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The Body, the Mind and Conscious Movement

by Shaykh Mohammad Abdullah Ansari

The body has arms, hand, legs, feet, a head, that is to say, the body is made up of parts.  And then everything is connected and united by skin, muscles, tendons, veins, arteries, blood, etc.  We know that, like all the rest of matter, these components of the body are composed of molecules, atoms and particles ever smaller and smaller.  Essentially the body is pure energy.

Seen with normal eyes the body is a single solid thing, but any scientist can tell us that that’s just an illusion, that the body, like everything else in the universe, is more air than matter.  Atoms are like miniature solar systems with parts orbiting a nucleus.  The space between the nucleus of the atom takes up thousands of times more area than the semi-substantial electrons that orbit that nucleus of protons and neutrons (an atom is 99.999999999999% air).  In the same way, the molecules formed by the atoms contain mostly air.  None of the parts that make up the body are touching each other.  They are kept more or less in their positions by non-material forces—electromagnetism and other energy forces.  When you move your arm, you think that the arm moves from one place to another and that’s it.  What’s really happening is that you’re dragging molecules, atoms and particles from one place to another and it’s a chain reaction, not all are moving at the same time or the same speed—ßit’s similar to a movie projected at a very very slow speed.  Normally we don’t see this phenomenon because we live in a different time reference or time frame, than matter.  Actually, everything that exists is moving continuously but we don’t see it, we see everything as solid and static.  The movement we see is only the grossest aspect of movement.

The glue that keeps the elements, the particles, of the body in place is a form of energy that the Hindus call prana the Chinese, chi, a form of divine electromagnetism.  Although there’s always enough of this energy in a body to make it appear solid and alive, the quantity and quality can vary significantly.  According to the science of the Hindus and the Chinese, this energy circulates through invisible channels in the body and the quantity and the freedom with which it moves contributes to the health or lack of health of that body.  Systems of Qi Gong (Chi Kung) and some forms of yoga are specifically aimed at removing the obstacles or blocks from the chi o prana channels (called meridians) and to increase the quantity of said energy.  The practice of one of these systems can lead to a superior level of health and a significant reduction of visits to doctors and the subsequent costs connected to that all too common custom.

But of equal or maybe more importance, is the function that this vital energy plays in maintaining the structural integrity of the body and a balance between the minds and the body in a way much more extensive than is commonly understood.  This function affects not only the physical health, but also the emotional and spiritual health of the person.

It’s based on the practice of physical movement and the use of the vibratory nature of words and sounds.

The energy to which we refer is the vital energy that impregnates everything and is everywhere.  You might ask, if this energy is everywhere and in everything, why don’t we have enough in our bodies?  The answer lies in the mind, the conscious use of the mind and the reverse, the lack of conscious use of the brain and/or being controlled by negative thoughts and emotions which create blockages in the flow of the Vital Energy.

Could be that you noticed that above I said “minds”, I used the plural forma of the word and then I just mentioned “mind” in the first part of a sentence and the then “brain” in the last part of the same sentence.  Before we go any further it’s important that the concept of the three minds is understood.  This explanation will be brief since the subject is covered extensively in other writings.  The three minds are: the real mind, the brain-mind and the ego-mind.  The real mind is the consciousness of the heart or part of the soul, the door to superior world and divine guidance.  The brain-mind has a lot of different important functions but is not the origin of thoughts, intelligence o creativity—it’s basically a machine.  The brain-mind receives instructions from either the real mind or, more commonly, from the ego-mind.  The brain interprets the information it receives and in turn sends instructions to the body.  The ego-mind is by nature, emotional, reactionary and defensive.  For our objectives, it’s necessary to learn to identify with and use the real mind.

The dominance of the ego in the majority of humans leads to rigidity not only in the attitude and vision of the person but also physical rigidity.  The ego mistakes o confuses what is best for the person, cuts off universal psychic connections and hides in a protective shell, isolated in his/her imagined individuality.  This affects the body, causing tensions and blocks that restrict the flow of vital energy with painful consequences—tensions resulting from the natural emotional unstableness of the ego.  The person’s world shrinks in a sort of vicious cycle of tension, rigidity, fear, more tension, rigidity, fear, and so on.  A form of atrophy attacks not only the physical but also the subtle body causing physical, emotional and spiritual problems. 

Seen by the inner eyes the human body varies from amorphous, fluid, flexible and limitless to confined, rigid and restricted.  In the first case the healthy, developed person falls in line with the divine pattern of things and is carried through life smoothly and easily.  The person in the second case becomes an easy target for conflicts and problems.

The developmental process for achieving freedom from the dominance of the ego and its illusory state and tension, requires spiritual practices and the assistance of someone who’s been there.  There have always existed special physical exercises specially designed to break energy blockages in the body, remove tension and rigidness and to acquire and make vital energy flow thus leading to not only a physically healthy and happy life but freedom from negative forces.

These exercises were and are certain forms of ethnic dance, moving meditation like Tai Chi and certain forms of yoga correctly taught and, the martial arts.  Understand that the current forms of these arts have other motives and their ancient goals have been all but forgotten and therefore their benefits drastically reduced.

The strongest and most direct methods directed at the development that we’re talking about can be found in the martial arts.  Seems like a contradiction but that’s because our occidental conditioning and the poor way that the martial arts are communing taught.  Originally almost all religious/spiritual traditions had martial regimens.  Their real object isn’t conflictive but the achievement of harmony.  We can see an expression of this in certain sets of training movements in which the participants, both solo and in pairs, move in sequences of movements similar to parts of a symphony.  Over time the participants of this type of martial art gain consciousness of the forces and energies that surround us, see and feel things that are not commonly seen or felt and their bodies open to Vital Energy.  The restricted and smothered cells open up and the energy begins to flow.  Now the line between the body, the world and the universe become less defined.

Vital Energy, Chi, Prana or whatever name you want to use, being the life energy that wakes up and moves matter, is contacted through its counterpart in the human being – the real mind.  The real mind is the channel that connects us with superior universal energies.  Connecting with this source is similar to completing a circuit or priming a pump to create a sort of suction with provokes the flow of this divine substance which eradicates barriers between the body, the mind and the universe.

We call these exercises conscious movement because they require the conscious participation of the mind to activate the vital energy.  Our practices are as much mental as physical.  The line between the mind and the body become increasingly less defined with the practice of Sufi Yoga or its martial branch, Silat Haqq Kuntao.


Published on The Nimatullahi Sufi Order (


Before Islam appeared, the tradition of chivalry (javanmardi) in the Middle East was maintained through the training of men to be chevaliers (javanmardan).

The tradition of chivalry involved consideration for others (morowwat), self-sacrifice (ithar), devotion (fada-kari), the helping of the unfortunate and unprotected, kindness towards all created beings, keeping one’s word and self-effacement – all qualities that were later to emerge as the noble attributes of the perfect human being from the point of view of Sufism.

In addition to these attributes of a true human being, the chevaliers were committed to a particular code of etiquette and conventions, from which the main objective and principles of chivalry or javanmardi were derived.

With the appearance of Islam, these chevaliers embraced the religion of Islam while retaining the conventions of chivalry, thereby founding the creed of Sufism on the basis of both Islam and chivalry. Thus, the etiquette of the chevaliers became part of the practice of the khaniqah and of the Sufis.

Gradually, as the philosophy of the Unity of Being (wahdato’l-wojud) and divine love were made more profound and appealing by Sufi masters, the tradition of chivalry, hand-in-hand with it, gained an extraordinary influence and currency. The spirit of Sufism consisted of focusing one’s gaze in one direction (towards God) through the power of love, and its method was to cultivate a humane code of ethics, which was equated with that of the chevaliers.

Sufism, then, has both an outward and an inward aspect: its inward aspect consists of traveling the Path and traversing its stations to attain the level of subsistence-through-God (baqa’). Its outward aspect consists of the tradition of chivalry, which constitutes the development of the attributes of perfect human beings.

Sufis must know that they are the standard-bearers of the school of humanity and of the tradition of chivalry in the world today, and they must not allow modern civilization to destroy noble human qualities-a civilization which, from the outward point of view, raises human beings to the greatest heights, while at the same time lowering their inward qualities to a level beneath that of animals.

In the materialistic civilization of today, Sufis must strive to be examples of noble human beings in order to draw the desires and inclinations of others towards these humane attributes-attributes that are unique to the human species.

Sufis must exhibit to humanity the effects and results of the spiritual paradise they have discovered on the Sufi Path, so that others may be aware that their material paradise is worthless in comparison.

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Tao Te Ching

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery.

Virtues of Kong-zi (Confucius)

道 tao; path, right way * 仁 ren, benevolent * 徳 de, virtuous * 禮 li, propriety * 義 yi, morality * 忠 zhong, loyalty * 恕 shu, reciprocity * 信 xin, trustworthy * 命 ming, destiny, fate * 天 tien, heaven, above * 理 li, principle *