What is Taoism – part 3

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

All great spiritual traditions have at their core universal truths and ways of living that transcend time. Despite its antiquity, the Taoist Water tradition is singularly relevant to the needs of the computer age. It helps people resolve and come to terms with many of the human condition’s basic spiritual questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • What is the nature of spirituality?
  • How can I overcome the conditionings of childhood and become emotionally and spiritually mature?
  • How can I resolve my spiritual, psychic and emotional pain?
  • How can I come to terms with death and dying?
  • How can I remove the obstacles to change, come to accept myself as a worthy human being, and learn to live a balanced life that leaves me personally satisfied and in harmony with those around me?

These central questions have been addressed by all of the world’s great spiritual traditions. Within each of those traditions, there are two fundamentally different ways in which individuals have sought answers.

The first follows the outer path of organized, belief-centered religion. The second follows the inner path of direct internal spiritual experience, or what are commonly called the “mystic” or “esoteric” spiritual traditions.

Outer traditions

Examples of belief-centered religions, both East and West, include Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the external Taoist religion called tao jiao. At the core of these organized religions are several basic ideas held in common. They require faith in the existence of an external supreme spiritual being or beings.

You and God (or the gods) are intrinsically separate and different. God rules and controls your fate in the afterlife. Many traditions assert that you cannot personally know God until after you are dead. The religious establishment therefore serves as the intermediary between you and God.

All these factors may put a person in direct conflict between rationality on the one hand and faith on the other.

Inner traditions

Each organized outer tradition usually has its parallel inner mystic spiritual tradition. Christianity has Gnosticism; Judaism has the Kaballah; Islam has Sufism; Hinduism has yoga and Hindu Tantra; Buddhism has Zen, Tibetan Tantra and the Dzogchen tradition; and Taoism has Taoist meditation.

The inner mystic traditions are also based on several basic ideas held in common. They require faith that a human can directly connect at the center of his or her heart and mind to the permanent un-nameable consciousness, which exists forever. Like the burning bush Moses encountered, it does not consume itself. God does not exist outside of you; rather, as the Gnostic Christian tradition believes, the kingdom of God is within.

However, to maintain a consistent, direct experience of the unchanging root of the universe as a continuous living awareness – without a middleman – requires you to expend tremendous effort to truly go into, clear out and reintegrate with the depths of your being.

Taoist Meditation practices

Since engaging in Taoist spiritual work is practiced for three primary reasons, Taoist meditation is designed for each level. You must decide where you would like to go with meditation.

The first is the need to cope with the ever-increasing pressures of the computerized age, including civilization’s stresses on our physical, emotional and mental health. The resolution to those pressures is found in the preparatory practices that energize, heal and relax the body as you simultaneously slow down, quiet and release the tensions within your mind.

The second reason is a desire to connect directly and in a deeply personal way to an ever-present source of spirituality that is greater than our limited personality and ego. This source is the spirit or soul, and what the Taoists call “being.” The resolution to this primal need is found in the Taoist meditation practices in which you learn to dissolve and resolve the inner spiritual, emotional and psychic conflicts that prevent your mind and spirit from becoming still. From that place of stillness you come to experience great inner peace.

The third reason is the spiritual need to transform your inner world until your individuality directly merges with the unchanging source of the universe, God, spirit, a higher power, universal consciousness and the Tao. The resolution of this need is found in the exceedingly challenging Taoist inner alchemy practices, which ultimately result in enlightenment, union with God or the Buddha mind. This stage of meditation, covered in The Great Stillness by Bruce Frantzis, requires an open-ended commitment for as much time as it takes be it years, decades or many lifetimes.

So where to go? It starts with a deep calling within. One does what one can do right now, right this minute. You will only have success with what you can stand to do or that which you grow to love to do. Otherwise meditation – like anything in life – will become little more than a chore rather than part of who you are or can become.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What is Taoism – part 2

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Making the body conscious

The Taoists found several millennia ago that obvious and very subtle factors disconnect us from our bodies. In the agricultural and industrial eras proceeding our own information age, people naturally engaged their bodies during the course of a normal work day. For most of us today, economic pressure to use and feel connected to our bodies is all but gone.

For example, regular physical activity provided constant reminders of the degree to which ancient peoples’ backs were connected to their neck, legs, hips and arms. Sitting and typing on a computer doesn’t provide the same feedback. Even everyday appliances that previously weighed one or two pounds now weigh ounces. The more we become dependent on information technology devices, the more we lose the connection with our innate sense of how our body should naturally function and feel.

On a more subtle level, we live in a culture of passive viewers, inundated with a ceaseless array of media images divorced from any sense of felt bodily experience. Television and film create unrealistic expectations about how we should or can manipulate our bodies without any realistic physical or emotional sense of the ongoing, patient training involved.

Commercials depict children begin a sport, grow up and win a world championship all within the space of a minute. Then, we wonder why exercising regularly is so challenging and downright impossible.

From another perspective, we are bombarded by scenes of unending violence in television and movies from war to action films to seemingly innocuous children’s programs. We become inured to this violence and the emotional tone it creates in our society, yet we don’t feel the pain of violence–whether emotional or physical. Real pain hurts and has nothing to do with an image. If we are then unfortunate enough to encounter real violence in the real world, we are severely shocked and unprepared for what it does to our bodies and the deeper levels inside our psyches.

Photograph by Eric Pickersgill from his series ‘Removed,’ in which he shows his subjects’ attachment to their cell phones and other handheld devices by asking them to ‘hold their stare and posture’ as he removes the devices from their hands and then takes their portrait
Photograph by Eric Pickersgill from his series ‘Removed,

Computers further contribute to the process of divorcing our bodies from our minds and spirit, making life for many people a completely cerebral event. The ever-accelerating pace of life in the computer age causes a profound alienation from ourselves, others and nature. The human body is a precious asset more precious than disembodied bits and bytes of information stored in some database.

Just as humans were constantly comparing their bodies with machines during the Industrial Revolution, so are people misidentifying their bodies with computers in the new Information Revolution. An extreme example of misidentification is the preoccupation with cybersex on the internet, where a live, vibrant, physical, emotional and psychic experience is turned into a dead simulation that teaches us that we are not human beings with living spirits, but merely disembodied images.

In an era of rampant overpopulation, cultural change and amorality, it is easy to disconnect from our hearts and souls. Societal expectations of how we ought to behave and what we should say and feel, along with the public images we feel we must project, are often at odds with our deeper honest feelings and spiritual aspirations.

With severe economic competition, and with so much to do and so little time in which to do it, there doesn’t seem to be enough space for meaningful personal relationships, deep reflection or prayer/meditation. Yet these are the fertile soil that allows our true spirituality to grow.

If we can’t be honest and open to what we genuinely feel within ourselves, how can we hope to connect to our spirit, which is intrinsically honest and open?

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What is Taoism, part 1

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Meditation is an age-old system for resolving the essential spiritual challenges of living a life in a human body. Meditation has been used for thousands of years by every religious tradition to create life-sustaining rhythms and give people a way of finding peace, balance, compassion and a sense of morality.

Ancient Taoists had a unique perspective on meditation that is particularly relevant in the modern computer age where millions of inputs constantly bombard us and diminish our capacity to integrate the experiences of our life.

This serie of articles provides some background information on Taoism and the meditation system the Taoists created.

From the Taoist perspective, our age’s spiritual dissonance is a result of a profound disconnection between our bodies, hearts and souls. The Taoist solution is to reconnect and integrate ourselves, both internally and with our environment.

Oral tradition maintains that Taoism came from the Kunlun Mountains of northern Tibet to China between 4,000-5,000 years ago. Taoism is associated with three prominent texts: the 4,000-year-old I Ching or Book of Changes; the writings of Chuang Tzu; and the Tao Te Ching, the second most translated book in the world, composed 2,500 years ago by Lao Tse. Of Taoism’s two major branches, the Fire (yang) and Water (yin) methods, most texts currently available in the West focus on the Fire traditions.

relaxingbeingBruce Frantzis’ first meditation book, Relaxing Into Your Being, is the first to focus on the Water method. It emphasizes the practitioner’s viewpoint rather than a purely academic literary analysis. What is contained within its pages comes directly from teachings that were directly transmitted to him by the Taoist sage Liu Hung Chieh. The lineage to which they belong is directly linked in an unbroken chain to Lao Tse.

Within Taoism, there are two branches. The Chinese call them Fire and Water, or yang and yin.

The yang or Fire branch is a method of transformation. Through some act of conscious will or effort you seek to create the kind of mind you want. For example, if you have a tape in your head that says you are an utterly horrible person, then you might want to replace it with a tape that says you are really cool. Likewise, if you have a tape in your head that says you will never be okay, then you want to replace it with a tape that says you are okay now and will be forever. This is a path of transformation. The Fire approach to meditation essentially seeks to create some sort of hypnotic state, typically through the use of visualizations, which you may later choose to break down to free yourself from your conditioning. This is also the case in Tibetan buddhism, Vayrayana, which is somewhat more known in the West.

The yin or Water method aims to release everything that is not real, or relative, so all that remains is what is real, or constant, through whatever circumstances or changes that may occur. If you think you are a terrible person or unworthy of life, you want to have the intent to release that belief. You do this for any belief that prevents you from coming back to your core, where you can be fully awake. When people are awake they are not only comfortable with themselves but they are also happy with existence and the universe.

Many Westerners are under the mistaken impression that large numbers of Chinese are Taoists. In China, it is commonly held, however, that practicing Taoists are less than one percent of their country’s population. Most Taoist practices in modern China are commingled with facets of Buddhism and folk religion even though Buddhist and Taoist ways of looking at the same phenomena are often somewhat different.

Even still, a pure and distinct Taoist tradition continues to thrive.

Taoists have never really pushed to gain followers of their philosophy or religion. More often than not in Chinese history, they have actively discouraged membership or have gone underground. The last time the Taoists were really public and had patronage of the ruling class was during the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.). This period is considered by many historians to be China’s most creative.

Whether religions are exoteric (for everyone) or esoteric (for a select few) in nature, most will try to build as large an empire as possible when given the opportunity. Generally, they strive for cohesive influence over great numbers. Witness the giants: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The major branches of Taoism have never demonstrated any particular desire to build theocratic empires using meditation or belief systems.

The Taoist tradition has always been essentially what could be called mystical rather than organizational. Practitioners of Taoism have been primarily focused on exploring the quintessential spiritual nature of human beings, including people’s relationship with their inner selves and to the environment and universe. Taoists consider almost everything that happens in the external world (e.g., beliefs, events, opinions, hopes, fears) to be what they refer to as “red dust” or that which stays for awhile and goes as the wind blows.

hexagramThe main Taoist work, the classic I Ching or Book of Changes attempts to comprehend change and changelessness from many different viewpoints. Through 64 systematically presented real-life situations called hexagrams, the I Ching teaches that everything in the world is in continual flux. Through meditation, a Taoist aims to discover that which never changes and is always present. Hexagrams, like the trigrams that combine to form them, are concerned with change and with the empty space in the midst of that which is changeless, the Tao.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

3 pillars for superhuman life

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

There’s for sure a lot of things to be considered, done and taken in to ones life to make the most superhuman powerful version of oneself. Of course one needs the social fundament and support, the resting in place, the nutrition and supplementary in order. You don’t want a bunch of things draining your energy, such as conflicts of any kind, being indebted, working with things that is without meaning and so forth. But I recognise 3 pillars I can not subside if I want to evolve as much as possible.

1.  My body. Currently I have got this human body of mine. I cherish it as the most precious temple, ’cause I wont be able to go to the supermarket and get another one, I can’t make some clicks on my device and have another one sent home to me. This is the body I were given, and it’s my responsibility what I do with it. So I build it. Building the body. ThorMusclesA strong body can do so much more than a weak one, feel so much more alive and will harmonise the levels of hormones. It will balance the body in this modern computer age. It feels great! Even though I’m exhausted after a days work, I get my ass to the gym, and the reward is worth it every time. Every dedicated guy at the gym bear witness. So I’m getting my ass to the gym, or occasionally, lifts some rocks and tree trunks in the forest. I run like a fugitive between them, making my own obstacle race. It’s easy, accesible, and free!
If I do only this, my interior life, and also the exterior, often exceeds my expectations.
So my advice is, go lift some shit and get superstrong!

2. My energy. While lifting weights will enhance my strength and energy of my body and mind, harmonise the hormones, attracting females and calm my system, there’s an even more powerful method to enhance my energy and FrantzisPushOpponentcreate superhuman power. We have all seen what the monks of Shaolin can do, karate masters who crushes bricks of ice and some rare figures who projects pulses of energy outside of imagination. Some people are affecting the surroundings  just being there. Have you ever seen that? Or felt? We could call it carisma. Just look at Tony Robbins, or Dalai Lama. They just are, and something happens. They affect you, even through a screen. Some of us can actually see their energy around their body. We in the West would call it an aura or etheric field, in China it’s called the chi body. The chi body is the second body of a human being, out of 8. And we are able to enhance the vitality and strength of that too. How? Through energy works. There’s a bunch of methods around the globe to be find in different systems. You have the yogic approach, the shaman ways of all sorts, including our own in the North, which the seers, völvas and berserkers mastered, and many others. I’m looking into this Northern heritage aswell now, although my emphasis for years have been the ways and methods of Chinese wisdom, the internal energy arts of Daoism. And there’s no contradiction between these, the arts of China and the North. Actually they are intertwined and can nourish each other. They stand on equal ground. I will come back to that in a future article. Shortly, the Northern way use the Fire approach, just like the monks of Shaolin, the Tibetan yogic system and multiple other forms that uses force and extensive visualizations. Daoism can be practiced using Fire methods as well, but the Water approach is seen as even more powerful when mastered. I train under the Lineage Holder of the Water tradition, Bruce Frantzis. He is the first and only Westerner to hold this title, directly derived from master to student since Lao Tse. His teachings are from the source, no down the stream-stuff. Mark, I do not hold that this way is superior to all the hundreds of styles that have emerged, but I do hold Bruce as a superior teacher. One does not become a Lineage Holder due to politics… And I like source stuff… Being a Westerner of European decent, he is also able to correctly translate and transfer the teachings properly, like no one else I presume. He also holds the whole package, that is, his teaching consists of all the 16 neigongs, not just some of them, which is the most common case.
Not to forget, these arts naturally teaches how to breath well. You could also practice the breathing separately. If you aim to better your overall health, to breath well is the first thing thing to do.
So, consider starting a qigong, tai chi or yogic practice. It is a precious practice healthwise! The potential benefits are immense and gives you vital superenergy. Remember, that which isn’t moving gets depleted, sick and eventually dies. That which moves is alive and vital.

3. Meditation. This is the supreme goal in my life, the spiritual evolvement. One can incorporate the meditation into the energy arts, but it’s rare to get these teachings. The vast majority of teachers, and lineages, do not teach the meditation within Daoisms energy arts. For sure, the movements of qigong and taichi etc are meditative, buts that’s FrantzisMeditatenot meditation, at all. Again, Bruce Frantzis teaches meditation in all ways, sitting, standing, moving, lying down and sexual.
It’s common thought that meditation is done to feel better. It  is only partly so. It’s a ride, and as high as anyone can get, one is also destined to dig as deep down as well. The Water approach smoothes these tips and valleys out better than the more forceful Fire approach.
Of course, the most basic meditation, such as awareness on the breathing and so forth, will give you more calmness and focus, but that’s just the beginning, if one aspires higher, which I do. I’m interested in working with the whole package, to reach enlightenment, to merge with the Dao, no matter how long it may take.
No matter what meditation, if you start a practice, it’s tremendously great. It will bring superintelligence!

So, there you go. My 3 pillars for superhuman life!

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Connection with the roots – the importance of our ancestral heritage

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

“Ancestral heritage. Who gives a fuck? What does that have to do with anything? We are here and now, the dead are the dead.” Some, I guess many, in the secular, atheistic minds of Swedes, would likely respond like this if they would read this headline. In fact I have met them, although I also have met many others, but they often only desperately tries to hang on some idea, any theory, of something more, something bigger, that could bring some light into their lives. They don’t really know what to believe, but it feels comforting that it migth be something more “out there”. And yes, there is, as within.

I am no exception. I was raised in a secular, atheistic home. Any spiritualism was ignored. If it ever came to the table, it was ridiculed. One might wonder if this is a natural development? I mean, we were deeply rooted in our own ways in the North. Deeply connected to each other, to ancestors, to nature and universal forces. Here comes a religion, (rooted in the Middle East, yes christianity), sweeps in and, through mass slaugther and deception, takes over. We hang on as long as it is possible. But we are uprooted, no our roots are chopped off, and like the wonders of agricultural science, we are planted without roots in a nutrient solution, housed in a green house, and told new stories. We now think we have another heritage, but for many of todays’ modern societies, there’s something not feeling quite right about this and many are leaving the Svenska Kyrkan (Swedish Church), where we were all autoincluded by birth up until 1996. This leaving is probably due to two reasons; we are mostly non-believers and we therefor see no reason to pay the tax to the church..!

“Everything faded into mist,
the past was erased,
the erasure was forgotten,

the lie became the truth.”
– George Orwell

Well, ok we live in this green house, nurtured by artificals and no chance to see the whole picture. We are virtually cut off nature and put in some house with no chance of setting us free. But, it is made of glass. We do see something! It is out there, something interesting! We wonder… Meanwhile we are told the most viscious stories about who we were that had not much to do with truth.  We are now brain washed since millenia, but the winds are changing. The green house doesn’t stand firm any longer. It crumbles and some of us has against all odds been uplifted by this wind and once again been put in the soils outside where we can breath and communicate with all the organisms of the soil, waters and air. We are rooted, free, true and genuine! At last we have an identity that is in sound, that is in fact who we are.

I know there is a vast majority who wouldn’t see the difference between a nutrient solution/green housed tomato, compared to a tomato from its natural habitat in the soil and not treated with chemicals. But there is. There is differences in quality. The amount of good stuff raises. The color, taste and smell are intensified. The amount of water is decreased in favor of fruit pulp. The life force increases! We can see this in the ability to shield off pathogen factors and the length of time we can store them. Both scenarios produce food, but there is a diffenence. My point is we as humans are no different from this. Just give it a thought or two. We really are the sum of our thoughts. speech and actions, as well as what we allow ourselves to put in mentally and through the mouth.

Without a true identity of who we are, we are nothing. Identity gives meaning, order and structure, strength and trust, empowerment and comfort, joy and happiness. The identity brings tradition, the way of life of that particular tribe. The word tradition stems from the Latin word “traditionem” which means transmission, presentation, handling over. The generations preceding our own are the ones who transmitts the customs, practices and beliefs to us. They do this during their lives, and afterlives, right now and forever, through their own actions, writings, stories… They support us and strengthen us in the very now, if we allow them to. They want to be remembered. Don’t you? I surely want to! I don’t want to be nothing, forgotten when my own children have passed away. I will leave foot prints, foot prints that matter, that supports and strengthen my decendants. For that to happen I have to stay in connection to both the ancestors and the coming generations, the ones who are me.

If I wouldn’t have my identity I would be an easy prey for the present dogmas, easily led by the outlined agendas of the transnational flaws of the elit, the so called invisible hand. I wouldn’t have firm ground to stand upon, and I would spend energy on those and that which doesn’t matter, energy that is needed for my own tradition and folk, for my self and the betterment of me. It all starts within, and the work must continue every day, all the time, to achieve the best version of me possible. That’s where I choose to spend my energy.

It’s not only important we acknowledge and cherish our heritage but we should also live as well as we possibly can. To achieve the greatest version of ourselves and to pass this heritage on to our descendants. Because everything we do and are affects the peace and living of both the descendants lives and the afterlives of our ancestors (which in virtually all native cultures are thought to be the same as our descendants. We take rebirth in our tribe…)

To acknowledge our tradition, our ancestors, is the way forward. We are the very sum, the latest update of our forebearers that fought and survived and bred us. Only the strongest of the strongest succeded and this is our heritage, both within and without. So always aim to better yourself, cherish yourself, and the causes of your body and mind. Cherish the very soils of our ancestors, that which they took care of for us, to be remembered and to serve us.

SkålmedHorn

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail