Week 13. Tao Tantra: Tantra and The Dao Copy

To understand The Dao (also spelled as ‘Tao’ but pronounced as Dao), and how it works in conjunction with Tantra, we must first look individually at either philosophy.

Daoism began to originate around 500 BCE, and is attributed to Lao Tzu (also spelled as Laozi), however there are also beliefs that Lao Tzu did not exist at all, as there really is no solid historical evidence to prove his existence.

The story goes that Lao Tzu had decided to leave China. He felt that he did not align with the way of life there, due to corruption in government. On his way out, he was stopped by the gatekeeper who asked him to write down all of his wisdom.

He sat down, and in 3 days, the Dao De Jing was created.

In English language, this is translated as `The book of the way’.

The word Dao itself, can be interpreted as ‘way, path, road or course’.

The book is not comparative to any type of bible, but is considered to be a book of poems. Lao Tzu strongly believed in the harmony of all things shaped by balance in accordance to the natural order. He theorised that people would live peacefully together, if we considered other people’s feelings and not only our individualistic best interests.

Tantra is sanskrit for ‘loom, or weave’.

The word Tantra can be split into components, ‘Tan’ which means expansion, and ‘Tra’ which means liberation. Tantra uses the body as a gateway to go beyond the physical, into the realm of Spirit, which connects us with the divine, and the union of all things.

Tantra began in India, the first Tantric texts, named the Agamas, were recorded between 300 and 400 CE. In the 13th century, India was invaded and the majority of the texts were destroyed.

As part of a modernised classification, Tantra can be divided into 2 sectors. Right handed practitioners work with their own sexual energy on an individualistic basis, whilst left handed practitioners are working alongside partners.

So how do the Dao and Tantra work together?

Both Tantra and Daoism can provide us with tools in order to allow us to live a life that is tapped into the full range of human experiences and emotions. It can enable us to shift stagnant life force energy. This allows us to create a life lived more freely. Whilst Tantra focuses more on the idea of being one and connected with the divine, Daoism focuses on finding a state of balance or equilibrium.

It has been said that Tantra gives us range, Dao brings us into harmony.

““Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” – Lao Tzu

Similar to Tantra, Daoism is far more than just the few aspects of it that most of us westerners know about. For example, most westerners generally only associate Tantra with sex, and even such negative stigmas as rape and abuse.

The practices of Daoism and Tantra both work with life force energy.

Daoists refer to this as Qi (or also commonly seen as ‘Chi’) and for tantrikas, Kundalini, or also known as Shakti. Both of these philosophies use techniques in order to cultivate ‘sexual energy’ (life force energy). Daoist philosophy is predominantly focused on health and wellbeing in the physical realm. Tantric Philosophy is more associated with merging with the divine in order to reach bliss and enlightenment.

Therefore, whilst they work alongside a similar principle, they do have a different point of ‘destination’.

Loss of this life force energy is depleted for a man via ejaculation, and for a woman, via menstruation and ovulation.

Although thousands of years ago Tantric ideas and concepts went to China, which is known as the home of Taoism, Taoism and its roots were already deeply part of Chinese culture. So, even though some people equate certain Taoist concepts with Tantric ideas, they do not have the same original sources. Although certain forms of Taoism and Tantra are parallel, they are not the same. Whilst the biggest similarity between the philosophies appears to be spiritual based sexual practices, they are not the same as those found in Tantra, but because they are coextensively aligned, it is easy to find similarities.

Tantra uses many breathwork techniques, and the same for Daoism.

A very well-known aspect of Daoism is Qigong, (which is also seen as Chi Kung) which is the study and practice of cultivating the life force energy (Qi) through various techniques (not limited to), but including breathwork.

One of the best-known exercises of Qigong is the Microcosmic Orbit (which is also known as the ‘self-winding wheel of the law’). The technique focuses on the energy, bringing it up from the base of the spine, up through the back to the top of the crown, and moving it back down to the base, through the front of the body. This is done whilst making a rocking movement with the body.

The Philosophy of the Yin Yang, also known as Taiji (most commonly spelled in the west as Tai Chi, however correctly pronounced as Tai Ji) is most famously known as the martial arts practice, but is the first name for the Yin Yang.

Lao Tzu believed that life is supposed to be lived in balance. The Yin Yang is a symbol expressing contrasting opposites in balance. It expresses everything, except good and evil, or life and death. The reason being, because nature does not recognize anything as good or evil and nature does not recognize a difference between life and non-life. All is in harmony in nature, and the Daoist principals encourage people to accept and live that kind of harmony as well.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

The Yin Yang symbol is created by a circle, which is divided into two halves by a curved line. One half of the circle is black, representing the yin side whilst the other is white, representing yang. In each of the other’s half, a dot of the opposing color is situated near the center. The two halves are intertwining across a spiral like curve that splits the whole into semicircles, and the small dots represent the idea that both sides carry the seed of the other.

The white dot in the black area and the black dot in the white area signify coexistence and the unity of opposites to form a whole. The curved line signifies that there are no absolute separations between the two opposites. The Yin Yang symbol embodies both sides: duality, paradox, unity in diversity, change, and harmony.

What is Yin? What is Yang?

Yin 

  • Negative /passive /female principle in nature
  • The moon / lunar
  • Covert / concealed / hidden
  • Cooperation
  • Nurturing
  • Stillness
  • Telluric (of the earth)
  • Receptive
  • Shakti

Yang 

  • Positive /active /male principle in nature
  • The sun / solar
  • Open / overt / visible
  • Competition
  • Assertive
  • Movement
  • Cosmic (of the sky)
  • Emissive
  • Shiva

The Yang starts an action, and the Yin receives it, and completes it.

It is about the coexistence of two opposites, no matter how different they are, they can be harmonious. As what would be common in western culture, to think about good versus evil, the opposites of Yin and Yang should not be viewed as conflict. It is not about cultivating the light in order to destroy the dark.

Differences are natural. Yin and Yang are part of the same system, and without the other, the entire system would collapse. It is the interaction of opposites in which life is created. For example, an island that was populated only with men, it would not last very long, because there is no Yin for procreation.

If you take for example, a cup. The cup itself is Yang, whilst the empty space inside is Yin. If you pour hot coffee into the cup, the heat of the coffee is Yang, whilst the dark rich colour, is Yin.

Yin and Yang are often seen constantly merging into each other as naturally as the day rolls into night, and then night rolls just as naturally back into day.

It teaches us that change is part of the natural law. Nature enables change, and does not complain. Nature never complains about winter, because it means that spring is near.

Accepting that life works in cycles, makes you more naturally optimistic.

The Dao teaches us that if we trust the process and embrace change, rather than trying to resist it, we no longer need to be anxious about what’s to come and try to cling on to what we have.

The Yin Yang shows us that the world is made up of opposing forces, that is in a constant state of flux, so instead of fighting against the current, we can allow ourselves to float, and be taken down the river.

At the end of the day, both Tantra and Daoism are about creating a more well balanced happier version of ourselves, so that we can love, and be loved. We can see how the principles of the Dao can carve and create a path that leads us to the divine ideology of Tantra, that we are all one, in connection and union with the Divine, and the world around us.

References:

Books:

Tao Te Jing – Lou Tzu

The Tao of Pooh – Benjamin Ho man

The Te of Piglet – Benjamin Ho man The Way of Zen – Alan Watts

Websites:

https://www.worldhistory.org/Taoism

http://www.thenewyoga.org/tantra_and_taoism.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tantra

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy7Jb0LIMV_hLlUu6ODgJfQ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAGTpcuP8o9_sWzvDGfZYKA

Sign in

Join InnerCamp

New to our community?

Sign up now!

Join InnerCamp