By Michael Winn
- Surrender. If we trust and surrender to the Life Force (Chi or Qi Field), the Life Force will flow into our body-mind. The Life Force supports us to effortlessly unfold who we truly are. Surrender is the prerequisite to expressing the highest level of our individual free will and creativity.The central challenge our ordinary ego-personality (heart-mind or ‘xin’ in Chinese) faces is the separation, fragmentation and dispersion of our underlying soul essence. Cloudy and reactive emotions, poor sexual habits, bad diet, shallow breathing, self-judgments, negative thinking and rejection of the spiritual nature of our physical body results in struggle, disease, suffering, and unhappy feeling of incompletion in life. Our resistance to life is what kills us. Self-cultivation teaches us to let go of our resistance to the Life Force.
- Harmony. The Life Force is about Process. It is made of three streams of vast flowing consciousness or chi that harmonize all life: negative-receptive-female (Yin), positive-creative-male (Yang), and neutral-stabilizing-primordial (Yuan). This chi field is all-penetrating, yet remains neutral or paradoxically still even as it moves. Likewise, our soul rests in stillness while the Life Force moves in Yin-Yang and Five Phase (element) cycles through our essence.These flowing cycles/seasons offer a simple and perfect mirroring between our changing inner thoughts, feelings, perceptions and the outer action of Nature. Taoist qigong is the Process of communicating with the Life Force. Qigong trains us to speak the language of subtle energy or chi. We learn practical ways to harmonize the three currents of chi flowing amongst our self, our community, and Nature.
- Simplicity. On the outside, life is very complex. On the inside, it is very simple. The Inner Smile is the Tao path of simplicity. It’s simple when you open the heart of your soul to unconditionally accept first your own body-mind. Second phase is to accept everything ‘Other’ as part of a unified, flowing essence of the Life Force. The Inner Smile is the simplest way to keep your path heart-centered.This simple, continuous act of acceptance ends all separation and loneliness, causing a soul peace to arise within our personality. Our path in each moment is to allow our smiling presence to embrace life’s wonderful complexity. It is this simple foundation of smiling, unconditional acceptance that allows all spiritual qualities such as love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness to unfold spontaneously.
- Grounding. Taoist qigong & meditation fuse our ego into a strong, grounded, integrated whole. Qigong allows our heart-mind and physical body to achieve optimum health. Meditation merges our personality and body with our soul, or ‘ling’. This ‘whole-body enlightenment’ can be achieved while living an ordinary life in a physical body. Being centered in life means being grounded, physically and spiritually.
- Integrity. Qigong (chi kung) movement exercises and meditation (neigong or nei kung) are two main pillars of Tao self-cultivation. They empower a third pillar – the expression of personal integrity or innate spiritual virtue (‘de’) in daily life.Study of the I Ching (Book of Unchanging Changes), feng shui, Chinese astrology, the outer elixirs of Chinese medicine (massage, nutrition, herbology), sexual energy cultivation, and self-expression through creative arts complete the eight pillars of our personal Tao or ‘Way’. Together these eight offer us practical skills to grow the central ninth pillar, and realize our soul highest destiny, our integration with the Great Tao.
- Sexual Sagehood. Our volatile male-female sexuality is reflected in the polar split between the two halves of our soul, the Heaven-formless spirit and Earth-form sexually embodied aspect. But sex is our soul’s secret alchemical elixir. If we know how to tap our sexual volatility, we can quickly transform spiritually.Taoist sexual practice with a partner and solo meditative inner sexual alchemy both use our tangible sexual essence to ‘capture’ and crystallize the invisible essence of our spirit. This union of our sexual and spiritual selves births a ‘third self’, an androgynous, bi-sexual Inner Sage that manifests our immortal non-dual Original Nature. Our Inner Sage is able to embody non-dual energy (yuan chi) while present in a sexually polarized male or female body and simultaneously express our unique individual will.
- Transformation. The core Taoist spiritual practice is Internal Alchemy (neidan gong). Alchemy is transformation, the process of speeding up internal change. Both science and art, this meditative process offers a heart-centered systematic method to transform the apparent spirit-matter split within a single lifetime.Inside every human being lives a mystical trinity. In the West this trinity might be called body-mind-spirit, but their meaning is vague. In Taoism, the trinity is jing-chii-shen, with very precise meaning. Alchemical meditation speeds up the transformations between sexual essence (‘jing’), subtle breath (‘chi’), and intelligence-spirit (‘shen’). The three are really the same, but vibrating at different speeds, to give our soul greater freedom of expression.
- Immortality. Tao inner alchemy offers Seven Alchemy Formulas for Eternal Life. These seven stages are a practical map to spiritually rebirth the mortal self into an immortal consciousness that continues functioning after death. This is not a quest for physical immortality. Ordinary souls dissolve after death. Enlightened souls hold enough integrity to reincarnate consciously, a kind of soul immortality.Spiritual immortality is the stage beyond enlightenment. It allows us to complete the natural process of soul individuation that is happening in both our Lesser Self/personality as well as our cosmic Greater Self. Spiritual Immortality is Nature’s way to allow the most worthy individual beings to participate in the ongoing creation of the divine multi-verse.
- Spontaneity. Every soul seeks two things. One, to complete its unique worldly destiny. Two, to achieve a high spiritual destiny of consciously merging back into its Original Spirit. But destiny is not a fixed or pre-determined path. There is only the effortless spontaneous unfolding of each moment (‘wuwei’).The Supreme Mystery (Wuji) that births the Life Force will always remain unknowable and unpredictable, even as we gradually merge with the vastness of the Tao. This central Mystery lives in the core of our inner self and keeps all life eternally fresh, joyful, and spontaneous.