April 7, 2006 at 8:44 pm #12534
Very good discussion on Wu Chi & Tao by Alan Watts, which either you love him or hate him:
A Taoist is by definition a Naturalist in that any consideration of Tao is intimately united to Nature. Philosophically, the manifestation of Tao begins in the Primordial Unified Stillness (Wu-Chi), then manifests as the Complimentary Polar Opposite Pairs (Tai-Chi/Yin-Yang) upon the slightest movement from the Unified One (Wu-Chi), then expressing itself through the Five Elements or Five Phases (Wu-Xing/Wu-Hsing), then through the Stages of Transformation as Yin and Yang gradually cycle in dominance with one another (Pa-Kua/Eight Trigrams) and as the Eight Trigrams unite in all of the possible pairings (8×8=64 Hexagrams).
Additionally, each of the Five Elements have a Yin/Yang component (5×2=10 Celestial/Heavenly Stems). Fire Element has two Yin/Yang Pairs, so in total 6×2=12 Terrestrial or Earthly Branches related to the Daily Biorhythm Timetable, and so forth. Thus, from the Stillness of Unmoving Unity (Wu-Chi), the Energy and Spirit of Tao unfolds to manifest as the Myriad Things of All That Is, and conversely, everything in the Created Universe can be logically traced back to the Source of All That Is, wu chi.
Please allow me to clarify further. From a Taoist perspective, everything in existence has a ‘cycle of becoming and being’. This includes the physical, the mental and emotional, as well as the spiritual. These cycles sometimes reach full manifestation and expression in the first cycle without need of another, so the manifestation ends with the end of the cycle. In other cases, two or more cycles in repetition may be needed to complete the full expression of energy. In other instances, cycles are not just repeated as is, but undergo change and transformation in the process, resulting is a new expression of manifestation, a new direction, initiating a new cycle. But ultimately, all cycles have a ‘shelf life’, so to speak. As such, Taoists view all as temporary, with ‘change’ as the only real constant. Hence, the popularity of the I-Ching, the Classic of Change!
Given this perspective, the manifestation of Tao is present even in that which appears to be ‘unnatural’ and ‘inharmonius’ with the Great Way of Heaven as expressed in Nature. And like everything else, is only temporary and ever subject to potential change!
Additionally, Taoist belief states that ‘the benefit of the majority will always take priority of importance over the benefit of the one or the few’. Thus, in some manner, shape, or way, perhaps unforeseen by us, Nature will manifest Her Laws and Forces to overcome that which threatens the survival and greatest good of the Creation as a Whole! It’s probably closer than we think!
(Explaining what can’t be truly be explained)
We are complicating these matters beyond a needed measure. Taoist’s believe that there is strength in simplicity! The more one complicates things, the less likely it is that they will work well as time goes on.
It is very, very easy for people of superb intellect and considerable academic training to ‘over-think’ and ‘over-analyze’ all of this. I would encourage you to ‘think less, observe and feel more’. You want to control the process though intellectual analysis, academic logic, and conscious reasoning as viewed from within the parameters of self-limiting personal discrimination and value judgement. Beyond a point, however, this becomes an impediment to understanding because such intellectual exercises are the domain of the conscious ‘waking’ mind, the smallest part of the mind.
The greater part of the mind is the domain of the deeper subconscious mind, which our conscious intellectual acumen cannot easily control. Each person’s individual ‘Tao’ is manifested primarily from this deeper mind where automatic reactions and spontaneous responses reside. The home of memory and emotion stored on the internal ‘hard-drive disk’. Thus, any attempt to truly understand the core nature of personal cycles, and any attempt to control same through conscious manipulation is doomed to frustration and failure! That which you hope to embrace will elude you so long as you insist on ‘wrapping your mind around it’. You can’t force yourself to understand, but can only allow yourself to understand! The proper use of the conscious mental faculties is in choosing that which will more readily allow subconscious insight and contemplative illumination to come to you, without struggle, without effort. Quiet, meditative, prayerful, introspective time spent everyday allowing the Spirit and Energy of Tao to flow through you.
The I-Ching, Classic of Change, says that ‘The Superior Man does nothing, yet nothing is left undone!’ Hmmm! Please don’t give this any thought!April 8, 2006 at 11:58 am #12535
1. If you cannot trust your own nature, how can you trust your own mis-trust of it?
2. How do you know that your mis-trust is wrong as well?
3. If you do not trust your own nature, do you become tangled up as anyone can be, over analyzed, too much thinking brain; not enough expierential or natural daily digestion?
Wuji Caligraphy: A dot within a circle.
Some defenitions 1. Supereme unknown, Supreme Mystery, before all things were created or simply beyond intellectual explanation,= must be expierenced
Fun topics too say the least you can spend a lifetime and never have a definite answer.
All things in the Dao Change. We should take everyones views with a grain of salt and not get offended, we are not attacking each other but trying to find our own truth & expression.
The Late T.T. Liang said it best “life is like Tai Chi pushing Hands, “you gain by investing in loss”. The harder you push me, the harder you will fall, the harder you push in life for all the answers the faster you will fall in confusion and not letting time & practice to reveal the next levels. Now push me so I can send you into the mattress, Gwai Low!April 10, 2006 at 12:29 pm #12537
Thanks for posting the article. I enjoy his work and very timely for the recent discussions.
baguaApril 10, 2006 at 10:14 pm #12539
A.W.> …any attempt to truly understand the core nature of personal cycles, and any attempt to control same through conscious manipulation is doomed to frustration and failure! That which you hope to embrace will elude you so long as you insist on ‘wrapping your mind around it’. >
m> Classic. >
I would only add that maneuvers are possible, but just at a much higher level than we’ve been taught. A teacher of mine once said (paraphrased) that “most mystical manuevers have as a pre-condition of no thought (stabalized cessation of thinking), but most people can’t even stop thought .. “.April 10, 2006 at 11:04 pm #12541
I beleive Emptiness is the matrix for alchemy to occur
baguaApril 11, 2006 at 12:14 am #12543
M> My thought is, no emptiness, no Alchemy. >
B> I beleive Emptiness is the matrix for alchemy to occur >
Agreed.April 13, 2006 at 3:03 am #12545
constant change through constant change
What is emptiness?April 14, 2006 at 6:03 am #12547
I think Alan’s piece is nice succinct summary – but his conclusion is superficial. It reveals his Chan/Zen bias., and lack of qigong or any body-based training. Watts hated alchemical taoism. He was an academic, trying to escape the prison of his mind. Zen was his escape route. To each his own.
I feel Watts conclusion is wrong – that “it’s impossible to wrap the mind around personal cycles”. The implication is that you can’t ever really know those cycles, because your mind will interfere with them and then you are screwed, and will have to go back to seeking emptiness because humans can only screw up what some omnipotent Nature has set in motion. Its an implicit judgement that humans are incapable of knowing and mastering themselves.
I believe the chorus of self-congradulating Emptiness lovers following Alan’s piece are not wrong, but limited, reason is as follows:
Watts is talking about the western conceptual driven mind. Westerners are especially concept driven because of our alphabetic language. The words are not pictures, they are markings that represents concepts. So our minds get overloaded with concepts using our language, reading it all day long, etc. Alphabetic languages are especially ungrounding. Not to say ideographic language speakers can’t get hung up on concepts, but it is less aggravating, they tend to be more grounded and right brained. (Recall studies in Japan that the average person is right brain dominant, making all the western studies and assumptions about left brain-mind USELESS in Asia).
So of course you cannot use left brain word-concepts to try to change body-mind cycles, which require a more embodied right brain perception. But who ever advocated grasping personal cycles with concepts? Alan W. had a narrow western definition of mind, linked to language and concept. It reminds me of all my zen friends – and I have plenty despite hard ass attitude about them 🙂 – telling me how the key to clear mind is non-attachment. I tell them they are attached to the idea of non-attachment….even though they are supposed to drop that too. But when they are asked, or actually think, they fall back into it as their default choice…
“Emptying the mind” is one practice strategy for getting rid of concepts – successful for a minority of westerners, from what I’ve seen. But not a prerequsite to cultivating personal cycles, contrary to Watts.
Why? Because if you cultivate your energy body – YOUR TRUE FUNCTIOINAL MIND – and focus on the experience of chi and its healthy patterns of yin-yang flow, most people will successfully grasp their personal cycles. All they need is enough discipline to practice – no emptiness required, just clear intention. Intention is not emptiness, it is the opposite.
Intention to focus on the cycles of chi using first qigong and then intensifying it with the creation cycles via healing sounds and fusion, standing postures, etc. – you naturally shift out of an ungrounded, conceptual driven mind. The personal cycles of chi flow will naturally begin to arise and make themselves known. You will feel the chi, and it won’t be a concept, and it won’t be emptiness.
And that is all it takes to shift into playing with personal cycles and deepening your experience of them, and harmonizing them.
It doesn’t take reaching any state of identificable emptiness – which to me is obviously not empty of the self realizing that it is now empty and thus able to grasp personal cycles. You can ignore that witnessing self, but you cannot get rid of it.
More important, there is the danger of excessive zeal in trying to aboid the trap of messing up one’s cycles by wrapping your mind around it like a giant hoagie that is too big to eat.
It may be that excessive focus on emptiness leads one to ignore important communications from personal cycles/vital organ spirits/feelings. Not referring to anyone on this forum, you’re all way too hip to Tao.
I wil go further into this with round 7, which will take this discussion in a whole new direction. But the point that a functional energy body is a form of true, cycle-grasping, post-natal mind is related….even though some Chan Buddhists would not agree with that statement. No matter to my point in round 7.
Been very busy preparing my upcoming trip to China. But thinking deeply about the questions raised here, and appreciating the dialogue.
Smiling in cycles,
MichaelApril 15, 2006 at 11:54 pm #12549
How will a reference make it any more “valid?” michael speaks from his own practice and experience. It corresponds with mine, too.
While I value study of taoist literature, or any alchemical and esoteric writing for that matter, the fact that somebody else said soemthing doesn’t make it true. I’ve seen a lot of “esoteric” and alchemical literature that is just plain wrong.
Even if Michael were plain wrong, and he could find someone else who was plain wrong with the same opinion, it wouldn’t validate his statement. It would just mean at least two people have the same incorrect view.
This is a problem with scholarship and academic study. In alchemy, the bottom line is Reality, which cn only be known through practice an intimate communication with Nature on a profound level.April 16, 2006 at 10:58 pm #12551
I don’t think that Daoist texts are needed to clarify a point. If Michael follows the Dao, then why would texts be needed to prove his point. Daoism is not necessarily a fixed path, it is whatever follows Dao or the way of nature, God. As it is usually called, a “pathless path.”
Michael saying intention is the opposite of emptiness does not have to be in any Daoist text. The fact the spirit is eternal and it creates means that intention is opposite to emptiness as was clearly defined through our discussion with Bagua in round 7. As I was saying, spirit concsiosness is yang and Wu Ji is yin. Or intention is yang and emptiness is yin, they are opposites or complimentaries like Michael said.
FajinApril 17, 2006 at 1:03 am #12553
>>If you follow the Dao and you say something that makes or brakes the success of Daoist practices, does it mean everyone should take it as truth? 100% trust in what your teacher says is good, though.<<
*If you follow the Dao, it means that your practices are also in retrospect with Dao, otherwise you are not following the Dao. The main question here is, is emptiness as a starting point following the Dao, or is intention as an opposite of emptiness the starting point? Maybe round 7 will conclude our points.April 17, 2006 at 2:53 pm #12555
>>”If it’s Reality you seek, why do you need visualization to find it?”
There are five organs in the body, five seasons, five elements, virtue qualities etc. We RESONATE and HARMONIZE with reality, we do not visualize.
Why do YOU need letting go to find (what you think of as) emptiness???
i.e. If its Reality you seek, why do YOU need letting go to find it?April 18, 2006 at 1:54 am #12557
>>”I understand what you are saying. To me personally, if the person needs to take a class to learn how to birth an ‘immortal embrio’, is he truly ready?”
depends on the person.
>>”How can we find reality if we have all the things blocking our sight?”
Why do you reject the 10,000 things as the cause of suffering? Learning to harmonize both is the path that I have chosen.
“So, as ever hidden, we should look at its inner essence,
As always manifest, we should look at its outer aspects.
These two flow from the same source, though differently named:
And both are called mysteries.
The mystery of mysteries is the door of all essence.”
-daode jingApril 18, 2006 at 2:00 am #12559
only if you believe in reincarnation
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