Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Union Of Men & Universe (天人合一)

Classical Taoist practices emphasized very much of the union of human beings and the universe. Regrettably, this men-universe relationship is being forgotten in most modern Taoist magic and rituals. Without appreciating the intrinsic meanings, these Taoist rituals became superficial.

In the practice of thunder (雷法), a practitioner would start his practice in the hour of a rabbit (5am~7am) and he should be facing east. This is because this period and direction belong to the ‘thunder’ hexagram (震卦). The first two requirements represent the ‘universe’ part of the practice. Then, the practitioner will guide the eastern chi () through the ‘large meridian of hand yangming’ (手阳明大肠经). This is because during 5am~7am, the chi of our body circulates in the ‘hand yangming’ meridian.

After the chi went through the ‘hand yangming’ meridian, it is then guided through the ‘stomach meridian of foot’ (足阳明胃经). Theoretically speaking, the chi of the body should be around this meridian from 7am~5am; and the practice continued through all of the 12 large meridians of our body and then finally rested in our ‘dantian’ (丹田). Finally, the practitioner would circulate his chi through the conception-governor vessels (任督脉) completing the union of men and the universe. A practitioner can stay in this meditative state for a very long time.

Incidentally speaking, the 12 large meridians of our body is termed as the ’12 thunder gates’ representing the ‘men’, while the time of the day and the direction represent the ‘universe’. Traditional Taoist believe that the immortality is only possible when a practitioner united with the universe.

Other than the thunder ritual, Taoists also believed that directions and elements are associated with our internal organs. For example, our kidneys are associated with north and belong to the ‘water element’; and further governed by the Northern Dipper (北斗). So, in order to strengthen our health and to check for health problems; we can circulate our chi within our internal organs. If the chi is blocked in our heart, then the problem would be in our liver; indirectly causing our digestive systems to fail.

In order to strengthen our liver for instance, a Taoist can resort to traditional medicine while performing star steps related to the east (东斗), and performs breathing exercises. According to Taoism, the best time to take care of our liver is in the winter which represents the ‘water’ element. Since the ‘water element’ in winter is cold, then we should keep warm and consume warm food to boost our body temperature.

Similar to the western magic but with a slight variation, Taoists associated four seasons to wood, fire, metal, water and earth. The ‘earth’ element is scattered into the last months of four seasons. It is said that when the Northern Dipper points towards east, the season changes to spring; when the Northern Dipper points towards south, the season changes to summer and so forth. So, in order to harness the most power of the universe, Taoists would cast their spells facing the dominant direction of the season.

As you might already point out, traditional Taoist practices put more emphasis on the wellbeing of our health and soul instead of requesting for mundane issues. Unfortunately speaking, Taoists of today have largely ignored the core spiritual teachings. Instead, much emphasis is put on rituals and blessing ceremonies that bring more money to the temples. While we kissed the old time Taoism goodbye; I certainly don’t look forward to welcome the modern day Taoism. But the choice is still in your hands…

1 comment:

  1. It does make sense to the vary nature of taoist temples of today and old days. Nowadays, the taoist temple committee are more interested in how to raise more fund for the temple to uplift into better condition and status. What i mean here such as expansion into larger temple and builded with prestige materials and ingredients so that the temple looks elegant and grand. Some even use mostly temple funds for members spending such as entertainment or deities big day event and scrumptious dinner. Besides, some as head or founder of the temple usually will use the fund for private spending craving and greed.

    Based on a true story, about 10 years ago, there is a small taoist temple located near to my parent house. Since the establishment, everything goes well until to a point where the medium guy decided to split and cut ties with all the temple members and committee after few events of conflicts. If not mistaken, what i heard from the village folks, the split was due to money matter. The original temple committee are thrifty in tempke fund spending while the medium guy and few members were craving to spend the fund on something not so in priority or essentially. While, the fund is not control by the medium guy, hence they decided to split.

    The interesting part was this medium guy and few supporting gang managed to raise fund to build a new temple just about 300 meters away from the old temple. At first, the temple was simple and small. After establishment about 5 years, all of sudden the temple expand into a huge temple in the size more than 3 times larger than the old temple. Beside, is the temple office fully equiped with air condition. In the temple, equiped with many colourful lighting and sport lights. Inner and outer of the temple all builded with imported crafted roof top, wall, beam from China and etc. Although, the temple is grand and luxury, but the door always close. The temple only open for consultation or devotees praying on the 1st and 15th lunar calendar day. Since only open 2 days within a month, what is the purpose of spending such huge money to build a bigger luxury temple! Does status for a temple so important! The worse part was this during the big day of the temple deity, the committe approved the spending of rm25k just for firecrackers and nearly to rm200k for procession, foods, dinner, worship materials and etc. This is totally useless in such a way of spending. The deity will be happy if all the money can channel into charity organizations.

    The most respect part for me is the old temple till today still remain its original size and look. Evidently that, this temple more focus on assisting the needy and not to spend temple fund like there is no tomorrow.