Tai Chi Ch'uan - a spiritual alchemy: achieving the state of tao through mind/body integration

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TAI CHI CH'UAN -- A SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY: ACHIEVING THE STATE OF TAO THROUGH
MIND/BODY INTEGRATION


My introduction to Tai Chi Ch'uan was from a Chinese research chemist,
a lady who began teaching the Form in Perth in 1979. As far as I am aware, it
was the first such class in West Australia. Her English language consisted of
'foot and hand' and other simple words to describe the anatomy, and so we learnt in the time-honoured way, as in China, of simply following the teacher.
Most Westerners need some kind of cultural and philosophical translation -- we are not
content to simply follow, without understanding why, and I am no exception. So I
was fired to study the philosophy which lay behind the Form, and at that time I
had really no idea of the true purpose of the Forms.
After learning
the performance of the Tai Chi Forms as thoroughly as possible, I was then given
permission by my teacher to pass on what I had learned, and so began to teach at
Perth Lodge, and also began teaching two classes in the Hills area where I live.
After seven years and hundreds of pupils I found I needed to apply my energies
to other avenues of theosophical work, and so ceased to take pupils, but I still
maintain a strong interest in Tai Chi and endeavour to practice every
day.
During those years I discovered by study and practice that Tai
Chi Ch'uan is only one aspect of an extensive, systematic method by which the
pupil, by earnest perseverance and single - mindedness, may achieve a state of
consciousness known as The Tao. I have not reached that desired level, but I am
convinced that it is possible.
Tai Chi Ch'uan is part of Taoist
Esoteric Yoga which is a comprehensive method embracing all aspects of the human
entity. Its origin is lost in the mists of time. Some writers claim evidence of
a continuing tradition encompassing eight thousand years. It seems quite
possible that it could be considerably more ancient than eight thousand years,
and some indications of this may be found by examining theosophical literature.

THE TAO
The word 'Tao' is usually left untranslated as it is
regards as indefinable. Its import is too great to be contained in any one-
word. If it is translated it is usually called 'The Way'. The Tao Te Ching is a
book with which I am sure most theosophists are acquainted, and I am told that
next to the Christian Bible the Tao Te Ching is the most translated book in the
world. The pronunciation is usually given as Dow Duh Jing. Its author is said to
have been one Li Erh, who lived for a long time in the state of Chou, circa 600
B.C. He was popularly known as Lao Tzu or Tse -- Lao meaning 'old' and Tzu being
a courtesy title conferred upon great sages and authors of classics. 'Old'
carries-d a tone of affection with it, and so he could just as well be called
'The Old Master', and we get the impression of a genial, kindly, laughter-loving
sage.
Legend has it that Lao Tzu was chief historian in the secret
archives of Chou, and he left the active world for retirement in the
mountains of the far West. When he reached the Outer Border Gate of China, the
Frontier Warden, Yin His, also known as the Keeper Of The Gate or Pass, asked
him to pause for a while and write a book containing his teachings. The result
was a book of 5,000 Chinese characters, and the subject was the Tao and the Te --
often translated as "The Way and Its Virtue". Lao Tzu then travelled over the
high pass towards the Gobi Desert, and was seen no more. Manly P. Hall, in his
book The Sages of China, writes that mystics have speculated that he sought the
City of The Adepts -- the pleasant garden of the wise by the Mountain Kwen
Lun.
In the book, The Kingdom of Lu. by Maurice Magre, there is a
beautiful description of Lao Tzu's last journey. According to Magre, Lao Tzu had
perceived by mystical means that there were others alive in the world who shared
his secret of' 'The Way'. There was in India a good and holy Teacher named
Gautama who had renounced wealth and a kingdom to serve in absolute humility
the spiritual needs of his fellow men and women. There was also a great
philosopher who lived in a city of white marble by the shores of a blue sea. His
name was Pythagoras, and he also served the Light of the World. Writing of Lao
Tzu's vision of the blessed place beyond the desert, the author says . . .
Through the valley wound a peaceful river along whose banks
grew lotus flowers larger than he had ever seen.. . A cedar, taller than
the rest which stood in the middle of the valley surrounded by a circular
bench of carved stone, was the only indication that the place was
inhabited. An impression of security was diffused from this silent spot, causing
Lao Tzu to think that it must be the duelling place of those perfect men,
guardians of lost wisdom, and secret directors of the human race,
whose existence had been made known to him by old traditions. "Into the valley
come my two brothers" said Lao Tzu, "The man from india and the man from the
country where there are marble temples at the edge of the blue sea. That is
where I must go."


Lao Tzu was canonized by the reigning T'ang Emperor in the 7th century A.D.
He was given the title of "Great Supreme", and later the final honour of being
known simply as "The Ancient Master". The teachings he wrote down for the
Keeper Of The Gate and known to us as the Tao Te Ching have a freshness and
simplicity as well as a profundity which is a challenge to students who attempt
to understand Esoteric Philosophy. Tao Te Ching literally translated is
therefore "The Way And Its Power Or Virtue". The addition of'
'ching' to any work means that it is regarded as a classic or -- a complimentary
title given to books held in great veneration.
The doctrine of the Tao existed before Lao Tzu, and is ascribed to the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huang
Ti(2704-2595 B.C.). That would make his age to have been 109 years. But many
sources cite a legendary philosopher/king of 4600 B.C to be the founder. His
name was Fu Hsi, and he was said to be the inventor of civilization and
of writing, to have created the original eight trigrams of the I Ching, and the
concept of Yin-Yang. He also ordered the performance of a 'Great Dance' to help
cure the people of disease. During the time of the legendary Huang Ti, further
progress was made when Taoist priests formed a sacerdotal caste and developed
the art of internal Kung Fu. Kung Fu literally translated means 'Work Man' -- the
man who works with art. This may be interpreted in various ways -- to exercise
oneself bodily, or the art of the exercise of the body applied to the prevention
or treatment of disease; or the particular postures in which certain Taoists
hold themselves; or medical gymnastics.
THE GREAT DANCE
Emperor Yu (2250 B.C.) instituted the dances named Ta Wu (the Great Dances). It is the
first mention in Chinese history of a system of movements proper to maintain
health and cure disease. The country was inundated by floodwaters, the
atmosphere was nearly always wet and unhealthy, and disease was also
overflowing. The emperor ordered his subjects to take military exercise every
day, and this contributed to the cure of those who were languishing and
maintained the health of those who were well.
It was believed that human life depended on the union of 'heaven and earth'. The subtle material
circulates in the body; if the body is not kept in movement, the humours do not
flow, matter collects and disease originates from such obstruction. What is
especially remarkable in the Chinese tradition is that moisture and stagnant
water are considered the source of endemic maladies, and modern medicine agrees
with this idea. It was believed that an efficient means of preventing them
consisted of the regular exercise of the body, or of the circling
dances.
These movements tend to produce a centrifugal result suitable to restoring the
functions of the skin and giving tone and vigour to the whole being. These
dances form part of the institution of China.
We can read also in the Shu Ching, or Classic Of History that Emperor Yu ordered
the dances to be performed with shields and banners. These two sorts of dances were first
sanctioned in the Li Chi, or Book Of Rites -- a work on civil and religious
ceremonies. Great importance was attached to regular bodily exercises. As in
Greece, learning to sing and dance well constituted a good education. The
founder of the Shang Dynasty (1766 B.C.) caused to be engraved in the bathtubs.
. .Renew thyself each day completely; make it a new, still anew and always
anew.
From the earliest times, the six liberal arts -- music,
arithmetic, writing, religious and civil ceremonies with their dances, fencing
and charioteering -- were taught in public institutions., We read in the life of
Confucius (Kung Fu Tzu) that he applied himself to the perfection of all these
exercises. Regular and rhythmic movements were engaged in to maintain health and
to combat certain diseases. Even in the present day, the Chinese people still
practise similar exercises in order to give themselves bodily strength and as
much suppleness as possible. This taste for bodily exercise is one of the
fundamental elements which is still considered to be the base of all progress
and moral development the improvement of one's self.
SINISM -- TAI CHI
The oldest religion (or class of religions) in China really has no
name, although it was established many centuries before the Buddha, Lao Tzu or
Confucius, and it strongly influenced the thought of the latter two. It is
generally described as 'Sinism', and it was a religion of ancestor spirits and
household gods, with a pantheon which varied considerably from one part of China
to another. Notable in this pantheon were the pioneer emperors already
mentioned: Fu His - the inventor of civilization and writing; Shen Nung - the
inventor of agriculture; and Huang Ti -- the inventor of government and medicine.
Sinism was not a mere primitive animism, but contained an elaborate cosmology,
morality and social philosophy.
Philosophically, Sinism is based on
Tai Chi -- the Ultimate Unity, with its two faces of Yin -- dark softness, and
Yang -- light toughness. It was the cosmic symbol of primordial unity and
harmony, and manifest phenomenal duality, or as Chuang Tzu calls it, the
symbol of "The Two Powers of Nature" -- the two great regulating forces of
cosmic order in the phenomenal world. The Yin-Yang diagram or Tai Chi symbol
shows the two great forces of the universe -- the dark and light, receptive and
positive, female and male to be held in complete balance and equality of power;
together they control everything in realm of manifestation. There is a point, or
embryo, of black in the white and white in the black. This is not
fortuitous but essential to the symbolism, since there is no being which
does not contain within itself the germ of its opposite. The two forces
are mutually interdependent, and neither can stand alone, nor be complete
in itself. The two completely balanced powers are held together in the
all-embracing circle of unity, and the whole figure symbolizes wholeness. A
related achievement of Taoism was the development of Chinese medicine. This set
of techniques, ranging from dietary rules to acupuncture moxibustion, is
based largely on theories of the 'Five Elements'. The tradition involves a
wide variety of curative techniques undisputed effectiveness.
TAOIST MEDITATION
Now although prayer, rituals and magic spells have
associated with Taoist practice, as well as traditions of politics and military
strategy, the real contribution of Taoism has to the inner life of man. Its
various schools of non-being, non-action, inner and outer elixir, have all
pointed to the fact that, before man can understand the world, he must
understand himself. A key part of Taoist practice, therefore, has beer,
art of meditation. In meditation the Taoist learns to focus direct energies
which are usually squandered in the mundane perceptions of the five senses.
The highest goal in Taoism is to reach a state of consciousness
which transcends the bonds of mortality that cramp our existence. This state is
the 'Tao'. The achievement of 'The Tao' can be realized only after a long
processs of insight and concentration. We Westerners would equate the state with
'Self Relization'; Enlightenment; Cosmic Consciousness; Nirvana or
Christ-Consciousness.
Toaist meditation can be thought of as an alchemical
procedure. It involves the refinement of one psychic substance into another. The
process begins with the Jing' or sexual energy converted into another substance,
'Chi', when it is combined with the breath in a certain way. The purification of
'Chi' results in its transformation to 'Shen' or Spirit. In the last stage
'Shen' is converted to 'Shu' or emptiness.
The practice of' 'Tai Chi Ch'uan', a moving meditation, gives an outer imnage of the inner transformation of Taoist
medicine.
THE SEVEN STAGES OF TAOIST ESOTERIC YOGA
As mentioned earlier, Tai Chi Ch'uan is only one part of the Seven Stages of Taoist Esoteric Yoga. The
true Master of Taoist Esoteric Yoga will teach Tai Chi Ch'uan only after the
pupil has mastered several other formulae, commencing with the first stage,
which is to master the "Microcosmic Orbit" or the Taoist Esoteric Warm Current
Meditation. Through relaxation and concentration techniques, it provides
for purification of the first two major acupuncture channels of the body -- the
'Functional' and the 'Governor' meridians. Completion of the Microcosmic Orbit
is a prerequisite for any student intending to study the higher levels of Taoist
Esoteric Yoga.
"Fusion of the Five Elements" and Cleansing of the Organs is
the second level of the Warm Current Meditation. At this level one learns
how the five elements -- earth, metal, and water, and their corresponding organs,
interact with one another in three distinct ways -- producing, combining and
threatening.
Next is the "Six Healing Sounds". This self-healing
method uses simple arm movements and vocalizations to produce a cooling effect
on the internal organs. These sounds quickly eliminate stress, improve
digestion, reduce insomnia and headaches, and relieve fatigue.
Then there is "Chi Massage" or Taoist rejuvenation. This uses the internal power of
'Chi', and gentle self-massage to collect and direct the 'Chi' to the sense
organs and other parts of the body for self-healing purposes.
Next is "Iron Shirt Chi Kung". This very comprehensive practice was historically a
prerequisite to the mastery of the Kung Fu fighting styles. It taught the pupil
how to strengthen the internal organs, and how to protect them with power -- or
'Iron Shirt'. Only then could one go on to practice fighting styles. The main
purpose of 'Iron Shirt' is not for fighting, but to perfect the body, to have
great health, to fight disease, and to protect the vital organs from
injuries.
Next is "Tai Chi Chi-Kung". Without the circulation of the
'Chi' through the channels, muscles and tendons of the body, the Tai Chi Ch'uan
movements are only physical exercises with much the same benefits as swimming.
The practice of Tai Chi Chi-Kung awakens and circulates the 'Chi' energy, and is
the foundation for the mastery of Tai Chi Ch'uan. The practice of the
Microcosmic Orbit is combined with thirteen movements for this form.
Next is Five Finger KungFu". This comprises both static and dynamic exercise
forms to cultivate and nourish the 'Chi' which accumulates in the organs,
penetrates the fascia, tendons and muscles, and finally the hands and
fingers.
Next is "Seminal and Ovarian Kung Fu". This is the practice
of controlling and sealing the lower centres to prevent leakages, and to
transmit this bio-chemical energy into a higher rejuvenating substance. The
pupil is expected to practice celibacy for this formula.
When these
forms have been mastered, then the study of Tai Chi Ch'uan may be practised.
There is a higher system of practice available to those pupils who
have mastered the preliminary forms. It is given as the "Seven Formulae Of The
Seven Books Of The Tao"-- the Taoist Masters traditionally referred to each
level of esoteric practice as a 'book' with a formula, and they were not usually
written, but passed down by word of mouth, and with these practices one is
taught the final alchemical procedure. The Seventh Formula is subtitled "The
Reunion of Man and Heaven The True Immortal Man". On this level one overcomes
reincarnation.
It is impossible to practise these formulae without a
teacher, and it is almost as impossible to find a teacher -- that is, a teacher
of the true Taoist Esoteric Yoga. In modern China the majority of the population
are similar to their Western counterparts, and know very little of these
esoteric practices, and are mainly concerned with the material side of life, and
the survival,instinct.
To find a teacher, one would have to pursue the
goal -- or the Tao with a single mind and with unrelenting vigour, and then the
Occult Law would begin to act, the Law which advises . . .(When the pupil is
ready, the Master appears.
Although Taoist Esoteric Yoga insists that the
pupil must master the preliminary practices before attempting "Tai Chi Ch'uan",
the forms are practised by the average citizen of China for health reasons and
as a moving meditation, and they have also been widely taught in many other
countries, including Western ones, since the 1960's. Many Westerners have been
delighted by the experience of practising the 'Forms' and by the benefits to
health physical, emotional and mental, which result from regular
practice.
"Tai Chi Ch'uan" literally translated means 'Supreme
Ultimate Fist' or 'Form'. 'Ch'uan' means fist, and is used to mean 'form' or
'kind' of exercise. Incidentally, the idea of the fist takes on different
meanings in the West and the East. The Western man views tile clenched fist as a
weapon of destruction and aggressive attack. In the East it is more in line with
concentration on inner force generating to the surface. The fist becomes
separate from the rest of the body as the energy becomes concentrated in the
fingers and hand.
THE GREAT TEACHERS
One of the most important persons connected with Tai CI Ch'uan was an Indian monk named Bodhi Dharma. He
was a Buddhist, and arrived in China about 600 A.D., where became known as Ta
Mo. He taught a type of Buddhism which was a forerunner of what we know as
Ch'an Buddhism in China and Zen Buddhism in Japan. He was concerned with the
physical health of the monks, as they spent so many of their days in sedentary
meditation. The exercise he created -- based on the original 'Great Dances'
-- was called "Shao -- Lin Ch'uan" after the Shao Lin Monastery in which he
resided. Monks were not permitted to carry arms, and so martial art based on the
highest meditation disciplines was a way for mendicant monks travelling along
the bandit-ridden roads of China to defend themselves. It also strengthened the
monks' physical bodies which would then become a more secure temple for the
soul.
One hundred and fifty years after Ta Mo, came another Master of
Tai Chi -- a woodcutter! This type of occupation. has often been used to describe
a human who has achieved a higher state of consciousness -- sometimes also called
a 'forest dweller' -- a symbolic term. His name was Hsu Hsuan Ping and he
reworked the original forms and added a series of movements which contain many
forms of contemporary Tai Chi, such as 'Single Whip', 'White Crane Spreads
Wings' and 'Seven Stars'.
The Tai Chi Master for whom I have a
particular affection is the legendary Taoist, Chang San-Feng, known as "The
Immortal'. He is said to have lived from 960 to 1270 AD - a span of 310 years!
He is said to have given the firmest and most complete foundation of the
modern-day forms. He held a prominent position as a magistrate in the Chung-San
district of China, and later he gave up his official capacities to become a
hermit. Later still, he went on to study under various enlightened Taoists, and
travelling from place to place, he learned techniques of meditation and the
martial arts.
According to legend, Chang San-Feng, during his noon-time meditationn
each day observed a snake and a crane in combat. Each day he saw the snake
hissing a challenge to the crane; the crane would fly down from his pine tree
and attack with his sword-like beak, but the snake, twisting and bending, was
always out of reach; when the snake darted at the crane, it used its wing to
protect its neck or its legs. The snake, curling around and around in spirals,
was the essence of the Tai Chi--the inviolate nature of the circle. When they
both grew tired of fighting, they went back to their respective homes -- the
snake to a hole in a tree trunk and the crane back to the pine tree. Chang
watched this performance many times, and from it realized the value of yielding
in the face of strength; he saw in living form the principle of the I Ching --
strong changing to the yielding and the yielding to the strong, and the
teaching-- What is more yielding than watet back it comes again to wear out the
stone.
The great Master studied the crane and the snake, the wild animals,
the clouds, the water and the trees bending in the wind. He codified these
natural movements into a system, and reworked the original forms of Shao-Lin
Ch'uan with a new emphasis on breathing and inner control. From the action of
the snake came 'Snake Creeps Downs'; the crane attacking with his beak
gave 'Brush Knee and Push'; from the clouds and wind came the movement 'Waving
Hands Like Clouds'. He then taught his disciples Taoism and Meditation in the
"White Cloud Temple" in Peking West Mountain. He created another school for Tai
Chi and other exercises on the Wu-Tang Mountain in Hupei Province. This school
stood for several hundred years.


Chang San-Feng emerges from the pages of history as an
individual larger than life in every way. As well as remaining alive and healthy
for over three hundred years, it is said that he could walk thousands of
kilometres without tiring, and without blinking an eye he would catch in one
hand the arrows of his enemies. He had a pet ape, who collected firewood and
practised a simian version of Tai Chi.
TAI CHI TODAY
There have been many great Tai Chi teachers since Chang's era, and to them we owe the
present forms. Two of the more popular schools are the Yang and the Wu, named
after their respective founders. In 1957, after the Revolution, the government
of the People's Republic of China requested the Ministry of Physical Culture to
create a new Tai Chi Form. The most beneficial and aesthetic movements of the
various schools were combined, and this is the form which is most widely taught
today. It is simply called the "Short Form", and takes about six minutes to
perform, although it may take six months or more to learn.
The average Tai Chi practitioner of today is not really aware of the changes which are
taking place in the subtle bodies and in the mind as a result of the practice.
Most people begin to look forward to that quiet, solitary hour; that time when
there is permission to be quiet. The inner quiet refreshes weary, overloaded
senses; day by day the slow, soothing motion dissolves physical tensions and
obstructions.
The Tai Chi Form is a precisely choreographed sequence
of motion anywhere from five to sixty minutes long, depending on which one you
learn. Tai Chi Ch'uan is 'played' in slow motion, and is accompanied by
deep and regular breathing. Unlike other forms of exercise, the body is always
upright -- the skeleton hangs as though suspended from the crown of the head,
relaxed through all the joints, so that the weight of the body sinks downward
through the legs and feet. It begins in stillness, and is a physical embodiment
of the principle of "Wei- Wu-Wei" or 'doing-without-doing', and manifests
strength through yielding and vice versa. The movement originates and is
generated from this stillness. In other words, the movement originates not with
muscular force, but with an internal energy which is the product of breathing
and thought. Practising Tai Chi Ch'ung regularly has many benefits -- it is
claimed to be an important aid to the circulation of the fluids of the body; to
tone muscles; relax nerves; may be an aid in the treatment of hypertension,
gastric disturbances, neurasthenia, heart disease, tuberculosis, depression md
impotency.
THE LIFE FORCE/ CREATIVE ENERGY/
For a form of exercise which is so gentle that the pulse rate remains normal and the body
temperature does not rise, how can we explain the reason for these benefits? In
speaking of the way the human body works, doctors of Chinese medicine will often
refer to the life force or vital energy, called simply 'Chi', which flows
through the body on specific pathways. This vital, intrinsic energy may be
tapped at some seven hundred points on the body, where the pathways come to the
surface. These points are used in acupuncture to correct an imbalance in the
energy flow which has adversely affected the functioning power of some internal
organ. It is claimed that the correct practice of the Tai Chi Form opens the
channels along which the energy flows, thus correcting the imbalances with
consequent benefits to our health.
What is this 'Chi' or vital energy?
The Taoists believed that the bodily 'Chi' is developed by combining the
essential creative energy in the reproductive secretions and the power from the
kidney centre (adrenals) known as the 'Ming Men'. They called it water and fire
in combination, or "the internal elixir of immortality". It is preserved in the
'Tan Tien' -- a centre one and one third inches below and within the navel. The
'Chi' is the primordial life force itself, and begins in humans with the
piercing of an egg by a sperm cell. From this fusion an enormously complex new
human being develops. 'Chi' is the continuous flow of energy linking the various
tissues, organs and brain functions into a unified whole - - - a person. 'Chi'
also links this person to his/her environment. The main channels of 'Chi' energy
flow in the body were discovered by sages meditating on the human foetus inside
the womb. They observed that the baby grows up around its mother's navel point,
or 'tan tien', and through its navel the foetus absorbs nutrients and expels
wastes. The foetus literally 'breathes' through the umbilical cord from the
mother to its own navel, down to the perineum, and up to the head and down
through the tongue to the navel again. The navel point is thus said by Taoists
to be the starting point for the flow of the life energy, or 'Chi', and
remains the point of strongest energy storage and circulation in the
adult.
Since the 1960's and '70's much attention in the W focussed on
the higher stages of Yogic development, in a phenomenon occurs known as
awakening of the Kundalini. This is the sudden release of vast untapped
reservoirs of creative energy that transports an ordinarv human into states of
higher consciousness, and bestows upon her/him unique creative powers. A
person who has attained full command of this Cosmic Energy is said by Hindus to
hasve attained 'Samadhi', the Buddhists call it 'Nirvana', Chinese refer to it
as the 'Tao'. Among prophets of Age it is known as
'Super-consciousness'.
In India the Kundalini is symbolized by a
serpent awakening from a deep slumber, rising up from the base of the a
spiralling motion through the seven energy centres 'chakras' of the body. This
is also a universal symbol for and healing. The Taoist symbolized the 'Tao' more
abstractly with the Yin and Yang symbols spiralling into each contained within a
circle. The symbolic difference translates to a real difference in terms of
meditational approach aimed at awakening the release of this Cosmic Energy. The
Hindu Yogis emphasized raising kundalini to a higher transcendental level the
Taoist Master emphasized harmonious circulation of the energy between chakras.
Chinese pragmatism worked its way into Chinese metaphysics. One did not raise up
consciousness toward Heaven without rooting it equally in the Earth.
This need for 'grounding' defined the development of Taoist Yoga. Tai Chi Ch'uan
is really a walking Yoga, with self- defence and healing applications. Unlike
Indian Yoga, one's feet never leave the ground, increasing one's rootedness in
the earth energy, and safeguarding against excessive energy in the head. It is
this excessive energy in the head which often leads to illusions of spiritual
advancement, know spiritual egotism. The Esoteric Taoist System guards this
danger by beginning with the very lowest chakra energy -the survival needs, and
constantly reintegrating it with the higher energies that are developed. The
Microcosmic Orbit is a perfect example, as it circulates past all seven chakras
in the body.
The Taoist advocates moderation, not asceticism. The goal is
to bring the body, mind and spirit into harmony with the world -- not to
escape from it.
At the very highest level, Taoist Esoteric Yoga has
techniques to awaken the kundalini energy to such a level that it is
thrust beyond the body for the purpose of doing spiritual work in subtle realms
of consciousness.
Taoist Esoteric Meditation does not focus on a single chakra, such as heart, eyebrow or crown chakras,
but builds a solid and powerful energy base by thoroughly mastering the flow of 'Chi' within the
body.
THE WARRIOR
The state of the mind of the Tai Chi practitioner should
be a state of simple awareness of the subtle relationship between mind and body.
The two should act as one. The personification of this quality of awareness is
The Warrior. It is remarkable how often and in what disparate traditions this
image appears - not only in Tai Chi, which does have a martial side, but in
meditational tracts and yogic writings. A Great Warrior, as one text puts it,
has no opinions, he is simply aware. To be a warrior is to be self-possessed,
centred, acutely aware, and empty. It is a very particular state of mind, one
which focuses on the moment, free of doubts and idle speculation.
IN CONCLUSION
To close this offering I would like to quote from the writings of
the fourth century B.C. sage, Chuang Tzu, who was Lao Tzu's greatest disciple. A
characteristic of the Great Adepts is their sense of humour, and Chuang's
writings are peppered with humorous stories. It was said that he was offere the
high office of the Prime Minister of the State of Chou, but rejected the offer,
preferring the liberty of the natural life of the sage. This description
of the incident can be found in his book, The Book of Ckmang Tzu or The Chuang
Ching, and is told with characteristic humorous brevity.. .The sage was
fishing one day, when an imperial deputation arrived to offer him the position
of Prime Minister. Without looking up, he said.. .1 hear that there is a sacred
tortoise which your Prince keeps in a chest in his Ancestral Shrine,' although
it has been dead, these three thousand years. Do you suppose it would prefer to
be venerated in death, or to be alive and wagging its tail in the mud? Surely
the latter, said the officials. Then away with you! said the philosopher, and
leave me to wag mine.
In a more serious vein, his description of the Yin and
Yang has never been equalled. He wrote. . .
I saw Yin, the Female Energy, in
its motionless grandeur.
I saw Yang, the Male Energy, rampant in its fiery
vigour.
The motionless grandeur came up out of the earth;
The fiery vigour
burst out from heaven; the two
penetrated one another, were inextricably
blended and from their union
the things of the worid were born.







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