The “Self” and Qi Cultivation

When I was doing my sitting neigong this morning, I remember having reached a state of absolute emptiness when an insight forced its way into my head, knocking me right out of my wuji. I checked my watch and 52 minutes of neigong had somehow passed, and so I had another 8 minutes to take note of that insight for a later time while I power through the rest of my meditation. It was a rough 8 minutes.

nei2bgongLately, I’ve encountered a philosophical pitfall with my neigong practice. Neigong means “internal cultivation,” which is an umbrella term describing an array of techniques involving the gathering and cultivating of Qi inside the body for the internal alchemical changes necessary to become enlightened or immortal or simply a bad ass energy healer. So the insight that slapped me in the face during my neigong session this morning was that if I’m gathering and cultivating Qi inside of my body, then that implies that Qi and the rest of the Tao/cosmos, are outside and separate from me, which further reinforces the delusion of separateness and the dualistic “self” and the “this, that, and the other.” And in the realm of true spirituality, especially in Zen and Taoism (both of which I study), that’s a problem.

So after sitting with this for a little while, I remembered a couple things.

A Lakota Shaman by the name of Fools Crow once said that we had to become as hollow bones to allow the energy of the Great Spirit to flow within us in order to help others. In Qigong healing, we have to open up our energy centers and channels in order for the energy of the Great Tao to flow in us so we can help others. These two principles say the exact same thing. In the spiritual realm, when many people from different lands and cultures say the same thing without even having known or influenced each other, there’s a truth there.

Another thing I remembered is a principle my former Taoist master taught me: “Not-Two.” We’re not exactly “one” as if everything in the cosmos is one huge clump of matter, because there’s a palpable difference between all things in the universe. We’re also not absolutely separate because everything in the cosmos is involved in this great dance of coexistence, and everything influences each other like the great web of Indra. Everything in the Tao is “Not-Two.” In this way, we understand yet transcend duality.

With those thoughts in mind, I realized that the reason why some neigong days are better than others is because on the days that I’m having a difficult time, those are the times when for some reason my mind wants to think of Qi as this external thing, when all the while it’s always been inside of me. So it’s not a question of attaining Qi, it’s realizing it… realizing that it’s already within you.

We all vibrate palpably different from each other, yet we all share the same primordial vibration of the Tao. It’s up to us to accept and realize it from within us, because it’s already there inside of us, flowing in and out, to and fro, connecting us with the the Tao.

This primordial vibration is that which connects all things at their center, and in humans, our center is our lower dantian, located just below our naval. In the endeavor to realize that connection, layers upon layers of our ego (or more specifically our “filters”) must be removed, which can be done most efficiently through spiritual cultivation in the form of a meditative practice (like zazen/vipassana or neigong/qigong) and spiritual teaching.

Just like what the Lakota Shaman and the Qigong masters have said, we must be an empty vessel in order to realize the true potential of the Tao and to transmit healing for others. When our minds are filled with the muck of egotistical filters that we tend to over-indulge in, we’re not allowing for the wondrousness and power that the Tao can provide us. But once you’re able to experience a pinch of that elixir of realization, you’ll feel like there’s no limits.

In the time it took me to finally publish this journal entry, I was able to sneak in another half hour of neigong with these insights in mind (more like reminders, really). It was amazing. And let me tell you, the session had my body and spirit vibrating like ffffuck.

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