Archive for the ‘Tao’ Category
The Lotus Flower is a symbol of compassion opening in the heart like the bloom of the flower from the swamp in which it grows
The desireless one sees the essence; (the soul)
While the desiring one sees only its manifestation. (the superficial)
Desirelessness is a matter of respectfulness.
Contemplate these statements, ponder them, meditate on them, and if you could have only one desire, make this be your goal:
Overcome your desires and show love to others.
What gift would you offer God? What does the creator of all things need with desires? Tao creates endlessly, it gives away everything it creates and wants for nothing. Is this not love? Wants, desires, expectations, wishful thinking, willfulness, these are all contrivances of ego. True love comes from a place of no desire.
Have you ever heard the expression he or she is “in love with love”? Ah yes, here is a nugget of truth for me. True love is not desire for a person or thing; it is given in the spirit of the thing itself. Wanting nothing for self, only the best for others is love. When two people are “in love with love” there is no desire per se’, there is a spirit of letting nature take its course. When you feel “in love” the love is in you! If that involves another person or thing, then it is desireless towards that thing. When two spirits find each other, that love is beyond desire, that is a Taoist’s view of divine love.
Only when you feel no desire for something, can you truly love it. When the love for all things fills you, it is like a flower blooming inside your heart. As your energy rises up from the earth it opens your heart, it expands outward, filling the whole universe. Your compassion for all things will grow, your love will know no limits; you’ll prosper in all your ways.
The desireless one can discern the true, (soul) essence of things, not limited to only seeing and desiring that which essence has made manifest (superficially) in the material world.
You will learn the true meaning of love, you will gain respect for all things, you will move forward into an understanding of how everything is connected. This is love and fulfillment, this is infinite compassion, this is true understanding…
This is Tao
Copyright Cory Williams 2012
Would you go?
What if you searched your whole life for something; what if you invested everyday and night, thousands of days, tens of thousands of hours, year after year in a quest towards a goal and when you finally did everything you were told and after years of waiting, and then, you found out, there was nothing?
What if someone suggested to you to dedicate your whole life, practice diligently and someday you would find nothing, and you knew that going into the journey; would you be interested in going then; doing all the practices, training endlessly and even though it was a blissful journey, only to find out that there was no end goal, would you still go?
What if you could grasp the concept that everything and nothing are made from the same thing…would you go then?
Tao unravels all the mysteries to truth, peace, contentedness and salvation and yet, in essence, there is nothing there. Everything is possible from nothing; nothing and everything define each other. The journey is all there is, the path to non-doing starts at doing.
Practice long and diligently, then you will find your qi….
Continued practice and dedication will guide you to your spirit…
Practice, practice and practice some more and eventually you will find nothing.
Jing, Qi, Shen is the Way to return to the source…Tao
The spirit dissolves into Tao, just as your practice dissolved your body into qi and then continued practice dissolved your qi into spirit…
A place where all things merge into nothing is waiting for you. After years of practice you will find the truth; eventually bringing you back to the source of all things.
Tao gives and gives and yet it is never exhausted, it wants for nothing as it is always giving. All things return to the source; the more they give the more they receive.
I drink from the mother’s breast, connected with the one source. The mother’s milk nourishes me and I shall want not for things of this world. I am not my mind, or my body or my emotions…. I am spirit.
I am the eye of the hurricane, a still point within the vortex of the matrix. The world blows by as everyone scurries about, but I alone am unmoved by mundane things. I want nothing from anyone but to be left in peace.
Sometimes I’m ahead and then sometimes I’m behind, and yet it matters not. My life is not for others, I am the flame, I cannot be burnt. I have died the little death…. The past is irrelevant, the future does not exist… my spirit lives now and that is all that matters.
“The sage sees the whole universe without going out the door”
If you only learned to meditate, it would be the most valuable experience of your life. To gain understanding, a wordless gift of knowing that you’ve always had, but haven’t used is a profound thing indeed. I am paraphrasing Roy Masters work “Be still and Know” and yet there is so much more going on when we do qigong.
By combining physical exercise and meditation, we gain more than can be had by just “exercising” or “meditating”. The synergy is further enhanced by the other attributes of qigong, like the way we exercise, opening up the joints, and skeletal system and the sequential opening and closing of the muscles and energy pathways within our bodies. There is really no other “exercise” like qigong; in my opinion there is no better exercise, and yet it is so much more.
Dissolving your mind and body using qigong also has a calming and strengthening effect on our emotions as well. To liberate your mind from the emotional prison that has kept the real you locked up without your knowledge is not an insignificant gain!
The understanding gained from proper practice gives insight to all things. The meaning of the quote from the “Tao Te Ching” written above is this: Within everyone, there are elements of all things; a celestial world, we are a microcosm of the universe. Every atom is like a minute solar system, all our cells are virtual galaxies, and our consciousness is like God, indeed, if you can truly know yourself, then you can understand the whole universe.
I often wonder what if we all could expand our understanding in this way. Yet it was once the normal way for humans. Our convoluted lives have dulled our sense of reality; learning to get in touch with our true objective self is to understand a separate reality, a primordial knowledge that is the “Way” we were intended to be….. Freedom from contrivance, like an un-carved block of wood, becoming what Nature (God?) intended for us.
If you have a goal in life, make it to be a fully integrated human being by being balanced in each realm of human functioning. Don’t be a “spiritual person” or an “intellectual”, and do not be a slave to your emotions and don’t ignore or indulge them. Stop always seeking physical gratification or obsessing about your body. To be a “Real Human” you need to be in control of all of these things.
Balancing all these separate things naturally into one universe is, for me…..The Way, Taiji the “Supreme Ultimate” and qigong is the path to the Way….. The Way to divinity, to freedom, to perfect health, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
We cannot "save the planet"
Did you know?
The earth has survived volcanoes, ice ages, earthquakes, floods, erosion, plate tectonics, collisions with asteroids, gamma ray bursts, and who knows whatever for billions of years; always surviving, evolving and adapting.
Did you also know that in China in 1931 between one and 2.5 million people died in a flood?
Or that also in China in 1887 between 900,000 and 2 million people died in a flood.
In addition, in 1556, an earthquake killed 830,000 in China.
And another earth quake in China in 1976 left 242,419 people dead? And in 1920, 243,117?
How about the earthquake-generated tsunami in Indonesia, 230,000 lives lost.
And the death toll in Haiti is estimated at 230,000?
The eruption of the Volcano in Iceland puts more CO2 into the air in one day than the entire population of Europe did in the last 100 years. And did you know that CO2 is a scant 0.033% of the atmosphere; and it is the only source of life for all the green plants on the Earth?
Did you also know 250 million people each year get malaria resulting in between one to 2.7 million deaths? In addition, did you know that environmentalists, through the EPA banned DDT, and yet DDT was heralded as having saved over 500 million lives in the two decades before it was banned?
The bottom line is: we cannot “save the planet” and conversely we cannot destroy the planet. Are we so arrogant that we think we can destroy the planet when we are only a minuscule drop in an ocean of planetary history? Everything here is from here….whatever we dig up, or burn or eat or whatever, came from here and it is going to stay here. The planet will adapt and evolve. We may not adapt however, and so life goes on. The planet will be fine.
Yin/Yang, Taoist thought understands these things, sure, we all want a clean environment, and we also don’t want millions to die from malaria or perish in cheaply made lightweight vehicles. Nature always works things out. If we are not meant to survive then, we will not. Perhaps we need war and disease to teach us what to do, or what not to do. These things are all part of nature, even our strange lifestyle is part of nature, as are we. There are those people that will not eat meat and consider it wrong for people to eat meat, do they protest the tiger, fighting extinction, and begrudge him his last meal?
Heaven and Earth are eternal, our physical selves, not so much. The Human experience for an individual is all we have here and now. Do not fret or worry about mother Earth, she will survive. Our only challenge is to deal with each moment correctly, enjoy what we have and let nature take its course.
If we are going to live full and joyous lives, we need to live in harmony with the way things are, adapt and overcome. To change with change is the way of nature; to be discontent is the greatest misfortune.
Happy Earth Day
First, gain an understanding of your energy system.
Align the body correctly to facilitate energy flow.
Relax the muscles to encourage energy flow.
Learn to dissolve your mind and body together.
Develop an emotional connection to the energy within.
Become intimate with your energy.
Practice until you know what is right in your heart.
Let go of your silly ego needs.
Gain freedom from your thoughts,
Become as open as Heaven,
Be as firm as the Earth,
Shine brightly like a star,
Be as flexible as water,
Gain inspiration from all things,
Know the truth that will set you free.
There are many paths to freedom yet only those who learn the truth will be truly free. The real you is often hidden behind layers of physical and egocentric defenses. Physical obstructions, thinking, and emotions, all inhibit your true self from shining through.
Spiritual qigong? Medical qigong? Martial qigong? Meditation? Internal, external, standing, sitting, moving, stillness, Taiji, whatever…. It makes very little difference; they are essentially the same thing. Don’t get confused by esoteric teachings. Do not be distracted from the truth by thinking too much about it.
Do not make your journey complicated; just follow the simple methods outlined in your training. Adding too much just takes you farther away from the truth. Practice “Wu Wei“; practice with diligence, yet keep it simple and you will gain profound awareness.
The truth is simple:
Love your energy as though it was the most valuable substance in the universe….in time you will discover the creator of all things.
Go to Qigong on Maui web site
There is no "try" only do, or not do (Master Yoda)
Recently someone said to me, “I need to learn to relax”, after apologizing for laughing at the remark, I poised the comment, “Realize that you can’t learn to relax, you need to un-learn being discontent.”
When things are going well, they just flow correctly. A pro athlete never forces anything; neither does a pro musician, or an artist. If they did, you could tell it was not quite right. When things flow from your heart it is true and correct and it shows. When we are balanced within and we are in harmony with our surroundings there is no “effort”
Every time I “try real hard” in life, I usually mess things up. So will you if you don’t understand the principle of “Non Striving”
Among the basic Taoist principles that can improve our lives “Wu Wei” is the most important and pervasive concept of all. Not forcing things seems like an obvious concept to most of us and yet our competitive nature often encourages us to do so. It’s not that “force” is a bad thing but unnaturally forcing things usually is. Make things right with the universe and effortlessness is an indication that you “get it”.
Any feeling of “forcing”, “striving” or “contrivance” tells you that you do not get “it”.
The “it” I am referring to is the understanding that you are (or not) coming from your heart. Do not think this is easy however, I’m no Pollyanna; you might say “It’s simple, it’s just not easy”. The Tao Te Ching is full of commentary on this subject in fact almost every one of the 81 verses contains a statement about Wu Wei.
“The sage does nothing and yet nothing remains undone”
“My way is simple, yet no one can follow it”
“An infant can follow the way. But can an eighty year old?”
“To manage a large country is like frying a small fish, the less you poke it the better.”
“The sage leads by following”
“Water is the softest thing in the universe yet it overcomes the hardest things”
“The greatest misfortune is discontentment.”
“The sage never contrives greatness that is why he is truly great”
The other day someone said to me, “I was told (by a qigong teacher) to force the qi downward during qigong”, holding back a laugh I smiled and went on to explain “Wu Wei” a guiding principle.
When we relax, the qi will flow effortlessly, using “force” causes muscle tension that uses up more qi then it allows to pass through, resulting in less movement of the qi.
Again I recommend getting your very own copy of the Tao Te Ching (see my reading list) the philosophy of Taoism provides a foundation for understanding reality.
First, learn all you can; then forget it all. Learning is prejudice and contrived and will limit you. Having expectations can lead one to disaster. Knowledge is only a starting point, when we apply the principle of “Wu Wei” we turn knowledge into something far more valuable…Understanding
Part 1 Balance
Align with Heaven and Earth,
Relax and discover the truth about balance
Move with dignity and grace through life,
And harmony will be your companion.
Balance is a function of aligning with Heaven and Earth, relaxing into our roots and exploring the confidence of equilibrium within the self.
Harmony is a function of remaining balanced as we move through time and space, remaining content, while interacting with the forces of nature that act upon us.
Balance is always first, only then can we harmonize well.
In life, there are many ways we can discuss balance and harmony…..
If you think about the opening words, it is apparent that I could be talking about many different aspects of balance and harmony; be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, they all share the same principles.
In fact, if we learn the hierarchy of achieving balance and harmony in one realm we can apply the formula to any of the four realms mentioned. Understanding reality is one of the goals of Taoist praxis, and understanding balance and harmony is paramount to that goal.
For Taiji practitioners as well as in all aspects of life this is a fundamental principle. For example, “aligning with Heaven and Earth” could mean, to know your values and morals and align to them, this could help you relax in a relationship, feeling secure and confident about yourself. The balance gained will allow you to compassionately harmonize with your partner and remain content.
Taiji (the supreme ultimate) teaches us how to achieve balance and harmony in all things through the understanding of the simplest of methods. I have written blog posts about this topic that can be found elsewhere on this site.
To review, the most basic is the physical then as we move inward the next level of understanding is the mental, then the emotional and at the center is our spiritual core. Each level feeding its energy into the next one and each level is more complex than the one before it. As we move up through the layers in quantum leaps, the understanding of the principles reinforces the reality of the truth of the hierarchy of our personal growth.
In regards to transformational improvement of our lives then, all we need to do is start with the simple, external physical methods and understanding will emerge with practice over time and through space…
Back to Taijiquan…..and balance and harmony….
When we move in Taijiquan we first need to balance, then we can harmonize with things as we move. Now reread the opening lines and see what you can glean from the simple instructions.
In class, when we are transitioning to one leg, I say repeatedly…. Align, relax, and move. There are two alignments. First, there is “rotational” where you align your nose, navel, knee and toes. Secondly, there is the “Taiji Pole” where you align your Crown Point, perineum, and ankle, actually the bottom of your foot about 1 inch in front of the ankle.
After you are aligned with Heaven and Earth just relax into your leg and explore some counterbalancing with your arms and legs until you find that one spot where you feel confident. When you move (step) maintain a moving counterbalance to harmonize with your movement.
The Taoist sees the simple in the complex and the complex within the simple, achieving balance and understanding all things trough harmonizing with the principles of nature.
The sage sees the universe without looking out his window
The sage understands the workings of the universe without going out the door.
He does this by knowing that universe that lives within him, and that he is a microcosm made from Heaven and Earth, created by celestial design.
Little did you realize that all the wonders of the “modern science” of astrophysics reside within you…Like a pulsar within a nebula, our spiritual star powers layers of energy that radiate out into our personal world and merge into the universe around us!
Our star of spiritual energy, contained within our nebulous body floats in a galaxy of others within our communities. The collections of community galaxies live within a universe we call “life on earth”
Cultivate your energy. Refresh your star center with the flux of the universe that flows to you. Shine brightly, replenish your body and let the light of heaven shine out through you.
The Cat's Eye Nebula
First no form. Then form. Then no form…….
In the first three articles on basics and the first article on practice, I laid out the foundation for our actual cultivation procedures. Please read these previous articles until the concept of “dissolving the mind into the body” makes sense to you. Keeping in mind, we are on an inward journey when we do Taoist meditation.
We pass from an external-centric universe to an internal one. Along the way, we go through different layers of ourselves. From a completely external world, through the body and mind, revealing our emotions and ultimately our spiritual center. From that perspective, we continue back through the layers and return to the external.
Always remember we are working with energy and when we do so we need to adhere to basic energetic principles. Also, know as we move inward we encounter different energies at each layer each combining and adding to the previous energies. I am talking about quantum physics here. As we move inward and the energy level increases, it requires more training to control it.
The first step in the actual process of the “Transformational Tao of spiritual alchemy” is a basic understanding of what we are going to do… so up until now we have been looking at a kind of map of our journey. On the path, so far you could say we have “opened the door” now it is time to step through it.
First, we need to align and relax our physical bodies. Next, we train an awareness of our energy allowing it to permeate the entire body. We start externally and as we become more aware, we move internally, melting away the boundaries between the layers as we progress.
When this is completed, we achieve a freedom from our bodies. By utilizing our minds to become aware of the energy within us, we meld the two together essentially dissolving the mind into the body. After we acquire this skill, we are able to get freedom from our thoughts as well.
Before starting, I suggest you Tune your Breath
Stand or sit in proper wuji, focus initially on your alignments.
After you are aligned and relaxed, close you eyes and let your arms hang down at your sides. Bring your awareness to your hands. Just notice that you actually have hands….become aware of each finger or pairs of fingers one at a time. Just do this for a couple of minutes. Let them fill with blood and energy and feel them tingle.
In your mind’s eye, have an image of yourself standing or sitting there. An image of you aligned to perfection, symmetrical and relaxed.
The only imagery we use in the Taoist method is that of reality.
Your “energy you” is a projection of your energy, that is what we see here. Now out of the corner of your mind’s eye notice your hands. As though you can actually see them, and as you do feel the tingling sensation therein.
This tingling sensation of energy is a manifestation of the only thing of any real importance that you have. Work on getting in touch with the pureness of your energy. Repeat this process until you can restrict your thoughts and body movements to the method outlined above.
This is the first step to dissolving your mind and body together, a skill known as sublimation. Just work on this for now… do not think of “stuff”, do not allow imagery to invade your mind’s eye.
Eventually we will even dissolve away the image of yourself as separate from the energy that creates you…anything but pure energy is just an illusion….
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Each year we start anew…
Building on lessons learned
If we can only make one small improvement in our lives,
What an amazing transformation will we become…
We are the future manifest…
Each unfolding moment is there just for you…
It is no one else’s… it is yours…
We flow into each moment
Through the years, if we acquire virtues we become stronger
And if we shed vices we become clearer…
Stronger and clearer we move with the way of Heaven
Go through life with dignity and grace.
Stronger and clearer each day,
Watch closely and you will see the future,
As each moment guides you into it…
Know that the truth lives within you.
Harmony is Peace
The light of wisdom and the warmth of compassion…
The discipline of observing forms and the letting go of attachment to them…
The movements of the body with the calmness in the mind and the stillness of the body with the flow within it…
Always following our path but never restricted by it.
The more we let go of, the more we gain, the more we hold on to; the less we understand.
The art of peace, the way of the warrior…cutting away delusions so we can find the truth within…
We are all individuals living in the same universe….separate yet together. As diverse as everything in Heaven and Earth yet we are all formed from the same few elements…
We are all children of Heaven and Earth, we are all brothers and sisters…Live in Harmony with all of creation.
That is Taiji.
Riding up a mountain path by Zhao Yichao & Zhang Mingtang
Wayfarer…. That is the definition of a Taoist.
Returning is the Way
Ever following the Way, staying in balance between Heaven and Earth we acquire virtues along our journey. Treasures line the Way, like pearls of wisdom, little golden nuggets of energy, freedom from our thoughts, and blessings from nature. In time, we shine like the sun itself and become as fresh as a mountain breeze. All these things are a gift from Tao, free for the gathering along the Way.
Once you find that there is a “Great Way” you can never stop following it, for if you do, you never found it in the first place. Since the Yin and Yang of egg and sperm came together in the void we call the womb, the yin/yang of You has been on a path we call life. There is no stopping along the path we call “life.” The universe is in a constant state of flux; we realize this or we suffer.
From Lao Tzu,
When superior people hear of the Way,
They follow it with great vigor and enthusiasm.
When middling people hear of the Way,
They follow it sometimes and sometimes they do not.
When inferior people hear of the Way,
They laugh and scorn it,
And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
In our inner lives, we are all alone on the path of life, yet at the same time, we are never apart from the Way itself. All things are on this path, sometimes we are ahead, sometimes we are behind, but we all flow inexorably into time. There are side paths, places to linger, other people along the Way, but everything has the Way in common. We are never alone yet we are always alone, just as the Tao is everything and at the same time nothing. The path of life as “Tao” is always returning to the source.
After I learned the first few Qigong and Taiji movements, my first teacher quit giving classes. I had found the great Way and I knew it. I just followed the path. There are footprints along the Way; other Wayfarers abound, right around the next corner, or right behind you if you just look around. To excel at life we must be dedicated to it. I do what I do because that is the path I am on at the moment…
The Way is natural law, follow your heart and you will be fine. After you hear of the Way, it is up to each individual to follow what they know in their hearts to be true.
We are all Wayfarers on a path returning to the peace from which we come.
Find your Way to the top
First, combine lead and mercury
Second, form the gold pill
Third, refine the gold into the elixir….
In the first three articles, Taoist Meditation Basics, I laid out the foundation for a skill known as “Spiritual Alchemy”. It is a profound and yet simple path and in a way even fun. Don’t let the next few paragraphs throw you off, I’m just writing them for “full disclosure” on the topic.
The Taoist alchemical texts such as “The Book of Balance and Harmony” uses metaphorical language that seems at times to contradict itself. I will try to simplify the jargon from the arcane and purposely cryptic text.
For example, try to comprehend the following typical (paraphrased) instructions:
Combine lead and mercury into the crucible. Then fire them in the furnace to form the gold pill. Refine and rarify the gold pill and the elixir will form. Then you may enter the mysterious pass.
Let’s look at the symbolic language. Lead, represents essence, sort of like your physical energy, body and common sense. Mercury (quicksilver) represents mental/emotional energy, thinking etc. The crucible, is the body‘s energy channels and dantien at your center. The furnace, represents the mind, used to cook lead and mercury with the fire of discipline, concentration and insight.
The gold pill, is an understanding of energy, a nugget of primordial energy released, an awakening within, a “spiritual embryo” if you will. Refine and rarify refer to practicing cultivation arts like qigong and meditation.
The elixir is a reborn energy system, a full understanding of the principles and practice, being one with primordial energy. The mysterious pass is (a mystery) between Heaven and Earth, the gate into Tao … immortality in Taoist code.
This meditation practice is designed to bring about enlightenment. For Taoists that term is more like “let go of your burden” (mental excess) if you “lighten your load” you are “enlightened.” Also let’s redefine “immortality” to mean “longevity” not necessarily “for all time.” Because you cannot create or destroy energy, the fully realized Taoists, quantum physicists that they are, know that true immortality does indeed exist in some form; to be content with that knowledge is a sagely thing.
To start the practice of spiritual alchemy, remember what the famous sage told the king.
“My mind is merged with my body; my body is merged with my energy, my energy is merged with my spirit, and my spirit is merged with Tao.”
The first step is to merge your mind with your body.
1. Open up your energy channels with some qigong
2. Focus your mental energy into your body
3. Use your mind to dissolve all thoughts and emotions
The second step is to merge your body with your energy.
4. Embrace the pure unadulterated dissolved energy
5. Become one with this energy, refining out imperfections
6. Learn the truth about your true make up
The third step is to merge your energy with your spirit.
7. Repeat the process until you meditate unceasingly
8. Know that you are reborn continually in Tao
9. Live confidently, contentedly, with no fears, forever.
Then your spirit will merge with Tao.
First, combine lead and mercury
Second form the gold pill
Third refine the gold into the elixir….
In the following articles, I will explain how we do these steps and I will give you some tools for performing the work of “Combining Lead and Mercury,“ yielding a “Spiritual Embryo” that you will cherish and nurture until it gives birth to a new you!
Until then learn the essential skill of Tuning your Breath
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Most people attempting to learn meditation have had years of conditioning that have programmed them to fail at that attempt.
Ponder this definition: Meditate, noun, 2.) Continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation.
Now this is not a failing of the language; because the word’s origin means: literally “to think.” Perhaps the Taoist method is not “meditation”. By this I mean that, conscious thought is contrary to the prime objective of Taoist meditation, or rather just a basic starting point. As to “thinking” the general premise is; To ponder a concept of a “thing” in order to make a rational decision towards a situation etc. I am paraphrasing here because there are over twenty definitions of the word “think”.
Therefore, for our purposes we need to redefine meditation, in the Taoist perspective; meaning more or less the opposite of the classical definition. For even if we are contemplating energy it is preferred that there is no conscious “contemplating” going on and that for our purpose “energy“ is both “thing” and “non-thing.“
Seems to me that we do too much thinking already. Isn’t “thinking” one of the greatest sources of suffering in the human condition today? Wouldn’t you love to be able to “not think” for just a moment? Wouldn’t it be nice if that endless loop of thoughts would just “go away”?
To begin our practice we must form a new paradigm; most likely, almost everything you thought you understood about “meditating” is, in a word, wrong. First, we need to learn a little about “Qigong” or energy cultivation as the Taoists of old called the practice. This art needs to be learned from a qualified teacher and that is beyond the scope of this article. I assume, if you are reading this, that you have a basic understanding of qigong.
These practices could be:
Moving or still
Internal (nei gong) or external (wei gong)
Sitting or standing
Physical or mental/emotional
Whatever the case may be, they are all manifestations of Yin/Yang.
The first step in learning the Taoist meditation methods that I have learned, is to open the body’s channels through some basic qigong movements. It is possible to begin without first warming up this way but I would recommend doing so. Meditation practice can be standing or sitting but either way the basics are the same.
By opening up the energy pathways and dissolving our mind and body into one, the energy will spontaneously transmute into spirit. After melting away the layers of body, mind and emotion, there is really only one place left for the energy to go into, the spirit. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Keep in mind what Taoists call the “spirit” may be different that what you are thinking.
An ancient king once asked a famous Taoist sage, “What is your secret to longevity?”
The Sage replied, “My mind is merged with my body; my body is merged with my energy, my energy is merged with my spirit, and my spirit is merged with Tao.”
These concepts in Taoist Meditation Basics Parts 1-3 lay the foundation for the practice of “Spiritual Alchemy.” In the next 3 articles, on “Taoist Meditation Practices”, I will describe the actual process that is involved in performing the once closely guarded secret of “Spiritual Alchemy.”
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Finding the Way
In part one, I laid out the premise for “energy based” meditation techniques that are the basis of Taoist praxis.
While training with my Sifu, Master Dong, I would notice a certain smile upon his face while doing Qigong. I can only describe the smile as the curious look of someone that has a secret; kind of a “I know something you don’t” grin. The reality is, that his smile is a truthful expression of just that, he does know something most people will never know.
Energy is the treasure we all can obtain, wealth beyond comprehension is always available to you. To the Taoist sages the definition of a rich man is “One who knows when he has enough.” Conversely it might be true to say that a poor man is “One that needs (or simply wants) more.”
Basic human needs not withstanding, the “Realized man” of antiquity was often a hermit living off the land, happy to live in a cave and forage for food, living close to nature. In this light, we can see, that beyond food and shelter, “wealth” is a relative thing. Taoists have no problems with having physical wealth, the defining thing is they don’t need any to be content.
A wise person makes themselves rich with the currency of Heaven and Earth. Gathering that treasure that flows from the Tao; accumulating virtues along the Way is the Taoist Way. Lao Tzu says, “Tao gives and gives and yet it is never depleted.” When you have the Way you, you too will find “The more you give, the more you have.”
Our goal in learning Taoist meditation is to connect directly to energy. Like a pile of gold coins we can sit with our energy or we can “spend” it. Every thought, image, fantasy, illusion, emotion and movement we make takes energy. To the Taoists, purifying this energy was like refining gold. They even called the practice “Spiritual Alchemy.” In meditation then, finding this energy and aligning with it, was and is a divine enterprise.
To the untrained, would be meditator, most attempts end in failure. Even with advanced students it is a difficult skill to master without following certain guidelines. For the beginner, sitting still and attempting to “align with your energy” will guarantee that you cannot. This is akin to a light bulb, that when turned on shines out incoherent light, millions of photons shooting out all willy-nilly, colliding with each other and heading off in random directions dissipating quickly into the surrounding darkness.
You need to train your energy system to focus the energy so it can flow on it’s own. A laser beam is a wave of coherent light that has all the photons aligned with each other, all flowing in the same direction remaining focused and able to travel an almost infinite number of miles without dissipating.
In Part 3 I will describe in detail how we can train our energy to be focused like a laser beam instead of wasting most of it with “incoherent emissions” of Qi.
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Taoist Sage Sitting With His Treasure
The Taoist methods of meditation differ significantly from other “styles”. To Taoists, the main focus of all the practices, is to understand reality, be content with that understanding, and to change what needs to change to find contentment within the truth of that reality.
This “Taoist” approach revolves around the concept of “energy”.
For example: Understand that everything is made from energy, align yourself with that energy, and the truth will set you free.
This approach is at odds with most other meditation techniques I have encountered. At least one style I know of uses the following type of format.
For example; Imagine you are (fill in the blank), “pretend” you are happy there, “feel good” escaping from reality.
Without attempting to disrespect other methods, I will describe why the Taoist methods are more effective in this article.
The first thing is, Taoists don’t deal with “Illusions“.
Secondly, “feeling happy” can kill you and “feeling un-happy” may save your life.
Thirdly, if you do not “embrace reality” you never have lasting change.
While this all may seem obvious to many it is often subverted by many “meditation” methods in an attempt to “feel good”. The fact is the attempt to feel good is one the paths that have often lead to evil in the world. To be sure making no attempt to “feel” is a Taoist method that is highly effective. By relaxing our practice, we are following the principle of “Wu Wei” or “non-striving” which allows for the spontaneous flow of energy, and this is a basic Taoist tenant.
The end result of “feeling good” comes not from any contrived means but spontaneously after one is aligned with Tao. Therefore, one only needs to align in order to find the truth and be set free from the endless loop of thoughts that plague the human mind.
As simple as that is, most people never find the peace from which they came from, the treasure beyond all treasures that is always within them.
Ineffective mediation techniques often lead to the following:
Stopping extraneous physicality often sends a person’s energy into the mental/emotional realm where an untrained mind will start on a feed back loop, often enhanced by seemingly random images that get projected onto the dark screen of the “Minds Eye”.
Dealing with illusions leads to delusions that take one further away from reality. Evoking thought and emotions waste the energy that could otherwise heal you.
Thinking, feeling, visualizing, triggers emotions that send energy back into the loop of a thinking, feeling, reactive cycle that leads to distraction and rumination and frustration. Often the overwhelmed student gives up leading to resentment that fuels more thinking feeling reacting ad nauseam. The end result is far worse than not “meditating” at all!
In the Part 2, I will explain how we can avoid this type of pitfall, and what makes the Taoist method superior to methods that involve “thinking” or “feeling”.
“The journey of a thousand miles, starts under your feet.”
For all people on the Way, there are many paths with side excursions and a few distractions and even some “deviations”.
Any well thought out journey starts somewhere; indeed today even scientists think they can explain the origin of the universe. As fantastic as “the big bang theory” is….would you believe that well over 2500 years ago the planet’s original “scientists” the Taoists, had a similar theory?
According to the Taoist cosmology, before anything “existed” there was something they called “Wuji”. This (literally) means “the Void” or “without form” or “the beginning.” From this “Void”,”Tao” emerged, Tao being translated as “the Way” or “path”. An interesting side note corresponds to religious texts….”God created the Heaven and Earth”. For the Taoists you might look at it this way…’From the void, Tao emerged and created the heavens and Earth’.
Is it not sort of enlightening that Taoist thought can merge science and religion and validate both simultaneously? I tread lightly here so as to not evoke sensibilities, but let’s assume that the science of things is always open to scrutiny, and admit that religious texts were written thousands of years ago and are famous for using metaphorical language. Anyway, I’m only attempting to give some perspective to Wuji.
If you are still following me (and wondering what this has to do with Qigong) consider this, finding a “place” without form gives us a connection to divine origins. Notice my choice of words, crafted somewhere between the scientific and religious terminology. It is here where we see one way that “all things are connected”.
Along the Way we often find that science and religion merge into philosophy. By extrapolation it is easy to see that our physical self’s are connected to an understanding of the merger of the two (science and religion) into a philosophy. In the Taoist arts this philosophy is applied to the physical realm so that practitioners can assimilate cosmic energy directly into themselves.
One can see that practicing Qigong is an endeavor using a philosophy combined with science and spirituality, to nurture the physical self that contains our “Self” self.
Now don’t ever get put off by the talk of spirituality or the word “cosmic” as Taoists define these words in a general sense, for instance, tonight I am “inspired” to write this page, and so these words are coming from my “spirit” and as I post this message it is sent (via satellite) into the cosmos.
This stuff is not rocket science, nor is it some intangible “cosmic” thing; the fact is, this concept is so simple it is woefully misunderstood. My approach to Qigong (energy cultivation) is equally pragmatic, I’m not asking anyone to make any leap of faith; only to see the truth. With this understanding, we can now “start” the journey, also know, that by reading this, you already have…..