The word Tao means
the way, the way of nature and the universe, or the path of
natural reality. It also refers to a way in which we can open
our minds to learn more about the world, our spiritual paths,
and ourselves. Sometimes the Tao is also referred to as the
origin of all things, as the Source of Life, as the Wu Chi itself.
Taoism, especially its internal alchemy path, is not a philosophy
of mind alone, but a real practice of body, mind, and spirit.
When you have the true sense of its meaning, the true knowledge
and wisdom, you will be able to make the right decisions in
The roots of Taoism go back
to the dawn of human civilization. Taoism is the cradle of the
Chinese culture. The Taoist cosmology and life principles are
reflected in all aspects of life: in (Traditional Chinese) medicine,
philosophy, religion, in painting and calligraphy, in literature
and theater, in ethics and politics. Over the centuries, Taoism
has developed itself in many different directions and has mixed
with principles of Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, etc. Therefore,
in the history of Taoism we see a beautiful kaleidoscope of
different philosophical and religious teachings. Most of them
found an expression in books and pamphlets, which are collected
in the Taoist canon, the Tao Tsang. Everyone is acquainted with
the Tao Te Ching, the Chuang Tzu, or with the I Ching. Less
with, for instance, classical works as the Tsan-tung-chi (the
triplex unity) of Wei Po-yang and of the P'ao-p'u-tzu (The Sage
who Embraces Simplicity) of Ko Hung of the same period. Both
are early Taoist (Internal) alchemists from around 200 CE. In
the text of Wei Po yang we can even read about the sexual and
Kan and Li practices of the Universal Healing Tao. Our great ancestor
is the immortal Lu Tung Pin the grandfather of internal alchemy.
In the last few years, very good translations of classical Taoist
texts and overviews of the history have been published. The
Universal Healing Tao training mainly follows the path of Internal Alchemy
to attain health, longevity, and immortality. Although there
are many different paths in Taoism to reach the Tao, they generally
have more or less the same cosmology in common.
According to Taoist cosmology, before the beginning of the manifested
universe, there was a state of total emptiness. In this primordial
state, nothing stirred. The relative concept of time did not
apply to the primordial state, because there was nothing to
measure time against. All was a void. The ancient Taoists gave
it a name. It was called Wu Chi. Wu means absence, negation,
nothingness. The Chi in Wu Chi (though it is spelled the same
way in English), as the word that means life force is a totally
different word in Chinese. The Chi in Wu Chi means "highest"
or "ultimate". Wu Chi thus means "ultimate state of nothingness".
(In the modern Chinese spelling you write for this Chi (energy):
Ji, for the other Chi (ultimate), Qi.)
The Primordial Tin and Yang.
The Wu Chi stirred through some unknown impulse, and the First
moment of creation began. This first impulse manifested Chi
through the primordial polarity of Yin and Yang, negative and
positive. The interplay of Yin and Yang is the essential expression
Of Wu Chi. The Taoists named this process Tai Chi or "Supreme
Ultimate". All the multiplicity of phenomena found in the universe,
visible or invisible, are the results of Yin and Yang interaction.
The Source of all Movement.
Chi, or life force, is the foundation of all the Taoist practices,
in the same way that electricity is the foundation of modern
civilization. Without electricity, practically every aspect
of our modern life style could come to a stop. Similarly, without
Chi, one's life would come to an abrupt halt. Chi can be defined
as bio-electricial, life force, vitality, or simply energy.
Chi is all of these, but none of them exclusively. Just as electricity
is still incomprehensible to scientists in its total breadth
and depth, Chi is beyond intellectual understanding.
According to the ancient Taoists,
Chi is found in the air we breathe, yet it is not just oxygen
or any of the other gaseous components of the atmosphere. Chi
is also found in the food we eat, yet it is not just a vitamin,
mineral, or carbohydrate that we can chemically isolate. Chi
is absorbed into the food we east through the process of photosynthesis,
yet it is not sunlight or any other type of ray detectable by
modem scientists' sensing devices. Chi is the essence of the
food we eat and the air we breathe, the real nourishment of
the body. When we breathe or eat, we are taking Chi into our
bodies. Without Chi, there can be no life.
The Five Elements or Phases
The interaction of Yin and Yang is expressed though five basic
phases of energy behavior, often called the Five Elements. The
Five Elements refer not only to the five physical elements we
find all around, but also to the ways Chi expresses itself in
the universe. The first phase is energy at rest, energy in an
extreme state of quietness and concentration. This phase is
named water, because water, if undisturbed, naturally becomes
extremely still. The second phase is a development of the first;
if energy is extremely quiet and concentrated, it bursts into
activity at some point, just like the Wu Chi. This second phase
is that expansion of energy. It is called wood, because trees
burst into activity in the spring after their long period of
winter rest. The burst of activity in the wood phase cannot
last for long; it soon stabilizes into a period of sustained
energy releases. This third phase is named fire, because fire
is able to sustain a high level of energy release over a long
period. As the high energy releases the fire begins to decline,
it gives rise to the fourth phase, that of contracting energy.
The fourth phase is called metal, because metal is a very condensed
state of energy. The fifth phase of energy is that of central
balance and harmony of all the other four phrases. This final
phase is named earth, because the earth is the ground of all
the other elements.
Yin/Yang is the root and trunk
of all creation; the Five Elements are the branches that bear
the leaves, lowers, and fruits of the universe. The result of
the five phases of energy is the manifestation and activity
of the sun, moon, stars, plants, and all life on earth. This
view of Taoist cosmology may seem abstract and simplistic, but
modem science has arrived at essentially the same view of creation.
All matter throughout the universe is made of atomic particles.
The atoms, once believed to be the smallest indivisible particles
of matter, have proved under observation to be made of subatomic
particles and waves, all propelled into motion by the polarity
of the positive and the negative. Scientists have also arrived
at a concept of an original explosion of energy, which they
refer to as the Big Bang.
Taoists view the universe as
a vast ocean of interacting energy driven by the fundamental
interplay of Tin and Yang. Humans are one of the most complex
manifestations of such interaction.
The universe as a manifestation
of the Five Elements is self-sustaining. All living creatures
are constantly interacting with all the elements of creation
through the processes of eating, breathing, sensing, feeling,
The Eight Forces
Like the Five Phases of Energy, the Eight Forces of Nature are
also the result of the interplay of Tin and Yang. Together they
form the power symbol of the pakua, and combined together they
form the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. In fact, the Five phases
of energy correspond with these Eight Forces of Nature. The
eight forces are the basic energy formations of nature.
Where do we derive our Life
The basic source of human energy, according to Taoists, comes
from our parents. The Yin energy of the mother in the egg and
the Yang energy of the father in the sperm provide the initial
sparks that ignite the fire of life. This energy from the parents
is called prenatal energy or Original Chi
A second source of our energy
is the air we breathe and the food we eat and the Chi we absorb.
We call .this postnatal energy.
Chi is radiation from the stars
in the form of light, electromagnetic waves. and subsonic vibrations.
The most prominent stars in this process are the sun. the North
Star, and the stars in the constellation known as the Big Dipper.
Humans in particular depend
on the Chi radiated through space by the stars and planets for
sustenance. The air we breathe is charged with cosmic energy
in the form of extremely fine particles of cosmic "dust." This
dust is the residue of exploded stars, planets and asteroids.
It rains constantly onto the earth, forming an essential component
of the soil.
Plants are the only living
organisms that can directly transform light into nourishment.
Humans absorb light energy indirectly by eating either vegetables
or the flesh of other animals that feed on plants.
The interaction of light, cosmic
dust in the soil. and air, together with water, forms the basis
for photosynthesis in plants. All life on earth depends on plant
life, either directly or indirectly. The great majority of organisms
feed directly on plants, and a small minority feed on other
animals that eat plants.
Chi is life, and abundant energy
is abundant life. If our energy supply is low due to illness
or excessive emotions, we experience low vitality and lack of
drive. Living ceases to be an enjoyable experience: we feel
disconnected from the environment, from society, and from ourselves.
Taoists therefore place extreme importance on cultivating and
maintaining a high level of energy to strengthen one's connection
with the universe and oneself.
The ultimate goal of Taoist
practice is attaining a state of complete union with the source
of the universe. All life emerges from Wu Chi unconsciously.
Through Taoist practices, one can attain immortality and return
to he Wu Chi consciously to dissolve into oneness. Taoists actively
encourage any practice or point of view that helps strengthen
our connection with the universe. The most direct way of sustaining
our links with all creation is by cultivating the energy that
is the foundation of life.