What is Zhong Yuan Qigong
Zhong Yuan is a plain in central China. In the distant past, the whole area constituted one large administrative unit, which was subsequently divided into three provinces. One of them is the Henan province, where the famous Shaolin monastery is located (picture III, XII-XV).
Thousands of years ago, the proto-Chinese settled along the banks of the Yellow river, whose yellow waters flow through the Zhong Yuan plain. Therefore, this area is regarded as the cradle of the Chinese civilization and culture. The plain also contains high mountains with numerous caves. Since the dawn of history, people have inhabited these mountains and erected monuments, temples, and monasteries in secluded places. ZY qigong appeared in those mountains more than 7,000 years ago, much earlier than other world religions and qigong schools. Back then, the system did not have a name because there were no other systems from which it had to be distinguished. In modern times, ZY qigong took on the name of the region from which it originated.
The ZY qigong system is truly holistic. No other known system encompasses so completely all aspects of human existence – education, development, self-regulation, and healing. Further, it provides a philosophical perspective on the role of humanity in the structure and evolution of the Universe. Because of its depth and non-linear training methodology, much of the system remains elusive or “esoteric”. However, what has been uncovered so far allows practitioners to expand their minds and to gain new perspectives on themselves and the world. ZY qigong practice helps students come to the realization that not only are they human beings operating in a global or planetary context, but cosmic beings and key participants in the perpetual evolution of the Universe. This insight furthers the practitioner’s understanding of their place in the world and the reasons for their existence.
The ZY qigong system consists of three components – self-development, image therapy, and knowledge transfer. Each of these components constitutes an independent, autonomous system.
The Self Development System has gained much international attention in the past decade. It has five levels, which are taught in a conventional Western mode by teachers in class and seminar settings. The first three levels introduce students to the system’s basic elements and practice methodology allowing trainees to work on improving their health and on awakening dormant abilities. In Level Four, students learn how to communicate with all beings on Earth (including animals and plants), and they begin to understand the principle of interdependence among life forms. The first four levels are accessible to everybody. In order to proceed to Level Five, students must undergo a selection process. Here, they focus on cause-effect relationships that shape individuals, society, certain events, and other worlds (including other planets).
Image Therapy is an unusually effective branch of medical qigong that was secret until 1997. Image Therapy (IT) practitioners learn about the multi-dimensional structure of the Universe and about traveling from our physical, three-dimensional world to other realities. This component of the ZYQ system focuses on recovering one’s health and healing many diseases, and it includes the use of symbols and mantras.
Knowledge Transfer is a unique way of receiving knowledge by absorbing it directly from the environment. If practitioners master this sub-system, they can receive answers to any question. Knowledge transplantation still remains “esoteric knowledge,” and only a minuscule part of it is used in ZY qigong classes. In the last few years, some Chinese universities and specialized schools have adopted it in order to accelerate and to improve students’ learning of large quantities of information. Hopefully this system will open to the world in the 21st century.
The terms “Zhong” and “Yuan” have multiple meanings. The basic translation for “Zhong” is “center” or “core.” In the context of qigong, it means “middle path,” “to adhere to the center.” In mathematics, the middle of a segment is the point situated at equal distances from the segment’s ends. Building on this, we can identify another meaning for Zhong – “equilibrium,” “balance” – which itself has many applications. In terms of health, for example, people get sick when yin and yang are out of balance. Philosophically, the human being can be conceptualized as an integral part of the Universe. Earth, Human, and Heaven form a system in which the Human occupies a central place; therefore, the developmental paths of the Universe and each person are interdependent. From this perspective, each one of us is at the center of the Universe. Perfecting, developing, and learning about the self allows us to understand the Universe – the Earth, the Cosmos, our place in relation to them, and the reason we are here.
The human being is a microcosm of the universe that contains a “middle path”: the front-middle energy channel (Ren-Mai), the back-middle channel (Du-Mai), and the main, central channel (Zhong-Mai). The Zhong-Mai channel serves as an axis for the body. It passes through the Baihui point on the crown of the head and the Hueiyin point on the perineum (picture 9 and Appendix. 1, picture 14). The center of the human body represents a Tao – a path. One needs to discover and open this path for the soul, so that it may have a way to leave and return. The main goal of ZY qigong practice is to open the Zhong-Mai channel and to build the path for the soul’s travel.
In the context of daily life, the term “Zhong” stands for “the golden medium.” For example, we should avoid emotional extremes, such as surges of anger, joy, euphoria, or hurt – everything needs to be in moderation. When we walk, our bodies should not bounce all over the place; and our mind and gaze shouldn’t wander aimlessly, or our energy will scatter into the environment. We need to focus internally and to block out the surrounding world.
Another meaning of “Zhong” has to do with human cognition. Our thought processes should not be chaotic and overly intense. Instead, we should focus our thoughts on the issue at hand, which ensures its successful resolution without interruptions.
Yuan means “initial,” “original,” “cause,” or “natural resource.” The concept is common to all qigong schools, but they work with it in different ways. In the ZY qigong system, Yuan implies that when we practice, we need to know how (with what) to begin. Yuan is the most important thing, the foundation of our body
The human body is pretty amazing, so how do we know which is the most important part? It contains three separate structures connecting the body and the soul: Yuan-Jing, Yuan-Qi, and Yuan-Chen (picture 9). These represent different kinds, structures, and levels of qi.
[PICTURE 9 COMES HERE – SEE PAGE 52]
• Jing means a “life force” or a “kernel” (sperm or ova). It belongs to the domain of the material world. During puberty, Jing transforms into a dense substance that has the capacity to create new life, like a seed. If a sperm and an ovum combine, a new life is created. Yuan-Jing contains one’s DNA and any other information collected throughout one’s life – the life code of a human. People are born, grow up, and at a certain age can start a family and reproduce until they become too old. We can actually use Jing to slow down the aging process. The Taoist school practices a qigong technique called “inner alchemy” that prevents Jing from thickening and hardening. This method allows the practitioner to extract, to transform, and to reuse information and energy from the reproductive cells or from the DNA. This allows Yuan-Jing to unite with Yuan-qi.
• Yuan-Qi is the primal, permanent energy that exists within the human body and throughout the Cosmos. It has different levels, and can be controlled and directed mentally. One can feel its flow within the body, one can radiate and release it from the body, and many people can see it as mist. If our energy level increases, we may see it as light. At this level, qi is situated on the borderline between the material and the spiritual worlds. It can move from one to the other, which explains why we sense it strongly sometimes, and at other times we cannot feel it all.
• Yuan-Chen can be translated as “soul” or “spirit,” depending on the level of qi. It belongs to the domain of the spiritual world, which makes it difficult to see with the third eye (it can be done only in certain states or while practicing qigong).
Yuan-Jing, Yuan-Qi, and Yuan-Chen constitute the inner yuans, each representing a different yuan level. Through practice, we can unite these levels in a whole using the Zhong-Mai channel. The inner yuans fall in two domains: the area from Yuan-Jing to Yuan-Qi belongs to the material world, and the area from Yuan-Qi to Yuan-Chen belongs to the spiritual world (picture 9). When the three unite, one can understand both worlds.
The ZY qigong system teaches the steps towards unifying the three yuans through practice. Yuan-Jing is transformed into Yuan-Qi, which, in turn, provides substance for the soul and turns into Yuan-Chen. As a result, the “immortal embryo” is formed (picture 10). In turn, there are also three levels of Yuan-Chen, or the yuan-soul:
o Yin-Chen is the soul of the average person who does not engage in any special practice. Most people are born, live, and die from natural deaths. After death, the path of their souls is determined by nature. According to Christianity, the departing soul goes to Heaven or Hell, depending on its deeds. According to the Eastern philosophy, souls are reincarnated as humans or animals. They have no other choice, since they are dominated by yin. In order to break away from this cycle of endless reincarnations, to jump into a new reality, the soul needs a powerful impulse, similar to the one provided to a satellite by a rocket in order to overcome Earth’s gravity. The practice of qigong provides this impulse.
People on Earth have two modes of existence. We all know how an average life goes: birth, growth, reproduction, old age, and death. The second mode involves reproduction as well, but instead of children, one creates an “immortal embryo.” When one develops one’s inner energy, the body is transformed on the molecular level. Yuan-Jing alters and sublimates the reproductive cells into a qi structure that fuses with other qi structures. The end result is a qualitatively different substance – the “immortal embryo” (picture 10a). In time, it becomes stronger and able to leave the body along the Zhong-Mai channel (picture 10b). Simultaneously, the person’s Third Ear starts to function (picture 11). At that point, one no longer has a Yin-soul, as one did originally.
o Yuan-Chen is a soul of improved quality and higher energy. The Yuan-soul has abundant yang and very little yin. It acquires new abilities, such as the capacity to control the mind and to replicate into numerous copies of itself (picture 2). These copies can coexist simultaneously in different places, completing tasks, working on projects, training students, gathering information, etc. A good analogy is a hologram image – it may break into many pieces, but we can use any piece to reproduce the original, complete hologram image. Similarly, the Yuan-soul can divide into many souls that can exist separately until reunited. However, this is not the highest energy level a soul can achieve.
Some systems practice exclusively Yuan-Chen in order to enable the soul to replicate itself into a myriad of copies (the venerated goddess of mercy Guan-yin, for example, was able to multiply herself into thousands of entities). Developing this skill is not among the top priorities of ZY qigong. We replicate the Yuan-Chen into tens or even hundreds of copies only, and then we proceed to pursue height versus breadth of achievement. Our goal is to increase the quality and the energy of the Yuan-soul, so that it can become a yang soul.
o Yang-Chen, or Yang-soul, can be achieved through long practice and transformation. This soul contains entirely yang of very high energy. If a Yang-soul leaves the body, people around may see it as intense golden light (picture II), even though it may release lights of different colors as well. This soul can go to any point of space and time in the Universe, and it can understand the language of any civilization on any planet. It does not undergo death in the common sense of the word, because it has control over its consciousness and energy. The goal of the higher levels of ZY qigong is to develop the Yang-Chen.
To summarize, the practice of the soul has three levels. It is far from easy to realize the goals of the practice. For the Yin-soul, there are methods that allow the practitioner to learn quickly how to feel the soul and to release it from the body.
The inner yuans (Yuan-Jing, Yuan-Qi, and Yuan-Chen) form a complete system within the human body. Human, Earth, and Heaven constitute the three external yuans (picture 8). The human being is the middle link between Heaven and Earth. Humans are constantly experiencing energy currents: through the bottom of the feet one receives yin qi from the Earth, and through the crown of the head one receives yang qi from the Cosmos. One can unite the three inner yuans only after the Zhong-Mai channel is fully opened. When you open the Baihui and Hueiyin points, you can unite the three outer yuans and become the center of the Universe. Then you can experience the enlightened state and understand the meaning of Tao (the ZY qigong definition of enlightenment differs from that of the yogis).
According to an old conception, Tao is one, one produces two, two produces three, and three produces multiple objects. Two stands for yin-yang and three represents the Earth-Human-Heaven relationship.
This is the normal path of human development from birth to death. When we practice ZY qigong, we reverse the path and move in the opposite direction, against the normal current. The practice from Levels One to Four is designed to enable the student to unite the disconnected inner yuans so that they can return to their original state. As a result, students go back to their source, experience enlightenment, and understand the meaning of Tao. There are many systems that seek to bring a multitude into one are, but they differ in the methods they use to achieve unification.
When students unify the three outer yuans – Earth-Human-Heaven – they acquires great abilities. The application of such abilities can be divided into three schools:
• The Human School, in the Taoist system, is called Zhen-sen – Human and mountain. The goal of the practice is to enable the person to see everything, as if standing on a high mountain. One can see and achieve much further than regular people, which makes them a Master. The practice of Human Yuan facilitates good health and unusual abilities. One can control objects and events in nature and in life, as well as heal other people. The practitioner can prolong the existence of the physical body on Earth as much as desired, without experiencing damage or decay. Such people often withdraw in seclusion to the mountains, where they hide from any living thing. They can choose to release their souls on long journeys throughout the Earth or in other parts of the Universe in order to complete tasks whenever needed or desired. In the meantime, their bodies can stay alive and unaltered for hundreds of years. After death, Human School practitioners want to be reincarnated as Humans repeatedly. This school is practiced mostly in the Buddhist system and to a lesser extent within the Taoist system.
• The practice of Heaven School enables a person to identify and blend with the entire Cosmos. In this state, one can move freely to any point in space and time in order to accomplish work or to understand one’s role in the evolution of the Universe. This school’s practitioners can communicate with other worlds and choose a residence for their souls after departing from this world. They tend to pay less attention to the Human, to the Earth, or to affecting regular daily life. Generally, they prefer not to reincarnate as humans; but if they wish to do that, they can. Adherents are mostly monks and people who live in seclusion. The school is common in the Tibetan system.
• The Earth school promotes understanding of terrestrial evolution, so that one can work for the good of the planet and for the development of its civilization (in relation to the surrounding world and in accordance to the laws of the Universe). The school also teaches healing methods and how to work well with anything related to plants. For example, one can hold a seed to help it mature into a big, healthy plant or blow on a small plant to help it grow fast. This school’s practitioners love Earth – they love to live on it and do not wish to die and be reborn. They practice a lot in order to maintain healthy bodies for hundreds and thousands of years. This school is practiced in Tibet and China.
All three schools exist in China and each has its Masters. The different branches of qigong usually incorporate one of the three schools. People who learn all three are considered to be the Greatest Masters.
The ZY qigong system combines the schools of Heaven, Human, and Earth in order to achieve Tao. The first three levels of training focus on the Earth School; Level Four combines the Earth and the Human Schools; and Level Five combines the teachings of the Heaven, the Human, and the Earth Schools. Thus, everyone can choose how far and in what direction they want to develop. But to become a great qigong Master, one needs to know them all.
When practitioners unite all inner and outer yuans, they become complete beings who understand physical reality, comprehend themselves, know the meaning and the purpose of their existence here, and realize their place in the Universe. The highest goal of ZY qigong is to enable the average human to become a complete, cosmic being who understands other people and the laws of the Universe, lives in accordance to these laws, consciously accomplishes one’s goals, and is not attached to one’s physical body.