Meditation (Taoist or Buddhism) originally arose form religious practice, as one tool to help a pious person to form a pious personality despite "his natural selfishness through being human" (or the original sin in Christianity). Meditation however is not a sufficient condition to build such a super-human personality. Understanding(rational enlightement) and religious disciplines are also essential. In actual fact, the learning and practice of understanding and religious disciplines are essential foundation requirement; oftentimes named as essential prerequisite to successful high-level meditative practice, by some masters.
Nowadays people learn techniques only. Formulate one's objectives and morality is each individual's private matters. As long as we follow the law, nobody will bother us and couldn't care less how we set our objectives and how serious we take the commandments in our daily lives. This is progress - the secularization of our society.
It was not the same in the old days. Take the teaching of the master of Zao Bi-Chen (author of Taoist Yoga) Liu Ming Rui (劉名瑞) as an example. His nine essentials for the cultivation of Taoist spirituality, in his Complete Works, are as follows (my comments are bracketed):
1. Understanding the centrality of the heart/mind 原心章第一 (understanding)
2. Reasoning how life comes upon and where death leads 究竟章第二(understanding)
3. Understanding Tao with real examples 實證章第三 (understanding)
4. Breaking illusion (the principle of Nothingness 破幻章第四 （understanding)
5. Acceptance of what is given 安分章第五 （understanding)
6. Essential of dual Mind (conscious and Unconscious mind) and Body (mind/body in modern lingo) training 神氣章第六 (meditation techniques)
7. Training our Body of illusion 修幻章第七 (meditation techniques)
8. The essential element of an absolute quiet mind (mind/body) 靜通章第八 (meditation techniques)
9. Practise religious disciplines 戒行章第九 (religious disciplines)
For those who are serious about their meditative practice, a sharp dichotomy between techniques and objectives seem not good enough for their practice. I think Taoist Liu's approach makes some good sense, and can be adapted for the modern practitioner.
|Taoist master Liu Ming Rui|