This question gets asked a lot, so best to answer it up front.
Every Daoist will have their unique experience of the chi field and express it according to their own nature. Mantak Chia was the bridge across the Pacific Ocean for a powerful stream of Daoist teachings. He was a pioneer in bringing the elusive and secret alchemical practices to the light of western minds. Chia is one of my root teachers and the sequence of the seven Tao alchemical formulas he transmitted from the wandering Daoist Yi Eng (One Cloud) remains a solid infra-structure for my own teachings.
But when you get to a certain level of Tao practice, you experience the truth for yourself and it demands that you honor it. As a westerner, I saw that these ancient practices would necessarily be re-languaged and adapted to the structure of western body-minds. Our emotional and sexual energetic bodies are very different from the Chinese. Western psychological understanding is superior in many ways to that of the modern chinese. There are differences in karmic influences/destiny at the soul level as well. So I have felt inspired to take Chia's transmission to a new level of refinement and expression.
Differences in our personal style, my extensive study with other Daoist teachers, and my research into ancient alchemical texts has resulted in substantial differences in our interpretation and practice of the same alchemical formulas. Chia tends to emphasize a more yang aspect of practice, that involves manipulating or directing chi flow with the mind. It frequently involves projecting a "pearl" out of the body to expand into space, or long mentally guided meditations. I completely respect his approach, and recognize that in the beginning hisyang techniques were the easiest way to "break through" to western minds.
But "False Yang" is an epidemic western disease, and I noticed westerners will exhaust themselves with yang practices and tend to quit entirely. Thus today I favor more use of gentle yin practices, involving a series of chi kung movement sets to stimulate opening the energy body. In meditation, the yin side is experienced as surrender to or effortless absorption of the inner forces of natural virtue (daoist "de" or "te", as in Tao Te Ching). This allows a gentle opening of the Inner Heart.
I never forcefully project a pearl out the crown, which I feel to be a Tibetan practice rather than Daoist technique. I believe the core of Daoist alchemical practice is to go inward INTO the center of the cauldron and cultivate the pearl/elixir within the physical body and within each subtle body. Rather than shooting out to go after essences, I favor simply absorbing the outer macrocosmic essences of the natural universe into the microcosm of the body. The formless higher dimensions (Daoist "Early Heaven") are hidden in the small empty spaces within ourselves!
My approach is always to find the simplest and most centered path within any method or any real life moment, while also staying present in the physical body. I feel one must honor the "water", the feminine or body side first. in daoist alchemy,the practice of Water and Fire ("kan and li"), the water is always listed first. This is the approach of Lao Tzu: keep the head cool (the mind empty) and the belly full of vital chi. It means each student begins with accepting the desires of body and mind as they currently are rather than trying to mimic someone else's ideal. It means avoiding the western male tendency to force fast results with a Fire or yang practice practice at the expense of the body/feminine.
At the higher levels of meditation, there are many other differences between my approach and Mantak Chia's. I emphasize more use of outer sound (toning to the elemental beings) and listening inmeditation to the inner sound current, the celestial music of the spheres described by the Tao Immortals as the "stringless lute".
I recognize that both the yang and the yin approaches have their virtues. The yang approach is very useful in the beginning, when one is first trying to feel the chi field. I try to offer a combination of both styles of practice at every level of the alchemy formulas. At the higher levels, a third type of practice emerges, centered upon the Yuan chi, or neutral force. But this is invisible and virtually impossible to perceive in the beginning.
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