To many westerners, Chinese nei-gong is often interpreted through a mystical lens. Growing up in a dualistic, mystical-physical cultural milieu created a filter in me which tainted and distorted my understanding of Chinese nei-gong and associated terminology.
This past July, I wanted to write a blog article with a background reference or two. Soon, scope-creep set in and I found myself reading a long list of articles and books about Chinese science, Daoism, Qigong, Daoyin, New Age Movement and even works that discuss issues with translating words and topics from "eastern" to "western" mindsets.
Curiously, two things are happening: 1. I'm scratching the surface of the academic scholarship that has been published since I received my Bachelor's degree in Religious Studies in 1987, and 2. I am discovering that I'm understanding old topics in new, clearer, more grounded ways.
I believe I am now getting a clearer understanding of Chinese nei-gong. If I were to describe this process as a "path", here's how this has unfolded for me:
Stage One: Interpret everything through the dualistic, mystical-physical filter.
When I began my practice of Tai-chi Chuan in 1983, I interpreted and understood my practice and all I read about Daoism, qigong, and nei-gong through the filters of my religious upbringing and through my later acquired New Age metaphysical perspectives. While I thought I had an "enlightened" understanding, I truly did not know that I was, nor how I was applying my biased views to my readings.
Stage Two: Practicing Wujifa
Through the course of my more recent years of practicing Wujifa, which takes a very functional, practical, and grounded view and approach to developing certain nei-gong skill sets, I've slowly come around to a more grounded understanding.
Stage Three: Seeing Water in the Glass
While reading these topics this summer, I noticed that I was understanding the presented words and concepts in a very practical, functional manner, stripped of any unconscious intention to imbue or apply or interpret any sort of mystical perspective. I only noticed this in hindsight when I reflected on the mental links I was making and the understandings I was arriving at.
And so, at this point, I've got a plethora of notes and a bibliography fitting a graduate term paper. My goal now is to slowly think all this through and develop a few different articles; practical, functional, grounded articles on topics that are typically treated with a mystical brushstroke.
You may ask, "Has this research helped your Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practice?" To this, I must answer, "No". At this point, I don't believe that having the viewpoint I now have of these topics contributes to developing the physical skill sets of Wujifa. Physical skills sets must be developed with physical practice. Conversely as I said above, it is actually the practice of and exposure to Wujifa that has contributed to the view I now have of these topics.
Stay tuned. I'm not done writing just yet...