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taoism and meditation?

In the Chuang Tzu (or Zhuangzi) and the Taoteching, meditation isn’t really mentioned anywhere. These two books just sort of tell you the truth about life and everything and I guess that they are so apparent and so direct, that you do sort of “lose the self.” Really, it seems to me that meditation isn’t really necessary for anything at all in Taoism. But, in Zen, a school of Buddhism influenced by these Taoists, they meditate all the time, using zazen, to sort of experience the truths about Buddhism, which are strikingly similar to the truths in Taoism. So, is meditation necessary in Taoism? Did I miss something about meditation or yoga or zazen or tai chi or whatever in the Chuang Tzu and the Taoteching? And really, how important is meditation and how useful is it really?
Also, which way should I go down – Zen or Taoism?


  1. Although neither of the classics you mention describes meditation, there are many techniques employed in Taoist meditation.
    These meditations include active movement techniques such as Tai Chi and some forms of Chi Kung. They also include quieter techniques such as Water Method meditation and the quiet forms of Chi Kung (nei kung).
    The Taoist concept of “wu wei” (not-doing), which influenced the Zen tradition, describes exactly the Taoist approach to meditation.
    Taoist training *is* meditation practice — only the forms differ from those used in the Zen Buddhist tradition.
    However, the intention behind the two practice traditions differs somewhat. In many Taoist lineages, meditation is used to cultivate certain energy states, to heal the body, to attain longevity, or to attain other similar results. Zen, on the other hand, uses meditation to transform our constant self-absorption (“I, my, me mind”) into concern for the well-being of all creatures.
    One time a monk came to the great Chinese Zen master Zhaozhou and asked, “What is meditation?” Zhaozhou replied, “Not-meditation.” The monk was confused and asked, “How can meditation be not-meditation?” Zhaozhou responded, “It’s alive!”
    When we are truly alive, then our small self-concerns fall away and we recognize our interdependence with all beings. Then we naturally respond in every moment with wisdom, compassion, creativity, and generosity. Given the state of this world, what could be more important?

  2. You have ask serious cultivation questions. There are answers in the Zhuan Falun Lecture on the web.
    Zen and Taoism do not relate to each other. Mixing two belief ruins the secular practice. In the section “Different Levels Have Different Laws” of the Lecture, you can find out a discussion about Zen Buddhism. On page #8, you can read about a summary of the Daoist practice. There are various mention about the Daoist practice throughout the Lecture. For the purpose of meditation, read “The Cosmic Orbit” in the Lecture.
    Not relating to Buddhism nor Taoism, Falun Gong is a unique Buddha School, combining the Taoist and Buddhist practice. Falun Gong is based upon the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. Falun Gong consists of five sets of powerful exercises.
    Falun Gong, Tibetans, other Buddhists, and Christians have been persecuted in China. The most offensive human right violation is the organ harvesting from the Falun Gong practitioners in China.
    Can you sign a petition drive to support Falun Gong practitioners ahead of the Beijing Olympics, please ?

  3. Meditation is certainly the goal of Taoist practice. However, what is generally termed meditation by other practitioners is often nothing of the sort. Meditation is a period of time spent free of the mind, free of sensation and thus free of the body. It is not often experienced and at best can be found in a short period of time each evening that we spend in deep dreamless sleep.
    Meditations with visualisation and indeed any techniques utilising the mind as a tool can never fully work. Imagine a flooding river and then trying to negate it by pouring great amounts of water into it… This is what we are doing when we attempt to harness and direct the mind to assist us in losing the mind… to try & forcibly enter the state of “no-mind”.
    The Tao Te Ching and other texts simply cannot provide the methods beacuse it requires tuition and oral transmittion. How can a book help you if a posture is incorrect, how can it discourse and clarify any issues, how can it work out and fine tune a personal method and so on ? So unfortunately no text can transmit what needs to be said to achieve this type of Taoist meditation and so it can only act as a taster and perhaps a subtle experience of what the whole experience can be through its wondrous prose and metaphysical imagery.
    Some Zen techniques are excellent. I would recommend simply reading more into it all and seeing which pulls you in your gut more. To my eyes Taoism has the ability to draw from any source to achieve its goal and any Buddhist technique is an exercise in repression & control. And to harness the full power of the organism cannot be found in this way. Sure bliss can be found (of sorts) and a good pleasant life can be led BUT one will never find the total unity within theirselves when elements of them have been repressed. Push the wrong buttons and a Buddhist can still be affected in many ways. I did very little just last year and made one walk away from me in disgust. It reminds me of when a tortured Christian cries at the sky “WHY ME GOD??? – WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS”. Where control is given away to a deity or a method or the mind or whatever then how can one ever be in their own personal centre ?


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