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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Five Origins of Traditional Qigong

By David Cowan

Traditionally, all qigongs come to us from five distinct schools of philosophy—these are the Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist, Martial and Medical schools of qigong. Each qigong school shares similarities in form and principals of practice but emphasizes a distinctly different goal.

  • Confucian qigong—as practiced by the ruling elite—the goal was to train oneself to remain emotionally detached and centered no matter what the situation.
  • Daoist qigong focused primarily on increasing longevity which led to the pursuit of alchemy—the turning of base metals into gold—and an attempt to discover: Dan, the ‘Elixir of Life.’ The goal of Daoist qigong is Immortality.
  • Buddhist qigong focuses on the attainment of Enlightenment. The goal of all Buddhist practices is to become a Buddha sustained by undisturbed inner-peace gained through the practice of meditation.
  • Martial qigong’s goal is to become invincible in any fight—a supreme martial artist. Kung fu masters train themselves to become impervious to injury and perform amazing feats of skill and agility due to their years of intensive physical, mental discipline, and their heightened body awareness.
  • Medical qigong’s goal is the alleviation of illness, freedom from sickness, good health and long life.
Many medical qigongs are Daoist in origin, but Indian and Buddhist yoga is strongly influential too. Interestingly, the fateful blending of Chinese Daoism and Indian Buddhism gave rise to a powerful new branch of Buddhism known as Chan Buddhism—or as it is commonly known in the West—Zen.