Prior to traveling to the Five Immortals Temple I believed I had all I could ever want; the job I’d always wanted, a perfect apartment, all the clothes and items that I believed gave me value, but with all the material gain I received, I also received crippling anxiety and depression, that lasted regardless of the amount of promotions I got or of the work I created. I got to the point where either my depression was going to kill me or I had found a resolution to the traumatic events of my past that seemed to follow me wherever I chose to go. That’s where my journey in Daoism began.
Fast-forward almost one year and I find myself studying Daoist medicine in an ancient temple in China; with an emphasis in healing both the material body and the formless/spiritual body. So far, my time at the temple has been challenging, enlightening, and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’ve been challenged to break my habits of sleeping in, my poor diet practices, and my inner discipline towards bettering myself. In addition to connecting with my body more and more as time goes on. Every day has a new, unexpected lesson to be learned. Whether it’s my strange obsession to chocolate, or dealing with the loss of a close loved one, I’ve found a healthy way to balance the rapid emotions associated with this modern age.
The greatest challenge I’ve faced (so far) is bettering my inner discipline towards accomplishing tasks and following actions to their end. Buckling under pressure or simply giving up when the going got tough was a common path I followed, but this new life has shown me the beauty of seeing my difficulties become my achievements. I still have much work to do and I’ll always be learning new things about myself and the world, but I am so fortunate to have this passion to keep me going.
Daoism has brought out the very best in me that has always been there. Even when waking up at 5 am and running up a mountain was the last thing I wanted to do, I persevered and did so without question. Every day I wake up with more dedication and drive to learn, grow and experience. In hopes of one day having the abilities required to help others who may be in need, like I once was.
Overall my time at the Five Immortals Temple has brought inner balance and peace to my life. I am so thankful to have this opportunity to develop valuable skills to heal, and be able to share my story of evolution with those interested. I will continue to strive for inner peace by letting go of all that which prevents me from succeeding.
“If you mould a cup, you have to make a hollow: for it is the emptiness within it that makes it useful.”
–Dao De Jing–
What you seek is seeking you!
Daoist Medicine – a holistic and all-encompassing healing method
Roughly one month ago, the Daoist Medicine course kicked off and it has been an intense and enriching time so far. The basic teachings and tools that we have received within this tame frame, helped me already a lot to understand more about myself and what I want and should do when I go back home. But why did I participate at this course in the first place? And have my expectations been met so far?
I signed up for this course to broaden my horizon on herbalism and alternative healing methods. Before travelling to the temple, I was working in the pharmaceutical and MedTech industry. I came across many psychological and physiological disorders. The approach of curing those diseases was mainly based on the prescription of heavy chemical drugs and complicated surgeries. I soon started to realize that the companies` focal point was was often related to monetary aspects rather than the patients` wellbeing. As a result, my perspective on healthcare, medicine and the approach of healing started to change gradually. At one point it simply did not make sense anymore to work in this money driven environment.
I decided to quit my job in order to look for another occupation, something that would be more sustainable, honest and benevolent for other people, animals and our planet in general. A new door opened and I started to research about different options for my future career. One of those options was Traditional Chinese Medicine. I was instantly hooked on the idea of going back to university to invest in my future. However, before I would sign up for this life changing path, I wanted to make sure that my decision would be as solid as a rock. I learned that in order to understand the applications of TCM, it is crucial to familiarize with the principles and philosophy of Daoist medicine first. Why? Because Daoist medicine has been in existence long before TCM and laid an essential fundament of today`s Chinese Medicine. And here I am, studying Daoist medicine, in a “real” Daoist community in a “real” temple somewhere in the mountains of Wudang.
My understanding of the major difference between Daoist, Chinese, and Western medicine is the formless, spiritual aspect. “The Six Ones” and the “Seven Skills of the Daoist Gate” are the main requirements for every Daoist medicine practitioner. There is also the Scripture of Heaven, respectively the Yi-Jing that must be understood by the Daoist doctor. The Yi-Jing is one of the oldest books of China, it contains 64 hexagrams. Each hexagram is made of six lines and has its own meaning and divination. The lines represent yin and yang, the basic polarities of Daoist cosmology and philosophy. Especially on a spiritual level, I often relate to numbers as well. Therefore, I find the aspect of explaining the universe through numbers very interesting. However, numbers are not only seen as a bridge between heaven and earth, but also as a tool to heal and guide people.
Two other essential points of becoming a Daoist doctor is the sincere integration of honesty and reverence in one’s everyday life and work. How could the doctor otherwise connect with the spirits, heaven and earth, as well as the ten thousand beings? Without these two virtues, it would be simply impossible to build up these connections in order to heal the patient’s formless and physical body. We are practicing sitting meditation, Qi Gong, and reciting purifying incantations on a daily basis. These profound tools, all taught by Li Shifu, help us to strengthen and keep these virtues.
Moreover, Li Shifu told us that nine out of ten Daoists used to be doctors. Their students learned directly from them while they were healing their patients. This was the traditional practice of transmission before modern clinical classrooms for the masses were invented. I am grateful and feel privileged in having gotten this unique opportunity to learn directly from a Daoist priest and healer. This boosts my confidence and willpower to keep on putting efforts in my studies in order to raise my wisdom, awareness, and compassion.
Stronger than ever before, I feel that working in the medical field is my path indeed. However, I thoroughly understand now that this needs to be within a holistic, sustainable, and all-encompassing scope. Only this way, I can grow professionally and spiritually at the same time while being in service of humanity and our planet. This is what I was searching for quite a while now, and it is certainly no coincidence that my path led me to the temple, to Li Shifu. What you seek is seeking you, isn’t it?
What our Deep driving Desire is, is our Will.
What our Will is, is our Deed.
What our Deed is, is our Destiny.
– Buddha –
We have all come here to participate in the Taoist Medicine Course, with similar aspirations of helping and being of service to others through Eastern Medicine, Longevity theories, practices, and methods transmitted here. That is our deep driving desire. But what is the driving force behind this desire? Why have we chosen this place at this specific time? Why are we here within this configuration of people? There is no coincidence in the world, and for reasons unknown to us within our limited scope and understanding of how things unfold as they do, it is part of all of our destinies to be here now, individually and collectively. We have important work to do here together. To help each other heal and elevate. So when this brief expanse of linear times comes to a close, we will go back to our respective lives within society and hopefully be operating at a more loving, forgiving, and compassionate frequency. We are rough stones smoothing out one another´s edges as we surrender to the ebb and flow of the sea and the laws and realms that govern its infinite compression and expansion. Here we are now, all of us arriving at the top of this mountain with our stories and suffering and plus ones and two´s; with our angels and our demons, with our dreams and desires and most importantly, our faith. Faith, whether we are aware of it or not, has brought us here together under the guidance of Li Shifu and the Masters and Healers and Great Sages that have come before. Not so we can all become healers in two months, but to start to understand and experience how to heal ourselves and in the process help heal one another. To relinquish all that does not serve us, or the greater collective. To transmute all of our suffering into the lessons and gifts that will bring us self healing and the ability to help and serve others along our journey.
“ The only service anyone can ever truly render the world is their own self realization”
–Ramana Maharishi –
Right now, we are just entering into the beginning. We are just beginning to unravel all of the pathologies and patterns within our bodies and minds, and removing the barriers surrounding our hearts and spirits. We are engaging in a daily rhythm that promotes the flow of Qi, healthy living, stillness, and that guides us to greater compassion and understanding of ourselves and thus the world around us. This is the initial stage of healing. We are on the path to the gate that exists within every human being to our own regenerative healing system. Within each one of us exists a healing authority connected to the universal healing authority. In order to enter into this space, we must first open our compassion and our loving hearts and have desire and will to heal ourselves to the point where it becomes deed in our daily lives. First we must all rest in a heart of unconditional love and forgiveness to ourselves and the entire world around us. We must move from the truth that all beings under heaven are our family members. We must condition ourselves to reside in the natural order of things and to abide by universal law and principles. All of this prepares us to enter into stillness, the great Gong of Taoism.
“Only through stillness of thoughts and body and spirit can you cultivate to nourish.
All methods have one purpose, to enter into stillness.
Thoughts guide our bodies and destiny.
Nourishing stillness is the foundation of refining one’s elixir.”
So in this moment in time, it’s the process of self healing, and only through this experiential truth and wisdom, will we ever be able to truly be of service to the great collective and the world around us. This is the feeling at the moment. Thank you for all of your guidance, willpower, sincerity, faith, and individual experiential processes. For it has helped us begin to find it within ourselves.