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Christian attacks on Chinese Spirituality

Published:Wednesday | September 16, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr Glenville Ashby
Tina Zhang displaying the art of Tai Ji Quan.
Members of Tina Zhang's school in NYC.

"We create religions but we cannot create nature." - Taoist saying

In Chinese spirituality, Qi is referred to as a mysterious energy that resides in every human being. It can be cultivated through the practice of Tai Ji Quan, Ba-Gua, and Qigong.

Under rigorous testing, incredible feats displayed by Shaolin monks have been recorded. These include modulating the body's temperature, nervous system and internal organs.

In ancient China, Qigong, which was called 'tuna' or adjustment in breathing, is known as the gateway to Nirvana or spiritual bliss. Through physical and mental training, it integrates the functions of the body, mind, and spirit.

For centuries, this practice has defined Chinese spirituality. Lao Tze's inimitable corpus, 'Tao Te Ching,' speaks of the Tao or 'Way'. It describes the ebb and flow of nature.

The corpus describes nature as infinite, without a beginning or end. It argues that we are also replicas of nature. Qigong teaches us to connect to the innate, natural aspect of our being. Only then can we experience the ineffable stillness and serenity of God.

"We create religions, but we cannot create nature" is a famous Taoist saying. Understanding and applying this principal energy in our lives will lead to spiritual liberation and the full realisation of our abilities. Interestingly, Westerners have begun to embrace Chinese spirituality by the tens of thousands.

Unfortunately, many Christian leaders have slammed this practice as courting danger, warning their flock against it. In his book, Breaking through the Spiritual Darkness: Unveiling Qigong for What it is, Hsiao-Guang is quoted as saying, "Qigong fascinates people because practitioners feel charmed that he or she can physically feel or detect the mysterious meta-physical (or supra-physical) energy or power".




He writes that Qigong leads to dramatically improved health, calling this "the golden period of the practitioner".

But he says, with deeper study and practice, "the practitioner begins experiencing psychological heaviness (and) mental slowness ... even facial changes. Close friends and family members may see you as strange and on a wrong psychological track. Some people have become psychologically broken and even crazy".

Hsiao-Guang added: "Some people experience spiritual despair (and) ceaseless disturbance from invisible powers or beings. No one can come back (at this level) except through rescue by the greatest super power from God of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit. I was saved from this stage in 1994 Good Friday."

He ended by asserting: "The mission of the evil spirits is to make a person a captive to serve their purposes through Qigong."

Virtually every evangelical minister echoes this belief, calling Qigong a conduit to the occult.

On one website (

Tai-Chi-Christian.html), one influential pastor writes: "Doing Tai Chi (and Qigong), even for physical purposes, is paying homage to a spiritual belief system at odds with God's word."

But is it?

Recently, I spoke to Tina Zhang, a Chinese traditional healer and sifu (master) about the acerbic attacks by Christians on a tradition she has upheld all her life. Hardly unhinged, she calmly responded to what she called "clueless" and "ill-founded statements".

A Chinese native, Zhang has studied several forms of internal martial arts and is the fifth generation Northern Wu Style Tai Ji Quan Master. She's an accomplished author and owns a traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Chinatown, New York.

Zhang refuted the suggestion that Qigong promotes evil or is the cause of mental instability.

"Qiging teaches righteousness and virtue," she emphasised.

She sees only "the healing, regenerative properties of Qi", describing it as "the body's energy that one is born with".




Zhang also argued that Qi can be cultivated through spiritual exercises and charitable thoughts.

She added: "Gong is the practice, the hard work to achieve the goal of physical and spiritual fruition. Hence, Qigong is a pure practice for health."

Spiritual discernment and longevity, according to Zhang, are only possible when the human body and mind are in balance.

"Qigong facilitates the very equilibrium we see in nature. One has to train for a long time and possess extraordinary, positive, and balanced energy to heal oneself and others."

When asked about Qi Disorders listed in the DSM 1V (Diagnostic Statistical Manual), also called the Bible of Psychiatric Disorders, Zhang was dismissive of injecting good and evil; and God and the Devil into every narrative. She indicated that religious orders of all types are listed in this manual, including those having Christian roots.

"'Qi Disorder or Qigong Deviation' is caused by the improper distribution of energy in the body that leads to physical and psychological problems. It has nothing to do with God or the tenets of religions."

She stressed that aspirants must trace the lineage of their teacher.

"A worthy teacher will discern if a student is emotionally or psychologically vulnerable and will determine eligibility for training at that point."

According to Zhang, Qigong is "a lifelong study of learning and applying the principles of evident in nature, for example, selflessness and charity. Nature gives in abundance, never asking for anything in return. The study of Qigong is a serious undertaking that shouldn't be taken lightly".

Later, I pondered on religious-based mental illnesses, said to be caused by Qigong. And I began reading Milton Rokeach's The Three Christs of Ypsilanti. This is a psychiatric case study on three Christian individuals at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan - each claiming to be Jesus Christ. And I wondered: Should we indict Christianity for the state of these poor fellows?

- Dr Glenville Ashby is the president of Global Interfaith Council and the author of Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity. Feedback: or follow him on Twitter@glenvilleashby