Tao Te Ching Teachings: Controlling Your Chi

dark dragon

“Control your chi

Becoming gentleness itself

As a newborn child”

Chi is the basic force that keeps our physical beings alive. In the same way that we would die if we had too little blood, so we begin to perish and decay when our chi stagnates or scatters.

Being that chi is the source of life, it is naturally quite lively, meaning that we need to control it before it controls us. Chi responds to our mind, moods, and emotions. If we get over-excited, our energy screams and races around like a toddler. If we get angry, our energy becomes fiery, dangerous, and difficult to control. When we get depressed, our energies stagnate; when we get obsessed, our energy gets trapped in just one place.

So, in order to keep our Chi gentle, we must keep a gentle mind. Anger, over-excitement, depression and obsession all stir up and exhaust the spirit, damaging all areas of our health. Emotions do not have to be dangerous by themselves, because they are also an energy – it is when they are extreme, excessive and uncontrolled that dangers begins.

Even the strongest among us may feel all of these things from time to time; but, so long as we do not allow these moods to become habitual, and deeply-rooted within our psyches, having the ability to transform these energies into something beneficial, then we can still succeed.

Taoist alchemists often refer to this act of governing chi as ‘The Firing Process’ because it is a lot like boiling water. You want to keep the water at a stable temperature. Too hot, and the water sizzles up and scars your face; too cold, and the water loses its life and potency.

Keeping Chi even isn’t easy – it requires the constant practice of gentleness and balance in every area of our lives. If we can be like a baby – soft and gentle, yet carrying within us a lifetime’s worth of potential energy – then we will be that much closer to preserving The Way.

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Centering Integrity

Chinese art Taoist wallpaper 1440x900

“Without disintegration”

What helps us to keep mind and body close together? Te, or integrity/power. To have integrity means that every part of you, no matter how seemingly disparate or contradictory, is perfectly integrated into a harmonious whole. You reject or dismiss no part of yourself, but explore and express it in a healthy way, so it can be put to good use, and dwell in its rightful place, like a computer code that only functions when all of the digits are in the right order and combination.

When we disintegrate, it is a sign that things are not in their proper place; that we have suppressed or ignored important aspects of ourselves that need to be explored and expressed. When we act in accordance with The Way, we possess integrity; when we go against the Way, we disintegrate. It is as simple as that. All power and unity comes from being centred. Stay centred at all times, and integrity will stay with you.

TAO TE CHING: Vitality and Spirit

taoist art

“Cultivating vitality and spirit

Embrace this unity”

Vitality is the totality of energy of your physical being. Spirit refers to transcendental energy – the part of your energy that inhabits and vivifies your body, but is not dependent upon it, only visiting it as a guest.

For the Taoist, it is essential to nurture these two things. Taking care of our physical being, we live easier, and make ourselves more receptive to the spirit, aligning ourselves with the earth. Cultivating spirit, we align ourselves with heaven, learning to control our body without becoming attached to it.

Cultivating one, we enhance the other. What is good for spirit, is good for vitality – what is good for vitality, is also good for spirit. They are a unity – no difference should be made between them.

But, because of the materialistic philosophies of our culture, we only think about the vitality of the body, and ignore the crucial role the mind and spirit have in regulating it. Only cultivating vitality through physical exercise, with no concomitant refinement of the mind, will exhaust you, and be of little purpose. Only cultivating spirit through meditation and psychological practice, without also flexing our bodies, altering our lifestyles, and improving our diets, then all our spiritual achievement will be impractical, and our relationship with our bodies will be unhealthy and out of balance.

Many mystics were serious haters of the body. The body is a walking coffin, a ticking time-bomb, a prison for the spirit. It can seem like our greatest impediment to growth at times. But, the very difficulty of having a solid body is what enables us to make so much spiritual progress while we are in it. Our body can feel our resentment and hatred for it. We have to love it, or it will not comply with us, any more than a dog will return loyally to an owner who beats it.

Diary of a Mystic: The Valley Spirit

velley spirit

Following on from the previous meditation, I used Green Tara’s mantra, and focused on the divine feminine. I found it very healing and stabilizing, and an excellent antidote to the restlessness and irritability I have experienced whilst being ill.

I spent a lot of the meditation flying through space. I at once encountered an enormous totem pole, which, no matter how perseveringly I followed it, seemed to have no end. The faces on the totem were variously gnashing their teeth and sticking out their tongues. One may have tried to eat me momentarily, meaningless as that is.

Occasionally, whilst flying through the pneumas of space, a face would form in the shape of a Buddha, usually very large and expansive. I roamed through lots of peaceful cloud-woven realms. One of the mist-formed being had a bit more of wrathful appearance than the others, though here was certainly nothing to be feared. These are lands of tranquillity, full of peace and beauty. There is never any danger here.

Many of the beautiful landscapes through which I travelled were filled with gorgeous mountains and valleys. Some were lush with greenery, vegetation, plants, grass, moss and lichen; whilst others were more grand canyon like, featuring many chasms, low-rolling rivers, mesas and buttes – some were dense with jagged mountain peaks, sharply chewing up the sky, more like the Himalayas or certain parts of China. Some of these felt like Earthy landscapes, whilst many definitely were not. In general, I did not see many beings, human, otherworldly, or animal on this trip – just mists and vapors.

Astral Travel: Transformation and The Divine Feminine

astral_travel_by_jacolloy-d4q0idp

Waking up still feeling feverish, I decided I would spend several hours chanting Medicine Buddha’s mantra to stimulate my healing powers within. At the beginning of the meditation I just decided to passively chant the mantra, allowing visions to naturally arise as they pleased. Many of them were of Shiva and Shakti; of wandering across vast desert planes on foreign planets. Sitting in a mountain cave, covered by a waterfall, looking across an infinitely vast chasm, filled with clouds, space, and moisture. Once again, there was imagery relating to the Native Americans.

I focused on my Shakti, on my Divine Feminine, and tuned into the female body that exists within my male body, becoming aware of my breasts, my womb, my vagina, and the different sensation in terms of energetic vibrations. I focused Shiva-lingam energy onto the pearl of my clitoris, and felt waves of high-vibrating pleasure ascending up through my body. It’s no wonder women enjoy sex more than men – the pleasure is much more intense, yet also much more grounded and consistent. It does not peak quickly then wane, as with men, but endures evenly, capable of being prolonged inexhaustibly for those who know the techniques.

Being earthly, women are naturally more grounded than men. Their tranquillity and serenity is far deeper than could ever be fathomed. This is why men have subjugated women for so long – because they are afraid and jealous of their closer connection to the earth, and the inexhaustible supply of magic and energy that gives them access to – pure Shakti energy. Thus, women have been demeaned and separated from the Earth as much as possible. This is also why the current powers that be strive to artificialize women as much as possible, exploiting their insecurities, and brainwashing them into being obsessed with appearances, make-up, security, and a whole of host of frivolous poisons that detract and separate them from the all-powerful divine mother whom they embody. To all women who read this, may you be liberated from the shackles of such attachments, and return joyously to nature, as the divine sorceresses you are.

Once we get to the astral projection portion of my meditation, the use of words becomes far more unsatisfactory. For those who’ve never performed astral projection before, it creates a divided, yet unified sense of experience. Though you’re still conscious of your body sat immobile as you meditate, you will also feel the cosmic sensations of your etheric body as you project it through different dimensions. There is a mind-split involved here, which may feel uncomfortable at first. But, the more you become accustomed to maintaining trance, and the practice of using separate senses simultaneously – in this instance, internal chanting and visualization – then the more that split feels natural and unified. You even become aware, during your waking life, that such splits are occurring all the time, and that your various thought bodies are often off wandering in other places and dimensions, whilst your physical body is engrossed in its own activities.

The longer you maintain awareness and control over your etheric body, the more solid and crystallized your etheric body feels. As with anything, the experience becomes much more stable and expansive the more you practice it. In fact, making your etheric body dwell in a single spot, as though meditating, and imagining it crystallizing, as though into a golden statue, is one of the best ways of further reifying it.

I visited an amazing crystal castle in space, which had a very robust healing energy to it, especially if one stood in the central room, below the elevated spire. The crystal was all a sort of light-bluey quartz color. It made me think about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and made me wonder whether it was memory of such places that impelled him to build his incredible, fairy-tale castles.

One of the most liberating and exciting thing about the etheric body, is that it can take on any form you direct it to. The initial form I usually take on is that of a Buddha, bodhisattva, or god with whom I have a strong relationship. The Buddha body is usually an ideal one, because it is very easy to drive, and one can use the energetic powers of his top-knot and third eye to illuminate all sorts of fascinating realms and worlds. But, all forms are capable of taking on any kind of amazing transformations at the drop of a thought.

One of the interesting experiences for me this time round is that, not only can we take on the forms of animals and beings, but also of vehicles, planets, buildings, boats, and houses – or just be formless and empty, like the vapours of space. It is very fun to experiment with these different bodies, the alchemical actions that occur as a result, as well as the knowledge one acquires through experimenting with different incarnations.

Most exciting of all is realizing that you can transform the etheric body to be many things at once, manifesting yourself as a whole plethora of beings and things. I even experienced creating a hole world, and manifesting individually – yet multifariously – as every being and thing on it. I imagined separating myself into an infinite multitude of bodhisattvas, who I could spread in all directions, to all possible worlds, to liberate as many living being as possible.

Of course, at this level, I realized that all beings are essentially ephemeral creations thought momentarily into existence by the universal mind, and that, as The Diamond Sutra says, there are really no beings to save. Though, of course, until all beings realize that, I still have a lot of work to do!

Learning to be formless and all-embracing is definitely a skill I would recommend all beings to master

Four Elements Meditation (alchemy)

Time

Sitting in a dark room, either on a chair, or in the lotus position on a cushion or yoga mat, just close your eyes, and immerse yourself in the darkness around you. Turn your attention to your breathing, inhaling and exhaling gently out of your nostrils, making sure that your breathing is smooth, silent, soft, and slow, refining it, and making it ever gentler.

With every breath in, and every breath out, just visualize the boundaries of your body melting and dissolving, merging with the tranquillity of the darkness that surrounds you.

When you feel at ease, and completely at peace within the vast darkness you inhabit, bring your attention to the base of your spine (or the balls of your feet, if you’re sat on a chair). Imagine roots coming down from your spine, and penetrating deep into the earth, right to its very core. Once those roots feel deep and well-placed, use them to bring golden earth energy from out of the earth, and into your body, stabilizing it in the region of your navel.

The earth has the quality of being grounded, solid, stable, still, tranquil, receptive, nurturing, and centred. By bringing earth energy into your body, you are bringing all of these qualities into your being.

Next, visualize channelling water up through these roots. Take the cool, mineral rich water from the depths and hollows of the earth, and bring it up through these roots, channelling it to your lower back, where your kidneys are, and allow it to pool there.

Water has the qualities of fluidity, malleability, gentleness, and the ability to transform itself to suit the needs of every situation, filling up every hollow. By drawing water energy into yourself, you are benefiting yourself and others with these amazing qualities.

Now, turn your attention to the top of your head, where your crown is. Visualize the top of your head opening, connecting you with the heavens above, so that your mind becomes vast and limitless.

Visualize drawing down the vibrant green energy of the wind from the heavens, and into your body, down into your abdomen, where it can abide with the other energies you have acquired.

This wind energy has the qualities of playfulness and spontaneity; it is formless, impartial, free, and all-embracing – the care-free nature of a joyous child. By drawing this energy into your body, you are blessing your being with all of these qualities.

Finally, visualize drawing fire energy from the sun through the opening in your crown, and into your heart. Really feel its radiance – its heat, warmth, and healing power.

Fire has the qualities of compassion, love, radiance, light, enlightenment, cheerfulness, joy, and kindness. By inviting this fire into your heart, you are imbuing yourself with all of these qualities.

Now that this healing fire is within your heart, visualize it being pumped around your body, passing through all your blood vessels, arteries, arterioles, veins, capillaries, and meridians, suffusing every part of your being, so that every part of you is nourished by this amazing healing energy.

To finish, take all of these elements you have welcomed into your being – fire, water, wind, and earth – and merge them into a single unified energy. Once this unified energy has been created, spread it throughout your entire body, so that there is not a single part of you that does not experience its benefits.

Thank Heaven and Earth for the amazing gifts they have given you, and then emerge from your trance whenever you wish to do so.

If initially you find it hard to remember all these steps – (they are all just guidelines meant to stimulate the imagination; you do not need to follow them rigidly or to the letter) – perhaps pre-record these steps so that you can listen to them as you meditate, or have a friend or loved one read them to you as you do so.

May all who read this be blessed with pure everlasting enlightenment.

OH AH HUM!

 

Ancestor Lu’s Hundred Character Tablet

Tablet

Nurturing energy, forget words and guard it
Conquer your mind – do non-doing
In activity and stillness
Know the Source Progenitor
There is no thing
Whom else do you seek?
In constancy
It is essential to respond to people
In responding to people
It is essential not to be confused
If you do not become confused
Your nature will naturally stabilize
When your nature is naturally stabilized
Energy naturally returns
When energy naturally returns
The elixir crystallizes spontaneously
Fire and water
Pairing in the pot
Yin and Yang arise
Alternating over and over again
Everywhere producing
The sound of thunder
White clouds assemble on the summit
Sweet dew bathes the polar mountain
Having drunk the wine of longevity
You wander freely
Who can know you?
Sit and listen to the stringless tune
Clearly understanding the mechanism of creation
These twenty verses
Are a ladder straight to Heaven

Taoist Phrasebook: Martial Refining

Samurai

The phrases used in Taoist literature can often seem very recondite and abstruse, if not nonsensical. But these strange, mysterious phrases are very useful, for they teach us to think symbolically. And once we’ve mastered that, we can go beyond thinking all together to a higher state of being. I will do a series of posts of important phrases for you to ponder over, which I hope will help you in your own meditation practice, and commitment to refining your mind.

MARTIAL REFINING: The term is all about keeping the mind pristine, and refusing to allow to be corrupted by negative influences, either externally or internally. Once we have achieved calm and stability through practice and cultivation, often all it takes is one tiny negative thought or occurrence to dislodge our harmony,and send up back to imbalance, making us vulnerable to stress and delusion. But, through Martial Refining, like a warrior, our spirit is always alert and on guard. As soon as we notice the slightest inkling of vulnerability within us, where a negative thought or state could possibly arise, we go straight to it; patching up the spot, forcibly killing the negative thought, and possibly replacing it with its opposite. With something as sacred as the pristine mind,  we cannot be so foolhardy as to leave it open for attack, anymore than we would leave a priceless jewel in open display, or neglect to lock the doors of an expensive car. Stay receptive to the truth; slaughter untruth – then your purity of mind will be safer than any bank vault.

On Spiritual Alchemy

Alchemy

One of alchemists’ favorite quotes from the Tao Te Ching is Lao Tzu’s injunction to:

“Empty the mind, fill the belly,”

But what does this mean? In Chinese, the ideogram for heart and mind is the same. The heart and mind are one – there is no division between them. When the heart and mind are filled up with thoughts and desires, then reality it distant from us. We cannot sense the Tao, because our cravings and thoughts on the world are getting in the way.

You cannot clearly perceive what things are, when you try and understand them via intellectual categories. You cannot clearly see reality for what it is when you are desiring it to be something else. Both of these qualities obscure the heart and mind, and divorce us from nature.

So what do we do? We empty the heart and mind of these thoughts and desires. We do this through meditating, and using every experience as an opportunity to refine our consciousness.

But once we begin to experience emptiness, then there is danger, because there is the possibility of false awareness returning once again. Once you have emptiness, you must fill the belly.

Filling the belly does not mean eating lots of food! Nor does it mean accumulating energy in just the lower energy center around the navel.

The belly is the inherent void of our existence. Every particle of our being is empty by nature. Every physicist will be able to tell you that.

So, now that you have apprehended emptiness, fill it – “the belly” – with the pure, original energy of The Tao. Visualizations are the best way to do this. Fill yourself with light, with jewels – however you best perceive that pure energy – and let it illuminate every last part of your being. Advanced practitioners don’t even need to visualize. Abiding in non-doing, they can return to the original being