dmattwads

How to Tao

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Once upon a time a began doing Qigong and thought that was Taoism and made me a Taoist. As time went by I began to realize that doing Qigong made me no more Taoist than doing Yoga makes one Hindu. When I began to wonder what Taoist things Taoists actually do, believe, practice ect.. I realized I wasn't really sure.

 

For some background as a kid, I was raised somewhat of a nominal Protestant, but then in my young adult life (while in the military), I became involved in a very fundamentalist evangelical Christian church. This church had a right and wrong way to do and think about everything and I suppose being in the military I was just fine with this or perhaps even found this comfortable. I was male and young and liked the feeling of having all the answers and knowing everything about everything. A few years later though this same aspect became tedious and wearisome. I began to question what this church said against what the bible said and found that they didn't have the answers to everything, and were not always right so I left that particular church but still kept the mindset of evangelical Christianity taking a rather literalist approach to the bible. A few more years later while in college and beginning to learn enough to destroy my illusions of knowing everything I then began to doubt the literalist understanding of the bible that I had had and left Christianity altogether. For a few years I didn't really know what to think or believe and became quite depressed and stuck in a bad relationship. It was during this time period that I came became friends with an herbalist that began to show me natural ways to deal with depression. Due to the effectiveness of herbal remedies, I became interested in other natural methods of health and wellness. I began to collect books on the topic and this led me to discover Qigong. I found it fascinating that techniques that only involved one's own body and no external substances at all one could feel better. Naturally learning about Qigong led me to learn about the Taoism that it came from. It was at this point that I just assumed that I was a Taoist. 

  Fast forward a few more years and once I was in acupuncture school I began to run into Asians that were Taoist and when they began to tell me how Taoism was practiced where they came from I realized I didn't have a clue as to what Taoism was. I did learn that doing Qigong was not synonymous with Taoism though. Once I realized there was much more to Taoism than doing Qigong I realized I did not know what Taoism was, what they believed, or what the goal was. Being a former military and fundamentalist type guy I guess I liked structure and answers so this eventually led me to Buddhism which to me seemed to have very well-defined explanations, goals, and guidelines.  

  One would think this would be the end of the story then, but since I do practice TCM for a living, and TCM is built partially upon a foundation of Taoism, and since TCM is very effective this makes it difficult for me to just drop the topic altogether. So I keep coming back to the question I still have been unable to answer.

  What is Taoism, how does one practice it, and what is the goal?

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Just now, Sketch said:

I'm afraid that the Tao that I can put into words is not the real Tao.

 

I had a feeling someone was going to say that lol. :lol:

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My attraction to Taoist ideas started out as approaching the Tao Te Ching as a pretty good source of common sense philosophy. 

 

Then, as I dug into the words, the "Scalability" of the "advice" became clear. When I turned this perception to my own person, I got an insight that put me on a new track with my personal practices. 

 

My goal within these so called  "Taoist practices" is to get control of things in my life that I've acquired through coincidence - to unwind the wounds that ideas, behaviors and events have left on the otherwise charming and healthy animal I'm riding around in. Once I've completely done with that, I'll be wiser - in a better position to see what to do beyond that.

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3 minutes ago, Sketch said:

My attraction to Taoist ideas started out as approaching the Tao Te Ching as a pretty good source of common sense philosophy. 

 

Then, as I dug into the words, the "Scalability" of the "advice" became clear. When I turned this perception to my own person, I got an insight that put me on a new track with my personal practices. 

 

My goal within these so called  "Taoist practices" is to get control of things in my life that I've acquired through coincidence - to unwind the wounds that ideas, behaviors and events have left on the otherwise charming and healthy animal I'm riding around in. Once I've completely done with that, I'll be wiser - in a better position to see what to do beyond that.

 

Then may I ask how you Tao specifically? At least as much as you feel comfortable sharing that is?

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My current practice is built around seated "empty" meditation and a more active standing Zahn Zhuang practice, along with a lying down practice from a book by Tom Bisio (Daoist Sleeping Meditation: Chen Tuan's Sleeping Gong), supported by tai chi and qigong sets. I'm one of those awful people doing it mostly from books; I have had some Chen style Tai Chi instruction and a few qigong classes, but not lately. Fortunately, the books are better than they used to be.

 

In the meantime, my engagement with the words of Lao Tzu can be seen in a current incarnation through my amateur's  attempt at a translation, serialized in the DDJ forums here. 

 

I got a cool stainless steel gourd, too.WIN_20201117_10_19_40_Pro.jpg

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6 minutes ago, Sketch said:

My current practice is built around seated "empty" meditation and a more active standing Zahn Zhuang practice, along with a lying down practice from a book by Tom Bisio (Daoist Sleeping Meditation: Chen Tuan's Sleeping Gong), supported by tai chi and qigong sets. I'm one of those awful people doing it mostly from books; I have had some Chen style Tai Chi instruction and a few qigong classes, but not lately. Fortunately, the books are better than they used to be.

 

In the meantime, my engagement with the words of Lao Tzu can be seen in a current incarnation through my amateur's  attempt at a translation, serialized in the DDJ forums here. 

 

I got a cool stainless steel gourd, too.WIN_20201117_10_19_40_Pro.jpg

 

Which Qigong sets do you do?

 

Lol the way you suddenly and randomly end with the gourd totally reminds me of the end of the book of Jonah where there's a gourd and then the book just suddenly ends LOL.

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For me, "To Tao" is to become as empty as possible. By Empty, I mean, first, letting go of layer after layer of "artificiality". By that, I mean letting go of body attachment, mind attachment, intellectual attachment, conceptual attachment. As we shed layer after layer of crud, our true nature shines forth. True Nature is "Tao", so the more "true nature" shines forth, the more "Tao" we are. 


The way I was taught this is via the practice of taijiquan and neigong/daogong -- with these, the process of letting go is indirect. First, we let go of tensions and stuck traumas/stress. And then we let go of strength, then we let go of mental positions (and they all feedback into each other), becoming more and more 'present'. At a certain point, this produces enough mental clarity to start Self-inquiry. With Self-inquiry, the process of letting go becomes more and more apparent/direct. 

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13 minutes ago, dwai said:

For me, "To Tao" is to become as empty as possible. By Empty, I mean, first, letting go of layer after layer of "artificiality". By that, I mean letting go of body attachment, mind attachment, intellectual attachment, conceptual attachment. As we shed layer after layer of crud, our true nature shines forth. True Nature is "Tao", so the more "true nature" shines forth, the more "Tao" we are. 


The way I was taught this is via the practice of taijiquan and neigong/daogong -- with these, the process of letting go is indirect. First, we let go of tensions and stuck traumas/stress. And then we let go of strength, then we let go of mental positions (and they all feedback into each other), becoming more and more 'present'. At a certain point, this produces enough mental clarity to start Self-inquiry. With Self-inquiry, the process of letting go becomes more and more apparent/direct. 

 

Sounds very similar to Buddhism.

 

What is daogong?

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45 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

Which Qigong sets do you do?

 

 

That's constantly changing, lately a  warm up with a "theatrical" version of Shaolin warm ups - from a video by Scott Park Phillips - along with "Holding up the Sky"  and spiraling movements from Dr. Yang's "The Essence of Tai Chi Chi Kung".

 

 

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2 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

Sounds very similar to Buddhism.

 

What is daogong?

A specific practice taught in the Temple style taiji school of Master Waysun Liao. In my POV, it uses a specific set of qigong  and taijiquan single form movements, but with different emphasis and focus along with other seated meditation practices and pointers provided by the teacher. 

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20 minutes ago, Sketch said:

and spiraling movements from Dr. Yang's "The Essence of Tai Chi Chi Kung".

 

That's a nice one that I have dabbled with in the past. I like the simplicity of it.

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The spiraling into the arm tendons prompted me to get a set of Nunchuks to play with - I knocked myself cold with them once many years ago but have managed not to damage myself so far this time around. They've done my poor, abused shoulders a lot of good (Torn rotator cuffs, both sides)

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