May 5, 2012
It's hard to even find the "self" in the immensity of this cosmos, much less love it. But when we cultivate deep Self-love, it is our highest achievement.
Dear Lovers of Self-Cultivation,
"Love Thyself" is increasingly common spiritual advice, perhaps because "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself" has proven to be historically too difficult ot follow. It seems a lot of folks hate themself, perhaps subsconsciously, and dumped that hate on the neighbor. So loving your "self" is a somewhat ambiguous, if not downright confusing task.
What is "self"? What is "love"? Can we even get beyond these words or concepts to directly perceive the Self? If our self is part of Nature, why does it need to actively love itself? Does the advice reflect a needy Creator God that creates insecure human body-selves to mirror it's neurotic split into spirit and matter?
The water is further muddied by the popularity of Buddhism. Most sects believe there is no intrinsic self, and that belief in a self causes suffering. Other organized religions are based on some variant of salvation, redemption, or reuniting the physical self with some spiritual essence - implicitly burdening the lowly physical "self" with guilt or blame or bad karma for not being connected to Source in the first place.
The Taoist viewpoint on self in China varies, depending on the sect and how they interpret the Taoist cosmology (some have gotten mixed in with Buddhism and Confucian ideals). The fundamental Taoist view is that a human being is a microcosm of the macro-cosmos, and that every "self" or Little Cosmos is spontaneously arising up out of nothing, just like the Big Cosmos.
Lao-Tzu in the Tao Te Ching set the standard that every mini-self is inherently good, that it has been given "te" by the Great Tao. This "te" (pronounced "de"), commonly translated as "virtue" or "integrity" or "spiritual power" implies there IS an essence we can call self. Te is where we derive our creative free will that allows us to choose our own destiny. Without a self to take responsiblity for our actions, life becomes a mere human puppet play, with higher forces pulling the strings. The "bible" of Taoism is the Tao Te Ching, literally the "Scripture on the Way and its Natural Virtue".
The Universal Healing Tao (Mantak Chia's global organization UHT that grew out of Healing Tao in USA) feels the central ideas of "Tao" and "Te" are so central to our process of self-cultivation that it has put the Chinese characters in its logo.
Left: logo (officially adopted in 2010) designed by a Chinese fengshui expert that puts Tao in the center and character for Te/Virtue emanating in the 8 directions.
Right: revised logo being considered by UHT's board, called the Council of 9, of which I am co-chairman. This version puts Tao in the 4 cardinal directions and Te in the 4 intermediary directions, with the 8 infinity loops made more clear. A Tai Chi symbol has been added to improve its visual recognition, and the 8 Chinese characters are made horizontal for easier reading.
I'd appreciate my reader feedback: which version do you prefer, and why? Just hit REPLY. (note: as multiple color versions are allowed in either logo, comments on color choice are not useful). Helpful in tabulating responses if you put either "Like Original Logo" or "Like Revised Logo" in the subject line.
But the Taoist self is in actuality a PROCESS, a continuum in which the body-personality or heart-mind (xin) and soul (ling) and great spirit or oversoul (da shen) all take part. This implies that the Tao and the Big Cosmos love themselves --- and that humans should also love themselves as a reflection of the larger cosmic Self-process.
This notion of a "processual self" eliminates in one brilliant stroke all the dualistic name-calling, self-denial, guilt-burdening and blaming found in many religious doctrines about who is karmically responsible for suffering. In Taoist cosmology the responsibility for suffering is evenly shared by a multi-dimensional self, which co-creates everything. Our physical human mini-self process reflects the mostly intangible Cosmic Self-Process.
Tao goes even further, giving our human suffering meaning and value. Suffering is a necessary polarity to joy, part of the human creative process, in the way that an oyster needs an irritating grain of sand to grow a lovely luminescent pearl. Our very ability to feel suffering is a virtue and part of our spiritual integrity as mini-Creator beings making loving free will choices. Polarities like joy-suffering
The Practical Question: How to Best Love Your Self?
Out of this notion of a processual self grew a body of Taoist techniques to speed up the evolution and experience of beauty and joy in the everyday world of suffering. The best of those techniques (in my humble experience) are found in Taoist qigong (aka chi kung) and the meditative process of inner alchemy, starting with the Inner Smile. (Did YOU download my free ebook on the Way of the Inner Smile that comes with this newsletter subscription? If not, go to my homepage and re-subscribe, you'll get an instant download email).
To a Taoist, cultivating the universal medium of Chi (Qi in pinyin, both pronounced "chee") is the most DIRECT way of loving yourself. That's because Chi is the building block of the Processual Self. As our Chi flows, so our Self goes. That's why I've titled this newsletter "Chi Flows Naturally". You cannot stop the Self from flowing and changing - it's totally natural. But you can help it along. That is what it means to "love yourself" more deeply.
I have spent my last 30 years distilling out the best out of thousands of Taoist methods, to help make self-cultivation simple enough for Westerners to easily practice and make progress. in deepning self-love. Since 1995 Healing Tao USA has held a community space in which my Taoist colleagues could colectively cultivate. This is Healing Tao University's Summer Retreat program.
We offer an amazingly talented faculty teaching the full spectrum of Taoist arts and sciences under one roof, IN ENGLISH. All the secrets that nobody will teach you, even if you spend years hunting around China, learning Chinese while trying to break its age-old codes of secrecy and self-protecting lineages.
These retreats are our practical offering to the planetary process of growing human Self-love. The tuition price of $495 has not changed in 5 years, and is subsidized by my non-profit 501c3, and all costs are thus 40% tax-deductible as well. Additional scholarships and discounts (multiple retreat, junior, senior, foreigner, instructor) are available as well, along with extended payment programs at no interest.
There is a kitchen work-study slot (between classes, worth an extra $100. discount) as well. Room and board is only $495. a week, and commuters need pay only a $100. facility fee. We've just signed up a fantastic chef Julia Considine who will deliver love in her home-cooking and do her best to satisfy the wide range of diets. Our cuisine is essentially Flexitarian Five Elements, i.e. balanced and delicious!
I believe these are the most affordable, highest quality energy cultivation retreats you'll find anywhere. It's a great way to LOVE YOURSELF in this super creative and dynamic Year of the Black Yang Water Dragon. I urge you to make the leap forward in your self-love and in completing your life's destiny.
Check out the list of retreats below between June 22 and July 22. You'll love being supported by the community of fun-loving, open-minded free spirits that are attracted to this self-cultivation process.
First get most of your questions answered at http://www.healingtaoretreats.com. You can sign up below or online, only $150. to hold your spot.
Then contact Tynne Clifford at 888 750 1773 or 828-575-3825 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Burst of Inner light in our Planetary Energy Body as it accelerates its rebirthing process in 2012. Are you allowing yourself to feel the same within?
For myself, I'm ready to take off on the China Dream Trip 2012 for 3 weeks with a wonderful group of 36 friends and fellow Taoists to celebrate my and Jem's wedding atop the powerful sacred Flower Mountain. You are invited to tune in on the morning (EST) of Sunday, June 3 for a blast of love and flurry of dragons and immortals spiral-dancing at our party!
I'm certain that it was my extensive Taoist self-cultivation practice at many years of Tao retreats that allowed me to attract the perfect Love Goddess into my life. And one of the things that makes Jem so perfect is that she is deeply committed to her own self-cultivation process of ever-expanding self-love radiating out as chi to embrace the world.
Note announcements below on the Empty Vessel magazine going digital and extended deadline for NYC instructor certification. Students living close to NYC area might also consider attending this event (without the certification testing).
Love and Blessings on Your Way,