Taoism

To realize the Tao is to simultaneously experience the base,
the path, and the fruit ceaselessly manifesting.

Glimpses of my experiences with Taoism, Qigong and Neigong Meditation

When I first met Sifu Joe Hing Kwok Chu in 1992, I had no idea that the techniques he taught me for meditation, breathing, postures and movements would transform my life. I am profoundly grateful for his skill, patience and dedication in wordlessly revealing the Tao.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I remember clearly the moment that I first experienced the whole body breathing, one body, one breath, all through the cycle of the breath. I also remember when I realized that I had learned to apprehend with the whole being. And I am still learning.

Heaven, earth and I are born of one, and I am at one with all that exists – Chuang Tzu

On April 7, 1997, I wrote this journal entry:

Changes in my breathing affect the functioning of my bodymind. My perceptions shift. My body feels at ease. My mind clear, free of thought. Actions arise spontaneously. Flashes of insight guide me. I experience myself and the world radically differently. Some changes seem so profound, as if they occur at the level of the DNA. It feels as if I am being restored to the wholeness of things.

In February 1999, I reflected: As I practice QiGong, I come to know those sacred spaces where being flourishes. Nurtured by QiGong, I slowly opened to life, inspired by the words of Lao Tzu:

Can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness?

Can you let your body become supple as a newborn child’s?

Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light?

Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will?

Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course?

Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control:

this is the supreme virtue.

In 2010, Master Chu held an empowerment ceremony for me, authorizing further study of the Tao. The ceremony included a lion dance with drummers and musicians, a tea ceremony, and a community meal.

In 2018, Sifu Chu authorized my teaching the Tao.

Taoist practices have been transmitted from ‘heart-to-heart’ for over 4,000 years.

My understanding of Taoism

At the heart of Taoist practices are precise techniques to control and direct the flow of qi. Qi refers to signals that travel on the electo-magnetic wave spectrum that affect the functioning of the body. The movements and postures in various qigong practices are frameworks for the internal strengthening, balancing and moving the qi.

I want to state clearly that there are risks with Taoist practices. Some qigong practices are not suitable for certain people and can lead to imbalances in the body, or even more seriously to deviations – catching fire and entering demons. Stored within our body are entanglements and blockages. To study these practices with me, people need to know their own psychological history. They also need stability, stillness and an unwavering depth of compassion and presence. I am not a Taoist nor a psychotherapist. Nor am I trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine or martial arts. I am, however, authorized to teach the Tao. All that I’ve learned from Sifu Chu has been communicated to me nonverbally.

When Sifu Joe Hing Kwok Chu authorized me to teach the Tao, I had attained this realization:

The Tao is the base, the path, and the fruit of ceaselessly manifesting

Qigong – training of the qi refers to a wide variety of practices that integrate breath, body and mind.

Qigong originally derived from the name Neigong. Neigong refers to internal techniques for cultivating and maintaining the mind and body, and ultimately the mind.

Medical Qigong focuses on correcting bio-energetic imbalances and blockages – enabling the body to strengthen and regulate the internal organs, the nervous system and the immune system; relieve pain; regulate hormones; and strengthen and release deep-seated emotions and stress.

Martial Neigong techniques help martial artists and athletes increase stamina, move faster, and heal from injuries more quickly.

Meditative Neigong practices refine and transmute the body and mind into an integrated, unified, and dynamic whole.

How I integrate Realization Process practices into my teaching of Taoism

When I teach Taoist practices, I often draw upon the specific language and practices of the Realization Process for inhabiting the whole body, opening the subtle energies of the body, refining perceptions, unifying breath and energy, and integrating the grounds of awareness, sensation, and emotion. Then either through words or wordlessly, I guide people through Taoist practices for all three stages of ceaselessly manifesting:

  • the transformation of the physical body,
  • the transmutation of challenging energies, thought and sensations, and
  • the integration of breath, body and mind producing a concentrated and heightened state of self-awareness, continuously self-transfiguring.

Upon occasion, with very advanced meditators, I teach esoteric practices such as those Saraha describes in the Adamantine Songs “for the great bliss experience of the freedom of the void, the supreme bliss that seems to well up from human beings’ deepest experience of reality.”

Together we explore the nirmanakaya chakra, the sambhogakaya chakra, and the dharmakaya chakra. Described as the three doors of body, speech, and mind – the transformation body, the enjoyment body, and the truth body – the chakras are each worthy of separate practice. At the same time, the nondual union of body, speech, and mind reveals the nonduality of our innate nature.

The following attainments are particularly meaningful to me:

  • Longevity – Embrace life fully.
  • Authenticity – Allow your deepest, truest self to guide you.
  • Spontaneity – Live in harmony with the rhythms of your body and the cosmos.
  • Wu Wei – Still your mind until the whole universe surrenders.
  • Gigantic qi – Don’t blink when a mountain falls down before you.

As we awaken, we experience our living body directly. This is a Tantric path … this invitation into the Tao.

Cutting Up An Ox – one of my favorite Taoist stories

Prince Wen Hui’s cook was cutting up an ox. Out went a hand, down went a shoulder, he planted a foot, he pressed with a knee, the ox fell apart. With a whisper, the bright cleaver murmured like a gentle wind. Rhythm! Timing! Like a sacred dance, like ‘the mulberry grove,’ like ancient harmonies!

“Good work!” the prince exclaimed. “Your method is faultless!”

“Method?” said the cook laying aside his cleaver. “What I follow is Tao beyond all methods! When I first began to cut up oxen I would see before me the whole ox all in one mass. After three years I no longer saw the distinctions. But now, I see nothing with the eye. My whole being apprehends.

“My sense are idle. The spirit free to work without plan follows its own instinct guided by natural line, by the secret opening, the hidden space, my cleaver finds its own way. I cut through no joint, chop no bone.

“A good cook needs a new chopper once a year – he cuts. A poor cook needs a new one every month – he hacks! I have used this same cleaver nineteen years. It has cut up a thousand oxen. Its edge is as keen as if newly sharpened.

“There are spaces in the joints; the blade is thin and keen: when this thinness finds that space there is all the room you need! It goes like a breeze! Hence I have this cleaver nineteen years as if newly sharpened!

“True, there are sometimes tough joints. I feel them coming, I slow down, I watch closely, hold back, barely move the blade, and whump! the part falls away landing like a clod of earth. Then I withdraw the blade, I stand still and let the joy of the work sink in. I clean the blade and put it away.”

Prince Wen Hui said, ‘This is it! My cook has shown me how I ought to live my own life!”

Chuang-tzu, (translated by Thomas Merton & collected in Stephen Mitchell’s The Enlightened Heart)

Through techniques such as breathing, meditation, postures, and movement, we train the body and mind, and ultimately the mind:

  • Train your mind to be thin and keen so when blockages appear, you can slow down, watch closely, and hold back until secret openings reveal hidden spaces. Then with precision, with the slightest shift in attention, wield the mind so that what’s no longer needed falls away.
  • Withdraw the mind, stand still, and let the joy of the work sink in.
  • Clean the mind, and put it away.

My Teacher

How extraordinary that I met a real Taoist.

Taoist masters go into a deep meditative state and take a vow to not talk about the Tao. They would rather be put to death than break this vow. There’s a dangerous curse for those who speak. My teacher does not speak about the Tao.

After the Chinese communist government authorized the teaching of certain ancient practices that integrate breath, body and mind, Qigong masters appeared all over China, making up practices and presenting themselves as Taoist teachers without the rigorous training and disciplined study of the ancient texts and practices.

Born in China in 1936, Joe Hing Kwok Chu grew up and was educated both in Indonesia and Hong Kong, He operated an injury clinic in Sumatra after graduating with honors with a degree from a Traditional Chinese Medical University in Hong Kong in 1960. His interest in injury medicine was practical – he had started teaching mixed martial arts (no holds barred fighting) as a teen-ager and studied in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and Burma to learn from local experts.

He was the first person in the world to set up mixed martial arts tournaments. He organized numerous tournaments in San Francisco, San Jose, Vancouver, and New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The Hong Kong Martial Arts Association honored him for promoting Chinese National Treasures in 1970. He also was honored by the Taiwanese President in the early 1970s.

Joe began studying Qigong in 1951 in Hong Kong and has taught Qigong for health and medical purposes for more than 60 years. He developed a website explaining Chinese medicine, Qigong, and Tantric Buddhism. His website includes more than 5,000 pages on the efficacy of Chinese herbs. If you google “Chinese herb dictionary,” his site comes up on top. He’s both the most extraordinary and ordinary man I’ve ever met.

  • Master Chu received his martial arts training from a broad range of famous teachers, including Abbot Kao Tsan (Gao Can 高參法師) and Chen le Yan (Chen Yi Ren 陳義仁).
  • Master Chu learned injury medicine as an apprentice and then studied Chinese medicine at a Hong Kong medical school, where he graduated with honors.
  • Master Chu studied Qigong at Pao’s Spiritual Institution in Hong Kong from 1951-1962, where he mastered various schools of Qigong.
  • During that time, Master Chu also studied ilmu (mystical studies) with native shamans in Sumatra and New Guinea. He established and opened a successful clinic in Sumatra, specializing in the treatment of back injuries.
  • Master Chu began teaching martial arts in the San Francisco bay area in 1963. He organized mixed martial arts tournaments in the late 1960s at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and also in Vancouver, San Francisco, and San Jose. He took a winning team of fighters to a Taiwan tournament in the early 1970s.
  • Master Chu held many leadership positions in his field, among them Executive Director of the Executive committee of the Northern California Kung Fu Federation; Martial Arts Advisor for the oldest Chinese martial arts magazine, “The New Martial Arts Hero,” published in Hong Kong; Honorary President of the Chi Gong Exhibition and Convention in Taipei, sponsored by the Taipei Chinese Martial Arts Federation; Commissioner for Examinations and Evaluations for the Taipei Pugilistic Society; Honorary President of the Hong Kong Martial Arts Association.

The Farmer and His Horse – an ancient Taoist story

There was once a farmer in ancient China who owned a horse. “You are so lucky!” his neighbors told him, “to have a horse to pull the cart for you.” “Who knows?” the farmer replied.

One day he didn’t latch the gate properly and the horse ran away. “Oh no! This is terrible news!” his neighbors cried. “Such terrible misfortune!” “Who knows?” the farmer replied.

A few days later the horse returned, bringing with it six wild horses. “How fantastic! You are so lucky,” his neighbors told him. “Now you will be rich!” “Who knows?” the farmer replied.

The following week the farmer’s son was breaking-in one of the wild horses when it kicked out and broke his leg. “Oh no!” the neighbors cried. “Such bad luck, all over again!” “Who knows?” the farmer replied.

The next day soldiers came and took away all the young men to fight in the war. The farmer’s son was left behind. “You are so lucky!” his neighbors cried. “Who knows?” the farmer replied.

Verses from Lao Tzu:

At the center of your being
you have the answer
you know who you are
and you know what you want

Lao Tzu

The past has no power to stop you
from being present now.
Only your grievance about
the past can do that.
What is grievance?
The baggage of old
thought and emotion.

Lao Tzu

Be still
Stillness reveals
the secrets of eternity

Lao Tzu