Seahorse Books

Taoist Arts of the Lee family training manuals by Chee Soo

The Path of Kai Men

Physical Energy

The physical energy of your body is utilized through the muscles and tissues of your anatomy, so that, when, for instance, you lift something, these automatically come into effect. In K’ai Men we call these “muscle changes” and it is through muscle changes within the body that the exercises of K’ai Men are most effective. Through the muscles of the body we begin to open up the channels that are necessary steps towards opening every door within us. Good eating and drinking habits help towards this by making the tissue of the body more flexible, and, whilst you slowly grow older in years, they still remain young in their texture. Revitalizing the body comes not only through our daily eating habits but also by specialized and constant deep breathing exercises, which not only help the normal channels to attain added vigour, but also assist the psychic channels of the body to be opened and strengthened.
In addition to the muscular system, we also have within us an intricate system of blood vessels, which takes the goodness to every part of the body. It is aided by a complex nervous system. Whilst being separate in their specialized fields they all operate as one within the human frame. In addition to sensible eating and drinking habits, to make the body even healthier, to gain vitality, and to assist in the cleansing of the whole system, it is essential to have an adequate supply of oxygen. So deep breathing constantly is also a must for the purification and energizing of the body.

Mental Energy

To enable the mind to be the constant link with the spirit, passing messages back and forwards, to have it in constant control of every thought, every emotion, every sense, and every action of the body and limbs, no matter how minute that movement might be, you will readily understand that it requires enormous energy. It is when the mind becomes depleted of vitality and energy that you begin to feel listless and tired. Concentration itself burns up terrific amounts of energy, so, if you seriously want to meditate, ensure that your body has the energy and vitalities within it to be able to feed the mind in accordance with all its needs and requirements. Good and proper eating and drinking habits, coupled with constant and regular deep breathing every minute of your life, are therefore a must.

Internal Energy

Apart from the physical and mental energies of the body, we have what is commonly known as “internal energy” ( Nèi zhōng qì 内中气) or, more technically, as “intrinsic energy” (Tiānrán nénglì 天然能力), but most people who practise the Chinese arts call it the “vitality power” (Shēngqì 生气). One of the objectives of all those who practice the Chinese arts is to arouse, cultivate, develop and control its dynamic force. There is nothing mysterious about it, for it is the natural energy of the body, and everyone is born with it. You see this power come into action when, for instance, a little baby grips your finger. It has not had time to develop any muscles, yet it will grip your finger so tightly that you may wonder how it could do so. Unfortunately, when you reach five or six years of age you begin using your physical strength so much that your internal energy or vitality power becomes almost dormant, and you use very little of it as you grow older.
This natural power of your body enables you to do your everyday work without the use of physical strength, and without running yourself down and becoming tired and listless. Have you noticed how weary and run down you seem to get round about October and November of each year? This is because you have just entered a Yin period of the year, which always affects the muscles, tissues and bones of the body. If you rely too much on the physical side of your body to do your daily work, you will certainly feel the strain.
Internal energy helps to revitalize the various functional, control and psychic centres within the body so that they not only become more supple and flexible, but also become more receptive. In addition to this, it enables you to meditate much more strongly, because the mind has an unlimited source of energy that it can call upon at any time, whenever it requires it. This energy is built up through many various breathing exercises. All of these have specific jobs to do, but their main task is to heat up the Lower Stove or Cauldron (Xià lú 下炉) or Golden Stove (Jīn lú 金炉), as it is referred to in Taoism, which lies in a position about thirty-four millimetres below the navel. The heat so generated creates and activates the vitality force.

The benefit that the body derives from this power is beyond normal appreciation and comprehension, but in its own way it fights bacteria within the body and your body health improves enormously, so that colds and influenza, along with other complaints, become things of the past. Most Westerners, however, if confronted by a demonstration of the dynamic power of internal energy, would rather explain it away as hypnotism, or whatever, than believe the evidence of their eyes.
This vitality power is so powerful that with the use of it almost everything is possible: a woman might withstand forty or fifty men pushing against one of her hands. Besides improving the health of the human body, and one’s physical powers, this vitality power helps the lift-off of your spirit when you die, and, if you desire to meditate whether internally (mentally) or externally (spiritually), this internal power will enable you to transmit or transport to the furthermost paths of the spiritual world. Without this energy, meditation will be a failure. Many people have traveled the whole world trying to seriously meditate, yet so many come back to the point from where they started disillusioned and disappointed — only to find that what they were looking for was within themselves all the time, and that they need not have taken a single step outside their door to find it.

Macro-cosmic Energy

The other source of energy that is vital to our own personal lives is “macro-cosmic energy” (Jīng shēng lì 精生力), which was a part of your life before you left your mother’s womb. This energy comes down from the heavens, passes through all Yang things, with a centripetal circular motion, and enters the earth, where it gathers further vitality. It then returns to heaven, passing through all Yin things, with a centrifugal circular action. The general movement of the energy is thus as follows:

In passing through Yang things on its way to earth, it passes through man — down his spine and out from his abdomen. Conversely, in passing through Yin things on its way back to heaven, it passes through woman — up her spine, round the head and out through the mouth. The two directions may be represented as follows:

If you put the two together, the result is the famous Yin and Yang symbol of China, representing the unity and duality, the Dual Monism, of all things.


The Taoist Art of Kai Men

by Chee Soo