Dao | The Way
The tradition of Dao (Path or Way) was formulated by Lao Tzu in approximately 500 BC. It is unclear whether Lao Tzu was a single person or representative of many different achieved sages who built on the existing Chinese teachings stemming from the Yellow Emperor. Daoism was externalised by Confucius around the time of Lao Tzu and spread throughout Asia with the migration of the Chinese people. Around the 5th. Century AD - according to some records but probably much earlier - 1000 years after the Buddha's life in Nepal and India, the Buddhist teaching permeated China merging with the inner teaching of Dao and initiating Chan (Zen). As a way of seeking balance and for practical expression of internal principles, teachers from the Daoist (including Chan) tradition often include training in the martial arts, typically Taiji Quan.
The Inner Teachings of Daoism by Chang Po-tuan
is perhaps the most highly valued concept within the Daoist teaching, with Mother Earth as the model. This naturalness refers not to some external ease or lack of effort, but to perfect inner attunement to the Deep Inner Essence of our selves and consequently the Deep Inner Essence of the wider world. The main method is to gather and refine energy (Qi or Chi). Externally it is practised through physical movements and breathing exercises. Internally it is practised by concentration of the Deep Mind on and within the body and energy field. The result of perfect inner attunement is spoken of as 'Immortality', where the crystalised energy body reaches that stage of development which will independently support the Deep Mind freeing it from the physical body and its energy supply (both during life and after death).
is also highly valued, as an aspect of naturalness. The concept of Yin and Yang and the harmonising immaterial Qi depicts balance. The theory of the 5 elements describes the cycles that occur within this balanced system and the distortions that appear when balance is disturbed.
Sufi & Daoist teachings
have a strong sympathy. They both advocate students developing themselves while living a normal life. 'In life but not of life' say the Sufis while the ideal of the Daoists is to achieve a balanced harmony with the subtle natural processes of the Earth, solar system and universe including all its forms of life. The struggles you make to improve your present situation are the ones that will best help your inner-being. Wherever you are is the best place from which to refine yourself. Non-attachment to the good and the bad that surrounds you means more when practised in life than when practised in sheltered circumstances. Life on the Earth, with all its seemingly contradictory processes, is an exactly appropriate expression of the Divine in this particular time and place. The Earth is a training ground and the conditions are perfect for the lessons we need to learn. The Divine has an inner and an outer expression, spiritual and worldly. Our purpose is to integrate the two.
Sufi Sheikhs and Daoist sages are free to live a caring sharing family life. They are also free to earn their own living, not depending on charity and the labour of others. Using the difficulties of an un-sheltered life, Sufis work psychologically on emotional energies, replacing unconscious negative emotions with the conscious practice of love and its aspects. Their work on the body is mainly denying, withholding food, sleep, sex, and comfort. Following the natural principles of the Earth, Daoists work more on the body and its energies, replacing unconscious tensions and actions with the conscious practice of relaxation, responsiveness, awareness and control. Their work on emotions is mainly denying, using calmness to withhold energy from anger, jealousy, fear etc.
As both Sufis and Daoists use the intellect to administer the process, a type of balance is established where at least two of the aspects are harmonised (intellect and emotions, or intellect and body), while the third is regulated by these two.