May 18, 2005 at 5:42 am #5775
It’s a pleasure to return from a deep retreat and find some deep discussion happening here.
It seems much of the discussion about Emptiness in taoist vs. buddhist terminology is confused by semantic issues: what do the words mean in anceint texts, and what is their meaning in modern contexts?
The illusion of conflict between these ideas – or attempts to twist the words to support different methods of practice – is greatly clarified if one remembers that the underlying taoist context for Tao is that it is about process. Not fixed states that are to be sought after. The chi field or Life Force offers a practical Way of describing and relating to that process.
Hence the Tao operates as a bellows between Heaven and Earth. This is a clear cosmological description, that using different language (of the chi field) becomes: yuan chi generating yin and yang aspects of Earth/form and Heaven/formless.
Yuan chi is stillness state, that relative to yin and yang contraction-expansion appears empty. A different, moreprimal level of “emptiness” than is also sometimes used to describe yin-yang relations (full-empty in martial arts). And beyond the yuan chi are even more fundamental realities that cannot be known – the supreme mystery/ wuji.
So some practices focus on the stillness aspect, some on the moving aspects. Some focus on both – why I like the combination of qigong and alchemy. But the trinity forms a whole that defines a single process. Practicing anywhere along this spectrum will bring benefit. Integrating them together brings the greatest benefit in my opinion.
But none of the practices are “right” or “wrong” – unless they are having an adverse effect on the practitioner’s life. Because its a process, a practice that is beneficial at one stage may be limiting at another. That’s why Taoist practices vary between sitting, standing, walking, and lying. Each one may strengthen certain aspects of the cultivation process.
Because spirit is often associated with formless, there is tendency in many oriental practices on dissolving fixed form into the formless. This is extremely useful method, but will lead to imbalance if form/worldly destiny is devalued or ignored.
Formless needs Form/Body as its mirror, and vice versa. And both exist upon the foundation of the original breath/yuan chi.
That brings me back to the theme of the Sun-Moon-Earth alchemy retreat :
Embrace the Earth, and Heaven will Chase You.
MichaelMay 19, 2005 at 4:04 am #5776
Reminds me of a Tibetan tantrik saying:
“No enlightenment without the body”May 19, 2005 at 6:49 am #5778
May I offer my two-pennies worth here?
A lot of arguments seem to arise around semantics here ( and everywhere else for that matter!).
When one person mentions emptiness, he means formless potential that also embraces (and is the source of ) fullness and another person counters this with negative connotations of the word implied in phrases such as empty-headed or without substance which seem to indicate something missing or holes in the energy field or whatever.
I am no expert, but I get the feeling that true emptiness or wu chi is omni-present existing everywhere including matter. Quantum physicists after all claim that the whole universe is made up of curved space.
Another correlate of wu chi from physics might be zero-point energy which seems to be infinite and arising from nothing.
Maybe there is no such thing as nothing? (semantic zen koan?)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.