October 2004 (Part 1)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Intensive Chi Kung Course in Sabah

Participants at the Sabah Intensive Chi Kung Course, 1st to 5th July 2004

Question 1

The Intensive Chi Kung Course in Sabah was indeed a memorable experience and as Sifu has reminded us, I will certainly try to practice, practice and practice!

— Dr Nurlia, Malaysia

Answer

Although different masters may have different philosophies and methodologies, the one thing that all of them would agree is the indispensable requirement to practice, practice and practice if one wishes to be proficient in any art.

Masters are made from practice, not from learning. If one keeps on learning, even for a life-time, he will still remain a learner or student.

No matter what techniques a person has learnt, if he practices them long enough, he will master the techniques. There are two important points about this fact — though many people may not be aware of them or appreciate their importance.

One, if he starts with low-level techniques, he will eventually become a master of low-level techniques. If he starts with high-level techniques, he will eventually become a master of high-level techniques.

Two, if his methodology is inferior, he will take a long time to master the techniques. If his methodology is superior, he will take a relatively short time.

These two points are obvious, but actually most people today, probably in the past too, practice low-level techniques using inferior methodology. This is one main reason why most people do not get good results even if they have practiced chi kung for many years.

This applies to Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan too. The majority of those who have practiced Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan for ten or twenty years cannot effectively use their art to defend themselves. Similarly the majority of those who have practiced chi kung for a long time are not bouncing with good health and vitality. The pitiful fact is that most of them do not even realize this.

We in Shaolin Wahanm are lucky. Not only we realize this, we put it into practice. Hence, we choose the best available techniques and the best available methods for our training. For example, concerning techniques, if we want to generate an energy flow we choose “Lifting the Sky”, if we want to develop internal force we choose “Pushing Mountains”, and if we want to cleanse ourselves we choose “Carrying the Moon”.

Regarding methodology, we choose the best available approaches. We are clear about our aims and objectives, and know how best to realize them. We do not just start our exercise, but create the best conditions physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to do so. For instance, physically we make sure we are upright and relaxed, emotionally we let go, mentally we do not think of irrelevant thoughts, and spiritually we smile from our heart.

We realize that techniques are means, not ends by themselves. After performing “Lifting the Sky” for a number of times, for example, while most other practitioners would end their training session, we go into chi flow to reap the benefits of our practice. Then we keep still to enjoy the stillness while letting chi accumulate at our dan tian, before performing facial and point massage to complete our training.

Hence, while an uninformed practitioner may practice “Lifting the Sky” as physical exercise, we practice it as chi kung, or energy exercise. As physical exercise he expends energy, and if he tenses himself physically and mentally, which he is likely to do if he has not been properly trained, he ends up not only with less energy but also with more physical and mental blockage, though these adverse effects are usually not serious enough for him to notice. But if these adverse effects accumulate for some time, they can be harmful but insidious.

In our case, among other benefits, we clear our blockage with our chi flow, increase our vitality with the gradual accumulation of chi at our dan tian, improve mental clarity by clearing irrelevant thoughts that suffocate the mind, and let our spirit expand by smiling from our heart.

As it has happened a few times in some public discussion forums, some people may accuse us for speaking condescendingly on other methods (instead of thanking us for sharing our secrets). We would not want to waste time on their opinion. Of course we do not speak condescendingly on others. We respect other people's right to their opinions and methods even when they differ from ours.

But we need to make some comparison so that our own students can see the difference and gain the best benefits from our teaching. We also want to help others who sincerely wish to follow our philosophy and methodology to gain benefits from them.

Question 2

I had a bad experience recently when someone close to me at work shouted at me in front of a lot of people for very trivial reasons in which I was actually not wrong. I was angered initially and after that extremely saddened by the incident but I remained calm and did not shout back.

I thought I could never get over it and could not forgive her but within this past one week, I have calmed down and tried hard to remember Sifu's teachings and tried to smile from the heart again to get over this. The chi kung training has helped me do so.

Answer

I am glad of your progress and benefits from your consistent practice, though these benefits are actually expected. In other words, had you lost control of yourself by your friend's behavior or were you unable to get over the incident although it happened some time ago, then either our chi kung did not produce the results we claimed or you had not practiced correctly or sufficiently.

It was normal that you were angry initially and then saddened by the incident. This confirmed what I had been saying, i.e. practicing chi kung does not make a person emotionless — a mis-conception many people have. The big difference is that an ordinary person due to blockage in his energy systems would cling on to the negative emotions, whereas these negative emotions would be flushed out of a chi kung practitioner because his energy is flowing smoothly and vigorously.

In other words, if an ordinary person and a chi kung practitioner face a same situation that arouses anger, both will be angry. But because the energy network, especially the liver system, of the ordinary person is blocked, the negative emotion of anger is locked inside him, making him angry even long after the incident. On the other hand, because the energy network of the chi kung practitioner is flowing smoothly, the negative emotion can be flushed out within a short time.

Question 3

But could I ask Sifu how to go about it when people are angry and start shouting at us? Is there any way that we can calm them down quickly? How can I get over my feelings of sadness and despair quickly as well.

Answer

A simple, effective way to calm an angry person down is to tell him (or her) that you are sorry about the situation, irrespective of who is right. “I am sorry” are three magic words that often prevent right at the start a small disagreement that may eventually explode into a big conflict.

Many people find it hard to say these three magic words because they mistakenly think doing so would belittle them, or it implies they are wrong. Actually it requires greatness and confidence to say sorry. Saying sorry does not indicate that the speaker is wrong. It indicates that he is sad that the incident, which should not happen, has happened. Who is wrong is another matter.

If someone starts shouting at you for no apparent reasons, and you say “I am sorry”, you are actually saying I wish you could be calm and happy but I am sad that you are not.

The Malays go one step further. They do not merely say sorry, they “minta maaf”, or ask for forgiveness. To me this is one of the most beautiful aspects of Malay culture, which speaks a lot about the grace and gentleness of the Malay people. During festival days when other people would say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year”, Malay children would grasp and kiss the hands of their elders and say “minta maaf”, asking for forgiveness for whatever wrongs they may have wittingly or unwittingly done.

In fact, I just had an experience of this “minta maaf” situation. A Malay youth on a motor-cycle smashed onto the side of a newly bought brand new car of my youngest daughter. When I arrived at the scene, the youth, still bleeding from his elbows and knees, told me, “Uncle, minta maaf.”

Actually thanks to my chi kung training, even without his “minta maaf” I was very calm and not angry at all. I sincerely replied that it was not important who was right or wrong, what was important was that he was not seriously hurt. Although he or his insurance company should pay for the damage of my daughter's car, I paid him handsomely to seek medical aid and to repair his motor-cycle. My wife, a firm believer that if someone has said sorry, you should not be angry any more, said that I should have paid him more money to compensate for his injuries.

Besides saying sorry calmly and confidently, another good way to calm down an angry person is to let your good chi spread out and soothe him. This can be readily accomplished by someone who practices high-level chi kung (like ours). It is simple, but impossible for the untrained. All you need to do is to gently focus on your dan tian, then gently think of your good chi spreading to him and smoothing him. You should do this just two or three times. Doing more may drain yourself.

If you have been practicing our chi kung consistently, getting over sadness, despair and other negative emotions is automatic. You don't have to do anything special; your normal vigorous chi flow will flush out the negative emotions.

Yet, if you wish to enhance the normal process, there are special methods. One effective way is to perform a self-manifested chi movement. Another effective way is to perform “Lifting the Sky” or “Carrying the Moon”, gently visualizing that the flow of golden cosmic energy from heaven through your body cleanse out the negative emotions.

But when you are at the spot of the situation where you may not have the time or occasion to perform these special techniques, an effective way is to breathe out deeply but gently. As you breathe out, gently think of your negative emotions being flushed out. You need not worry about breathing in. This does not mean you do not breathe in; it means you do not purposely breathe in but if you spontaneously breathe in, that is fine.

Paul

Paul from England performing “Lifting the Sky” in a chi kung state of mind during an Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia

Question 4

I need your precious help. It is hard for me to explain as it is something unusual. It happened to me at night while lying on my bed. I am normally always relaxed. The first time it happened I was very scared. It was more or like a force swelling inside me, making me numb and also I could feel another force or whatever taking something away from my body. What I felt was like my soul was being taken.

I must make movements; any movements like clenching my fist, to be able to come out of this paralysis and become normal. This can happen many times a night. When I close my eyes again trying to sleep, this strange thing is repeated. It has happened many times for many nights. I want to know what it is and why I experience it. What I'm saying is the truth. I wish you can give me some answers. This has nothing to do with chi kung because it happened before I practiced chi kung from your book.

— Billy, Mauritius

Answer

Your problem is not unique. It has happened to a few people. Instead of speculating on what your unusual experience was and why you experienced it many times, I shall explain the following procedure which will help you to overcome your problem

Early in the morning, stand upright and be relaxed. Perform “Lifting the Sky” about 10 to 20 times, gently focusing on your breathing. Your breathing must be gentle. Repeat: gentle. (You can learn how to perform “Lifting the Sky” from my books. Those who do not know “Lifting the Sky” may just stand upright and take a few deep breaths slowly.)

Then kneel down and pray to God, or whatever name you call the Supreme Reality. Thank Him for making you alive, and affirm that you will live the day in a way He will be proud of you, or at least in a way He will approve. Feel how wonderful it is to be alive, and thank Him again for this wonderful gift. You can say your prayers and thanks in any manner, but the most important is that you must do so with sincerity.

At night just before going to bed, thank God for enabling you to go through your day safely and honourably. Then, as a small token to appreciate his love and protection, give a blessing to someone. This someone may be alive now or has gone on from this world. He (or she) may be known or even unknown to you. You may also bless more than one person (or any being). You can give your blessing in any manner but it must be done with sincerity. It is actually easy to bless when you want to bless.

After this, tell God that you also need his protection, and ask for it. Perform “Lifting the Sky” about 10 to 20 times. As you breathe in, gently (repeat: gently) think of the Grace of God flowing into you. As you breathe out, think of the Grace of God flowing through you and strengthening you. Remain still for a few seconds, feeling the strength and protection of God in you. Then go to bed. You will sleep like a baby. No evil spirit or force can harm you or your soul.

If you don't profess a particular religion, or if you prefer it this way, you can ask for help and protection from Guan Yin Bodh Satt, the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. One needs not necessarily be a Buddhist to ask help from a Bodhisattva. Once you have the protection of this great Bodhisattva — and She always give it if asked sincerely — no evil spirits or forces can harm you, not because they fear the Bodhisattva but because of their great respect for Her.

You perform the procedure the same way except you start and end with chanting the mantra of this Bodhisattva three times, nine times or many times. Her mantra is “Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodh Satt”.

Question 5

I have recently started suffering headaches whilst exerting myself and wondered if this could be caused or corrected by a chi gung exercise. I have never had a problem with physical exercise before but now I can't even stand in horse stance without a pain in my head. Can you advise?

— Peter, UK.

Answer

Incorrect chi kung practice may result in headaches. There are four main causes of such incorrect practice:

  1. Not breathing out sufficiently
  2. Keeping the mouth shut
  3. Exerting yourself, especially at the head
  4. Thinking of many irrelevant thoughts.

Headaches can also be relieved by practicing chi kung. There are two main approaches:

  1. Breathe out loudly but in a gentle manner while performing dynamic chi kung exercises.
  2. Gently thinking of the feet while performing self-manifested chi movement.

If you can competently open your bai-hui (top of the head), er-feng (behind the ears), he-gu (between the thumb and the index finger) and yong-quan (at the soles) vital points before performing the chi kung exercise, the clearing away of the headaches will be more effective.

Unless you are an advanced practitioner and be totally relaxed in your stance training as well as be able to direct the blocked chi at your head to flow away, you should discontinue your training in the Horse-Riding or other stances if you have headaches, otherwise you could aggravate the situation or cause more blockage.

Taking some panadols is a quick and effective way to overcome headaches. Here is an example where modern medicine is more effective than chi kung in overcoming a health problem — unless one is an advanced chi kung exponent whereby the panadols would not be needed. But if the headaches persist, you have to consult your doctor.

Sifu Wong

Sifu Wong demonstrating a Taijiquan pattern in Soria, Spain in August 2004

Question 6

I practice some kind of Temple Style Tai Chi. Can you please tell me what types of chi kung can heal my Type 2 diabetes? Though I have been able to suppress the symptomsof fatigue, constant urination and restlessness with my Tai Chi, I want to further develop this and heal myself eventually. Can you show me some basic meditations on this please?

— Eli, USA

Answer

In theory any type of chi kung can overcome diabetes or any disease. The philosophy is actually very simple — so simple that many people may not believe it. Basically it is as follows.

Life is a meaningful flow of energy. If this flow of energy is interrupted, the quality of life is affected, manifested as disease. .There may be countless symptoms of disease, and modern medicine has given different names to describe these symptoms, such as diabetes, depression and fatigue. But at the most basic level, disease is the result of interruption to the flow of energy or life.

The main task of chi kung is to restore the meaningful flow of energy. Once, the energy flow is restored, disease disappears as a matter of course.

There may be countless intermediate causes to the interruption of meaningful energy flow, such as viral attacks, negative emotions and stress of modern living. One approach to overcome the disease is to find solutions to the intermediate causes, like elevating symptoms of the viral attacks, restoring body chemistry affected by the negative emotions, or engaging in activities to relieve stress.

The approach in chi kung is different. It is concerned with the root cause, i.e. interruption to harmonious flow; and is not concerned with intermediate causes! In other words, it does not matter whether the interrupted energy flow was caused by viral attacks, negative emotions, stressful living or other factors, when meaningful energy flow is restored, disease will disappear.

An interesting analogy is as follows. If your cash flow is interrupted, you will have economic dis-ease, manifested in various symptoms like not being able to pay your rent, go for a holiday or buy a new car. The intermediate causes may be varied, such as working in a low-paying job, over spending in the previous month, or having to support persons dependent on you. One approach is to overcome the intermediate causes, such as asking your boss for a pay rise, managing your spending more efficiently, or cutting down on your own expenses to provide for your dependents.

A better approach is to increase the volume as well as the smoothness of your cash flow. Once this is achieved, irrespective of the intermediate causes, your economic disease will disappear.

As mentioned above, any type of chi kung — so long as it is genuine chi kung — will restore meaningful energy flow and subsequently overcome your diabetes or any forms of disease. But in practice this may not be so. It is due to one or more of the following reasons.

  1. You are actually practicing some form of gentle physical exercise although you honestly think it is chi kung.
  2. Your chi kung is genuine but of a low level, and is not powerful enough to off set the negative effects of your disease causing factors.
  3. You practice wrongly.
  4. You have not practice regularly or sufficiently.
  5. You have over-trained.
  6. You are constantly being exposed to the disease causing factors which negate the good effects of your chi kung practice.
  7. Your life style is unhealthy which negates the good effects of chi kung.

The unfortunate de facto situation today is that most people practice (what they think is) chi kung, but still cannot overcome their disease. The most important reasons are that they practice gentle physical exercise, or that their chi kung is of a very low level.

It is advisable for you to leave meditation for the time being. Although high level meditation practiced correctly can overcome your problem, in your case it is more likely that your meditation practice may aggravate your problem instead. You can continue your Tai Chi practice although obviously the effects are not strong enough to overcome your problem. I would recommend you to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course or learn some power chi kung elsewhere.

Question 7

I practice at least one hour a day of zhan zhuang (standing meditations) and the Temple Style Tai Chi chi kung. Usually I do the universal post (embracing the ball), palm down and/or carrying the earth (above the head, palm up). Please enlighten me.

Answer

Zhan zhuang is a powerful chi kung method to develop internal force, but it is not suitable in your case now. Zhan zhuang, such as in the postures you have described, is simple but not easy.

Unless you are a master or an advanced practitioner, practicing an hour of zhan zhuang a day is not only unnecessary but harmful. It is likely that you treat zhan zhuang as an endurance contest, and therefore tense yourself physically and mentally, thereby causing much energy blockage.

I do not know Temple Style Tai chi kung, and therefore cannot effectively comment on it. Nevertheless, your chi kung training should focus on movements rather than static poses, and on letting your energy flow rather than building more energy.

Movements and static poses, energy flow and building energy are basic methods and objectives in chi kung training. If you do not experience their effects, or worse, do not understand what they mean, you are probably training physical exercise rather than genuine chi kung.

Question 8

I was just wondering how I could find a master of Tai Chi Chuan, andhow, if I found one, could I know if he was truly skilled or just arrogant.

— Jared, USA

Answer

First, you need to know the difference between Tai Chi Chuan and Tai Chi dance. Then you need to know what a master is. Thirdly, you have to go into the real world, not the cyber realm, to look for someone who matches your description of a master, and who practices what you have defined as Tai Chi Chuan. However, your idea of a Tai Chi Chuan master may not be the same as Tom's, Dick's or Harry's idea.

If you found someone whom you thought was a master of Tai Chi Chuan, one effective way to know whether he was truly skilled or just arrogant, or both, was to attack him with a Taekwondo kick or a Judo throw. If you succeeded in kicking or throwing him, and he kept quiet, then you could know he was both not skilled and not arrogant. You would also know he was not a true master of Tai Chi Chuan, though he might be, or might not be, a master of Tai Chi dance.

However, if he could avoid your attack and break your bones, you could know he was truly skilled, but you might not know whether he was arrogant and whether he was a master of Tai Chi Chuan. Further examination could reveal the wanted answers. If he used Tai Chi Chuan skills and techniques to break your bones, then he was a Tai Chi Chuan master. After breaking your bones if he just smiled and said sorry, then he was not arrogant. But if he kept bragging that he could break your skull too, then he was also arrogant.

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