Monday, July 28, 2014

Meditation, chi kung and internal martial art as empirical science

In the tradition of Taoist meditation, there is an important concept, mentioned in many classics, called Empirical evidence (實證). What is the meaning of empirical evidence? And is it the same for other internal disciplines like tai chi, other internal martial art, and chi kung?

Empirical evidence (also empirical data, sense experience, empirical knowledge, or the a posteriori) is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation. In meditation and other internal arts, the empirical evidence is internal to the observer himself.  More so in meditation. In tai chi, certain degree of empirical evidence can be observed by a trained observer, usually the teacher in a pedagogical environment.  The situation is similar to psychology. The same limitation as in psychology: the subject (or student) may lie, the subject may fail to report accurately and the subject may not know what he is talking about.

In chi kung, it is generally called "chi sensation" (氣感). Initially, irrespective of the particular school, lineage or whatever, a student should learn "what is chi sensation", then "how to make it stronger", and then "how to make it affecting a broader areas/a deeper level".  Empirical evidence is the definitive guideline of the progress of a student, and whether or not he has learned anything (in the name of chi kung) at all.

In meditation, chi sensation has particular names according to different tradition. Though with different names, the same theory holds: it is also about chi sensation. But the focus is in the manifestation of it in a strong way. For example, in Taoist meditation, there is this first task of doing a microcosmic circulation (小周天) which is a strong chi sensation rising up one's spinal cord; and for Chakra mediation, the task is called chakra opening which is a strong chi sensation "liberating" a blocked spot at a specific chakra area.

In the initial feeling, empirical evidence will be mild in both meditation and chi kung. In the advanced level, a strong chi sensation when a large blockage is going to open (or opening) can be quite shocking to the observer himself. The guidance of a teacher will be very useful in the advanced level. Metaphorically speaking, the initial feeling of chi sensation is like a breeze over the sea and we see the ripples. In the most advanced stage, it can be like a tsunami! Outside our body, there is no chi sensation, and therefore there is no chi (and outside heat is just incidental side effect of no importance, for example non-contact chi healing is just healing-by-belief rather than empirical).

Chi as wave

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