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November 10, 2011

Question and Answer about the order of practice


Hi James,
hope everything is good with you. I just wanted to ask you in all your years of training, have you found there is a particular sequence that is best to do the exercises in order to extract maximum benefit? For example, doing supplementary practices [walking,trees] followed straight away by sitting, or the other way round.
Would apreciate any advice you could give me in order to gain the most benefit from the practice.

this is not an easy question.

Basically one practices the 'spontaneous dao', meaning that through time and training one should spontaneously simply do the appropriate thing at every moment.

This can however be a 'very slippery slope' since we are easily fooled by the human mind into doing things that are really just a product of desire and are nowhere near the real spontanaity of the true dao.

So, sitting practice immediately after tree practice in the evening is very effective. The balancing effect of pin heng gong can help make quiet sitting more true and effective (ie less forced).

Walking practice is effectively 'building the furnace' and should be followed by nourishment and rest. ( As we did at the retreat, followed by the morning sitting )

I have not been able to really tell from my recording whether Master Wang followed different methods in the morning and evening sittings, so I cannot advise there.
I use a method of study where I read the taoist classics for inspiration and focusing, followed by sitting practice. There are a number I find particularily effective.
Thomas Cleary's 'The Inner Teachings of Taoism' (in Chinese is called 'Four Hundred Words on the Gold Elixir') as well as his 'The Secret of the Golden Flower' and his badly titled IMO 'Practical Taoism' are all excellent. I really like Eva Wongs' 'The Tao of health, Longevity and Immortality', a translation of the 'Chung-Lu ch'uan-tao chi' or 'The Teaching of Chung and Lu'. This is a core text of the Northern Branch of the Complete Reality School, of which the Longmen Dao, Master wang's sect is the primary existing line.

All that being said I will repeat here my mantra about the Living Midnight, you have probably heard this from me before.

The most important issue of all in effectiveness and making real progress is familiarity and use of what is termed in the classics as the 'living midnight'.
There are two methods.

1 - During sitting, when stillness culminates in the 'song' stage (the quiet sitting part of the practice following the initial pore breathing and gathering of the shen), then energy arises spontaneously. This rises naturally in the body and there is a sensation of 'lifting off' floating up to heaven. When the floating reaches it's peak and yin commences, you 'hang' from heaven and dissolve completely, the accumulation settling in the sha tien. If you accomplish this, the remaining part of the practice (an shen tzu chio and five element circulation ) will have a living shinng character that is immistakable. Then when you plunge the spirit into the lower field you will know the spirit and energy are joined.

2 - Anytime during the day, is the spirit is settled and presence sufficient, you will 'sense' the moment of the 'living midnight' ( actually this is the 'living hour' of the shen returning. If yo are lucky to be able to sit at that moment and do the practice of 'an shen tzu chio' you will experience something like #1 above, but much stronger. The energy surges up, and you literally take off, feeling like all the body and sense are bouyant like a balloon. You can rise very high, into infinite space and literally 'touch heaven'. As that period wanes, hang from heaven by looking up through the crown and fastening your attention on the highest, while the body and all sensation dissolve into emptyness, and then emptyness itself dissolves. This is all spontanoeusand requires no thought or effort. Only 'an shen tzu chio'.
Mind resting on breath and breath resting on mind.

Posted by james at November 10, 2011 10:47 PM


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