FLOWERING HEART

International Holistic Spiritual Center

 

 

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FACILITATORS

 

Rev Suzanne Champlin

Spiritual Teacher & Counselor

Interfaith Minister

Divine Healer

Reiki Master

Artist

 

Rev Dr Michael Milner, PhD

Spiritual Teacher & Counselor

Awakened-Life Coach

Interfaith Minister

Taoist Priest

Abbot for the Seraphic Order

 


300 Feather Tree Drive
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 686-3912

(727) 458-3208

 

 

What is Taoism?

(aka Daoism)

 

 

By Venerable Reverend Michael Milner
Hé Tiān Dì Dàoshì (合天地 Union of Heaven & Earth 道士 Way Teacher)
Abbot, Huā Xīn Guǎn (花 心 觀 Flowering Heart Temple)


Taoism for me is both a splendid philosophy and a way of life.

As a philosophy, Taoism stands out among all esoteric philosophies as the one that best describes the multiple layers of reality. It comfortably embraces paradox, alternative realities and incomprehensible mystery, while somehow remaining grounded in ordinary human life. Taoism teaches a simple, practical way of life in harmony with nature. At the same time, it leaves the door open and provides powerful tools for the human spirit to soar to the very heights of transcendence.

Taoist philosophy affirms many levels and views of reality without declaring one to be the “only truth” or the “ultimate reality”, and dismissing all the rest as lesser or illusory. The levels of consciousness and reality are like a spiritual skyscraper with many floors. Every floor has its own truth and lessons to teach, from the bottom floors characterized by duality and conflict, to the top floors where non-duality, harmony and enlightenment reside.

Hear the words of the great Taoist Master Chuang Tzu: “Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things. (As translated by Lin Yutang)

I am drawn to Taoism, as a way of life, because it cultivates BOTH spirituality or spiritual “essence” (awakening to our original nature) AND “life” in the body. The Taoist way of life nurtures a harmonious, balanced and unimpeded flow of chi (life-force) in the body. This results in a long, healthy, robust and fulfilling life on earth. Life in the body is considered by Taoists to be a wholesome and desirable state, one to be extended and enjoyed for as long as possible. The longer one lives, the more time there is for cultivation, learning and growing, acquiring wisdom, becoming enlightened, helping the people, and, yes, simply enjoying life. That could also include a healthy, satisfying sex life, which, when properly managed, is seen by Taoists as an aid to awakening and energy cultivation, not a hindrance… everything in balance.

The Taoist way of cultivating both “spiritual essence” and “life in the body”, stands in stark contrast to some enlightenment traditions that encourage extreme austerity, renunciation of sensual pleasure and withdrawal from ordinary human life. This they do in the effort to escape from incarnate existence in order to dissolve in the void at the earliest opportunity. We Taoists view life in the body as a unique opportunity to grow and to serve in ways that require a body. Why repress it or cut it short?

Another feature that draws me to Taoism as a spiritual path is that it encourages the cultivation and use of all of our creative powers, including our psychic and spiritual gifts, which emerge naturally as we evolve. Taoism does not view them as ego-driven obstacles to enlightenment which should be repressed until we are fully awakened. This is the tendency of some other enlightenment schools. The fact that Taoists are willing to develop and use extraordinary powers and gifts to help the people may explain why many Taoist priests, in addition to being highly enlightened masters, are also adept shamans and healers.

As in other Eastern esoteric traditions, Meditation is at the very heart of Taoist cultivation. In Fact, Taoism has much to offer meditators from other traditions to help them find important elements which may be missing from their practice. You see, for us Taoists, meditation is much more than just sitting in silence for hours and looking within. That is only the yin aspect of meditation. Taoists balance quiet sitting with moving meditation, eyes wide open, expanding our awareness of the outer world with its myriad ever-changing forms and ceaseless activity. This is the yang aspect of meditation. Through meditation practices which embrace the harmonious dance of both yin and yang, we return to our natural state, "wu wei" (which literally means “not doing”), that is spontaneous effortless action, naturally doing the right thing at the right time without thought or effort. As Taoist Grandmaster Share K. Lew taught, "Taoist way... not forced".


Grandmaster Share K. Lew

My training began when I was 18 years old under the late Grand Master, Share K. Lew, lineage holder of Dao Dan Pai (Taoist Elixir School). Share Lew was trained at the legendary Huang Lung Guan (Yellow Dragon Monastery) on sacred Luo Fu Shan (shan, mountain) in Guangdong, a Taoist temple famous for excellence in qigong, meditation, kung-fu, herbal medicine and energy healing arts.

I have practiced Dao Dan Pai Meditation, Qigong and Neigong (Internal Alchemy) for nearly 45 years. After many years exploring the world’s great esoteric traditions, I reached the conclusion that this is the most complete and balanced system I am aware of for awakening our internal energy, the inner alchemical dragon (called kundalini or serpent power in other traditions), raising and refining it to the highest levels of development, safely, while remaining fully functional, grounded and integrated. This is accomplished through simultaneously cultivating and carefully balancing both the rising (yang) and descending (yin) energies, moving the kundalini energy up the back and down the front of the body in a complete circle (like the snake swallowing its tail, the “ouroboros” of Western alchemy). In Taoist culture, this is known as the “microcosmic orbit”, and among many other benefits, it is an instant solution to almost all the negative side-effects related to raising kundalini without sufficient grounding and balance.

At the beginning of my training, Grand Master Lew told me, “A tree can only extend its branches as high into the heavens as its roots go deep into the earth, otherwise, the first strong wind that comes along will topple the tree.” My experience has proven this to be quite true.

Over the years, I have received many powerful transmissions and gone through intense spiritual processes with masters from diverse traditions. The results have been transforming, but they have often left me scattered and ungrounded. Whenever this happened, I always returned to my roots, Taoist qigong and meditation, to help me integrate and balance the new energies and breakthroughs I had received from other traditions.

I have taught the Dao Dan Pai internal system for more than 40 years and have found it to be a sublime blessing, not only for myself, but for healers, light-workers, yogis, meditators, martial artists and anyone who works with energy. It is a complete internal energy system that cultivates what we Taoists call the three treasures: “Ching” (physical/sexual essence or kundalini), “Chi” (vital breath or prana) and “Shen” (spirit or awareness). The deeper aspect of qigong, called Neigong (meaning “Inner Power” or “Inner Alchemy”), teaches the practitioner how to alchemically transmute sexual energy (Ching) into vital breath (Chi) and vital breath (Chi) into spirit (Shen), then, through deep meditation, to return the spirit (Shen) to emptiness (floating in the void, non-duality, pure consciousness). In addition to qigong and meditation, Dao Dan Pai training includes learning to use the internal energy to heal (Neigong Qi Liao) and to fight (kung-fu), as well as the study of herbal medicine and philosophy.

Inasmuch as I am both a Taoist Abbot and an Interfaith Minister, I work with people from many paths. In the future, I will continue to offer Taoist practices to everyone I work with in our interfaith community. Taoism provides essential tools to seekers from all paths, tools which they may not find in their own traditions. For example, Christian contemplatives have powerful forms of meditation, like Centering Prayer and Hesychasm (The Prayer of the Heart), but they may lack the tools to help them integrate and balance the effects of long hours spent sitting in contemplative prayer. Taoist qigong has helped many contemplatives find a healthy balance between stillness and motion in their lives. Others, who practice Kundalini Yoga, have found that Taoist meditation helps them bring the kundalini full circle, stay grounded and avoid the possible side-effects of their practice.

One particularly wonderful feature of esoteric Taoism is that it teaches primarily through direct experience, rather than with words and ideas. Typically a Taoist master will not speak about something with a student until he or she has first experienced it. To speak about something that has not already been experienced creates preconceptions and expectations and hinders true learning. Teaching through the body and the senses, both spiritual and physical senses, while bypassing the cognitive “mind”, is exactly what many Westerners need, to get out of their heads and awaken to the experience of reality as it is.

Looking to the future role of Taoism in the world, it is important to note that Taoism is not “theistic”. That is, it does not require belief in a God who, it is thought, created and rules the universe. Nor is it a “religion” at all, in the traditional sense of the word, with dogmas, rules of conduct, prescribed rituals and a governing hierarchy. As such, it is an acceptable form of spirituality even in China and other places that frown on religion and the idea of “God”. It also finds broad appeal among today’s youth who yearn for genuine spirituality, but shun traditional religious forms. For all these reasons, Taoism is an ideal vehicle to provide balanced and holistic spirituality for the largely post-religious global culture of the twenty-first century.

A final thought: I should probably point out that in the “Tao Te Ching”, the Taoist classic ascribed to the legendary sage Lao Tsu, it is written, “He who knows does not speak, and he who speaks does not know.” …I’m just saying…


To learn more about my Taoist Journey, Click Here

 

For Information about Dao Dan Pai (Taoist Elixir Style)

Qigong & Meditation Classes

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