Monday, July 8, 2013

The dilemma of quick fix chi healing

Many years ago in Hong Kong a type of chi kung became popular. It was broadly classified as self induced chi kung (自發功).  It was so popular that it appeared in some pop movies staring major casts. Due to its possible side-effect without proper supervision, it has become less popular nowadays, though some people still practice it in Greater China, especially in Taiwan.

Looking from the outside, a self-induced practitioner, when chi activated, will "automatically" perform different martial art, meditation or stretching postures.

Self induced chi kung makes use of the body's imbalance to create the chi-seed (or chi-foundation). Though many practitioners are not aware, tai chi and Wang Xian Zai's Yichuan (in particular the latter) use the body's imbalance to generate chi. Wang is probably the greatest chi kung master who experimented (and made use of) different chi generation method. Yet he made self-control in chi a major requirement in his practice. His famous metaphor is the spinning top (interested readers can refer to my previous post: A key concept in Yichuan zhan zhuang). As the metaphor goes, master Wang kept his spinning top stationery whereas a self-induced practitioner hits his spinning top and allows it to go free will.

Fair to say, the self induced system can enable a student to have strong chi faster than the controlled ones, which is great for healing. And on the negative side, it is easier to get out of control (and very likely for a self-learning novice practitioner). The worse scenario will be self-induced psychosis.

The self-induced system is a form of auto-suggestion or self-induced hypnosis. And it is not a system to be looked down upon, at least it has not been my intention in writing this post. All systems of guru-assisted spiritual practice (like many Tibetan and Hindu systems religious in nature) made use of auto-suggestion or self-induced hypnosis. Mind you, they are highly effective. The crucial requirements are that it has to be based on a strong belief system plus an experienced (and morally impeccable) guru who is willing to teach. Unfortunately both of which are hard to get by at the same time nowadays.

To have a better understanding of self-induced chi kung, we can look at a distant relative of the practice in history. I am talking about the Boxer society (YiHeTuan 義和團) in late Qing Dynasty in China. The Boxer Uprising was the immediate cause of the invasion of China by the Imperial Eight Powers. Recent historical publications showed that the Boxers were mainly young illiterate peasants aged 10-20. They had simple minds and would easily follow the mental suggestions of their masters. The belief system included a historical figure of strong physical and moral prowess, called spiritual master, entering the body of the practitioner, so that the practitioner would and could act physically like his spiritual master. It is interesting to note that some of these spiritual masters were purely fictional figures, like the legendary Monkey King. As long as one strongly believes, it is more real than physically real (the question as to what is truly real is a metaphysical question beyond the discussion of this post).

If you think that the young peasants were just stupid you have missed the point. A Boxer practitioner could be trained up to a proficient level in chi kung (and martial art!) within a week's time (and as short as three days). Think about how many years a tai chi student needs to learn to become a proficient practitioner.

I believe there are definitely something we (including me) can learn from the self-induced folks. Master Wang XianZai certainly shared the same feeling as me (I mean I believe). Unfortunately some of Master Wang's progress towards this direction has been lost nowadays, even among many Yichuan practitoners.

Self induced chi kung practitioners in Taiwan

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