(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/qigong-practice01.html)
For those who have experienced qi, like the students here in a regional qigong course in Austria, they know qi is real as surely as they know the nose on their face is real.
I would like to practice qigong, but there is a question in my mind that has been preventing me from doing it so far. From my meditative practices in the past I know that the mind can create any illusion with ease and quickness, be it a change in emotions, a vision, strong sensations, etc.
— Tatnana, Russia
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
You have become a victim of intellectualization. The reason which you think prevents you from practicing and benefiting from chi kung is not valid. It is self-made and self-limiting. Your first step is to clear away this mental blockage, not just for the sake of practicing chi kung but to free yourself from your self-made mental imprisonment.
Your meditation practice has resulted in a perverted view which you need to erase for your own benefit. It is true that the mind can create illusions, but this is harmful only if your mind is weak or if you are unethical. If your mind is week, you may mistake the illusions for reality.
In fact, many people are victims of this weakness, often without realizing it. If their children are late from school, for example, they may conjure illusions that some accidents might have happened to them. If their colleagues at work gather together, they may conjure illusions that their colleagues are talking bad about them behind their back.
On the other hand, if a meditator has a strong mind but lacks ethics, he many conjure illusions to confuse people. Politicians often do this. They conjure illusions that appear to benefit the public but actually benefit the politicians’ own interest.
For the practice of qigong it is required to focus on learning to feel qi instead of just practicing external movements.
This is your mistaken conception, which is the result of your mistaken intellectualisation. In the practice of qigong, it is not necessary to focus on learning to feel qi. You should also not just practice external movements.
Then, what should you do? Very simple – just do it, i.e. practice qigong. How do you do so? Learn from a good teacher.
It will be easier for you to comprehend if we use an analogy. Suppose you want to swim or to play football. What should you do?
Very simple – just do it, i.e. go swimming or play football. How do you do so if you can’t swim or play football yet? Learn from a good swimming or football teacher. You don’t swim or play football by intellectualizing that you should be able to drink a lot of sea water or survive a few fractures before you can swim or play football.
When qi enables you to bounce happily up a mountain slope like these two “young men” – Sifu Rama and Grandmaster Wong, who are above 50 and 60 respectively – you just enjoy the benefit instead of worrying whether qi is real
But how is it possible to know if what you focus on and feel is real qi and not another illusion?
In principle it is the same as saying how is it possible for you to know your nose on your face is real and not just an illusion.
Anyway I shall answer your question. It is possible to know that qi is real, or your nose is real, from direct experience. Of course, if you never had any direct experience of your nose, you would have difficulty telling the difference between reality and illusion.
In the same way, if you never had any experience of qi, you would have difficulty telling the difference too. Indeed, this is the case with many qigong practitioners today. Those who had no experience of qi, would not know whether qi was real or an illusion. They would still ask what qi is. Some may vehemently argue that qi is an illusion. But those who have experienced qi, knows that it is real, as surely as they know the nose on their face is real.
Reproduced from Questions 1, 2 and 3 in Selection of Questions and Answers — May 2009 Part 3