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5. The Dao of Personal Cultivation


Daoism as a philosophy is commonly taken to be the fundamental aspect of the formation of the psychology of the Chinese people. This is due to the fact that Daoism is largely concerned with personal cultivation from within, which is then chiefly oriented to the realization of Dao-De.
As promulgated in the preceding section, the Dao of personal cultivation is a kind of principle represented in the attitude, experience, praxis and attainment in connection with the Dao. There are generally three different types of attitudes toward the Dao as categorized by Lao Zi as follows: "When the highest type of shi (i.e. men of learning or literati) hear of the Dao, they diligently practice it. When the average type of shi hear of the Dao, they half-believe it. When the lowest type of shi hear of the Dao, they laugh heartily at it. If they did not laugh at it, it would not be the Dao" (Ch. 41). Being positive and appropriate, the stance held by the first type of literati is most commendable and effective in view of achieving the Dao as the highest sphere of human life and fostering De as the manifestation of the Dao in an ethical sense.
As a natural outcome of adopting the right attitude toward the Dao, one would be most likely to experience sublime enlightenment, and be possessed of a mentality which is not only distinct from, but far transcends that of the ordinary person. This experience and mentality as such feature above all simplicity, tranquility, genuineness, modesty, adaptability and open-mindedness. (Cf. chs. 15 and 20.)
As articulated in chapters 7, 23 and 27, the praxis of the Dao and De involves relevant strategies. In addition, there are incredible advantages of acting upon the Dao as the supreme principle and nourishing De as the highest virtue. A wise ruler, for instance, will have all the people come to him if he holds fast to the in general, they will stay free from danger throughout their lives if they sincerely exercise the Dao and cultivate De.
It is discernable that Lao Zi speaks of the Dao from various perspectives throughout his book. All in all, the most important of the objectives lies in how to attain the Dao as the highest realm of human spirit. The attainment of the Dao is dependent on an approach as proposed by Lao Zi in his discussion.
This proposal comprises six dimensional components as follows: (1) self-purification and deep contemplation; (2) plainness and simplicity; (3) vacuity and tranquility; (4) tenderness and non-competitiveness; (5) have-less-selfishness and have-few-desires; (6) naturalness and take-no-action. (Cf. chs. 10, 13, 16, 17, 22, 25, 28 and 49.)

For a Taichi practitioner, these six dimensions can perceived as:
- realignment of his physical body during Tai Chi form apprenticeship, self refocusing,
- avoiding unnecessary movement during taolu practice but consciousness, but also moral simplicity (see Dao of Human Life)
- mental activity evading from daily incitation but just vacuity and tranquility,
- reversion (see Dao of Dialectics)
- deep contemplation (see Dao of Heaven and Man)

In fine, as a direct incidence of the close relationship between Dao and Tai Chi Chuan, for anyone who practices or has practiced Tai Chi, during any Tai Chi demonstration it is very easy to experience among any audience similar three kind of attitudes mentioned before...





 

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