Daoism, Confucianism & Buddhism

Daoism (Taoism) is the foundations for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. The human mind, body and spirit is seen as a microcosm of the universe. For us to understand how Qi Gong can be used to enhance the physical, mental and emotional systems within the human body it may help to understand how it developed.

Qi gong is a broad description of many different energy working systems, these can be traced back to India and the concept of Yoga* that crossed from india to tibet and china. Bodhidharma (Bo) brought Buddhist yogic concentration to china leading to the development of Chan Buddhism and its Japanese counterpart Zen Buddhism. Bo is also credited for bringing a form of Qi Gong to the Shaolin Temple and the development of Kung Fu here. Qi Gong has 3 M’s – Martial, Medical & Meditational, and often people that come to it have a background in one or more of these, it is the source and destination of their “search”; the three M’s are can also be use to described the style of Qi Gong.

Chinese philosophy and its theology is made up of a mix of Buddhism, Confucianism & Daoism (Taoism), this has been heavily influence by three key people in China history: Laozi, Confucius & Zhuangzi. Confucianism was focussed on order and discipline to help correct and align human spirit with the Tao ( The way) putting the family, Society and Ancestors at the center of its rules; where as Laozi’s Daoist view point was that being in harmony with the natural state of being and non being and the use of Wu Wei to align the human consciousness with the Universal Dao.

The Vinegar Tasters:
showing Buddha, Confucius & Laozi discussing a vat of vinegar

In the vinegar tasters picture, Buddha, is said to be warry as taste is one of the trappings of samsara – the illusionary world that is filled with attachments and desires that leeds to suffering. Confuscious see the world as sour, disordered and out of step with the paste. Laozi’s (Lao Tzu) is smilling with an expression that is sweet because of how the teachings of Taoism view the world. Every natural thing is intrinsically good as long as it remains true to its nature. This perspective allows Laozi to experience the taste of vinegar without judging it. “Ah this,” he might be thinking, “this is vinegar!” From such a perspective, the taste doesn’t need to be sweet, sour, bitter or bland. It is simply the taste of vinegar. By openly experiencing vinegar as vinegar, Laozi acknowledges and participates in the harmony of nature. As this is the very goal of Taoism, whatever the taste of vinegar, the experience is good.

From the Taoist point of view, sourness and bitterness come from the interfering and unappreciative mind. Life itself, when understood and utilized for what it is, is sweet. That is the message of “The Vinegar Tasters”.— Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

At the core of Taoist doctrine is the concept of the Dao or “the way”. According to Taoist philosophy, the universe originates from Tao, and Tao dominates the universe. “Tao is all embracing, existing anywhere and everywhere though it is invisible. It gives birth to the universe, which then gives birth to everything in it” (Sang, 87). The Tao in this sense is the way of the universe, the driving power behind all in nature (Smith, 198).

There are massive similarities between Daoism and Buddhism, because of thier shared origins but strickingly the emphasis on the need to be free from Karma to achieve spirtual progress, this needs to be done initially by shedding the attachements of life. These are not only our phsyical possessions; that require us to give everythuing away and live in a cave, though this would probably help, instead it is physical, mental and emotional attachments to this world; as the bhagavad gita hindu text states about attachment – Detachment is not that you own nothing, instead you do not alllow things to own you!


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