Sinew Metamorphosis

The Small Universe is Taoist Chi Kung

Question 10

In Taoist Chi Kung, Small & Big Universe and Sitting Meditation (jing zuo) are used in sequence to attain Immortality (i.e become an immortal) and Enlightenment.

In Shaolin Chi Kung in the past did Shaolin monks or lay Shaolin masters also used Sinew Metamorphosis and Sitting Meditation (zazen) in sequence to attain Immortality and Enlightenment? May Sifu clarify whether the techniques and skills that Sigung Ho taught Sifu to aim for or attain Immortality and Enlightenment are actually a combination of Taoist and Shaolin Chi Kung?

Dr Damian Kissey


I do not know for sure whether in Taoist chi kung, Small and Big Universe and sitting meditation, or jing zuo, were used in sequence, i.e. one after another, or were used separately to attain Immortality and Enlightenment.

I also do not know for sure whether in Shaolin chi kung, Shaolin monks and lay masters used Sinew Metamorphosis and sitting mediation, or zazen, in sequence or separately.

Personally I think they used the advanced methods separately, though there might be a few masters who used them in sequence.

But I know for sure that Small and Big Universe was the most advanced art in Taoist chi kung, that Sinew Metamorphosis was the most advanced art in Shaolin chi kung, and that sitting meditation, known as jing zuo in Taoist culture and zazen in Shaolin culture, but were the same though there might be slight variations in their practice, was the paramount method to attain Immortality and Enlightenment. In other words, to attain Immortality or Enlightenment, one must practice sitting meditation, though in exceptional cases some Zen monks achieved Enlightenment while experiencing a gong-an (or koan).

When my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, taught me any skill or technique, it was never aimed at attaining Immortality or Enlightenment. When my sifu taught me sitting meditation, which was and is the paramount method to attain Immortality and Enlightenment, the idea of attaining Immortality or Enlightenment was never in our mind.

In fact my sifu did not teach me sitting meditation in a practical way. He just told me what to do in sitting meditation. As a good student I just followed his instructions.

I still remember that when my sifu taught me sitting meditation, I thought it was so simple. I thought to myself, but did not mention it to my sifu, that yoga meditation, for example, which I had read about a lot in my research, was so advanced. A yoga meditator, for example, could visualize different heavens he could go to, or even materialize a god to serve him!

But, as I said earlier, I was a good student. I just followed my sifu’s instruction and left out all other instructions I had read about. Basically the instruction was “think of nothing, and do nothing”.

It was many years later that I realized what my sifu taught me was the highest meditation. It was Zen meditation. It aimed directly at Enlightenment. But I was not ready for Enlightenment, so I had many glimpses of Cosmic Reality.

Cosmic Reality is transcendental. Other types of meditation I thought was more advanced (but by themselves they were very advanced) were phenomenal. One may be so advanced that he could choose the heaven he would go to, or materialize a god to serve him, but all these are still in the phenomenal realm. In Zen meditation, an aspirant, when he is ready, attains the supreme transcendentality where there is perfectly no differentiation in infinity and eternity.

Yes, all the techniques and skills my sifu taught me, and what I am now teaching to students in Shaolin Wahnam, ranging from the most simple to the most advanced, are actually a combination of Taoist and Shaolin chi kung. But neither my sifu nor I made any differentiation between Taoist and Shaolin chi kung. I just learned what my sifu taught me, and he taught me whatever he felt was for my best interest.

But on hindsight, I now know that much of what he taught me was from Shaolin chi kung, and a bit was from Taoist chi kung, but it was the best of Taoist chi kung. This was no surprise as I learned Shaolin Kungfu, and my sifu was a well-known Taoist master.

Lifting the Sky, the first exercise my sifu taught me, was from Shaolin chi kung. However, it was also the first of the exercises from the Eight Pieces of Brocade which was a well known set of Taoist chi kung exercises. One-finger Shooting Zen, which my sifu taught me next, was also from Shaolin chi kung.

The outstanding Taoist chi kung my sifu taught me was the Small Universe. But I remember clearly that at the time my sifu taught me this famous Taoist chi kung exercise, it was never specified as Taoist chi kung. In fact I regarded it as a continuation of my Shaolin training.

As part of the Small Universe training, my sifu also taught me Reversed Breathing after I had spent quite some time on Abdominal Breathing. Abdominal Breathing is generally regarded as Taoist chi kung. On the other hand, Reversed Breathing is generally regarded as Shaolin chi kung, though it is also found in Taoist chi kung.

My sifu did not teach me the Big Universe, which was also from Taoist chi kung. I attained the Big Universe as a progression from my Small Universe training.

But when my sifu taught me selections from the Drunken Eight Immortals, he specifically told me that this was Taoist kungfu. I did not ask him the source of this kungfu as I knew he had learned from many masters besides his main lineage from Shaolin.

The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on Sinew-Metamorphosis in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.