A Continuum from Meditation to Possession

There is a continuum from non-conceptual meditation, like Zazen (zen meditation) or Zouwang (the Daoist equivalent), on one end-- and on the other end there is complete body and mind possession by a god or a demon.

Meditation <-----------(Trance)---------> Possession by a God

At the non-conceptual meditation end of the continuum we have mild trances like day dreams and memories.  As we move away from stillness we have walking, and then holding a simple conversation.  Further down the continuum we have more dexterous and varied activities like washing a car or baking a cake.  Somewhere down toward the other end of the continuum we start to see creative acts, arts, dance, music, painting, ceramics and writing.  These kinds of activities require deeper trances.  Somewhere near by are sports, spectator sports (audiences), film goers, and....As we keep moving toward possession we start to get those activities we call thrilling, frightening, and intensely passionate, like war, hunting and sexual abandon. 

At the far end of the possession side of the continuum, we have memory loss, inability to feel pain, sensory distortion and hallucinations.

The above explanation is Scientism.  I could add to it by graphing my continuum against some measurement of various hormones in the blood.  This is pure modernity devoid of animation.  My hope is that by describing it, my readers will be able to make the jump to talking about qi.

Qi is a term that has often been used to replace the vocabulary of gods, ghosts, trances and possessions.  This abstract, all pervasive, term "qi" functions to take the devotional specificity of religious cults out of the discussion while leaving the dynamic animation aspects of this world view intact.

This continuum is also useful for understanding Chinese Internal Alchemy, which goes by many differnt names.  The most common general term these days is neidan (inner elixer), but I tend to use jindan (golden elixer) to refer to the specific practice I do.

Neidan generally starts from non-conceptual meditation in stillness.  It is the process of moving along the continuum toward trance without actually moving.  As an exploration of how inspiration spontainiously arises, the practice can swing all the way over to the deity invocation side of the continuum.