A gem from the treasure chest of Taoist mystical Qigong
“In my personal experience, I have developed the capability to see what ails you.
But not only that, I have cultivated the
wisdom and ability to heal you.”
– Master Zhu Hui
Master Zhu Hui
Donald Rubbo had the privilege of studying with the late Master Zhu Hui, from China, the lineage holder of Primordial Qigong in a line that goes back to Zhang Sanfeng himself.
Master Zhu was a very humble man, and though he did not promote himself as a direct lineage holder, he did convey that the Taoist sage Master Li Tong had transmitted this system to him, and that Master Li had an unbroken lineage to Zhang Sanfeng. Master Li requested that Master Zhu promote this unique system so that it would not be lost.
Master Zhu studied martial and healing arts at the ‘Succinct Martial Arts Association.’ He learned traditional methods of healing (tui na massage, bone setting, acupressure, etc.) as well as classical martial arts systems.
Master Zhu was selected to be on the Shanghai Martial Arts team, and later chosen to be a member of the prestigious National “Kuo Shu” Martial Arts team.
After graduating from Ying Shi Medical College in 1949, Master Zhu became a licensed Chinese medical doctor.
During the Cultural Revolution he traveled across China as a “Barefoot Doctor,” treating those in need of medical treatment. At one point in his life, Master Zhu became gravely ill with hepatocirrhosis (liver disease) and after his doctors told him there was nothing more they could do for him, he devoted his time to practicing the Primordial Qigong system and healed himself. In his later years, Master Zhu established the “Tian Ta Guo Qing” Qigong hospital and he worked tirelessly, treating an amazing number of patients each day.
Not long before Master Zhu passed away Donald learned Primordial Qigong from him.
During one of the teachings Donald asked Master Zhu, “What are the
benefits that one might receive from practicing the Primordial Qigong?”
Master Zhu replied, “In my personal experience, I have developed the capability to see what ails you. But not only that, I have cultivated the wisdom and ability to heal you“.
Chinese Taoist sages of antiquity strove to find the secret to immortality. Ultimately, they developed methods they believed would help them to attain an enlightened state of being. The esoteric systems they developed have lasted for four thousand years, and show signs of continuing on in perpetuity.
The Tao (Way) is the mystical source and ideal of all existence, the Chinese philosophy of the order of the Universe. The Tao is characterized as a state of non-being, without bounds or limits, it is both intangible and unfathomable. The comprehensive definition of Tao and the states of being of Taoist philosophy are attributed to Lao Tzu (6th or 4th century BC), who wrote the book that came to be known as the Tao Te Ching.
“All things originate from Tao, conform to Tao, and to Tao they at last return.” Lao Tzu
Tao can be described as the order, or flow, of the universe. In Taoism, there are several doctrines that have particular importance: Wu Ji, the primordial state of non-being; Taiji, the creative/destructive force that brings everything into being and also dissolves everything into nonbeing; Fu (return) is the destiny of everything – after completing its cycle of birth, fullness and waning, all things return to nonbeing; and Wu wei, nonaction, or action that is in harmony with nature.
From the One (Wu or void) comes the two: Wu Ji, the state of nonbeing, gives birth to Taiji – the opposing forces, both the creative (yang, positive) and the destructive (yin, negative) forces that bring everything into being.
‘Wu wei’ is how one should be in life, the non-separation of an individual’s actions and the actions of the natural world.
The origin of Primordial Qigong
The mythical Taoist sage Zhang Sanfeng, purportedly the father of Tai Chi Chuan, is credited with creating Wu Ji Gung – Primordial Qigong – a profound system of health and spiritual enhance-ment that is beautiful in its simplicity and immeasurable depth. Primordial Qigong, a true gem from the treasure chest of Taoist mystical Qigong, was developed for longevity, improving health and becoming one with the Tao.
The Primordial Qigong system reflects the wisdom of the ancient Taoist sages and their theory of the birth of the universe. Primordial Qigong is a three dimensional physical mandala, and as such it encompasses all of the primary aspects of Taoist philosophy: the concepts of yin and yang, the trinity (heaven, earth and man), the Five Element theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the I Ching, the Bagua and the mystical aspects of numbers.
By practicing the movements of the Primordial Qigong system, with the awareness of the underlying principles, you bring the microcosm of the universe that is held within your body/mind/spirit into harmony. This process naturally leads to the regulation of all internal systems and brings you to optimum health and internal power.
At the same time, by observing and integrating the elements of nature, you are increasing your sensitivity, gaining a profound awareness of the world around you and developing extraordinary abilities that lead to re-aligning yourself with the natural order of the universe.
The exercises lead you to the primordial state of pre-birth and help you to cultivate the state of Wu Ji, or Original Emptiness. This practice restores the natural balance and harmony between Heaven, Humanity and Earth.
Two aspects - Yin-Yang
The concepts of Taoism were based on the Taoist sages’ observations of nature, their perception of the alternating balance of energy in the primal forces (yin-yang) and the integral relationship between heaven, humanity and earth. All things cycle through the four realms, lesser yang, greater yang, lesser yin and greater yin. For example, a day, which is designated as yang, is transformed bit by bit from its coming into being after night, which is designated as yin, and moves through to a state of day-fullness into afternoon and then into night. At the fullness of the dark night, day no longer exists, and day is therefore said to be in a state of nonbeing.
Night then transforms bit by bit into day, and at the fullness of day, night no longer exists, and night is then said to be in a state of nonbeing. Day transforms into its opposing force, night, and night then transforms into its opposing force, day; although paradoxically, the fullness of day contains the potential of night, and the fullness of night contains the potential of day.
The human being, viewed as a microcosm of the universe, reflects these yin-yang principles and is expressed as male and female. We reflect the different stages of creation and destruction, and the seasons; we are born and transition through infancy and childhood (Spring), adolescence and adult (Summer) and middle age (Autumn) into old age (Winter) until we pass from this experience.
Wu Xing - Five Elements
In Taoism and in traditional Chinese medical theory, the system of the five elements describes the interactions and relationships between phenomena. All of nature and the universe can be defined by the elements and all aspects of nature contain the principles of the five elements. Every element is associated with a color, direction, season, organ, planet, food, taste and quality of energy; all of which interact with each other, and with the attributes of all the other elements.
The creative, or generating cycle of the five elements is:
Wood creates Fire, Fire creates Earth (ash), Earth creates Metal, Metal creates Water and Water creates Wood.
The controlling, or destructive cycle of the five elements is:
Wood uproots Earth, Earth controls Water, Water extinguishes Fire, Fire liquefies Metal and Metal cuts Wood.
The elements are represented within us, as aspects of our organs, emotions and systems of the body, and as self-aware beings we can balance body, mind and spirit by understanding and applying the creative or controlling cycles of the elements.
For example, the Liver, which is controlled by the Wood element, associated with the color Green, the direction East and the harmful emotion of Anger, can be in one of three stages, or even transitioning from one stage to another. The Liver can be in a balanced state with just the right amount of the element Wood, or out of balance with either an excess or deficiency of Wood. And when one organ/element is in a state of excess or deficiency, all of the other organs and systems are affected.
Once you develop an awareness and sensitivity of your body, and can tell which organ or organs are out of balance, you can intentionally bring them back into a state of harmony.
Primordial Qigong, practiced with intention and self-awareness, will help you develop the diagnostic ability and wisdom to balance, strengthen and harmonize your body, mind and spirit, because we truly are ‘a microcosm of the universe.’
Bagua (Eight Trigrams)
The eight trigrams were conceived as images of all that happens in heaven and on earth. At the same time, they were held to be in a state of continual transition, just as transition from one phenomenon to another is continually taking place in the physical world. Attention centers not on things in their state of being, but upon their movements transitioning from one change to the next.
The bagua lays out the foundation, the map as it were, of all possible permutations of future paths. Since all that happens in heaven and on earth is in a state of continual transition, one thing changing into another, the eight trigrams are symbols Illustration from The I Ching standing for changing transitional states. The eight trigrams can be combined, for a total of sixty-four hexagrams of six lines each, with positive and negative attributes, with each line capable of change, and thus changing one hexagram into another one.
The bagua is integrated into the Primordial Qigong form, the eight trigrams are represented by the placement of the body in the Center facing the cardinal directions and awareness of the intercardinal directions: northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest, as you are turning both counter-clockwise and clockwise.
The Trinity - Heaven, Earth and Humanity
The trinity in Taoist philosophy refers to the qualities and characteristics of Heaven, Earth and Humanity, and all that is inherent in each, with limitless potential.
As written in The I Ching, Heaven is the supra-sensible (ideal) world of ideas, Earth is the material world, and these link with Humanity – that which has the self-awareness and ability to access these two higher spheres – to form the trinity of primal powers.
The attributes of Heaven are yang, creative, active and brightness. Heaven is the invisible support, it is the air that supplies the oxygen that sustains our lives, and it is the warmth or coldness of the seasons, the wetness or dryness of the skies.
The attributes of Earth are yin, receptive, yielding, absorbing and darkness. Earth is the visible support, it is that which provides our shelter and our food, and all of our material comforts.
Humanity, through self- awareness, is the conduit through which these two aspects merge and transform, and the higher the consciousness, the greater the intuitive abilities and the more directed the intentional actions, and the greater the ability to bend time and space to one’s will.
The Three Jewels of Taoism
The Three Jewels of Taoism, the ethics of Taoism, are compassion, moderation and humility. The intention of embodying these characteristics in every action creates the neuronal activity, and every thought is like watering and fertilizing the garden of one’s compassion, moderation and humility.
Compassion, a profound emotion, is an extraordinary awareness of the pain of others, along with the desire to alleviate that suffering. In many philosophies, compassion is considered a great virtue. And in all the major religious traditions of the world, compassion is considered the greatest virtue.
Moderation, a way of being in life that consists of eliminating or reducing excess, and using only enough of something – one’s energy, emotions, or actions – to live one’s life in balance.
Humility describes an unpretentious and modest person, a person who does not believe they are superior to others, and therefore believes that all humans deserve equal, respectful treatment.
Qigong as Self-directed Alchemy
When the great alchemists of the past spoke of converting lead to gold, they were speaking of transmuting the base nature of humanity into a state of enlightenment, looking for a remedy, or method, to transform from an imperfect, diseased and ephemeral state to a perfect, healthy and everlasting state.
In Qigong practices, and especially in Primordial Qigong, you are creating profound change in the physiology of your body, through the repetition of directed-thought processes, the qualities inherent in the directions you deliberately face, and the physical movements of your torso, arms and legs.
By merging intention with action, a process we call Intention-Driven Action, you can transition faster from a negative state to a positive state of flourishing health and deepened intuition.
For instance, when the palms of your hands, in Part B of the set, ‘Old Dragon Washing His Face,’ pass over the point just above the middle of your eyebrows (one’s Third Eye), your intention is to stimulate the pineal and pituitary glands by the energy emitting from the centers of your palms into the gland. The pineal is a small endocrine gland located in the geometric center of the brain which produces melatonin, an endocrine hormone that modulates wake/sleep patterns. The pituitary gland, situated between and behind the eyes, produces hormones and controls blood pressure, metabolism and fluid regulation and is known as the ‘master’ endocrine gland.
The pineal gland has been associated with mystical powers, and is believed to be a dormant organ that can be awakened to enable a telepathic state. According to Vedic tradition, the pineal gland is linked to the seventh (Sahasrara or Crown) chakra, also known as “The Eye of God,” and sometimes to the sixth chakra (Ajna or Third Eye.) Rene Descartes, the French mathematician and philosopher, referred to it as the “Seat of the Soul,” believing it to be the connection between intellect and the body, and Edgar Cayce, an American psychic, wrote about the pineal gland as an energy (chakra) center.
The pituitary gland is also associated with mystical powers, linked as well to Ajna (Third Eye), the sixth chakra and to Sahasrara (The Eye of God), the seventh chakra.
By stimulating these glands, the pineal and the pituitary, during the practice of Primordial Qigong, you are flooding your system with hormones and heightening your awareness, sensitivity and your intuitive abilities.
The Five Elements and Primordial Qigong
When you are standing in the Wu Ji posture in the Primordial Qigong set, wherever you are in space and time, you are at Center, which is ruled by the element Earth from which all the other elements arise. The Earth is the ground underneath us, our foundation connecting us to the world around us and to the entire universe. Earth is nourishing, supportive and life-giving. The color associated with earth is yellow, and the corresponding season is late summer, the transitional season just before fall.
The pathways of qi energy flowing from the Earth correspond to the spleen (yin) and stomach (yang). The emotion harmful to the spleen is worry or grief, and the emotion that balances the spleen is joy, rejoicing, or a sense of being without a care in the world, carefree.
Standing at Center (Earth) and guiding the qi flow into the spleen, with the intention of filling your spleen with all of the healing qualities of Earth qi, having a felt-sensation of the Earth qi flowing into your spleen, and visualizing the spleen glowing a beautiful, bright translucent yellow, harmonizes the spleen.
As you prepare to begin the form, standing at Center, you will be facing East. East is ruled by the element Wood, and Wood symbolizes new growth, creative energy, expansion in all directions, budding and flowering. The color associated with Wood is green, and the corresponding season is spring.
The pathways of qi energy flowing from the East correspond to the liver (yin) and the gallbladder (yang). The emotion harmful to the liver is anger, and the balancing emotion is acceptance. We become most angry at that which we feel we cannot control, so bring in a sense of acceptance for all of those things that are out of our control.
Facing East and guiding the qi flow from the East into your liver, with the intention of filling your liver with all of the healing qualities of Wood qi, having a felt-sensation of the Wood qi flowing into your liver, and visualizing the liver glowing a beautiful, bright translucent green, harmonizes the liver. Simultaneously, you will be visualizing the spleen yellow and continuing to bring in the qualities of Earth qi. To your left is North, which is ruled by the element Water. Water is fluid and flowing, it accumulates and conforms to the shape of its vessel, and is essential to life. The color associated with Water is deep blue or black, and the corresponding season of Water is winter.
The pathways of qi energy flowing from the north correspond to the kidney (yin) and bladder (yang). The emotion that harms the kidneys is fear, and the emotion that balances the kidneys is a sense of fearlessness. The kidneys are also associated with vitality, so in addition to fearlessness, bring in a pure, radiant sense of vitality.
Standing at Center and guiding the qi flow from the North into the kidneys, with the intention of filling your kidneys with all of the healing qualities of Water qi, having a felt-sensation of the Water qi flowing into your kidneys, and visualizing the kidneys glowing a beautiful, bright translucent blue or black, harmonizes your kidneys. Simultaneously, you will be visualizing Earth and Wood qi flowing into the spleen and liver, the spleen glowing yellow and the liver glowing green, and continuing to have a felt sensation of these energies filling these organs.
Behind you is West. The qualities of the ruling element Metal are substance, strength and structure, attracting, absorbing and that which can be molded, hardening and condensing in the process.
Minerals provide nutrients from the soil in which food is grown. The color associated with Metal is white, and the corresponding season is autumn.
The pathways of energy flowing from the West correspond to the lungs (yin) and colon (yang).
The emotions harmful to the lungs are self-doubt and self-loathing, and the balancing emotions are self-pride, self-love and self-confidence.
Standing at Center and guiding the qi from the West into the lungs, with the intention of filling your lungs with all of the healing qualities of Metal chi, having a felt-sensation of the Metal qi flowing into your lungs and visualizing the lungs glowing a beautiful, bright translucent white, harmonizes the lungs. Simultaneously, you will be visualizing Earth, Wood and Water chi flowing into the spleen, liver and kidneys, the spleen glowing yellow, the liver glowing green and the kidneys glowing deep blue or black, and continuing to have a felt sensation of these energies filling these organs.
To your right is South, which is ruled by the element Fire. Fire creates warmth and light. It is vital, energetic, luminous, and essential to life as well. The color associated with the element Fire is red, and the corresponding season is summer.
The pathways of qi energy flowing from the south correspond to the heart (yin) and small intestine (yang). The emotion harmful to the heart is excessiveness and the balancing emotions are compassion and a balanced sense of joy or happiness.
Standing at Center and guiding the qi from the South into your heart, with the intention of filling your heart with all of the healing qualities of Fire qi, having a felt-sensation of the Fire qi flowing into your heart and visualizing the heart glowing a beautiful, bright translucent red, harmonizes your heart. Simultaneously, you will be visualizing Earth, Wood, Water and Metal qi flowing into the spleen, liver, kidneys and lungs, the spleen glowing yellow, the liver glowing green, the kidneys glowing deep blue or black, and the lungs glowing white, and continuing to have a felt sensation of these energies filling these organs.
The Mystical Aspects of the Numbers
The Primordial Qigong system contains the Heavenly and Earthly numerical combinations (Yang odd numbers 1 to 9, Yin even numbers 2 to 10) to extract the magic of their power. Particular attention is paid to the numeric principles of the Ba Gua – the four cardinal directions and the four intercardinal directions, totaling 8 – and the number of repetitions of movements.
In Chinese culture the number eight is considered to be very auspicious, as the character is a homophone, a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The pronunciation for the number 8 sounds similar to the word for wealth, growing, increasing, thus ‘growth with prosperity.’
In the Primordial Qigong set, 8 represents growth; an increasing, exponentially, of good health, intuition, awareness and the certainty of one’s felt sense of the interconnectedness of the universe.
The Primordial Qigong form is purported to have been developed by Chang San Feng, and can be seen as the precursor to Tai Chi Chuan. And, as such, the Thirteen Movements (the 8 directions and the 5 elements) are an integral part of this form.
And, during each round of Parts A and B, which are eight in total, you are accessing the specific energies from the thirteen directions: Center, East, Northeast, North, Northwest, West, Southwest, South, Southeast, Up, Down, Inner and Outer.
The I Ching, The Classic Book of Changes, refers to two systems of speculation for explaining the possibilities and potentials in life; the eight primary trigrams which are based on the dualism of yin and yang, and ‘the five stages of change,’ which are based on the ten cyclic signs.
The 10 cyclic signs are:
1. East and 2. Southeast
3. South and 4. Southwest
5. Center and 6. Southwest
7. West and 8. Northwest
9. North and 10. Northeast
The Primordial Qigong form is comprised of two distinct parts: Part A, Rolling the Ball and Part B, Old Dragon Washing His Face. There are four sections each to Parts A and B, and at the beginning of each section you are facing a cardinal direction. The four sections make up a round, and each round is performed four times.
For Part B, Old Dragon Washing His Face, there are fifty washes (forty washes for the upper dantien and ten washes for the lower dantien) per round; 50 reduces to 5 (5 + 0 = 5, representing the Five Elements according to Master Zhu Hui); and 200 washes for the entire set, reducing to 2 (2 + 0 + 0 = 2), and represents the balance of energy in the primal forces, yin yang, according to Master Zhu Hui.
The movements and number of repetitions for the entire form is 336. This number reduces, according to the principles of numerology, to 3 (3 + 3 + 6 = 12, reduced to 3), the number 3 representing the Trinity of Heaven, Earth and Humanity.
In Chinese culture, the positive attributes of the numbers are:
3. Birth or abundance
5. Five Elements
9. Longevity, growing
2. Double; doubling the luck
6. Business success; happiness
8. Prosperity, wealth,
Within the Tao, One, and the Trinity (Heaven, Earth and Humanity), Three, is contained everything: from the one comes the two, from the two comes the ten thousand things.
Turning Back the Hands of Time
There are two parts to the Primordial Qigong set, Part A is “Rolling the Ball” and Part B is “The Old Dragon Washing Its Face.” Part B flows from the end of Part A, transitioning counter-clockwise from the fourth roll of the energy ball into Wu Ji, to begin Part B. There is a slight pause after the end of the first, second and third Part Bs, just before you start the second, third and fourth Parts A, as you settle your mind in Wu Ji.
Part A is performed a total four times; after the beginning of the set facing East, you will be facing a new direction, counter-clockwise from the previous direction. Part B is performed a total of four times also, and at the conclusion of the full Primordial form, you are again facing the original direction, East, having traveled through all of the directions.
The movements are slow, graceful and as precise as possible. As you move through space and time, you are heightening your proprioceptive sense, often referred to as the sixth sense, the awareness of your arms, legs and torso in movement in relation to space. You are also consciously incorporating the awareness and felt-sensations of the five elements, the eight directions and flow of energies, the harmonizing emotions and calmness of mind.
You, the practitioner, remain in the Center at all times, and as your arms, hands, legs and feet are moving, your intention is guiding in the energies from the four primary directions (East, North, West and South) and the four corners (southeast, northeast, southwest and northwest).
The rotations in the four Parts A and four Parts B are all counter-clockwise; as you face East in the Center, you turn left to North, left from North to West, left from West to South and left again to face East concluding the set where you began.
As you practice the profound Primordial Qigong system, over time, you will feel as if the effects of time are being reversed, and that you are literally “turning back the hands of time.”
Reversing the Seasons
At the same time you are positively affecting your internal chronology, you are also reversing the seasons, and thus generating a reversal of time:
Spring turns back into late Winter, late Winter turns back into Winter, Winter turns back into late Autumn, late Autumn turns back into Autumn, Autumn turns back into late Summer, late Summer turns back into Spring, and so on in a cyclical manner until you have reached the Spring of Eternal Youth.
You begin the set in the Center, facing East, the season is Spring which symbolizes new beginnings, new growth. The element is Wood, and the energy of the East nourishes the liver.
You then transition into the direction of North; Winter is the season before spring, and symbolizes dormancy, storing energy for the new growth in spring. The element is Water, and the energy of the North nourishes the kidneys.
Then you transition from North to West, from Water to Metal. Autumn is the season before Winter and symbolizes harvesting, and gathering. The element is Metal, and the energy of the West nourishes the lungs.
Transitioning to the South, the season before Autumn is Summer, which symbolizes full growth.
The element is Fire, and the energy of the South nourishes the heart.
You conclude the set in the Center, again facing East. The cycle of renewal is complete, and simultaneously, it is ongoing.