There are Two Realms of Heaven + Earth in Taoist Studies
The philosophical concept of Heaven and Earth encompasses many practices of both the manifest and primordial realms. As a qi gong practice, Heaven and Earth is an excellent methodology for penetrating deep into the body and bringing alive the many layers of flesh, fluids and qi; whereas, Heaven and Earth as a fundamental aspect of Taoist theory enters the realm of the cosmic, having very different implications.
This dual-aspected philosophy is not unique to Taoism, as discussed in the article from which this excerpt is derived, but the pragmatic and skilful approach of the Water method allows the Taoist seeker to evolve on all levels of their being through a systematic training protocol. Derived from study of the Five Elements and I Ching, this practice methodology offers the dedicated student of the Tao effective strategies for navigating the pitfalls of living in the modern material world, and effectively growing their personal and spiritual potential.
Taoist arts and philosophy are extremely pragmatic and incredibly understated with instructive texts often being terse and cloaked in many layers of metaphorical language. While obvious meanings may be gleaned from a casual read by just about anyone, laying just below the surface is a treasure trove of principles detailing technicalities and natural law that can only be truly revealed by the initiated. Feasibly and perhaps paradoxically Taoists have always regarded that the best place to hide something of value is out in the open.
However, the bulk of the Taoist tradition is oral with teachings and experiential knowledge wrapped up in short proverbs that guide the dedicated student cleanly and clearly through the trappings of the ego, and into the unchartered waters of the mind. The secrets within can only be discovered by those who dedicate themselves to The Way or The Path of personal and spiritual development. As the student walks along their path and trains, the many veils peel away and the guiding principles uncover ever-deeper truths. And the same few words that exploit these meanings, propel the persistent student along their journey. One such maxim containing the potential of the entire development within the Tao internal arts is nei wai hsiang he or “inside and outside become one”.
Typically, the first cycle through the Five Element nei gong takes around 10 years, allowing two years of dedicated training for each of the Five Element qi gong sets to embody their distinct characteristics. This process is either completed by starting with Energy Gates Qi Gong and working through the other elemental qi gong sets to Gods Qi Gong in two-year periods; or more commonly by spending three, six, nine or 12 months on each set—returning to Energy Gates and cycling through to Gods multiple times.
The Five Elements: Old Taoism’s Cycle of Transformation
Tao journal, February 2013 excerpt:
As one of the three key streams of Tao energy arts, Five Element Theory can be applied to understand the manifest world in which we live, such as feng shui and astrology, music and military strategy, martial arts and medicine, diet and therapy. There are many schools of thought and many dozens of systems available to work with the Five Elements. For example, the Creation-Destruction Cycles—or Wood-Fire-Earth-Metal-Water and Wood-Earth-Water-Fire-Metal, respectively—were popularised during the first half of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), and remain widespread today.
However, Old Taoism’s approach to the Five Elements is primarily concerned with transformation in body, mind and chi. The Transformational Cycle is represented as: Water-Fire-Wood-Metal-Earth.
In my Tao journal, I’ve been explaining the best training strategies to qi energy power for health, healing, stress relief and achieving high performance goals of any kind. My colleague Dan Kleiman of Qigong Radio had a few questions about the crossover into and the connection between nei gong energy arts and meditation. For those of you who don’t subscribe to my journal, I’ll provide a little context, and then you can listen to or download the interview by following the link offered below.