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  1. Daoist Meditation

    I gather from the work of H. Ross (Nei-yeh; 1999) that there was a type of early Daoist meditation practiced that was distinct from the kind we later find in Buddhism (e.g., Vipassana). But L. Kohn, in her book “Sitting in Oblivion” (2010) appears to think that Taoist meditation is essentially a version of Buddhism type of meditation, not unlike what is nowadays called “mindfulness.” So a question arises: If there was an early form of Taoist meditation, distinct from Vipassana-like types, what were the steps? A preliminary sketch of two early Taoist mediational systems that appear to have been in place, without apparent Buddhist influence, is as follows (but how they were reconciled is unknown): 1- Neiguan內觀 (inner observation; passive meditation) involves a general openness to all sorts of sensory stimuli and encourages a sense of free-flowing awareness with detached observation. It encourages the appreciation of life as a flow [=rhythm of the Dao]. In noticing this series of exhalation and inhalation patterns, one becomes directly aware of the "dynamisms of Heaven and Earth" through ascending and descending breath. 2- Jing靜 (tranquility) and qing 清 (clarity) produced by the practice of neiguan after dingxin 定心 (stabilizing the mind) has been achieved. Is associated with acute hearing and clear vision, and generating jing 精 "vital essence". 3- Ming 明(radiance/brightness): produced after neiguan has been established. 4- Xu 虛 (emptiness; fasting of the mind): making the mind empty like air (qi 氣) so that the Dao can gather in it and one can “apprehend things more accurately and respond more effectively than when it relies on rational thinking or ordinary sense perception.” II. 1- Zhiguan 止觀: is an active concentrative exercise that uses one-pointedness that applies insight to the subject of meditation after neiguan has been established (=access concentration; where hindrances are encountered) and Insights were applied, e.g.: Rhythm vs irregularity Balance vs imbalance Unity vs opposition Correspondence [eg, heaven and earth] Coherence vs incoherence 2- Zhi止 (full concentration) [=dhyana] where meditational hindrances have been overcome 3- Shouyi 守一 (Guarding the one): maintaining oneness" involving concentrative meditation on a single point (=ding). 3- Ding 定: samadhi [samapatti] the union of subject and object (non-dual awareness)