“Master Wang advises not to plot our practice, but use our intuition and approach the process in a state of wuwei. Allow each practice session to take us where that session needs to go.”
A fellow practitioner recently asked me to elaborate on the above passage from the DGI website.
“I’d be really interested in learning how this is done,” he wrote.
Actually, so would I! This is a part of the practice I’ve been working with for the last few months. Over a year ago Wang Liping told a group of us to start, but I’m lazy. Anyways, for some of you who maybe missed this memo, give it a try. Be warned I’m still getting the hang of it myself, but it has seriously changed my practice.
Here it is.
When you practice do you follow the guided instructions? I think many of us do. If you do Master Wang recommends moving away from listening to them. There are three stages for practicing:
1) listen to and follow the guided instructions
2) guide yourself using the guided instructions without listening (tell yourself the words in your head and do it)
3) apply the methods without the guided instructions (no words)
Once we start to do 2 & 3 we can improvise. To improvise, follow your intuition. Don’t plot out before hand what you are going to do in the session.
Three things to keep in mind:
First- always start with the opening (look far away and bring back light).
Second- always end with the closing (disperse fire breathing: bring back shen and do pore breathing, align the two bodies etc.)
Third- understand that the guided instructions from a session can be broken down into individual components, and it is these components that can be reordered however you want.
Example components would be:
Five Phases Organ Practice
Pore breathing to seal up the body (setting up the furnace and cauldron)
Moving the qi between middle and lower fields
Focusing on breath or posture to quiet the mind and body (yinxian fa)
Wang Liping recommends that we understand each component. Understand where the whole session breaks down into the various components. And understand what each of them do, in other words how it affects us when we do it (not in terms of theory but of experience, in other words experiment). These components can then be moved around like building blocks during a session, and we can build each session following our intuition, following what we need in the moment.
Another benefit of doing it this way is we have more time to fully explore the various methods during a session. Master Wang has told us that in a retreat setting the instructions are very compact. By not listening to the guided instructions we have opportunity to more fully unpack the methods. We can adjust the breathing etc. to match us and spend more time exploring the techniques.
Two examples spring to mind that he mentioned. In the old days (when he learnt) a student would spend lots of time on just the opening. They would keep working at bringing back the light from the horizon. If the light didn’t return they would try it again. During retreats we have so much material to get through that there just isn’t time.
Another example is the practice of moving qi between the middle and lower fields. The one where we “breath in and qi goes to xiatian, breath out but not past heart.” The method originally had three parts, but Master Wang decided to put them all together to optimize time for the sessions during retreats. By structuring our own sessions we have time to pull these practices apart. It’s also a lot of fun. I feel like I own my practice in a whole new way.
The guided instructions form the private oral transmission of the Dragon Gate Tradition. They are said to have originated with Lü Dongbin, and have been passed down to us over many centuries. They are the heart of the teaching. My sense is that by playing with them in this way we have a great opportunity to more fully embody the practice.
There are two more aspects as well: wuwei and methods for accessing our intuition. But those are whole other kettles of fish. I’ll leave it there. I hope that makes sense and is helpful.