QIGONG - the secret of youth

QIGONG - the secret of youth

(Parte 6 de 7)

The foundation of this book is those documents which were passed down from ancient times. Although, in my opinion, there are some minor errors or concepts which I do not agree with, the text of these documents remains the most important source of information for this book. Since there are numerous documents available now, and also because much of their content is not related to the Yi fin ]ing and Xi Sui jing, only those parts which relate to these two classics will be translated and com mented upon.

Though many documents are available, most of these documents were written hundreds of years ago, in the ancient style of writing, and they are very difficult to translate. Furthermore, they originated as Buddhist or Daoist treatises, and were only part of the training for monks who were trying to reach enlightenment. Since most of the Buddhist bibles or treatises are very deep philosophy, even in China there are not too many people who are able to understand the real meaning. In order to understand these documents perfectly, you must have a deep understanding of Buddhism and

Daoism. This increases the difficulty of translation.

Because of the cultural differences, when one tries to translate these verses into non-Chinese languages, it is extremely difficult to find equivalent words which would

Chapter 1 : Introduction be understood by the reader. Many expressions would not make sense to the Westerner if translated literally. Often, a knowledge of the historical background is necessary. When you read these verses, especially in translation, you will have to do a lot of think ing, feeling, and pondering before you are able to sense the real and deep meaning. With this main difficulty in mind, I have attempted to convey as much of the origi nal meaning of the Chinese as possible, based on my own Qigong experience and understanding. Although it is impossible to totally translate the original meaning, I feel that I have managed to express the majority of the important points. The transla tion has been made as close to the original Chinese as possible, including such things as double negatives and, sometimes, idiosyncratic sentence structure. Words which are understood but not actually written in the Chinese text have been included in paren theses. Also, some Chinese words are followed by the English in parentheses, e.g., Shen (Spirit). For reference, the original Chinese text is included after each translation.

The Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing are only part of the Chinese Qigong training, and compared to other Chinese Qigong practices, they are considered to be deep. Therefore, many of the terminologies or the discussions may confuse you. If you have this feeling, you should first study the book: The Root of Chinese Qigong. It will offer you a clear concept of Qigong and lead you to a better understanding of this and future books.

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CHAPTER 2 Historical Survey

In the book: The Root of Chinese Qigong, we reviewed the general history of

Chinese Qigong. From there we know that religious Qigong was only one category among several. In this book we will survey only the history of the religious Qigong which is related to the Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing Qigong.

From all of the available documents, it is very dear that Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing

Qigong originated within Buddhist society. Although Buddhism was already a major religion in China, most of its Qigong training and ways of reaching Buddhahood had always been kept secret. For more than one thousand years, only limited parts of the secret documents were revealed to laymen. As a matter of fact, most of the documents and historical surveys about Yi Jin and Xi Sui Qigong practices available today come from religious Daoism and the martial arts community, rather than the Buddhists.

Almost all of the documents credit the Buddhist Da Mo with the authorship of these two classics. Therefore, we will first review the history of Chinese Qigong and religion before Da Mo, and then we will talk about Da Mo, the Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing. In the third section we will discuss the influence of the Yi fin ]ing and Xi Sui ]ing on Chinese society after Da Mo's death. Finally, we will translate some of the docu ments and stories which relate to Da Mo and these two classics.


Although Qigong in China can be traced back before the Shang dynasty (1766- 1154 B.C., i!li ), historical documents written before the Eastern Han dynasty (c. 58 A.D., -*.i�) are scarce today, and it is difficult to obtain detailed information, especial ly about training practices. From the limited publications we understand that there were two major types of Qigong training, and that there was almost no religious color to the training. One type was used by the Confucian and Daoist scholars, who used it primarily to maintain their health. The other type of Qigong was for medical purpos es, using needles, massage, or healing Qigong exercises to adjust the Qi or cure illness. All of the training theory focused on following the natural way to improve and main tain health. Actively countering the effects of nature was considered impossible.

Later, during the Eastern Han dynasty (c. 58 A.D.), Buddhism was imported to China, as well as some of the Qigong practices which had been developed in India.

Chapter 2: Historical Survey

Buddhism was created by an Indian prince named Gautama (558-478 B.C.). When he was 29 years old, he became dissatisfied with his comfortable and sheltered life and left his country. He went out into the world among the common people to experience the pain and suffering in their lives. Six years later, he suddenly apprehended the "Truth," and he started traveling around to spread his philosophy. Buddhism is a major religion based on the belief that Gautama, the Buddha (Sanskrit for Awakened One), achieved nirvana, or perfect bliss and freedom from the cycle of birth and death, and taught how to achieve this state. In order to reach this goal, a Buddhist monk must learn the way of spiritual cultivation, which is a high level of Qigong practice.

Because the Han emperors were sincere Buddhists, Buddhism became the main religion in China. Naturally, the monks learned some of the Buddhist spiritual medi tation methods. However, because of transportation and communication difficulties, they did not learn the complete system. For example, it is said that before the Liang dynasty (500 A.D., * ), almost 500 years since Buddhism was imported to China, only two Indian priests had visited China to teach Buddhism. This means that for five hundred years Chinese Buddhist monks could only learn the philosophy and theory which could be passed down through written Buddhist scriptures. They learned little of the actual cultivation and training methods, because most of these must be taught directly by an experienced master.

Because of this, after five hundred years of derivation and deduction the Chinese monks had established a way of reaching Buddhahood which was different from that of the Indian priests. The monks believed that the goal of Buddhahood could be accomplished simply through spiritual cultivation. However, according to the avail able documents this over-emphasis on spiritual cultivation resulted in their ignoring their physical bodies. They considered the physical body of only temporary use because it served as a ladder to reach Buddhahood. They even scoffed that the physi cal body was only a "Chou Pi Nang" ( � Jt. t) which means "notorious skin bag." They believed that since it was the spirit which would reach Buddhahood, why should they spend time training the physical body? Therefore, still meditation was emphasized and physical exercise was ignored. Naturally, most of the monks were weak and unhealthy. This problem was aggravated by an unnutritional, protein-deficient diet. This inaccu rate approach to cultivation was not changed until Da Mo arrived in China.

Another religion, religious Daoism, also developed in this same time-period.

Religious Daoism was created by a Daoist scholar named Zhang, Dao-Ling ( �l!l't ), who combined the traditional scholarly Daoist philosophy with Buddhist cultivation theory and created "Religious Daoism" ( l!� ). Traditional scholarly Daoism was creat ed by Lao Zi (or Li Er)(:t:-f �.lf) in the 6th century B.C. He wrote a book titled Dao De Jing (Classic on Morality, 3!-t.tN. ) which discussed natural human morality. Later, his follower Zhuang Zhou (��) in the Warring States Period (403-2 B.C., f.i.lfl) wrote

Before Do Mo a book called Zhuang Zi ( Af-f ). Scholarly Daoism studied the human spirit and nature but, according to the available documents, it was not considered a religion.

Before the creation of religious Daoism, scholarly Daoism had already been around for nearly seven hundred years. Naturally, the scholars' meditative Qigong methods had already reached a high level. After Buddhism was combined with schol arly Daoism, though some scholar meditation methods might have been modified, the physical Qigong exercises developed were still ignored. It is believed that the only physical Qigong exercises developed were part of medical Qigong, and were created mainly by physicians. You can see from this analysis that before Da Mo, both Buddhists and Daoists emphasized spiritual cultivation and ignored the physical Qigong training.

Now that you have a general idea of the historical background of Buddhism and

Daoism, let us discuss the Buddhist Shaolin Temple. This temple became very impor tant because it was the place where Da Mo created his two classics, and where he is buried (536 A.D.).

According to the available documents, the original Shaolin Temple (Figure 2-1) was built in 495 A.D. (Wei Xiao Wen Di 19th year, A-<t � -t+ Jt.1t-) on Shao Shi

Figure 2-1. Shaolin Temple 23

Chapter 2: Historical Survey

Mountain, Deng Feng Xian, Henan province

Cvr�-'A' ��� Y i: w ), by the order of Emperor Wei.

The temple was built for an Indian Buddhist priest named Ba Tuo (IW.1t) for the purpose of preaching and worship. In Chinese histo ry, it is believed that Ba Tuo was the first Buddhist monk to come to China to preach. He was commonly called "Happy Buddha" (Mi Le Fo, ��1411 )(Figure 2-2). At that time, Figure 2-2. Happy Buddha (MiLe Fo) Buddhism was at the peak of its popularity and prosperity. It was said that at that time there were thirteen thousand Buddhist temples and more than one hundred thousands monks. However, not long after this time the religion came under severe criticism from the scholars, and in a short

30 years it lost a great deal of its influence and popu larity. When Da Mo came to China in 527 A.D. (Wei

Xiao Ming Di, Xiao Chang 3rd year, ��aJl*��-=-lf. ), Buddhism's stock was quite low.


Da Mo (Figure 2-3), whose last name was Sardili and who was also known as Bodhidarma, was once a prince of a small tribe in southern India. He was of the Mahayana school of Buddhism, and was considered by many to have been a bodhisativa, or an enlightened being who had renounced nirvana in order to save others. From the fragments of historical records it is believed he was born about 483 A.D. At that time, India was considered a spiritual center by the Chinese, since it was the source of Buddhism, which was still very influential in China. Many of the Chinese emper ors either sent priests to India to study Buddhism and 24 Figure 2-3. Da Mo

Da Mo, the Vi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing bring back scriptures, or else they invited Indian priests to come to China to preach.

It is believed that Da Mo was the second Indian priest to be invited to China.

Da Mo was invited to China to preach by Emperor Liang in 527 A.D. (Liang Wu Di, Da Tong first year, * li\-f};. filJ -if-or Wei Xiao Ming Di Chang 3rd year, ti:f�-f:f�-=--+ ). When the emperor decided he did not like Da Mo's Buddhist theory, the monk withdrew to the Shaolin Temple. When Da Mo arrived, he saw that the priests were weak and sickly, so he shut himself away to ponder the problem (Figure 2-4). When he emerged after nine years of seclusion he wrote two classics: Yi ]in ]ing (Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic) and Xi Sui Jing (Marrow/Brain Washing Classic).

The Yi ]in ]ing taught the priests how to gain health and change their physical

Figure 2-4. Entrance to the Cave where Da Mo Meditated for Nine Years bodies from weak to strong. After the priests practiced the Yi Jin Jing exercises, they found that not only did they improve their health, but they also greatly increased their strength. When this training was integrated into the martial arts forms, it increased the effectiveness of their techniques. This change marked one more step in the growth of the Chinese martial arts: martial Qigong.

The Xi Sui Jing taught the priests how to use Qi to clean the bone marrow and strengthen the blood and immune system, as well as how to energize the brain, which helped them to attain Buddhahood. Because the Xi Sui jing was hard to understand and practice, the training methods were passed down secretly to only a very few disciples in each generation.

Because of the lack of historical documents about Da Mo, nobody really knows what kind of person he was. However, there is a poem written by Lu You (Pi�), a famous poet of the Southern Song dynasty (1131-1162 A.D., �:4i:), which described Da Mo's personal philosophy. It said:

Chapter 2: Historical Survey

;f-::f: li# .� mJ �. ;f-::f:-1-mJ lfJ ;ft

*ili��i!N� i})'::f:�t' mjj!(� i})'::f:fuitrriJ�·� it:kj{/�Y!· i.�·-:.;-'7'-t!Lti ::f:�}L � liiJ �� ,1!� .£ z a :.fA

Feeling not disgusted by corruption and evil, Nor eager grasping after desire and gain, Sacrificing not wisdom for the company of fools, Nor abandoning wonder to preserve the truth, Reaching the great Dao without excessiveness, Attaining the Buddha heart without vindictiveness, Keeping not to the path of mere normal holiness, Tramcendent of its own creation.

Naturally, we cannot judge him from this poem, especially since it was written more than 500 years after his death. The teaching philosophy which has traditionally been attributed to him is: "Do not pass on to people outside of our religion, words should not be written down, point directly to the person's mind, to see and cultivate the personality, humanity, and become a Buddha."1 His teaching philosophy seems to coincide with the poem by Lu Yu. Da Mo was a stubborn, conceited, and wise man.

As previously explained, before Da Mo, the main training method for reaching

Buddhahood in China was only spiritual cultivation through meditation. The com plete training methods used in India were not .passed down to the Chinese Buddhists. This situation lasted until Da Mo's two classics became available. There is a couplet in the Shaolin Temple which says: "In the West Heaven (i.e., India) for twenty-eight ancestors, came to East Land (i.e., China) to begin at Shaolin."2 This means that Da Mo was the twenty-ninth generation of Chan Buddhism in India, and when he came to Shaolin he became the first ancestor of Chinese Chan Buddhism. You can see that before Da Mo, the Chinese had not even learned Chan

(Parte 6 de 7)