Khamasie

Clear differences between fire and water path

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Hi All,

As I am about to start practicing the Kunlun system it says something like:
```Do not combine these practices with Fire path practices, as this system is water path. Fire and water path do not mix very well together.```

 

Then it goes on and explains that the micro cosmic orbit might be a fire derivation or water depending on the direction and start of the practice.

 

What are the clear differences to recognize if a practice belongs to a fire or water path?

 

So looking at the practices I mostly do, which are water which are fire? And would some of these be "incapable" with each other?

I am practicing some of Bruce Frantzis, some of Andrew Nugenthead, and even mixing in some asanas and pranayama. And So-Ham meditation. Lastly, rarely practicing but sometimes: Reiki.

 

Bruce Frantzis practices are 'Dragon and Tiger medical qiqong'.

Andrew Nugenthead practices are '8 sensitivities' (manifesting the 8 movements of qi inside the body, in particular order, so to get familiar with these as an acupuncturist practicioner).

Asanas, mostly the Rhishikesh serie.

Pranayama, Nadi Shodhana & Kapalabhati.

So-Ham meditation, ...

Reiki, starts with a visualization meditation to ground with the Earth energies and after the Cosmic energies. After it would be 'letting go' and flowing the energy.

 

Also, mostly while doing qi qong I am mostly ending with some spinal breathing, and /or micro cosmic orbit, and guiding qi to the lower dantian.

 

I am not a very dedicated practioner, but I've not really noticed any of the combinations being incompatible with each other, and so far I like the change - switching techniques. Also, I do feel some channels are opening up which I inherently though to be a sign of having gathered a good rhythm in practice.

For example I might combine 'Dragon and Tiger medical qiqong' with '8 sensitivities' and spinal breathing.

Or, '8 sensitivies' plus spinal breathing and finishing with So-Ham.

I mostly do keep the yoga practices separated from the qiqong as here I did feel keeping them separate helped steady the mind in a certain field. I do notice that yoga practices and the qiqong practices bring about a different state to blossom. But since I couldn't decide with what to go I just not decided and kept on practicing both.

 

Thanks!

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Strictly speaking, the "fire and water" paths are modern inventions and not in traditional practice. 

 

However, given the eclectic nature of what is available in the west, the simplest wisdom is to find a teacher you like and stick with them and their system, because even traditional practice happened in a dedicated manner rather than mixing and matching.

 

You could not sleep in several beds at once in five different temples, in a manner of speaking. 

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I think that mainly the warning (at least as per BKF's material) is to not mix systems that sink the energies first with those that raise the energies. The 'water methods' are focused on the downward flow of energy while the 'fire methods' work on upward flow of energy. 

 

I think certain preparatory practices such as anuloma-viloma (also called nādi shodhan or alternate nostril breathing), kapalabhati as well as asana practice won't really interfere with a beginner's "water" practices.  None of what you mentioned are inherently dangerous or what I would consider "Fire method". They are preparatory/cleansing methods to help clear out junk from your meridians and central nervous system. I would infact say that you should practice them everyday, just pick a time of day (preferably morning) when you do these and then give a few hours gap before your other "water" systems. 

 

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37 minutes ago, Khamasie said:

Hi All,

As I am about to start practicing the Kunlun system it says something like:
```Do not combine these practices with Fire path practices, as this system is water path. Fire and water path do not mix very well together.```

 

Then it goes on and explains that the micro cosmic orbit might be a fire derivation or water depending on the direction and start of the practice.

 

What are the clear differences to recognize if a practice belongs to a fire or water path?

 

So looking at the practices I mostly do, which are water which are fire? And would some of these be "incapable" with each other?

I am practicing some of Bruce Frantzis, some of Andrew Nugenthead, and even mixing in some asanas and pranayama. And So-Ham meditation. Lastly, rarely practicing but sometimes: Reiki.

 

Bruce Frantzis practices are 'Dragon and Tiger medical qiqong'.

Andrew Nugenthead practices are '8 sensitivities' (manifesting the 8 movements of qi inside the body, in particular order, so to get familiar with these as an acupuncturist practicioner).

Asanas, mostly the Rhishikesh serie.

Pranayama, Nadi Shodhana & Kapalabhati.

So-Ham meditation, ...

Reiki, starts with a visualization meditation to ground with the Earth energies and after the Cosmic energies. After it would be 'letting go' and flowing the energy.

 

Also, mostly while doing qi qong I am mostly ending with some spinal breathing, and /or micro cosmic orbit, and guiding qi to the lower dantian.

 

I am not a very dedicated practioner, but I've not really noticed any of the combinations being incompatible with each other, and so far I like the change - switching techniques. Also, I do feel some channels are opening up which I inherently though to be a sign of having gathered a good rhythm in practice.

For example I might combine 'Dragon and Tiger medical qiqong' with '8 sensitivities' and spinal breathing.

Or, '8 sensitivies' plus spinal breathing and finishing with So-Ham.

I mostly do keep the yoga practices separated from the qiqong as here I did feel keeping them separate helped steady the mind in a certain field. I do notice that yoga practices and the qiqong practices bring about a different state to blossom. But since I couldn't decide with what to go I just not decided and kept on practicing both.

 

Thanks!

 

When you say Kunlun, are you referring to Max Christensen's stuff?

 

FWIW, my own feeling is that mixing too many practices and paradigms robs us of the opportunity to experience the deeper benefits of any of them. It's not just about water and fire which, in my experience, are not nearly as different or separate as some seem to perceive. The two are alway present and inseparable in my actual experience of practice.

 

Internal practices, as a rule, only bear fruit when one really engages deeply and consistently over a long period of time. It's not about how much we know, it's more about how deep we go. These practices are not so important in and of themselves, they are simply a support to exploring ourselves and ultimately encountering a far more subtle and pervasive sense of self and its relationship to other.

 

Just some ideas to think about from someone who has dabbled in a few different areas and has found that settling into one and sticking with it was the only meaningful way forward....  for me. At the end of the day, I can only really speak for myself.

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Yeah - as @Earl Grey mentioned - fire and water path are modern oversimplifications.

 

And as @steve mentioned you're mixing a bit too much together. If you're wishing to give Kunlun a try I'd suggest doing it without mixing in any of your other practices for at least 3 months.

 

Mixing yogic practices in with Daoist practices is something I personally would certainly avoid - even after this trial period.

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@Earl Grey, interesting. I keep this in mind as I continue. Thanks.

 

@dwai, interesting. If you would create bins that would be used for "this is pre-dominantly water, this is fire" what would be the categorizations on in your opinion? And great, I thought the same at least about the asanas. But nice to see you would say the pranayamas would also not interfere with this. Although, after reading all of the above, I'll just try to just stick with Max's system for 3 months as recommended.

 

@steve , yes Christensen. I would agree with mixing too much robs us of the deeper experience. "Jack of all trades...". But after having a set back I wanted to taste more and explore some horizons before committing to a system again. Not sure when, but it would be soon. Thanks.

@freeform, @Earl Grey I would certainly agree. Yogic and Daoist practices seem to bring about something very different. At least to me (now, in the beginning). Though trailing on this would me get pondering on the effect of the mind. Interesting enough the first practices of Max's Kunlun got me into a state that yoga (& Reiki) had brought me when I was not practicing any Daoist practices. But I kind of feel that has more to do with the mind as the practice itself. Apart from the practice, my mind is engaging into similar behavior and patterns as I am starting this practice as it was, back then, when I was doing just yoga. So, instead of trailing off too much, but using this, how much would you say the scene/atmosphere of the tradition and anticipation (readiness to go beyond what you experience with just being ready for whatever comes) by yourself, would leap the differences in practice? As, if there are differences in practice, the mind, how it goes about practicing, seems to have a strong effect on the 'result' of the practice. Would the mind not erase any differences in practice on the 'final call'? And thereby, before the 'final call', already create a different state as it experiences these practices as different (different traditions, different culture with different past and future, different intent of picking a certain practice, etc)?

 

Thanks all, and yes I know better commit to one system, I've read some other threads here and I agree, and I will take that advice (eventually). But I don't feel it is this time yet - just not ready to marry a system as I've not come across something which is alive, sincere, and around in the neighborhood. Because when committing, and diving deeper, I do not feel like doing this alone. Although it might turn out that, eventually, going alone will be the case as there is not much that I feel to resonate with around here.

 

But, I kind of am interested in knowing what people would see as clear water and clear fire paths. Still am. So, from the above the main conclusion e.g. starting with @Earl Grey it is mostly all the same? Would that be correct? And it is just that a system is a system is a system. And you should follow the recipe instead of mixing ingredients? And, as @dwai says, it has to do with energy directed upwards or downwards (which makes sense interpreting the labels)?

 

Thanks all, great responses.

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Here’s my experience: even within qigong systems alone, you can’t say it’s all water. For example, fragrant qigong can’t be practiced with any system that involves abstract breathing or meditation and visualization. Or, a form leading to spontaneous movement like spontaneous five animals can’t be practiced with a form for stillness like relaxation or sleeping qigong.

 

 I practice several systems but had to get clearance from my teachers to make sure they were compatible, and I still didn’t add systems until I had developed a lot of depth within a system first before adding. Specifically I do the systems of Terry Dunn, who himself mixes systems from his teachers who knew each other personally, and the systems of John Dolic who gave guidelines about which of his can mix and which can’t.

 

My martial systems all can mix comfortably though.

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18 hours ago, Khamasie said:

 

What are the clear differences to recognize if a practice belongs to a fire or water path?

BKF, who popularized this terminology, states that the water method is based on relaxation and letting go, and in practice the downward flow comes first. 

 

Fire methods use more force, pushing limits, develop powers and so on. 

 

As this model relates to Nei Dan, the water approach is based on the dissolving method, while a typical fire approach would be the Nei Dan method Damo Mitchell's book White moon on the mountain peak goes in to. 

 

And other teachers disagree strongly with BKF's model, since it is created to market his school. 

 

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1 hour ago, Khamasie said:

As, if there are differences in practice, the mind, how it goes about practicing, seems to have a strong effect on the 'result' of the practice.

 

When you get into a system and go deep, your body and mind start to resonate at the frequency of that system. In effect your body-mind tunes into the radio frequency broadcast by that system. And if you start trying to tune into several broadcasts at the same time, you'll get a scrambled broadcast. You're giving your body and mind mixed messages - and you're likely to get mixed results...

 

Sometimes we think that a mixed result is surely better than no result... but would you eat a meal of French cheesecake mixed in with a spicy Thai curry? Sometimes no meal is better than that kind of meal.

 

35 minutes ago, Cleansox said:

As this model relates to Nei Dan

 

You're right that BKF invented this differentiation as a marketable slogan.

 

But I don't think this is to do with Nei Dan. By its very nature, Nei Dan is both fire and water - otherwise, 50% of it is missing.

 

I think the distinction is more at the 'neigong' level... any contrived breathing, breath-holding, visualising, anything with strong focus or attempting to direct anything in any direction with your intention could be termed 'fire path'... 'water path' stuff would be more like letting go, releasing - non-contrived action - no forcing, pushing, directing, locking, holding, tensing etc...

 

In reality much of what's termed 'fire path' isn't suitable anyway... but much of what's called 'water path' is also lacking in nuance... although Song (release) is a major aspect of all Daoist training it's not just 'water' in the sense that it's not simple floppy relaxation... it's in fact 'water and fire' in the sense that it's releasing into an expansion, into a kind of vital, springy stability.

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56 minutes ago, freeform said:

 

You're right that BKF invented this differentiation as a marketable slogan.

 

But I don't think this is to do with Nei Dan. By its very nature, Nei Dan is both fire and water - otherwise, 50% of it is missing.

I more or less quoted BKF there (had his books in front of me) but I do not think that his version of Nei Dan is similar to the Zhong-Lu tradition as transmitted by Zhang Boduan. 

 

As you say, the Kan/Li aspect contains both, as do the Ming/Xing if seen in a larger perspective. 

 

If BKF's Nei Dan = his I Ching meditation, it is a bit BTDT, at least for me 😁. 

 

Water and Fire, like so many other terms (Dragon and Tiger comes to mind) means so many different things depending on context, so it might be difficult to pin the meaning down. 

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8 minutes ago, Cleansox said:

If BKF's Nei Dan = his I Ching meditation, it is a bit BTDT, at least for me 😁. 


In all honesty I find both BKF and his system pretty awful.
 

But that’s just me :) 

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1 hour ago, freeform said:


In all honesty I find both BKF and his system pretty awful.
 

But that’s just me :) 

 

No, that's not true--I totally agree with you too! So us two!

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8 minutes ago, Khamasie said:

BKF is? Bruce (Kumar) Frantzis?

 

Yes. And he is also an unpleasant human being, which makes his teachings harder to justify following. 

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@Earl Grey, ah. I just practice like 6 of his 7 movements of 'Dragon & Tiger medical'. Which needed it a bit of tweaking to get it work well, but I do like it as a warming up. Thought it was quite difficult tbh to get it right, it listens very narrowly.

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9 minutes ago, Khamasie said:

@Earl Grey, ah. I just practice like 6 of his 7 movements of 'Dragon & Tiger medical'. Which needed it a bit of tweaking to get it work well, but I do like it as a warming up. Thought it was quite difficult tbh to get it right, it listens very narrowly.

 

Nothing stopping you from practicing his systems. The opinion I have--which happens to come from people who trained under him or fought him, and have also technical expertise to see what's wrong in his martial and healing systems as well--just happens to make me disinclined to recommend him, though there are people here who enjoy him, and nothing is stopping them from doing it even if there are better practices and teachers out there. 

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I am mainly a Buddhist practitioner, but BKF set up in my town last year. After some internal debate, I decided to give it a shot. I don't know about martial ability, but as far as healing goes, I have a number of medically diagnosed/treated ailments that have been resolved, including a spinal disk issue. So I will say YMMV. 

 

His personality certainly is "prickly." 

 

1 hour ago, Khamasie said:

@Earl Grey, ah. I just practice like 6 of his 7 movements of 'Dragon & Tiger medical'. Which needed it a bit of tweaking to get it work well, but I do like it as a warming up. Thought it was quite difficult tbh to get it right, it listens very narrowly.

 

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8 hours ago, Khamasie said:

@dwai, interesting. If you would create bins that would be used for "this is pre-dominantly water, this is fire" what would be the categorizations on in your opinion? And great, I thought the same at least about the asanas. But nice to see you would say the pranayamas would also not interfere with this. Although, after reading all of the above, I'll just try to just stick with Max's system for 3 months as recommended

Like many others here, I don’t subscribe to the schism of “fire vs water”. I think a good system will have both. 

 

If we are to consider the “human” system in context of all of nature, there is a constant flow in nature through this human system. The human is part of the ecosystem, not a standalone entity, and energies will flow downward, upward, sideways, inside, outside etc etc. :) 

 

In my experience, everything is an interconnected web of awareness (and energy), or like an ocean where “individuals” are like waves. 
 

I practiced Tamil Siddhar yoga (a hardcore tantric tradition) for a few years along with my taijiquan/Daoist meditation practice, which I was already 8-10 years into it at that point. It only helped me refine myself further, not affect me in a negative way.

 

That might not be for everyone, but we have to go with our instinct (once we develop it). I also stopped the yoga practice after a point as I found that I didn’t need it any longer (it’s purpose was served, for me specifically). 
 

As suggested by others,  never undertake esoteric practices without a good teacher. 
 

While it is true that I practice multiple systems, they are complementary. In general, I consider body-mind systems as preparatory stages for Self-realization. They help purify the mind and settle it, so it becomes transparent. 
 

Self realization is a completely different matter though, and involves knowledge, and what we intuit via the body-mind practices then has to be made a live and direct realization.  

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

There are several distinctions that can be made that get subsumed into "water and fire methods", this is why this category is an oversimplification. 

 

1. Methods that use visualization, extreme postures, and deliberate breath retention vs. those that don't

2. Methods that start at the jing/lower dantian level and work up vs. methods such as Tibetan Buddhism and Kunlun that start at the shen and/or upper dantian level and work down

3. Among alchemical methods specifically, those that emphasize creating extreme heat and pressure in the lower dantian and moving it through the channels that are known to be potentially very dangerous, vs. those that have little or no emphasis on potentially dangerous heat and pressure in the LDT. 

 

BKF talks about 1 and 3, and gives the impression that they always go together, which is not at all the case.  Kunlun Max seems to be the one that applied the fire and water terminology to 2.

 

A path can be any combination of these three.  For instance, in Tibetan Buddhism, as I mentioned considered as a whole it is very top down, yet some branches use a lot of visualization and others don't, and some emphasize, at a certain stage, creating very powerful heat and pressure in the lower abdomen and then moving it around, whereas other branches don't do this so much. 

 

That said, just to be contrary :lol: even though I don't pay any attention to the fire and water method stuff anymore, I really like some of BKFs qigong sets and recommend them sometimes as an entry point to the internal arts. 

Edited by Creation
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