Master Ni excerpts #1: Chinese Alchemy & the Monkey
Confucius enunciated a fundamental Chinese teaching technique. “Give the student one corner. If he can figure out the other corners on his own, then and only then will the instruction continue.” One time Master Ni showed a subtler version of Brush Knee and Repulse Monkey, some basic Tai Chi moves. Some of his advanced students responded that they couldn’t tell the difference between the two. Rather than going on Master Ni responded simply that there was no difference. If his students couldn’t perceive the subtlety they weren’t ready for it. (Extracted from Alchemy: JWChapter 2)
The Master stresses the importance of guarding and cultivating the internal energies of jing, chi, and shźn - sperm, life force and spirit - to prevent leaks. If this is achieved then all else follows. This is classic Chinese. Master Ni says that many martial arts schools cultivate jing and chi, but neglect shźn - the spirit. Mistakenly they think that chi is the leader and most important when actually shźn should be the leader. Without shźn the practitioner is able to beat people up, but has no spiritual cultivation or maturity - a bully, not a protector.
In the Chinese allegory, Journey to the West, Monkey is connected with chi, or life force, Piggy with jing, or sexual energy, and Tripitaka, the Buddhist monk, with shźn, or spiritual energy. Monkey’s superb manifestation of chi allows him to become a supreme marital artist. However because of his neglect of shźn = spirit, he just causes trouble, which leads nowhere. (Extracted from Alchemy: JWChapter 2)
Continuation: Monkey’s aborted training produced an excellent martial artist but not a good person. In the martial tradition there were and are countless bullies who fall into this category. Indeed much martial literature focuses entirely on martial prowess with not even a nod to helping out those in distress or any kind of social responsibility. They cultivate jing-chi without the shźn. Despite their prowess they can’t cross the River. It is necessary to cultivate mind, as well as body, to be light and subtle enough to float across the River without sinking.
Master Ni was completely aware of this. While cultivating our physical skills he was continually eroding out personal ego – a primary corrupter of shźn – the spirit. Indeed his Tai Chi and Sword classes were merely a front for spiritual training. (Extracted from Alchemy: JWChapter 3&4)
The martial construct of jing, chi, & shźn, has many similarities with the Chinese alchemical construct of mercury, lead & earth. Although representing distinctly different concepts the same meta-rules apply to both. First the goal in both cases is to join the three as one. This is the meaning of the Triplex Unity, the title of a seminal text in Chinese Alchemy. Second when mercury and lead join without earth, or jing and chi join without shźn, the results are disastrous. In the first the intellect, lead, serves desires, mercury, which corrupts earth, true intent = the Mission. In the second the martial = jing-chi is cultivated at the expense of the spiritual = shźn, which leads to the irresponsible use of force for personal gain rather than the collective good. Witness the disastrous effects of this phenomenon on the political level when countries or empires cultivate their military prowess without a strong spiritual grounding. (Extracted from Alchemy: JWChapter 3&4)
Master Ni: “Two demons grow along with mastery – one in the head, the other in the crotch.” The demon in the crotch leads the person to dissipate his vital energies in sexual exploits. The demon in the head leads to the excesses of pride. Monkey was overwhelmed by the second of the two. Instead of humbly concealing his powers until they were needed, he arrogantly demanded what he wanted because he could. Monkey’s excessive pride = lack of humility frequently threatened the Quest. This dangerous aspect of incomplete training is a recurring theme throughout the Journey. Without the Master’s guidance or personal vigilance the demons seize control. (Extracted from Alchemy: JWChapter 3&4)
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