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Rhinoceros gazes at the moon

Once, the Jade Emperor of heaven gave an assignment to the Rhinoceros General:

Tell the people of the earthly realm to; 'Eat a single meal per day and perform the rites three times.'

The Jade Emperor's idea was that the people on earth should respect ceremony and etiquette and restrain themselves from over eating sweet and rich foods. But, when the Rhinoceros General arrived on the human world he was dazzled with its myriad wonders and countless temptations and suffered from a disturbed state of mind. By accident he changed the Jade Emperor's message into:

A picture of Rhinoceros Gazes at the Moon

'Three meals a day and perform the rites once.'

The Jade Emperor was furious and banished the rhinoceros from the heavenly realm.


The rhino went to earth. While on earth the rhino longed for his life in the heavenly palace. Each evening he would look up at the moon and gaze for hours. This is the origin of 'Rhinoceros gazes at the moon.'


A Ming dynasty mirror Rhinoceros gazes at the moon.


Practicing at Confucius temple in Taiwan we would start our class with eight stances which included the posture of rhinoceros gazes at the moon.

When I trained in Tainan city - Confucius Temple -

I'm on the left in the plaid shirt


Thoughts Worthy of Heaven

The story of the fallen rhino general who was banished from heaven was taken as a tool to help students understand the theory of moving and controlling the qi. It combines the theory of Book of Changes with the theory of self cultivation called Nei Dan to simplify concepts of meditation and thought. It is a metaphor to explain concepts of health and meditation.

When you begin performing this, your gaze (mu guang 目光) should look inwards. 'Let' the qi sink to the dan tian. Don't force it, but 'let' it. Here, 'let' means to 'let' it happen naturally. Hold this posture and focus your mind at the dan tian point.

The location of the dan tian can be seen here. From Liang Xuexiang's manual.

The effect of this type of concentration is to transform your kidney essence to yang qi, and the effect of transforming kidney's essence to yang qi is a type of healthy vitality with a vigorous of spirit, a strong love of life. Yang qi is the energy that can help you perform actions with deep awareness.

The strength of the Rhino symbolizes this type of vitality. Our rhino general had momentarily lost his spiritual focus due to being surprised by the sights of earth. This sudden lapse ended up in him longing for the world of enlightened beings. So this story acts as a metaphor that we must not only develop our spirit, but have a proper focus of mind to make the mind's thoughts more subtle and hence more pure and worthy of residing in heaven.


When you have imaginative names that stick in the student's mind people become excited about stretching, especially children. When they first learn to visualize themselves as a rhino looking at the moon they feel the strength of the rhino. But first, they must coil their legs and sit while keeping their arms as unbending as the horns of a rhino and not letting their body wobble.


The first move coils the legs and squats down with the hands extended. This move is called Rhinoceros Gazes at the Moon (left).














Rhino Gazes at the Moon


Rhino gazes at the moon was written by Heaven-Ascended Taoist (see The Immortal and the Black Whirlwind), but there is also a version written by Liang Xuexiang the famous master of Praying Mantis kung fu. Liang Xuexiang's version is an almost word for word duplicate, I have a page printed here.


Liang Xuexiang's manual

Rhinoceros gazes at the moon push and send both hands (right)Sparrow-hawk turns its body pull the fists to the cavity (left)

First round Rhinoceros gazes at the moon push and send both hands

Rhinoceros gazes at the moon push both hands
Turn your body twist your waist step in front of your chest
Steal a step wrap and hook and lean against your knee
Pull in your elbows when entering and exiting
Turning requires the strength of both legs.
Raise your qi and collect the respiration in your mouth.

The last line tells us to keep the mouth closed and let a pool of air collect within the mouth.

Second Round Sparrow-hawk turns its body pull the fists to the cavity

Collect the fists  protrude your ribs and push them out in front of your chest,
Coming and going is like the rushing wind.
Tai Mountain presses ding liang point (st-34).
Seal the anus fill the chest with qi.
Passing through the bustle of the red-light district,
Control and stabilize the fire of the kidney by keeping the heart unstartled.
When you turn your head you’ll know there is another shore,
Emptiness is desire and desire is emptiness.

The title 'sparrow-hawk turns its body' means that we move our hands from one side to the other like a hawk, rising up, pivoting on the feet and twisting the body around as the fists are pulled up to the ribs.


To move like the 'rushing wind' is to move from one side to the other without pause, like the continuous push of a 'rushing wind.'


'Tai mountain' pressing 'ding liang point (st-34)' is the point where we place our knee and rest our body weight. In modern acupuncture ding liang is known as liang qiu, and can be seen as a red dot on this acupuncture chart. Ding liang is a rarely used alternate name.


When 'passing through the bustle of the red-light district' can you 'keep the heart unstartled?' When we purify our mind we remain unmoved by worldly desires. Through the silent mind we can ponder and even arrive at the 'other shore.'


Rhinoceros Gazes at the Moon in Art


Gazing at the moon represents longing for a more enlightened life. This idea was also represented in Chinese art.


Ming Dynasty Mirror


Copper Basin


Song-Jin jade carving





The strength of the Rhino symbolizes vitality, gazing at the moon represents longing for a more enlightened life. The rhino momentarily lost his spiritual focus due to being surprised by the sights of earth. Something to ponder when training the methods of the Luohan

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