Many people think of a matter as soon as we mention Buddha School qigong: Since the goal of the Buddha School is to cultivate Buddhahood, they start to relate it to the things of Buddhism. I hereby solemnly clarify that Falun Gong is qigong of the Buddha School. It is a righteous, great cultivation way and has nothing to do with Buddhism. Buddha School qigong is Buddha School qigong, while Buddhism is Buddhism. They take different paths, even though they have the same goal in cultivation. They are different schools of practice with different requirements. I mentioned the word "Buddha," and I will mention it again later when I teach the practice at higher levels. The word itself doesn't have any superstitious overtones. Some people can't tolerate hearing the word Buddha, and claim that we propagate superstition. It is not so. "Buddha" began as a Sanskrit term that originated in India. It was translated into Chinese according to its pronunciation and called Fo Tuo.26 People omitted the word "Tuo" and kept the "Fo." Translated into Chinese it means "Enlightened One"—a person who is enlightened. (Refer to the Ci Hai27 dictionary.)
(1) Buddha School Qigong
At present, two types of Buddha School qigong have been made public. One separated from Buddhism and has produced many distinguished monks throughout its thousands of years of development. When its practitioners have cultivated to quite an advanced level, high-level masters will come to teach them something so that they will receive genuine instruction from even higher levels. All of the things in Buddhism used to be passed down to one individual at a time. Only when he was near the end of his life would a distinguished monk pass these down to one disciple, who would cultivate according to Buddhist doctrines, improving holistically. This type of qigong seemed closely connected to Buddhism. Monks were driven out of the temples later, namely, during the time of the Great Cultural Revolution.28 These exercises then spread to the general public where they developed in number.
Another type of qigong is also of the Buddha School. Over the ages, this type has never been a part of Buddhism. It has always been practiced quietly, either among the populace or deep in the mountains. These kinds of practices have their uniqueness. They need to choose a good disciple—someone with tremendous virtue who is truly capable of cultivating to an advanced level. This kind of person appears in this world only once in many, many years. These practices cannot be made public, as they
27 Ci Hai (tsz high)—the name of an authoritative Chinese dictionary.
28 "Great Cultural Revolution"—a communist political movement in China that denounced traditional values and culture (1966-1966).
require rather high xinxing and their gong develops rapidly. These sorts of practices are not few. The same applies to the Dao School. Daoist qigong, while all belonging to the Dao School, are further divided into Kunlung, Emei, Wudang, etc. There are different subdivisions within each group, and the subdivisions are quite different from one another. They cannot be mixed and practiced together.
Buddhism is a system of cultivation practice that Sakyamuni29 enlightened to on his own in India more than two thousand years ago, and it is based on his original cultivation practice. It can be summarized in three words: precept, samadhi,30 wisdom. Precepts are for the purpose of samadhi. Buddhism does in fact have exercises though it doesn't discuss the matter. Buddhists are indeed performing exercises when they sit in meditation and enter a state of tranquility. This is because energy from the universe will start to gather around a person's body when he calms down and settles his mind, and this achieves the effect of performing qigong exercises. The precepts in Buddhism are for abandoning all human desires and discarding everything to which an everyday person is attached so that the monk can reach a state of peacefulness and stillness, enabling him to enter samadhi. A person continuously improves himself in samadhi, until he eventually becomes enlightened, with his wisdom emerging. He will then know the universe and see its truth.
Sakyamuni did only three things daily when he was teaching: he taught Dharma31 (primarily the Dharma of Arhat) to his disciples, carried a bowl to collect alms (beg for food), and cultivated through sitting in meditation. After Sakyamuni left this world, Brahmanism and Buddhism battled. These two religions later merged into one, called Hinduism. Buddhism no longer exists in India today as a result of this. Mahayana32 Buddhism appeared through later developments and changes and was spread to inner China, where it has become today's Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism doesn't worship Sakyamuni as its sole founder—it is a multi-Buddha faith. It believes in many Tathagatas,33 such as Buddha Amitabha, Medicine Buddha, etc., and there are more precepts now, while the goal of cultivation has become higher. Back in his time, Sakyamuni taught the Dharma of Bodhisattva34 to a few disciples. These teachings were later reorganized and have developed into today's Mahayana Buddhism, which is for cultivating to the realm of Bodhisattva. The tradition of Theravada Buddhism has been retained to this day in Southeast Asia, and ceremonies are performed using supernormal abilities. In Buddhism's course of evolution, one cultivation way branched off to the Tibet region of our country and is called Tibetan Tantrism. Another cultivation way spread to the Han area35 via Xinjiang36 and was
29 Sakyamuni—Buddha Sakyamuni, or "the Buddha," Siddhartha Gautama. Popularly known as the founder of Buddhism, he lived in ancient India around the 5th century B.C.
30 samadhi—Buddhist meditation.
31 Dharma—this is a conventional translation for the Chinese word "Fa," as used in the context of Buddhism.
32 Mahayana—"The Great Vehicle Buddhism."
33 Tathagata—enlightened being with Attainment Status in the Buddha School who is above the levels of Bodhisattva and Arhat.
34 Bodhisattva—enlightened being with Attainment Status in the Buddha School who is higher than Arhat but lower than Tathagata.
35 Han (hahn) area—Han people comprise the largest ethnic group in China, and the "Han area" is used to refer to the area that they occupy; that is, most central provinces and regions of China (i.e., Tibet, etc.).
36 Xinjiang (shin-jyang)—a province in northwestern China.
called Tang Tantrism (this disappeared after Buddhism was suppressed during the years of Huichang37). Another branch in India evolved into yoga.
No exercises are taught in Buddhism and qigong is not practiced. This is to preserve the traditional method of Buddhist cultivation. It is also an important reason why Buddhism has lasted more than two thousand years without waning. It has naturally maintained its own tradition precisely because it hasn't accepted into it anything foreign. In Buddhism there are different ways to cultivate. Theravada Buddhism focuses on self-salvation and self-cultivation; Mahayana Buddhism has evolved to offer salvation to both self and others—salvation of all sentient beings.
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