Qigong and Physical Culture
At an ordinary level, qigong is easily considered by people to be directly related to physical exercise. Of course, from the elementary level, qigong and physical exercise share a common goal in the aspect of keeping fit. However, its specific practising methods and means adopted differ greatly from physical exercise. In order to enable one to keep fit through physical exercise, the amount of exercise needs to be increased, and physical training needs to be intensified. However, qigong practice should be just the opposite as it does not require people to move. Although there are movements, they should be unhurried, slow, and round, or even be motionless and still. This differs greatly from physical exercise. To speak from the high dimension, qigong is not simply limited to healing disease and to keeping fit, but it also encompasses something of the high dimension and deeper meaning. Qigong is not just the little bit at the ordinary people's level. It is supernormal, and has different manifestations in different dimensions. It is something far beyond what ordinary people have.
In terms of the nature of physical training, they two also differ tremendously. An athlete is required to increase the amount of training especially for an athlete today in order to have his body prepared for the contemporary competition level, and to reach that standard. Therefore, he must keep his body in the best condition all the time. To attain this goal, the athlete should increase the amount of training to make the blood circulate fully in his body. Thus, his metabolism capability will be enhanced, and his body conditions will be kept in a state of constant improvement. Why should the metabolism capability be enhanced? It is because an athlete's body will always have to maintain the best improving and competing condition. A human body is made of numerous cells which experience such a process: The life of a newly divided cell is very energetic and appears to continue its growth. When it grows to the extreme limit, it can not grow any more, and can only age to the extreme point. Then, a new cell will replace it. For instance, if we use twelve hours of the day to describe it, a cell divides at 6:00 a.m., keeping on its upward development, up to 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. when it is still a very good period of time. By the time it reaches 12:00 noontime, it can no longer move upward, but only go down. During this period of time, the cell has only half of its life left, and this half life does not suit the competing conditions of an athlete.
What then should be done about it? He will have to intensify his training and to increase his blood circulation. Then, the newly divided cells will replace the old ones. It takes such a course. Namely, before the whole journey of a cell is over, and while it is at the half of its life course, it is replaced. Therefore, his body always maintains strong and keeps growing. However, human cells cannot divide in this way indefinitely as the number of times a cell can divide is limited. Let us suppose that the cells during one's lifetime could only divide a hundred times while, in fact, they divide more than a million times. Suppose that an ordinary person has one hundred times of cell division and he can live to be one hundred years, now his cell only lives half of its life and then he can only live for fifty years. However, we have not seen any athlete have a major problem yet because the athletes of today will be eliminated before reaching the age of thirty. In particular, the competition levels nowadays are very high, and the number of athletes replaced is also large. As a result, an athlete soon resumes his normal life, and does not look to be affected very much. Theoretically, the bottom line is this way. Doing exercise enables him to maintain a healthy body; but it shortens his life. From the appearance, an athlete in his teens may look like being in his twenties, an athlete in his twenties looks like he is in his thirties. Athletes oftentimes give an impression of early maturity and early aging. If there is an advantage, there is a disadvantage from the dialectical perspective. In fact, they have taken such a path.
Qigong practice is just the opposite of physical training, and it does not require violent movements. Its movements are unhurried, slow and round. They are very slow to the extent that they become motionless and come to a standstill. It is known that in such a cultivation way as meditation one stays in the state of tranquillity, and one's heart beating as well as blood circulation etc. all will be slowed down. In India there are many Yoga masters who can sit in water or be buried under the ground for many days. They make themselves completely tranquilized, and can even control their heart beats. Suppose that one's cells divide once a day. A practitioner may make the cells in the human body divide once every two days, once every week, once every half a month, or even once in a longer period of time. Thus, he has already extended his life. This only refers to those cultivation systems which cultivate nature without cultivating life. They can also reach this step, and prolong their own lives. Some people may think: Aren't one's life and lifetime pre-determined? How could one live much longer without cultivating his life? Yes, because the life of the practitioner will be extended by reaching the level beyond the Three Realms though he will look quite old from his appearance.
A genuine life cultivating system keeps accumulating the collected high energy matter in the cells of a human body, and increasing its density to gradually restrict as well as slowly replace the cells of an ordinary person. By that time there will be a qualitative change, and this person will stay in his youth forever. Of course, the cultivation process is a very slow and gradual one, and one has to give quite a lot. It is not easy for one to suffer physically as well as mentally. Would you not be bothered during a Xinxing conflict between one and another? Would you not be moved when personal vested interests are at stake? It is very difficult to do all these things. Thus, it is not that you can reach such a goal as long as you have a wish for it. Only when your Xinxing and De have ascended in cultivation can the goal be attained.
Throughout the ages, many people have mixed up qigong with ordinary physical training, but in fact the differences between them are so great that they are fundamentally not of the same thing. Only at the lowest level of practising qi is consideration given to disease-treatment and keeping fit in order for one to have good health. The goal of the lowest level of qigong has something in common with physical training. But at the high level they are fundamentally not of the same thing. Purifying the body in qigong also has its purpose, and it uses the supernormal principle to direct the practitioner, instead of the principle of ordinary people. However, physical exercise is only the concern of ordinary people.