A4: How to Develop Mind Power in Chinese Calligraphy

No scientists today can fully illustrate how our brains operate and interact with the environment and some phenomenon and miracles accomplished by human mind. My Qigong teacher used to say that the ordinary people only use less than 5% of their brains while more than 95% of the brain functions are underdeveloped or idle. And if we develop more areas in our brain, the potential of applications is far more than we can imagine. In a the movie “What the bleep do we know?”  the scientists explained that our brains can only process a very, very small portion of the signals that our eyes receive. They came up with a question, “Does the brain see or do the eyes see?”  I personally would answer, “The eyes are the filter of input signals while the brain is the processor. It’s the levels of our consciousness that finally see.” A viewer of Chinese calligraphy does not only see the strokes of characters – one also sees the spacing, connotation, and spirit of the artist. A good Chinese calligrapher thus needs to reopen his or her eyes both physically and spiritually.

Our human bodies with mind and nerve systems are far more complicated than any current technological equipments. However, if someone heals a person in a way outside the orthodox Western medical field, say alternative healing like acupuncture or energy channeling, some self-centered scientists or self-justified believers of religions may rise against those things which are not contained in the “official realms” of sciences or scriptures. Those scientists forget that our human organism is more advanced than any equipment or proof of data; and most people also don’t know that scientists often forge data or theories to gain recognition and fame. Thus, the way to the truth is hindered. However, most people still “choose” to believe the “official” sciences or doctrines without furthering questioning.

Isn’t our body more advanced and complicated than any laboratory equipment? How can we explore our inner self and search for the endless possibilities?

When I was a kid, I practiced Chinese calligraphy like the ordinary kids do without learning to focus the mind. After I knew more ways to apply mind power to calligraphy, I often wondered why I would know those topics relating to mind. Is this destiny? Had I not studied ways to develop mind power, I would stay in a slightly higher level than a decade ago even if I had practiced very diligently!

When I received a hint and simple instructions from a Taoist man who also practiced calligraphy and painting, it seemed as if I made progress in Chinese calligraphy a lot more than I expected! I was delighted as if my eyes were re-opened and my mind was broadened. Yet what he told me was very, very simple and so simple that most of us will question its validity in applying to Chinese calligraphy and painting. I kept visiting and bothering him many times to hear something new. I kept asking him and he told me the same thing repeatedly! (In Chinese martial arts and Taoist practice, they say “If a secret or Tao is revealed, it’s only worthy of pennies!” Because the secrets are plain and direct and you won’t believe it when your master reveals it to you!)

The Taoist man, Mr. Chiang ( ), was generous to tell every visitor his method on our first days. On the last days we visited him, he would tell the same things that are worthless if we don’t practice Chinese calligraphy with his methodology. I am not going to write everything here unless you reimburse my taxi fares I spent in late 1980's. (I never paid him a penny. I was only a visitor referred by his student who is my lifetime friend. There was no formal teacher and student relationship and he was a hermit and not publicly known.) But I am generous to list some hints in the following. The answers can be found in the "Principles" and "Theories" sections where I explain and exemplify theories and his points with my personal understanding and interpretation. So far, I have not read any books that contain something similar to Mr. Chiang's instructions; however, there are some hints or connections between Wang Hsi-Chih's "Discussion on Calligraphy" and Mr. Chiang's instructions. 

Please also refer to T4: How to Develop Mind Power in Chinese Calligraphy.


I would also like to recommend meditation or Qigong practice for at least 15 minutes before practicing Chinese calligraphy. In my humble opinion, if I meditate (also mentally visualizing and designing) before I practice alone or process custom Chinese calligraphy works, I always do better than if I am not meditating at all. Some might question me, "Why so tedious or so formal? Just practice writing with your ordinary mind." If you already do better than most other artists and you can benefit from one more "process" to be better than yourself, then why not? Or if you may elevate your mind, body, and spirit while practicing arts, why not trying to have multiple benefits at the same time?

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