Monday, December 12, 2011

Tao of Creation

by Jampa Mackenzie Stewart

Despite the achievements of health, wealth and love, the only certainty in life is that it will end in death. Maintaining health and wealth is of limited value if one's life lacks meaning. I believe that while the aforementioned benefits of the Taoist arts are both real and good, the ultimate goal of Taoism is immortality. Immortality is synonymous with enlightenment, conscious union with the universal mind, and with the attainment of a spiritually transformed body that will last forever like heaven and earth.

Therefore the purpose of this article is to examine the various Taoist arts from the perspective of the Taoist yogi on the path to becoming an immortal, to see how all of these branches relate to the trunk of Taoist beliefs and goals.

Although there are many diverse arts flowing from the wellspring of Taoism, all of these different arts are grounded in the same set of principles, what Taoists see as the fundamental laws of Nature applying to all things, high and low. These principles form the core of Taoist "general systems theory." By developing a working knowledge of
these natural principles, you will have the master key to open the mysterious portals of the Tao.

Wu Ji
In the beginning, nothing existed. In Chinese this is called Wu Ji (meaning
absolute nothingness). Wu Ji is synonymous with the Buddhist word sunyata, meaning emptiness, the void, pure openness, no boundary. Wu Ji is also sometimes referred to as the mystery, the nameless, the great mother, the source. Thus Lao Tzu says, "That which can be named is not the eternal name." Words cannot describe Wu Ji; it is beyond any thought, idea or concept, yet it can be directly experienced. Conscious realization of Wu Ji is called "Returning to the Source."

The first principle to manifest out of Wu Ji is primordial energy. The Chinese call this energy Qi. Qi (pronounced "chee") means breath, air, wind, or energy, and is similar in meaning to the Sanskrit word prana, the Hebrew word Ruach (breath of God), and to the Tibetan word rLung.
Qi is the force of all movement, from the movements of waves and sub-atomic particles to the movement of stars and planets. Qi is the force moving world systems into creation, existence and destruction; everything manifests out of Qi, exists as a form
of Qi, and returns to Qi. In living creatures it becomes the life force and source of all metabolism. Qi is even the root of the movement of consciousness, of thought, sensory
awareness and emotions. The activity of Qi is what holds things together: atoms, molecules, our bodies, the earth, the solar system. 

As soon as Qi appeared, it moved as Yin and Yang. The Chinese character for Yin depicts the shady side of a mountain, while the character for Yang depicts the sunny side. Thus some characteristics of Yin are earth, receptiveness, darkness, cold, moisture, heaviness, descension, contractiveness, stillness. Yang, by relative contrast, is heaven, creativity, brightness, warmth, dryness, lightness, ascension, expansion, activity. Everything in the relative world of existence can be viewed in terms of Yin and Yang. However, Yin and Yang are not separate; they are like the two poles of the same magnet.

 Thus, nothing is entirely Yin nor entirely Yang; each contains the other. The interdependent existence of Yin and Yang is known as Tai Ji (the Most High). Tai Ji and Wu Ji are seen as inseparable. Yin and Yang create each other; as soon as you have a front, you must also have a back. Yin and Yang check and balance each other; if something is too hot, you balance it by adding cold. Yin and Yang also transform into one another; activity naturally transforms into rest, night transforms into day. Life is peaceful when Yin and Yang are in harmony and balance, when the transitions from Yin to Yang and Yang to Yin are gradual and even. When either Yin or Yang becomes too extreme or when the transitions from Yin to Yang are unusually sudden and abrupt, harmony and balance are lost. These imbalances may appear as health problems, relationship difficulties, trade deficits, or unseasonal weather; all the changes in the universe can be analysed by understanding Yin and Yang.

Wu Hsing - The Five Phases: Yin and Yang are further subdivided into Wu Hsing. Wu means five Wu means five, while hsing means form. Thus Wu Hsing is translated as the Five Forms, Five Phases (of Qi transformation) or most commonly as the Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.....

 Thus all existence unfolds from the emptiness of Wu Ji into Tai Ji, the dance of Yin and Yang. From Yin and Yang things are further differentiated into the Five Phases and the Eight Trigrams. From these all of the myriad forms of existence come into being. Dazzled by the various appearances, we forget who we are and where we come from. Taoist spiritual practices seek to reverse this process. All phenomenal forms can be summed up in the eight trigrams, the eight trigrams can be simplified to the Five Phases; the Five Phases can be reduced to Yin and Yang, and when Yin and Yang come into equipoise, one can perceive Wu Ji.

(Foundations of Taoist practice pp.2-6)

No comments:

Post a Comment