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This is Tao…   10 comments

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

Qigong Lesson #5 Harmonizing Yin and Yang   Leave a comment

This is Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do Symbol "Using no way as way" & "Having no limitation as limitation". The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin

The focus of the last qigong lesson was to introduce the properties of Yin and Yang in the human energy system as it pertains to Qigong practice.  One of the first things qigong students learn is the difference between the way yin and yang manifest during practice. This basic understanding is the starting point to getting to know your energy. Eventually this awareness of yin and yang will be discerned in all of your energy systems.

There are many different “energy systems” in the human being and all of them have yin and yang elements. For example in basic qigong practice the most obvious energy system in the physical body are things like muscles and bones; pneumatic (breath) and hydraulic (blood and lymph) but there are others such as mental, emotional, spiritual, electrical (nervous), and chemical, like hormones and neurotransmitters.

The reality of life is there are no absolutes; energies are always in ebb and flow.  In the last lesson I used a diagram showing the separation of yin and yang, this is only to get a basic understanding of the rise and fall of the energy; this symbol could be called Yin AND Yang. The Taiji symbol is sometimes called the Yin/Yang diagram. Do see the difference between the two? Yin and Yang or Yin/Yang, the difference is the first one defines yin and yang as distinctly different and separate things; the second one shows the harmony between the two.

In the title to my web site, I say “Balance and Harmony for a better life.” Balance and harmony is a common phrase; some people reverse the two words however saying “harmony and balance.”  To my mind though, you need balance before you can have harmony.  This is an important point for you to realize in your training as qigong and Taiji works on us to first balance our energy so that we can harmonize with reality. Again this is true whether we are talking about emotions or our bodies…. For example, if we have balanced emotions then we can harmonize with others.

Harmony is what we get when we have all our energy systems working together in a synergistic way. Synergy is a good word, it is when the sum is greater than the parts; you know, sort of like one plus one equals three.  Now while some of our energies may be “Yang” there will be others that will be “Yin.”  For example, my mind may be yin while my body is yang, while at the same time my legs may be yang while my arms may be yin and my emotions could be yin while my spirit is yang!

Yet it all works together in harmony. When the thinking mind is softened and yin, the spirit fills with energy and could be considered yang. When I am moving my body upward there is energy coming up from my legs which could be considered yang at that moment yet I keep my hands soft (with my mind) making them effectively yin. Yang leads and yin nurtures. For example my intention (yang) tells my body to relax (yin) the relaxed body attracts energy to flow into it, yang.  Lets say for example, the energy (in the form of blood pressure) is down in the legs, (yang) then, when we relax the hands (yin) the energy will flow into them, and back and forth filling and emptying.

While doing qigong notice how you can control the flow of energy when doing the movements by sequentially relaxing and expanding. As you are alternately flexing and relaxing different groups of muscles, you can lead the qi through your body. Remember, the energy wants to flow into emptiness just as electricity seeks a ground or water (and air) flows from high pressure towards low pressure.  In the great source book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu tells us, “The sage leads by following, by putting himself beneath others they all flow towards him.”  Can you see how the philosophy of Taoism teaches us how to be better people?

Learning to be both yin and yang at the same time (yin/yang) is like bringing together the two halves of who you are. We all have yin and yang elements in play in every part of who we are. Proper qigong and Taiji is all about learning to first balance our energies and then to harmonize all these different energies so that we can find the reality that we need not be so polarized in life as to lose sight of the “big picture”

Like two horses…. The mare and the stallion, named yin and yang…
The stallion leads the way with the nurturing mare just behind him, giving him encouragement and moral support. She wants him to lead, and he enjoys doing the hard work of blazing the trail and such. The clever mare knows how to get him to lead where she wants to go by using her soft nurturing way, and he is glad to go where she wants him to. The two move in harmony due to the balance of their complementary energies.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site

The Nature of Love   2 comments

"Love"

Sensitivity, Understanding, Forgiveness, Compassion, Detachment, Liberation, Nurturance, Heaven

These are some thoughts about love from my Taoist perspective; that compassionate detachment is the highest virtue and discontentment the greatest misfortune and understanding that even “joy” is not always a good thing and that often “sadness” is. Finding a balance with our emotions keeps the qi balanced within our internal organs; indeed unchecked emotions lead to “stuck qi”, the root of most sicknesses.

Some say love is an emotion; I think not.  Emotions, largely, are calls to action, fear, anger, worry, sadness, loneliness, frustration, guilt; all these things are actually telling us what we need. To my mind, “love” is what I would call a “state of being,” the catalyst that facilitates our understanding of our emotions. My previous post about the nature of evil tries to explain how unchecked negative emotions tend to escalate, culminating into a state of being I call “evil”. I did not get this from any book or anything, these are just my personal opinions based on my observations.

Love then, would be the opposite of evil, in that when we respond to emotions in a positive way we move in that direction.  This love is not that “romantic love” that is often controlling, manipulative, and selfish and even at times leads to evil; think of the love/hate relationships many people suffer through.  No, true love is something far greater than that. True love is something many people will never know, oh, they think they know about love, but seldom follow a truly loving path. It can be a very sad thing when one mistakes a greedy, needy, clingy, self-serving definition of “love” for the truth about what is means to really love.

If you reread the post about the nature of evil, you will see I outlined several emotional steps that progressively twist normal emotional signals out of harmony with the truth. Each time we move along the chain of emotions and fail to choose the correct action we unwittingly take a turn each time towards the dark side.  Collectively choosing the “negative” options for each subsequent emotion leads us farther and farther away from ’love” and closer and closer to evil. I attempt to illustrate this with a sliding scale moving from Evil on the left to Love on the right.

Remember the steps leading to evil?
Fear… Anger… Resentment…  Hate… Prejudice…  Domination… Destruction…and Hell.  Today I will give you my corollary to that progressively sick, evolution of animal’s way of dealing with our emotions. The answers are simple really; each negative emotion has an “antidote” so to speak that will (if followed) take one away from the darkness and into the light. Consider the following comparison of each negative emotion and its opposite, one choice leads to Heaven the other leads to Hell.

Fear……………………..…Sensitivity
Anger………………………Understanding
Resentment….……………Forgiveness
Hate………………………..Compassion
Prejudice ………………….Detachment
Domination……………..….Liberty
Destruction…………….…..Nurturance
Hell………………………….Heaven

I know all this is a very common sense thing and yet is seems nothing is so rare these days as “common sense.” Before you let an emotion take you on a ride towards the dark side apply these simple solutions:

Next time you feel fearful, be sensitive to the situation and keep your awareness. If you feel anger rising up, understand that maybe your rules are too strict or maybe you need to explain them better to others or just get out! Instead of resenting others, forgive them immediately, on the spot; resentment is a major pivot point towards evil. Before you find yourself resenting, judging, and hating someone, just find your compassion for whatever may be driving your harsh judgment that leads to hate. If you feel hate it may develop into prejudice about a person or a situation. The answer to these hateful feelings is to just detach from it, no matter how loathsome you may think something is, you can at least be glad that it is not you or about you!  When judging and hating others, people often start controlling and manipulating in an attempt to dominate them, maybe because they feel out of control themselves. Liberate them instead!  Just let it go or get yourself out… Give them all the freedom you would hope for yourself. True love never gives ultimatums or forces people to comply with rules; this applies to government as well. Instead of acting out of frustration at your failed attempts to control and coerce, (and thereby destroying your relationships or your communities) instead be nurturing of the other’s right to be free. All these responses are loving ways to relate that could save your family, nation and our world, if only people would choose them.

Even if only for yourself, follow these principles. According to Chinese medical theory, uncontrolled emotions cause energy to stagnate and damage the organs, for example:

Fear can damage the kidneys and bladder
Anger can disrupt the liver and gall bladder
Passion can upset the heart and small intestines
Worry can damage your stomach and spleen
Grief may lead to fluid in the lungs and obstructions in the large intestine.

Balanced emotions actually benefit each of the organs; healthy emotions cure each other. Later I will explain how healthy anger can cure fear, and how a little passion can help you get over anger; that worry can save you from excess joy and passion, and some grief is a good way to let go of your worries. Coming full circle, some healthy fear can pull you out of grief.

And what makes this all work? What magic element, process, elixir, or “emotion” turns the “wheel of emotions”? You guessed it I am sure. By living in a “State of Love” remaining, Sensitive, Understanding, Forgiving, Compassionate, Detached, Liberating, and Nurturing in all your dealings you can stay forever in Heaven, forever contented and forever loving.

See also:  The Nature of Evil

The Nature of Evil   3 comments

M C Escher’s Heaven and Hell

Fear, Anger, Resentment, Hatred, Prejudice, Domination, Destruction, Hell.

It starts with fear that leads to anger… not your normal healthy anger mind you but the uncontrollable anger that leads to hatred.  Most anger starts with fear, fear of the unknown, fear that someone or something will harm us. Normal anger can save our lives or pull us out of debilitating fear; healthy anger comes from the feeling that someone or something has broken one of our “rules”.  We all have rules that are a construct of our beliefs, and/or that have been programmed into us by habitual conditioning.

The reasonable person can see this for what it is and uses anger to give him an opportunity to learn. For example, maybe your “rules” are too ridged, maybe you expect too much from a person or a situation. Maybe you did not explain your rules to those around you that you feel have broken them, or maybe you are in the wrong situation and your rules do not apply.  Anger is a chance to take positive action by either, changing your rules to adapt, or explaining your rules better to someone or maybe to move on and get away from a place where your personal rules do not fit.

Failing to take proper action when angry usually leads to resentment. Now we discover the real “root of all evil”…resentment. Resentment is a failure to deal with our anger. Usually coming from an ego based sense that someone is to blame. The nature of resentment is to kill healthy relationships by being unable to forgive.  If one cannot forgive or leave a situation, is unable or unwilling to explain their rules, or cannot adapt, then often there arises the need to make others responsible for their anger. When a person blames others (or themselves) for their anger they are not taking responsibility for their own emotions, this will always lead to resentment. You might say resentment is way of moving away from our angry by projecting it onto a situation or other people.

Being resentful and blaming invariably leads to hatred. How could it not? Being fearful and getting angry about things and subsequently feeling helpless to find resolution amplifies resentment to the point that anger becomes manifest as hatred. You might say that hatred is habitual anger. This habitual anger is the root of all prejudice.

This is how propaganda works by keeping people angry with others over a length of time hatred is the result…. Governments have been using this tool forever. Keep people angry with the “rich” or “ the Jews” or “the Christians”, “Blacks”, “Whites”, “men”, “Americans”, “Muslims”  pick whoever you want it is still evil to hate.  Hate often comes from self-loathing, and more out of control emotions like guilt.
Whenever you fall victim to being angry, and resenting and hating, you are on a path to hell. Being prejudice, hating, and a continued sense of fear and helplessness often ends up becoming a need to control and to dominate others.

In a desperate need to quench anger, the ultimate expression of hatred and prejudice becomes focused by an egocentric rationalization that if we can control or dominate others our personal suffering will be alleviated. This is often sensed to be a righteous path;  “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.  We rationalize that we are “doing the right thing” and /or “fixing the injustices of the world. Seldom do the “do gooders” realize that their motivation is actually coming from their hatred. Case in point: Hitler believed that the Jews caused his suffering, resentment lead to hatred, lead to prejudice, domination, and destruction. Because a person feels out of control anger and they blame another they try to force others into submission and rationalize that they are doing the right thing.

We all need to find a sense of fearlessness that will stop anger from leading to the hate that leads to suffering. People were born free; Taoists recognize the natural laws that govern man’s existence; a spiritual commitment to human freedom. Taoist philosophy is natural law. The way of humans follows the way of nature. This is not always the way we want it to be but it is the only fair way.  Have faith that things are what they are everything will turn out OK. We may not be happy with the results but the evolution of the universe is out of our control. Taoists do not try to change the world they have faith in the understanding that with Yin and Yang everything works itself out instead, they cultivate the pathway to heaven; “adapt and overcome”.“The greatest misfortune is discontentment”.

Perhaps if everyone did more Taiji and learned to embrace the philosophy of Tao instead of arguing and about how to try to control and dominate others there would be more peace and harmony in the world.  Humans are still learning how to be, class is always in session, everywhere. The answer to all the suffering and disharmony some people feel is actually quite simple.

Do not judge others, do not let anger go beyond the impetus to adapt, never fall victim to resentment and if you do, immediately forgive others, right there on the spot. Always help your friends and neighbors, be kind and yet firm. Do not overlook evil, do not be drawn into the fray. Never give a pass to hatred, prejudice or domination onto your spirit. Taoists have a very important belief that always gives them solace…its called Faith.

See also:  The Nature of Love

Posted November 27, 2010 by The Maui Taoist in Relationships, Tao

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Basic Taiji Principles, Overview   1 comment

Like a stepped pyramid, we lay down a foundation, taking us higher as we go.

Taoist physics, the laws of energy.

This article is about outlining some of the basic Taiji principles that I have discovered through the years, and some taught to me by Master Dong. I will explain each one in time. These are not the “Classic Taiji Principles” that other authors have written about through the ages, but a pragmatic look at the common sense of practical Taiji.

These are not the only principles that I will discuss, many esoteric principles can be inserted in between and after the ones on this basic list, yet they are most basic and important ones. Understanding the physics of the human energy system and codifying, and sharing these principles is my life’s work.

Staying on your feet is an important skill that can save your life, whether talking about martial arts, or walking down a flight of stairs. There are many obvious gains from assimilating these principles into our lives but know that these principles go far deeper than Taijiquan.

The entire human energy system uses these same principles, not just your body, but also the mind, emotions and spirit. I am taking about the laws of physics; nothing is exempt from these basic principles of the universe.

For example, energy follows the path of least resistance; therefore reducing the resistance to energy increases the flow and the apparent volume of energy. The best way to remove resistance is to remove blockages. These blockages can be from misalignment and (muscle) tension. Again these principles are not necessarily only about your body, keep in mind the “big picture”.

The way to remove obstructions is to align and relax…. Know that aligning will facilitate relaxation. It is easier to relax when we have good alignment, like in the physical attribute of structural integrity.  A strong frame requires less reinforcement; look at an “earthquake resistant” building, a proper frame, allows for a flexible, less ridged, relaxed structure.

Likewise, in relationships, having the same values and interests with another is “alignment” with this alignment a person will be more relaxed. Being aligned and relaxed leads to balance, and with a little give and take (counterbalance) we can achieve a harmonious relationship. Understanding energy is about a relationship with it and it applies to all things accordingly.

While keeping the big picture in mind and realizing that there is a hierarchy to these principles and also that Taijiquan is a method of training and understanding energy, we need to start with the most important principles first. Layering principles overtime will bring enlightenment.

To get started, to keep things simple here is a basic outline to these principles. Each principle will require further explanation, so be patient, and check back to the “Taiji Principles” category here on this blog.

To make comprehending and learning these principle easier, I have organized them into three sub-groups of three principles each. Beginners should mostly be concerned with the first three. Intermediate students focus on the first six and as students progress keep layering principles until all nine are understood.

Principles:

Align
Relax
Root
Balance
Harmonize
String of pearls
Not too much not too little
Open and close
See all things

Understanding Reality, Being a “Real Human”   1 comment

The Universe

“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.

Understanding Reality: Balance and Harmony   Leave a comment

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.