“Man follows earth; earth follows heaven; heaven follows Tao; Tao follows its own path.” (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25). On May 15, 2013, Taoist philosopher and Qi Gong master Li SiMing, from Wudang Mountain in China, presented some of his views on the Taoist basis of Tai Chi and Qi Gong to AAAOM students.
The fundamental Taoist principle of Yin/Yang is reflected in the flow and balance of energy produced by Tai Chi and Qi Gong movements. Master Li spoke of using Qi to “tame the tiger” of the body and “subdue the dragon” of the mind. The nature of the dragon mind is to move constantly, with no path or focus. By focusing the mind on the movement of the body through the disciplines of Tai Chi and Qi Gong, both the tiger and the dragon are focused and harnessed to the development of the spirit.
For Taoist philosophers, the ideal was to tame the body and mind, using Qi to develop the spirit in an “internal alchemy.” Historically, some Taoists believed that the end result of this internal alchemy was immortality and physical ascent to the heavenly realms. Master Li stressed the day-to-day benefits of cultivating an attitude of acceptance and non-attachment. The goal is not to escape the world and its suffering, but to achieve peace of mind by accepting and embracing every aspect of life.
As a young man, Li SiMing earned a Master’s degree in engineering from MIT before returning to China to pursue a career as a civil engineer. He also began to study philosophy and religion in college. Now he lives and teaches on the sacred Wudong Mountain, where Taoist masters have lived for a thousand years. For further information on Li SiMing, visit www.lisiming.com.