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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meditation from Chinese Perspective

Meditation  Chinese Perspective
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Meditation and Why it is Important

The practice of meditation is one of the oldest esoteric practices known to mankind. There are myriad forms of meditation, each with different goals in mind, though some are remarkably similar in method and outcome. Meditation in its most basic form, is a way of focusing the mind. By emptying the mind, or concentrating on one specific image, or chanting a mantra either verbally or within the mind to the practical exclusion of all else, one may attain a higher spiritual, and mental level. This is not a trance, as you are well aware of your surroundings, and the goings on therein, but you needn’t let them disturb you, unless of course, it is an immediate threat.
Meditation, and its effects, are not only beneficial to the mind, but to he brain itself. It causes the brain to develop in ways that the normal brain does not, through the densifying growth of new neurons and connections. This growth increases the effects of meditation, in a cumulative fashion, allowing one to go into the meditative state with greater ease, and to progress to deeper, more complex states of meditation. This also allows the disciple to gain better conscious control over the endocrine glands of the body, in addition to other benefits.
This has been proven medically, through brain scans and MRI imagery of subject groups. In the control group of normal people who do not meditate, the brains were found to be “average”, or in other words, nothing unusual was encountered. The second group, a group of people selected that meditate between 20 and 30 minutes a day, had approximately 25% to 30% greater brain density, and in cognative testing, exhibited a higher aptitude in the ability to remember things, as well as to focus on specific, and multiple tasks. The final group, were subjects that volunteered to be tested, who were monks and priests from Taoist and Zen monasteries. This group exhibited the highest densities observed, between 87% and 94% higher neuron density than the average person, and nearly supernatural memory and focus ability. This is very handy, since there are many things to remember and learn in the Taoist tradition, as well as Zen Buddhism.
 
Meditation in Taoism

Considering the numerous influences on Taoism from other religions and philosophies, and the tendency of Taoism to adopt what is useful to its practices, there are numerous methods within its disciplines. To be precise, there are 12 main recognized methods of meditation within Taoism. Worry not, no one sect practices all of them, as some are very close to one another, and further, not all at the same time, as each method given later builds on the one before it, synergistically, much like the different forms in chi kung. Otherwise, one would be sitting around meditating all day long, with little time for anything else but eating, sleep, and hygene!

The 12 Recognized Forms of Meditation
To most people, the word “meditation” conjures an iconoclastic vision of someone siting in full lotus position, spine locked in an upright position, staring off into nothingness or eyes closed, maybe humming to themselves in a long monotone. To them, this fits all meditation, if you’ve done it one way, you’ve done it all ways it can be done. Nothing could be further from the truth.  The posture and method described above is but one way, a stepping stone on the path to the Tao. Outlined below, are the 12 forms of Taoist Meditation. Later, the methods used within the Wu Hai Lung Temple will be explained, and instructed upon in greater detail.
 
Internal Observation
This method originated in the T’ang dynasty. It is very similar to vipasana meditation, due to the T’ien-tai Buddhist influence upon it. Initially, the student observes and attends to the rise and fall of the thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Once thoroughly mindful of these different phenomena, one realizes that their existence, as well as the problems they generate, are caused by the activity of the mind. If the mind were to become still, there would be no problems.
The next step is to quiet the mind, by stopping the thoughts, emotions, and sensations before they occur. Once one becomes adept at watching what is happening within, and these patterns of mental activity are noted, the initiate can then anticipate and stop them before they occur. When the three phenomena are stopped, the mind becomes still. This is known as “locking up the monkey of the mind”, or “tying up the galloping horse of the thoughts”. In stillness, things become clear. In that clarity, it becomes bright, and this brightness is the Tao radiating from within.
This method doesn’t require the initiate to focus on anything during the mediation, there are no mantras or visualizations or postures required. The distinct feature of this form of meditation is the method of “using the mind to defeat the mind”. Through mindfulness of the activities of the mind, the mind becomes empty, and ready to accomplish other more fruitful tasks.
There are no breathing exercises, postures, or other physical demands attached to this form of meditation, as one may do this meditation while walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. It requires little to no supervision, and is well suited to those who have little time on their hands, or no inclination to commit to the deeper and more demanding Taoist disciplines.
 
Focusing on the Center
This method is more commonly known as “centering”. In this method, attention to the outside world is gradually withdrawn, until the student no longer is attached to the sights, sounds, or other material events around you. When these stimuli of thoughts and emotions no longer stir the mind and stillness occupies it, the process of centering can begin. There is some disagreement between Taoist sects as to exactly what, and where the center is. Some regard it as the middle dan tien, located at the solar plexus, as the enter of the being. Others call it a state of mind, an intangible thing not able to be localized within the body, but an intuitive state of mind that senses the balance of all things, which is the Tao. In the Wu Hai Lung Temple, we teach a synthesis of these two pervading theories. The center is located within the core of the body, made up of the lower and middle dan tiens, and connected by the Ch’ueng Mo, or Thrusting Channel. In envisioning it, we think of a roughly hourglass shaped, or barbell shaped energy form, a little larger at the lower dan tien, in relation to the bodily proportions of the head and lower body. This is a microcosom of the outward, or physical self, much like the Small Heavenly Cycle is a representation of the microcosom of the universe, which is the macrocosom. By centering internally on this microcosmic figure of the self, the initiate is able to gain the mindset of the true balance of the Tao. This method is obviously different than the internal observation method, as it requires one to focus on something, but it does not require any specific postures, though it is best to do this meditation while seated, and is suitable for anyone in any physical condition.
 
Holding the One
Holding or Guarding the One refers to keeping the oneness of the Tao within. This practice comes from Shang-ch’ing Taoism. This practice involves visualization of various manifestations or emenations of Lao Tzu, or other deities, which are images of the Tao. These visualizations serve to keep the deities or guardian spirits within. This sort of visualization is not immediately necessary, as the key to the mediation is in dissolving the duality between the self and the world, so that oneness may be attained. Early on, one must still the mind and body so no thoughts, emotions, or sensations arise. Once stillness is attained, the Mind of the Tao will emerge and become apparent. The Mind of the Tao is a state of consciousness that is rooted in the Tao, and sees all things as one. By persistent practice, the experience of oneness takes hold, and union with the Tao is achieved. This level, or form of meditation, is favored by sects that specifically cultivate the mind, and it does not require the disciple to adopt any specific body postures. However, the body and mind must remain still, as any movement or distracting thoughts will destroy the experience of being one with the Tao. This does make it more physically demanding than previously discussed methods, as the body likes to keep moving. To maintain physical stillness, the body must be relaxed, and the skeletal sstructure must be strong. Those with poor skeletal strength, especially that of the spine, will find it difficult to hold the body in one position, which can potentially last for hours.
 
Stopping the Thoughts and Emptying the Mind
This form is very similar to Zen meditation. The disciple sits in silence and empties the mind of thoughts, desires, and emotions. Unlike internal observation, where one watches the thoughts and emotions rise and fall until one can simply detach from them, the goal here is to extinguish the mind altogether, without using the devices of visualization, mantra, or passive observation. The premise here is, that all thoughts or activity of the mind is the work of tricksters and monsters trying to cause outside influence on the mind. Hence the student must cleanly, and abruptly cut off all attachments to attain complete emptiness of the mind. This form is used as a stepping stone to intermediate and advanced forms of internal alchemy, as well as developing the right form of mind for other workings. The Complete Reality School of Taoism and the Hsien-t’ien sect practice this form for the cultivation of internal alchemy.
 
Recovering the Real Mind
This method cultivates the Tao Mind, the consciousness capable of directly intuiting the nature of the Tao. This is also called the Original Mind. This comes from the Complete Reality School, and comes after the mind has been emptied of thoughts. Once the internal chatter and thought has ceased, one may begin to develop a deeper stillness. Within this stillness, not only are thoughts extinguished, but the mind and body begin moving naturally toward stillness as well. This becomes reflected in everyday life, as one has no desire to stimulate the senses unnecessarily, nor arouse the mind to useless thoughts of worldly attachments. This method may be practiced while sitting in a chair, or cross legged, or in half lotus, and is suitable for all physical conditions of the student. This method is also practiced by those who wish to cultivate physical health and mental clarity, but lack the time, or inclination to commit to the far more demanding disciplines of internal alchemy. Additionally, this can be used to cultivate internal power through the practice of stillness.
 
Focusing on the Cavities
This requires the student to draw the attention away from the external world, to focus on a certain cavity within the body. This is different from centering, as there is no reference to centering or balance, and is involved in internal alchemy, as well as certain forms of Iron Body, like Iron Vest. This involves directing the chi actively to the different body cavities involved, to change or unblock the flow of energy, calm the emotions, stop stray thoughts, and minimize sensations. The Iron Body uses are a more advanced form, where the beginnings of this form are used for refinement and transformation of the chi. Depending on the stage of the spiritual development and health of the disciple, different cavities are focused on. In the early stages, the focus is on the Gate of Life, or ming-men. As the process of internal alchemy progresses, the lower, middle, and upper dan tiens sequentially become the cavities of focus. In the case of particular problems, other more obscure cavities are focused on. This method is far more rigorous than most, as specific postures are used. As this also involves the conscious movement of chi, many prerequisites need to be met before proceeding into this method. The Mind must be still, the spine must be strong, the body should be relaxed, the tendons softened and strong, etc. in order to be capable of holding the demanding postures for considerable lengths of time. This is an intermediate to advanced form of meditation, and requires rigorous instruction.
 
Visualizing the Valley Spirit
Here, one visualizes an image, then slowly merges with it. This is similar to the previous method of Holding the One. However, the visualization is not of deities, but one of the Kun-lun Mountains ( used to channel chi through the spine), the Yellow Palace (to gather and transform vital energy in the middle dan tien), the Sea of Energy, or chi-hai (to light the fires of the internal stove so one may gather and transform generative energy in the lower dan tien), and ultimately, the Valley Spirit ( to gather and transform spirit energy in the upper dan tien, or Third Eye). Visualizing the Valley Spirit is the highest stage of this meditation. These visualizations correspond to the microcosmic orbit, where the chi is refined into the Golden Elixir, and will be expounded upon later in the sections dealing with longevity exercises.
 
Emptying the Mind and Filling the Belly
This method is another internal alchemical method, where one empties the mind to let the fires of the desire sink, and letting the abdomen fill with chi to fill the belly. This method is also known as “immersion of fire in water”. Sinking the fires of desire means minimizing the attachments to objects, be they material, thought, or emotion. Filling the belly is the cultivation and storing of chi in the lower dan tien by controlling the breath, through energy transfer in sexual alchemy, or absorbing the solar, lunar, or elemental mist essences. If you have been practicing the exercises presented in the first section of the curriculum, you have been practicing the beginning steps of this meditation, which is one of the long term methods of internal alchemy.
 
Uniting intention with Breath
Of all the forms of Taoist meditation, this one is the most linked to patterns of breathing, and is perhaps one of the most important methods presented thus far. In the early stages, the disciple focuses on the movement of the breath itself, initially concentrating on the breath itself, or counting the breaths, even counting in certain patterns as one inhales, pauses between, and exhales. These steps are also very similar to Zen meditation. This is done to focus the mind. Initially, one allows the breathing to go normally, focusing on that, building up the patterns, which aren’t so much under conscious control of the disciple, as they are a function of the state of mind generated by the meditation. When the mind becomes still, the breathing naturally slows down, becoming soft and deep. This is referred to as fetal, or “pre-birth breathing”, as it resembles the breathing of a child within the womb, and is one of the most desireable breathing patterns to attain. When yin reaches the height of its development, yang emerges to balance it. So, when the mind has become completely still, it will be set into motion. This is not th ordinary movement of mental activity attached to objects or desires of the world, but an intention with purpose, called chen-I, or true intention. It is capable of moving internal energy, or the chi. When the intention moves, chi is circulated and generated. When it is still, the chi is stored and gathered into the various dan tiens throughout the body, but primarily within the lower dan tien. As one advances to higher levels of development, the duality between the disciple and the universal energy of the Tao dissolves. Once there is no separation between inner and outer, there is only one breath. That breath is the Breath of the Tao, the source of all life. The breath ceases to be a function of the mere physical body, or even the dan tiens, the entire body is one breath, rising and falling with each inhalation and exhalation, as the disciple becomes the Breath of the Tao. This is very similar in some ways to the exercises given in the beginning portions of the curriculum, but do not confuse it with them, as it does not involve the movement of tangible things like chi kung and nei gung does, where you consciously move the breath and chi internally through the body. Instead, the method of Uniting Intention and Breath works on the formless, as the Breath of the Tao is formless and intangible. Therefore it cannot be practiced upon, but only experienced. There is no active manipulation or direct control of the breath, instead, different patterns of breathing emerge of their own volition, as a result of changes in the disciples state of mind. In stating this, we can say that Uniting the Intention and Breath is a method that utilizes meditation to transform breath and internal energy. This is one of the most advanced, yet simplest forms of meditation, and as such, requires constant supervision until mastered, as it is difficult for the disciple to tell if the breath is being controlled by the mind, or you are allowing it to happen, as it should.
 
Gathering and Circulating the Light of the Spirit
This form of meditation is divided into two stages. Gathering the light of the spirit, and circulating the light. Before the light of the spirit can be gathered and circulated, it must be born and developed. Spirit is the yuan-shen, or the immortal fetus. Thus, this method is used only in advanced stages of internal alchemy. To let the original spirit emerge, the knowledge spirit or shih-shen must be tamed. The shih-shen is the mischevious, analytical, scheming mind. It is attached to material or worldly things and affairs, is responsible for the violent mood swings people have, and obscure us from seeing the truth of the Tao. To cultivate the original spirit, the student has to overcome the knowledge spirit, and then use it to help the original spirit develop. At the same time, the disciple must prepare the body for the conception of the immortal fetus. This involves strengthening and softening the skeletal system, regulation of the body’s systems and their function, and the gathering, circulation, and transformation of the shen, chi, and jing, the spiritual, vital, and generative energies respectively. In order to undertake this endeavor, the beginning and intermediate stages of internal alchemy must be completed first. When the immortal fetus is conceived, the original spirit is born. In the beginning, the light of the original spirit is dim, and the disciple has only a vague experience of its presence. As the original spirit is nurtured by the chi, it becomes strong, and its light brightens. When the light of the original spirit is fully developed, the disciple is bathed in a golden light. This light emnating from the body is gathered, and drawn inside. With time, the light becomes less dazzling, and takes on a soft, radiant glow. When it reaches this point, it is time to begin circulating the light. To begin, the light follows set pathways, inside it follows the channels and meridians, while outside, it hovers about the body. In the advanced state of circulation, the light no longer follows any one path, but is diffused throughout the body like smoke filling a vessel. This also happens outside the body, as the disciple feels that they are enveloped in a diffused golden light. This method is typically practiced by sects affiliated with the Complete reality School of Taoism. This method is the highest form of spiritual training, and is not possible to learn it without building the proper foundations of internal alchemy. This method is only taught to the highest level of disciple.
 
Drawing the Light Inward
This form of mediatation is practiced in advanced stages of spiritual development. After the foundations of internal alchemy are completed, and the original spirit is developed. The disciple uses this method to nurture it. During meditation, the disciple gathers the light into three spots, forming a triangle, when one experiences a light hovering about. The top spot is drawn into the third eye, while the other two are drawn into the eyes. In this way, the lights of the sun, moon, and stars are united with the light inside, and the barrier between the internal universe, or microcosom, and the external universe, or macrocosom, is dissolved. As the light enters the disciple, the body becomes weightless, and the mind bcomes clear and empty. When filled with light, the bones, muscles, tendons, and internal organs are nourished by the primordial chi of the Tao. Body and mind are renewed, and in a state of bliss and spiritual extacy, the disciple is merged with the timeless, undifferentiated state of the Tao. The method of Drawing the Light Inward, is used by internal alchemists sects that have synthesized the methods of the Complete Reality School and the Shang-ch’ing sect’s practices. This is among the most advanced levels or methods, and requires frequent supervision, formal instruction, and a lifetime of commitment to the discipline.
 
Returning to Earlier Heaven
This method is “exclusive” to the Hsien-t’ien Tao sect. It is a seven stage transformation, where in each stage, a specific area of the body is focused on and transformed. The seven cavities, presented in sequence, are as follows.
1 The Lower Cavity, this is the center of the lower dan tien. This is thre fingers below the navel.
2 The Front Cavity, this is the “sea of chi”, or chi-hai. This is situated halfway between the lower dan tien and the navel.
3 The Back Cavity, the Gate of Life or ming-men, is positioned between the kidneys on the spine.
4 The Middle Cavity, this is located at the center of the middle dan tien at the solar plexus, and is called the Central Palace, chung-t’ing, or Yellow palace.
5 The Upper Cavity, located at the Third Eye, is the upper dan tien, and is known as the Bright Hall. The sequence of these first five cavities are used in the Small heavenly Cycle.
6 The Lowest Cavity, the Bubbling Spring cavities located on the soles of the feet. When this level of training is completed, the Grand Heavenly Cycle is opened.
7 The Mysterious Gate, also called the Earlier Heaven Gate, Gate of the Limitless, Wu Chi, or the Original Cavity. It has no form, and does not exist if the disciple does not reach this stage of training. It only materializes when the original spirit is conceived, and is the gate to the Tao.
In Hsien-t’ien Tao meditation, the first six stages are involved with form and action. The cavities are areas that can be localized, and focused on. Stages one through six are called the Later Heaven Meditation, or kou-t’ien, after the separation of sky and earth, because they work on a body and mind that are separated from the Tao. In the seventh stage, the practice is not tied to form or action. The cavity cannot be localized, and there is no focus. Stage seven is called Earlier Heaven Meditation, or Hsien-t’ien, before the separation of sky and earth, as it works on a mind and body connected with the Tao. Other than focusing on the cavities, the Hsien-t’ien Tao method also requires the disciple to adopt specific body postures. These include sitting cross legged, sitting in half and full lotus, placing the palms on the knees or forming mudras with the hands, such as the tai chi pattern. One of the most difficult positions of this form involves supporting the weight of the body on the knuckles, while the legs are in full lotus, suspending the entire body above the ground. The postures of the Hsien-t’ien Tao sect are by far the most rigorous and difficult, as they place equal importance on the cultivation of the body, as they do the mind.
 
Conclusion
Many people practice meditation for mental and physical stress reduction. Some do so to cultivate spiritual sensitivity, enhance physical health, and to prolong life. However, Taoist meditation is not only a technique of health and longevity. It is a tool to attain union with the Tao, where health and longevity are by-products. For the most part, one can learn Taoist meditation for health and relaxation, without having to be initiated into a sect as a disciple, or commiting to life long training in internal alchemy. The twelve forms of meditation presented here are an overview. The first five can be done alone, with little to no supervision, and can often be learned in a weekend or week long seminar or workshop. It is wise however,  after a few months to a year, to go back to check your progress through professional feedback. The final seven methods presented are intermediate and advanced levels that bring one into deeper, more complete union with the Tao, and require life long commitment to develop the level of Taoist Spirituality required to achieve the Tao. They are accompanied by exercises and techniques that cultivate, and strengthen the skeletal structure and regulate the internal organs, such as Hsing-I and Tai Chi Chuan, and additional yoga based forms. One must be prepared to commit to a rigorous and disciplined program when considering learning these forms of meditation. Normally, this involves initiation into a sect, and requires constant supervision and instruction. In short, the deeper practice of Taoist meditation, requires commitment, patience, and discipline, at any level. The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of meditation can only occur when the student accompanies practice with appropriate lifestyle and attitude. Presented in another section of the site, is a set of texts related to meditation, along with the Tao Te Ching, the Chuang Tzu, and the Lieh Tzu. It is the intention of the Wu Hai Lung Temple to provide these texts as a guide to the initiate and disciple, in their personal quests to achieve the Tao.
 
Mantra and Mudra in Meditation
Mantras are useful for meditation, as intoning then often aids in bringing about the meditative state, or otherwise enhancing it for specific effect. The different mantras also effect the flow of chi in different ways, directing it where you want it to go, or refining the chi by bringing it to a different vibrational level. We can also use these mantras to open the different energy gates and cavities within the body, to aid in refining the chi, so one may take the path to the Tao and immortality with somewhat less difficulty. There are many mantras, some are coupled with mudras, or finger knitting positions. These mantra-mudra combinations are often multi purpose, from opening the energy gates, to Iron Body, exorcism, hypnotism, and engaging psychic powers within the user. Many of the mantras presented here come from Hindu tradition, while others come from Tibetan Buddhism, and still more come from Japanese traditions. In the case of the mantra-mudra sets, the mantra and mudra may be used separately, or together to reinforce one another. Further, in some cases, the mantra and mantra-mudra set are accompanied by script, usually a Sanskrit  or kanji character. Now, we will begin introducing the mantras to you, starting with the “mother of all mantras”, the Om.
Om- Intonation of this simple mantra can be done in two methods. The first, is by “sounding” it out, literally saying it in a long, drawn monotone word, pronounced like this: Aaaaaaoohhhhhmmmmmm. This is done by allowing each part of the intonation to occupy about a third of the breath used to intone it. When doing this, you must “find your tone”, which means, in doing the intonation, one must initially adjust the pitch of the mantra until the intonations vibration can be felt from the crown of the head, to the base of the genitals or perenium. This means that the mantra is not only being done correctly, but it is also activating all of the chakras simultaneously. Intoning Om in this manner is a marvelously simple and effective method to unblock and align the chakras. The second method of intoning Om, is by saying the actual word at the beginning, and humming the rest of it with the remainder of the breath, like this: Aaohhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. This method is accomplished correctly, by placing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth after the mouth closes to do the rest of the intonation. This stimulates the Heavenly Pool. The same is done during the last third of the normal intonation. Other mantras energize the chakras and chi cavities in different ways, better left to experience than explanation, as everyone’s experience is a little different. Om is said to also represent the creative power of the universe, or in our case, the Tao. This mantra is intoned to aid in gaining access to the Tao, as it is considered to be a “sacred sound”. In fact, all mantras are viewed in this manner, but this mantra is the “holy of holies”. It is said that by intoning the Om over a long enough period of time, it is possible to attain not only enlightenment, but eventual union with the Tao.
Om Ah Hum- This mantra comes from Tibetan Buddhism, and is intended to bring one closer to the power of the Tao. The translation of this mantra, is literally “Come towards me Om.” In the intonation of it, it should be pronounced like this, in the same monotone pitch you have “calibrated” with the Om: Aaaaohhhhmmm-Aaaaahhhh-Huuummmmm. Once the disciple has become proficient with the intonation and use of this mantra, it may be noted that a feeling or sense of approaching presence can be felt, like a build up of power is taking place. This is another use for the mantras, to call upon or generate power or cosmic chi for use, either to be used for internal alchemy or transformation, or to use in magick rites and in psionic or psychic abilities, to augment their power.
Padma Siddih Hum- Our second Tibetan mantra is the third mantra used in the Wu Hai Lung Temple to bring us closer to the Tao and its power. The translation of this mantra is “Come to me, O Lotus Power”, the “Lotus Power” referring to the Buddhist concept of the power of creation, or the Tao. This mantra is pronounced in this manner: Paaaadmaaaah-Siiiiid-deeeee-Hummmmm. This brings the power of the Tao closer still, inviting it to enter the body, in the form of pure light energy, or pure heavenly chi, to nourish and empower the body and its various cavities, channels, and meridians, and nourishing the original spirit.
Om Mani Padme Hum- This mantra is not exclusive to Tibetan Buddhism, but is very important in this sequence, as it “seals” the energy of the Tao inside, and is also a powerful purifying mantra in other situations. The translation of this mantra goes like this, “Hail to the Jewel of the Lotus”. In Hinduism, this is a reference to Shiva, the Jewel of the Lotus, who is one of the Hindu Trinity of Holy High deities, made up of Brhama, Shiva, and Krishna. These three deities can be correlated to the Three Pure Ones, which are the emenations of the Tao. In Buddhism, the Jewel of the Lotus is an incarnation of the Buddha, again this incarnation correlates to one of the Three Pure Ones, as a face of the Tao. To pronounce this mantra, one says it like this: Aaaaohhhhmmm-Maaaaneeee-Paaaadmaaayyy-Hummmm.
Mudras that can be used with these mantras include the Taiji, where the left hand is placed around the right fist, or the right around the left for a female disciple, with the mudra placed gently in the lap for the duration of its use, or with the mudra held at heart level, elbows either tucked down or extended to the sides, with the thumbs facing the chest. The second mudra that can be used, is known as the internal pump, where one clasps the fingers around the thumb of the hand, and rests the fists on the knees or in the crease of the legs while seated, pointing toward the groin. Somewhat similar to this mudra, is the third mudra, where one leaves th hand almost completely open, all fingers extended but the index and thumb digits, which touch lightly at the tips, again either resting on the knees if sitting cross legged on the floor, or in the crease of the leg and body, pointing toward the groin. The fingers should look as if one is making the “okay” symbol. This, if one notices, is the yin version of the one before it, where the fists were yang, closed and hard, the palms are yin, open, soft, and receptive. Of course, the Taiji mudra is Tao, from which all things emenate.
One could look at the mantras and these accompanying mudras in this manner. First, with the Om, holding the mudra of the Taiji, one calls upon the Tao. When the second mantra is started, the disciple switches to the second mudra, representative of the power building up around them while intoning the mantra. Next, one invites the power that has been called upon into the body with the third mantra, and the hands form the third mudra, to aid in receiving the energy. Finally, we thank the Tao for giving us the energy which we have received, and seal it within ourselves by saying the fourth mantra, and forming the first mudra again. This is but one exercise used in the Wu Hai Lung Temple, as there are many variations, and different uses for the same mantras and mudras, depending on the context, and need. Each mudra has its uses in centering and processing energy. There are literally hundreds of mudras, some are formed with only one hand, others require both hands mirroring one another, while others have the hands forming two different parts of the mudr, sometimes while holding ritual implements such as a dorje or a bell, and sometimes incense. Next to be presented is a set o mudra and mantra, including the kanji script to go with them, known as the Kuji-Kiri, or In-O-Musubi.
In-O-Musubi Mantras- While the mudras themselves within the kuji-kiri are powerful, and a mans to an end in and of themselves, they represent but a facet of a total system of meditation, chi manipulation, and bringing ones self closer to the Tao. There are nine mantras that accompany each of the nine base mudras and kanji, which activate or fully empower the mudras. They are also used in “cutting” the Jumon Grid, which can not only be used for meditative purposes, but for spells of intention, where the nine cuts empower the kanji or other symbol “drawn” over the Jumon grid in the air before you, and then put it into action with the final cut, a thrust through the whole energy construct, called juji, literally “tenth cut”. Now, we will present the nine mantras of the In-O-Musubi.
 

 
Now, some notes on pronunciation. The mantras are pronounced in a cadence where saying it one time through takes one full breath. Further, a single letter “i” is pronounced like “ee”, a single letter “a” is pronounced “ah”, as well as in combination with consonants, such as ba, ra, and ta. Where “ai” is in the mantra, it is pronounced as if you are saying “eye”, as in bai. When “i” comes before the “a”, the “i” is pronounced first, as if it were alone, then the “a”, as if it were separate, as in the word shira. These mantras are Japanese in origin, so pronunciation is important. The translations are available, but difficult in their intelligibility, as much is lost in the translation with these mantra.
For now, suffice it to say that they correlate to the functions of the mudras they are paired with, which will be explained below. Not to sound fececious, but much like a car, one doesn’t need to know exactly how it is put together for it to work. Much like most verbal traditions in shamanic magick and repetition of mantra, the millennia upon millennia of their repetition gives them the power to work correctly when invoked.
The Japanese names of the mudras are also used here, for the sake of simplicity. Rin represents power, the power of the mind, body, and spirit. Kyo is the direction of energy within the body. Toh represents harmony with the universe, both inner and outer. Sha is the ability to heal the self, and others. Kai represents the power of premonition, and can be used in divinational rites. Jin is called Knowing the Thoughts of others, and its use can allow clairvoyant communication to occur, as well as the ability to read the thoughts of another at higher levels. Retsu represents mastery over time and space, this gives one the ability, when a certain level is attained, to slow time, or change matter in a space of about six feet around the body. At higher levels, it is associated with spiritual time travel. Zai represents control over the elements of nature. This includes the five elements which make up all things, and the ability to manipulate them, as well as the ability to control them within the body. Zen of course, represents enlightenment, or meeting the Tao.
This set of mudras may be invoked while doing the Small Heavenly Cycle, as the nine mudras also correlate to the nine gates that the chi must flow through along the circuit. To begin this meditation set, we begin with the “salute”. Starting with the hands in the lap, or if standing, at the sides, sweep the left hand up and out to the side in an arc, until the arm is extended overhead. Then bring the hand down the front of the body on the centerline, with the fingers pointing up, and the palm facing the opposite side. This is yin. Do the same thing with the right hand, this is yang. Now, sweep both hands upward, until the backs touch, and then bring them down, rolling the hands under so the palms are now meeting, in the Praying Hands Mudra. This mudra joins the yin and yang to form the Tao.
The hands themselves break down into the five elements and so on, and this will be expanded upon later in the sections on magick, acupuncture, and longevity exercises. The nine gates are represented by the mudras, and may now be opened in sequence, and their locations are described as follows. Rin opens the first gate, located at the base of the perenium, the Hu Yin point. Kyo is the second gate, at the sacral hiatus. Toh is the third gate, at the top of the pelvis. Sha is the fourth gate, the Gate of Life between the kidneys. The fifth gate, represented by Kai, is located between the shoulder blades, and is mirrored on the front “yang” side of the body by the solar plexus. The sixth gate, which Jin represents, is at the seventh cervical vertebra at the base of the neck. It is mirrored by the throat chakra in front. The mudra Retsu opens the seventh gate, located at the “jade pillow” at the base of the skull. The eigth gate lies within the skull itself, represented by Zai, and is the cortical surface of the brain. The ninth gate, represented by Zen, is disputed in some circles as to its exact location, and is the final gat. To some, it is located at the crown chakra, at the top of the skull, while to othersit is the pineal gland within the brain.
 Within the Wu Hai Lung Temple, it is represented as the point where the spiritual energy unifies with the Tao before it descends back to the perenium at the Hu Yin point. This encompasses the endocrine glands of the brain, including the pineal gland and pituitary, as well as the hiatal structure joining the two halves of the brain, and connects to the crown chakra. Once the ninth gate is opened, one may begin meditating upon uniting with the Tao. This of course, is achieved through stillness of mind, a one waits on the Tao to appear. This is also a method of achieving longevity, as it has a more controlled and direct effect on the endocrine glands of the body, as well as a subtler level of controlling the chi. After a period of this deeper meditation, one may continue into the five elements meditation, which will be detailed shortly, as well as the Nine Cuts, which will also be detailed, and is also known as the Jumon Grid.
When saying the mantras for the kuji-kiri, one may say them at least three times each in order to invoke them properly, and if possible, up to 81 times with each mudra, thereby invoking them to “their fullest effect” so to speak. Further, when making the mudra, one uses the mudra to “cut” the kanji in the air in front of you, drawing it with your chi. Each line should be clearly envisioned as it is traced, each line, in the minds eye, glowing as if they were embers of fire, or the gold colored light of the sunrise. You may use the illustrations of the kanji before you, to trace them out with the tips of the thumbs in the mudra as the pointers, as if holding a brush between the thumbs to cut the kanji. Before cutting the kanji, say the name of the mudra out loud, then cut the kanji, and then recite the mantra. It is important to start with a horizontal cut for the first cut, usually at the top, and working down. Diagonal lines are normally counted as vertical, while everything else is horizontal or vertical. After a time, the illustrations and text of the mantras, kanji, and mudras will no longer be necessary, as it becomes ingrained in you.
Western schools of magick and alchemy have taken the idea of the Nine Gates and their use, and perverted them, making them out to be some sort of work of Satan, as depicted so melodramatically in the movie “The Ninth Gate”. This is due to the fact that the true teachings were hidden from westerners such as Marco Polo and his entourage when he visited China, and those who came with him that were exposed to the teachings of internal alchemy attempted to fill in the blanks based on the metaphors and such that ancient Chinese texts are riddled with, based on their knowledge of magick and alchemy, which was more a quest for the material metal gold, rather than the Golden Elixir of Life to achieve immortality, spoken of in the internal alchemical texts.
The nine mudras themselves are but a root for over 81 total variations, which, including the base mudra, there are nine total variations for each base mudra. These mudras originate from one of the oldest esoteric and martial traditions known to man, often called the Pole Star Sect. More will be said about he importance of this later on, as well as other subjects just touched on. Next comes the Wu Hsing meditation, or the five elements orm of meditation. This is made up of five mudras, and in some ways, is more a form of chi kung than meditation. The mudras are as follows, in this exact order.
Earth- Lace the fingers together as shown. Starting at just above groin level, inhale, with the palms facing up, and bring the hands up the front of the body. At shoulder height, the hands will “naturally” turn the interlocked hands over to continue facing up, as the hands extend over the head.  Exhale, bringing the hands back down the front of the body, palms facing down, to their starting position. Do this nine times. While doing this, envision the folding of the layers of rock that build the mountains, the power and permanence of the earth itself, how it nurtures life, and how everything eventually returns to it.
Water- Form the mudra by extending the arms in front of you, with the hands at about solar plexus level. Point the fingers down, and extend the thumbs so the tips touch. Now, as you inhale, bring the arms up as if moving through water, slowly up to about eye level. Then, exhale, allowing them to drop back down slowly, relaxed, to their original position. While doing this, envision the rise and fall of the waves rolling on the ocean, the power of the water, subtle but persistent. Do this a total of seven times.
Fire- One of the most intense and powerful elements in some ways, the fire mudra is formed by holding the hands at heart level, with the palms facing the chest, as if holding a ball against the chest that is just large enough for the middle finger tips to touch. There is no external movement here, instead, the movement is internal, moving the fire of the heart through the left arm out to the hands, then back into the right arm, as you inhale then exhale. Envision the intense fire of the forge here, being stoked by the bellows as you inhale and exhale, heating and refining the chi into a different, more pure and useful form. Do this circulation five times.
Air/Metal- The mudra here is placed in the lap, or at dan tien level if standing. Again, the circulation is internal, with the body in stillness. Envision the wind flowing up and over and around trees in a forest, as the chi is circulated through the microcosmic orbit with each inhalation and exhalation, the power of the wind to be capable of destroying things with its force, or to be soothing and gentle. Do this seven times.
Wood/Void- Once the mudra is formed, hold it at solar plexus level. Inhale, separating the hands and arcing them out to the sides and up over the head. Exhale, bringing the hands down in front of the body tot heir starting position, as if they are sliding down a tree trunk or pole, and stop to hold a bluish, crackling sphere of electromagnetic energy between them. After the pause, reform the mudra, and start again. The sphere you are holding, is a portion of the power of the Tao. It is but a tiny drop from the limitless ocean of what the Tao is capable of, yet it represents the whole of the Tao. Do this nine times.
Once you are finished, relax, and allow the chi to settle into the various cavities and dan tien again. The Japanese names for the elements, and thus the proper names of these mudras, are Chi, Sui, Ka, Fu, and Ku, respectively. These mudras stimulate the five elements within the meridians and organs of the body of course, and thus should be done with great care, and only as instructed, lest you cause yourself harm. This also allows the disciple to gain a more direct control over the elements for direct manipulation in working magick, working internally to improve the health and correct illness in the self and others, and in feats of psychic power.
The final mantra-mudra based meditation presented below is the Jumon Grid. This entails making the mudra known as the Sword Finger. In Japanese Shinto tradition, it is known as the Sword of Fudo, a deity venerated by many Shinto sects. He is very much the same as Lord Kuan in Taoism. Form the mudra as shown with the right hand by extending the first two fingers, then curling the reaining two fingers into the palm, with the thumb over the tips, and then “sheathe th sword” as illustrated by curling the fingers of the left hand loosely around the extended fingers of the right.
Jumon Grid
 When you are ready to  do the cuts of the Jumon, unsheathe the sword and place the sheath to the forehead, with the index finger knuckle touching the head as shown, with the sword before you. You then make the first horizontal cut, which is Rin, from left to right, by first saying the name, then cutting, and then reciting the mantra once. Next comes Kyo, a vertical cut from sky to ground, originating from where Rin started, at the left. The same procedure with the name, cut and mantra applies here, and to the remaining cuts until the Jumon Grid is built. Each cut, as mentioned before, should be envisioned clearly as a blazing or glowing line of light before you, each one charged with the power of the Tao.
Now, one may proceed in two ways from here. You may meditate for a few moments on this embodiment of the Kuji-Kiri, and then disperse it with the final cut, the thrust known as Juji. The other thing that an be done, is to draw a symbol or set of symbols or kanji upon the grid with the “sword”, and when the working is completed, disperse it with the Juji thrust, and rest assured that the spell will do its work. It is especially important to envision the dispersal of the Jumon and symbolic working as a shower of sparks bursting off in all directions, carrying your intent with it to do its work. This second method is how it an be used for magick workings. In this manner, it I a sort of intangible parchment. This can also be done with a sword, or ritual dagger or other ritual implement for ceremonial rites, but it is not at all necessary to use one.
 
Benefits of Meditation
 
There are many tangible and intangible benefits to meditation. Some of which have already been described in the course of this section. Among the list of benefits that haven’t been alluded to, are the following.
Enhanced physical senses- The benefit of extended practice of meditation often results in a sharpening of the senses, normally as an effect of quieting the mind, and gaining greater focus. This results in what can be considered to be nearly supernatural abilities, including better reflexes and sight acuity, allowing one to pick up on subtle movements and cues an opponent gives off, as well as allowing one to more easily merge with the surroundings by observing quietly, and employing he next benefit to be detailed, control of the “wa”.
The wa is the personal energy field, or an extension of the aura or etheric body. The wa can be extended outward from the body an immense distance, allowing one to pick up on objects, animals, and people, either actively or passively. This is considered by many to be the basis for ESP, or the sixth sense ability. On higher levels, it can be used for much more than a proximity sense. At the highest levels of refinement, one can reach what is known as The Great Darkness, as it is alluded to, where one is able to be in contact with all things in the universe.
This Great Darkness is but one more way of tapping into the Tao, much like the use o the wa itself is a way of using the power of the Tao to sense other living beings and their surroundings. Further, by withdrawing the mind and making it still, and allowing the wa to expand outward a few hundred yards or so in radius, one can “dim” their physical presence, effectively making ones self much less noticeable to others, while knowing where they are, and their intent, whether you’re moving, or sitting still inside a position of concealment.
Dimming is a “side effect” of doing the Kuji Kiri practice over an extended period of time, as it also allows the disciple to become closer to the Tao, and thereby better attuned or harmonized with nature. Of course, there are the more obvious benefit of better health and longevity, but in the long run, the different facets of the meditations will show themselves to the disciple, as these are but a few of the benefits that come about from diligent practice of meditation. As said in the beginning of this section, one doesn’t normally practice these methods one after the next every day at the same time. One masters one technique, and builds on that one in succession to go to the higher levels of meditation. With the exception of the Kuji-Kiri, which may be approached in several different methods or manners, which will be detailed in the intermediate section of the curriculum. Its use in different workings will also be detailed elsewhere.
 
Guided Meditation
This form of meditation is usually done with the aid of another person, normally the instructor, reading form a script or liturgy. This can also be accomplished by the use of a recording, for disciples with enough previous experience in guided meditation, though it is still preferable for an instructor to guide the disciple the first time or two through. There are various uses for guided meditations, including internal alchemy, exploration of past lives, and astral travel as a few examples. A good example of this is the inner journey found in Ashida Kim’s work titled Iron Body Ninja, or as presented earlier in the section on the meridians, also by Ashida Kim, detailing the flow of the chi through the 12 meridians and eight psychic channels. Undertaking guided meditation without another person to guide and watch over the disciple in case something happens is very risky, unless one is well versed in doing guided meditation. Should something go wrong with a novice attempting to do unsupervised guided meditation, the consequences could be dire, including anything from psychosis, coma, or in extreme cases, depending on what processes are being undertaken, death. Guided meditation is in some ways, a form of hypnosis, and can quite easily be lead into hypnosis. It is used most often for groups being lead through the same esoteric workings or journey, which, as just stated, are often more hypnotic in nature. The best advice here, is not to attempt it without supervision, unless the exercise is approved for the novice level disciple. This concludes, for the time being, our teachings in the art of meditation.