Serving Community through the Tao

The following article was written for the Hindu Council’s 3rd national conference in May 2010:

Serving Community through the Tao
Community networking and strengthening bonds from a Taoist perspective

“Through looking at the problems of human beings as a whole,
we can see where our own individual problems lie,
and through working on our individual problems, our lives get elevated.
When our lives are on a higher level,
we can help to deal with the problems of humanity as a whole”.*

THE TAO

“What is ‘truth’? It is following Dao,
following the most fundamental laws of life and the universe.
There is only one fundamental law for each thing.
Everyone may have a different view on this one thing,
so who is right if there is only one truth, one fundamental law? …

It is our job to seek that one truth”.*

The Tao Te Ching is one of Taoism’s foremost authorities on the philosophy of the Tao, or the way of life. It describes how human beings can return to their natural state and live in harmony with the Tao. With over 7,000 years of history and more than 3,600 different Taoist sects, it is impossible here to give a full overview of Taoism. However, taking just one modern-day school’s teachings as an example – Ren Xue Zhineng Qi Gong – I would like to offer some thoughts on how the principles of Taoism can be applied to ‘community networking and strengthening bonds from a Taoist perspective’.

First of all, let’s look at the dual concepts of ‘networking’ and ‘communities’. Generally one could say this involves some sort of communication, interaction, sharing of ideas, support and assistance, with the goal of improving any given situation. And the one common denominator in those actions is a human being! So in order to be our best in our interactions in community, we need to be our best as an individual; and we function at our best when we are physically healthy, mentally clear, emotionally stable and spiritually uplifted. And for this to happen we need to cultivate and uplift ourselves.

This is where the practice of Qi Gong comes in. According to Ren Xue Human Life Science’ The two essential elements of traditional Chinese culture are Dao and Qi; Dao is the fundamental law of the universe and life, Qi is the change and activities that manifest Dao. Qigong is the method that goes with them from the very beginning’.*

QI

Qi,气 is the fundamental substance of life, one definition being ‘energy impregnated with information’. Thus essentially we are a field of energy and information. And our Qi can be upgraded and fine-tuned. In Chinese medicine our physical structure, functions and Qi, are formed from Jing (essence) and Qi, classified together as ‘Ming’. And our mind, the source of consciousness and spirituality – the True Self – is our Shen. Xing and Ming are actually one, and we need to work on both simultaneously in order to grow and evolve. This is known as Xiu or self-cultivation, which consists of two processes: correcting things that are not right, and self-refinement. The goal is to see and manifest the True Self, to reach a high level of realization and clarity, so that life can transcend to a higher level. According to Master Yuan Tze, founder of Ren Xue,“To uplift oneself and uplift others is our primary mission in life. It is the highest level you can get to when trying to deal with your own problems and help others”.*

QI GONG – A TOOL FOR TRANSFORMATION

Qi Gong is a form of training where bye the consciousness is brought inwards in order to transform and enhance our being. In so doing we align ourselves with the law of human life and collectively evolve the human race to a higher level. “We can look at all human problems as being the result of going against the law, and hence to deal with problems we have to go back and begin to follow the law. We have to manifest the real spirit of science which is seeking the truth and discovering the unknown fundamental law in order to serve humanity.”*

So what is this law and how can we live it? Although, as Lao Tze says in his opening verse of the Tao Te Ching ‘The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao’, it can generally be described as the correct way of life. According to Ren Xue philosophy, the first principle used to guide us on this way is ‘self-cultivation via the action of Zi Du Du Ren: ‘lift yourself up, lift others up’. To ‘Du’ yourself is to deal with your own problems and once you have done that you can then be of assistance to others. According to Ren Xue this is the ultimate goal of life.

To accomplish this we need firstly to always be in an internal state of ‘calm and relaxation’, this being the ‘natural’ state, the state of the Tao. Then the True Self will manifest, bringing with it a natural state of joy. We also need to acquire a level of truth, knowledge and understanding which we can authentically pass onto others. Only then can we “touch people with virtues and earn trust with true abilities”*

There are more principles that accompany the central idea of ‘Zi Du, Du Ren, which we do not have time to cover here. However, once we have begun to master and live our life using these principles, we can then bring the concept of ‘Dao De’ into the picture.

DAO DE

Dao De can be described as the moral codes which people follow when they interact, and include three key elements: motives, behaviour and judgements.  “When deciding whether to do something to achieve the result we want, we think about whether it is a good thing to do. This involves Dao De judgements. Once the decision is made, an action may follow. The Dao De motive will change into Dao De behaviour. While the behaviour is occurring or when it is completed, we assess the effects or consequences to see if they are consistent with the motive”. *

So we need to constantly check that our actions are beneficial, in other words are they fulfilling the requirements of ‘Zi Du Du Ren’.  If not they will deplete our Qi and downgrade our Shen. So the questions we need to ask in our actions with others are, (a) ‘what are my intentions, (b) am I delivering the purpose of my actions and (c) do my intentions and actions fit the guideline of ‘uplifting myself and others?’. If we can honestly say yes, then hopefully we will be going somewhere along the road to fulfilling the mission of serving community as best we can.

* All quotes from Master Yuan Tze, ‘Voyage to the Shore’

Qi Gong – Master your Energy and become your own Master

By Kim Knight, Director of the Art of Health, Auckland, New Zealand

Most people have heard of ‘Chi Kung’, which is loosely translated as ‘energy management’. And most people have heard of the Chinese term for life force – ‘Chi’. This article will explain a little bit about our life force, and how, using the tools of the Universal Healing Tao, we can learn to manage and enhance it for our own health and well-being.

Chi

So, firstly, a little about Chi. Whilst it is impossible to put such an esoteric concept into words, it has been described by Gilles Marin, author and Senior Tao Instructor, as ‘the breath of creation’, ‘energy impregnated with information’ and ‘the energy carrying the deliberate intent to promote life and existence’.

And whilst most people are familiar with Chi in general, its multiple origins and forms are lesser known. To simplify, there are three main sources for the Chi we find in our body:

  1. Jing Chi – known as our ‘original Chi or inherited Chi’ which is passed down to us from our parents
  2. Gu Chi – or digestive Chi, which is derived from the food and drink we ingest
  3. Da Chi – or Cosmic Chi, which is drawn in through the lungs

Even from just understanding this we can see the impact on our own health of (a) the quality of our parents’ Chi (which is an amalgam of their spiritual / mental / emotional and physical states) (b) the quality of our food / drink and eating habits (ie, chewing well and eating slowly for good digestion) and (c) our breathing and exercise habits.

Da Chi and Gu Chi are then combined to produce ‘Zong Chi’ which is transformed into ‘Zhen Chi’, a fully refined Chi that is now ready to be used by the body. Zhen Chi is further divided into

(a) ‘Wei Chi’, a specific type of Chi that helps us to maintain good energetic boundaries and protects the body from infections and

(b) ‘Ying Chi’ which is used by the body to nourish the cells and move the blood.

As Chi travels through the organs, it takes on the quality of that organ system: Chi travelling through the Heart and Endocrine system becomes ‘Fire Chi’, in the Kidneys ‘Water Chi’, in the Spleen and Stomach ‘Earth Chi’, in the Lungs ‘Metal Chi’, and in the Liver and nerves ‘Wood Chi’. Thus we find Five Elemental Forces within the body, a direct reflection of the Five Elemental Forces of Nature in the Universe.

CHI KUNG

Conservation of Energy

So, before going into how we can tap directly into the unlimited energy pools of Universal and Cosmic Chi, a few words about Chi Kung or ‘energy management’. According to Master Mantak Chia, founder of the Universal Healing Tao, “our first goal is to conserve our Chi: when a battery is drained it is harder to charge. Money makes Money. Chi makes Chi. Conservation of Chi will help gain more Chi.” In his book ‘Cosmic Healing I’ he explains how we unwittingly leak energy in 3 major ways:

  1. Through negative emotions
  2. Through constantly turning our senses outwards
  3. Through the reproductive system – (for men via ejaculation, for women via menstruation).

In the beginning practices of the Universal Healing Tao (UHT) we learn to root to the earth and build a good energetic structure with Iron Shirt Chi Kung. According to Chia, just like a tyre needs to have the correct psi, we need to maintain a good level of Chi pressure inside the body. This keeps our vital organs in their correct position and protects them with several layers of ‘Chi’ cushioning – an ‘Iron Shirt’.

We also learn through the sitting meditations of the Cosmic Inner Smile andSix Healing Sounds to bring our senses inwards to rest with their parents: the tongue rolls down to the Heart, the mouth to the Spleen, the ears to the Kidneys, the eyes to the Liver and the nose to the Lungs. And through the Healing Lovepractices, we learn to transform sexual energy back into life force that can be used to nourish the body. As I was once told ‘If you don’t learn how to control your sexual energy, it will control you.”

Balancing Energy

Apart from conserving Chi, we also need to balance it. Our energy needs to flow freely through the body’s meridiens (energetic pathways) like a river. Only then can our cells and organs remain healthy. Unfortunately, due to habits and lifestyle, our Chi can become stagnant, blocked, excessive in some areas and deficient in others. This affects all levels of our being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. So for example, if your liver is clogged with physical toxins, you are likely to feel (mentally) nervous and (emotionally) frustrated or angry. And too much heat in the heart will result in feelings of impatience and hastiness.

According to Taoists sages, the physiological function of each organ will equally be impaired by negative emotions: worry affects the spleen / stomach; fear and stress affect the kidneys and sadness and grief affect the Lungs.

Practicing the Cosmic Inner Smile and Six Healing Soundsmeditations we connect with and clear negative emotional energy from the organs. And with theMicrocosmic Orbit meditation we free up and circulate our Chi flow around two major meridians which together form a loop up the back and down the front of the body.

Each organ system also stores a particular part of our Soul and Spirit, which ‘reveal’ themselves in our positive ‘virtues’. The Heart’s essence is joy, gratitude and respect; The Stomach and Spleen’s are trust and openness. The virtues in the Kidneys are deep peace and stillness, which are also the essential nature of the Water Element. Each virtue is infact the essence of one of the Five Elemental Forces of Nature found in both our body and the Cosmos, which when combined form the energy of Compassion.

Transformation of Energy

Once we have started to conserve and balance our Chi, we can then learn totransform it into more beneficial energies. In the next stage of practice, theFusion of the Five Elements – remembering that energy can never be destroyed, only transformed – we (a) journey through the organs to collect negative emotions which are then (b) collected in a ‘cauldron’ at the navel and transformed into a purified ‘pearl’ of pure Chi which is then (c) passed through the organs again gathering the virtues so that finally (d) a ‘pearl of compassion’ can be moved through the meridians and organs to clear blockages and nourish our being.

As Mantak Chia puts it “Chi is not only the foundation of our health, it is also the basis of spiritual development in the Tao”. The Fusion practices are level 3 out of a total of 9 levels of ‘Internal Alchemy’. Initially the practices are aimed at enhancing our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. However, in the process of creating a solid foundation of health, the basis for developing ones spiritual independence is also created. Once one reaches the more advanced practices such as Kan and Li and Sealing of the Five Senses, one builds an immortal foetus and energy body which becomes the vehicle for passing into spirit. The ultimate goal of Taoist practice is infact the transcendence of physical boundaries through the development of the soul and the spirit within.

Increasing Energy

Once we have accomplished the 3 phases of conserving, balancing and transforming Chi, we then learn to increase it. It is essential to first learn the above three phases or we will either waste the extra energy or amplify any negative energy still in the body.

As Master Chia puts it, Chi is everywhere – it pervades all of heaven, earth and nature, and we just need to learn how to tap into the unlimited, transpersonal reservoirs of Universal and Cosmic energy. Via the Microcosmic Orbit and the practice of ‘Opening the 3 Tan Tiens to the 6 Directions’ we connect our Macrocosmic (Individual Being) with the Microcosm (Whole), moving up through the solar system, Milky Way, the Five Elements, Three Pure Ones and Tai Chi, arriving at the Primordial Force (Wu Tao).

Remembering that we are a miniature version of the Universe, we too have our own primordial force at our centre: the Tan Tien or ‘Elixir Field’. This is where our Original Force is stored and where we can store any Chi that we create inside or absorb from the Universe. This is also the site of our abdominal brain, which we can train to use so that we can rest the head brain, which tends to be overworked.

Healing

Finally, a practitioner learns to assist others using Cosmic Healing Chi Kung, Chi Nei Tsang and the World Link meditation. There are many other branches of purification within the Universal Healing Tao, including Bone Breathing, Stem Cell Chi Kung and Healing Buddha Palms. With so many Chi Kung practices to choose from, and with their ongoing cumulative and beneficial effects, Master Chia reminds us that ‘according to the ancient sages, long-term practice beyond two years and most effectively if practiced life-long, could retard the various degenerative changes associated with old age. A diligent practitioner often lived to ninety years of age and remained healthy and alert, able to jog, run and climb mountains with ease, and continued to enjoy life more fully than most people’.

Tapping directly into these Universal and Cosmic forces teaches us that we are born with the ability to by-pass a total reliance on plants or animals for the life-force which they themselves have absorbed from the Cosmos. We are designed to go directly to the Source – we just need to know how.

For more information see www.taohealth.co.nz and www.mickeltherapy.co.nz