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Daoist Internal Alchemy: Alchemy Formulas, Qi Field & Language Theory

{written by : Michael Winn}

Article word count : 1202 -- Article Id : 152
Article active date : 2008-07-19 -- Article views : 16797


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Article is about :
When I was first initiated into daoist qigong and internal alchemy (nei dan) practice twenty years ago, I began having exciting and profound experiences. Mysterious hidden inner worlds were suddenly revealed to me.

Reincarnation The Neverending Journey
In Reincarnation The Neverending Journey an attempt is made to explore the conundrum of our existence. An existence that spans yesterday, today and even tomorrow. Questions surrounding the existence of the soul and our connections to the physical world, the fundamental mechanisms and the processes by which reincarnation operates through time, are carefully examined. Plausible revelations on memories and karma and their intrinsic connections to our lives today and tomorrow are explored. It is a Neverending Journey.. Your Neverending Journey....

by Pieter Heydenrych




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When I was first initiated into daoist qigong and internal alchemy (nei dan) practice twenty years ago, I began having exciting and profound experiences. Mysterious hidden inner worlds were suddenly revealed to me. The interior dimensions of my body became a vast playground that I had somehow overlooked in my previous spiritual explorations. As I progressed through "Seven Alchemical Formulas for Attaining Immortality", I gradually came to recognize the nei dan formulas themselves reveal a deep language by which Nature communicates with the different dimensions of its own intelligence. This universal field of intelligence in alchemical terms is the mind of the Dao. Physical nature would be the body of the Dao.

These seven formulas were transmitted to my first daoist teacher Mantak Chia by One Cloud, a daoist monk who searched with limited success in various monasteries for thirty years for the secrets of internal alchemy. An abbot finally told him to "go into the mountains to find a teacher". On Long White Mountain in northern China near Manchuria One Cloud met another daoist who had left his monastery, and who HAD found a true teacher of internal alchemy. He transmitted to One Cloud these nei dan formulas. One Cloud practiced these methods and entered into the breatharian state (bigu) for some years, meaning he fed his body on qi alone. (2)

During the Japanese invasion One Cloud left his mountain, and migrated on foot to the mountains behind Hong Kong. He healed local people and taught neidan to a few students. He was a simple man who constantly smiled; his only complaint was that eating some bad food after he came down the mountain would cause his early death. He died at age 96 in the 1970"s. His formulas resonate with writings attributed to Lu Dongbin, one of the semi-legendary "Eight Immortals", around which the "Zhong-Lu" neidan tradition first flourished in the 10 and 11th centuries. Some of his formulas also resemble the teachings on nei dan of the Complete Perfection (Quanzhen) tradition. Historically, it is not clear if the practice of internal alchemy adopted by temple schools of daoism like Quanzhen originally came from scattered "mountain dao" practitioners like One Cloud"s teacher. One Cloud told Chia that he had "given him the best from all his teachers".

Today in China there are thousands of qigong forms and many different neigong and nei dan systems of internal mind training. At first this is bewildering, as if it were a spiritual labyrinth with too many paths. But now, looking back after 20 years , it is easy to see all methods as expression of a single common deep energetic language. Whether the life force, qi, is moved using body language or is shaped by the intention or imagination of a particular aspect of mind/spirit (shen), it is still the same language of qi. Just as one can produce many different word combinations in English, all comprehensible because of a common grammar and vocabulary, so one can create many qigong and neigong forms, each movement pattern having a unique effect on the body-mind"s qi field.

Nei dan ("inner elixir") is a special class of neigong ("inner skill") that trains one to "speak" the deep language that silently pulses through the medium of a universal qi field. One of the meanings of the chinese character for "Dao" is "to speak, to tell". (3) Hence in the famous first line of the Dao dejing (Tao Te Ching),"The Dao that can be spoken is not the true Dao", the word "spoken" is the same character as that used for "Dao". The line could even be translated, "The speaking that is spoken is not the true speaking". So the idea that the Dao exists as an unspoken, or silent language, is emphasized in the very first line of this classic.

Linguists generally agree there must exist a "deep language" structure that allows every child born to speak "natural languages" such as English or Chinese, or to create "formal languages" such as computer programs or symbol languages such as the I Ching or mathematics. Noam Chomsky posits a "universal grammar" that is deeper even than the "transformational grammar" he thinks underlies each natural spoken language. But no linguist has been able to describe the structure of this deep language other than to say that it is what defines intelligence itself, and all power of thinking and organized perception. Some linguists admit this deep language may best be explored by religion.(4)

Neurobiologists, unable to locate a deep language structure in the brain, have theorized that memory and intelligence are held in some kind of holographic field. Physicists like David Bohm, Erwin Lazlo and Mae Wan Ho posit a holographic quantum field filled with self-creating organisms that communicate via energy fields with a super-conscious universal organism. (5) This organic quantum field theory (not accepted by most physicists, who view space/time as mechanistic) bears some similarity to ancient daoist alchemical ideas. One major difference is the daoist ideas have gone through several millennia of practical testing and application to the evolution of humans.

My thesis is that a deep language ability is stored in the qi field, and that One Cloud"s nei dan formulas are a good example of how it is possible to train oneself to directly perceive and communicate with Nature"s intelligence in a mostly non-verbal and non-ordinary language. Daoist alchemy allows us to approach closely the Mystery of our Inner Voice. Whether we hear these voices inside our head as audible voices or as silent thoughts, or instinctual feelings from our gut, who is speaking to us? Alchemy answers the question: where do intuition and inner guidance arise from? By learning the alchemical process of commmunicating through resonance with different dimensions of the qi field, we can systematically get in touch with the origin of those voices.

I define qigong ("skill with energy") as a natural body language arising to the "surface" from neigong"s deeper grammar of qi patterns. (6) Practicing qigong (in which I include taiji, bagua, and xingyi internal arts) is like learning the strokes of the qi alphabet and their "meaning" or expression in physical reality. By calming the mind, regulating the breath, and moving one"s body in particular patterns, the qi field governing the meridians and energetic centers of the physical body is activated and "speaks back" to one initially as different feelings of energy. Qigong and neigong are not something that one "does" in the ordinary sense of action; rather they are methods of shaping how one communicates. The shape of the qi patterns being communicated then shape one"s reality.

The qi field is the field of all possible relationships. Every relationship involves communication; communication requires a language, and as Ludwig Wittgenstein demonstrated in his famed treatise on "private language"-- every language by definition is public and accessible. The seven neidan formulas I learned give a coherent public structure and sequence to a human language process for speaking with and listening to the deepest levels of Nature"s intelligence. I believe alchemy is a process of learning to speak with this universal intelligence using the entirety of one"s personal being -- body, qi, and spirit fused into one.

Author Bio :
Micheal Winn, president Healing Tao USA offers : Qigong exercise for health. Top Tai Chi, Qi Gong, & meditation exercises on dvd, audio-video, or at healing week long retreats. http://www.healingtaousa.com

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