The Culture of Tao
Tao Meditation retreats develop four fundamentally important bases: a healthy physical body, natural energetic reorganisation, calm and stable emotions and mental or intellectual clarity.
A spiritual solution to modern living is not an escape from reality, it is developing the capacity to efficiently and eventually effortlessly “BE”. That may mean to grow up, to awaken, to take responsibility, to be kind to others, to help others. Real Being is not something to gain or to acquire. Nor can real being be strictly categorised or defined. Rather it is something that is revealed or realised when we allow the waters of Tao of wash away the layers of our imaginary self. The poetry of Tao does not mask the very real work that is called for. Rather, the poetry helps us to become pragmatic, practical and less dependant on conceptual thought.
What is the culture of Tao? We think that it is Chinese. Yet it has been influenced by thinkers of central Asia, by the mystics of the Indian sub continent and the yogis of the Himalayas.
The culture of Tao is a hybrid. Individual masters emphasise lineage and authenticity; yet, authenticity appears spontaneously, arriving in a sea of accumulation of methods, practices and effort. It is receptivity to seeking the Way that can be inherited and passed on, not the way itself.
Tao meditation is concerned with all round well being, in daily life, in family or other personal relationships, in business, in sport, in spiritual practice.
The first base is the physical body. Qigong, tai chi, ba gua, meditation, do-in are well known for supporting the health of the physical body. Stable physiology strongly influences human activity. While it is possible to heal the body of sickness and imbalance through qigong or any of the Taoist arts Taoists also use therapeutic intervention such as acupuncture according to each individual’s personal needs and conditions.
Taoist practice includes all of of life’s disciplines, including medicine.
The physical body’s harmony, or lack of it, has a great impact on overall being. A body that is out of balance causes the emotions to become strained, the intellect to become more confused. When the body, the emotions and the mental process are not in harmony, energy flow is impeded. Every holistic therapist knows the importance of the ensemble even if they do not describe it or approach it using the same terminology. Holistic therapy addresses all the individual components of the being: physical body, energy, emotions and intellect or mentality in order to treat them as a whole.
Without addressing the first base of the physical body, our pursuit of fulfillment and happiness will be impeded-not only by the condition of the physical body, but by its impact on the other three bases of energy, emotions and mentality.
For success in our plans and aspirations, to be content in love, in family, in business and profession, to be stable and capable in any of life’s activities requires that the physical body be in harmony not as an isolated aspect but in conjunction with the life force energy, emotions and intellect. In harmony, energy flows unimpeded. Energetic blockages in the four foundation bases are almost always associated with imbalance, stress or conflict in the relationship between them.
The physical body communicates very quickly and naturally with the other bases. Is is higher intelligence that naturally and in an uncontrived way undertakes this communication between centres. It might be likened to the qualities of Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way instinctive centre.
The higher intelligence is mysterious. We tend to favour ideas, concepts and beliefs about what is wrong with us and what is the cause of our repeated sadness, failure, frustration. Whatever ails you, the higher intelligence is the most efficient healer.
A Taoist is healed by the mystery rather than exhausted trying to resolve it.
The communication between the body and the emotions, intellect and energy is well described in the parable of the horse, carriage and driver. It is a famous parable, for the most part ignored, buried under a mountain of more arcane and complex ideas and ideologies that we consider to be superior because of their complexity. A direct introduction to the principle ensures that the right conditions prevail for success. A textual transmission such as this can be very efficient in many circumstances. Ideally, without a direct introduction, the text should be read three times in three different circumstances. This was also Gurdjieff’s advice when Reading his ‘Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson’. Three times and you may see why it is suggested.
The beauty of the horse, carriage and driver is its simplicity. Once introduced, the individual has a variety of diagnostic tools at their disposal. These tools accord exactly with the innate propensities of the individual rather than according to a set of ideas which have to be learnt. All that needs to be installed is the parable, the metaphor. Thereafter our innate intuition, our accumulated life experiences can help us find resolution or, equally important, help us ask the right questions.
We call it higher intelligence, really, it is very ordinary intelligence that we have all so often lost sight of and contact with. Without regaining contact with it, our efforts risk at best being will, effort or stress driven, at worst they will drain us of our life force and render us out of harmony with our nature as displayed in the forest, in the fields, on the mountains, everywhere we care to look.