Kongming

Taoist Monasticism in China Today

Recommended Posts

I was wondering if anyone can tell me what the situation with Taoist monasticism or asceticism in modern mainland China is like today? The reason I inquire is because for quite some time I've had the stirrings of a renunciate, and though I adhere to the so-called Traditionalist school of thought (Rene Guenon, Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, etc.) I feel most attracted to Eastern traditions. Within the Eastern traditions, I feel most attracted to Zen and Taoism, and the Tao Te Ching is my bible so to speak. Essentially I am chasing enlightenment and the normal goals of modern society such as financial success, rearing a family, or the pursuit of pleasure is of little interest to me.

 

So that being the case, I was wondering how alive Taoism is in China today and if it is possible for white Westerners to study Taoism or become a Taoist monk? I am not interested in the folk religion so much as I am philosophical Taoism, internal alchemy, qigong, and internal martial arts. Are Westerners ever initiated into such teachings and do masters of such teachings still exist in mainland China today? I wonder because I know China has gone through Maoism, secularization, and an anti-spiritual period, so I am curious as to how alive or efficacious the tradition is today.

 

Also, I am aware that this idea may seem fantastical, so please spare any practical advice like "just study where you are" or "you don't need to become a monk" etc. I have already taken these things into account, and while I cannot say that I am 100% certain I am going to become a Taoist monk in China, that is what I am primarily interested in learning more about from anyone who knows more about this subject.

 

I appreciate any input and thanks ahead of time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, there is a such Taoist Shrine for westerners to be a Taoist priest. However, one has to pay a high price for the cultivation.

"Are Westerners ever initiated into such teachings and do masters of such teachings still exist in mainland China today?"
You probably see nothing but westerners in the Taoist shrines in China.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well judging from the NY Times article it sounds like the Chinese Government has discovered Taoism can be very profitable. If letting Westerners become Taoist monks or nuns brings more money to the Chinese economy (and more tourism) I'm sure they'll indulge.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, there is a such Taoist Shrine for westerners to be a Taoist priest. However, one has to pay a high price for the cultivation.

 

"Are Westerners ever initiated into such teachings and do masters of such teachings still exist in mainland China today?"

You probably see nothing but westerners in the Taoist shrines in China.

 

Yea, this is exactly what I am trying to avoid. My inner calling is that of the yogi/ascetic/monk, thus I want to leave behind the world of money and finances to concentrate solely on cultivation and learning. I don't want to be the Western tourist seen as a source of money, I just want to incorporate the Tao into my life and learn from a master. It doesn't seem very aligned with spiritual teachings for a teacher to work for monetary profit (though I can fully understand why Chinese would want this to be the case in order to contribute to the economy.)

 

Is this sort of life impossible for a Taoist today? Would I be better off looking toward Chan Buddhism in such a case?

Edited by Kongming

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PM member YM Wong - perhaps he may have some insight for you.

 

I think, unless you have destiny, it will be very difficult to find the real masters. As far as finding the real neigong/qigong guys, bear in mind the recent (last close to 15 years) government change in view of qigong, the only thing publicly taught is extremely watered down format that the government dictates. Not the real thing, at all. They will speak only of such like "scientific breathing method", show you some calisthenics , etc; hardly any medical qigong or internal alchemy. However, who is to say it is not your destiny that you will find what you are looking for. As to answer your question of do masters exist there now the answer is yes, but few and far between and generally speaking, you must have a special connection to meet them.

The Temple of the White Cloud: saw some pretty wild things going on in there. Don't know how it is today, though. Probably mostly tourist trap (who knows what can be hidden in a tourist trap:) )

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

China's new trend is Chistianity not the high level thinking of Taoism and Buddhism.

 

Sorry if I sound so negative but that's how things are today in that country.

Sad, but from what I've seen many Chinese tend to be poly-religious, Christian, Buddhist & bit Taoist!?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hiya,

 

Invest in this book:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Daoism-Twentieth-Century-Modernity-Perspectives/dp/0984590935/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1359631786&sr=8-3&keywords=xun+liu

 

Also, consider spending a few months or half a year in a Buddhist monastery, see how monk lifestyle works for you. There are many places throughout SE Asia that let you stay for free, as a lay practitioner. Maybe try one out in the countryside/mountains, closer to nature, farther away from society...

 

A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sad, but from what I've seen many Chinese tend to be poly-religious, Christian, Buddhist & bit Taoist!?

 

Why is that sad? I'm lost here.

 

Aaron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

howdy!

 

you may also want to check out the wutang temple. i believe they accept western students on a long-term basis if you are a dedicated student of the taiji and qigong. i am not sure if they have a dedicated monastic order open to westerners, but it might be worth a look. but also look at gerard's post above...

 

also, it is my understanding that many of the taoist "monks" and order escaped to taiwan during the cultural revolution, so maybe taiwan would be a fruitful place to look for a temple. just some thoughts, good luck!

Edited by Mr. T
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's already been mentioned, but I'll throw in my experience too. I spent two weeks on wudang mountain. I would liken the temples there to...amusement parks for Chinese tourists. I don't speak mandarin and I didn't dig deeply into Chinese culture, much as I would have liked to, so take my observation for what it is.

 

But that's what I saw. Maybe outside of wudang it's better? Or maybe there are a couple places left? I don't know. But I felt terrible for the monks. The government has only allowed Taoism to flourish because they see tourism dollars. Tell me how much of a practice you would have with BUSES, buses full of Chinese tourists, 8am-5pm (more or less from what I remember), bringing tour groups, led by young men and women with big stuffed animals or flags sticking up from their backpacks, speaking into an amplified microphone, talking to the group. Tourists climbing all over statues and railings, dropping their plastic water bottles and trash wherever they want, taking photos of you (especially if you're western), taking photos of themselves mimicking you, etc.

 

On the other hand, since I was staying on the mountain, I caught some early morning prayers with music and singing that was very moving, and some very nice, quiet nights. I mean, certainly you'd be living a more spiritual existence than you can in daily life in most western places, unless you really know how to make everything part of your cultivation. But my guess is that it would not be what you're expecting, if all the temples are like wudang temples. Probably somewhere around 50%, to completely make up an uneducated number, of the monks time was spent catering to tourists. Loud, disrespectful tourists, for the most part.

 

BUT, do what's in your heart. Find out for yourself. Worst that happens is you find it's not for you, and not what you expected, and you can go on with life not having to wonder "what if?". Best case it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be, or, by making that first leap, you meet people, learn things, and find connections to places where you can still study. Fluent mandarin is probably going to be a prerequisite, if you want a Chinese Taoist to take you under their wing and take the time and effort to teach you. Otherwise you're just another westerner who thinks Chinese culture is cool. Dime a dozen, these days.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Gerard. I was very lucky, in that I happened to email the right person, and they were feeling nice. They recommended me to a friend of theirs who they had grown up with on Wudang, not as priests, but in the martial arts schools since 8 or so years old.

 

The guy had taught in the school, but decided the school was only teaching external kung fu and no real internal arts anymore, so he stopped teaching there. He now only teaches if someone he knows introduces you to him. And the only western diciple he has, he only took because a. he had taken the time to learn Mandarin and b. he was very dedicated and showed it in his practice.

 

The guy wouldn't have taken me as a diciple because I don't speak Mandarin. It's amazing, though, how much lack of skill they'll overlook if you a. speak the language and b. show how dedicated you are.

 

There are just too many people who think "hey I'll just jump into this!". They need to see how serious you are.

 

But it sounds like some monastaries/cultures in other countries are not like this.

 

The schools on Wudang that I saw would take anyone. Half the people there were just "doing something". You know? Not dedicated martial artists. It was just something cool to do with their time. Some were there for 1 or 2 or more years. Just trying to find some meaning in life...but not dedicated to martial arts, meditation, or Chinese culture in general.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is that sad? I'm lost here.

 

Aaron

Hmnn, I'm not a big fan of missionaries. Usual reasons, I'm sure some are genuinely caring, but others seem to look at people as score cards and there's an innate and unearned sense of superiority to them.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmnn, I'm not a big fan of missionaries. Usual reasons, I'm sure some are genuinely caring, but others seem to look at people as score cards and there's an innate and unearned sense of superiority to them.

 

I went to college in Utah. I got my fill of missionaries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
while I cannot say that I am 100% certain I am going to become a Taoist monk in China, that is what I am primarily interested in learning more about from anyone who knows more about this subject.

 

Leaving aside all "spiritual" considerations for a moment I would like to remind you that to live in a country (like China) you need a Visa, and since there is no "monk visa" that I know I guess you have to find a solution to that first of all

 

YM

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is that sad? I'm lost here.

 

Aaron

Is it not sad anytime a gullible native populace gets brainwashed by a subversive, fear-based, ethnomonolithic Trojan Horse virus designed to replace and obliterate all competing grass-roots ideologies - with its own self-serving, culturally-imperialistic set of fabricated mind-control, geopolitical propaganda? :lol:

51xP7xSXn3L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-stic

Bart Ehrman is a sermon, a parable, but of what? He's a best-selling author, a New Testament expert and perhaps a cautionary tale: the fundamentalist scholar who peered so hard into the origins of Christianity that he lost his faith altogether.

 

Once he was a seminarian and graduate of the Moody Bible Institute, a pillar of conservative Christianity.

 

after three decades of research into that divine revelation, Ehrman became an agnostic. What he found in the ancient papyri of the scriptorium was not the greatest story ever told, but the crumbling dust of his own faith.

 

His specialty was the ancient texts that tried to explain what actually happened to Jesus Christ, and how the world's largest religion grew into being after his execution.

 

What he found there began to frighten him.

 

The Bible simply wasn't error-free. The mistakes grew exponentially as he traced translations through the centuries. There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts.

 

"Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament," Ehrman summarizes.

 

Most of these are inconsequential errors in grammar or metaphor. But others are profound. The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark appear to have been added to the text years later -- and these are the only verses in that book that show Christ reappearing after his death.

 

Another critical passage is in 1 John, which explicitly sets out the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). It is a cornerstone of Christian theology, and this is the only place where it is spelled out in the entire Bible -- but it appears to have been added to the text centuries later, by an unknown scribe.

 

For a man who believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God, Ehrman sought the true originals to shore up his faith. The problem: There are no original manuscripts of the Gospels, of any of the New Testament.

 

"The evidence for the belief is that if you look closely at the Bible, at the resurrection, you'll find the evidence for it," he says. "For me, that was the seed of its own destruction. It wasn't there. It isn't there."

 

"If the history of the resurrection of Christ had not really happened, the message . . . according to the authority of the apostle Paul, had to be 'null and void.' "

 

Ehrman slowly came to a horrifying realization: There was no real historical record. It was, he felt, all incense and myth, told by illiterate men and not set down in writing for decades.

 

But I just couldn't believe there was a God in charge of this mess . . . It was so emotionally charged. This whole business of 'the Bible is your life, and anyone who doesn't believe it is going to roast in hell.' "

Smear, scare & conquer?! :D

 

Akhenaten carried out a radical program of religious reform which, for a period of about twenty years, largely supplanted the age-old beliefs and practices of the Egyptian state religion, and deposed its religious hierarchy, headed by the powerful priesthood of Amun at Thebes. For fifteen centuries the Egyptians had worshiped an extended family of gods and goddesses, each of which had its own elaborate system of priests, temples, shrines and rituals. A key feature of these cults was the veneration of images and statues of the gods, which were worshipped in the dark confines of the temples.

 

The pinnacle of this religious hierarchy was the Pharaoh, who was both king and living god, and the administration of the Egyptian kingdom was thus inextricably bound up with, and largely controlled by, the power and influence of the priests and scribes. Akhenaten's reforms cut away both the philosophical and economic bases of priestly power, abolishing the cults of all other deities, and with them the large and lucrative industry of sacrifices and tributes that the priests controlled.

obama-pharaoh.jpg

At the same time, this strengthened the role of the Pharaoh. Dominic Montserrat, analysing the various versions of the hymns to the Aten, argues that all the versions of the hymns focus on the king and suggests that the real innovation is to redefine the relationship of god and king in a way that benefited Akhenaten, quoting the statement of Egyptologist John Baines that "Amarna religion was a religion of god and king, or even of king first and then god."

 

Initially, Akhenaten presented Aten to the Egyptian people as a variant of the familiar supreme deity Amun-Ra (itself the result of an earlier rise to prominence of the cult of Amun, resulting in Amun becoming merged with the sun god Ra), in an attempt to put his ideas in a familiar religious context. Aten is the name given to the solar disc, whereas the full title of Akhenaten's god was Ra-Horus, who rejoices in the horizon in his name of the light which is in the sun disc. (This is the title of the god as it appears on the numerous stelae which were placed to mark the boundaries of Akhenaten's new capital at Akhetaten.)

 

However in the ninth year of his reign Akhenaten declared a more radical version of his new religion by declaring Aten not merely the supreme god, but the only god, and that he, Akhenaten, was the only intermediary between the Aten and his people. He even staged the ritual regicide of Amun, and ordered the defacing of Amun's temples throughout Egypt. Key features of Atenism included a ban on idols and other images of the Aten, with the exception of a rayed solar disc, in which the rays (commonly depicted ending in hands) appear to represent the unseen spirit of Aten. New temples were constructed, in which the Aten was worshipped in the open sunlight, rather than in dark temple enclosures, as the old gods had been.

325px-Aten_disk.jpgofaxxxx_rising_sun_magnet-300x300.jpg

Although idols were banned‚ÄĒeven in people's homes‚ÄĒthese were typically replaced by functionally equivalent representations of Akhenaten and his family venerating the Aten, and receiving the ankh (breath of life) from him. The radicalisation of Year 9 (including spelling Aten phonetically instead of using the rayed solar disc) may be due to a determination on the part of Akhenaten to dispel a probable misconception among the common people that Aten was really a type of sun god like Ra. Instead, the idea was reinforced that such representations were representations above all of concepts‚ÄĒof Aten's universal presence‚ÄĒnot of physical beings or things.

 

The early stage of Atenism appears a kind of henotheism familiar in Egyptian religion, but the later form suggests a proto-monotheism.

Power from the People??!!!! :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TynFaEQj_Ys

 

As far as Taoist qigong masters - you are often more likely to find them running healing clinics than monasteries, I think. Although the really hardcore neidan masters might often be hidden as hermits?

Edited by vortex
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the information everyone, I will certainly take to heart what has been said. I've worried that the spiritual situation in China might not be that great in lieu of the trends of the 20th century. It seems much of the entire modern world is in a sort of spiritual decline or crisis where materialism is becoming the predominate paradigm and spirituality, especially of the higher order of esotericism and metaphysics, seems to be in decline.

 

As of right now, I basically have 4 primary spiritual traditions that I am interested in that can be lumped into 2 basic groups. Group 1 is Zen/Chan and Taoism, which I see in most ways to be compatible. I've long had an interest in Chinese culture and have had desires to teach English abroad, particularly in China. I figured I would use the visa from teaching English as a first step into China and go from there, seeing what I could find. I do like the idea of learning Mandarin compared to the language related to the other traditions (more in a second) and I also admit I have a particular love of the guqin which I'd like to learn, so that is yet another benefit to going to China for my interests.

 

The other group is Tantra, both Buddhist (be it Tibetan Buddhism or Shingon) and Hindu (Kashmir Saivist Tradition.) Now it may seem that these traditions are all quite different, but as I said I adhere to the Traditionalist school of thought and believe that each of these traditions are capable of imparting to their devoted followers the supreme realization or enlightenment. Within this second group, the main cons I see are that I'd have to go to India to study and though I've never been to India, I've heard plenty of horror stories in relation to the amount of poverty, filth, spiritual con artists, and frankly danger (malaria, rabid animals, etc.) Now one can't live one's life through the eyes of fear, but I still take that into consideration. Also learning Tibetan seems more difficult than Mandarin and also much more limited in application since really it can only be used for speaking with Tibetans and for Buddhism. Finally there is the option of Shingon, but I know Japan also has gone through heavy secularization and seems not so easy for Westerners to move to.

 

That is the gist of my situation and dilemma. For now I spend my time studying all I can and doing various practices in an attempt to discern a path or tradition to devote myself to entirely, but there is a lot to consider as I just explained. If anyone has any further remarks, either on the state of Taoism or these other traditions, feel free to share. I appreciate the dialogue.

Edited by Kongming

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep a look out for opportunity but don't forget to grow and thrive where you are. Develop a practice so that your worthy when the time comes. Keep asking questions, make connections, read books from authors who've traveled the road you want to go on. I highly recommend the book 'The Gods Drink Whiskey', about an American Professor of Buddism who travels to Cambodia to teach there. Don't let the tittle throw you, the writing and insights are brilliant. 'Iron and Silk' is also good, but from a more martial arts viewpoint of an American in China and its getting a bit dated and China is changing so quickly.

 

He doesn't post here often lately but Cameron has been quite a world traveler. You can PM him and if he looks in might be able to give hints on teaching and learning in China.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've long had an interest in Chinese culture and have had desires to teach English abroad, particularly in China. I figured I would use the visa from teaching English as a first step into China and go from there, seeing what I could find.

 

Are you white?

Do you have a degree?

Do you have a TEFL?

 

YM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is much to be said in response to many of the posts here, and I'll try to cover as much as I can, in no particular order.

 

  1. YMWong is absolutely right, your first concern is the visa situation. His question about whiteness and having a TEFL cert implies this: if you have both of those things, getting into China on a teacher's visa is very, very easy. If you are not white, you almost certainly need a TEFL; if you are white, you might not. Or, you could get a student visa through a Mandarin school and work part-time--most likely, again, as a teacher--while you learn language and pursue spiritual interests in your spare time. There is no monk visa, though, and I doubt there will be any time soon. If you put in a lot of years in China, other doors might open to you (ie, the owner of a company hooks you up or you get married), but you will almost certainly need to know Chinese first.
  2. As you can already see in point 1, learning the language is extremely important. Knowing Mandarin opens many doors, partly because it shows your dedication, partly because the fact is that one needs the language to transmit the knowledge of Daoism (as to whether cultivation skill can be transmitted without using the language, there are those who say that they developed skill in China without being able to speak the language. I cannot comment, as I know Chinese, and quite possibly have no skill!)
  3. Wudang. The actual temples in Wudang are legally forbidden from allowing foreigners to live inside, and are strict about this rule, though, as it is China, I can imagine that exceptions have been made before. Almost all of the foreigners there are students at various kung-fu academies, of which there are many, and within which, from what I understand, it is unlikely that you will find a real transmission of Daoist cultivation practice. A story: a friend of mine is a very talented martial artist from Europe who spent about a year on Wudang. At some point his girlfriend wanted to visit, but she is not a martial artist. Fortunately, the website of his school said that she could come and pay to learn Taoist meditation and qigong instead of martial arts. She paid her tuition and traveled halfway around the world but was surprised to be taught only martial arts. Gradually her frustration grew, as, after all, the website explicitly said that she would be taught to meditate, and this is what she paid her Euros for. Finally, she made an appointment to talk to the teacher via translator. She showed him a copy of The Secret of the Golden Flower and, from what I understand, very sternly told the teacher that this is what she came to China to learn. He was very uncomfortable and promised that her education in Daoist meditation would begin the very next day. The meeting ended... The teacher never spoke to her again for the rest of her stay. She learned nothing. The teacher in question is one of the most famous on Wudang. From what I understand from having spoken to students from other academies, including Chinese youths who spent much of their teens there, spiritual cultivation is not on any curriculum. Actual internal martial skill, if it is taught there, is probably very hard to come by. All of that said, however, I add this: there are some Daoists on Wudang who are regarded as having real achievement, for whatever hearsay is worth. Actually getting to study with one is no guarantee to anybody and many, many factors would come into play if you were to be able to. A foreigner on a quick visit who has no Chinese would be very, very lucky to meet such a teacher.
  4. The White Cloud Monastery in Beijing. Nowadays they are indeed offering Daoist education to foreigners of all colors. Don't get too excited. The training is to become a ritual master. Traditionally, this training can take years or even decades, and requires one to be able to directly interact with the Heavens if ritual is to be real. The Westerners who come to this new program get to be certified ritual masters in just one or two easy weeks, and they don't even speak Chinese. Sooner or later graduates will probably start to show up on this forum, I imagine. As for the actual monks there, we are talking about a big mix, ranging from those who brazenly flaunt every last stricture, even within the temple walls, to a few who might be true masters. Whether in Beijing, on Wudang, or anywhere else where tourists run amok, you will have a hard time finding a teacher--though, of course, it is not impossible. Learn the language and get ready to stay in China for a lot of years if you want the possibility to be realistic.
  5. ChiDragon speaks his typical nonsense when he says that only foreigners frequent Daoist temples. There are no shortage of Chinese who are there, including to pray, solitic ritual services, ask advice of the adepts, make donations, and so forth.
  6. There are less famous and nearly-unknown, out of the way places where it is reputed that real cultivation in a monastic environment takes place. I have stayed in one such place, and it was very different from a famous holy mountain or a busy, big city temple. Getting an in at such a place, as well as staying there, of course requires many factors, again including visas, language ability, recommendations, fate, etc.
  7. Beware the many spiritual charlatans, who range from those who might harm you outright to those who will simply waste your time and/or money
  8. Beware people, including those in Daoist and Buddhist raiments, who will view your foreignness as nothing more than a tool to be leveraged in their walks towards fame and money, and who will brazenly use you
  9. Some Westerners who wear the clothes of Daoists and claim lineage literally bought their lineages. Be aware of this fact if you seek the advice of Western Daoists

Another story. Another European friend of mine with fluent Chinese and many years' experience living in China found himself, via introduction, friendly with the abbot of a Quanzhen temple on a lesser holy mountain. Trips back and forth solidified his relationship with them and they helped him find a visa and allowed him to live on mountain. He had to teach English in return, but got to live with the Daoists. He found that they spend their days feasting with various local politicos after they are swept off the mountain in Mercedes Benz and Audi motorcades; drinking and smoking cigarettes; and playing Go (apparently they are really good at Go haha). They openly scorned practitioners who have anything but wuwei practices, and said that the only real key to Daoism is relaxing and being in the moment, at all times. Therefore, he was labeled as uptight and attached to false notions of cultivation, and later recieved a hearty slap on the back when he finally loosened up and started smoking with them. He told me that on the mountain he realized how Laozi came up with the idea of wuwei; it was because Laozi was a rich man living in the upper crust of his society who spent all his days wining and dining with the wealthy to-do of his time, and naturally enough developed a philosophy useful to a man of leisure. My friend has dressed in Daoist clothes and been introduced as a monk at banquets, even though he is not a monk. He asked his teacher to teach him in the way that Wang Liping is said to have practiced in Open the Dragon Gate, and his teacher said that nobody wants to practice like that any more. This friend has also gotten to travel around China and meet various people said to be masters, some of whom he hopes will be able to open the door to real Daoist cultivation to him. Will he find what he is looking for? I don't know. Is life as a foreigner interested in spirituality in China riddled with complexity, especially whilst one is seeking? Yes, absolutely.

Edited by Walker
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This friend has also gotten to travel around China and meet various people said to be masters, some of whom he hopes will be able to open the door to real Daoist cultivation to him. Will he find what he is looking for? I don't know. Is life as a foreigner interested in spirituality in China riddled with complexity, especially whilst one is seeking? Yes, absolutely.

 

Great post. It sounds like a minefield over there trying to find someone to train with.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post. It sounds like a minefield over there trying to find someone to train with.

Yeah, sounds like you should have some kind of semi solid reputable connection before you leave, otherwise you're rolling dice as to whether the place you start at is legitimate. The good new is we have people here who have first hand experience.

Thank you YM, Walker and others.

 

I'd add: looks can be deceiving works both ways. The perfectly dressed monk who speaks perfect Kung fu-nese, may be a recent import from San Francisco, and the elderly janitor could be a monk who survived the Maoist purge.

 

I trust Michael Winn at the Healing Tao USA, he may be a good source for legitimate leads in China. He leads trips there yearly. Not that I've gone on any of them, but I've seen the slide show and lecture.

Edited by thelerner
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you white? Do you have a degree? Do you have a TEFL? YM

 

1. Yes, as white as they come (stereotypical Anglo-Saxon)

2. Nope

3. Plan on getting a CELTA as soon as I can save enough money

 

---

 

@Walker. Thank you so much for your informative reply, it seems you've really covered most of what I was wondering about. I don't speak Mandarin aside from some basic survival level stuff, though of course I'd be willing to learn and confident in my ability to do so if the motivation is strong enough. I've worried about spiritual charlatans as I know they are out there, but I am fairly good at intuitively reading people so I hope that would help me in this regard.

 

Overall it sounds like finding an authentic Taoist spiritual environment is, much as I expected, not so easy and fraught with various complications. Honestly from what has been said it sounds the situation is quite bleak, especially for a foreigner like me who would have to do so much, including learning a whole language, just to have a (slim?) chance at being initiated into anything remotely authentic.

 

That being the case, I realize this is a Taoist forum, but would anybody have anything to say in regards to either Tibetan Buddhism or Shingon Buddhism? I know India has a 10 year visa available for Americans, so it could be quite possible to go to Dharamsala or elsewhere in India to study authentic Vajryana. Japan I imagine would be the most difficult to obtain a visa, especially since you need a degree to teach English in Japan (as far as I am aware.)

 

Of all my options--Taoism, Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon, Tibetan Buddhism, Japanese Zen, Shingon Buddhism--which has the most potential for actual growth and could be practical for a white Westerner to be accepted in?

 

To be honest, I am most interested in Tantric Buddhism, but I am not so sure I'd want to live in India (unless I am mistaken about the unpleasant nature of doing so.) I don't want to sound like the picky Westerner, truly I am quite Stoic and not afraid of lowering my current living conditions, but again I've heard plenty of horror stories about India. As to Shingon, well as I said Japan doesn't seem like the easiest place to go and I am not sure how accepting of Westerners they are.

 

Hopefully in time, being guided by intuition and further study, and with a bit of luck I will discover where I belong and become immersed in some serious sadhana. Any further input will be appreciated, and thanks again everyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Yes, as white as they come (stereotypical Anglo-Saxon)

2. Nope

3. Plan on getting a CELTA as soon as I can save enough money

 

Japan I imagine would be the most difficult to obtain a visa, especially since you need a degree to teach English in Japan (as far as I am aware.)

 

In China too, according to the law you need a degree to obtain a real Visa

 

Among all the traditions you are interested in, and they are a lot (too many IMHO), I would say that Tibetan Buddhism has the greater amount of good teachers overseas. Just find one such group near to you and start to get acquainted but don't look too far, just take things easy and walk step by step. You will realize that most of the pre-conceived ideas you have might be totally wrong so, on the way, you will make HUGE adjustments to your plans :)

 

Best

 

YM

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites