☯ Buddhism and Qigong

Introduction to Qigong


The Buddhist Master Bodhidharma, an Indian Prince before his renunciation, went to the Shaolin Monastery 1500 years ago and meditated in solitude for nine years. At the end of his retreat, he taught several systems of Qigong (Energy Yoga) to the monks at the Shaolin Monastery so that their constitution was fortified, to give rise to heightened vitality, for Dharma practice.  These Qigong systems include ‘Yi Gin Ching’ – Sinews Changing Classics – which strengthened the health of the monks and empowered their physique, and ‘Shii Soei Ching’ – the Marrow Washing Classics – which deals with qi cleansing, marrow rejuvenation, and the fusion of energy for enlightenment.  Pathgate.org


A major theme in Buddhist Mindfulness practice is insight into impermanence. There is a deep link between the experience of impermanence in Mindfulness and the Taoist concept of Qi (Chi) as used in East Asian medicine and martial arts. In a sense, they approach the same phenomenon from opposite yet complimentary points of view. In Mindfulness practice, we simply pay attention to ordinary experiences: mental images, internal talk, physical and emotional body sensations. As the result of this, it sometimes happens that ordinary experiences become extraordinary. Thoughts and sensations break up into a flowing energy that expands, contracts, undulates and vibrates.

*Tao Te Ching Tao and Virtue Classic ~ Translation by Derek Lin

*Tao Te Ching  – J. Legge, Translator (Sacred Books of the East, Vol 39) [1891]

Qigong (and Inner Alchemy) practice starts from the other end. It involves exercises that activate the experience of flowing energy. To combine the two practices, then, is to invoke the best of both worlds. The Buddhist Mindfulness training increases our awareness skills, allowing us to detect the energy/vibratory nature underlying ordinary experience. On the other hand, the Qigong subtly activates that energy – and since we have the magnifying glass of mindfulness we’re able to better detect that subtle activation.

In Chinese medicine, health is associated with a smooth, abundant and balanced flow of qi through the meridians. Dis-ease, on the other hand, appears when there is a deficiency, stagnation or imbalance of this flow of Qi. Qigong practice works to supplement energetic deficiencies, as well as to move stagnation and create a harmonious flow of life-force through our body-mind’s channels of awareness (meridians).  Since Mindfulness trains us to open to – rather than congeal around – internal mind/body experience, it perfectly compliments and deepens these processes initiated by Qigong practice. The combination of these Buddhist and Taoist practices therefore amplifies the potential for profound healing and insight into our True Nature.

Qigong (pronounced “chee-gung,”) is translated from the Chinese to mean “energy cultivation” or “working with the life energy.” Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of postures, exercises, breathing techniques, and meditations. Its techniques are designed to improve and enhance the body’s qi. According to traditional Chinese philosophy, Qi is the fundamental life energy responsible for health and vitality.


-Basic concepts
In Chinese thought, qi, or chi, is the fundamental life energy of the universe. It is invisible but present in air, water, food and sunlight. In the body, qi is the unseen vital force that sustains life. We are all born with inherited amounts of qi, and we also get acquired qi from the food we eat and the air we breathe. In qigong, the breath is believed to account for the largest quantity of acquired qi, because the body uses air more than any other substance. The balance of our physical, mental, and emotional levels also affect qi levels in the body.

Qi travels through the body along channels called meridians. There are 12 main meridians, corresponding to the 12 principal organs as defined by the traditional Chinese system: the lung, large intestines, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, urinary bladder, kidney, liver, gallbladder, pericardium, and the “triple warmer,” which represents the entire torso region. Each organ has qi associated with it, and each organ interacts with particular emotions on the mental level.

Qigong techniques are designed to improve the balance and flow of energy throughout the meridians, and to increase the overall quantity and volume of qi. In qigong philosophy, mind and body are not separated as they often are in Western medicine. In qigong, the mind is present in all parts of the body, and the mind can be used to move qi throughout the body.

Yin and yang are also important concepts in qigong. The universe and the body can be described by these two separate but complementary principles, which are always interacting, opposing, and influencing each other. One goal of qigong is to balance yin and yang within the body. Strong movements or techniques are balanced by soft ones, leftward movements by rightward, internal techniques by external ones, and so on.

-Dissolving in Qi, I merge with the infinite universal field of being
-Transmitting Qi, I tap the potential of the universe to serve the healing and empowerment of all sentient beings.

The projection of the subtlest of all human energies that arises from the refinement of shian tian qi [pre-heavenly energy] and hou tian qi [post-heavenly energy] into the pure awareness of ling qi [spiritual essence] at the shen plane [spiritual plane] of the upper dan tien and through which the influence of the resulting harmonization of the energies of Heaven, Earth and Man can effect changes to transform the physical, mental, emotional and energetic structures of both the tangible and intangible.
“Through this merging and working with nature, that is what in the classics is referred to as “Merging with Heaven and Earth”. You are no longer just a human, you are a part of everything. If this is the case, how can you act unkindly to others? Act from the heart.” ~Lama Dondrup Dorje

Fa Shen” Harmonization of Heaven, Earth, and Man “The Trinity



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