Qigong, supernatural powers and demonic possession. Christianity, the ego, the Good Side and the Bad Side of the Force. Oh yes… and the continuation of my 30 Day Spontaneous Qi Practice.
This is a continuation of my 30 day spontaneous Qigong Trial. For a primer of what this trial is all about, click here.
The Cult of Qigong
I have been reading a fascinating new book, which talks negatively about qigong, called – ‘Breaking Through the Barriers of Darkness: Recognising the Cult of Qigong for What It Is‘. It was written by Hsiao Guang and translated by Leanne Luo.
The author attained a high level of Qigong ability but had supernatural difficulties arising out of it.
In his book, Hsiao discusses how Qigong is a form of demonic possession and should be avoided by everyone. The author converted to Christianity after practicing Qigong from an early age.
I have seen a similar article written by another Chinese practitioner who converted to Islam.
I think it is worth discussing these aspects of Qigong practice. To only paint a rosy picture and smell the roses, but ignore the thorns, can lead us to into ignoring some of the risks that can come with any kind of spiritual practice. This applies also to Meditation, and Kundalini yoga.
Some people will talk about Qigong as some sort of universal panacea that can solve all our problems, heal all diseases and make the world a better place. I don’t think this is an accurate view.
A negative point of view of Qigong
In this book, Hsiao talks about how he was introduced to Qigong at an early age by his family. His mother had undiagnosed health problems.
At the time, Qigong was going through a boom of interest in China, especially between 1982 to 1995. Millions of people were practicing Qigong and certain high-level Qigong masters, with developed Spiritual powers achieved a kind of celebrity-like status, appearing on TV and holding large events.
Hsiao’s mother practiced the 5 animal exercises, and her condition was cured. This led to his parents becoming more fanatical about Qigong. Hsiao also developed an interest in Qigong and practiced every day, studying different systems and forms, reading books and trying to learn from various teachers around.
Hsiao’s intense practice paid dividends. He started to develop many spiritual and supernatural powers. One of the most notable was being able to heal diseases with extreme ease. He became known for his powers and was proud of what he could do. But he was also disdainful of other Qigong practitioners with lesser power. He sought out even more abilities.
However, he took it all too far. As a young man, he probably did not yet have the maturity to handle these powers. He kept chasing more and more abilities. There was too much ego involved.
Ego is the most dangerous thing. Whether it is qigong, or acupuncture or anything. Once you start to think you are great or powerful or better than others, then you are heading for a fall.
And that is what happened.
He kept pushing himself further and further to increase his ability. He disregarded some standard warnings about how to practice. For example, in one instance, he practiced outside on a windy day.
I mentioned in an earlier post, how it is advised not to practice Qigong outside in a storm. I then received this amusing comment from a reader in my Day 2 post:
“But what if we for instance, practice qi gong in a storm, with an East wind, a rainbow, whilst pregnant, and with a history of mental instability, and having taken recreational drugs?”
Whilst this young man did not go to this extreme. There are practical reasons why it is advised not to practice Qigong outside in windy weather. For example – getting hit by a tree.
The other more common reason is to avoid the invasion of external pathogenic factors – i.e. Wind. If you are versed in Traditional Oriental Medicine, you will understand this factor.
On this occasion, when Hsiao practiced on a windy day, he was struck with severe rheumatism of the neck. But he wasn’t able to heal it in himself like he could heal other people. This contradiction irritated him.
Wind and Draughts – External Factors
One thing I was taught in Chinese medicine, is not to sleep with the window open next to your head with a draught coming through. The cold draught can penetrate the outer Channels of the body causing a Qi blockage.
I would also add one more advice – do not do calisthenic exercises with wet hair on a cold day. I have pulled some muscles in my back doing that one time.
In Chinese medicine, there is this idea of ‘Wind invasion. It is when your body’s resistance is low and an external factor like wind or damp can invade the channels and get lodged there. That sounds like what happened in this instance. Although, it is not clear to me why he could heal others but not himself.
Lodged pathogenic factors
In the authors instance, the only relief he got was by continually shaking his neck to loosen it up.
Of course, if you continually do this when talking to someone, it really makes you look strange.
What’s more, is that when he just forced himself not to move his neck when in the company of someone else, he would soon notice that whoever he was talking to would find their own neck felt uncomfortable and they would start needing to shake their own. They would even feel some pain. The author felt guilty because he knew that it was his bad Qi that was spreading to other people.
There were other negative things that came from his practice; bad luck with business, difficult relationships, also a harder attitude towards others. It was like a kind of mist of gloom was over him.
But worse was what sounds like an actual demonic possession.
In an earlier post, I discussed an incident in my own life, where I felt I had attracted a low-level entity to me by creating a field of negative energy – (ie I had a heated and unresolved argument with my wife, just before sleeping).
It may have been only a dream, but it has kept me a little more open-minded to such possibilities.
An encounter in the countryside
In one scene, in the countryside, Hsiao was again practicing, when he felt led towards an area out back. There, he started spinning intensely and then suddenly a great force come to him and forced him to kowtow (bow in deference).
He resisted at first, as the whole thing felt wrong to him. However, a voice came to him telling him he was being granted a gift by a Qigong Master. Upon hearing this offer, as well as the factor that he was finding it hard to resist the force pushing him down – he acquiesced to the spirit.
And after this, his spiritual powers increased even further. But so too did his alienation from others, along with other negative events and occurrences.
Converting to Christianity
The author found relief and peace of mind from this eventually, by converting to Christianity. He was supported by other Christians. At one point, he literally had the demons exorcised out of him through prayer.
It may be possible that entities do exist and they can invade people if they are too opened up and weak minded. I don’t have experience or knowledge of this area, but I am willing to accept it as a possibility.
I think if a person chases these powers too quickly and too early, before they have acquired adequate maturity and experience, they open themselves up to these risks. In this instance, the author really invited these entities into him. He also tried to force his third eye open too soon.
Moderation and awareness
This is why practice should be moderate and the ego should be dropped. A person should not practice with the objective of seeking supernatural powers from Qigong or meditation.
I would advise that if you do feel at any point that something about your qigong practice is uncomfortable or there are some uneasy sensations, then it is fine to stop or even quit your practice.
There are many unexplained things in this world – even at this level of physical reality. So why take a risk. You may be more sensitive or perhaps there is some other reason for it. Just let it go and learn salsa or yoga asana’s instead. Life should be enjoyed.
It will come when you are ready: Don’t force it
One time, I had a conversation about the ‘Kundalini rising phenomenon’ with an spiritual teacher, who taught me tai chi. My teacher’s name was Dorothea and she was a close student of the famous spiritualist Irina Twedy.
At the time, I had recently tried out a specific type of Kundalini yoga class, which was specifically designed to raise the Kundalini energy.
My teacher had had some experience of such things during her training and I valued her knowledge and opinion. I was curious about if it was a good idea to purposely raise the Kundalini energy.
What prompted this conversation was a rather strong reaction I had felt, at my first class there, when someone attempted to raise my Kundalini. I will talk about it is more detail in my longer article on Spontaneous Qigong.
The Kundalini rising can create all sorts of spiritual and physical disturbances in the body. Basically it is better to clear the nadirs (Channels) before your Kundalini is raised.
My teacher told me that you should just let the Kundalini raise by itself. It will do so when it is ready and when you are ready and your chakras are opened up.
Basically do not chase things spiritually. Just let it come when you are ready. So I followed her advice and I stopped going to that yoga class.
In this authors example; he chased. It may even be this kind of ‘chasing‘, that leads to the ‘Qigong Deviation’ syndrome that has been observed in China. Especially when millions of poor and a fanatical Chinese, at varying stages of maturity, pursue supernatural powers. This may especially be more common in young men, who are more prone to being ego-driven and have a greater tendency to throw themselves gung-ho into practice.
In this instance, I would say that it is actually far healthier to chase materialism and money instead. Excessive Qigong can just make you strange.
I mean, just look at all these crazy blog posts I’ve been writing on Spontaneous Qigong. Before I did this experiment, my writing on my blog was probably fairly normal, perhaps with the occasional flash of strangeness.
However, now these blog posts are getting stranger and stranger. And I’m not even half-way through this trial yet.
Theres a reason why in martial art-type movies, a master asks the student why they want to learn martial arts. They want to find out if the motivation is ego driven or if it stems from a desire to harm others. Both of which can lead to imbalances in the person practicing.
If a person comes to a teacher saying they want to practice qigong, yoga or meditation for supernatural powers, that teacher should smack that person in the face, tell them to go lift some weights or do sports and don’t come back until they’ve followed a normal life for the next ten years.
Personally, I don’t think people should practice qigong before the age of 30. The only exception is if they are sick with a serious disease like cancer, then all bets are off, and they should start practicing as early as they can.
So is Qigong evil? No, I don’t think so.
I think the analogy of the movie Star Wars gives the best example. It is curious how George Lucus had a great understanding of these two polar forces in the universe – the ‘dark side’ and the ‘good side’ of the force.
The force is the same. But if used for evil, or if negative emotions like anger or fear are allowed to grow, then the practitioner turns to the darkside.
The darkside is full of ego. It is about power, and power is extremely seductive. Just look at the Emperor who was a complete representation of evil and darkness.
He had fully given himself to the darkside, with his grey wrinked pasty skin and evil smile. He did not care for anyone – not even his loyal servant Darth Vader who he would happily have sacrificed if Luke would take his place.
Darth himself started off as good, but was swayed to the dark-side by his negative emotions – envy, jealousy and fear. His life, family and even his physical body was destroyed. So that even when he became more powerful, there was no happiness. Fortunately his release came in the end.
The good side of the force is about service, justice and compassion. It is cultivated whenever you focus on serving others and not about showing off your powers to others or for fame.
Going back to this book – Hsiao was able to heal people easily. This is in itself a great thing to be able to do for someone. But what were his true feelings? Was he secretly proud of his abilities because it made him more important and attained him more power and respect? Again this is the ego.
Our mind and actions
Yet, the good side and the bad side are one of the same. As humans we always walk in between both sides.
Every day, every single act or thought can potentially leads us into the dark side or the good side. We may not realise it, but this conflict is continuous. Here is a quote by the spirutalist Irina Twedy:
“The Realisation that every act, every word, every thought of ours not only influences our environment but mysteriously forms an integral part of the Universe, fits into it as if by necessity, in the very moment we do or say or think it, is an overwhelming and even shattering experience.
– The Chasm of Fire, by Irina Twedy
How we think, what we do, even a small insignificant act like cursing someone who annoys us, even if just quietly to ourselves, or dropping a piece of litter for someone else to pick up must have an energetic resonance with our outer world and reality.
Qigong Good and Bad
So yes, I believe that qigong is a force that can be used either way. If you allow the ego to push you to chase fame, supernatural abilities and power, it will make you vulnerable to demonic forces or the dark side. Kind of like a guru or cult leader, that ends up leading their followers to commit bad acts.
But if you come at it with respect and build your spiritual side as you develop, you can be a force of goodness. Kind of like Hui Xian Chen’ who was of service in spreading Qigong in the USA.
I discussed her story in my Day 6 Post. Chen too was endowed with supernatural powers from her Qigong practice. She touched on the dangers of ego mixed with Qigong supernatural powers in her book.
I will finish this section with a couple of quotes from her book ‘Life is Always Smiling’:
If a practitioner solely pursues extrasensory powers, this can become very dangerous and lead that person into a deviation.
Over the past years, I have also learned not to pursue extrasensory powers. For a period of time after my diligent practice, I developed some extrasensory powers. I felt that I had a gift and got excited at the thought that one day I would become famous. It pumped up my curiosity, vanity and ego.
Later, I was grateful to all my teachers who criticized me for showing off my powers; they got me back on the right path. They reminded me that, “To pursue Dao is the real goal of qigong practice!”
Later, when I studied Buddhist and Daoist philosophies, I came to realize that all extrasensory powers are like the branches of a big tree. If too much energy is given to grow the branches, the tree itself will become distorted.
Instead, we should focus on how to grow the trunk of the tree, so that it can be of great use, unlike the branches that are used for firewood. To grow the trunk is to pursue Dao and to achieve enlightenment. When a person wants only to pursue extrasensory powers, that person might fall into a negative trap and end up in danger.
Life is Always Smiling, by Hui Xian Chen
Day 9 Log
Today was a gentle day of practice, which I carried out a little later in the morning. I was feeling a little sluggish, perhaps because I haven’t been drinking coffee so much recently. I don’t feel I want to drink it so much, and instead I am favouring English tea with soya milk for my caffeine fix.
The Spontaneous Qi state started immediately in almost less than a second. It was pretty quick. On the other hand, the movements were kind of slow and reflected my general sluggish physical feeling today. I mostly just went into spinal twists, and some side bending.
At one point, there was a little surge of energy movement as I started shaking on the spot and circling my arms in synchronicity. Then it calmed down and I went back to a gentle side-to-side bending. I brought my practice to an end after 15 minutes.
Day 10 Log
This morning, I was feeling a little down, so I would class it as an ‘off’ start to the day. This week I have had to come to the acceptance that I have to let something go that I had been working on for many years. This has made me feel a bit depressed.
The last 6 months, I feel that an old way of life is transitioning onto a different path, for which my writing work and website will play a significant part. But there is a period of transition, kind of like the turbulence you feel when a plane takes off. It is this period that is the most uncomfortable but once you reach the right altitude your journey continues more smoothly again.
So I took an easy practice today and did the minimum. I just wanted to keep up my trial. I tried to start in the cross-legged position. However, the spontaneous qi movements did not really flow. So I switched to Seiza and found the movements flow a little bit more.
I don’t want to force the spontaneous qi movement to come or even to ‘grab’ them when I felt a swaying. I prefer if it can activate by itself and move as it requires.
Today the movements were mild. Mostly rocking and my finger made fast little circles. I also rotated my torso clockwise. After ten minutes, I brought the spontaneous movements to an end.
Mentally I have been feeling a lot more relaxed recently and kind of have a more positive mindset. When annoying things happen, I find myself looking for a positive in it. I wouldn’t have done this before. Instead, I would have been annoyed and looked at the negatives in it.
I also feel a little more physically sensitive to environmental factors, particularly if I don’t get enough fresh air. Recently, I have been getting some mild headaches. The heat wave in London is also a factor.
I am aware of just how built-up it is in London. In some parts, the air is not good. Some parts of inner and East London remind me of the centre of Tokyo, which I would describe as ‘Concrete City’. Even the kids’s parks there are a joke. They are small little concrete areas with a swing or slide, but sometimes overlooking a main road so they are exposed to car fumes. They are usually very small and tucked in somewhere as a kind of afterthought. There are very few trees in the centre of Tokyo.
Most days I walk to a local park, which contains a small wood with a lot of trees. The air just feels so good to breathe there among the trees.
It truly is a mad thing to chop down so many trees in this world and replace them with concrete. They are our life.
Click here for Day 11 of my 30 Day Spontaneous Qigong Trial.
Breaking Through the Barriers of Darkness: Recognising the Cult of Qigong for What It Is‘ Hsiao Guang, Translated by Leanne Luo. 2008
The Chasm of Fire: A Woman’s Experience of Liberation through the Teachings of a Sufi Master. Irina Twedy. Element Books, 1979, page 202.
Life is Always Smiling: Stories from my Life, Hui Xian Chen
Japanese Garden Display – Silvia Lüthi. akupunkturplus.ch
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