The word “Tao” means way, or path. In Chinese thought, Tao includes both meanings. On the cosmic level, the Tao means the war of Nature, the subtle laws and forces animating the patterns of change in the universe. On the human level, Tao is the path or war of life that we must follow in order to discover the universal laws and to live in accord with them. Then we can live our lives in balance and harmony with Nature, with ourselves, and with society.
Those who seek to incorporate the cosmic laws into the microcosm of their own lives are called Taoists. I have studied the Tao under many great masters. Through my studies I discovered that out of all the methods in the Tao, ranging from meditation, Chinese Medicine and Chi Kung to the martial arts, successful practice all comes down to one thing: understanding Chi. Out of this understanding, I have created a straightforward and systematic approach to working with Chi that I have named Universal Tao.
What is Chi?
Chi is the force that moves everything in the universe. Chi is energy. In humans, it is our life force energy, that which enables us to see and hear, to walk, to work, to think, and to feel. Thus, Chi is not just some philosophical idea; it is the essence of our everyday life.
When we get angry, it’s angry Chi. When we feel love and when we make love, it’s sexual Chi. The stars, the Sun, the Moon, and the wind, the ocean are all Chi, but it is energy with no intelligence.
Living things have the intelligence to take in the Chi of the Universe and combine it within themselves to create a living Chi, one that can create and build things.
How We Come into this World
Our Chi is intimately connected with the Chi of the Universe. When our parents made love, the Yang Chi of our father in his sperm met the Yin Chi of our mother. The two became one; the meeting of their sexual energy formed a new cell called a zygote, our first cell. The Chi of this cell is our Original Chi, the Chi that we inherited from our parents.
Our Original Chi then drew in from the Universal energies, the Chi of Earth and Heaven, our Cosmic Mother and Father. Out of this meeting and blending of Heaven Chi, Earth Chi, and Human Chi, came the power to make that original cell divide and subdivide trillions of times until it eventually formed into a fully grown human being.
How Negative Chi Affects Us
In the Healing Tao, physical health, mental health and spiritual growth are different parts of the same process; they are all related to keeping the Chi flowing strongly and smoothly through our body. Our emotions are intimately related to both our health and our spiritual development.
Negative emotions, like anger, explode and chase the energy out of our body. Similarly, when we feel afraid, we contract so much that we literally squeeze the Chi out of our body. I am sure that you have noticed how depleted you feel after bouts of strong negative emotions. This is not to say that you should never feel fear or get angry; these emotions are natural and appropriate at certain times, and if you didn’t feel them then, something would be wrong.
But if they become your chronic way of responding, your energy becomes stuck in these emotions and you feel them at times that are inappropriate. Your Chi will become blocked and will drain out. Emotions can be one of our biggest energy drains, and without strong Chi, health will eventually suffer and spiritual practice will feel difficult or impossible.
Our Good Virtue Chi
Our positive emotions are also Chi. Chi is the basis of our love, happiness, kindness, and gentleness. These emotions nourish our life and health, and enhance our energetic flow. Sadly, many people today hardly know how to love, and feel guilty or selfish about letting themselves feel happiness. Part of this comes from distortions and misunderstandings of religious truth, and part comes from poor or “toxic” parenting.
The True Inner Child:
The Immortal Fetus
Many people today talk about rediscovering their Inner Child, and this is very good. In Taoism we refer to the true Inner Child as the Immoral Fetus. Taoist practice provides a time-tested method for achieving just this.
We don’t try to suppress our negative emotions, condemn and hate ourselves for feeling such negative things. Nor do we wantonly express our anger, fear and sadness in ways that are not constructive, complicating matters and causing even more problems as we dump our feeling like garbage on other people and injure the ones we love.
Instead, we listen to our child within, we turn our attention with unconditional love and acceptance to what we are feeling inside, to what our Inner Child is trying to say; you yourself become the perfect loving parent for your Inner Child. In this way, our feelings are acknowledged and respected, and thus they can be transformed into healthy and productive attitudes and actions that can constructively change and shape our lives.
We can clear out our negative feeling and allow the Chi that is associated with those emotions to flow freely once again. That also clears and cleanses our inner energy channels and organs, it opens us to receive a purer frequency of Chi from the Universe.
We can then work with this pure frequency of Cosmic energy to affect real and lasting inner transformations and growth on all levels of our being; we call this “giving birth to the Immortal Child” or giving birth to our Higher Self.
When you can open your heart and feel happy, feel love, feel joy, then you will also feel a strong surge or Chi releasing and moving in your body. This in itself is an important part of Inner Alchemical transformation.
How To Do It
In the Universal Tao System, we use a “three pronged approach”; that is, we have many different practices from which to choose, practices that approach the processes of health, healing and spiritual transformation from three angles: body, Chi, and mind. Depending upon the personality of the individual student, one approach may work better than another.
For example, some people are out of touch with their body tensions and sensations, but are very much in touch with their thought and emotion. For this type of person, affecting and healing the body and Chi can be approached on a mind/emotion/spirit level, such as the meditation practice of the Inner Smile. Still another person may be very much in touch with his physical side, but out of touch with his feeling and energy.
The doorway for this person’s opening to their totality of being may initially be the Microcosmic Orbit Meditation, Tai Chi Chi Kung, Iron Shirt Chi Kung, or the Six Healing Sounds, practices that are more physical in nature, but which will in time connect that person with his or her emotions as well as his or her physical body.
Taoism Follows The Way of Nature
The Taoist approach follows the way of Nature. We do not try to force the student to adapt to one method; instead, we have many different practices to suit the nature, capacity, and unique needs of each student. Ultimately the goal is to know ourselves as we really are, and to reclaim all aspects of ourselves on every level. And since part of who we are is our energy body, our Chi network, all of these Taoist practices help us to discover and sense Chi as a part of our continuum of being: the Chi in our bodies, in other people, and the Chi of Nature all around us.
Thus, in the Taoist system, body, Chi, and spirit are interrelated aspects of the totality of who we are. Over centuries and millennia, Taoists have devised man exercises and training to nourish all three aspects, or “three bodies.” But, it is not enough just to understand that working with our energy is important. You have to do it! If you practice, you will soon see results that will transform your life.
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A student of several Taoist masters, MANTAK CHIA founded the Healing Tao System in North America in 1979 and developed it worldwide as European Tao Yoga and Universal Healing Tao. He has taught and certified tens of thousands of students and instructors from all over the world and tours the United States annually, giving workshops and lectures. He is the director of the Tao Garden Health Spa and the Universal Healing Tao training center in northern Thailand and is the author of 50 books, including Taoist Foreplay, Inner Smile, Cosmic Fusion, Sexual Reflexology, and the bestselling The Multi-Orgasmic Man. Visit the author’s websites: http://www.mantakchia.com & http://www.universal-tao.com