Master Koo's Lecture
September 8, 1993
Neigong practice is based upon the idea that the interior landscape of the body is full of meridians—lengthwise, sideways, in overlapping patterns. You cannot sense this overlapping landscape unless you close your eyes and look inward. Looking inward you will be able to see this network with your senses, not with your eyes. Close the eyes and focus inward toward the upper dan tien and then downwards. With repeated practice, your body will open up and you will be able to see all of these meridians, large and small, all over the interior landscape.
We have so many blood vessels, large and small, in the body. If we connect them all end to end they will wrap around the circumference of the world six times. Within this complex lengthy route, the meridians don’t conflict or crash into each other. We have this intricate network of blood vessels and we can sense it by closing our eyes and focusing inward.
We do the standing meditation specifically to learn how to sense the interior landscape. Look inwardly through the third eye, the upper dan tien, look to the back of the brain down four inches to the medulla, the brain stem. At this point the brain stem is outside the skull coming down toward the spine. The brain stem controls the lymph glands, the red and white blood cells, and the hormonal production controlling the temperature of the body. The brain stem connects, via the meridians, to the kidneys, giving the messages that enable the kidneys to control the blood and water.
Don’t think about anything. Just be quiet and still. Use your interior eye, looking at the medulla, sense the connection between the Gate of Life, located near the kidney area of the lower back, and the medulla, the brain stem. The superior product from the kidney rises upward to the brain nourishing the brain and its function. In turn the brain manufactures the materials necessary to sustain life. The brain directs the kidney to control the water and qi.
Close your eyes and we will stand… Open. After standing, you should have lots of moisture in your palate and eyes. Open your eyes and they should be bright. This fluid in your eyes is cleansing. If your mind is not settled, then your eyes will not produce this liquid. When the mind is quiet, the fluids will come.
Today, I will talk as if this is your first Taijiquan class, focusing on the fundamentals. All knowledge, when you reach the pinnacle, reverts back to simple principles. What does Taijiquan mean? It is taiji and quan. Quan means fist or boxing. Taiji is cosmic terminology.
The universe is round, and when you look at it, quite empty. Unless you have a cloud in the sky, everything seems like open space. The fact that the cloud will move shows that there is a relationship going on. There is wind which reflects the interplay and importance of yin and yang that is taking place.
In the universe we can see the phenomena of waning and waxing of the yin and the yang, coming and going. All the changes that occur ultimately grow to a point where they start to dissipate. And finally, when there is nothing, things start to grow again.
Basically, in the Taijiquan form we are trying to simulate this coming and going, this waxing and waning. This is the law of nature; when things reach their maximum, they overflow and leak out and dissipate. On the other hand, when something is empty it has the ability to be filled. In heaven and on earth, this is what happens. Humans also follow the same laws of nature.
For example, if a wealthy person is filled to the maximum, money has to spill out! They are wealthy, they are filled, they think that they are the greatest things on earth. But they also have to succumb to this law of nature, spilling out the excess. Wealthy people face the danger of kidnapping. They become proud and arrogant and lose lots of their friends. Changes occur to them and eventually they become sad.
In Taijiquan, we understand the natural flow between emptiness and fullness and simulate it in our movements. Take the example of two baskets, one filled with rice and the other empty. To transfer the rice from the filled basket to the empty basket you must do it gradually, transferring portion by portion. The rice cannot move all at once. Change occurs gradually as you pour the rice. Eventually, the empty basket will be filled and the filled basket empty. The rice will have been transferred. This accords with the laws of nature.
This is how things work.
We must understand this hundred-zero concept and not just stand on both feet fifty-fifty, leaving both feet heavy weighted. On the other extreme, both feet being very light is not good either. In the Taijiquan form we continually shift the weight back and forth. This transference happens very gradually. Never stand with both legs heavy. According to this law of nature, standing evenly on both feet is unnatural and strange.
The first step you should take to imitate the universe is to be in proper alignment. If you are in the right alignment then the blood and the qi will flow and be full. As you shift the weight from one side to the other, you have to maintain the alignment so the qi and the blood will continue flowing.
As you move, there is a center. When you are centered the qi and the blood will be able to flow. The main purpose of our practice is to not get sick. It is not for fighting or exhibition. If you learn to fight, you can really harm someone and this carries a heavy burden. We start with a compassionate heart and try not to harm others. When we practice the form we try not to bring harm to others. If you practice with the concept of trying to fight, the quality of your qi will change. Your qi will not be equalized. When we practice we are calm and even. We practice toward helping people, ourselves and others. This is our primary motive.
In our lives we will encounter many hardships. In particular, we may be taken advantage of by others. If people see us as strong they will back off. Indirectly through the practice we can avoid a lot of suffering. If you practice for a long time, just from your outer appearance, people will see that you are very strong and they will shy away from trying to harm or take advantage of you. Your strength will be useful. It will show.
In time, the quality of your qi will become righteous and no one will be able to stop you. You cannot lose. After you practice for a long time, people will not even dare to approach you. Evil people are smart. They observe before they go and attack.
We cultivate peacefulness. Peacefulness comes from the intent not to fight. If your intent is to fight, then all you do will be colored by your potential to harm other people. Cultivating peacefulness, not fighting, we can potentially develop all the powers of helping, not hurting, other people. This is what we strive for.
Eventually we all get illnesses. We will have to rely on our own resources to deal with these illnesses that will surely come. This practice can help get rid of many illnesses that are strange and not curable.
Our form very clearly delineates the yin and the yang as we move. It is like pouring rice from one basket to another. We align the body, moving the blood and qi, strengthening the lower back and the kidneys. When the kidneys become strong, all illnesses will be gone. Even if you practice for twenty years you still have to come back to lesson one. A human being has to have this righteous qi, a righteous outlook from day one.
A person who thinks they can learn this practice by merely observing it a few times is not starting with righteous qi. If you think you are too busy and will just watch a little and pick this up, you are mistaken. This is not a good and right way to approach learning. These excuses will not lead you to the right path. You must prioritize and make the time for practice, for yourself. You must find time every day. Even a little bit is a start.
We can do the Taijiquan three times in a row to test our endurance. This strenuous effort will reveal your level of Taijiquan understanding. Taijiquan practice has certain developmental stages. First, you have to be very diligent with all of the details. You have to practice a lot until the details become second nature and you no longer have to think about them. The second stage is very even. Even means moving smoothly in coordination with your breathing. The third stage is light, like a cat’s paw—very light. The fourth stage is fluid. The highest stage, the fifth, has a spiritual quality that no words can fully describe. Mystical, the description depends on what you understand. The five stages are: familiar, evenness, lightness, fluidity, and spiritual. When you are even, you follow the track. At the fluid stage things move by themselves. You can accommodate whatever or whoever you encounter, very naturally. If your form becomes very good then you can tap deeper into these five levels and the benefits. Okay, let’s do the form three times.