Standing

Did you see the CDC report where they described the antibacterial drug situation as a “nightmare”? They are usually conservative, but a strain of bacteria with resistance to everything has shown up that also has the ability to donate the resistance genes to OTHER SPECIES of bacteria, so if you also have bacterial pneumonia it can become antibacterial drug resistant. “Nightmare” is pretty mild – it’s more like flesh-eating zombies showing up in pockets all over the world. If this is for real we could revert to 19th century medicine in a decade or less.

With the antibiotics crash on the horizon, all the more reason to at least test out the concept of overall health being basically a matter of how much chi one has. And that is what the Taoists basically say. Everything from remineralization of teeth, to the immune system, biomechanics, genetic expression, aging, you name it, it all revolves around the amount and kind of chi one has.

And chi is in turn gained or lost by our activities, including exercises as simple as standing still or making simple motions with arms and legs. We are supposedly born with “pre-birth” chi, which amounts to something like a potential line of credit, and a “post-birth” chi, which is like money in your pocket. The trick is to add to the pre-birth capacity to make it able to hold more, while gathering more chi with post-birth exercises.

All this requires a certain suspension of disbelief, or it does for me anyway. In my case, I have no real problem in standing in the basic posture for five minutes; it feels like I could go on for 10 or more, but they stress that you need to work upward slowly, and that this deliberateness is integral to the development process. I say that I have no real problem, but I am focusing on:

  • the position of my feet (shoulder width apart)
  • my knees (bent, but not further than the tips of your toes; the idea is to keep the joint “open” so the chi can flow upward through it into the kath (Sufi-Gurdjieff) – hara (Japanese) – lower Tantien (Chinese), or body center, where it is stored for use)
  • breathing, where you breathe from the belly, i.e. by raising and lowering the diaphragm, not expanding and contracting the chest
  • arms, where the elbows are bent slightly to keep them open for the chi
  • shoulder joints, which need to hold your arms out “so you could fit a golf ball between the upper arm and upper trunk at the armpit”, also to let chi circulate.
  • the head, which is kept vertical and not bent back or forward, nor stretched or compressed
  • the tongue, which is positioned touching the back of the front teeth, as if you were starting to say, “let”.

BK Frantzis, the author of half a dozen or more books about Taoist Energy Arts, as he calls them, says he spent up to six hours a day in just a few different postures for several years to give himself a grounding in the discipline. And without exception, the masters he met had done the same amount of basic training. He was selected as a student by a “lineage holder” of the Taoist arts, who foresaw his arrival in a dream, and was formally charged with preserving the arts for his generation, until he turned it over to another. This corresponds to the Sufi groups that have an active connection through an initiatic line. You may not put any credence in these things, but I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are as real as mud. There is no supernatural, but the natural is PLENTY weird enough for me now.

His 110 pound 95 year old master could stamp his foot and break a rebar reinforced housing foundation. He repeatedly fought lesser masters who could absorb any blows that connected with them and transfer the force into the ground. Real X-Men stuff.

But what I am after is the boost that chi gives to the Path. Chi does not act on the body center alone; it frees and empowers the heart and mind centers as well. The masters Frantzis met were all very intelligent as well as capable of staggering physical feats. In fact, high intelligence is critical to understand exactly what the body is doing and to perceive the chi and learn to receive, store, and transmit it, and to move it from place to place in one’s body, for example to absorb blows, a common fighting application.

After only one 5-minute standing practice, where I was trying to get my feet set, joints open, breathing straight, and so on, I felt the effect as soon as I stopped. Hard to describe, but it was if I was walking more smoothly, almost gliding, and all my movements felt “oiled”. I said to myself, “Good God, there is something to this. This must be why I was lead back to this (I first encountered this 10 years ago, but the time was not right). How in the world could this kind of ability develop through evolution?”

Do you remember the old Groucho Marx quiz show from the mid-50’s where contestants guessed answers to questions? Besides the questions, if they said “the secret word” during yakking with Groucho, a stuffed bird on a cord dropped down from the ceiling in front of them with a card announcing the “secret word”, and they won another $100.

Shaykh Nazim (here I add that it is good adab (manners, behavior) to credit your Shaykh with all of the benefit you receive via the initiatic line; it is a good short hand for ”the Sufis” too) does something like this, attaching a packet of meaning to certain sequences or single concepts or questions that I ask. When I think them, it triggers a kind of automated information dump. I call them “depth charges”.

Anyway, this thought triggered a DC that basically said, “Bipedal postures are so dangerous that human beings had to develop what amounts to “magical” control of body motion. Animal control of it rests in the subconscious, but if you raise it into human consciousness, you get control of the whole system and how it fits into the universe. And if you raise it into spiritual consciousness, you attain the Viceregency, the ability to shift probability, by the quality of your observation, and to actually change the future. So it is that the Qutubs and masters of all disciplines maintain the Human Form and the Human Future. Human ability never increases save through need, so increase your need, O necessitous one!”

After one 5-minute session.

After the second one, I left the house and drove halfway to the hospital to see Nettie before realizing that I had left my glasses at home.

That’s all I have done so far.

I think this is probably enough data for the moment…but you can see that this has my complete attention.

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About Mike MacLeod

At large
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