the Tao as his door, and who becomes change -- is a
Sage." -- Chuang Tzu, Inner Chapters "The Tao is very close, but everyone looks far away.
Life is very simple, but everyone seeks difficulty."
-- Taoist Sage, 200 B.C
"Love Thyself" is increasingly common spiritual advice, perhaps because "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself" has proven to be historically too difficult ot follow. It seems a lot of folks hate themself, perhaps subsconsciously, and dumped that hate on the neighbor. So loving your "self" is a somewhat ambiguous, if not downright confusing task.
What is "self"? What is "love"? Can we even get beyond these words or concepts to directly perceive the Self? If our self is part of Nature, why does it need to actively love itself? Does the advice reflect a needy Creator God that creates insecure human body-selves to mirror it's neurotic split into spirit and matter?
The water is further muddied by the popularity of Buddhism. Most sects believe there is no intrinsic self, and that belief in a self causes suffering. Other organized religions are based on some variant of salvation, redemption, or reuniting the physical self with some spiritual essence - implicitly burdening the lowly physical "self" with guilt or blame or bad karma for not being connected to Source in the first place.
The Taoist viewpoint on self in China varies, depending on the sect and how they interpret the Taoist cosmology (some have gotten mixed in with Buddhism and Confucian ideals). The fundamental Taoist view is that a human being is a microcosm of the macro-cosmos, and that every "self" or Little Cosmos is spontaneously arising up out of nothing, just like the Big Cosmos.
Lao-Tzu in the Tao Te Ching set the standard that every mini-self is inherently good, that it has been given "te" by the Great Tao. This "te" (pronounced "de"), commonly translated as "virtue" or "integrity" or "spiritual power" implies there IS an essence we can call self. Te is where we derive our creative free will that allows us to choose our own destiny. Without a self to take responsiblity for our actions, life becomes a mere human puppet play, with higher forces pulling the strings. The "bible" of Taoism is the Tao Te Ching, literally the "Scripture on the Way and its Natural Virtue".
The Universal Healing Tao (Mantak Chia's global organization UHT that grew out of Healing Tao in USA) feels the central ideas of "Tao" and "Te" are so central to our process of self-cultivation that it has put the Chinese characters in its logo.
Left: logo (officially adopted in 2010) designed by a Chinese fengshui expert that puts Tao in the center and character for Te/Virtue emanating in the 8 directions.
Right: revised logo being considered by UHT's board, called the Council of 9, of which I am co-chairman. This version puts Tao in the 4 cardinal directions and Te in the 4 intermediary directions, with the 8 infinity loops made more clear. A Tai Chi symbol has been added to improve its visual recognition, and the 8 Chinese characters are made horizontal for easier reading.
I'd appreciate my reader feedback: which version do you prefer, and why? Just hit REPLY. (note: as multiple color versions are allowed in either logo, comments on color choice are not useful). Helpful in tabulating responses if you put either "Like Original Logo" or "Like Revised Logo" in the subject line.
But the Taoist self is in actuality a PROCESS, a continuum in which the body-personality or heart-mind (xin) and soul (ling) and great spirit or oversoul (da shen) all take part. This implies that the Tao and the Big Cosmos love themselves --- and that humans should also love themselves as a reflection of the larger cosmic Self-process.
This notion of a "processual self" eliminates in one brilliant stroke all the dualistic name-calling, self-denial, guilt-burdening and blaming found in many religious doctrines about who is karmically responsible for suffering. In Taoist cosmology the responsibility for suffering is evenly shared by a multi-dimensional self, which co-creates everything. Our physical human mini-self process reflects the mostly intangible Cosmic Self-Process.
Tao goes even further, giving our human suffering meaning and value. Suffering is a necessary polarity to joy, part of the human creative process, in the way that an oyster needs an irritating grain of sand to grow a lovely luminescent pearl. Our very ability to feel suffering is a virtue and part of our spiritual integrity as mini-Creator beings making loving free will choices. Polarities like joy-suffering
The Practical Question: How to Best Love Your Self?
Out of this notion of a processual self grew a body of Taoist techniques to speed up the evolution and experience of beauty and joy in the everyday world of suffering. The best of those techniques (in my humble experience) are found in Taoist qigong (aka chi kung) and the meditative process of inner alchemy, starting with the Inner Smile. (Did YOU download my free ebook on the Way of the Inner Smile that comes with this newsletter subscription? If not, go to my homepage and re-subscribe, you'll get an instant download email).
To a Taoist, cultivating the universal medium of Chi (Qi in pinyin, both pronounced "chee") is the most DIRECT way of loving yourself. That's because Chi is the building block of the Processual Self. As our Chi flows, so our Self goes. That's why I've titled this newsletter "Chi Flows Naturally". You cannot stop the Self from flowing and changing - it's totally natural. But you can help it along. That is what it means to "love yourself" more deeply.
Burst of Inner light in our Planetary Energy Body as it accelerates its rebirthing process in 2012.
Are you allowing yourself to feel the same within?