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essay Caution Against Fragmented Teachings and Incomplete Training

Essay typically is a creative, free flowing, and self-contained complete article, but also a manner of unusually lively written interaction where formality is not a stifler.

Caution Against Fragmented Teachings and Incomplete Training​

This way shows a fragmented view and an incomplete destination.
All the proper spiritual traditions originating with realized masters have been given out as complete paths of their respective philosophies and aims, and the fruits of practice are validated through successive generations of disciples in the lineage. The human condition makes obstacles to this because people may instead want to experiment and self-initiate, and be crafty and clever by only picking out their favorite bits for comfort and self-indulgence. All these sidepaths result in corruption. Times of persecution and social upheavals are another variable that may lead to loss in transmission when there is no proper time to teach everything necessary and drill the necessary discipline to the lineage students. Those who muse themselves as serious practitioners should be especially wary of their own tendencies to shop for teachings and of trying to piece complete curricula by themselves. The right way is to connect with a lineage that after throughout examination inspires complete trust and then commit to the lineage's vision and guidance. If enthusiastic practitioners or would-be-teachers concoct new practices in hopes to cover as much ground as the classic attainments speak of, then who knows what is the result? Whether these motives are plainly fraudulent or not is one matter, but even in the case of good willing ignorance there is little guarantee that the resulting pathwork practices are entirely free of harmful contradictions that could obstruct vitality and the growth in wisdom.

People may look at the outward forms of practice as the primary engagement, but the actual inner training is much more subtle and demanding. Teachings that originate from world renouncing traditions impose constant groundwork by keeping regulated lifestyles, ethical vows, and sometimes even strictures for monastics. Keeping these disciplines has transformative power. Dropping or diluting these is the most usual sign of teachings losing their very essence and their capability to accomplish anything worthwhile. Then suppose that there exist hundreds of different step-by-step systems of teaching how to transform the energy-body using a unique logic as in, for example, how internal martial arts use energy in martial ways for many types of explosive power, fajin, in contrast to qigong healers developing a delicate energy projection skill, faqi. What guarantee could there be that such intricate systems can handle altering the procedure or mixing with other methods and still function without harmful side effects?

Both Daoist Longmenpai sect and Buddhist Shaolin sect are prime examples of sprawling Chinese internal arts traditions, and they suffered massive persecution during the Chinese Communist Party's purges and cultural revolution. It's difficult to ascertain how much was lost in terms of teachings, but the biggest loss was in the dedicated people who could carry on the authentic spirit and discpline, regardless of the teaching. Daoist schools typically divide into subsects that have varying approaches to shared philosophical teachings, and the variety in Daoist training reflects this variance in philosophy and explanations. The Longmenpai sect's decline has left behind a lot of fragments and some of them have been repurposed into modestly holistic health practices. The same could be said of family inherited variants of Shaolin Kungfu. So far so good, and what's the harm in promoting a little inner peace and health, or even martial skill? What I have witnessed is that these practices can easily become appropriated or are treated as if they were the complete deal, and the results are dire: Greedy promises that inspire spiritual training and pay lip service to better health and spiritual experiences, but results fall short of healing and may encourage borderline religious cult mentality for believing to hold onto something really special.

Of topical concern are those marketed practices that promise the attainment of late beginner stage Daoist internal alchemy accomplishments such as Microcosmic Orbit (MCO) and Lower Dantian activation (LDT). There is much theory and speak about how these could be attained in different grades and what are their respective consequences, but the central issue really is that people get into mystified speculation and overblown market speech instead of practicing under trustworthy teachers in good lineages where they would receive the correct information they need to have. So, taking teachings out of context and believing that everything on your own curriculum is readily interchangeable with other practice paths isn't wise, and in fact bodes ill. Many modern people fail to understand the need for complete lineage teachings and having commitment. As these concerns are very rarely explicitly stated and specifically stressed as far as the over-saturated market square noise goes, I don't believe many seekers would initially be aware of the hazards.
  • Loving-kindness

Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Sadly, capitalism is also a major issue. Teachings get fragmented when students get greedy and entitled, and they want great power, but also bizarrely don't feel it's worth paying even a dollar for since they conflate it with "spirituality". Their "spirituality" really translates to "I don't want to inconvenience myself and you have to teach me, or else you're not legit even if you struggled to learn it. If you charge, then you are greedy and not spiritual."

Everything is knowledge, skill, and technology: knowing what the computer can do, improving your ability to use all available software and upgrade the hardware, and specialize in your area, be it fajin or faqi.

Otherwise, you buy a Mac because it's nice to look at and use it only for surfing the Internet, chatting online, and typing up a word document, which is fine, but why not just get a Chrome Book if you aren't going to maximize the use of your device? By that same analogy, then what is Real Ultimate Power Over 9,000 if you are using it just to flex your biceps and achieve nothing more than mental masturbation?

Offering incomplete teachings causes problems for both the teacher and the student. Hiding behind the veneer of "spirituality" to justify power structure abuse or to dismiss authentic teachings that are beyond any comprehensible value is what poisons the teachings.
  • Equanimity

Roots of Virtue

At Your Service
Staff member
Otherwise, you buy a Mac because it's nice to look at and use it only for surfing the Internet, chatting online, and typing up a word document, which is fine, but why not just get a Chrome Book if you aren't going to maximize the use of your device?

Somewhat oddly, I'm going to point out to Sifu John Dolic who is one of our invited teachers as an example. He knows many qigong styles and teaches a reasonably wide selection of them publicly to expediently suit different needs people may have: weight loss, vision and eye sight, cancer, faqi, a few medical styles for different capacities and preferences, and so forth. However, not all of the styles are compatible with each other and the scope of individual styles range from rudimentary medical qigong to Daoist alchemy of the highest caliber. So, Sifu Dolic has good lineage and skills even though he chiefly offers help to people through simple healing methods. Most of these couldn't be called fragments either because they show a history for having been developed for specific purposes that are difficult to address otherwise. In contrast, sometimes when I look at some other teachers, I see them mentioning that they know more than a dozen (medical) qigong styles and claim good skills in everything they do. That's probably alright, but is there any connection to an advanced meditative training lineage or skills to match? Showing collected fragments, e.g. many variations of the Baduajin type exercises, like badges is something that I would advice people to be mindful about when they inspect qigong teachers because there isn't going to be any complete work or hidden master yogi behind the scenes. I at least would be very surprised in that case.

People need to examine themselves and perhaps even receive wise counsel about their own situation and capacity to practice, so that they practice according to their immediate needs first of all. Even though teachings may not be incomplete, people themselves can be in a poor shape in terms of health and capacity to pacify their minds. This is subject to review and change in future as one's situation and goals change. Then it's necessary to ponder if it's time to let go of the current vehicle and go for better opportunities and not cling to some qigong form for little to no gain. This is why lineage initiated teachers can be really valuable: they have practiced long and have attained knowledge and wisdom to match.

The more ridiculous allegorical situation would be that a person uses different toothbrushes morning and evening, alternates days between Pepsodent and Colgate as toothpaste, and then uses a fine cognac as mouthwash to gargle and immediately spits it out into the sink, except once in a week he does the same with his neighbor's odd smelling moonshine. Sure, it looks disciplined and achieving much, but for what purpose? People should look out for simplicity and be totally without pretense as far as names, titles, hopes for attainment, and basic functions go. Dental hygiene isn't rocket science and neither is internal training, but all the irrelevant theoretical discussion makes it look like you would need a PhD to take a dump after starting out with qigong or Daoist alchemy. The only real complication is that people want too much to keep themselves busy and are overly eager for results.

EDIT: I clarified my meaning in the first paragraph.
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