Sunday, October 30, 2016

Taoist Immortality

The Eight Rules for Living Well

In our tradition, there are rules and advice for all aspects of life.  

There are also greater concepts, often not talked about, that we still tend towards.

Among these bigger ideas is immortality.

This idea is not so much about the will to be old, but rather reminds us of three important elements related to age:

·         The Way is a vast teaching that takes time to fully explore
·         The practice demands that we be in shape in order to practice
·         The idea is to live to one’s maximum potential, whether that be at 66 or 118 years old…

There are thus a series of simple guidelines for living long, or at least as long as we can according to our genetics, and especially with the fewest number of inconveniences possible.

Modern research on this hinges on people who lived longer than others, and there have even been multiyear studies conducted on global populations.

They all come down to several simple rules for living as well as possible, as long as possible…and these rules are on all points similar to those of our tradition.

Let us examine together these rules for a long life, there are eight in total: three lifestyle, three dietary, and two philosophical and spiritual:

1 – Moving

2 – Letting Go

3 – Staying Busy

4 – Drinking

5 – Eating

6 – Feeling

7 – Participating

8 – Sharing

1 – Moving Naturally
Physical activity and daily awareness are very important.
This has nothing to do with fussing about one’s daily activities, it’s physical activity with the intention held on the feelings in one’s body.
It is also important to state that none of the groups of centenarians were involved in sport.  The practiced movements were walking, light and daily calisthenics, but not sports in the sense we generally understand it.
The difference is that in sports, the body is pushed too far and too hard.
It is good for a while, but the practice of sports as seen by Westerners exhausts the body.
Qi Gong exercises are superior for obtaining good and lasting health.

2 – Letting Go: Knowing How to Relax Each Day
This is a simple rule of balance between work and rest.
Furthermore, it is the organizing of spaces for relaxing in one’s schedule…every day.  These moments can be brief, but should be increased proportionally to the stress one experiences.
In general, the more we feel stressed, the less we take care of ourselves and our relaxation.  This rule demands we do the opposite: the more we are under stress, the more we must endeavour to carve out relaxation periods in our day.
This does not require advanced techniques, it’s simply the capacity to sit down and breathe for a few minutes, two to ten times a day.
These “lost” minutes allow us to stay healthy, to avoid depression or hating one’s job…in the long term this habit saves us time.
In one’s practice, this occurs via Shen Gong (meditation) and one’s habits of balancing work and rest.

3 – Staying Occupied: Having Enthusiasm for the Wonders of the World
An honest focus on subjects of one’s choice is what fuels a life of many years.
The stimulation of one’s nervous system, senses, and intellect permit one to stay young in spirit and in body.
Boredom is a source of tension and stagnates the energy; it is the source of great stress.
Enthusiasm is a stimulant for our vital processes, and for our desire to engage.
As well, none of the aforementioned groups of centenarians retired in old age.  Work and one’s occupations never end; rather they evolve as one ages.
By never retiring, we are obligated to adapt how one works, depending on whether we are 20 years old or 90.
In the study of a teaching or a tradition, one flourishes in their research into self and the world.
To be busy also means to participate, to go in search for oneself regardless of one’s tradition, as per the eighth rule.
In our tradition, the vastness of knowledge to acquire permits one to continue searching for the duration of their life.

4 – Drinking: To Stimulate the Body, Seasonal Tonics
In all centenarian traditions around the world, people take herbal preparations with each seasonal change.
Within these traditions, we find herbal wines, traditional preparations, and pills for “long life”.
Seasonal changes are prepared for with the regular inclusion of natural products.
People do not hesitate to take products when they are sick, whereas the smarter move is to take them before the body becomes exhausted.
At every seasonal change, it is recommended to take products that can help the system to adapt with the least amount of effort…it’s a little effort to make every three or four months that can have a great effect on one’s health.
In our tradition, products to help with seasonal changes come in the form of herbal drops or essential oils.

5 – Chewing: Mostly Vegetables, Some Meat
When the practitioner is building their body, it is important to eat of all foods, and not to eat too little.
Animal protein is beneficial for building the body and increasing its “yin”.
When the body is strong, or when one approaches the age of 45, one must reduce their animal protein intake for a lighter diet.
Vegetables and fruits should make up the majority of one’s diet.
It is not necessary to follow a strict diet, but reigning things in every three months promotes a relaxed body that does not fatigue.
In all studies, the concept of a balanced diet rich in vegetables forms the backbone of a good general health and of an absence of serious illness together with the digestive and excretory systems.
A healthy proportion of fresh produce obligates one to chew well, and a low amount of meat eases the work for the digestive system.
In our tradition, dietary rules and the phases of the Taoist diet follow this principle.

6 – Feeling: Not Eating Too Much or Too Late
There is a real importance to not eating too late in the evening.
An undigested meal is a poison to the system if we go to bed while digestion is still happening.
One must retire, relaxed, with the digestion completed, or very nearly so.
This isn’t possible if we sleep by midnight but eat dinner at 10pm…
Also, it is important not to overeat, otherwise we risk exhausting our digestive system.
It is good to eat dinner, neither hurrying nor delaying, around 7:30pm.
It is preferable not to eat a variety of dishes, or spaced apart, as digestion is a process that requires a beginning and an end; more phases just complicates things.
We must also be aware that the stomach will only signals its satiation half an hour later…this means that if we eat too quickly and too much, we could be stuffing ourselves for an unnecessary half hour.
It is good to self-evaluate one’s needs, and to satisfy them without succumbing to neurotic eating habits.
In our tradition, we speak of sleeping early, and therefore eating early.
It is important to understand that for Westerners today living privileged lives, we are often overeating…let us learn to eat a bit less, there’s no risk of becoming malnourished…

7 – Participating, Living According to One’s Values
A belief in our values helps us live better and longer.  These values can be religious, spiritual, or philosophical.  
These beliefs allow us to find meaning to life, and to answer questions we may pose ourselves.
Religions and religious traditions help people to find good values to live well amongst others.
The Way is an essential part of living well, as it helps one find purpose to their life.
One doesn’t need to be spiritual or religious, as sharing with others can be through moral or social means.
One’s personal understanding of the world, its changes, and one’s integration into all this are what allow us to live better and with a certain sense of security.  This reassurance helps us to live better, longer, and without dread.
The sense we have of our lives and our place in the world are two stimuli for a happy longevity.
Daily practice gives us an understanding of ourselves and of others, in a better perceived reality.

8 – Sharing: Putting One’s Family or Clan Above All Else
A belief in values is important, but the ability to share them with likeminded people is equally so.
The human communities that live the longest all have a strong habit of mingling, talking and sharing on a weekly basis.
This primordial social link gains its greatest value when it unites people around shared values, especially when they meet specifically for this reason.
The practice is a way to find oneself in a fraternal group that shares a common aim.
This shared endeavour brings a fraternal ambiance which we can carry our entire lives…a powerful stimulus for longevity.

We see that the wisdom of the Taoist clan tradition, based on ancient texts dating back between the 4th and 7th C, are aligned with these most recent studies (the latest from 2009).


Friday, October 14, 2016

Shen Gong: The essence of Bitterness

The practice of the knowledge of the mind, the most yang part of training is often seen as an insurmountable obstacle.

The physical work is a long process, but you only have to repeat gestures with a firm attention and everything falls into place.

With fierce obstinacy, blockages of the body can not resist a daily practice, 
neither can weakness nor fatigue

The energetic training, based on breath and posture, attention and body work, rests on a  kinesthetic part  that supports attention and sensation.

In Shen Gong, only the mind and its movements are observed, there is no edge to hang on to.Without leverage, without the ability to force, deprived of our usual cheating methods, the mind is not an easy subject for experimentation.

In addition, in our "passive-aggressive" resistance, our mind reveals all our tensions, our inconsistencies and our lies: the more we push it, the more we try to escape its control, the more it will show us our personal inconsistencies.

Thus, the more our lives are paved with egotistical characters, the more we live contrary to our values, the more we try to escape what we know is important, the more our mind will persecute us.

We will in turn be stuck in a salutary torpor, a headache or a redemptive nausea... Everything is good to not perceive the inconsistencies we implemented for many years.Shen Gong gives direct access to a deep happiness, a meeting with oneself, which will open the "Door of Wonders."

Let's see some broad guidelines to spend our Shen Gong time  doing more r than counting sheep on the carpet or reviewing the groceries list: the Eight Rules of the essence of Bitterness.

Do not expect anything: This is for fun!

Accepting that we always begin practice for the wrong reason, we must understand that expectation has  a special place on the Way (see the text on Expectation).

It is necessary for the beginning of a sustained practice but it is also the source of our most treacherous blockages .

It is not possible to drive expectation out of our minds, but it is possible to reposition our attention during the practice of Shen Gong to somewhat escape our expectations.

Each day, sit for your mind practice with a contract with yourself: "Today I practice for nothing, just for fun ... Tomorrow, I resume the search for a fulfillment that will make me the strongest in the world."

A little more seriously, sit in a total wantonness, in search of a moment for yourself, only for the pleasure of getting to know yourself better... Without expecting anything.

It is also interesting to know that nothing will happen if you start with having in mind any success, or the firm will to see lights or shining deities.

Sit in the appreciation of a luxury that you can afford, to take some time to watch one's mind without purpose, but with a direction (the daily Shen Gong exercise).

Do not force or want to do well: this is not a competition

Watching one's spirit, feeling one's emotions or focusing one's attention is not raising a dead donkey, it's just an observation of our inner workings.

Unlike body work, a sustained and tense effort will do nothing good.

The mind requires a firm attention, relaxed and enthusiastic, that must bring a  desire to smile in a relaxed manner, not grimace of pain.

You will not be judged on your performance or your efforts, there is nothing to gain by forcing ... except maybe a headache.

Do not try to do well or to stay longer than your school brother, instead try to find the pleasure of getting to know yourself.

Some days it will be difficult to do certain Shen Gong practices, do not resist, but look for other ways to work your mind: there is always a more pleasant to look at one self's thought process.

Do not bind yourself: a "trick" is not Mental Peace

Each Shen Gong practice should be a single event that repeats every day: none of your practices should be similar, none should be compared or planned.

It is important to sit in a total openness to the possible experiences, without searching or waiting for an accurate result.

If a moment is very pleasant, it will pass, if it is very painful, it too shall pass.

You should not seek to duplicate the experiences or to avoid certain sensations: let go, let go of all expectations and enjoy this unique moment ... daily.

When you find "tricks", tips to rush your mind work, do not get attached to them, agree to leave as new, without tools.

Look at your practice as unique and without technique, a moment where nothing else exists other than this great chance to spend some time with yourself.

The focus should be on the absence of technique, and on the goal of the day (which differs depending on the day).

Releasing: Motionless Body  and Fixed Thoughts

To find a state of mind conducive to the practice of Shen Gong, there is only to set oneself in a held stillness, proper alignment and relaxation due to the comfort of the meditation position.

On a high chair, a sofa, sometimes laying down (not nap, eh!), the comfort of the body must be the source of its relaxation.

 If the body suffers, in writhing or tension, it is not possible to keep a calm mind.

Align yourself, push your attention in this immobility and turn your attention to your mental productions: look now, without judging, what happens, then go to your practice of the day.

This letting go is the base of Shen Gong, the foundation of your temple, the white screen where you project the Manifestation: in this consciousness of Consciousness, still and  aligned, you can do anything.

Accept: Acknowledge your expectations, valorize your Gaps

If you could meet Buddha or Lao Zi, you would not accept being told "you're lucky, today it is in a good mood." No, you expect from the masters to be open and available.

You have your ideals (whether they are Gandhi, Winne the Pooh, William Munny or Jonas Blane ) of the desired qualities and a minimum fulfillment dream.

You would not accept a so-called teacher to be moody or biased.

It is not acceptable for one's hero to be stupid or malleable, weak or whiny.

You must therefore accept these ideal qualities for yourself.

You must accept to look for these qualities for yourself, your practice and your life: there is no reason for your ideals to only be fantasies, they are also values.

You must have an ideal of quality. "It is better to fail in trying to reach too high ideals than to manage to reach too low ideals" (Ali).

Now that you realize what you really want to aim at, accept to see where you are right now ... Look at the reality of what you need to do, of  what needs to change.

Look your pain in the eyes, the time of behaving like an ostrich is gone: it's time to accept.

Be indulgent with yourself: you do not need to suffer

We do not recognize the need to feel pain, to suffer for progress. No "no pain, no gain" for us.

This does not mean that we will not be faced with difficult times in our practice, but only what is necessary for our evolution.

If you practice every day, you are already in an introspective effort to understand tourself , which is laudable: recognize your values ​​in the same way as you became aware of your faults.

Do not judge yourself, practice.

Question: Ask for clarification on your Way 

You need a teacher to practice Shen Gong, those who practiced in "free style" will only do an active nap active.

The mind work is an exploration of the mind where a map (clear concepts) and a guide (competent teacher) are required.

Missing one or the other, it is not possible to go very far ... really!

Phenomena: Close Encounters of the Third Kind! 

In the sitting practices, the Shen Gong, a myriad of phenomena will manifest. Some are signs of a profound change in the Way, others are silly fabrications of the mind to distract you from the goal.

Some are more present than others, you know which ones. Do not be fooled, do not look for anything, ask and go in each sitting as the first time.

Phenomena are real and important, since you perceive them, but their usefulness or their messages may be worthless.

Take time to enjoy the vision of your mind, to know yourself, and live in an increased relaxation.

Have a good  Shen Gong.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Be sober, be vigilant

The Ultimate admonishment in Taoism, as in many Traditions of Spiritual evolution, is to stay Attentive, hence the admonishment to "awaken" in some currents.

This is also what is sought in the dream work, an activity in which one seeks to awaken in his dream without actually waking.

In order to allow the practitioner to always be attentive, be vigilant, we have many aspects of our reality that we want to study : therefore, every perception is associated with a knowledge of our Study .

We speak of the "Five Arts of our Study"

  • Mountain 山
  • Destiny 命
  • Divination卜
  • Medicine医
  • Observation相
These directing words, these characters, have a special meaning:

The mountain is the development of human qualities, our work for personal development, which involves the body, breath and mind.

We want to strengthen the body to survive the training, take root in the earth to accept the vagaries of our evolution and relax to manage our frustrations. These are the three traditional attributes of regulating physical health, stability and relaxation.

The breath work allows us to have a healthy relationship with our emotions and increase our overall vitality.

The exercises in the training of the mind allow us to approach true happiness, to really know and enjoy the immortality of the soul.

This is the action "Mountain", this vital research, but which may enclose ourselves on our little person ... And make us miss the rest of the universe.

The vigilance that we will develop with the understanding of "Destiny" is characterized by the recognition of oneself in others and the awareness of major structures of personalities.

Indeed, by learning the "Eight Pillars of Destiny ", BA ZI, we will identify personality types with specific behaviors to better interact with others.

If it is almost inevitable for a practitioner to know his Mandate of Heaven, it is also very useful to study this science to understand the people around you .

The search on personality types is a subject explored by many scientists and psychologists such as the Holland code, the Enneagram, the theory of psychological temperaments of Keirsey, the Kelly directory, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator...

This knowledge allows us to perceive the teachings of our Way in each recognized behavior : it is a very useful way to stay "awake" and streamline our daily lives.

Divination : under this somewhat esoteric term lies a living reality, the reality of probabilities. The richest teaching on this subject is the Yi Jing .

The "Book of Simplicity" teaches us the probability of changes based on the analysis of a situation. It is the most important teaching of our tradition.

This binary view of the world, with six levels of complexity, enables us to understand everything and to study everything, it is possible to translate everything in an alternating yin / yang structure. "A practitioner who knows the Yi Jing can not be surprised by changes in the world," he surfs on daily events, in accordance with the laws of nature.

This study has three levels and six aspects: it describes the judgments of the hexagrams, the law of numbers and time and keeps secret the use of Taoist Magic.

It is also a way of understanding the weather, emotions, close combat or armed conflict...

There are no limits to what the Yi Jing can teach, it is a real source of wisdom and understanding of the world. With the study of this book, it is possible to perceive anything with it's yin / yang components and always remain vigilant.

Chinese medicine and Taoist medicine allow us to understand the normal and pathological functions of our organization and to see the similarities with the movements of the universe. This study allows us to see each event in the body the Taoist theories in action, it is monitoring the teaching constantly.

One that understands the theories of these medicines is already advanced in the mastery of science and Taoist arts : indeed, they are the same associations and relationships that occurs in the other disciplines.

Traditional medicines concede a practical knowledge in the prevention of common diseases and lead to a successful healthy life : a good way to watch one's evolution over the years and live well one's senescence.

The observation has three distinct forms :

  • perceptible forms ( feng shui san ET)
  • temporal forms ( feng shui san yuan )
  • physical forms ( morphopsychology , Mian Xiang面相)
The feng shui "san he" is a study of the visible forms of one's environment, it is the science of the harmony of structures to capture energy as well as possible. It's like raising one's cell phone for better reception, we seek here to develop our environment to be the most receptive to the energy flux: it is the geomancy of ancient times .

The feng shui "san yuan" focuses on the rhythms and cycles as well as their perceptions. It is understing that the networks are more free at certain times and that it is best to avoid certain times of "rush ". It is the acceptance of natural cycles and the calculation of good dates.

The Mian Xiang, is a reading of faces to find specific psychological types, to read the emotional reactions in order to evaluate them based on the coherence of the discourse and discern certain pathologies on the body and face.

The overall Observation is a complete study on developing our world for a better life, an awakening to an awareness of forms and natural cycles, but also an education that allows to perceive others in the light of our practice, or to observe oneself to become aware of certain ignored behaviors.

That's it for  all of the arts of our school that enable us to stay awake, to make us see the world in a Practitioner's aspect and that does not leave room for servile torpor.

" Be sober, be watchful : your adversary the devil , as a roaring lion, walketh about , seeking whom he may devour . "

Peter 5:8