Zen and Ki Training

Zen and Ki Training

Postby mujushinkyo » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:21 pm

Has anyone else done Koichi Tohei style Ki-training in conjunction with sitting Zen (zazen or mokuso)? What were your experiences with it? Mine have always been interesting:
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby zangskar » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:20 pm

Was this type of Zen 'invented' by Toihei or does it go back further?

I remember reading about 'ki' cultivation in the context of zen in a book on zen (in Danish language) but I can't remember what references might have been given.

Best wishes
Lars
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:51 pm

'Ki' is the life-force and Japanese will ask about someone's 'Ki' as denting their general health.

Everyone has Ki and can use it.

Tohei's approach is not different in that respect from other Japanese martial arts or Shaitsu which he rebranded as 'Kiatsu'.

He was basically driven to his position after a bad fall which left him unable to perform Aikido as vigorously and effectively as in his youth. My own Sensei knew him.

He basically invented a useless form of Aikido in terms of martial arts and adopted Shiatsu and called it 'Kiatsu'.

I don't think he added anything at all to Zen or the martial arts, except to delude people that wafting your hand about and dancing in slow motion is useful in self defence.

I have never seen any evidence that 'Ki' can be developed and improved. Every demonstration I have attended, or class I have joined in, have been relaint on others who know the 'script' and dutifully leap about when Sensei hits them with his 'Ki'.

Sorry to be blunt, but it is not a path worth pursuing. ;)

Check this out for advice:

http://schatt.com/books/zen/TheUnfetteredMind.pdf
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Jikan » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:57 pm

Zangskar:

I don't know for a certainty, but I have reason to think that the techniques listed in the OP derive from Shin Shin Toitsu Do, developed by this fellow:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempu_Nakamura

There are elements of his story that sound quite Theosophic (appropriate to his historical moment... compare his work to that of Yone Noguchi, who was allied with the Irish Theosophist and literary critic James Cousins, and hence to Aurobindo Ghose). Which is to say that Shin Shin Toitsu Do seems to have emerged from the same cultural soup as the New Age movement in North America did.

EDIT:

I should add that my comments here should not be understood as a dismissal of these practices (I know for a fact many people find them helpful), merely as a historical reference per Zangskar's question.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby zangskar » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:31 pm

Thanks for the replies, Blue Garuda and Jikan! :)
To be clear, I think I should not have used the term Ki cultivation since that probably sounds like increasing Ki, which was not implied in the link by Mujushinkyo.

So I guess the answer is there is no long history of Ki/body energy practices in zen, except where zen was mixed with martial arts training?
Best wishes
Lars
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:43 pm

zangskar wrote:Thanks for the replies, Blue Garuda and Jikan! :)
To be clear, I think I should not have used the term Ki cultivation since that probably sounds like increasing Ki, which was not implied in the link by Mujushinkyo.

So I guess the answer is there is no long history of Ki/body energy practices in zen, except where zen was mixed with martial arts training?
Best wishes
Lars


I think Jikan gave a very useful answer, in that Tohei did not invent ki energy practices, he attached a label to he link with martial arts - the developer of 'shiatsu' again attached a label. I'm not historian but I think both Chinese and Indian cultures had such practices in antiquity.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Ikkyu » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:52 pm

mujushinkyo wrote:Has anyone else done Koichi Tohei style Ki-training in conjunction with sitting Zen (zazen or mokuso)? What were your experiences with it? Mine have always been interesting:



No. I'm sure the martial arts have a tinge of Zen to them. Japanese martial arts and the styles of the samurai in particular were influenced by Zen philosophy. However I don't believe in qi/ki/chi so I can't comment on aikido.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Meido » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:58 pm

zangskar wrote:So I guess the answer is there is no long history of Ki/body energy practices in zen, except where zen was mixed with martial arts training?


In Japanese Rinzai Zen there are indeed energetic practices. More generally-known ones include:

1. The breathing which is used in zazen itself, which is centered on the navel tanden and involves a particular, trained use of the pelvic floor and diaphragm.

2. The Naikan no Ho and Nanso no Ho practices of Hakuin Zenji.

In my experience all of these are described in terms of ki. There are additional practices unique to particular teachers and lineages.

The intent of these things as taken up within Zen training is of course different from Tohei's system (which was indeed influenced by his association with Tempu Nakamura). Tohei's system is not a "type of Zen" in other words...and as far as I know he has never presented it as having any relation to Buddhism, but rather as an independent training system of his own devising.

~ Meido
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Meido » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:23 pm

Ikkyu wrote:No. I'm sure the martial arts have a tinge of Zen to them. Japanese martial arts and the styles of the samurai in particular were influenced by Zen philosophy. However I don't believe in qi/ki/chi so I can't comment on aikido.


Of course Zen has certainly impacted Japanese culture as a whole, for example the flowering of cultural arts that was centered within the gozan monasteries. And there were famous martial artists who we know (or it is said) practiced Zen and whose teachings were influenced thereby: Yagyu Munenori, Musashi Miyamoto, Tsukahara Bokuden, Itto Ittosai, Tsuji Gettan, Yamaoka Tesshu of course. There were also eminent warriors/military figures who practiced Zen deeply, perhaps most famously Hojo Tokimune. Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin as well I believe.

But in general the influence of Zen Buddhist training methods on Japanese bujutsu is, I think, overstated in popular literature. Many (perhaps most) bujutsu ryuha were not influenced by Zen...and just as often made or make use of Shinto, Mikkyo, or Neo-Confucian concepts, practices and terminology.

Ueshiba Morihei, the Aikido Kaiso (founder), was influenced not by Zen but by Shinto in general and Omoto-kyo in particular.

~ Meido
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby zangskar » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:47 pm

:thanks:
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby mujushinkyo » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:51 am

I found Koichi Tohei's KI IN DAILY LIVING a very useful book. It's practical and simple and mystical all that once. The basic principle is investigating your own Ki-state. Is it weak, or strong? Is it "extended" or "shrunk"? Positive or negative?

I never met Koichi Tohei or any of his students so I can't comment on any personal information about him. All I know is what he wrote.

Of course, I recognize that he took it all from traditional Japanese yoga/shugyo methods such as misogi (bathing in cold water), Ki-breathing, and Hakuin-Zenji's instructions on using the Hara in Zen.

I've done these and other methods for a number of years. I used to pour buckets of cold water on my head every morning to test whether I was holding the Ki-point correctly. If I wasn't, I lost my breath. If I was, there was no change in my breathing, and I didn't even feel a shock of cold.

I went on to experiment with using Ki when interacting with other people. I found that if I maintained the "Ki" point social interactions became quite easy and natural and conflicts never really arose.

I've also used these simple techniques in several instances when my life was at risk and they performed brilliantly.

My own experience is that everything changed when I abandoned the theoretical approach, which I did pursue for quite some time getting nowhere, with a direct and practical one. Tohei's book was a small but important part of that.

Unfortunately, these techniques can't raise the dead, scatter your enemies like the cold north wind, or transport you to the Pure Land, but for here and now they seem inexhaustible.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby mujushinkyo » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:58 am

Meido wrote:
zangskar wrote:So I guess the answer is there is no long history of Ki/body energy practices in zen, except where zen was mixed with martial arts training?


In Japanese Rinzai Zen there are indeed energetic practices. More generally-known ones include:

1. The breathing which is used in zazen itself, which is centered on the navel tanden and involves a particular, trained use of the pelvic floor and diaphragm.

2. The Naikan no Ho and Nanso no Ho practices of Hakuin Zenji.

In my experience all of these are described in terms of ki. There are additional practices unique to particular teachers and lineages.

The intent of these things as taken up within Zen training is of course different from Tohei's system (which was indeed influenced by his association with Tempu Nakamura). Tohei's system is not a "type of Zen" in other words...and as far as I know he has never presented it as having any relation to Buddhism, but rather as an independent training system of his own devising.

~ Meido


Terrific! Thanks. I really like and often use Hakuin's methods.

Also the tanden breathing.

I also play the bamboo flute which requires Ki, or the bamboo just doesn't make a real sound.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Matylda » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:33 am

Nanso and naikan are useful. Just a few remarks.

Yasenkanna does mention visit of young and very sick Hakuin at the cave of Hakuyushi. As one can slowly read through the text Hakuyushi first checked pulses etc. In fact in Japan this meditation is applied together with checking pulses and body/eneregy/mind condition. Actually the practice itself was secret and Yasenkanna mentions it, but does not go into details. Torei Zenji received complete transmission of that practice and passed it to some of his disciples. he is also an author of commentaries and also he drew and painted the charts for the practice. there are 3 basic meditations they vary from each other, but the 3 meditations are further elaborated as well, since there are many different mental and phisical cases and conditions. Moreover Hakuin said that finally this practice alone brings one to unexcelled enlightenment.

There are still some teachers and monks skilled in the whole system, but it is not taught in open. Torei's pictures are pretty amazing. But none of it is publicly available, as well as instructions.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby zangskar » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:03 pm

Matylda wrote:Nanso and naikan are useful. Just a few remarks.

Yasenkanna does mention visit of young and very sick Hakuin at the cave of Hakuyushi. As one can slowly read through the text Hakuyushi first checked pulses etc. In fact in Japan this meditation is applied together with checking pulses and body/eneregy/mind condition. Actually the practice itself was secret and Yasenkanna mentions it, but does not go into details.


Practices like this I guess?
(Extract from http://www.leggett.co.uk/books/szr.htm Leggett: A second Zen reader. The Tiger's Cave and Translations of Other Zen Writings. Charles E. Tuttle, Tokyo 1988)
I said : May I hear of the use of the So cream?

Hakuyu said : If the student finds in his meditation that the four great elements are out of harmony and body and mind are fatigued, he should rouse himself and make this meditation. Let him visualize placed on the crown of his head, that celestial So ointment, about as much as a duck's egg, pure in colour and fragrance.

Let him feel its exquisite essence and flavour, melting and filtering down through his head, its flow permeating downwards, slowly laving the shoulders and elbows, the sides of the breast and within the chest, the lungs, liver, stomach and internal organs, the back and spine and hip bones. All the old ailments and adhesions and pains in the five organs and six auxiliaries follow the mind downwards. There is a sound as of the trickling of water. Percolating through the whole body, the flow goes gently down the legs, stopping at the soles of the feet.

Then let him make this meditation: that the elixir, having permeated and filtered down through him, in abundance fills up the lower half of his body. It becomes warm, and he is saturated in it. Just as a skilful physician collects herbs of rare fragrance and puts them in a pan to simmer, so the student finds that from the navel down he is simmering in the So elixir. When this meditation is being done, there will be psychological experiences, of a sudden indescribable fragrance at the nose-tip, of a gentle and exquisite sensation in the body. Mind and body become harmonized, and far surpass their condition at the peak of youth. Adhesions and obstructions are cleared away, the organs are tranquillized and insensibly the skin will begin to glow. If the practice is carried on without relapse, what illness will not be healed, what power will not be acquired, what perfection will not be attained, what Way will not be fulfilled? The arrival of the result depends only on how the student performs the practices.


Thanks for the replies all :twothumbsup:
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Matylda » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:20 pm

zangskar wrote:
Matylda wrote:Nanso and naikan are useful. Just a few remarks.

Yasenkanna does mention visit of young and very sick Hakuin at the cave of Hakuyushi. As one can slowly read through the text Hakuyushi first checked pulses etc. In fact in Japan this meditation is applied together with checking pulses and body/eneregy/mind condition. Actually the practice itself was secret and Yasenkanna mentions it, but does not go into details.


Practices like this I guess?
(Extract from http://www.leggett.co.uk/books/szr.htm Leggett: A second Zen reader. The Tiger's Cave and Translations of Other Zen Writings. Charles E. Tuttle, Tokyo 1988)


Looks like, but in Japan the popular published text does not contain instructions at length. Important points are missing. T. Legget could use only what was published.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby mujushinkyo » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:01 am

This is sort of relevant, too:

"Zen Miracle Cure for Anxiety & PTSD" (using Hara breathing, Ki-intensifying & Seiza-sitting)
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Pero » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:58 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:'Tohei's approach is not different in that respect from other Japanese martial arts or Shaitsu which he rebranded as 'Kiatsu'.

He was basically driven to his position after a bad fall which left him unable to perform Aikido as vigorously and effectively as in his youth. My own Sensei knew him.

He basically invented a useless form of Aikido in terms of martial arts and adopted Shiatsu and called it 'Kiatsu'.

I don't think he added anything at all to Zen or the martial arts, except to delude people that wafting your hand about and dancing in slow motion is useful in self defence.

I have never seen any evidence that 'Ki' can be developed and improved. Every demonstration I have attended, or class I have joined in, have been relaint on others who know the 'script' and dutifully leap about when Sensei hits them with his 'Ki'.

Sorry to be blunt, but it is not a path worth pursuing. ;)


I disagree. In the past I practiced Ki Aikido for several years. Though I agree it's pretty much useless for self-defence meant in the usual way, it improved my health immensly and recently I also began to think that it formed a great base for my work with ki that I did later. So it can be quite worth pursuing, depending on what you want/expect from it. Also, I don't think Kiatsu is just a rebranded form of Shiatsu. I didn't learn it myself, I just have the book and I only glanced through it so far and what it says in the begining is that one shouldn't even do Kiatsu before he has some proficieny in various areas of Ki Aikido (like keeping the one point). This for example is not part of Shiatsu as far as I'm aware. I also don't think Tohei wanted to "add" anything to Zen or martial arts either.
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby Meido » Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:20 am

mujushinkyo wrote:This is sort of relevant, too:

"Zen Miracle Cure for Anxiety & PTSD" (using Hara breathing, Ki-intensifying & Seiza-sitting)


I read this blog entry you linked to.

The practice you lay out seems harmless and perhaps could be useful to someone. But describing it as "Zen done in the samurai way" is incorrect. I'm not sure why you did so.

Again, I think the inaccurate conflation of all things Japanese/samurai/budo with all things Zen is sloppy and needlessly confusing. It does seem to be a common marketing ploy, of course...though one mostly employed by authors with very little actual Zen training.

If someone is interested in "samurai Zen" and what it entailed, they should read the writings or life stories of some of the persons I mentioned earlier: actual samurai who did Zen. Add to that list Suzuki Shosan, and more recently Omori Sogen (the translation of his Sanzen Nyumon is the best English-language introduction to Rinzai practice that exists). Takuan Soho's Fudochi Shimmyo Roku is a very important text; there are several translations. Finally, Legget's translations of some of the Kamakura Zen records - in which the encounter between Ch'an/Zen masters and warrior lay disciples is described - is also very useful...I have seen it published as "The Warrior Koans".

There are still genuine teachers who transmit ways of practicing which actually do inherit the legacy of the encounter between Zen and the samurai, or Zen and bujutsu. They may be found if someone wants it. But that is an extremely severe path of practice, and it requires something more than "samurai romanticism" to endure it.

~ Meido
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Re: Zen and Ki Training

Postby mujushinkyo » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:52 am

Meido wrote:
mujushinkyo wrote:This is sort of relevant, too:

"Zen Miracle Cure for Anxiety & PTSD" (using Hara breathing, Ki-intensifying & Seiza-sitting)


I read this blog entry you linked to.

The practice you lay out seems harmless and perhaps could be useful to someone. But describing it as "Zen done in the samurai way" is incorrect. I'm not sure why you did so.

Again, I think the inaccurate conflation of all things Japanese/samurai/budo with all things Zen is sloppy and needlessly confusing. It does seem to be a common marketing ploy, of course...though one mostly employed by authors with very little actual Zen training.

If someone is interested in "samurai Zen" and what it entailed, they should read the writings or life stories of some of the persons I mentioned earlier: actual samurai who did Zen. Add to that list Suzuki Shosan, and more recently Omori Sogen (the translation of his Sanzen Nyumon is the best English-language introduction to Rinzai practice that exists). Takuan Soho's Fudochi Shimmyo Roku is a very important text; there are several translations. Finally, Legget's translations of some of the Kamakura Zen records - in which the encounter between Ch'an/Zen masters and warrior lay disciples is described - is also very useful...I have seen it published as "The Warrior Koans".

There are still genuine teachers who transmit ways of practicing which actually do inherit the legacy of the encounter between Zen and the samurai, or Zen and bujutsu. They may be found if someone wants it. But that is an extremely severe path of practice, and it requires something more than "samurai romanticism" to endure it.

~ Meido


Having faced death squarely a number of times, my "samurai romanticism" has held up well. Seiza was the basis for samurai Zen. Takuan Soho, by the way, I revere.

But -- with due respect for your bibliography -- this is not a matter of reading books. It's about practice, direct experience and realization.
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