Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In search of forbidden spirituality

The alchemical path to be at-one with the Divine has always been inundated with slippery rocks that can put a seasoned practitioner into great danger.  Interesting enough the greatest danger has always been directed towards the master from one of his students.  And that's why masters have always been very careful in selecting his inner circle students or disciples.

A student sometimes will feel frustrated.  He can't replicate the same experience despite his genuine great effort and the good teaching of his teacher.  Once in a while, a non-sympathetic student may blame the teacher "why everybody else says he has that internal experience but I can't feel it?  My master must be withholding something from me".  And he might call foul.  And he might tell everybody outside that his master knows little or worse a crook, to be condemned.  To be fair to him, he might just be right, because we all have experience of not being too truthful with our inner experience, rumored had it such untruthfulness is more rampant during mating seasons! I mean his master might know little in terms of the essence of the subject matter and/or in terms of his ability in narrating or teaching the little things that he knows about.

For various reasons, alchemical practice has always been kept private, and being a spiritual practice, the tradition has most often been kept under the canvas of religious orders.  Being private there will be no need for books, no need for open seminars and no need for marketing to recruit students. Besides a pious religious leader teaches people to willingly give up their worldly possession through their training method.  How can the value of such training materials be evaluated using worldly means?  How many people will be willing pay to buy a method that purports to teach you willingly give up everything that you have? 

To make matter worse, Taoist masters, in particular those practicing internal alchemy, often arose suspicions from the Emperor. Emperors in China, for their own benefits, bought into Confucius ideals of harmony and obedience to social hierarchy with the Emperor at the supreme position,  a so-called mandate from heaven.  Confucianism also demanded the Emperor to love his people as if they were his sons and daughters, reward them and punish them for the good of society.  A workable ideal resting on the benevolence of an individual Emperor.  Taoists on the hand were pragmatic people focusing on alleviating the immediate physical and psychological problems of their followers.  Nowadays they would have been called healers.  And if an Emperor and his government got more and more corrupted, it was usually some factions of Taoists (or Buddhists) who lead the peasant revolutions. The religious leaders of these movements were said to be "infected" with spiritual fevers through alchemical practice.  A general mistrust between the authority and inner alchemical practitioners had its worldly reason. No wonder Taoist internal alchemical masters in the past liked to practice in hide-away mounts.

In the old days, in search of students of high-potential had always been as eager as students in search of forbidden spirituality.  Once a potential student was located, the master would test his sincerity, perseverance, morality and general readiness before teaching him his art. And there were stories of aspiring young Taoists in search of good masters and found many crooks along the way. I shall organize some of these interesting stories and share with my readers in this blog in the future.

Taoist Mount WuDang

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