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Old 12-09-2009, 11:24 AM   #21
IRYzouNv

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I must apologize here - when I meant qigong, I had neglected to say that it wasn't for the purpose of exercise. It's more like a folks who say they can heal other people through the energy that flows through you. I am not at all sure how this is compatible with Orthodoxy and need some perspective here.
Qigong in general deals with exercises to improve the cultivation of internal qi energy; the form you're speaking of adds to it knowledge of the body's energy flows/meridians (as in acupuncture and acupressure), plus techniques to stimulate them through direct energy application rather than (or in addition to) needles or massage.

I did a little of this some time ago (just the qi cultivation part), and honestly, I'm not sure how to answer the question. I can't recall anything either obviously repugnant or desirable in qigong from an Orthodox perspective. However, as I said, I wasn't too advanced in the practice, plus I'm not familiar with any Orthodox treatments of such Eastern practices (I haven't read the book Fr David mentioned yet).

Sorry I can't be more help; but hopefully this at least defines things a bit better for someone else to jump in.

In Christ,
Michael
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:25 PM   #22
popillio

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In Malaysia, the heterodox who become Christian renounce things like qigong but I have not too long ago come across an Orthodox who tells me it's ok to practice qigong.
It has been my experience that with 'things like qigong' it depends on who you ask. I know Orthodox priests and spiritual fathers who give permission for certain men and women to practice some of the elements of these things in both local classes and home practice. In these cases it is a personal thing between the individual Orthodox Christian and his/her priest/spiritual father. As well I know other priests and spiritual fathers who issue a blanket statement to avoid these things, in this sense it doesn't matter who it is this is what all will hear (the view held by their spiritual director). The same holds true for a look at the writings of past fathers and modern elders . . . quotes have been supplied in other threads that allow room for extracting wisdom from non-Orthodox sources as well as others who say there this is not correct, because everything you need for salvation is already found within Orthodoxy. And, as well, regarding topics about things like qigong here on monachos you can see a range of thinking from something like, 'it's all evil, beware, I can't believe anyone would even consider what is being said in any of these systems' to a thoughts like you have seen in this thread which are willing to take a look at what is being taught as it relates to our physiological and psychological health.

So, at the end of the day, this is what you are left with. And, while this can be frustrating for folks who like black and white answers (viz. things like qigong are evil, no Orthodox in his right mind should even seek an awareness of such things! Or, some aspects of things like qigong do hold much wisdom that you cannot find anywhere else), there are not going to be any black and white answers (in a one-size-fits-all fashion) on this to be found from either Church History or Orthodoxy Today.

Really, Nathaniel, even if there was to be a detailed conversation directly addressing qigong here in this forum (which is outside of the scope of this forum), it would not change anything . . . at the end of the day, you would still have the above views offered up.

For what it's worth, I will share with you that I have had some of the same questions, in the past, that you have now about things like qigong. And, I remember about three years ago, in an effort to move towards these I just used the word 'Buddhism' in a post of mine in a quote from someone else . . . and I was really caught off guard with some of the responses I received both in public, in that thread, and in private, through the private message feature. I've never seen such anxiety and anger before or after here. Almost all of those members are gone now, and as you can see there are more level heads at play in comparison. But, I was ignorant of the fact that this is a sensitive issue for many Orthodox.

And, although, I was ignorant about this sensitivity, at the same time I wondered why do Orthodox men who are obviously very intelligent men seem to lose about 75 points on their IQ when the subject of things like qigong come up? I think it would be helpful to understand this.

When these kinds of topics come up why is it that the mature become immature, the normally level-headed become rabid? I think this matters in and of itself.

Aside from the emotional reactionary and his views, another aspect is seen even in this thread where contributors who are obviously ignorant of the teachings of what is being considered are writing as if they knew all about them. What I mean is while all Eastern (Indian and Asiatic philosophies/systems are lumped together and dismissed), there are blanket statements about these lacking any focus on virtue. You know, what can you do with anyone who operates like this on a given subject in a given conversation?

Possibly, like we all have cancer today, in varying levels, and under the right conditions the level will increase . . . we all also are fundamentalists, in varying levels, and under the right conditions the level of 'fundiness' will increase and cloud our minds.

However, this is where I end up in that it seems that characteristically the priests and spiritual fathers who allow some room for some of the wisdom contained in Eastern practices and medicine are characterized by being peaceful men exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit. As I talk with these men both face-to-face and online there is a spirit of love and a spirit of peace that pervades my time with them. And, possibly most important, the view is held by these that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer in this, what can be good for one can be bad for another. While the opposite seems to be close to a 100% rule that those who allow no room for some of the wisdom contained in these practices or medicine are characterized by a spirit of anger and a spirit of anxiety in a way that seems to amount to a kind of anxious control freakery.

So possibly there is some kind of answer or something in this that is beneficial in terms of knowing that with some aspects of things like qigong, it depends on who you ask.


PS Mary, about your reference to food in your PS above, I want to share with you that I have been studying Ayurveda for the past three months and this has much to say about food and tastes. One little book that seems to keep me coming back to reread it is Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution, by Robert E. Svoboda. This book started out slow and seemed a little hokey to me, as well early on I was thinking this is all just common sense, but by the end of the book I had changed my views. If one can not be offended about what is said about Nature and Mother Nature in this book, but understand what is said has much to do with metabolism, as well as the interplay between the body and emotions (like anger and anxiety . . . Hmm?), there might be some real value here for some. Also, I have a friend doing a program at a local university who is persuing studies in psychology, he has some knowledge of the reinforcing value of food, and the parts of the brain that control these responses that I feel will show a huge interdependence in this.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:56 PM   #23
SergeyMaikov

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And, although, I was ignorant about this sensitivity, at the same time I wondered why do Orthodox men who are obviously very intelligent men seem to lose about 75 points on their IQ when the subject of things like qigong come up? I think it would be helpful to understand this.

When these kinds of topics come up why is it that the mature become immature, the normally level-headed become rabid? I think this matters in and of itself.
We fear what we do not know. When we are faced with responding to something we don't know about or are not familiar with then fear prompts us to put up defenses to protect oneself against what might be out there. One of the most widespread defense mechansims is anger (the best defense is a strong offense). Many of the Eastern disciplines are based in the spiritual philosophy of the culture (as are those of the west, btw - they just don't seem as foreign because they are "our" philosophies) and don't suffer from the supposed separation of Church and state (that is the separation of spiritual from secular). Nor are the eastern disciplines as prone to logical and rational criticism which is, in the west, the sign of objective truth. Thus the reaction you see is the fear of the unfamiliar.

Aside from the emotional reactionary and his views, another aspect is seen even in this thread where contributors who are obviously ignorant of the teachings of what is being considered are writing as if they knew all about them. What I mean is while all Eastern (Indian and Asiatic philosophies/systems are lumped together and dismissed), there are blanket statements about these lacking any focus on virtue. You know, what can you do with anyone who operates like this on a given subject in a given conversation? I would strongly recommend that you read the book about Fr Paisios and the gurus (that I mention above). In it you will see one man's experience with both Orthodox Christianity and the Hindu practices of India. It is not so much a critique of one or the other, but rather a "side by side" comparison in the experience of one man. It is a view of the religion and philosophy of the far east (specifically India) as seen through the eyes of an Orthodox Athonite monastic (Fr Paisios). I don't say that this is an analysis or even an arguement - but it does help establish a foundation for any Orthodox Christian, especially those of us in the west, to look at what we do not understand.

Fr David moser
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:45 PM   #24
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And, possibly most important, the view is held by these that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer in this, what can be good for one can be bad for another.
I would just add that, sometimes there is not even a one-size-fits-one answer. That is, what is good and beneficial (or at least neutral) at one point in our walk in Christ may become a hindrance later, or vice versa. Hence the continuing need for discernment and for the counsel of one's spiritual father.

In Christ,
Michael
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:52 PM   #25
WordofViagra

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Have I just been insulted????? Where do I get my 75 IQ points back???? I guess that will get me back up to about 102!
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:26 AM   #26
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We've been through all this before. There is nothing outside Orthodoxy that an Orthodox Christian needs: within Orthodoxy, there is more than anyone could handle had he several lives to live. The testimony of Elder Sophrony is enough - any form of eastern meditation is harmful. Any compromise in this is unacceptable. Any suggestion that, 'well . . . it might be alright . . . you know . . . if it's just exercise . . . '. Bunkum!
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Old 12-10-2009, 05:08 AM   #27
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I must apologize here - when I meant qigong, I had neglected to say that it wasn't for the purpose of exercise. It's more like a folks who say they can heal other people through the energy that flows through you. I am not at all sure how this is compatible with Orthodoxy and need some perspective here.
One more thought, if it's only the 'healing' aspect that you're wondering about. There is no healing apart from God. It isn't about western medicine, or eastern medicine, herbs or chemicals or anything else. IF it is not God's will for you to be healed, you won't be healed. If it is God's will for you to be healed, a cup of water could heal you, if that's all that's available. But God doesn't even need water to heal you with.

God has given people knowledge. And He does work through people, even through things that people have created or discovered using their God-given intelligence. Western medicine isn't pure or free from evil influence, or eastern medicine full of evil and no good. I think they're both neutral, since they're both based on careful observations and studies done over time. They can both be good or evil. If it's wrong to use your intelligence to find ways of healing others, then all kinds of things that are the result of the use of intelligence and creativity must be wrong.

My mother, when I was born, was in India. She went to a regular hospital that followed western medicine. But they were all Hindus. They had pictures of their hindu gods all over the place, including the delivery room. My mother felt very oppressed and fearful, because of the presence of all that hindu stuff. It isn't the medicine itself that is good or bad, but all the demonic influence that people add to. At least, that's how I see it.

Andreas, to say that everything an orthodox Christian needs is found within the Church is a very generalized statement. If that were true, none of us should go to any doctor, but live or die like those cultish people do, who do not believe in medicine. We should also, not have any secular jobs or need any money or anything else that is connected to the world, yes?

We do live in this world and we're subject to all the things that the non-orthodox are subject to. We have the same needs and problems that they do, and we have access to the same solutions and resources that they do. Is it wrong to go to public schools, because they are not orthodox? Is it wrong to be treated by a doctor who is not orthodox? Is it wrong to work for someone who is not orthodox?

Well, I don't have much else to say. I havne't studied all kinds of eastern medicines. I do know there are some that are spiritual in nature, and those I would avoid like the plague. But there are also those who carefully studied herbs and foods and how those things affected the human body. God gave us plants and herbs for food and for healing. If I want to know how these things work, I'll have to find someone who has studied them. I do not have the means to do all the research myself, nor will i have the time to gather 2000 yrs of experience and data. Should I avoid studying because I can find no orthodox teacher?

in Christ,
Mary
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Old 12-10-2009, 07:52 AM   #28
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This is getting quite silly. The topic is qigong. The topic is not -- do the Chinese know anything about medicine. qigong is designed to connect you with the "great spirit," or whatever. As such, it should be avoided by Orthodox Christians, and non-Orthodox Christians would be much better off giving Orthodox practices a try. For a defense of this, see St. Gregory Palamas. But as with any spiritual discipline, there is a kind of diletantism that seems to go with it these days, which is what concerns me the most. There seems to be general agreement on Monachos that spiritual diletantism is something that Orthodox should avoid. So why shouldn't others avoid it as well? This spiritual diletantism has really gotten to be a societal curse, because you have all these people running around actually believing they have been enlightened because they go to some classes with some guru. It is having all kinds of bad consequences culturally, and it is making people crazy.
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Old 12-10-2009, 07:29 PM   #29
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We've been through all this before. There is nothing outside Orthodoxy that an Orthodox Christian needs: within Orthodoxy, there is more than anyone could handle had he several lives to live. The testimony of Elder Sophrony is enough - any form of eastern meditation is harmful. Any compromise in this is unacceptable. Any suggestion that, 'well . . . it might be alright . . . you know . . . if it's just exercise . . . '. Bunkum!
Have you seen any doctors lately?

We have been through this before... the characterization of "eastern" medical practices as monolithically "spiritual" or "religious" is an over-generalization that is simply wrong. The absurdity in this thread is that people who know nothing about qigong and traditional Chinese medicine have the gall to dismiss it wholesale. It is no different from someone rejecting "western medicine" in its entirety as pagan or atheist in character.

qigong is designed to connect you with the "great spirit," or whatever.
I'll say it one more time: for most Chinese, of any given number of spiritual persuasions, or none at all, qigong is just a medical practice. "Great spirit" doesn't even enter into it, as evidenced by the many Christian and even atheist practitioners. There is nothing inherently religious in the practice. Those who have attempted to impose some kind of religious framework on it have come from radically different religions, e.g. Buddhism and Daoism. Some think qigong works, some think it doesn't. It has nothing to do with "spiritual dilettantism", unless going to see a doctor makes one guilty of "spiritual dilettantism." The presence of a few quacks in any field does not render the entire field suspect.

I am neither a practitioner nor an advocate of qigong but I've spent enough time in Chinese culture to know that there is nothing particularly pagan or religious about it. People practice qigong just like one might maintain a balanced diet, exercise, etc. It is not a "distraction", simply because it is not invested with the kind of significance that goes into prayer (or Buddhist meditation). Some people do give it this significance, but then some people have an unhealthy obsession with weight-lifting.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:39 PM   #30
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This is getting quite silly. The topic is qigong. The topic is not -- do the Chinese know anything about medicine. qigong is designed to connect you with the "great spirit," or whatever. As such, it should be avoided by Orthodox Christians, and non-Orthodox Christians would be much better off giving Orthodox practices a try. For a defense of this, see St. Gregory Palamas. But as with any spiritual discipline, there is a kind of diletantism that seems to go with it these days, which is what concerns me the most. There seems to be general agreement on Monachos that spiritual diletantism is something that Orthodox should avoid. So why shouldn't others avoid it as well? This spiritual diletantism has really gotten to be a societal curse, because you have all these people running around actually believing they have been enlightened because they go to some classes with some guru. It is having all kinds of bad consequences culturally, and it is making people crazy.
As I understood it, the topic was more about healing with energies, with qigong as the primary example. I am familiar with other ways of healing, that also use energies, but this is my first time hearing about qigong, so I don't know anything about it, other than what wiki has to say.

But, just wanted to say something about the spiritual aspect of all things eastern. I used to be under the impression that all spiritually related things from the east were totally evil. Until a hindu friend became orthodox. She was interested in Christianity, and started her search, and of course, the protestant stuff is more readily available than orthodox. So she read many protestant books and went to many protestant churches, and she found much truth in all that, but her heart was still not satisfied that she had found the whole truth. She found it in the orthodox church. I was floored when I understood that it was her hindu upbringing and understanding of spiritual things that kept her from joining a protestant church.

There are some Crumbs that fell of the Table, even into eastern spiritual practices. But for those of us who have lived outside of that culture, we won't be able to know what it is, or separate it from who they are. I think it's just a part of them and their world view. It protects them from protestantism and takes them straight to orthdoxy. There is something true in every culture and every generation that helps those who are truly seeking, to find the rest of the Truth. God hasn't abandoned them, just as He hadn't abandoned us in our protestant worlds.

We won't be able to enter into their worldview or even understand it from outside, because I think it takes many generations for a worldview to become so much a part of you. It's stupid to even try, because there's nothing there for us, because we've been given the whole thing. They know more about themselves and how they understand things than we do. It is for them to turn away from the things that are not orthodox, because they would know, as they grow in the Church, what is compatible with Orthdoxy and what is not. In fact, I see how foolish it is of me to have even joined in this conversation, because I also don't know anything about qigong. I know some Chinese people, but they've all lived in the US for at least one or two generations, and I've never been to China.

It's sort of like people who have never lived in muslim countries or spoken to the women who dress from head to foot, assuming that such a way of dressing is oppressive, and attempting to change it. I've heard that there are many women who like the way they dress and would feel underdressed if they didn't cover themselves up so much. It's wrong for us to make decisions for other people based on our own personal experiences. We are not them. We also shouldn't jump to conclusions about decisions that others make, because we dont' know everything that they know.

Please forgive me for going on and on, and especially for speaking about things I know nothing about.

In Christ,
Mary.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:25 PM   #31
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Mary, with all due respect, you are bringing a lot of baggage into the topic, which was simply, is qigong compatible with Orthodoxy. No one in the thread has made a blanket condemnation of everything non-Orthodox. To suggest that such a blanket condemnation was somehow lurking underneath what has been said is a rather unseemly rhetorical method, frequently employed in politics. If focus can be maintained on the topic, then I think there are a couple of very valid points to be made in and of themselves, and it should not automatically assumed that it is based on bigotry. Also, it seems that we are being lectured on our ignorance of Chinese stuff, but what about ignorance of Orthodoxy? The argument cuts both ways. I think if people are willing to study St. Gregory Palamas, and more recent exponents of his theology such as Romanides and Vlacos and others, then it will be seen that Orthodoxy contains within it a superior form of mind/body healing, that is not just reduced to a technique, but is centered on the Holy Trinity. And while some people might show some sense of inner tranquility and less maniacal behavior as a result of certain techniques, it is quite simply irrational to reduce spiritual/mental/bodily health to a technique, and I have no problem pointing this out. Consider it not a condemnation of anything, but constructive criticism. Issuing constructive criticism does not made one a fundamentalist or a bigot. Orthodox people are perfectly capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:46 PM   #32
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Owen's post reflects my own opinion. It's true I don't know more about qigong than what I've gleaned from a quick look at the internet but I don't want to know about it, and I don't need to know about it for the reasons Owen lucidly describes. Of course I will go to my doctor if I'm sufficiently ill, and I would go to my hospital if I broke my leg. Too many westerners are too ready to be accommodating out of a misplaced feeling of courtesy and respect. Orthodoxy offers absolute values, and thank God it does.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:04 PM   #33
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I think that there is a lot of "talking past each other" going on. Perhaps a little more effort needs to be made by all to hear what other people are actually saying, rather than just what reactions we have to their words.

Part of the problem here seems to be that we are not asking, or at least understanding, the question in the same way.

Some seem to be reading the question as "does Qigong have anything useful to bring/add to Orthodoxy?" This answer is clearly no. Any "spiritual" aspects would be, at best, inferior; non-"spiritual" aspects are irrelevant to the question.

Others seem to be reading the question as "is it possible for an Orthodox Christian to practice or benefit from Qigong as a healing art, without considering that to be a sin?" That is how I have been understanding the question, and it does not seem to have as clear-cut an answer, primarily because of gaps in understanding just what the "spiritual" content of the art is. I'm sure there are other variations in understanding among participants in this thread.

Various comments I've read so far make perfect sense seen in light of one way of reading the question, but not the other. For example, I need to read Owen's and Andreas' recent comments according to the first reading, and Ryan's and Mary's according to the second reading, for them to make the most sense to me. Hence, why I believe we are talking past each other.

In Christ,
Michael
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:10 PM   #34
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Various comments I've read so far make perfect sense seen in light of one way of reading the question, but not the other. For example, I need to read Owen's and Andreas' recent comments according to the first reading, and Ryan's and Mary's according to the second reading, for them to make the most sense to me. Hence, why I believe we are talking past each other.

In Christ,
Michael
YES! What he says! =)

Thanks Micheal.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:16 PM   #35
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On one hand, I agree with you 100% Mike there is clearly a talking past each other here, a seeming situation of not hearing or understanding what is said.. But, on the other hand, I can't help but to suspect there is something more to it. Possibly, in this, I can ask for help understanding this seeming 'communication' problem from Mr. Jones.


To suggest that such a blanket condemnation was somehow lurking underneath what has been said is a rather unseemly rhetorical method, frequently employed in politics. If focus can be maintained on the topic, then I think there are a couple of very valid points to be made in and of themselves, and it should not automatically assumed that it is based on bigotry.
Owen, can you tell me who it was that suggested a blanket condemnation of everything non-Orthodox was somehow lurking in some of these posts, or that bigotry is suspected in these? No one has done this. If you want to address the charge of ignorance of this topic and similar things, then this is fine. But, why is it that there is such a 'spirit of confusion' at play each time similar topics like this come up? Father David has made an excellent contribution about 'fear' of the unknown; but, I wonder about this confusion. Possibly it is related to the obvious ignorance of some in this thread of Eastern practices . . . but, it almost seems like a kind of willful ignorance. Especially, as it relates to the seeming non-comprehension of Ryan's clear and concise contributions. Yes, Ryan, "absurd" is the word each time similar topics like this come up that have to do with Indian and Asian religious and philosophical questions it seems that I take a seat in a kind of production in the theater of the absurd. There is a chastising of someone who has suggested that there has been a condemnation of everything non-Orthodox as you say this is "a rather unseemly rhetorical method, frequently employed in politics." But, I don't think this person exists here. And, as I look back on your posts in this thread, I see that you wrote:


IMHO all forms of yogic practices ought to be kept at a distance by Orthodox . . .
Here's the problem. Society is filled with people seeking enlightenment, and they glom onto all sorts of "Eastern" practices that are detached from their roots. Buddhist meditation is one example. People think they can just meditate using Buddhist nonsense words, and that makes them spiritually enlightened and self-sufficient. These physical practices, martial art forms, etc. are of the same category.
The key element missing in all of these practices is virtue.
And, there really are a lot of assumptions here, about what people think. I imagine these are based on your personal knowledge of Eastern practices and society and people. I guess these are also based on your interaction with actual people that you know who practice all of the things that you have written about above. Otherwise, these conclusions would have had to have come from something like a crystal ball, or something similar.

But, what I don't understand is your recent call to focus only on "qigong" in this. Why is this? I don't understand why there should be a limiting of the thinking here about this thread. You see, it really is as Father Deacon has written above:


I haven't much to say on this issue, save for what I've said in reference to other similar questions.
In that what is said about similar issues, does speak to this issue. The points that both Mary and Ryan are making are spot on and do address directly posts that you have made here. With all due respect to you Owen (and I mean that sincerely), I would really like to know why there seems to be such a change of M.O. here on this topic? This M.O. is characteristically what I have come to expect from some, but this is not the OJ that I have come to know and love writing in this thread.

Possibly, it is the thinking on this from the book that Father David has recommended, namely it is "as Elder Fr. Paisios had said repeatedly in this book that there is only God and the devil," and as the Elder has said the things in the category we are talking about as well as "acupuncture and massage techniques must either be of God or of the devil." Could this be it?

So, maybe this is why it is hard to divorce the mystical from the mundane or the uncreated light from the created light in this discussion. I don't know. But, either way, whether we are talking about Qigong or Ayurveda or anything regarding similar questions like these, on even a survey level it should be very easy to see that there is some real wisdom to be found. I have been very interested in a concept I read about just last week, which is prajnaparadha. I was reading about this in a section dealing with patients who suffer from mental disease, such as schizophrenia and psychosis. In this there is conversation about prajnaparadha as willful perversion of intellect and common sense which makes us do what we are not supposed to do, and in this we see prajnaparadha defined as an "offense against wisdom."
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:38 AM   #36
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Owen's post reflects my own opinion. It's true I don't know more about qigong than what I've gleaned from a quick look at the internet but I don't want to know about it, and I don't need to know about it ...
Then there's no reason to offer an opinion about it, or for anyone to take such an opinion seriously.

Too many westerners are too ready to be accommodating out of a misplaced feeling of courtesy and respect. My views have nothing to do with accommodation based on relativism; they come from experience in a culture I was partially raised in.

As Mike says, no one here is suggesting that qigong can supplement or improve Orthodoxy. To say that there are better healing methods to be found in the Church is simply a non-sequitur- the Church's superior healing methods have always existed alongside secular medicine and I'm not aware of any Church authority that has taught us to rely entirely on "faith healing". So, unless some of us are actually forswearing secular medicine entirely in favor of these Orthodox methods, Owen's point about "ignorance of Orthodoxy" is absurd.

Again, I haven't seen anyone offer a real explanation as to why it's alright to rely on modern western medicine and not traditional medical practices from other parts of the world.

I'll end with a quote from John Damascene, which demonstrates his (qualified) acceptance of Greek astrology: And, therefore, we hold that the stars are not the causes of the things that occur, nor of the origin of things that come to pass, nor of the destruction of those things that perish. They are rather signs of showers and changes of air. But, perhaps, some one may say that though they are not the causes of wars, yet they are signs of them. And, in truth, the quality of the air which is produced by sun, and moon, and stars, produces in various ways different temperaments, and habits, and dispositions. But the habits are amongst the things that we have in our own hands, for it is reason that rules, and directs, and changes them.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:59 AM   #37
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Again, I haven't seen anyone offer a real explanation as to why it's alright to rely on modern western medicine and not traditional medical practices from other parts of the world.
I can offer a possible (even plausible?) explanation. Modern western medicine has been clearly and indubitably divorced from its occultic and spiritual roots when it became part of Western science. Now, many would say that this is precisely the reason for the limitations in modern western medicine, but be that as it may, the divorce is clear.

Qigong would have to undergo a similar divorce in order to be considered acceptable as a general rule for Orthodox. The same divorce would also be necessary for acupuncture and yoga. After the divorce, then qigong may be 'married' to Orthodoxy.

Understand, though, that such divorces are a part of religious history. For instance, the Buddha divorced yoga from its Vedic and Jain context, and created a specifically Buddhist yoga. One might also say the same regarding various rosary beads, whose origins may lie in the East.
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:17 AM   #38
hubua990

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I can offer a possible (even plausible?) explanation. Modern western medicine has been clearly and indubitably divorced from its occultic and spiritual roots when it became part of Western science. Now, many would say that this is precisely the reason for the limitations in modern western medicine, but be that as it may, the divorce is clear.

Qigong would have to undergo a similar divorce in order to be considered acceptable as a general rule for Orthodox. The same divorce would also be necessary for acupuncture and yoga. After the divorce, then qigong may be 'married' to Orthodoxy.
In China, the divorce has already happened- traditional Chinese medicine, qigong included, is routinely treated as just another scientifically viable medical discipline and that's the way most people think of it. There are even laboratory studies that were done that claim to prove, empirically, the existence of qi. Through all this, the official advocates of these methods are often quick to dismiss any supernatural claims about them. When I was studying in Beijing, I remember seeing TV programs that took pains to separate "legitimate" qigong from the gurus claiming special powers, and debunking the latter as quacks. TCM methods are commonly used in conjunction with Western style medicine, and nobody considers this to be anything religious or spiritual. All of this done in an officially secular/ atheist climate.
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:54 AM   #39
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Ryan,

You are analyzing things simply on the phenomenal level. This is the weakness of your argument. This is neither a scientific nor an Orthodox Christian way of looking at something. There is a wide range of ideas and practices in the world that on a phenomenal level we can be agnostic about. But it is on the level of substance or essence that the analysis needs to take place. Yet when someone attempts to do that, you seem to deny them the right to do that, because they lack first hand knowledge at the phenomenal level. If something violates certain first principles at the essential level, it is not necessary to have a first hand, personal knowledge of it at the phenomenal level. If this were an absolute requirement, it would drive everyone crazy. And we actually see this today with people madly attempting to experiment without any philosophical or theological ground from which to first orient themselves.

This does not necessarily mean that one should be dismissive of a very widely accept belief, idea or practice. In fact, Orthodox people, but especially clergy, should be better informed about all of the quack ideas that are attracting people these days. A lot of these ideas and practices find their way into the minds of the faithful without them being aware that there is any conflict with their stated Orthodox beliefs. But this eclecticism, one might call it syncretism, is a problem. It is one of the problems that God was always complaining about with respect to the Israelites. There is nothing fundamentalistic or prejudicial about analyzing the essential difference between Orthodoxy and other paths. It's also important to be careful not to make false equivalences. Pretty soon, everything is equivalent!

So back to my earlier assertion, things like qigong are essentially a distraction for Orthodox people. One can say the same thing of course about TV! However, no one in his right mind would defend tv watching on the theoretical level. Any rational person would admit that it is a form of escapism that can be addictive. The problem with things like qigong is that it is based on a false theory as to what a person is, what the structure of the mind/body/soul complex is. The attunement that it is supposed to bring, no matter whether you are arguing that it is purely based on a medical theory or on a spiritual theory, is therefore based on a false theoretical premise. Because the person is not an immanent thing, nor are the internal processes of a human person immanent structures. They incorporate both immanent and transcendent structures. So proper attunement and harmony and health has to include attunement to the divine order, not just through bodily disciplines but through prayer and virtue and obedience. A reasonably well formed and well informed Orthodox person ought to understand these things. This does not make such a person necessarily good or holy. We are talking about intelligible structures here. The structure of reality that can be the subject of rational inquiry. So we go back to the Pauline understanding of the structure of a human person, the tripartite soul and the somatic body, and the way this is developed by the Church Fathers and the great ascetics, and we do not treat these as culturally determined, but rather scientifically determined in the best and highest sense of the word.

Now, is there a problem with Western medicine? Sure there is. It borders on idolatry. In fact, one might go so far as to say that it has already become idolatrous. Something called "wellness" has now become the secret to a happy life. And somehow a long life has become the sine qua non of health. This divorce between theology and medicine has put modern medicine into a crisis state, and modern man in a crisis state. This, however, is not a justification for oriental medicine. It is an argument for re-uniting Orthodoxy and medicine, so that spiritual health and attunement can be properly integrated with the various breakthroughs in medical technology. Both are scientific, but one might argue that both priest and physician have, in some sense, become technocrats, only speaking within their own narrow realms, which is unfortunate to say the least.
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:16 AM   #40
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The problem with things like qigong is that it is based on a false theory as to what a person is, what the structure of the mind/body/soul complex is. The attunement that it is supposed to bring, no matter whether you are arguing that it is purely based on a medical theory or on a spiritual theory, is therefore based on a false theoretical premise. Because the person is not an immanent thing, nor are the internal processes of a human person immanent structures. They incorporate both immanent and transcendent structures.
So your critique of qigong is that it is a materialist science?
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