Archive for December 2009

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!   2 comments

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.

Posted December 31, 2009 by The Maui Taoist in Philosophy, Tao, Uncategorized

Harmony   1 comment

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.

Posted December 24, 2009 by The Maui Taoist in Philosophy, Tao, Uncategorized

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Stay on the Path   Leave a comment

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.

Taoist Meditation Lesson #4 (Practice Part 1)   2 comments

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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Seeking Enlightenment   1 comment

A Burden too big

A classic tale

There was a man seeking “enlightenment”
He went walking far into the mountains in search of knowledge
He met many sages and asked them about enlightenment
There were many different opinions about it and he became confused

Some talked of a “purple light” or a soaring spirit
There were stories of heavenly sights and sounds
Tales of immortals with super human powers
He was asked to serve masters, to receive teachings
Told it took years of servitude to a master or a school
Or to embrace suffering, or hedonism, or denounce all things
To become a renunciate or a hermit or a servant
Told to study scriptures, count beads, pray to gods, become a monk
Encouraged to use herbs, drugs, potions, become vegetarian
Write poetry, play music, exercise, or meditate
He was told it can not be done in this life
That he wasn’t smart enough
Or dedicated enough.
To keep seeking….

One day, on a far away mountain trail, he came across a weathered old man carrying a huge burden of tea on his back.
He greeted him with his burdensome question.

“Sir, can you tell me about enlightenment?”

The man did not speak, he simply took off his massive backpack and set it down on the path and breathed a sigh.

Suddenly, the seeker understood…… Just set down your burden!

He couldn’t believe how simple it was, and how simply the old man was able to tell him the answer to this question he had carried with him for so long!

He bowed to the old man in homage of his great wisdom.  He was struck then with another question, he asked the still silent old man,

“Tell me sir, what then, what’s after enlightenment?”

The old man silently picked up his pack, and continued walking along the path, disappearing into the mist.

Posted December 12, 2009 by The Maui Taoist in Stories

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #3 (Basics Part 3)   2 comments

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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Taoist Meditation Lesson #2 (Basics Part 2)   1 comment

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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