Water Path Qigong, which goes through the inside of the spine, is probably one of the highest levels of Qigong practice. Once you have built your Pre-birth Qi in the Lower Dan Tian, you use your mind and special training to lead the Qi into the Thrusting Vessel (Chong Mai, flifli ), the Qi reservoir which is located in the spinal cord (Figure 1-7). Marrow/Brain Washing Qigong generates Qi through a different method than the other forms of Qigong. Its approach is to convert semen into Qi. The Qi which has been generated by either method is led to the brain to energize the brain and spirit (Shen, # ). The energized mind is then able to adjust the Qi level in the organs and other parts of the body. This Qigong practice is difficult to do, but once competence has been achieved it is the most efficient. It is reported that priests who reach this level are able to slow down the aging process to a minimum, and some are able to live over two hundred years.
Marrow/Brain Washing Qigong has been kept top secret within the Daoist and Buddhist societies. Not only does it enable them to live long and healthy lives, but it is also involved with how they work to reach enlightenment or Buddhahood. Enlightenment or Buddhahood is the final goal of a priest who is looking for the eternal spiritual life. If you are interested in more information about Marrow/Brain Washing Qigong, please refer to the book: Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Figure i 6
The Wind Path
Washing Chi Kung, available from YMAA Publication Center
The Water Path way enables you to reduce the excess fire which most people build up. However, the training is the hardest both to practice and to understand.
Before we finish this section, we would like to conclude the discussion with the following thoughts:
1. Wai Dan Qigong is a practice in which Qi is built up in the limbs and then flows to the organs, while in Nei Dan practice the Qi is built up in the body and then spread out to the limbs. Wai Dan practice is mostly physical while Nei Dan practice is primarily mental.
2. Wai Dan is commonly done through muscle tension and relaxation exercises. Wai Dan can also be done with movement of the limbs. Nei Dan can be done either through Lower Dan Tian exercises or simply through thinking.
4. Nei Dan can be dangerous while Wai Dan is usually safe.
Because this book focuses on Wai Dan Qigong, this section serves only as a general introduction, and all of the above discussions have necessarily been brief. Interested readers should refer to other documents and books published by YMAA Publication Center,
When you practice any Qigong, you must first ask: What, Why, and How. "What" means: "What am I looking for?" "What do I expect?" and "What should I do?" Then you must ask: "Why do I need it?" "Why does it work?" "Why must I do it this way instead of that way?" Finally, you must determine: "How does it work?" "How much have I advanced toward my goal?" And "How will I be able to advance further?"
It is very important to understand what you are practicing, and not just automatically repeat what you have learned. Understanding is the root of any work. With understanding you will be
able to know your goal. Once you know your goal, your mind can be firm and steady. With this understanding, you will be able to see why something has happened, and what the principles and theories behind it are. Without all of this, your work will be done blindly, and it will be a long and painful process. Only when you are sure what your target is and why you need to reach it should you raise the question of how you are going to do it. The answers to all of these questions form the root of your practice, and will help you to avoid the wondering and confusion that uncertainty brings. If you keep this root, you will be able to apply the theory and make it grow—you will know how to create. Without this root, what you learn will be only branches and flowers, and in time they will wither.
In China there is a story about an old man who was able to change a piece of rock into gold. One day, a boy came to see him and asked for his help. The old man said: "Boy! What do you want? Gold? I can give you all of the gold you want." The boy replied: "No, Master, what I want is not your gold, what I want is the trick!" When you just have gold, you can spend it all and become poor again. If you have the trick of how to make gold, you will never be poor. For the same reason, when you learn Qigong you should learn the theory and principle behind it, not just the practice. Understanding theory and principle will not only shorten your time of pondering and practice, but also enable you to practice most efficiently.
One of the hardest parts of the training process is learning how to actually do the forms correctly. Every Qigong movement has its special meaning and purpose. In order to make sure your movements or forms are correct, it is best to work with the videotape and book together. There are some important things which you may not be able to pick up from reading, but once you see them, they will be clear. An example is the transition movements between the forms. Naturally, there are other important ideas which are impossible to take the time to explain in the videotape, such as the theory and principles; these can only be explained in the book. It cannot be denied that under the tutelage of a master you can learn more quickly and perfectly than is possible using only tapes and books. What you are missing is the master's experience. However, if you ponder carefully and practice patiently and persever-ingly, you will be able to fill this void through your own experience and practice. This book and the videotape were designed for self-instruction. You will find that they will serve you as a key to enter into the field of Qigong.
To conclude, you must practice perseveringly and patiently. You need a strong will and a great deal of patience and self-discipline. You may have already found that there are many different versions of the Eight Pieces of Brocade available on the market. Do not be confused by all of these versions. You should understand that it does not matter which version you practice, the basic theory and principles remain the same. The most important thing of all is to understand the poems and songs which have been passed down through generations. These poems and songs are the root of the training, so please study them carefully.
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