To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Tao and Zen

Zen Master Ji Bong: "Contemporary Taoist practice might be described as the process of finding one's natural and true energy. Zen is more concerned with the mind, what is usually called our true nature or universal mind. This may be an oversimplification, but it points at the essential difference between the two approaches. Contemporary Taoist teachers are usually skeptical about the simplicity of Zen practice and teach a much more elaborate system of standing, sitting, martial, and visualization exercises. This is paradoxical, considering the ultimate simplicity of classical Taoist philosophy, but perhaps it is no more paradoxical than Buddhism with its 84,000 sutras aimed at cultivating no-mind.
At first I was fascinated by the special powers promised by Taoist practices, but now I feel that is also its greatest pitfall. A lot of contemporary Taoist practices are similar to Western white witchcraft. For most Taoist students in my observation, the struggle to attain these powers has been the greatest block to genuine insight into a clear and helpful mind."

I can really relate to this - my biggest critisism of some Taoist methodology is its pre-occupation with the physical; longevity and supernatural or metaphysical powers. To me this is not the point at all. It is ego getting in the way. Look after yourself, yes. Cultivate yourself, yes. But die when you die and accept this as Tao. And forget magic powers, they are for children. Look around - is this amazing world not full of enough magic for ten thousand lifetimes? Why do you seek more? Let me spell it out for you - C - R - A - V - I - N - G. The Shallow Consciousness causing great suffering while the Deep Consciousness quietly waits, an offering of happiness and lasting joy in it's hand.


Anonymous Matthew Coad said...

I've spent quite a bit of time travelling the World and one of my favorite pass times is to observe religions and see how they are practiced. Of course as an outsider quickly passing through this can only be done extremly superficially.

However one of the things I observed was despite idelogical differences, the basic structure of how religions is practiced tends to be the same. With temples, priests, rituals, idols etc. And the older the religion, the more it "conforms" to this basic template.

At the heart of all long lived religions there is a powerful idea. A source of Wisdom that continues to resonant with us over long periods of time.

However over a long time this central core picks up a lot of Cruft. Things get tacked later on, despite whatever is at the core, because religions are practiced by people. And well ... people are people.

In summary, religions follow the Tao of religions. Should be no big surprise to us.

There may be more great wisdom in the tack ons. But to me, well, often they seem to be a product of their time.

Its often been observed that there is Religous Taoism and Philosophical Taoism. And religous Taoism follows the religion template right down the line.

However it seems to me that the practice of Philosophical Taoism is
subject to the same forces. And over a long people will start tacking on cruft. And that cruft will have more to do with people being people, rather than Philosophical Taoism being Philosophical Taoism.

11:48 am

Blogger Seamus "Moose" Anthony said...

all very true - and may i say that i particularly enjoyed your use of the word 'cruft'. i have never heard that one before but it is waaay cool.

12:32 am

Blogger RedKooga said...

Possible to come across and use the Taoist practices that are a little like white magic and not increase crave immortality or power :)

Btw I have a blog at and would like to link to yours. Would that be ok?

12:17 am


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