Coming back to the origin of One
– The Way of the Tao –
On the path of self-knowledge, forgetting what one knows is the beginning.
In the contemplative practices of the Taoists, everything is an interplay of opposing energies.
The Tao (道; literally the Way or the Path) is one of the main concepts in the history of Chinese thought and the centre of the Taoist religion.
It is a term of difficult translation, initially conceived as an inexhaustible power that eludes any attempt at definition.
The Chinese character 道 (whose lower part is the Chinese radical ‘foot’) mainly expresses the concept of movement, flow or course.
One can therefore attempt to define the Tao as the eternal, essential and fundamental force that eternally flows through all the energy that moves the matter of the Universe.
The first step
The most important way to reach the door of contemplation.
FORGETTING WHAT ONE KNOWS
It is necessary to empty oneself of all forms that constitute external men, so that the liberated spirit can receive the Light.
The Light requires a mental void to illuminate the totality of being.
The Master’s task is to guide the disciple towards this laying bare.
Forgetting what is deeply anchored in us is one of the most difficult things to do.
The deeper the forgetting goes into the depths of being, the more the original mind, which alone participates in the Tao, is revealed.
Its nature is pure, calm and without images.
The conscious mind that participates in the play of the intellect is troubled and agitated.
It continually obscures the original mind with its infinite activity.
It lives on the energy of purity and gradually gains control of its substance until it is completely exhausted.
Each external form possesses its own deep form and thus creates a double thin layer of the individual as it appears to us.
The Way of the Tao
It gave rise to being (called the ‘mother of the living’), that which exists and has retained part of that initial emptiness from which the world was born.
However, it is part of the Tao itself, since it is of its own nature, but has spatio-temporal boundaries.
It is therefore a philosophy of change, in which the initial Tao is nonetheless immutable but mutable (and in this form ‘not a constant path’, say the many translations of Lao-tzu’s text), a kind of pantheism (a position that combines transcendence and immanence, in a monist way).
The Tao at the beginning of time – in the state of non-being – was in a state called wu ji (无极 = absence of differentiation/absence of polarity).
At some point – in being – two polarities of different signatures were formed, representing the fundamental principles of the universe, present in nature:
Yin, the negative, cold, lunar, feminine, etc. principle is symbolised by black.
Yang, the positive, warm, solar, masculine, etc. principle is symbolised by white.
The aim of the Taoist is to understand this evolution and the subsequent ones, and to return, through meditation and the righteous practice of life, to approach the initial unity of the Tao: the ultimate goal is to bring the disciple, the practitioner and the student, to a complete state of unification with the universe, with the Tao therefore.
Through Taoist practices it is therefore possible to achieve immortality (called xian) and return to the state of Wuji, pure energy, dissolving into the One, hence into the Tao.