Asher Topaz

Two paths to cultivation. Consciousness path(dhyana-samadhi) and esoteric path(energy,qi channels)

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I am a beginner who has been reading lots of books trying to create a scheduled practice. I have looked at Buddhism, Taoism, 8 limbs of yoga, kundalini yoga and more techniques. It seems they all start with creating an energy body by purifying qi channels. And each body is accompanied by a mental state called dhyana/samadhi. Like how monkey mind comes with our physical body. I believe cultivation has two paths. Either u cultivate dhyana by directly manipulating QI channels as they do in esoteric schools like taoism, tibettan buddhism or kundalini yoga or u manipulate consciousness like Buddha who achieved all 8 dhyana before enlightenment.

 

Like taoist have Jing -Qi-Shen-emptiness-tao. Which starts with embryonic breathing then microcosmic circulation then macrocosmic circulation. Then brain marrow washing. 

Embryonic breathing is like pranayama in yoga. They aim towards achieving breath cessation where d breath stops. That's what pranayama actually means. All the different types of pranayama the main goal is balancing the Ida and pingala so the kundalini can rise through the sushumna channel in the spine. In taoism as u practice embryonic breathing at some point ur breath slows down and the Dan tien and qi point starts breathing. The wind qi then ignites  yang chi to rise through the tu mai and start the microcosmic circulation. No different from kundalini yoga. The bliss in dhyana is the kundalini circulating and purifying our qi channels turning jing to qi.

 

In Buddhism specifically those that practice dhyana all this things happen automatically then u enter first dhyana. First and second dhyana jing turns to qi, by third dhyana qi starts turning to Shen which is why u no longer feel raw bliss from jing turning to qi. And 4th dhyana is shen to emptiness which is equanimity and one pointedness.. And emptiness has levels. In Buddhism we have infinite space, consciousness, nothingness and neither perception no perception.

 

Each dhyana comes with an immortal body. In taoism the first and second dhyana is earth immortal then third dhyana is spirit immortal then fourth dhyana is celestial immortal. In buddhism this are called deva bodies Which is why dhyana samadhi can gives powers just like energy cultivators.

 

The powers are a result of our subtle bodies made up of higher realm energy interacting with our lower realm. Which we see in true internal martial arts that can channel the power of their qi body through thier physical body. So siddhis in patanjali sutra and visuddhimagga.hence why they require u get to the 4th dhyana to cultivate powers.

 

So if u look closely all spiritual practices from internal martial arts to yoga asanas to pranayama and qi gong to neigong to Nyasa yoga and chakra visualization to tummo and kundalini yoga or vjaryana or Tibetan Buddhism it tantara or sexual cultivation and so many others are tools to open qi channels and purify the qi and achieve samadhi and build qi bodies or deva bodies. To ignite the kundalini and purify the body. However it seems people took the energy occurences as you cultivate samadhi and turned them into goals in themselves. Like pranayama khumbakka which is embryonic breathing from when breath slows down in dhyana to kundalini rising through the spine and opening chakras as u climb dhyana stages. To micro cosmic circulation which is the first 2 dhyana to macrocosmic which us the last two dhyana or bliss in sexual cultivation which happens in dhyana. 

 

So there are two paths to cultivating subtle bodies. The esoteric path of qi manipulation or consciousness path of dhyana-samadhi. My practise is dhyana cultivation using anapana,skeleton visualization and later elemental kasinas I shy away from esoteric practices as it can be dangerous without a true teacher. What do u guys think?

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I’m with you! That was a profound comparative study I’d say. Personally especially in my early years Ego would grasp at anything exotic, exalted, transcendent, somatic, etc. this led me reluctantly away from concentration/energy practices as even if I managed to do them safely and correctly they might be more detrimental than beneficial. I think following the Eightfold Path with a skillful path/practice to self awareness and having a good mirror are all we need to make profound progress. If one desires to either progress faster than that, or to indulge in exalted states of consciousness probably has wrong intention. I hope this is reaffirming and helpful.

-Elliot 

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On 28/02/2021 at 12:38 PM, Asher Topaz said:

My practise is dhyana cultivation using anapana,skeleton visualization and later elemental kasinas I shy away from esoteric practices as it can be dangerous without a true teacher. What do u guys think?


Actually the ‚Äėconsciousness‚Äô approach has its own methods of Qi cultivation. They just look very different and are in some ways even more ‚Äėesoteric‚Äô than Qi practices.

 

In Myanmar for instance they use external alchemy preparations to assist… In many Chan transitions there are empowerments from teachers, from relics and other weird and wonderful things (that are not spoken of in public). Similar in the various Theravada traditions.

 

The work on the energetic level is ‚Äėpreparation‚Äô for the consciousness level of practice. It‚Äôs creating some of the causes for the effect of consciousness transformation to take place of its own accord.

 

Can someone achieve the Jhannas with no Qi cultivation?
 

Yes probably… but that’s a one in hundred of billion chance … the ones that do, probably have many past lives of cultivation behind them and are born on the verge of enlightenment anyway. It’s usually immediately clear that they are no ordinary person from when they’re children… 

 

The majority of people I’ve met that think they’ve achieved Jhanna, sadly haven’t - but they’ll go ahead and teach others how to achieve it anyway.

 

This stuff is at the very edge of what we are capable of as humans. Its mostly beyond what most of us are capable of…

 

This fact is either inspiring for people - because it’s a kind of call to adventure, where we seek to discover if we can achieve the almost impossible - or it shatters us because we were so invested in the goal of liberation.

 

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50 minutes ago, freeform said:

Can someone achieve the Jhannas with no Qi cultivation?

 

This would be an excellent separate topic even! :)

 

The classical Mahayana Buddhist view implicitly posits that the condition of people and societies changes with time, so therefore the enlightened masters and aspiring Bodhisattvas reveal new practices to fit the contemporary needs. It's been remarked in some sources that during the more innocent times in the past people had much purer bodies and less emotional issues to begin with. This is one explanation why we don't have direct Jhanna cultivation these days and why even the stereotypically meditative Buddhist traditions (Theravada vipassana styles and Ch'an Buddhism) cultivate liberating insight as their means of attaining good Qi and stable mind foundation first before attempting to realize any type of Dhyana realms.

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1 minute ago, virtue said:

The classical Mahayana Buddhist view implicitly posits that the condition of people and societies changes with time, so therefore the enlightened masters and aspiring Bodhisattvas reveal new practices to fit the contemporary needs.


Yes - excellent point. That’s what I’ve been taught too… that the tantric approaches were designed for a different age than Buddha’s life.

 

And there has been another shift again recently… let’s see where that takes us as humanity - certainly starting out with a whole load of upheaval and division. But my understanding is that alchemical/tantric practice is even more appropriate for the age we’re moving into.

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2 hours ago, freeform said:


Actually the ‚Äėconsciousness‚Äô approach has its own methods of Qi cultivation. They just look very different and are in some ways even more ‚Äėesoteric‚Äô than Qi practices.

 

In Myanmar for instance they use external alchemy preparations to assist… In many Chan transitions there are empowerments from teachers, from relics and other weird and wonderful things (that are not spoken of in public). Similar in the various Theravada traditions.

 

The work on the energetic level is ‚Äėpreparation‚Äô for the consciousness level of practice. It‚Äôs creating some of the causes for the effect of consciousness transformation to take place of its own accord.

 

Can someone achieve the Jhannas with no Qi cultivation?
 

This stuff is at the very edge of what we are capable of as humans. Its mostly beyond what most of us are capable of…

 

This fact is either inspiring for people - because it’s a kind of call to adventure, where we seek to discover if we can achieve the almost impossible - or it shatters us because we were so invested in the goal of liberation.

 

When I literally just got on the spiritual path I went to a few 10 day retreats at a monastery in upstate NY. There I met an ex-Theravada monk (who was attending a retreat) who was now studying at Princeton to become a psychotherapist. He spent 7 years as a monk in Germany and after having to leave his sangha after the teacher was found to have been abusing students… he headed for (solitary?) practice in Burma (Myanmar) to go all in on pursuing the jhanas. He couldn’t relate to the Burmese culture, probably went in over his head chasing the jhanas and (Unfortunately?) it thoroughly broke him, he disrobed, it broke him more, it was quite a vicious cycle from what he described. He was a wonderful person, helped inspire faith in me in the belief of past and future lives, karma, and transcendent states of being. I think when I spoke to him 8 years ago the highest state he had ever claimed to realize was “access concentration “. And he was in a tradition where all they did was meditation with little to no other activities (if memory serves me right). As I’m sure you know, it’s not for the faint of heart.

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6 hours ago, TranquilTurmoil said:

He spent 7 years as a monk in Germany and after having to leave his sangha after the teacher was found to have been abusing students…


This is so common in the west (in the east too, but rarely within genuine lineage-based traditions).

 

When people attempt to walk the spiritual path without dealing with their own issues, and without having genuine methods and teachers, it often leads to an even deeper state of ignorance.

 

Ive seen Chongyam trungpa being mentioned quite a bit recently - another example of a deeply deluded spiritual seeker… worse still these people go on to teach, which just creates a generation of lost seekers following deeply deluded ones.

 

Some spiritual progress is often a lot worse than none… because people mistake the charisma developed from this sort of progress as a sign that the person is pure and virtuous, whereas very often the exact opposite is the case.

 

6 hours ago, TranquilTurmoil said:

he headed for (solitary?) practice in Burma (Myanmar) to go all in on pursuing the jhanas. He couldn’t relate to the Burmese culture, probably went in over his head chasing the jhanas and (Unfortunately?) it thoroughly broke him

 

Yes, sadly I’ve seen this often in my travels. It’s a shame because I feel a real kinship with people that are able to dedicate so much of themselves to a pursuit. But then they end up with the wrong methods, corrupted teachings or making up their own paths.

 

When people go on extended trekking expeditions, they prepare themselves thoroughly, they train their bodies, understand everything about the route in minute detail, get all the right equipment, consult many different guides and experts to get everything just right… 

 

But when it comes to the spiritual path - which in reality is much more difficult, more perilous and requires far more preparation - they just decide to ‚Äėwing it‚Äô, or use their intuition, ‚Äėfollow their hearts‚Äô and succumb to magical thinking.

 

It either breaks you… sometimes you get lucky and find a genuine teacher or school… but just as often you become a deeply abusive caricature of a human being… The downsides are far worse than those from a problem on your trek - a broken leg, or a bit of gangrene… some would argue worse than a quick death even .

 

Yet we still continue with our magical make-believ ideas of what spiritual transformation really entails. 
 

I think it’s mostly the result of several generations of western teachers who took to teaching (or writing) at the worst part of the Dunning Kruger effect graph

 

1.-Dunning-Kruger.png
 

And so incompetence gets passed down the line…

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@freeform You gotta use the correct graph, without peak of mount Stupid, dunning Kruger graph is worthless :lol:

Also, Valley of Despair is the most critical part of self-development, it is when a human being truly realized that he was living in a delusion, and he is a total nobody. That is when the path starts. It is often called a rough awakening, or shattering of the world. 1200px-DunningE28093Kruger_Effect_01.svg

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On 28.02.2021 at 3:38 PM, Asher Topaz said:

The esoteric path of qi manipulation or consciousness path of dhyana-samadhi. My practise is dhyana cultivation using anapana,skeleton visualization and later elemental kasinas I shy away from esoteric practices as it can be dangerous without a true teacher. What do u guys think?


I don't think working with your Qi is esoteric, and working with your mind is non-esoteric.
Working with the mind is in fact more complex than working with Qi. I have met a lot of people quite advanced with energy, but only a very few advanced with their minds.
(You can simply take all people you know or see, and compare the number of those who can feel, create an energy ball with their hands with those who can see, and manipulate Qi with their mind. One is much more common, another is much rarer.)

The majority of Qi exercises are similar to going to Gym, while working with your mind might be an insanely complex and difficult task, like solving a math problem of the century, only a select few people in the world can do it to a high level.

There are only a few possible reasons why some schools would work with energy and avoid working with mind.

A. Knowledge is lost, and they have no methods of mind cultivation.
B. Some teachers understand that students are too dumb/low level for that work, and keep them away from it on purpose.
C. A student getting smarter than their teacher is another risk factor, as they won't need that teacher anymore, and the teacher will have to go on the streets begging for money. (It is much easier to manipulate people who do not have their own brain cells, and give them fixed instructions for 20-30-50 years in a row)

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I wanted to ask everyone in the replies. Do you guys accept that samatha(concentration) meditations like anapanasti can open the chi channels by purifying the mind up to the point of formless jhanas. Afterall all qi phenomenom is in the form realm as well as the form jhanas. Obviously its slower than taoist direct manipulation of qi but can it be sped up with qi gong, pranayama, yogaasanas and tai chi?

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6 hours ago, XianGong said:


I don't think working with your Qi is esoteric, and working with your mind is non-esoteric.
Working with the mind is in fact more complex than working with Qi. I have met a lot of people quite advanced with energy, but only a very few advanced with their minds.
(You can simply take all people you know or see, and compare the number of those who can feel, create an energy ball with their hands with those who can see, and manipulate Qi with their mind. One is much more common, another is much rarer.)

The majority of Qi exercises are similar to going to Gym, while working with your mind might be an insanely complex and difficult task, like solving a math problem of the century, only a select few people in the world can do it to a high level.

There are only a few possible reasons why some schools would work with energy and avoid working with mind.

A. Knowledge is lost, and they have no methods of mind cultivation.
B. Some teachers understand that students are too dumb/low level for that work, and keep them away from it on purpose.
C. A student getting smarter than their teacher is another risk factor, as they won't need that teacher anymore, and the teacher will have to go on the streets begging for money. (It is much easier to manipulate people who do not have their own brain cells, and give them fixed instructions for 20-30-50 years in a row)

The reason esoteric is used is that mind approach is very easy to understand and easy to access. Everybody even children know about concentration meditation on the breath and jhanas. Go on reddit meditation forums its very common. But information on energy manipulation found in taoism and tibetan buddhism or vajaranya are very rare. And even books that talk about it are hard to understand. I dont practice them but I like knowing how energy works in my body so I started reading Taoist yoga. And damn its hard to understand. So much details and steps in the process and so much mistakes can be made. Isnt the mind approach where all you do is  concentrate and maintain a tranquil mind as u climb the jhanas which purifies qi channels without having to go through all those steps better? Plus its less prone to mistakes like we see in kundalini accidents and qi deviation where amateurs read instructions online and try to follow it without a master. But anapana can be done without a master which I believe is y buddha liked it so much.

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On 7/18/2021 at 8:34 AM, freeform said:


Actually the ‚Äėconsciousness‚Äô approach has its own methods of Qi cultivation. They just look very different and are in some ways even more ‚Äėesoteric‚Äô than Qi practices.

 

In Myanmar for instance they use external alchemy preparations to assist… In many Chan transitions there are empowerments from teachers, from relics and other weird and wonderful things (that are not spoken of in public). Similar in the various Theravada traditions.

 

The work on the energetic level is ‚Äėpreparation‚Äô for the consciousness level of practice. It‚Äôs creating some of the causes for the effect of consciousness transformation to take place of its own accord.

 

Can someone achieve the Jhannas with no Qi cultivation?
 

Yes probably… but that’s a one in hundred of billion chance … the ones that do, probably have many past lives of cultivation behind them and are born on the verge of enlightenment anyway. It’s usually immediately clear that they are no ordinary person from when they’re children… 

 

The majority of people I’ve met that think they’ve achieved Jhanna, sadly haven’t - but they’ll go ahead and teach others how to achieve it anyway.

 

This stuff is at the very edge of what we are capable of as humans. Its mostly beyond what most of us are capable of…

 

This fact is either inspiring for people - because it’s a kind of call to adventure, where we seek to discover if we can achieve the almost impossible - or it shatters us because we were so invested in the goal of liberation.

 

But its been known that jhanas themselves open qi channels and purify essence from jing to qi to shen and emptiness by the fourth jhana. I know what most people call jhana is not jhana but soft versions of it. True jhana shuts down all 5 senses. And yes hard first jhana can take 3 years to get there. The second could take almost a decade. My guess is energy practices are faster right?

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42 minutes ago, Asher Topaz said:

And yes hard first jhana can take 3 years to get there.


It can… however I’ve met hundreds of monks whose whole existence is aimed at Jhanna practice - for decades, full time - and they’re not able to reach the first Jhanna.

 

If you can do it in 3 years then you‚Äôre either a ‚Äėstream enterer‚Äô from a past life or are exceptionally gifted both in terms of meditative ability and the life circumstances that afford you a genuine teacher willing to teach you and the ability to cultivate full time. A very rare occurrence‚Ķ

 

An 80-something yr old abbot in Burma told me he’s only seen one such person in all his life. (And he’s taught thousands of people)

 

Then again he’s had several disciples that have managed to achieve a few of the Jhannas by simple dedication.

 

This is all to say that the Jhannas are (by some) considered the very pinnacle of meditative attainment. 
 

Getting there in 3 years as a lay practitioner is almost unheard of.
 

You need a teacher that is able to do it… you need to live in a retreat style setting with that teacher (even the normal monastic setting is not conducive)… You need to have a range of existing talents and qualities… Then you have a small chance of achieving it by the end of your life.
 

43 minutes ago, Asher Topaz said:

jhanas themselves open qi channels and purify essence from jing to qi to shen and emptiness by the fourth jhana.


If you’re able to achieve Jhanna without it, then overt energy work is redundant for you. 


The alchemical approach to achieving practically the same thing as Jhanna works differently. The underlying mechanics are altered in your favour.


That‚Äôs how it increases the chances of achievement. It makes it possible (though still improbable)¬†if you‚Äôre not already a stream enterer - and it makes it possible for people who lead a ‚Äėnormal‚Äô life in society (though lengthy retreat and a genuine teacher are both still necessary).

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It’s interesting to me the difference in attitude about spiritual matters between practitioners in the East and ones in the West.

 

In the West we tend to see spirituality as a sort of innate thing in us… like emotion. So the spiritual journey is just a case of following your heart and intuition - there’s nothing to achieve - because you’re already there anyway. The people who get into it tend to be ones who don’t find their place in society and see spirituality as a sort of benevolent lifestyle that’s a kind and nurturing alternative to the difficult and painful life that society demands.

 

In Asia it’s seen quite differently. Rather than soft and nurturing, the spiritual path is seen as ruthless and difficult. Sun Buer disfigured her face with boiling water to make her passage down the path a little more convenient. It’s worth pausing to understand the implication of that. I’m not saying that’s what’s required of us as cultivators - but it’s worth considering the level of ruthless self sacrifice implied in that action.

 

Of course there’s the connotation of deep wisdom, kindness and compassion - but that happens only after you boil your face off :) 

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1 hour ago, Asher Topaz said:

Isnt the mind approach where all you do is  concentrate and maintain a tranquil mind as u climb the jhanas which purifies qi channels without having to go through all those steps better?


Sorry - was meant to reply to this bit in the previous post.

 

The tantric approach is more complex on the front end - but as a result it’s more achievable on the back end.

 

Meditative absorption is simple on the front end - but close to impenetrable on the back end.

 

You can spend 60 years of your life on meditative absorption and not get anywhere even close to samadhi - even if you have the right method.

 

Why? Well you have no idea why. The internal conditions aren’t right for it to happen. What internal conditions? What conditions are right and what conditions are wrong? How do you change them? 
 

Doing this is like trying to grasp at clouds.
 

If you have an authentic teacher that has a deep level of insight - they can assist to some degree.
 

But these teachers are rare… and they’re usually only interested in the students that are highly talented and have the karma to achieve these things in this lifetime. (Usually they are the ones who become monks as kids and have a natural talent for discipline and meditative absorption.)

 

The tantric (energetic/alchemical) approach on the other hand breaks down the internal landscape. Rather than grasping at clouds, it makes it possible for you to step by step generate the correct conditions and put in place the right causes for progress to occur.

 

1 hour ago, Asher Topaz said:

information on energy manipulation found in taoism and tibetan buddhism or vajaranya are very rare. And even books that talk about it are hard to understand. I dont practice them but I like knowing how energy works in my body so I started reading Taoist yoga. And damn its hard to understand. So much details and steps in the process and so much mistakes can be made.

 

The thing is - if you balk at the effort required to understand and apply the energetic stuff, you’re in for a shock when you truly get the level of effort required to achieve even the first Jhanna.

 

The tantric approach is a massive shortcut. Many lifetimes worth (for most people).

 

On the other hand there are paths that say there’s nothing to achieve - you’re already there… there’s no path to walk because you’ve already arrived and you had never even left in the first place. All you have to do is just realise that fact. That seems a bit easier than meditative absorption and internal cultivation. That’s probably the easiest one to go for if effort is the main concern.
 

Whether it’s genuine - different people have different views on that :ph34r:

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4 hours ago, freeform said:

It’s interesting to me the difference in attitude about spiritual matters between practitioners in the East and ones in the West.

 

In the West we tend to see spirituality as a sort of innate thing in us… like emotion. So the spiritual journey is just a case of following your heart and intuition - there’s nothing to achieve - because you’re already there anyway. The people who get into it tend to be ones who don’t find their place in society and see spirituality as a sort of benevolent lifestyle that’s a kind and nurturing alternative to the difficult and painful life that society demands.

 

In Asia it’s seen quite differently. Rather than soft and nurturing, the spiritual path is seen as ruthless and difficult. Sun Buer disfigured her face with boiling water to make her passage down the path a little more convenient. It’s worth pausing to understand the implication of that. I’m not saying that’s what’s required of us as cultivators - but it’s worth considering the level of ruthless self sacrifice implied in that action.

 

Of course there’s the connotation of deep wisdom, kindness and compassion - but that happens only after you boil your face off :) 

Yes this is very true.

 

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4 hours ago, freeform said:


Sorry - was meant to reply to this bit in the previous post.

 

The tantric approach is more complex on the front end - but as a result it’s more achievable on the back end.

 

Meditative absorption is simple on the front end - but close to impenetrable on the back end.

 

You can spend 60 years of your life on meditative absorption and not get anywhere even close to samadhi - even if you have the right method.

 

Why? Well you have no idea why. The internal conditions aren’t right for it to happen. What internal conditions? What conditions are right and what conditions are wrong? How do you change them? 
 

Doing this is like trying to grasp at clouds.
 

If you have an authentic teacher that has a deep level of insight - they can assist to some degree.
 

But these teachers are rare… and they’re usually only interested in the students that are highly talented and have the karma to achieve these things in this lifetime. (Usually they are the ones who become monks as kids and have a natural talent for discipline and meditative absorption.)

 

The tantric (energetic/alchemical) approach on the other hand breaks down the internal landscape. Rather than grasping at clouds, it makes it possible for you to step by step generate the correct conditions and put in place the right causes for progress to occur.

 

 

The thing is - if you balk at the effort required to understand and apply the energetic stuff, you’re in for a shock when you truly get the level of effort required to achieve even the first Jhanna.

 

The tantric approach is a massive shortcut. Many lifetimes worth (for most people).

 

On the other hand there are paths that say there’s nothing to achieve - you’re already there… there’s no path to walk because you’ve already arrived and you had never even left in the first place. All you have to do is just realise that fact. That seems a bit easier than meditative absorption and internal cultivation. That’s probably the easiest one to go for if effort is the main concern.
 

Whether it’s genuine - different people have different views on that :ph34r:

Yeah. The tantric approach is faster for sure. I just wish it was not so dangerous that self learning it would most likely lead to qi deviation especially in the head.

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6 hours ago, Asher Topaz said:

The reason esoteric is used is that mind approach is very easy to understand and easy to access. Everybody even children know about concentration meditation on the breath and jhanas. Go on reddit meditation forums its very common. But information on energy manipulation found in taoism and tibetan buddhism or vajaranya are very rare. And even books that talk about it are hard to understand. I dont practice them but I like knowing how energy works in my body so I started reading Taoist yoga. And damn its hard to understand. So much details and steps in the process and so much mistakes can be made. Isnt the mind approach where all you do is  concentrate and maintain a tranquil mind as u climb the jhanas which purifies qi channels without having to go through all those steps better? Plus its less prone to mistakes like we see in kundalini accidents and qi deviation where amateurs read instructions online and try to follow it without a master. But anapana can be done without a master which I believe is y buddha liked it so much.

 

No, it's like saying sitting or standing still is all there is to neigong and qi cultivation.
Concentration is a genuine practice but it is only a beginner's preparation for mind work, not the Mind work itself.
I do make people train in concentration for 6 months - several years before passing on to a next step practice.

I understand your concerns though if you come from Buddhist texts and there is nothing about Qi and cultivation.
I believe the knowledge is mostly lost, and each tradition preserved publicly the most focal points. Even those points got corrupted over time.
They could be still shared individually via oral transmission in some closed setting.
Cause personally I don't really think there are two different paths, more like there is one path that contains both Mind work and Qi cultivation. And each of these two has its pits and bottlenecks so you can be stuck forever.
 

Damo Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk. Did you read about his feats, like slicing off a bull's head with his palm? Those are descriptions of high-level Qi powers, above those demonstrated by John Chang or any other masters I have seen tbh.

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What I have run into with Western Theravada monks at least is that when I ask about tantra or other methods like that they are very dismissive and say "well the Buddha never said anything about that" and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. I've never really figured out what to make of this one way or the other. 

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5 hours ago, freeform said:

It can… however I’ve met hundreds of monks whose whole existence is aimed at Jhanna practice - for decades, full time - and they’re not able to reach the first Jhanna.

 

Great time to ask you what you mean by first jhana.  

 

In a Theravada context, I've heard of absorbing completely into the nimitta (aka shen ming?) so that perception of the body and normal waking mind completely drop away, and that this lasts for many hours if you really do it, but this seems to be more easy and common than what you are describing.  

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7 hours ago, dmattwads said:

What I have run into with Western Theravada monks at least is that when I ask about tantra or other methods like that they are very dismissive and say "well the Buddha never said anything about that" and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. I've never really figured out what to make of this one way or the other. 

Whether or not the Theravada teachings are more ‚Äúauthentic Buddhism‚ÄĚ than Mahayana or Vajrayana teachings I cannot know, but it seems like all schools produce many flawed practitioners/people as well as great practitioners/people‚Ķ as well as the combination of the two. Either way, all of these paths as far as I can discern can lead to great awakening, and then it really comes down to preference, available resources for teachers and community, and ultimate aspiration (arhatship vs¬†bodhisattva). But I share your struggle in making sense of the differences

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12 hours ago, XianGong said:

 understand your concerns though if you come from Buddhist texts and there is nothing about Qi and cultivation.
I believe the knowledge is mostly lost, and each tradition preserved publicly the most focal points. Even those points got corrupted over time.

No not true. If you go deep in buddhism you will find out that it cultivates qi using jhanas same with patanjalis eight limbs of yoga. Mind and qi are two sides of the same coin. BY purifying your mind using jhana you purify your qi. That is y its been known that jhana can give powers or siddhis. Its based on taoist principle. Extreme yin gives birth to extreme yang. By slowing down the mind to an extremely yin state, the breath stops, pulse stop what taoist call (hsi). Then this gives birth to the kundalini or yuan chi moving through the MCO to purify jing to chi. The bliss in jhana is channels in the body opening allowing your body to feel light and free. By the time you get to second jhana you cant feel your body anymore cuz its full of chi which starts transforming to shen in third jhana. By fourth jhana your cultivating emptiness. The jhanas are the buddhist version of jing- qi shen-emptiness transfromation. You will also find out that buddhist who cultivate jhana are healthy compared to buddhist who just cultivate dry insight or vipassana. Buddha did not bother with qi cuz he knew that the jhanas will take care of them. Plus they are a very low stage of cultivation in the form realm. There is still the formless realm before one thinks of enlightenment or seeing the dao. Its basically an automatic version same with automatic car versus manual only problem is its slower than energy practices but a 1000 times safer.

Edited by Asher Topaz

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12 hours ago, dmattwads said:

What I have run into with Western Theravada monks at least is that when I ask about tantra or other methods like that they are very dismissive and say "well the Buddha never said anything about that" and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. I've never really figured out what to make of this one way or the other. 

It is my understanding that the jhanas cultivate qi automatically. Jhana means tranquility. By entering an extremely yin state of mind. The inner chi which nei gong cultivates starts to move and trigger the alchemical process. The higher you go on the jhana the higher you go on the alchemical process. Jhana is Theravada buddhist version of alchemy. But its slower not as fast as energy practices. But its safer as well.

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1 hour ago, Asher Topaz said:

It is my understanding that the jhanas cultivate qi automatically. Jhana means tranquility. By entering an extremely yin state of mind. The inner chi which nei gong cultivates starts to move and trigger the alchemical process. The higher you go on the jhana the higher you go on the alchemical process. Jhana is Theravada buddhist version of alchemy. But its slower not as fast as energy practices. But its safer as well.

 

Assuming one can reach jhana.

 

Where does deity yoga fit into this?

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17 hours ago, Creation said:

absorbing completely into the nimitta (aka shen ming?)


Yeah you could say the Jhanna is the result of this after a prolonged period of time.

 

(though nimitta and Shen Ming are a little different… nimitta can be several steps removed from actual Shen Ming… but it’s close enough for discussion’s sake)

 

Sounds simple, right?
 

17 hours ago, Creation said:

this seems to be more easy and common than what you are describing.

 

Remember that there are many millions of Buddhist monks practicing right now… and out of those millions maybe a few hundred (i don’t know the actual

number… though for the higher Jhannas the number is known) are able to achieve the first Jhanna.
 

So ‚Äėsurvivorship bias‚Äô kicks in - because we only ever read about the handful that have achieved it - and not the millions that died trying.

 

There are also all sorts of pitfalls along the way… nimitta for instance - there’s a huge variety of similar experiences as a result of a huge variety of reasons (for instance simply having Qi in the centre of the head will create internal light - that’s not Shen Ming (the light of your original spirit) - it’s Qi stimulating certain parts of the brain.)

 

On the threshold of achieving the Jhanna there are also lots of pitfalls (the arising bliss you hear of - if your awareness is moved towards it, then you’ll become absorbed in the most unbelievable sense of bliss imaginable - you’ll also lose your access to Jhanna and a whole bunch of the purified preheaven Jing that made getting to this stage possible).

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