This is an English translation of Nan Huai Jin’s article from Tai Hu school. Please note that my translations are amateur and you need to do your own research, do not believe what I write here and please test it out for yourselves. This is important so that his genuine teachings are preserved. I welcome any corrections if you spot any.
1, Breathing and Qi
What is Anapana (exhaling-inhaling)? It is talking about Buddhism’s dharma of birth-and-death. When there is birth, there is death; When there is death, there is birth. Coming and going, also called as if to come or to go. In reality, when breath comes in, does it stop inside? It does not, it is impossible. Can it not stop inside? It is impossible. Notice the secret that the “Damo Chan Sutra” (T/N: Probably means the Yogacarabhumi Sutra) tells us – the cultivation experience of the Great Arahants – this one exhale and one inhale is called Chang Yang Qi (Extending-nourishing Qi), which is used for preserving health, which is none other than Anapana.
There are two other types of qi, he talks about but does not tel us where it is. These are the highest secrets and one is called the Bao Shen Qi (sambhogakaya Qi). Our karmic sambhogakaya body uses this Qi while growing in the womb. At that time there is only the umbilical cord, there is no exhaling-inhaling, so that is Bao Shen Qi, a body that comes from karmic-retribution, it is the change of a type of energy. Another one is called the Gen Ben Qi (fundamental Qi). When the sperm and egg meet, there is a whiff of power which is Gen Ben Qi, it is a kinetic-energy, which is the samskara skandha. Therefore in total there are 3 types of Qi.
The Taoists call Gen Ben Qi as Yuan Qi (original qi). When cultivating to be an Immortal, it is called cultivating Yuan Qi. Therefore, the Taoists books tell you “pre-heaven is one qi” the 10,000 things of the universe rely on this energy to arise. Pre-heaven one-qi comes from the Emptiness, empty to the highest point. The explosion of real-emptiness (T/N: might be possibly translated as ‘vacuum’, but does not seem to fit the context), the rich power of real-emptiness, all comes from it. When sitting to cultivate the Tao, even if the exhaling-inhaling becomes extremely faint, completely in Zhi Xi (cessation of Xi), it is still cultivating within Chang Yang Qi, without recognising yet the Yuan Qi (original qi) of the body in the womb. Therefore you must first understand Feng (wind), Chuan (panting), Qi, Xi, and even as far as not exhaling or inhaling, completely at Zhi Xi (cessation of Xi), almost returning to the situation of a fetus. Then you will recognise the Yuan Qi that life needs.
You have to recognize the original qi within life, then you can start to do real cultivation of Chan samadhi to do gong-fu. Then you can control and transform this life.
2, The Four Levels of Anapana
Regarding Chang Yang Qi (extending-nourishing qi), it is a big science which can classified into four layers: Feng (wind), Chuan (panting), Qi, Xi.
Feng, is the basic principle. In China, it is the airflow, when it goes into the human body, it becomes Anapana (T/N: Please note that anapana and exhaling-inhaling are exchangeable). Therefore Feng is the first place.
Chuan, typical Anapana is called Chuan. One sickness with bad breathing is called Asthma. When the ordinary man’s body is not healthy enough, they can have mild asthma, their Anapana only reaches the throat or lungs and stops. This kind of Anapana has sounds, especially becoming audible when sleeping. When having a blocked nose from catching a cold, this sound becomes even more rough, this is chuan. Chuan is when the external wind and the wind inside the body have mutual obstructions, struggling to open up the air pipes. Typical Anapana is using the nostrils. The nostrils have a lot of channels, talking about nerves, they are very fine and thin, with several hundred types of channels. If you can cultivate until a particular place can exhale-inhale, then it is not using the nostrils, it is just relying on this place to exhale-inhale. Using a skeleton to see, the nose area has a hole which is triangular, above here is exhaling-inhaling.
The older the age, the shorter the qi. Nearing death, this qi only reaches the Adam’s apple. The bone at the Adam’s apple is locked. Finally, it tightens the older you get, when it completely closes up you break qi, “e!” and you die. There is no more Chang Yang Qi, therefore you must cultivate qi, if not when you are old, when you drink one mouthful of water you can die, because the Adam’s apple is becoming tighter. You must open up the Adam’s apple. When the gong-fu is reached, this place will open up, and then the Anapana will be in the head. The gong-fu is reached, and finally it is the opening of the crown. This is talking about when the gong-fu is reached. The typical person is easily old and weak, they can nod their heads and sleep just sitting there, their heads are drowsy. They think they did not sleep, but actually they are sleeping, because the oxygen in their brains are insufficient. This is the stage of Chang Yang Qi, belonging to the function of the Wind element.
Chang Yang Qi is the function of life, which is related to the Earth’s atmosphere. Suppose we surpass high altitude and are outside the atmosphere, then this qi transforms, this is real emptiness. Suppose we do not bring oxygen up to outer space, going past the atmosphere, then only possibly those with fourth dhyana samadhi can be alright! Because they no longer need Chang Yang Qi for Anapana.
Advancing another step, it is “Xi”. Xi is an extremely faint going in and going out. There is no Qi, there are no obstructions inside the body, without pain or discomfort, without aching, swelling, itchiness or other sensations. It is completely tranquil, as if there is no exhaling-inhaling, rather it is in the entire body. You feel every cell, even the nine orifices (T/N: eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth, urethra, anus), the entire body’s cells are naturally rejuvenated (T/N: or ‘full of’, ‘brimming’, permeated) in coming-and-going. It is as if you are connected to the atmosphere and void. This is the realm of Xi.
3. The Physiological Transformation after Zhi Xi
After zhi xi, we know that the entire body is filled with qi. If you feel there is some place that is obstructed, use the 6th consciousness (Yi consciousness) to observe, then expel the sick qi or karmic qi, even as to letting out a fart. The most troublesome is when qi goes to the reproductive organs. At this moment you do not care about it, throw away the thought of looking, and it disappears. The more you look at it, the more you are helping it, then it becomes stronger and stronger, until you are unable to bear it, with no alternative but to vent it out. When this type of problem comes, you must know how to handle it. When your entire body is filled with qi, throw away your thoughts and your qi will be stabilised. Then you can prolong being without exhalation or inhalation. Actually, this is not completely not exhaling or inhaling, it is just prolonged intervals before having one cycle of exhaling and inhaling. If at this moment there is qi coming in, then let it out and the body becomes empty and alert.
At this moment, the body within will arise light/radiance, which can be in the head or on the back, or the best circumstances is arising at the bottom half of the body. This momen, the saliva secretion will become particularly vigorous, you do not have to swallow it and it will naturally go down, this is sweet nectar/dew, it is the best double sex/nature/character/quality hormones. Gradually, even the feeling of your body disappears, entering a samadhi of light.
Regarding the realm of stopping exhaling and inhaling, we must give a compulsory explanation. In the pace or progress of meditation, because the thoughts are excessively concentrated, once in a while you will feel that the Anapana is close to stopping. When this kind of situation happens, sometimes you will feel the entire body being stiff/rigid/inflexible, somewhat with a feeling of rigidity. In reality, this is because you use the Yi with too much concentration, gradually causing the entire body to become nervous/strained/intense. This kind of function of stopping the Anapana, is not the real “Zhi Xi” or “Qi Zhu” realm. Strictly speaking, this is a result of the nerves being excessively tensed. In this situation, with excessive grasping, and if you cannot relax and return to naturalness, it will often cause the mental state to become withered/without energy, with stupefied vitality. Even more severely, it will cause the body and the four limbs’ joints to enter a rigid sickness. Even though it is not like the novelists’s ‘going into the fire, becoming a demon’, but at the very least you have already gotten sicknesses. If your meditation causes this type of realm, then there is only one self-treatment method, which is to get the body and mind to completely relax, even to the point of breathing out with strength to relax, letting yourself naturally breathe, like how typical people sleep. You only need a bit of time for this and you can advance one more step. If there are some people who work too long, even though they use this method they cannot change their state, then you can only use special teaching methods from esoteric sect and Taoism.
Fully Translated from: http://www.taihuhall.com/index.php/news/detail/116