Chi Time interviews: Ken Cohen 2 History of Qigong

Chi Time interviews: Ken Cohen 2 History of Qigong

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Ken Cohen World Class Qigong Master talk about the history of Qigong and the art of Tea Ceremony.

Ken is teaching in the US & Canada and coming to Bournemouth UK in June.
See more about that here

Ken’s website

hello and welcome into another Chi time with me Clara Apollo this is your conscious living show some of you will be listening to this on audio others will be watching it on video we're kind of trying to access as many platforms as we can because I have such a wealth of amazing guests coming through this channel but you know what I miss them Lee I'm absolutely thrilled by the episode the wealth of information that's being shared at the moment from assaulter to glean and to take on board and to make sense for ourselves and on this episode of Chief time that you've got to revisit here because some of you may know that we have got Ken Cohen that the incredible teacher and scholar of Qigong he's a world-class renowned pioneer actually of the healing art for Qigong he's also a Tai Chi drum practitioner as well and he was on Qi time a couple of months ago now which you can access through all the channels but he's coming back on today to talk with us about the history of Qigong kind of when it come from you know it seems to be lots of different strands have been weaving into the history of this ancient practice and why is it so very key for us to be looking at this way of them working with ourselves in this day and age indeed so what I would do is introduce him shortly but to let you know that he's coming to Bournemouth UK I know 23rd 24th 25th of June he's a bit of a split that side a bit of a lovely picture of them of that here content of the events that's it here and we still still have space is available the early bird tickets are going to be there until the 1st of May I think it is so if you want to come along to that and for this intensive primordial Qigong sequence I mean honestly it's going to and a clear you connect you align you get your mind your body and spirit all working is this the coherent and unit that you are in use kind of so any further ado I will introduce to you the in the mystical the wise very gracious mr. Kenneth kind I'm not hearing you now hello Ken yes okay there you are how are you hello welcome back to teatime thank you it's good to be here and my name is Ken Cohen or gal Han and Chinese and it's a pleasure to be speaking with you again in anticipation of the workshop happening in South of England this June indeed and you know what 10:00 last time we spoke I was in Austria you were in Colorado and now I'm in the new forest and you are where and I am in a town in Southern California not far from San Diego my wife's family is from this area we've been increasingly spending time here so I've got the mountains in Colorado and the ocean here in California oh how lovely wonderful so is the tree very high where you are we tuned into that which is good I can't live anywhere if I don't have nature around me and I've got some trees right outside and a little stream well somewhat dry right now but there's a nice runoff a little bit earlier in the season so yeah it's quite the cheese quite good yeah there was one of the things we mentioned on the last interview was the balancing aspects of nature and how really just to be in nature is probably the best thing that you can do for yourself so you just corroborated that by witness absolutely and it really goes back to the the origins of Qigong because Qigong has its beginnings in early Chinese shamanism in fact there was a discovery not that long ago of a piece of pottery from about 3000 BC that shows a dancing shaman or probably more properly Asha maka that is a female shaman since the shamanic tradition of China was primarily feminine and this schemata is in what seems to be a Qigong posture infected when I show this as a slide in a PowerPoint lecture I try to do a kind of zoom in and you can see the woman in a stance that looks very much like today's standing meditation which is a meditative posture used by virtually every Qigong teacher and in every Qigong system so this goes right back to about 3000 BC and if we think of the work of the great British scholar Joseph Needham who whose writings I greatly admire he mentions in his book science and civilization in China simply volume 2 that Taoism has its root in the Chinese shamans search for harmony with nature along with a tradition of philosopher Hermits who withdrew from Chinese society looking for peace and harmony during a period of terrible warfare and bloodshed probably around the 4th 5th century BC and perhaps even before then it seems to be emerging of this philosopher reckless tradition with shamanism that produced early Taoism at least ours philosophy that may not have been a Taoist church or monastery at that time that didn't have been until the 2nd century AD but certainly the philosophy and the philosophy of Taoism is the philosophical basis of Qigong so we're looking at history of Qigong to consider shamanism we also consider evidence from Chinese art from pottery from sculptures and so forth and certainly the early Dallas literature particularly loud-mouthed serves name means the old child and that already tells you something about this philosophy recovering youthful in a clarity of mind vitality lousy rotas daodejing as a look of philosophy of guidance to the emperor about how to rule justly and it also has what could be called coded information about Qigong that is the advice is not obvious but if we look at the connotation of the words used in his poetic text we find that there are indeed two baled references to Qigong and again we're talking about around the 5th century for the 5th century BC for example give you one example in one of the chapters it says I'll recite in Chinese might find that interesting and then in English shunran drew huge Eason sure Shifu this means in the governing of the sage well it's not talking about government it's actually talking about self-governing or regulation of one's Chi so in the self-governing of the sage she she said empty the chest sure to food and fill the belly well this is like advice for doing tied to your Qigong that is when you're doing your standing when you're doing your Tai Chi form or any Qigong practice you imagine that the chest is relatively empty that is it feels light free this view look what you don't want to do would be to lift the chest because if you lift the sternum you're going to be encouraging shallow thoracic respiration breathing rate will quicken and your breath again will be shallow so we want to empty the chest while having a feeling of Pleasant fullness in the lower abdomen and that will allow your diaphragm to move properly so the diaphragm will drop and the building will expand on inhalation and we release on exhalation so there we see concrete advice about the posture of Qigong we can look at another chapter one of my very favorites chapter 40 actually and memorize quite a bit of Delta G chapter 40 says I recited Chinese fan jaw down you don't rajae boundary on Kenya 1 Oh some yo-yo some goo this means reversal is the movement of the dal now think about that says reversal is the movement of the down in other words instead of energy dissipating from them almost from the moment of birth we learn to make the energy in flowing and rejuvenating so instead of instead of there being a gradual dissipation of lifeforce we learn at a certain age especially as one gets older this becomes important to learn how to return to youthfulness so again the opening line of that chapter I just recited is reversal is the movement of the dal suppleness is the function of the down under heaven all things are born of something but something arises from nothing well this is advice essentially I give I paraphrase for my students where I tell them we need to learn to reverse the outflowing and dissipating course of our life forces we need to practice suppleness because as long as the tree is alive it is supple that is the SAP is moving through it when it's old it's brittle dry breaks easily so suppleness is the essence of Taoism suppleness is you have essence of health then it says under having all things are born of something but something arises from nothing this is a suggestion to link with the primal emptiness that is the primal being without concept without thought empty of form empty of phenomena linguist at ung original Chi and you will reset your body's entire healing system and this remains the essence of Qigong that is certainly we can you know look at any particular health challenge we have and learn a Qigong exercise or meditation to help balance that help correct that the more important goal is to reset the body's entire healing system and that's the emptiness that Laos is advising because an emptiness that is having an empty mind there's no division between phenomenon there's no division between me and you between self another between yourself and the natural world so we have to play with this sort of dual aspect of Qigong all the time that is how do we use specific teaching on techniques to address our needs maybe Qigong for athletic performance or Qigong to heal arthritis or Qigong for addressing problems like cancer or heart disease and at the same time having a spiritual perspective that says the ultimate goal of Qigong is linking with the energies of the universe now let me get back a little bit to the history you see Taoist theme running through out Qigong but there's also two other rivers or streams that feed the great river Jia we've got Taoism and shamanism or I spoke a little bit about we've also got the medical side that is how Cheeta was used as complementary therapy for various ills physical or mental and you've also got Qigong as a kind of athletic training use to improve strength stamina coordination sensitivity reducing the likelihood of sports related injuries so you've got the spiritual medical and sports aspects of Qigong now as I said earlier we see evidence for this going back to pottery images from about 3,000 BC been around it I think it's around the eighth century BC we one of the first written texts on Chico's it's not quite a text it's actually an inscription on I believe it was about a dozen pieces of jade and it talks about the importance of dropping the Chi and concentrating it and then the Chi will sprout this is extraordinarily if you don't mind me looking a little bit off to the side for a moment I have here a translation okay it's actually 500 BC inscription on these twelve pieces of jade and it reads as follows and sounds like a modern Qigong text a little bit archaic and way it's express express to circulate the Chi swallow it so that it will gather if it is gathered it will expand into spirit when it expands it will drop when it drops it will become stable when it is stable it will be solid when it is solid it will sprout but it sprouts it will grow when it grows it will return now there's that returning is the movement of del there's that theme again when it returns it will be heavenly the heavenly is revealed in the rising of the Chi the earthly is revealed in the sinking of the Chi follow this and you will live long Chinese that's shrimp the shunk follow this and you will live long oppose it and you will die so already we have Qigong in 500 BC being promoted as a path to longevity and Machida has continued to develop since then there's some great names in the history and development for example Hawthorne a name known I think to anyone who's been enthusiastic for is art student of Qigong rather a hot or was one of the first great Chinese doctors also great theorists his works are so red today and in the second century he either developed or transmitted that is we don't know if he created this or transmitted the first Qigong that is still practiced today that is the choreography developed in the second century we still see see people practices again now it's a style that I teach is called the five animal frolics so in addition to his work with the theories of Chinese medicine and acupuncture he was historic figures mentioned in history zoos as you went surgeons and he's very well known for treating general run going who was shot by a poisoned arrow of doing a kind of minor surgery on him but in the Qigong realm we think a lot to us having created the five animal products as a way for people to remain healthy or as an adjunctive therapy and treatment of disease the five animals in this by the way is another system that I love maybe a future trip to the UK we'll do that one as well so that ain't the grain the bear the monkey the deer and the tiger yes now that this shows you also some of the shamanic connections because yeah and nation as well yes and why was it these five animals because they observed the animals in nature not because they were reading about them it wasn't some intellectual approach to the five animals not because they were observing them in a zoo me today if you have to go to a zoo to observe the monkey and learn from the monkey how to move like a monkey yeah of course we can do that but you know I'll tell you a little side note about this just for a moment okay first time I was in the Amazon in Brazil I was taking a cruise with my dad now let me tell you I usually don't like cruises I don't like being a tourist I like to go somewhere and live there and stay there get to learn about the people culture were a little bit about the language but my dad in those days you know 30 40 years back you love to go on cruises he guided me along its just treating it okay it's going to be great fun but I had a secret reason for wanting to go to the Amazon as soon as the cruise boat landed at one of the ports instead of joining the tourists on a pre-arranged tourist trip I took off by myself and actually ran into the jungle I warned my dad and some of the other guests that I'd be doing that so they wouldn't be worried about maybe they probably still were but the reason I did that is because I wanted to be in a natural place where I could see monkeys not in the zoo I wanted to be around monkeys so that I could then practice the monkey animal frolic mm-hmm cause if you do the monkey animal crouched among monkeys I know this sounds odd you really get a very different feeling because five animals would develop at a time and think about this second century AD it was at a time when people lived with the close presence of the animals sometimes you had to worry about them especially if there were Tigers and and so forth so as much as possible we tried to observe nature and we find out how nature expresses yourself through our bodies as Asby p-chan my first Qigong teacher put it and said you know if you're doing the crane exercise don't imitate the crane be the crane so each of these animals has something to teach us and every style of chi gong me whether we're talking about a five animal products or the styles that develop later whether through Buddhist or Taoist monasteries or because the particular Chinese doctors looking to create a Qigong or transmitted Qigong that could be used along with acupuncture and herbal medicine every one of these Qigong methods has you know something important to teach us and addresses a different aspect of our mind-body system in the case of the primordial Qigong that I'll be sharing in in England this June that's one of those systems that looks both at the kind of medical Qigong side of things that is how we can get you to move more fluidly through the meridians or to use Qigong exercises and meditations and stimulate particular acupuncture points you don't have to know acupuncture by the way there's no need for any previous knowledge of Chinese medicine to fully enjoy and be able to practice exercise but the aspects of Chinese medicine you need to learn to to appreciate that you know we're doing I will teach you as we go along so it has the medical aspect that the other thing about primordial Qigong when you let go which I'll be again teaching in England is that you are linking with the primordial as the name of it when you invoke you're making with the energies of the universe so you're working both on the specific aspects of health as well as what we can call the bigger picture which is how do I restore my primal energies those that I was born with before they were corrupted by stress by physical stress emotional stress by our life history our traumas and so forth how do I restore that vitality and energy that we associate with youthfulness and how do I restore not only the original Chi in my body but the link with the original Chi of the cosmos remember that William Wordsworth poem that begins heaven lies about us in our infancy so people often lose that connection with The Awl with the universe little children have it they're connected we unfortunately educate them out of that connection with the false belief that we are distinct individuals we're actually not we are as much linked with each other with the natural world as a tree is linked with the forest we need nature to survive I know people talk about subsistence cultures in the sago we're not a subsistence culture anymore I Got News for you we are there's no way you can live without nature much more buffers between us and nature today that is our food is prepackaged and we're not hunting the the deer or hunting the wild boar and so forth the less we're still subsistence in the sense that without nature we don't survive ahem can I ask you a question about crime prenatal and postnatal she from the learnings that I've come across is but your prenatal Chi is what you'll bequeath as a combination of your parents when you're born and when you use it up you die but your postnatal tears what you're creating with your Qigong practice and you were just talking a bit about the primordial Chi going being something that helps to restore your Chi so if you'd like help me understand that a lot about others a simple way to understand the difference between the Sen Tian Qi and ho tan Chi prenatal and postnatal one is the inborn it's the sort of energy you it's your constitutional energy and the other is the acquired so you can think of it as the inborn and we've acquired there's also a deep connection between the so called prenatal Chi and this wonderful vitality clarity of mind lack of hidden agendas you know innocence innocence of mind we associated with childhood I think there's a link between that and what the Chinese call the prenatal Qi Tian Tian Qi and we're learning how to harmonize the postnatal and the prenatal in other words please don't confuse this with the kind of mental regression as though we're saying well the only thing that's important is the Golden Age of childhood no we're saying that we can maintain and how wonderful to maintain the wisdom of our life experiences as an adult and it reclaim the vitality and energy of the child that's why one of the goals in cheek I love the Chinese language as you can tell yeah one of the goals in Qigong is called fan Lao want ohm reverse old age and return to youthfulness so another way of expressing the goal of Qigong is sing Ming Shuang see you singing your spiritual nature may the forces of life strong suit means cultivated imbalance so spirit and body cultivated imbalance and still another because I think we can learn a lot about how a particular human system characterizes health go another is the San Mao ie the unification of the three treasures three treasures are Jing Chi Chen Jing means your life essence some people consider it your your reproductive force it's of course linked with sexuality as well but it's really the kind of essential energy of your being and then she linked with the breath the life energy itself the breath energy the breath of life and then Shen spirit so Jing Chi Shen life essence or sexuality breath energy and spirit all cultivated balance and immunity so these are I think the great expressions of the goal of genome that we can see from this that it's a little bit different though complementary definition of health now what we can only think of in the west because as as the World Health Organization wisely puts it on their own definition of health they say health is not merely the absence of disease how sad that today we're so treatment oriented every please these and really what the ancient Chinese are saying is more in alignment with the World Health Organization that is it's not merely the absence of disease it's a a positive state of physical mental social and we could even say spiritual well-being excuse me to a critical no flow going like that um so it probably probably covered most of what we need to cover I wish all my friends who are watching this here with me in this house in Southern California with beautiful nature and birds singing rally probably microphones not quite sensitively but some but I would invite you to join me for Constance a really wonderful Chinese teak is a multi connoisseurs hey I tell you I did want to ask you dear can many things was about how Qigong was known as Dalian please Dalian joke I hope you can hear me um and where when the actual word Qigong was first used so another interesting aspect of Qigong that relates to the history is the ver term itself she go Qigong is a post 1949 term some people say well Qigong is ancient yes the exercises of meditations that we now label as Qigong are indeed very ancient but the word cheetah is modern originally Chino was called either Dalian you can spell it in English da Oh why I n that means leading and guiding the Chi and that one of the first illustrated books on jjigae not a text but illustrations of Qigong is the Dalian to the illustrated Dalian classic from about 170 or 180 BC the text was discovered in 1973 need not far from the city of Changsha and he actually had a tomb side the tomb of King ma ma long duty and in that tomb they found a silk scroll half submerged in water when they opened it up lo and behold there were 44 figures Illustrated in various Qigong postures and the figures were from all walks of life a scholar an old man or woman a a farmer young and old abled and disabled well this shows that by the by about 180 BC Chingam was practiced by a broad segment of Chinese society so that's the first Illustrated text and in those days wasn't called Qigong that's called down yin leading and guiding the Chi now there's another equally ancient and pretty much revered word for what we're now calling Qigong that is if you look in the Taoist Canon the collection of Dallas literature it's about 1200 texts we find more commonly the term Yong Chun Yong Chun why Aang SH Eng and this is my favorite classical Tarun Portugal it means nurturing or nourishing that's Yong Chun life nourishing life nurturing life then fantastic ideas just such a well it's a beautiful word it's a better word than Geum how to turn she go never get started really radical Yong Chun why would somebody call call it Energy's skill chase go well kids what happened around the 1951 that is two years after the Communist revolution in mainland China the Chinese government was beginning to feel that Taoist philosophy and arts associated with Taoism whether you're talking about Yong Chun or methods of divination or the e Jing Fung Shui of Chinese astrology and so forth that these arts were somehow subversive to Chinese communist principles and society also need to remember the Daoists had a reputation of being somewhat anti technological so the fear was that Taoist arts would somehow hold Chinese people back for being part of the modern scientific world that's actually not the case but this was the this is the paranoia so around that same time two close friends one was the esteemed doctor of Chinese medicine acupuncture East Village n along with his friend who Eugen dr. who not the doctor who loved British television hu that who and in China doctor who was a doctor Chinese medicine a martial artist and a Taoist priest he he with his friend decided to coin a new term but because of the fear that there would be a crackdown on Qigong as well since it was long considered a great healing and meditative and longevity art of Dallas him he said rebrand let's rename Yuen Chung nurturing life and kind of take out that suggestion of spirituality from it let's call it energy skill oh you just answer the question because I've got this feeling as well it was something going on about if people became empowered and their own connection with spirit was their own and they wouldn't be so easy to organize so that kind of ring mmm I think any despotic government that wants to have full control over its citizens they fear a self empowering art like cheetah because cheetah does make one more confident and more autonomous that are able to make your own decisions in life and I think that's something that we we all want increasingly people in mainland China also want that but certainly during the time of the comments revolution and even more so during the Cultural Revolution in China those are a real fear of people doing your own thing so Qigong I mean for us as Westerners we reprise that as Specter chica being able to make our own decisions in life and not being so controlled by outside forces and we lose that ability quiet absolutely can go in hair on she tongue absolutely fascinating all your information wisdom and stories that are coming through and I'm really hoping that when you come to me okay on your coming in just before the summer sources aren't you and that's really wonderful time of year to be there no we planned this well didn't we I think so I think the universe splendid well everything just kind of came together it's a kind of a Chinese call un-fun and karmic affinity yes I like that absolutely and that when you're here maybe we can do a little bit more chatting about things as they come up I'll just put the microphone on and we'll have a subject going because you are full of so much pertinent information and then the beautiful stories embellish it and then as you speak the Chinese as well we're really really getting into the vibe of all thank you thank you wonderful thank you and I look forward to sharing with you and meeting all of my beautiful friends there very soon absolutely and just to say before you go you were just talking about tea and I interrupted you but I would love you to just say a little word before we go about the tea ceremony that you're going to be doing on the Sunday afternoon and why that's so part of how that is linked with with Qigong I will try to keep this short because once you get me started talking on TV I can talk for hours oh there there there's a saying in Buddhism which applies equally to Taoism cha Chan II wait tea and zen zen buddhism tea and zen had one taste so one of the wonders about tea is we find beauty wisdom enlightenment in the everyday as simple as drinking a cup of tea yet it's a little more than that because there is a a kind of ceremonial preparation of tea that I will be demonstrating when I visit there it's not called really tea ceremony in that term is reserved for Japanese tea ceremony which is itself a beautiful art but rather in Chinese we call this cha e the art of tea because in the case of Chinese tea quote ceremony the purpose is not the ritualized choreography that you have in Japanese tea ceremony but rather how to serve and drink tea and appreciate team such a way that all of our senses are opened to an extraordinary degree so that we get an aroma that has depth dimension to it that you use you'll smell the tea in your cup and you'll be doing this with me if you come to that that tea gathering we're going to have while I'm in South of England you smell the cup and there's a surface aroma and then as a cup dries there's this aroma of musky sandalwood and then notes of wildflowers in the background as though the tea which has been grown and harvested and prepared carefully carries the Chi the life force of the mountain where it was grown and the care of the farmers and other people who planted it harvested it and even handcrafted it because the leaves are individually picked and sometimes folded in a particular manner in order to release their aroma and taste in a unique way that is if you have a tea leaf and you fold it compared to rolling it in your hand or compared to twisting it into a spiral those leaves is they open up in the cup and as more of a surface area of the leaf interacts with the with the water release their aroma in a very unique pattern so take a Chinese tea is a deeply sensual art that never less is equally spiritual so I hope that kind of gives you some idea what Chinese tea is like fascinating and it yeah absolutely it's a real ritual and presence but also very simple and everyday and as we we drink our tea here on to time T time you know it is um as always time to reflect and be with yourself when you have your cups of tea so just from a very simple absence of meditation meditation emotional beautiful which of course is what Qigong is or lovely hey Ken thank you so much for anybody that hasn't got hold of Ken's book his seminal tome here about to in its 20th year it is indeed full of there's a lot more information about the history going in there and loads loads more work there anyway and also if you'd like to catch up with him at his Oh crikey what is your what is your website can I have a couple different domain names that bring into the same place one of them is just using my name Kenneth : calm that's ke NN e th co HT n so Kenneth : calm and the other would be Qigong healing calm q i gon g h EA li and g calm and you are teaching around the united states at the moment and then um twist and also sometimes in Canada and internationally but most network right now the majority is in the United States if you go to my website you'll be able to see my national schedule and a reminder of the dates when I'm going to be in England yeah which are the 23rd 24th 25th of June for conscious living events code at UK so if you want to come along to that head over to that website and give you loads more information and yeah Ken thank you so much it's been an absolute joy speaking with you again thank you much for sharing your amazing wisdom thank you very much I have a little little trap to pay you now that will play listeners just a bleed-out with a lot of themed worker holds a Chinese thing going on here and there bringing us into that light of state of being so you can see up my friends although you this thank you

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