Pang Ming is the founder of the Zhi Neng (wisdom ability) school of Qi Gong.
and a modern secular Daoist thinker. He originally created the Zhi Neng method of Qi gong by combining many ancient techniques from Daoism and modern scientific ideas about the body.
Zhi Neng Qi Gong specializes in developing the ability to combine the energy outside of the body with the energy inside the body, and is based on the concept of allowing the mind to merge with the environs of the natural world.
Beyond this, Pang Ming also gave many lectures on his ideas about health cultivation practices, society, and Daoist cultural ideas.
One particular lecture he gave in the 1990s was on the subject of Dao De in nature and society. Dao De is the Daoist philosophical concept of the way of the world, and the virtue of the way. It is a very complex and difficult subject to unpack, but essentially, Dao refers to the unchanging way things are and it is the root of all things. It is the unnamed origin of the universe which exists at all times and in all places and yet cannot be seen, heard, felt, or understood. It contains both empty and full, yin and yang, the five directions, the eight gates, and every other phenomenon, and yet is not in and of itself one of the myriad phenomena.
De is the virtue of the Dao, it is the point at which humanity may become aligned with the Dao and the way in which the will of nature manifests itself. The Virtue of the Dao is also simply how things happen in nature, so in this sense, the Dao is the non active elements of creation and the De is the element which breathes action into this nature.
Dao De is the principle common to all Daoists and the one which all Daoists seek to emulate and achieve in their lives. Regardless of whether one perceives it from a philosophical, religious, or practical vantage point, Dao De is the most important concept in Daoism and one that is never left in practice.
Pang Ming discussed two different aspects of Dao De, the first being the natural Dao De and the second being the Social aspect of Dao De.
He used the image of the child to discuss the Dao De of nature.
Young children are born without any sense of propriety, they are natural and simply accord to their own natures without considering morals, ethics, or really anything other than their needs. Pang Ming suggested that if a child is hungry, it will simply eat, it really doesn’t matter if the food is yours or mine, since the child has no theory of property, or the public and private realms. He also discussed how two children playing with one another might get into a fight and cry, but five minutes later are back together playing with no long term animosity toward each other.
Pang Ming suggests that this is the natural virtue of the Dao and that it is the way the world organizes itself before culture is established in the minds of humans.
He also says that this is the underpinning of Marxist philosophy, since it accords to the theory of “to each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.”
This Dao De of course is paired with the Dao De of society. This society is more complex, since we already have the distinctions of you and me, public and private, good and bad, and all of the other dualities that are invented by the fight for survival that all humans must learn to undertake to be successful in this world.
The virtue of the way for society must thus be interpreted through sets of social conventions and rules so that we do not injure one another through adherence to our every desire and whim.
These social rules are expressed in Chinese culture through the Confucian paradigm, and Confucianism as a philosophy in China is most concerned with the way in which society organizes itself according to rules and structures of the family.
In his lecture, Pang Ming discussed how we can use self cultivation and realization of the natural virtue of the way to inform us in how to practice the social virtue of the way. That is to say, he uses the Daoist concept of “changing age back to youth,” as a way to reconnect with what it means to be a natural individual, but at the same time, using the wisdom that is afforded to us by our social development to continue engaging society in a fair and just way that is beneficial for all people.
Pang Ming said “instead of becoming an immortal, why don’t you become a balanced person first,” which is a way of thinking also discussed by the Immortality Study school of Chen Yingning and Hu Haiya. Pang Ming suggested that in modern society, it is already very difficult to attain a sense of balanced lifestyle of health and happiness.
To attain this sense of balance, we should combine the need to live a socially reasonable life with the practice of directing the mind back to nature through our meditations, and sending the body back to health through our healthy lifestyle.
This type of Dao De is what Pang Ming called “Hun Yuan Dao De” which is the mixed and original virtue from which both society and our animal natures spring from. He combined this concept with his Qi Gong practices in order to develop a complete philosophy of lifestyle practice which can be applied at all times and is much more than just a set of exercises to promote health.
It is very useful to reflect deeply on these concepts and try to find out how to achieve this “original mixed, natural social virtue of the way.”