Shakti in Taoism

From: "jagbir singh" <adishakti_org@...>
Date: Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:44 pm
Subject: Shakti in Taoism

> —- In, "jagbir singh"
<adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Dear Semira,
> >
> > Definitely and without question the Divine Message will triumph
> > over the organization itself. In future more and more people
> > will embrace its central message of evolving into the eternal
> > spirit that all religions, holy scriptures and prophets have
> > since time immemorial upheld. The Divine Message is a spiritual
> > sanctuary, a beacon of hope, joy, peace of eternal life to all
> > humans. The Shakti/Holy Spirit/Ruh/Aykaa Mayee is the Divine
> > Feminine that gives Self-realization/Birth of Spirit/Baptism of
> > Allah/Opens Dasam Dwar for humanity to enter the Sahasrara/
> > Kingdom of God/Niche of lights/Inner Sanctuary within where
> > Brahman/God Almighty/Allah/ Waheguru resides as THE LIGHT.
> > Semira, not only the current Sahaja Yoga organisation but all
> > religious organizations as well have merely been intended as
> > temporary vehicles and starting points for the Divine Message.
> >
> > jagbir
> >
> >
> > —- In, "jagbir singh"
<adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
> By the way things are moving the Adi Shakti will eventually
> triumph. All we need to do as Her bhaktas is to stand our ground
> and not yield an inch because Truth always triumphs. Years of
> silence from religious regimes is the sure sign that the Devi and
> Her Divine Message to all humanity cannot be challenged, and will
> eventually be victorious in Her battle against the evil forces.
> All we need to do is to fearlessly announce the Truth. Shanti,
> Shanti, Shanti.

Shakti in Taoism

The belief in Shakti or the Divine Power as distinguished from the
Divine Essence (Svarupa), the former being generally imagined for
purposes of worship as being in female form, is very ancient. The
concept of Shakti in Chinese Taoism is not merely a proof of this
(for the Shakti notion is much older) but is an indication of the
ancient Indian character of the doctrine. There are some who
erroneously think, the concept had its origin in "Sivaic mysticism,"
having its origin somewhere in the sixth century of our era. Lao-tze
or the "old master" was twenty years senior to Confucius and his
life was said to have been passed between 570-490 B.C. A date
commonly accepted by European Orientalists as that of the death of
Buddha (Indian and Tibetan opinions being regarded,
as "extravagant") would bring his life into the sixth century s.c.,
one of the most wonderful in the world's history. Lao-tze is said to
have written the Tao-tei-king, the fundamental text of Taoism. This
title means Treatise on Tao and Tei. Tao which Lao-tze calls "The
great" is in its Sanskrit equivalent Brahman and Tei is Its power or
activity or Shakti. As Father P. L. Wieger, S. J., to whose work
(Histoire des Croyances Religieuses et des Opinions Philosophiques
en Chine, p. 143 et seg. 1917) I am here indebted, points out, Lao-
tze did not invent Taoism no more than Confucius (557-419 B.C.)
invented Confucianism. It is characteristic of these and other
Ancient Eastern Masters that they do not claim to be more
than "transmitters" of a wisdom older than themselves. Lao-tze was
not the first to teach Taoism. He had precursors who, however, were
not authors. He was the writer of the first book on Taoism which
served as the basis for the further development of the doctrine. On
this account its paternity is attributed to him. There was reference
to this doctrine it is said in the official archives (p. 743). The
pre-Taoists were the analysts and astrologers of the Tcheou. Lao-tze
who formulated the system was one of them (ib. 69). The third
Ministry containing these archives registered all which came from
foreign parts, as Taoism did. For as Father Wieger says, Taoism is
in its main lines a Chinese adaptation of the contemporary doctrine
of the Upanishads ("or le Taoisme est dans ses grandes lignes une
adaptation Chinoise de la doctrine Indienne contemporaine des
Upanisads"). The actual fact of importation cannot in default of
documents be proved but as the learned author says, the fact that
the doctrine was not Chinese, that it was then current in India, and
its sudden spread in China, creates in favor of the argument for
foreign importation almost a certain conclusion. The similarity of
the two doctrines is obvious to any one acquainted with that of the
Upanishads and the doctrine of Shakti. The dualism of the
manifesting Unity (Tao) denoted by Yin-Yang appears for the first
time in a text of Confucius, a contemporary of Lao-tze, who may have
informed him of it. All Chinese Monism descends from Lao-tze. The
patriarchal texts were developed by the great Fathers of Taoism Lie-
tzeu and Tchong-tzeu (see "Les Péres du systéme Taoiste" by the same
author) whom the reverend father calls the only real thinkers that
China has produced. Both were practically prior to the contact of
Greece and India on the Indus under Alexander. The first development
of Taoism was in the South. It passed later to the North where it
had a great influence.

According to Taoism there was in the beginning, is now, and ever
will be an ultimate Reality, which is variously called Huan the
Mystery, which cannot be named or defined, because human language is
the language of limited beings touching limited objects, whereas Tao
is imperceptible to the senses and the unproduced cause of all,
beyond which there is nothing: Ou the Formless, or Tao the causal
principle, the unlimited inexhaustible source from which all comes,
("Tao le principe parceque tout derive de lui") Itself proceeds from
nothing but all from It. So it is said of Brahman that It is in
Itself beyond mind and speech, formless and (as the Brahmasutra
says) That from which the Universe is born, by which it is
maintained and into which it is dissolved. From the abyss of Its
Being, It throws out all forms of Existence and is never emptied. It
is an infinite source exteriorizing from Itself all forms, by Its
Power (Tei). These forms neither diminish nor add to Tao which
remains ever the same. These limited beings are as a drop of water
in Its ocean. Tao is the sum of, and yet as infinite, beyond all
individual existences. Like Brahman, Tao is one, eternal, infinite,
self-existent, omnipresent, unchanging (Immutable) and complete
(Purna). At a particular moment (to speak in our language for It was
then beyond time) Tao threw out from Itself Tei Its Power (Vertu or
Shakti) which operates in alternating modes called Yin and Yang and
produces, as it were by condensation of its subtlety (Shakti
ghanibhuta), the Heaven and Earth and Air between, from which come
all beings. The two modes of Its activity, Yin and Yang, are
inherent in the Primal That, and manifest as modes of its Tei or
Shakti. Yin is rest, and therefore after the creation of the
phenomenal world a going back, retraction, concentration towards the
original Unity (Nivritti), whereas Yang is action and therefore the
opposite principle of going forth or expansion (Pravritti). These
modes appear in creation under the sensible forms of Earth (Yin) and
Heaven (Yang). The one original principle or Tao, like Shiva and
Shakti, thus becomes dual in manifestation as Heaven-Earth from
which emanate other existences. The state of Jinn is one of rest,
concentration and imperceptibility which was the own state (Svarupa)
of Tao before time and things were. The state of fang is that of
action, expansion, of manifestation in sentient beings and is the
state of Tao in time, and that which is in a sense not Its true
state ("L'etat Yin de concentration, de repos, d'imperceptibilité,
qui fut celui du Principe avant le temps, est son êtat propre.
L'etat Yang d'expansion et d'ction, de manifestation dans les êtres
sensibles, est son êtat dans le temps, en quelque sorte impropre").
All this again is Indian. The primal state of Brahman or Shiva-
Shakti before manifestation is that in which It rests in Itself
(Svarupa-vishranti), that is, the state of rest and infinite
formlessness. It then by Its Power (Shakti) manifests the universe.
There exists in this power the form of two movements or rhythms,
namely, the going forth or expanding (Pravritti) and the return or
centering movement (Nivritti). This is the Eternal Rhythm, the Pulse
of the universe, in which it comes and goes from that which in
Itself, does neither. But is this a real or ideal movement?
According to Father Wieger, Taoism is a realistic and not idealistic
pantheism in which Tao is not a Conscious Principle but a Necessary
Law, not Spiritual but Material, though imperceptible by reason of
its tenuity and state of rest. ("Leur systéme est un pantheisme
realiste, pas idealiste. Au commencement était un étre unique non
pas intelligent mais loi fatale, non spirituel mais matériel,
imperceptible a force de tenuité, d' abord immobile.") He also calls
Heaven and Earth unintelligent agents of production of sentient
beings. (Agent non-intelligents de la production de tous les étres
sensibles.) I speak with all respect for the opinion of one who has
made a special study of the subject which I have not so far as its
Chinese aspect is concerned. But even if, as is possible, at this
epoch the full idealistic import of the Vedanta had not been
developed, I doubt the accuracy of the interpretation which makes
Tao material and unconscious. According to Father Wieger, Tao
prolongates Itself. Each being is a prolongation (Prolongement) of
the Tao, attached to it and therefore not diminishing It. Tao is
stated by him to be Universal Nature, the sum (Samashti) of all
individual natures which are terminal points (Terminaisons) of Tao's
prolongation. Similarly in the Upanishads, we read of Brahman
producing the world from Itself as the spider produces the web from
out of itself. Tao is thus The Mother of all that exists ("la mére
de tout ce qui est"). If so, it is The Mother of mind, will, emotion
and every form of consciousness. How are these derived from merely
a" material" principle? May it not be that just as the Upanishads
use material images to denote creation and yet posit a spiritual
conscious (though not in our limited sense) Principle, Lao-tze, who
was indebted to them, may have done the same. Is this also not
indicated by the Gnostic doctrine of the Taoists? The author cited
says that to the cosmic states of Yin and Yang correspond in the
mind of man the states of rest and activity. When the human mind
thinks, it fills itself with forms or images and is moved by
desires. Then it perceives only the effects of Tao, namely, distinct
sentient beings. When on the contrary the action of the human mind
stops and is fixed and empty of images of limited forms, it is then
the Pure Mirror in which is reflected the ineffable and unnamable
Essence of Tao Itself, of which intuition the Fathers of Taoism
speak at length. ("Quand an contraire l'esprit humain est arrêtê est
vide et fixe, alors miroir net et pur, il mire l'essence ineffable
et innomable du Principe lui-meme. Les Pêres nous parleront au long
de cette intuition.") This common analogy of the Mirror is also
given in the Kamakalavilasa (v. 4) where it speaks of Shakti as the
pure mirror in which Shiva reflects Himself pratiphalati vimarsha
darpane vishade). The conscious mind does not reflect a material
principle as its essence. Its essence must have the principle of
consciousness which the mind itself possesses. It is to Tei, the
Virtue or Power which Tao emits from Itself ("ce Principe se mit a
êmettre Tei sa vertu") that we should attribute what is apparently
unconscious and material. But the two are one, just as Shiva the
possessor of power (Shaktiman) and Shakti or power are one, and this
being so distinctions are apt to be lost. In the same way in the
Upanishads statements may be found which have not the accuracy of
distinction between Brahman and its Prakriti, which we find in later
developments of Vedanta and particularly in the Shakta form of it.
Moreover we are here dealing with the One in Its character both as
cause and as substance of the World Its effect. It is of Prakriti-
Shakti and possibly of Tei that we may say that it is an apparently
material unconscious principle, imperceptible by reason of its
tenuity and (to the degree that it is not productive objective
effect) immobile. Further Wieger assures us that all contraries
issue from the same unchanging Tao and that they are only apparent
("Toute contrariété n'est qu' apparente"). But relative to what? He
says that they are not subjective illusions of the human mind, but
objective appearances, double aspects of the unique Being,
corresponding to the alternating modalities of Yin and Yang. That is
so. For as Shamkara says, external objects are not merely
projections of the individual human mind but of the cosmic mind, the
Ishvari Shakti.

We must not, of course, read Taoism as held in the sixth century
B.C. as if it were the same as the developed Vedanta of Shamkara
who, according to European chronology, lived more than a thousand
years later. But this interpretation of Vedanta is an aid in
enabling us to see what is at least implicit in earlier versions of
the meaning of their common source—the Upanishads. As is well
known, Shamkara developed their doctrine in an idealistic sense, and
therefore his two movements in creation are Avidya, the primal
ignorance which produces the appearance of the objective universe,
and Vidya or knowledge which dispels such ignorance, ripening into
that Essence and Unity which is Spirit-Consciousness Itself.
Aupanishadic doctrine may be regarded either from the world or
material aspect, or from the non-world and spiritual aspect. Men
have thought in both ways and Shamkara's version is an attempt to
synthesize them.

The Taoist master Ki (Op. cit., 168) said that the celestial harmony
was that of all beings in their common Being. All is one as we
experience in deep sleep (Sushupti). All contraries are sounds from
the same flute, mushrooms springing from the same humidity, not real
distinct beings but differing aspects of the one
universal "Being". "I" has no meaning except in contrast with "you"
or "that". But who is the Mover of all? Everything happens as if
there were a real governor. The hypothesis is acceptable provided
that one does not make of this Governor a distinct being. He (I
translate Father Wieger's words) is a tendency without palpable
form, the inherent norm of the universe, its immanent evolutionary
formula. The wise know that the only Real is the Universal Norm. The
unreflecting vulgar believe in the existence of distinct beings. As
in the case of the Vedanta, much misunderstanding exists because the
concept of Consciousness differs in East and West as I point out in
detail in the essay dealing with Cit-Shakti.

The space between Heaven and Earth in which the Power (Vertu,
Shakti, Tei) is manifested is compared by the Taoists to the hollow
of a bellows of which Heaven and Earth are the two wooden sides; a
bellow which blows without exhausting itself. The expansive power of
Tao in the middle space is imperishable. It is the mysterious Mother
of all beings. The come and go of this mysterious Mother, that is,
the alternating of the two modalities of the One, produce Heaven and
Earth. Thus acting, She is never fatigued. From Tao was exteriorized
Heaven and Earth. From Tao emanated the producing universal Power or
Shakti, which again produced all beings without self-exhaustion or
fatigue. The one having put forth its Power, the latter acts
according to two alternating modalities of going forth and return.
This action produces the middle air or Ki which is tenuous Matter,
and through Yin and Yang, issue all gross beings. Their coming into
existence is compared to an unwinding (Dévidage) from That or Tao,
as it were a thread from reel or spool. In the same way the Shakta
Tantra speaks of an "uncoiling." Shakti is coiled (Kundalini) round
the Shiva-point (Bindu), one with It in dissolution. On creation She
begins to uncoil in a spiral line movement which is the movement of
creation. The Taoist Father Lieu-tze analyzed the creative movement
into the following stages: "The Great Mutation" anterior to the
appearance of tenuous matter (Movement of the two modalities in
undefined being), "the Great Origin" or the stage of tenuous
matter, "the Great Commencement" or the stage of sensible
matter, "the Great Flux" or the stage of plastic matter and actual
present material compounded existences. In the primitive stage, when
matter was imperceptible, all beings to come were latent in an
homogeneous state.

I will only add as bearing on the subject of consciousness that the
author cited states that the Taoists lay great stress on intuition
and ecstasy which is said to be compared to the unconscious state of
infancy, intoxication, and narcosis. These comparisons may perhaps
mislead just as the comparison of the Yogi state to that of a log
(Kashthavat) misled. This does not mean that the Yogi's
consciousness is that of a log of wood, but that he no more
perceives the external world than the latter does. He does not do so
because he has the Samadhi consciousness, that is, Illumination and
true being Itself. He is one then with Tao and Tei or Shakti in
their true state.

Shakti in Taoism

by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), [1918]
Chapter 1: Indian Religion As Bharata Dharma
Chapter 2: Shakti: The World as Power

Chapter 3: What Are the Tantras and Their Significance?

Chapter 4: Tantra Shastra and Veda

Chapter 5: The Tantras and Religion of the Shaktas

Chapter 6: Shakti and Shakta

Chapter 7: Is Shakti Force?
Chapter 8: Cinacara (Vashishtha and Buddha)

Chapter 9: The Tantra Shastras in China

Chapter 10: A Tibetan Tantra

Chapter 11: Shakti in Taoism

Chapter 12: Alleged Conflict of Shastras

Chapter 13: Sarvanandanatha

Chapter 14: Cit-Shakti (The Consciousness Aspect of the Universe)

Chapter 15: Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

Chapter 16: Matter and Consciousness

Chapter 17: Shakti and Maya

Chapter 18: Shakta Advaitavada

Chapter 19: Creation as Explained in the Non-dualist Tantras

Chapter 20: The Indian Magna Mater

Chapter 21: Hindu Ritual

Chapter 22: Vedanta and Tantra Shastra

Chapter 23: The Psychology of Hindu Religious Ritual

Chapter 24: Shakti as Mantra (Mantramayi Shakti)

Chapter 25: Varnamala (The Garland of Letters)

Chapter 26: Shakta Sadhana (The Ordinary Ritual)

Chapter 27: The Pa—catattva (The Secret Ritual)

Chapter 28: Matam Rutra (The Right and Wrong Interpretation)

Chapter 29: Kundalini Shakta (Yoga)

Chapter 30: Conclusions




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