Iskote

What exactly is neidan/internal alchemy?

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Posted (edited)


What is internal alchemy, anyway? Post your views/experience  here. 


Here are some of my own thoughts on the matter: 

 

Internal alchemy practice is actually a specific type of 'system' with (at least fairly) specific goals, although those goals them self can appear rather vague such as 'immortality' and 'returning to dao', and different 'neidan' schools may define those goals somewhat differently.  Although a neidan system may include some qigong and neigong practices and physical movement practices, etc., it will also typically include specific meditation practices with the specific purpose of achieving the goals of 'immortality' and 'returning to dao' and similar. 


Different qigong and neigong practices available out there are not necessarily at all (and usually aren't) 'internal alchemy'/ 'neidan' specific, although some such practices may have similarities or overlap to some neidan practices from some neidan schools.  

 

One problem is that throughout China's history, terms and concepts and practices from neidan systems have sometimes been borrowed and mixed in with other 'systems' which may have very different goals and views from neidan, so you can get martials arts or health/medical practices which may use some similar terms and concepts as used in neidan, but which may well be used somewhat differently. The point is, from what I have gathered, qigong practices and neigong practices which may have some similarities to some neidan practices, are not necessarily at all directly related to neidan, and they usually have quite a different focus.  

 

The whole thing becomes even more murky when you throw into the mix that there are different schools/sects which may include neidan or similar practices, but which may have quite different practices and views from other neidan systems. For example, some of those schools may have strong daoist religious aspects interwoven with their 'neidan' practices, and others may not. Therefore, there really is no clear cut right and wrong in all this, in my view. There is also the problem that during the Chinese cultural revolution, the Chinese people destroyed many Chinese temples and beat and killed many daoist and buddhists, and burned many books, etc, and forbade anyone from practicing such 'superstitious' practices. The end result was when the cultural revolution began to subside and the Chinese government began to allow daoists and buddhists and others to start these types of practices again under the close supervision and directon from the Chinese government , much had been lost, and people were left to try to piece together some of these systems and practices again. 

 

The takeaway from all the above is, from my perspective, anyway,  there really is no clear cut way to say such and such a system is 'true and pure neidan'. This has helped open the door for various charlatans and self-deluded people to start offering and promoting various practices as being 'neidan'. Often such people will insist that what they promote is the only really 'authentic' practices, and they may spend a lot of time criticizing and putting down other systems and teachers to try to bolster up what they are offering. :rolleyes: 
Some of these fakes and self-deluded people may only have read through some old daoist neidan texts and practiced some qigong practices and then declare them self to be an 'expert' on the topic, and start promoting them self and implying that they are some kind of very accomplished 'master'. 
Yes, in my view, it really is that much of a mess. :) 

 

So, what can an aspiring student do to potentially find a suitable teacher if they are interested in such things? In my view, you really can only use your best judgement and try to get to know the teacher for some time, if possible, and see if they seem to truly embody some of the principles and abilities they claim their system should bring. Can they answer questions in a clear and practical way, or do they just throw around more terms and concepts or become dismissive when asked questions, and seem unable to explain anything in a clear way? :huh: 
Can the teacher demonstrate in some clear and practical way that they have real accomplishments in what they are claiming to offer? 
Can this teacher provide clear details about their own teachers and lineage (there are self-proclaimed 'masters' out there who have made up their lineage and teachers). 
In the end, the aspiring student can only use their best judgement and try to find something which resonates with them personally. 
What some people may insist is a true 'accomplished master' may appear to be a complete fraud or self-deluded person to others, so in the end you will have to go with your own judgement. :)  
Keep in mind that traditional neidan practice would typically require several hours of practice a day as a minimum, and some (many?)  neidan systems require celibacy, as well, so such practices are not really suitable for many people. 

 

What are your views/experience with neidan? 

 


 

Edited by Iskote
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15 minutes ago, Iskote said:


What is internal alchemy, anyway? Post your views/experience  here. 


Here are some of my own thoughts on the matter: 

 

Internal alchemy practice is actually a specific type of 'system' with (at least fairly) specific goals, although those goals them self can appear rather vague such as 'immortality' and 'returning to dao', and different 'neidan' schools may define those goals somewhat differently.  Although a neidan system may include some qigong and neigong practices and physical movement practices, etc., it will also typically include specific meditation practices with the specific purpose of achieving the goals of 'immortality' and 'returning to dao' and similar. 


Different qigong and neigong practices available out there are not necessarily at all (and usually aren't) 'internal alchemy'/ 'neidan' specific, although some such practices may have similarities or overlap to some neidan practices from some neidan schools.  

 

One problem is that throughout China's history, terms and concepts and practices from neidan systems have sometimes been borrowed and mixed in with other 'systems' which may have very different goals and views from neidan, so you can get martials arts or health/medical practices which may use some similar terms and concepts as used in neidan, but which may well be used somewhat differently. The point is, from what I have gathered, qigong practices and neigong practices which may have some similarities to some neidan practices, are not necessarily at all directly related to neidan, and they usually have quite a different focus.  

 

The whole thing becomes even more murky when you throw into the mix that there are different schools/sects which may include neidan or similar practices, but which may have quite different practices and views from other neidan systems. For example, some of those schools may have strong daoist religious aspects interwoven with their 'neidan' practices, and others may not. Therefore, there really is no clear cut right and wrong in all this, in my view. There is also the problem that during the Chinese cultural revolution, the Chinese people destroyed many Chinese temples and beat and killed many daoist and buddhists, and burned many books, etc, and forbade anyone from practicing such 'superstitious' practices. The end result was when the cultural revolution began to subside and the Chinese government began to allow daoists and buddhists and others to start these types of practices again under the close supervision and directon from the Chinese government , much had been lost, and people were left to try to piece together some of these systems and practices again. 

 

The takeaway from all the above is, from my perspective, anyway,  there really is no clear cut way to say such and such a system is 'true and pure neidan'. This has helped open the door for various charlatans and self-deluded people to start offering and promoting various practices as being 'neidan'. Often such people will insist that what they promote is the only really 'authentic' practices, and they may spend a lot of time criticizing and putting down other systems and teachers to try to bolster up what they are offering. :rolleyes: 
Some of these fakes and self-deluded people may only have read through some old daoist neidan texts and practiced some qigong practices and then declare them self to be an 'expert' on the topic, and start promoting them self and implying that they are some kind of very accomplished 'master'. 
Yes, in my view, it really is that much of a mess. :) 

 

So, what can an aspiring student do to potentially find a suitable teacher if they are interested in such things? In my view, you really can only use your best judgement and try to get to know the teacher for some time, if possible, and see if they seem to truly embody some of the principles and abilities they claim their system should bring. Can they answer questions in a clear and practical way, or do they just throw around more terms and concepts or become dismissive when asked questions, and seem unable to explain anything in a clear way? :huh: 
Can the teacher demonstrate in some clear and practical way that they have real accomplishments in what they are claiming to offer? 
Can this teacher provide clear details about their own teachers and lineage (there are self-proclaimed 'masters' out there who have made up their lineage and teachers). 
In the end, the aspiring student can only use their best judgement and try to find something which resonates with them personally. 
What some people may insist is a true 'accomplished master' may appear to be a complete fraud or self-deluded person to others, so in the end you will have to go with your own judgement. :)  
Keep in mind that traditional neidan practice would typically require several hours of practice a day as a minimum, and some (many?)  neidan systems require celibacy, as well, so such practices are not really suitable for many people. 

 

What are your views/experience with neidan? 

 


 

 

I agree with you...a lot of confusion amongst people practicing all manner of systems such as qigong, neigong and so forth

 

 

Nice quote in here from Wang Liping

 

"If it is forming the elixir or embryo it is Nei-Dan, If it isn't, then it isn't"

 

I tend to agree with that quote...sums it up nicely

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14 minutes ago, Shadow_self said:

 

I agree with you...a lot of confusion amongst people practicing all manner of systems such as qigong, neigong and so forth

 

Nice quote in here from Wang Liping

"If it is forming the elixir or embryo it is Nei-Dan, If it isn't, then it isn't"

I tend to agree with that quote...sums it up nicely

 

Interesting video. Nathan has some interesting things to say there. 

 

Regarding your quote which you attribute to Wang Liping, "If it is forming the elixir or embryo it is Nei-Dan, If it isn't, then it isn't",  that raises the question for me of what exactly is meant by 'elixir' and 'embryo'. Do all neidan schools define those terms the same way?  I suspect that they don't. 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Iskote said:

 

Interesting video. Nathan has some interesting things to say there. 

 

Regarding your quote which you attribute to Wang Liping, "If it is forming the elixir or embryo it is Nei-Dan, If it isn't, then it isn't",  that raises the question for me of what exactly is meant by 'elixir' and 'embryo'. Do all neidan schools define those terms the same way?  I suspect that they don't. 

 

I think the embryo is specific ( As an example, I know there is a near identical end goal in Alchemical Buddhism)

 

According to Nathan the elixir can change by context...though there is nine in WLPs lineage...I've seen that number thrown around a lot...so it may be the case it is an objective number...but then, perhaps, all schools don't work on all elixirs...Hard to tell

 

A good distinction to make would be the one you made above regards the different practices...

Edited by Shadow_self
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4 hours ago, Shadow_self said:

"If it is forming the elixir or embryo it is Nei-Dan, If it isn't, then it isn't"

 

Have you done that? Can you explain in clear and simple terms what it means to conceive such a fetus?

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4 hours ago, Shadow_self said:

 

I think the embryo is specific ( As an example, I know there is a near identical end goal in Alchemical Buddhism)

 

According to Nathan the elixir can change by context...though there is nine in WLPs lineage...I've seen that number thrown around a lot...so it may be the case it is an objective number...but then, perhaps, all schools don't work on all elixirs...Hard to tell

 

A good distinction to make would be the one you made above regards the different practices...

 

Yes, my impression is that there may be notable differences between different schools in approach and even with basic concepts, but not sure how much those differences may be. Traditionally, most of this stuff was kept secret with any writings on the topic written in deliberate cryptic symbolism, so its hard to say exactly how closely different traditions compare. When you also consider that the Chinese cultural revolution pretty much wiped out much of these practices in China for a number of years except for some few who may have continued to practice in private, its anyone's guess regarding how closely to original practices whatever practices that have survived today are. From what I have been able to gather from some of the offerings out there in recent years, it does appear that there can be quite different practices under the name of internal alchemy, although there may be a common underlying theme to some extent to internal alchemy practices. Considering that many of these practices were traditionally kept secret, that just emphasizes how difficult it can be for a prospective student to try to determine what might be authentic traditional practices and what might be considered heretical practices or outright made up practices. :)

 

I think though that generally traditional neidan requires quite a commitment in time, and that is why it was mostly practiced by 'monks'  who could devote the time to it throughout their life. Hard for a modern day person who works a full time job to commit to such practices, I think. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Iskote said:

Can the teacher demonstrate in some clear and practical way that they have real accomplishments in what they are claiming to offer? 

demonstrate what, for example?

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Taoist Texts said:

demonstrate what, for example?

 

Although this might not apply directly to neidan teachers specifically, some qigong and internal martial arts teachers I have encountered over the years were able to demonstrate to me very convincingly that they had a high degree of skill with qi manipulation, and could use that ability to help their students make better progress. Since the early stages of neidan, from what I understand,  are usually focused on opening up the meridians and channels and building up one's qi, I would be inclined to think the same sort of thing can be applied to neidan practitioners. 

I would think that in the initial stages of neidan, students may need assistance and guidance with dealing with qi blockages and imbalances, and having a teacher who can directly assist with such things can be really helpful. 

 

In general though, as another example, if a teacher is telling you that neidan practice should give you robust health, and the teacher doesn't look very healthy at all, that would seem to be a warning sign that something is probably not right. :)

 

I recall some students of Wang Liping in the past have stated that he has apparently used his abilities during workshops to help his students make better progress. Students are left with the impression that something out of the ordinary occurs during his workshops. I haven't been to one of his workshops, so I can't personally vouch for that though. 

 

In my own experience, teachers I have met who have a high degree of qi skill, were able to demonstrate that in various ways.  It's not like you walk up to them and say, "show me what you can do", but in the course of interacting with them over time, it becomes obvious that they do have unusual skills. My own view is someone who is accomplished in neidan is probably going to have some such types of unusual abilities ,and that should likely become obvious over time. Just my own point of view. 

 

 

 

Edited by Iskote
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8 hours ago, Nintendao said:

 

Have you done that? Can you explain in clear and simple terms what it means to conceive such a fetus?

 

Heavens no...Had someone done that, I don't think they would be frequenting a forum

 

I recommend you seek out a teacher for that type of explanation :lol: That's one thing I am not

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3 hours ago, Iskote said:

 

Although this might not apply directly to neidan teachers specifically, some qigong and internal martial arts teachers I have encountered over the years were able to demonstrate to me very convincingly that they had a high degree of skill with qi manipulation, and could use that ability to help their students make better progress. Since the early stages of neidan, from what I understand,  are usually focused on opening up the meridians and channels and building up one's qi, I would be inclined to think the same sort of thing can be applied to neidan practitioners. 

I would think that in the initial stages of neidan, students may need assistance and guidance with dealing with qi blockages and imbalances, and having a teacher who can directly assist with such things can be really helpful. 

 

In general though, as another example, if a teacher is telling you that neidan practice should give you robust health, and the teacher doesn't look very healthy at all, that would seem to be a warning sign that something is probably not right. :)

 

I recall some students of Wang Liping in the past have stated that he has apparently used his abilities during workshops to help his students make better progress. Students are left with the impression that something out of the ordinary occurs during his workshops. I haven't been to one of his workshops, so I can't personally vouch for that though. 

 

In my own experience, teachers I have met who have a high degree of qi skill, were able to demonstrate that in various ways.  It's not like you walk up to them and say, "show me what you can do", but in the course of interacting with them over time, it becomes obvious that they do have unusual skills. My own view is someone who is accomplished in neidan is probably going to have some such types of unusual abilities ,and that should likely become obvious over time. Just my own point of view. 

 

 

 

 

A lot of Siddhi are developed though neigong to be honest. The higher level stuff you see in neidan is a lot weirder, and not so easily "quantified" for want of a better word...especially that which relates to perception.

 

Honestly, as I understand it, you cannot do neidan without neigong though. The latter creates the space and conditions for the work to be undertaken. You cannot make a meal without the correct utensils, your kitchen should be clean and well organized,..then we can talk about ingredients, preparation and finally cooking. I think the symbolism here is apt.

 

Yes this is correct...Wang Liping usually does a certain type of Qi emission where he creates a field that makes other peoples fields align with it, they harmonize...so as a byproduct of just being there the work will be greatly amplified.

 

This is what you pay 4k plus for....a lot of people just don't understand whats happening or are too inexperienced to tune in and figure out whats going on.

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要知道什麼是真正的丹,當然要看真正的丹經

而不是聽氣功假大師在那裡吹牛

把氣感硬說成是內丹就是吹牛

 

悟真篇和參同契一定要看

 

If you want to know what real Dan is, you must read the real Dan Sutra

Instead of listening to fake qigong masters bragging there

To insist that the sense of qi is inner alchemy is bragging

WuZenPian and Chantongqi must be read

 

 

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

Dan Jin is oK?

 

你在嘲笑我的英文嗎?

英文好有這麼了不起嗎?

你這是歧視非英語系國家的人

像你這種人,只能列入忽略名單了

免得浪費時間

 

 

 

 

Edited by awaken

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1 minute ago, awaken said:

 

Dan Jin is oK?

 

你在嘲笑我的英文嗎?

英文好有這麼了不起嗎?

你這是歧視非英語系國家的人

 

 

 

梗不在你的英文好不好。梗在你基本上天天來這邊說一樣的事情,也不擅長回答人家的問題。被問問題時,大多要麽你重複已經説過的話,要麽你命令人家去從頭到尾讀你所有的帖子一遍,要麽你直接把人家封鎖掉並抱怨人家的態度令你多麽不滿有的沒的。不少人許多許多許多次已經相當和氣地請你不要一直這樣,可是你基本上還是老套沒有變,所以呢,人家才會開玩笑說你只會講“丹丹丹丹丹”而已。

 

不過,話説回來,你真的想來這邊傳你的道,你的英文確實需要進步。

 

還是先學學支婁迦讖、鳩摩儸什、馬偕等人的精神。那些前輩真的很用心,堪稱爲人師表,芳名千古。

 

再接再厲ㄏ!

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Eh I mean, having the ability to laugh at yourself should be a prerequisite for walking on this path. I meant no offense.

 

Unfortunately there's no such thing as the Dan Sutra in English. Dan is also short for Daniel.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Shadow_self said:

 

A lot of Siddhi are developed though neigong to be honest. The higher level stuff you see in neidan is a lot weirder, and not so easily "quantified" for want of a better word...especially that which relates to perception.

 

Honestly, as I understand it, you cannot do neidan without neigong though. The latter creates the space and conditions for the work to be undertaken. You cannot make a meal without the correct utensils, your kitchen should be clean and well organized,..then we can talk about ingredients, preparation and finally cooking. I think the symbolism here is apt.

 

Yes this is correct...Wang Liping usually does a certain type of Qi emission where he creates a field that makes other peoples fields align with it, they harmonize...so as a byproduct of just being there the work will be greatly amplified.

 

This is what you pay 4k plus for....a lot of people just don't understand whats happening or are too inexperienced to tune in and figure out whats going on.

 

Yes, from what little I know about neidan practices, it does involve a specialized type of neigong. I don't know if all neidan schools approach it that way, however. 

 

Have you attended any workshops with Wang Liping? 

I am a bit leery of modern day teachers who charge big bucks for their workshops, although I have only heard of good things about Wang Liping. I can see that charging a bit higher fee may help to weed out people who are only dabblers or who are just there out of curiosity; however, charging very high fees does tend to favor people who are more well off, and for people who are not well off it can potentially bring them some financial hardship, so I am quite turned off from that sort of thing. Maybe that pricing for Wang Liping's workshops is more set by the people who organize the workshops who are trying to make some profit for them self through those workshops? Not sure how that all works. 

 

I recently came across a teacher from Singapore who teaches a type of spontaneous qigong and also what he calls "dan dao", as well. In his system the teacher apparently does a type of qi transmission for a student at different stages. Out of curiosity, I asked him what he charges students to learn his system. He said he charges $10,000 Singapore dollars (a little over $7000 USD, I believe) for a student to learn just the first level of his qigong. This whole commercialization thing in modern times of these types of practices turns me right off, personally. If a teacher really wants to help people, putting students under huge financial stress to learn from the teacher is definitely not helping the students, in my view. Rich people will be able to pay such fees without too much issue, but that is just not financially feasible for many people. :o

 

 

 

Edited by Iskote
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6 hours ago, Shadow_self said:

Honestly, as I understand it, you cannot do neidan without neigong though. The latter creates the space and conditions for the work to be undertaken.

 

Yes and no.  The historical background and general usage of the 2 terms are quite clear.  The unclear part is that both are employing the same ways of training or very often doing the exactly same exercises. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

Eh I mean, having the ability to laugh at yourself should be a prerequisite for walking on this path. I meant no offense.

 

Being able to laugh at yourself may not be a prerequisite for practicing, but once you meet someone who has practiced for a long time without this result, you may need to observe this person before deciding whether to learn from him or not. Isn't levity a natural result of becoming who you really are? Can we be as quick to smile as we were when we were small children? If not, with all this hard work of cultivation, what have we become? 

 

As for the phenomenon of light that can be seen in the state of practice, many teachers and books on Buddhism and Taoism advise people not to pay attention to these things. The general advice is: when they come you know they are coming, and when they go you know they are gone. Of course, we cannot say that there is no situation in which it is appropriate to pay more attention to or cultivate more of these light phenomena, because each school is indeed different. However, since so many teachers advise people to be careful not to mistake these things for spiritual achievement, we may need to view them conservatively and cautiously. After all, an often-heard exhortation is that constant attention to these light phenomena can be mentally destructive, even causing very serious problems.

 

Moreover, there is still a question: Can we really use a certain phenomenon to measure our cultivation practice? If the Tao is both formless and has no appearance, how can a phenomenon with form and appearance (Including so-called "internal" phenomena such as light that only you can see or sounds that only you can hear) represent that a person is now closer to the Dao?

 

The best plan is often: walk carefully, choose teachers carefully, and don't rush to think of someone as a teacher. Observe, observe and observe. There is no rush :):):)

Edited by 鞏三孝
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3 hours ago, Iskote said:

 

Yes, from what little I know about neidan practices, it does involve a specialized type of neigong. I don't know if all neidan schools approach it that way, however. 

 

Have you attended any workshops with Wang Liping? 

I am a bit leery of modern day teachers who charge big bucks for their workshops, although I have only heard of good things about Wang Liping. I can see that charging a bit higher fee may help to weed out people who are only dabblers or who are just there out of curiosity; however, charging very high fees does tend to favor people who are more well off, and for people who are not well off it can potentially bring them some financial hardship, so I am quite turned off from that sort of thing. Maybe that pricing for Wang Liping's workshops is more set by the people who organize the workshops who are trying to make some profit for them self through those workshops? Not sure how that all works. 

 

I recently came across a teacher from Singapore who teaches a type of spontaneous qigong and also what he calls "dan dao", as well. In his system the teacher apparently does a type of qi transmission for a student at different stages. Out of curiosity, I asked him what he charges students to learn his system. He said he charges $10,000 Singapore dollars (a little over $7000 USD, I believe) for a student to learn just the first level of his qigong. This whole commercialization thing in modern times of these types of practices turns me right off, personally. If a teacher really wants to help people, putting students under huge financial stress to learn from the teacher is definitely not helping the students, in my view. Rich people will be able to pay such fees without too much issue, but that is just not financially feasible for many people. :o

 

No, lockdowns were a thing before I started doing the Longmen stuff, so havent had the chance. I know a few who have...like that , positive feedback.

 

But also stressed the importance of foundation training as a prerequisite.

 

He is very much focused on the Xing side of things

 

Care to name the teacher? Not sure if I know folk in that area, but generally, as I understand it...spontaneous movement should be a phase, not a practice method. What I mean by that is over time it should settle, stabilize and then be worked through until it ceases

 

10k seems a bit excessive...I know with WLP a lot of it is hotel and translator fees

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1 hour ago, Master Logray said:

 

Yes and no.  The historical background and general usage of the 2 terms are quite clear.  The unclear part is that both are employing the same ways of training or very often doing the exactly same exercises. 

 

Care to give an example? As far as I understood, one prepares for...the other is actually doing. Not sure you could do neidan using neigong methods, given the mental work that is required

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Posted (edited)
On 5/30/2022 at 11:53 AM, Shadow_self said:

10k seems a bit excessive...I know with WLP a lot of it is hotel and translator fees

 

When practicing qigong/meditation, I have never had the inclination to start spontaneously physically moving around, other than the occasional sudden slight body adjustment. I am doubtful spontaneous qigong would be suitable for me. 

Edited by Iskote
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There are many teachers in Taiwan who will teach you spontaneous gong for no money or very low tuition. Some teachers and groups have a fairly deep knowledge of Taoism. However, the effect of "immortality" achieved through this is still unbelievable. There are many people in the world who practice spontaneous gong. As far as I know, they all eventually grow old and die the normal way.

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42 minutes ago, 鞏三孝 said:

 

There are many teachers in Taiwan who will teach you spontaneous gong for no money or very low tuition. Some teachers and groups have a fairly deep knowledge of Taoism. However, the effect of "immortality" achieved through this is still unbelievable. There are many people in the world who practice spontaneous gong. As far as I know, they all eventually grow old and die the normal way.

 

I have come across several variations, and the one my teacher gave is what he considers the safest of the 3-4 he learned and practiced (Spontaneous Five Animals Play). I know one other style's name he practiced, soaring crane or something like that.

 

I don't believe in people who post free instructions for it though as has been done here before, as it leads to problems without proper guidance in the initial stages.

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10 hours ago, 鞏三孝 said:

 

 After all, an often-heard exhortation is that constant attention to these light phenomena can be mentally destructive, even causing very serious problems

 

I would say that constant attention to qi sensations can be harmful in the long term.

As for internal lights, I would say the opposite.

 

The buddha advice to his students was to understand the impermanence of all things to live free without attachments. 

While light is spontaneous and doesn't require an effort to be seen... on the contrary, qi sensations are cultivated on the basis of a subtle mental (and physical) effort aimed at intensifying them. 

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