A Non-Epiphany Art

Pure LightChinese Martial arts and Qigong from a Daoist point of view are non-transcendent traditions.

These arts are primarily about revealing the way things actually are, they are not self-help or self-improvement regimes.

However, most people are on a transcendent path. We want to improve ourselves. We want to heal. Or we want to get a 'leg up' on the next guy, spiritually, morally, physically, or intellectually. So most of us regularly, and all of us sometimes, practice these arts in a transcendent way. We try to get better!

The basic Daoist outlook is that life is not a struggle, we're alright the way we are. We're nice enough, strong enough, smart enough, and we have enough qi. Practice is just a way of tuning our appetites for exercise, stillness, sleep, fighting, nutrition, contact with other people, etc.... We are naturally disciplined and curious.

This outlook is sometimes framed in a quasi-transcendent way as a simplification process, a letting go, a returning to our original nature(s).

Thus, epiphanies are really not part of the tradition. Now and then we learn a trick, or discover something cool, and we get excited. But it's not like most Yoga classes, where people brag about being filled with the glorious pure light of the universe everyday, before knocking back a double soy latte, jumping in the hybrid for an hour commute and then punching the clock.72 year old woman pulls car with teeth!

Anyway, in almost 30 years of practice I've actually had two epiphanies.

1. After years of practicing with very low stances and yet constantly hearing "sink your tail-bone," "go lower," and "song;" one day I did just that, I sank my tail-bone. I simply understood on a kinesthetic level what my teachers had been trying to teach, and from then on I did it correctly.

2. After doing a couple years of chansijin (taijiquan silk reeling exercises), one day my chest just relaxed. For a week after that my appetite for food dropped to about half a meal a day. Presumably I was using so much effort keeping my chest up, that when I stopped my body had some reserves left to run on. After a week my appetite came back, but it's been a little smaller ever since that day.