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Inner awareness and wisdom

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Laozi: The Teachings of Inaction

The Sage occupies himself with inaction, and conveys instruction without words. Is it not by neglecting self-interest that one will be able to achieve it?

Purge yourself of your profound intelligence, and you can still be free from blemish. Cherish the people and order the kingdom, and you can still do without meddlesome action.

Who is there that can make muddy water clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually become clear of itself. Who is there that can secure a state of absolute repose? But let time go on, and the state of repose will gradually arise.

Be sparing of speech, and things will come right of themselves.

A violent wind does not outlast the morning; a squall of rain does not outlast the day. Such is the course of Nature. And if Nature herself cannot sustain her efforts long, how much less can man!

Attain complete vacuity, and sedulously preserve a state of repose.

Tao is eternally inactive, and yet it leaves nothing undone. If kings and princes could but hold fast to this principle, all things would work out their own reformation. If, having reformed, they still desired to act, I would have them restrained by the simplicity of the Nameless Tao. The simplicity of the Nameless Tao brings about an absence of desire. The absence of desire gives tranquillity. And thus the Empire will rectify itself.

The softest things in the world override the hardest. That which has no substance enters where there is no crevice. Hence I know the advantage of inaction.

Conveying lessons without words, reaping profit without action,--there are few in the world who can attain to this!

Activity conquers cold, but stillness conquers heat. Purity and stillness are the correct principles for mankind.

Without going out of doors one may know the whole world; without looking out of the window, one may see the Way of Heaven. The further one travels, the less one may know. Thus it is that without moving you shall know; without looking you shall see; without doing you shall achieve.

The pursuit of book-learning brings about daily increase. The practice of Tao brings about daily loss. Repeat this loss again and again, and you arrive at inaction. Practise inaction, and there is nothing which cannot be done.

The Empire has ever been won by letting things take their course. He who must always be doing is unfit to obtain the Empire.

Keep the mouth shut, close the gateways of sense, and as long as you live you will have no trouble. Open your lips and push your affairs, and you will not be safe to the end of your days.

Practise inaction, occupy yourself with doing nothing.

Desire not to desire, and you will not value things difficult to obtain. Learn not to learn, and you will revert to a condition which mankind in general has lost.

Leave all things to take their natural course, and do not interfere.

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The delusion of grace under pressure

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Master Chen Shiyu Tai Chi 13

Master Chen Shiyu is performing Tai Chi 13 in Monkey Valley (Wudang Mountains).

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The Three Treasures

In the Taoist tradition the life is supported by three main pillars, these three pillars or compounds are important to lead a balanced and healthy life. The translation of these is very vague and every Taoist master might give you a slightly different response. This translation here is the classic version of Qi, Jing and Shen. Basically they can be translated as: Qi is energy building. Jing is energy saving and Shen has a lot to do with our nervous system and awareness.

Taoist masters use the knowledge of the three treasures to indicate their own life and help others by indicating their life problems. The three treasures are the basic principle for diagnostics in traditional chinese medicine. The real interpretation of the three treasures can be understood by collecting experience through self-awareness. This does include Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Kung Fu training.

Qi (Vitality)

Qi-compressorQi, the first Treasure, is the energy that creates our vitality. Through the constant interaction of Yin and Yang change is brought into being. Qi is the activity of Yin and Yang. Movement, functioning and thought is the result of Qi. The nature of Qi is to move. In the Three Treasures system includes both Energy and Blood. It nourishes and protects us. Qi is said to be produced as a result of the functions of the Lungs and Spleen. Therefore, Qi tonics strengthen the digestive, assimilative and respiratory functions.

When Qi condenses, it becomes Jing. Fast moving Qi is considered to be Yang while slow moving Qi is Yin. In the system of the Three Treasures, blood is considered to be a part of the Qi component of our being. Blood is said to be produced from the food ingested after the Qi has been extracted through the action of the Spleen. The red blood cells are said to be nutritive and are thus associated with the Ying Qi (Yin), while the white blood cells are protective and are associated with Wei Qi (Yang). Qi tonics are generally believed to have potent immune modulating activity. Qi tonics, composed of Energy and/or Blood tonics, increase our ability to function fully and adaptively as human beings.

Jing (Essence)

jing-compressorJing is the second Treasure and is translated as "Regenerative Essence," or simply as "Essence." Jing is the refined energy of the body. It provides the foundation for all activity and is said to be the "root" of our vitality. Jing is the primal energy of life. It is closely associated with our genetic potential, and is associated with the aging process. Jing is stored energy and provides the reserves required to adapt to all the various stresses encountered in life. Since Jing is concentrated energy, it manifests materially. Jing also is said to control a number of primary human functions: the reproductive organs and their various substances and functions; the power and clarity of the mind; and the integrity of one's physical structure. Jing, which is a blend of Yin and Yang energy, is said to be stored in the "Kidney." Jing is generally associated these days with the hormones of the reproductive and adrenal glands, andJing is the vital essence concentrated in the sperm and ova.

It is considered extremely difficult to enhance the original Jing after conception, although it is not at all difficult to deplete and weaken it, and thus to weaken and shorten one's life. The only way to strengthen the originalJing is through specific highly sophisticated yogic techniques such as those developed by the Daoists and by consuming certain potent tonic herbs known as Jing tonics. The purpose of taking Jing tonic herbs is to maintain healthy levels of postnatal Jing. If postnatal Jing is maintained at sufficient levels, prenatal Jing is used much more slowly and the aging process is slowed down.

When Jing is strong, vitality and youthfulness remain. Strong Jing energy in the Kidneys, so the Chinese say, will lead to a long and vigorous life, while a loss of Jing will result in physical and mental degeneration and a shortening of one's life. Jing is essential to life and when it runs low our life force is severely diminished and thus we lose all power to adapt. The quantity of Essence determines both our life span and the ultimate vitality of our life.Jing is burned up in the body by life itself, but most especially by chronic and acute stress and excessive behavior, including overwork, excessive emotionalism, substance abuse, chronic pain or illness, and marital excess (especially in men). Excessive menstrual patterns, pregnancy and childbirth can result in a dramatic drain on the Jing of a woman, especially in middle aged women. When Jing is depleted below a level required to survive, we die. Eventually everyone runs out of Jing and thus everyone dies (at least physically).

Shen (Spirit)

shen-compressorShen is the third Treasure. Shen is the Holy Spirit which directs Qi. It may also be translated as our "higher consciousness." This is ultimately the most important of the Three Treasures because it reflects our higher nature as human beings. Chinese masters say that Shen is the all-embracing love that resides in our "Heart," a primary organ system. Shen is the spiritual radiance of a human being and is the ultimate and most refined level of energetics in the universe. Shen is not considered to be an emotion, or even a state of mind. It presides over the emotions and manifests as all-encompassing compassion, and non-discriminating, non-judgemental awareness. Shen is expressed as love, compassion, kindness, generosity, acceptance, forgiveness and tolerance. It manifests as our wisdom and our ability to see all sides of all issues, our ability to rise above the world of right and wrong, good and bad, yours and mine, high and low, and so on. Shen is our higher knowledge that everything is one, even though nature manifests dualistically and cyclically, often obscuring our vision and creating illusion.

Our true Spirit, which the Chinese call Shen, is the spark of divinity that resides within the heart of every human being and manifests as love, kindness, compassion, generosity, giving, tolerance, forgiveness, mercy, tenderness and the appreciation of beauty. It is the Spirit of a human being as the divine messenger, the channel of God's will and love. Shen is the purpose of all spiritual paths. It is the Buddha's desire to end suffering and it is Christ's love and compassion... Shen manifests only when the heart is open. Once the heart is open, Shen manifests as light that illuminates the path of a man or woman in life's journey toward the spiritual goal and along the spiritual path.

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The Power of Wudang Tai Yi

Wudang is famous for its soft characteristics in martial arts. This "soft" principles originate from Wudang Tai Chi, however the true essence of Wudang Tai Chi is the way of energy transformation. As the movement comes from the energy center (Dantian) the "soft" can transport energy and enhance the intentional movements. This usage of energy is called "Tai Yi" or "Liang Yi" and can be viewed as an practical understanding of Tai Chi.

How to use power in Wudang Tai Yi?

When intention comes from patience and movement from stillness the "softness" will be the amplifier to ultimate action. Understanding Tai Yi can lead to inhuman and lighting fast movements, it is not the way of ultimate fighting but the way of maximum energy transformation. The way of Wudang is about coming second but reaching first.

The Seven Stages Breathing Technique:

When controlling the two powers (Yin and Yang) the actual way during the movement should not be instant but should have time to be properly controlled instead. Controlling Tai Yi is depending on the "Seven Steps/Stages Qi Gong Breathing Technique". Breathing in seven stages during the movement will give your Dantian the necessary time to make a movement powerful. Wudang Masters can use this Qi Gong technique to adapt their Tai Yi to any movement or position.

Wudang Kung Fu is learned during a long training process on a physical and mental level. Tai Yi can be considered as practical pinnacle of energy transformation and takes a proper master and a lot of time to learn.

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Qi Gong Stretching Class

Qi Gong stretching is very important to help your body relax. Through the stretching and breathing techniques you improve your blood circulation and repair your body faster when the last days were hard on you. Good against stress and hard muscles.

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Five Element Tai Yi Demonstration

Master Ziji is performing the five element Tai Yi form (Wuxing Quan).

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Wudang Documentary, Tao & Zhong Yunlong Teachings

Zhong Yunlong explaining the way of Tao in this fabulous Wudang documentary.

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Wu Shu or Kung Fu?

Throughout the years of my teaching and communication with foreign students, I found that there are confusion and misunderstanding in their mind about “Wu Shu (武术)” and “Kung Fu (功夫)”. They thought that “Kung Fu” is something more superior and high class. It can be used in combat and for fighting crime. Those competent in “Kung Fu” would become heroes for doing all the good things and eliminating crime. On the other hand, “Wu Shu” is quite the opposite in their mind. They thought “Wu Shu” is superficial and decorative. There is no real value in “Wu Shu”, not even as exercise for achieving good health. In fact, there is not much difference between “Wu Shu” and “Kung Fu”. The difference is only in terminology. Traditional “Wu Shu” dated back to thousands of years. It is part of the Chinese culture that founded on Taoism. Inevitably, the Taoism philosophy of “Yin/Yang”, “ 5 Elements”, “8 Trigrams”, “9 Squares” had all been embedded in “Wu Shu”. Before the Ching Dynasty, “knowledge” enabled stability of the country while military force safeguarded the country. “Wu Shu” which formed part of the military power secured the status and dignity of the country. It also indicated the country’s power which led to the fortune and existence of that country.  Hence, one cannot ignore the value of “Wu Shu”. “Wu Shu” incorporated Chinese medical, meridians, Taoism philosophy of “Yin/Yang”, “ 5 Elements”, etc. There is no doubt in the value of “Wu Shu” for good health.

Let us look at the meaning of the two words “Wu Shu武术 (two Chinese characters)” separately. The word “武” can be further divided into two words: “止” and “戈”. In Chinese, “止” means “stop” and“戈”means “war” or “fight”. So “武” means “stop war/fight”. In ancient time, “stop war/fight” was largely done by “defeating the others”, “make the enemy lost ability to fight” and “conquer them”. Subsequently, it would be great if the enemy became part of us for our use. In order to achieve this, good fighting skills, experience in war and persuasive ability were needed. The word “术” implies a combination of competence, experience and skills. In our daily life, we should first be polite before using force. In war, the strategy would be to avoid the strength and attack the weakness of enemy.

We can interpret“武术”as accumulating sufficient experience via different forms of practices. “武” is exercising the body while“术”is mastering the skills through experience. This in turn means achieving coordination of“意”(mind) and “气”(qi) through intensive physical training of our body and internal training. Ultimately, we should be able to master the internal “qi” with our mind and arrive at the level of: “qi” and force simultaneously reach wherever our mind wants. This is “武术” (Wu Shu).

There are 2 meanings for the term “功夫” Kung Fu. One is “time” or “effort” spent; the other is “Wu Shu”. It can be said that “Kung Fu” is a modern term for “Wu Shu”. The term “Kung Fu” became popular in the western world because of Bruce Lee, the King of “Kung Fu”. Bruce Lee showed that “Kung Fu” is achieved with time and effort spent. Due to Bruce Lee, people all over the world became aware of “Kung Fu”. In his films, Bruce was always the hero who helped the weak groups with his “Kung Fu” (inevitably fighting and killing). Such act is always welcomed leading to value of “Kung Fu”.

After the reform of China and opening its gate to the world, “武术” (Wu Shu) has been widely promoted. There have been lots of large scale Wu Shu demonstrations, performance, and competitions worldwide. Most of them were in the form of a show. For putting “Wu Shu” into use, there are “free fighting”, kick boxing, sparring etc. These unfortunately had led to a misconception that “Wu Shu” is something modern and without value. Actually, there are some similarities between the term “Wu Shu” and “sport” which is a collective noun. Sport includes all various items of sport. There are also far more in “Wu Shu” than the superficial understanding of it.

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