Intention plays an important role in the process that leads to a daily Practice.
Without desire, will or fantasy, it is difficult to go towards a Way or a Practice.
Indeed, it is through personal research, to “change” that we go towards traditional exercises : for a better health, a certain vision of one’s spirituality or even a martial research.
There is no right or wrong reason, but a conscious reason is a plus when starting on one’s way .
These practical choices are uses of the egotistic mind, necessary to function in the world.
The choice of the style, of the teacher and of the practice time also depends on the use of the intellect and the mental, sometimes of the analysis.
But, in meeting a serious teaching, it is very useful, even essential, to know how to free oneself of it all. What was used for a specific action should be abandoned.
It is the story of the raft to cross the river : we do not keep with ourselves after going through… but yet …
It is useful to remember the first few characters of Master Lu in his “100 characters”
养 气 忘 言 守
“Feed the Chi, Forget Talking, Keep”
What was useful to choose one’s Way is often a problem in one’s evolution : the mind, the ego, the monkey mind.
It will manifest itself in various forms, this compulsive mind, but mainly in three main types:
The imagination, the mental fabrication fed by knowledge, surmises, plans, and predicts instead of letting us perceive.
We have an image of “we the practitioner” and we try to impose it to reality instead of letting go. We are thus trying, in a silly way, to project to the world a fantasized image of ourselves. This can not really work and it is all the more frustrating and generating lies, to others and to oneself. We are then blocked by our imagination in our fantasies.
With the habit of observing one’s practice and one’s life, we will have to distinguish between reality and imagination, this will allow us to actually enter the Way.
Expectation, linked to a projection into the future, stiffens us in an early conception of “who we believe to be”, our new “spiritual ego”. This is obviously related to imagination, but stuck in a future representation.
We believe that everything will get better in a more or less near future, in a better life that is “going to happen “. We dream of an “improvement “, a transformation or progression, but later… In our minds, this can only happen “later”, “when it will be different”.
We can also put back the “serious” practice at a later date, more conducive to it, according to our mental mind.
However, we can only act in the present, we can only live instants, this idea of the future is an illusion.
Attachment is linked to the past, it is an unnecessary use of our memory, an inability to “let go” of the past to accommodate new experiences. This is directly related to our ability to grieve, to let go.
We love what we know, dread what is new… “In case it is not as good as before”. We also have a false image of the past, idealized by an ego fleeing the present, this source of it was better before”, “I was better before”…
It is the same illusion as the illusion of the future, but turned towards the past .
To come back to this image of our self, linked to our attachment or to our expectation, we must surrender. We will seek to strengthen this false identity, to defend it and cherish it. All this will go against the teachings of the Way, but they are human reflexes against which we have to confront ourselves. In this context, there are three illusory choice that we can identify :
- Want to do well,
- Believing in one’s intellect ,
- Defending one’s mental mind.
The idea of wanting to do well is dangerous: it gives the illusion of doing what needs to be done, when we are against the current. We are opposed to the idea of ”non-resistance”, so dear to the Taoists.
The Way should always be practiced in a clear perspective of one’s research : presence , relaxation , perceptions …
But wanting to “do well”, we are victims of our imagination, forgetting what we are doing in the Way ; we find ourselves as tense as can be, stiffening the teaching. In a little period of time, we practice what we have made of the Practice, which is not really the Way. We interpret, we surmise, we create, imagine and move away from the essential.
While learning, it is possible to loose oneself in one’s own interpretation of the Way, in a creativity that strengths itself in the trust in its intellectual tool. We criticize, change and modify the Practices so that they are not too “disturbing”, so that the Way is more comfortable … the ego is a crafty one!
With a teaching that goes against one’s prejudices, as it should be of any serious Way, the mind will defend itself : we will judge, criticize, discriminate. This “self-defense” of the ego, our strong compulsive thoughts, will relativize what we hear of the Way in order to make the Practice more convenient. This interpretation, often unconscious, is a way to hear what we want, which does not go against one’s prejudices .
Whatever the obstacles, the fact of Practicing, even “wrongly”, is already in the idea of the Way. It is important however to consciously look at one’s research, discuss with one’s teacher, to understand how to evolve. In the comfort of one’s productive mental mind, believing in one’s deep understanding, locked in irreconcilable prejudices, we remain prostrated in an ignorant stillness, but self-satisfied.
It is very easy to become a good student in forging a personality that is appealing on the outside, but the work is not that of pleasing or to reinforce one’s egotistic state.
It is possible to downplay oneself, to play on a false modesty and criticize oneself constantly to hide one’s enormous ego. This daily activity, semi conscious, enables us to get ourselves accepted by the world. Still officially discreet and modest, the ego knows the profound reality, everything happens inside. In this obvious dichotomy, the discomfort is often palpable and the Way becomes a showdown. It is often easy to see what is true , but always difficult to accept it. To practice the simplicity that we seek, we will have to let our guard down, to agree to show ourselves with our strengths and weaknesses.
In this new honesty, naked to the world, we can be born again.
This is the search of the Way, it is the “meeting” with oneself .
The teacher must know where the student is, if he does not, he can not make him benefit from the information contained in his Way. Old traditions have the answers for the blockages in the Practice. The expression of these solutions goes through the teacher. The teacher can not help unless he knows the concerns of the practitioner. The solution for an easy Practice, is a serious Way and a teacher who is primarily a practitioner with whom you communicate enough… it’s simple.
In the learning phase, in accordance with the advice of the teacher, just follow the teaching.
Do not try to do well or to try stuff, you just have to do. This requires no judging, no criticizing, not speculating, just practicing.
It is not necessary to find the logic of the Way, to understand the structure of it, to know the lineage of the Professor… just practice.
Do not plan, analyze, wait , do not intellectualize, imagine or compare, do not talk, discuss or predict, do not be afraid or worse, have hope … just practice.
When you do not know what or how to practice, you just have to go to your teacher.
The Natural ,自然, is a very interesting concept.
It is the emergence of what is already there, the realization of what has always been there, the waking of a conscious sleep.
This Natural has to be trained, it is not completely visible, it takes effort. It is not an accumulation towards an improvement, a progress or a development.
All these qualities are already there, present, but buried in the huge rubbish of an all powerful ego.
The Wath is not an accumulation, but eliminating the clutter.
“反 者 道 之 动”
“Return is the movement of the Dao” says Lao Zi in Chapter 40, it’s a return towards the simple.
The Practice must be the Natural, the Way and the Life must be united.
The simplicity of the practice is a requirement for the practitioner, this requirement depends on the communication with the teacher and the seriousness of the Way.
True relaxation, a clear perception and a quiet spirit are the qualities of the Natural.