THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

01/31/2022

I thought we would end January on a one-sentence quote from my favorite teacher that sums up the ten rule-type precepts as well as the coming quality precepts, which we will look at tomorrow.

“On the level of body, addictions must be ended. On the level of mind, habits must be ended. On the level of spirit, poisons must be ended.” – Damo Mitchell, Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy

01/30/2022

Today was another gorgeous Sunday in Los Angeles. A great day for hiking, which I enjoyed along the hillside trails of my favorite park. It was also a great day for tai chi, qigong and tui shou for those of you that took advantage of the weather.

NOTE: A note of CAUTION from yesterday’s post on the tenth and final rule-type precept of Daoism. Trying to follow this rule is not for everyone. Those of you who, for whatever reason, have low self-esteem should first try to build up your feelings about yourself despite being frustrated, unaccomplished or dissatisfied with your life. In this day and age with all the images of success and self-importance that are showered upon us daily by the media, it is easy to get down on yourself. Realizing that you need to put all others ahead of you will only knock down your self-esteem another notch or two. So, hold off on this precept until you can build up that self-image to some extent. Remember, it’s not that you are not worthy or respectable. It’s that you are not more worthy or more respectable or more special than anyone else.

01/29/2022

Today we take a closer look at the tenth and final rule-type precept of Daoism: As long as all beings have not attained the Tao, I will not expect to do so myself. In other words, put other’s attainment of Dao before one’s own. Except for Buddhism and its Bodhisattva Vow, I don’t think you will find many other religious codes with such an unselfish precept. In fact, I believe we would find just the opposite. Just as in the physical world, many people want to save their own necks before others. Spiritually, they are just as adamant about saving their own souls.

Of course, the belief in a separate and independent ‘self’ that functions in life with a free will is the cause for many of the illusions and neurosis of the mind. To break free and end this illusion of self-importance operating any way it pleases, the Daoist sages of the past designed this precept, which is based on Chapter 66 and Chapter 7 of the Tao Te Ching:
“So it is that the sage, wishing to be above men, puts himself by his words below them,
and wishing to be before them, places his person behind them.
In this way though he has his place above them, men do not feel his weight,
nor though he has his place before them, do they feel it an injury to them.”
– Chapter 66, translated by Andre Von Gauthier.

“Therefore, the Sage wants to remain behind,
But finds himself at the head of others;
Reckons himself out,
But finds himself safe and secure.
Is it not because he is selfless
That his Self is realized?”
– Chapter 7, translated by John C. H. Wu.

This seeking in Western society to be unique and special often results in destroying a person’s self-esteem when they fail to live up to the glamorous lifestyles and ambitions they have imagined for themselves. It is usually a long and hard fall that results. This Daoist precept, on the other hand, inculcates the idea that we are all a part of a much wider picture and none of us is more important than any other. But if we persist in our illusion of self-importance, union with Dao can never be attained. By shedding our own importance, our ‘self’ will fade with it and our true Self within will emerge.

On Monday, we will take a look at the five Quality-type precepts. Have a great weekend, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.

01/28/2022

Today we take a closer look at the ninth rule-type precept of Daoism: When someone wants to do me harm, I will not harbor thoughts of revenge. Or, in the Christian concept from the New Testament – “Turn the other cheek.”

In Daoism, while we should try to act in accord with the Dao, we cannot expect the same of others. Everyone conducts themselves according to their own set of values. Each of us has our own personal beliefs and often project these expected standard on others, which, in turn, has caused untold conflict in the world. On the other hand, it is not acceptable for us to drop our own set of values and ethics to justify seeking revenge on someone who has tried to do us harm, either consciously or inadvertently.

Our moral standards and values need to be independent of the actions of others. Thus, we must always project benevolence even when faced with unkindness or, even worse, belligerence. This is the Old Testament view of “an eye for an eye,” versus the New Testament view of “Turn the other cheek.”

If this seems too much like the contrived ethical facade of the Confucanists, it is on the surface. But internally, it is much different. This is not done for any kind of material gain or to put forth a virtuous front and thus acquire praise and admiration. Rather it is deeply centered on the recognition and cultivation of the inherent virtues and benevolence that are the very essence of our inherited authenticity as manifestations of the mystical Te or De.

So add this rule to your daily cultivation and keep practicing to see how you do with it. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

01/27/2022

Today we take a closer look at the eighth rule-type precept of Daoism: When I see those less fortunate, I will support them in regaining their dignity and good fortune.

Like it or not, when it comes to the vagaries of Life, we are not on an even playing field. And, my apologies to Thomas Jefferson and the rest of our Founding Fathers but, no, all men – and women – are not created equal. There are vast differences in wealth, physical stature and health, psychological qualities, education, family status and conditioning. Despite all these differences, the Dao expects us to treat everyone in the same, exact manner, as Lao-tzu tells us in Chapter 5 of the Tao Te Ching – “like straw dogs.”

In ancient China, at the end of a spiritual ceremony the straw dogs, which represented actual animals, personages or deities, were tossed away and burned. The real animals or persons were not harmed at all. This is an analogy to our spiritual essence. It is not what we actually see in the physical and emotional makeup of each person that is important but their very essence within. We cannot be partial as to what is on the outside but must realize that the essence within all of us is the same regardless of our vast human differences.

Again Lao-tzu reminds us “Heaven and earth are ruthless…” They are completely impartial and don’t show any favortism. Hurricanes, flash floods and fires will destroy the lives, homes, and possessions or rich and poor alike. They are colorblind as well. Thus, in Chapter 5 Lao-tzu is telling us to get over our racial, sexual, and religious biases as well as our narcissistic pettiness and respect everyone and treat them with dignity – the way you want to be treated. So, the Golden Rule in Christianity and the Eighth Precept in Daoism are basically instructing us to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Hopefully, this is another important aspect that you can add to your practice. And thanks for stopping by.

01/26/2022

Today we take a closer look at the seventh rule-type precept of Daoism: When I see someone do a good deed, I will support him with joy and delight. That’s a precept which isn’t common to all religions but one that is emphasized in the Daoist Arts especially Alchemy due to its effect on vital energy. But what if you were that kind person and not someone else, which is the case with several Daoist traditions such as Quanzhen sect. So, we can actually rephrase the above rule to read: Carry out kind actions and support those who do.

This actually sets up an interesting paradox. If you remember back a week or so when I posted the first precept, it was mentioned that we are not supposed to affect the lives of others which may have a disturbing effect. or even change one’s life path. At the time, I remaked that this was the true meaning of “Leave no footprints.” And so it is. But Daoist sages further realized that it was virtually impossible to ‘leave no footprints.’ Hence, if you are going to leave footprints anyway, they might as well be ‘good’ footprints rather than ‘bad’ ones.

Positive actions generate positive mental states in those we are affecting. This in turn changes the manner in which De or Te (the manifesting virtue of Dao) exists and so creates a better world that is beneficial to the cultivation of Dao within humanity.

As for the second part of the precept, supporting others who carry out kind actions, Daoists should always seek to align themselves with and promote the actions of those who are also kind. In this way, we are again contributing to leaving ‘positive footprints.’

There’s an excellent lesson to practice all week as you work on your cultivation: ‘Leave positive footprint.’ Good luck and enjoy the practice, folks.

01/25/2022

Today we take a closer look at the sixth rule-type precept of Daoism: I will maintain harmony with my ancestors and family and never disregard my kin.

Again this is a precept that is common to many religions although it may be worded differently. For example, ‘Honor thy Father and Mother’ in Christianity. It is also one area that Daoist arts and alchemy share with traditional Daoist religion.

In Daoism and in Chinese culture as well the family is viewed as a closely united group of both living and deceased relatives. Therefore, ancestor worship is a family practice based on the belief that, although most of a family member’s spirit moves on, part of that spirit has a continued existence within the family. Furthermore, it is believed that the remaining part of the ancestor’s spirit will look after the family and possibly influence the fortunes of the living. Thus, the unity of the family is reinforced through ancestor veneration and offerings of various kinds helping to keep the ancestors happy in the spiritual world, so that they, in return, will bless the family.

Ancestor worship is not asking for favors, but a fulfilling of one’s filial duties. It is a way to pay respect and homage to the ancestors, and honor their deeds and memories, since they were the ones that brought the descendants into the world, nourished them and prepared the conditions under which the descendants could grow and mature. Thus, ancestor veneration is as much a pay back of material and spiritual debts as anything purely religious.

Tomorrow we will look at the seventh rule-type precept. As always, enjoy your practicing, folks, and thanks for stopping by.

01/24/2022

Today we take a closer look at the fifth rule-type precept of Daoism: Do not get intoxicated but always think of pure conduct.

There were never any hard and fast rules in Daoism against drugs such as alcohol and certain mushrooms except in a novice’s first hundred days when novices were expected to purify their bodies in preparation for the hard work ahead. Novices were instructed to abstain from drugs, alcohol and having sex for 100 days. Other than that, a practitioner was allowed to consume drugs such as alcohol as long as the practitioner did not consume so much as to get intoxicated.

As with the other precepts so far, this was not an ethical rule but a practical one since consuming drugs to the point of intoxication can begin to erode the will. Willpower in the Daoist arts must be developed to a very high degree. Without willpower, it was certain that practitioners would fail in their endeavors to attain Dao. As long as a practitioner could refrain from becoming tipsy or even drunk, which erodes the will, then practitioners could indulge in some premium alcohol at their own discretion. It was up to each individual to use one’s due diligence to make certain that this slight indulgence did not turn into a habit or, even worse, an addiction.

On the other hand, that part of Daoism that became codified as a religious tradition did eventually ban all intoxicants.

We will look at rule-type precept six tomorrow. In the meantime, you have my permission to become intoxicated with your Daoist Internal Arts practice. Thanks for stopping by, folks

01/23/2022

After an extremely windy Saturday, we got another beautiful spring-like Sunday in Los Angeles. A great day for hiking. I hope you enjoyed your weekend. We will resume our look into the Daoist precepts and the theory behind them on Monday. For now, get ready for a full week of working on your Internal Arts cultivation and enjoy your practice.

01/22/2022

“496 is one of the most sacred of numbers within the inner door alchemical traditions. It is the number of new beginnings and the potential for transformation. It is the number attached to the New Year in alchemy as well as rebirth and the start of a new day.” – Damo Mitchell, Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy

A very windy day in the Los Angeles area. A good day to rest up and get set for a week of intense practice. We will resume our look into the Daoist precepts and the theory behind them on Monday.

01/21/2022

Today we take a closer look at the fourth rule-type precept of Daoism: Do not cheat or misrepresent good and evil. Another way of stating that is simply: Do Not Lie or Do Not Mislead Others with Your Speech. I call this the Trump Precept.

In any case, Dishonesty begets more dishonesty as falsified communication generates distortions in your psychology, your emotions, in your relationships, and, above all, in your energy. Not only that but it increase your likelihood of lying to yourself about your own motives. According to Daoist tradition, the search for contact with Dao is made more complicated if there are excessive distortions. We can clear these distortions by telling the truth in all our communications and especially in the things we tell ourselves.

So, be true to yourself and enjoy your practicing Truth in your daily life. Thanks for stopping by.

01/20/2022

Today we take a closer look at the third rule-type precept of Daoism: Do Not Steal or receive unrighteous wealth.

Again we have an obvious precept that is common not only to many religions but penal codes and laws of nearly every country and state. We all know it is against the law to steal. But Daoism is neither concerned with ethics or laws, whether civil or religious. Instead, Daoism is full focused on cultivation and a resonance with Dao.

The Qi of any object is in part composed of the Qi of its owner. To take an object from another and bring it into your living space would mean to distort your own frequency with theirs and serve to disrupt the mental and emotional energy required for resonance with Dao. In addition, the difference between what happens on the level of Qi when something is freely given versus what happens when something is taken instead is one of balance vs imbalance and corruption. In the case of the latter, when something is taken without being given, there is a malevolent form of Qi involved that takes away from the owner’s sense of self, and obviously something which is never tolerated within Daoist tradition.

So, now we begin to see how everything in Daoism is based on the cultivation of energy, not ethics or spirituality. To balance one’s Yin and Yang energies and bring them into unity is the basis for both the rule-based precepts and the quality-based precepts. This will in turn unify one’s Xing and Ming and open the Xuan Men (the Mysterious Gate) to the flow of the Dao.

Enjoy your practicing, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

01/19/2022

Today we look closer at the second rule-type precept: Do not be lascivious or think depraved thoughts, or simply, do not commit any sexual misconduct.

This particular precept, although it may seem consistent with that of a multitude of religious sects which focus on ethics, purity and saintliness, in Daoism it is more concerned with energetics and practicality. The idea of not committing any sexual misconduct has more to do with one’s physiological nature rather than their ethical or spiritual nature. The by-products of sexual intercourse run from emotional connection with another to an actual alteration in the nature of the Yin and Yang energies within both participants. Each time we have intercourse with a person of either gender, we radically change our own internal frequency so that it moves closer to our partner’s. Even though this is understood, we can see how this would be an issue for those who wish to align fully with Daoism as a spiritual tradition.

Originally the ‘dual-cultivation’ teachings of Daoism were an attempt to work with the shifting energies involved in intercourse such as finding the correct partner, harmonizing one’s own auric field with that of one’s partner, and maximizing the usefulness of energetic release during orgasm. But in some modern Daoist schools, these teachings have been given far more emphasis and even twisted to some extent than was originally practiced in earlier times, when they were seen as secondary practices that supported the rest of a practitioner’s cultivation. All in all, these teachings were clearly for practical energetic reasons than coming from any ethical standpoint. It was a practitioner’s complete cultivation through all levels of practice, not only refraining from sexual misconduct, that determined how far one would advance spiritually.

Tomorrow we will look at the third rule-based precept. Until then, enjoy working on your own cultivations, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

01/18/2022

Yesterday we looked at a list of the Ten Precepts of Daoism taken from the “Zhi Hui Ding Xin Jing” or “Classical Text of Aligning the Will with Wisdom,” a series of teachings that form part of the more recently discovered Dunhung manuscripts. Today we take a closer look at the first of the rule-type precepts:

Do not kill but always be mindful of the host of living beings.

That’s obvious, you say. It’s even in the Ten Commandments. Yes, it is and it is a part of the laws of a multitude of religions and various sects. So, what’s different about Daoism? Put in another way, we can say ‘Be mindful of the Cause and Effect of relating with others.’ Thus, it can be called the Cause and Effect Precept or the Awareness Precept.

What this means is that every action we take, whether consciously or unconsciously, causes an effect that ripples throughout the Natureverse. It not only has an effect on those we are interacting with but on countless others whom we don’t even know due to the ripple effect of those we interacted with interacting with others, and those others interacting with still others.

Let’s be perfectly clear, if there is one thing that greatly concerns Daoist tradition, it is to cause as little change to others’ lives as possible. With little in the way of self-awareness or awareness of others, every action that one generates ripples outwards to change the life paths of those around around us. Sometimes those changes are very subtle, sometimes they are as large as life.

The whole point of this first precept is not simply ‘Do not kill,’ but do not cause any disturbances in the lives of those around you. This is the true meaning of that ages-old Daoist adage: “Leave no footprints.”

Tomorrow we will take a look at the second precept. Until then, enjoy your practicing and leave no footprints. Thanks for stopping by.

01/17/2022

As promised, today we take a look at the Ten Precepts of Daoism, which were taken from the “Zhi Hui Ding Xin Jing” or “Classical Text of Aligning the Will with Wisdom,” a series of teachings that form part of the more recently discovered Dunhung manuscripts. These precepts are by no means consistent throughout Daoism as each tradition had its own interpretation of the key themes represented below. However, generally these were the ten classical rules of medieval Taoism as applied to practitioners attaining the rank of “Disciple of Pure Faith” or “Qīng Xīn Dì Zǐ.”

While these ten are basically rule-type precepts, there are five more that are considered quality-type precepts. What is the difference?
The ten rule-type precepts deal with one’s relationship with others and the exterior world. The quality-type precepts are just that. They deal with one’s inner qualities and one’s relationship with Self.

Here are the ten rule-type precepts:

Do not kill but always be mindful of the host of living beings.
Do not be lascivious or think depraved thoughts.
Do not steal or receive unrighteous wealth.
Do not cheat or misrepresent good and evil.
Do not get intoxicated but always think of pure conduct.
I will maintain harmony with my ancestors and family and never disregard my kin.
When I see someone do a good deed, I will support him with joy and delight.
When I see someone unfortunate, I will support him with dignity to recover good fortune.
When someone comes to do me harm, I will not harbor thoughts of revenge.
As long as all beings have not attained the Tao, I will not expect to do so myself.

Although these ten may seem obvious, we will take a deeper look at each one beginning tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy your practicing and don’t forget to keep these precepts. Thanks for stopping by.

01/16/2022

Another gorgeous Spring-like Sunday in Los Angeles with the temperature in the mid-70s. No push hands today, however. They have been suspended until April or May due to the Omicron virus. But we did practice Tai Chi and Nei Gong, which are much more important than push hands. Get ready for a full week of practice. folks!

01/15/2022

“The Formless Way
We look at it, and do not see it; it is invisible.
We listen to it, and do not hear it; it is inaudible.
We touch it, and do not feel it; it is intangible.
These three elude our inquiries, and hence merge into one.

Not by its rising, is it bright,
nor by its sinking, is it dark.
Infinite and eternal, it cannot be defined.
It returns to nothingness.
This is the form of the formless, being in non-being.
It is nebulous and elusive.

Meet it, and you do not see its beginning.
Follow it, and you do not see its end.
Stay with the ancient Way
in order to master what is present.
Knowing the primeval beginning is the essence of the Way.”
― Tao Te Ching – Translated by S. Beck

Have a great weekend, everyone. We will look at the Daoist Precepts on Monday.

01/14/2022

Today in Part 4 of the historical account of Master Sun Bu Er, excerpted from various sources by Damo Mitchell, director of Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy, we are looking at some examples of the alchemical poetry left behind by Sun Bu Er to help guide her students and followers of her tradition:

“Free yourself from loss and anxieties.
There is a solitary cloud with a wild crane that is without constraint.
Sit within the thatched building and read through the spiritual texts.
Outside of the window there are forests and streams
At the foot of the hills are bodies of water and bamboo plants.
Let the shining moon and calm breeze be your highest friends.”

“The original Qi was there long before our body.
It is as Jade that shines when we refine it.
It is shining like gold when we develop it.
End the ocean of rebirth and stand instead at the doorway of the masters.
Remain as a point of pure consciousness whilst the fire gently warms you.”

“Survive and nourish yourself on the natural Qi.
This way the Lungs will be clear.
Forget the Shen and its appearances, they are but empty at their root and distractions from the true way.
At breakfast eat wild roots and at night feed on mushrooms.
If you understand the merging of the fire with its own smoke then you will not walk on the magical pond any longer.”

“The spiritual furnace produces both mountains and lakes,
This is the basis of creation.
When you awake, greet the sun.
When you are readying for sleep, draw in the energy of the moon.
Over time, develop the elixir and allow it to purify the body.
When the Yuan Shen moves through the orifices, the apertures will shine forth with mystical light.”
“The body that exists beyond the body is not developed by arcane magical arts.
Making this body all encompassing, we should make active the Yuan Shen.
The golden liquid will condense into the shining moon.
When the Jing of the Sun and Moon have been refined and cooked then the pearl will shine so bright that all other concerns will fade from your mind.”

I hope you enjoyed this brief series on Master Sun Bu Er, the only woman among the Seven Master who were the original disciples of Wang Chong Yang of the Quanzhen sect of alchemical Daoism and founder of Qing Jing or ‘Pure and Tranquil’ lineage, which specialized in teaching female practitioners of the Dao.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the Precepts of Daoism. Enjoy your practicing, everyone. Stay healthy and take care of yourself.

01/13/2022

Today in Part3 of the historical account of Master Sun Bu Er from her “Sun Bu Er Yuan Jun Fa Yu” (孫不二元君法語) ‘The Key Teachings of the Original Master, Sun Bu Er’ as excerpted by Damo Mitchell, Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy.

“The teachings of Sun Bu Er concerning alchemy were based in the idea that male and female practitioners had a similar but slightly different journey through the arts. She divided alchemical training for women into 14 key stages which are as follows:

Governing the Mind
Nourishing the Qi
Development of Alchemical Skill
Killing the Demon Dragons
Nourishing the Internal Elixir
Development of Embryonic Breathing
Mastering the Inner Fires
Development of the Physical Elixirs
Refinement of the Shen
Mastery of the Body’s Higher Nutrient Functions
Fasting from the Grains
Facing the Wall to Attain Mastery
Entering the Void
Ascending to the Heavenly Realm on Purple Clouds

Though many of these stages actually correspond to the same process practiced by males, there are some key differences at the intermediate and advanced stages of practice. Sun Bu Er clearly had, by understanding what each of these stages involve, a clear mastery of the energetic functions of the physical body and valued the vehicle of the body with regards to its importance in spiritual work. She was also heavily influenced by the Buddhist aspect of the Quan Zhen teachings which are prominent within her tradition’s alchemical methods.”

Tomorrow we will look at some examples of the alchemical poetry left behind by Sun Bu Er to help guide her students and followers of her tradition. In the meantime, enjoy practicing, people. And thanks for stopping by.

Note: In the Image posted yesterday of the Taoist Seven Masters of Quanzhen, Sun Bu Er was in the top right corner. Below in a clearer image of the same scene.

01/12/2022

Continuing the historical account of Master Sun Bu Er, compiled by Damo Mitchell from recorded history and lecture/notes, we look at Part 2:

Sun Bu Er is famous for her inner alchemy but she is also known to have been highly capable in various forms of esoteric medicine as well as in exorcisms and the performance of superhuman feats of survival and power. She was a master of the elements of fire and lightning as well as an expert in telepathic and psychic feats. Whilst none of these were the aim of her study, they are signs of her inner development that arose from her alchemical training under Wang Chong Yang.

After attaining mastery and establishing her own lineage of practice, Sun Bu Er headed West where she took her own students and lived out her life teaching and helping the needy with her healing abilities. It is said that in order to avoid the unwanted attentions of males on her journey to the West of China, she scarred her face badly with hot oil. With such extreme scars on her face, her beauty was destroyed and she was under less risk of being raped or assaulted on her journey. This is, most likely, metaphorical though as is the case with many stories of the Chinese masters. Sun Bu Er travelled ‘West’ which is often used as a metaphor for the attainment of spiritual awakening. India sits to the West of China and at this time India was heralded as a place of great spirituality to the Chinese people. To go ‘West’ meant that a person was walking the spiritual path and thus many teachers are said to have ‘gone West’ within their stories. Sun Bu Er’s beauty is used as a metaphor for attachment to the acquired mind and the egoistic side of existence. By destroying her beauty, Sun Bu Er shed the shackles of the acquired mind so that she could attain her spiritual awakening. This is particularly fitting as Sun Bu Er’s methods are very much based in cultivation of Qi along with dropping the attachments of the acquired mind; teachings in line with the Quan Zhen line within which she studied so hard.

Sun Bu Er died in her seventies (though there is some discrepancy around this age) where she entered into a meditative state in front of her key disciples and allowed her spirit to enter into the Heavenly realm; a sign of her mastery of all stages of Daoist practice. She left behind a whole series of alchemical instructions in the form of numerous short poems and two alchemical texts entitled:

The Sun Bu Er Yuan Jin Chuan Shu Dan Dao Mi Shu (孫不二元君傳述丹道秘書) ‘The Secret Book on the Alchemical Elixir Transmitted by Sun Bu Er’

Tomorrow in Part 3 we will look at some of Master Sin Bu Er’s teachings, especially her key stages of alchemical training for women. But for now, enjoy your practicing, people, and hope you stope back tomorrow.

01/11/2022

Today we begin an historical series on the development of Daoist Alchemical practices with an emphasis on the fairer sex. Master Sun Bun Er founded the Qing JIng lineage which was primarily a tradition for female practitioners of the Dao. The following account, which will be presented in several parts, was compiled and written by my teacher, Damo Mitchell, from a mix of recorded history & lectures/notes from a teacher.

Here is Part 1:

The Qing Jing (清静) lineage was founded by master Sun Bu Er (孫不二) and it was primarily a tradition for female practitioners of the Dao. Sun Bu Er was taken as one of the seven key disciples of Wang Chong Yang during the Jin (1115-1234) dynasty. She was originally married to Ma Yu who was also one of the seven key disciples of Wang Chong Yang but she was told to divorce from him once she attained expertise in the arts so that she and her husband could travel separately and help spread the teachings of the Quan Zhen line of Daoism to different regions of China.

Sun Bu Er was one of the most accomplished masters of Daoist alchemical practice as well as Daoist medicine and, as such, is often a source of inspiration for women entering into Daoist practice even to this day. She is said to have been an incredibly beautiful lady who was born into great wealth. She gave up her rich household life at the age of 51 when she met Wang Chong Yang and he inducted her as a spiritual practitioner and then teacher within his school. She studied in person with her master for 12 years in the ‘cave’ tradition, meaning that her practice was based largely on inner vision and exploration, until she attained immortality. At this stage of her spiritual journey she saw fit to found her own tradition which specialised in the teaching of female aspirants although she also took male disciples as well. The name of her tradition became the Qing Jing or ‘Pure and Tranquil’ lineage.

It was originally Sun’s husband Ma Yu (Ma Dan Yang) who started to follow the teachings of Wang Chong Yang and the Quan Zhen sect. He joined the tradition for a three-month long retreat and came back a transformed man due to his new teacher’s transmissions. Sun Bu Er was not pleased with the transformation that her husband had gone through; though she initially argued with Wang Chong Yang and wished ill of him, she came to understand his spiritual level after he performed several outlandish feats to prove himself to her. Recognising the importance of the teachings Wang Chong Yang was able to impart, she gave her blessing to Ma Yu and also joined the tradition herself.

In an uncharacteristic move for the time, Sun Bu Er left her role as a home-maker and mother to her three children; she left with the other disciples of Wang Chong Yang and chose the path of Daoism as her route through life.

– Compiled and written by Damo Mitchell from a mix of recorded history & lectures/notes from a teacher.

I will post Part 2 tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy practicing, folks.

01/10/2022

Some truly great wisdom for today from Lao-tzu…

“Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know. Close your mouth, block off your senses, blunt your sharpness, untie your knots, soften your glare, settle your dust. This is the primal identity. Be like the Tao. It can’t be approached or withdrawn from, benefited or harmed, honored or brought into disgrace. It gives itself up continually. That is why it endures.”
― Tao Te Ching, Chapter 56

Taking an example from Lao-tzu and the Tao, we should continually give ourselves up to our practice. Enjoy, and thank for stopping by, folks

01/09/2022

“So it is said, for him who understands Heavenly joy, life is the working of Heaven; death is the transformation of things. In stillness, he and the yin share a single Virtue; in motion, he and the yang share a single flow.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

A beautiful spring-like day in Los Angeles. I got together with some friends in the park for a little push-hands and to discuss Tai Chi. Hope your day has gone well. Get set for a week of practice.

01/08/2022

Today’s Daoist quote is a very practical reminder from Wayne Ng:

“Your Highness, were I to desire to change the world, I could not succeed. The world is shaped by the Way; the self cannot shape it. Trying to change it, you damage it; trying to possess it, you lose it.”
― Wayne Ng, Finding the Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu

Let’s see if we can follow that advice and remember what shapes the world and what cannot shape it. All we can do is enjoy practicing, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

01/07/2022

Yesterday’s quote, the Story of the Stonecutter, was a rather long one. Today’s quote it short and simple but very, very important, especially if you are an Internal Arts cultivator within the Daoist tradition. I’m sure you have heard various gurus and masters talk about heavenly spirits and angels being jealous of humans. Have you ever wondered why that is? Here’s my teacher, Damo Mitchell’s very brief take on it:

“Daoist practice is based upon the idea that primordial spirit may only be refined whilst we are living within the body. This is the meaning of life within the Daoist tradition.” – Damo Mitchell, Internal Arts Academy and Lotus Neigong.

So, this refining of the primordial spirit can only be refined here on Earth while we are alive, not in Heaven, Not in Purgatory or anywhere else. So, enjoy practicing, folks, this is the only place and the only time you can refine the Spirit.

01/06/2022

Ready for a long one? This is from the “Be careful what you wish for” file, the story of the Stonecutter, courtesy of Benjamin Huff.

“There was once a stonecutter, who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house, and through the open gateway, saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter. To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!” Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought “I wish that I could be the sun!” Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!” Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!” Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it–a huge, towering stone “How powerful that stone is”” he thought. I wish that I could be a stone!” Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock, and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the fixture of a stonecutter.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

So, be careful what you wish for and cultivate an attitude of Acceptance as you follow the Way. Enjoy practicing, folks. And thanks for stopping by.

01/05/2022

Do you Know what the “Te” alludes to in the Tao “Te” Ching? Today, in a short excerpt from her commentary on Hexagram #9 Xiao Chu/Small Restraint or Accumulation, Kari Hohne of CafeAuSoul.com will tell us what the idea of “Te” is. Although it is a short and simple quote, the actual practice is anything but simple.

“In Taoism, the idea of ‘Te’ is the inherent authenticity that you are born with. You need only peel away the layers of fear that keep you from expressing it. In either case, you will need to approach the object of your enquiry with gentle submissiveness to exercise, discover or release your power. Defensiveness ensures that the negative outcome is relentless. Submissiveness always opens new doors for success so simply surrender to the Way.” – Kari Hohne, commentary on Hexagram 9, Xiao Chu/Small Restraint.

Like I said, it sounds simple, but when you get right down to the practice, it can be rather daunting. But don’t let that hold you back. Go for it and practice diligently and joyfully, people.

01/04/2022

Are you practicing true benevolence? Or do you just think you are? Let’s find out from no better authority than Chuang-tzu…

“All attempts to create something admirable are the weapons of evil. You may think you are practicing benevolence and righteousness, but in effect you will be creating a kind of artificiality. Where a model exists, copies will be made of it; where success has been gained, boasting follows; where debate exists, there will be outbreaks of hostility.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Whether it’s benevolence or Internal Arts, let’s make it real and not artificial. Enjoy the cultivation, people!

01/03/2022

Who do you trust? Well, let’s check in with Stephen Russell and find out:

“You can trust everyone to be human, with all the quirks and inconsistencies we humans display, including disloyalty, dishonesty and downright treachery. We are all capable of the entire range of human behavior, given the circumstances, from absolute saintliness to abject depravity. Trusting someone to limit their sphere of action to one narrow band on the spectrum is idealistic and will inevitably lead to disappointment.

“On the other hand, you can decide to trust that everyone is doing their best according to their particular stage of development, and to give everyone their appropriate berth. For this to work, you have to trust yourself to make and have made the right choices that will lead you on the path to your healthy growth. You have to trust yourself to come through every experience safely and enriched. But don’t trust what I am saying. Listen and then decide for yourself. Does this information sit easily in your belly? You know when you trust yourself around someone because your belly feels settled and your heart feels warm.”
― Stephen Russell, Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao: A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior

And I trust you will enjoy practicing. So, get to it, folks.

01/02/2022

Today’s quote is from Laozi and the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11, reminding us as we start of this new year of the “usefulness of what is not there,” in other words, emptiness.

“Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.”
– Laozi, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 11

So, empty out those things inside that aren’t useful to your cultivation, and enjoy your practicing, folks!

01/01/2022 – NEW YEAR’S DAY

We start off the 2022 with a quote from my teacher, Damo Mitchell, www.DamoMitchell.com, commenting on a line from the Tao Te Ching:

“Humanity follows the Earth, the Earth follows Heaven, Heaven follows the Dao, and the Dao follows what is natural.” (Ch. 25, Tao Te Ching)
Essentially translated as: your state of being will follow the conditions of the body which, in turn follow the condition of the mind. The mind is dictated by the unfolding path that originates from a place of non-conditioning.
It is a line that describes the nature of the tradition of Daoism and how, through internal training, the conditioned root of conscious distortion is eliminated and thus a person may experience a state of true being.
It has nothing to do with respecting the Earth, being spontaneous or being one with nature”
– Damo Mitchell, Internal Arts Academy and Lotus Neigong

So get ready for your best year of practice and cultivation ever. Enjoy, everyone!

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