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I decided to back way up and get down to the basics. It seems like there are so many techniques that sometimes its hard to know what exactly Daoism is and what the goal of Daoism is. Additionally when I got started on the path I think I had a tendency to equate Qigong with Daoism and I learned some pretty subpar Qigong which I'm sure confused the whole issue and resulted to me looking to Buddhism for answers. 

 

This still begs the question of what Daoism is, what is the goal in Daoism, and what the techniques are for practicing it. I think for now I'll leave this question fairly open ended and let people fill in the blanks which I'm sure will raise more questions to round things out with. 

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1 hour ago, dmattwads said:

This still begs the question of what Daoism is, what is the goal in Daoism, and what the techniques are for practicing it.

 

This is likely not so simple to answer, but I look forward to what will be shared here. It's my understanding that there are multiple understandings and practices of Daosim. It strikes me as a highly systematized universe of practices and life ways that emerged out of China's shamanic history. 

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I am reading Understanding Chinese Religions and thought this intro to Daoism might shed some light on the question:

 

Quote

Daoism is the most complex and indefinable of the great religious traditions in China. It‚Äôs demarcation line against local variants of popular religions, and Buddhism, medicine or gymnastics, is indeterminable. It‚Äôs historical beginning is a matter of dispute, it‚Äôs development not consensual, it‚Äôs diverse scriptural traditions are separate, and it‚Äôs organisations not unified. The diverse aspects of Daoist culture may, perhaps, best be identified in their common goal of achieving immortality. Rituals, scriptures, cosmological concepts, alchemical techniques, spiritual and bodily practices have grouped around this central goal of the diverse Daoist traditions. These groups might never had¬†come to conceive themselves as belonging to a single ‚Äėteaching‚Äô (jiao) were it not for their common opposition to the ‚Äėteaching‚Äô of Buddhism that was organised in various schools‚Ķ In later developments of daoism, elements of Buddhist cosmology and philosophy were included as well. Like ingredients they form the constitutional parts of all Daoist traditions.

 

Two points I find to be overwhelmingly important are immortality as the goal of Daoism, and that initially there was opposition to the teaching of Buddhism. This changed over time, but my personal interest is in the nature of Daoism before it was influenced by Buddhism. 

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Today, in a highly generalized way you could say that there are three major forms or types of Daoism:

 

1) Philosophical

2) Ritual / Religion
3) Alchemical 

 

#1 could be likened to scholars who find the philosophy of Daoism fascinating and try to analyze Daoist works/texts through an intellectual framework. Things like the Dao de Jing by Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu's works. Another comparison could be the study and analysis of Ancient Greek Philosophy. This path does not necessarily equate to actual application or practice however

 

#2 is more like your religious Buddhist temple-goers, say in the Thai tradition you have a decent majority that are faithful and devoted who show up on special days and participate in the monastery's activities. (People who aren't as faithful or dedicated also fall under this by simply going through the motions and rituals of the religion). In Daoism, this would be revering and paying respects to higher beings/deities within their Daoist tradition, doing chanting, bowing, lighting incenses, making offerings etc. 

 

#3 is working with the inner energetics of the body Jing, Qi, Shen. This could be more akin to doing actual practice, in Buddhist terms, say a lay Buddhist who actually upholds the 5 precepts, meditates regularly etc etc. This is where you will see Qi Gong, Tai Ji, Bagua, Xingyi and other related arts practiced. Also take note a lot of Qi Gong these days are somewhat of a washed or watered down version of the stuff that "works" because of the cultural revolution that took place in China destroying a lot of the knowledge and lineages, as well as the subsequent creation of "Traditional Chinese Medicine". It's a lot of external form (physical movement and hand waving) but no major substance to the form in terms of actual inner change and working with the different energies of the body

 

Alchemical Daoism is more closely linked to the goal of "immortality" however within each of these 3 "forms" or types of Daoism, you would also find many differences or emphasis on what they deem to be philosophical, ritual, or alchemical Daoism.

 

(For instance in Buddhism you have the divides or different lineages of Mahayana and Theravada. The former has Chinese Buddhism (Chan, Pure Land, etc), Tibetan Buddhism (4 main schools), Korean Buddhism etc. In Theravada there is the Thai Forest tradition, Burmese Vipassana traditions, and also the "scholarly" (or philosophical) lineages that focus on studying the suttas. 

 

There have also been strong ties and a long history between Chan Buddhism and Alchemical Daoism. 

 

To simplify things further on the path of cultivation, one could say that some lineages of alchemical Daoism focus first on working on the most dense layers of form and existence and work there way up from there towards accessing higher spiritual levels.

 

Buddhism in general could be said to try and work more and focus on things at the mental level of cultivation as a means to attain awakening, without great focus or care on the physical body or energetics (Western Buddhism imo is especially prone to this because of the conditioning and context of modern society). It's kind of like get the body to a decent enough level so that you can just comfortably engage in mental work. (say for example just sitting in chairs and never trying to work towards sitting on the floor comfortably cross-legged)

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12 hours ago, refugeindharma said:

Today, in a highly generalized way you could say that there are three major forms or types of Daoism:

 

1) Philosophical

2) Ritual / Religion
3) Alchemical 

 

#1 could be likened to scholars who find the philosophy of Daoism fascinating and try to analyze Daoist works/texts through an intellectual framework. Things like the Dao de Jing by Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu's works. Another comparison could be the study and analysis of Ancient Greek Philosophy. This path does not necessarily equate to actual application or practice however

 

#2 is more like your religious Buddhist temple-goers, say in the Thai tradition you have a decent majority that are faithful and devoted who show up on special days and participate in the monastery's activities. (People who aren't as faithful or dedicated also fall under this by simply going through the motions and rituals of the religion). In Daoism, this would be revering and paying respects to higher beings/deities within their Daoist tradition, doing chanting, bowing, lighting incenses, making offerings etc. 

 

#3 is working with the inner energetics of the body Jing, Qi, Shen. This could be more akin to doing actual practice, in Buddhist terms, say a lay Buddhist who actually upholds the 5 precepts, meditates regularly etc etc. This is where you will see Qi Gong, Tai Ji, Bagua, Xingyi and other related arts practiced. Also take note a lot of Qi Gong these days are somewhat of a washed or watered down version of the stuff that "works" because of the cultural revolution that took place in China destroying a lot of the knowledge and lineages, as well as the subsequent creation of "Traditional Chinese Medicine". It's a lot of external form (physical movement and hand waving) but no major substance to the form in terms of actual inner change and working with the different energies of the body

 

Alchemical Daoism is more closely linked to the goal of "immortality" however within each of these 3 "forms" or types of Daoism, you would also find many differences or emphasis on what they deem to be philosophical, ritual, or alchemical Daoism.

 

(For instance in Buddhism you have the divides or different lineages of Mahayana and Theravada. The former has Chinese Buddhism (Chan, Pure Land, etc), Tibetan Buddhism (4 main schools), Korean Buddhism etc. In Theravada there is the Thai Forest tradition, Burmese Vipassana traditions, and also the "scholarly" (or philosophical) lineages that focus on studying the suttas. 

 

There have also been strong ties and a long history between Chan Buddhism and Alchemical Daoism. 

 

To simplify things further on the path of cultivation, one could say that some lineages of alchemical Daoism focus first on working on the most dense layers of form and existence and work there way up from there towards accessing higher spiritual levels.

 

Buddhism in general could be said to try and work more and focus on things at the mental level of cultivation as a means to attain awakening, without great focus or care on the physical body or energetics (Western Buddhism imo is especially prone to this because of the conditioning and context of modern society). It's kind of like get the body to a decent enough level so that you can just comfortably engage in mental work. (say for example just sitting in chairs and never trying to work towards sitting on the floor comfortably cross-legged)

 

It sounds like in a lot of ways it's the Chinese version of Hinduism.

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1 hour ago, dmattwads said:

 

It sounds like in a lot of ways it's the Chinese version of Hinduism.

 

Quite true.  Is Hinduism in India very diversified and decentralized?

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20 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

 

Quite true.  Is Hinduism in India very diversified and decentralized?

 

Very much so. So much so in fact that is wasn't even called Hinduism before the British came. 

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To focus on clarifying another question. Since converting Jing to Qi is pretty basic to inner alchemy is a good and safe place to start therefore doing lower dan tien breathing in order to accomplish this? 

 

*edit: Also what exactly is the point of the MCO?

Edited by dmattwads

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2 hours ago, dmattwads said:

*edit: Also what exactly is the point of the MCO?

 

My head explodes as I ponder the answer. I  think it could have as much a diverse response as your original questions here. Would it be worthy of a separate thread? 

 

*edit: I don't know, maybe not. That is just my initial reaction. 

Edited by el_tortugo

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55 minutes ago, el_tortugo said:

 

My head explodes as I ponder the answer. I  think it could have as much a diverse response as your original questions here. Would it be worthy of a separate thread? 

 

*edit: I don't know, maybe not. That is just my initial reaction. 

 

I think I'd like to keep it in this thread as it seems to be one of the most commonly discussed aspects of Taoist practice, so I am curious to see how it relates. 

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16 hours ago, dmattwads said:

It sounds like in a lot of ways it's the Chinese version of Hinduism.

 

That's my belief too, and also one of my suspicions/theories as to why the 'Proper' Dharma went to China following the decline of India, the "conditions" were correct and set in place for Chinese Buddhism to take off as Confucianism (ethics) and Daoism (spirituality/energetics) were present as a foundation, similar to as it was when Shakyamuni Buddha decided to incarnate into Nepal/India with Brahmanism and Hinduism already in full effect. 

 

I have read that Lao Tzu was the reincarnation of Venerable MahaKashyapa, "In fact, Lao Tzu of Taoism is an incarnation of Venerable Mahakasyapa of Buddhism and Confucius is a transformed incarnation of the Youth of Water and Moon according to Buddhism." - Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

 

In the context of the Mahayana this could make sense as you would consider say with a group or team of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who incarnate in certain times and places in order to keep the Dharma alive (or to set the conditions up so the Dharma may take hold and flourish in a different place). Just like any organization that has their own teams and objectives, they assign roles to people to play out and achieve their respective aims and goals. 

 

As to the MCO, Damo Mitchell has a free MCO course out there and you can probably find your answer in the intro video or thereabouts. One of it in Daoism is definitely about safety lol. 

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I do wonder what the end goal to daoism actually is. I was reading white moon on the mountain peak by Damo Mitchell, and it seems, at least according to him, that even becoming a heavenly immortal doesn't necessarily mean that the path is over, the end has been reached, we just don't know what comes next, I assume because there has been no teaching beyond that point.

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3 hours ago, -_sometimes said:

I do wonder what the end goal to daoism actually is. I was reading white moon on the mountain peak by Damo Mitchell, and it seems, at least according to him, that even becoming a heavenly immortal doesn't necessarily mean that the path is over, the end has been reached, we just don't know what comes next, I assume because there has been no teaching beyond that point.

 

It is nice to know what the end goal is in a system. Without knowing to me it sounds like a family is going on summer vacation and they're packing up all other stuff and everybody gets in the car and they start driving and then the kids ask the parents or they are going on vacation and nobody knows.

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My current understanding is that the goal is getting past your own purpose 

And becoming  "one with the Dao". Merging with of the forces of nature and physics and inevitable change, without your self getting in the way. 

Edited by Sketch
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4 minutes ago, Sketch said:

My current understanding is that the goal is getting past your own purpose 

And becoming  "one with the Dao". Merging with of the forces of nature and physics and inevitable change, without your self getting in the way. 

 

So that sounds somewhat equivalent to Buddhist Nirvana or enlightenment?

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45 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

So that sounds somewhat equivalent to Buddhist Nirvana or enlightenment?

I'm not in a position to judge that sort of thing. 

 

My goal personally involves  "wiser than I am ", so check with me later.

 

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My involvement with Daoist ideas mainly stems from a long engagement with the "Tao te Ching" in it's many translations and versions.  My interpretation of practice starts there; actions such as tai chi, or internal arts, or other So called "Daoist practices " are expressions of the ideas expressed by Laozi, or the words express the same principles the actions embody. 

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I've been informed by Buddhist authors, but I never went through a period of "shopping" Buddhism vs. Taoism. 

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40 minutes ago, Sketch said:

My involvement with Daoist ideas mainly stems from a long engagement with the "Tao te Ching" in it's many translations and versions.  My interpretation of practice starts there; actions such as tai chi, or internal arts, or other So called "Daoist practices " are expressions of the ideas expressed by Laozi, or the words express the same principles the actions embody. 

 

Actually to see how the DDJ connects to practices such as Qigong, Tai Chi, and Nei Gong is something I would really like to see.

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41 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

Actually to see how the DDJ connects to practices such as Qigong, Tai Chi, and Nei Gong is something I would really like to see.

You were asking about a book by Dr. Yang Jwing Ming in another thread; his own translation deals extensively with this. 

 

It's a  clearer connection in the more literal translations.

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48 minutes ago, Sketch said:

You were asking about a book by Dr. Yang Jwing Ming in another thread; his own translation deals extensively with this. 

 

It's a  clearer connection in the more literal translations.

 

Interesting. It's been a while since I read it, but I don't remember seeing any direct connection between the DDJ and inner alchemy. Do you know where it is?

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8 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

Interesting. It's been a while since I read it, but I don't remember seeing any direct connection between the DDJ and inner alchemy. Do you know where it is?

Isn't the other way around? Aren't all those practices referring to the DDJ? and even the Yijing?

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3 minutes ago, Mig said:

Isn't the other way around? Aren't all those practices referring to the DDJ? and even the Yijing?

That's it right there. Laozi lays out basic principles; the rest is elaboration. 

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2 hours ago, Sketch said:

I've been informed by Buddhist authors, but I never went through a period of "shopping" Buddhism vs. Taoism. 

I thought historically there was a struggle for power in every dynasty between those two factions and even within each several movements some with more power than others.

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1 minute ago, Mig said:

I thought historically there was a struggle for power in every dynasty between those two factions and even within each several movements some with more power than others.

Not universally the case. Buddhist figures and symbols appear in many Daoist contexts; there's nothing mutually exclusive about the two philosophies until it's time to apportion imperial money, basically. 

 

Yi jin jing, a foundation for many daoist exercises,  was purportedly brought to China by Bodhidarma; an undoubtedly Buddhist figure. 

 

As I've gushed elsewhere on this board, the books "Journey to the West " are largely set at an intersection of Daoism and Chinese Buddhism. 

 

 

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