Chi Kung and the Balance of Water and Fire

Tan Tien Chi Kung involves the simultaneous training of body and mind by way of activating mind power. The combined and integrated activity of the mind, the heart and the eye power are the major sources of activation of the subtle energy and the transformations it requires and enhances.

The more the mind is awakened, the more the heart is opened and the more the eye is trained to look inward, the easier it becomes for the mind to lead and guide the movement of Chi through the body.

Thus the process of transformation is determined by the progressive refinement and combination of mind, heart and eye into one undivided subtle power. The emphasis in Taoist practice on the inner structure of this transformational power is suggested by the expression used for it. It is called " Yi" which means Water or Wisdom Mind.

This Yin mind is receptive, inward oriented, serene, steady and cool and represents the moon energy. It is the opposite of the Yang or Fire mind. The Fire Mind is so called as it represents the heat of the Sun, the emotional, active, outward going and volatile mind. These two minds, representing the unity of opposite Yin and Yang energies in the Universe, need to always return to balance, so as to create harmony and the right temperature in body and mind.

While the Lower Tan Tien serves as the source and the vessel or container of Chi, it is the Wisdom mind which leads its movement, distribution and circulation. The more the mind is cultivated and transformed into a Wisdom mind, the more skilful it will be in sensing where Chi is needed and guide it.

Circulation Chi
Fig. 6.8 Wisdom Chi Kung

In traditional Chinese terms Chi is considered the soldiers and Yi the Commander in chief. These martial terms make clear that Chi was of vital importance in the martial arts and in warfare, as it represented the major source of internal power before gun powder was introduced.

In Iron Shirt Chi Kung there was always, at least at the surface, a strong emphasis on its Yang dimension, although the real power was hidden in the Yin energy.

It is not surprising that the ways of access to these powers were kept secret to guard the monopoly and also to avoid abuse. The emphasis on energy as a meditative practice, so characteristic of the Taoist approach, becomes understandable if we know that monks played a crucial role in its creation.

With the decline of Chi Kung and especially of Iron Shirt Chi Kung as a principal weapon in warfare, its Yin dimension, not directly discernible to an uninitiated outsider, could be more fully appreciated. Chi Kung and Iron Shirt Chi Kung came to play a vital role in using Chi for health, self-healing and spiritual growth. The meaning of Yi as Wisdom or Water mind suggests that Taoist practice relied on the enhancement of the power of intuition and the art of sensing; these powers were considered as belonging to the essence of feminine power. Throughout history and the evolution of culture women have been closer to the earth and to their hearts than men. It is not surprising that the Taoist tradition has been called the female undercurrent of Chinese (patriarchal) culture.

With its emphasis on the integration of action with contemplation Taoist practice has had a pervasive influence on the flowering of Chinese civilization in all fields, in particular in those of science, medicine and the arts.

With the growth of subtle energy through Taoist meditative practice, there is less need to rely on the conduction through Chi on external practice and power. The movements increasingly originate from within as both the mind and the body become more sensitive to each other; the body becomes the seat of finer and more powerful subtle energies.

The overall energy balance in the body always remains the direct outcome of the level of Chi pressure. When Chi pressure declines, all fluids in the body are deactivated and health is in decline. When the natural energy balance between Fire and Water in the body is lost both body and mind suffer, but especially the brain and the heart.

As the Water element in the body weakens with the decline of the Earth connection, the Fire energy is more out of balance and runs wild.

Given the prevailing trends, there is an implicit contempt for wis dom at the expense of knowledge; wisdom relies on listening to and feeling into the consciousness of the mind and the whole body and its organs. Knowledge is seen as a mere instrument of utility and as a product of the brain. The body and its emotions are seen as a source of disturbance rather than the "Temple of the Spirit". This situation may be inverted when there is more space for Water energy and a better connection with the Earth energy. It is the Lower Tan Tien which is the seat of both Water and Earth elements.

Tan Tien Chi Kung, Iron Shirt Chi Kung and Tai Chi Chi Kung, as well as all other Universal Tao practices are helping practitioners around the world to become rooted and centered.

Ironshirt Qigong
Fig. 6.9 Iron Shirt Chi Kung
Iron Shirt Qigong
Fig. 6.10 Tai Chi Chi Kung
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