These two chapters are important for understanding the master’s ambition. It is a common mistake to question what is not understood under the rule of heaven. The experience or so the Jade that is described in chapter 70 is why and how the master chose this path for his students to follow.
Let’s get started with chapter 70:
Talking is easy and it is not sufficient to comprehend the meaning, hence they do not know me.
Understanding the deeper meaning of life philosophy with chapter 78:
I hope these chapters gave you a better understanding of what problems may occur when you follow the Daoist path. The Dao De Jing is important literature for every Wudang student, yet without self-reflection and without practice the context is useless. With dedication and awareness, one can follow the path of nature.
I experienced that many westerns think different about Daoism or have a different idea of what Daoism should be. Here I want to address some of the common misunderstandings westerners mostly have about Daoism.
The Long Path of Masters Acceptance
It was common during the old times that a future apprentice has to prove himself first. The personality of the potential student was checked during this time and if he accomplished this lifestyle over three to twelve years – depending on the master – he was generally accepted as a student. The general idea was: What are twelve years compared to the treasure you can use during your whole life? The Chinese understanding was that experience had to earned and carefully chosen.
Let’s talk about the hurdles:
For testing the tolerance of the student it was common practice that the master would tell the student to clean this clothing and every time the student returned with the clean clothes he was deliberately dragging it through the mud again. Depending on how quickly the student would return with new clean clothing, knowingly that he would have to clean them again, was carefully perceived by the master and judged his ability to be diligent and tolerant – the foundation for students of the internal arts.
When a potential student could not find quietness, he was usually locked in a dark cellar with no light. An older Gong Fu brother would bring food and water frequently. The potential student was only released when he became totally quiet, which usually happened after 3 to 5 days, sometimes maybe longer. When people have no perception of the day and night cycle and find themselves in a closed environment which never changes, it is possible for the student to find total peace after going through his own problems. If a student could not accept his situation, he usually became crazy and then he would be thrown out of the school, never being able to join the school again.
The master would often beat his students till they could accept his teachings, the punishment was very strict and immediately executed. It was common that the master would attack his student psychologically to see how much they could endure.
How students became independent
The students were carefully chosen because they were the assurance of the Master, who took care of his daily tasks. It was customary to follow Master for many years until the Master gave the disciple permission to build his own life. Normally, the Master took care of the disciple in every possible way, facilitating his path in the direction he could see that his life would develop.
Today the master is often perceived to be some kind of entertainer who should try to give comfort to his student. It is the complete opposite – potential students should appeal to the master – not the other way around. A good master never appeals to his students, he is very strict and takes care of their future without the student realizing.
Dao De Jing, chapter 6
“The valley spirit does not die, it is called the invisible mother.”
“The gate of the invisible mother is the root of heaven and earth.”
“Formless but appears to exist, use it and it never depletes.”
Master Yuan Xiu Gang explains:
In September 2019 we have a seminar with Yuan Xiu Gang in Vienna! Register if you want to learn more about Daoism!
Xuan Wu Quan is also known as Liang Yi Quan in Taoist language. It is the simplest form that has a distinct Wudang feeling, but the form is one of the more advanced contents and requires years of training.
Liang Yi Quan means we work with two forces – yin and yang. The differentiation of yin and yang allows control and the wave-like generation of Fajin, the explosive power, is a prominent feature of Liang Yi practice.
This practice is one of the most traditional training methods of Taoist Wudang teachings. It is the connection between the understanding of health, body control and martial arts and unlocks the true potential of one’s own energy to the practitioner.
Master Ziji has learned this doctrine according to the old school and as usual in the Taoist tradition, this has been passed on verbally and personally from master to master student.
Looking at the elegance and grace of Wudang masters may be a great inspiration to us, but it is a great step to truly learn from this inspiration for our life.
If we can fully agree with our self to go beyond our understanding and discard all these expectations and conflicts, then we are ready to understand things that did not occur to us before. It is the essence of what we understand to be good and bad, the decision of which is the common source of our development. The master of a Wudang school has the mission to bring this understanding on a natural path of harmony.
The way will be tough
While all control their focus with power, the Master checks the relaxation. It’s what makes the Wudang teaching unique – staying with yourself, being relaxed and using your energy efficiently. We believe we understand, but Master is here for a good reason, testing the personality of his newcomers. The more important it is, the more the upcoming student is lifted from his comfort zone. Who cannot reconcile the teachings with his ego has no place in a Wudang school.
Wudang and the growing horizon
The perception, intention, relaxation, tension, all those things that make up our lives are answered. Anyone who has never learned professionally will not be able to imagine it. The depth of an inner martial arts school ends only with your own understanding. Therefore everyone lives for their daily improvement of personal problems and conflicts. That is why in our school everyone has so much power as never before in their life, it does not arise from any general answer, but from the individual training method that our Wudang teaching has provided for everyone.
Wudang Tai Chi is closely linked to the Taoist way of life and philosophy. The Yin Yang symbol that we often use in the context of Tai Chi Chuan is actually the symbol of Taoism. At some point in Tai Chi training, it will be necessary to take a closer look at these backgrounds. In the individual parts of the forms, one hears, again and again, abstract words such as “The Immortal”. The deeper meaning behind it you probably can not grasp first.
There is the Dao (the way) of the heavens, the Dao of the earth and the Dao of man – that is how it is taught. The Dao of man, that is the path determined by nature, which is always unwise and dangerous to leave. A convinced Daoist is someone who strives to live as closely as possible in harmony with nature.
The Three Treasures
Jing (Essence), Qi (Life Force), Shen (Spiritual Energy) – these are the three substances or energies that are of the utmost importance in the Daoist practice and are therefore generally called the “Three Treasures”. Although they are mainly of interest in explaining the Taoist exercises, it is also important to understand them in the context of Taoist cosmology. The Daoists believe that these three treasures are effective on all levels of being – from the tiniest organism to the vast macrocosm itself. In their pure form they are too subtle to be immediately noticed, we only recognize them in the transformations that they do cause. In a coarser and easier to identify form, they are also present in the human body. Nourish (that is maintain and strengthen), multiply and ennoble, so the three treasures support the acquisition of that tremendous physical and spiritual wealth for which the Daoists strive for a lifetime. The refinement and refinement of Jing, Qi, and Shen form the very content of spiritual endeavors and practices: to expand the vitality and lifespan of the Taoist adept, and multiply and purify the natural stores of his mind. Uninitiated or unread, this process is often completely misunderstood because of its poetic and pictorial description.
Here’s an example:
“Riding the dragon, he floated over the world, settled in the cloud palaces of the immortals, made his way beyond the blazing sun, and entered the courtyards of heaven.”
Meditation and the powers of the mind
These words are meant to portray bliss in meditation and the powers of the mind. Too often, however, such descriptions are understood too literally and without sufficient background knowledge. These misunderstandings have led to the widespread belief that Daoist masters are nothing more than alchemists. Indeed, for centuries it has been believed that Daoists could turn base metals into gold and make a drug that promised eternal youth and immortality. But the terms “golden elixir” and “refinement” actually refer to psycho-physical processes of Taoist meditation practices.
In the book of the Golden Elixir, it says: With the refinement of Jing in Qi the first barrier is overcome – perfect silence enters the body. With the refinement of Qi in Shen, the middle barrier is overcome – perfect silence enters the heart. With the refinement of Shen in Xu (emptiness) the last barrier is overcome: ego and cosmos are united. This is the true meaning of sacred practice, its oral and written transmission, cultivating and nurturing (by Jing, Qi, and Shen). It has nothing to do with making a “pill” or a “trunks”.
If one had to reduce to a single word, which occupies an outstanding meaning with the Daoists, then it would be the “silence”. Because the silence is fundamental and necessary for all insights, connections and for coming to oneself. In meditation, the silence is practiced.
“Stirred by the storm winds of circumstances, the hermit’s heart is a still lake.”
To understand the true nature of Taoist aspiration, it is essential to consider the meaning of “immortality” in the sense it has for the mystics and adepts who are fully initiated into the mystery of cultivating the Dao. An immortal is a person who has fully committed all his physical and mental gifts, who has cast off the passion and has discarded all desires (except the simplest and most harmless ones), thus attaining a free, immediate existence a being so close to perfection that its body is merely a shell or container for its mind.
“No effort is needed to gather a mind that has turned away from all causes of unrest.”
The True Self
An immortal has undergone a spiritual rebirth, freeing himself from the shackles of egocentricity, and being face to face with his “true self.” He is aware that this “self” is not his property, but nothing but the sublime, indistinguishable Dao. With the disappearance of his apparent ego, he no longer sees himself as an individual, but as the unchangeable Dao, embodied in a transient form. Death, when it comes, means to him no more than the stripping off of a worn robe. So he has reached eternal life and is ready to return to the boundlessness of being.
Goal of immortality
The fantasy of the immortality of the body, of flesh and blood, is, therefore, a very simplified and ignorant view of the sublime idea of transcendental immortality.
“Immortality” is the term that Daoists of all levels of consciousness use to denote their goal, so the poetic title “Immortal” is equally given to Taoist sages, meditators, and even older recluses, of whom, given their attitudes and knowledge politely assumes that they have reached their destination.
Take things as they come – calm emotions
The exercises of the Daoists promote longer life and also support physical health. In silence and in meditation, calmness is practiced, with the qigong and tai chi exercises, all necessary channels are opened and released, so that the energy can flow and the body remains vital. If the shell of our mind – the body – is strong and healthy, the mind can spread more easily. Then the body can better tolerate the silence.
“In no hurry, nothing is really worth the effort. As the cultivation of the Dao progresses steadily, passion and desire naturally decrease; there is no need to suppress them. “
The strongest opposites are like fire, which prevents us from progressing. Those who set off will find strong obstacles, so confused people always move in circles. Until we understand that we have never moved, caught in our own ring of fire.
Daoism and the ego
Our assessments do not play a role in Taoism, it is important to understand our limitations and to grow out of them. The more opportunities open up to us, the more diverse our fate becomes. If you have less, you will find faster the high cliffs and deep valleys that have formed in us over time.
Those who find peace can do everything, regardless of how others judge the decisions. The frame of reference is self and self results in the answer.
The fatal error of the mirror image
There is only one Dao, images are empty shells that deviate from the origin. Every drop of the great whole ocean contains a reflection of our self. So we find ourselves in other people and recognize in them our own conflicts. If we then try to “help” these people by trying to solve our inner conflicts in others, that just can not be good. This will be a serious problem if we have never realized who we are.
Self-help comes before neighbor help.
This beautiful short film gives us a preview of what awaits us in Wudang training, and it can quickly happen that you skip some of the lines when it comes to the mental training of the Taoists. How do we understand something we have not understood yet?
Wudang discipline and tradition
We can eternally philosophize about Tao and how to do things right; those who have not been properly grounded cannot understand the origins of the Tao, as they lack the necessary calmness. There is no one in the world who is not taught by the Tao, to know where to stay near the Tao, this is something everyone finds out for himself in the exercises. From practice, new impressions and corrections are finally possible.
Who can absorb everything like a sponge differentiates everything according to the truth. Who condemns and ignores things, refuses many things. The few masters in the world who follow in the footsteps of the Tao tell of a common truth, one that can be accepted or ignored by someone who has not yet experienced it.
The teachings of the Master are not for everyone, because not everyone can accept them. Just as many people are not destined to become disciples of a master. To become a disciple means to become a master yourself someday, as a master one is always a disciple of his old master. Because everyone climbs the train at an earlier or later date and explores the components of the teaching in his own way. For the master every student is interesting to learn new things, for the student the master is interesting to understand old ones.
The views of the Master are oriented on the students’ instructions because this led the Master to success. While Master’s methods are highly flexible, the students’ views must be linearized, so that the method is self-understood. The chaos and the confusion are dissolved and the way of life runs through a free naturalness. The Master has unlimited confidence in his disciples, for every step, no matter how small, ultimately brings everyone to inner peace.
According to this principle, there are no exceptions on the part of the pupils and only the execution and the realization of the requirements to the pupils are essential. These requirements of the master are obligatory for every student.
Boycott the Taoist teachings
It is often the case in the West that people believe that they have to help others. However, this can create more problems and internal conflicts for oneself and for others. Any help or diminution of a personal burden creates dependency on both sides and increases internal conflicts with oneself.
In the West, it is often a pretext that people should be warm-hearted and should be there to help others. This is not a bad virtue, but most people do it to circumvent their own problems by giving others advice – this just reinforces their own problems and leads to emotional conflicts.
People with good intentions automatically have the wrong intent, because none of them will dissolve the origin of the problems in the other.
This is Taoism and everyone has the strength to learn for themselves; Who really wants to help must assume that the truth is often not so warm. How do I help others properly to dissolve the origins of inner problems in other people? Quite simply: Through inspiration, as a personal example, we deliberately do not use the word role model – because this can be filled with your own ego and thus cause the opposite. Those who go out with their own example without ego, get friends who share success together. Whoever goes with the ego as a role model, gets followers who want to share the success of their role model.
The desire to help others is therefore not relevant for students! If you want to help, you have to help yourself first.
The task of the student is learning to help others is one of the tasks of a master.
Personal conflicts arise only where there are listeners and spectators, in the presence of the master they are not accepted.