Raindancer

When does one "become" a taoist?

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Raindancer said:

Thank you for the advice, then I will focus on Tai Chi for now.

 

I live in a relatively small town, I plan on moving (to the countryside but it will be close to a large city), but if I want in life lessons I can't choose the style of Tai Chi (I find a total of two places in my town, none of them mention Chen). I have noticed there being quite a few Tai Chi videos on youtube, I guess that is not ideal, but maybe it is good enough for now? Do you (or anyone else who might read this) know any good Tai Chi teachers who post on youtube?

 

There are exceptions to every rule, and so it is that sometimes you may find real masters or adepts living in small towns.  I think if you're moving it's an excellent opportunity to check out those teachers in your town and go to some classes because there is no commitment yet.  It would be a good way to get into it and take a look at it.  All teachers and classes have different personalities so try for one where it looks like everyone is having a good time learning.

 

It is definitely a bad idea to try to learn tai chi without a teacher, because it requires a lot of feedback and corrections to get it right.  Without a teacher tai chi is a guaranteed disaster.

 

On the other had a lot of chi kung is simple enough to learn well enough to derive benefit from it from videos.  It depends on your goals.  For the purpose of becoming one with the concepts of the Way then tai chi is good.  Moving chi kung is good for cultivating health but won't necessarily inform you much about the principles of Taoism.  If you find a chi kung teacher who talks a lot or who teaches visualizing things in your body then run away! 

 

When you move near the big city and become interested in some schools there you can always ask about them on the forum here.  Everyone here is eager to pass judgement on other forms.  Also you could tell which city you are moving near and there is a chance some here may know of some good schools in that city.

Edited by Starjumper
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Also, Bagua is very good for both of those goals, and it is complicated enough so that most of its teachers should be 'real'.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Starjumper said:

 

There are exceptions to every rule, and so it is that sometimes you may find real masters or adepts living in small towns.  I think if you're moving it's an excellent opportunity to check out those teachers in your town and go to some classes because there is no commitment yet.  It would be a good way to get into it and take a look at it.  All teachers and classes have different personalities so try for one where it looks like everyone is having a good time learning.

 

It is definitely a bad idea to try to learn tai chi without a teacher, because it requires a lot of feedback and corrections to get it right.  Without a teacher tai chi is a guaranteed disaster.

 

On the other had a lot of chi kung is simple enough to learn well enough to derive benefit from it from videos.  It depends on your goals.  For the purpose of becoming one with the concepts of the Way then tai chi is good.  Moving chi kung is good for cultivating health but won't necessarily inform you much about the principles of Taoism.  If you find a chi kung teacher who talks a lot or who teaches visualizing things in your body then run away! 

 

When you move near the big city and become interested in some schools there you can always ask about them on the forum here.  Everyone here is eager to pass judgement on other forms.  Also you could tell which city you are moving near and there is a chance some here may know of some good schools in that city.

 

Thank you for all the advice once again!

 

Looking closer at what I have to choose from in this city, there only seems to be one active teacher that teach Tai Chi (a type called 13 form), which he teach alongside Qigong, he seems to have learnt both from Mantac Chia and his students. Maybe it would be alright for now? (or rather, the autumn season, there's nothing now)

 

Me moving won't happen until 2020 or 2021, and I'm not yet sure which city I'll be close to, but when I am sure, I'll make sure to ask here if anyone knows any good teacher to turn to!

 

I've never heard of Bagua before, and I can't seem to find any teachers on that when I search on google.

Edited by Raindancer

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Hi Raindancer


In reply to your question,  I would say that you could even be a Daoist without being aware of it. Just to illustrate, a pronouncedly Daoist forum member (who is sadly no longer with us) had a strong perception of me as a Daoist as well, while others prefer to see me as a Hermetist - and to myself, I simply am what I am.


And I definitely don't agree that not having any wishes is a requirement for calling yourself a Daoist. Wishes are natural - as a matter of fact, a being that wouldn't desire anything also wouldn't survive very long.


And the central tenet of Daoism (at least the way I understand it) is being in accordance with nature in general,  and with your own in particular. 

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16 minutes ago, Michael Sternbach said:

Hi Raindancer


In reply to your question,  I would say that you could even be a Daoist without being aware of it. Just to illustrate, a pronouncedly Daoist forum member (who is sadly no longer with us) had a strong perception of me as a Daoist as well, while others prefer to see me as a Hermetist - and to myself, I simply am what I am.


And I definitely don't agree that not having any wishes is a requirement for calling yourself a Daoist. Wishes are natural - as a matter of fact, a being that wouldn't desire anything also wouldn't survive very long.


And the central tenet of Daoism (at least the way I understand it) is being in accordance with nature in general,  and with your own in particular. 

 

Thank you for your reply! I can see what you mean, and it makes perfect sense to me.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Raindancer said:

Looking closer at what I have to choose from in this city, there only seems to be one active teacher that teach Tai Chi (a type called 13 form), which he teach alongside Qigong, he seems to have learnt both from Mantac Chia and his students. Maybe it would be alright for now? (or rather, the autumn season, there's nothing now)

 

Please stay far far away from anything* associated with Mantak chia.  He is the worst of all the money grubbing fakes.  He has made a lot of money by hurting a lot of people.  I had a detailed description of him in my personal subforum, but it looks like someone removed it.

 

You should wander afield here in the forum, do a little search for bagua and tai chi with the search option.  Also, you can get a good idea of the different kinds of Bagua on Youtube.

 

* Except for the six healing sounds

 

EDIT:  I did delete that post about Moretalk, I guess I was thinking it would be good to leave it alone as a form of population control.

Edited by Starjumper
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4 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

 

Please stay far far away from anything* associated with Mantak chia.  He is the worst of all the money grubbing fakes.  He has made a lot of money by hurting a lot of people.  I had a detailed description of him in my personal subforum, but it looks like someone removed it.

 

You should wander afield here in the forum, do a little search for bagua and tai chi with the search option.  Also, you can get a good idea of the different kinds of Bagua on Youtube.

 

* Except for the six healing sounds

 

Alright, thank you for the heads up! Then I'm afraid there are no teachers at all in this area, I guess there's no real harm in waiting for a few years before I start, but it's a bit unfortunate since I felt ready to start sooner.

 

Can do Bagua from watching youtube videos? I'll make sure to take a good look around the forum to learn more about it ^_^

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Raindancer said:

 

Alright, thank you for the heads up! Then I'm afraid there are no teachers at all in this area, I guess there's no real harm in waiting for a few years before I start, but it's a bit unfortunate since I felt ready to start sooner.

 

Can do Bagua from watching youtube videos? I'll make sure to take a good look around the forum to learn more about it ^_^

 

For Bagua you really should have a live in person teacher, just like tai chi.  Having a live teacher is really a beautiful part of the tradition.  You can get a nice feeling for the way of moving in Bagua and Tai Chi by watching some videos, but expect to develop some bad habits that should be corrected by a knowledgeable teacher.

 

Just as an examle, this is the world's best tai chi form demonstration:

 

Just for fun you could try out some of the different kinds of chi kung, there are many on Utube, and there are hundreds of examples of good practices that you can find posted on the forum.  Chi Kung is not so exacting, like tai chi is, and look for videos in which the teacher does not talk!   There are threads here devoted to different types of moving chi kung.  I suggest you move on to the Taoism section of the forum and look around there for discussions and examples of different kinds of chi kung.  There are many good ones available or free.

 

Edited by Starjumper
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11 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

 

For Bagua you really should have a live in person teacher, just like tai chi.  Having a live teacher is really a beautiful part of the tradition.  You can get a nice feeling for the way of moving in Bagua and Tai Chi by watching some videos, but expect to develop some bad habits that should be corrected by a knowledgeable teacher.

 

Just as an examle, this is the world's best tai chi form demonstration:

 

Just for fun you could try out some of the different kinds of chi kung, there are many on Utube, and there are hundreds of examples of good practices that you can find posted on the forum.  Chi Kung is not so exacting, like tai chi is, and look for videos in which the teacher does not talk!   There are threads here devoted to different types of moving chi kung.  I suggest you move on to the Taoism section of the forum and look around there for discussions and examples of different kinds of chi kung.  There are many good ones available or free.

 

 

Alright! Thank you for all your help! I'll do just that.

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Posted (edited)

I was just looking for examples in the Taoism section and find there aren't too many, maybe more of them are in the General Discussion method.

 

Since I can't find my thread on Moretalk Chia, you should know that people frequently come on this forum reporting serious health problems from doing his stuff, and I saw one of those disasters in person.

 

You have inspired me to put together a thread of what I consider good chi kung examples.  I'll put them in my personal section so they can be shared on the forum.

Edited by Starjumper

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22 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

I was just looking for eamples in the Taoism section and find there aren't too many, maybe more of them are in the General Discussion method.

 

Since I can't find my thread on Moretalk Chia, you should know that people frequently come on this forum reporting serious health problems from doing his stuff, and I saw one of those disasters in person.

 

You have inspired me to put together a thread of what I consider good chi kung examples.  I'll put them in my personal section so they can be shared on the forum.

 

Thank you for letting me know, it is getting rather late here so I was planning to look for it tomorrow.

 

Oh, that would be very nice of you to do! I'll keep an eye out for your thread.

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1 hour ago, Raindancer said:

Alright, thank you for the heads up!

 

It turns out I did delete that post about Moretalk.  Sorry to everyone about the false alarm.

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8 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

 

It turns out I did delete that post about Moretalk.  Sorry to everyone about the false alarm.

 

Alright, no worries!

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I recall my assistance coach once telling me, "you teach so Zen-like...".  I said, "What's Zen?" 

 

That lead me on a very curious-to-know journey through Buddhism to Zen to Zen Buddhism to Daoism.   The Daoism I most resonated with is as Laozi and Zhuangzi tell.  Although some will call this philosophical Daoism I don't separate this apart; I just do prefer the earlier Daoism ideas rather than the more religiously moral versions that come later (borrowing from Buddhism on some level). 

 

I think there is a Zen saying something like , "The journey starts where you are". And Laozi has something similar with, "A journey of a thousand steps starts with the first".  

 

Between that first step and the step you are at will be layers of unfolding, understanding, and letting go of.  Like peeling an onion... and when you peel the onion completely away, what are you left with as the concept of 'self', 'steps', 'daoism', etc?

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Thanks for the advice with chias techings ... I read some of His books ... And tried First visuslizing them, but lets say my body Said dont Futter try it, so i left it alone thinking looking into it later may be better. But now well i think the books will grow mold.

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If I might jump in---. 

This is a bit of a perennial question. Personally, I was tricked into becoming a Daoist. I was in a taijiquan club and the teacher asked me "if I wanted to join the Temple". (He didn't speak English, and I didn't speak Cantonese---there was only abysmal translation available.) I asked what it involved, and he said I had to pay $300. I said "too bad I can't afford that" (I was a janitor living on minimum wage then.) Next time I saw him, he came over "Special introductory offer, $30!". I said "why not?". Next week there was a ceremony, I wore a fancy robe, kowtowed several times,  there was lots of chanting, I offered three sticks of incense (the really good stuff made out of pieces of real sandal wood) on a special altar.  

I left the group a few months later. 

I never called myself a Daoist. I was "Bill the Buddhist". I studied Sufism. Read philosophy. I still did taijiquan every day. (It cured my migraine headaches and when I stopped doing it they came back.) 

Eventually I came across an academic website where someone asked if someone could be "baptised" as a Daoist. The experts said "No! It's an elite religion and the public don't really have a role in it." I stepped in and described my little ceremony and asked what it was if it wasn't being "baptised" as a Daoist. They responded "That wasn't a baptism---that was an ordination!"  (The English words aren't really an accurate translation, but I think you get the gist.)

I mentioned this to someone else on line---a grad student studying in UCLA. He was so interested in talking to me that the next time he was in Toronto he came over to my home to interview me. He said that initiated Daoists are extremely rare in China---here they are as rare as hen's teeth. It was a huge thing for the teacher to do. (Go figure.) 

****

OK, enough of blowhard life's story for one comment. I only offered it to suggest that the Daoist tradition is very weird without making it even weirder by trying to be all mysterious in one's language. So "pooh" to your friend. Daoists want all sorts of crap. They are human beings aren't they? 

The big problem is that people who don't know much about the subject use it like a big Rorschach test. They project their ideas onto the DDJ inkblot. Perhaps a good way to get around this is to just call yourself a "traveler on the Way" instead of something like "Daoist". 

&&&&

 

One other thing. You asked about tajiquan and qi gong. I agree with the other commentator that there are a lot of "flim flam" artists out flogging qi gong, Taijiquan, not so much. If you can't find a good taijiquan teacher, why not try some hatha yoga instead? Or some other martial arts sort of thing? I wouldn't recommend learning taijiquan from a video or book, but hatha yoga is easier to do and it is possible to learn it that way. Similarly, meditation doesn't have to come from a special Daoist teacher either. There are Buddhist monks all over the place, maybe you could study with one of them? You can learn simple meditation from a book too. 

The thing is that you don't have to "lock" yourself into anything. And no real effort is ever wasted. Doing Hatha yoga for a few years will make your taijquan better when you find a good teacher. Similarly, any reasonable effort (as long as you don't over do it) meditating will help you too. It might also make you better able to recognize a good teacher if one comes along and offers to help you at a later date. 

 

Edited by Cloudwalking Owl

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"Taoist" is something you become if you do what taoists do.  If you are initiated and do what taoists do, you are a taoist.  If you are initiated but don't do what taoists do, you are not a taoist.  If you are not initiated and do what taoists do, you are maybe a taoist.  If you are not initiated and don't do what taoists do, you are most definitely not a taoist.

 

What do taoists do?

 

There's a number of ways to go about it.  E.g.:

 

First, they do what their teacher tells them to do.  Later, they do what they tell their disciples to do.  Only much better.    

 

Or:

 

First, they learn a procedure, an art, a practice, and do that.  They don't compete but they shoot for perfection for its own sake in whatever they do -- how else can they embody tao?  Next, they find they've been transformed by that practice so that now they embody tao and don't have to do shit.

 

Or:

 

You're born that way.  Masters and teachers come to you in your sleep and transmit the tao directly.  You wake up and hey presto, you are Neo and you announce, to everybody's surprise and your own, "I know kung fu."  And project your chi right through the wall and then have to turn some lead into gold to pay for the repairs. 

 

Or...

 

Bottom line is, taoists do stuff.  Don't believe them when they tell you that they do nothing, want nothing, and are at peace with everything.  They may or may not be all these things, but it matters little.  What matters is, they do things.  Weird things.  :) 

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Posted (edited)

In Buddhism there is a special ceremony where you 'take refuge' in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. You can feel like a Buddhist before taking  refuge, but once you actually take refuge, you're **officially** a Buddhist. (Btw, Buddhists get the same b.s. from people about having no desires or wants and being at peace with everything, lol! :lol:)

 

On 9/21/2019 at 3:57 PM, Cloudwalking Owl said:

I stepped in and described my little ceremony and asked what it was if it wasn't being "baptised" as a Daoist. They responded "That wasn't a baptism---that was an ordination!"

 

Was it a lay ordination, or did they ordain you as a monk?

Edited by BluLotus

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On 10/9/2019 at 4:07 AM, BluLotus said:

In Buddhism there is a special ceremony where you 'take refuge' in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. You can feel like a Buddhist before taking  refuge, but once you actually take refuge, you're **officially** a Buddhist. (Btw, Buddhists get the same b.s. from people about having no desires or wants and being at peace with everything, lol! :lol:)

 

 

Was it a lay ordination, or did they ordain you as a monk?


I'm just quoting the academic who used the term "ordination". People get hung up on words that get translated into other words that I think don't exactly mean the same thing. 

The phrase "lay ordination" actually contradicts itself in English, so I don't know what it means. Some folks have suggested that what happened was that I was made a "janitor" in the Temple---which just seems like a way of saying "I don't like you---so I'm going to insult you". As for the "monk" thing, well, again I don't think that that is exactly a good translation either. 

From what I've learned over the years there is some variation between different sects of Daoists. I have heard that there used to be  a tradition---in at least some sects---of creating a name using a lineage poem that allows someone "in the know" to be able to quickly figure out who has greater seniority. I found out that this wasn't continued by the Yuen-Yuen Institute in Hong Kong (where the teachers came from) because there was such a mish-mash of different sects and lineages there because of people fleeing the persecution in Mainland China. There is also a problem with the present govt's policy of forcing all Daoshis to identify with the two major schools of Orthodox and Complete Reality. 

I would say that functionally what I went through was simply being entered into a lineage or becoming a "Daoishi". The Temple I was involved with recognized three levels of Daoshis---I know that because they posted an advertisement in the "Globe and Mail" asking for---I think, but memory can be a weak reed to lean upon---a "3rd level Daoshi" in order to fulfill some bureaucratic rule in order to help the meditation teacher from Hong Kong immigrate. 

Please note, I said that the ceremony involved being entered into a lineage----not becoming a lineage holder. (Some folks who insist on being angry with me confuse these two things and seem to think that I'm setting myself out to be a groovy, shoots lightning bolts out my ass, "Master", which I do not.) 

I went through this experience. I have described it. The translation was absolutely abysmal and I had no real idea what was going on. The academic made a statement, which I have passed on. I've done some looking around on my own, and passed on some bits and pieces I've learned. I left that Temple a year or so after the event, simply because I didn't really like some of the stuff that went on there. Since then I've practiced pretty much as a "hermit" (which I've come to understand doesn't mean living in a cave away from humanity---it's about not being involved in an ecclesiastic organization.) 

Would it be possible to explain what you were thinking about in particular when you asked the original question? 
 

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3 hours ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:

Would it be possible to explain what you were thinking about in particular when you asked the original question? 

 

I was just wondering if Daoist ordinations have similar categories as they do in Tibetan Buddhism, (which I am most familiar with). They have celibate monastics, and also the lay householders, (the tantric practitioners). The latter are also ordained, but it's a different kind of ordination. I'm not saying Daoist ordinations are the same, but it's interesting to learn about the different traditions and their various forms of ordination/initiation.

 

3 hours ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:

Please note, I said that the ceremony involved being entered into a lineage----not becoming a lineage holder. (Some folks who insist on being angry with me confuse these two things and seem to think that I'm setting myself out to be a groovy, shoots lightning bolts out my ass, "Master", which I do not.) 

 

I understand what you mean. Many traditions have a process where one can receive an initiation and enter into a particular lineage as a practitioner. That doesn't mean one becomes a lineage holder who can bestow initiations and teach the practice. I get that. :)

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5 hours ago, BluLotus said:

 

I was just wondering if Daoist ordinations have similar categories as they do in Tibetan Buddhism, (which I am most familiar with). They have celibate monastics, and also the lay householders, (the tantric practitioners). The latter are also ordained, but it's a different kind of ordination. I'm not saying Daoist ordinations are the same, but it's interesting to learn about the different traditions and their various forms of ordination/initiation.

 

 

This is an interesting question. I've seen a few Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies and I have been struck by a sort of similarity between them and what Daoist ceremonies I've participated in. I have wondered if there were similar roots between Bon and Chinese shamanism and that they created these similarities. 

If I sound a bit defensive about this stuff, I've had on-line discussions with people (usually anonymous, so I couldn't figure out who they were and what culture they come from) who seem outraged by my background and obviously think I'm a liar. Oddly enough, once a young fellow did this and sheepishly apologized on-line a few weeks later because his Daoist teacher knew about me (how, I haven't a clue) and told the kid that I was "the real deal" and ordered him to say he was sorry.  

Edited by Cloudwalking Owl

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Ordained Daoists are not that uncommon, at least not here on the forum.  Cloudwalking owls though?  Now that`s something really special.

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