Is Taoism a Religion?PART 3
The Limitations of religious idealism
Throughout human history there have been many free thinkers who tried to enlighten people, but formal religion held the reins.
For instance, it isn’t enough to just talk or think about such matters, and to make these interpretations into scarcely understood social rituals. That’s just low-level wishful (and often very confused) thinking, but taken as “truth” by the reinforcement of large groups of people.
Certainly this isn’t enough to embody the spiritual teachings the great masters brought in order to help humanity move toward Truth. Serious lifestyle and cultural changes were also necessary.
For example the cultural darkness of the Middle Ages was slowly eroded by the religious, financial, philosophical & political reforms of the Renaissance & Age of Enlightenment, until it was finally broken by the Industrial Revolution. Yet dogmatism (and many other ills) remained. This dogmatism is now being eclipsed by the free-minded, educated generations of today.
The women’s equal rights movement is an indication of the fact that the feminine power—the “receptive,” the Yin—has been ignored, abused, deprived, oppressed, and misunderstood for centuries.
The contributions of the so-called “negative” power are as important as those of the “positive” power, just as the function of electricity consists of two opposite powers.
The Chinese have long realized that the two Tàijí elemental powers (Yin and Yang) must interact, and that the harmonious result could bring progress and unlimited development; yet they have had no better luck at utilizing their knowledge than Westerners.
While people in the West are slowly freeing themselves from the shadows of religious idealism and creating the opportunity to experience the realities of the Tàijí principle, the Chinese still have not been able disentangle themselves from the mental pollution caused by their past misunderstandings and misuse of the taiji principle.
How did that happen?
The dark ages of China
Whereas religion was to become the core of Western civilization, it was either ignored or abused in China.
And although the Buddhist religion was imported from India and then absorbed by the Chinese culture, its spiritual philosophy was de-emphasized, while its ceremonies and rites became fashionable.
In Chinese Buddhism, the ideal of self-control was emphasized. The emperors often used this ideal to suppress the common people, so that religion became known as “the ruler’s favourite tool.”
Conversely, Tàijí philosophy offered beliefs that fulfilled human needs, though its ideals were also abused for generations by the powerful and greedy.
Tàijí phylosophy encourages the fulfilment of the individual person, yet also emphasizes that this goal should be achieved through moderate, natural ways of living, rather than by overly extreme religious/social rituals or belief structures that run deeply contrary to natural ways.
Examinations of Chinese history show that at a certain point this idea began to be applied only in terms of political power struggles: to be the ultimate person was to be the most powerful ruler. The idea of a simple, natural human nature was ignored.
Around 2,500 years ago in China, following the Spring and Autumn Age (771 to 476 BC), the Tàijí principle began to be misused or ignored.
This continued through the Warring States period (473-221BC), before Qin Shi Huang founded the Qin Dynasty and unified China ( 221 207BC).
According to Wiki “The Qin sought to create a state unified by structured centralized political power and a large military supported by a stable economy.” This illustrates well the theme of this article.
The Han Dynasty built on this model of rule from 206-220AD and during the reign of Emperor Wu (141–87 BC) the Chinese court officially sponsored Confucianism in education and court politics.
With the collapse of the Han Dynasty came a period of turmoil known as “China’s dark Ages”. For more insight into this period Wiki has a great animation that shows the rapid changes of this time: THREE KINGDOMS.
From 220-581 AD a succession of warlords and generals vied for power, perpetuating a time of almost constant warfare and intrigue.
During that time period the development of human relations and political power followed its usual agressive pattern. The rulers of the time—the Yang, aggressive powers—seized political and military power. Those who were yielding, cooperative, obedient, and who encouraged harmony—those possessing a balance with the Yin power—were subjugated, often by force.
Women were educated to be weak and helpless, designated domestic slaves, and the men were trained to be ardent followers of the ultimate power, who was of course, the ruler.
Competitiveness and aggressiveness were encouraged but moderated and regulated, all for the benefit of the rulers.
Ironically, although the social traditions were misguided, they still preserved the concept of the Tàijí principle for hundreds of years. Consequently, even though the Tàijí principle (Yin and Yang harmony) was discovered and initiated so long ago in China, it followed the same sad destiny as Western philosophy did.
Religions and spiritual teachings (such as the examples found in this article or elsewhere) can be misinterpreted by what Taoists call “human-level thinking”.
You may read this differently depending on how you’ve been educated, or the society you live in, or your preconceived ideas about the topics presented, your preferences, the way you are feeling in this moment, etc…
Mainly it will depend on the mental blockages or energy pollution of whoever reads it.
Grandmaster Waysun Liao says:
“I’ve seen students from all walks of life take these teachings and fit them to their own interpretations, or use bits and pieces of them to justify a wide variety of different beliefs and lifestyles.
The energies behind wrong interpretations have a history and a mission too. They come here to pollute and lead people down the wrong track. Many real and true spiritual teachings have been hijacked and altered beyond all recognition over the years.
You can find examples of this within many major religions.
These wrong interpretations don’t just apply to religion, but to any and all areas of our lives.
After all, every fake idea is ultimately a religion when we believe and worship it: our monetary system, college degrees, our social customs, to name a few.
It doesn’t matter how hard you work, weep, pray or try to control the world around you, confused people can take over and spit out a wrong interpretation of anything.
They want to separate you from the oneness of God, and bring back the many layers of god.
It’s hard to know where wrong thinking and evil will arise. It’s not always immediately obvious.” Grandmaster Liao continues.
“At one point a nice little baby came into this world, so cute, sitting on the floor and playing with his toys. His name was Adolf Hitler. When he was a young man he went to school, and even became an artist.
He was a conscientious and sensitive young man, interested in health and spirituality.
Initially you wouldn’t be able to tell he would become the evil he ultimately personified. You couldn’t tell what wrong thinking went on in his head, and what guided him to justify the sort of brutality that led to the slaughter of over 6 million people.
Most people feel they are right and are doing what is necessary and good. They have an excuse or explanation for why they act and think the way that they do.
This is one reason why no matter how much you guard against it, evil, disharmony and confusion can slip in and take control of any artificial system.” Grandmaster adds.
That’s why I tell my students “never graduate.”
Never feel that you have arrived and are immune from being misled. Be vigilant against wrong thinking.
constantly work to readjust and align yourself with that true feeling, and keep working to be clean, humble and going toward the one true God,”
advises grandmaster Liao.
There should be nothing between you and God.
This is very hard to do.
We can practice this, but we should never claim that we have achieved this.
Why? Because at any second you can be distracted. You need to keep humble and watchful, constantly returning your focus toward God.
That’s one reason some religions set aside a Sabbath, Ramadan, masses, sunrise and sunset practices,… holy days for worshiping God, or specify a number of times a day to practice/pray. It was to remind you and give you a chance to concentrate only on God during these specific times.
But once in a while, even if regular, is not enough.
We need to remember God every seven hours, every seven minutes, every seven seconds. Always.
That’s the reason why those religions had practices like bringing the family together before mealtime or before bedtime to pray. That is why they blessed babies after birth and had ritual blessings for marriages and deaths and other family oriented ceremonies.
You were supposed to remember to put God first, even before your family.
It can be very easy to forget God.
We habitually reverse the proper sequence of Things. When I worship money, fame, titles or a big house, I put them before God. Even when I’m hungry, I think of food first and forget about God.
Luxury, accomplishments and enjoyment are not bad, but they can become a problem, because it is easy to slip into craving and attachment, and start looking for security, pleasure and comfort, and then place these things in front of God.
To be with God is the utmost luxury.
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