Is achievement driven by ego, the soul, or both?
1. Featured Special: Taoist Dream Practice Audio CD + Lucid Dreaming Qigong DVD – SAVE $35 before midnight May 31, 2015. Order at: info@HealingTaoUSA.com. Details below.
2. May 16-17, 2015 Taoist Dream Practice dreamshop – Lucid Living & Dreaming Qigong. Register at: info@HealingTaoUSA.com.
3. May 22-25, 2015: Omega Super Qi Summit: 9 Top USA Teachers. Rhinebeck, N.Y. http://www.eomega.org/workshops/super-qi-summit?source=Fweb.WinnM.ws#-workshop-description-block
4. June 19 – July 22, 2015. 16 FANTASTIC TAO SUMMER RETREATS. Reserve online now! Low prices, high energy, very cool people! See below. http://www.HealingTaoRetreats.com
FEEL FREE TO HIT REPLY and RESPOND. I love hearing from you!
Inside Chi Flows Naturally:
Dear Lovers of Having Your Cake and Eat it Too,
There is a tug of war going on in most people. It’s between the tangible personal needs of their ego and the distant inner whisper of their soul. I’ve counseled thousands of students during my three+ decades as a spiritual teacher. The Number One Question, and main cause of confusion?
Which voice do I follow to find my true path in life?
Easy question to ask, hard to answer. What part of our psyche is asking the question? Do we listen to the voice of immediate practicality, or the voice from an unfathomable future or higher self promising spiritual reward? Partners, family, parents, friends, Culture, Big Religion, Big Science, economic necessity, spiritual guides and ancestors are all chiming in at the same time.
People are legitimately confused because what they “hear” in their head is a roaring cacophony of conflicting voices, Welcome to the Kingdom of the Monkey Mind. Making it even more confusing, there are plenty of stories in books and films (= Culture voice) about people who have money, fame, and beautiful sexy partners, but whose lives are a soggy alcohol or drug-crazed messy divorce. They appear to have little of the ego happiness that one presumes comes with worldly good fortune.
We also know of “spiritual types” who are struggling financially, who physically appear pasty-faced and weak, and don’t seem to be emanating bliss or making tangible contributions to community life. They are not inspiring models, even as they feel driven to make progress towards an inner state of meditative peace. So pursuing worldly benefit vs. spiritual reward can seem like a very elusive shell game, regardless of which voice you listen to.
Ego vs. Soul Struggle Well-debated in Ancient China
This conflict between following the ego’s practical voice of meeting worldly needs vs. the voice calling for the awakening of our soul is not new. It’s not unique to our culture. The ancient Taoists have been debating this issue for thousands of years. Traditionally it has taken the form of debate over which to cultivate first: worldly destiny (ming) or original nature (xing, pronounced shing).
Worldly Destiny advocates (known as Southern School of Inner Alchemy) call for cultivating sexual and body-centered energy first, to lay a strong foundation and yin-yang balanced vessel for later spiritual progress. Today, advocates of this path might start with medical and martial forms of qigong/tai chi. They would seek the perfect romantic partner. Those strengthen your body and energize your psyche.
The Original Nature folks are from the Northern School, most famously Dragon Gate sect of Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) Taoism. They focus on directly cultivating our essence that will survive death. They view sex as a distraction. They are going straight for immortality, but allow — secondarily — that completing worldly destiny and cultivating bodily health afterwards has some value.
If you want an excellent summary of this debate in China, read the book chapter by Fabrizio Pregadio posted in my Tao Articles archive called Daoist Scholars Illuminate the Way. I consider Pregadio one of the best academics on neidan gong (internal alchemy) today. His website http://www.GoldenElixir.com has excellent translations of inner alchemy texts.
Pregadio’s chapter, Destiny, Vital Force, or Existence?
The limitation of academia? Scholars don’t know orally transmitted cultivation methods, nor practice the methods they glean from written texts. It’s DOING the internal practices that confers benefit and self-knowledge, not external KNOWING ABOUT them. But scholars can frame the historical issues and bring to life many wise ancient voices. This gives clarity to us moderns in choosing one spiritual practice or path over another.
The very reason I run a summer Healing Tao University retreat program is so Westerners can get out of their philosophical armchair, and into their body. People actually master the practical DOING and get benefits in their lives, not just in their head. (see summer retreat listings below).
Healing Tao: Personal Health & Happiness Comes First
Where is the Healing Tao USA lineage positioned on this spectrum of cultivating worldly ego vs. spiritual self? I visited Mt. Changbai in August 2013, where the Healing Tao lineage originated with the transmission from Taoist recluse White Cloud, about whom almost nothing is known. White Cloud taught the seeker One Cloud in the 1920’s or early 30’s. The lineage was picked up later in Hong Kong by a bright young high school student named Mantak Chia, who eventually brought it to America in 1976.
It was at the base of Mt. Changbai that I met a double PhD Taoist Ju Xi. His decades of research into ancient texts confirmed that White Cloud’s Changbai Pai (Path) is at least a thousand years older than either the Northern or Southern schools (11-13th centuries c.e.). Ju Xi found evidence that Wei Boyang, the author of China’s oldest Taoist internal alchemy text (Cantong Qi, or Triplex Unity) was trained in alchemy at Mt. Changbai. He believes its oral tradition is even older – about four thousand years old.
China Dream Trip 2016 will be visiting Mt. Changbai and Mt. Hua – the two most spiritually powerful mountains in China. Date is mid-August 2016, the time when weather is best at Mt. Changbai. To get on the advance notice elist, hit reply, put China Trip in the subject line.
» One Cloud Lineage on Ego vs. Original Nature
» 16 Fantastic Summer Tao Retreats – RESERVE NOW
» Taoist Dream Practice – May 16-17 in Asheville
» Omega Super Qi Summit – 9 Top Qigong Teachers May 22-25
» Dream Practice Special – SAVE 35%
» Can a Fish Lose the Tao? (photo)
One Cloud Lineage on Ego vs. Original Nature
One Cloud (Mantak’s teacher) was not attracted to joining any of the big, uniformed, temple-based Taoist sects in China such as Quanzhen or Zhengyi. He did not want the monastic temple life. Rather he was a Taoist who moved to remote Mt. Changbai only after 30 years of family and business life. One Cloud’s approach, and his inner alchemy formulas. is in alignment with the 2nd century Triplex Unity text.
One Cloud’s formulas start with harmonizing the body-mind with one’s worldly destiny. They gradually move up a ladder of refining Jing, Qi, and Shen (body essence, breath, & spirit) into Original Nature. This requires increasingly more subtle levels of cosmic awareness and spiritual skill in transformation. Details of One Cloud’s formulas are here: http://www.healingtaousa.com/one_clouds_nine_tao_alchemy_formulas.html
Fast forward to today, forty years after Mantak Chia’s arrival in America in 1976. Mantak came with the intent to write ONE book about One Cloud. The vast bulk of Mantak Chia’s 35 books and 50 DVDs are focused on cultivating post-natal Qi of the body-mind (or ego). Post-natal Qi is the focus of One Cloud 1st Inner Alchemy Formula – the six other formulas teach you how to cultivate pre-natal or primordial Qi. The 1st formula is what modern people need most – immediate yiin-yang balance in energy, immediate ability to sense Qi in their body, immediate good health.
Most people want to resolve their sexual desires and relationship and health issues before they find the strength to tackle the vibrational split between spirit and matter. This is a lifetime job, working on the “separation” issue many humans feel between Heaven and Earth. The majority of students never graduate beyond One Cloud’s 1st post-natal Qi formula (now divided into three separate formulas for ease of learning). Full soul awakening using the higher formulas requires more time and discipline than they are willing to commit.
Gradual Progress vs. Immediate Enlightenment
The 2nd century Triplex Unity text highlights that there is a higher attainment of “Great Integrity” (shang de), perhaps Wei Boyang’s term for “xing” Original Nature. But the text acknowledges that most humans need to attain progress gradually via the path of “Lesser Integrity” (xiao de). This lesser path is the gradual alchemical coupling of polarities in the body-mind. This would include male-female polarity, which is not so easy since we are born into a gendered body.
Wei Boyang, trained at Changbai mountain, used sun and moon cycles and I Ching trigram cycles to symbolically define this coupling of yin and yang. In principle, his Triplex Unity precedes the Southern School’s gradual method of self-cultivation by a thousand years, even if not using the same methods. But Boyang makes absolutely clear that the ultimate goal is soul realization of cosmic unity within a human body, not merely individuation of the personal/ego (to use the Jungian phrase).
Ego as Local Self vs. Egoism as Bad Habits of Self
Let’s return to the original question – “which voice should I listen to?” The question itself is usually being asked by the Personality, aka the “body-mind”, the “ego” or “lesser self”. Ego is the Latin term for “I”. It was popularized by Freud in his 1920 essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle as a symbolic description of the psyche. He saw ego as the organized, practical part of our psyche that mediates between the instinctual desires of the id and the moralistic restraining super-ego.
The heart-mind (xin) is the closest Chinese equivalent to this modern sense of ego. They view the elemental struggle between the twelve organ and bowel spirits as defining the balance of power in our psyche, which could roughly be equated as jing (= id), qi (= ego), and shen (= super-ego).
The main difference between Taoism and Freudian theory is the Taoists have a very large practical tool kit, with more tangible ways to interact with and transform these three levels. Karl Jung, Freud’s successor, knew the secret of transformation lay in alchemy, and spent the last 15 years of his life trying to penetrate alchemy’s secrets.
Egotism is a term that has acquired a different meaning. It suggests an imbalance or excess of ego, or expression of the ego’s bad habits. But many people wrongly confuse “ego” and “egotism”, and malign the very presence of the local ego-self and its legitimate desires. Some paths suggest we stop asking the question, by getting rid of the local self. This is accomplished by denying that ego even exists, that it’s an illusion. In China, this is the position taken by Chan (Zen) Buddhists. They feel it is a waste of time to try to improve the world, and focus exclusively on cultivating their Original Nature.
Other paths try to jump quickly from the ego to a Higher Self. I find serious limitations in both the deny-the-ego and transcend-the-ego approaches. They both take you out of the Present Moment, where according to Taoist theory, all change occurs. That’s why I’m in the integrate-the-ego-with-the-soul school.
What is the Soul? How Does it Function?
It takes work to get to the top of any mountain. As we get closer to the top, the impending sense of completion makes every step seem lighter and easier. Effortlessness (wu wei) is a skill that Taoists cultivate, but it arises out of skilled effort. Wu Wei is not for the lazy.
What is the soul? It’s use in western religions is very fuzzy – Christians believe you can actually lose your soul, implying it is somehow separate from our ego. Most Buddhists deny there is a soul. Taoists say we have to grow our soul spark into a mature Inner Sage.
In my view, the Soul is the invisible entity that creates the ego – our personality and its body.
I feel Soul Awakening is the key to spiritual progress as the soul is the go-between the ego and it’s own source, the oversoul. The soul is simultaneously projecting itself in opposite directions, physical and spiritual. It projects itself into a physical body-mind, an ego, with the specific purpose of learning something new. That’s why Earth is often called the School of Physical Learning. Asking the question “which voice do I listen to?” puts us on a Path to awaken us to the possibility of integrating soul and ego.
The Taoist equivalent of the western “soul” is the term “ling”, which translates as the “inner heart essence“. Taoist ling/soul is popularly known in the West as the Energy Body. The Energy Body is a subtle body vessel made of multiple layers of Qi, nested like a Russian doll. This allows Qi from our oversoul and soul to continually flow in and out of our physical body-mind/ego.
The soul also holds the keys to our Original Nature, which can only be realized via the oversoul – the causal level of collective consciousness. Taoists refer to oversoul as da shen, the great spirit. Our soul communicates directly with our oversoul, the source from which our soul emanates. This communication happens by awakening the higher vibrational frequencies in our Energy Body. In One Cloud’s path, these are activated and stabilized in the higher inner alchemy formulas.
“Kill the Ego” Approach has Serious Flaws
What voice do I (Michael Winn) personally listen to, ego or soul? I LISTEN TO BOTH. I’m in the “have your cake and eat it too” camp. I’ve found the ego is best treated like a child that needs more love and more education.
I have explored the “kill the ego” approach and found it doesn’t work. Who is supposed to “kill” the ego? The Soul? Then how will the intangible soul function in the ego’s physical world without an embodied persona? How will it get its Earth lessons, needed for soul growth? This kill-the-ego approach throws out the baby with the bathwater. But iIt may be temporiarily useful as a technique if we are stuck in a deep rut and need to quickly dismantle our egotisical patterns.
Certainly everyone has felt the impulse to kill someone else when we are fed up with their egotistical personality patterns. We want them dead, in the sense of removing them from our life. But the more heartfelt approach is to treat them the same way you would a child who has not yet matured. You don’t kill a child because they don’t know better.
There are many adults running around with childhood issues that still “don’t know better”, even if you tell them HOW to be better. The emotional pattern they are trapped in is not rational. An emotional (and possibly traumatized) child will not easily take advice from a mental, rational adult.
Child-adult lines of communication often don’t connect. When I want to communicate with my one year old son, I have to shift into his mode of feeling. He might be throwing a tantrum and crying. When I get down on my hands and knees, and engage him at his level by crawling, he starts laughing and his imagined trauma suddenly turns into play.
Or, instead of killing the Ego as our enemy, we can take the view of Jesus: Love Thine Enemy. This a paradoxical teaching, and means to learn from those you hate most – they are your best earth-plane teachers. In this sense, our ego is our soul’s teacher. Loving it and embracing it as a necessary part of us is the solution.
Ego and Soul have different functions. They can co-exist and learn to love each other. They need to be harmonized, not be at war with each other in a life and death struggle. Both ego and soul are overlaid into a single eternally flowing Present Moment. All change happens in this Present Moment. All ego limitation is human ignorance of the all pervading harmonious Qi field of the Tao. Lao Tzu never talks about past lives or future lives as the place of salvation. Tao only exists in the ever-flowing Present Moment, beyond-all psychic structures.
Choose Different Qigong for Ego vs. Soul Cultivation
I recommend people cultivate themselves with different types of qigong and meditation, to get a balance between cultivating the body-mind vs. soul. The majority of qigong forms cultivate post-natal Qi, which is body-mind strengthening. They boost the ego’s level of happiness. Six Healing Sounds is a good example of an ego-healing, post-natal qigong. It releases Qi blockages in the organ spirits and reduces stress, allowing the ego or local self to function better.
But wait a minute. Doesn’t the intangible soul, with its multi-dimensional perspective, “know what is right for the ego”? If the answer to that question is YES, then it seems logical to forget about striving for ego happiness and go straight for growing our soul awareness. Why waste time on fixing secondary egoic patterns? Why not stop the ego from making painful mistakes that cause itself and others great suffering?
This logic has great merit. It’s why I’ve developed a healing process that grows a new body-mind instead of trying to fix the broken parts of our body body or psyche. But this argument can go back and forth forever – because the ego and the soul are the outer and inner faces of the same Self.
If you accept this symbiotic relationship, our reality has to be co-created by the Personality together with the Soul. People who believe their Higher Self alone is going to solve all their problems are, in my humble opinion, delusional and basically ungrounded.
No change will happen in our worldly life unless the Personality ALIGNS with the wisdom and higher vibration of the Soul. It must allow the soul’s wisdom to download, fully aware, into this body and into this physical world. That’s why I constantly advise inviting help from higher levels of ourself. The help cannot arrive until the personality invites it. The personality-body (ego) will always be a necessary interface between between our Soul and the World.
That’s why Primordial Tai for Enlightened Love, aka Wu Ji Gong and Primordial Qigong, is such a powerful form. It is a cosmological qigong form, and thus it works on multiple levels at once. It balances our post-natal Qi, giving us medical and emotional relief.
It simultaneously aligns our ego “doing” the ceremony with our higher subtle bodies of our soul and our sense of “being’, our Original Nature. It does this by simultaneously balancing external yin-yang Qi while building up Original Qi (yuan Qi) in our core channel. If focused with clear intention, it can change our karma and speed up the evolution of our highest destiny. So it integrates the Northern and Southern Schools, our being and our becoming, into one practice.
For more about this form, see http://www.taichi-enlightenment.com
I hope this discussion helps you navigate your own Way through the maze of teachings and teachers without falling into judgement about your struggling loca self.
16 Fantastic Summer Tao Retreats – RESERVE NOW
Enjoy Fabulous Tao Summer Retreats near Asheville, North Carolina
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-575-3825 or 888-750-1773 in USA.
These are the highest quality, most fun, lowest-cost retreats, with fantastic teachers & a great place to meet totally cool, spiritually hip Taoists. There is no place else like it on planet Earth.
The $495. week-long tuition (before numerous discounts) hasn’t been raised in 10 years! Our 501c3 non-profit is subsidizing the retreats, PLUS we have multiple-discounts, extended pay, workstudy and scholarships to further defray the cost.
The level of satisfaction is so high that we know at least one third of the people who come end up staying on for an additioinal retreat! It’s a special combination of fun and high-energy self-empowerment. Come enjoy a peak experience that many people feel boosts them the entire year!
Advance your health & spiritual well-being using “sure-footed” ancient Tao science in this Year of the Green Female Goat!
Need help deciding which retreat is right for you, or understanding all the jr, sr, foreigner, reviewer, multiple retreat discounts? Contact: Julia Considine, Retreats Registrar. email@example.com or call 828-575-3825 or 888-750-1773 in USA.
There is NO China Dream Trip planned for 2015. Next trip is planned for August 2016. To be added to advance notification list, hit reply, put “China 2016” in subject line, send.
NOTE: Please double-check the dates of your chosen retreats – a few courses were changed.
1) get a $20. discount for pre-payment in full
2) Visit http://www.HealingTaoRetreats.com to book online, view videos, read full details on each fabulous retreat.
Folks spend a lot of time laughing at our retreats (photo: prior retreat site)
Healing Tao USA Summer Retreats 2015
Week 1 June 19 – 24, 2015 (Fri-Wed) + Summer Solstice Ceremony
1a. Medical & Spiritual Qigong Fundamentals 1-4 – Michael Winn
(or weekend option for Fundamentals 1&2 June 19-21)
1b. Chinese Yoga Tao-Yin + Inner Smile & Chi Self Massage –Andrew McCart
Week 2 June 26 – July 1, 2015 (Fri-Wed)
2a. Healing Love: Taoist Sexual Secrets – Michael Winn & Minke de Vos
2b. Fusion 1 Emotional Alchemy + Iron Shirt 1 Rooting
— Andrew McCart & Steven Sy
Week 3 July 3- 8, 2015 (Fri-Wed)
3a. Medical Qigong for Energy Healers – Minke de Vos
3b. Moved to Week 4d.
3c. Inner Sexual Alchemy (Lesser Kan & Li) – Michael Winn
3d. Tai Chi Qigong #1 Rooting + #2 Fast Fighting Form – Steven Sy
3e. Chi Nei Tsang 1: Deep Organ Massage – Jampa Stewart
Week 4 July 10- 15, 2015 (Fri-Wed)
4a. Chi Nei Tsang 2: Open Wind Gates – Jampa Stewart
4b. Planetary Alchemy Greatest Kan & Li: Living Astrology
– Michael Winn
4c. Deep Healing Medical Qigong form – Steven Sy
4d. Fusion 2 & 3 Macro-Orbit + Primordial Qigong
– Andrew McCart
Week 5 July 17- 22, 2015 (Fri-Wed)
5a. Iron Shirt Qigong 2 & 3: Tendon/Bone Marrow Washing
+ Meditate with Our Ancestors – Andrew McCart
5b. Bagua Zhang as Moving I Ching – Frank Allen
5c. Northern Wu Taiji Quan: Final Refinement of Classical Taiji Quan
– Tina Zhang
5d. Heaven & Earth Alchemy: The Great Oneness – Michael Winn
Don’t postpone the Easy Flow of Qi! Book a retreat NOW!
Taoist Dream Practice – May 16-17 in Asheville
Taoist Dream Practice: Qigong for Lucid Living & Lucid Dreaming
Dreamt by Michael Winn and all co-dreamers who attend!
Sat/Sun. Cost: $144. (set by sacred number, not value).
Sat: 9am to 5:30 pm
There will be a Sat. evening session after dinner (group dreaming). 8 pm- 10:30 pm.
Sunday 10 am – 5:30 pm
Bring a pillow, blanket, and eyemask. Mat is supplied. Pajamas are optional…:)
– Dream Practice vs. Dream Interpretation
– Dark Side vs. Evil Side, True Yin vs. False Yin
– Tao theory of Body Spirits at night
– Guided Meditations: body sleeps, Mind Awake
– Power Napping, Lucid Living, Dream Commands
– Short cuts to higher soul contact
Michael Winn youtube interview on Lucid Dreaming Qigong & Taoist Self-Cultivation (40 min.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-dHwroC9GU&feature=youtu.be
The youtube interview is long, but worth your time. It goes deep into my personal history as a lucid dreamer since I was a teenager. My night life got so active, I eventually ran a “Night School” in which I taught my day time friends the art of Lucid Flying in the dream world. I also explore the relationship between Taoist qigong and internal alchemy meditation, which has greatly raised my skill level and blurred the line between my day and night realities.
My integration of qigong and Taoist internal alchemy has allowed me to go in my daytime meditations to the same realms that are possible in the dream plane. The point of Tao dream practice is to take some shortcuts, as there is less resistance in the astral plane. But dream practice doesn’t necessarily give day time skill, so you need inner alchemy skill (neidan gong) to achieve complete mastery of one’s destiny.
My final conclusion: there is only One Self, dreaming both the day and night realities! But functioning from that Self (vs. the personality) requires discipline and training. My youtube interview is followed by spectacular images of Flower Mountain (Huashan ) in China, made famous by Chen Tuan, the Taoist Dream Immortal. Photos taken on China Dream Trips. We’ll be visiting Huashan’s famous “dream caves” in May 2014 – see below.
Register: 828 505 1444 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Asheville Training Center, 261 Ashland Ave. (2 blocks south of downtown Asheville).
Omega Super Qi Summit – 9 Top Qigong Teachers May 22-25
I will be teaching a seminar on Qigong and Sexual Alchemy within this great event.
Qi—the vital energy of life—is our greatest natural resource. Learning to cultivate, store, and express this vital energy can lead to improved health, creative awakening, and empowerment in every aspect of your life.
For the first time at Omega, we bring together NINE of the world’s masters of qigong, tai chi, and qi cultivation—from masters in qi healing and martial arts to experts in creativity and sacred sexuality.
Whether you are just starting to explore qigong or tai chi, or have been practicing for years, this exciting gathering of masters offers a profound experience in qi cultivation and healing.
Through breathing, visualization, and gentle movement practices that are simple, easy, and enjoyable, along with lectures and group discussions, we:
We also learn seven key exercises we can practice at home for improved health, greater creativity, more vitality, and enrichment of life overall.
These qi practices require no equipment and can be done by anyone in any physical condition.
Please note that FIVE of these nine top Qigong teachers are current or former faculty members at Healing Tao University’s summer retreat program!
Dream Practice Special – SAVE 35%
Featured Special available until May 31, midnight, 2015:
1. Tao Dream Practice Audio ONLY: reg. $109. Save $20. Buy for $89. + s/h
Note: order in MP3 format or Audio CD format (please specify).
2. Tao Dream Practice Audio + Lucid Dreaming Qigong DVD. Reg. $154. Save $35. Buy for only $119. + s/h.
Note this DVD is currently listed as Blissful Breathing Qigong, and is part of Medical & Spiritual Qigong Fundamentals 3. If you already have this DVD, order the Audio Dream Practice only. I originally developed this qigong form to support my private dream practice, but only recently labelled it as such.
TO ORDER either audio-only or the package audio + DVD, please email my office manager:
Jan Gillespie <email@example.com>
or call 828 505 1444 (or 888 999 0555 within USA).
This discount is NOT available online.
Can a Fish Lose the Tao? (photo)
Apparently fish are already in harmony with the Tao – they never seem to lose their Flowing Way. Likewise, a human can never truly lose their soul, even if we ignore its Presence.
Loving the Opportunity to Have My Cake and Eat It Too,
“Who takes Heaven as his ancestor, Virtue as his home,
“The Tao is very close, but everyone looks far away.
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