thelerner

What Daoist religious practice might the philosphical daoist/cultivator benefit from?

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

This is worthy of repeating (emphasis added by me):

 

15 hours ago, freeform said:

The Daoist view is that human kind can’t begin to fathom the full complexity of the ultimate truth... so there’s no point in trying to... but you can study its actions and you can certainly gain insight from it using tools such as your body, your consciousness and your intellect and the Yi Jing..

 

No, human kind can't fathom the full complexity of ultimate truth, but we can fathom its approximate complexity. This is the role that the I Ching plays. It reminds us that we are floating in a river of forces that we cannot control, and helps us to orient ourselves with the flow rather than fight it. This lesson, regardless of one's religion, is invaluable. It helps ground us so we don't sink into despair and nihilism over our state in the cosmos.

 

Edited by Lost in Translation
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, OldDog said:

 

But most agree that the important part lies in the interpretation of the outcome.

 

So for practical purposes. No, it is not important.

Because it is totally random and so abstract that you can put any meaning in it, thus making any situation meaningful and valuable? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Miffymog said:

As for the Yi Jing I hear that you should use yarrow stalks instead of coins, but I'm not sure why, is it important?

 

According to my teachers - definitely yarrow stalks. For two reasons -

1. sorting the stalks in a calm rhythmic way creates the right quality of mind.

2. Coins skew the distribution in some mathematical way that I don’t understand fully :)

 

As to doing a post on Yi Jing - a few people are interested, so I’ll try to put one together when I have time. I’ll have to draw diagrams and all that jazz :)

Edited by freeform
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding what else one can bring through from religious practice into cultivation...

 

shrine work can be beneficial (as long as you don’t go too over the top)... but it may attract some ‘unwanted attention’ - so that’s worth being mindful of.

 

But even just having a few statues of deities that interest you - pay your respects to the qualities they represent (rather than personify them and pray to them etc).

 

You can pay your respect with bowing or prostrations and some incense. You empty yourself and demonstrate complete humility. And the quality of your chosen deity may resonate with a seed of it in yourself, giving it some power...

 

For a cultivator this should only represent a very minor part of their practice though...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I make a difference between using the I Ching as an oracle and considering the I Ching as a system of the world (or rather as a general model of change). Using the I Ching as an oracle is certainly possible, but has nothing to do with the supposed quality of the I Ching as a general model of change. One could just as well use the Tarot or something like it. The value of the I Ching as an oracle depends on the mysterious multi-interpretable (or may I say oracular) character of the text and symbols. Using the I Ching stimulates the unconscious mind to come up with (to our conscious mind) surprising viewpoints. And using the repetitive and time consuming method of the yarrow stalks brings in a meditative atmosphere.

 

Edited by wandelaar
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wandalaar make a good point here. The value of the Yijing is in working with it and allowing it to open up your understanding and show possibilities.

 

There are a number of ways to take the Yijing. I should say that my use is as a source text of wisdom. I do not often consult the Yi as an Oracle. For one, I am not very good at interpretation. I just don't approach looking for answers to specific questions. But, I do have interest in the mechanics of transformation and in understanding the archetypical images present. All of this is something I should spend more time with.

 

The one approach I feel strongly is not a good approach is to look for the Yi to give you answers to questions all wrapped up with a tidy little bow. If someone or some thing gives you the answers, then you are not really invested in the answer and probably will not learn and grow from your experiences.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

Because it is totally random and so abstract that you can put any meaning in it, thus making any situation meaningful and valuable? 

 

As I mention above, I do not tend to consult the Yi as an Oracle often. I think it can be all too easy to get wrapped up in the mechanics of determining a hexagram and investing to much in what the reading might be saying. Rather, I use it as a tool to stimulate thought and reflection about the possibilities of any given situation. There are no absolutes.

 

To put faith in the Yi as an Oracle, at some point you have to accept that there is a mystical connection between you, the question being asked and the process of consultation, such that the result relates directly. I think this is why some place such emphasis on the using the stalks and setting up consultation in a way as to enhance the mood and assure the connection. At the other end of the spectrum, if a mystical connection exists, then it exists ... and the Oracle will work through whatever method is used to provide an appropriate result. So, I say use as an Oracle is quite personal.

 

I think it is wrong to think in terms of randomness. In the west, we tend to think of randomness as the test for validation of process. In consulting the Oracle you don't just want any random result that could apply equally to anyone or any situation randomly. You want a result that pertains to your question. The result may be ... likely be ... abstract. In which case it is up to you to find meaning in the abstraction. This is what I mean by stimulation of thought and reflection.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, OldDog said:

The one approach I feel strongly is not a good approach is to look for the Yi to give you answers to questions

 

Yeah that’s how people often approach it. ‘Will this business deal make me lots of money?’ type questions. That as you say isn’t a great approach - the answers will not be accurate because the frame of reference is not on the level of this practice.

 

You can certainly ask for insight around ‘worldly’ and practical things. You might ask for insight regarding that business deal and you’ll find patterns and connections that you haven’t been mindful of before.

 

The way I’ve been taught to consult the Yi Jing is by taking a few years to work on quite inconsequential moments in time (or at least inconsequential to me)...  No big questions around big personal decisions or anything like that. I’m still very much at that stage and my practice of Yi Jing is certainly not daily. Later I was told to use it to gain insight around my cultivation...

 

12 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

Because it is totally random and so abstract that you can put any meaning in it

 

It does seem to be that way at first glance. I was certainly not a fan. But one of my teachers often teaches through the Yi Jing (and no words 🙈) so I needed to learn a bit at least. There are two different ways of reading it - one more of a personal interpretation of Yin and yang interactions in time and one using a text (or several) for reference. Both are useful. But they’re not as abstract as you’d think. Some guas are strongly auspicious, some completely negative etc.

Edited by freeform

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Because there are so many Taoist gods so people think that Taoism is a religion; in fact, those gods are originally  humans , it is only because they can refine their qi  into Shen , which  appear to people as  supernatural abilities , that they then become gods and worshiped .

Besides, the time duration of these gods' life  stretched once Shen is attained , so  they live very long ,even forever, therefore  people  also call them "immortals" .

 

As a saying tells us : "What is called Shen is something  not entangled by yin and yang"("陰陽不測謂之神")  ,and beause  the balance and struggle between yin and yang implies change,  which also means  time ,so Shen is also  changes-proof and time-proof . "Religious " Taoism gives philosophers unlimited energy , wisdom and forever life that  hardly can they think of   , dream of.

Edited by exorcist_1699
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, exorcist_1699 said:

Because there are so many Taoist gods so people think that Taoism is a religion; in fact, those gods are originally  humans , it is only because they can refine their qi  into Shen , which  appear to people as  supernatural abilities , that they then become gods and worshiped .

Besides, the time arrow of these gods' life  shrunk once Shen is attained , so  they live very long ,even forever, therefore  people  also call them "immortals" .

 

As a saying tells us : "What is called Shen is something  goes beyond yin and yang"("陰陽不測謂之神")  , so Shen is what beyond changes and time.

 

In my opinion, not all of the gods was a person.
 

Example is Tai Shang Lao Jun. It is a honorific name, given to 'Something' that is the highest being, the oldest one, as well as the most honored ones. What is the name? People don't know. Thus honorific name was given.

 

Tai Shang Lao Jun is already there, before anything. Why is there statue /  picture of TLSJ? 
It is man made, people use the figure of Laozi to represent TSLJ. Because there is a belief that Laozi is the incarnation of TSLJ.

 

-----------------------------------

Another example is Nuwa.

There is a legend says that Nuwa was the one who made people live in the earth.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 24. 3. 2019 at 9:55 AM, freeform said:

 

According to my teachers - definitely yarrow stalks. For two reasons -

1. sorting the stalks in a calm rhythmic way creates the right quality of mind.

2. Coins skew the distribution in some mathematical way that I don’t understand fully :)

 

As to doing a post on Yi Jing - a few people are interested, so I’ll try to put one together when I have time. I’ll have to draw diagrams and all that jazz :)

Bump @freeform :)

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Pero said:

Bump @freeform :)

 

:lol:

 

I kind of hoped this would be forgotten about 😊

 

The way I apply the Yi Jing is to do with my training... the trigrams will have specific internal qualities - the changing lines will represent specific transformations... 

 

But to explain all this in a way that would make sense would be simply too much for me at the moment... just the word count would approach the length a book... and I suspect it wouldn’t be of much use to most.

 

So I think I’ll just focus on what is most useful to the most number of people here - the mechanics of Sung, Ting and the internal body... as well as the pitfalls and errors along the way :)

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 24/03/2019 at 4:36 AM, Lost in Translation said:

This is worthy of repeating (emphasis added by me):

 

 

No, human kind can't fathom the full complexity of ultimate truth, but we can fathom its approximate complexity. This is the role that the I Ching plays. It reminds us that we are floating in a river of forces that we cannot control, and helps us to orient ourselves with the flow rather than fight it. This lesson, regardless of one's religion, is invaluable. It helps ground us so we don't sink into despair and nihilism over our state in the cosmos.

 

 

The ultimate truth, if that's what you want to call it, is simple, but it may appear complex, and it can be experienced which is what is central to the teachings of Daoism :)  The I-Ching directs us to the flow of energy, the Dao de Jing directs us to the stillness of what this energy belongs to.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Religion is something one sets aside as practice overtakes it.

 

But the archetypes and Being-ness one recognized requires no religion but may look like it in devotion to purity in any array of colors it shows itself in.

 

At such a point any Saint or Sage or High Symbol of Being-ness or “God” brings one’s bow to form. 

 

It is a time whereby no measure of self sense can compare to the most high immeasurable - a bow to this is both facing the unbearable and an approach to the glorious.

 

On does not need belief or to even know of the

symbol/person/saint/sage/god/‘s

teaching or mythology.

 

It’s like kissing the ground

Edited by Spotless
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Studying the Yijing is really not a religious act, even though it may help with the study/practice of religion and even sometimes lead to places that, in the west, seem to fall within the purview of religion.
  • Even the most deeply religious Daoists I know range between not-at-all-familiar and just-barely-familiar with the Yijing, with just a couple of exceptions.
  • A common piece of advice from religious Daoists is to 懺悔/chanhui, which you could translate as "confess," although it is hard to hear that word without its Catholic connotations jumping to mind in English.
    • The first character means to think over your past transgressions against others and express wholehearted, sincere contrition for the harm you caused. You need not seek out the individuals you are thinking of in order for this to work, because if you are truly sincere, then the qi of your intent will create a response.
      • Just as is the advice in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, you should not seek out a person you have harmed if doing so might hurt them more and unless you are very certain you are capable of making utterly unconditional amends.
    • The second character means to vow to never repeat your mistakes again in the future, and then to do your sincere best to live up to your vow.
      • In Daoism, not only is there is no need to rely upon a "confessor" acting in a role like a Catholic priest, but furthermore I am not aware of teachers are in the habit of "taking confession" from their students. Certainly in some instances a student seeking advice from a Daoist teacher may spontaneously decide to chanhui in his/her teacher's presence or even be advised to do so if the teacher senses that the student would benefit greatly from doing so. Nevertheless, chanhui can be done and, and probably usually is. Again, if it is done with real sincerity, then it will certainly cause subtle ripples in your life and Daoist practice.
  • Another good piece of advice is to 回向/huixiang, which in English is often called "dedication of merit" by Buddhists, who happen to use the exact same word in Chinese and offer the exact same teaching. One can find specific prayers for dedicating merit (they are called 回向文/huixiangwen) at the end of some Daoist texts when they are printed in folios for liturgical use and/or chanting. But one need not use specific prayers. Sufficient is simply reflecting upon what good fortune it is to have encountered these teachings in your life and having the time and freedom to study and practice them, and then to dedicate any merit ("positive vibes," if you like) that you developed by studying and practicing to all beings in existence and/or all beings to whom you owe debts and/or all beings with whom you have affinity. You would then also vow to use the wisdom and ability you gain from studying and practicing Daoist teachings to help other beings.
    • As with chanhui, if your huixiang is truly sincere, then the changes you effect in your qi cannot but influence your life and practice going forward.
  • Eat less meat.
    • Daoism has long understood that there is strong negative energy connected to the slaughtering of animals. For this reason, 正一/Zhengyi Daoists spend periods of time as vegetarians before rituals, and also ban hunting, fishing, and slaughtering of animals in the vicinity of certain rituals. 全真/Quanzhen monks and nuns as a rule are lifelong vegetarians if not vegans.
      • I am not suggesting that one must or even should totally abstain from eating animals in order to pursue the Daoist path. But, if you are looking for advice from the religious tradition that anybody can pick up and use starting today, here you are. Your beleaguered colon, your wallet, and your local rain forest may even thank you for substantially lowering your meat intake.
        • Those who would argue that vegetarianism in Daoism comes from Buddhism would do well to remember that it was a Chinese emperor who promulgated the law that made Buddhist monks and nuns cease eating meat; prior to that it was an omnivorous tradition, going all the way back to the Buddha (and forward all the way to Buddhists today in Tibetan and Southeast Asian traditions).

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/26/2019 at 12:18 AM, exorcist_1699 said:

Because there are so many Taoist gods so people think that Taoism is a religion; in fact, those gods are originally  humans , it is only because they can refine their qi  into Shen , which  appear to people as  supernatural abilities , that they then become gods and worshiped .

Besides, the time duration of these gods' life  stretched once Shen is attained , so  they live very long ,even forever, therefore  people  also call them "immortals" .

 

As a saying tells us : "What is called Shen is something  not entangled by yin and yang"("陰陽不測謂之神")  ,and beause  the balance and struggle between yin and yang implies change,  therefore time ,so Shen is changes-proof and time-proof . "Religious " Taoism gives philosophers unlimited energy , wisdom and forever life that  hardly can they think of   , dream of.

This needs to be repeated, Great post exorcist 1699.

Taoist religion is not what a westerner would consider a religion but with Taoism it contains all religions and surpasses them. If one chooses to become a Taoist priest in a linage the scriptures contain the highest philosophy and methods of becoming an immortal.

 

Internal alchemy, Immortality training outside of the temple is very watered down version and contains errors or is just plain Chi Gung glorified. So if interested in the religious practice which is not separated from philosophy being one in the same one must go to a temple, not a school or going rouge (having no master) 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 25/05/2019 at 5:22 AM, freeform said:

 

I kind of hoped this would be forgotten about

 

Haha :P

 

Well, I'm happy this thread resurfaced due to the bump. I have some questions on this for my Sifu this week so I'll drop my two cents soon.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/26/2019 at 12:33 AM, Wu Ming Jen said:

This needs to be repeated, Great post exorcist 1699.

Taoist religion is not what a westerner would consider a religion but with Taoism it contains all religions and surpasses them. If one chooses to become a Taoist priest in a linage the scriptures contain the highest philosophy and methods of becoming an immortal.

 

Internal alchemy, Immortality training outside of the temple is very watered down version and contains errors or is just plain Chi Gung glorified. So if interested in the religious practice which is not separated from philosophy being one in the same one must go to a temple, not a school or going rouge (having no master) 

 

Thanks. Taoism  is something a mixture of philosophy, Taoism and science, it is difficult to define  it  in Western terms .

The  key is the ability to initialize  qi , then upgrade it to shen, then all doubts are clarified and solved . And, a clear , full picture of what human intelligent is  appears to us ...;  people will  no  longer  be entangled by those  differences between    Buddhism, science and  Taoism .

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 23/03/2019 at 2:48 AM, thelerner said:

For people more knowledgeable then me.  Any religious Daoist practices that would benefit other cultivators?

 

I don't see others creating things like altars.  A major part of religious Daoism.  I should probably re-read Brock Silvers book "Manual of..Daism' (I forget the actual tittle).. which broke down many parts of the religion.  Including the practices done, before the practices inorder to get you into the proper state of mind/body/worthiness.

 

On 23/03/2019 at 3:38 AM, wandelaar said:

I have small statues of Buddha, Lao tzu and Confucius. Not to pray to them, but as a reminder of the human (not supernatural) wisdom they brought to this world. One doesn't have to be religious to recognize the value of some spiritual accomplishments. Further I think that simple meditation (just sitting/mindfulness) is generally healthy.

 

Aaaaand I'm back, round, full circle.

 

It was a tricky question to ask Sifu, via my teacher and translator. They had difficulty in the first place understanding my concept of "Gods", even though to a westerner's mind, that's what I see in Taoist temples.

 

Like many others have already said in this thread, they do have many, many Gods (and a main three) They just don't think the same way we do. My questions just seemed too detailed - I don't think they've ever had anyone as pedantic and annoying as me asking like this haha.

 

But Sifu explained that for people like us, we only really need to confide in, and be thankful to Laozi, for giving us the doctrine.

 

Statues and shrines are not essential, as our idea of worship derives from Abrahamic religions anyway, and it would be a bit OTT. But if you want to build an alter, burn incense and pay your respects, you're more than welcome :)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Rites of some sort help to slow down and make real in the gross physical our wanted - intended - exercise of connection to the subtle energies and more hidden fine high levels of being.

 

Rites also signify an awareness that the two are not exclusive - that Light is All and Everything - including dirt and incense and sweat - it’s in a sense being in non-denial of one’s humanity.

 

Like saying a prayer of thanks for one’s food prior to eating. The consideration that the higher is providing the lower - and additionally that there is no higher or lower - neither is more real than the other - but an affirmation that just because it is not “in your face” does not mean it does not exist.

 

It is an affirmation that some “otherness” that is not apart from us is clearly and unmistakably the essence of the Light - and we are speaking to it and in it as it. 

 

 

Edited by Spotless
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Being in non-denial of ones humanity - nail hit on the head Spots!

 

Being in non-denial of ones own existance, place and how fluid these points of reference really are.

I’m still somewhere between thinking that there is no magic and no supernatural, that we can be both wrong and right simultaneously in our more or less fine tuned perception of whatever this is. And yet there is that whole bunch of Other that is something and no-thing. It’s as if materialism is the answer as long as it does not exclude things that are usually thought of as belonging to a non materialist scope. Have cake, eat it, dont eat it, keep it.

 

Does it even matter in the end?

 

There was this show i was watching yesterday about Tjernobyl and the accident there, a scene where a soldier explains his realization after killing a man for the first time and i’ll try my best to paraphrase how it resonated with me:

 

You dont recognize yourself anymore, thinking you will never be you again after such an act. Then the next day you’re still you. Same old you. After a while you come to realize it was that you all along, that very same you and you never realized it, never knew it was there all along.

 

Awareness of ones own humanity, you have to live with it. Even if you become an immortal or shen, xiang, whathaveyou you are still. You are and You are not because that You is just smoke and mirrors. Fix as it can seem it’s just a vain misconception. And upon that hitting you in a visceral sense you can see and be the Other also, but it makes this reality of being human ever more real. Then it unfolds.

 

Currently i deal a lot with asking direct questions and pointing out, alarmingly often, that the answer i recieve is not an answer. ”Will you be in X-town on the 5th of this month?” is an impossible question to answer. No one answers this with a simple yes or no, rather exchange their answer for a statement and/or a counter-request. Why? I have no clue.

I suspect it has to do with trying to order the world into comprehensibility without losing control, or rather without realizing the brittleness of ”reality” as we know it.

 

Whoops... i digress. I’ll post it either way, maybe there is something here.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites