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In introducing the Way of the Tao to you, I must first speak about the culture of Taoism. Taoism reaches back to prehistoric times; there is no date allocated to it. Taoism is about the people being in harmony within themselves and with nature. It really means being in harmony with every thing around you. In ancient times, people began to adapt to and evolve in the environment they were living in. Their understanding or harmony with nature was called the Tao. All those who were seeking harmony within the self were considered Taoists. They pondered the questions of life and evolution. These were the people who became great thinkers, and brought to our world the teachings that I am presenting to you.
Around 600 B.C. there was a spiritual renaissance—not only in China, but also in all parts of the world—and great spiritual teachers appeared, offering transformational teachings. These teachings became the foundation for most of the philosophies and religions of the time. We know who they are because it was through them that we gained this understanding of how to be in harmony with ourselves once again. Among these great teachers is Lao Tzu, who was a vital part of the transformation that China was going through.
The Chinese acknowledge Lao Tzu as the founder of philosophical Taoism, which is a school of thought that reflects on nature. Lao Tzu's name translates as "Old Child," which shows us that life itself is a perpetual paradox. Lao Tzu's teaching in the Tao Te Ching presented people with a new way to think about themselves, life and the world around them.
Taoism is the way of surrender to the ebb and flow of nature as the way to fulfillment. It turned its back on the court, on statesmanship, and commerce, in favor of the silence and remoteness of meditation in the mountains. Tao means an understanding of self—self-cultivation, self-contemplation—it always deals with self.
The teachings I'm presenting are from the Yu Ching Huang Lao Pai, or the Jade Purity School of Taoism, which happens to be one of the oldest schools of Taoism. Its founders are Huang Lao, or Lao Tzu, and the Yellow Emperor. Now, as in the time of Lao Tzu, religions and philosophies are undergoing a renewal, and are bringing people through transformation into realization of self.
Taoists represent the world as the Three Purities, or three aspects of ourselves. Three symbols are used to represent these three dimensions (see figure 1, page 6). These dimensions are internal. At the same time they are external. In relationship to Wu Chi, Tai Chi appears as darkness. In relationship to Tai Chi, yin/yang appears as darkness. To the Taoist, yin/yang, the conscious mind, this material world appears as darkness within darkness. So the Taoist walks in harmony with nature, to leave the darkness within darkness and come into the light.
Mystics speak of this dual darkness as two nights: the first is the dark night of the soul; the second is the dark night of the spirit. Shamans speak about the night and say that, in order to get through the night, you need an ally. Mystics say you need a spiritual guide. Whether your ally is one of the archetypal forces of the shaman, one of the mystic's ascendant masters, or a deity or master of your own tradition, you may call on that energy to help you on your journey through the darkness into the light.
Grand Purity—The Conscious Mind
Grand Purity is a dimension that is a window to the soul, but ego, or conscious mind, functions like a mirror. Its focus is on the external. Everything you see in the physical dimension is a reflection of your conscious mind. Everything you experience has been reflected back to the mirror. The way you feel about life, people, and the world around you, the things you think, say, and do, fashion the response you get back from life, and shape your reality. So you get from the world what you give to the world. The conscious mind's reflections draw to you everything, physically, mentally, emotionally. You attract to you the same vibrations you give off. This is the nature of yin/yang. When conscious mind functions as a window, its focus is on the soul. Using psychic abilities, divination (such as the I Ching,), meditation, dreams, or Jung's centroversion, you can access the soul and begin to tune into your higher self.
The conscious mind is like a mirror. It mirrors everything—physical, mental, and emotional—that you perceive about yourself. If you feel fear, it will mirror the fear and you will have fear coming to you. If you feel anger, it will mirror the anger and you will have anger coming to you. It reflects what you feel about yourself. If you feel you have an ugly body, it will give you an ugly body. Your conscious mind will reflect that image to you. Everything in your life is there because of you. You can say, "No that's not true," or, "When I was young, my mother did this to me, and that's why I'm like this now." You can make excuses for many things, for many reasons about why you are, and who you are. But when it comes down to it, there is no one who can take the responsibility except you, even though, as a child, you may have been forced into a mold of negativity. So, to begin, you must accept yourself as you are and start from there.
Whatever you perceive about yourself, you automatically reflect it, like a mirror, and pull that vibration to you. There is a universal law that says, "Like attracts like." You pull to you the same vibration that you give off. Fear pulls fear; anger pulls anger; love pulls love. If you understand that, you begin to perceive how to break away from this thing we call the conscious mind. Remember that the conscious mind, in reality, is located in the brain. The subconscious mind, on the other hand, is an energy center within the physical body that exists beyond the physical dimension. Energy can never be created or distorted; it can only be transferred.
From time to time, each of us has said to ourself, "I am sick, I am tired, I am just really sick and tired of all of this." That is not true. You are not sick; your body is sick. You are not tired; your body is tired. Each aspect of self, indeed, extends beyond the physical dimension, beyond the body. The first stage of spiritual understanding involves getting beyond the body, and controlling it. It makes a big difference when you can say, "Well, my body is tired, but I'm not." So, if you have anger, it doesn't mean you have anger. Your subconscious mind is merely bringing the anger forth from you. That anger, in essence, is like a vibration released by the body, allowing an expression of energy. In essence, you are not really angry; a part of you that you have allowed to come forth is angry.
Crystal Purity—The Subconscious Mind
Crystal Purity is everything that has been reflected in the mirror, everything you have experienced in this lifetime; it represents your soul, your personal reality. When soul, or subconscious mind functions as a mirror, its focus is on the external. The subconscious mind is like a computer program that contains everything you have allowed into your being. It is that which you have brought with you from the past. It also represents a blank wall at which you come to, yet can never seem to pass. It is the source of those things that haunt you and cause your imbalances. These imbalances must be reflected back from the mirror of your soul, back to your conscious mind, so that you can reflect on the content of your subconscious mind, reprogram it, and make yourself whole, as soul, as symbolized by the circle.
The circle represents the Pa Qua, the Taoist magic circle, similar to the Native People's Medicine Wheel (see figure 2, page 11). Its eight subtle energies symbolize eight aspects of creation and eight aspects of self. When you bring these eight subtle energies into balance within, you become whole as soul. When soul, subconscious mind, functions as a window, its focus is on the divine. When soul links with the divine as higher self or the Great Soul, it steps beyond yin/yang and becomes grounded in Tai Chi. There is no duality here, no good or bad, no right or wrong. Everything just is, and everything is perfect—the divine flowing through all.
Seekers and fellow travelers are constantly trying to understand more about themselves, but they frequently come up against a blank wall, something they can never seem to pass. The blank wall represents the obstructions within your subconscious mind, that keep you from getting beyond those things that haunt you, that instigate your reaction from a place below the surface of consciousness, and prompt your anger, your frustration, your prejudice, and your hatred. It is something you have allowed to be a part of yourself, something deeply rooted in the back of your mind. You live within it, and you are unable to get beyond it so that you find there are certain imbalances in your life.
You may have strong feelings about certain indiscretions of those around you that bring forth your anger. Perhaps you feel that those around you misunderstand you. You may find that your thoughts and reflections that lead you to take a new direction may be doubted or ridiculed by them. In dealing with that doubt or ridicule, you may have to relate to patterns that other people create. What they are really saying is, "What you are doing is not my reality, shape up and be like me." When you understand that, you understand that everyone's reality is very different. Everything that you see is perceived in your own personal way, because your subconscious mind perceives things in an individual way.
Some may feel very unhappy about their bodies. Some may be very concerned about money. Some may worry about finding a good husband, a good wife, or the right person for a partner. Every time you consciously think of something in your life that you lack, you have allowed that particular reality to become a part of you. If you feel fear because of "who you are," or "where you live," that fear attracts fear. So you have to become more conscious, not only of your thoughts, but also of your feelings and emotions. Remember, you attract the vibrations you give off.
You must also become more conscious of how you relate to others. If you ask someone, "How is your stomach? Are you feeling better now?" you are acknowledging the fact that another person is feeling sick, and, thereby possibly amplifying their feeling of sickness. Words, and even thoughts, of affirmation have a very powerful effect on us. You may not realize it, but words can play a very significant role in your life. Each time that you communicate with someone you create energy vibrations. These energy vibrations can help, and they can also hurt. They can create balances, as well as imbalances.
As you become conscious of the energy vibrations around you, you realize that your soul or subconscious mind is an energy body. Crystal Purity is the dimension in which your soul becomes purified like a crystal and made whole. It is where you throw off the gross vibrations of the physical and open up to the spiritual energy or life force at the core of your being.
Spiritual energy is what we call Jade Purity. It is pure energy that has not yet manifested into the world. It is represented by a dotted circle, because energy is never confined, but is constantly in motion.
Although some of us may have what we call spiritual guides, they are not necessarily spiritual energy. Spiritual energy doesn't care about you. It only cares that you care about your self and, of your own free will, seek it, because spiritual energy, in essence, is the essence of what you are.
Everything through which you allow this energy to come forth is what we call "the vibrations." These vibrations represent the circumference of the unbroken circle; it is how you make use of the energy. Your vibration is the circumference that surrounds the energy and molds it to make you what you are. Everything you perceive about yourself is here, simply because you allow it to be. If you feel that you are poor, the subconscious mind says, "Oh, you feel poor, that means you should not receive." If you do indeed receive, you are going against your subconscious mind. Thus, when you say, "I'm poor," you'll find that you will be poor. If you say, "I'm sick," you'll find that you will be sick. The vibration derives from this energy, this circuit that is going out from the center of your being.
Like electricity running through a wire, it creates a vibration. The electricity travels through to the lightbulb, and you have light. That light is a vibration, or an output of the energy. Your subconscious mind is basically the energy that travels and creates the vibration, or what is called your conscious mind, the things that you perceive. In extending this further, you can say that your subconscious mind is much like your computer's memory. It is a storehouse that allows everything you experience to be contained within that area of your being. It therefore allows you to be you, but it also allows you to grow.
Jade Purity—The Unconscious Mind or Group Consciousness
Jade Purity is represented by a dotted circle, because it represents an energy of pure consciousness that can never be confined. When unconscious mind functions as a mirror, its focus is on creation. It's an all-knowing energy; it is pure, but impersonal. You must take an interest in yourself first, before it takes an interest in you. It moves through everyone and everything. When unconscious mind functions as a window, its focus is on the "One."
Jade Purity is that part of you that is separate from both the conscious and subconscious mind. In the West, this is sometimes called the "I Am" or Spirit; in Chinese, it is called the Tao. Spirit is the spark of spiritual energy that is the life force of your soul. It is the thing about which you know nothing, but which you want to come in contact with inside yourself. It is Spirit that remains after you shed your body and your mind. The essence of this energy is, in itself, formless. That's why it is called Spirit. It has no shape; it is not a physical being. Most people like to describe it as light. What better word can you use to describe energy? The "I Am" is, indeed, a consistent energy. It is something that fluctuates and perpetuates throughout eternity. It always has been, and it always will be. It's something that always flows through you naturally. However, because it is spontaneous, it needs channels through which it can express itself. It expresses itself through the body and through the mind. It allows you to learn more about yourself, within this thing that we call the physical dimension. You discover that the "I Am" that you are is something that works within yourself. It is your relationship to the all-that-is, through your relationship to your higher self, or Tao in the here and now.
This is not something that you can learn looking outside yourself. It's not something that you can receive by reading a book, or through observation. Spirituality is something that can never be taught. It is something that has to be deeply experienced, deeply felt by each individual. It is something that you find by searching within yourself. You may be able to find books that will spark this process. Indeed, everything that you use in this search is but a tool. This book, too, is like a tool—like a flint that can ignite a spark that you fan yourself. You create the fire; you ignite the spiritual energy within yourself. No one else can do that for you, because you are the Tao. You are the spiritual energy within your self, you are the "I Am." There is no such thing as an "I Am" out there that you reach out for. The "I Am" is in you already. If you reach in for it, it will be all around you. That's the essence of the Way of the Tao—to get to the point of understanding, and, going beyond understanding, to truly knowing, then going beyond knowing to simply being yourself.
Excerpted from Every Day Tao by Leonard Willoughby. Copyright © 1999 Leonard H. Willoughby, Sr.. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Part 1 Tao—The Way
2. The World
3. The Journey on the Way
4. Tint To: The Universal Law of Abundance
5. The Law of Non-Infringement
6. Good and Evil; Abundance and Infringement
7. Tint To: The Universal Law (Continued)
Part 2 Te—Virtue (Integrity)
8. Negativity and Your Reality
10. Relationships and Your Reality
12. Love and Self Love
13. Celibacy and Sexuality
14. Taoist Mysticism
Part 3 Sam Ching (Three Realms of Being)
15. Taoist Cosmology
16. Integration and Transformation
17. Taoist Thirty-Three Energies & The Thirty-Six Energies of Creation
18. The Eight Taoist Immortals
19. Create Your Own Mandala
20. The Paradigm Shift from Matter to Spirit
21. Journey Back Home
Appendix I: Taoist Meditation
Appendix II: Advanced Meditation
Appendix III: Meditation on the Four Elements