Audi wrote:Greetings all,
I only have a moment before push hands. But what does "culto ate vast flowIng Qi mean? And why would this concern a Confucian?
Whether Mengzi’s idea of cultivating his vast flowing qi
would match up squarely with a taijiquan master’s notion of cultivating qi
is probably not as relevant to my point as is the fact that Wu Yuxiang found something analogous in Mengzi’s concept that resonated with his taijiquan understanding. I’m just saying that Wu Yuxiang’s writings reflect a strong identification with Mengzi’s presentation, in language and logic. Also, whether it is something that would concern “a Confucian” is probably moot, for a number of reasons.
My first encounter with Mengzi’s term haoran zhi qi
浩然之氣 was around 1974 when I’d just begun studying taijiquan with Gate Chan. I bought a used copy of a book by Feng Youlan (Fung Yu-lan) with the title The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy
. Feng devoted a good bit of discussion to the term and the Mengzi section in which it appears. Feng notes that by the time Mengzi lived, qi
had come to connote a concept that was physical, metaphysical, psychological, and physiological. When Mengzi said that he was good at cultivating his vast flowing qi
, he was talking about a sort of psycho-physiological disposition by which he experienced a sense of identification with his total environment. The Gong Sun Chou 公孫丑 chapter of Mengzi
discusses bravery, physical valour, martial prowess, moral uprightness, and how to achieve “an unperturbed mind.” It’s within that context that Mengzi discusses cultivating his 浩然之氣. It’s neither exclusively nor explicitly a Confucian idea. At the time Mengzi wrote, there was a good deal more convergence among Confucian and Daoist thinkers and practitioners. Mengzi likely was one of the thinkers that hung out at the Jixia Academy that included quite a syncretic bunch, so there was plenty of cross-pollination.
What’s pertinent to Wu Yuxiang is the way Mengzi described his method of cultivation. He didn’t directly concern himself with qi
, but rather with the direction (志) of his mind. As long as the mind took the right direction, the qi
would follow. This is very much the model Wu evokes in his writings.
This was evidently clear to whoever wrote the commentary to Wu’s classic in Yang Chengfu’s Taijiquan Shiyongfa. Here’s a snip from Paul Brennan’s translation we began discussing in the other thread:
Practicing Taiji is a method of nurturing energy rather than a project of wielding energy. What is meant by wielding energy? If a person’s training method is impatient, insistent, or angry, the energy will inevitably accumulate in one place and it will be difficult to send an opponent away due to the impeding of it internally. What is nurturing energy? Mengzi said, “I am good at nurturing my noble energy.” By being neither anxious nor impetuous, innate energy will manifest. By calming your mind and restraining your temperament, practicing the boxing will cause essence, energy, and spirit to merge within. By moving energy as though through a winding-path pearl, then even if you have not gained the upper hand, you have kept yourself from corrupting your energy.”
From Brennan, http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com ... hiyong-fa/
Note the use of the term 浩然之氣? Not only did it appear in Yang Chengfu’s book, it also was used by Chen Weiming in his commentary on the same classic. Here’s Brennan’s translation of that:
Mengzi said: “I am good at nurturing my noble energy… until it is vast and strong. I use integrity to nurture it and do not corrupt it, and thus it fills up the world.” [Mengzi, chapter 2a]
Taiji Boxing is a matter of nurturing the energy you were born with rather than wielding the energy of habits. Exercises of wielding energy are big frauds, but in nurturing energy you are going along with what is natural. Practice every day, nurturing it, but do not be overly aware of it. After several decades, so much emptiness will have been amassed that it turns into fullness, “vast and strong.” Then when you make use of it, your crooked parts will store power and standby to issue. Upon issuing, it will be so abundant that no one would be able to resist.
From Brennan, http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com ... -quan-shu/
Other taijiquan masters have mentioned Mengzi’s idea of 浩然之氣, including Zheng Manqing (Thirteen Treatises), and, I think Da Liu. I’m inclined to think they were all following Wu Yuxiang’s lead, and probably with good reason, no?