Excellence Reporter: Master Winn, what is the meaning of life?
Michael Winn: From my Taoist view, “meaning” is a culturally or linguistically constructed CONCEPT.
“Life” is the important part of the question. The underlying question is really “what does it mean to be fully alive?”.
Life is the direct, lived experience of our personal Way, our Tao (Dao) — whatever spontaneously arises on our path. We eitiher accept it or resist it. We love it or we struggle with it. But that response does not define nor limit its meaning.
You could say that our EXPERIENCE of Life in any given moment is the “meaning” itself. Life cannot be reduced to a concept, nor to a memory of one moment.
Ultimately, we come to undertand that all memory is held by the Life Force (Qi field) in an eternal, multi-dimensional Present Moment. The past and future are sensory illusions of our mind’s perception of the physical plane arising from the Qi field.
Tao cosmology is based on a universal medium called Qi, (pronounced “chee”, “chi”, ki in Korea/Japan). Becasue it infuses everything, we could just as well ask, “what is the Meaning of Qi?”
If you track Qi back to its Origin, you find “Original Qi”, the Original subtle breath of the cosmos. Its Source, a.k.a the “heart of the cosmos” or its “central sun”.
Why did Origin, also called tai yi, or Great Oneness, breathe this cosmos, this Many-ness, into existence? Would not its Original Intent define its “meaning”?
Taoists hold that this question cannot be answered. Taiyi arises from wuji, the Supreme Mystery, the UN-knowable. They are not saying this is an Absolute Emptiness (unlike most Buddhists), although wuji is often mis-translated to mean Emptiness.
Rather this cosmos and all the forms of life it births are inherently mysterious at their Origin. We cannot know the “meaning” of why Supreme Mystery – wuji birthed Great Oneness – taiyi, why the “unknowable” birthed a “knowable” Oneness that in turn birthed the Many-ness of life, aka Creation.
In this sense the “ultimate meaning of life” can be known only by embracing or loving its Great Mysterious Beauty.
A human being is considered a micro-cosm of the macro-cosmos, both of which arise from a mysterious proto-cosmos. So we contain this UN-knowable mystery within our locally embodied being.
If our cosmic Origin is a mystery, then our human life itself is ultimately a mystery. We carry that Large Mystery within our personal body-mind as a Small Mystery. Can we love the beauty of life’s mystery at every level?
The “life” that humans seek to meaningfully merge with is really about our ability to love embodiment. Can we love our body, the body of family and society, the body of the planet, the body of the sun, moon, planets, stars, the body of Space itself?
Loving all levels of embodiment, and harmonizing them — this is the art and science of Tao inner alchemy. It’s spiritual tool kit has added more “meaning” to my life than anything else I’ve experienced in my short sixty-nine years of life on planet Earth.
~Michael Winn has 40 years international teaching experience in Tao medical, martial, & spiritual arts. He was a founder and two-term President, National Qigong Association; is founder of Healing Tao University, the largest Tao arts summer program in the West, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. He is president of the non-profit Dao Alchemy Research Institute, was founder and 9 years Chairman of the Healing Tao Instructor’s Association, and co-founder of the Council of 9 of the Universal Healing Tao (abroad).
He has taught internationally on five continents and was invited to teach at Omega’s Super Qi Summits. He regularly speaks at international conferences of Taoist/Daoist scholars and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Daoist Studies. Winn has authored ten Tao home study video-audio courses, written dozens of articles, book chapters, and presented papers at numerous international Daoist/Taoist scholar conferences. He is co-author or the actual writer of Mantak Chia first 7 books, including the classic Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy.
His books include Way of the Inner Smile, Five Animals Qigong, and Primordial Tai Chi: Way of Enlightened Self-Love (forthcoming in 5-volume ebook “Bamboo Scrolls”). Winn lives in a simple log home in the mountains near Asheville, N.C. His son Emerald gives him daily lessons in wu wei (the Tao of spontaneous action). Winn has a private qigong & shengong therapy practice (live session or phone).
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