The problem is what I call the Mantak Chia Catastrophe. Mr. Chia was among the first people to write about qigong in English and he is still probably the most well known author on the subject. Thailand has declared him a national living treasure. The Catastrophe is that he denounced the original views which inspired the creation of the methods he teaches, he went on to make outlandish often absurd claims about the fruition of practicing those methods. The result is a lot of confused people who feel they are failures at qigong or, at the opposite end of the pool, believe themselves to be superior, enlightened Qi Jocks!
The Orthodox Daoist Question is:
What view inspired this method? How will I know when to stop doing the method? How will I know if it has worked?
The Orthodox Daoist Answer will take this form (fill in the blanks):
The view, in this case, is ________. It is predicated on _______ hypothesis which is used to explain ________ experience. You will know when to stop because you will have _______ experience, or you will recognize _______ distinction. (If that doesn't happen either your view is false, or your method is badly designed.) You will know the method has worked because it will verify the hypothesis on which the original view was predicated.
In the case of George Xu's Method which I described a few days ago,
Level one: The whole body should be experienced as having uniform density.
Level two: The body and the surrounding environment should be experienced as having uniform density.
The view is, human beings are powerful predators by nature. However, with the invention of tools and institutions (like language, agriculture, golf, etc...) we lost some of our original predator vitality.
The hypothesis is that our predator nature is still there, but is being obscured or suppressed by aggressive concepts: Concepts about what we are; what we are becoming; and what we think we need to be.
The experience this hypothesis is based on is a common one: Being frustrated makes things harder and relaxing makes things easier.
You will know when it is time to stop because you will experience increased vitality and you will recognize a distinction between: What you previously thought were the limits of your body and The discoveries you have made about how your body actually functions.
The fruition is that your true nature as a predator will be revealed and become available for use.
By applying Orthodox Daoist Questions to George Xu's methods I can verify their efficacy. If you are not using this kind of approach in your training you are being denied your birthright!
But there is still a problem here. The view which suggested this method is just too limited. So what if I find out that my true nature is that I'm a predator! What am I going to do next? Hunt? Catch rabbits with my bare hands? Join the rodeo?
If you cultivate this view too much, everyone around you will start to look like a skinny chicken whose limbs are just waiting to be ripped apart.
Needless to say, this 'human as predator' view gives us no basis for action. Therefore it fails the Orthodoxy test. Here is the Orthodox view from Chapter 32 of the Daodejing:
Dao is constant and nameless.
Our true nature, though apparently of small account,
Is greater than anything that is under Heaven.
When Adepts abide by its inspiration,
The ten thousand things do likewise without compulsion.
Then Heaven and Earth unite and rain Sweet Dew,
Equally on all.
And all dwell in harmony.
Once our nature is shaped, there will be names.
And as soon as there are fixed names,
One must know tha it is time to stop.
Only by knowing when it is time to stop can exhaustion be avoided.
All under Heaven relate to the Dao
Like streams and rivers rolling t the sea.