Is Formal Practice Necessary?

A question sometimes arises in people who enjoy Laozi’s laissez-faire teaching: why would we need to practice sitting meditation or any other formal practice?  To be sure, Laozi’s teaching does not mandate any formal practice.  Fundamentally speaking, in fact, the teaching itself need not arise.

But it does arise – this indicates the need for teaching, or at least some appetite for teaching.  Laozi doesn’t recognize any grand fall from grace, but he does recognize that human beings have a tendency to lose our way.  Thus, teaching & practice (Hygiene, Meditation, & Ritual) appear.

The teaching simply points to our own natural, uncontrived experience.  It shifts our qi-orientation back to what is so of itself (Dao-De).

According to my wuweidao lineage teacher, we have four mandated practices: breathing, eating, moving, & resting.  Everything else is details.  Options for how to cultivate these mandates.

So no, we don’t need to practice sitting meditation.  We don’t need to chant.  We don’t need any altars, any scriptures.  We don’t need any Taiji forms.  We don’t need fengshui or astrology or divination.

Yet there are ways to breathe, eat, move, & rest that bring about discomfort, disease, and death before our time, and there are ways to breathe, eat, move, & rest that support natural comfort, ease, and longevity.  So we sit, we chant, we keep altars, practice Taiji forms, adjust fengshui, study astrology, cast yarrow stalks to inform our conduct… we practice the myriad methods with the view of wuwei.  The forms are empty, but when we cultivate them without attachment or struggle, they somehow bear unexpected fruit (View-Method-Fruition).  I don’t understand, but I can say the fruit is sweet.

There is no pressure to accomplish anything in wuweidao, just methods to stay with our own uncontrived nature – which is constantly abiding, effortlessly of itself.  It doesn’t need our practice.  But it does seem to like our attention.  Firm discipline is an expression of reverence for Dao, but it’s not about struggle.  It’s just about bringing the qi back home.  As our practice matures, what may appear to others to be uptight discipline, actually feels easy, maybe even a bit indulgent on the inside.

This ripening comes from a relaxed view and disciplined practice.  So let’s forget about necessary or unnecessary and just settle into the ease of practice.  That’s what it’s here for.

Author: Wu Ming Chuan

http://oldoakdao.org/blog/about-me/