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Qigong: A Key to Dynamic Happiness

By Robert Peng

When I was eight years old, I met a man who had every reason to be unhappy.

His name was Xiao Yao, and he used to be a high-ranking Buddhist priest. But when the Cultural Revolution swept through China and outlawed religion, he was forced to give up the monastic life. He moved to Xiangtan, my hometown, in a place two blocks away from my house.

At that time, he was already 82 years old. He had lost contact with his colleagues, and had no living family members. On top of that, he worked as a boiler room attendant — a job that required him to work long hours, seven days a week, for low pay and under the most terrible conditions you can imagine.

And yet, in spite of it all, he was happy. He always had an aura of peace and contentment, and always found the time to tell me — a young, eight-year-old boy with a heart condition — stories about the Monkey King. Even though he seemed like an ordinary man, he was kind, and I liked him well enough that when he offered to teach me martial arts — and eventually, qigong — I accepted without hesitation.

So how did he do it? What kept him going despite his harsh circumstances? And what does this all have to do with qigong?

The answer lies in the true nature of happiness.

You see, happiness isn’t something you chase after, catch, and let go of only to chase after it again. Happiness is like a treasure box inside you, which you can always access whenever you need it, as long as you have the key.

The key, I believe, is qigong — or, more accurately, the mastery of it.

Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) is derived from two Chinese characters: qi, which refers to your Life Force, and gong, which means “work” or “practice.” When you know how to access, nourish, and keep your qi flowing as well as it should, you can do so many things you never even dreamed of doing before. You can unlock latent psychic abilities, perceive energy fields you couldn’t see before, and even gain supernatural powers.

Most importantly, you can achieve the kind of happiness that is always present, always flowing, and always drawing positive energy towards yourself and the people around you.

According to qigong philosophy, each one of us has three dantians (or “elixir fields”): the Upper Dantian, the Middle Dantian, and the Lower Dantian. The Upper Dantian contains the pool of Wisdom Qi, the Middle Dantian contains the pool of Love Qi, and the Lower Dantian contains the pool of Vitality Qi.

If, for example, a person has a strong Upper and Lower Dantian, but a weak Middle Dantian, you have someone who is both smart and energetic, but does not have much empathy and love for others. Likewise, if one has a strong Middle Dantian and a weak Upper Dantian, you have someone who is well-meaning and good-hearted, but weighed down by circumstances that could’ve been avoided with more wisdom. And if the Lower Dantian is weak, a person who is wise and compassionate can still be held back from his full potential by a lack of good health and vitality.

In a qigong master, all three pools are equally strong. He is as wise as he is compassionate, as lively as he is wise, and as compassionate as he is lively. When your wisdom, love, and vitality are strong and well-balanced, you are already well on your way to achieving true happiness.

Each of the pools of dantian are contained within Golden Wheels. Master Xiao Yao taught me that each of us has four Golden Wheels: In addition to the ones I described above, the Central Meridian runs through the three dantians.

When your Central Meridian is activated and empowered, you can more easily connect your dantians to each other. For example, if the connection between your Upper and Middle Dantians is strong, you get a “wise heart” that’s less likely to do things on impulse. Similarly, when your Vitality Qi can freely flow into the two dantians above it, you can express yourself with more confidence, intelligence, and passion, and attract like-minded people to you.

As a qigong teacher, I teach my students how to tap into their qi, help it flow in an optimal way inside them, unblock any paths that prevent qi from flowing optimally, strengthen the dantians that need strengthening, and transform their qi into a powerful, ever-flowing source of happiness. I teach them that everything they need to succeed in life (however “success” looks like to them) is literally inside them. I give them the tools to find their keys to happiness, in the hope that those tools will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

As I write this, it’s been 34 years since master Xiao Yao passed away. I will always be grateful for everything he taught me, and for making me into the man that I am today. If I am able to successfully impart his teachings to others, then I have truly done what I am meant to do as a qigong master. I hope that, with the brief overview I have given above, I have not only sparked your curiosity about qigong, but also inspired you to try it out for yourself and change your life as it has changed mine.


Robert Peng is a world-renowned Qigong Master, healer, and author of the book, The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love, and Wisdom, and the DVD/CD companion series, The Master Key

Robert was born and raised in Hunan, China. At age eight, he began an intensive apprenticeship under the close guidance of the legendary monk Xiao Yao, an enlightened master known for his profound healing ability and martial arts skill. At age 15, Robert performed a 100-day water fast in a small dark room at a secluded monastery in the remote mountains of Hunan province. He underwent a radical spiritual transformation and awakened amazing healing powers. Master Xiao Yao encouraged Robert to develop his healing skills by studying with other Chinese masters.

After pursuing his training quietly while attending university in Changsha, where he majored in English Literature, at 29 years old he began to teach publicly, and within five years had trained over 150,000 students all over China, Australia, and the U.S. 

With his deep understanding and practice of Qigong, and with extensive life and teaching experience in the western world, Robert has developed a unique way to teach Qigong that people from different cultures can easily understand and follow while enjoying the real essence of this ancient Chinese healing art of wisdom, love, and vitality. 

Robert has been a regular presenter at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Esalen Institute, Integrative Health Symposium, and many other organizations and schools.

Together with Bishop Desmond and Pema Chodron, he was honored as one of "Top Ten Heroes of 2013" for his contribution to transform "the ancient Chinese healing art of Qigong into today's fast-growing holistic practices — in addition to use as a spiritual practice for inner balance and peace, Qigong movement is gaining acceptance as a gentle movement for chronic illness and pain."

Click here to visit Robert’s website.

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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 18: Qigong Global Summit and International Day of Peace Weekend