Mantak Chia’s books attempt to do many things. They compare Chinese and Western practices, including astrology. They explain principles of ancient Chinese thinking. And they illustrate wonderful “exercises” or “practices” designed to increase health, extend wisdom, and develop the spiritual as well as physical aspects of our lives.
As I was working my way through Chapter 6, it occurred to me that the biggest drawback in all of Chia’s books is the lack of an audio, or better yet, video guide for his longer exercises. Here in Chapter 6 there is a Wisdom exercise that breaks down into 14 steps. Each step contains several instructions. I don’t know about you, but it’s impossible for me to learn to do these kinds of bodily exercises while holding a book.
Of course, seeing an instructor in person do these long exercises would also make it much easier. Since Mantak Chia resides in Thailand, I think we have an excellent reason to hope holograph technology happens in our lifetimes!
However, in Chapter 6 (and elsewhere in the book) there are several easy-to-learn short exercises designed to increase the power of the “third” tan tien, or what we call the mind. Chia explains in this chapter that the other two tan tiens in Chinese thinking are the heart, and an area in the abdomen where we find our “gut brain.”
These short exercises go well with any other measures people are using to increase brain power these days. Besides the abdominal massage exercise that I mentioned last time and am now using daily, I loved the “Eating the Cosmos” exercise at the end of Chapter 6. Here Chia returns to the theme of “fluids” as the basis of life and teaches the student an easy exercise using one’s saliva. It’s another fun thing to do.
But I’m most excited by the mental improvement I made this month using what Chia teaches in this book about the relationship between the “third tan tien” (head brain) and the “first tan tien” (the gut brain).
Someone recently sent me one of those Internet math puzzles designed to test your brain’s “age.” This brain teaser shows images of 1-7 numbers within circles randomly scattered around the screen. You see these images for just a second. Then you see the blank circles. You have to fill in each blank circle, number by number, in order from the lowest to highest number that you saw.
When there were more than four numbers on the screen, I just couldn’t do this brain teaser. My “third tan tien,” i.e., “brain,” just balked. I had to use a lot of positive affirmations and self-talk to get myself to believe that I could do this brain teaser. After gaining confidence, I used Chia’s technique.
I let my vision soften and smiled down into the tan tien in my abdomen as Chia’s book instructs. I asked my conscious mind to remember only the lowest and the highest number on the screen. Suddenly I could correctly fill in the numbers for any size group of numbers shown on the screen! Some other part of me (Chia would say my “gut” brain) was able to fill in all the circles with the right numbers in the right order.
For those of you struggling to find the confidence and faith to practice The Secret Law of Attraction, Wisdom Chi Gung might be your ticket to success.
Chia’s technique in this book is similar to how my drum instructor, Barbara Borden, taught me to use to get my mind “out of the way” to let my body do its drumming. Like Barbara’s drum lessons, Chia’s smile-down-into-the-tan tien technique enabled me to do something I never thought I could.
But we are seeking wisdom too, so on to the ancient Taoist concepts Chia introduces here.
SECTION II The taijitu
Have you ever seen this symbol? It’s called the taijitu or “yin yang” symbol. It has great significance for all facets of ancient Chinese wisdom: Qi Gong, acupuncture and acupressure, Feng Shui, the I Ching, and I would imagine, but don’t know for sure, Chinese astrology.
The “dots” inside the taijitu symbol are part of Chia’s explanation of his Taoist exercises for the Wisdom Chi Gung (a summary of what Chia means by Wisdom Chi Gung is on pages 125-126 in Chapter 6). Chia refers to the dots with the terms: “Hui Yin” and “Li Kua.”
The locations in the body for these dots are the “perineum,” which is located the base of the body’s trunk, and the “third eye,” which is located in the middle of the forehead.
Like the Chinese octagonal bagua used for Feng Shui, the round taijitu can be rotated. When the small dots are aligned vertically, the yin yang symbol becomes an abstract representation of the human body.
According to Chia, “Hui Yin is the sight or vision of the Kan (in the Kan and Li)”. Hui Yin is located at the perineum, where the yin and yang channels meet in the human body. Chia calls Hui Yin the “yang in the yin”. Hui Yin is also the term for a practice that Qi Gong and Reiki practitioners may know of as “The Microcosmic Orbit.”
Kan is one of the eight trigrams (three-line symbols) used on the Feng Shui bagua and in the I Ching system of hexagrams. Kan represents the energy of water in the form of moisture, clouds or fog. Kan’s vision in the perineum area is watery.
“Li Kua,” on the other hand, refers to the energy (kua) of Li, the trigram for fire. Fire represents clarity of vision. Chia says Li Kua represents “yang within yin." Yang being light and yin dark, Li Kua would be the white dot within the large black circle in the taijitu. But please note that a source on the Internet says Li Kua is “yin within the yang” and is “black within the white”.
In one simple symbol we’re introduced to four of the eight trigram energies of the I Ching. And we begin to glimpse the complexities of the ancient Chinese mind!
So what do those two small dots in the taijitu mean? One explanation of these dots in the yin yang symbol is this: the “dots” show that in everything lies a “seed” of its opposite.
For example, in health there is a germ of illness, and in illness lies a spark of health. This is an essential insight to keep in mind for anyone in a state of suffering, It’s also a good caution when we get too optimistic. It reminds us to remember other possibilities in life and be grateful for our good fortune.
Gratitude plays a major part in making The Secret or Law of Attraction work. The taijitu also helps overcome another obstacle to making The Secret work.
Section III Getting around either/or thinking
The taijitu symbol is a wonderful image for getting around the “Either/Or” thinking that Western society bombards us with every minute. Thinking in terms of only two categorical opposites often blinds us to the solutions to our problems and traps us.
One of the most shameful memories of my life is of the time I went with a lover to an outdoor music festival. We borrowed a tent from a friend because we knew there would likely be rain during the festival. We had no idea how much rain there would be. It poured.
In the middle of the night I was woken by my lover crawling on top of me. Instantly I felt water seeping through the bottom of my sleeping bag. Later we discovered tent we borrowed had been in immediate need of waterproofing. At that moment in my stupor, I only knew that I was also going to get wet if both of us were in my sleeping bag. My lover was already soaked. I argued we’d both get wet if we shared my bag. I was mired way deep in either/or thinking.
The next day I was utterly flabbergasted to learn from a friend camping nearby that she had an extra, unused tent that we could have used that night. Due to my self-centeredness at that festival, I lost the lover, but I gained a life-long valuable piece of learning.
Section IV Taijitu thinking
In the West, we are all so conditioned to Either/Or thinking that it’s nearly impossible to grasp anything else. After the tent debacle, it still took me years of conscious practice to stop thinking in terms of simplistic black and white dichotomies—like the ones we’re now being bombarded with by the Democratic/Republican parties and their media in the race for the White House.
The taijitu offers us other ways to think and to solve problems. One way is what I’ll call “threefold thinking.” This is where we remember the importance of the “seeds” inside each large circle of the yin/yang symbol.
For example, we often talk about “haves” and “have nots.” In these days of mortgage foreclosures, the main thing that distinguishes the “haves” from the “have nots” is having a home. Owing your own home is a big cornerstone of the “American Dream.” Many people are losing their piece of that dream.
But over decades, in many different places I’ve lived, I’ve gotten to know people who did not have a house or apartment or even a room to live in. These people slept in tents, on other people’s floors, or in their cars. Surprisingly, most of them were employed or in school. The “working homeless” is a category that’s hard to see or count. Most of these people keep a low profile.
Now here we have a paradox of “have nots” who do “have” some assets that make them look like the “haves.” For them, a car can serve as a home. Let’s call this situation the white dot in the dark circle in the yin yang symbol.
We also have the opposite reality where homeowners become homeless while still owning a home. I was one of these. I owned a condo that incurred water damage and mold. My condo association responded with hostility and indifference to all my pleas to assist in stopping the problem. I became a homeless homeowner. I too slept in a tent, on other people’s floors and in cars.
Recently I met a fellow whose only recourse to foreclosure was to rent out his house. He did so and now lives in his office. I’ve also heard of a mother who rented her house and pitched her tent in one of her children’s back yard.
Now here we have a paradox of “haves” who don’t have as much as “haves” usually have. Let’s call this situation the black dot in the white circle of the taijitu.
Now with the stories behind the two dots included, the taijitu represents the real complexity of “homelessness” in this country. Can it lead to solutions?
Is there a problem related to the dots? Yes! Living in a tent, car or van isn’t very safe. The weather is one danger. After realizing a student I knew at a college in Wisconsin was sleeping out in the marshes, even in winter, I often worried about how she managed the 40-below wind-chill times. In San Francisco a “homeless friend” awoke inside her old van when her newer car parked behind it was broken into and got a black eye from a fight with the robber.
These are concrete problems society isn’t even acknowledging.
I think we should pay attention. We should figure out how to accommodate women who already live in cars parked near where they work. These women do not need much in the way of facilities. They are enterprising, and they earn enough to find their own places to eat, shower, and hang out during the day. All they do need is a safe place to park at night.
And we should pay attention to men living where they work. Or family members sleeping on the floor at or living out back of a relative’s house. What might they need?
Many of these people will not live this way permanently. They have assets and the economy will turn upwards again. They may be studying for a college degree or technical skill, or they are recovering from a relationship breakup, or they are temporarily unemployed. Others, such as my friend who works as a roving troubleshooter for an airline have chosen work that constantly takes them from place to place.
Homeless workers and unemployed job-seekers could benefit from even small changes in community infrastructures in our cities and small towns everywhere.
But can we get past our Either/Or thinking? Can we see that those with a only a job and a car are “have-nots” within the category of homeowners and renters, yet they are still “haves” in the overall scheme of things? Can we see that those who “have” may not always have enough? Can we not look down upon (or, on the other hand, look up and envy) people who don’t fit into our neat “Either/Or” categories?
Can we get past simple dichotomies and see all the possibilities for real change?