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 and wordlessly, I guide people 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.
The path is direct. It’s tantric. Tantra, translated as ‘the thread,’ refers to both the transmission of enlightened energy and the continuum of our original nature. Through practices transmitted heart-to-heart, we recognize our original nature and are freed of our defilements.
We directly recognize that the nature of the kleshas arises from within our own consciousness, thus potentiating their transfiguration into:
- compassion, instead of hatred, aggression, aversion anger, dislike, fear, pride, inflation, jealousy, competitiveness, and such …
- generosity, instead of greed, attachment, desire, clinging, longing, and such …
- wisdom, instead of delusion, ignorance, laziness, narrow-mindedness, and similar emotions
As the three doors of our body, speech, and mind open, we realize the nonduality of our innate nature.
We experience the Nirmanakaya (the flesh-and blood physical body that lives and dies, the emanation body, the movement of energy arising from the inseparability of emptiness and clarity).
We experience the Sambhogakaya (the bliss body, the clarity of the natural state, the body that experiences the totality of enlightenment, the body that enjoys the fruits of enlightenment).
We experience the Dharamakaya (the truth body, the essence of the universe, the unity of all things and beings, unmanifested, the emptiness of the natural state of reality, the absolute basis of reality from which all phenomena emanate).
In the Adamantine Songs, Saraha describes realization as “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.”
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.
This is a Tantric path … this invitation to transmute body and mind into an integrated, unified, and dynamic whole. As we awaken, we experience our living body rooted in the earth, aligned with the universe – ceaselessly manifesting.
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.
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.