What are the Tao and Taoism?

Tao pronounced (Dao) can be roughly translated. =   The Way, The Model.

  • A power which surrounds and flows through all things.
  • Living and non living. The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the Universe. It embodies the harmony of opposites:  eg: there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.

Taoism = the road, the path to the DAO

Taoism observes nature subjectively, seeing the observer and the observed as one entire system. This is the first principle of Taoism: Oneness. There is not "just us," or "just nature," but both.

Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. It springs into existence, unconscious, perfect, free, takes on a physical body, lets circumstances complete it. That is why every being spontaneously honors the Tao. The Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them, maintains them, cares for them, comforts them, protects them, takes them back to itself, creating without possessing, acting without expecting, guiding without interfering. That is why love of the Tao is in the very nature of things.

- Tao Te Ching (Mitchell translation), Chapter 51

  • Tao Te Ching was written by several.  Today it still remains “the BIBLE “ of Taoism.

The oldest Chinese scripture is said to be the I Ching (known as the Book of Change)

Lao Tzu = many historians believe that he is the founder of Taoism. (604-531 BCE)

During the time of the Yellow Emperor

He overlapped Confucius (551-479

His name has several spellings: Lao Tzu, Laozi, Lao Tze,

  • OLD GREAT MASTER
  • Lao Tzu applied the Taoist philosophy to the human conduct. He designed the behavior of the political leaders and princes in conformity with the immutable laws of the Universe, or The Tao.

Even though it is almost impossible to explain in plain words what is beyond our conscious perception.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 1:  THE DAO THAT CAN BE NAMED IS NOT THE REAL DAO

This first line is considered a prime example of the Tao, and the essence of Taoism

  • Taoism started as a combination of psychology, philosophy, and shamanism.

This included the practices of magic and immortality traditions. (this was also mixed in with a strong effect of magicalized Confucianism, leading the literary school of Esoteric Speculations)

  • The early Taoist philosophers were a small group of sages, Yang Zhu, Lao Tzu, Zhuang-tzu, (who was Lao Tzu disciple and it is said wrote the first 7 chapters of Tao de Ching.

Lieh-tzu.

  • When Taoism was adopted as a state religion,

Lao Tzu became venerated as a deity.

  • The Chinese emperors wanted a strong popular religion as a check on the growing Buddhist influence in the country.

During many periods Taoism enjoyed imperial favor and Buddhists were persecuted.  Even in periods when Buddhism was the state religion, Taoism continued to flourish among the common people of China.

  • Buddhism was seen as a foreign kind of Taoism and its scriptures were translated into Chinese with Taoist vocabulary.  Chuang Tzu’s philosophy especially influenced the Chinese form of Buddhism known as CHAN, which later developed into the Japanese form of   ZEN
  • Taoism, along with Buddhism and Confucianism, became the three great religions of China.  Between the 3rd and 6th centuries, various sects and lineages developed that sought to prolong life and achieve IMMORTALITY.  (similar to the Buddhist concept of ENLIGHTENMENT)
  • Some groups experimented with alchemy and magic. One idea was that an individual can become immortal by replacing the destructible elements in the body with indestructible ones.

Many performed special breathing exercises, devised to take in the finer or more durable parts of the universe THIS IS WHAT WE CALL QI-GONG today. TAI CHI is also a physical manifestation of this.

BECOME ONE WITH OUR SOURCE

  • Two of those groups became what we know today as:  LONGMEN BRANCH = the Northern branch

Internal Alchemy, most focused on XING =   NON PHYSICAL essential nature,

(HEART) complete reality transforming the body into IMMORTALITY.  QIN CHU JI  creator of the lineage. He was 1st generation    there were 7 Masters ALL became Immortals

  • Southern branch:  focused on MING = Sexual energy Eternal life (KIDNEYS)

ZHANG SAN FENG 1st generation,

  • 1911 brought the end of the Ch’ing Dynasty, and state support for Taoism ended.

Much of the Taoist heritage was destroyed during the next few years.

After the communist victory of 1949, religious freedom was seriously restricted.

The monks were sent to manual labor, and their numbers decreased from several millions to about 50,000.  The temples were confiscated.

During the Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 – 1976, much of the remaining Taoist heritage was destroyed.

  • Since 1982 to the present some religious tolerance has been restored. The communist leaders have recognized Taoism as an important traditional religion of China devoted to universal unity and peace. (many see Taoism as a philosophy not as a religion.)

Many of the temples have been repaired and re-opened.

  • There are scholars who say that Taoism is still a prevalent belief within China, estimating that the true number of Taoists worldwide, once the Chinese believers are accounted for, may be over ONE  BILLION

This would make it the second largest religion of the world; however due to the intertwined nature of Chinese traditional religion and other restrictions, a census is not possible.

  • Modern estimates put the number of Taoists outside of Mainland China at about 31,000,000 million followers, mostly in: Taiwan, Vietnam, and Korea   about 30,000 in North America, 1,720 in Canada
  • The oldest Taoist temple in the US is Tien Hau Temple in San Francisco, built in 1852.  Taoism has had a significant influence world-wide: in many Western societies it can be seen in acupuncture, herbalism, holistic medicine, meditation, martial arts, Feng Shui, Qi-Gong and Tai Chi.
  • Taoism has also accumulated a large quantity of scriptures and documents, temples and monuments, sculptures and stone inscriptions, adding to the cultural treasury of the Chinese people and making significant contributions to the progress of human civilization.

 

THEORY

  • Taoism contains many profound theories, which at first many are difficult to understand. In general, these theories reflect Taoism as a balanced relationship between human beings and nature.  It encourages people to live with detachment and calm, resting in non-action and smiling at the vicissitudes of the world
  • The most basic concept of Taoism is TAO.
  • There are two kinds of Taoism,: philosophical and religious.  Philosophical Taoism is rational, contemplative, and nonsectarian.  It accepts death as a natural returning to The Tao.
  • Religious Taoism is magical, esoteric, and it emphasizes health and healing as ways to gain long life or even IMMORTALITY.
  • JING   QI   SHEN  == The 3 most important elements in humans.        THE ROOT OF GOING HOME  ***  BECOME YANG
  • Tao creates ONE Wugi.

One becomes 2 yin / yang, MALE / FEMALE

The three together == Liang Yi; TAI CHI.

Creating the 10,000 things

This is also used to cultivate eternal life through physical movement.

PHILOSOPHY

  • To follow Tao = to follow what is nature.  HEAVEN / MAN united with EARTH as one.

A way of living in harmony with the universe.

  • Immortal = to break from the re-incarnation wheel and return HOME. ( to the yang world)

Go within, connect with THE MASTER WITHIN.

SOFT, GENTLE = application of the Tao

STILLNESS = root of Tao

VOID = body of Tao

VIRTUE = compassion of Tao

RETURNING = motion of Tao

Going outward = losing Qi

Going inward = collecting Qi

  • Nourish the brain, nurture the spirit
  • Staying centered.  Return to stillness
  • Return to nature.  Become One.

WITHOUT STILLNESS == BECOMES A LEAF FLOATING WITHOUT ROOTS

Applying this to the human physical & spiritual health.

  • Confucianism says:  The origins of human nature == kindness. Born with pure spirit, mind & body.
  • Through growing in the environment, it becomes polluted by material life.
  • Organs depleted by attachment, 5 senses, & material world.

The more attachment to material, the energy depletes, the energy changes frequency, brings in imbalance. Imbalance creates separation of spirit / body.

  • As result of this separation; humans go through 4 stages:

BIRTH, GROWING, AGING & DEATH.

Follow nature == death

Reverse nature == immortality .

  • When mind is still – Central Nervous System rests, sedates.

By doing so it reduces tiredness, strengthens CNS, conducting functions

1st ==benefit = Decreased HBP, insomnia, Alzheimer,

increase – brain function, nightmares are gone.

2nd ==Consolidating Jing, Nourishing Qi

if stubborn & does not learn to transmute Jing to Qi MEANS = TROUBLE

  • When the quality increases...... you cultivate

Then cultivate Shen to The Void

Return Void to The Tao

  • How to cultivate? == Cut off 7 roots, (ALL THE OPENINGS: eyes, nose, mouth, ears, genitals, belly button, anus)
  • Go inward, save, save.......Jing gets very strong
  • It is called to conserve what you put out.

In going inside, you let go of time and space.  Eg: THE MATRIX

  • Shen becomes very “SPOOKY” …. strong spiritual power, intuition opens more and more.

We are all born with yin / yang..... depends on which is nurtured.

  • Regulating the breath, increases POWER (go into meditating stage to do so.)

DEEP, SLOW, GENTLE, EVEN..... Increases lung capacity

  • Regulate 5 organs (YIN *** heart, liver, spleen, lungs, gallbladder

(YANG*** stomach, large & small intestine, urinary bladder, kidneys,

  • When functioning  through YANG ==  You Wei   doing something

“          “                   “       YIN ===Wu Wei (Do Nothing / leave Nothing Undone.

It’s in that not doing, that everything is getting done.

  • The more flexible we are in looking at things, the less bound we become by expectations and desires.

2 sides of the hand.  Find the balance from contradiction

Become like water, clear, free flowing.

CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF WITHOUT A MIRROR??

See the opposite side of U

  • Preserve an innocent HEART and grow old.

The Tao saysBe a true leader following the 3 treasures of The Tao

COMPASSION, MERCY & FORGIVENESS

Author: 
Nuris Lemire