Truth is truth; everything else is just ‘opinion’. Dicerning between these two can be very difficult to say the least! Development of spirit leads towards a single, unified state. Though the path to this place will vary from tradition to tradition. Damo teaches through the language and tradition of the Dao as this was the tradition he has found himself immersed within.
No spiritual tradition is higher than another, each has their merits as well as their own individual characteristics. Daoism is a tradition with very specific aspects to it, elements which make it unique in its approach to elevation of consciousness. The characteristics of classical Daoism can be summarised as follows:
- Daoism has no gods within its teachings. Whilst it recognises that there are people within its history who attained levels of development worthy of recognition it does not advocate the worship of these people. This changed with the modern conversion of Daoism into a religion but it certainly was not the original ethos of the tradition. There are over 300 recognised gods within the history of our world. Each of these is a human-created personification of a concept which is above human understanding. To believe that one god is absolute and true over the other 299 is a clear mistruth based upon learnt bias largely dependant upon your ethnicity and the indoctrination of your family and society. Daoism recognises that the concept of ‘gods’ is based upon the personification of an indescribable state of connection and as such does not advocate the creation of such concepts with the acquired mind. That being said, there are past practitioners who attained levels of conscious existence that is does pay its respect to. Respect and reverence are very different things.
- Because of its non-attempt to define the nature of higher existence Daoism took the term of Dao as its namesake. many attempts have been made to define the term Dao but all fall short. For that reason we summarise the term to mean ‘non-definition’. This makes Daoism ‘non-definism’. It is for this reason that the focus for the study was upon the ‘path’ or the ‘way’. Emphasis must be upon the journey itself rather than the definition since the definition cannot be defined, only experienced.
- Though the theory of Daoism is complex, it is always underpinned by the idea that everything must be directly experienced. Imagination is not a part of the Daoist tradition. Instead there should be direct and unmistakable results which could not possibly be put down to imagination alone. The reason that Daoism focused upon the development of such tangible reactions within their practice was that they recognised the biggest pitfall in many practitioners development – delusion. Without a doubt, delusion is the worst enemy of all cultivators of any spiritual tradition!
- Daoism follows the principles that a persons spirit must be developed and then ‘cleaned’ through the shedding of distortions within the mind. As this takes place a person will be led towards a state of inner stillness – the place from which transformation comes.
Along the way, a person’s study of Dao should lead them towards better health, a clearer mind and more balanced emotional states. These are the foundations upon which further energetic and spiritual development takes place.
Though any internal work is ultimately an attempt to transcend the realm of form, we must still accept that we live within the confines of physicality. To ignore the vehicle of the body and its interrelations with the external world of form is a state of imbalance. Alongside this we must also realise the important nature of the work which we carry out as a part of our wider community. Though periods of retreat are important for our development, to live in full-time retreat is to deny as aspect of our being. The ‘impermanent’ phase of life is still an aspect of Ming which we are inextricably connected with.
The wider Ming of life is an interconnected web of cause and effect. No aspect of Ming exists apart from the wider picture of the collective. Like ripples in a pond, our actions and reactions reach out into the spiritual connection which manifest between us. Ming is a cycle of information out out and information taken in; this is a rule of existence. For this reason any true follower of the way recognises the importance of their expression out into the realm of Ming.
Integrity and Truth
Like attracts like. The spiritual ‘magnetism’ of the universe will bring to a follower of the way that which they put out there or else that which they need. In order to resonate with the higher aspects of this governance of Ming we must learn to express ourselves through the mediums of truth and integrity. Without these expressions we will only bring to us more distortions. A lack of truth brings an inability to perceive truth. Without a true experience of the world we cannot manifest integrity.
Truth is a result of dissolving of the distortions of Xing (our nature). It is not a ‘forced’ way of being but rather an expressed result of inner conversion.
The classical eastern path of beneficial expression is the art of healing. Healing may take the form of medicine, spiritual guidance or practical teachings. Human need exists upon many levels. These levels can be summarised as requiring the following interventions:
- The practical level of the physical realm – charity, kindness and generosity are expressions of virtue for this level
- Medicinal assistance on a physical level – the arts of Chinese medicine, nutrition and internal practice are aimed at this level
- The spiritual freedom of consciousness elevation – the arts of alchemy, meditation and Nei Gong are aimed primarily here
- The cognitive guidance of the spiritual path – the ancient ways of the spiritual path are as relevant today as they were in ancient times
Through engaging in such actions we work with the ‘magnetism’ of Ming to assist all beings on the path towards Dao. At first these are external expressions but with time such expressions become something deeper, an intangible spiritual ripple which moves out from our centre to effect those around us an a second-to-second basis. When this state has been reached then the ‘ripples’ of our actions are a true expression of virtuous being.
If we can understand this then there are no need for precepts or strict rules. Cause and effect is the key as well as understanding the need for ‘giving service’ and cultivating a kind way of being.