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 (气) 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…