What Is Qigong?
The history of Qigong dates back more than six thousand years. It is much older than any organized religion or philosophical school of thought. The only continuous tradition of self-realization older than that is Shamanism. If is fair to say that Qigong originated from the prehistoric Shamanic practices - the most ancient tradition of spirituality known to humankind that does not have strictly organized rules or religious dogmas.
The sages that lived thousands of years ago did not learn Shamanic Qigong from books or videotapes! The only sources of knowledge they had were their own personal experiences and what they could learn by apprenticing to other Shamans. In essence, they had to empirically find some authentic methods of feeling the flow of Qi by experimenting with it. Such a genuine approach created many great masters whose children and students also learned mostly through observation and exploration, rather than memorizing and repeating any Qigong forms. Playing with each other as well as different animals and elements of nature was the testing ground for their skills and powers.
The Shamans of antiquity developed their acute energy awareness for personal development, healing and protection of their tribes. Through years of trial and error, some of them fine-tuned their abilities to shift attention from the outer appearances of things to their energetic nature that is called Qi in Chinese, Prana in Sanskrit, or Mana in Hawaiian. Energy is the essence of all Being, flowing through all things and manifesting in the multitude of forms. The forms of things are basically vessels for their energetic essence. This applies not only to tangible objects, but also to events, relationships, thoughts, etc. Thanks to the diligent transmission of this knowledge through many generations of dedicated practitioners, now we have a way to awaken our dormant abilities to perceive the flow of things in our lives and to be in harmony with that flow.
About 2,500 years ago Lao Tzu wrote DaoDeJing, the original Daoist text, while his contemporary Confucius created his Confucian school of thought in China. At about the same period of time Buddha Shakyamuni experienced enlightenment in India and founded Buddhism. Another Indian system called Tantra developed relatively soon thereafter and later spread to Tibet, as the result of which Tibetan Buddhism became known as Tantric Buddhism. The followers of these four philosophies gradually eventually developed their respective methods of energy work. Two secular branches of Qigong - Martial Arts and Therapeutic Qigong - developed during the Warring States period of Chinese history and solidified after the arrival of Bodhidharma from India to the Shaolin Temple in China.
The experiential and playful approach of the Shamans of antiquity was gradually replaced by more institutionalized education due to the lack of imagination and creativity exhibited by the generations who ended up learning through receiving instructions, rather than from exploring their inner nature and the nature at large. Instead of paying attention to the essence of their master’s practices, most students learned to focus their attention to the forms of movements and poses. This eventually led to the proliferation of sectarian forms of Qigong and Martial Arts based on their respective ideas about which form is “right” or “good.”
There is one style, however, that does not merely try to reach for the fruits on the ends of the branches of the “Qigong tree,” but rather goes back to the Shamanic roots of the entire tree and empowers its practitioners to stay true to the original universality of the art. Its practice allows advancing to the high levels of achievement in all six branches of Qigong as a result of integrating the power and wisdom of the six branches into one. This non-sectarian system called Qi Dao has been preserved through the centuries by twenty-seven generations of masters who explored numerous possible applications of energy awareness in all spheres of life, from fighting to healing and sexual energy arts.
Qi Dao practitioners study all the six main applications corresponding to the major historical branches of Qigong: Daoist Qigong for wellness and longevity, Martial Art Qigong for peacemaking and conflict resolution, Tantric Qigong for transpersonal development through enlightened relationships, Therapeutic Qigong for holistic healing, Confucian Qigong for organic community building, and Buddhist Qigong for spiritual awakening in the dream called life.
Qi Dao is distinct from Chinese Qigong in that it uses on the Shamanic teachings of Medicine Wheel, rather than the five elements of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Also unlike most Chinese styles of Qigong, which teach the cultivation or manipulation of energy, Qi Dao empowers you to perceive the flow of energy through your body and throughout the world around you. Once you perceive it, you will be learning how to be in the flow.
With its integral relationship to Tibetan Shamanism, Qi Dao is based on directly experiencing human energy fields and the universal flow of Qi – energy or life force. Practicing this type of energy work develops a bridge connecting the physical body with the unconscious mind, promoting the awakening of the Dream-being, or spirit, if you will. This connection of mind and body can be seen in the practice of empowerment – the spontaneous and natural movement of the physical body following the flow of Qi, which naturally brings you closer to the direct experience of spirit.
Taking the Shamanic viewpoint, Qi Dao approaches the world as a grand spiritual adventure, where everything that comes to us is a lesson and opportunity for growth. Thus, while its essence has remained constant, Qi Dao has naturally grown through Lama Tantrapa’s exposure to the many spiritual and mind-body disciplines.