While Laozi said that his Tao was easy to learn, he had also mentioned that many people, down the ages or during his time, love the bypaths. In his Tao Te Ching, he had indicated many signposts to reach the Way. Few seemed to understand his profound classic, let alone see the various signposts.
And students trying to grasp the meaning of Tao are often bewildered by the many claims of modern ‘Daoist masters’ on the net and in books that they found or know the Way. If Tao was that easy to attain, there will be countless sages, immortals, and Buddhas down the millennia.
Therefore students learning Tao should try to find some good companions (fellow travelers) of the Way. Good companions or guides – the living or divinities - are those who see or have seen the signposts indicated by the great sages and who know more about Tao than us. Seeing and feeling the various signposts of the Way served as important confirmations that our meditation practice is indeed correct, and not one of the bypaths.
If students are unable to find a living fellow traveler in their part of the world, and only have hazy notions of what Laozi and Buddha had indicated in their respective classics, we can perhaps spend some time reading what Daoist immortals and/or Zhen Ren had written on the cultivation of Tao, since they too have left behind some important signposts of the Way, unless we verily doubt their sincerity or disbelieve in their existence. If students doubt their sincerity and disbelieved that Daoist immortals ever exist, the real question to ask ourselves will be how much do we know about Tao and why do we want to learn the Way.
While you faced that question, since it will soon be Christmas, I quote some quotations of signposts and confirmations from some of my ‘companions’ of the Way as ‘gifts’ to fellow travelers:
That which exists through itself is called the Way (Tao). Tao has neither name nor shape. It is the one essence, the one primal spirit. Essence and life cannot be seen. They are contained in the light of heaven. The light of heaven cannot be seen. It is contained in the two eyes. Today I will be your guide and will first reveal to you the secret of the Golden flower of the great One, and starting from that, I will explain the rest in detail.
In comparison with heaven and earth, man is like a mayfly. But compared to the great Way, heaven and earth, too, are like a bubble and a shadow. Only the primal spirit and the true nature overcome time and space.
There are many kinds of confirmatory experiences [signposts]. One must not be trivial and irresponsible in heart, but must strive to make deeds prove one’s words. Now there are three confirmatory experiences which can be tested.
[Lu Dongbin – The Secret of the Golden Flower – W/B]
The subtlest secret of the Tao is human nature and life (hsing ming). There is no better way of cultivating human nature and life than to bring both back to unity. The holy men of ancient times, and the great sages, set forth their thoughts about the unification of human nature and life by means of images from the external world; they were reluctant to speak of it openly without allegories. Therefore the secret of how to cultivate both simultaneously was lost on earth.
[Liu Huayang – Hui Ming Ching – W/B]
Can I have a photocopy of your newspaper cuttings of the stars and distant galaxies for my records? I have also seen the same during meditation.
[A Quanzhen friend]