Introduction to the Six Taoist Arts of the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC)
The Six Taoist Arts symbolize Yin & Yang at the 3 dimensions of Human existence, Jing, Qi & Shen. Hidden within each of the Arts is not only the secret of a healthy long life but also the transcending of consciousness from one dimension to the next. At each level both the Yin & Yang polarities must be mastered and balanced. Mastery of one level both initiates transformation to the next and completes the transformation of the last dimension. The process of transcendence occurs as Jing transforms to Qi, Qi to Shen & Shen to the Great Purity. This is the ancient’s path to immortality.
Introduction to Shen, Yueh & Li
Shen consciousness is the harmony of paradox. It is consciousness undifferentiated from the Tao yet it remains individual through self-determination and self-sustenance; unification is had by the willful embodiment of the Tao. With Shen consciousness achieved it must then be mastered to transcend to the Great Purity. This is achieved through Music and Ritual. Yueh or Music is Yin and symbolizes transformation through inner work, and Li is Ritual and symbolizes transformation through outer work.
Li – Ritual
Li is Ritual and symbolizes reverent action. Reverent action is the humble offering of nourishment according to the nature of the emerging hidden-spirit to resonate harmony as the music of life. To live as the divine, all of one’s actions must be a humble offering of nourishment. These actions must be guided not by any conscious will, but arise spontaneously according to the direction of the moment’s spirit. From moment to moment the spirit moves from hidden to revealed and back to hidden. It does so in harmony with the coming and going of the moment. Its hiding place is the Great Mystery and it emerges harmoniously with the flow of the Tao. To direct consciousness one must surrender to each and every moment.
In learning Li we develop the insight & skill to live in accordance with the Divine laws of the Three Pure Ones. Our actions are performed with respect for these laws. It is too easy to approach life with a sense of ‘me’. What will serve me best? Is the question most people ask themselves even in the quiet moments of life. Li teaches true reverence. This is not based upon fear but reverence and offering. Reverence for the divine. Recognition that there is something far greater than ourselves and its interests are superior to our own. We learn to accept hardship in life as it teaches us to grow. We offer nourishment because it is needed even if it is not what we want to do because it is what must be done.
It is difficult to see the Laws of Heaven and it is more difficult to follow them. But, this is necessary to achieve enlightenment and immortality. Heaven follows the Tao, Earth follows Heaven & we have the choice to accept our place as Man following Earth. If we do, our place in this world is revealed and we are able to embrace the unfolding of our destiny.
Li is the teacher and the practice. It is meant not just for ceremony but every moment of life. It is the practice of truly embracing Heaven & Earth in harmony. Then one effortlessly does all that needs to be done. To surrender to Heaven & Earth in such a way manifests True Virtue.
Li is made up of the three basic principle spirit, harmony & nourishment.
Coming of the Hidden Spirit:
The first part of Li is to respect the emergence of the hidden Spirit as Heavenly force. Respect in ritual is to direct oneself according to the spirit as it appears from the Mysterious center, following the natural order of the Tao. Heaven follows the Tao through the ritual of respectfully expressing the hidden spirit of the emerging Tao. It is to direct ones life and action with respect for Nature and the Earth.
Harmony through Music:
Next part of Li means music. Music is organized sound. It is the harmonizing of the 10,000 things from a state of disorder to order and order to continued order. Harmonizing everything, obstructions are cleared. If one’s life or health have become complicate with obstruction, offering a chant with respect may restore balance, “May I offer this chant for you – may I give you this song?” Music makes uncomplicated the complicated. The harmonizing of the World of Manifestation is represented by Music. In healing, harmonizing with music can be achieved with the 28 pulse song. By chanting this song the 28 pulses are brought into harmony. Man keeps Earth clean & healthy by developing in harmony with nature.
Nourishment of the Humble Bean:
The bottom part means humble beans. This symbolizes a material offering of nourishment. With even a small offering like a humble bean, no one will starve. Always remember to make an offering of nourishment, even if small. So, if visiting someone bring a gift of product or service. Earth follows Heaven through the offering of nourishment according to the direction of Heaven.
Practice: Chant Tao Te Ching Chapters 25 & 39 while maintaining the Harmony of Sun & Moon mudra.
Harmony of Sun & Moon
This hand mudra means Harmony of Sun & Moon and is an appropriate hand symbol to express the meaning of Li. Meditation while maintaining the this mudra will help harmonize Yin & Yang.
Li can be better understood through Ch 25 & Ch 39 of the Tao Te Ching:
Something mysteriously formed,
Before Heaven & Earth.
In Silence & Void,
Standing alone, unchanging,
Eternally present and living.
As Mother, the potential of All Manifestation.
I do not know its name
And address it as Tao.
If forced to give it a name, I shall call it "Great."
Being great, it flows.
It flows far away.
Flowing far, it returns.
Therefore,Tao is Great,
Heaven is great,
Earth is great,
Human is also great.
These are the Four Great Principles,
And the Humanity is one of them.
Humanity models itself after the Earth;
Earth models itself after Heaven;
Heaven models itself after Tao;
Tao models itself after its nature.
All things from ancient times arise from the One;
Through possession of the One, the Heaven is clarified,
Through possession of the One, The Earth is stabilized,
Through possession of the One, the spirit is strong,
Through possession of the One, the valleys were made full,
Through possession of the One, all things lived and grew,
Through possession of the One, the princes and dukes
became the ennobled of the people.
- that was how each became so.
Without clarity, the Heavens would shake,
Without stability, the Earth would quake,
Without strength, the spirit would be used up,
Without being filled, the valleys would crack,
Without the life-giving power, all things would perish,
Without the ennobling power, the princes and dukes would stumble.
therefore the nobility depend upon the common man for support,
And the exalted ones depend upon the lowly for their base.
That is why the princes and dukes call themselves
"the orphaned," "the lonely one," "the unworthy."
Is is not true then that they depend upon the common man for support?
Truly, take down the parts of a chariot,
And there is no chariot (left).
Rather than jingle like the jade,
Rumble like the rocks.