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Most people know that China is one of oldest world civilizations, what people don’t know is that illiteracy was more than 60 % of the Chinese population before 1949. Almost everyone can read or write in China today, but what most people read or write is the modernized Chinese. The discrepancy between Modern Chinese and Classical Chinese and poetry is greater than that of modern American English and Shakespeare.
There are great distinctions between Writing and Calligraphy, Modern Chinese and Classical Chinese. While writing (with a pen) in modern Chinese represents the idea of merging with the Western world of knowledge, technology, and ideology, calligraphy (with a brush in classical Chinese) represents the old world of cultural practices and spiritual traditions, which were all documented in Classical Chinese or poetry form.
Calligraphy or Classical Chinese has never been accessible to every Chinese native. For the Chinese native students in the Ph. D programs of East Asian Studies at universities such as Harvard or Stanford, Classical Chinese is considered as a “foreign language” efficiency or privilege that is equivalent to Latin or other foreign languages.
To participate in calligraphy is not only to participate in the art and it’s unique experience of “qi flow,” more importantly, it is to participate in Classical Chinese, the esoteric texts (for instance Taoist Canon), and authentic practices such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Fengshui and I Ching etc. Sun Lutang, the founder of Sun Style Tai Chi was a great calligrapher and a traditionalist. Cheng Man-ch’ing, the most well known Yang Style Tai Chi Master in the West, was a great calligrapher, poet, and I Ching expert. Chen Xiaowang (whose late father was a great fighter, calligrapher, and musician), the present Chen Style Tai Chi Patriarch has devoted himself to calligraphy during the last decade in order to advance his Tai Chi practice.
The word Literati is borrowed from a Latin word meaning 'a learned person'. It is used as a literary translation of the Chinese word shi a person who is learned and skilled and capable of many things. It is close to the Western idea of the Renaissance man, not in the sense of being creative or productive, but in the sense of being introspective and self-cultivating, in other words, self-conquest. Traditionally, Qi Gong/Tai Chi, Feng Shui/I Ching, Calligraphy/Poetry, Music, and Philosophy were taught and practiced reciprocally because they share a common concern: to harmonize Qi flow. It is very hard to imagine a great Qi Gong/Tai Chi master would not know Chinese calligraphy, I Ching or philosophy, or the other subjects.
Qi Gong is a Chinese practice that uses the mind, the body, and the breath to heal physical ailments and to harmonize mental wellbeing. It provides three levels of benefits for the practitioner: a. to cure and prevent illnesses and physical conditions, b. to enhance health and physical performance and to gain longevity, c. to achieve total enlightenment. Confucianism calls Qi Gong Self-Cultivation, Buddhism calls it Sitting Meditation, and Taoism calls it Inner Alchemy. It also may be called Chinese meditation or Chinese yoga.
Qi Gong Teacher/Master uses his/her Qi (mental and physical concentration) to heal illness or reduce physical pains, without using any medium and without touching the person. A Qi Gong practitioner heals or reduces his/her own illness/physical pains by practicing such concentration. In this case, it is a Magical Work. This Magical Power can be obtained by correct and regular discipline. Like everything else, it is all about the work, one has to earn it.
It is very possible and easy to reflect and understand (see through) other people's minds after a prolonged practicing of Meditative Qi Gong. However, there is a great distinction between reading other people's minds for a profitable or self-interested purpose, versus reflecting and understanding other people's minds for the purpose of a better understanding based on the idea of peace and compassion.
Like its history, the Qi Gong theory and practice is a rather sophisticated system, and it is far apart from the modern perception and understanding. The essential cause for physical illness and mental disharmony is the imbalanced Qi flow in the body. Thus, to enhance the Qi flow and to dissolve the Qi blockage is to improve overall wellbeing. Qi Gong is the solution to a better Qi flow. Qi Gong does not always need to be practiced sitting cross-legged on the floor; it can be done sitting in a chair, or lying on a bed.
With the freedom of speech and the information-flood in our time, it is crucial to read about Qi Gong, especially the serious writings, as much as possible. Therefore, one can ask many good questions to find out more about the prospective Teacher/Master, and to clarify what is expected from the practice of Qi Gong. But, one cannot practice from these mediums. The central point of Qi Gong practice is to enhance the Qi, or the internal energy flow. Qi is not an intellectual understanding nor a psychological effect but a substance, in a sense, similar to rays or waves. Qi flow has to be stimulated or generated by certain precise methods, and/or under the help of the achieved/experienced Teacher/Master in the practice. Without the proper help of a Teacher/Master, especially at the early stage of practice, it is very much like having a nice cell phone set without service connection-it looks good but it is useless.
There are dozens, but essentially only two. One is the most common form, the "Moving Qi Gong," which is slow and soft stretching orientated movements, such as the Five Animal Plays, or the Eight Length Brocades etc., while the other form is more meditative, sitting in cross-legged posture to meditate without much body movements but mental concentration, visualization, and breathing. The Moving Qi Gong is more associated with improving physical health, whereas the Meditative Qi Gong is concerned with mental wellbeing and total awakening.
From my personal experience in my public teaching, I find that Qi Gong treats Chronic Fatigue Syndrome effectively, and it is also one of the most effective ways of dealing with anxiety, depression, PMS, and other stress related symptoms. I find that people become much more calm, relaxed, and happier after only a short time of practice. Qi Gong is well known for treating common headaches, bodily pains, high blood pressure, arthritis, and other degenerative physical conditions. Recently, it has been used in conjunction with modern medicine to cure cancer, immune system disorders, and other life-threatening conditions. For people who have less health issues, correct and regular Qi Gong practice can help them sleep more soundly, have better physical performance and mental harmony, and thus achieve the true health in the unity of mind-body-spirit.
It should not take more than two months for people to notice the obvious changes within their body and mind. In my practice, people often experience changes within the first few weeks.
It depends on one's expectations and needs. For the purpose of improving one's ailments, one should practice it as long as one sees the progress. For the purpose of enhancing health and physical performance, Qi Gong should be practiced as a part of daily routines. Each Qi Gong practice session should only take 20 minutes to an hour.
All people can practice Qi Gong regardless age or fitness levels. But the question is always universal: it is not what one does, but how one does it! The key again is to practice it correctly and regularly. Thus, finding a good Teacher/Master and making a commitment become the most important part of one's approach.
Not true. Qi Gong practice has always been somewhat esoteric in the Chinese history; the majority of people don't practice it. In fact, more Chinese practice Qi Gong today than ever before. Part of it is that the Communist Ban on the traditional practices was lifted after the recent reforms; the other part is the Western acceptance of the traditional Chinese cultural practices that in turn provokes its homeland practices. In term of practice, being Chinese or a Westerner makes no difference as long as one does Qi Gong correctly and regularly.
A practice like Qi Gong is not about teaching information, knowledge, and techniques, but transmitting a living wisdom, the way to fully realize one's life and potentials physically and mentally. In other words, the Teacher/Master is always to be the best example of what he/she can offer to the students.
Not necessarily, it is a cultural issue, not a racial one. Not every Chinese makes a good Teacher/Master just like not every non-Chinese does. It is learning and practice, all that it takes is time and the correct ways. The advantages of being Chinese is one has the ability to access the Classics (if the person reads Classical Chinese), and will have an easier time finding a good Teacher/Master. On the other hand, many Westerners have become successful Teachers/Masters after studying in China, or with Chinese Teachers/Masters in the West.
It depends on how much is involved in the "knowing". If one learns enough Chinese for daily use, and can read the newspaper, it is not going to help too much. What a Teacher/Master needs is the ability to understand Classical Chinese and the traditional philosophy, cosmology, medicine, and arts in the whole. Even many natives in China don't know too much anymore. On the other hand, I have met a few Westerners whose ability to access Classical Chinese is very shocking. For instance, Edward L. Shaughnessy, the I Ching scholar at University of Chicago, who writes Chinese faster than he does English, I believe. Again, it is a matter of learning and practicing.
Yes, unless one's Teacher/Master specifically teaches one with the specific methods, one should do the following:
One should not do the following:
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