butterydime

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Since I joined this site - about two weeks ago - have have read a lot, I also joined Loneman Pai but since I didn't post in a week I got kicked out LOL. Anyways, I have read so much on here and have became inspired so many times by reading everyone's experiences..but I have no clue as to where to start...Where does a newbie actually start who has no teacher?? What books should I read?  I would like become enlightened, understand qi cultivation and ying yang. 

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My advice is to get really clear, honest and specific within yourself what you really want and what you are really looking for, just as an inner investigation without any tradition or teacher. If you do that then you are way ahead of most. 

 

After that if you want to understand Qi cultivation it might be good to start with someone like Chunyi Lin and Spring Forest Qigong. If you want to understand meditation try Alan Wallace and his books like 'The attention revolution'. And if you want to wake up and discover the truth of what you are go with Adyashanti. 

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Since I joined this site - about two weeks ago - have have read a lot, I also joined Loneman Pai but since I didn't post in a week I got kicked out LOL. Anyways, I have read so much on here and have became inspired so many times by reading everyone's experiences..but I have no clue as to where to start...Where does a newbie actually start who has no teacher?? What books should I read?  I would like become enlightened, understand qi cultivation and ying yang. 

 

Since I started back in the early 1970s, things have become very much more confusing than they were. This post is very good for a beginner to bear in mind:

 

This is another in my ongoing little series of public service announcements for people who might be able to use some help sorting out their practices:

 

 

even though it is very in vogue to talk about MCO, the three dantian, and chackras (I don't know why it isn't in vogue to talk about yinqiao, yang qiao, chong mai, sanguan and so on, but that is for another thread), there is one big piece of work which all aspiring meditators should do before any of that.

namely, you need to fill your dantian until it has enough qi to pour over into the rest of the body.

 

now, I know that there are several people on this board who actually know what they are doing, so this thread is not directed at you guys, except perhaps to add comments if need be.

 

to everyone else,

 

The lower dantian is the largest reservoir of energy in the entire body, and many of the very most important functions of the digestive system, excretory organs, autonaumic nervous system and so on are all located there. The lower dantian is also right around your body's centre of balance, and the area connects your lower and upper body together. It is really important!

As such, the one basic of meditation that everyone should practice every day is just to direct the mind to the dantian while breathing naturally through the nose.

This really isn't very complicated, and you all have some basic idea of how to do it, but many people who do qi gong or some people even who believe they are doing Daoist meditation (they usually aren't, but thats another story), often kind of skip over this part.

you should keep doing this for much longer, dare I say, most of your practice.

It is the easiest thing, just sit down, close your eyes lightly, touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth, breathe in and out through the nostrils in a way that is full enough that you get oxygen, but quiet enough that you can't hear it. Stay like this and gradually become calm, forgetting the improtance of the narrative in your mind. Don't worry about moving Qi around, don't worry about becoming enlightened, just stay in this dim and dark place as your mind disappears.

 

This practice does something very important, which is to gradually cause the energy in your lower abdomen to become stronger. After a long enough time doing this type of very simply foundational exercise, you will intrinsically see its benefit.

This extremely easy exercise is much more powerful than all the guided MCO visualizations existing in the world. It is the basis for beginning to actually really have some Qi to work with and not just empty loops created by the mind.

 

I feel very disturbed by how many bad MCO threads with wrong information I see everywhere, so I want to make these little public benefit statements to help convince people to invest the time in doing the right practice, the boring, standard practice that helps you, not the exciting one that hurts you.

 

hope you get some value out of this.

 

In the early 80s the scene was changed significantly by the appearance of works by Mantak Chia which emphasize the Microcosmic Orbit, or MCO as it is often abbreviated, and has created a climate in which this simple good advice has been neglected.

 

When I started the only serious work of theory/practice was the Taoist Yoga text (Taoist Yoga; Alchemy and Immortality, trans. Lu k'uan yu, Weiser, 1970, reprinted many times since) which had a different emphasis, including the idea that the MCO developed naturally as a result of making progress in meditation and the importance of the Lower Dan Tian in the lower abdoman.  Because of that I did a lot of breathing to the lower Tan Tian in the 70s and there was a lot of benefit from it.

 

It is good to have a moving meditation also, I worked with Tai Chi Chih as popularized by Justin Stone, though his version seems to have been derived from a system that uses an actual wooden "ruler".  You can find some details here:

 

Taiji Ruler

 

There were other things that I did, Eight Pieces of Brocade, etc.

 

The best thing to do is find yourself a good teacher, next to that a lot of background reading can be useful, in particular a familiarity with the basics of Chinese Medicine helps, that way you can be aware of situations that might arise through meditation and how one might deal with them.  A good introduction is Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold.  This book has a self-evaluation questionnaire that is very useful and it is helpful to know if one has any types of qi problems already, in which case you need to proceed with caution and definitely look for a teacher or find a good TCM practitioner to help you clear it up.

 

There has been an appropriation of these ideas by "energy workers" who were very influenced by Mantak Chia and the result has been, like some of the abuses of Chinese herbs, such as  putting Mahuang in diet pills, that have led to problems and misunderstandings of the natural development that is part of the Daoist approach have caused problems also.

 

In a short space this is the best advice I can give.

 

 

 

 

 

Edit: Corrected a spacing problem.

Edited by Zhongyongdaoist
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Interesting. Thank you for your answer! 

 

With "inner investigation" do you mean I should just meditate? 

 

Its a method of enquiry, where you start from the perspective of you don't know the answer to your question, then just ask yourself throughout your day or when it seems appropriate what it is that you really want or what you are really looking for? ask and see what comes up. Or a better method is to kind of drop the question into your body and see what emerges. Or write down the question and write the answers which come up, then see if those answers are really true. Always question the answers which come up to see if they are really honestly true.

 

The reason why i think that is so important is because most people don't really know what they want, or they think they want one thing but really it is another, for example many people get into Qigong saying they want enlightenment, but what they really want is power. Many people say they want enlightenment but when you ask what enlightenment is they can't answer. Personally it has taken me about 10 years to get clarity about what I am really looking for, if I had worked on clarity at the beginning it could have saved a lot of time.

Edited by Jetsun
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A really simple place to start is standing poses. Zhan zhuang. Even if you aren't good at the whole body meditation part, you can still take care of training your body to get used to the form. Another interesting place to start is to constantly become familiar with the bodies energy centers, sending awareness hither and thither, to experiencee the terrain. See if you can find where awareness stems from. That's a good one.

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My general advice to newcomers to Daoism is to read as many translations of the Dao De Ching and the Chuang Tzu as possible and resolve any conflicts you experience during your readings.  Once you feel comfortable with the philosophy you can go in whatever direction you wish after that, or, like me, remain with only the philosophy.

 

Here is a good source for many translations of both:

 

http://terebess.hu/english/lexikon/l.html

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I agree, self-inquiry is a great place to start. In addition, i'd say trust your intuition. What practices jump out at you and give you that strong internal nod that says "go do that!" ? 

 

Find those practices that light you up and jump on them like a horny chiwawa. 

Edited by OldChi
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Hi Butterydime,

 

I think "where to start" depends somewhat on how you¬īd like to go about your learning. ¬†You mentioned books. ¬†That¬īs one way, perhaps the most accesible right off the bat. ¬†Another possibility is videos. ¬†Of course the best learning happens in-person with a teacher. ¬†Depending on where you live there might be ongoing classes you could look into...tai chi, chi gung, meditation, etc. ¬†Then you¬īd have the advantage of the group environment and hopefully someone knowledgeable to guide you personally.

 

Are you in a position to be able to jump on a plane and take a workshop? ¬†This is obviously a bigger commitment of time and money but would expand your options greatly. ¬†Possibilities include vipassana retreats, SunDo, learning the stillnesss-movement system, springforest, and many others. ¬†In many cases, there¬īs the possibility of learning first from a DVD, and then following up with a workshop or retreat if your interest is piqued.

 

Liminal

Edited by liminal_luke
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Depends what kind of path you're interested in. I don't have much to say on the qi side of things (though Daoist Nei Gong by Damo Mitchell is a good read IMHO). Now, you say you want to become enlightened - people mean different things by that. 

 

If what you mean by 'enlightened' is the sort of thing Buddhism is about, then IMHO one of the most useful books you could read is MCTB by Daniel Ingram. It explains things far more clearly than basically anything else. :)

 

Also the classic meditation method for people to start with is mindfulness of breathing - a great starting guide is here. Try it out - you'll get more clarity which you can bring to anything else you want to do. Whatever path you end up following, more stability, focus and calm won't exactly hold you back.

Edited by Seeker of Wisdom
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It's a start by simply browsing the forum and seeing what people have discussed over the years. The search box is great. It might take a while until you get acquainted with the scope of the spiritual marketplace.

Once you have an idea of what's out there, then you can consider what you're looking to get out of this stuff. Health? Peace? Esoteric knowledge? Insight or greater intuition? Immortality? Resolving problems you have in life?

Once you know what your goal is, you can "begin with the end in mind". If you want health and well being, you can choose those schools of thought which are more geared toward that. Then you try them out, and see if they work over a period of at least like 5 years. Not everything that says it's good for you, is.

In the meantime, I think it's best to contemplate what the word "cultivation" means. It might be the case that many people spend decades using the word to refer to all of this stuff at the forum, but don't really grasp what it means. Cultivation has to do with what we focus on in our lives...what we surround ourselves with...who we want to become, and taking action toward that. So, cleaning your room and placing things around in a pleasing way, is cultivation...you're cultivating a pleasant environment.

We are each individual, and have individual needs in our practice. So it's best to start off on the right foot - knowing yourself. What you like, what you dislike. Understanding what cultivation is. Then cultivate what you like in your life. Your path of cultivation will lead you to your destiny, and you'll be better off than having done some routine which wasn't even beneficial to you. So, just follow what seems good, and try your best. Learn. Welcome!

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it would be nice if you let us all know where you are on this planet and then we could probably be quite specific but with that said:

 

It can be pretty difficult to clarify "exactly what you want" in something that is quite elusive at first and somewhat fantastical.

 

I suggest you begin by beginning a relationship with your body along the lines of Yoga or Qi Gong.

 

Virtually every YMCA has a yoga class that costs peanuts - but better yet - seek out a meditation class that offers yoga or check with the yoga instructor to see if they include a good dose of meditation instruction. In this setting you will learn both meditation and the postures will help to incorporate you with your bodies energies and enormous capabilities.

 

I would not begin with four or five different endeavors. The candy store approach is a much longer road though it appears to be the most prudent - the idea that tasting five or ten different things is better than making a big mistake or not finding what is most comfortable for you (hogwash).

 

You will not make a big mistake starting with meditation nor will you make a big mistake starting with well known Qi Gong practices.

Our "local" Qi Gong teacher Ya Mu seems to be of a very high quality - his posts and the quality of his students bare this out. And he offers a good depth even including working with healing horses.

 

Very little reading is necessary and often it is so programming as to throw you a considerable curveball (however - I devoured everything I could get my hands on in the 70's when I began but the quality was nothing like it is now - it was pretty bad and fairly thin).

 

Reading Pantanjali and The Autobiography of a Yogi could not possibly be a bad start.

 

Do listen to yourself - and know that most paths take a good five years to become a good beginner. Of course like all of us - at five years into it you will think you have most of the answers - and you will because you already do - but when one is full of oneself the answers are spelled out too close in front of us to read what the words say. Try not to come to conclusions and just be with an ever emerging practice.

 

An ever emerging practice is an ever emerging beingness within this all and everything.

 

Your journey is not to find a religion - morality and encagement - you wish to unfold with some basic tools the great treasures you already possess.

 

In cooking you only need several main ingredients: good water

Meditation will bring to you good water.

Salt

A good teaching is salt for your inclinations - but too many teachers and the taste turns.

Meat

Everyday the whole universe brings you meat - it is the daily bead of experience - choose to be in fine vibration and not indulge in vulgar - no need for a loud harsh soup.

Edited by Spotless
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Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I am located in Oxford, Mississippi. not too much going on here...truly doubt I can find classes.

 

At the moment I can't really jump on a plane and leave - poor college student. But hopefully over the summer I can start my journey! 
 

If anyone is in the area MS, TN, AR, GA, AL, LA and know a class to point me in the right direction that would be great. I will probably save up to go out to Cali though, since from reading a lot about y'all most are out west. 

 

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If you could make it out to Springfield, Mississippi that¬īs where YaMu, the teacher of the stillness-movement system, is located. ¬†Amazing energetic development and spiritual understanding just 369 miles and thousands of practice hours away! ¬†Roadtrip anyone? ¬† Not that I have personal experience (see Brian¬īs posts for that, among others), but if I were just starting this is the direction I¬īd go in.

 

There are dvd¬īs you could order now and practice from on your own while you check out if it¬īs your thing.

 

Liminal 

Edited by liminal_luke
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definitely a good idea to try and get in front of a teacher etc BEFORE reading lots of books etc on the topics. a lot of the time literature conditions us with lots of preconceived ideas/views. directly experiencing energy in its various forms or having a transmission is the ticket to start freeing yourself, especially as a western cultured person. you can get all the context afterward and it will make that much more sense. a lot of people seem to get lost in the world of views and it can easily feed into delusions if you're not careful.

 

here's a practical recommendation that requires no additional understanding or technique, was personally very helpful in feeling some energy early on. buy a box of Dragon Herbs Spring Dragon Tea (Gynostemma leaf based) and start drinking it daily, see if there any energetic differences you can notice after drinking it, immediately or cumulatively. it's a nervous system modulator and effects all three 'treasures' (jing-qi-shen) so may be very noticable indeed, in a good way.

 

http://uk.iherb.com/Dragon-Herbs-Spring-Dragon-Longevity-Tea-Caffeine-Free-20-Tea-Bags-1-8-oz-50-g/21483

 

having said that, sounds like you are well up for seeking out this stuff! which is awesome, good luck :D

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The best thing you can do at the beginning is to be clear about the difference between things and what exactly you want to achieve.

 

I want to make this as easy for as many people as possible, so I'll give a brief summary that I wish I had when I was starting out.

 

Arts associated with Daoism and what they do:

 

Religious aspects:

Daoism is a religion, although religion may not be the perfect word to describe it, so far in English it is the best we have.

The religious aspect of Daoism is very important to consider when you are going ahead, even just because so much of the terminology of Daoism comes from religious practice.  If you don't want to subscribe to religious ideology, you don't have to, even my own teacher chose early on not to follow religious teachings, instead preferring to cultivate himself in the principles of Daoism and master Neidan, as well as the aspects of the Daoist canon related to self cultivation.

Whether you believe in the religious side of Daoism or not is your choice, but if you want to master the Daoist arts, you have to at least have an understanding of what makes the religion work.

 

Philosophical aspects:

Daoism is deeply attached to the Chinese world view, and the philosophical ideas of ancient China.  Daoist philosophy is very different from western philosophy in one specific way, that is that it is based on practice.   Even just by reading Laozi in a careful and contextual way, you can already see the basics of Daoist practice laid out before your eyes.  Keep this in mind when you read old classical documents.  Look for the meanings hidden in the words.

 

Practical aspects:

This is a huge part of Daoism and where people tend to get the most confused.

Daoist practice is very vast but all conforms to the central principles of Dao and De.

Some of the many practices involved in Daoism are:

meditation: meditation has three major methods which are,

Zuo Wang (sitting and forgetting), Cun Xiang (visualization), and Nei Dan (internal elixir cultivation).  Zuo Wang is the easiest practice, but does require instruction, since much of its method is related to breathing correctly.   Cun Xiang is the most difficult to understand technique in Daoism, and also yields results which are less good than Zuo Wang and Nei Dan.  If you don't have a really masterful teacher, don't even bother with visualization practices, you will just hurt yourself.

Nei Dan is the best meditation method in Daoism, but again, requires a skillful and patient teacher, as well as lots of work on your part.

 

Daoism also has other arts such as (but not limited to):

face reading, palm reading, Qi gong, martial arts (a relatively recent, but very important addition to Daoism), painting, calligraphy, and some Daoist schools even claim to have tea ceremony arts, although in my opinion this is mainly an advertising technique and not actually historically connected to Daoism in any deep way.   To put it bluntly, most of the Daoist arts, even things like Feng Shui, are practiced at a very low level even in China, and the chance that you will find a truly great Daoist arts teacher is less than being able to find a good meditation teacher, so be aware of this.  Things like face reading, although they are very practical, almost always tend to get caught up in superstition and fortune telling. If you want to do well in your journey in Daoism, I would suggest staying away from people who claim to be able to predict destiny, at least until you have a general understanding of what Daoism is and isn't.

 

Daoist literature:

This is an extremely important aspect of Daoism, if not the most important.  If you want to learn the thing well, you should learn to read classical Chinese.  This is not as easy as going to a community college, or even a university sinology program.  Daoism is full of coded language, and if you don't have a teacher to help you study this, it is almost impossible to learn.  Anyone can get the basic benefit of Daoist practice just by learning to breathe well, but to really get the art deeply in your bones and get the full benefit, you will have a big challenge ahead of you.  If you want it, and you want to really deeply understand the thing, don't waste time, start learning Chinese now, and work hard to find a teacher who knows not only how to read and interpret the classics, but also how to teach you to do the same.

 

Although all of these things are part of Daoism, they should be approached one by one.

Most Americans and Europeans prefer to start out by learning Qi gong and the internal martial arts, which are a wonderful way to get a taste of what the Daoist arts do.  You should be careful to approach these things with the knowledge that they are not the complete package and that their relationship to Daoism is mainly theoretical rather than historical (although it can be argued that Qi gong practice comes from earlier Cun Xiang methods).  The best situation is that you find a teacher who understands Daoist theory and can teach you martial arts from a Daoist perspective.   If you have time to travel to see a teacher, I would recommend Yang Hai in Montreal.   He not only studied martial arts, qi gong, and Chinese medicine, but also studied directly with Cao Zhenyang and the white cloud temple, as well as with masters in Sanfeng pai Daoism, and many other schools.  I have been learning with him for years, and although I can't guarantee that he will agree to teach you everything right away, he is a wonderful and caring teacher who can share the benefit he has gleaned from many years of correct practice.   There are a few other teachers like this in North America too, so keep your eyes and ears open and maybe you will find one in your area.

 

I would strongly advise that you avoid teachers in lineages which make big claims about what you will achieve through practice. Most of these claims are hocus pocus.  At the risk of sounding angry and glib all at the same time, most of the teachers who teach "Daoist energetic practices," (read between the lines), are bullshitting and have virtually no achievement in Daoism.  It would be much more practical to learn something like Peter Ralston's Cheng Hsin, which is his own amalgamated and very powerful meditation art, than to waste your efforts on a half baked so called lineage disciple of such and such fake master in Taiwan, Thailand, or whatever other funny place.

one of the biggest problems with Daoist practice, be it in the west or China is that 90% of it is bogus, so you really need to spend time developing a good eye and looking out for bad characters in the meditation world.

 

Remember that you need to be clear about your goals too, and so you need to know if what you want to do is simply to improve your health and learn something new and enjoyable, or to become a spiritually realized individual and break the shell of mortality.   Most of us just want improved health and a better life, but I do respect that there are a few people who are absolutely driven to cast away the mortal shell and become saints, so I won't discount the possibility that you are one of them.

Depending how far you want to go, you will have to plan and act accordingly.

 

Chen Yingning said that in the first year of meditation, it is fine just to practice randomly when you have time, but every year you should be adding more and more time.  If you really want to reach the climax of the art, not only will you have to have the right technique, you also have to practice a lot.

For most of us, especially those of us with families, this may not be realistic, so make sure you understand your own life and what you need before you take practice up in a serious way.

 

I hope this post helped, and if you find yourself needing advice about how to go ahead, please feel free to contact me, or ask here.  There are many kind people here and some of them have very high levels of achievement, so I think you can find much good on this site just by asking the right questions.  :) :)

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Ah wow thanks sillybearhappyhoneyeater - love your user name by the way. Your response is exactly what I was looking for. I will get right on your suggestions. I already know Japanese and basic Chinese so hopefully it wont be too difficult.

 

Liminal_luke - he is located in MISSOURI not MISSISSIPPI lol I found the thread....but thank you though!

 

I have been meditating and trying to figure out things by asking myself questions as others have stated and a few things have happened. Met a guy that offered me a job and has exactly everything I want in life. I usually have things of this nature happen though...I ask for something and things will change so it maybe but the weird thing was. I was trying to do walking meditation...i'm not very good and asking what is it I really want. I did this in the sun. Then sat down and felt kind of stuck to the ground. It was hard to move on feet. I tried not to panic. I did this for two days. Yesterday my forehead kept hurting the place where people say the third eye is. It hurt very badly. It started off as just pressure but then changed. I know a lil energy work so I got it to stop for about 5 min then it continued. I had to sit in the dark for awhile. It's starting back this morning....has this happened to anyone? Do you have any suggestions?

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Do you have any suggestions?

All I can suggest is temporarily avoid, as much as possible, those conditions that cause you negative energy.  Once you feel balanced and back in harmony with your surroundings you can slowly test those conditions again, but slowly so to not bring back the negative energies.

 

Of course, you could just be thinking too much.  That too will mess up our mind.

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