Integral Taoism: Man the We Dimension

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There are several levels of development that all people and all societies go through. These levels of development are known as Archaic, Magic, Mythic, Rational, Trans-Rational, and Integral. According to Sociologists and Developmental Psychologists these are universal stages of development and can be found worldwide within the development of every individual and every culture.


When applying this to the Taoist culture of mainland China we can see different sects devoted to these levels of cultural development. In the Archaic slot we see Shamanic Taoism. This was the earliest form of Taoism and was practiced by the nomads of the Asian Step.


Out of this early form of practice came Taoist Sorcery and Talismanic Magic. This of course is the Magic stage of development. At this stage of development there is a belief that the individual can affect the world around them by shear will, or by manipulating talismans and magic symbols. This sometimes takes the form as word magic as well.


During the influx of Buddhist teachings and ideas the Taoists were highly influenced by the liturgies, the monastic life, and the Pantheon of Deities worshipped and celebrated by the Buddhists. This started Taoist Monastic orders and inspired thousands of liturgies and the deification of Taoist Adepts and Teachers. This was the beginning of Religious Taoism and marked the growth into the Mythic stage of development.


There was another form of Taoism that arose based on adopting a way of thinking or looking at the world. There were no real deities worshipped; it was more of a philosophy or an attitude. It focused on clear thought and spontaneous action brought about by remaining in a state of primordial awareness. This was known as philosophical Taoism and is most closely related with the Rational stage of development.


After the Rational Stage of development there is a move into a Trans-Rational, or Transpersonal level of development; the Taoist expression of this stage is known as Esoteric Taoism. Esoteric Taoism uses yogic and meditative practices to reach high levels of awareness expanding the personal identity into universal consciousness. In this form of practice the Adept moves beyond personal or even ethnocentric identification and moves into ever expanding waves of care and concern.


The highest stage of cultural and personal development that is currently available to human consciousness is known as Integral. This stage of development is the first to try to bring all other stages together into a single universal framework.


In China there are only two surviving schools of Taoism. One is known as the Complete Reality School. This sect made an attempt at integrating all the major forms of religious thought into one entity. The Complete Reality School was made up of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucist thought and practices.


Today we are experiencing a new understanding of Integral thought. The latest expression of Taoism is not in China but in the West. In America and Europe Taoist practitioners are beginning to Integrate Taoist thought and practices with other world religions and also with Western advancements in medicine and Psychology. This is creating a new form of Taoism filled with many of the same Intentions, philosophies, and concepts, but in a form that is suited to the Western mind and its modern contributions to the understanding of human Consciousness.


The new version of this ancient practice known as Integral Taoism is beginning to congeal into a solid belief structure in both Europe and America; where people are looking for more esoteric practices but are interpreting them through the lens of the Integral world view.


Integral Taoism seeks to understand the nature of change and to bring balance to Heaven, Earth, and Man through self, culture, and nature. It does this by applying Taoist practices to the Integral framework and seeking to be aware and present to all aspects of reality.

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