The study of Taoism has filled many of my knowledge gaps of spiritual progress and, armed with this knowledge, I am no longer afraid to allow myself to fully delve into deep meditation again.
In this post I share with you the most important teachings that I was able to find in Taoism. I already wrote about an important Daoist teaching of developing an immortal embryo here. I also touch on some other spiritual traditions with identical teachings.
During my research I often referred to scholarly articles on Jstor.org, especially to the works of Livia Kohn (I read one of her books too), Robert Ford Campany and Fabrizio Predagio. These are the people who translate original Daoist texts into English.
I was also suggested to read some famous authors on Taoism whose books are easy to find in bookshops, but I prefer to dig into research documents and old original works that are not available in popular bookshops as I find the work of modern authors very watered-down to suit the Western taste.
I understand when people read such popular books as they don’t understand the original texts. However, when you delve deep into the original texts of other spiritual traditions and have your own spiritual experiences to enlighten you about the meaning of different spiritual writings, you get to understand that what they talk about is one and the same, and then you can easily tackle obscure works of the saints of a yet-unknown-to-you tradition.
Going straight to original texts allows me to understand the root of the tradition rather than getting exposed to its outgrowths. What’s the point of reading developments of the root if the root itself is false. Thus, I like to read original material or a good translation of it as the first point of my research.
To live as long as heaven and earth
In Taoism it is taught that human beings can bodily exist as long as this earth lasts if they manage to preserve their qi and keep the Spirit within the body. One can do these two things by harmonizing oneself with the environment and by becoming inwardly-oriented.
This becomes easier if one tries not to engage the mind because the mind creates projections which mislead us. One should also cut off desires and live in simplicity to achieve unification (at-onement) with the Universe.
It is taught that if the mind dwells in the space between thoughts, one will grow close to the nature of this reality and wisdom will naturally arise. It is taught that it’s the conscious mind that separates us from the reality and causes us to suffer. If that mind which causes us to feel separate from the rest of life is killed by staying still, one will naturally become at one with his Spirit.
This is very similar to the original teachings of Yoga, and I find Taoism and Yoga to aim for the same goal – to merge with the Divine and kill the conscious mind which by both traditions is claimed not to be the true mind. This false external mind is destroyed through inner silence (the absence of thoughts).
Escaping reptilian predators through the still mind
The same, by the way, is taught by Carlos Castaneda, who in the book Teachings of Don Juan claimed that the conscious mind is used by predatory reptilian beings to deplete us of our energy. This is done by them feeding on the energy of our emotions and fears generated by this false mind.
Quoting from the mentioned book with some of my explanations in square brackets:
Sorcerers understand discipline as the capacity to face with serenity odds that are not included in our expectations.
Sorcerers say that discipline [by this is meant not reacting emotionally to anything unexpected] makes the glowing coat of awareness [the energy around us which predators feed on through our emotional and fearful reactions] unpalatable to the flyer.
The result is that the predators become bewildered. An inedible glowing coat of awareness is not part of their cognition, I suppose. After being bewildered, they don’t have any recourse other than refraining from continuing their nefarious task [they stop feeding off us]. If the predators don’t eat our glowing coat of awareness for a while, it will keep on growing.
The grand trick of those sorcerers of ancient times was to burden the flyers’ mind with discipline. Sorcerers found out that if they taxed the flyers’ mind with inner silence, the foreign installation [the conscious mind] would flee, and give any one of the practitioners involved in this maneuver the total certainty of the mind’s foreign origin.
The foreign installation comes back, I assure you, but not as strong, and a process begins in which the fleeing of the flyers’ mind becomes routine until one day it flees permanently.
So in the book Carlos Castaneda claims that only when the mind is still and doesn’t emotionally react to unexpected events can we escape being the food of our predators.
It is told, moreover, that inner silence destroys the conscious mind, which is the mind given to us by our mortal enemies as claimed by the book; that this mind would still return, but not as strong, until, as a result of the continual practice of stillness, it will be completely destroyed.
So we find the same teaching in many traditions; some Native Americans, as claimed by Carlos Castaneda, knew the importance of destroying the conscious mind which is the source of suffering; the same is taught in Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism. In the Bible we also find it told to rely on God only rather than your own plans.
Destroying the mind of separation
Emotions and fears are created only by the conscious mind which perceives the world as separate from itself and reacts to it. This alienation from the Universe because of the egoistic mind is also taught by Eckhart Tolle who experienced freedom from it, though I’m not sure if permanently, because permanent freedom from it comes only through spiritual practices.
There are many gurus who claim to be enlightened because of the lack of this knowledge; yes, you may experience temporary enlightenment, but you cannot call yourself truly liberated until that false construct is totally gone.
I believe that this was achieved by Ramana Maharishi and also legendary saints like Mahavatar Babaji and Thiruvalluvar (as a result of my own experience of his materializion which I mention later on in the article).
Many spiritual practitioners in India experienced the materializion of Mahavatar Babaji, and I get the feeling of awe and respect every time I hear his name, from the very first time I found out about him, so I believe him to have become the immortal. The same I can say about the Tibetan siddha Milarepa whose book The Life of Milarepa is incredible.
It is taught by both traditions, Taoism as well as Hinduism, that if the conscious mind is killed, what remains is being in the present moment and responding to things naturally and spontaneously, as all preconceived notions are destroyed.
Only then you can be called a person of wisdom and act rightly every time, which is very different from the person of knowledge whose acts are based on incomplete information (as knowledge can never be complete due to the nature of this illusory existence).
With the false mind broken, you regain your natural purity, becoming like a child whose perception is not soiled. Even in the Bible we find it said that unless you become like a child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God, which is the teaching probably taken from these old spiritual traditions.
A child doesn’t discriminate because the external mind is not yet formed. The child is in the present moment, responding to things spontaneously. The aim of Daoism is to return to that state of purity, because that’s how we can get back in tune with our essence which connects us to the whole Cosmos.
If we re-establish that connection, we cannot die as we are identified with the immortal part of us and the immortal part of this existence. We will then exist forever, and our bodies, it is claimed, will exist as long as this earth does.
If, instead, we remain deceived by and identified with the external mind, upon its dissolution we will lose our consciousness, and that’s the same as the actual death.
Recovering your allotted destiny which leads to personal fulfillment
In Daoism it is taught that we can get in tune with the whole Cosmos in different ways. We can start by focusing on the breath to calm the qi. We also should stay as much as possible in the present moment and do things with full awareness.
A very important teaching in Taoism is the belief in allotments. It is taught that we all have destinies and that it’s through the allurements of the senses that we are taken away from them and therefore suffer. If we do not allow the senses to tempt us, we will naturally fulfill our destiny and if we stay true to our inner natures, we will never lose connection with Tao, Cosmos, Spirit.
For example, a person may happily live in a village doing some small work and always feeling in tune with himself. But if he buys a TV and sees the lifestyle of the rich, and hears others speaking about this kind of lifestyle being the goal everyone aims for, he may be taken away from fulfilling his destiny and instead go for the stuff the masses go for. This will cut him off from his root, he will no longer feel any inner guidance, and he will feel empty inside.
This simple way of life and trust in the Source reminds me of the life of Jesus, who stayed true to his nature, trusted in God and never worried about things like money or clothing. In Daoism it is taught not to worry about tomorrow, and Jesus never did; yet he remained fed and clothed despite of the lack of planning about the future.
This also reminds me of the story of an Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda who came to the US almost without any preparation but only as a result of a vision which showed his mission there.
Simply by trusting Life he was welcomed by people, never lacked food nor clothing, and started attracting large amounts of followers and was able to spread his teachings on meditation and Kriya Yoga far and wide in the US.
He wrote about his life in the Autobiography Of A Yogi, a truly inspirational book which can truly help in trusting the Source.
That’s what happens when you stop worrying and trust the Universe. Things just arrange themselves perfectly, and you end up better off than planning everything with your conscious mind. That’s because then you no longer trust your later-developed fear-based mind but rely on the Root of Being. It loves you and protects you. You can only know Its love if you trust It.
I also had a chance to meet a Western girl who renounced her material life in Italy and chose the life similar to that of a sanyasi (renunciate). She had nothing, but whenever she would need money for some visa or food, somehow she would get it. People would invite her to sleep in their homes without her asking for it. She never experienced any danger, and she even slept in a jungle in Africa in a hammock without any disturbance.
Escaping the maya
The more you know, the more there is to know, because this knowledge stems from the projected reality and it keeps developing itself without any end. This teaching is found both in Taoism and Hinduism.
Thus, it’s impossible to know everything about this projected reality and one can use up all his life in the pursuit of such projected knowledge. Instead, in Taoism it is taught to stop searching for knowledge and to dwell on your Inner Root, so that wisdom naturally arises and all illusions end.
Your inner essence should be your point of focus as much as possible. This will allow the qi to get still. Your constant presence will not allow the Spirit to leave the body.
If the body is not tortured through excesses of all sorts but is harmonized through good food, deep breathing, unpolluted air, fresh water and healthy living in general, it will serve as a good dwelling place for the Spirit and the Spirit will not want to leave it, resulting in a youthful, glowing look even in old age.
This reminds me of two Vipassana teachers, a husband and a wife, who once led a course in Spain that I attended. Both were old, a wife much older than the husband, but although their hair was grey, there was inner shine of youth in them so you could not really call them old. Whenever they would enter the meditation hall, all eyes were on them because of their unusual look.
That inner glow is lost quickly by people, and I see popular gurus of today devoid of it. This shows that they are just playing the part of a spiritual teacher whilst wasting their essence. They may have a lot of knowledge and the masses are deceived by it, but the presence is not there.
It is taught in Daoism that the reason old age comes and people die is because they waste their qi and abuse their bodies, making them unfit dwelling places for bodily forces (called deities) and the Spirit.
Thus, the forces leave the body making it age, and the Spirit doesn’t like to dwell in it either and thus the person is often absent-minded. Finally, the body deteriorates even more, making it even a worse place for the Spirit to dwell, until it vacates it completely, resulting in death.
In Buddhism it is taught to always be an observer, to never be absent-minded. So in this tradition we also find the teaching of keeping the Spirit in the body until the person fully identifies with it, understanding that there’s no difference between Life and him or her as an individual. Once this is understood and experienced, one has been given a glimpse of illumination.
But firstly this state doesn’t last. It can even last a second or two only. I experienced it quite a few times when I was deep into yoga. I would, for example, go to a cafe, and when I would still myself in the sitting posture, I would become the environment in the cafe itself.
Once, when I was meditating in my house in South India, I became the Universe itself. And when once I was meditating in a Vipassana course, I became the molecule of the sound as the chanting unexpectedly started making my consciousness identify with one sound particle.
So once these glimpses of oneness start being experienced, in Taoism it is taught that you should get even more still so that you experience these states of oneness more frequently and for longer periods. Eventually you no longer see the difference between you and the rest of Life, having become totally one with it. And only this permanent state of union is called liberation.
Once a person has achieved it, he can be called a sage. He becomes Life itself, and therefore is able to manipulate this maya, the illusory existence. He can use light particles to materialize things, walk on water like Jesus did, not be burnt by fire because of his oneness with God.
I once met such a liberated sage, who materialized on my bed in Kanyakumari, South India, when I was meditating. He knew how to manipulate light particles to travel through space as a result of his liberation.
This is the state of being that Daoists and yogis aim to achieve – the being that is no longer limited in any way because one is no longer lost in the illusion of this world (maya) but rose above all its various manifestations by becoming one with the Source of Creation. This is called conscious immortality, because there is no longer any difference between your being and the Universe itself.