(1) The Side-Door Awkward Ways (Pangmen Zuodao)
The Side-Door Awkward Ways are also called the Unconventional (Qimen) Cultivation Ways. Various qigong cultivation ways existed prior to the establishment of religions. There are many practices outside of religions that have spread among the populace. Most of them lack systematic doctrines and so have not become complete cultivation systems. Nonetheless, the Unconventional Cultivation Ways have their own systematic, complete, and unusually intense cultivation methods, and they, too, have been spread among the populace. These practice systems are usually called the Side-Door Awkward Ways. Why are they called this? Pangmen literally means "side door"; and Zuodao means "awkward ways." People consider both the Buddha and Dao School cultivation ways to be straight ways, with all others being side-door awkward ways or wicked cultivation ways. Actually, it isn't so. The Side-Door Awkward Ways have been practiced secretly throughout history, being taught to one disciple at a time. They weren't allowed to be revealed to the public. Once made known, people would not understand them very well. Even their practitioners hold that they are of neither the Buddha nor the Dao School. The cultivation principles of the unconventional ways have strict xinxing criteria. They cultivate according to the nature of the universe, advocating doing kind deeds and watching one's xinxing. The highly accomplished masters in these practices all have unique skills, and some of their unique techniques are powerful. I have met three highly accomplished masters from the Unconventional Cultivation Ways who taught me some things that cannot be found in either the Buddha or Dao School. These things were each fairly difficult to practice during the process of cultivation, so the gong obtained was unique. In contrast, strict xinxing criteria are lacking among some so-called Buddha and Dao School cultivation methods, and as a result their practitioners cannot cultivate to an advanced level. So we should look at each cultivation method objectively.
(2) Martial Arts Qigong
Martial arts qigong is born of a long history. Having its own complete system of theories and cultivation methods, it has formed an independent system. Yet strictly speaking, it only manifests supernormal abilities that are generated by internal cultivation at the lowest level. All of the supernormal abilities that appear in martial
37 Huichang (hway-chahng)—Emperor Wu Zong's time of rule during the Tang Dynasty (841 - 846 a.d.).
arts cultivation also appear in internal cultivation. Martial arts cultivation also begins with doing qi exercises. For instance, when striking a piece of rock, in the beginning the martial arts practitioner needs to swing his arms to move qi. Over time, his qi will change in nature and become an energy mass that appears to exist in the form of light. At this point his gong will start to function. Gong has intelligence because it is an evolved matter. It exists in another dimension and is controlled by the thoughts coming from one's brain. When attacked, the martial arts practitioner doesn't need to move qi; gong will come merely with a thought. Over the course of cultivation his gong will continually be strengthened, with its particles becoming finer and its energy growing greater. The skills of Iron Sand Palm and Cinnabar Palm will appear. As we can see from movies, magazines, and television shows, the skills of Golden Bell Shield and Iron Cloth Shirt have emerged in recent years. These stem from the simultaneous practice of internal cultivation and martial arts cultivation. They come from cultivating internally and externally at the same time. To cultivate internally, a person needs to value virtue and cultivate his or her xinxing. Explained from a theoretical angle, when a person's ability reaches a certain level, gong will emit from the body's interior to its exterior. It will become a protective shield because of its high density. In terms of principles, the biggest difference between the martial arts and our internal cultivation lies in the fact that the martial arts are performed with vigorous movements and practitioners do not enter into tranquility. Not being tranquil makes qi flow underneath the skin and pass through the muscles instead of flowing into a person's dantian.38 So they don't cultivate life, and neither are they able to.
(3) Reverse Cultivation and Gong Borrowing
Some people have never practiced qigong. Then suddenly they acquire gong overnight and have quite strong energy, and they can even heal illnesses for others. People call them qigong masters and they, too, go about teaching others. Some of them, despite the fact that they have never learned qigong or have only learned a few of its movements, are teaching people things that they have modified slightly. This kind of person is not qualified to be a qigong master. He or she doesn't have anything to pass on to others. What he or she teaches certainly can't be used to cultivate to a high level; the most it can do is help get rid of sickness and improve health. How does this kind of gong come about? Let's first talk about reverse cultivation. The commonly known phrase "reverse cultivation" pertains to those good people who have extremely high xinxing. They are usually older, such as over fifty years of age. There isn't enough time for them to cultivate from the beginning, as it is not easy to meet excellent masters who teach qigong exercises that cultivate both mind and body. The moment this type of person wants to cultivate, high-level masters will place a great amount of gong onto this person according to his or her xinxing foundation. This enables cultivation in reverse, from the top down, and this way it is much faster. From another dimension, high-level masters perform the transformation and continuously add gong to the person from the outside of his or her body; this is particularly the case when the person is giving treatments and forming an energy field. The gong given by the masters flows as if through a pipeline. Some people don't even know where the gong comes from. This is reverse cultivation.
Another type is called "gong borrowing," and this isn't restricted in terms of age. A human being has an Assistant Consciousness (fu yishi) along with a Main
38 dantian (dahn-t'yen)—"field of dan," located at the lower abdominal area.
Consciousness (zhu yishi), and it is generally at a higher level than the Main Consciousness. The Assistant Consciousnesses of some people have reached such high levels that they can communicate with enlightened beings. When these kinds of people want to cultivate, their Assistant Consciousnesses also want to improve their levels and will immediately get in touch with those enlightened beings to borrow gong from them. After the gong is loaned this person will get it overnight. After obtaining the gong, he or she will be able to treat people to ease their pains. The person will usually employ the method of forming an energy field. He or she will also be able to give energy to people individually and to teach some techniques.
People like this usually start out being pretty good. Because they possess gong, they become well known and acquire both fame and personal gain. Attachments to renown and to personal gain come to occupy a substantial portion of their thinking— more than cultivation does. From that point on their gong starts to diminish, becoming smaller and smaller until finally it is all gone.
(4) Cosmic Language
Some people are suddenly able to speak a certain type of language. It sounds fairly fluent when it is uttered, yet it's not the language of any human society. What's it called? It is referred to as celestial language. This thing called "cosmic language" is in fact merely the language of those entities that are not so high. This phenomenon is occurring right now for quite a few qigong practitioners around the country; some of them can even speak several different languages. Of course, the languages of our humankind are also sophisticated and there are more than a thousand varieties. Is cosmic language considered a supernormal ability? I would say that it doesn't count as one. It isn't a supernormal ability that comes from you, and neither is it a kind of ability that's given to you from the outside. Rather, it is manipulation by foreign entities. These entities originate at a somewhat higher level—at least higher than that of humankind. It is one of them who does the talking, as the person who speaks cosmic language only serves as a medium. Most people do not even know themselves what they are saying. Only those who have mind-reading abilities can get a general sense of what the words mean. It is not a supernormal ability, but many people who have spoken these languages feel superior and elated since they think it is a supernormal ability. In fact, someone with a high-level Third Eye can definitely observe that a living entity is speaking from diagonally above, through the person's mouth.
That entity teaches the person to speak a cosmic language while passing on to him or her some of its energy. Yet thereafter this person will be under its control, so this is not a righteous cultivation way. Even though that entity is in a slightly higher dimension, it is not cultivating a righteous way. It therefore doesn't know how to teach cultivators to stay healthy or heal illnesses. Consequently, it utilizes this method of sending out energy through speech. Because it is dispersed, this energy has little power. It is effective in treating minor sicknesses but fails with serious diseases. Buddhism speaks of how those above cannot cultivate since they lack suffering and discord; moreover, they cannot temper themselves and are unable to improve their levels. So they look for ways to help people gain better health and thereby elevate themselves. This is what speaking cosmic language is all about. It is neither a supernormal ability nor qigong.
(5) Spirit Possession
The most injurious type of spirit possession (futi) is that by a low-level entity. This is caused by cultivating an evil way. It is really harmful to people, and the consequences of people being possessed are frightening. Not long after beginning to practice, some people become obsessed with treating patients and becoming rich; they think of these things all the time. These people might have originally been pretty decent or already had a master looking after them. Nevertheless, things turn sour when they start to contemplate giving treatments and getting rich. They then attract this type of entity. Even though it's not in our physical dimension it really exists.
This kind of practitioner suddenly feels that the Third Eye has opened and that he or she now has gong, but it is actually that the possessing spirit has control of his or her brain. It reflects onto this person's brain the images that it sees, making him or her feel that the Third Eye has opened. The person's Third Eye has not in fact opened whatsoever. Why does the possessing spirit or animal want to give this person gong? Why does it want to help him or her? It's because in our universe animals are forbidden to cultivate. Animals are not allowed to obtain a righteous cultivation way since they know nothing about xinxing and can't improve themselves. As a result, they want to attach themselves to human bodies and acquire the human essence. There is also another rule in this universe, namely: no loss, no gain. So they want to satisfy your desire for fame and personal gain. They will make you rich and famous, but they will not help you for nothing. They also want to gain something: your essence. You will have nothing left by the time they leave you and you will have turned very weak or become a vegetable. This is caused by your degenerate xinxing. One right mind will subdue a hundred evils. When you are righteous you will not attract evil. In other words, be a noble practitioner, turn away from all nonsense, and practice only a righteous cultivation way.
(6) A Righteous Practice Can Become a Wicked Cultivation Way
Although the practice systems some people learn come from righteous cultivation ways, people can actually practice wicked ways inadvertently due to their inability to impose strict self-requirements, to their failure to cultivate xinxing, and to their entertaining negative thoughts while performing their exercises. For example, when a person is performing the exercises there in either the standing stance or the seated meditation, his thoughts are actually on money, becoming well known, personal gain, or "he's wronged me, and I'll fix him after I acquire supernormal abilities." Or he is thinking of this or that supernormal ability, adding something very bad to his practice and actually practicing a wicked way. This is quite dangerous since it might attract some rather negative things, like low-level entities. Perhaps the person doesn't even know he has invited them. His attachment is strong; it is unacceptable to purposefully practice cultivation to fulfill one's desires. He isn't righteous, and even his master will be unable to protect him. So practitioners must maintain their xinxing strictly, keeping a righteous mind and craving nothing. Doing otherwise might incur problems.
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