Daoist cultivation of immortality is a myth. There really is no such thing as physical immortality. Longevity is not immortality in that it does not mean living in the physical body forever. How does the subject of Qi come into play in Meditation and the pursuit of internal health and energy? Here is the Li family perspective. Inner truth found in a glass of sand and water.
The pursuit of so called mystical powers attributed to Qi (breath or life force energy) through meditative exercises by most westerners is wasted due to their inability to understand the true nature of inner cultivation. In reality, this is a spiritual path, not just a path of creating some mystical inner power. It is a path of self-awareness and of self-cultivation, of dealing with the way we choose to think about and view the world and ourselves.
Master Huai-Chin Nan one of the foremost Daoist meditation masters agrees with my idea about a method of developing Qi through a process of subjugating the heart fire or to put it another way conquering our anger and frustrations. We achieve this through the balancing of the mind to achieve a state of harmonic energy.
This state of harmonic energy when achieved might be called grace by Christians or Qi by those following Chinese Daoist or Buddhist precepts. No matter what the term used this state of peace comes from using our mind in a way that harmonizes our organs, internal systems, and possibly even the harmonic state of our molecular structure. In short, it is the act of raising our mind and body vibration to a harmonic pattern. This is akin to the way electrons in a piece of iron can be made to line up to create a magnetic field by striking the iron bar a sharp blow when it is facing north. What was once just an iron bar with the potential for magnetism has become a magnet. It has achieved a higher and more organized state of energy (Qi). I believe this is the same for humans. We come into the world from a highly evolved state of energy that at birth is scrambled and confused and we have to go through the process of readjusting our vibrations to go back to it once again at death.
Perhaps all religions are a metaphor for this process. Attaining a state of grace may be this way. Reincarnation belief arises from this concept also. Being in sympathetic resonance with nature by dispelling negative thoughts and actions is the key here. Having compassion for all people and things and not being judgmental helps us realign the mind / body to create this harmonic vibration. This ancient Daoist state known as Wuhuo or “not too much fire” was used long before modern day descriptions of life force energy adopted the term Qi. In fact this term Wuhuo was the first term used to describe the concept now call Qi by modern day seekers of elan-vita.
What about acupuncture is not Qi some mysterious substance flowing the invisible channels in the human body called meridians? Isn’t Qi just a word used to describe a type of energy or many unseen forms of energy?
Master Nan says,
1. Longevity consists of maintaining ones health, slowing down the aging process, living without illness or pain, and dying without bothering other people.
2. Immortality does not mean indefinite physical longevity; it indicates the eternal spiritual life.
Later on he says, The Yin Fu Sutra of Daoism says, Terminate one motive for gain or profit and the effectiveness of an army can be increased ten times. Just as when an individual develops his sense of hearing if he has lost his sight, unless one can give up earthly desires it is not possible for him to achieve immortality.
It would seem that Nan is talking about adjusting ones personal psychology or belief system to a state of being free from desires. This is what Lao Tzu says in the Daodejing. “Every desiring one can see the manifestation, every desire-less one can see the mystery.” This does not mean that we stop looking so much as it means when we stop being so busy and active and settle the inner storms of emotional conflict, then we can begin to see the more subtle and profound truths that exist below the surface of the Huan Chen, “dust of illusion” that hides truth.
Lao Tzu also says, “Who can wait for the mud to settle?” This is a direct reference to the path of meditation. Having the patience to wait for clear water to emerge after the storm has disturbed the lake. My teacher once taught me this lesson by having me sit and watch a glass full of water into which he stirred spoonfuls of sand. The water was turbid. I could see only the brown silt swirling around and around. Slowly the particles of sand seemed to separate and you could make out a few clear spots. Later the water became less cloudy and one could see many individual grains of sand still suspended in the murky liquid.
With time, the sand began slowly to settle to the bottom of the tumbler. In about an hour or so, there was a fine layer of an inch of sand on the bottom of the glass; the water was again crystal clear. I looked up at him and he smiled as said, “This meditation it is what Lao Tzu was talking about. This is the way to health and longevity, boy.” With that, he lifted the glass swirling it in a circle. The water became cloudy once more. , This is also how you learn real Gong Fu and the secret of inner strength.” He said as he placed the glass on the picnic table and disappeared into his house for another cup of tea. I settled down to observe and learn. A lesson never once regretted in all these years!
Thank You For Your Attention
John P. Painter
PS: Now you who have heard the lesson do the same, the rest of you just wonder what might have been.