
aswewillseesoon,therearemany.


11
TheQuestions


AfterthecourseandmyexperiencewithDr.Zhangingeneral,thequestionis:whatis
themeaningofallthis?WhenIspeakofqigong,whetherteachingorinconversation,Iam
oftenasked,whatisqigong?Thisquestiondoesnothaveasimpleanswer.Therefore,Iwantto
findoutwhatqigongis.Wheredoesitcomefrom?Whatareitsorigins,eitherancientorrecent?
Wheredidthesixhealingsoundsoriginate?Isitanothermanifestationofamuchbroadersetof
ideasandprinciples?Andalso,wheredoesthesixhealingsoundstraditionaccordingtoDr.
Zhangfitwithintheqigongmilieu?
Iarguethatqigongisapracticethatelicitsaliminalstate,andthatliminal,threshold
stateofmind,isconducivetohealingandtransformation;moreover,thatthisliminalstateis
therequisitefortheembodimentofenergiesandconsciousnessthatmaketransformation
possible.

TheFundamentalNotionsofDaoismandQigong


Beforetreatingthesubjectofliminalityandembodimentinqigongandthesixhealing
sounds,itisimportantthatweexaminethefundamentalnotionsandideasofDaoismand
ChineseMedicine,howeverbriefly.Someofthesehavebeenmentionedseveraltimesinthe
previouschapters,tobesure;however,anexplorationandexplanationofthemareinorderif
wewanttocomprehendhowthepracticeofqigongisawindowintothatliminalstate,and
howtheDao,inwhateverlevelofintensityortransparency,isagoaltobeachievedinthe
body.Theworldofqigongencompassesthewholebreadthoflife:fromtheabsoluterealmof
Daobeyondwhatwordsorimagescandescribe,theultimaterealitybeyondconceptualization
andungraspablesolelywithoureverydayintellect,tothelessetherealmanifestationsofthe
Dao,totheincreasingdensificationofrealityuntilitbecomessolidastheworldweperceive
withoutsenses.TheoppositeisalsotheprocessofachievingtheDao:asteadyprocessof

12
rarificationofonesenergiesuntil,theDao,theultimateBeingbecomesalivingforceinthe
body,i.e.,isembodied.LiviaKohnexpressesthisideathus,

Feelingtheqiinitsdifferentlevelswithin,refiningsexualenergy(jing)intoqi
andqiintospirit(shen),they[thepractitioners]systematicallyreorganizetheir
experiencetoawider,moreinclusive,moreopen,astronglycosmiclevel.17

TheBody


Ineverytimeandplacetheinteriorofthelivinghumanbodyhasbeenaworkofthe
imagination,fashionedfromsocialidealsaswellasfromphysicaldata.18Everyculture
constructsideasofthebodyaccordingtodifferentcognitiveingredients.FortheEuropeansthe
bodywasbuiltfromvisible,tangibleforms,theorgans,theanatomicalstructures,tissues,fluids
etc.FortheearlyChinese,ontheotherhand,thebodywascomposedofvaguelydefinedbones
andfleshtraversedbytheflowingvitalforces,andespecially,asystemoffunctionsinthebody.
Ofgreatimportisthenotionthatthebodyasamicrocosm,i.e.,areflectionofthemanyfacets
andrhythmsofthemacrocosm.19Thebodysanatomywasnotamainconcern,theexact
locationoftheorgans;theirphysicalcorrelatesdidnotplaytheobvioussalientroletheydidin
ancientwesternmedicine.Inthisschemeofthings,theyarenotasmuchanatomicalfeatures
asofficesinthecentralbureaucracyofthebody,althoughtheywerewellawareofskin,
bones,sinews,andguts,thisdoesnotmeanthattheyhadarealinterestintheiranatomical
relevance.Thus,followingtheideaofthebodyworldasmicrocosmandmacrocosm,the
Huangdineijingsays:

...Intheyearthereare365days;humanbeingshave365joints.Ontheearththere
arehighmountains;humanbeingshaveshouldersandknees.Ontheearththereare

17LiviaKohn.TheSubtleBodyEcstasyofDaoistInnerAlchemy.ActaOrientaliaAcademiaeScientiarum

Hungaricae,Vol.59,No.3(2006),pp.337
18NathanSivin.State,Cosmos,andBodyintheLastThreeCenturiesB.C.HarvardJournalofAsiaticStudies,

Vol.55,No.1(Jun.,1995),pp.12
19UteEngelhardt.Opuscit.95

13
deepvalleys;humanbeingshavearmpitsandhollowsinbackoftheirknees.Onthe
earththerearetwelvecardinalwatercourses;humanbeingshavetwelvecardinal
circulationtracts.Intheearththereareveinsofwater;humanbeingshavedefensive
qi.Ontheearththerearewildgrasses;humanbeingshavebodyhair.Ontheearth
therearedaylightanddarkness;humanbeingshavetheir[timesfor]lyingdownand
gettingup.20

Medicaltextsfocusedondescribing,invividdetail,howthebodyanditsfunctions
relatetothemacrocosm.Thiswasthebasisfordiagnosisandtherapy.Andalso,asthebody
wasdescribedastheimageofacountry,italsowasviewedasareflectionoffunctionsofthe
administrationofthestate.21Wecan,then,safelysaythatsinceClassicalChineseMedicine
wasnotbasedonastrictanatomicalviewofthebody,structureswasnotasalientfeatureof
theirtheories.

TheBodysInnerLandscape

Asmentionedearlier,nowadaysthetermqigongencompassesavastarrayofdifferent,
somewhatdisparatelongevityandmoremysticalpracticesthatincludesittingmeditationsand
visualizations,andmovementsthatarecharacterizedbybeingdeliberatelyslow,silklike,and
guidedbyyiormindintent,thatis,accompaniedbyastateofawarenessandintention.
Manyofthesedifferentpracticesusedtobelong(andstilldo)todifferentlineagesandhadat
theircoresimilargoals.22All,however,share,forthemostpart,thefundamentaltenetsof
DaoismandChineseMedicine,varyingmainlyinthedegreeofthegoal,thatis,ifthepracticeis
gearedtowardsthemaintenanceofhealth,therecoveryfromanunhealthystateorillnessor
thegoalentailsmoreloftyaimssuchasexperiencingtheDao,achievingunionwiththeDaoor
immortality.Theyall,nonetheless,sharecommonelements.

20NathanSivin.State,Cosmos,andBodyintheLastThreeCenturiesB.C.HarvardJournalofAsiaticStudies,

Vol.55,No.1(Jun.,1995),pp.18
21Ibid,5.OnthisSivinsays,InChinaideasofNature,state,andthebodyweresointerdependentthatthey

arebestconsideredasinglecomplex.
22KunioMiura.TheRevivalofQiinLiviaKohns(editor)TaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.Center

forChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,1989).341

14
Inallcases,thesameunderstandingofthefundamentallyenergeticnatureofthe
humanbodymindpervadesallthreelevelsandthesamepracticesareusedinvariousforms,
dependingonwhetherthegoalishealth,extendedlifespan,orcompletetranscendenceofthis
world.23
Moreover,theyallassumethatthepracticeofqigongwillcreatealiminalatmosphere
(theqifield)amindbodystateconducivetotransformation,andultimately,transparencyand
embodimentoftheDao.
WehavegoneoversomeoftheelementsofChinesethinkingwithregardstothebody
anditsrelationshipbetweenthebodyandtheouterworld.Wehavealsoseenhowthe
practitionersoflongevitypracticesusedtheirdisciplineasabodycenteredreligiosity.
However,whatarethebasesforthisreligiosity?Howisthebodythelocusofsuchpractice?
Thethemeofinnerandouterworldwillalwaysbepresent.Thus,instepofmicrocosm
andmacrocosmviewoftheworld,ofoneaspectreflectingormirroringtheother,Daoism,and
ChineseMedicine,envisionthebodyasacountry,thisimagebeingitselfareflectionofthe
worldtheylivedin.Theirideaofthebodyisthatitisincompleteconnectionandinterrelation
withtheworld.ThehumanbodyistheimageofacountrysaytheDaoists.24Inthebodythey
seemountainsandrivers,ponds,forests,pathsandbarriers,awholelandscapelaidoutwith
dwellings,palaces,towers,wallsandthegatesshelteringavastpopulation.Itisacivilizedstate,
administeredbytheirlordsandministers.25
FortheDaoiststheimagealsoconnotesthewayinwhichoneistotakecareofthe
body,understandingthatthebodypartakesoftheessentialnature,andisthereflectionof,the
Dao.AddressingaTangemperorin711AD,theDaoistmasterSsumaChengchenrepliedto
thequestion,tocareofthebody,topracticeNonactionisalverywell,butwhowillgovern
thecountry?TheDaoistmasterreplied,Thecountryislikethebody:followthenatureof
things,dontletyourmindharboranypartiality,andthewholeworldwillbegoverned.26
Thecountry,theouterworld,inthiscase,isgovernedbytheemperorsinnerbeing.The
emperorinChinawasalwaysresponsibleforthewellbeingofthepeople,andthisincluded

23LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises.9
24KristoferSchipper.TheTaoistBody.UniversityofCaliforniaPress(March19,1994).100
25Ibid102
26Ibid.

15
naturaloccurrencessuchasfloods,earthquakesandfamines,amongotherthings.Ifanything
wentarrayintherealm,theemperorhadtobringhisinnerbeinginalignmentwiththeDaoin
ordertobringordertothelandoncemore,oftentimesbyincurringsomeformofpenance.27
Fortheordinarypersonthisistrueinanothersense.Heorsheisdefinitelyinfluencedbythe
outerenvironment,andtoalargedegree,ruledbyit.However,fortheonethathasreceived
initiationofthebody,andwhoknowsthelawsofnature,theflowofinfluenceisreversed.28
Theobvioustakeawayhereisthattheinnerworld,ourinnerattitude,mentalandemotional
andthereforebodilystates,mayormaynotbeinharmony,encompassesourinnerworld
andmustbeinorderforouractionstohaveanyenduringeffect.Tryingtoactontheworld
fromstateofinternaldisarrayis,fromtheDaoistpointofview,almostfruitless.Theaction
mustbeaspontaneousreflectionoftheharmonyexistentintheinnerworld,i.e.,anembodied
beingtransparenttotheDao.ThatiswhytheDaoistconceptofwuwei,nonaction,isso
importantinourunderstandingoftheDao;howtheDaodoesnothingbutaccomplishes
everything;forwuweiisfundamentallyastateofbeing,andassuch,astateofbeingthat
reflectsthetransparencytotheDao.Thus,actingfromthisstateofembodimentisalsonot
acting;itisanactionthatissototallyinharmonywiththeDaothatthereisnoeffortordesire
tocoercetheworldintobeinganythingelsethanwhatitnaturallyandspontaneouslyis.Itis
fromthisstateofbeingthatrightactioncantakeplace;onlythentheactionwilllast.

Thekingmodelshimselfonheaven.Hemodelshimselfonitsseasonsand
consummatesthem.Hemodelshimselfonitscommandsandcirculatesthem
amongallmen.Hemodelshimselfonitsconstantcategoriesandusesthem
wheninitiatingaffairs.HemodelshimselfonitsWayandtherebymakesorder
emerge.Hemodelshimselfonitswillandthuscommits[hisrealm]to
benevolence.29

27ibid103
28ibid103
29NathanSivin.State,Cosmos,andBodyintheLastThreeCenturiesB.C.HarvardJournalofAsiaticStudies,

Vol.55,No.1(Jun.,1995),pp.12

16


1.Daoistimageofthebodysinnerlandscape30



30https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daoist_meditation.OpenSource.

17
TheSubtleBody


TheimageisrepresentativeofthewaythatDaoismandChineseMedicinethinkof,and
envision,thebody.Theydo,nonetheless,teachaninnerlandscape,albeitoftentimesa
somewhatdifferentversion,oravariationmoreusefulforinternalpractices,oftheclassical
descriptionsuchastheoneinthefigureabove.Thesixhealingbreathsisagoodexampleofthe
innerlandscapedescribedinthispractice.Itassumesalltheprinciplesandelementsthat
ChineseMedicineholdsforthebodyandtheworld,andthenaddsafewmorethatarespecific
tothelongevityandmeditativepractices.Itisanexpansioninthedirectionofthecosmos,of
thereflectionoftwoaspectsoftheuniverseandlife,themicroandthemacro.Regardingthe
body,theinnerlandscapeandtheDao,LiviaKohnsays,

ThebodyintraditionalChinaiscloselyconnectedtoandevenareplicaofthe
Dao.TheDaoisatthebaseofallcreation;itisthefundamentalproductive
poweroftheuniversethatcausesthingstocomeintoexistenceandmaintains
themthroughout.ThereisonlyoneDao,andallbeingsarepartofthisDao,
althoughmostarenotawareofit.People,theancienttextssay,areintheDao
likefishareinwater.
Likewater,theDaoiseverywherearoundus,inus,withus.Itflowsnaturally
alongitschannelsinthebody,innature,insociety.Itissteady,fluid,easy,soft
andweak;itneverpushes,fights,orcontrolsbutispowerfulbymerelygoing
along.Peopledonotknowit,butittheDaoalwaysthere,alwayssustaining,like
amotherthemotheroftheuniverse,themotherofallexistence,themother
ofallofus.Itbringsforthandnurtures;itcaresandraises;itsupportsandmoves
along.Whateverwedo,whoeverweare,whateverwebecome,itisalwayspart
oftheDao.31

31LiviaKohn.ChinesehealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.UniversityofHawaiiPress;1edition

(October16,2008).12.

18

2.Majorpointsandfieldsinthesubtlebody.

19
Qi

Theworld,thebody,thestars,themoon,areallamanifestationofqi,thelifeforce
withoutwhichlifewouldnotbepossible.Oneaspectofqiislikethenotionofelectronsorthe
conceptofelectricity:qiisnotreadilyvisible;yetwecanknowitexistsandthatitworks,bythe
effects,theouterphenomenaitproduces.Fromamorefundamentalandoriginalperspective,
itisalsokeytokeepinmindthattheChinesewordqi,isstronglyassociatedwithair,and
especiallywiththebreath.
MatterisQitakingshape.Mountainsforming,forestsgrowing,riversstreaming,and
creaturesproliferatingareallmanifestationsofQi.Inthehumanbeing,allfunctionsofthe
bodyandmindaremanifestationsofQi.Inthesensing,cogitating,feeling,digesting,stirring,
andpropagating.Qibegetsmovementandheat.Itisthefundamentalmysteryandmiracle.32
Qi,then,isthedirect,tangiblemanifestationoftheDao.33Qiisthemateriaprimafor
themagnusopusofcreation.Everythingweseeintheworldisamanifestationofqi,andqiis
thematerialreflectionoftheDao.Thus,thebodyisamanifestationofqi.Thebodymoves,
breathes,andthinksbecauseofqi.Howeverubiquitousqiis,initssubtleform,isnotcommonly
visibletothenakedeyeoranyotherofthephysicalsenses.Itcoursesthrougheveryaspectof
theworldandeveryfacetofthebody,andyetwecannotjustseeitorfeelit.Ittakesaspecial
typeofactivityortrainingtoaccessit,aspecialkindofawarenessorconsciousness.Through
themeridiansorchannelsittraversestheentirebody,butthesechannels,thecurrentsofqi,
havenophysicalanatomicalcorrespondence.Thatisbecausethemeridiansformpartofa
subtleaspectofthebody.Thisaspectofqi,then,seemstointersectthephysicalworld.It
existsbutittakesaspecialkindofmindtoknowit,andaspecialknowledgetoaccessit(such
asacupunctureorqigong,amongothers).Acupuncturepoints,thosevortexesofenergyor
relaystationsofqi,canbefoundinthebody,butatthesametimetheyarenotofthebody.
Onecannotperformanautopsyofahumanbody(oranimal,thereisanimalacupuncturetoo)

32HarrietBeinfield,EfremKorngold.BetweenHeavenandEarth:AGuidetoChineseMedicine.Ballantine

Books(June30,1992)30
33LiviaKohn.ChinesehealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.UniversityofHawaiiPress;1edition

(October16,2008).2

20
andexpecttoseethemeridiansandthehundredsofacupuncturevortexesthatpunctuateit.
NorcantheYogiccakras,thebigcentersofenergycalleddantianinChinese.Theyarejust
notthereinthewaythattheorgans,tissuesandarteriesarethere.Qiandacupuncture
channelsexist,buttheyexistinadifferentdimension,asitwere.Thatiswhytheplacewhere
theyarefoundiscommonlycalledthesubtlebodyinothertraditionssuchasyoga.Qi,then,
andtheacupuncturepointsontheqicurrents,existveryliterallyinadifferentworld.Atthe
articulationswithinthebodythereare365pointsofcommunicationArticulationsrefersto
wherethedivineqitravelsfreelyandmovesoutwardandinward,nottoskin,flesh,sinewsand
bones.34Anditisintothissubtlebody,thattheliminalstateachievedbythepracticeof
qigongaimsataffecting.
Sinceeverythingisqi,itisinescapablethattheqioftheuniverse,oftheouterworld,
willhaveaninfluenceontheinnerworldofthebodyandofcourse,ontheshenorspiritthat
animatesit.Qipermeatesthewholeuniverse.Itpermeatesthebody,thetrees,andmountains;
nothingunderthesunisnotpermeatedbyqi.Thus,followingthisideaofpermeability,qifrom
theoutsidepermeatestheinside,andviceversa.Sinceancienttimes[ithasbeenunderstood
that]penetrationby[theqiof]heavenisthebasisoflife,whichdependson[theuniversalqiof]
yinandyang.Theqi[ofeverything]inthemidstofheavenandearthandinthesixdirections,
fromthenineprovincesandninebodyorificestothefivevisceralsystemsandthetwelve
joints,ispenetratedbytheqiofheaven.35
Theinteractionisalsoreflectedintheingestionofairandfoodaswellastheexcretion
ofwastefromthebody.Theporesplayanimportantroleaswell,asidefromtheorifices,
throughwhichperniciousinfluencescanaffectthehealthoftheindividual.
Foodandair,areofcoursesourcesofqi.Lifeitself,though,beginsthroughan
accumulationofuniversalqi.AsZhuangziputit,Thebirthofahumanbeingamountstoan

34NathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContemporaryChina.CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi

(January1,1987)51
35NathanSivin.State,Cosmos,andBodyintheLastThreeCenturiesB.C.HarvardJournalofAsiaticStudies,

Vol.55,No.1(Jun.,1995),pp.15

21
accumulationofqi.Whenithasaccumulated,birthtakesplace;whenithasdissipated,death
takesplace.36CommentingonthispassageUteEngelhardtsays,

Thispassagedoesnotspeakofthematerialsubstanceofthebodybutrefers
strictlytotheenergiesthatmakethevitalfunctionspossible.Thephysicalvitality
ofababy,therefore,isdrawnfromtheqithatfillsthecosmosbeforebirth;at
themomentofbirth,itbeginstodissipate.37

Thus,fromtheconceptofdissipationofqiafterbirthstemsthenotionofreplenishing
andmaintainingofvitalenergiesthroughlongevitytechniqueswithitsconcomitantinstructions
toavoidexcessesanduncontrolledstatesofmindandemotions.

Therearetwotypesofenergiesatplay:theinternalenergiesdrivingtheorderand
vitalityofthebodyaswellastheforcesofchaosanddisorderthatmaycomefromoutsideor
inside.Orthopathicqi(zhengqi )istheonetomaintaintheinternalbodilyprocesses
flowingandinharmony.Heteropathicqi(xieqi)istheagentofdisorder,theenergiesthat
goagainstthegrainofhealthyorder.38Therearemanydifferentkindsofqiactinginthebody
asidefromthesetwoforces.Oneofthemaintasksoftheindividualistopracticelongevity
techniquespreciselytorenewtheseenergies,todiscardtheheterophaticanddisruptiveagents
ofhealthandletinthenew,freshagentsofharmonyandhealthin,timeandagain.Theideais
tokeeptheenergiesflowingfreelyinthebody,maintainingthisflowsmoothlyisasignof
health.Blockagesinthechannels,willlaterbeblockagesinthetissuesandwillleadto
disharmoniesofsometype.

36NathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContemporaryChina.CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi

(January1,1987)48
37UeEngelhardt.LongevityTechniquesandChineseMedicine,inDaoismHandbook.BrillAcademic

Publishers(August2005)96
38Ibid97.NathanSivin.TraditionalChineseMedicineInContemporaryChina.Opuscit.49

22
ChannelsorConduits

Qiflowsthroughoutthebodyinanetworkofchannels(jingmo)thatpervadethe
entirebody.Theqiisfurtherdifferentiatedaccordingtotheorbsororgansassociatedwiththe
respectivechannels,anditdoesthisinacyclicalrhythmandinsequencesofabouttwohours.
Thus,liverqiforexampleisatitspeakbetween11pmand1am;theheartqibetween11am
andonepm,etc.Qialsofollowsthesequenceofthefivephases,notionclearlydelineatedin
thepracticeofsomeqigongstylesanddefinitelyusedinthesixhealingsounds.

Theacupuncturemeridians,astheyareusuallycalledtoday,havebeenpartandparcel
oftheconceptsofChinesemedicinesincethefirstcenturyB.C.39Theyrundirectlybelowthe
skin,althoughtheygo,inparts,deepintothebodyaswell.Anexampleofhelatteristhe
zhongmaiormiddlechannel,thatrunsfromthetopoftheheadtotheperineumona
straightline.Thischannelisusedmainlyinthepracticeofsomeformsofqigong.

MeridiansarethechannelsorpathwaysthatcarryQiandBloodthroughthe
body.Theyarenotbloodvessels.Rather,theycompriseaninvisiblelatticethat
linkstogetherallthefundamentaltexturesandOrgans.InChineseMeridian
theory,thesechannelsareunseenbutarethoughttoembodyakindof
informationalnetworktheQiandBloodmovealongthem,andatherapeutic
systemisconceptuallyorganizedthroughthedetailsofitsdesign.40

Theqionthechannelscanbeinfluencedbytheuseofacupunctureneedles,
moxibustion(theburningofArtemisiaVulgaris),massages,and,moreimportantlyforour
purposes,byplacingourattention(yi)ontheacupoint.Thesearethecavernsofqithrough
whichqiisabletoenterandexit.Asthebody,andeverythingelse,ispermeabletoqi,these
pointsorvortexesareimportantintheexchangeofenergieswithitssurroundingsandthe

39UteEngelhardt.Opuscit.97
40TedKaptchuk.TheWebThatHasNoWeaver:UnderstandingChineseMedicine.McGrawHill;2edition(May

2,2000).165

23
universeatlarge.Accordingtosometexts,someofthesepointsaredefinedastheresidenceof
gods.41

Orbs


Thechannelsareassociatedwithtwelvevaguelydefinedviscera,ororbs,whicharealso
linkedtothenotionsofyinandyangsystemaswellasthefivephases,orfiveelements.In
ChineseMedicineTheorytheseorbsarecalledthezangfuorgansorrather,visceral
systemsoffunction.
Followingtheyinyangtheory,thesixzangorbscorrespondtosixyinorbs,i.e.,Heart,
Liver,Spleen,Lung,Kidney.Thefuorbs,areyangandcorrespondtotheSmallIntestine,Large
Intestine,GallBladder,UrinaryBladder,StomachandSanJiao.Furthermore,eachyinorbis
pairedwithyangviscera.Thus,forexample,theHeartispairedwiththeSmallintestine,and
theybothareassociatedwithfireinthefivephase(wuxing)system.Asmentionedearlier,
theChinesewerenottooconcernedwiththeexactlocationoftheseorgans.Ratherthan
focusingontheanatomicalfeaturesandstructure,theypaidattentiontotheofficesthateach
orbheldinthebodysadministration.Oftentimestheseorbsappearedasresidencesofthe
gods.42Theharmoniousfunctionoftheseofficesisrealizedbyconstantandenduring
cooperationamongthem.Whenconcordamongthemceasesdiseasesanddisharmoniesensue.

Jing


Jingisamorephysical,denserformofqi.Originallymeaningtosortrice,toselect,

41UteEngelhardt.Opuscit.98
42Ibid

24
torefine,itcameintimetomeanwhatispurest,i.e.,essence.43Thefirstunderstandingof
essenceisasthereproductiveenergiesofbothmaleandfemale,i.e.,semeninmen.Theother
meaningisofthetransformationoffoodandairintothematerialbasisofphysicalgrowthand
development.44InclassicalChinesemedicinejingisconceivedasqiintransitionfromone
determinateformtoanother.45Thus,jingistheqithathasbeentransformednaturallyfrom
primordialqi,YuanQi,theqithatweinheritedfromoutparents.46Thejingnourishesthe
orbsandthewholebodyandisusuallyconceivedasresidingin,andtheresponsibilityof,the
kidneys.JingtransformsnaturallyfromprimordialqiandisstoredintheOceanofQi(qihai
;aroundthenavelorlowerabdomen).Jingisslowlyexpendedfromthebody,byvirtueof
justliving,whichleadstothegradualdecreaseofprimordialqi.Theexhaustionofessence
eventuallyleadstodeath,hencetheemphasisoftheLongevityTradition,bothmedicaland
Daoistonpreservingjing,thatisreducingthelossofessencebyconsciouslyavoiding
ejaculationinmen,andreplenishingtheqithroughtheregularpracticeofqigong,meditation,
andespecially,avoidingexcessesofeverykind,suchasemotionalexcesses,oneofhe
fundamentalreasonsforthelossofhealthinChineseMedicaltheory,and,ingeneral,leadinga
balancedlife.

Shen

Thepracticeofqigongemphasizesthenourishingandrefinementofvariousenergies.
TheMorerefinedtheseenergiesthemoretransparenttheindividualbecomes,themore
embodimentbecomesalivingexperience.Thisisaccomplishedbyconstantworkoverthe
courseofmonthsandyears,alifetimeinsomeinstances,leadingtohigherandhigherdegrees

43Ibid.
44NathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContemporaryChina.CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi

(January1,1987)242
45Ibid.242,fn7.
46Therearefourtypesofqi:YuanQi,asmentionedinthetext;Zongqi,thepectoralqi,anessentialqiinthe

bodythatisfurtherdividedintoYingqiornutrientqi,andweiqiordefensiveqi.

25
ofsubtlenessoftheseenergies.Thus,thisprocessisconceivedasnourishingthejing,
transformingthejingintoqiandthenqiintoshen.
Eventuallythisjingispurifiedandmademoresubtleandtransformedintoqithatthen
ismovedconsciouslyaroundthebodyinvariouscycles.Thisinturnisfurtherrarifiedintoshen
(spirit),whichisathirdformqiassumesinthehumanbody.47
Thetermshenisusuallyunderstoodasspirit,but,asalloftheconceptsinDaosimand
ChineseMedicine,itisnotassimpleasonemightthink.Shenresidesinthebody,andit
describeshumannaturespsychologicalanddivineaspects.48Theyinvisceraaresaidtostore
fivesubstances,whichareaspectsoftheshen.Thusshenplaysitsroleasthebodys
governingvitalities.49Sivinquipsthat,sinceshenisaforceactinginthebody,thefactremains
thataforceisnotasubstance.50Shen,then,isanotheraspectofqi,anotherdimensionofthe
subtleenergiesatworkandinfusingthebody.Thus,wehavethreeaspectsatplayhere:the
body,theqithatfillsit,andtheshenthatgovernsit.Shenthen,canbedescribedasan
energeticconstellationthatranksaboveqi;itrepresentsthedivine,unfathomableaspectofthe
person.51
AsEngelhardtpointsout,thelongevitytraditionandDaoismplacegreatimportanceto
thenourishingofthespirit(yangshen);shegoesontoquotetheZhuangzi,
Tobepureandunadulterated,atrest,oneandunmoving,relaxedandwithout
intentionalaction[wuwei],justgoingalongwiththecourseofnaturethisisthewayof
nourishingthespirit.52

47LiviaKohn.TheSubtleBodyEcstasyofDaoistInnerAlchemy.ActaOrientaliaAcademiaeScientiarum

Hungaricae,Vol.59,No.3(2006),p.328
48UteEngelhardt.LongevityTechniquesandChineseMedicine,inDaoismHandbook.BrillAcademic

Publishers(August2005)99
49NathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContemporaryChina.CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi

(January1,1987)132
50ibid
51UteEngelhardt.LongevityTechniquesandChineseMedicine,inDaoismHandbook.BrillAcademic

Publishers(August2005)99
52Ibid

26
TheFivePhasesWuxing()


PerhapstheearliestmentionofthefivephaseswasinatextnamedDeclarationat
Kan,thatappearsintheBookofDocuments(ShangShu).However,theconnotationof
thistextisofmoralqualitiesratherthanphysicaltraits.Sivinacknowledgesthatdatingthis
earlyappearanceisdifficultandallwehavetogoonistheuseofthetermbySungtzuinthe
samesenseincirca350BCE.53Lateronthesefivecategorieswillbelinkedtootheraspectsand
qualitiesofnature,especiallynumerologyandastrology,givingthephilosophersanopportunity
toprojectthefivefoldcombinationsbeyondtheboundariesofmoralqualitiestothe
constituentsofmatteraswell.54Thus,bythefirstandsecondcenturiesB.C.E.,whathadbegun
asasimplesetofideasthroughthoughtexperimentationandelaborationhadsolidifiedintoa
sophisticatedandenduringsynthesis.Thissynthesisofthefivephaseswasthefoundationofa
cosmologicaltheoryofmonarchy,whichjustifiedtheimperialpoliticalorderasareflectionof
theorderofnature.Intheprocessasophisticatedviewofnaturalphenomenaemerged.55
Thesenotionsoftheofthefivephasesorwuxing()stillpervadeDaoistand
ChineseMedicalthoughtandworldview:ThetheoryoftheFivePhasesisanattemptto
classifyphenomenaintermsoffivequintessentialprocesses,representedbytheemblems
Wood,Fire,Earth,Metal,andWater.56Theyhavebeenerroneouslytranslatedorunderstood
aselementsthoughtheyarenotconceptsofastaticnature,butdynamic,fluidandcyclical.
Thefivephasesthen,representasequenceofgenerativeenergiestransforminginan
energeticlifecycle.Thuswoodgeneratesfire,andfire(thathasburnedwood)transformsinto
earth.FromEarthwegetMetalandfrom(molted)Metal,Waterisgenerated.Thischartshould
clarifythecycle.

53NathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContemporaryChina.Opuscit.71.
54Ibid.
55Ibid72
56TedKaptchuk,opuscit.p606

27


3.TheFivePhases57

Thenegativeorovercoming(theredarrows)aspectofthecycleworksagainstthe
harmonywithinthebodymindsystemandisthecauseofmanyailments.Inthisderanged
aspect,theorbsareattacked,asitwere,insteadofnourished,leadingtoimbalanceand
disease.
RegardingthecosmologicalaspectsofqiexpressedasthefivephasesLiviaKohnsays,

Qiisattherootofeverythingthatexists,whethernaturalorsupernatural,
humanornonhuman,animateorinanimate.Itgenerallyappearsinthe

57Imagetakenfromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing.OpenSource.

28
complementaryforcesyinandyang,whichcorrespondtonightandday,shadow
andlight,restingandmoving,feminineandmasculine,tigeranddragon,andso
on.Theycannotexistwithoutoneanotherbutcontinuouslyengenderand
developinmutualinteraction,movingincyclesofdaysandseasons,ofinner
circulationandouterrhythm.Theyarefurthersubdividedintocategoriesof
lesserandgreaterandassociatedwiththeFivePhases(wood,fire,earth,metal,
water),symbolicrepresentationsoftheirdevelopmentalpatterns.Inthismore
complexform,thephasesofqiarethensetintoarelationshipwiththekey
Organsofthehumanbody,itssenses,materialconstituents,psychological
agents,andemotions.58


Thefivephases,thenmustbeunderstoodandkeptinmindasprocessesdescribingthe
characteristicsoftheelementstheyrepresent.Wood,forinstance,describestheprocessof
growthandflexibility,ratherthanapieceofwoodinNature.59InTCMcirclessomewantto
thinkofthisphaseasamoregeneralconceptofvegetation,ratherthanjustwood,
exemplifyingthesamecharacteristics.Eachphasehasalistofbodilyandcosmic
correspondencesaswell.Thuswood,correspondstotheliver/gallbladder,totheEast,thecolor
green,thegreendragon,thenegativeemotionisanger,theseasonisspringetc.Thechart
belowwillgiveabetter,morecomprehensiveview.

58LiviaKohn.TheSubtleBodyEcstasyofDaoistInnerAlchemy.ActaOrientaliaAcademiaeScientiarum

Hungaricae,Vol.59,No.3(2006),pp.325340.
59NathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContempiraryChina.Opuscit.72

29


4.FivePhasesChart60









60Imagefromhttp://yangsheng.com/?p=10830.OpenSource

30
YinYang


Finallywewilldiscusswhatisprobablythebestknownconceptthatcamefromthe
DaoisttraditionandthatispartofcolloquialEnglishbynow.Yinyang,justasqiandhefive
phases,theconceptofyinandyangliesatthecoreofDaoismandChinesemedicine.This
notionhasbeeneasytounderstandandassimilateintonotonlyEnglishbutmanyother
languages.Theideathatthewholeuniversecanbeviewedastheinterplayoftwodynamic,
oppositeyetcomplementaryforces,iseasyenoughtoseeandunderstandwithpalpable,
simpleanddirectexamplesfromnatureandlifeatanylevelofsubtlety.Thuswehavedayand
night,morningandevening,darkandlight,heavyandlight,maleandfemale,bigandsmall,etc.
However,astheChinesesymbolfortheinterplayofthesetwoforcesdescribe(calledTaichi,
orTaiji),thereisatinybit,theseedofyininyangandyanginyin,aswell.


5.TaiChi symbolofYin/Yang61

Thepeakofoneisthebeginningoftheother.Whenyinpeaks,nightforexample,yang
ormorningbeginstoriseinanrecurrentcycle.

61https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang.OpenSource

31
Theqiinyinandyangdynamic,then,
movesinasteadyalterationofyinandyang,twoaspectsofthecontinuous
flowofcreation:therisingandfalling,growinganddeclining,warmingand
cooling,beginningandending,expandingandcontractingmovementsthat
pervadealllifeandnature.Yinandyangcontinuouslyalternateandchangefrom
oneintotheother.Theydosoinasteadyrhythmofrisingandfalling,visiblein
natureintherisingandsettingofthesun,thewarmingandcoolingofthe
seasons,thegrowthanddeclineoflivingbeings.62

YinandyangpervadestheDaoisttradition;itisoneofthemostancientideasinforming
itsnotionsandworldview.Moreover,asitstands,itisoneofthemostwidespreadconcepts
adoptedbythewesternworld,aswell.

LiteratureReview


WhenIbeganresearchonthesubjectofqigongandtheSixHealingSounds,Ihitawall
muchearlierthanIeverimagined.TosaythattheliteratureonqigongandtheLongevity
traditionisscantwouldbeanunderstatement.Inhisownreviewoftheliteratureonqigong
DavidOwnbysays,ThescholarlyliteratureonthemajorsubjectsqigongandFalunGong,
remainsratherthin.And,DespitetheimportanceofqigongtothehistoryofFalunGong,
relativelylittlehasbeenpublishedonthisrichandfascinatingtopic.LiviaKohn,oneofthe
mostprolificscholarsofDaoismandsomeonewhohaswrittenandeditedthefewworks
dealingwiththeLongevitytraditionsaysoftheliterature,Placedattheintersectionoffields,
thelongevitytraditionhasrarelybeenthesubjectofspecializedstudies.Onlyafewdedicated
scholars,suchasSakadeYoshinobu,CatherineDespeux,UteEngelhardt,andVivienneLo,have
contributedsignificantlytoitsunderstanding,andthereareonlytwoeditedvolumesinEnglish
thatdealspecificallywithit.63
ThesestatementsfromKohnandOwnbywillgiveusanideaofthelimitednatureofthe

62LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises.Opuscit.3
63Ibid10

32
materialonqigong.Iwillattempt,then,togiveareviewonthecurrentstateoftheliterature
onqigongandthesixhealingsounds,leavingsometangentialsubjectsoutofthisreview.Thus,
bearinginmindthescantliteratureonthesubjectwecanbegintoaddresstheauthorsthat
havecontributedtotheadvancementofthediscipline,andtothisdissertationinparticular.
Thereviewbeginsbylookingatthehistoryandwhohascontributedmostdirectlyto
theknowledgefromthatperspective.Iseparatedtherecenthistoryfromtheancientand
medievalrecordsonthelongevitypractices,andplacedtherecenthistorybeforetheancient.I
didthisbecausetherecenthistoryisclosesttotheactualeventsoftheethnographic
experience.DrZhangissomeonewholivedthroughtheeventsdepictedinthatchapter,andis
anexcellentrepresentativeofthemajorshiftsinChinesecultureandtheformationofthe
institutionsofTraditionalChineseMedicineandqigong.
Whendealingwiththequestion,ofwhatisqigongandwheredoesitcomefrom,the
mostsurprisinganswercamefromtheexcellentQigongFever:Body,Science,andUtopiain
ChinaworkbyDavidPalmer.BeforestumblingonthisbookIreallyhadnoanswertothe
questionoforigins,apartfromtheusualandessentially,notveryusefulclaimofitbeinga
traditionbequeathedtoaselectnumberofschoolsandgroupsfromancienttimes.Anyone
familiarwithqigongandinterestedinexpandingtheknowledgeonitsnatureandoriginshad
comeacrossthelimitedextantliteraturedealingwiththequestionofancientorigins.However,
noonecouldgiveanaccountofthetraditionandespeciallythepopularizationithadgone
throughtobecomeamassmovementinthe80sand90s.InthewordsofOwnby,therewas
noworkinanylanguagewhichwouldhavepermittedtheanthropologisttosituatehisqigong
groupinhistoryorinanyother,largercontext.64Perhapsoneofthemostimportantnotions
thereadercantakeawayfromreadinghisworkisthefactthatqigong,asithasbecomeknown
nowadays,is,inaveryliteralway,aninventedtradition.
Thisworkistrulyenlightening.Palmer,asociologistofreligion,wasabletopiece
togethertheeventsthatledtotheformationofTraditionalChineseMedicineandqigongfrom
thebeginningsofthenewCommunistregimei.e.,1949onwards,andfollowitsevolutioninthe

64DavidOwnby.FalunGongandtheFutureofChina..OxfordUniversityPress(May27,2010)

33
followingdecades.Heputqigongincontext,andelucidated,bycombingthroughthousandsof
pagesofjournalistic,biographical,autobiographical,andpoliticalaccounts,howqigongrose
toprominenceinaChinathatwastryingtoextricateitselffromtheoldsuperstitionsand
propelthenewcountryintoautopianfutureofprosperityandwellbeingbythepowerof
scienceandanoverarchingmaterialisticworldview.Qiwasnowthesubjectofscientificinquiry,
andafterexperimentsconductedbytopChinesescientistsitwasproventohaveamaterial
basis.Thefactremainedthatthehistoricalrootsofqigongweremoreakintoreligionand
spiritualitythantoscience,butthescientificviewpersisted,especiallybecauseitwouldjustify
tokeepatypeofreligiousexpression,abodycenteredreligiosityasPalmercallsit,aliveand
ingoodgraceswiththeoftensuspiciousauthorities.
Palmeraffordsusalandscapeintoqigongfromanewlydiscoveredperspective.It
remains,tome,themostsurprisingfindingwhiledoingresearchforthisdissertation.Irely
heavilyonPalmersbookforthischapter.
DavidOwnbysFalunGongandtheFutureofChina,abookwrotefromahistorical
perspective,wasalsohelpfulinfleshingoutthechapteronrecentorigins.Asthetitleofhis
booksuggeststheemphasisofhisbookisonFalunGong.However,sinceFalunGongisalso
oneofthemanyexpressionsofqigong,andassuchrosetoprominencewiththeqigongboom,
hededicatesawholechaptertothesubject.SincePalmersbookistheonlyworkIamawareof
togiveanaccountatthemacrolevelonqigong,Ownbyalsoacknowledgesandsingsthe
praisesofhiswatershedworkandusesittounderstandanddevelophisunderstandingofFalun
GongandsubsequencefalloutwiththeChineseauthorities.
Moretangentialtothedissertationbutstilluseful,weretheworksoftwo
anthropologists,NancyChenandElisabethHsuwhoconductedresearchinreformeraChina.
ElisabethHsuexploredthesubjectofTraditionalChineseMedicinebystudyingthreemodesof
transmission:the"secret","personal"and"standard."Shealsostudiedwithaqigongmaster.
NancyChenexploredthesubjectofqigongfromtheperspectiveofthebodyandhowthebody
hasthepotentialofbecomingthelocusoffreedomfromtheiniquitiessufferedinthenew
cultureofreformeraChina,especiallymedicalreform.Italsoexploresthesocalledqigong
deviations,thatis,thenegativeeffectsthatthepracticeofqigongcanpotentiallyhaveon

34
someindividualsandhowthesepathologiesweredefinedbymentalhealthprofessionals.
Thesubjectonancientoriginsshowedtohaveafewmorescholarsinterestedinthe
topicoflongevitypractices.Thescholarthatturnedouttobeawellspringofworksonthe
subjectisBostonUniversityprofessoremeritusLiviaKohn.Shehassinglehandedlyeditedthe
majorbooksonthesubject,asidefromwritingseveraloriginalworks.Areviewofallherbooks
wouldtakeupanothervolume,tobesure.Iwillexamineonlythefewthatcontributedmostto
thisdissertation.
First,ChineseHealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.65Thisworkaddressesthe
originsofourmodernversion,i.e.,qigong.Itaffordsthereaderacontextualizedviewof
qigong,givingus,usingseveralimportantworks,inparticularDonaldHarperserudite
examinationofthemedicalmanuscriptsfromMawangduitombthreeunearthedin1973,some
detailedexplanationsoftheDaoyintu,theDaoyinchart,adescriptionoftheposturesandthe
possiblemeaningsofthecaptions.KohnalsoplacesthewholetraditionofDaoyininthe
contextofotherdevelopmentsrelativetothelongevitytradition.Itexaminesqigongand,toa
lesserextentTaiji,intodaysworldandcomparesittoothersimilardisciplinesandapproaches
tomovementtherapy,suchasTheFeldenkraismethod,ThomasHannasSomaticEducation,
theyogatradition,breathingtechniques,EnergyPsychology,andEnergyHealing.Kohnprovides
averyusefuldefinitionoffundamentalDaoistandLongevitytraditionnotions,suchasDao,qi,
thethreetreasures,yinandyang,etc.Theseareusefulfortheneophyteencounteringthe
traditionforthefirsttimesincehereheorshecanfindaplethoraofinformationthatwill
explainandclarifythebasicterminologyassociatedwithDaoistpractices.
AlsoeditedbyKohnistheDaoistBodyCultivation,66acollectionofarticlesonsimilar
Daoistsubjects.Itisinthisvolumethatwefindtheonlyworkdedicatedexclusivelytothesix
healingsoundsofqigong,namedhereunderitstraditionalrubricofTheSixHealingBreaths.
CatherineDespeux,anotherimportantscholarinthetraditionoflongevitypractices,and,we
mightadd,astudentofDrZhangs,writesthisarticle.Thisisthemainsourceforthechapteron
thesixhealingsounds.Despeuxisabletocontextualizethisgongfa(aversionorincarnationof

65LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.UniversityofHawaiiPress;1edition

(October16,2008)
66LiviaKohn.DaoistBodyCultivation:TraditionalModelsandContemporaryPractices.ThreePinesPress;1

edition(April30,2006)

35
qigong)andgiveahistoricalaccountoftheoriginsofthesixhealingbreaths,tracingits
developmentsfromitsincipientrudimentsinaxialageChinatomoderntimesversions.This
volumealsofeaturesexcellentarticlesonYogaandDaoyin,byLiviaKohn,TaijiQuan(also
Taichichuan)byBedeBidlackandanotheronthestateofqigonginAmericabyLuoisKomjathy,
amongothers.Thesearticlesareenrichingandadefinitelypositiveadditiontothescarce
informationwefindonthesubject.
DespeuxhasalsowrittenanarticletitledGymnastics:TheancientTradition.Thisvery
specializedanduniquepieceisfoundinanotherofLiviaKohnseditedbooks,namely,Taoist
MeditationandLongevityTechniques,ananthologyofarticlesonthesubject.Asidefrom
Despeuxsarticlewefindothersthatwereextremelyinformativeandusefulinfleshingoutthis
material.ArticlesbyIsabelleRobinetonthetraditionofNeidan,InnerAlchemy,HidemiIshida
onthenotionsofbodyandmind,andtheChineseconceptionofself;andKunioMiurasThe
RevivalofQi,addresseshowtheChineseunderstandqigong,theideasoldandnewit
representsandtheconflictbetweenreligionandscienceincontemporaryChina.
TheDaoismHandbook67,unsurprisingly,alsoeditedbyKohn,isacompendiumon
articlesdealingwithseveralaspectsofDaoism,ratherthanonlongevitytechniquesasits
centralmotif.Itdoes,however,includeUteEngelhardtarticleonLongevityTechniquesand
ChineseMedicine,articlethatprovedextremelyusefulinfleshingoutthechapteronancient
originsanddevelopmentsofqigongandChineseMedicine.Alsopresentinthefirstvolumeis
thearticleonNeidan,orInnerAlchemybyLowellSkar.
Regardingtheexperientialaspectofthedissertation,Ididnotattempttotaintthe
descriptionoftheexperiencewithanythingbutadescriptionoftheeventslivedduringthe
course.Thus,Idomybesttoshowtheeventswitnessedand/orexperiencedwithout
attemptingtointerprettheminanyway.Herewetakeaphenomenologicalapproachinwhich
theethnographerrefrainsfromsuchtemptation,whichcould,inevitably,distorttheinitialwork
heorshewishestodescribeinafaithfulmanner.Theshowingwillbe,then,attheheartofthis
chapter,leavingtheinterpretationandtheoreticalapproachforthechapteronliminalityand
embodiment.

67LiviaKohn,editor.DaoismHandbook.BrillAcademicPublishers(August2005)

36
ThesectiononLiminalitycomesfromtheuseofVictorTurnersideaofliminality.
Althoughhisworkendedwithhisdeathin1983,hisworkisverymuchrelevanttoday.His
treatmentofthesubjectinhisBetwixtandBetween:TheLiminalPeriodinRitesdePassage,68
aswellashisTheRitualProcess,69andinparticularthechapteronLiminalityandCommunitas,
wereinstrumentalincomingtoanunderstandingofhisdevelopmentofanthropologistArnold
VanGennepsideaofliminality,andtheapplicationofthatideatothestateelicitedbythe
practiceofqigong.Hisnotionofliminalitycanbeextrapolatedintooursubjectmatter,fitting
elegantlyintotheconceptofrujing,enteringstillness,atermoftenusedinqigong.
TurnerdevelopsthisideafromVanGennepsritesdepassage,ideasheconceivedfrom
studyingculturalritualsinwhichsomeindividuals,atapredeterminedpointintheirlives,go
throughaperiodofseparationandisolationfromtheirusualnormalsocialinteractions.Van
Gennepcharacterizedthisperiodasconsistingofthreephases,namely,separation,aliminal
period,andreagreggation,thatis,amomentinwhichtheyaretobecomepartofthesocial
fabricofcultureonceagain.Theperiodinbetweenistheliminalphaseinwhichthepersonaeis
invisible,inthesensethatheorsheisnolongerclassifiedandnotyetclassified.Forour
purposes,then,wecantakethisnotionandlookattheqigongstateasaverysimilar,
oftentimes,butnotnecessarily,temporarycondition.This,then,willbethejumpingpointfrom
whichwewilldiscussthenotionofenteringintoadifferentworld,asitwere,astateofmind
orconsciousness,thatistrulyother.Thisstatecanbeexperiencedasalightreverieoradeep
trance.Theimportantpointtokeepinmindisthenatureofthestate:thepracticeofqigong
elicitsthisdesiredbutnaturalstateandbycrossingthethreshold,theliminalstate,other
qualitiesaremanifested.
Theethnographicpiecepublishedin1980byRobertFishman70inanurbanspiritualist
organizationinwesternNewYorkwasalsousefulinhowusingVictorTurnersideaofliminality
canbeappliedtoasimilarsetting.Theactualbackgroundwassomewhatdifferent,butthe
overallapproachofaspiritualistritualperformedinordertobringabouthealing,andthe

68VictorTurner.BetwixtandBetween:TheLiminalPeriodinRitesdePassage.TheProceedingsofthe

AmericanEthnologicalSociety(1964)
69VictorTurner.TheRitualProcess:StructureandAntiStructure.AldineTransaction;Reprintedition(1995)
70RobertG.Fishman.Transmigration,Liminality,andSpiritualistHealing.JournalofReligionandHealth,Vol.

19,No.3(Fall,1980),pp.217225

37
subsequentmindorspiritualstatesofwhathecallstransmigration,experiencedbyits
participants,havedefiniteparallelswiththesettingsandexperienceofpracticingqigong.
TheculminationofthelongevityandotherDaoistpracticesisthatofembodiment.Livia
Kohnhasalsowrittenextensivelyonthesubject,althoughitisfoundmoreaspartofthewhole
Longevityandothercultivationexercisesmilieu,ratherthanasaspecializedsubjectmatter.It
is,nonetheless,atermthatcropsupregularly,foritisreallytheultimategoalofDaoist
cultivationexercises.Thewisdomislivedandactualizedinthebody.Theenergiesflowfreely
andareexperiencedinthebody.Weliveasbodies.Qigongis,inaway,abodycentered
religiosity,touseatermfromDavidPalmer.Itisabodytechnologyleadingtoembodyingthe
qualitiesoftheDao.Schipper,71haswrittenextensivelyondifferentaspectsofDaoism,and
indirectlyonthenotionembodiment.Bydescribingthediverseelementsthatgointothe
worldviewand,byextension,bringinganunderstandingofhowDaoistpraxisisreflectedin
notionsofinnerlandscapes,ofthemicrocosmosofbodybeingareflectionofthemacrocosmic
universe,ofrhythmsandhowthesagefollowsthepulseoflifeineverythinghedoes,quite
naturally.
RobinethasalsocontributedimmenselytoknowledgeoftheShangqing( )or
HighestClarityschool,andaffordsusaclearviewintothespiritualandembodiedinner
landscape,thegodsorspiritsthatexistinthebodyorthatareinvitedtodwellinit.Tao
Hongjing,itsfounder,isoneofthetwopresumedcandidatesthatcreatedorsomehow
systematizedthesixhealingbreaths,theotherbeinganotherfamousDaoist,SunSimiao.
Thereismuchmoreworktobedone,tobesure.However,asthelongevitypractices
becomemoreentrenchedinourcultureandpracticedbymoreandmorepeople,wewillsee
thegrowthofbothpractitionersandscholarsattemptingtoshedmorelightintothisancient
tradition.

71KristoferSchipper.TaoistBody.UniversityofCaliforniaPress(March19,1994)

38
ChapterOutlines

Thefirstchapter,theintroduction,describesthepurposeandgoalsofthedissertation.
Itdiscussestheelementsinvolvedintheoriginanddevelopmentofthequestions,the
questionsthemselves,andprovidesthebasicnotionsofDaoismandTCMthatwillhelpthe
readergetabetterunderstandingofthesubjectmatter.
Chaptertwowillexplorewhatweknowsofarabouttheancientoriginsofqigong,
betterknownthenasthelongevitytraditionofDaoyin.ItgoesbacktopreHanandHantimes,
andexamineswhatscholarshavegleanedfromthediscoveriesatMawangduitombsin1973.
Hereachartdepictingbothmenandwomendoingsomekindofmovementswasfound,andit
isinterpretedasbeingtheoldestdescriptionofDaoyinexercises,and,mostimportantlythe
precursorofwhatwenowknowasqigong.
ChapterfourwillexaminethetraditionoftheSixHealingSounds,knownthenastheSix
HealingBreaths.Inthischapterweareabletosituatethetraditionwithinthelargercontext
theLongevitytradition.Italsoexplainsthedifferentversionsthatweredevelopedthroughtime
andclarifieswhichonesarestilltaughttoday.
Chapterthreedealswiththerecenthistoryofqigong.Itexploresbrieflytheeventsthat
ledtothecreationofqigongbytheChineseCommunistParty(CCP)andsubsequentactions
takenbythegovernmenttofosterfurtherdevelopmentofthisoldyetpractical,effective,and
inexpensivemodalityofmedicine.Herewewereexplorethecreationofatradition,forChinese
MedicinewassystematizedintowhatwenowcallTraditionalChineseMedicine,butqigong,
fromthetermonward,isclearlyaninventedtradition.Qigong,alsoshowedmany
characteristicsofanewreligiousmovement,factthatcontributedtoitsfallingoutoffavorwith
theauthorities.WeendthechapterwithaconcisecommentontheFalunGongmovementand
itsdemise.
Chapterfivewillpresentthedescriptionoftheinitialinspirationforthisdissertation.It
isasimplereportoftheeventsthattranspiredduringtheqigongcoursethatIandother
studentstookin1991,inLosAngeles,CA.

39
Chaptersixisatheoreticalexplorationintothenatureofthedifferentstatesof
consciousnessoftentimesexperiencedduringthepracticeofqigongaswelltheeffectsof
healingandtransformation.ItdelvesintoanddevelopsVictorTurnersconceptofliminalityas
awayofviewingthesevariousmindstates.Afterthisideahasbeenexploredanestablishedwe
moveontodiscussingthenotionofembodimentasfoundinthedifferentimagesandideas
withinthetraditionofDaoismandLongevitytechniques.Itbeginsbyviewingthebodyasthe
locusofliminality,asapointofintersectionoftwoworlds,andthepracticeofqigongasabody
technologyofthespirit.Thisliminalstateisthethresholdthat,oncepassed,allowstheperson
toembodyastateofbeingthatistransformativeandalsonatural,intheDaoistsenseof
spontaneityandwholeness.
Chapterseven:Conclusion.Iwillconcludebydrawingtogetherthediversethreads
examinedinthepreviouschapters





40
CHAPTER2
QIGONG:ANCIENTORIGINS

Aswehavealreadyseen,thetermqigongisnotonlyofrecentorigin,butatradition
purposefullyandconsciously,invented.Qigongisatermthat,althoughusedsparinglyinthe
past,waschosentodenominateanewapproachtoancientpractices.Itbecame,perhaps
unwittingly,anumbrellatermthatwasgoingtoencompassavastnumberofvaryingageold
Chineseenergycultivationtechniques,bodytechnologies,andturninto,inpostMaoChina,a
culturebasedonthesuppressedimpulsetoanyreligiousexpression,inaway,abodycentered
religiosity.72
Agooddealofwhatwenowcalledqigongis,andthefewscholarsdedicatedtothe
studyofoursubjectseemtodisagree,ingeneral,thatqigongasitispracticedtoday,isaclose
relativeoftheancientLongevitypracticeofDaoyin.73Butqigongisnotonlydaoyin.Manyof
thepracticesincludedunderthismodernrubricgowellbeyonditspurview.Itisacuriousfact
thatundertheqigongheadersomanyaspectsofotherancientpracticesareincorporatedin
itsvaguedefinitionthatalmostallofitcouldtheoreticallyfallundertherubricqigong.Andin
awayitdoes.Allonewouldhavetodotoqualifywhateverdisciplineisperformedbysaying
thatoneispracticingaformofqigong,agongfa,adenominationorstyle,asitismore
commonlyreferredto;or,evenmoregenerally,aqipractice.Anyonesomewhatacquainted
withbodytechnologiesorourmodernqigong,wouldunderstandwhatismeantbyit;the
reasonforthisliesinthefactthatthepraxisofqigongentailsthebasicandloosenotionstoall
ofthem,asubstratumwithoutwhichtherewouldbenosuchthing;theyare:Dao,theultimate
realityfromwhicheverythingintheuniversecomes,Shenorspirit,qi,thefivephases,

72Bothterms,bodytechnologiesandbodycenteredreligiositycanbefoundinDavidPalmer.QigongFever:

Body,Science,andUtopiainChina.ColumbiaUniversityPress;1edition(March27,2007).
73Onthis,theprolificLiviaKohn,oneofthemainscholarsinthissubject,says,

Placedattheintersectionoffields,thelongevitytraditionhasrarelybeenthesubjectofspecializedstudies.
Onlyafewdedicatedscholars,suchasSakadeYoshinobu,CatherineDespeux,UteEngelhardt,andVivienne
Lo,havecontributedsignificantlytoitsunderstanding,andthereareonlytwoeditedvolumesinEnglishthat
dealspecificallywithit(Kohn1989c,2006a).LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.
UniversityofHawaiiPress;1edition(October16,2008):p10

41
body,mind,asmindintent,yinandyang,theuniverse,andmicrocosm,i.e.,thebody,and
macrocosm,i.e.,theworld,circulationofqi.Itwouldbesafetosaythatthosearethecore
elementssharedbyjustaboutanyofthemultifariousmanifestationsofChinesebody
technologiesandthesharedDaoistpracticesingeneral.

ShamanicRoots74


Byandlarge,itwouldbesafetosaythattheoriginsofChinesehealingexercises,i.e.,
daoyin,appeartohavetheirrootsinshamanism.Thereweresomelegendaryfiguresthat
straddledthesetworealmsofmagicandofhealth/healingpromotingmovements.Ontheone
hand,theirmystiquewasbasedontheirshamanicpowers;ontheothertheywereassociated
withspecificsetofexercisesalreadypresentintheDaoyinjing.
ThesepersonagescomefromthebeginningofChineseculturelostinthemistoffable
andlegend.Pengzu,theoldestfigureinthemythologyofancientChina,wasasageknownas
oneofthemastersoffire,butalsoassociatedwithsomeonewithpowersoverrainandwind.
Chisongzi,MasterRedpine,oneoftheimmortalsoftheHan,wasanotheroftheearlymasters
associatedwithdaoyin.AsPengzu,hewasalsoamasteroftherain,afunctionfulfilledbymost
shamansingeneral.Thus,theZhouli(RitesoftheZhou)says,Whenthereisagreatdroughtin
therealm,thechiefshamanplaceshimselfathetheheadofhishostandcallsforrainwhile
performingspecialdances.75
Dancing,byitsverynature,hasaspeciallycloseconnectionwithdaoyin,inparticular
becauseoftheunderstandingoftheflowofenergies,qualitiesoftheelementsaswellas
quantitiesaffectingthemacrocosmandthemicrocosm,representedbythehumanbody.Thus,
stagnation,andaccumulation,brokenorobstructedwaterypathways,allindicatean
unwelcomedoverabundanceofyin.Furthermore,whenenergiesinthehumanbodyare

74ThissectionistakenmostlyfromCatherineDespeux,Gymnastics:TheAncientTradition,inTaoist

MeditationandLongevityTechniques.CenterforChinesestudies,TheUniversi,1989.237240
75CatherineDespeux,Gymnastics:TheAncientTradition,inTaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.

CenterforChineseStudies,UnivofMichiganPr.TheUniversi(January1,1989)238

42
stagnatedandcongested,"themusclesandthebonesarecontractedanddon'tflexwell.One
thereforeprescribescertaindanceswhichguidethebreathandensuresthatitmoves
throughoutthebodyinaharmoniousfashion.76
Thisprescriptiondoesnotseemtoodifferentfromtheaimsofdaoyinwhenexplaining
thatthemovementsormodifieddances,really,areameansofresolvingthecongestionand
stagnationofvitalenergiesinthebody,awayofpromotingthefreeflowofthemthesameway
theyhelpthefreeflowofriversontheearth.
AnotherexampleofearlyassociationswithhealingmovementsisthefamousPace(s)of
Yu.ThemythicalEmperorYuwasthefounderoftheXiadynasty(latethirdearlysecond
millenniumBCE,figurelinkedtosavingvastareasofChinafromdevastatingfloodsofthe
YellowRiverbyengineeringasystemofdikesandchannelsthroughwhichtoguidethewaters,
thusavoidingthecontinuingdisastersthefloodsleftintheirwake.AkeyelementofYu's
systemalsoinvolvedmagic.Inorderforhimtosteerthewatersorseekguidancehewould
performhisveryparticulardance,thefamousPace(orPaces)ofYu,alsoknownastheBear
Dance,77andthusexertameasureofcontroloverthefewwaysinwhichthewaterscould
inflictdamageovertheareasinhischarge.ThePaceofYuiswidelyperformedinDaoistrituals
tothisday.InthisdancethepriestimpersonatesbothYu,whopacedtheboundariesofthe
terrestrialworld,andthecelestialgodTaiyi(SupremeUnity)whopacedtheheavens.78
Thereisalsotheconnectionbetweenanimaldances,ashamanicpracticeparexcellence,
andsomeofthedaoyinmovementsmostlikelyinspiredbythem.Thecraneisasymbolof
longevity,thebearofpowerandhealing.InAncientChinatherewerealsootheranimal
inspireddances,oneofwhichwasthedanceofthetwelveanimals,believetodriveaway
demonsandpestilence.79Indaoyinwealsofindreferencestomovementsimitatinganimals:
Whoevercanguidethebreathlikeadragon,pullitinandcirculateitlikethetiger,stretchlike

76Ibid
77Ibid240
78ShawnEichmanTaoismandtheArtsofChina.UniversityofCaliforniaPress;1edition(November6,2000).

52
79CatherineDespeux,Gymnastics:TheAncientTradition,inTaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.

CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,1989)240

43
thebearorswallowitlikethetortoise,whomoreovercanflyliketheswallow,coillikethe
snake,stretchlikethebirdhewilllivealonglife.80

Daoyincertainlyseemstohaveinheritedseveralelementsfromshamanism,andatthe
sametime,takenoffinadifferentdirectionentirely.Oneofthereasonsforthistohappenis
thatthemovementsoutsidethepurviewoftheshamancouldbeexploredindifferentways
andsystematizedaccordingtotheexperienceofitspractitioners.Thiswaythecoulddevelop
andexpandinoftenunpredictableways,andbecomecloselyalliedtothemoresecularmedical
tradition.

6.ThePaceofYu81

80Baopuzi15,inIbid.
81Imagefromhttp://www.artnet.com/Magazine/features/cassidy/cassidy11010.aspLastaccessedon420

2015.OpenSource.

44
Daoyin


Daoyin,atermwhichcouldbetranslatedasguidingandpulling,andthepulling
heremeanspullingouttheoldandbadqifromthechannels,isthemostancientsetof
practicesofwhichwehavedocumentedevidence.Itistheoldestknownformofgymnastics
foundinancientChina,althoughthetermgymnasticshastobequalified.Whenwethinkof
gymnasticsinthewestweusuallythinkofpeopledoingsomevigorousexercise,sweatingand,
ingeneral,exertinggreateffortinordertoachievephysicalfitness.InDaoyin,however,the
notionofgymnasticdiffersconsiderably.OnthispointwhendescribingtheMawangduichart
LiviaKohnsays,Noneseemtobeengagedinvigorousmovements,widestances,orathletic
poses.82Therearemovements,andthereisbreathing,butthemovementsare,withsome
exceptions,verygentle,silklikeandusuallythebreathingiseitherinsyncwiththese
movementsornatural.Byinsyncitisusuallymeantthat,followingthenotionsofyinand
yang,thenaturalobservablepairofoppositesthatruleeverythingintheuniverse,inspiration
andexpirationarecoordinatedinsuchawaythattheyharmonizewiththem.Up(yang)and
down(yin),orinandoutaregoodexamplesofyinandyang.Soforinstance,whenmovingthe
armsupward,anexpandingmotion,itistimetoinhale.Whenarmsgodown,acontracting
motion,itistimetoexhale,etc.Again,themovementsareperformedslowlyanddeliberately,
themindalwaysguidingthem.Onecouldsaythat,ingeneral,somevariationsnotwithstanding,
themovementwithoutmindoryi,isnotqigong,justlikesittingornappingisnotthesame
thingasmeditating,althoughoftentimestheymightlooksomewhatsimilar.83
TheoldestevidencewehaveoftheDaoyinTraditioncanbefoundinanassortmentof
Handynasty(206BC220AD)manuscripts.Justasthemodernversionofqigongwasbornout
ofthemedicaltradition,itcomesasnosurprisethattheseancientmanuscriptsarealsofound
inmedicalaswellasreligioustexts.84

82LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.UniversityofHawaiiPress;1edition.2008:

37
83Manyqigongexercisescan,othersshould,bepracticedinareclinedorsupineposition.Someare

performedwhileinbed,thesamewaythatsavasanaorthedeadposeintheHathayogatradition,for
example,ispracticedlyingdownononesback,usuallyonthefloorbutnotnecessarilydirectlyonit.
84LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises:Opuscit.10

45
Forthelaypersoninancienttimes,usuallysomeonebelongingtotheelite,thosethat
couldaffordtodedicatetimeandresourcesinacquiringtheknowledgeandtimetopractice,
soughtDaoyinexercisesasawaytomaintainhealthand,hopefullyextenditforaslongas
possible,hencethetermyangshen,nourishingandprolonginglife,usedtodescribethese
techniques.AlthoughnotparticularlyDaoistinorigins85(theactualDaoistreligionwasnot
goingtobecomeanorganizedentityuntiltheendoftheHanperiod),longevitypracticesfed
fromdifferentstrandsofpracticesenvogueatthetime,tograduallybecomethesocalled
Daoyinorlongevityexercises.ThesepracticeshavealwaysbeenimportanttoDaoistofall
schoolsandmedicalpractitionersalike.86
WehaveevidencethatbythefourthcenturyBCEthesetechniqueswerealreadybeing
exploredasviablemodesofextendinglife.Themostfamousoftquotedreferencecanbefound
inthewritingsofZhuangziinthefourthcentury,

Topant,topuff,tohail,tosip,tospitouttheoldbreathandtodrawinthenew,
practicingbearhangingsandbirdstretchings,longevityistheonlyconcern
suchisthelifefavoredbythescholarwhopracticesgymnastics,themanwho
nourisheshisbody,whohopestolivetobeasoldasPengzu,formorethaneight
hundredyears87

AlthoughZhuangzispeaksofthesetechniquesratherdisparagingly,itgivesusagood
glimpseontheirexistenceandtheirroleasongoinglongevitypracticesofthetimes.
Evidencealsoexistsofnotionsofthebodyandvitalfunctionswerebeingexploredin
philosophicalwritingsofthetimeaswell.88Byaroundthe300BCE,earlymedicalliterature
begantakingshapeand,muchasitistoday,thepracticesofnourishinglifebecameanessential
partofmedicallore.89

85Ibid
86UteEngehlhardt.LongevityTechniquesandChineseMedicineinDaoismHandbook,BrillAcademicPub(June

1,2000)74
87CatherineDespeuxquotingch15;watson1968:167168,inTaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.

CenterforChinesestudies,theUniversi,1989.225226
88NathanSivin.ChineseMedicineincontemporaryChina.CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,

1987):48.
89UteEngehlhardt,OpusCit.74

46
Longevitypracticeshavegrownalongsidethemedicaltraditionsowefindan
inextricablelinkbetweenDaoyinandmedicalpractice.Thisisunderstandableifwetakeinto
accountthefactthattheprinciplesofnourishinglife,yangsheng,andChinesemedicineare
verymuchthesameandhavebeensinceitsincipience.Medicalpractitionerswouldusethese
techniquesforhealthmaintenanceand/orhealthrecoveryasidefromotherformsoftherapy.
UndertheHanthesepracticesweretakenupbythefangshiorrecipemasters,asortof
intelligentsiaofthetimeswithavarietyofspecializations;theseweredoctors,divinersand
magicians,someofwhomspecializedinmedicine90.Theyalsoincorporatedthelongevity
techniquesintotheirpracticeofdivinationandmeditativetechniquesinsearchfortheDao.91
FromthethirdcenturyBCEtillthefourthorfifthcenturyADtheywereheldasingle
typeunderthecommonrubricfangshi.

Duringtheflourishingdaysofthefangshih,theHanandearlySixDynasties
(secondcenturyB.C.tofourthcenturyA.D.),fangshihinfluencewassignificant
inmanyareasofculture.Somepeopleidentifiedasfangshihweredeeply
involvedinscientificthinkingandtechnologicalactivities,especiallyinthe
appliedareasofcalendrics,metallurgy,meteorology,pharmacology,geography,
andbiology.92


Ontheotherhandthefangshiwerecarriersoftherecipeliterature,i.e.,recipes,
formulas,andskillsofwhichtheyi,medicaldoctorsalsoparticipated.Thefangorrecipe
asidefromoralinstructionmoreoftenthannotbasedonthefang,becamethenorm,theway
knowledgewastransmitted.Topracticemedicine,Harpertellsus,istopracticerecipes(wei
fang)medicalbooksarerecipebooks(fangshu).93Thephysicianinsearchof
knowledgefindsitintheserecipebooks.Thatishowhelearnsmedicine.Recipesand
techniques,fangji ji,meaningthestandardwordforskillinanyendeavor),94 became

90KennethJ.DeWoskin.DoctorsDivinersandMagiciansofAncientChinaColumbiaUniversityPress

(November15,1983):1.Theentireworkisdedicatedtothisancientgroupofpractitioners.
91UteEngehlhardt,OpusCit.74
92KennethJ.DeWoskinOpuscit.1
93DonaldHarper.EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.TheMahuangduiMedicalManuscripts.WellcomeAsian

MedicalMonographs1998.45
94Ibid

47
thestandardbywhichdoctorsusingfangwouldlearn,transmitandshareknowledgewith
othermedicalpractitioners.Itwillalsobethewayitconnectedtheirarttootherspecialistsof
naturalphilosophyandtheoccult.95
BythelateHanperiod(HanDynasty:206BC220AD)Daoismhadbegantoemergeas
anidentifiablereligiousentityandlongevitypracticeswerenotonlyincorporatedintoevery
Daoistschool,buttheyrefinedandelaboratedthem,weavingthemintotheirspiritual
endeavors,reachingwithinthiscontext,theirapex.Chinesemedicinealsodevelopedthis
traditionandtheyhavehadthroughouttheagesafertileandinvigoratingexchange.96
Thereseemstobesomekindofcontinuityinthegeneralsenseinwhichqigongor
longevitypracticeshavebeenpracticedthroughtheages,albeitnotinthewaytheyareso
massivelypopulartoday.Upuntilthebeginningofthetwentiethcenturyonlyaselectfewwere
luckyenoughorcuriousenoughtoengageintheserefinedandsophisticatedbody
technologies,sincethemiddleofthelastcenturytheyhavebecomeextremelypopularbothin
Chinaandincreasinglysointhewest(justthinkoftaijibecomingahouseholdwordinthesame
wayasyogaorkungfu).97
Daoyinaspartofthenourishinglifetraditioninvolvesbreathing,andperforming
deliberate,oftensilklikemovementsinwhichthemindoryileads,guidingtheqiand
thusensuringitspatencyalloverthebodymindsystem.ButDaoyinincludesalsosexual
hygienictechniques,dietaryrecommendations,massagesanddrugs;thegoalbeinglargelyto
preventthedispersionofqiandjingoressence,thusmaintainingandreplenishingthevital
forces.98TheHuangdineijingsuwen(fromnowonreferredtoasthesuwen)perhapstheprimer
ofChineseMedicineforthelasttwothousandyearsanddatabletoaroundthefirstcenturyBC
99
alsocounselsthattheseaspectsoflifearetobenourishedandguarded,andalifeoftoo
muchabandoncouldeasilyleadtoprematureillnessanddeath.Thusitsays,

95ibid
96UteEngehlhardt,OpusCit.74
97SeeKunioMiura,1989.TheRevivalofQi:QigonginContemporaryChina.InTaoistMeditationand

LongevityTechniques,editedbyLiviaKohn,329358.AnnArbor:UniversityofMichigan,CenterforChinese
StudiesPublications.
98UteEngehlhardt.LongevityTechniquesandChineseMedicineinDaoismHandbook,BrillAcademicPub(June

1,2000)74
99DonaldHarper.EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.Routledge(April15,1997):39

48
Thesedays,peoplehavechangedtheirwayoflife.Theydrinkwineasthoughit
werewater,indulgeexcessivelyindestructiveactivities,draintheirjingthe
bodysessencethatisstoredintheKidneysanddepletetheirqi.Theydonot
knowthesecretofconservingtheirenergyandvitality.Seekingemotional
excitementandmomentarypleasures,peopledisregardthenaturalrhythmof
theuniverse.Theyfailtoregulatetheirlifestyleanddiet,andsleepimproperly.
Soitisnotsurprisingthattheylookoldatfiftyanddiesoonafter.100

Thus,thefirststepinachievinghealthandlonglife,accordingtothesetexts,istoavoid
excessesthatcan,induetime,andmostlikelywill,takeatollonthebody.Asidefromdepicting
thesetechniques,thetexts,alsocounselonsleep,hygiene,dietetics,activitiesandmovements
amongotherthings,againwiththeviewof,asthesuwenalsocounsels,toavoidharmful
excessesconducivetodepletionofthevitalforces.101Bothtypesoftexts,thatis,theMedical
manuscriptsfoundatMawangduiaswellastheHuangdineijing,belongtothepreventiveand
therapeuticknowledgeofearlyChinesemedicine.Theirconnectionisalsodocumentedbythe
factthatthedaoyintuispresentedaspartofadieteticmanuscriptandanotheronthe
cauterizationofconduits.102Inotherwords,thesearetextsdealingwithvariationsonthesame
theme,keepingtheunderlyingtheoreticalframework,asitwere,intact,butapproachingit
fromdifferentangles:dietcomplementingcauterizationormoxibustion,andattainingqi
harmonythroughgymnasticexercises.103
Aswecanseetheviewofhealthinvolvedkeepingthebodyhealthy,maintainingitsoin
ordertoachievealong,happyandhealthylifespan.Therearenootherexpectationsotherthan
that,unliketheDaoistcounterpartwhowilltakeupthesetechniquesnotonlytoenhance
healthandmaintainit,butasarequisitetoachievemoremysticalstatesofbeing.Yes,forthe
Daoistshealthisthenumberoneprerequisiteforimmortality.Forthelayperson,however,

100MaoshingNi.1995.TheYellowEmperorsClassicofMedicine.Boston:Shambhala.Ch1.Worthmentioningis

thefactthattheMawuangditexts,thatis,themedicalmanuscriptsinwhichwefindchartsanddescriptionsof
theDaoyinexercisesaswellasotherhealthenhancingpractices,seemtobeanearlierstageinthe
developmentofChineseMedicinewithreferencetophysiologyandpathologyastheyrelatetoacupuncture
therapy.SeeDonaldHarperEarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.Routledge(April15,1997):4
101UteEngehlhardt.LongevityTechniquesandChineseMedicineinDaoismHandbook,BrillAcademicPub

(June1,2000)74
102Ibid88
103UteEngehlhardt.LongevityTechniquesandChineseMedicineinDaoismHandbook,BrillAcademicPub

(June1,2000)88.HeresheisusingDonaldHarper1982,14.

49
exercisesinthiscontextare,therefore,verymuchahealthpracticethatisnotmeanttolead
tohigherstatesorreligiouscultivation.104Moreover,

Inbothreligiousandmedicalcollections,[Longevitypractices]occupya
middlegroundbetweenhealingandimmortalityandcanbeusefullyappliedon
eitherlevel.Theycanbedescribedastheculminationofhealingandthe
foundationofimmortality;theyaretheultimatepathtoperfecthealthandthe
entrywaytoDaoistperfection.105

EarlyMedicalManuscripts


Wedidnothavemuchtogoonintermsofmanuscriptsonlongevityprevioustothe
cachefoundatMawangduiandZhangjiashan.Beforethattheearliestreferencestolongevity
comefromaZhou(c1045256BCE)bronzeinscriptionsinwhichthewordshou,longevity,
isthemostpopularwordwhenprayingforblessings.Prayersofthiskindwouldbedirectedto
theancestorsbutalsotoHeaven.Longevitymaybesaidtobeoneofthemostancientand
universalworldlydesiresoftheChinesepeople.106
Thetermyangsheng,nourishinglife,isfirstusedinoneoftheZhuanzisauthentic
chapters(4thc.BCE),thesameonewehavealreadyquotedabove.Thedescriptionsandideas
expoundedherewillbethesubjectofmanyothermedicalmanuscriptsfromtheWarringStates
(475221BCE)andQinperiodsandinlatertexts,bothmedicalandDaoist.107


InDecember1973acacheofancientmanuscriptswasfoundintomb3atMawangdui

nearChangshaintheprovinceofHunaninsouthcentralChina.Thesewere

104LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.UniversityofHawaiiPress;1edition

(October16,2008):29
105Ibid:10
106YingshihY.LifeandImmortalityinTheMindofHanChina.HarvardJournalofAsiaticStudies,Vol.25

(19641965),pp.80122.87
107UteEngelhardtOpuscit76

50
writtenonsilk,bamboostripsandwood.TheydateforthemostparttotheearlyHanDynasty,
i.e.,latesecondcenturyB.C.E.108AtMawangduififteenmedicalmanuscriptswerefound,sixof
themdealingdirectlywithyangshenglongevitytechniques.109Theseareprimarilyrecipe
literature.However,thesemedicalmanualspresentthewholespectrumoflongevity
techniquesandmethodsofqicultivation.110Itisworthnotingthat,thesemanuscriptshaveas
theiraimalongandhealthylifeanddonotconcernthemselveswithmoreetherealandlofty
pursuitssuchasphilosophicalspeculationorimmortality,orpointtoanyideaof
transcendence.Ofcoursethenotionsofachievingimmortality(xian)wasverymuchpresent
bythistimeinChineselorebutlongevitypracticesweretheretopromotehealthandlonglife
inthisworld.111Thetexts(MawangduiandZhanjiashan)describeakindofbaseline
macrobiotichygienefortheelitethatfocusesoncareofthebody,notonthemore
philosophicalandmysticalprogramsoftheNeiye(InnerCultivation)chapterofthe

Guanzi,Zhuangzi,orLaozi.112However,itmustbenotedthatalongwith

thesetextsmanyothermanuscriptsofnaturalaswellasoccultphilosophywerefoundaspart
ofthesamecacheandaspartofthefangorrecipetraditionenvoguefromtheearlyHan
dynasty.ThustherewasastrongconnectionbetweentheMawangduimedicaltextsrelatedto
yangshengorothertechniques,participatedofthesamemilieuthatconsideredallthese
disciplinesaspartofthesamesubstanceandlineofinquiry,i.e.,Daoyinliteratureandother
aspectsofnaturalphilosophyandmagic.IntheMawangduimedicalmanuscripts,incantations
andmagicoreligiousoperationswerecollectedtogetherwithothermedicalrecipes.113Those
practiceshad,perhaps,belongedtotheoldshamans(wu)orwerepartofanoraltradition,
but,byvirtueofthembeingintegratedintothebooksofspecialists,thefangshi,theyacquired
anewprestige.114ThepointtotakeawayhereisthatDaoyin,medicineandmagicalpractices
werenotasclearcutdisciplinesaswewouldimaginethemtobeand,intheopinionofHarper,

108DonaldHarper,EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts,Opuscit.4.
109UteEngelhardt,Opuscit.86
110Ibid85
111DonaldFarper.EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.Opuscit.114
112Ibid.Harperalsoaddsthatthedevelopmentofthexiancultofimmortalityinthethirdandsecond

centuriesBCEremainunclear.
113DonaldHarper,EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.Opuscit43
114Ibid

51
physiciansdidnotuniformlyshunmagic.However,bythesametoken,physiciansinthe
WarringStatestimespartookinthenewwayoflearning,sharingandtransmittingknowledge
throughatextbasedtraditionthatseparatedthemfromthemoremarginalcharacterssuchas
shamansbothsociallyandintellectually.115

TheMawangduiManuscripts

FifteenmedicalmanuscriptswerefoundinMawangduinearChangshain

theprovinceofHunaninsouthcentralChina,inthetombsofthreearistocrats,twomale

andonefemale.LiCangtheLordofDaiistheonefoundintomb2.Theotheronewas

hissonLiXi,amaleofaroundthirtyyearsold.Tomb1heldthebodyofafemaleof

aroundfiftyyearsold,believedtobetheMarchionessofDai,thelocalrulerswife.Apparently
shediedintheyear168BCE.116Theredaction,however,canbesaidtobeofthethirdcentury
BCE.117
Mostmanuscriptsfoundwerewrittenonsilksheets;otherswerewrittenonslipsof
bambooorflatsticksofwood.Bambooandwoodwerelessexpensivematerialsthansilkand
easiertoworkbutsilkwouldbeeasiertoworkonalthoughittookconsiderablemoreskill.Silk
alsowaseasiertofoldandstoreandwouldpreservecontentsbetter.Plusbambooorwood
hadthepotentialofcominglooseandgetmixedupinanunrecognizableheap.118
Whatisinterestingaboutthisfindings,however,istheinsightsthatthisrecipeliterature
affordsusintowhowaspracticingwhatandhowtheelitewasnotonlycollectingthiskindof
material,therecipeliterature,butweseehowawholetraditionwastakingshape.Accordingto
Harper,therewereatotalofthirtymanuscriptsfoundatMawangduicoveringfortyfive

115Ibid
116DonaldHarper.EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.Opuscit.14
117Ibid4
118LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises.31.AlsoHarper.EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts18.

52
separatetextsthatincludemaps,diagramsandpictures.119Oneinterestingfindistwo

renderingsoftheDaodejingbyLaozi (BookoftheDaoandItsVirtue).Thesetwo

versionscloselyresemblethereceivedversionweareallfamiliarwith,factthatassuresusthe
presenceofthisclassicto,attheveryleast,thesecondcenturyBCE.120
ThetextsfromMawangduidealmostlywithmoretechnicalmedicalquestionssuchas
theuseofmoxibustionorcautery121ontheelevenchannels(mai )andthediagnosesof
theirdisharmonies.122Thefactthatthesetextsdiscussonlyelevenmai,termthatHarper
translatesasvessels,buttheyarealsomentionedincontemporaryliteratureaschannels,
meridiansorconduits,betraysanearlier,lesselaboratetheoreticaldevelopmentofthechannel
anddiagnosticsystem,thantheHuandineijing,theChinesemedicineprimerthatbecame
prevalentlaterandthatdiscussestwelveconduitsinthebodyinwhichqiflows.123Also
noteworthyisthetotalabsenceofacupuncturetherapyanywhereintheMawangduimedical
manuscripts.Theyonlymentionmethodsfordiagnosingillnessaccordingtowhichvesselsthey
affectandrecommendmoxibustionorcauterizationtherapytocureailments.124
Twoofthesixtextsdealingwithyangshengorlongevitypractices,theHeyinyang
,(ConjoiningYinandYang)andtheTianxiazhidaotan ,(Discussionofthe
PerfectWayinAllUnderHeaven)haveasitsfocustechniquesofsexualcultivation.The

Yangshengfang(RecipesforNourishingLife)andtheShiwen(TenQuestions),

althoughincludingsexualtechniquestheyalsoaffordadviceonnourishinglifethrough

breathingtechniques,dietanddrugs.TheQuegushiqi(EliminatingGrainsand

AbsorbingQi)coverswaystodowithoutgrainsandinsteadabsorbingqiandusingmedicinal
herbsasnourishment.Inotherwords,thisisaguidetofasting.Thetextrepeatedlycontrasts
thosewhoeatqiwiththosewhoeatgrainandexplainsthisincosmologicalterms.Finally,

119DonaldHarper.EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.Opuscit.17
120LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises.31
121Moxibustion:theburningofdriedmugwortorArtemisiavulgarisonpointsofthemajorvessels.
122UteEngelhardtOpuscit:87
123DonaldHarper,EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts:Opuscit.5
124Ibid

53
wehavetheessentialDaoyintu(ExerciseChart).Itcontainsfortyfourcolorillustrations

ofhumanfiguresperformingtherapeuticexercisessomewithbriefrecognizablecaptionsfrom
earlierliterature,suchastheBearAmbleandBirdStretchfoundintheZhuangzi.125
TheMawangduitextsdealinextensowithsexualtechniques,asEngelhardtpointsouta
paragraphfromtheTianxiazhidaotan,126andhereiswhy:

Whenapersonisborntherearetwothingsthatdonotneedtobelearned:the
firstistobreatheandthesecondistoeat.Exceptforthesetwo,thereisnothing
thatisnottheresultoflearningandhabit.Thus,whatassistslifeiseating;what
injureslifeislust.Therefore,thesagewhenconjoiningmaleandfemale
invariablypossessesamodel.127

Thuseatingandbreathingarenaturalprocessesoneistoperforminordertopreserve
andreplenishonesenergies.Butsexuality,althoughnatural,cannotbeallowedtoturninto
uncontrolledlust.Thiswouldonlybringdepletionofthevitalforces.Sexualhygiene,then,is
oneofthemosteffectivewaystokeepandfortifythejingoressence;however,sexual
desiremustbekeptunderstrictcontrolinordertocultivatethisfundamentalvitalforce.128
AnotherinterestingaspectoftheMawangduitextsisthelackofexploitationoronesidedness
betweenmenandwomen,asinlatertexts,butratherpresentingaconceptofmutuality
betweenthesexes.129

125UteEngelhardtOpuscit:86;LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises:32.DonaldHarper.EarlyChinese

MedicalManuscripts:TheMawangduiMedicalManuscripts.Herewewillfindatranslationofallthetexts
mentioned.
126TranslatedbyDonaldHarper:EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts.1998,442.
127Ibid87
128Ibid
129Ibid

54

130
7.TheExerciseChartDaoyintu

TheExerciseChartDaoyintu


Theexercisechartistheoldestreferencetointernalexercises.Althoughtheword
calisthenicsissometimesusedtodescribethesemovementsthewordhastobe,aswellasthe
termgymnastics,qualified.AlthoughinthetimesofancientGreecegymnasticsalsohada
spiritualcomponentreflectedintheoldadageMenssanaincorporesano,andplayeda
fundamentalroleinthetherapeuticmedicineofHippocratesaswellashislaterfollowerGalen,
itwaslateronneglectedinfavorofitsmorecompetitiveandaestheticaspects.131Daoyin,
however,isadisciplineofadifferentnaturealtogether.IfsomeonewatchesaTaiji(byand
largeaformofqigong)practitionerperformthemovementsheorshewillimmediatelynote
thatthisisaverydifferentapproachtomovementandexercise.Themovementsareslowand
deliberate,themindbecomescalmandthebodycenteredandrooted,productofaright
executionoffundamentalprinciples.

130Imagefromhttp://www.instituteofintegralqigongandtaichi.org/integralenergetics/.Opensource
131CatherineDespeux.LagymnastiquedaoyindanslaChineancienne.Etudeschinoises,vol.XXIII(2004)

55
ThechartfoundatMawangdui,then,depicts,

fortyfourfiguresshowingspecificexerciseposes.Theyarearrangedinfour
horizontalrowswithelevenfigureseachandarecommonlycountedfromtop
righttobottomleft.Thefiguresaverage912centimeters(3.55in.)inheight,
andeachwasoriginallyaccompaniedbyacaptionnamingorexplainingthe
move.Boththeimagesandthecaptionsarefragmentaryandhavebeenpartly
restoredinsomecaseswitharms,feet,andfacialexpressionsadded.132

Howeverskillfullypaintedthefiguresmaybe,itisdifficulttoreconstructtheactual
movementsfromstaticdepictionsandwithsofewofthecaptionswithintelligible
explanations;someofthemoreobscuredescriptionsaresomewhatelucidatedwiththehelpof

theYinshu(StretchBook),whichofferabitmoreinformationonthem.133Nonetheless,

theMawangduimanuscriptscontainearly,instructionsandillustrationsofhowtoregulatelife
energiestomaintainhealthandvitalityinthetraditionofdaoyin.134
Onefeaturethatcomesjumpsatthereaderofthechartisthedescriptionofthebear
ambleoneoftheexercisesdescribedintheZhuangzipassagementionedearlier.135Thisisan
importantpointwhenitcomestoplacingthechartandatleastsomeoftheexercisesina
historicaltimeline.
Thechart,then,describesbothmenandwomenofdifferentages,wearingdifferent
kindsofclothes,somebearchested,mostfullyclothed;theirhairstylesrepresenttheHan
standardwiththeirhaireithertiedupinvariouskindsofknotsorcoveredwithacap.136The
figuresareshownindifferentposes,somestanding,fourarekneelingorsitting.Twoothers
seemtobeinawkwardlookingpositionswithkneesslightlybentandarmsextendedoneto
stretchtheneck(#29),etc.137Therearemanystancesandwhatseemstobemanydifferent
movementsdesignedtomovetheqiindifferentwaysthroughthebodilypathwaysormai.

132LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises.opuscit.36
133DonaldHarper,EarlyChineseMedicalManuscripts:TheMawangduiMedicalManuscripts:132
134Ibid
135Asanote,thisisamovementstilltaughttodayandonethatwastaughtbyDrZhangwithsomevariations

dependingontheqigonghewasteaching.
136LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises:36
137Ibid

56
Others,ifthereconstructionis,indeed,accurate,resemblelaterstyles.Forexampleitiseasy
forsomeonefamiliarwiththemoretraditionalgongfatorecognizeacoupleofmovements
fromtheverypopularBaduanjinqigong ,138usuallytranslatedastheEightPiecesof
Brocade.InparticularfigureMSII.C.4139locatedfourthfromtheleftonfirstrowofthechart.
Thisisthefamousbowandarrowmovementperformedtostimulatethelungchannel.Another
exampleoftheBaduanjinexerciseisfigureMSII.C22,theeleventhfigurefromtheleftonthe
secondrow.This,Harpertranslatesasfeverishness,butaddsthatalthoughthefigureseems
tobestanding,littleofthedrawingremains.Nonetheless,ifwhatisdepictedonthechartis
closetotherealintentionoftheoriginaldrawing,itdescribesanotherexercisefromthe
Baduanjintradition,thistimeanexerciseconventionallyassumedtostimulatethespleen
channel,althoughHarperventuresintosayingthatthefeverishnessmightbereferringto
feverishnessoftheheart.140Perhapsthechartdescribesanearlierprecursorofother
developments.AsLiviaKohnsuggestsitismostlikelythatthechartisaguidetospecific,
individualmovementsratherthanasequence.Eachmovementthenwouldhaveaprescribed
conditionorailmenttoalleviateorcure.141Thisbegsthequestion,whatconditionswerethis
exercisesupposedtoalleviateorheal?Well,somementionpainintheribs,hams,neck,and
kneesaswellasinguinalswelling,abdominalproblems,deafness,fever,uppersideblockages,
internalheat,warmailments,andmuscletensionreflectingtheareasforwhichtheexercises
aremostoftenused:locomotiveandgastrointestinalproblems.142Someoftheimagesbear
thenamesofanimals:thebear,thecraneandthemonkeyarementioned.Thesemostlikely
formpartofanearlierversionoftheFiveAnimalsFrolic,supposedlycreatedbythefamous

Huatou(c.140208).Butsinceweseethemmentionedhereitwouldbelogicalto

assumethattheyantedatehimbyquitesometime,especiallyifweconsiderthefactthatsome
oftheseanimalmovementshadtheiroriginsinancientshamanicpractices.Thecranein

138ForanexcellentreferencetothisqigongtraditionseeStuartAlvesOlsonQigongTeachingsofaTaoist

Immortal:TheEightEssentialExercisesofMasterLiChingyun,HealingArtsPress(November1,2011).
139DonaldHarper.EarlyChineseMedicalliterature.Opuscit310
140Ibid:313
141LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises:38
142Ibid.AlsoCatherineDespeux.Gymnastics:TheAncientTradition.InTaoistMeditationandLongevity

Techniques,editedbyLiviaKohn,AnnArbor:UniversityofMichigan,CenterforChineseStudiesPublications.
1989,242.

57
particularseemstohavebeenasymboloflongevityfromancienttimes.Notonlywerethe
animallikedancesbeneficialforthefreecirculationofvitalenergiesbutthesymbolismofthe
crane,forexample,wentasfarassignifyingtheconqueringofdeath.Thusinduecourseit
wouldbethecranethatwouldbecomeoneofthemostimportantimagesoftheimmortals.143

Aswehavealreadymentioned,theFiveAnimalFrolics,traditionallyattributedtoHuaTou

(c.140208)is,ofcourse,amajordevelopmentofthisidea/practice.

TheStretch(ing)Book


Twoimportantmanuscriptsonhealingpracticeswerefoundin1983intombnumber

247atZhangjiashaninJianglingdistrictofHubeiprovince.Datingfrom186

B.C.E.,thetombcontainedtwomedicalmanuscriptswrittenonbambooslips.Oneofthemis
theMaishu(ChannelorVesselBook).Itconsistsofseveraltextscontaininglistsof
ailmentsanddescriptionsofelevenqichannels.Interestinglyenoughthiscollectionoftextsis
closelyrelatedtotheMawangduimedicaltextsdealingwithchannels,anditlikewiseincludesa
shortstatementonpracticesofnourishinglife.144
TheothermanuscriptistheYinshu(theStretchBook).Itbeginswiththe
descriptionofadailyandseasonalhealthregimen,includinghygiene,dietetics,regulationof
sleepandmovement,andoptimaltimesforsexualintercourse.145ItisascribedtoPengzu,a
paragonoflongevityinthelatefourthandearlythirdcenturiesB.C.E.,andafamousimmortal
ofantiquitythatitisbelievedlivedformorethaneighthundredyearsandopensthus:
Spring:generate;summer:grow;fall:collect;winter:storesuchisthewayofPengzu.
Springdays.Afterrisinginthemorning,passwater,washandrinse,cleanandclicktheteeth.

143CatherineDespeux.Gymnastics:TheAncientTradition.InTaoistMeditationandLongevity

Techniques,editedbyLiviaKohn,AnnArbor:UniversityofMichigan,CenterforChineseStudiesPublications.
1989,239.
144DonaldHarper.EarlyChineseMedicalliterature.Opuscit.3133.AlsoseeLiviaKohn,ChineseHealing

Exercises:41;UteEngelhardtOpuscit:88.
145UteEngelhardtOpuscit:88.

58
Loosenthehair,strolltothelowerendofthehalltomeetthepurestofdewandreceivethe
essenceofHeaven,anddrinkonecupofwater.Thesearethemeanstoincreaselonglife.Enter
thechamber[forsex]betweeneveningandlatemidnight[1a.m.].Morewouldharmtheqi.

Summerdays.Washthehairfrequently,butbatherarely.Donotriselateandeat
manygreens.Afterrisinginthemorningandpassingwater,washandrinsethe
mouth,thencleantheteeth.Loosenthehair,walktothelowerendofthehalland
afterawhiledrinkacupofwater.Enterthechamberbetweeneveningand
midnight.Morewouldharmtheqi.
Falldays.Batheandwashthehairfrequently.Asregardsfoodanddrink,lethunger
orsatiationbewhateverthebodydesires.Enterthechamberhoweveroftenthe
bodyfindsitbeneficialandcomfortablethisisthewaytogreatestbenefit.
Winterdays.Batheandwashthehairfrequently.Thehandsshouldbecoldandthe
feetwarm;thefacecoldandthebodywarm.Risefromsleeplate;whilelyingdown,
stretchoutstraight.Enterthechamberbetweeneveningandearlymidnight[11
p.m.].Morewouldharmtheqi.146

Asthefindingofthesemanuscriptsinaristocratictombsseemstoindicate,these
instructionsweredirectedtoanelite,male,audience.Formen,thereisanemphasisonsexual
practices,ancestorPengteachingtotakegoodcareofthepenissinceitsvapor(letusread
thatasqi)isessentialforlonglife,statingatsomepointthatlongevityliesentirelyonthe
penis.147Thus,dailyexercises,breathingexercises,anddietservetosecurethepenisand
nurtureitsessentialvitality.148
Theemphasisonadviceforthearistocraticeliteisalsoattestedinthatitisclearly
explainedthatthediseasesoftheelitearequitedifferentfromtheonesthatthelowerclasses
havetoendure.Thepersonofthewaysuffersfromimbalancesofqi,andisabletoprevent
thembypracticingdaoyin,whereasthepoorlaborerthathastotoilceaselesslyisstruckwith
differentkindsofdisharmonies,problemsheorshecannotdealwithbecauseoftheirparticular
lotinlifeandthefactthattheydonotpossestheknowledgetoovercomethem,suchas
healingmovements,massages,sexualcultivationandbreathingtechniques.149Theadvice

146DonaldHarper1998,Opuscit:110111
147Ibid111
148Ibid
149Ibid

59
affordedbythemanuscriptsandtaughtbyphysiciansimpartedaknowledgethatwasintended
forthosewhorideincarriagesandeatmeat.150
Listsofdifferentexercisesandmassagesfollowthenextsection;someareofa
preventivenatureothersmorecurative.Thelastsectiondealswithetiologyandpreventionof
diseases.Theclimateislistedasoneofthemajorcausesofqidisharmonies.Summerheatand
dampness,wind,coldetc,arethemainculpritshere.Butuncheckedemotionsanddiet,aswell
aslifestyleindisagreementwiththeseasonsalsoplayanimportantroleintheetiologyof
disease.Therecommendationsareofstretchingexercises,andbreathingpatterns.151Theseare
performedinordertopulldiscomfortfromvariouspartsofthebody.Theyinandyangaspect
ofphysicaldisharmoniesisalsomanifestedinthewaythecounselisgiven:tohealyangtypeof
problemsoneistogazeupwardsandbendbackwardwhileinterlacingthefingersinfront.For
Yintypeofproblemsthepersonshouldlookdownwardbendforwardsandinterlacethefingers
intheback.152
ThedaoyintuandtheYinshuseemtohavefewsimilarities,thegymnasticandbreathing
exercisesintheYinshubeingofamoreelaboratedetiology,factthatpointstoalater
developmentofthesetechniques.Thetextingeneralpointstopreventionandpreservationof
healthandtheevasionofdiseasethroughdietandhygieneineverydaylife;inthisrespectit
hasmoreaffinitywiththeideaspresentedinheHuandineijingandmightbeconsideredits
precursor.153

PrincipalTextsThroughtheAges


Wehaveestablishedthatinancienttimeswhatwenowcallqigongwasbetterknownas
daoyin,andthatthispracticehasitsoriginslostinthedawnofChinesecultureand,in
particular,ofChineseshamanicculture.Theancientshamanshadalreadymadetheir

150Ibid.
151UteEngelhardtOpuscit:88.
152LiviaKohn,ChineseHealingExercises:43
153UteEngelhardt,Opuscit:89

60
discoveriesandfoundthatthecirculationofqihaditscorrespondencesinthe
macro/microcosm,theworldwithitschangingclimaticconditionsaswellasthegeography,
rivers,mountains,valleys,thewindandthesunandmoon.
Theideasandteachingsofdaoyin,thenwereelaboratedanddevelopedintodifferent
strandsandversions,everypractitioneraddingabitofhisownexperiencetothetradition.
Thusoverthecenturiesweareleftwithreferencestotheirpracticesandoftheirinsights.
WehavealreadyvisitedtheMawangduiandZhangjiaShantexts,theearliestreferences
inmanuscriptformwehavetodate.Nowwewillexamineotherreferencesthatwere
bequeathedtousbytheirpractitioners.

TheHuangdineijing,theInnerClassicoftheYellowEmperor,datedtothe

firstcenturyCEandextantinthreemedievalrecensions:theSuwenorBasicQuestions,

theLingshuorDivinePivot,andtheTaisuorGrandBasis.154Thisclassicprimer

teachestheheightoftheideasofyinyang,fivesphasesandsystemofcorrespondencesput
forthinatext.LetsusrememberthattothisdaytheHuangdineijing,thecentralmedical
classic,remainsthemainstandardreferencefromwhichTraditionalChineseMedicineis
taught.Thus,asitsumsupthethinkingofthetimesonmedicine,ittiestogetherthenotionsof
cosmosandenvironment,bodyandemotionsandtheinterconnectednessoftheseelements.It
affordsadviceonphysiologicalandpathologicalprocessesandtheirdiagnosisandtherapies.155
Ofspecialinteresttousliesinthatitdescribesdietandexercisesinadditiontoacupuncture,
moxibustionanddrugs.InthewordsofEngelhardt,theSuwen,comparedwiththeearlier
medicalmanuscripts,theHuandineijing,revealsamorestringentsystemthatdescribesthe
relationshipsbetweenhumanbeingsandthecosmosingreatersubtletyandwithhigherdegree
ofabstraction.156Tofollowtheorderlypatternofyinandyangmeanslife;toactagainstit
meansdeathThesagedoesnottreatthosewhoarealreadyailing,hetreatsthosewhodonot
ail;hedoesnottreatwhatisalreadychaotic,hetreatswhatisnotyetinchaos.(Suwen2.3)157

154Ibid.
155Ibid.
156Ibid
157Ibid

61
Theideahereisthatagoodphysician,oneversedintheoldidealsofimmortalityand
perfectedsagesofold,knowshowhumanlifeistobelivedinaccordancewiththeprinciplesof
theDao,althoughhiscontemporarieshavelostthewayanddonotpossestheknowledgeto
cultivatelifeasdidtheancestralsages.Theidealistopreventdisharmoniesanddiseaseby
catchingtheearlieststagesofthetendencytochaos.Thus,thephysiciancanreadthesignsand
symptomsofchaosinitsgerminatingstagesandtakemeasurestostopitsdevelopment.This
approachwassomethingexemplifiedinthepracticesanddisciplinesofbothphysiciansand
Daoists,thosewhocouldreadqiinthemselvesaswellasintheirenvironment,remaining
vigilant,constantlyattunedtotheirownbeings,insideandoutside.TheHuangdineijing,then,
wasaveryinfluentialtext,itsideasshapingDaoismandChineseMedicineaswellasother
currentsthatabsorbeditstenetsintotheirowndoctrines.158

FromHantoTang


UnliketheHuangdineijing,whichdealtwiththeentiregamutoftraditionalmedicine,
latertextstreatedspecificsubjectswithinthetradition,andthisistrueforthelongevity
exercisestraditionaswell.Mostoftheseworkshavebeenlostandsurviveonlypartiallyin
fragmentsandcitations.AsidefromtextswithshortcommentariesontheDaoyintuand
othersunearthedinJianling,inHunan,andonetextdealingmoreextensivelywithmedicine
fromtheSuidynasty(581618C.E.),allthetextsdealingwithgymnasticshavebeentransmitted
intheDaoistCanon,whichwaseditedintheMingdynasty(13681644CE).159Thesourcesin
theDaoistCanontreatthetraditionofgymnasticsasoneoftheseveralartsofnourishinglife;
thereisonlyonetextthatdealsexclusivelywithDaoyin.160

158Ibid
159CatherineDespeux,Gymnastics:TheAncientTradition,inTaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.Livia

Kohneditor.CenterforChineseStudies,theuniversi,1989.226
160Ibid

62
TheYangshengyaoji


AccordingtoDespeux,inessenceandoutlookmostofthelatermaterialsseemtostem
fromanoriginalworkoftheJindynasty(fourthcentury)ofwhichweonlyhavefragmentary
evidence.ThatoriginalworkistheYangshengyaoji(CompendiumofEssentialson
NourishingLife).161ThisworkisattributedtothenorthernChinesearistocratandofficialZhang
Zhanofthefourthcentury,andatonepointheldthepostofimperialsecretaryunderthe
EasternJin.162MostofwhatwehaveonthistextcanbefoundintheIshimpo,aJapanese
collectionofChinesemedicalworksdatedto984.163Wehave,however,thesectionsofthe
textsthatweredividedintoten:

1.HarboringSpirit
2.LovingQi
3.MaintainingtheBody
4.PracticingExercises
5.ProperLanguage
6.FoodandDrink
7.BedchamberArts
8.RejectingCommonHabits
9.HerbalMedicines
10.TaboosandProhibitions164

LiviaKohnpointstoaninterestingfact,andonethatwehavealreadyalludedtobut
needstobekeptinmindwhenthinkingofthepeoplewhousedtobenefitthemostfromthese
practices.Shesays:

161Ibid.Thetextiscontainedinchapter32ofthetenthcenturyTaoistcollectionYunjiqiqian,foundinthe

TaositCanon(DZ1032,fasc.677702).
162UteEngelhardt.Opuscit.90.
163Ibid.91
164LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises:65

63
He (Zhang Zhan) had the material cushion necessary to indulge his interest in
medicallearningandwaswellconnectedtoofficialsandliterati.Thepracticeshe
mentions were probably well known and widely used at the time, and he may
well have put together the Yangsheng yaoji to help his fellow aristocrats stay
healthy and live moderately despite their riches and newly found leisure, thus
usinglonglifepracticespredominantlyforthisworldlyadvancement.165

However,theemphasisofthistextwasnotonlythisworldlyadvancementsinceithad
alsoastrongspiritualcomponentthatwentbeyondthatofthecaringofthebodyalone,mainly
exemplifiedbytheinstructionsondailyhabitsandundertakingactivitiesthatwereinharmony
withthepatternsofnature.166

Yangxingyanminglu


TheYangxingyanminglu (RecordonNourishingInnerNatureand
ExtendingLife,DZ838),isaDaoistcollectionofmeditative,breathing,andphysicalpractices
andwhichalsoliststhetitlesofthetensections;itisusuallyattributedtoeitherTaoHongjing
orSunSimiao,butrecentlydatedtothemidseventhcenturyormidTang(618690&705
907).167ThetextasfoundintheDaozang168isdividedintosixsections:generalprinciples,
dietetics,variousprohibitions,techniques=ofqiabsorptionforthehealingofdiseases,

165Ibid
166UteEngelhardt.Opuscit.91.
167Ibid.AlsoLiviaKohn2008.Opuscit65;HenriMaspero.TaoismandChineseReligion.Univof

MassachusettsPr;FirstEdition1981542552.CatherineDespeux,Gymnastics:TheAncientTraditionin
TaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,1989)228.
MichaelStanleyBaker.CultivatingBody,Cultivatingself:ACriticaltranslationandHistoryoftheTangDynasty
Yangxingyanminglu (RecordsofCultivatingNatureandExtendingLife)
168TheDaozang(abbreviatedDZ)isthe"TaoistCanon".Itconsistsofapproximately1,400textsthatwere

collectedcircaC.E.400.Beforethenandforafewcenturies,thecoreDaoisttextsweretheDaoDeJingandthe
ZhuangZi.TheywerecollectedbyTaoistmonksoftheperiodinanattempttobringtogetherallofthe
teachingsofTaoism,includingallthecommentariesandexpositionsofthevariousmastersfromtheoriginal
teachingsfoundintheTaoTeChingandZhuangzi.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daozang

64
massagesandgymnasticexercises,andalchemicalpractices.Thesecondandthelastpartsare
notfoundintheotherversionalsopresentintheDaozang.169
TheYangxingyanmingluappearstobeacompendiumofexcerptstakenfromthe
Yangshengyaoji.Theauthorseemstohavecomposedthistextfromfragmentsofthislatter
textleavingoutwhatheconsideredsuperfluousorredundant.AccordingtoDespeuxonecould
concludethattheauthoroftheYangxingyangmingluusedthesamesourcesasthoseusedto
puttogethertheYangshengyaoji.Onethirdofthesectionongymnasticsandmassagesofthe
YangxingYangmingluconsistsofextractsfromtheYangshengyaoji.170

TheDaoyinJing


TheDaoyinjingistheonlytextintheDaoistcanonthatdealsexclusivelywithphysical
practices.Itisalsothefirstsystematizationoftheexercisesandroutines.ItsfulltitleisTaiqing
daoyinyangshengjing(GreatClarityScriptureonHealingExercisesandNourishingLife,DZ
818);171ThistextappearstwiceintheDaozang,onecontainedintheeleventhcentury
encyclopediaYunjiqiqian(SevenTabletsinaCloudySatchel,DZ1032;ch.34)and
anotherfoundinthecollectionDaoshu(PivotoftheDao,DZ1017;ch.28;trl.Huangand
Wurmbrand1987,2:134143).TheotherisfoundinthecollectionDaoshu)bytheDaoist
masterandinneralchemistZengZao(d.1155).172
TheDaoyinjingcontainsmanyreferencestodiverseschoolsoftheLongevitytradition,
referencedherebyassociatingtheexercisespresentedwith,MasterRedpine(Chisongzi
),thefamousmasterofrainunderthemythicalfarmerShennong,amongothers,allthe
waytothelongevitymastersPengzuandDaolin.Thelatterone,writingintheearlyfourth
century,allowsustodatetheDaoyinjingtonoearlierthanthiscentury.Thistextdealswitha

169CatherineDespeux,Gymnastics:TheAncientTradition,inTaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.Livia

Kohneditor.CenterforChineseStudies,theuniversi,1989.233.
170Ibid
171Ibid230
172LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises:98

65
varietyofphysicalexercisesthat,asamatterofcourse,haveasitsaimthenourishingofthe
vitalenergieswiththeadditionofexercisesspecificallydesignedtotreatdifferentillnesses.173
Itappears,nonetheless,thatthetextisalatecompendiumthatsummarizesand
organizesseveralearliermaterials.Ontheotherhand,itseemspossiblethatthetextisa
fragmentoftheYangshengyaoji,atextlostintheeighthcentury,aftertherebellionofAn
Lushan.174
BreathingisamajorpointofemphasisintheDaoyinjing,thusfollowingtheancient
tradition.Moreimportantlytoourpresentwork,itnotonlylistsallsixhealingbreathslikethe
Jinguilu(ShenxianshiqijinguimiaoluWondrousRecordoftheGolden
CasketontheSpiritImmortalsPracticeofEatingQi,DZ836,16a;abbr.Jinguilu)175,but
associateseachofthemwithaparticularorganandsetofailments,thusrepresentingthe
systemthathasremainedstandardtothepresentday.176
WritingaboutthepresenceoftheDaoyinjingintheYangxingYangminglun,Stanley
BaxtersaysthatinChapterFiveofthisworkdealswithaseriesofexercisesforthebodycalled
theGuidingandPulling(Daoyin)andMassage(Daoyinanmofa),thatis,theDaoyin
jing,orScriptureonGuidingandPulling,andisaworkdeservesaspecialmention.177

DaoLinLun


TheTaiqingdaolinsheshenglun (GreatClarityDiscourseonProtecting
LifebyMasterDaolin;DZ1427,fasc.1055),hereaftercalledDaolinlun,isanothertextdealing
withlongevitypracticescontainedintheCanon.Itisarathershorttextofonlytwentyfour

173
Catherine Despeux, Gymnastics: The Ancient Tradition, in Taoist Meditation and Longevity
Techniques. Livia Kohn editor. Center for Chinese Studies, the Universi. 1989. 230.
174ibid230231.
175TheJinguiluisascribedtoMasterJingliorJingheiwhosupposedlylivedinthefourthcentury.

ThetextmaybeaTangcompilationbutincontentspredatestheSui.LiviaKohn,Opuscit,ChineseHealing
Exercises.Footnotep73
176CatherineDespeux2006.TheSixHealingBreaths.InDaoistBodyCultivation,editedbyLiviaKohn,3767.

Magdalena,N.M.:ThreePinesPress.
177MichaelStanleyBaker.CultivatingBody,CultivaingSelf.28

66
pagesdescribingdiverseprescriptionsandprohibitionsregardinglifestyle,dietandliving
accommodations.Itwillcomeasnosurprisethathisworkalsoseemstoborrowfromother
textsliketheYangshengYaojiandtheYangxingYamgminglun.178
Wehaveexamined,then,themaintextualtraditionsonlongevity,and,sincetheyare
alreadywellrepresented,IwouldliketoturnnowtotheplacethattheSixHealingSounds
traditionholdswithinthecontextofthelongevitypractices.


178CatherineDespeux,Gymnastics:TheAncientTraditioninTaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.

CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,1989)231.

67
CHAPTER3
THESIXHEALINGBREATHS179


TherearemanystrandswithinthelargerDaoyintradition,allsharingmostofthe
underlyingprinciplesandideasaswellasthemanypracticalaspects,addingtheirownvariation
onacommontheme,asitwere.Breathinginthelongevitypracticetradition,aswellasthe
moreambitiousimmortalitypractices,hasalwaysplayedaprominent,ifnotcrucial,role,not
unlikethepracticeofpranayamaintheIndianYogatradition.Thus,whenlookingatthehealing
soundstraditionwefindthatseveraltextsdealwiththetechniqueofbreathingknownasthe
methodofthesixbreaths(liuqifa )ortheformulaofthesixcharacters(liuzijue
).WefindthatthebasisofthepracticestemsfromthesixChinesecharactersassociated
withthesounds.TheoldSixHealingSoundsaphorismsays:thereisonewayofbreathingin
butsixwaysofbreathingout.180Thesearesomewhatdifferentfromthemorecommon
patternsofbreathingexercises.Thesixhealingsoundstraditiondoesnotdealwithpatternsof
inhalingandexhalingdividedintimesforeachoneofthem,orindicatethatholdingthebreath
isnecessaryatanypointduringtheexercises.181
Qigong,asthewordimplies,meansworkingwithqi.However,thereareseveralwaysof
doingthis,andalthoughthedifferentlongevitypracticesorqigonggongfahaveastheiraim
healthinthewidestsensepossible,theyapproachitsomewhatdifferently.Taiji,forexample,a
verypopularformofqigong182hasasitsaimmostlymovingtheqiinhebody.Stagnationofqi
inChinesemedicineandbyextension,qigong,viewthisasoneofthemaincausesof
disharmoniesinhealthleadingtodifferentdegreesofhealthchallengesifnotdealtwithina

179Mainsourceforthissection:CatherineDespeuxsChapterontheSixHealingBreathsinDaoistBody

Cultivation:TraditionalModelsandContemporaryPractices.ThreePinesPress;1edition(April30,2006).
ThisistheonlyscholarlyworkinEnglish,thatIamawareof,thatdealswiththissubjectexclusively.3767.
180HenriMaspero.TaoismandChineseReligion.TheUniversityofMasachussetsPress.Ahmerst,1981,496.
181Masperooffersafewinterestingexamplesofhowtousebreathing,andespeciallytheholdingofthe

breathcombinedwithguidingofqi,inhealingcertainconditions.SeeHenriMasperoOpuscit.464n17and
506.
182Taijichuan,isanInternalMartialArt.Theemphasisofthispracticewasalwaysonsoftness,correctbody

alignmentleadingtoinnerstability,acalmmindandfreeflowofqi.Thewayitispracticednowadaysis
particularlymoreqigonglikethanmartialinitsapproachandtechniques,althoughtherecertainlyarestill
manythatpracticeitasamartialart.

68
timelymanner.Otherformsofqigongaimatimprovingmartialartsprowessbyhardeningthe
practitioner,thusmakinghimorherimmune,oratleastmoreresistanttoblowsandother
moreextremetests.Otherformsofqigong,standingmeditations,forexample,helptoincrease
theamountofqicirculatinginthebodywiththesubsequenteffectonhealthandlongevity.
Mostforms,however,doamixtureofallofthis.
Whatdothesixhealingsoundsdo,then?Ifthereisaqigongstylethatdealsalmost
exclusivelywiththisnotionofrenewalofvitalenergies,andparticularlywiththenotionof
cleansing,isthesixhealingsoundstradition.Thisisoneofthemajorthemesinqigong.When
webreatheinwearetakinginthenewqifromtheenvironment,theuniverse.Whenwe
breatheout,whatwearebreathingoutisoldandstale.So,thepracticeinvolvesaconscious
expellingoftheold,impureqifromhebody.
FromZhuangzi(BookofZhuangzi)ofthefourthcenturyB.C.E.,wherewefindthe
firstmentionoflongevitypractices,andspecificallyofbreathingtechniques,weseethisideaof
constantandnecessaryrenewalexpressedwhenitsays:Tohuffandpuff,exhaleandinhale,
blowouttheoldanddrawinthenew,(tugunaxin)Thisideaisparticularlyrelevant
whendealingwiththesixhealingsoundssincethewholeideaofmakingthesesoundsisto
cleansetheorbsorinternalorgans.Onedoesthismethodically,followingaseriesof
movementsandmeditationsthatpreparethebodyforamoredeeplyfeltexperiencethatalso
makesitmoreeffective.Thesequencealsofollowsthecycleofcreationinthefivephases
schemeofthings(moreonthatlater).Thisideaisarticulatedveryclearlyinafragmentofthe
Yangshengyaoshi,(EssentialCompendiumonNourishingLife),amedievalworkthat
wealreadyvisitedintheprevioussection.Thetextsays:

LiuJunansays:Eatingliveqiandblowingoutdeadqiyoucanlivelong.Thatisto
say,asyoudrawtheqiinthroughthenoseitisalive;asyoublowitoutthrough
themouthitisdead.Ordinaryfolkcannotabsorbqi,sinceonemustmake
constanteffortsfrommorningtonightandonlythencanonegraduallyextend
theingestionofqi.Withoutinterruptiononemustdrawitinthroughthenose
andblowitoutthroughthemouth.Thatiswhatwecallblowingouttheoldand
drawinginthenew.183

183DespeuxquotingStein,Stephan.1999.ZwischenHeilundHeilung:ZurfrhenTraditiondesYangshengin

69

Thewordtu,toblowoutortospit,pointstobreathingoutthroughthemouth.184
AccordingtoDespeux,thepracticemayhavesomerelationtoanancientexorcisticpractice
andtheoldartofwhistling,usedbeforetheHaneratoevokethespiritsofrain,wind,clouds,
andthunderaswellasdemonsandgoblins.185However,thenotionofbreathaslifegivingwas
notonlyobvioustotheancientChinesebuttoalltraditionalcultures.Wehavealready
establishedthestrongrelationshipbetweenlongevitypracticesandshamanism;shamanscould
usethebreathindistinctmanners,accordingtowhatthesituationwouldcallfor.The
breathinginofsoulintoapersonsbody,theheartortheheadorsomeotherpart,thathas
gonethroughatraumaticeventinwhichtheshamanwascalledtoretrieveitisapatent
exampleofadifferentapplicationofthebreathinhealing,inthiscasetheinfusingofasoul,or
partofit,backintosomeonesbody.186Themainpointhereistoestablishthepowerful
connectionthattraditionalculturesingeneralmakebetweenthebreathandthenotionofa
subtle,etherealenergyorsubstancethatcanbeeitherbroughtintothebodyaswellasoutof
it.Moreover,thebreathandthewordthatexpressesithavealmostwithoutfailconnected
withthenotionofapersonssoul.AvividexampleofthisisthewordofSanskritoriginatman,
meaningbothsoulandbreath.InthemagicomedicaltextsoftheAtharvaVeda,themagician,
inordertobringbackthesoulofadyingmanbacktolifesummonshisbreathfromtheWind
andhiseyefromtheSun,replaceshissoulinhisbody,andfreesthesuffererfromthebondsof
thedeathgoddessNirrti.187FortheChinesetheconnectionbetweenbreathandlifeisnotless
strong.

AllbeingsandallthingsaremadeofBreaths,moreorlesspure:thenine
Breathscoagulatedmysteriouslyandcompletedthepatternofthenine
heavens,thesun,themoon,theplanetsandtheshiningstars.Amongthe
beings,thegodswereformedfirstfromtheknittingofBreaths.Justas,in

China.Uelzen:MedizinischLiterarischeVerlagsgesellschaft.174
184CatherineDespeuxChaptertheSixHealingBreathsinDaoistBodyCultivation:TraditionalModelsand

ContemporaryPractices.ThreePinesPress;1edition(April30,2006).38
185Ibid
186ForacontemporaryversionofthisancientpracticeseeSandraIngerman.SoulRetrieval:Mendingthe

FragmentedSelfThroughShamanicPractice.HarperSanFrancisco;1stedition(September27,1991)
187MirceaEliade.Shamanism,ArchaicTechniquesofEcstasy.Arkana,PenguinBooks1989.p415

70
theworld,breathsaretransformedintospirits(shen),soinmanBreaths
aretransformedintospiritswhicharewithinthebody.Breaths,whichare
thesubstanceofallbeing,arewhatgivelifetoallbeings.188

Moreover,TheentranceofBreathintothebodyisLife;thedepartureoftheSpiritfrom
theexternalformisDeath.189InChinese,ofcoursethisconnectionisofthewordqiwith
breath(qimeansliterally,airorbreath).Theexpellingofharmfulenergiesthroughtheout
breathisamajorthemeinthesixhealingsoundspractice.ThehuffandpuffthatZhuangzi
describesischuixu andboththesewordsarefoundamongthesixhealingbreaths,which
explainahotandcoldbreath,onewithopentheotherwithclosedmouth.Huxi,ontheother
handistheChinesewordforbreathingandbeginswiththeexhalationoryangaspectof
breathing.Huisanotheroneofthesixhealingsounds,thesoundtraditionallyassociatedwith
thespleen.
Theexpellingofstaleqialsotakesotherforms.Thesoundsareassociatedwithother
harmfulorunhealthyconditionsinthebodysuchashotandcoldforexample.Sometexts
associatexuwithabreaththatwarmsthebody,whereasthesoundchuiisabreathingsound
usedforcooling.Moreover,thelaterHancommentatorHeshanggong orMasteron
theRiver()statesthatxurecreateswarmth,chuirecoverscool.190Thisearlynotionof
soundsassociatedwithhotandcoldiscorroboratedinothertextsaswell,althoughthesounds
associatedwithhotandcoldmayvaryintime,theideaofcorrespondencesremains.


188HenriMaspero.TaoismandChineseReligion.TheUniversityofMasachussetsPress.Ahmerst,1981,462.
189JaneHuang(Author,Editor),MichaelWurmbrand(Author,Editor)PrimordialBreath:AnAncientChinese

WayofProlongingLifeThroughBreathControl,Vol.1:SevenTreatiesfromtheTaoistCanon,theTaoTsang.
OriginalBooks;1stedition(June1987)44.Foranonlineversion/translationofthistextgotoTheTaiHsi
Ching.P63.http://www.sacredtexts.com/tao/ttx/ttx04.htm
190CatherineDespeux.TheSixHealingBreadths.Opuscit,42.HeresheisquotingAlanChan,1991.twovisions

oftheway:AStudyoftheWangpiandtheHoshangkungCommentariesontheLaotzu(sunyseriesin
chinesephilosophyandculture)ch.29.

71
TheSixHealingBreaths


So,whatarethesixhealingbreaths?Aswehaveseenthesixbreathsfollowtheancient
visionofblowingouttheoldanddrawinginthenew.Thetechniquecallsforbreathingin
throughthenoseandexhalingthroughthemouthwhileperformingthesounds.Eachbreathis
associatedwithaparticularcharacter,definedinsomedetailinancientdictionaries,notably
theShuowenjiezizhu(AnnotatedCharacter
Explanation)oftheHandynastyandtheKangxizidian(KangxiDictionary)of
theeighteenthcentury.191Theyare:

1.Siisagentle,relaxedexhalationthatletsthebreathescapebetweenslightly
openedlips.Thisisthelungssound.Ifyouaretoocoldortoohot,ortootired,youusetheSi
sound.Itcontrolstheskin,andabscesses;bydoingthissoundconditionsrelatedtothesewill
becured.
2.He(orHo) orxu isastrongbreathwithopenmouththatisaccompaniedbya
gutturalraspingthroughtighteningofthethroatatthebaseofthetongue.Alsodescribedasa
hotbreath,itmayservetoexpelburningorheat.ThisistheHeartsound.Itexpelsheat,in
particularheartheatfromthebody.Thehearttendstogetoverheatedandperformingthis
soundalleviatesconditionsrelatedtothis.Alsofever.
3.Hu,thestandardtermforexhale,indicatesablowingoutofbreathwithrounded
lips.Thisisthespleensound.Forfever,distensionofthebelly,stomachandintestine.
4.Xuisagentleexpulsionofbreath.Themouthiswideopenandtheairisreleased
fromthebottomofthelungs.Whenplacingahandinfrontofthemouth,onegetsafeelingof
lukewarmair.Thisisthesoundoftheliver.Theliveropensintotheeyes,mostproblemswith
visioncanbealleviatedwiththissound.
5.Chuiindicatesasharpexpulsionofair,withlipsalmostclosedandthemouth
barelyopen.Itisapuffingoutofairthatcreatesthefeelingofacolddraft.Thisisthekidney
sound.Itridsthebodyofcoldness.

191Ibid40.

72
6.Xi/istraditionallythesoundofsighing.Itdescribesasoftexhalationwiththe
mouthslightlyopenthatcomesdeepfromwithinthebody.Thisisthesoundtraditionally
associatedwiththetripleburner.InDrZhangssystemitcorrespondstothegallbladder.192

Althoughallthesesoundscanbepracticedtoalleviatethedifferentconditions
associatedwiththeorganthegovern,theHesoundoftheheartseemstoworkaswellin
treatingmanyofthemwithouthavingtoresorttopracticeallofthem.193

ThefivevisceraandtheThreeBurningPlaces(tripleburner),cold,heat,extreme
fatigue,badbreathanddiseases,areallrelatedtotheheartcaringforalldiseasesthroughthe
ho(breath),allwillbecured;itisnotnecessary(toemployall)thesixbreaths.194

Themainuseofthesixbreaths,thenistocureillnesses.Theyalsoalleviateminor
problemssuchasbloatingafteraheavymeal,sincethebreathhasbeenpollutedbyfood,or
overindulgenceinalcohol(withoutitbeingafullondrunkenstupor),forwhichtheuseofhois
recommended.195Thus,weseeaconsistentviewthatthesixbreathsareindeeddesignedto
cleansethebodyofwhateverimpuritiesithaseitherabsorbedorproduced.
Theinhalationinhalesthepure(air)andtheexhalationexhaleswhatisdirty.Thereis
dirty(air)becauseitexitsfromthefiveviscera.Whydothefiveviscerahavedirtyair?On
accountofeatingthefiveflavors.(Eachof)thefiveflavors(corresponds)tooneofthefive
viscera.Theturbidbreathofeachvisceraisallexhaledthroughthesamemouth.196

192CatherineDespeux.TheSixHealingBreadths.40.HenriMaspero.TaoismandChineseReligion.The

UniversityofMasachussetsPress.Ahmerst,1981,49798.
193TheSungShanTaiWuHsienShengChiChingtrl.HuangandWurmbrand1987,1:25alsomentionsthis

notionthatthereisnoneedtouseallsixbreathsbutthatHowillbeperfectlysufficientsincetheyareall
connectedtotheheart.InVolume2bythesameauthorsthe(trl.)Lingjianzi(MasteroftheNuminous
Sword,DZ570;2:4574)ofthemidTangalludestoanothersubstitution,thistime,howeveritrecommends
usingxuandchuisincetheyridthebodyofthemaincausesofdisease.
194HenriMaspero.TaoismandChineseReligion.TheUniversityofMasachussetsPress.Ahmerst,1981,497
195Ibid49899
196JaneHuang(Author,Editor),MichaelWurmbrand(Author,Editor)PrimordialBreath:AnAncientChinese

WayofProlongingLifeThroughBreathControl,Vol.1:SevenTreatiesfromtheTaoistCanon,theTaoTsang.
OriginalBooks;1stedition(June1987)31;74.

73
Anotherthemeassociatedwiththesixbreathsistheabstainingofeatinggrainsor
queguinfavorofeatingqi.ThispracticeisrecommendedintheQuegushiqi
(EliminatingGrainsandAbsorbingQi),atextwasfoundinthesamecacheastheDaoyintuand
excavatedin1973atMawangdui,asalreadyseenintheprevioussection.Thistextconstantly
contraststhosewhoeatgrainswiththosewhoeatqi.197Againthemainthemeseemsto
continuebeingthecleansingofthebodysinternalorgansandtheingestionorabsorptionof
vitalenergiesfromtheenvironment.Thisabstentionfromgrainsreallymeanstoavoidordinary
foodstuffsandingestingmedicinalherbsandqithroughspecificbreathingtechniques
instead.198Thesixbreathsplayanimportantrolesincetheywillhelptoridthebodyofthe
stale,noxiousqiaccumulatedinthebodybytheprocessingoffood,whichseems,intheirview,
topromotethiscondition.Moreover,thistextrepeatedlycontraststhosewhoeatqiwith
thosewhoeatgrainandstates:Whoeatsqishouldregularlyexhalexuandchuiwhenever
oneliesdownorgetsup.199Anotherearlymentionofthesehealingbreathsappearsinthe
Yinshu(StretchBook),atextfoundamongmedicalmanuscriptsatZhangjiashan
(Hunan)in1984anddatedto186B.C.E.,textthatwealsovisitedintheprevioussection.The
textincludesoverahundredinstructionsandpresentsthreemajorkindsofbreathing
exercisesinhalingthepureqiofHeavenandEarth;holdingthebreath;andexhalingwithchui,
xu,andhu.
So,aswecansee,thesearealsoprecursorsorpartialpracticesofwhatwasgoingto
becomelaterthesixhealingbreaths.200TheDaoyintu,theDaoyinchartexploredpreviously
alsohassomefiguresdepictingpractitionerswithopenmouthsindifferentpostures.Thereare
alsocaptionsnexttosomeofthefiguresindicatingwhatsoundtomakewhileintheposture.
Lookingupandshouting;MonkeyBawlingtopullinternalhotness;201Thesearetwoofthe
three,thethirdoneis#25,callinglikeacrane,butthislastoneismorespeculativethanbased
ontheinformationprovidedbythechart.202

197trl.Harper1998,305309
198Harper1998,130
199CatherineDespeux.TheSixHealingBreadths.41HeresheisquotingEngelhardt2001,220.
200Ibid
201Harper1998315
202Ibid313.Fn5

74
BythemidTangeratheassociationofxuwithheatwassteadfastlyestablished.Atthe
sametimeavariantofthissoundappears,he,alsoassociatedwithheat.
Thus,theTaiqingdiaoqijing (GreatClarityScriptureonHarmonizingQi,DZ
820)oftheeighthcenturyuseshe,whichittreatsassynonymouswithtuanddescribesasthe
blowingoutofhotpathogenicenergies.Thetextsays:

Whetherwalking,standing,sitting,orlyingdown,alwaysinhalethrough
thenoseandexhalethroughthemouth.Inhalingyoudrawinthepure
[qi],exhalingyouexpelthestale[qi].Itisstalebecauseitcomesfromthe
fiveinnerorgans.Whyisitthatthefiveorganshavestaleqi?Itisbecause
ofeatingthefiveflavors.Eachofthefiveflavorscorrespondstooneof
theorgans,andeachorgansstaleqiiseliminatedthroughthemouth....
Inallcaseswhentheinsideofthemouthisdryandtheinnerskinofthe
jawsfeelsroughandwithoutsaliva,oragainifthereispaininthethroat
andoneisunabletoeat,thisindicatesaconditionofheat.Toalleviateit,
openthemouthwideandexhalewithhe.Witheachhe,usetheproper
gate[nose]andwindow[mouth].Repeattenortwentytimes.203

Thusweclearlyunderstandthatthesoundheandxualleviateexcessheatinthebody
aswellasdryness.SunSimiaosQianjinyaofang(EssentialPrescriptions
WorthaThousandGoldPieces),anddatedto652alsomentionsthesoundxuandittoostates
(rathersurprisingly)thatthisisthenameofthegodthatresidesintheheart.Despeux
speculatesthatsincetherewerenogodnamesevenremotelylinkedtothesixbreaths,thesix
breathsmayhavebeen,atsomedistantpointperhaps,relatedtotheinvocationofDaoistbody
divinities.Furthermore,sheadds,thisisalsoplausiblebecauseofthedenialofsuchpossibility:
TheninthcenturyHuangtingneijingwuzangliufubuxietu
(IllustratedManualontheTonificationandDispersal[ofQi]intheFiveOrgansandSixViscera
AccordingtotheInnerYellowCourtScripture,DZ432),hereaftercalledBuxietusays:Thesix
characters[forthesixbreaths]describetheqioftheinnerorgans.Theyarenotthenamesof
deities.Thosewhomakeuseofthesixbreathsneedtoknowthattheyareexclusivelyusedfor
theexpulsionofdiseasesandmustnotbeconfusedwithembryorespiration(21b).204

203CatherineDespeux.Sixhealingbreaths.43.HuangandWurmbrand1987,1:74
204Ibid

75
Asidefromexpellingnoxiousenergiesfromthebody,andspecificallyfromthefive
viscera,thereisthebeliefofaligningoneselfwiththerhythmsoftheDao.ThusSunSimiaoin
theXiuzhenshishuadvisesseasonalbreathingpractice.Thetextsays,

Inspring,breathexuforcleareyesandsowoodcanaidyourliver.
Insummer,reachforhe,sothatheartandfirecanbeatpeace.
Infall,breathesitostabilizeandgathermetal,keepingthelungsmoist.
Forthekidneys,next,breathechuiandseeyourinnerwatercalm.
TheTripleHeaterneedsyourxitoexpelallheatandtroubles.
Inallfourseasonstakelongbreaths,sospleencanprocessfood.
And,ofcourse,avoidexhalingnoisily,notlettingevenyourearshearit.
Thispracticeismostexcellentandwillhelppreserveyourdivineelixir.
(19.7a)205

Thisoverviewoftheoriginsandsubstanceofthesixhealingbreathsaffordsusaclear
viewofthetradition.Itischieflyamedicalpracticegearedtowardsrestoringharmonyand
balancetothebodythatmayhavebeenbroughtaboutbyseveraletiologiesincludingthe
simpleingestionoffood.Itis,byallaccountsaneffectiveandsimplewaytodealwithhealth
issues.Whatitisnotisatechniquegearedtowardstheattainmentofspiritualstatesor
immortality.Havingsaidthat,however,itissafetosaythatpractitionerswiththoseloftyideals
astheiraimalsopracticedthesixhealingbreathsoranyotherdaoyinexercisesforthesole
purposeofkeepingthebodyhealthywhilepursuingthosegoals.

MasterDaolinMethod


ThefirstmodelregardingthesixhealingsoundsarefoundinSunSimiaosQianjin
yaofangundertheheadingLongevityMethodsofMasterDaolin,whohasbeenidentifiedas
Daolin,andalsoasZhiDun(314366),oneoftheearliestaristocraticBuddhistsin
Chinesehistoryandapopularfigureamongauthorsoflonglifetexts,suchastheYangsheng

205LiviaKohn.ChineseHealingExercises:TheTraditionofDaoyin.UniversityofHawaiiPress;1edition

(October16,2008)135

76
yaojiandtheDaoyinjing.AnothertextthatpresentsDaolinsmethodsappearsintheDaoist
CanonorDaozangandisentitledtheDaolinsheshenglun(DiscourseonProtecting
LifebyMasterDaolin,DZ1427),hereafterabbreviatedDaolinlun,ashortworkof24pagesthat
discussesthesubjectinsimilartermsbutinadifferentorderandinonlysixsections:
prescriptionsandprohibitionsregardinglifestyle,livingquarters,anddiet.Italsosummarizes
massages,exercises,andbreathingtechniques.206Thedateofthistext,Despeuxconjectures,is
likelypreTang(618907)sinceitisalmostidenticalwithpassagesinSunSimiaosworkand
associatedwiththeYangshengyaoji.ThisdatingisalsobuttressedbythefactthatMaster
DaolinsmethodisalsosummarizedintheZhubingyuanhoulun(TheOriginsand
SymptomsofMedicalDisorders),amajormedicalencyclopediaputtogetherbyagroupof
imperiallyappointedphysiciansundertheguidanceofChaoYuanfangin610.207
Althoughthetextmentionsothermodalities,thesixhealingbreathsfigureprominentlyinthe
chapterontheailmentsofthefiveinnerorgans.208
ThisbuddingsystemalsoappearsinabbreviatedformtheYangxingyanminglu
(OnNourishingInnerNatureandExtendingLife,DZ838).Thistextisusuallyascribedto
eitherTaoHongjing(456536)orSunSimiao.Itdescribesthesixbreathsinthesection
onIngestingQithus:

Whenevercirculatingqi,inhalethroughthenose,exhalethroughthe
mouth,drawingthebreathsoftlyinthisiscalledtheBreathofEternity.
Thereisonekindofinbreath,andsixkindsofoutbreath:Theonekindof
inbreathiscalledxi (inhalation).Asforthesixkindsofoutbreaththey
arechui (blowing),hu (exhaling),xi(sobbing),he (huffing),xu
(sighing),andxi(panting).Theyallexpeltheqi.Normalpeoples
breathingconsistsofoneexhalationandoneinhalation:thiswasthe
originalbreathcount.InordertoperformtheexhalationsoftheBreath
ofEternity,whentheweatheriscold,youcanblow,whenwarmyoucan
exhale.Todelayandcureillness,blowinordertoexpelheat,exhalein
ordertodispelwind,sobinordertodispelvexations,huffinorderto
causeqitodescend,sighinordertodispersestagnation,pantinorderto

206CatherineDespeux.SixHealingsounds.44.LiviaKohn.TraditionalChineseHealingExercises137
207Ibid
208ibid

77
resolvetheultimate.209

Illnessesoftheheart:theheatorcoldinthebodyareexpelledbythetwobreathsthe
huexhalationandthexiinhalation.Illnessesofthelungs:fullnessanddistentioninthechest
andback,thisisexpelledbyxusighing.Illnessofthespleen:whentravelingwindbreezesabout
intheupperbodyanditgetsitchy,soreandcongested,xisobbingexpelsthem.Illnessesofthe
liver:painintheeyes,worry,anxietyanddistressareexpelledbyhehuffing.Intheabove
twelvekindsofmethodforattuningqi,alwaysbreatheinthroughthenose,andexpelthe
breathfromthemouth.Oneoughttomakethesoundofthebreathfollowingthewordschui
huxuhexixi(blow,exhale,sigh,huff,sobandpant)whenexhaling.Ifapatientreliesonthese
methods,heorshemustcompletelyperformthemmindfully,withreverenceandrespect.
Therearenonewhoarentcured,andthesearetheessentialartsforcuringillnessandlong
life.210
Lastly,theTaishangLaojunyangshengjue (LordLaosFormulaon
NourishingLife,DZ821)oftheninthcenturyfocusesonitsmorespiritualdimension.211The
importanceofthistext,asidefromtheabovementioned,liesinthatitdescribestwodifferent
theoriesonhowthesixbreathsrelatetotheinnerorgans.Withaworldviewthatincludesthe
microandmacrocosmsitremarksthattheOceanofQiorqihai,avortexofgatheringenergy
usuallyplacedtwofingerbreadthbelowthenavel,andbothamajoracupuncturepointanda
bodilylocusofmeditation,collectscosmicenergy.212Followingitsemphasisonthespiritual,
thetextendswithanexhortationtocultivatebothspiritandqiinordertoachievetheDao.213
Thistextalsoshowsthatintheninthcenturytwosomewhatdifferentsystemsofthesix
healingbreathswereenvogueandtheDaoistsofthetimesusedbothtotheiradvantage.

209MichaelStanleyBaker.CultivatingBody,CultivatingSelf:ACriticalTranslationandHistoryoftheTang

dynastyYangxingyanminglu (RecordsofCultivatingNatureandExtendingLife).MastersThesis

DepartmentofEastAsianLanguagesandCultures,IndianaUniversity.July2006.110

210Ibid112
211CatherineDespeux.TheSixhealingBreaths.46
212Ibid
213Ibid.LiviaKohn.GodoftheDao:LordLaoinHistoryandMyth.UniversityofMichigan,CenterforChinese

Studies.1998,8081.

78
ThesesystemswereMasterDaolinsMethodandthesecondonepresentedinthenext
section.214Moreover,allthetextsthatwehaveseensofarthatdescribeMasterDaolins
methodlinktheinnerorganstothebreathsthus:
Ifyousufferfromacoldconditionoftheheart,exhaleusinghu.Incaseofheartheat,
blowoutchui.Forailmentsoftheliver,thebreathisxu;forthoseofthelungs,itishe.Tocure
problemsofthespleen,exhalewiththexibreath;forthoseofthekidneys,usesi.(Qianjin
yaofang27).215Aswewillhaveachancetoexaminelater,thisisquiteadifferentsetof
correspondences,especiallycomparedwiththemodernversionthatDrZhangteaches,which
resemblesmuchmoreMasterNingssystem,atleastwhenitcomestothesound/organ
correspondences.
Thetextalsogivesadviceastothehoursinwhichtopracticesinceeachorganis
more/lessactiveduringcertainperiodsofthetwentyfourhourdailycycle.Italsoadvices:

Beforeundertakingthemethod,itisfurthermorebesttofirststretchand
[mentally]guidetheqitotherightandleft[sidesofthebody]360times.
Themethodservestocureallfourbasickindsofailments:diseases
causedbycontaminations,restrictionsduetocold,illnessesbecauseof
wind,andthetoxicinfluxesofheat.216

Aspeoplesufferingfromanyoftheseailmentscalmtheirspiritsandharmonizetheir
breath,theycanbeassuredofacure.Eachofthefiveinnerorgansissubjectto81diseases
causedbycold,heat,wind,orqi[contamination].Thatmakesatotalof404ailments.Ineach
case,onemustknowthediseasecategoryasdefinedbythesymptoms.(ch.27).217Sunalso
mentionsalistoforganspecificsymptomsthatcanbetreatedwiththeuseofthehealing
breaths.Thus,peoplewithheartdisharmonieswillmanifestinfearoffireintheirdreams;this
wouldbeaccompaniedwiththecorrespondingsymbolismsuchasthecolorred,thecolorof
theheartinthissystem.Toridthebodyofcoldthepersonshouldexhalethehubreathinthirty
repetitions,andwhenhotthechuibreathfiftyrepetitions(seetablebelow).

214CatherineDespeux.TheSixhealingBreaths.Opuscit.Fn12.p46
215Ibid
216Ibid
217Ibid

79

Thetableofcorrespondencesandsoundsorbreathstouseforeachsymptom:

1.CorrespondencesaccordingtoMasterDaolin218
Organ Phase Color Symptoms Qi Repetitions
Heart Fire Red heat/cold excess, dreams Hu 30/10
offire,redbatons,cold
Heat Chui 50/10
Liver Wood Green Melancholy,eyeissues, He 30/10
colorgreenindreams,
(Vegetation)
tigers,wolves
Spleen Earth Yellow Aches,yellowindreams, Xi 30/10
toddlers,playingwith
dangers
Lungs Metal White Swelling,dreamof Xu 30/10
charmingpeople,family
members
Kidney Water Black Coldexcess,dreamof Si 50/10
terrifyinganimals,often
black

MasterNingsMethod


MasterNingisasemilegendaryimmortalwho,asreadintheLiexianzhuan
(ImmortalsBiographies,DZ294)oftheHandynasty,livedintheeraoftheYellow
Emperor.219
MedievalChinasawthedevelopmentofanothermodelforthepracticeoftheSix
HealingBreaths.Thistimethecorrespondenceschangequitedramaticallyandweevenseethe
additionofanotherorgantothemix,namely,aparticularlyChinesenotioncalledthesanjiao
orTripleHeater.Thisisanorgandescribedinearlytextsthatprovidesaconnection

218AdaptedfromIbid48
219Ibid50

80
betweenHeaven,theupperheater,Humanity,themiddleheaterandEarthorlowerheater.
Theylaterdevelopedintothethoracic,abdominal,andpelvic,i.e.,thelungs,smallintestine,
andbladder.220Initiatingitsfunctionimmediatelyafterbirth,theTripleHeatersystemservesto
controlthetransport,utilization,andexcretionofthebodysenergies.Thetextthatfirst
introducesthisnotionoftheTrippleHeateror(sanjiao )intothehealingbreathssystemis
foundintheTaiqingdaoyinyangshengjing (GreatClarityScriptureofHealing
ExercisesandNourishingLife,DZ818),hereafterabbreviatedDaoyinjing,atextwealready
visitedintheprevioussection,andonethatdealswithabroadarrayofdataondifferentDaoist
schoolsofhealingexercises.Althoughthistextisnotmentionedinbibliographiesuntil1145,it
isbasedonearliersourceswithmanyfragmentsandquotationsfoundinDaoistandmedical
literature.ItisspeculatedthatthetextmayalsobeafragmentoftheYangshengyaoji,atext
lostintheeighthcenturyandonethatmayhavereappearedagainintheSongunderthetitle
Daoyinjing.221Inadditiontotheaforementionedtexts,thereareseveralothersthatmention
MasterNingssystem.Theyare:
TheTaishanglaojunyangshengjue;TheTaiwuxianshengfuqifa
(MasterGreatNonbeingsMethodofQiAbsorption,DZ824,alsoYunjiqiqian59),probablyof
thelateeighthcentury(Maspero1981,46061,507);theHuanzhenjuefa(DZ828,alsoYunji
qiqian60.14a25b),atextofthemidTang(Maspero1981,461);andtheTaixibiyaogejue
(SongandFormulaoftheSecretEssentialsofEmbryoRespiration,DZ131,trl.Huang
andWurmbrand1987,1:4348).222Allthesetextsdiscusstheabsorption,circulation,and
enhancementofqiaswellasmethodsofvisualizationandtheprominentembryo
respiration.223Thereisperhapsanothertext,theXiuxizhiguanzuochanfayao

220Sincethisisaprominentelementinthisqigongsystemaswellasaverymuchconceptuallyfunctioning

organinTraditionalChineseMedicinewemustmentionthatthisisaratheretherealconceptandonethatis
metwithquiteadealofuncertainty;theexactnatureofthisorganisnotclearfromtheclassicaltexts.
ambiguityanddisputesurroundthisorgan.TedKaptchuk.TheWebThatHasNoWeaver:Understanding
ChineseMedicine.McgrawHill;2edition.2000.151.MoreoverSivinreaffirmsthisambiguityandconfusion
whenhestatesthat,concerningthedifferentmeaningsofthewordjiao,Iprefertokeeptheissueopenby
makingitclearthatIdonotunderstandtheterm.NathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContemporaryChina
(science,medicine,andtechnologyineastasia).fn13p125.
221CatherineDespeux.Gymnastics:TheancientTradition.InTaoistMeditationandLongevityTechniques.

CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,1989)229230.
222CatherineDespeux.TheSixHealingBreaths.Fn20.p50.
223Ibid

81
(EssentialMethodsofCultivatingConcentration,Insight,andAbsorption,T.1915,46.462
475)byZhiyi(538597),thefounderofTiantaiBuddhisminChinathatalsomentionsthe
sixhealingbreaths,althoughthedate,originallythoughttobetheearliestknowndocumentto
discussthehealingbreaths,mayintheendbealaterinsertion.224Thissystemisinterestingin
thatitdisagreeswiththecorrespondencesshowninMasterDaolinsMethod,insteadbeing
almostidenticalwithmasterNings.TheDaoyinjing,nonetheless,isimportantbecauseit
describesthesixhealingbreathsandassociatesthemwiththeinnerorgansandtheirrespective
disharmoniesinawaythathasbecomethestandardtothisday.225Moreover,MasterNings
describes,fromamedicalstandpointthemannerinwhichdisharmoniesandimbalancesofqi
shouldbetreatedwiththehealingbreathsastheyrelatetotheinnerorbs.Itfollowsthe
standardcorrespondencesystemofChinesemedicine,isboththerapeuticandpreventative,
andcanaddressalargenumberofdifferentconditions.226Usingthevariousversionsofthelist
inthedifferentDaoisttextswefindthefollowingsymptomsforthebreaths:227

2.TableofCorrespondencesaccordingtoMasterNIng
Heart He drynessandroughnessofmouth,blockedqi,pathogenicqi,
heat,heartconditions,emotionalstates
Liver Xu teary, or red eyes, due to inflammation; liver and vision
problems;qirising
Spleen Hu fast and hot qi, swelling of abdomen, blocked qi, dry lips,
spleenconditions,armandlegissues
Lungs Si temperature fluctuations, lung problems, abscesses, skin
disharmonies, nasal obstructions, fatigue, exhaustion,
oppression.
Kidneys Chui back and joints feel cold, genital problems, deafness, ear
conditions
Heater Xi EveryconditionassociatedwiththeTripleHeater

224Ibid
225LiviaKohn.DaoyinJing.Downloadedfrom:http://www.gyahl.org/wp

content/uploads/2014/03/02Scripture.pdf.CatherineDespeux.SixHealingBreaths.OpusCit.p52
226CatherineDespeux.TheSixHealingBreaths.OpusCit.51
227AdaptedfromIbid52

82
AswecanseethismodeldiffersquiteconsiderablyfromMasterDaolins.Itdefinitely
doesnotwanttoincludethedreamingaspectofthediagnosisormanifestationofillnessin
favorofamuchmorerationalapproach.Italsoreduces,amongotherthings,theheartsound
tojusttheone,HE,insteadofthetwointheprevioussystem.Theimportanceoftheheart
breathcannotbeunderstatedinthissystem.Eachofthebreathscancurediseasesasrelatedto
eachorgan.However,itisnotnecessarytodoallofthebreathsinordertoelicithealing,since

thefiveviscera,theThreeBurningSpaces,cold,heat,extremefatigue,
badbreath,anddiseasesareallrelatedtotheheart;andsincetheheart
controls(the)ho(breath),(thus)bycaringforalldiseasesthroughtheho
breath,allwillbecured;itisnotnecessary(toemployall)ofthebreaths.
228


Althoughthesoundsthemselveshavechanged,andthereistheadditionofthisother
organintotheschemeofthings,weseeacontinuationoftheemphasisontheheartsince
bothsystemsinsistonitbeingasubstituteofsortsforothersounds.MasterNingsmodelof
thesixbreaths,asweseeithere,waslatercodifiedinvariouslongevitycollectionsandithas
remainedthestandardtothisday.229ItfirstemergedintheXiuzhenshishu(Ten
WorksontheCultivationofPerfection;DZ263)oftheyear1131,awiderangingcollectionin
sixtyscrollsofinneralchemicalandbodycultivationmethods.230Itisinterestingtonotethat
hereitisrecommendedtodothesoundsafterdoingtheverypopularseatedexercise
sequencecalledtheEightBrocades.231Thereareothertextsaswell,inwhichMasterNings
systemappearsregularlyandconfirmingitsplaceasthestandardsystemtothisday.

TheYellowCourtVersion


InthisversionofthesixbreathsaccordingtoMasterNingsmodelwefindaverysimilar

228Ibid.HenriMaspero.TaoismandChineseReligion.TheUniversityofMasachussetsPress.Ahmerst,1981,

497.
229DrZhangssystem,however,doesnotusethetripleheater,preferringinsteadtousethegallbladder.The

soundremainsthesamethough:xi
230CatherineDespeux.TheSixHealingBreaths.52
231Ibid

83
systemofcorrespondenceswiththosetaughtbyDrZhang,namely,thattheTripleHeateris
replacedbytheGallbladderasasixthorgan,butkeepsthesamesound:xi.Italsoassigns
dispersing(cooling)andtonifying(heating)propertiestoeachofthebreaths.Thissystem
seemstohavecomedowntousfromthreeTangdynastytextsthatgobacktotheearlyHighest
ClarityShangqing schoolofthefourthcentury.TheShangqingschoolwasknownfortheir
extensivebodyvisualizationsandmeditativefocusofthefiveinnerorgans.232
Inthesetexts,however,themosteffectivemethodforaffectingthestateoftheviscera
concernsbreathing.Thustoeachorgancorrespondsaparticularkindofbreathingor"breath"
thatis,aprecisewayofexhalingabreath(describedindetailinthe"MethodoftheSixBreaths"
sectionintheHuangt'ingwutsangliufupuhsieht'u)which"drains''theorganorabreath
knownashsiwhichstrengthenseverything.233

Thetablechartingtheseorgansandcorrespondenceslookslikethis:

3.Table1ofCorrespondencesAccordingtoTheYellowCourtVersion
Qi Organ Shape Deity Psych Emotion Season
He Heart Lotusbud Redbird Sprit Turmoil Summer
Xu Liver Hanging Green Spiritsoul Kindness Spring
jug dragon
Hu Spleen upside Phoenix Intention Jealousy LateSum
downbowl
Chui Kidney Roundrock Whitedeer Will Obedience Winter
Xi Gallbladder Hanging Turtle+snake Bravery Late
jug winter




232SeeTaoistMeditation:TheMaoShanTraditionofGreatPurity.StateUniversityofNewYorkPress(April

29,1993)
233Ibid71

84
Thissystemofothercorrespondenceslookslikethis:

4.Table2ofCorrespondencesAccordingtoTheYellowCourtVersion234
Phase Orb Cold Heat
Wood(Vegetation) Liver Xu(asinshoe) Chui
Fire Heart He Xu
Earth Spleen Hu(hoo) He
Metal Lungs Si(hissing) Hu
Water Kidneys Chui Si
Wood Gall Xi Xu


Herethesystemhasincreasedincomplexitybylinkingtheorganstothefivephases
dynamic.Inaverymedicalfashion,thetextinvolvesnotonlytheexhalationbuttakesinto
accounttheorganinteractionasitisreflectedintheentireschemeofthefivephases.Although
italsofollowsthecircadianrhythmsasdefinedinTCM,thissystemallowsforpracticeatvery
muchanytimebeyondtheyanghoursoftheday,i.e.,12am12pm(unlikeMasterDaolins
method,forexample,whorecommendedpracticebedoneintheyanghoursonly).
Thebuxietu(DZ432)presentsamoremysticalviewofthepracticesinceitmentionsin
detailtheinnerorgansplusthenameanillustrationoftheresidentbodygodintheformofa
mythicalanimal.Thisisfollowedbytheparticularsymptomsandrecipesforeffectivelyheal
andmaintaintheorganshealth.Thespecificbreath,healingexerciseanddietarealso
provided.
TheimportancegiventothefiveviscerabytheDaoistandmedicalpractitionersin
generalcannotbeunderstated.Whytheemphasisontheseinternalorgans?Robinet,says
regardingthem,

ThevisceraareveryimportantthroughoutallofChinesetradition,

234AdaptedfromCatherineDespeux.TheSixHealingBreathsinTaositBodyCultivation.Opuscit.55

85
becausetheyparticipateinthenetworkofsignificationsestablishedby
thetheoryoftheFiveAgents.Tosaythat,traditionally,theviscera
correspondwiththeFiveAgentsand,byextension,withthewholeworld,
isalsotosaythattheyconstitutethelinesofforcefortheorganizationof
thewholebodyasastructuraltotality.Theyareinthissensethe
symbolicpointswhichconnectmicrocosmwithmacrocosm,Manwith
Nature.Allofthesefactorsspeaktotheoverallimportanceofthe
viscera.AstheHuainantzusays,"Thebladderisacloud,thelungsarea
breeze,andtheliver,awind;thekidneysarerainandthespleen,
thunder;inthiswayHeavenandEarthmakeatriadwithMan."Thisis
whythe"fivevisceraaretheessenceofman"andwhy,moreover,they
shouldnotbe"dissipatedtotheoutside."235


Moreover,RobinetquotestheHuangt'ingwutsangliufupuhsieht'u(Huangdingwu
zangliufubuxietu)

HeavenpresidesoverYangandnourishesmanwithfivebreaths;Earth
presidesoverYinandnourishesmanwithfiveflavors;theinteractionof
breathsandflavorsestablishesthefiveviscera.Byspreading,thebreath
ofthefivevisceraformsthefourmembers,thesixteensections,andthe
threehundredandsixtyarticulations;bystretching,itmakesthe
tendons,veins,humors,bloodandmarrow;bycondensing,itformsthe
sixreceptacles,thethreeheatersandtwelvemeridians;bycirculating,it
makesthenineorifices.Thisiswhythefivevisceraarethegovernorsof
thebody.Ifoneofthevisceraweakens,anillnessappears;whenthefive
visceraweaken,thespiritsdisappear.Thisiswhythefivevisceraarethe
dwellingplacesoftheluminousspirits,thehunandp'osouls,thewill,
andtheessence(ching).Externallyextended,theycorrespondtothefive
stars(planets)aboveandtothefivemountainpeaksbelow.236

235IsabelleRobinet.TaoistMeditation:TheMaoShanTraditionofGreatPurity(SunySeries,Towarda

ComparativePhilosophyofReligions)63
236Ibid65

86

5.Expandedtableofcorrespondences:237

Qi Organ Shape Deity Psych Emotion Season


He Heart Lotusbud Redbird Spirit Turmoil Summer
Xu Liver Hanging Green Spirit Kindness Spring
jug dragon soul
Hu Spleen Inverted Phoenix Intention Jealousy LateSum
bowl
Chui Kidney Roundrock Whitedeer Will Obedience Winter
Xi Gallbladder Hanging Turtle+snake bravery Late
jug winter

Thetextsalsomentionhowthepracticewillstrengthenthepsychologicalaspects.Itdoesthis
bycleansingtheobstructionofthenegativeaspectwiththedifferentbreathsandthusletting
thepositivevirtueariseofitsownaccord.Thesixbreathsnotonlycurediseasesbutcreatea
morehumaneawarenessaspractitionersvisualizetheirgodsandintegratethecosmic
dimensionoftheorgansintotheirpersonalidentity.238
Wecandefinitelyseehowthesixhealingbreathsfitsperfectlywithintheqigong
milieu,thelongevitypractices,beingbasedonallitsprinciplesandemphasizingthecleansing
aspectofthetradition,inordertopreserveorrestorehealth.Hesixhealingbreaths,stemming
fromancienttimes,inwhichwefinditsprecursorsandrudimentaryexpressionsinZhuangzi,
amongothers,waslaterdevelopedintoanotherfullfledgedgongfa,orstyleofitsown.

237AdaptedfromCatherineDespeux.TheSixhealingBreaths.Opuscit.59
238Ibid

87
CHAPTER4
QIGONG:RECENTHISTORY

WhenIbeganwritingforthisdissertationIhadfocusedonwhateverlittlethereison
theancientLongevitypractices.ThishasalwaysbeenmymainfieldofinterestandIwas
gettingarenewedimpetusinmystudyofthesubjectasIdiscoverednewauthorsandnew
worksonthesubject,althoughthesewerefarfrombeingaplethora,especiallywhen
comparedtootherfieldsofstudy.However,Ihadnottakentherecentstoryofqigongtoo
seriouslymostlyoutofignoranceoftheinterestingtwistsandturnsithadtakenbefore
becomingaforcetobereckonwith,especiallyconsideringthehugepopularityitrosetointhe
80sand90s.Afterall,whatelsewastheretoknow?Qigong,althougharecentterm,that
muchIknew,stemmedfromtraditionsreachingthedistantpast,wererecovered,asitwere,
somehow,duringthesecondhalfofthelastcenturyandmadepopularbothinChinaandin
thewest.Butwhathappenedwiththeqigongboom,ismuchmorefascinatingthanIcould
haveeverimagined.So,asitusuallyhappens,whiledoingresearchIstumbleduponthe
excellentQigongFever,byDavidA.Palmer239,asociologistofreligions,whonowteachesat
HongKongUniversity.Thisbookchangedmyperspectiveonanimportantaspectofthe
traditionthatIthinkisindispensabletounderstandtheoriginsofmodernChineseqigong,most
significantly,ifIwantedtomakeaworthycontributiontothefield.BeforeQigongFeverwas
writtenwe,andmosteveryoneelseforthatmatter,reallydidnotknowmuchabouthow
qigongcametobe,especiallyconsideringthemasspopularityitreachedinthe80sand90s.
DavidOwnbyputsitlikethis,

Ananthropologistworkingwithmastersandpractitionersinthefield
coulddolittlemorethanrepeatwhathisorherresearchsubjectssaid
aboutqigongsorigins;therewasnoworkinanylanguagewhichwould
havepermittedtheanthropologisttosituatehisqigonggroupinhistory

239DavidPalmer.QigongFever:Body,Science,andUtopiainChina.ColumbiaUniversityPress;1edition

(March27,2007).

88
orinanyother,largercontext.DavidPalmersbrilliantQigongFever:
Body,Science,andUtopiainChinachangedallthat.240

Ataveryfundamentallevel,becauseofPalmersbook,weallhaveabetterperspective
oftherecenthistoryofqigong,anextraordinarynewvistaandinsightsregardingthecreation
ofwastobecometheqigongphenomenoninChinashortlyaftertheSecondWorldWar.Thus,
mostofthischapterontheoriginsofmodernqigongistakenheavilyfromPalmerswork.His
accountisinharmonywithChensassertionthat,whensheinquiredabouttheoriginsof
qigong,scholarstoldherthatqigongwasaprojectsponsoredbytheCommunistParty.The
termqigongwasaneologism,nonexistentbeforethe1950s.241
Althoughhistoryingeneralisasoupofanalmostinfinitenumberofvariables,all
happeningatthesametime,andusuallycompoundedbylackofreliablesourcesonthereality
andaccuracyofsucheventsifonewantstodocumentthem,itsometimeshappensthatwecan
pinpointcertaineventstoajustafewsmallerbutdecisiveactionswithinthatmorassof
developments.AccordingtoPalmersworkwecanidentifyanumberofsuchfactswithagood
dealofdependability.

TheInventionofQigong


Thefirstsurprisingfactwasthatwecouldpointtoanactualpersonasperhapsthemost
influentialpersonageinthecreationofwhatwenowcallqigong.LiuGuiZhen( )isthe
Manwhoinventedqigong.242Liuwasatwentysevenyearoldclerkworkingforthelocal
CommunistadministrationinSouthernHebei,aliberatedarea,atthetime(1947),whenhe
wassenthomeonsickleave.Hehadbeensufferingforyearsfromgastriculcers,insomniaand

240DavidOwnby.FalunGongandtheFutureofChina.OxfordUniversityPress(May27,2010)p18.
241NancyN.Chen,BreathingSpaces,ColumbiaUniversityPress(July15,2003)p7
242JonVoigtinanarticlepublishedInQiMagazine,fromnowoncitedasQi,AUTUMN2013,asTheManWho

InventedQigong,availableon
http://www.qigonginstitute.org/html/papers/The%20Man%20Who%20Invented%20Qigong1.pdf.
Accessedon7/22/2014.HedrawsheavilyonPalmersQigongFeversectiononLiuGuizhenandother
sources.

89
neurasthenia,conditionsthathadweakenedhimconsiderably.Atlessthaneightypoundsin
weightandexpectedtobesoondead243hewassentbacktohisnativevillageinWeicounty.
Backinhishometownhemetafifthgenerationmasteroftheneiyanggong,orInner
CultivationExerciseBuddhisttraditionwhohappenedtobehismaternaluncle244.ThiswasLiu
Duzhou.Hetaughthimtheexercisesandmeditationsaccordingtothattraditionand,after
aboutahundreddaysofarduous,dailypracticeforhoursonend,herecovered,havingalso
regainedaboutthirtypounds.Itwasnotacompleterecoverybuthisulcerwashealedandhis
othersymptomsweregreatlyimproved.245Sincehewasallbetterhedecidedtogobackto
work,factthatsurprisedCommunistofficialswhohadsenthimhometodie.Theywantedto
knowhowhadheaccomplishedsuchanamazingfeatand,andafterLiuardentlytoldthem
abouttheqigongmasterandhismorethanthreemonthdailyregime,chargedhimwith
investigatingandexperimentingontheapplicationsofthediscipline.Onceagain,hewassent
hometolearnthemethodmorethoroughlyfromhisuncle.Becauseofthishewasgivenan
extrabagofrice,arealcommodityinpostwar,postrevolution,China.
BynowLiuhadbecomeasixthgenerationholderoftheneiyanggongtradition.Healso
hadbecomeamemberoftheCommunistparty.Becauseofhismasteryofthediscipline,his
directbossHuangYuetingnowaskedhimtoteachhismethodstoothersandconduct
experimentstodetermineitsefficacyandapplications.Ofcourse,inthespiritofthetimes,the
ideawastoextractthemethodfromitsreligiousandsuperstitioussetting246inorderto
bringqigongcultivationintotherealmofscienceandrationality.Hisassignmentwasto
ExtractChinesebodycultivationtechniquesfromtheirfeudalandreligioussettings,to
standardizethemandputthemintheserviceoftheconstructionofasecularmodernstate.247
Tothiseffectthemethodwasmedicalized,asitwere,andcomparedtosome
techniquesdescribedinclassicalmedicaltexts.248Theimportantthingwastoreformulatethe
methodsoitwouldnothaveanymysticalovertonestoit.Thus,forexample,themantra,an

243Ibidp1
244Ibid
245DavidPalmer.Opuscit.p31
246Ibid
247Opuscit,QI29
248DavidPalmer,Opuscitp31

90
importantpartofthepractice,waschangedfromTheClawoftheGoldenDragonSittingin
MeditationintheChanChambertoIPracticeSittingMeditationforBetterHealth.249
Thenextchallengewaswhattonamethismethod.Now,itisclearforanyonethathas
studiedqigongforawhile,thatthetermqigongseemedtobeanumbrellaterm
encompassingagreatnumberofsometimesverydisparatepractices,bothinoriginsand
content.
WhenLiHongzhi,oranyotherqigongmaster,referstotheancient
historyofqigong,heisreferringtotechniquesanddiscourses
associatedwithqigongandnottothetermitself.Trueenough,theterm
qihasanancientandnoblelineage,inboththemedicalandphilosophical
traditions,andthetermgongisnomoderninventioneither,butthetwo
characterstakentogetherasacompoundappearonlyoccasionallyover
thecourseofChinesehistorypriortothemidtwentiethcentury.The
historyofqigongaswenowunderstandtheconceptcanbetracedquite
clearlytothelate1940sandtheactivitiesofasmallgroupofpeople.250

Thus,LiuGuizhenandhiscolleagueswerechargedwiththetaskofnamingthisoldbut
nownewlydevelopedmethod.Someofthenamesthrownintothelistofpossibilitieswere
spiritualtherapy(jingshenliaofa),psychologicaltherapy(xinliliaofa),andincantationtherapy
(zhuyouliaofa);ofcourse,aswealreadyknow,theysettledforthetermqigongtherapy
(qigongliaofa).251LiuGuizhenhasthistosayregardingthenewname:
Thecharacterqiheremeansbreath,andgongmeansaconstantexercisetoregulate
breathandposture;thatistosay,whatpopularparlancecallstopracticeuntilonehasmastery
[yougongfu];tousemedicalperspectivestoorganizeandresearchthisqigongmethod;andto
useitfortherapyandhygiene,whileremovingthesuperstitiousdrossofold;soitisthuscalled
qigongtherapy.252
Theideawastocombinethoseseveralandoftendisparatemethodsunderonegeneral
termthatwouldincludewhathecalledthetriplediscipline(santiao ),ofbody,breath
andmind.Allthishadtheunderlyingcommitmenttobuttressthenotionthatqigonghada

249Ibid
250DavidOwnby.FalunGongandtheFutureofChina.OxfordUniversityPress(April16,2008)p50
251Opuscit.Palmerp32
252ibid

91
scientificbasis.InChina,writesNancyChen,qigongislinkedtoawidespectrumofpractices
rangingfromselfcultivation,meditation,medicalhealing,andbreathingtomartialarts,each
withaspecifichistoryandgenealogy.253
Theselectionofthetermqigongwasmostdefinitelynotreadilyacceptedbyanumber
ofveryknowledgeablepeopleonthesubject.Themainobjectiontheyvoicedwasthat,asChen
mentionedabove,qigongwastoogeneralatermanddidnotdescribeaccuratelythediverse
styles,lineagesandbackground,andmuchlesstheoftendisparatepracticesthatthetermnow
includedbyassociationorbydescription.254Wewillexplorethenamesunderwhichpractices
coveredwithintheqigongrealminadifferentchapter.ChenYingning,forexample,
underscoredthedistinctionbetweenhisjinggongorquiet,sittingpracticewithnatural
breathing,andqigongwhichinvolvedbreathingtechniquesandworkingwithqi.Tohimtheuse
oftermqigonghadcomplicatedthingssinceavastarrayofcontrastingtechniques,thingslike
martialartswhichusedqitrainingtobecomemoreproficientatfighting,foreexample,were
lumpedtogetherwithTaoistinneralchemy,andBuddhistmeditationsandvisualizations.His
jinggong,heaverred,wasmoreeffective,easiertolearn,andinvolvedfewerhealthrisksfrom
incorrectpracticethanqigong.255
Nonetheless,theplantogivetheseoldtechniquesanewappellationwentforward.
HuangYueting,director,oftheResearchOfficeoftheHealthDepartmentofsouthernHebei,
proclaimedatanofficialmeetingonMarch3rd1949theofficialadoptionofthetermqigongto
describethetechniquesstudiedforsomeyearsbytheclinicalteamunderhisdirection.256So,
afewmonthspriortothefoundingofthePeoplesRepublicofChinaqigongwasborn.Thus,
wehaveLiuDuzhouteachinghistechniquestoLiuGuizhenandthenrefiningbycollectingand
reformulatingandhence,systematizingthemintoamethodthatwasinstepwithparty
ideology.NowthePartyhadamoderninstrumentforthetrainingandhealingofbodies.257
Bodycultivation,then,hadbeentransferredfrompopulardomainofsuperstitiontothe

253NancyN.Chen,Opuscit.p6
254DavidPalmer,Opuscitp40
255Ibid.PalmeriscitingChenYingning2000:37183
256DavidOwnby.FalunGongandtheFutureofChina.OxfordUniversityPress(April16,2008)p51
257DavidPalmer,Opuscit.p32

92
officialandlegitimatedomainofhealthpolicy.258

QigongandChineseMedicine


Afterdecadesofcivilwarthecountrywas,ingeneral,inastateofdisarray.This
includedthemedicalsystem;sosooncametherealizationbythecommunistcadresofthe
impossibilityofamassiveoverhaulofthemedicalinstitutioninordertoaffordthepublic
decenthealthcare.Thewesternorscientifictraineddoctorswerenomorethan12,000inthe
wholeofChina,andcouldnotprovidefortobutasmallpercentageofthepopulation.
Moreover,theywerealmostwithoutexceptionworkingincities.Thisbroughtthenumbersto
onewesterndoctorperevery26,000people.Ontheotherhand,traditionaldoctorswere
reckonedtobearound400,000.259Traditionaldoctorswerenotonlymorenumerousbut,most
notably,istheplacethattheyhadintheheartsofthesoldiersandcadresthathadsuffered
throughtheyearsofstruggleduringtherevolution,andmoreoftenthannotinruralareas,
situationthathadforcedthemtoturntotraditionaldoctorstosoothetheirachesandpains;
notonlyweretheyreadilyavailablebutalsowereconsiderablymoreaffordableandles
dependentoninstitutionalapparatus.260
AtthisjunctureintimeChinasimplycouldnotaffordtoturntheirbackandrefuse
traditionaldoctorsentryintothenewnationbasedonthefactthattheywereviewedbysome
asbackwardsandunscientific.Theywerenowtojointhefray,weretointegrateintoChinas
medicalsystemandnewmodernpoliciesregardingthehealthcaresystemthatnowincluded
them.Atthispointtheycoulduniteandservethepeople.261Theyhad,nonetheless,to
rhymewiththetimesandfollowtheWesternmodelofamaterialistscience,forgettheir
obscuresuperstitioustraditionsandworkwithwesterndoctorstoimprovetheirtechnical
abilities.

258ibid
259ibidp33
260DavidOwnby.FalunGongandtheFutureofChina.OxfordUniversityPress(April16,2008)p51

261DavidPalmer.Opuscit.p33

93
ChinesemedicinemuststudythescientificknowledgeofWestern
medicine,andWesternmedicinemuststudytheuniversal,popular
spiritofChinesemedicine....Inthisjointeffort,Westernmedicine
mustassumetheprincipalresponsibilitytocarryoutresearchon
Chinesemedicineandtherebyenhanceitslevelofperformance.262


ThenewcadresmusthavethoughtthattraditionalChinesemedicinewasmorethan
sheersuperstitions,however,andthatthreethousandyearsofexperienceandtimetested
methodscouldnotbedispensedwith,nomatterhowantiquatedorbackwardtheymayhave
seemedtosome.TheNewChinawastoreformandcleansethemoftheirspuriousfeudal
originsand,withthehelpofthescientific,materialistviewandmethodsbringageoldChinese
traditionstonewheightsofdevelopmentand,atthesametime,placethemattheserviceand
thewellbeingofthepeople.

QigongBecomesapartofTraditionalChineseMedicine(TCM)19491965


From1949to1954Chinesemedicinecameintothefoldandrecognitionbythepolicy
makersoftheCCP.Traditionaltherapieshadalwaysbeenajealouslykeptsecretamong
familiesandpractitionersbutallthatneededtochange.Thegovernmentsetouttoobtainold
therapiesfromtheirusualsecrettransmissionandoldlineages,thusgainingaccesstoageold
therapiesthatwouldbecomeunderstatecontrol;theacupuncturistsandherbalistsnow
becamepartofthemodernhealthinstitutionssetupbythenewregime.Traditionaldoctors
whohadupuntiltheperiodbeforetheCommunisttakeoveroperatedindependentlyand
privatelywereabsorbedintothenewsystem.Qigongfortunesseemedtohaveincreasedin
tandemwiththatofTCMpractitioners,althoughitremainedforthemostpartanunknown
medicalactivityanddevelopingslowlyandbehindcloseddoors,especiallyinsouthernHubei.263
Moreover,thetraditionaldoctorswhohadbydefaultkepttheirsecretformulasandexperience

262DavidOwnby.Opuscitp52CitedinCroizier,TraditionalMedicineinModernChina,160161.
263DavidOwnby.FalunGongandtheFutureofChina.OxfordUniversityPress(April16,2008)p53

94
guardedforgenerationswerenowmadetosharetheminChinesemedicineresearch
societies.264265
DespitealltheadvancementsexperiencedbytheTCMcommunity,theywerestill
lookeddownuponbytheirwesterntrained,biomedicinecounterparts,andnotgiven
opportunitiesthatwesterntraineddoctorshad.Stilltheyweremadetoworktogetherunder
oneroofinfifteenunifiedclinicsandhospitalsinwhichbothsidesofthehealingsectorwere
incorporated.266Thispolicyofnationalizationofthetraditionalmedicalprofessionwasa
palliativemeasure,whichsawtomakeupforthelackofmedicalpersonnelaswellasthelow
costoftraditionalhealingpractices.Thiswastobeaprovisionalmeasuresincetheideawasto
haveatrulyscientificandintegratedmedicinetakeoversomedayinthenearfuture.
Wecansafelysaythatintheearly1950sqigongstayedwithintheconfinesofTCM.In
1955LiuGuizhenwasinvitedtoestablishaqigongcenterinTangshanWorkersSanatorium
weretenroomswereallocatedforthispurpose.Thiswasaveryauspiciousbeginningandit
turnedthatplaceintotheWorldsfirstspecializedinstitution.Lateritwouldgrowtoaone
hundredbedwardandpatientsthatcamehereforqigongtreatmentsweretobereimbursed
bythestate.267PeoplecomingfromBeijingandothersurroundingareasandsufferingfrom
neurastheniaandgastricdisorderswouldstayandpracticeqigongforsevenhoursaday.Liu
Duzhou,LiuGuizhensteacherwasalsobroughtonboardtheprogrambyhavinghimincharge
ofteachingpatients.AsidefromthosedutiestheTangshancenterheldfivetrainingand
healingworkshopsformedicalpersonnelfromhospitalsinthearea.268
Thus,theinitialfavorthatwesterntraineddoctorshadinthebeginningofthis
movementwassoonwaning.Because,byvirtueoftheirscientifictraining,theyfelttheyshould
belettotheirowndevices,thatis,workontechnicalissuesratherthanpolitics,theyactedwith
adegreeofindependencethatdidnotsitwellwiththeestablishedparty.Alsonothelpingtheir
causewasthefactthatbyhavinghadawesterneducation,byeitherresidingabroador

264Palmer,Opuscitp34.
265WhenIwasastudentofTCMwewouldusuallyhearstoriesfromourChineseclassmatesofhowduringtheMaoera,somepractitionershadtobeseriously
threatenedtogiveuptheirsecretherbalformulasandothersecretsforthegoodofthecountry.Oftentimesthis,theytoldus,happenedatgunpoint.
266DavidPalmer.Opuscitp34
267Ibid
268Ibid3435

95
attendingmissionaryschools,theyweresomewhattaintedwiththeideasandgoalsofthe
bourgeoisieratherthanthoseofthenewidealsembodiedbytheChineseCommunistParty.
Inthesummerof1954aprimeexampleoftheattitudethatwesterntraineddoctors
hadtowardstheirtraditionalcolleaguescametolightinanarticlepublishedinthePeoples
DailyandlateranotheroneinthesameveinintheEnlightenmentDaily,wheretheywere
foundouttohaveadmittedlycriticizedandridiculedtraditionalChinesemedicinepractitioners.
Thisdidnotsitwellwiththeestablishmentwhothoughtthatattitudewasnotonlyunscientific
butitshowedcontemptfor,andgreatlyinsulted,themedicalheritageofthemotherland.269
Asalreadymentioned,thisarrogantattitude,wasthought,camefromtheeducationtheyhad
receivedeitherintheUnitedStatesorinmissionaryschoolsinChinawheretheyhad,toagreat
extent,beencorruptedwiththeattitudeofthebourgeoisculturerepresentedbythewest.
Withthewaningofpoliticalorotherwisecloutthewesternbiomedicinecommunityhad
hithertohadcameduringthisperiodariseinthefortunesoftraditionalmedicineandwith
themthatofqigongaswell.TraditionalChinesemedicine,ontheotherhand,hadbeen
broughtintothefoldofamodernrevolutionaryandrespectedinstitution,andassuch,their
practitionersfeltnothingbutgratitudetowardsthePartyauthorities.Bythesametokenthe
partyauthoritiesfeltitwaseasiertocontrolagroupthatwassomewhatdedicatedtothecause
andgratefulforthenewlyencounteredpositioninChineseculture.
ThisdownturninfortunesfortheWesterntraineddoctorsbroughtagooddealof
expansiontoChinesemedicine.IntheaptwordsofDavidPalmer,Thepopularrootsofthe
traditionalmedicinewereemphasized;linkswithfeudalismandConfucianismwereplayed
down.Traditionalmedicaltheorywasstandardizedinamannercompatiblewithdialectical
materialism.270
Between1955and1958weseeagreatinstitutionalexpansionofChinesemedicine,
thusbenefitingtheexpansionofqigongaswell.Chinesemedicalcollegeswereestablishedin
Beijing,Shanghai,GuangzhouandChengdu,plusmanyothersmallervenues.271
InDecember1955LiuGuizhen,theinventorofqigong,continuedhisresearchand

269DavidOwnby.OpusCit.p53
270DavidPalmer.Opuscitp36
271Ibid

96
addedtohisresumebybeingpraisedpubliclybytheNationalMinistryofHealthinastory
publishedinthePeoplesDaily,whocongratulatedhimonareportofhisresearchandactivities
hehadpresentedtoauthoritiesinBeijinginthecourseofthepreviousandcurrentyear.At
theceremonymarkingtheInstituteofResearchinChineseMedicine,HealthMinisterLiDequan
recognizedandpraisedtheworkoftheTangshanqigongcenter;272ThesameyearLiGuizhen
wasnamedanAllChinaAdvancedWorkerbyMaoZedongandconsequentlyinvitedfor
personalinterviewswithhighrankingofficials.273AfterallthissuccessLiuGuizhenwascharged
withopeningasecond,evenlargerqigongsanatoriumbytheHebeiprovincialHealth
Department.ThesitewasgoingtobetheprominentseasideresortofBeidaiheandgiventhe
statusofaninstitutiondedicatedsolelytothepracticeandtreatmentofqigong.Thiswouldbe
thechiefqigongtrainingandtreatmentinstitutioninChinauntil1965.Severalhighparty
officialswouldattendpoliticalmeetingsinBeidaiheand,sincetheywerethere,betreatedwith
qigongtoalleviatethehighlevelofstressthatsomeofthemsuffered.Others,inother,iflesser
aplaceinpoliticalclout,werealsoinapositiontoinfluencethedestiniesofqigong.Thiswas
thecaseofWangJueminaPartyleaderandtheBaodingMunicipalPartySecretary.LiuGuizhen
hadtreatedhimforaleginjurythathadbecomegangrenousandwasthreateningtospreadto
therestofthebody.However,afterafewmonthsofpracticehisleghadhealedconsiderably.
Thisconvincedhimofthepowerofqigongandbecameanavidpromoterofqigong(andafter
that,whowouldnt!).InawayjustasLiuhadhealedwithqigong,Wangbecameanardent
followerandpractitionerofqigongandhadhisgovernmentcolleaguescometohimforcounsel
regardingsuchmatters.Itwasthiskindofpoliticalsupportthathelpqigongrisetonewheights
withinmedicalinstitutions,andasmanyasseventyqigongunits,includingclinicsandsanatoria,
werefoundedbytheendofthe1950s.Anotherqigongsanatorium,thistimeinShanghaiand
consistingofeightybeds,wasopen,becomingaremarkablecenterwerethefangsonggongor
RelaxationQigongmethodwastaught.ThiswascreatedfromtheJiangWeiqiaossitting
meditationmethod,verypopularaswell,before1949.274

272DavidPalmerOpuscitp36
273Ibid
274PalmercitingDespeuxinDespeux,Catherine.Leqigong,uneexpressiondelamodernitechinoise[Qigong:

AnexpressionofChinesemodernity].InEnsuivantlaVoieRoyale:Melangesenhommage`aLeon

97
YetanotherconversioncasewasthatofChenShou.Hecamefromawealthyfamily,
hadgraduatedfromthemissionaryrunStJohnsUniversityafterwhichhehadjoinedtheCCP
propagandaworkintheliberatedareas.Hehadsufferedaneyeinjuryfromanaccidental
dischargeofhisgunthatlefthimwithneurologicaldamage.Hebeganpracticingqigongand
taijiquanin1955.Itwillbeofnosurprisethatqigongdidindeedhelphimrecoverfromhis
injury,afterwhichhedecidedtodedicatewholeheartedlytoqigongwork.275Hevisitedthe
TangshanandBeidaihesanatoriawementionedearlier,sentcadrestostudymeditationwith
TaoistmasterWuZhiyuaninMtTiantaiandthenestablishedtheShanghaisanatoriumin
1957.276
Theseeventsweretopropelqigongatagreaterscale.In1957LiuGuizhenpublisheda
bookdescribinghisneiyanggongmethodandbetween1957and1965severalotherbookson
qigongwerepublishedaswelltogreatpopularinterest.Thesepublicationshelpedtospread
thewordregardingqigong.Qigongbecameawordnowusedwidelyandnotconfinedsolelyto
theunitsandsmallnumberofcadresdealingdirectlywithqigongactivitiesingeneral.
Moreover,Qigongwastaughtinseveralrehabilitationcentersalloverthecountry.277
Othermasterswereinvitedtopartakeintheqigongdevelopment.Thiswasthecaseof
ZhouQianchuan(19081971),whopublishedabookonqigonginwhichhedemystifiesthe
esotericformulasoftheEmeitradition,

Inthepast,[qigong]waspracticedbyfewpeople,andhadsuperstitious
colouration;theyusedittofoolpeopleandtoattractdisciples;atthesametime,
theyusurpedforthemselvesthejewelleftinheritagebytheforefathersof
ancienttimes.Fathersdidnottransmittosons,norhusbandstowives,butina
mostconservativewayuseditasatooltoestablishlineagesandcompetewith
othersects.Asaresult,thistypeofhealthpreservingandtherapeuticmedicine,
whichwascompatiblewithscientificprinciples,burieditsfineessence,and
becameclothedinsuperstitiousgarments,sothatpeoplecametoperceiveit

Vandermeersch[Followingtheroyalway:MixturesinhonorofLeonVandermeersch],ed.JacquesGernetand
MarcKalinowski,267281.Paris:Ecolefrancaisedextr^emeorient,1997.AndKohn2002.p
275Ibidp37
276Ibid
277ElisabethHsuTheTransmissionofChineseMedicine.CambridgeUniversityPress;FirstEdition(December

28,1999)p23

98
wronglyasemptymysticaltalk.278

Therearemanyotherexamplesofqigongmastersofdifferentstylesandlineages
contributingtothedevelopmentofqigong,butwegettheidea.Othereventslessfavorableto
qigongandtraditionalmedicine,however,wereloominginthehorizon.Whatisimportantto
knowisthat,

ThefoundationforthepostCulturalRevolutionqigongmovementwasthuslaid
duringthe19491965period,andthatitisimportanttounderscorethefact
thatqigong,thelargercategoryofcultivationtechniquesandtheorytowhich
FalunGongbelongs,possessed,priortotheqigongcrazeofthe1980sand
1990s,athoroughlyorthodox,largelyunproblematichistory.279

QigongwasviewedfavorablyduringthepostCulturalRevolutionboombecauseit
appealedtothenewcadressenseofnationalisticpride.Qigongwasaforcetobereckoned
with,somethingthatwasscientificifstrippedofitsfeudalisticandsuperstitiousorigins,and
broughtadeepsenseofidentitywiththehistoryofChina.ThethreatofWesternizationof
traditionalChinesemedicalpracticeswasalsoareasontoattachmoreimporttoChinese
medicineandqigongthuscounteractingthatdanger.280TraditionalChinesemedicinehad
popularroots.Mostofthepractitionerscamefromorwerelocatedinruralareas,wasaswide
spreadasonecouldimagine,servingthepeopleonthegroundandtoagreatlevelof
efficiency,otherwise,howcouldaninstitutionsuchasthissurviveatall?Alsototakeinto
accountistheleveloffamiliaritythatthepeoplewouldhavehadwithsuchaninstitutionand
itsrepresentatives.ThetraditionalChinesedoctoralreadymentionedmorenumerousby
severaltenfoldthantheirwesterncounterparthadbeenofrealhelpforcenturiesbynow.May
betherewasatrend,anideologythatbeckonedthesystemtoupdateitselfthroughtheuseof
scientificideas,butcanrestassuredthatthetraditionalChinesedoctor,manifestedinvarious
guiseswasheretostay.Theyhadalreadyservedthepeopleforalongtimepriortothe
revolutionandwerenowaskedtodothesamebutorganizedunderthenewparadigmssetout

278DavidPalmerOpuscitp39.HeiscitingZhouQianchuan1961:12
279DavidOwnby.Opuscitp5455
280Ibidp55

99
bytheParty.ThemilieuoftraditionalChinesemedicineandthatofqigongwasnotunfamiliar,
albeitthelatterhadhaditsspecialistandselectfewastheirmainpersonagesbefore1949.The
boomthatwewillwitnessinthe80sand90swastrulyunprecedentedinthehistoryofChina.
From1955to1958therewasalargescaleorganizationofChinesemedicine,something
thatalsobenefittedthedevelopmentofqigong.Asweknow,qigonghadbeenconfinedto
Chinesemedicine,practicedbytheirpractitionersandthepeoplethatreceivedtrainingon
qigongweremostlyofthesameChinesemedicinebackground.Thus,wecanascertainwith
littledegreeofhesitationthatqigongbetween1949and1965hadbeenconfinedtothe
traditionalmedicalinstitution.Itwasnotamassmovementbyanystretch,althoughitwas
certainlygrowinginpopularity.

TheGreatLeapForward


TheGreatLeapForward,MaoZedongsideaforrevolutionizingtheproductionand
outputofChinasagricultureandsteel,amongotherthings,hadcatastrophiceffectsfortheir
people.Millionsandmillionsdiedofstarvationbecauseofthesepolicies,factsthatarejustnow
coming,rathergradually,tolight.281Butwhatwascatastrophicononesidewaspositivefor
qigong.DuringtheGreatLeapforwardtheWesterntrainedphysicianshadanevenworseturn
intheirfortunesduetotheirassociationwithtrainingandknowledge,thedenigrationof
expertise.282Thus,thisperiod,from1959to1961,witnessthefirstwaveofqigongpeaking
duringtheGreatLeapForward.Thusitwouldturntotraditionalmedicineandqigongforhelp
inraisingstandardsofhealthcareinthecountry.Qigongatthistimewaspraisedforits
contributiontothepreventionofdiseaseandtherapy,TheShanghaiQigongSanatoriumbeen
therecipientofamonetaryawardbestoweduponbytheHealthMinistryin1959.Other

281ForamoreinformationonwhatwentonduringTheGreatLeapForwardseeFrankDikotter,Mao'sGreat

Famine:TheHistoryofChina'sMostDevastatingCatastrophe,19581962.Itisestimatedthatthenumberof
victimsofthetimesrangesfromeighteentofortytwomillion.
282DavidOwnbyOpuscitp54

100
articlespraisingthebenefitsofqigongwerepublishedinthisperiod.Qigongwascertainly
ridingthewavesofthehighesteeminwhichChinesemedicinewasheldatthetime.283

TheCulturalRevolutionandtheReversalofFortuneforChineseMedicineandQigong


Butthiswasnottolast.Justasqigongandtraditionalmedicinehadgonehighupin
praiseduringtheGreatLeapForward,thingsnowbegantocool.TheGreatLeapForwardhad
beenadisasterofenormousproportionswithmillionsofChineseleftdeadinitswake;now
MaoZedonggotinapowerstrugglebetweenhimandtheCCP.Qigongwascaughtinthe
middleofthis.Politicalleadersweresingledoutandridiculedforpracticingqigong.LiuShiaqi,
asothersaswellduringthisperiod,wasoutrightmadeexamplesof.OnesuchcasewasWang
JueminthemunicipalPartSecretaryofBaoding.Hewasharshlycriticizedforpracticingqigong,
sayingthatitwasunbecomingofamaninsuchpositiontobesowholeheartedlydedicatedto
suchactivity.Butthecriticismsdidnotstopthere.In1965hewasincarcerated,starvedoffood
andwaterforawhile,andmadetodoforcedlabor.Afterhegotoutheclaimedtohave
survivedalltheseordealsbecauseofqigong.So,theverysamereasonsforwhichhehadbeen
imprisoned,humiliatedandtortured,weretheonesthatsavedhislife.
WhatwastofollowwastheinfamousCulturalRevolution
WchnjijWnhuDgmng .Thisisnottheplacetoexpandonthisterribletimein
Chinesehistory,butletuspremisewhatfollowsbysayingwhattheChinesecallthisperiod:
thetenyearsofgoingbackward,daotuideshinian284Maobeganhiscampaign
againsthisperceivedpoliticalenemieswiththeculturalrevolution.Itsoongotcompletelyout
oftheleaderscontrolandinthehandsofMaoandonlyhim.Forqigong,however,the
situationhadbeen,upuntil1965,oneofsupportandcooperationcomingfromtheParty
leadershipandMaohimself.Afterall,qigonghadbeenanactivityconfinedto,andbenefitting

283DavidPalmer.OpusCit:p4142
284VolkerScheid.ChineseMedicineinContemporaryChina:PluralityandSynthesis.DukeUniversityPress

Books(June12,2002)p76

101
thePartycadresprobablymorethananyothergroup.Qigong,nonethelesshadbeenapopular
movementwelcomedbyallthosewhocameincontactwith,whosawitasaboonbearing
nationalistconnotationsandcontributingtothewellbeingofthepeople.Intheaptwordsof
DavidOwnby,fromanideologicalpointofview,qigong,likeChinesemedicineingeneral,
haduntil1965beenseenaspopulistandnationalist,thatis,moreonthesideofMaothanon
thatofhisenemies.285Inlinewiththenewpoliciesafter1965,nonewliteraturewas
publishedonthesubjectofqigong.Letuspointoutthatfortenyearseventheprimary,middle
andhighschools,andofcourse,formaleducationintheChinesemedicinecollegesalsowere
shutdownunderthenewideologythatsaidthattheagriculturalengineer,forexample,hadto
learnfromthefarmer.Thisextremeviewofthelearningprocesshad,ofcourse,tocomeata
priceforeveryone.
Othercriticismsweresoontofollow.ForexampletheNewPhysicalEducationmagazine
camedownharshlyonqigongbringuptheabusethatquacksofthetradewereperpetrating
abusesagainstqigongpractitioners,takingadvantageoftheclearlyrealhalingpowersof
qigong.Alsoofdistastewasemphasisplacedontheageoldsuperstitiousharmonyand
tranquilityelementsofqigong,conceptsthatwereagainsttheactivetrainingthatChina
policieshadwantedtoinstituteearlierinordertocounteracttheviewofthesickmanofAsia
sloganthatthewesternpowershadslappedonthemfromtheverybeginningsoftheir
interactions.
FromthenonAstormofattacksonqigongthenfloodedthepress286.Qigongwasthe
objectoftheoldprejudicesandusualaccusations.Theywentsomewhatfartherthistime
callingqigongarottenrelicoffeudalism,therubbishofhistory,andabsurdstories.287This
newwaveofantiqigongrhetoriccameafteritsmainfiguresaswell.LiuGuizhen,beingatthe
forefrontoftheqigongmovementwasexpelledfromtheParty,letgoofhispositionatthe
BeidaiheSanatoriumdemotedsevenranksintheofficialhierarchy,andsenttothe
Shanghaiguanfarmforreeducation.288Andso,itwentfrombadtoworseformanyofthe
peoplethathadsogreatlycontributedtotheriseofqigongwithinthe1949to1964years,

285DavidOwnby.Opuscitp55
286DavidPalmer.Opuscitp43
287Ibid
288Ibid

102
periodthatcorrespondstothefirstphaseinthehistoryofmodernqigong.
Modernqigong,then,hadbeencreatedbyLiuGuizhen,bychance,really,andhad
developedintotheorganizationalmodelandpracticetobefollowedfromthenonand
replicatedinmedicalinstitutionsalloverChina.Thismodelwastoreconstituteitself,after
theperiodoftheCulturalRevolution(19661976)inwhatwastobecomethegroundworkof
theqigongboomtocomeinthe1980sand1990s.Alsonotableisthefactthatthesebody
technologieswereusedasaninstrumentofstatepower.289
TheworkofLiuGuizhen,asidefrombecomingthemodeltofollowwhenitcameto
educationandpractice,hadspurredanewmodeofdoingthings,awaythatbrokewith
traditionandmodernizedseveralaspectsofChinesebodytechnologies.
Conceptualreferenceswerereformulated.Theeffectsofpracticeweredescribedin
physicalandchemicalterms,andconceptsofyinyangandqiwerestandardizedand
materializedasexpressionsofprimitivedialecticscompatiblewithMarxistphilosophy.The
methodoftransmissionwaschangedentirely.Usefultherapeutictechniquesweresecularized
andextractedfromtheirtraditionalsocialandsymbolicsettings:masterdisciplelineages
werereplacedbycohortsofmedicalworkersoperatingininstitutionalsettings.Secret
transmissionwasreplacedbyformaltrainingcourses.290
Andthuswasqigonginthe1950saninvention,amoderninterpretationbasedonthe
needsofthenewregimeformeaningseparatefromoldreligiousandsuperstitiousnarratives,
soprevalentbeforetheadventofthescientific,materialistmindsetfosteredintwentieth
centuryChina.Qigonghadbeeninventednotbecauseitdidnotexistbefore1949,butbecause
thecontextandfacetsinwhichithaddevelopedmadeitnowacompletelydifferentventure.
QigonghaditsrootsinChinesepopularcultureandperceivedasacompletelyChinesething,
farfromanywesternideologyofanykindandespeciallyfarfromthespecialistapproachto
science.Veryimportanttoowasthefactthatitwaseasytolearnandaffordable,needing
nothingbutaplaceandateacher.Nospecialequipment,garment,orpropsofanykindare
neededtolearnqigong.Maohadwanted,fromveryearlyon,tochangetheimageofthe
Chineseasweak,thatis,asthesickmanofAsia.Tothiseffecthehadattackedthe

289Ibid
290ibidp44

103
predilectionforsittingmeditation(jingzuo)infavorofamoredynamicphysicalactivity.This
toohadaneffectonactiveqigongbeingfavoredintheearlyyearsoverquietmeditationsince
qigongincludesphysicalmovementsaswell.Thispolicywasinagreementwiththeidealofa
strongandhealthypopulaceforobviousnationalisticreasons.291NoCultureornationcan
prosperanddevelop,andmuchlessthrive,ifitspopulationstruggleswithhealthissues,orthe
costofhealthcareputsabigholeinanationalbudget.

PostCulturalRevolution:TheQigongBoom


WhereasduringthepreCulturalRevolutionthisnewqigonghadbeenasmallscale
project,andveryessentialtokeepinmind,abranchofinstitutionalizedChinesemedicine,in
whichthecadresofthePartywerethemainbeneficiariesoftheqigongtherapies,duringthe
postCulturalRevolutionweseeqigongexplodingtobecomenotonlyamassmovementbut
alsoleavingthecontrollinghandsofthegovernmentandbeing,forthemostpart,directedby
theirownpractitioners.Itbecametrulythefirstgenuinemassmovementinthehistoryofthe
PeoplesRepublic.292
Qigongnowistotakeacompletelydifferentshapeandform.Unlikeitsprevious
incarnationbeforetheadventoftheCulturalRevolution,thenewmovementisgoingto
becomeknownthroughitsstars.Theywerethecharismaticfigures,theqigongmasters
throughwhichqigongwouldencounterenormouspopularity.Sometimeintheearlytomid
1980snewsocialnetworksappearthatwouldinciteaseriesofactivitiesfosteringthepractice
andexperienceofqigongindifferentsettings.Thelaunchofnetworksofpractitionerswas
accompaniedbygrouppracticeinparks,lecturesbothnationalandinternational;sometimes
theselectureswouldbehealingsessionsinwhichtheaudienceswouldberecipientsofthe
healersqi.Whatevermediawasavailableatthetimes(Books,cassettes,videosetc.,)werealso
usedtopromotethepracticestyleorgongfaassociatedwiththeteacher.Thesenew

291Ibidp45
292DavidOwnbyOpusCit.p56

104
teachersmessagewascharacterizedfirst,bybeingtaughtpubliclyanddeliveredindependently
ofthemedicalinstitutionsinwhichithadbeenbornandnourishedduringtheearlyyears,that
is,betweenthe1950s,tomid1960s.IntheyearsaftertheCulturalRevolution,qigong,aswell
asChinesemedicine,wasontheriseoncemore.Bytheearly1980shadteachersbegan
teachinginparkstoanincreasingnumberofparticipants;duringthistimesciencehadalso
madethediscoverythatqiinitsexteriormanifestation,hadamaterial,measurablebasis.

GuoLin293

Justastheinventionofqigongcanbetraced
backtoacertainindividualinhistoryinthepersonof
LiuGuizhen,wecantracetherebirthofqigongand
firstwaveofthe1980stooneqigongenthusiastand
masterqihealer.294HernamewasGuiLin.Bornin
1909,intheZhongshanvicinityinGuangdongshe
alsohadthegoodlucktohavebeentaughtbody
technologypracticesbyafamilymember,aTaoistin
Macau,placewherethefamilyhadfledfollowingthe
1911oustingofthelastQingemperor.Anartistof
theLignanschoolbytrade,shebecameanart
teacheratseveralacademiesinHongKongand
Shanghai.In1949shewasdiagnosedwithuterinecancerandtreatedbyperforminga
hysterectomy.Tenyearslater,whenthefirstqigongwavewasatitscrest,thecancercame
back.Thistime,though,shedecidedtobraveherowntreatmentwiththebodytechnologies
shehadbeentaughtasayounggirl.GuoLinhasalwaysbeenknownintheqigongworldforher
particularapproachtothefiveanimalfrolics,orfiveanimalplay.295Thiswasthestylethatshe

293Imagetakenfromhttp://www.exercisefitnessvideos.com/qi_gong_and_cancer.OpenSource
294GuoLin,DrZhangtoldme,wasonehismainteacherswhenhewasyoung.
295DavidPalmer.OpusCit.47.Thisissuchawellknownfactamongqigongenthusiasts,butIwillcredit

Palmerwhoexplainsthisinafootnote.Thefiveanimalfrolicwuqinxi,isaverypopularandwellknown

105
usedtoridherselfofthemalady.Shestudiedthetheoriesonqigongaswellasbothtraditional
Chineseandwesternmedicine.Aftertenyearsofpracticetherewasnotraceofcancer.She
hadpracticedandexperimentedwithqigongandthuscametoherownmethodbasedon
breathingtechniques.Shehadmodifiedsomebodytechnologies,includingLiuGuizhens,and
createdherown.Withitshewasgoingtoteachothershowtoridthemselvesofothercancers
andhealthchallenges.Aftersomepromisingresultsfromherteachings,shebeganteaching
openlyinDongdanParkin1971,thatis,whentheCulturalRevolutionwasinfullswing.Many
ofherstudentsrecoveredfromthehealthproblemstheyhad.Sheadaptedhermethodso
differentpeoplecouldbenefitfromit.Shealsotaughttheprinciplesandtheoriesofqigong.At
thistime,itwouldbeofnosurprisetosaythattheChineseauthoritieswerenotatallhappy
withGuoLinsactivities.Theoldaccusationsofteachingsuperstitiouspracticesandfooling
thepeople,wereoncemore,thrownatherandsubsequentlymadetoquitherteachingatthe
Park.Undaunted,shesimplymovedheroperationstoanotherone.Shehadtodothisafew
moretimesoverthenextfewyears,sufferinginterrogationsandharassmentinthemeantime.
Acoupleofherstudentswerearrested.296Inspiteofallthisopposition,thenumberof
practitionersthatcametohermeetingsgrewandshebegantotraincoachesthatwouldbe
abletoguideothersinthepracticeatotherparksaswell.Outofthisaninformalorganization
tookshape,onethatwouldnotonlypracticebutwouldmakehermethodbetterknowntothe
public.Herpersistencepaidoffandin1975sheevenmanagedtopublishamimeographed
versionofhermethods,thusbeingabletoreachawideraudience.Thingswouldbegintoturn
aroundforherandforqigongaswell,though.SomeofherstudentswerePartycadreshad
benefitedfromherqigongmethodandthuswereabletopledgetheirsupport.In1977,after
Maospassingandagreatsighofrelievewastacitlyfelt,GuoLinwasofferedamorepermanent
baseforheractivitiesatBeijingNormalUniversity.Thiswasaratherimportantstepforqigong
ingeneral.FromthenonGuoLinwouldsubmitareportonherhealingactivitiesoncancerfor
thelastsevenyearsandconductregularclassesattheuniversity.ThemagazineScientificWorld
publishedanarticleinwhichshedescribeshermethodfortrainingthemindandbodytocure

qigonggongfa,bothinChinaandthewest.ItscreationisattributedtothealmostmythicalHandynasty
surgeonHuaTuoandconsistsofmovementsthatimitatethedeer,themonkey,thecrane,thebarandtiger.
296DavidOwnby.OpusCitp58

106
cancer.Asaconsequenceofthismanyotherreputableinstitutionswouldinvitehertolecture
aswell.Moreover,Thousandsofpeoplewouldlearnherqigongmethodinparksandpublic
spacesaroundthecountry.297
TosaythattheCulturalRevolutionhadfailedtoeradicateqigongwouldbean
understatement.Becauseofherundauntedpersistenceinteachinghermethodsunderusual
conditionsofduressGuoLinhadmanagedtocreatethemodelthatalltheotherscomingafter
herwouldfollow.Thegrouppracticeinparkswasacrucialcomponentofthisphenomenon,an
eventthatwouldfreethepracticeofqigongfromthemedicalinstitutionsinwhichithadbeen
bornandpropelittothepublicrealm.Nowthepracticeofqigongbeginstoexplodeintowhat
isdescribedasamassgrassrootsmovement.Themethodofteachinghadchanged
substantially,frommastersgivingsecretinitiationsorprofessionalinstructionatclinics
amateurenthusiastsledfreecollectivepracticesessionsinpublicspaces.298Sincenowthere
wasabookdescribingthemethodindetail,anyonewasfreetolearnitandpracticeit
anywhere.ShehadcalledhermethodtheNewQigongTherapy,andassuchitwouldspread
notonlyinChina,butalsotosomecountriesintheWest.Hermethod,nonetheless,wasnot
theonlyonebeingtaughtandpracticedbynow,andinthelate1970sparkswerefullwith
peoplepracticinguptotwelvedifferentqigongstylesinanygivenmorning.299
Inthissoupofhistory,however,severalevents,smallandlargearebrewinginthe
background.Thus,roughlyatthesametimeinquiriesonthenatureofqi,verysignificant
scientistswereresearchingitsmaterialbasis.ThecountryhadsurvivedtheCulturalRevolution
andthewindsoffreedomandscientificinquiry,aswellasothernationalinterests,wereonce
moreblowinginChina.Butsciencewasattheforefrontofthisnewwave.
TheworkofGuHansenwasawatershedinthewayqiandqigongwereviewed.Shehad
conductedexperimentonqianddiscoveredthatqicouldindeedbeexplainedinmaterial
terms.Herownaccountofthediscovery:

Istudyelectronics,which,originally,hasnothingtodowithqigong.

297DavidPalmer.OpusCitp48
298Ibidp4849
299Ibidp49

107
Inmorethan10yearsofworkattheNuclearResearchInstituteIdevoted
myselfmainlytothestudyofdevicesfortheenhancementofmicro
signalsconnectedtonuclearelectricity.Attheendof1977,bychance,I
becameacquaintedwiththetherapeuticmethodofmovementbyqi.
Withmyowneyes,Isawthistherapeuticmethodwithoutmedication,
withoutneedle,andwithoutcontactwiththebodyofthepatientsucceed
inmakingaparaplegic,paralyzedinbothlegs,abletocrouchandgetup.This
miraculouseventopenedupnewhorizonsforme,totheextentthatIcould
nolongerremainstill.IfeltthatIwasattheentranceofanewdomain:
thescienceoflife.300

Thisdiscoveryhadmajorimplicationsfortheexistenceandfosteringofqigong.Withthe
proofthatqiexistedasaphysicalentity,madeitalegitimatefieldofscientificinquirythatwas
nowsanctionedbythegovernmentandpursuedbyotherscientistsinChinaaswell.Itwasalso
instepwiththepoliticalideologyofdialecticalmaterialism.
China,comingoutoftheCulturalRevolutionhadadoptedin1977thefour
modernizationsasthenewgoalsofthenation:Modernizationofagriculture,ofindustry,of
nationaldefense,ofscienceandtechnology.In1978alongwiththosementionedalsocamethe
patriotichealthmovementaimedatmodernizingthesanitaryandhealthlevelofthe
population.Chinesemedicinewasalsointhemindsofthosewhohadcalledforimprovingthe
healthofthepeoplebylaunchingitsaccelerateddevelopment.301Thisofcourse,wouldtouch
onthedevelopmentofqigongdirectlyorindirectly.Afterall,qigongnowhadascientific,
materialbasiswhosedetractorscouldnoteasilycontest.Therehadbeenexperimentsbythe
mostreputablepeopleandinstitutionsinChinaclaimingitsexistence.Unliketheexperiments
conductedinthe1950sinwhichtheemphasiswasontheeffectsofqigongondifferent
diseases,thepostCulturalRevolutionscientistswerefocusedontheexternaleffectsofthe
projectionofqi.Mostimportantly,qigonghaddislodgeditspositionasanadjunctmodalityof
ChineseMedicinetobecomeitsownscience.GuHansenhadprovedtheeffectsofqionother
bodiesandthuslegitimizeditasanindependentfieldofscientificinquiry.Qigongnowwasits
ownthing.
InJuly1979,theMinistryofHealthsStateAdministrationheldameetingonthestateof

300TranslatedinIbidp5253
301IbidOpusCitp5960

108
ChineseMedicine,headedbyLuBingkui,itsdirector.Themeetingwasacalltoreview
scientificreportsonqigongandwasattendedbyhighrankinggovernmentofficialsaswellas
some200scientistsandjournalists.Whattranspiredinthismeetingwasquiteremarkable.
ResearchpapersonthenatureofqibyGuHansenandotherdistinguishedscientistswere
presented.GaoWenshan,directoroftheculturalsectionofthepoliticaldepartmentofthe
navy,spokedescribinghisexperiencewithGuoLinsinovercomingcancer.Martialartsorhard
qigong,featswerealsoshown.Inthis,themartialartsmasterbrokestoneswithhisfistand
brokeasteelbarwithhishead.Otherqidemonstrationswereperformed,captivatingthe
audiencesattentionandgivingrisetoencouragingwordsbytheVicePremierFangYito
continueqigongresearch.Afewdayslaterafollowupmeetingtookplace,thistimeattended
by500people.MoredemonstrationsensuedandTanGaoshengoftheChinaAcademyof
SciencesInstituteofMechanicalPhysicslikenedtherepercussionsofthediscoveriesinthe
fieldofqigongtothoseofGalileo.302
Theimportanceofthesemeetingscannotbeoverstated.Theseformedthebasisunder
whichqigongwasgoingtotakeaprominentrolewithinthescientific,andmedicalinstitutions
alloverthecountry.Thesemeetingswereahistoricalturningpointforqigong.Bybringing
together,underhighpoliticalpatronage,mostofthemainfiguresinvolvedinqigongtraining,
therapyandresearch,theygavebirthtotheqigongsector(qigongjie)anationalnetwork
303
whichincludednotonlymastersandpractitioners,butalsoscientists.
DuringtheCulturalRevolutionmostinstitutionsrelatingtoqigonghadbeenclosed.
Thesemeetings,however,hadinfusedthescientific,medicalandpoliticalcommunitieswitha
newimpetus.Itwasalsoseenasagreenlighttodevelopandrestoreqigongtotherightful
placeithadbeforethe19661976period.Sincethehealthenhancingpropertiesofqigong
werenolongerindisputeeffortstorectifyoldwrongsshouldtakeplaceassoonaspossible.
Thusmanyoftheoldcentersofqigongactivitieswerereopened,thisincludedtheBeidaihe
QigongSanatoriumwhichopeneditsdoorsagaininlateOctober1980;LiuGuizhen,theold
qigongpioneerwhohadexperienceallkindsofiniquitiesduringtheCulturalRevolution,now

302Ibid
303Ibid.,31.

109
vindicated,wasappointedasitsdirector.304
InthemeantimeGuoLinkeptteachingqigongatparksandothervenues;amainstream
presshadrepublishedherbookin1980thusmakingitavailabletothemasses.Peopleflocked
toBeijingtostudyqigongwithherinthehopetohealwhatevermaladywasafflictingthem.
GuoLinbecamesomethingofacelebrityandhadmadeqigonghugelypopularaswell.Several
magazinespublishedarticlesonherandherapproachtoqigong.Andbytheendofthesame
yearGuoLinqigonghadspreadalloverChinaaswellasotherplaceslikeHongKong,Macau,
Singapore,JapanandNorthAmerica.305
Qigongatthispointdeservedsomeofficialrecognition.Thishappenedwhenin1979
thefirststatesponsoredqigongassociationwasfoundedinBeijingandnamedtheBeijing
QigongResearchSociety.Thisassociationbecametheintermediarybetweenqigongmasters,
nowfoundabundantlyinChinaandthestate.Thesemastersofferedtheirexpertisein
traditionalbodytechnologiesandexpressedtheirdesiretoteachthisknowledgetothepublic.
Thusmanyapplicationswerereceived,andpracticepointsforvariousmethodsappearedin
almostallofBeijingparks.Whoevercouldchooseanymethodtheywished,andthemethods
requirementwastobebeneficialandsafe.OtherassociationssprangalloverChinaandthe
ZhejiangInstituteofChineseMedicinelaunchedanationalqigongmagazineinthefallof1980.
AsmentionedbeforetheqigonginstitutionsthathadbeenshutdownduringtheCultural
Revolutionwerereestablished.

TheRiseoftheGrandmasters306


GuoLinhadpavedthewayforotherstocomeandfollowherlead.Withqigongfairly
legitimizedandsanctionedbythegovernmentasanimportantassetofChinesecultureand
historyand,vindicatedasascientificfieldinitsownright,toagreatextent,butnotcompletely,
separatefromChinesemedicine,qigongcouldnowtakeoffinwhatisgoingtobecalled

304Ibid.,32
305Ibid.,56
306ThissectionistakenmostlyfromDavidPalmerOpuscitCh3

110
qigongfever,qigongre,.Thisisthesecondwaveofqigong.By1981theqigong
sectorhadtakenadefiniteshapeanditwouldremainthesameuntilthecrackdownonthe
Falungongmovementin1999underJiangZeminandtheendofthesecond,andsofarlast,
qigongwave.
Thismilieufosteredtheappearanceofanumberofnewqigongmasters.Thenext
questions,then,are:wheredidtheseqigongmasterscomefrom?Howweretheytrained?
Weretheyrealqigongmasters?Qigong,nowsupportedbyseveralgovernmentalagenciesand
itscadres,enjoyedthefreedomtopropagateitsactivitiesandgaverisetothespacewhere
qigongmasterscouldrisetoprominenceundertheiraegis.ThesemastersofwhatDavidPalmer
callsbodytechnologiescamefromlineagestheyhadbecomeheirtoorsimplyfabricated
themselves.Althoughqigongstillhaditsdetractors(itwasaneasytargetfortheaccusationof
mixin,superstition)italsohadtoostrongasupportfromPartycadres,andsomeimportant
personalitiesinthescientificcommunity,so,forawhileatleast,itenjoyedalevelofpopularity
thatprotecteditfromthedangersofsuppressionoroverthetopcontrol.
Thus,aroundthemideighties,inthisenvironmentofexcitementandfascinationforthe
revampingofoldtraditions,themagicalenticementofnotonlyhealingandlongevitybutthe
acquisitionofsuperhumanpowers,andaidedbythepublicationofmagazines,theofferingof
lecturesandhealingactivities,thenumberofqigongmastersgrewtostaggeringproportions.
OwnbycitesWuHaos1993biographicaldirectory,TheEncyclopediaofContemporaryChinese
Qigong,whichlistsover500qigongmasters,withassociationswithvaryingdegreesinsizeand
scale.307Mindyouthatthesewerethemastersthathadactuallysignedupthroughthe
association.InapersonalcommunicationPalmerconveyedtoDavidOwnbythathethoughtthe
realnumberofqigongmastersmusthavereachedthetensofthousandswhodidnotattempt
toopentheirownschools.308
Atthispointletusinterjectandaddthattherewasoneotherveryimportantfactorthat
cametoaffectthepopularityofqigongtoanunprecedentedscale.TheChinesehavehada
longhistoryofmagicandtalesofmagic,ofmasters,bothDaoistandBuddhist,andfolkloreas
well,thatcouldflyintheair,crosswalls,heal,whereinvincibleinbattleandwerecapableof

307DavidOwnby,OpusCit.,65
308Ibid.,256ft49

111
otherextraordinary,superhuman,feats.Qigongwasatsomepointlinkedtothe
extraordinarypowers,teyigongneng.Thiswasthemorespectacularaspectoftheqigong
practiceor,rather,theperceptionthatthepracticeofqigongwasdirectly,orsomewhat
responsible,forsomeofthefeatsagroupofpeoplecouldproducespontaneously,on
commandand,betteryet,infrontofaudiences.Manycaseswerereportedofpeoplewho
coulddoextraordinarythings.Thus,thewholeextraordinarypowerscrazebeganinfulltiltin
Sichuanprovincein1978whenaschoolboyclaimedthathecouldreadwithhisears.Apieceof
paperrolledintoaballandwithacharacterwrittenonitwouldbeplacedintheearoftheboy
andhewouldbeabletotell,consistentlyandcorrectly,whichcharacteritwas.Thesameresult
couldbeachievedifasentencewaswritten.Tomakealongstoryshort,thenewsspreadthat
therewasaboynamedTangYuwithsuchextraordinarypowers,andsoonerratherthanlater
theanecdotehadbecomenationalnews.Notonlythat,buttheinterestshownbyYangChao,
theProvincialpartysecretarywhoreceivedtheboyinperson,seemedtoencourage
investigationintosuchphenomena.Thustheextraordinarypowersballgotrolling.
OthersheardofthefeatandtriedtoimitateTang.Manyofthemsucceededingaining
thesameability.Nowthequestionwas:isthissomethingthatcanbetrained?Isthisalatent
abilityinallhumans?Accordingtooneexperimentinwhichtentenyearoldchildrenwere
taughtqigongderivedtechniquessuchasbreathing,relaxation,andverbalsuggestion,sixout
ofthetenacquiredthesameabilitytorecognizecharactersorillustrationswithoutlookingat
them.309Otherfactorswentintotheriseoftheextraordinarypowersphenomenaaswell,the
mediaplayingamajorpartinit,andthepotentialmilitaryapplications,beingjusttwoofthem;
letussaythatthesepowersandqigongbecamestronglylinkedandoneofthetraitsofatrue
qigongmasterwouldbetohaveandshowanysuchsuperhumanabilities.Andlastbutnot
least,themotivationofthepublicwouldbecooptedbythedesiretoacquiresuchabilitiesas
well.
Thisplayedwellinthecontextinwhichqigongwasdevelopingatthetime.Ifwekeepin
mindthatlineagesandoriginsofonesownpedigreeasamasterwereeasilyfabricatedand
almostimpossibletocorroborate,theonlyproofofbeinganauthenticmasterwastobeable

309DavidPalmerOpuscit.,64

112
toperformsuperhumandeeds.Thiswasnotall,nonetheless.Amasterhadalsotoshowhigh
moralfiber,compassionanddetachmentfromworldlydesires.InthewordsofPalmer:a
masterscharismawascomposedoffourmajoringredients:healingpowers;virtue;initiation
intoatradition;andastatusasapersonofscience.310
ManyofthesemastershadtrainedintheyearsoftheCulturalRevolution,notinthe
institutionsformedduringthepreviousdecades,buthaddonesoinacovert,undergroundsort
ofway.ItishardtodisagreewithOwnbywhenhearguesthatfiftyorsixtyyearsarebutadrop
inthebucket,historicallyspeaking,andtraditionsthathavebeeninplaceformillenniaare
diehardintheheartsofaculture,andthatChinesescholarsmayhavemisjudgedthedivide
betweenthetraditionalcultureandtherevolutionarymindofthetimes.311Traditionalbody
technologiesweretransmittedanyway,inundergroundlineagesofmartialarts,popular
religionorfamilyhealingtraditions.312Thus,regardingthispoint,wemustconcludethatbuta
minorityofmastershadparticipatedinthefirstwaveoftheqigongmovement,inthe
inventionofqigongphase,inparticular,inthemedicalqigonginstitutionsofthetimes.The
restremainedmoreorlesssecretlydoingwhattheyhaddonefromthebeginning.Thisisin
stepwiththepreviousargumentbyPalmerthatinrealitytheremusthaveexistedtensof
thousandsofbodytechnologymastersthatsimplydidnotparticipatepubliclyinthenew
milieu.Stillthenumbersofqigongmastersthatappearedinthemideightieslandscapewas
impressive.ApartfromthefactthatbodytechnologieshavebeenpartandparcelofChinese
culturefromitsancientbeginnings,thisphenomenontoohastobethoughtofintermsof
proportions.Inacountrywerethepopulationhasbeencountedinthehundredsofmillionsfor
sometimenow,313can,attheveryleast,potentially,produceastaggeringnumberofqigong
masters.Manyofthemclaimedtohavelearnedtheirbodytechnologiesinthisunderground
way.Ontheotherhand,thosewhocameoutofthemountains(chushan),inthemid
eightieshadonlyrecentlylearnedtheirtrade.Thatisthecaseoftwoofthemostfamous
superstarstoriseduringthatperiod,YanXinandLiHongzhi.Moreover,outof223masters

310Ibid.,98
311DavidOwnbyOpusCit.,65
312DavidPalmerOpusCit.,93
313PopulationinChinaby1950wasestimatedtobeover500million.

http://www.photius.com/rankings/world2050_rank.htmlaccessedonAug12,2014.

113
whomentionedtheyearoftheirfirstinitiationtobodytechnologies,halfclaimedtohave
beguninorafter1979,intheheatoftheqigongwave.314Insummary,accordingtoPalmers
conclusiononthis,themainsourceofmostqigongmasterstrainingwerepopulartraditions
suchasmartialartsandtraditionalmedicine,andthisatthemarginsofmodernknowledge
institutions.315

TheCareerofaQigongMaster


Sowhoweretheseqigongmasters?Howdidtheyrisetoprominence?Qigongmasters
wereusuallyandpredominantlymiddleagedmenofnoparticularhighsocialstatus.Thegroup
wascomprisedofengineers,schoolteachers,medicalworkersandtechnicians,andanalmost
totalabsenceofuniversityprofessorsorhighlevelscientists.Theyalsohadtoberegisteredin
statesponsoredassociationsaffiliatedtostate,medical,scientificandsportsauthorities.
Whattheytaughtwasthemethodofthebody,mindandbreath,thetriplediscipline.
Butasidefromthattheyalsotaughtanassortmentofmagicalpractices:healingbyexternalqi,
spontaneousmovements,informationobjects,316cosmiclanguageetc.317
Thecharismaofthegrandmasters,reliedmainly,butnotonly,onthepossessionof
superhumanabilities,theextraordinarypowers;thiswasthemaincriteriontoprovethe
authenticityofthemastersknowledgeandinitiationintotraditionalbodytechnologies.They
hadtoshowthatthepowerswerereal,andtheydidthisthroughqiemissionsances,and
lecturesinwhichmembersoftheaudiencewouldexperiencethepowerofthemaster,and
mostimportantlyhealingoratleastamajorimprovementoftheirailments.Thus,theseevents
wouldbeastartingpointfromwhichthemasters,withthehelpofhisstudentsandaudiencein
generalcouldcultivateanauraofpowerandmystiquearoundhimthatwouldspreadtothe

314DavidPalmer.Opuscit.,96
315Ibid,97
316Thesecouldbeanyobjectinfusedwiththeenergiesandconsciousnessoftheqigongmasterandcanlater

beusedforhealing.Therewereinformationtea,andinformationpaintings,objects,theyclaimed,could
cureanarrayofillnesses,frommyopiatocancer.SeePalmerOpusCit.,p160.
317DavidPalmer.OpusCit.,86

114
publicatlargethroughtheseshapednetworksandmediaaswell.Qigong,tome,despiteallits
extricationfromfeudalandsuperstitiouselementshasalwaysbeenaspiritualorreligious
practice,eventhoughthepractitionersinChina,afraidoftherepercussionsofissuingsuch
opinions,woulddenyit.Qigong,mostdefinitelyprovidedanoutletforreligiousexpressionina
culturewheretherewaslimitedaccesstosuchactivities.Inthe1980s,whenmillionsofpeople
wouldflocktoparksearlyinthemorningtopracticeqigong,theywereexpressingthisfeeling;
itwasalsoclearthatqigonghadbecomealegitimizedoutletfortheresurgence,
reconfigurationandmodernizationofreligiousbeliefsandpractices.Theinterplayand
interpretationsofthesepopularnetworksandofficialinstitutionsgaveformtotheqigong
sector.318
Qigongmastershadtoadheretoothercriteriaaswell,suchashislifestyle.He(they
were,forthemostpart,men)wouldhealthesickforfreeandleadasimplelifethusprovinghis
virtue.Theissueofinitiationwasalsoacriterionforauthenticity,hardasitwouldbetoprove.
Buttheauraofamasterthathasattainedahighdegreeofdevelopmentisduetohimorher
beingtheinheritorofatraditionthatharkensbacktoancienttimesandconnectshimwithall
themythologicalandlegendaryfiguresoftheprimevalpast.Thus,heisthelivinglinkbetween
thosearchetypesandhisdisciples.
However,sincenowthemilieuisoftwentiethcenturyChina,thatmasterisalsoaman
ofscience.Nolongercanheonlyrelyonthemagicalandmythicalaspectsofthepractice,
which,despitealltheeffortstoscientism,arestillpresent,buthemustbeamanofscience.
Qigongis,afterall,ascience,andassuch,healsopartakesofthisview.
Thesecriteria,ofcourseareanidealizationfortheywereinitnotonlyforthefameor
theprestige.Therealitywasthatthemasterswouldchargesometimesexorbitantamountsof
moneyfortheirservices,fromqigonglessonstohealingtoinfusingobjectswithhisqifor
healingandotherpurposes.
Therewasalwaysatension,however,andarathervolatiletrucebetweenthescientific
worldandtherealmofqigong.Thesituationoftheqigongmasterisalwaysprecarious,no
matterhowpopularorfamoushewouldbecome.Theaccusationofsuperstitionwasnevertoo

318Ibid

115
farfromhim;itcouldstrikeanytime.Qigongalwayshaditsdetractors,whoatthetimewere
beingkeptatbaybythepowerfulfiguresthatdefendedqigong,butbynomeanshadthey
beentotallyrouted.Thecharismaofthemasterwasneverenough,havingtoalwayscaterto
theconnectionshehadwiththeofficialcircles,ontheonehand,andhisrelationshipswiththe
public,ontheother.

FamousExamples


Theqigongsectorbroughtunderthesameroofmastersofdifferentbackgroundsand
lineageswho,inthenewmilieu,couldteachfreelyalargeclienteleofpatientsandfollowers.
WhereasGuoLinhadtaughttheselfmedicationaspectsofqigong,thatis,thepersonsown
abilitytohealhimorherselfbythepracticeofthebodytechnologies,anothermasterappeared
thattaughtsomethingsomewhatdifferent.YangMeijun,likeGuo,toobeganteachingatparks
inthelate1970s.Bornin1903sheclaimedtobetheinheritoroftheKunlunDaoisttradition
goingbacktwentysevengenerations.HerstylewasknownasthatoftheGreatGoose
Qigong,nowadaysaveryfamousandpopularstyleinChinaandabroad.319Thus,Yangwas
oneofthefewmastersthatcouldtracetheirgongfaorparticularstyle,toareligioustradition,
ratherthantomartialartsorthemodernizedmedicaltraditions.Apartfromthegymnastic
exercisesYangwoulduseherownqitotreatherillpatients.Qiemittingwasadefinite
divergencefromtheusualqigongtaughtuntilthen,placingYangmoreintherealmofreligion
andmagicratherthanscience.However,Yanghadpowerfulscientificvoicesonherside.This
wasthecaseofZhangWenjieandCaoJianwhonotonlyweretheystudentsofYangbutalso
researchersattheprestigiousChineseAcademyofSciences,whopublishedanarticleinearly

319TherearenumerousnotableexamplesofthisstyleofqigongbeingtaughtinEuropeandtheUS.Sources

formoreinformationonYangMeijuncanbefoundhere:
http://www.wildgooseqigonguk.com/grandmasteryangmeijun.htm(accessed14Aug2014)
http://www.chinaqigong.net/english/qgsk/ymj.htm(accessed14Aug2014);
http://www.qimagazine.com/michaeltse.html(accessed14Aug2014);and
http://www.qimagazine.com/main.html(accessed14Aug2014).
http://www.wildgooseqigong.co.uk/qigong.htm.

116
1981inwhichtheyhavenoconflictingfeelingsbetweenYangsteachings,andhealingactivities
andscience:

Onthefoundationofherancestralmethod,masterYanglearnedfrom
reputedmasterseverywhere,finallyreachingahighlevelofaccomplishment
....Hermethodiscomplete;thereisnotechniquethatshedoesnot
master,beittheartsofthestillbody,themovingbody,orswordsmanship,
orevensitting,lyingorwalkingqigong,lightorheavyqigong,theemissionof
qi,diagnosingillnesses,orfeelingatadistance.Tospeakonlyoftheemission
ofqiatadistance,childrenwithExtraordinaryFunctionsandthosewhohave
ahighdegreeofqigongattainmentcanseeaprofusionofcolorsintheqi
flowingfromherhands....
AmongthedisciplesofYangMeijun,thegreatmajorityarescientific
researchers;thisistheresultofthemastersarduousefforts.Generally
speaking,scientificresearchers...haveaspecialdifficultyinlearningqigong.
ButMasterYangknowsfullwellthatfortheqigongcausetodevelop,it
cannotseparateitselffrommodernscientifictechnology.Ifwedont
transmithighlevelqigongvirtuositytopeoplewhoarecapableofleading
scientificresearch,theywontbeabletounderstandthenatureofqigong
nortoaccomplishresearchonqigong....
Qigongisapreciousscientificheritagewhichhasbeenbequeathedtousby
ourancestors.Conservingandtransmittingthisheritageisagloriousmission
conferredonusbyhistory.Ifthemillennialtransmissionofthisexaltedand
profoundvirtuosityweretobelostwithourgeneration,suchthatour
descendantswouldbeabletoresearchqigongonlythrougharchaeology,we
wouldbecondemnedbyhistory.Wetakethisopportunitytomakethiscall:
arise,topreserveanddisseminatethegrandandprofoundvirtuosityof
masterYangandothersimilarqigongfigures,sothatwecancontributeas
weshouldtoourcountrysresearchonthesystemofsomaticscience.320

Thisattitudewouldengenderlaterthecultofthecharismaticmaster,thatonewho
possessedextraordinaryormysticalpowers.
Theenvironmentintheearly1980swasripeforarenewedinterestintheoldtimeand
veryhumanconcernforreligion.RepressedinthetimesofMao,DengXiaopinghadopenedthe
doorsformorefreedominthisrealm,thusfostering,perhapswithoutdirectintention,a
religiousrevival.ThesetimessawtherebuildingoftemplesdestroyedduringtheCultural
Revolutioninthecountrysideaswellasthereformationofritualnetworks.Thecitieswere

320TranslatedinPalmer,QigongFever,8889.

117
moretameintheirrevivalorrather,wasexpresseddifferently.Citydwellersshowedtheir
Interestonthesubjectbybuyingbooksonreligioussubjectsandtelevisionshowswithreligious
themes.TheshowJourneytotheWest,forexamplewasadefinitehit.321Theexpressionofthis
mystiquewasparticularlystrongwhenitcametomartialarts.Weareallfamiliarwiththe
famousHongKongmoviesonthesubjectandinChinathefervorforthistypeofentertainment
wasnoless.Whocanforgetallthesemartialartsheroesflyingintheair,fightingand
overcominghundredsofenemies,couldappearanddisappearatwillandreadpeoplesminds,
allofwhichhadacquiredthroughthepracticeofneigong,innercultivationanancientrubric
forsomeofthepracticesnowassociatedwithqigong,namely,theuseofbreath,meditation
etc.Martialarts,nonetheless,havealwaysbeenstronglylinkedwithspiritualtraditionsand
viewedasspiritualpathsintheirownright.
Thusthegrandmasterswereabletobecomethesecharismaticpersonalitieswhocould,
notonlyteachbodytechnologies,butalsocurethesick;afterall,hepossessedthemagical
powersoftheancientmythicalfiguresthatallowedthemtodoso.Hewasalsoamanof
science,sinceqigongwasmorethanmysticalpursuits:qigongwasascience.
OthermasterstoappearinthesceneatthistimewereLiangShifengandZhaJinxiang.
Liangcameoutofamartialartsbackground.AsmentionedearlierinChinamartialarts,in
particulartheinternalmartialartssuchasTaiji,BaguaandXingyi,areconsideredcomplete
spiritualpathstorealization.Taiji,isprobablythemostrecognizedmartialartingeneral,
althoughnowadaysitistaughtasaformofqigongratherthanforitsmartialartsapplications.
Martialarts,then,havebeenunderstoodasasetofdisciplinesforthecultivationofthebodyin
amuchbroaderandspiritualway.Thisiswhathasbeencalledthedualcultivationofbodyand
mind.322Wemustkeepinmindforexample,thatitwasBodhidharma,thecreatorofZen
(Chan)inChina,whofoundedtheShaolintempleinChinainthefifthcenturyand
beganthephysicaltrainingofthemonks.
LiangShifengtaught,asGuoLin,theqigongofthespontaneousFiveAnimalsFrolic,
students

321Ibid8990
322OnthissubjectseeLiuHuaYangTranslatedbyEvawonginCultivatingtheEnergyofLife:ATranslationof

theHuiMingChinganditsCommentaries.ShambhalaPublications;1stedition.2013.

118
Weretaughttoconcentrateontheircinnabarfieldatthesametimethatthey
pressedrepeatedlyontheirnavelwithafingerwhilechantingthefollowing
mantra:Irangelikeanimmortalintheclouds....Iconcentratemymindonthe
cinnabarfield,anddeeprelaxationgivesrisetomovement.323AfterthisThe
practitionerswouldfallintoatrancethatcouldlastfromhalfanhourtotwo
hours.Duringthistimeseveralthingscouldhappen.Thepractitionercould
performaselfmassage,acupressureondifferentpartsofthebody.Sometimes
spontaneousmovementslikeTaijichuanordancemoveswouldbetriggered.On
otheroccasionsthepersonwouldrollontheground.Theideawasthataftera
periodofrefinementofthepractice,thepractitionerwouldspontaneously
imitatethemovementsofthefiveanimals,thatis,thoseofthetiger,thedeer,
thebear,thebird,andthemonkey.324

YanXin325


WithYanXinbeginstheeraofthetrueqigongsuperstarsduringtheyearsoftheqigong
fever,(qigongre).Thiswasayoungman,completelyunknownChinesemedicinepractitioner
who,in1985,rosetostardomafterheperformedamiraclecure.Hewasworshippedasagod
bythecrowdsandbecametheembodimentoftheqigongmaster,someonewhoheldinfinite
powersandusedthemmostlyforhealing.HewasborninapeasantfamilyinFuyanvillage,in
Sichuan.Afterfinishinghighschoolhehadbeensenttothecountrysideasabarefootdoctor.
AfterthishestudiedChinesemedicineattheChengduInstituteifChineseMedicine,whichled
himtoateachingpositioninMianyang,notfarfromhisownhometown.Aroundthistimehe
becamediscipleofthefamousShaolinmonkHaideng.Themiraclecureoccurredwhenhe
wasabletohealthroughtheuseofhispowers,JiangZili,amanthat,havingbeenstruckbya
truck,wasnotexpectedtorecoverhisfullmobility.Thus,withthehelpofthemediahewent
fromunknown,toregionallyknowntoanationalsuperstar.Hestartedtoreceiverequestsfor
healingfrompeoplealloverChina,andhe,asmuchashecould,obliged,roamingthecountry
andnotchargingforhisservices.Heestablishedhimselfasamanofhonestyandintegrity,a
trueservantofthepeople.

323DavidOwnby.OpusCit.,67
324Ibid
325ThissectionistakenmostlyfromDavidPalmer,OpusCit.Chapter5.

119
In1986ZhangZhenhuan,ahighrankingpoliticianatthetime,andanavidpromoterof
qigongheardofYanXinsexploitsandsummonedhimtoBeijingwherehewasaskedtoheal
severalinfluentialindividuals.Letussaythatthesesessionswentwellandpeoplewerepleased
withYanXinshealingpowersanditseffectsontheirhealth.BecauseofhishighstatusZhang
ZhenhuanwasverywellconnectedandthroughhisnetworksYanXinsreputationsoared.By
theendof1986hewascelebratedintheprominentnationalnewspaperGuangmingDaily,
whichsays,amongotherthingsineachcity,hetreatstheill,whodescribehismedicalartas
sublimeandvirtuousHecombinesinasinglebodyChinesemedicine,qigong,martialartsand
ExtraordinaryPowers;histreatmentsoftenhaveincredibleresults.326YanXinisalsoinvitedin
thesameyear,toconductexperimentsatQinghuaUniversity.Thesubjectmatteris,ofcourse,
Yansqi,andhisabilitiestohealthesick.OneoftheexperimentsconsistedinhavingYanemit
qiatadistanceofupto2000km,intodifferentsubstances.Theexperimentsweresuccessful
insofaraschangeswererecordedinthesubstances.Thesesubstances(0.9percentsaline,50
percentglucosesolution,and1.5mg/mlmedemycene)couldbefoundinhumancells,which
madetheexperimentsthemoreimportantasfarashealingisconcerned.Theconclusionwas
thatYanXinsqi,emittedfromlongdistances,andlaterwewilllearnthatdistancehaslittleor
nothingtodowiththeresults,couldtransformthemolecularstructureofwater.327Oncemore
weseetheevidenceofqiasamaterial,measurablesubstance.InJanuaryof1987thenewswas
reportedalloverChina,includingtheGuangmingDailyandtheinternationaleditionofthe
PeoplesDaily.ThusYanXinhadcorroboratedoncemorewhatinyearspriorhadcatapulted
qigongintotheqigongrealm.
YanXinwasstillreceivingrequestsforhealingfromalloverthecountryand,sohecould
benefitmorepeoplewithhishealingpowersChinaQigongScienceResearchSociety(CQRS)
createdanewwayinwhichhecouldtransmithismessage.ThiswasthePowerinducing
scientificqigonglecture(daigongqigongkexuebaogaohui).TheselecturesconsistedofYan
speakingtoanaudienceaboutthescientificaspectsofqigongaswellmethodsofpracticeand
healing.ItwaswhilehewasdeliveringthelecturesthatYanwouldemithisqitowardsthe
audience.Theideawastoconductscientificexperimentsontheeffectsofthemessages(xinxi)

326TranslatedinPalmer,OpusCit.,139
327Ibid.,141

120
YanXinwassending,ontheaudience.Thelecturesweresometimeslong,uptofourteenhours
sometimes.Theaudience,howeverremainedenthralled,ararityasfarasChineseaudiencesis
concerned.Manywouldexperiencetrancesandsometimesparaplegicswouldstandupand
walk.328
YanXingaveover200lecturesbetween1987and1988,totalinganaudienceof
approximatelyonemillion.Theselectureswerenotfree,butticketscosting100yuan,a
monthswagesatthetime,wouldbeusuallysoldoutinhalfaday.YanXinhadacquiredthe
fameasupercelebrity.
Therewereotherexamples(Palmersays,YanXinimitatorswerelegion)ofqigong
mastersrisingtoprominence,butforthepurposeofthisworkthesampleprovidedshould
suffice.

TheEndofQigong


Therewereseveraleventsthatbegantoweighdownonqigongandthefavorthatit
hadenjoyedinthissecondwave.Oneoftheseproblemswasthesocalleddeviations,thatis
statesofhealthchallengesthatweretriggered,exacerbatedordirectlycausedbythepractice
ofqigong.Thiswascalledzouhuorumo(orqigongpiancha .Thesheer
figureofqigongpractitionershadgrowntosuchnumbersthatthissyndromehadbecomea
problem.Whenpracticingqigong,dependingonthestyle(gongfa),thereisapotentialdanger
ofdevelopingthiskindofcondition.Thiskindofconditionischaracterizedby

uncontrolledeffects,eitherphysiological,asinbecominginflamed
headaches,nausea,orpaininvariouspartsofthebody,disruptedcirculationof
qi,increasedbloodpressure,uncontrolledbodymovementsetc.ormental,as
infallingintoaspelldelirium,paranoia,hallucinations,passivity,lossof
mentalfaculties,incoherentspeech,severeemotionaldistressorbehavior
harmfultooneselforothers.329Familiesbegantakingtheirrelativeswiththese

328Ibid.,144
329Ibid.,158

121
symptomstotheoutpatientclinicsofpsychiatrichospitals,someofwhichhad
openedspecialclinicsforthispurposeonly.Someofthesepatientswould
developseriouspsychopathologiesandendupdeadfromattemptingtoflyfrom
atallbuilding,forexample,orwouldrefusefoodordrinkwhiledoingabstention
fromgrainsorbigu.Otherswouldoutrightcommitsuicideinordertoascendto
heaven.Itgoeswithoutsayingthatthesecasesplayedrightintothehandsof
theantiqigongpolemicistsasammunitionagainsttheqigongsector.330


Theotherproblemthattheqigongsectorfacedatthetimewasthatofquackery.So
manyqigongmasterswantedtocashinonwhattheysawasagreatopportunityforprofit.The
powerinducinglectures,videoscreeningsandthesaleofqifilledobjectshadbecome
commoditiestobetradedinaqigongmarketofsorts.Thesceneturnedintoamyriadofself
proclaimedgrandmasters,offeringtheirservicesandcharginghighfeesforhealingsessionsand
qifilledobjects;asamatterofcourse,theyclaimedtobeabletocureanything.
Manyoftheextraordinarypowersdetractorshadbecomeconsiderablylouderintheir
skepticismandcrusadeagainsttheextraordinarypowersmovement.InMarchof1988the
ScienceandTechnologyDailyinvitedmembersofanAmericanassociation,theCommitteefor
theScientificInvestigationofClaimsoftheParanormal(CSICOP)toChinatoinvestigatethe
claimsofextraordinarypowers,offeringa$10,000towhoevercouldprovetheirexistence.
Embarrassinglyenough,thoseqigongmastersandchildrenclaimingtohavetheextraordinary
powerscouldnotdemonstratetheirallegedpowerstotheforeigndelegates.331Afewmonths
latereventhefamousZhangBaoshengcouldnotdemonstratehissupposedlyremarkable
powersinfrontofagroupofskepticalscientists.Thus,littlebylittle,thepopularityandfavor
encounteredearlyfromthepartofthegovernmentstartederoding.AftertheTiananmen
Squaremassacrein1989theauthoritiesdecidedtotightenthecontroloverqigongactivities,
makingdenominationsregistertheirschoolsaswellaslevytaxesonthem.Manyschools
closed.
TomakemattersworsethefamousZhangXiangYu,aqigongmasterwasarrestedin
Mayof1990forquackery.Aftershehadheldseverallecturesandmadeaconsiderableamount

330Ibid.,159

331Ibid.,160161

122
ofmoneyfromthem,manyofthepeoplethatattendedthemcamedownwiththeqigong
deviationsymptoms.Moreover,severalofthesepatientsdiedshortlyafterreceivingtreatment
fromher.Shewassentencedtosevenyearsinprison,afactwidelyreportedinthepress,which
calledherawitchandaswindler.Thiseventhadanunsettlingeffectontheqigong
community.332
YanXin,thefirstqigong,grandmastersuperstaralsocameonhardtimes.Aftergiving
hislasttwopowerinducinglecturesinaShanghaistadiuminfrontofthousandsofpeopleonly
afewpeoplefeltYansqiandanotherdiedafterfallingdownwithconvulsions.
AftertheseeventsYanwasgivenapassportandinstructionstobettermakethistripto
theUSAalongone.ThingswerenotsafeinChinaconsideringtheatmospherethattheanti
qigongmovementhadfosteredinthelastfewyearsandtherathervisiblefailuresofsome
aspectsofqigong.Theqigongfeverhaddefinitelysubsidedbythemidnineties.Andthefallout
ofFalungongwiththegovernmentmadeqigongsimplyamarginalenterprisenolonger
supportedbytheofficialregime.

AWordonFalunGong


InSeptemberof1999IfulfilledalifelongdreamofminebygoingtoChina.Ihadbeen
livingindifferentcountriesinAsiasinceSeptemberof1995,andhadbeeninTaiwanforovera
yearbythen.So,Iboughtaticket,packedmybackpackandoffIwent.Myintentionongoingto
MainlandChinawastwofold.FirstIjustwantedtogoandvisitthatoldand,atleastaccording
toancientsources,amagnificentculture.However,Ihadbeenbitterlydisappointedthefirst
timearound,whenIarrivedinTaiwan(andAsiaforthefirsttime),anditlookedmuchmore
grimandrundownthatIwaspreparedfor.Asonecanimagine,thistimemyexpectationswere
nottoohigh.Learningaparticularformofqigongwasmysecondreason.Idecidedtopractice
Zhinengqigong,betterknownintheUSAaChilelqigong.Ifthisparticularstylewasnot
availableIwaswilingtostudysomeotherstyleorqipractice.InTaiwanmyexperiencehad

332Ibid.,165

123
beenthatfindingpeoplefromwhomtolearnqigongwasusuallynotaproblem;andforwhat
hadbeentoldaboutChina,Ishouldhavethesameexperience.Afterathirtyhourtrainride
fromHongKong,IarrivedinBeijing.ThefirstdayItooktimeandgotsomewhatacquainted
withthehotelandthesurroundings.Afterthis,Iwasreadytogoouttofindsomeqigong
practitioners.However,aftervisitingacoupleparks,mostofwhichchargedafeetooutsiders
togetin,Icouldntreallyfindthatgrouporjustaboutanyothergrouppracticingqigong.There
werepeoplearoundbut,byChinesestandards,theparksweredeserted.Itriedtoapproach
someofthepeoplethatwerethereandinquireaboutpeopleorcourses,but,apparently,no
onewantedtohavemuchtodowithme,muchlessaboutqigong.
AtthetimeIhadnotrealizedwhathadhappened.Wehadallheardthenewsabout
FalunGonghavingfallenoutofgracewiththegovernment.ThistookplaceinMarchof1999.
NowitwasSeptember,andtomysurprise,theproblemsFalunGongpractitionersfacedhad
notabated.Notbyalongshot.Addinginsulttoinjury,itwasnotonlyFalunGongthathad
fallenoutofgracebuttheentireqigongcommunityaswell.
IstayedinBeijingafewmoredays;IvisitedtheGreatWallandtheSummerPalace,as
onedoeswhenvisitingBeijing.Aftermyoriginalplanshadbeenthwarted,Iboughtanother
trainticketandheadedforChengdu,ontheothersideofChina.Thiswasamostdefinitely,no
funthirtyonehourlongsittingtriptothewesterncornerofChina.Thetripwasgruelingand
myfeetremainedswollenforacoupleofdaysafterarrivinginChengdu.Chengduseemedmore
tranquilthanthebuzzing,massivemetropolisthatisBeijing.OntheothersideofChina,far
fromtheepicenteroftheFalunGongdebacle,thetoneoftheinsurrectionhadnothitashard.
Atleastthatwasmyguess.Idoubt,nevertheless,thattheFalunGongpractitionersweretotally
offthehooktherebuteveryoneelseseemedtobe.
Theatmospherewasalsomoreconducivetopracticingqigong.ThistimeIhadno
problemfindingagroupofpractitioners.AsluckwouldhaveitIfoundalivelygroupofzhineng
qigongpractitionersrightacrosstheriver,andthehotelIwasstaying.Theypracticedeveryday
atsixthirtyinthemorning,foratleastcoupleofhours,sometimeslongerthanthat.Ididthis
foraboutaweek,andtheydidnotevenchargeme,whichIfoundsurprising.

124
WhathappenedtoFalunGong?WhydidtheyfalloutofgracewiththeChinesestate?
Thisdoesnothaveasimpleanswer.Howeverwewillbeginbystating,asweallknowforsure,
butmustbesaid,thattheChineseCommunistParty,asageneral,Marxistprinciple,thinks
poorlyofanyreligiousmovement,inanyshapeorform.Letusrememberthatqigonghadtobe
excisedofallitsfeudalundertonesjustsotheChineseauthoritiescouldacceptitasaviable
medicalpractice,neverasasourceofspiritualnourishment,whichitwasanyway.Thisis
somethingthattheycouldnevercompletelyeradicate.
FalunGongpractitionershave,bytheirownadmission,saidthatitisnothingmorethana
cultivationpractice.333TheriseofFalunGong,onheotherhand,hastobeattributedtohis
founderLiHongzhi,whodidwhateveryotherqigongsuperstaroftheqigongfevererahad
donetomakehisparticularschoolofqigongpopular.Hetouredthecountrygivinglectures,
sellingbooksandtapes,thusbuildinganationwideqigongorganization.FalunGongwas,most
definitely,anotherschoolorstyleofqigonggongfa,acultivationpractice,althoughLimade
greateffortstodifferentiatehisbrandofqigongfromtherest.However,fromthestartqigong
hadalwayshaditsdetractorsifnotoutrightenemies.TheCulturalRevolutionhadseena
resurgenceoftheseantagonisticviewsandmanypractitionerssufferedasaconsequence.The
enemiesofqigonghadnevertotallygoneawayandintheearly90stheirpowerwasonthe
riseonceagain.Theirreasonsweretheusualsuspects.Religiousactivitiesorthoughtwerenot
welcomeinacountrythathadbeentryinghardtoexciseitsfeudalandsuperstitioustraditions
fromthecultureingeneral.Lihadnothelpedhiscauseortheqigongcauseatlarge,byplacing
somuchemphasisonhimselfasthesourceoftheteachingandnooneelse.Forexample,he
declaredthathisbook,Zhuanfalun(therevolvingdharmawheel)hadtobeconsideredthe
bibleforFalunGongpractitioners,334andonlybyreadingandrereadingthisonebookone
couldhopetocometoatrueunderstandingoftheteachings.Liwasquiteadamantthatno
oneexcepthimwastoteach,preach,orexplainZhuanfalunandthatpractitionerswereto
establishaonetoonerelationshipwiththemaster,nomatterwherehisphysicalbodymight
be.335

333DavidOwnby.FalungGongandtheFutureofChina.OpusCit.23
334Ibid
335Ibid

125
Ofcourse,theqigongexercisesweretobecontinued,thiswasafteralloneofthemain,
ifnotthemainaspectsofthetradition.And,asPalmerhadastutelynoted,qigongwasabody
centeredreligiosity,regardlessofwhattheChineseauthoritieswantedtobelieve.Thebody,
likeanyothercultivationexerciseofembodiment,remainedthecenterofthispractice.
Inearly1995Li,apparentlysuspectingthatsomethingwasamiss,chosetoleaveChina
fortheUnitedStates.Perhapsbecauseofthis,theFalunGongpractitionersbecamemore
activeintheirpeacefulprotestsagainstwhattheyconsideredslightsormisrepresentationsby
themediaanddemandedequaltimeforthemselvestodefendtheircause.Inthebeginning
theslightswerenotdirectedexclusivelyatFalunGongbutatqigongatlarge.
DavidOwnbyputstheeventsthatfollowveryclearly,

Anabsentmaster,devotedpractitionerswillingtoengageincivildisobedience,
andacentralgovernmentlessandlessenamoredoftheqigongmovement
suchweretheingredientsforadisaster,andallwereinplacebythelate1990s.
Andindeed,whenapeacefulFalunGongprotestinmidApril1999inthe
northerncityofTianjin,inresponsetoacriticalarticleappearinginalimited
circulationjournal,wasmetwithpolicebrutality,adecisionwasmadesurely
byLiHongzhi,whowasinBeijingenroutetoAustraliatoemploythesame
strategyatthehighestpossiblelevel,thatofChinascentralleadership.Thus,on
25April1999,some10,000FalunGongpractitionersstagedapeaceful
demonstrationoutsidethegatesofZhongnanhai,theguardedcompoundwhere
mostofChinasrulingeliteliveandwork,astonesthrowfromTiananmen
Square.336

FalunGonghadtakentheauraofaspiritualmovement,andonethatcould,becauseof
thesheernumbersandorganization,challengetheauthorityoftheChineseCommunistParty.
LiHongzhihadestablishedhimselfasaleadingfigure,andonethatcouldmobilizemassesof
practitioners.Needlestosaythatthiswasnotagoodformulaforthegroupinquestionsinceit
puttheminacollisioncoursewiththestate.Andthecollisioncame.Aftertheevents
mentionedabovetherewasamajorcrackdownonanythingthatwouldevenresembleqigong
andmuchmoreiftheindividualswereconsideredFalunGongpractitioners.FalunGongwas

336Ibid.15.

126
indeed,areligiousmovement,337asIthinkthatqigongalsowas(andstillis).Thesestrandsof
spiritualitywouldhideundertheguiseofcultivationpractice,butattheircore,nomatterhow
scientificthestatewantedtoportraitsomeelementsofqigong,qigongfilledavacuumleftby
the(apparent)disappearanceofreligiousexpression,earlyinthetakeoverbytheCCP.
Atanyrate,therestofthestory,widelyreportedintheinternationalmedia,iswell
known.ThecrackdownbyJiangZeminwasforceful,toputitmildly.JiangZeminconsideredthe
actionsofFalunGongachallengetotheauthorityoftheCommunistPartyandvowedtocrush
Liandhisfollowers.Inacampaignthatcontinuestothisday,FalunGongpractitionershavelost
overthreethousandlives,andmorethanahundredthousandhavebeensenttolaborcamps.
Aroundsixthousandwerehavebeenjailedandhundredsofthousandshavebeenarrestedand
detained.338

337Ibid5
338Ibid

127
CHAPTER5
MYQIGONGEXPERIENCEWITHDRZHANG

Dr.ZhangsTaiji


ImetDr.Zhanginthewinterof1991whenhewasteachingaforcreditWustyleTaiji
classatSamraUniversityinLosAngeles,California,whereIhadenrolledtostudyTraditional
ChineseMedicine(TCM).339
IhadbeenpracticingYangstyleTaiji(alsoTaiChi)fromtheageofsixteenandIknew
thatQigongpractitionersconsiderTaijiadynamicformofQigong.340AfamousTaijiteacher,
WuTuNan,wholivedtotheripeageof103,haddevelopedtheWustyletaughtbyDr.Zhang.
Dr.ZhangtoldmethatheandhisteacherhadbeenverycloseandWuTuNanwasvery
sensitivetohisqi.IfIhadbeeninChina,hesaid,hewouldprobablystillbealive.His
implicationwasthathecouldhecouldhavepreservedtheoldteachershealthwithmedical
Qigong.
AtthestartofeachTaijiclass,Dr.Zhangwouldstandinthenorthernmostpartofthe
room,facingwest.Fromthere,hewouldbegintheopeningmovementofTaiji.Fromtheoutset
IobservedthatDr.Zhangsversionoftheslowanddeliberate,gracefullyflowingmovements
wassubtlydifferentfromthemorewidelypracticedYangstyleTaiji,withwhichmostofhis
studentswerefamiliar.The108movesofWuTaijifollowthesamesequenceastheYangstyle,
buttheWuformsaresofterandmorerelaxed,andplacemoreemphasisonstretchingthe
limbsandjoints.
Thefifteenstudentswouldspendthe90minuteclassesmirroringDr.Zhangsforms.For
didacticpurposes,hedividedthe108movesintodifferentsections.Everyweekwewould
advanceinanewsectionandthenaddittothesegmentsalreadylearned,thuspracticing

339TheonlyotherschoolatthetimethatofferedcreditforsimilarcourseswasNaropaInstitute(nowcalled

NaropaUniversity)foundedinthe1970sinBoulder,Colorado,bythelateTibetanlama,ChogyamTrungpa.
340Qigong,asdiscussedinpreviouschapters,isanumbrellatermdevelopedinthelate40sandearly50sin

CommunistChinatodescribeandfomentawidearrayofoftendisparatetechniquesstemmingfrom
millenniaoldlongevitypractices.

128
increasinglongersequencesofmovements.Imitatinghisprecisemovementstookagooddeal
ofenergyandconcentration.Sometimeswestoodbacktowatchintentlyasherepeatedly
demonstratedthemoredifficultmoves.Theroomwassilentduringthesetimes,everyone
deeplyfocused,tryingtogetwithourbodiestheexercisethemasterwasconveying.Then,
whenhesensedweweregrowingtired,wewouldtakeabreak.Immediatelytheclasswould
comealivewithtalking,laughter,andperhapsabitofmoaningbecauseofachymuscles.After
tenorfifteenminuteswewouldbeginagain.
DuringthesebreaksIwouldapproachDr.Zhangtoseekanswerstothemanyquestions
thathaddevelopedinmymindovermyyearsofpracticing,readingandthinkingaboutTaiji.His
commandofEnglishwaspoor,butsomehowIcouldalwaysmakemyqueryclearenoughfor
himtounderstandme,andhewasinvariablypatientandkindandwillingtosharehis
knowledge.341
Mymaininterestwastheqi(Chinese:energyorlifeforce)aspectofthepractice.I
wouldaskwhethertofocusthemindhereorthere,ortoholdanimagethisorthatway,or
howtheqiwassupposedtomove,andsoforth.Irememberaskingaboutanauthorwho
recommendedvisualizingtheqirisingfromtheearthintothelegsandthenshootingoutthe
armswhileperformingthean(apushingmovement).Theresnoneedforthat,Patrick,he
said,anddidthepushingmovementwithhislefthandwhilepointingatthefloorandtracinga
pathuphisleg,trunk,andarm.Ifyoupushanduseyouryi(mindintent),yourenergywilldo
thatonitsown.
SinceTaijiwasoriginalamartialart,thereareseveralmartialmovementsthat,because
theyareperformedsoslowlytheydonotseemtoomartiallike.Therearekicks,kneeing,and
punchestobesure,butthoseareperformedslowlyandwithgreatawareness.Themainideais
toremainrelaxedatalltimewhilepracticing.Anoftenrepeatedinstructionistoguidethe
movementwithyourmind.Italsocallsonotherimagessuchasrepulsethemonkeyorsingle
whip,brushingyourkneeetc.Perhapsthemostfamous,andwemayadd,mostusefulin
termsofharmonizingtheenergiesandhelpingitsflowiscloudhands.

341IhadnotstudiedChineseatthattime.Later,whilelivinginTaiwan,Istudiedbothinuniversitycoursesas

wellasprivately.Itremainsaworkinprogress.

129
Dr.ZhangsMedicalQigong


TwomonthsaftertheTaijiclass,IbeganayearlongcourseinMedicalQigongwithDr.
ZhangandDr.HuaHuang.MedicalQigongisthepracticeofusingonesqitohealothers.
Qigonghasalargenumberofstyles(called,inChinese,gongfa).LikethevariousstylesofTaiji
(calledshi,inTaijiparlance),eachgongfainterpretsacoresetofmovementsallofwhich
stemfromanancientsetoflongevityexercises.
TheoneyearcoursemetonSundaysfrommorningtolateafternoon.Dr.HuaHuang,a
Qigongphysicianwhohadresearched,amongothertopics,theeffectsofQigongonasthma
patients,taughtthemorningsession.HerresearchendedabruptlywiththeadventofMaos
CulturalRevolution.Dr.Huangwassenttojailforfouryearsofreeducation.Dr.Huangtaught
usfundamentalQigongpracticessuchasdeeprelaxationtechniquesandherversionoftheSix
HealingSounds.
IfeltfortunatetobeabletotrainundertheguidanceofthesetwoChineseQigong
masters,andmanyoftheirpracticesandinstructionsremainclearinmymindandformpart
andparcelofmyownpracticeandteaching.
NeartheendofthecourseIexperiencedfirsthandDr.Zhangspotentemanationof
healingqi.Hestoodeightfeetorsofromme,whileIsatwithmyarmsandhandsfacingupand
relaxedonadesk.HisenergywassostrongthatIhadahardtimestayingawakeduringthe
treatment.Thetangiblewavesthatflowedintomybodyincludedtheuncannysensationthat
hisfingerswereactuallymassagingmyeyeballs!
MyclassmatesmotivationsforenrollingintheQigongcourseweretypicalforthiskind
ofprogram.Somehadsomehealthchallenges,andanoftcitedreasontoattendwastolearn
stressreductiontechniques.TraditionalChineseMedicine(TCM)practitionerswereinterested
inlearningqigongtoaddtotheirmedicalpractice,andalsowantedthetechniquesforself
healing.Treatingpatientsdailyistaxingandthehealercanusuallyabsorbsomedegreeof
toxicity;Qigongisextremelyusefulinhelpingtodetoxifyfromharmfulenergiesthatareoften
presentwhenencounteringothers,evenwhenahealingexchangeisnotthereasonforthe
interaction.Additionally,TCMpractitionerswantedtobeabletoteachQigongtotheirpatients

130
topracticeontheirown,thusbecomingmoreawareoftheenergiesthatflowintheirbodies
andtoempowerthemtobeahealingforceintheirownandotherslives.
AprerequisiteinattendingaQigongsessionistobeabsolutelysober.Dr.Zhangmadeit
veryclearthatdrunkennessorbeingundertheinfluenceofrecreationaldrugswasabsolutely
prohibited.Oneofthestudents,amaninhislatetwenties,admittedduringoneofthesessions
thathewasfondofdoingdrugs.Dr.ZhangreprimandedhimsayingthatthepracticeofQigong
wasincompatiblewithdruguse.Thiswasnotpassingjudgment,heexplained,butamatterof
safety.Drugsinducealteredstatesofconsciousnessandsuperchargingthosestateswith
qigongcouldpotentiallydamagetheenergysystem.Hewarnedthatthisdangerous
combinationhadbeenknowntotriggerpsychoticepisodes.

SubtleAnatomyandPhysiology


ThepracticeofQigongassumestheexistenceofasubtleanatomyandphysiology,a
dimensionwithinthephysicalbody/materialphysiologythatonecanaccessifoneknows
whereandhowtofocusattentionuponit.Webeganeachsessionbystandingquietlyforafew
moments,preparingtobecomemoreawareofthesubtleenergybody.Dr.Zhangwouldguide
usinwaystohelpusdevelopthesenseofoursubtleenergywithoutlettingthatsense
overwhelmourlearning.Relaxationallowstheqitoflowmoresmoothly,andwhenqiflows,
oneisenabledtorelaxevenmoredeeply.Thenextstepistoplacethemind(oryi,mind
intent)attheenergycenteratthecrownofthehead.Classicalyoganamesthiscenter
sahasraradalapadma,orthethousandpetallotus,whileDaoisttextscallitbaihuior
thehundredmeetingpoints(alludingtothenumerousacupuncturechannelsthatconverge
atthecrown).Itisalsolabeledacupuncturepointnumber20onthedumai(governing
channel).ThispointisextremelyimportantinacupunctureandQigongaswellasotherenergy
healingartsthatusethesubtleanatomytotreatdisharmonies.Afterfocusingforsometimeon
thispoint,Dr.Zhanginstructedustoimaginethatwewereragdollsdanglingbyafinefilament
fromthislocusatthecrownofthehead.Wewereguidedtorelaxdeeplyandtoelongatethe

131
spine,bothphysicallyandinourminds.Tangibleenergywouldbegintofillupthequietroom.It
wasapalpablesensation,aswhenonenoticeselectricityintheair,orthataroomisthick
withtension(aswhenonesays,Youcouldcuttheairwithaknife.).Ifthisparticularexercise
wentonlongenoughitwasnotunusualtofeelsostressfreeinthispositionthatonecould
entirelylosetrackofthebody,feelingonesexistencetobeanincorporealfieldofenergy.

ThreeMajorEnergyVortexes


Aftertheinitialqiexercise,wewouldproceedtofocusingonthethreemajorenergy
vortexes,calledthethreedantienorcinnabarfield,betterknownasthefieldof
elixir.342Dr.ZhangalsousedtheSanskritwordchakra(wheelorvortex)becausemost
studentsweremorefamiliarwiththisterm.Thesecentersareareasinthesubtlebody/physical
body,whereenergyaccumulates,hencetheideaofavortexorhub.Themostemphasizedis

thelowerdantien ,inandaroundthenavelarea.Sometextsdescribethelowerdantienas

thewholeareafromthebottomofthepelvistothenavelandlowerback;othersrefertothe
lowerdantienastheareadeepinthebodybetweenthenavelandthespine.Whicheverlocus
onechooses,theeffectoffocusingattentionthere,imaginingthatoneisbreathingthroughthe
area,triggersarelaxationresponse,whichtheChinesecallrujing(enteringstillness).
Dr.Zhangsinstructionsregardingtheactuallocationofthedantienwherepurposelyimprecise:
hewouldsimplysay,Behindthebelly.Hewantedus,individually,tofindourowndantien,
anddiscoverawaytofocusonitthatwouldworkforus,ratherthangiveusdetailed
instructionsthatwouldlimitourabilitytoexploreanddiscernonourown.

UpperDantianShangDantian

342CinnabarfieldisatermborrowedfromtheChinesealchemicaltraditioninwhichtheproductof

alchemicaloperationswascinnabar,understoodasanelixir.

132
Next,wewereinstructedtofocusthemindorattentiononthecenterbetweenthe
eyebrows(inSanskrit,ajnachakra),andfromittobringattentiontothedeepcenterofthe
head.Thisistheupperdantien,popularlyknownasthethirdeye.

MiddleDantianorZhongDantian
Islocatedinthemiddleofthechest.

LowerDantian,XiDntin
Locatedaroundthenavel,afewinchesinsidethebody.Oftentimesconceivedasthe
wholelowerabdomenarea,withitscenterbetweenmidwaythenavelandthespine.

Dr.Zhangwouldtellustoimaginemovingapulsatingballofshimmeringenergylocated
inthemiddleofthelowerbellybetweenthenavelandthespine(lowerdantian),upanddown
afewinches.Thistechniquewouldarousetheqitoflowandwouldoftentriggerspontaneous
movements.WeknowfromTCM,whichsharesmostofitstheorieswithQigong,thatthestate
ofbodilyharmonyorhealthisastateinwhichlifeenergycoursesfreelyanduninterruptedly
throughthemeridians,organs,andvessels.Bringingawarenesstothebody,andinparticular
thedantien,increasestheavailableenergyand,whenthedantienbecomesfullofenergylikea
damthathasreacheditsbrim,theqibeginstooverflowandfloodintothedifferentenergy
channelsandareasofthebodymind.
IthinkthatDr.Zhang,beingwellawareofthepotentialdangerofpracticingQigongtoo
intentlyorevenobsessively,wasalwayscautiousofwhathewasteachingus.Henever
overwhelmeduswithdifficultexercisesandheoftenemphasizedtheneedtotakeiteasy.Once
whenweweredoinganexerciseandhewasexplainingwheretoplacetheyiormindintent,I
asked:Howmuchmindshouldweplacethere?Fiftypercent?Hereplied,No,fiftypercentis
toomuch.Tenpercentisenough.Therest,justrelax;letgoofthatother90percentofthe
mind.
Dependingonthestateofhealthoftheindividual(whichcanvaryfromdaytoday),a
personpracticingQigongmightexperienceadeepsenseofwellbeingandevenalteredstates

133
ofconsciousness.Astateofsublimepeace,forexample,isnotuncommon.Othercommon
experiencesmayinvolveavividsensationofqiflowingthroughthemeridiansorpulsatingin
oneparticularareaorchakra.
Ontheotherhand,peopleattimesfeelnauseated,oroutrightsick.Aspontaneous
movementmayoccur,asthebodyisimpelledbytheinnerurgetocontortorstretchorshake
uncontrollably.Theseartlessmovementsarenotusuallyextremeandexaggeratedbutat
timestheymayseembizarre!Mostoften,peoplesimplyfeeltheimpulsetomoveorwalk,raise
theirarms,bendforwardorbackward,twistandstretch.Othersmayperformverysubtle
micromovements.
Atthispointintheexercises,Dr.Zhangwouldwalkaroundtheclassroomcheckingour
posturesandifIhadnotmovedwhenspontaneousmovementshadbeguninothers,hewould
gentlyplacehishandsonmyshouldersandpressfromsidetoside,apparentlytryingtoelicit
them.IhadmyeyesclosedbutIassumethathewentaroundtheroomdoingthistoothersas
well.Othertimeshewouldstandbehindussweepinghishands.HisenergywaspotentandI
couldfeelitseffectonmybodyasatinglingonmybackandafeelingofrelaxation.

TheMingmen ,TheGateofLife


Nextinthesequencewouldcomefocusingthemindintentonthenavel.Weweretold
toimaginedrawingastraighthorizontallinetowardthebackuntilittouchesthespine.Inthe
practiceofQigong,weoftenfocusedonthisimportantenergyvortex,calledmingmen,
(gateoflife,locatedonthespinedirectlybehindthenavel).Whilegentlyswayingthebody
backandforth,weweretaughttopicturetheenergyflowingfromnaveltospineandback.We
repeatedthisexerciseseveraltimes.

134
AnimalMovements

TheElephant.Arrivingnextinthesequenceareanimalimitatingmovements.These
exercisesneednotbeperformedinanyprecisemanner,andinanyqigongworkshoponecan
seehoweachstudentinterpretsthesemovementsaccordingtohisorherownidiosyncrasies.
Thenextexerciseinthesequenceiscalledtheelephant.Itsnamederivesfromthe
observationthatwhenelephantsfeelanxious,theyswayfromsidetoside,slightlyliftingone
frontlegandplacingmostoftheweightontheother.TheQigongversionistorotatethehips
towardsoneside,thentheother,withoutstraining,whilelettingthearmsfollow.Theweight
shiftsfromlegtoleg.Thedangling,floppingarmsdonotapplyanyforceinthemovement.This
exerciseactivateswhatispopularlycalledthecore,butfromamoresubtlepointof
reference.Thecore(lowerdantien)isthemostimportantandfundamentalenergytoactivate
andkeepactivatedthroughoutourlives.Thecore,ordantian,isofmajorimportinQigong(and
intantra/kundaliniyogaaswell),andaQigongstudentcontinuestheartoffocusingthemind
onit,evenatthemasterylevelofadvancement.
ThemovementinthenextsectioniscalledImitatingthebear.Thisinvolveswalking
likeabear;thatis,placingmostoftheweightononelegandbringingthearmandshoulder
downonthesamesidewhilesteppingalittlemoreslowlythanusualandrepeatingthe
movementontheotherside.Onewalkslikeabearforafewminutes,whichfeelsveryplayful
andrelaxing.
NextisHorseshakesitsmane.Oneshakestheupperpartofthebodylikeahorse
quiveringitsmane.Thisexerciseinvolvesmanymuscles,andisexhilaratingandexhausting.It
getsbloodandqimovingquickly,andsweattricklingdownonesbrow.Thesubsequent
exerciseisBirdshakesitsfeathers.Itissimilartothepreviousmovementbutherethe
emphasisisonthearmsandshouldersratherthanthewholetrunk.Whenthisshakingisdone
onefeelsrefreshedandrelaxed,andoften,outofbreath.


135
OpeningtheJoints


Thenextsequenceusesthemindandcorrespondencesinthebodytoopenup
differentjoints.Thus,onefollowsthemaxim:Firstconnect;thenstretch.Onestartswith
eithershoulder(letusbeginwiththeright),focusingattentionontherightshoulderjointuntil
itrelaxes.(Onemayincludetheintentiontorelaxtheshoulder,buttherelaxationwilloccur
automaticallyjustthroughfocusing.)Oncewefeeltheshoulderarearelaxedandexpanded,we
bringthemindtothelefthip.Thisisaccompaniedbyamovementoftheshouldertowardsthat
hip,sooneslouchesslightlytotheleftside.Whenonefeelstheconnectionbetweenthetwo
jointsoneslowlybringstheshoulderbacktouprightposture.Thepurposeistoopenboththe
shoulderandhipjoint,andtolinkthebodyspartsinawaythatisharmonious,increasingthe
overallflowofqiandfeelingofoneness.Onerepeatsthismovementseveraltimesuntilone
sensesonehassuccessfullyopenedthosetwojoints.Thenonemovestotheleftshoulderjoint
anddoesthesameexercise.Afterthatcomesthejointproximatetotherightshoulder,i.e.,the
rightelbow.Onefocusesthereforafewminutesuntiltheelbowjointfeelsrelaxedand
expanded.Afteronegetsthissensation,onemovestowardstheleftknee,slouchingtotheleft
aswhenonedidtheshouldertohipmovement.Onelinksinawarenesswiththeleftknee.
Thenonestretchestheelbowwiththekneeuntilthekneerelaxesandexpands.Thisbringsa
greaterflowofqiandbloodtobothjoints.Infact,focusingattentiononanyareaofthebody
willhavethesameeffect.343
Finally,isthewristankleconnectandstretch.Onerepeatsthesamesequencebut
nowwiththewristandankle,oppositeeachother.Aftercompletingtheexercisewiththethree
jointsonbothsides,onewemoveontothefollowingexercise.


343Onecandoaneasyexperimenttodemonstratethis.Whilesittingquietly,placeattentioninthepalmofthe

righthand.Inevitably,afterafewminutes,onewillfeelatinglingorwarmsensationinthepalm.Ifweinspect
theskinofthepalmwewillnoticethatitwilllookredderthanusual,aresultofincreasedblood(andqi)flow
toit.

136
PengLuJiAn


Thenextsection,alsodonewhilestanding,istakenfromthemostimportantTaiji
movementsknownasPeng,Lu,Ji,andAn.(wardoff,rollback,press,
andpush).Firstispeng,wherearmsfloatupward,likeacanoefloatingonwater.Whileone
performsthismovement,veryslowly,themindfocusesonthehuiyinpoint,,(the
perineum,betweenthegenitalsandtheanus).Intaiji,pengisdonetoeitherside,butit
Qigongitisusuallyperformedwithabalancedstanceraisingbothroundedarmsinfrontofthe
body.
Luisdonewiththearmscomingdowndiagonallyortothesideswhiletheattentionis
focusedonthebaihuipointatthecrownofthehead.Thisexerciseattemptstoraisethe
qi,startingasusualatthebottom,withtheideathatqimustfirstriseupthespine,andthen
descendonthefrontofthebodyviatherenchannel.Onebringstheqibackdownwiththe
remainingmovementsofthesequence.
TheJimovementsbeginwithplacingtheleftarminfront,palmfacinginwardatthroat
height.Onebringstherighthandlightlytothewristandpressesagainstanimaginaryforce
withthebacksideofthelefthandandwrist,likepushingaballoonforwardandthen
reboundingbackward.Thenoneperformsthesamemovementontheotherside.
Anmeanspushing.Itinvolvestwosteps:firstonebringsdownthearmsasifsinking
aballinwater,andthenreboundingupward.Dr.Zhangemphasizedthisreboundingaction.
Whenheperformedanitlookedasifabuoyantforceactuallywaspushinghisarmssuddenly
butsoftlyupward.
Abreathingexerciseendsthesequenceofstandingexercises.BreathinginQigongand
innearlyallDaoistpracticesisdoneasifrespiringthroughthelowerabdomen(dantien).344This
finalexerciseinvolvesstandingstraightandpressingbothhandsinwardonthenavelwhile
exhaling.Wheninhaling,onepushesthehandsoutward,inflatingtheabdominalarea.This
trainsthebodymindtobreathemorefully,asweoncedidnaturallyaschildren.Breathingin

344TheZentradition,aswell,emphasizestheimportanceoffocusedbreathingonthedantien(inJapanese,

tanden.)

137
andoutthroughthenosewetouchthetonguetotheupperpalate,behindtheteeth.This
latteractionhelpstoclosetocircuitoftwomainenergychannelsinthebody,namely,theDu
maiandtheRenmai,345creatingacurrentofqithatflows(usually,butnotalways)upthespine
anddownthefrontofthebodyrespectively.
Afterpracticingthemovementpartoftheseries,apalpableaccumulationofqi,feltby
everyone,energizedthesittingportion.Again,thisperceptionofatangiblevitalitysharedby
thegroupcanbelikenedtothemuchmorecommonexperienceoffeelingacharged
atmospherethatonecouldcutwithaknifealthoughinthelattercase,thechargeis
usuallysomeemotionalorsexualtension.

TheSixHealingSounds


Wesatinchairsinacircle.IntheQigongcontext,chairsareusedinsteadofsittingon
thefloorlikemostmeditationtraditions,asthepurposeistobecomfortableenoughtodeeply
relax.Also,consideringthatmanypeoplewhocometothispracticedosowithhealth
challenges(QigongiswidelypracticedinChinesehospitals),itismorepracticaltousechairs.
Evenbedriddenpatientscanpracticebyslightlymodifyingtheirposture.DrZhangwouldsiton
thewesternsideoftheroomfacingeast,thetraditionalorientationbecauseoftheassociation
oftheeastwithsunrise.Isatacrossthecirclefacinghim,eyesopen.Wewereinstructedto
placehandsonknees,palmsup(areceptivegesturetoabsorbqi).Lookingatthefloor,wewere
tofocusourattentionontheapexofanimaginaryequilateraltriangleformedinfrontofour
feet(thebasebeingtheimaginarylineatthetoes.Thisexercisewastohelpusdispelnegative
orsickqi.Weexhaleforcefullyfivetimesthroughthetoeswhilekeepingourfocusonthe
apexofthetriangle.Thenweswitchthefocustothebaseofthetriangle,andfinally,place
awarenessonthetoes.

345Thesearethetwomostimportantchannelsinlongevitypractice.TheDuchannelrunsupthespine,and

theRenchannelcirculatesdownthefrontandcenterofthebody.ThiscircuitiscalledtheSmallHeavenly
Circle.

138
Theorderinwhichthesoundsareperformedmustfollowthenaturalparentchild
relationshipinwhicheachagentnourishesandthentransformsintothenext.Thatis,allfive
agentsorphases(lessaccuratelycalledtheFiveElements)areconceivedasenergyfunctions
thatengenderoneanother,andthisinterdependentschemeshowshowtheseenergies
operateinthebodyandalsointheuniverseatlarge.



9.TheFivePhasesDynamics346

Thenaturalsequenceinwhicheachagentfeedsandthenturnsintothenextagentisas
follows:wood,fire,earth,metal,andwater(pleaserefertothediagramsabove).
Withoutquestion,thismodeloftheanatomyandphysiologyofthesubtlebodyis
literallyoffthechartsofWesternmaterialisticscienceandmedicine.Towit:Westernanatomy
locatestheliverasthelargephysicalorganontherightsideofthetrunkbetweentheright
nippleandthelowerribcage;butChineseanatomyregardstheliverasafunctionoflifeenergy
ratherthanmerelyaphysicalorgan;assuch,theliverfunction(andenergeticchannel)is
locatedalongbothsidesoftheribcage.Thisisparticularlyobviouswhenliverdisharmoniesare
experiencedandthepainis,indeed,feltonbothsidesoftheribcagewheretheliverchannels
upthetorso.

346Charttakenfromhttp://blog.aoma.edu/blog/bid/307306/ChineseMedicineSchoolBasicFiveElement

Theory.6/16/2014(Opensource).

139
TheSounds


Wearesittingwithpalmsup,eyesopenedorclosed,preparedtopracticetheliver
soundthatcorrespondstothewoodagent.Theliversoundiswrittenxuandpronounced
shuuuuu(exactlyasifpronouncingthewordshoewithoutvoicingit).Oneletstheairoutof
thelungsthroughthethroatandmakestheliversoundbybringingthetonguetotheupper
palatebehindtheteeth.Soundingxu,wefocusontheLiver3point(taichongorgreatsurge
pointonthelivermeridian,aspotfoundbetweenthebigtoeandsecondtoeorinthe
depressiondistaltothejunctionofthefirstandsecondmetatarsalbones).Thisisamajor
acupuncturepointorlittlechakra,asIliketocallthem,andisfrequentlyusedinacupuncture
treatmentstohelpthelivermaintainorrecoveritsnaturalpatency.Typically,werepeatthe
soundsixtimes,butthisnumberisnotfixedandwemaysoundmoreorlessdependingonour
condition.Thefirstthreetimeswemakethesound,weimaginethevibrationcausingtheqito
flowoutwardsfromtheliverpoint,expellingthesickorpingqifromtheorganandbody.
Thelastthreetimeswemaketheliversoundwhilepicturinggood,positiveqienteringthe
meridianthroughtheLiver3channeltonourishandrebalancetheliver.Dr.Zhangwouldguide
usinperformingthesoundandsay,Qigoesoutfromthebodyandthen,onthethird
repetitionhewouldremindus,Thinkoftheenergyiscominginside,throughthepointintothe
organ.
ThenextsoundintheParentChildorderisthatoftheheart.Hereitisimportantto
keepthepalmsturnedup.Inpreparationtoperformingthesoundweplaceourawarenesson
thesideofthewristonwhichtheheartchannelruns,thatis,onthepinkyfingersideofthearm
andhand(refertochart).347OnthecreaseofthewristonthatsideislocatedtheHeart7point
orshenmen(gateofthespirit).TheheartsoundisHEmuchlikeexhalinganexaggerated
andsustainedsigh.Weapplythesamehealingprinciplesasinthepreviousorgan:Thefirst
threetimeswemakethesoundwefocusonsick,staleornegativeenergygoingoutthrough
theshenmenpoint;withthelastthreerepetitionsenergycomesinthroughthepoint,
nourishingtheheart.

347Specifically,onthepisiformboneandtheulna,ontheradialsideofthetendonofm.flexorcarpiulnaris.

140
Followingtheheart(thefireagent)wefindthatashesturnintoearth;theorgan
correspondingtoearthisthespleen.However,inTCMthespleenenergyfunctionsarerelated
tothestomachandpancreas,andwiththoseorganstheyformtheenergeticandfunctional
systemcalledearth.Wefocusawarenessatthesolarplexus,justbelowthesternum.Then
webringtheawarenesstotheinsideofthefootrightbehindthebigtoe;moreprecisely,the
pointproximalandinferiortotheheadofthefirstmetatarsalbone(Seechart).Thesoundof
thespleenisHU(hoooooooo),likepronouncingthewordwho,butwithoutemphasizing
thehsound.Wefollowthesamethreebreathexpulsion,threebreathreceptionprocedure
asabove.
Ashesturnintoearthandearthchangesintometal.NowwefocusontheLung7point,
liuque,onthesideoftheforearm.348ThesoundisSI,ahissingsoundmadewiththetongue
andtheteethcomingtogether.Werepeattheprocedureofthreeinsandthreeouts.
Thenextorganinthissequenceisthegallbladder.Althoughthisorgandoesnot
followthesequenceoftheFiveAgents,thegallbladder,alongwiththeliver,isconsidereda
majorenergyfunction,andiscalledtheofficialinchargeofourdecisionmakingability.The
soundofthegallbladderisXI,andonebringsawarenesstothetopsideofthefoot,349
Gallbladder42inTCM.Whenmakingthissoundoneistostretchthelipsasifsmiling.The
repetitionsforthissoundareseven;thefirstfourtimestheawarenessisonthesickqileaving
throughthepoint,cleansingtheorganandmeridian;onthenextthree,theqientersthepoint,
nourishingthegallbladderchannelandorgan.
ThelastoftheFiveAgentsisthekidneys,correspondingtotheelementwater.The
kidneysinTCMandDaoistyogaareofprimaryimportancebecausethemostfundamental
energiesthatallowlifetomanifestarefoundhere.Thispointwillbediscussedlater.One
focusesawarenessontheareabehindthenavelonthespine;morespecifically:twofinger
breadthsbelowthelowerborderofthespinousprocessofthesecondlumbarvertebra.The
soundforthekidneysisQUorCHUI,pronouncedChoooooanexplosivesound,much
likeasneezeahCHOO!(minusthefirstpart)andrepeatedninetimes.Thenegativeenergyof

348Itislocatedsuperiortothestyloidprocessoftheradius,approximatelyoneandonequarterinchesaway

fromthewrist
349Onthedepressiondistaltothejunctionofthefourthandfifthmetatarsals,onthelateralsideofthetendon

ofm.extensordigitiminimi.

141
thekidneysisfear.Ifanxietyisapersonalissue,onemaychoosetofocusonthisemotionwith
theintenttoameliorateit.However,thisisthelastorganinthesequenceandbynowthe
feelingofenergyhasbecomequiteintense.
Bynowenergyhastakenover;weareinalightorheavytrance,themindisinitsown
world,thebodymayfeelheavyorlight,orvanishedaltogether.Theqimightresonateasa
standingwaveinonespotorflowupthespine;itmightfeelcoldorhot.Attimeswefeltan
intensedesiretomove,propelledbytheenergysurgingwithin.Dontbealarmed,Dr.Zhang
assuredus.Itsokay.Thatsqidoingitsthing.Hetoldustoallowthemovementstooccur.
Sometimesitmayhappenthatwedonotfeelmuch,orfeelonlyasubtlesensation,likebeing
envelopedinanetherealcloud.Dr.Zhangsaidthatwhetherwefelttheenergyornot,itwould
workitshealingmagic,forexample,promotingafreercirculationofqiinthechannelsand
collaterals,andbringingaboutagreaterbalanceofyinandyang.350
OnceDr.Zhangsteppedintothecenterofthecircleofstudentsandopenedhishands,
fingerspointingtothesides,palmsfacingtheearth.Hemovedinasemicircleandactedasif
pushingsomethingintotheearth.Ithinkhewastryingtogroundtheenergy,theinvisible
forcewehadpouredintotheinnercircle.Attheendofthemeditationoneofthestudentssaid:
Dr.Zhang,youreabravemanforsteppingintothatcircle.Itdidntfeelasafeplacetobe.It
did,indeed,feelasifalltheenergieswehadridfromourbodieshadgatheredinahighly
chargedcloudinthecenterofthecircle.
Attheendofthesixsoundshealingpracticewewereinstructedtoimagineavertical
linerunningfromthecrownoftheheadtothehuiyinorbottomofthepelvis.Thisiscalledthe
zhongormiddlechannel,anenergeticlinethatisofparamountimportanceinthepractice
ofQigong.Thethreedantiensplustwootherenergeticareasareimaginedtobeballsofenergy
hoveringatdifferentpointsonthischannel.Indescendingorder,thebaihuiisthetopmostarea
atthecrown,followedbytheupperdantien(thirdeye),thenthemiddledantien(heart
center,atthelevelofthesolarplexus,belowthesternum),thenthelowerdantien(midlower
trunk,betweenthenavelandthespine),andlastisthehuiyin(theperineum)atthepelvicbase.

350Yinandyangareneverstaticallybalanced(50/50),butalwaysdynamicallyharmonizing:aseesawgame

inwhichtheamplitudemayvarylittleormuch,dependingonthestateofthebodymind.

142
Aftersomemomentsfocusingontheseareaswewereinstructedtoexpectsomekindof
sensation,perhapsapulsation,inthelowerabdomen.Nowtransfertheenergytothe
perineum,thenthecoccyx.Usually,theenergyflowsupthespineatthispoint.Ifnot,weare
instructedtowaitforthreebreaths,usingnaturalabdominalbreathing:weexhaleandfocuson
aparticularareatheninhaleandrelax,concentratingontheinteriorforehead(i.e.,upper
dantien).
WewereinstructedtonotworryifnofeelingofqiwasfeltintheabdomenortheDu
channel.Beginnersmoreoftenthannotdonothavesufficientqitoflowtothespine,orweare
notyetsensitiveenough.Italldevelopsinduetimethroughpractice.Itisimportantnotto
tenseupandtrytoforcethingsbecausethiscouldcausemoreharmthangood.
Finally,wemustconnectthethreedantiensinastraightline.Dr.Zhangemphasizedthat
thisstepwascritical.Doingthisensuredsurethattheqiwouldbestoredinthebodyandnot
getdissipated,bringingoureffortstonaught.

143
CHAPTER6
LIMINALITY,EMBODIMENTANDTHESIXHEALINGSOUNDSOFQIGONG

Introduction


Itistimetoaddressqigong,theexperience,andthestatesofminditelicitsfroma
differentperspective.ItisherethattheideasofanthropologistVictorTurnerwillproofuseful.
Whenexperiencingthedifferentstatesofconsciousnessthereisadistinctsteppinginto
somethingdifferent,somethingakintoaseparationfromordinaryreality.Turneralsodescribes
astateofseparation,theliminalstate,althoughwhenhedoesheisdescribingevents
happeningintherealmofsocialstructuresandeverydayintercourse.However,hisnotionsof
liminalityfitconvenientlywithintheparametersofideasIwanttoexplainusingthisconcept.It
ismyextrapolationofhisideaofliminalitywhereIdivergefromhisapproachbutonlyinthe
sensethatIuseittoexplainsomethingofadifferentsphere.ThusIwillapplythenotionof
liminalityand,itwillbeexaminedhow,andiftheideaofcommunitascanbeappliedtoqigong,
andtherealmofconsciousness.

VictorTurnersideaofLiminality


VictorTurnertakestheideaofliminalityfromtheFrenchanthropologistArnoldVan
Gennepinhisritesdepassage;heformulatedthisideaafterexaminingcertainculturalrituals
characterizedbyaperiod,orperiods,ofseparationfromthenormalcomingsandgoingsof
sociallifeandinteraction.Hedescribesthesenormaltimesasthestructureofpositions,the
basicmodelofsociety.351Wemustregard,hesays,theperiodofmarginorliminalityas

351VictorTurner.1964[1967]BetwixtandBetween.InTheForestofSymbols:AspectsofNdembuRitual.Pp.93

111.Ithaca,NY:CornellUniversityPress.46

144
aninterculturalsituation.352Themaximalexpressionoftheseritesdepassagearefoundin
theirpurestforminsmallscale,relativelystableandcyclicalsocieties,albeitthisideaof
liminalityisalsofoundinmoredilutedformsinmorecomplexones(whichexpressionisoften
foundinwhathetermedliminoidorliminallikeritualsorsocialsituations,asopposedtothe
fullorcompleteexpressionofthetraditionalones).Theritesthen,consistoftransitionsthat
involveachangeofstate,bywhichhemeansachangefromonerelativelyfixedcultural
conditionintoanother.Examplesoftheseareachangeinlegalstatus,profession,officeor
calling,rankordegree.353ForTurnerthisperiodisatransition,aprocessofbecomingand
transformation.Ritesdepassagethen,canbeunderstoodmetaphoricallyaswell;aswater
beingheatedtoboiling,orapupabeingthetransitionalperiodbeforeitstransformationintoa
moth.ForVanGennepalltheseritesoftransitionarecharacterizedbythreephases:
separation,margin(orlimen)andaggregation.Thus,thefirstpartinvolvesseparationand
detachmentfromthesocialstructurebysymbolicbehavior,fromanearlierfixedpointinthe
socialstructureorasetofculturalconditions(astate).354Thenextphase,however,isthe
stageofthepassenger,oftheambiguoustraveler,theonethatisneitherherenorthere.The
passengercomesfromaworldtangibleandknown,butintheliminalstateheorshepasses
througharealmthathasfewornoneoftheattributesofthepastorcomingstate.355Inthe
comingstateofreaggregationorreincorporation,thepassageisconsummated.Oncemorethe
stabilityofthenewstatehasbeenestablishedandthevoyagerbetweentherealmshasarrived
athisorhernewdestination.356
Thereareothercharacteristicsofthisstateofbeingintheliminalstate.Thus,the
thresholdpeople,i.e.,peopleinthatliminalstate,alsoconnotestheideaofinvisibility.Since
theyarebetwixtandbetween,thepositionsassignedandarrayedbylaw,custom,convention,
andceremonial.357Inthecaseofamale,thissocioculturalcontextdoesnotallowforthe

352Ibid
353Ibid
354Ibid47
355Ibid
356VictorTurner.TheRitualProcess.9495
357Ibid95

145
notionofnotaboynotaman,whichiswhatamaleinariteofpassagefrompubertyto
manhoodis.
Iargue,then,thatthepracticeofqigongelicits,theenteringintoanalternatestateof
consciousness,asubjectivestatetobesure,aliminalstateinwhichthestructuredworldceases
toexistforafewmoments,minutesorhours;theordinarystateofmindisleftbehind,forthe
durationoreffectoftheexercise.Thisstate,thisthreshold,isreachedbyvirtueofaninner
attitude,ashiftinattentionandintention,amentalstate;itisafocusingofthementalenergies
ontoaninnerlandscape,sometimesouteraswell,thatisnotofthisworld,ametaworld,asit
were.Itistheenvisioningofaworldofinneractivities,oforbs(organs),358functionsandforces
that,transcendingphysicality,embodyenergies,emotions,andotherqualitiesthatliebeyond
thepurviewofthiseveryday,downtoearthlife.
Thisinnerworldisaccessedbyashiftinourawareness,aturningofthemindseyefrom
theexternalworldtotheinnerlandscapeofthebodyconsciousness.Whenthepractitioner
doesthis,heorsheaccessesthesubtlerealmofenergiesandconsciousness,ofanotherbody,
thesubtlebody.Thisrealm,aswewillseemomentarily,istheworldthatqigongpresupposes
initsquestforhealthrecovery,healthmaintenanceorotherloftier,moremysticalgoals.
Here,wewillexaminethebodyasthelocusofthisinnerworld,thelimen,orthreshold,
takingintoaccountthefundamentalnotionsthattheoldlongevitypractitionersandDaoists
attributedtothemanifesteduniverse.

Communitas


VictorTurneralsosaysthatthereisacloseconnectionbetweensocialconflictand
ritualandthatamultiplicityofconflictsituationsiscorrelatedwithahighfrequencyofritual
performance.Itisdifficultnowtosayspecificallyandindividually,whythepeoplethat
attendedtheworkshopwhereindeedthere,butthereasons,forthemostpart,andasfarasI

358ThereisaconsiderabledifferencebetweenthewesternandChinesenotionsofthevisceraororgans.

Regardingthesedifferences,seeNathanSivin.TraditionalMedicineinContemporaryChina.Centerfor
ChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,1987)34

146
knowandremember,werehealingofsomekind,relieffromstress,debilitatingpain;even
curiosityshouldnot,perhaps,beexcludedasareasontoattendoneofthesecourses.Health
issuesareusuallyamajormotivatorforattendingsuchcourses,tobesure,butnotalways,asit
wasmycase.Iwastheretolearnmoreaboutqigong,toexperiencethenuminous,toexplore
myownbodymindcapabilitiesfurther,andtoinvestigatewhatIconceivedasalegitimate
spiritualpath.
Aswehaveseeninpreviouschapters,qigongasamodernincarnationoftheold
longevitytradition,is,ingeneral,conceivedasapracticeleadingtomaintaininghealthandthe
recoveryofhealthforsubjectswithhealthissues.Themotivationsforattendingthesixhealing
soundscourse,inaway,seemedtobeverysimilartothereasonsforwhichChinesepeoplevisit
theirparksearlyinthemorningtopracticeqigongwithothers.Qigongofferedindividualsthe
opportunitytoengageinmindbodycultivationandhealing,saysNancyChenwhendescribing
qigongaspracticedinparksacrossChina.Thenadds,Throughbreathingexercisesand
visualizationofqiqigongnotonlyofferedpleasurablesomaticexperiencesbutalso
generatednewbreathingspacesthattransformedthecontoursofdailylife.359Weshouldhave
noreasontobelievethatitwouldbeanydifferent,atleastinthisrespect,forAmericanshere
intheUnitedStates,althoughthesettingmaydifferfromthepopularoneconductedinthe
parksofChinaandattendedbythousandsormoreatatime.
ThemannerinwhichTurnerpresentstheideaofcommunitasinvolvessmall,
traditionaland,byandlarge,statelesscommunities.Inthebreakdownofstructureachieved
whengoingthroughtheritesdepassageinthesesocietieswefindtheliminalstateinwhichthe
positionsheldintheseinterimperiodsfallapart,givingplacetothestateofambiguityandun
structure,amomentoutoftimeandinandoutofsecularsocialstructure.360The
communitiesdealtwithinourworkareadifferentcasealtogether.Thepracticeinparksin
China,forexample,hasnorealsocialimplicationsasidefromthefactthatitisanactivity
sharedbyitsmembers,butitisnotmandatedbysociety,asisthecaseTurnerdiscusseswhen
expandingontheconceptofliminalityandcommunitas.Thepracticeofqigonghasnoreal
socialrepercussionsinthesensethatTurnerdiscusses.Andherethereisnocommunionof

359NancyChen.BreathingSpaces.ColumbiaUniversityPress(July15,2003).8
360TheRitualProcess.Opuscit.96

147
equalindividualswhosubmittogethertothegeneralauthorityoftheritualelders.361That
typeofphenomenonissimplynotpresent.Itispossible,nonetheless,tosomewhatstretchthe
notion,andsaythatthegrouppracticingqigongcouldexperienceasenseofcommunitas,
althoughthereisnorealchangeofpositions,socialrank,etc.,nounstructuringtospeakof.
However,thegroupcouldexperienceasenseofhomogeneityandcomradeship,andIwould
arguethatthebondandsenseofunitythatapracticinggroupmayexperience,albeitnotbeing
ofasocialnature,ismoresubtle,morerarifiedand,similarly,alsotemporary.Whenpracticing
qigong,thegroupmayparticipateinasenseofunifiedenergies,ofsharedconsciousness,asit
were,whileintheliminalstate,andperhapsmomentsafterwards.Oratleast,thatishowI
wouldcharacterizemyexperienceofpracticinginagroup.

TheLiminalState


Thepracticeofqigongentailstheentering,intoadifferentrealmofthings.Itisentering
intothatstateofambiguityandseparationfromordinaryreality.Forthistohappen,itisnot
theeverydaymind,themindthatdealswiththeshoppinglist,preparingbreakfast,or
calculatingthebudgetforthenextmonth,thatisneeded.Whenpracticingqigong,the
individualismakingachoice,andbydoingso,theouterworldgetssomewhatshutdownand
theinnerlandscape,viaawarenessandimagination,opensup.Itisadifferentworld,aworld
accessiblethroughashiftinourconsciousness.Somehow,assoonaswetuneintothis
worldviewthebodymindentersintoastateofconsciousnessinwhichotherelements,
elementshithertohiddenfromview,becomerealandtangible.Theearslisteninsidetothe
soundsofthebody.362IfwethinkintermsofMirceaEliadessacredasopposedto
profane,timeandspace;wecansaythatwhenonepracticesqigongwearedefacto
breakingwitheveryday,ordinarylife,andenteringintoaworldoforigins,aworldofnumen

361Ibid
362DanMillerandTimCartmell.XingYiNeiGong:XingYiHealthMaintenanceandInternalStrength

Development.UniquePublications;FirstEditionedition(October1998)70

148
andmyth;363weenterintoaworldofimagesandbodilyawareness,fortheworldsoughtwith
thepracticeofqigongisrealizedinthebody.Thereisabreakintime,andthereisalsoabreak
inspace,forthebodybecomesathresholdandthelocusofembodiedenergies,vitalforcesto
bringtoconsciousness.
Theliminalworldisnottoofarawayfromushumans.Weenteritwhenwesleepand
dream,andevenwhenwedaydream.Theonediscussedhere,nonetheless,isdifferent.Itisa
stateinwhichthepractitionersenterthathasfewornoneoftheattributesofthepastor
comingstate.364Thisisbecause,inmanyinstances,itis,notonlytrulyother,365buthasthe
potentialofbeing,infact,transformative.Andthatispreciselytheaimofpracticingqigong.To
transformfromanunhealthystatetoahealthyone,ifthatisthecrisisandsolutionthe
individualseeks;tocultivatethelifeforceinawaythatittransformsusbybecomingawareof
moreandmoresubtlestatesofmindandbody.Themoreseriouspractitionersperhapswould
liketotransmutetheirenergiestosuchararifiedstateastobecomeanembodimentofthe
Dao,theultimatereality,astateoftransparencytotheDao.ThistransparencytotheDaois
whatisnamedalsoembodiment,oftheDao.Itisasublimatedstateinwhichtheenergiesin
thebodyareflowingfreely,themindandemotionsarenowquiet,theorbsalivewith
transformativevitalforce.Embodiment,however,iswhatthepracticeofqigongorlongevity
practicesaimsat,inwhateverlevelofpractice.Inotherwords,forhealingorhealth
maintenancetobeexperienced,forexampleitistheembodimentoftheDaothatwill,in
effect,bethecauseandoutcomeofthepractice.KarlfriedGrafVonDurkheim,writingabout
thepracticeofHara,366thatis,oftherooting,orrather,rerooting,ofmansconsciousnessin

363MirceaEliade.TheSacredandtheProfane:TheNatureofReligion.HarcourtBraceJovanovich(October23,

1987).ThetermnumenisusedinthesensethatRudolphOttoandEliadeusedtheterm:thatwhichdescribes
themysterious,beyondrational(notirrational),religiousexperience.
364VictorTurner.BetwixtandBetween:TheLiminalPeriodinRitesdePassage,TheProceedingsofthe

AmericanEthnologicalSociety(1964).SymposiumonNewApproachestotheStudyofReligion,pp.420.
Turnerfurtherclarifieswhatheunderstandsbystatewhenhesaysthatastatecanbeecological
conditions,ortothephysical,mentaloremotionalconditioninwhichapersonorgroupmaybefoundata
particulartime.
365Thisstateissupposedtobetrulyotheronlyinthebeginningofpractice.Asthepractitionerbecomes

accustomedtoenteringsuchastatethroughregularpractice,itbecomeshisorhernaturalmodeofbeingin
theworld.
366KarlfriedGrafDrckheim.Hara.TheVitalCenterofMan.GeorgeAllen&Unwin;Reprintedition(1985).

HaraistheJapanesewordforbelly,inthesenseofdantian,asthecenterofthelifeforcelocatedaroundthe
navel.Butisalsomuchmore.AsGrafDurkheimputsit:HaraimpliesfortheJapaneseallthatheconsiders

149
thebelly,thefundamentalcenterofvitalforceandgravityinthebodymind,asinthedantian
area,says,

ForHarameansnothingbutthatconditionofmaninwhichheisopentothe
primalOnenessoforiginallifeandwhichhecanmanifestinhiseveryday
living.HaraisaconnectinglinkbetweenBeingbeyondspaceandtime,and
ourexistenceinspaceandtime.Haraisthegerminatingcentreofthattotal
stateofmindinwhichman,liberatedfromthedespotismoftheI,becomes
transparenttothecreativeandliberatinginfluenceofPrimordialLifewhose
transcendentalunityhesharesinhisownbeing.367

ThepracticeofHara,is,infactoneofthemanyqigongpractices,andanotherwayin
whichwecanunderstandandpracticeqigong.TheimportantelementthatIwouldliketo
emphasizehere,justtobringtolighthoweventheJapaneseZentradition,atraditionthatis
historicallytheproductofmuchexchangeofideasandpracticesbetweenDaoistsand
Buddhists,368keptthenotionandpracticeoffocusingonthelowerdantianasacenterof
consciousnessandofprimallifeforce,therealizationofsuchpracticeresultinginthe
embodimentofBeing,orDao,beyondthelimitationsoftheego.
Whenpracticingqigongseveralelementscomeintoplay.Theintenttopracticeqigong,
asmentionedabove,entailsabreakwiththeordinary,everydayactivities;itdemandsa
differentuseofourmentalandbodilyfaculties.Theattentionchangesfromanautopilotmode
ofbeinginwhichthemindsimplyfunctionswithoutmuchthoughtontheactivitiesperformed
intoamorefocused,meditativestate.Thereisashiftinconsciousness.Awarenessisnow
turnedwithin.


essentialtoman'scharacteranddestiny.Haraisthecentreofthehumanbodybutthebody,becauseitisa
humanbody,ismorethanamerelybiologicalphysiologicalentity.Itisatthesametimethecentreina
spiritualsenseor,tobemoreaccurate,anaturegivenspiritualsense.
367Ibid49
368http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/daoism/

150
Rujing


TheChinesehaveatermtodescribethisliminalstate,thestateofthethreshold
people,toquoteTurner.Inselfcultivationstyles,i.e.,formsofqigong(gongfa),thereisa
momentinwhichthestudent,mostlikely,willexperiencerujing,theentering
stillness.369Thisisaveryknownmindstatethatthepractitionerisexpectedtoexperience.The
Daoistandlongevitypractitionerssincethebeginningoftheirhistoryhavewrittenaboutthe
differentlandmarks,signpostsalongtheway,thatcantelltheteacheroftheprogresshis
studentsaremaking.Thisisoneofthem.RujingcouldalsolooselycorrespondtowhatHerber
Bensonhascalledtherelaxationresponse,atermhecoinedandpopularizedafteryearsof
research.Moreover,hementionsdistinctivelyqigongasoneofthepracticesthatcantrigger
suchabodymindstate.370Forourpurposes,itisimportanttomentionrujing,sinceitisthis
statethatismentionedspecificallywithinthetraditiontodescribethatliminalconditionof
transitionfromthenormalstateofbeingintheworld,toaninnerandyetbodily
consciousnessattestedthroughtheagesasasignpostofwelldirectedpractice.Theslow,silk
likemovementsofqigongorTaiji,aswellasmostformsofmeditationcantriggerthisstate.In
qigong,byshiftingourawarenesstotheinnerorgans,thedifferentdantianorenergycenters,
weenterintothisstate,thatthreshold,stateofmindandbody.Wewillnowexaminethe
characteristicsofvisualizationintheDaoisttradition.

Visualization


Theactofimaginingthattheinsideofthebodyisthedwellingplaceofavarietyof
differentenergiesandforcesisalsopartandparcelofthepracticeofqigong.Moreoveritis
alsoanabilitytoenterintowhatgivesoneaccesstoanintermediaryworldbetweentherealm

369DanMillerandTimCartmell.XingYiNeiGong:XingYiHealthMaintenanceandInternalStrength

Development.Opuscit.66
370HerbertBenson.MiriamZ.Klipper.TheRelaxationResponse.HarperCollinsebooks;Reissueedition

(September22,2009)14

151
ofunfathomableandhiddenmysteryandtheworldofsensibleandgrossforms.Theactof
visualizing,then,isattheheartoftheenteringintotheliminalstate.IsabelleRobinetinavery
enlighteningpassageseemstoaffordusagoodexplanationofthefunctionandaimsofthe
variedvisualizationtechniquesusedinsome,ifnotmostDaoistschools.371Hercommentsare
worthquotingatlength.

Concerningthe"psychocosmic"functionoftheimagination,Corbinsaysthat
thecosmologicalandpsychologicalaspectsareinseparableandcomplementary.
Itisafunctionorfacultythatgivesoneaccesstoanintermediaryworldbetween
therealmofunfathomableandhiddenmysteryandtheworldofsensibleand
grossforms.Itallowsthemystictograspthesubtleformsofthevisibleobjects
heisconcentratingon.Thus,theadeptperceivesbodilyorgans,terrestrial
mountains,orstarsintheformofeffluvia,efflorescences(hua),essences
(ching),breaths(ch'i),orluminousclouds.Theseare,astheTaoistssay,"images"
(hsiang)the"true"orinvisibleformwhosevisibleaspectisonlyasignora
"trace."

Thisworldofimagesislocatedbetweentheworldofsensoryrealitiesandthe
worldoftheunknowable.Theunknowablerealm,whichtheTaoistscallthe
Void,canonlyberenderedbymeansofadoublenegation.Sincethisworldof
absoluteTruthcannotbedirectlygrasped,itcanonlybeapproachedthrough
intermediaryformsthatarerecognizedassuch.Whereasthemethodof
apophaticnegationusesconceptsonlytorepeatedlyrejectthemasinadequate
andfinite,themethodofvisualmeditationmakesuseofanalogicalknowledge.
Itworkswithvisualsymbolsandsignswhichtheadepttriestoevoke,perceive,
anddecipher.Thegreatmetaphysicalandontologicalquestionstherelationof
theSametotheOther,theOnetotheMany;orthecreationoftheworldareall
treatedinrelationtoimages.Throughconcreteandscenicvisions,visual
meditationmakestheadeptawareofwhatmetaphysicsexpressesonlyin
dialecticalanddiscursivelanguage.372

Thevisualizingoftheinternalbodywithitsenergypathwaysandvortexesof
energy/consciousnesssuchasthethreedantians,thebahuipointonthetopofthehead,for
example,bringssomethingalive,somethingthathithertohasremainedhiddenorinactive,is

371IsabelleRobinetTaoistMeditation.TheMaoshanTraditionofGreatPurity.p50.Althoughsheistreatingin

extensothepracticesoftheMaoshanorShangqingSchool,wecansafelyassumethathercommentsapplyto
visualizationinDaoismandothertraditionsatlarge.
372Ibid

152
nowbubblyandinmotion.Itistheyi,mindintent,intandemwithvisualizationthatbrings
abouttheplungingintotheliminalstate.Throughthismentalfocusandactivityoneisableto
accessthesubtleworld,orsubtlebody,ofenergiesandconsciousness.Sometimestheyigoes
inward,looking,seeingorfeeling,thebodilyentrails,andtheintricaciesofenergeticlife
withinthebody.Atothertimesthemindisdirectedoutsidethebody,likewhenDrZhang
wouldtellustobreathoutbadorsickqithroughthetoes,forcefully,whilevisualizingitleaving
thebody,unshapelydarkandfoggy.
Inotherqigongexercisesoneistoimaginethearmsextendinginfinitelyinfront,
reachingtheconfinesoftheuniverse.Havingthisfeelingonevisualizespullinginhealing
energyintothebody.Inanotherexercisethestudentimagineshisbodygrowinginsize,
graduallyencompassingtheroomoneisinorthepark,thentheneighborhood,thenthecity,
theprovidence,thecountrytheplanet,etcuntilheorshehasbecometheuniverse.
Thus,thisverysalientaspectofqigongpracticeisputintoamuchclearerperspective.
Throughvisualmeditations,andthereareanalmostinfiniteamountofthem,theotherworld
ofunfathomableandhiddenmysteryisaccessed.
Itistheactualizingorrealizingthisotherworldthatwewilldiscussnext,whenwe
treattheideaofembodiment.

Embodiment

TheChinesenotionoftruthasembodied,oftheinseparabilityofknowledgeandaction,
oftheWayasnotonlythehighesttruthbutalsoawayoflifeoranartofliving,struckadeep
resonantchordinmeasaChristianandasawoman.373

Theideaofembodimenthasbeenindeedsomewhatforeigntowesternthought,at
leastuntilrecently.Itwouldtakeusastraydiscussingthispointhere,soletussayonlythatthe

373JudithA.Berling.APilgriminChineseCulture:NegotiatingReligiousDiversity.OrbisBooks(October1,

1997)126

153
ChristianideaofgodincarnateinChrististheclosestitcomestothisnotionofdivine
embodiment.However,fortheDaoists(andIndians)thisideaisexpandedtoanidealthat
anyoneis,potentially,abletoachieve.
EmbodimentisalreadyakintoanimmanentrealityintheDaoistuniverse.Thereis
transcendencetobesure,butitisrootedinthenotionofanaturethatalreadypartakesinthe
sameessence,samelife.Daomanifestsastheworld,anditneverceasestobeDao.Itsenergies
animatethewholeuniverse,inwhatevershapeorform,inwhateverkindoflifewemayormay
notperceive,fromthesubtletothegross.374Inthesameway,inarealsense,spirit(andmind)
residesinthebody,thewholeofit.375Thebonesandthephysicalshapeofthebodyarethe
originalresidenceoflife.Theenergyisthelifeforcethatfillsthese.Thespiritistheforcewhich
controlsthisenergy.(1.15b)376
Thetermspirithereisconjecturedtomeanthevariousmentalfunctionssuchaswill
andintention.377Thespiritflowsthroughoutthebody.Thatthespiritrulesmeansthatthe
spiritispresentwithintheenergyandinconjunctionwithitpermeatesthewholebody.378The
mind,then,isnotlimitedtotheorgans.Itflowsthroughoutthebodyandinawaywecouldsay
thathomeostasisherehasateleologicalaspecttoitsworkingssinceitkeepseverythinggoing
assmoothlyasitpossiblycan.Themindactsonitsownaccordandonitsownbehalf.379
Moreover,whenthebodyisfilledwithqi,itmeansthatthemindiseverywhereinthe
bodyatthesametime.Whenthemindiseverywhere,asopposedtoconcentratedattimesin
thedifferentplacesitneedstobetoperceivesensoryinput,itissaidtobepureawareness.
Whenthebodyisfilledwithenergies,themindmustbepresentineveryplaceatthesame
time.This,inturn,meansthateverytinyandremotepartofthebodyisfilledwithawareness,

374KristoferSchipper.TheTaoistBody.UniversityofCaliforniaPress(March19,1994).4041.LiviaKohn.The

SubtleBodyEcstasyoftheDaoistInnerAlchemy.Opuscit.326.
375ItisworthnotingthattheworkofneuroscientistCandacePerth,especiallyherMoleculesofEmotion,The

ScienceBehindMindBodyMedicine.Simon&Schuster;1edition(February17,1999),pointsinthesame
direction:themindisnotlocatedonlyintheheadorwhereverneuronsareconcentrated,butitflows
throughoutthebody.
376HidemiIshida,quotingtheHuananziinchapterBodyandMind.LiviaKohnedit.TaoistMeditationand

Longevitytechniques.CenterforChineseStudies,TheUniversi(January1,1989).56
377Ibid
378Ibid
379Ibid

154
andthemovementsandactionsofthebodyarecoordinatedtoperfection.380Itissaidaswell
thatinthisstatetheqialsoisflowingfreely,andthemindhasreachedastateoftranquil
awareness.Boththesefactorsareinseparable.Themindquietsdownandtheenergiesflow
freelyandharmoniously.Bylettingtheqiflowfreelythemindcomestorest.Hencethe
persistentemphasisinDaoistpracticesingeneralonrelaxationorsong;thecorrect
translationisratherofarelaxedstateinwhichthemusclesareneitherslackortense.When
appliedtothemindtheChinesepreferthetermjing,calmortranquilawareness.381

Thestateofembodimentissomethingthatcanbeacquiredthroughthepracticeofxiu
yang(),selfcultivation.Selfcultivationistheconstantenteringintotheliminalstateof
consciousness,statethatisultimately,transforming.Xiuyangmeanstoarrange,tosmooth
down,anyroughnessorirregularitiesbyrepeatinganactionmanytimesinharmonywiththe
cosmicorder,untilperfectionisachieved.Theperfectandcompletebodyistherebynurtured,
itsenergiesstrengthened;itthusbecomestotallyintegratedintothenaturalandcosmic
environment.Fromthere,thewayisledbyrepeated,cyclicalmovementstospontaneity,
whichistheessenceoftheTao(Dao).382SomeqigongandTaijiteachers,suchasFongHa,for
example,insistthatthepracticeleadsto,morethananythingelse,unlearningbadpostural
andmovementhabits.So,ratherthanfillingthebodyandmindwithmorestuff,theopposite
iswhatisrequired,inordertomanifesttransparencyandspontaneity:emptyingthebodymind
oflearnedbehaviorsandhabitsthattruncatethespontaneousmanifestationofDao.
Thestateofembodiment,then,isastateoftotalspontaneity,i.e.,oftransparencyto
theDao,oftotalBeing.Thespiritinthebodyasareflectionoftheway,isunobstructedbythe
limitingbiologicalorpsychologicalfactorsthateveryoneelseissubjectto.Thebiologicalor
psychologicalfactorsdonotgoaway,rather,Dao,spirit,orwhatevertermwechosetodescribe
it,manifeststhroughthem,throughthebodyandmind.Thisstateisborneoutofpractice,of
constantrepetition,ofacontinualselfcultivation,arelentlessenteringintotheliminalstate

380IdemiIshida.Opuscit.57
381DanMillerandTimCartmell.XingYiNeiGong:XingYiHealthMaintenanceandInternalStrength

Development.UniquePublications;FirstEditionedition(October1998)63
382KristoferSchipper.TheTaoistBody.UniversityofCaliforniaPress(March19,1994).42

155
untilthatstateoftransformationbecomespermanent.TheemphasisofDaoistpracticesison
constantcultivation,ratherthanhavinganoverwhelming,ineffablereligiousexperience,
visionsofthedivineetc.,whicharepassing;isoftransformationofbodyandminduntilone
becomestheDaowithinaframeofmoralpreceptsthatwouldbemeaninglessifthe
transformationwerenotaninneroccurrence.383
TheChinesemysticalexperienceofonenesswiththeDaoisastoundingonlyinthe
beginning.Itrepresentsawayofbeingintheworldcompletelydifferentfromordinary
perception,sensuallyandintellectuallydetermined.ThelongertheDaoistliveswiththe
experiencethedeeperheintegratesitintohislifeandbeing,thelessrelevantitis.384

Theexperience,wemustunderscore,isthatofthebodymind.Thusthebodyisfor
DaoistsandChinesemedicalpractitionersthecenterpieceofqigongpractices.Thebodyand
mindarenotseenasopposites,althoughtheyareclearlydistinguished.Theyarerathertwo
aspectsofanentirebodyspiritcontinuum.385Embodyingtheseenergies,thatis,becoming
awareoftheirexistenceanddynamicprocessesinthebody,untiltheybecomeapartof
everydayexperience,isthewaytoperfectthestateoftransparencytotheDao.Thegoalcan
besmallorlarge,butwhateveritis,itistheembodyingofthesequalitiesthatwilleffect
transformationinanywaywesoughttoexperienceit.

Liminality,EmbodimentandTransformation


Inthislastchapterwerevisitbriefly,andrecap,theeventsthattookplaceinthatqigong
courseinwhichI,andotherstudentsparticipated,asdescribedindetailinchapterone.
Regardlessofthemotivationsfortheirattendance,theeventisreminiscentofamodernhybrid
ritualofsortsinwhichtheparticipants,engaginginmovementsandmeditations,andsharing
severalcoreideasandbeliefs,enterintoaliminalstatethatisconducive,thoughnot

383LiviaKohn.TheSubtleBodyEcstasyoftheDaoistInnerAlchemy.Opuscit.326.
384Ibid
385Ibid

156
guaranteed,totheexperiencesandresultstheyseek;byresultitwasusually,albeittacitly,
definedastransformation.Thislatterconceptmaybetakenaspsychologicalstates,spiritual
experiences,andmostimportantly,allunderlyingtheconceptofhealing.Thetermhealing
herewillbeunderstoodinitslargestsensepossible,somethingthatcanrangefromrelieve
fromstressorminormaladies,andaches,tothetherapeuticeffectsofqigongonmoreserious
lifethreateningdiseases.Sometimescuringisnotpossible.ThisissomethingthatDrZhang
addressedatsomepoint.However,hedidtalkaboutthehelponecanprovidewiththeuseof
qitosomeonethatisdying.Anolderpersonhadbeeninthethroesofdeathforafewdays,he
said,butdespitetheseriousnessofhisconditionhecouldnotdie.DrZhangwascalledinto
help.Heperformedqigongonhim,alayingonofhandstypeoftherapy,andthenextdaythe
personpassedaway.DrZhangsaidthathisqiwassoweakandchaotic,thathecouldnoteven
die.Hisjobwastosupplyandsmoothoutsomeqiforhimsohecouldactuallypassaway.
Intermsofhealing,itwouldbenavetothinkthatqigongisnotconsistentlyhelpful.
Throughouttheagesthenumbersofpeople,evenifthenumbersandstoriesareanecdotal,are
toomanytoignore;hencethepopularityofqigong.Evenwesternersthathavenoprior
knowledgeofthisenergypracticeare,moreoftenthannot,blownawaybytheexperienceand
furthermorebyitseffectiveness.

TheGroup


SoherewasagroupofaboutfifteenAmericansorso,mostlyadults,fromyoungto
middleageCaucasians,inLosAngeles,California,learninganancient,thoughrevamped,
ChinesehealingandspiritualartformfromaChinesemasterthatisalsoapediatrician.Some
ofthemarestudentsofTraditionalChineseMedicine(TCM)attheschoolwheretheevent
takesplaceacoupleoftimesaweek;othersarepeoplefromdifferentwalksoflife.Itis
assumedthatmostarefamiliarwiththenotionsofqi,energychannels,yin/yang,acupuncture
points,thefivephasesorelementsetc.,insumthebasicnotionsofTraditionalChinese
Medicineasdescribedatthebeginningofthissection.Theparticipantstookpartforvarious

157
reasons,rangingfromspiritualnourishmenttohealthcrisis;someoftheparticipantsexpressed
theirdissatisfactionoroutrightdiscontentwiththehealthcaresystem,notonlyfroma
monetarystandpointbuttheywerealsoingreatdoubtastotheeffectivenessofwestern
medicineintreatingmany,ifnotmost,ofthechronicdiseasesthatplagueourmodernlife.A
fewofthestudentsarefamiliarwithDrZhang,havingpreviouslystudiedwithhimotherqigong
courseshetaughtorsomehadbeen,orwerepatientsofhis.Mostlikelyfewifany,knoweach
othersreligiousorspiritualleaningsbutitisalsoassumedthateveniftheydidoriginally
belongtoawelldefinedtraditionalreligiousgroup,theyhadnoproblemacceptingand
participatinginaneventconsideredsomewhatnewagey.Thisgatheringofpeoplecame
togethertopracticeqigong,thatis,agroupperformanceofritualizedmovementsinwhichits
membersenterintoaliminalstate,atrancestate,oranalternatestateofconsciousness(ASC).

ARitualofSorts


Theatmospherebecomesquietandtoacertaindegree,charged.Everyoneis
standing,eyesclosed,lookinginsideandhearingthesoundsofthebody.Itisinthisliminal
statethatthepractitionercanexperiencetheinnerworld,thatalternatestateof
consciousness,thesideeffectsofwhichareusuallyconducivetoexperiencingspiritual
wellbeingaswellashealingofphysicaloremotionalafflictions.ThisisclosetowhatFishman
callsthetransmigrationexperience,whichhedefinesastheprocessofmigratingfromthe
earthplanetoapointwithinwhichonecanpersonallyexperiencethespiritualplanes.386
SpiritualplanesinthisqigongsettingwillbeunderstoodasASCandforus,thevarious
manifestationsofqiinthebodymindcontinuum.Thisnarrowerdefinition,however,doesnot
precludeindividualsfromexperiencingthenuminousinmorefamiliarortraditionalforms,
thatis,havingvisions,encounterswithspiritualentities,ecstaticstatesetc.Thus,weseeinthe
qigongexperienceasteppingintothethresholdofconsciousness,aliminalstate,into

386RobertG.Fishman.Transmigration,Liminality,andSpiritualistHealing.JournalofReligionandHealth,Vol.

19,No.3(Fall,1980),pp.217and224fn5.

158
Fishmanstransmigrationstate.Itisinthisstatethattherefinementofonesenergiestakes
place.Enteringintothethresholdallowsfortheqitomoveineverywhichway,tofinditsown
naturalpathorpaths,tounblockwheretherehasbeenanobstruction.Weplacetheattention
onthenavelarea;thenbetweenthenavelandthespine,anditfeelseerilycomfortable.A
momentagothiswasjustthebelly,mystomach,theplacewherefoodisdigested.Nowit
seemstocomealivewithnewsensations.And,moreimportantly,anewsenseofpeacearises
fromdoingso.
Themovementsareslow,somearespontaneous,somelearnedforthefirsttime,onthe
spot.Theyaredifferent,though.Theylookstrange;nooneunfamiliarwithTaijiwouldbeable
toidentifywhatisgoingon.Iamveryfamiliartothereactionsofpeoplelookingatsomeone
performingsuchexercisesinapublicpark.Nowadaysthisisnotthatstrange,butfortyyears
ago,itwas.Butnow,wewereallperformingthemovementsinunison,tothebestofour
ability.Letsdothebearmovement,ormovelikeabirdflappingitswingsrapidly,etc.Then
cometheinternalvisualizations.Raiseyourhands,focusonthebaihuipointonthetopofthe
head.Thereisatinglingsensation,atleastforme.Loweryourhands,focusonthehuiyin,the
areaonthepelvicfloor,andsoforth.Theairismorecharged.Wespendhalfanhour?One
hour?Itishardtosay.Timeseemstocometoastandstill.Thereisthishummingfeelinginthe
body.Asifitwerebuzzing,inside.Thewholebodyseemstovibrateeversoslightly.Oneis
definitelytransportedtoadifferentworld.Theliminalstate,thebetwixtandbetween,astate
thatisneitherherenorthere,isthestatethatthepractitionerwantstocultivate.Asheorshe
does,itbecomesmoreandmoreanaturalstate,aconditioninwhichthebodilyenergies
becomeincreasinglyrarifiedintomoreandmoresubtlequalities.
Qigongcanandispracticedindividually.Theatmospherereachedingrouppracticeis
different,though.IntheZentradition,apracticethatsharesmanythingsincommonwith
qigong,theyusuallyexhortthemeditatorstotakeadvantageofthegreatopportunityto
practiceinalargegroup.Theycomparethegrouptoafireinwhicheachmeditatorisalog
thrownintoit.Thelargerthegroup,theysay,thelargerthefire.Whatthismeansisthatthe
largerthefire,themoreenergyisthereavailableforeveryonetoexperiencetransformationof
somekind.Accordingtomyexperience,thisseemstobetrue.Thegettingtogetherofagroup

159
ofpeoplewithafocusintentionandsynchronizedmovementsandmentalimageshasmost
definitelyastrongeffectontheimmediateenvironmentandpsychologicalstates.

TheLiminalState


Wehaveexaminedtheliminalstateinsomedetail.Weknowthatmostpeopleinthe
grouphaveaverygoodideaofthemajortenetsofDaoismandTCM.Theycertainlyare
acquaintedwiththenotionofqi,yinandyang,thefiveelements,etc.Thecollectivepracticeof
qigonghassomepromiseinstoreforthosewhoparticipate.Theexpectationsareofhealing,
ofrelieffromtherelentlessandalmostunavoidablestressofourtimes.Arespiteofrelaxation,
oflettinggo,offeelingaliveoncemore,ofbringingbackthecolorsthatlifeusedtobefilled
with(quiteliterally)fromthecurrentgrayishhuethathasbecomethedailyprismthrough
whicheverythingisseeing.Thisatmospheredoesnotrequireanyfurtherexplanationor
confirmation.Itispalpable.Itisinsinuated,subtlyhintedat.Thereissomehealingto
experience;thistermhastobetakeninitswidestsense.Theoverloadingofthenervoussystem
simplydoesnotallowthespirittocomethrough.itneedstobecleansed,shakenoff,sothat
spirit,can,oncemoreshinethrough.People,ofcourse,alsohopetofeelrelieffrompainand
aches.Tomyknowledgenoonetherehasasocalledterminalillness.Thatiswhatqigongisfor
afterall.Healing.Healingofsomesomanyconditions;fromaheadachetothemoreserous,life
threateningillnesses.Howitdoesitisthemoreattractiveaspectofqigong.Itdoesnotuse
westerndrugs,orevenacupuncture,althoughmanyuseitintandemwiththepractice,.Itisa
therapythatdoesnotneedanythingelsebutanindividualwillingtobelieveinthepowerofits
ownbodytohealitself.Bydoingcertainmovementsandvisualization,bysittingquietlyand
focusingonthebreath,andbybringingtheattentiontodifferentareasofthebody,healing
maybeelicited.
Wehaveallgonethroughseparation.Weallwanttogotoadifferentplace.Wehad
alreadygoneintotheroom,thefirststepinextractingourselvesfromthedailyoccurrences.

160
Althoughacompletelysecular,evenscientifictypeofactivity,itwasalsoacknowledgedas
beingpotentiallysymbolicandchargedwithexpectationsofotherworldliness.
Weallgothroughtheliminalstatewhilepracticingqigong,bydoingthemovements,by
sittingquietlyandimaginingtheorgansindifferentcolors,energiescirculatinginthechannels
withinthebody,sometimesreachingout,sometimesenergiescominginfromtheenvironment
ormoredistantplaces,atree,amountain.Spaceandtimedonothavethesameconnotation
whenpracticing.Itisanonlocaluniverse387inwhichhereandtheremakenosense.Everything
iseverywhere,andwecanbeanywhereonlybyintendingit,beitinthebodyoronastar.We
cancallthehelpofabodyofwaterorthememoryofabenignpowerfulfigure.DrZhangwould
saytocallonhimifweneededsomeenergy.Orcallsomeoneelseonethoughtwouldbeable
tohelp.Allthesesymbols,images,evenshortstories,becomealiveinthexin,theheart
mind(fortheChinesetheheartisthemind).Thebodyistheuniverse.Inthisliminalstate,
energiesgrowinside,theflowbecomessteadyandblocksaredissolved.Byenteringthisstate,
theDaobecomesmoreofalivedexperience;transformationintheformofhealingorany
othermanifestationoftheDaoispossible.
Reaggregationcomesafterthelastsittingexercisehascometoanend.Wewouldallsit
therequietly,eyesstillclosedforafewmoreminutes.Wehavetopreparetoreceiveouter
input.Physicallytheeyeswouldheartifwejustopenedthem.Westartwigglingfingersand
toes;movinglimbs,slowly.Thenneckandhead.Afteropeningtheeyesitwouldstillbeafew
moremomentsbeforewewouldcomedown.Andthenwhenleavingtheroomwehave
completedthereaggregationphase.Wearebackintheworld,thenormalworldofbetabrain
waves,ofwalking,anddrivingandeating.SomethinghashappenedbutIcannotsaywhatitis.I
feelpeaceful,forcertain.Donotwanttotalk,asifthewordscomingoutofmymindwould
disturbthepeaceIfeel.Thebodyfeelslightandconnected;feelsintegrated.Everynightafter
classIsleepparticularlywell.Everytimeweattendedclasstherewasamagicalenergy

387LarryDosseyMD,haswritteninextensoonthisconcept.Heconsidersitcrucialforanunderstandingof

howspiritworksinhealing.See,forexample,ReinventingMedicine:BeyondMindBodytoaNewEraof
Healing.HarperOne;1edition(September5,2000)

161
circulatingintheroom,andtheninourbodies.Somethinghappensbutitisdifficulttopinpoint.
Thetransformationissubtle.ButIgettheidea:qigongIdefinitelyeffective.Andlikethe
Daoistsusuallyrecommend,repetitioniscrucial.Everydaypracticeiswhatbringsaboutlasting
change,thattransparencytotheDaowehavespokensomuchabout.












162
CHAPTER7
CONCLUSION

Summary


ItismyhopethatIhavegivenanswerstotheinquiriesIsetouttoexplore.Webeganby
describingmyrecollectionsofafourweekSixHealingSoundscourseIattendedin1991,inLos
Angeles,CaliforniataughtbyDrZhang.Outofthisethnographicpiecewebegantheprocessof
unpackingthequestionsthat,yearslater,sprangfromthatexperience,questionsItriedto
answerinthisdissertation.Thedifferentmovementsandsittingvisualizationsandimagestook
meintodifferentstatesofmindthatIfoundakintoalternatestatesofconsciousness.Thefirst
onewasasimple,whathappenedhere?HowdidI,andIamsureothersaswell,wereableto
plungeintosuchdifferentstatesofmind?Howdoesthishappen?Whatisqigong?Whatare
thesixhealingsounds?Howdotheyfitwithintheqigongtradition?Whatareitsbasic
premises?Iarguedthatqigongisapracticethatelicitsaliminalstate,andthatliminal,
thresholdstateofmind,isconducivetohealingandtransformation;moreover,thatthisliminal
stateistherequisitefortheembodimentofenergiesandconsciousnessthatmake
transformationpossible.
Afterdescribingtheethnographicpiecewelookedintothenatureofqigong,itshistory,
ancientandrecent,and,wemadeclearwherethesixhealingsoundstraditionfitswithinthe
largerDaoyin/qigonglore.
Qigong,then,canbetracedto,firstshamanism,thentotheancientpracticesofDaoyin
thatmostlikelyderivedfromthelatter:daoyinistheLongevitytraditionparexcellence,which
earliestreferencestakeusbacktothewritingsofZhuangziinthefourthcenturyB.C.E.,andthe
findingsofMawangduifromthesecondcenturyBCE.Othersseemtopointtomuchearlier
datesandareassociatedwitholdmythicalfiguressuchasYu(asinthePace(s)ofYu),and
MasterRedpinetonamejusttwo.Thefansgshi,therecipegentlemenwerethatclassof
personswhodedicatedtheirlivestothecollectionandsharingofwisdom,throughrecipesor

163
writings,philosophical,mystical,medical,withthewidercommunity.Theyweretheonesthat
mostlikelywereinvolvedinthedisseminationofthemanuscriptsrevealedatthecacheat
Mawangdui.InthefourthorthirdcenturyBCE,theacquisitionofsuchmaterialwasdoneat
relativelyhighcostandwouldrequireawealthy,aristocraticclassthatwasinterestedinsuch
subjectstohirescribes,averyexpensiveservicetobesure,tocopythemanuscripts.Afterall,
onlythewealthyelitecouldaffordanddedicatetimetokeepingfitandhealthy,asidefrom
educatingthemselvesonothersubjectsaswell.Thehiringoftravelingfangshiacquaintedwith
suchpractices,steepedintheburgeoningDaoistideas,andwhowouldimpartknowledgeof
thiskindwasthelikelyscenario.Atleastthosearesomeoftheconclusionswecanarrivefrom
theMawangduifindingsof1973.TheseearlyDaoistsandmedicalpractitionersapparently
sharedmostoftheknowledgeonlongevitypractices,includingthebuddingtheoriescirculating
atthetimeofthedifferentessentialsbeingelaboratedandspeculatedupon.Thuscameabout
notionsofqi,ofDao,yinandyang,andthefiveelementsamongothers.Atthistimewedonot
seeanyoftheclaimstolineagesandsecrecyofrecipesandpracticeswecomeacrosslaterin
thehistoryofDaoistandmedicalpractices.
Weexploredthetextualtraditionandthewritingsmostrelevanttoourtopicathand.
Afterthatwedescribedthehistoryofthesixhealingbreathsandwereabletoputthatpractice
squarelywithinthelargerqigongorrather,longevity,tradition.Wewerealsoabletodiscern
MasterNisandtheyellowcourttraditionsastheclosestapproximationtothestylesofthesix
healingsoundstaughtinmoderntimesandespeciallybyDrZhang.
Therecenthistoryofqigongwasdefinitelythemostsurprisingfinding.Wediscovered
thattheqigongtraditionwas,veryliterally,aninventedtradition,createdforitslowcostand
thehealthbenefitsitcouldbestowupontheChinesepeople.Wewereabletofindthatthe
ChineseCommunistPartyhadtoexciseallthefeudalandsuperstitiouselementsithadcome
withfromancienttimes,andtransformitintoatwentiethcenturyscienceinordertoacceptit
asaviableandnecessaryalternativetowesternmedicine,atleastuntilmoreWesterntrained
doctorscouldbeproduced.Theqigongmovementrosetoincrediblepopularity,somethingthat
hadneverhappenedbeforeinthehistoryofChina,sincethelongevityandDaoistpracticeshad
alwaysbeenthepurviewofafewselectpractitionersaswellastheDaoistmonksconfinedto

164
mountainsorotherwisereclusiveliving.However,manyteachersrosetopopularityandeven
stardominthe80sand90s,whatwascalledtheqigongboomortheqigongfever.Aftera
seriesofeventsthatputqigonginthespotlightbutinanegativelightthistime,especially
becauseoftheqigongdeviations,thatis,thenegativeeffectsthatqigongcantrigger,suchas
exacerbationofpsychoticepisodesamongotherthings,andtheriseoftheenemiesofqigong,
whostillconsidereditnothingbutaremnantoffeudalandsuperstitiousbeliefs;totopitall
off,theFalunGongdebacleensuedaffectingalloftheqigongmilieu.Aneraofsuppressionand
punishmentfortheFalunGongpractitionersfollowed,repressionthatlaststothisday.
Afterwehadplacedthelongevitytraditioninitshistoricalperspectivewelookedinto
theworldofliminalityandembodiment,perhapstwoofthemostrelevantaspectsofthe
practiceofqigong.Liminalpracticemeansthattherewouldbe,throughyi,movementsand
visualizations,whethersittingorstanding,elicitationofalternatestatesofconsciousness
conducivetohealingandtransformation.

LiminalityandEmbodiment


Exploringthehealing,perhapsthemostsalientaspectofqigong,wedelvedintohow
healing,onetransformativeaspect,iselicited.VictorTurnersideasonliminalityhelpedus
cometoanunderstandingofhowthepracticeofqigongbringsthepractitionertothe
threshold,amentalorspiritualstateofambiguityandmarginality,thedoorthattakeshimor
hertotheworldofembodimentandtransformation.Thisstatedoesnothavetobeadeep
trance,althoughitcandefinitelytakethepractitionerthere.Thesimpleoutlook,theDaoist
weltanschauung,sustainedinthemind,theimagesandvisualizationsevokedaretheessential
ingredientsofastateofreverie.Liminalityis,inthiscontext,thatstateofbodyandmind,that
experienceofenteringthatalternatestateofconsciousness,thestateoftheambiguous
traveler,astatethatisneitherherenorthere,howeversubtleorperceptibleitmaybe,that
allowsthepractitionertopassontothatotherworld.TheChinesepractitionershavecalled
thisrujing,enteringstillness.Qigongiswhatelicitssuchalternatestateofconsciousness;the

165
slowmovements,bringingawarenesstodifferentpartsofthebody,theattentionpaidbythe
earslisteningtothesoundsofthebody.Qigongcreatesthatliminalatmospherewithoutand
within.Whentreatingordiscussingtheouteraspectsoftheliminalstate,itiscalledtheqi
field.Thus,agroupofpeoplegettingtogetherandpracticingqigongi.e.,unifyingtheiryi,
mindintent,will,withalmostnoexception,generatethisqifield.Thisgroupenergy,an
energythatisalsoconsciousness,definitelysupportstheenteringintotheliminalstate.At
times,themindintentoryiisthetoolusedtogetintothisstate.However,therearesome
qigongexercisesthatdonotrequireyi,andstillareabletobringaboutthatstateofmind.One
verypopularpracticeiscalledstandinglikeatreeorstandingpole.Standingwithshoulder
widthapart,armsraisedinfrontasifhuggingatree,notthinkingonanythinginparticular.
MasterFongHa,afamousTaijimasterbasedinBerkeley,CA,andwhomIvisitedintheearly
90swouldsay,Thisishowwedonothingandaccomplisheverything.Inmyexperienceru
jingisexperiencedspontaneouslywhendoingthistypeofpractice,althoughthereisno
consciousintenttodoanything.Alsoworthmentioningisthefactthatafewminutesof
practicehavenotonlyatransformativeeffect,butitalsolastsforaconsiderablenumberof
hoursafteroneisdonewiththeexercises.Whatthatmeansisthatahalfhouroronehourof
qigongpracticewillleavethepersonfeelingcalmedandcentered,relaxed,yetfocused,and
thatthisstate,ifpracticedconsistentlybecomesthenaturalstateofmindandbody.Thisisthe
stateofembodiment,somethingthatbecomespartofthepractitionerspersonalityand
character.
Qigongalsoworkswithimagesandvisualization.Manyimagesaretaughtinthisregard.
Imagineatranquillakewhileputtingyourattentionthere(bodypart),Ihaveheardfrom
qigonginstructors.Extendyourarmsinfinitelyinfrontofyou,totheendoftheuniverse,or
Thinkthatyouareaball,aballofqi.Imaginethatyourbodyistheuniverse,infinite.Inmy
experiencetheseimageshaveatremendouseffectonthepsycheandbody.Once,manyyears
ago,whenIwasinmymidtwenties,IwasdiscussingtheIChing,thefamousBookofChanges,
anoracleandChinesebookofwisdomandguidance,withafriendofmine.Ibroughtupin
conversationhexagramnumber52,KeepingStill,TheMountain.IhadaskedtheIChingafew
timessomethingatthatparticularjunctureinmylifeandthishexagramkeptcomingup.Its

166
messagewasupliftingandfullofhope.Theimageandmessagewasofcalmandinnerpeace
comingahead.Italkedwithmyfriendaboutthishexagramandhowtrueitsmessagewas,since
thatwasexactlymyoverallfeelingduringthenextfewmonths,aftermyinquiries.Wetalked
abouttheimageofthemountainbeingsopowerful.Sometimelatermyfriendtoldmethat
whilehewasgoingthroughsometurmoilhehadevokedtheimageofthatpeacefulmountain
fromtheIChingwehadtalkedabout.Hewentontosay,
WheneverIwasgoingthroughabadpatchorhavingargumentsorconflictsinmylife,
asoneoftendoes,allIhadtodowastobringthatimagetomind.WhenIdid,Iimmediatelyfelt
groundedandstable.Mybodyfeltarootedintheearth;IhadnoideaIcouldexperiencesucha
palpablebodysensation.Ifeltverysolid,strongandpeacefulalmostimmediately,and
whateverwashappeningoutthereinlifedidnotaffectmeasmuch.
TheveryDaoistnotionofembodimentaffordedusanappreciationofhowthelongevity
exercisesaffectandshapechangeinthebodymindsystem.Thisisnoordinarychange,
however.ByenteringintotheliminalstatethepractitionergetscloserandclosertobeingDao.
ThebodyistheDaoandavesselthroughwhichtheWaycancomethrough,hencethenotion
oftransparency,solucidlyexpressedbyKarlfriedGrafDurkheim.Nonetheless,sinceeverything
isDao,thebody,nature,theworld,areatthesametimeimmanentandtranscendent.They
differindegreesofsolidityorsubtleness,dependingonhowwewanttolookatit.Truthisthe
Dao.Embodimentmeansthatknowledgeisnotanintellectualactivityonly.That,ofcourse,can
andmaybeanaspectofadeeperunderstanding,aswell;itisknowledgethatlivesandfindsits
expressionintheentiretyofbeing.Thereisnothinkingofgoodnessandanactionthatisnot
goodness.Bodyandmindareunifiedinthoughtandaction,withoutanyseparation,without
dichotomyofbodyandmind.
BodyandmindareaspectsoftheDao,andexpressionsofqi,theuniversal,most
palpablemanifestationoftheDao.TheWay(Dao),therefore,throughconstantpractice,
manifestsmoreandmoreinthebody.Actioninthisstateofbeingisinharmonywiththe
ultimatereality.Thenewconsciousnesslivesinthebody,andasaconsequencewhatever
actionistakenisthecorrectaction.Thereisnowrongaction,nocontradiction,noconflict,
sincetheactionofathusembodiedbeingiswuwei,nonaction.Mindandbodyactinaunified,

167
effortlessmanner.[S]elfcultivationthoughmaximizingthenaturalexpressionofde,
perfectingembodiedenergyasqi,andcorelatinghealthinbodytoproperfunctioninsociety,
nature,andTian.388
LiviaKohnalsoexplainsthetransformativeexperienceoftheDaothus,Adepts
transformwhotheyareaspersonstobecomeonewiththeDao,buttheydonotdoitmerely
throughmentalreorientation.Theirentirephysicalstructurechangesasthepowersofthe
cosmosmanifestinthemandtheDaotakesovertheirbeing.389
Qigonghas,perhaps,alessloftygoaloridealinmindthantotalunionwiththeDao,of
totaltransformationandimmortality.Theintentionisofhealing.However,thesameprinciples
ofembodimentandtransformationmustmanifestinthebodymindforhealingtooccur.

TheFutureofQigong


ThehistoryofqigongstartedformewhenItookthecoursesDrZhangofferedinthe
early90s.Itisfromthoseofferingsthatsprangthequestionsforthisdissertation.Themost
recenthistoryis,ofcourse,whatishappeningnowadayswithqigong.Howthewesthas
receivedthisancientpractice,andhowitistransformingit.
Therearesomeelementsthatcomewiththepracticethatarenotpartofthisculture.
Thepracticeofqigongrequiresrepetitiveandconsistenteffort;however,thiseffortis
realizedascultivation.Thistermhasaverydifferentconnotationfromeffort.Effortconnotes
forcefulness,whereascultivationisdedicationthatnourishes.Inthewestwetendtothinkof
efforttowardsagoal,evenifthateffortcomesatgreatcost,i.e.,burnout,exhaustionorworse.
Onlywhenweunderstandthisnotionofcultivationourpracticewillbringasaresultdifferent
degreesofembodiment.OncewhenIwasdiscussingDaoismandqigongwithaChinese

388LauraE.Weed.DaoistMysticism:Embodiment,EudamoimoniaandFlow.TheCollegeofSt.Rose.Albany,

NewYork.AccessedonMarch9th2015here.Thetermdeshemeansvirtue,asinthetitleDaoDeJing,The
WayanditsVirtue.Deissometimesalsotranslatedaspower.Tianhere(Iamassuming)isheaven,aterm
usedextensivelyinDaoismandChinesecultureingeneral.Itmaymeanheaven,heavenlyordivinity.
389LiviaKohn.TheSubtlyBody,EcstasyofDaoistInnerAlchemy.ActaOrientaliaAcademiaeScientiarum

Hungaricae,Vol.59,No.3(2006),pp.325

168
professor,shetoldme,inAmericathereisnonotionofnourishing,ofrestingorlettingthe
bodyandspiritrecovertheenergiesspentfromtheconstantgoingandgoing.Ihadtoagree.
Ontheonehandweunderstandthatwehavetoworkhardtomakealiving,butwhenitcomes
tonourishingthespirit,thereisnoreferencepointforthat.
WhenIwasgivingaqigongworkshopinGermanyafewyearsago,oneoftheladies
takingthecourseaskedwhenwewerehavingalunchbreak:howoftendoIneedtopractice?
Myresponsewas,wellifyoupracticeonceaweek,youwillgetonceaweekresults.She,and
theotherstudentslaughed,seeminglyunderstandingwhatIhadtriedtoconvey.Onewillget
out(ofthepractice),almostwithoutfail,whateverweputin.Ofcoursedifferentfactorsplaya
roleintheeffectivenessofthepractice:agoodteacher,correctpractice,theopportunityto
dedicateitenoughtimeforittomakeadifference,stateofhealth,andotherimponderables,
allplayapart.However,constantpracticeshouldbeconsideredthetopreasonforeffective
practice.Andbyeffectivepraxiswemean,recoveryofhealth,healthmaintenanceorbalancing
ofextremeemotionalstatesintoastateofwellbeing.Effectiveness,however,comesfromthe
notionofspiritshiningthrough.Ofembodyingthoseenergies.
OneofthelastthingsIdidwhenfinishingupthisdraftwastodoaquicksearch
punchingintoGooglethewordqigong.Ireceived10,400,000andmorehits.Yesthatis
overtenmillionhits.Theproliferationofthisancientpracticeistrulyastounding,although
nothingcomparedtotheresukltsonegetswjhendoingasearchforyoga.Ayogasearchgave
467,000,000.PerhapsoneofthereasonsforthisdifferenceistheobsessionofAmericanswith
exerciseandfitnessforsure.Afterall,itisamultibilliondollarindustry.Mostyogaasitis
practicedtodayseemstobemorethananythingelseawaterdownversionofsometypeof
aerobicexercise.
Qigong,ontheotherhand,isadifferentapproachtoexercise,andanyonelookingat
agroupofpeopledoingTaijiorQigongwouldprobablythinkthatitistooslowandboringand
assume,veryincorrectly,thatitisnotarealchallenge.Qigonghastheadvantageofbeinga
verysubtletypeofspiritualpractice.ItiswhattheChinesecaldualpractice.Oneexercises
thebodywhile,atthesametime,cultivatingthespirit.Sopeopledisenchantedwiththeir
traditionalreligiousbackgroundsandevenmoresowiththehealthcaresystem,flockwith

169
alacritytoqigongcourses.Itis,asPalmercallsit,abodycenteredreligiosity,thatmanyfind
alluring.Itisemptyofimagesthatcanbetracedbacktoanyreligion,Daoist,Buddhistor
whatever,althoughafewteachersdosharestoriesand/orimageswithsomeDaoistor
Buddhistovertones.Instead,spiritualpowerisdescribedintermsofqi,awareness,or
consciousness;theuniverseistheimpersonalideaofdivinitywithoutitbeingtaintedbyany
religiousimages.Allofus,however,bringourownbundleofimagesandmythologiestothe
practice,whetherconsciousofitornot.Theneedtopersonifyorotherwiseprojectimagesand
storiestothepracticeseemsauniversalimpulse,andwemightadd,oftenhelpful.
Theimageofwaterisoftenevokedorotherwisecalledasadesirablestateofmind.
Thereisalwaysanemphasisonbeingagentlewithoneself,neverforcingthings,givingtimefor
qitoworkthroughthedifferentblocksanddisharmonies.Waterflowsthroughdifficultiesand
obstaclesunabated,restingandfillingemptyspaces.Theimagebringsrelaxed,naturalflow,to
letthemindcalmdown,whichcalmsthebody.Relaxationisalwaysbroughtupasthemain
aspectofthepractice,andofTraditionalChineseMedicine(TCM)aswell.Afterall,inTCMthe
maincauseofqidisruptionsleadingtochronicdiseasearethesevenemotionsastheyrelate
toorganfunction:anger,fearandshock,sadness,overjoy,worry,anddepression.Allthese
emotionsworkagainstrelaxation,forsure.Song,relaxation,istriggeredwhenenteringthe
liminalstate,whenenteringstillness(rujing).Itisalsotriggeredwhenapersonisreceiving
acupuncture.
SinceinAmericaandtheWestingeneral,wehaveseveralpracticesthathavebeen
importedandtakenrootinourculturefromEastandSoutheastAsia,yoga,qigong,Taiji,reiki,
forexample,plusthemanyothersthatusesimilarideas,butassprangaswesternmodels,such
asenergymedicine,the(Moshe)Feldenkrais(19041984)movementmethod390,John
Pierrakos(19212001),CoreEnergetics,391ThomasHanna(19281990)andhisHannaSomatic
Education,392etc.Therearemoreschoolsofthiskindthat,forthemostpart,bearsimilaritiesto
Daoyin;theyadvocateaholisticandenergy/consciousnessviewofthebodyandlife.

390MosheFeldenkrais,AwarenessThroughMovement:EasytoDoHealthExercisestoImproveYourPosture,

Vision,Imagination,andPersonalAwareness.HarperOne;Reprintedition(July28,2009)
391http://www.coreenergetics.org/johnpierrakos/AccessedlastonMarch12,2015.
392http://essentialsomatics.com/articles/detail/thomas_hannaAccessedlastonMarch12,2015.

170
PerhapsoneofthereasonswhyqigongbecamesuchafeverintheChinaoftheearly
70sallthewaythroughthelate90s,andIthinkitstillis,althoughtheChinesegovernment
doesnotpromotethespreadofthepracticeasitdidintheearlydays,isduetothepervading
mythologiesfromwhichChineseculturehasnurturedtheimaginationfromancienttimes.
Qigong,innercultivation,longevitytechniques,thenotionofqi,oftheDaoistimmortals,of
sagesflyingintheair,andofallkindsofspiritualvisionsandpowers,simplytookaholdofthe
collectiveconsciousnessofthepeople.ThesearestorieswithwhichmostChinesewere(and
are)wellacquaintedand,aftergoingthroughdesperate,traumatictimes,suchasthetaking
overofthecountrybyPeoplesRepublicOfChina,tryingtimestosaytheleast,andtheeven
moredisastrousandlethaleventsthatclaimedthelivesofmillions,thatis,theGreatLeap
ForwardandCulturalRevolutionleftintheirwake,adosageofspiritandhopewastheright
prescriptionforahopeandspiritstarvedpeople.Throughthesebodytechnologiescommon
folkcouldhopetoharnessthepowersofthehumanmind,andalsoreachamodicumofinner
peace.
Suchatmospherewastocreatetheidealgroundsforareencounterwiththeold
wisdomhandeddowninthestoriesthatwerepartandparcelofChineseculture.
PractitionersplungedintothelegendsandsymbolsofBuddhistmagiciansandTaoist
immortals,dabbledintalismansanddivination,andoftenexperienced,throughtrancestates,
visionsofpopulardemonanddeities.393Thesebodytechnologiesopenedthedoorforabody
centeredreligiositythatwouldspreadlikewildfireundertheguiseofhealth,sportsand
scienceoutsidethesupervisionofthereligiousAffairs.394
ThepointIamhintingatisthatthefutureofqigonginAmericawilldependonthe
differentstoriesandmythologiesweattachtothepractice.InAmericathepracticeofabody
centeredreligiosityisanewconceptandasfarasIcantell,themythologiesthatChinese
peopleattachtothepracticewillbecompletelydifferentfromtheonesweattachtoit.Ithas,
thus,thepotentialofbeingtotallytransformed,oratleastabsorbedintoothertraditions.I
haveseenthenotionofqi,forexample,beingcooptedbysomeinthesocalledCeltic
Spirituality,orCelticShamanismteachingsoflate,althoughitishardtoknowthrough

393DavidPalmer.Qigongfever.OpusCit.5
394Ibid

171
translationsofancientlanguagealonewhetherthatrenditionisevenapproximate.Thenotion
ofqi,ofvitalenergy,forexample,isfascinatingandtheideathatsomeofourancient
forefathersentertainedsuchnotionisevenmoreenticing;whetherthisisaccurate,itis
anothermatteraltogether.Qigongalsoencompassessuchvastarrayofpracticesthatitmakes
iteasyforothertraditionstointeractwithitandinterprettheirownexperiencesintermsofqi,
yi,yinandyang,ofmovementandvisualizationsorwhatever.AndyBaggott,forexample,
describeshimselfasaCelticMedicineman,butonethathasstudiedandincorporatedother
traditions,suchasNativeAmerican,BuddhismandDaoismintohismodernCeltichealing
practice.Hewrites,ImakenoapologyforthefactthatIhaveCelticisedsomeaspectsof
Chinesemedicine.395
Therearesomanythatfeelthesamewayandhaveabsorbedandadaptedother
traditionsintotheirownpractices.I,forinstance,amsomeonewhonotonlypracticesand
teachesTaijiandqigong,andisacertifiedMedicalQigongpractitioner,butalsoisaHathayoga
instructor,aTraditionalChineseMedicinepractitioner(currentlynotpracticing),hasstudied
Jungianpsychology,Hinduism,Tantra,ZenBuddhism,NeoPlatonism,NativeAmerican
spiritualityandotherhealingtraditionssuchasCherokeebodywork,attendsNativeAmerican
Healingcircles,liftweightsatthegym,playstennis,goesflyfishing,meditates,andisa
musicianandhealer.So,Ibringquiteafewmythologies,legendsandstoriesofmyowntomy
personalinterpretationoftheancientartofqigong.
Iwouldsaythatqigongisheretostay;isheretobetransformedintoanAmerican
practicewithitsownsetofimages,mythologiesandstories;theseareallgoingtovarygreatly
dependingontheteacherstakeonthepractice,butthecoretenetsofqigongwill,mostlikely,
remainastheunderlyingandunifyingprinciplesthathasseenitgrowfromtimesimmemorial
untilourmoderntimes.Itisanewarrivalbutithitstherightchordswithmostpeople,andas
weseethemedicalsystemadaptmoreandmoretoagrowingdemandforholisticmedical
approaches,wewillseepracticeslikeqigongbecomingmoremainstreamandperhapseven
incorporatedintothemedicalsystem,asChinahasdonefromtheinceptionofqigonginthe
early50s.

395AndyBaggott.TheCelticWheelofLife.Gateway(April1,2001)ix.

172
However,whetheritgoesmainstreamornot,itdoesnotmatter.Therearequiteafew
practitionersthatmakeadifferenceinthemedicalandspiritualfieldbyapplyingtheteachings
ofqigongtohealth,somebrandofspirituality,andwellbeing.

173
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BIOGRAPHICALSKETCH

February25,1959BornLosAngeles,California
2007M.A.AsianStudies.FloridaStateUniversity
2005..B.A.ReligiousStudies.UniversityofSouthFlorida
1995.M.Sc.inTraditionalChineseMedicine.SamraUniversity,
LosAngeles,CA

2004/2008LicensedAcupuncturist/AcupuncturePhysician,inthe
stateofFlorida.

2001/2002.ESLInstructor.LiRenMiddleSchool.Dali,
Taichung,Taiwan.
2000/2001.ESLInstructor.TaichungCommercial
College.Taichung,Taiwan
2000/2001..ESLInstructor.LightofChristCollege,
Taichung,Taiwan.
1998..ESLInstructor.BangkokUniversity.
Bangkok,Thailand.
1997/97.ESLInstructor.MyongjiUniversitySeoul,
Korea.96/97.
1992/93..............................................................ESLInstructor.DonMartinCollegeof
English,LosAngeles,CA.

1992/95..QigongandTaijichuanInstructor.Los
Angeles,CA.
1992/1995.TuiNa,ChineseTherapeutic
Massage/ShiatsuPractitioner.LosAngeles,CA

177