Wudang Blog / Taoism
By the Taoist origin of Wudang Kungfu the focus is particularly high on life support exercises.
According to the principles of the bagua (TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine) Wudang Taoists tried to keep away from extreme opposites by compensation. They learned to understand to live a balanced and healthy life. Immortality was not reached by this, but the mental and physical balance was also the meaning of life, the way of the Tao clearer to understand. Since everyone is unique and has its own connection to the Tao, one’s self is important as a model. There is no universal formula or policy, to adapt the Taoists. While there are forms that have the same sequences, but the implementation, intuition and adaptation is individual.
Thus, the application of the Taoist healing arts is only effective if the intuition and identification fits with the Self. Everything before is therapeutic exercise and has nothing to do with the intrinsic values of Wudang Kungfu. Self-knowledge is the way to Wudang Kungfu and the way to your own development. It may be seen from the surface as a bit selfish, but real changes always take place in yourself. Development is always based on yourself and at best inspire the others.
Till there can be spoken about healing, we must understand and analyze ourselves. Each Taoist is his own doctor, we observe our emotional, mental and physical state. This knowledge cannot be learned quickly but requires its own experience and self-reflection. There is no quick way or a universal formula to memorize, also it is advised to avoid persons who assert exactly that. The right approach and exercises to real Taoist healing practice you learn with Michael Weichhardt, from this knowledge you can then find your own way. The healing aspect of Wudang Kungfu is not very beginner-friendly and requires some basic knowledge, both mentally and physically.
Wudang Kungfu acts as preventive cure against the following:
Stress, anxiety, aggression, agitation, depression, negative self-awareness and -befinden.
Joint and muscle pain, muscle cramps, weak bones, spinal complaints, back and shoulder tension.
Cardiac arrhythmia, renal malfunction, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, weakness, dizziness, circulatory problems and poor blood pressure.
If you already have serious health problems, please seek medical attention from a proper doctor. Wudang Kungfu is like TCM, best as a preventative cure.
The Origin Of Quanzhen Taoism
The Quanzhen School of Taoism originated in Northern China. One of the founders of the school was the Taoist Wang Chongyang, who lived during the rise of the Jin dynasty. When the Mongols invaded the Song dynasty in 1254, the Quanzhen Taoists were among those who exerted great effort in keeping the peace, thus saving thousands of lives, particularly those of Han Chinese descent.
The meaning of Quanzhen can be translated literally to "All True" and for this reason, it is often called the "All Truth Religion" or the "Way of Completeness and Truth." In some texts, it is also referred to as the "Way of Complete Perfection." Kunyu mountain in Shandong province Weihai city is the birthplace of Taoism (Quan Zhen Religion). With strong Taoist roots, the Quanzhen School specializes in the process of "alchemy within the body" or Neidan (internal alchemy), as opposed to Waidan (external alchemy which experiments with the ingestion of herbs and minerals, etc.). The Waidan tradition has been largely replaced by Neidan, as Waidan was a sometimes dangerous and lethal pursuit. Quanzhen focuses on internal cultivation of the person which is consistent with the pervading Taoist belief of Wu Wei, which is essentially "action through inaction."
Like most Taoists, Quanzhen priests were particularly concerned with longevity and immortality through alchemy, harmonising oneself with the Tao, studying the Five Elements, and ideas on balance consistent with Yin and Yang theory. The school is also known for using Buddhist and Confucian ideas.
The Founder of Quanzhen
According to traditional legend, Wang Chongyang met two Taoist immortals in the summer of 1159 CE. The immortals, Zhongli Quan and Lü Dongbin taught him Taoist beliefs and trained him in secret rituals. The meeting proved deeply influential, and roughly a year later, in 1160, Wang met one of these men again. In this second encounter, he was provided with a set of five written instructions which led to his decision of living by himself in a grave he created for himself in Zhongnan Mountain for three years.
After seven years of living in the Mountain (three inside the grave and another four in a hut he later called "Complete Perfection Hut"), Wang met two of his seven future disciples, Tan Chuduan and Qiu Chuji. In 1167, Wang traveled to Shandong Province and met Ma Yu and Ma's wife Sun Bu'er who became his students. These and others would become part of the seven Quanzhen disciples, who were later known as the Seven Masters of Quanzhen.
After Wang's departure, it was left to his disciples to continue expounding the Quanzhen beliefs. Ma Yu succeeded Wang as head of the school, while Sun Bu'er went on to establish the Purity and Tranquility School, one of the foremost branches of Quanzhen.
Another notable disciple of Wang was Qiu Chuji who founded the famous White Cloud Monastery in Beijing. Qiu Chuji was the founder of the school called Dragon Gate Taoism. Qiu was on good terms with the Mongol monarch Genghis Khan who put him in charge of religious affairs in Mongol-controlled China. As a result, the Quanzhen School of Taoism continued to flourish long after Wang's death, right through to the present.
The most notable ones among Wang's seven disciples were Sun Bu'er and Qiu Chuji. Sun's husband, Ma Yu, was one of the seven, while she became an important role model for female Taoists. Ma Yu later succeeded Wang as the leader of the Quanzhen School.
Qiu Chuji gained the favour of Genghis Khan and founded the White Cloud Monastery in Beijing. Genghis Khan granted tax-exempt status to all Quanzhen schools and placed Qiu in charge of all religions in China.
Each of the seven disciples founded his or her own lineage of Quanzhen Taoism. They are as follows:
Ma Yu (馬鈺) founded the Yuxian lineage (Meeting the Immortals)
Tan Chuduan (譚處端) founded the Nanwu lineage (Southern Void)
Liu Chuxuan (劉處玄) founded the Suishan lineage (Mount Sui)
Qiu Chuji (丘處機) founded the Longmen lineage (Dragon Gate)
Wang Chuyi (王處一) founded the Yushan lineage (Mount Yu)
Hao Datong (郝大通) founded the Huashan lineage (Mount Hua)
Sun Bu'er (孫不二) founded the Qingjing lineage (Clarity and Stillness)
Nature inspires in its simplicity and perfection. Whether complicated or simple, is only capable assessment once you think about it. So many things are self explaining in the cycle of life, from which we can learn by conscious attention.
It is surprising that our understanding often is in need of words, but many important things will be learned without it. These teachings without words in life are important in their own issue, because they are personally related without external and subjective factors.
Taoists learn from nature and their environment from which we live together. Like water, which takes all forms in places where it is, Taoists live without conflict with their environment and themselves. With the simplicity of nature Taoists inspire the wordless teaching by their actions.
The bond between heaven and earth is an important model in Taoism – it symbolizes a durable and everlasting coexisting connection, as well as in the Wudang Kungfu, the physical and mental movements are performed with emotional intuition and are thus connected with the laws of nature.
Through determination and willpower, with balancing tolerance and wisdom the Wudang Sanfeng Taoists go their way. Thus, the posture is stable, powerful and directly connected to the earth, but the spirit and the movement weightless and free as the sky. By maintaining the inner balance one becomes aware of the elements and the personal relationship. From Yin follows Yang and vice versa, each connection has a contrast and it is important to understand about this to maintain the balance and lead a healthy life.
Connecting with the Tao
Stillness is the root of the Tao. Meditation is the key practice for internal transformation. In stillness we allow the regeneration of the Jing, Qi and Shen – essence, energy and spirit. In meditation we bring the mind into single threaded thought and allow the natural process of internal cultivation to progress. In seated meditation we cage the monkey and tie up the wild horses, bringing both body and mind into the clear and quiet space which supports the regeneration of the Three Treasures of the Body, allowing healing, rejuvenation, transformation so that we can move through the stages from ordinary mortal to extraordinary human, immortal on earth and, eventually, immortal in heaven.
Sit, either in a chair or better, cross legged with the hips comfortably supported. The spine should be straight and unsupported. Place the hands on the knees with the thumbs folded in the palms and the fingers wrapped around the thumbs. Place the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth. Lower your eyelids, women may close the eyes, men keep a slip of light showing through, and focus the eyes towards the tip of the nose. Turn the internal gaze gently to the Dan Tian in the center of the belly. As you inhale gently contract the belly, as you exhale, allow the belly to gently expand. See and not see. Withdraw the senses from the external world and simply be an observer, a companion to the Dantian.
From stillness comes motion. With time a sensation will arise in the Dantian as the Qi begins to move. Remain the observer, do not engage the mind, the awareness, or the emotions and allow the Qi to move naturally.
With stillness internal transformations begin to manifest. The three treasures of the Tao: Jing, Qi and Shen are cultivated. In the first stage Jing is built up until it is mature and Jing transmutes to Qi, then, when the Qi is mature, it transmutes to Shen, then Shen returns to the Void and the Void to the Tao. With each stage of internal transmutation, external changes manifest as well as the body first heals itself, rejuvenates and finally becomes immortal.
It is required that we have a physical body to do internal cultivation and we must both create a “supersonic jet” or superior physical body, as well as to cultivate the very best pilot in order to achieve immortality. Because of the variations in both physiology and energetic structures between men and women there are differences in their internal alchemy practices. For example, where men’s initial focus is in the lower Dantian, women focus on the middle Dantian.
Zhang-Sanfeng, the founder of Wudang Internal Boxing, was the famous Wudang Taoist in Wudang Mountains at the turn of Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty.
It was said that Zhang-Sanfeng, originally named Zhang-Quanyi, nicknamed Sanfeng, was born in Yizhou City, Liaoning Province and was tall and strong, with tortoise shape and swan bone, big ears and round eyes, hard beards and moustaches. He always wore a coir raincoat and a pair of straw scandals. No matter in summer or winter, he lived in the lonely and deep mountains or traveled in the crowded cities. He could remember what he had read just by one look and talked nothing but moral, kindness, faith and filial piety. He could talk with the gods and understand Taoism, so he could forecast the future and solve all the difficulties in the world. He could live without a meal for five days, even for two or three months; He could penetrate the mountain and drive the stones when he was happy; he lived in the snow when he was tired; He traveled here and there without any trace, so all the people at that time were amazed at him and thought him one of gods.
Wudang Taoist medical cultivation has a long history, especially the inner medicine, which is to cultivate the breath into medicine so as to make one strong and healthy, and prolong the lifespan by way of breathing. Zhang-Sanfeng had a profound cultivation in inner medicine. He said in On Taoism"To cultivate the mood before cultivating the medicine; to cultivate the character before cultivating the good medicine; when the mind is steady, the medicine will come naturally by itself; when the mood and character have cultivated, the good medicine will be in reach", which figuratively explained the progress of medicine cultivation. He had written many books on medicine such as The Gist of Gold Medicine, The Secrecy of Gold Medicine, A Song of Inner Medicine, Twenty-four Principles of Rootless Trees, Taoist Song of Earth Element and Real Immortal, which had been published in the Ming Dynasty. Later, the people had compiled them into The Full Collection of Zhang-Sanfeng's Works, with eight volumes.
Zhang-Sanfeng was not only profound in medicine cultivation but also in martial art, especially good at boxing and swordplay. He, on the base of Taoist theories, such as the naturalness of Taoist theories, keeping in a humble position and so on, had combined Taoist internal exercises, guarding skills of regimen, boxing acts of martial art, military sciences of militarists into one, and then created Wudang Boxing, which takes the internal exercises as the body, attacking as the purpose, regimen as the first important thing, self-protection as the main principle, and to defeat the tough with a tender act, charge the active by the still movement and attack the opponent with his own force, strike only after the opponent has struck. From the Ming Dynasty, martial art world have respected Zhang-Sanfeng as the founder of Wudang Inner Boxing and Taiji Boxing. Wudang martial art, through many generations' succession and development, has become one important school among China martial art and spread in the folk with a long and profound influence.
During the beginning years of the Ming Dynasty, Zhang-Sanfeng came to Wudang Mountain to worship Emperor Zhenwu on Heavenly Pillar Peak and built a hut to the north of Flag-stretching Peak in which offered incense to Emperor Zhenwu. Then he built a hut in another place, named Meeting Gods Temple. He once said to the seniors in the mountain that Wudang Mountain would be different from that day. Later, the second emperor of the Ming Dynasty did order to build Wudang Mountain at a large scale and made Wudang Mountain the head of the Five Famous Mountains in China, naming the Biggest Mountain.
In the twenty-second year of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty, he left Wudang Mountain without any information. When the King of Hunan Province, Zhu-Bai worshiped Wudang Mountain and could not find him. Then Zhu-Bai wrote a poem which eulogize Zhang-Sanfeng, which said to the effect that Zhang-Sanfeng loves gods. He drinks the water from the clean river in the morning and sleeps under South Cliff in the evening. He has cultivated Taoism in Wudang Mountain for many years, paying no attention to the changes of seasons and landscapes. When I could not find him in the bare mountain, how sad I am! There is only an empty hut left, an old Taoist sleeps under the pine tree."
In the 24th year of Emperor Hongwu, Zhu-Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, sent profound Taoists to put in order all Taoism in China. For that Zhang-Sanfeng was so famous, he specially ordered them: "If you meet Zhang-Sanfeng, invite him to me." But they could not find Zhang-Sanfeng.
When Zhu-Li became emperor of the Ming Dynasty, he wanted very much to invite Zhang-Sanfeng who was famous and highly influential among the folk to work in the central government, so he sent many men to look for him many times, but all ended in failure. He himself had written a letter to Zhang-Sanfeng, which said to the effect that: "A letter from the Emperor to Zhang-Sanfeng: I admire you so much that I want to learn from you. I have tried sending men to look for you all over the country, but you are a profound god, full of wonder and mystery, so I couldn't find you. Though I am not so clever and special, I look forward to meeting you day and night. So I send envoys again to look for you with my letter, waiting for your coming, so as to express my faithful feeling to you. On February 2, the tenth year of Emperor Yongle." From the letter, we can understand his anxiety and admiration to meet Zhang Sanfeng.
Had looked for him for many times, but all ended in failure; so Emperor Zhu-Li ordered to build Meeting God Palace and copper statue for Zhang Sanfeng and sent officials to clean the palace. That the highest emperor built temple, made statue, and offered incense for a Wudang Taoist was the only one in China Taoist history.
Extending the lifespan to the eternal has been human beings' ideal and pursuit from the time when man had the self-consciousness. This fine ideal and desire is revealed and reflected in religious conceptions, literature and arts from every nationality all over the world.
China, the cradle of Taoism, is a nation with brilliant civilization and long history. Chinese nation, known for its emphasis on life, has longed for the long lifespan and immortality. Many people began to sedulously probe the secret for eternal life from the time of ancient Qin Dynasty. For thousands of years, the ancestors of Chinese people have created and invented various ways with different efficacy to extend the lifespan. The colorful regimen culture reveals the advanced sciences and outstanding intelligence of Chinese nation. The precious heredity of history and culture is worth exploring and utilizing by us.
Taoism is the native traditional religion of China, whose main features is pursuing long lifespan and practicing austerity. Taoism is also a kind of religion that loves life and abhors death. Taoism concerns most about the protecting and prolonging the life as well as longing for the eternal life.
During the founding period of Taoism, Book on Peace and Tranquility and other ancient books showed a tendency to pursue eternal life. The first volume of Taoist Deposits also reveals this kind of meaning. Taoism considers that human being is the noblest creature of all the creatures, and human being regards the life as the most precious. So owing to this concept, Taoism advocates that human being should spare no efforts to cherish the life and promise longevity. Taoism not only carries forward the good tradition of this culture but also puts it into his own creed and practice.
Taoism, consisting of two big parts, never-die belief and regimen ways, assuring "my life is up to me instead of God", has always been pursuing the ways leading to the eternal life. Just with the support of this positive attitude, numerous Taoists have probed the means severely for two thousand years. There are many regimen means in Taoism such as holding the breath, inhalation and exhalation, directing the obstructed place, massage, sex and so on, most of which do effect if they are done in proper way. Professionals and scholars in the fields of medicine and regimen home and abroad have acknowledged all of these regimens. So, if there was neither the firm belief of "my life is up to me instead of God", nor Taoist persevering practice, the heredity of Chinese culture could not have left such a special regimen idea and means. So Taoist regimen is not only occupying an important position in Chinese regimen, but also a treasure house to be exploited.
The real Taoists in the ancient times could control the heaven of the earth, understand the Yin and Yang and breathe the vigor of them, defend the Gods independently and always have muscle. So, they could live forever without end, this is why they could do that.
There are the best men in middle Ages, who knew all the material, were harmonious with Yin and Yang and followed the four times (i.e. following and adjusting the four times, nature regiment), above the common people, concentrated on all their mind, traveled between the sky and the earth, listened and saw around him and in the distance, which were good for health and longevity. (i.e. living in the seclusion to practise the three precious things of life- refinement, spirit and mind, so , practicing spirit and then refinement and spirit are both enough, practicing spirit to change into the mind and then spirit is enough and the mind is refreshed,. The good mind can bring about miraculous functions, until the longevity of will and live-forever), which should be owned to the real Taoists.
Besides, there is a sacred person who gets along very well with the nature and abides all the nature laws. He can moderate his hobby and desire. He has no vicious mind in Universe; meanwhile he never does things out of the world and never follows the others blindly. Outside he is not tired; inside he has no bothering things. Often he regards happiness as his task and self-satisfaction as his award. Then his body strength and strong mind never leave him, so he can live a long life.
Human being is called the child of the combination of the heaven and the earth, the production of Yin and Yang's change. He will die when his mind and spirit are used up. And spirit comes from mind, and idea comes from spirit. so, idea, mind and spirit are the arbiters of one's birth and death, success and failure. They are called the three precious things of life.
From the ancient to present, the people who understand the mystery and know the secret of nature in the world are innumerable. However, all nature laws come into one that it is not good to pay more attention to practice refinement. The nature regimen is one of the ancient regimen. And it follows the nature change law of four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and keeps on the practice of raw food as tonic, taking exercises to keep healthy, rest for refreshment and husbanding one's energy and so on. It complies with the regimen of fostering the three precious things, namely, life- refinement, spirit and mind. It is the gem of Taoist culture, also the ladder of the people who want to join the Taoism.
The three months in spring is time to renew. Everything in nature is full of energy. The energy in human body is also sprouting. So in Spring, one should put emphasis on"sprouting energy": regulate the life style, that is, go to bed when it is getting dark and get up early in the morning, have a walk in dawn and make every part of the body relaxed, in order to make oneself feel pleasant and in good spirits. One should be harmony with his surrounding and treat others honestly. This is what one should do in spring.
In summer, it is the time that everything is in blossom and flourishing, so the energy of human body becomes quite vigorous. One should conserve his growing energy. Go to bed when it gets dark and get up early in the morning; Try to keep a quiet mind and do not get cross easily; treat outside world with a heart full of love. In this way, "growing energy" can be considered.
The three months of autumn is time for harvest. It boasts good weather and pleasant mood. Everything is inclined to harvest, so it is the same with human energy. We should pay attention to maintaining harvesting energy, rest and getting up early . We had better regulate our living clock as the same as cocks, bear in mind to keep quiet and take in the energy; make sure that long energy is far from invasion.
In winter, it is time to hide. The weather gets colder and colder, and everything hides from being seen, so human energy should be hidden inward. So we should develop "hiding energy". Do not move in excess in case that Yang spirits are disturbed; sleep and get up early, pay attention to keep warm but do not sweat, otherwise it is easy to catch cold; keep a quiet mood and not to get wicked intentions ; be in a conscious state of satisfaction and happy.
In a word, "to conserve according to seasons" is an important way of cherishing and maintaining energy. Its aim is to make human body adapted to changes of four seasons. For example, on the day of the winter solstice, the sun is quite new. So one should make a bed against the northern wall of his bedroom in order to get in the energy of the sun. From the first day of the eighth month in lunar calendar, Yin gets stronger and one should warm his feet using mild fire in proper time and pay attention to keep the upper part of the body warm in case of catching cold. In this way, it can keep Yang behind and thin in the upper part of body so that it helps develop Yang and hide Yin. In cold winter, Yang is hidden inward, so one should not sweat in case that Yang leak out and do harm to health. The key point of maintaining energy is to protect Yang. If Yang is lost, longevity will be shorten and nothing can make up for it.
From above, we can see that: Yin and Yang of four seasons is the root of the myriad creatures in the world. Therefore, sacred people try to maintain Yang in spring and summer to comply with the regularity. Myriad creatures start from and end up with its growth. If the regularity is disobeyed, its root is destroyed and it will die. So, Yin Yang of the four seasons is the start and end of myriad creatures, the base of the life and death. If this is disobeyed, all disasters will come. While if it is obeyed, nothing can attack it, this is the very reason.
Thus sacred people cure the disease before they affect them the same as that they rule the society before it comes into disorder. The reason is that when one is already sick, then he gets treatment as the society is already in chaos, then get cured, they are just like to dig well to find water after one gets thirsty, and make the treatment only in great need, but all of them are too late. All the people should be cautious about this.