Introduction to the Taoist Traditions

Taoist Yoga and Qigong

From the new book (Copyrighted Material)

The Taoist Traditions  

Two millennia ago, some early Chinese Taoists –– later characterized by John Blofeld as the first hippies [i] –– abandoned
mainstream society and moved to remote places, where they could commune with nature. They left the bustle of the cities and towns to seek the goal of manyTaoists then, as now, which was to experience the nameless truth that reveals itself only through quiet and solitude. Immersed in the stillness away from humanity’s caravan routes, the conditions were right to observe their thoughts, breath, and energy flow. From this pristine vantage point, they developed mind and body exercises to harmonize with the flow of nature and attune mind and
body to the perennial wisdom of the primordial Tao; the nameless source beyond words.


“Inner” and “Outer” Alchemy as Referenced in the Present Work

At its most basic level, Taoist yoga is a collection of tools that the initiate applies toward the mastery of mind and body. As the writer on Taoist practices Hedemi Ishida explains, the traditional Taoist yogic-meditative view is that control over the body leads to control over the emotions, and that this ultimately leads to tranquility and “emptiness of mind.” [i]

Restated, the aim of Taoist internal yoga is first to control the body, which in turn leads to control over the emotions, and ultimately “tranquility and emptiness.” [ii] Both active and passive Taoist yogas are considered in the present work, and later, the Taoist quietest-contemplative tradition will also be considered.

[i] John Blofeld’s description of the Taoists as the first hippies is too elegant to paraphrase, and is included here in its entirety:

As for Taoism being the progenitor of the first hippies, close on fifteen hundred years ago there flourished some widespread taoistically-minded communities known as the Light Conversationalists. Their prescription for discovering whether life had meaning, and if so what, was to live in frugal but happy accord with nature’s rhythms, which generally involved fleeing from places where man-made laws imposed artificial limitations of people’s spontaneity. They rather hoped to discover true understanding of life’s meaning by seeking it in the stillness of their undisturbed minds; meanwhile, just in case life might offer nothing meaningful to understand, they enlivened their days with widely unconventional behavior and by conversing at deliberate fantastic levels for the fun of it.    

Blofeld, John, The secret and sublime: Taoist mysteries and magic, Penguin Group 1973,