When the mind is overworked without stop, it becomes worried, and worry causes exhaustion.
– Chuang Tzu
Do not allow the mind to lead one astray from Tao, and not supplement the natural by human means.
– Chuang Tzu
One of the most important ways to gain an understanding of reality is through Taoist philosophy. Correct philosophical principles teach the mind to accurately assess reality and thus counter the effects of incorrect thinking due to dysfunctional notions originating from dogma. In this regard, Lao Tzu’s philosophy uses nature as its model of reality, unpolluted by man’s complicated distortions. He defined principles reflecting the true dynamics of reality. The Center of Traditional Taoist Studies teaches a curriculum with Nine Cardinal Principles at its core.
While Taoist philosophical principles can help the rational individual find his way out of confusion’s fog, it needs a practical means to fight off competing unhealthy thoughts instilled since birth and reinforced each day on television. Taoist principles may make logical sense, but the modern mind must battle emotions born of years following countervailing beliefs. Such ingrained patterns dog the mind with thoughts that disturb one’s mental state, causing it to run amok.
The Sage uses his mind like a mirror. It remains in its place passively…
– Chuang Tzu
Taoism’s founder, Lao Tzu, encouraged “stillness” as a way to clear the quagmire of runaway thoughts that block one’s view of reality. He prescribed a regimen of “mental hygiene,” a process to rid oneself of the confused thoughts born of dysfunctional values. It is the mental equivalent of bathing. Chuang Tzu wrote, “When you are disturbed by the external senses and worried and confused, you should rest your mind and seek tranquility inside. When your mind is blocked and gets beyond your control, then you should shut out your external senses.” Thus Taoism advocates a practical solution by which the individual learns to turn off his senses and down shut the brain for a rest. In essence, teaching the brain how to not think.
This prescription of not thinking led to the science of mental Chi Quong or “meditation,” the practical application of Lao Tzu’s mental hygiene. Just as physical Chi Quong develops the body to physically function better, mental Chi Quong improves the functions of the mind. By teaching the mind how to not think on command, it conversely allows one to better focus when intense concentration is needed. A mind that knows how to dwell in repose can spring into focus with greater intensity than a constantly frenetic and fatigued brain. Mental inaction allows for improved mental action. Therefore, the conscious act of disciplining the mind is equivalent to disciplining the body.
Mental Chi Quong is called “meditation” in the West. Its definition in America has been vague and unclear. Most Americans would describe meditation as the act of sitting in a relaxed position, thinking pleasant thoughts, and perhaps chanting. In short, they see meditation as really nothing more than mental entertainment. But this entertainment isn’t going to discipline the mind and bring the benefits of concrete training. True Taoist meditation is more precisely described as a focusing exercise that employs visualization techniques to accomplish specific objectives. It uses a disciplined process of mental imagery to yield practical results. Discipline is key. It isn’t entertaining to sit in place for hours, forcing the mind to focus on specific images while preventing it from wandering to some other, competing thoughts. Indeed, meditation is focused visualization — and it is most definitely work.
Although there are many forms of mental Chi Quong, the Center of Traditional Taoist Studies teaches three of the most important: (1) “emptiness,” or ch’an, meditation (called “Zen” in Japan), (2) “burning” meditation, and (3) “traveling” meditation. Emptiness meditation teaches the mind to not think and thus rid itself of thoughts, while burning meditation “burns up” the stress of daily life. Both techniques contribute mental acuity by opening the individual’s channels of chi and removing the blockages caused by nervous stress or physical dysfunction. Opening the meridian system through such mental cleansing enables chi to flow unimpeded. Traveling meditation is a prayer-like mental state by which congregation members can mentally “travel” to receive spiritual guidance and advice. This is performed in a special meditation hall under strict supervision of Grand Master Anatole.
The content on this website is for informational purposes only. The ancient techniques of Taoism can be dangerous to physical and mental health if not practiced under the tutelage of a qualified Master.
Communication with spirits.