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Daoist (Taoist) Qigong

By Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang and Master Wen-Ching Wu



Aside from Medical Qigong, other Chinese societies have also made important contributions to the development of qigong. The most widely acclaimed high level qigong achievers are among the Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, and Wushu (martial arts) societies. We will focus on Daoist Qigong methods. We will be discussing both the longevity training, as well as, the higher spiritual purposes of their training. However, our training focus will be on health, healing and longevity. Since a healthy body is the stepping stone towards higher spiritual development, individuals interested in pursuing higher spiritual goals will find the qigong training very helpful.

Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) and Daoism mutually inherited, influenced, and further developed qigong from each other, both in theory and in practice. The oldest and most influential Chinese medical text, the Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic, is also one of the most important Daoist Cannons. They both believe in the unity of human (Small Cosmos) and heaven (Great Cosmos), The Five Element Theory, the Yin-Yang Theory, and qi meridians, and the physiological functions of the organs. These are just some of the many common values between TCM and Daoism. Many of the basic concepts on healing and health are the same. However, due to the differences in their objective, many of the commonly used terms have different implications.

After thousands of years of searching for longevity and immortality, Daoist masters developed many healing, life prolonging, and spiritual cultivation methods. Their effective, profound, and esoteric cultivation resulted in many qigong techniques that can be used for health, healing, and longevity exercises for the lay person; and enlightenment training for individuals in search of higher spiritual realization.

Dao (Tao) was a term used by all the schools of thought in China before the Later Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.). It is a philosophy and science resulting from human's primordial need to find their place in the Great Cosmos. Dao was used as the universal term to describe the philosophy and theory of all schools of thought. Dao was also used to teach their philosophy and theory. It is loosely translated in the English language as the Way.

Daoism refers to both the Daoist School of Thought and the Daoist Religion. The term for teach inChinese is Jiao, which is the same character used for religion. Before the Later Han Dynasty, daojiao literally meant use the Dao to teach, not Daoist Religion. After the Later Han Dynasty, the teachings of the Daoist school of Thought were combined with ancient Chinese Religion and became Daoist Religion.

Daoist School of Thought

Daoist School of Thought included everything from philosophy, to government, to science, to technology. It is a way of life and a path towards the ultimate Truth. It has lasted the test of time and continues to be treasured by its followers. The fundamental texts used in the Daoist School of Thought and Daoist religious teachings are based on the legendary Four classics of the Yellow Emperor, Daodejing (Tao The Ching), and Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu).

The Four Classics of the Yellow Emperor are the legendary work of the Yellow Emperor (2697-2597B.C.), the father of Chinese civilization. Today little is known about the Four Classics of the Yellow Emperor, with only fragmented evidence indicating its existence in ancient China. Legend has it that the Yellow Emperor and some other talented people of his time invented clothing, crowns, palaces, boats, bow and arrows, compasses, astrology, calendars, musical notations, etc. According to Chinese Historical Records, the Yellow Emperor was a superhuman. He accomplished many incredible tasks; he went everywhere to search for immortals and the Dao, for the proper ways to govern his kingdom. At the end of his physical life, he "rode the dragon to the heavens" and became an immortal. Similar to many other Chinese social or religious groups, whether or not the yellow Emperor had any direct influence on the Daoist School of Thought, they give credit to the Yellow Emperor as the founder, to honor the father of Chinese civilization.

The Daodejing is a philosophical text written by Laozi (Lao Tzu). It is regarded as one ofthe mostinfluential books ever written in the history of human civilization. According to Chinese Historical Records, Laozi was born during the Spring-Autumn (722-480 B.C.) period in China. Laozi is the honorary name given to Li Er. Lao literally means old. Zi in this case means a person of high virtue and accomplishment. That is, Laozi is more than just a name for Li Er. It is a title given to one of the most respected people in Chinese history.

The popular versions of the Daodejing today are presented in two sections. The first section introduces Dao; the second section introduces De. Therefore, Laozi's book was later named Daodejing; with Jing meaning a classic or cannon. Many of the teachings in the Daodejing are used as the theoretical foundation for attaining longevity and immortality.

The essence of the Daodejing is about being natural. Because of this, the Daodejing has also beenreferred to as the philosophy of being natural. Being natural refers to letting the course of events happen, as it would, without any added external human influence. The profound nature of the Daodejing immortalized Laozi. This immortalization gradually led to the formation of the Daoist Religion in the Later Han Dynasty. By combining the philosophy of the Daoist School of Thought with ancient Chinese religious beliefs.

Zhuangzi is the title of a book written by Zhuang Zhou. It is also the honorary name givento Zhuang Zhou. Zhuang Zhou was a follower of Laozi's philosophy and a prominent representative of the Daoist School of Thought. He lived during the Warring Kingdom (403-221 B.C.) period in China. The book Zhuangzi is a sequel to the Daodejing. There are many stories in this book about the Dao, the Yellow Emperor, Laozi, and the cultivation of longevity. This book is a work about the wisdom of being natural.

Zhuangzi believed, "humans need to be aware that their own existence is an integral part of limitlesstimeand the universe. They are constantly interacting. Humans must use nature to observe everything. Don't use other's standards as a standard for yourself, don't use the past and future as a division for the present, don't sue death as a division for life, and don't use infinity as a division for finites. This way humans will be able to go beyond their bondage and attain freedom". Zhuangzi realized, "the root of human problems stem from their lack of freedom. Humans are not free because of their overdependency. Humans depend too much on materials, emotions, knowledge, art, spiritual leaders, gods, ...for their well-being and daily life. These dependencies sink humans into a self-created pit of bondage. To gain liberation, humans will have to clear away their dependency."

Zhuangzi's philosophy is the philosophy of freedom. It is a philosophy that places life in infinite time and space to gain experience. People today tend to dissect the frog to understand its body and functions, where as, Zhuangzi wanted to experience the living quality of the frog. Many people like the shape and color of a flower; where as, Zhuangzi liked the life of the flower itself. Zhuangzi wrote, "The human life span is limited. Knowledge is unlimited. It is very dangerous to use a limited life span to seek limitless knowledge. It is even more dangerous when you know that it is dangerous, yet still think that knowledge makes you smart."