Taoism Courses - Lessons Samples


 

Welcome! Thank you for your interest in Taoism matters. The following are abstracts from the Taoism initiation course. More about our courses may be found here.

1.

The story tells that Lao-tzu left the court of the monarchs Chou, disgusted by the moral decay. While going westwards, he met the guardian of the mountain pass, Yin Hsi, who specifically asked him to write a book of teachings. This is how the Bible of Taoism is supposed to have appeared, being entitled Tao-te ching, which means "The Classic about Tao and its Characteristics" (the word "ching" has a sacred connotation in the context, this is why it was translated by words like ""scripture" or "classic".

This book starts with the famous words: " The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao" (chap I, 1, version James Legge). The translations made to this verse are sometimes very different. But, generally, all the versions imply the idea that we deal with a transcendental Tao, which is the Beginning and the Sustainer of all things in the Universe.

(From lesson 1: What is Taoism - Initiation into Taoism, Level 1.)

2.

After having studied the sources of Taoism now we have come to the masters of Taoism. First of all, I'd like to settle an important issue: what is the meaning of the word "master" in Taoism?

Some people equals the Taoist master with a Christian-like Saint endowed with all the qualities described in the Bible, especially those related to an ethical code. Others see him as a guru or a yogi who is in control of supernatural powers (siddhis) and may influence our spiritual growth without any effort from our part. Neither image is true to the Taoist Master. This Master is a pure man indeed, but his purity is definitely not of a moral nature.

(From lesson 4: Masters of Taoism - Initiation into Taoism, Level 1.)

3.

Polls reveal yin and yang as the most popular topics looked for by the internauts. Actually, "yin-yang" is the second most popular search after the keyword "Taoism". Therefore, yin and yang are the most relevant concepts when it comes to studying Taoism.

There's been a lot written about these terms, there are even features' lists of objects, phenomena and beings classified as yin or yang. Indeed, even the idea of complementarity results from yin and yang, or rather these concepts provide the screen this Western idea is projected onto. We are going to study these concepts, too, but starting from the definition in the dictionary.

We read in the Shambala Dictionary of Taoism about yin and yang:

Two polar energies that, by their fluctuation and interaction, are the cause of the universe. Yin and yang are polar manifestation of the Tao of the supreme ultimate (t'ai-chi), their concrete manifestations being Earth and Heaven.

(From Lesson 6: About Yin and Yang - Initiation into Taoism, Level 1.)

4.

I have recently received a message from a certain person which ran as follows:

You sound very judgmental, negative and egotistic. I thought one of the points of Taoist training was the taming of the heart and mind and the destruction of the ego, maybe you're not far along the path!

So the intensely posed problem here is the fact that Taoist teachings seemingly insisted on the domination of the heart and soul, on the destruction of ego, that, in other words, it were ascetic. I would like to comment and clarify this issue. In this respect I must answer this question: "Was Lao-tzu, the father of Taoism, a hermit retired from the world?"

If we pursue his short biography we find he lived at the court of the King of Chou for a while, where he kept the archives. Dissatisfied with the ruler's policy, he retired in the west and was no more heard about. Ssu-ma Ch'ien, the historian of Chinese antiquity, wrote...

(From lesson 10: Taoism and Asceticism - Initiation into Taoism, Level 1.)

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