The second week of the Daoist Medicine Course is over & by now everybody settled in well & got used to the daily routine. Just like life itself, everything is dynamic. Dependent on how many guests & visitors are coming to the temple, some of them might need Li Shifu help or just want to have a conversation with him, our schedule can slight change from day to day. During morning class we continued reviewing the Healing Qi Gong & the Longevity exercises. All of them are meant to strengthen our bodies, to develop healthy thoughts as well as to increase our power & our energetic field. One of the senior students is leading class & Li Shifu is around to provide us with more explanations & useful advice & to correct our posture which is very important if you want to have the best effect out of practicing your Gong this way. Four doors have to be opened: Bai Hui (located at the crown of one’s head), the third eye (lying in between the eyebrows), Lao Gong (located in the middle of one’s palm) & Yong Quan (lying on the foot sole). With these doors or openings the Qi of Heaven & Earth should be gathered in order to accumulate it inside our bodies.
After two weeks of learning & studying theses various sets of Qi Gong the time has come to be examined & so small groups of 3-5 people showed Li Shifu their progress. In total all of us did well so we would be taught further. We were also reminded that for practicing Qi Gong we have to train not only our bodies but also our thoughts to focus them, to specialize them & that this is a process which takes some time. During afternoon class we were taught more aspects concerning the Five Elements (Wu Xing), which are all helpful for the application of healing methods. We learn the fluids (tears for example are connected to the element Wood, its opening are the eyes), negative influences (e.g. dampness is harmful for the element Earth), movements (storage represents the element Water, its season is winter time), virtues (etiquette or respect display the Fire element), “sounds” which actually don’t have a sound wave because the vocal chords are not vibrating (si would be the sound for the Metal element) & many others. We’ve been also talking about the Chinese zodiacs & their connection to the Five Elements: different from western zodiacs Chinese ones change from year to year, not monthly. People born in a year of the tiger or the rabbit e.g. are by that connected to the element Wood.
For calculating the Chinese calendar, which refers to the moon & not to the sun like the western one, the 10 heavenly stems & the 12 earthly branches & their combination are of great importance. Every year, every month, every day & every hour got a certain heavenly stem & a specific earthly branch. The cycles of the stems & branches overlap each other & cause there are 10 heavenly branches & 12 earthly stems after 60 days the original constellation is reached again. For numerology, Feng Shui, the time slots of the organs & many more things this calculation method is absolutely necessary & offers thereby more treatment techniques.
It was lots of input these days, some of it seemed in the beginning a bit confusing & “made our heads dizzy”, but nevertheless we got to study these theories statically to be able to use them dynamically afterwards. So everybody is putting an effort to memorize the aspects of the Five Elements, the heavenly stems & the earthly branches. We are all very curious about how to apply these methods & are looking forward to be taught these techniques.
The third week of our Daoist Medicine course has been very rich in all aspects.
We still wake up and assemble at 6am in the morning, run up to the top of the mountain, then practice all together Qi Gong, sun-gazing and standing meditation, right on time to catch the sunrise. This week we learn a new very beautiful Crane Qi Gong movement, that came to complete our early morning set of practices.
After breakfast and chores, our morning classes has been spent on reviewing the Five Element Qi Gong and the Longevity Qi Gong. We repeated over and over each movement in its correct sequence to memorize them within our bodies, and to learn their names. By the middle of the week, we were ready to shift gear, and to start practicing Water Tai Ji. We separated our time of practice, the new students being taught the Heavenly Horse Tai Ji form (Tian Ma Tai Ji), posture by posture, in water style, while the students who had at-tended the Tai Ji course practiced the form on their own, in water and fire style.
We also were introduced to a new modality of evening practice : we now practice one hour of the Five Element Qi Gong, including the last 2 movements sitting, before entering stillness in sitting meditation for at least one hour more. Experiencing the Qi Gong movements while sitting allows everyone to enter stillness more deeply and faster, and to en-rich their perception of Qi accumulating and circulating.
On the side of theory classes, the week has been really dense in new learning. We first reviewed the complex theory of the previous week, i-e all the correspondences of the five elements, and the ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches, before moving on in-to studying the 8 trigrams- Ba Gua theory, with its pre-heaven and post-heaven arrangements, the nine palaces, the theory of numbers and elements behind it, and various ways to apply them practically as medicine.
We then studied the most important subject of differentiation, or how to make a diagnosis in Daoist Medicine, with 6 methods of investigation : looking, listening, asking, smelling, feeling and palpating the pulse . Each aspect was developed into greater details :
– looking : facial complexion, body posture, conduct, way of walking, skin and hair, tongue color and aspect, eye’s spirit, etc.. how to identify deficiency/excess, cold/hot, inside/outside =yin/yang
– listening: to the patient’s complain itself, but also to the sounds of his body, to the specificity of his voice, etc..
– asking: through questioning the patient, how to identify all possible causes of illness, including heavenly causes (causes from pre-heaven, causes from the law of karma, psychological factors, formless aspects, etc..), human causes (habits, diet, desires, work, etc..), and earthly causes (Feng Shui of the house: Internal Five Elements, Feng Shui within the residence; External Five Elements, Feng Shui of the environment around the residence)
– smelling: the patient’s breath, sweat, body’s odor, etc… Ancient masters of the path could know what was the problem of a patient just by smelling him
– feeling, perceiving : through touching; and distantly, using the palm of the hand to scan the patient’s body; or even very far, across long distances
– palpation of the pulse : how to identify basic patterns of deficiency and excess of the internal organs, on 6 points on both wrists.
For each aspect, we heard of methods specific to the Daoist healers, sometimes quite unusual or extraordinary, and of the question of destiny necessary for a Daoist doctor to help someone to heal. The Daoist doctor first requirement is to maintain a high level of training Qi Gong and practicing inner stillness for himself, to firstly develop a strong energetic field, that may not be negatively influenced by outside forces, but on the opposite that may positively influence the field of his patients, and secondly to open some tools, some special abilities that may help to heal other people. Li Shifu however was very clear that the use of such tools is still of a lower level of practice, that they may be used to help other people as a Daoist healer, but that they should not create any attachment if the practitioner wants to be able to elevate higher.
To add to our intensive theory classes, we also sat together in the evening after dinner, to watch videos selected and commented by Li Shifu . It is an occasion to explore together questions of the potential of human consciousness, of the secrets of the universe and its many life forms, of the existence of extra-terrestrial life and star gates, and to learn to distinguish more clearly between different levels of cultivation and different kinds of energetic fields.
During this time, the building of the new temple Tan Shan Miao, nearby the Black Dragon Spring, halfway down the mountain, is going on really fast. The land has been flattened, and new buildings are already being erected at the corner of the path. It is always a surprise, whenever we go down, to discover the progresses in the construction work, and see the new temple take shape.