Is Tai Chi A Religion Or Religious Practice?
Even in today’s age of readily readily available data, the query continues to plague the practice tai chi chuan. In brief, the answer is, “No. The practice of tai chi chuan (taijiquan) is not a religion, never ever was a religion and does not originate from a religion. It originated as a mindful martial arts practice in old China. The information to assistance this are searchable by way of historical proof. Anybody who claims otherwise need to educate himself/herself on the information just before creating erroneous statements that tai chi is some sort of religious activity.
The confusion stems from tai chi chuan’s roots in Taoist philosophy. This ancient Chinese philosophy is in contrast to any other well-known philosophy in the West (i.e., existentialism, structuralism, solipsism, and so forth.), so that Taoism’s strange ideas and symbols can quickly confuse the much less-worldly observer. Keep in mind also, that in its purest definition, our present scientific process is constructed on small much more than a modern day application of philosophy! The challenge with a particular person ill-versed in Sinology is that he or she will come across religions and religious practices that are constructed on the foundation of Taoist philosophy. Due to the fact Taoism was the ancient Chinese people’s way of understanding and explaining the reality they observed about them, of course their religious practices would use this philosophy as their basis. But Taoism has numerous branches – some are religious and blatantly pagan or shamanic in their employment of Taoist philosophy. There are a multitude of branches of Taoism that are philosophical without the need of any religious undertones. And some branches of Taoist philosophy are someplace in the middle of these two divisions. This broadly variable and versatile characteristic of Taoist philosophy has existed via the millennia and appears to be disconcerting to a particular person who assumes that any religion or philosophy should have narrowly defined guidelines and practices. But, sorry, this is not the case with Taoism!
One more current challenge plaguing regular tai chi’s reputation is the formation of eastern groups that seem cult-like and employ modern day versions of qigong and tai chi chuan. In China, Falun Gong and in Korea, Dahn Yoga, are examples of modern day groups that practice a thing lately made that they claim is primarily based on regular practices. I will not comment either way on these group’s activities or incidences, as that is not my spot. But I seriously advise you to verify the history of any such group and when their regular arts had been in fact initially made or advertised. If you really feel uncomfortable, then leave. Please do not make the error that also numerous make: that if a group or its practices sound “eastern” it automatically indicates that they all should be practicing pure, old, regular arts. This is a error produced far also usually.
An person foreign to Chinese culture and born into a longstanding religion is commonly advised by a Taoist priest or philosopher to maintain his family’s religion and nonetheless really feel cost-free to discover ideas of Taoist philosophy and probably even integrate that with his present religious views. This is mainly because several sects of Taoism recognize and accept that persons of the planet every single have their particular way of recognizing the “higher” components of their reality in diverse approaches and below diverse names. To the Taoist, this is to be accepted and respected. As such, is it customary these days to see a public altar in a Taoist temple bearing the symbols of numerous faiths that guests are encouraged to spot there. These altars will permit a Christian crucifix, Star of David, copy of the Koran and statues of Buddhas, orishas, and so forth., all to share the very same space. This points to the worldwide acceptance and respect that numerous branches of Taoism in the end market – whether or not from a philosophical point of view or a religious 1.
For tai chi teachers who are concerned about teaching tai chi with its Taoist philosophical roots intact, I share my individual expertise with this. In my college, I have discovered that persons take pleasure in a classical and Taoist method of tai chi chuan. Invite students to bring in their individual religions and to really feel cost-free to reject something that tends to make them uncomfortable even if their classmates accept it. There is no stress, just mutual respect. If students are Christian conservatives, I encourage them to see God as the creator of Tao and our understanding of it, and to connect with the polarities of the universe that can balance us – Taoism’s yin and yang – as a thing that their Creator produced and governs. Prayer is welcomed to replace any meditation or qigong that they may well not need to do. For a Buddhist student, I encourage him to use what he learns about tai chi to augment his study of the sutras or meditative cultivation in order to assistance surrender the “ego self” to the Tao – or universal Thoughts. Anybody can really feel cost-free to sit out from tasks or talks that they really feel may well interfere with their belief technique, or to alter and interpret them in a way that they uncover ethical. It does not matter. Absolutely everyone is welcome to conceptualize and converse in class making use of the terms from their religion (or non- religion) and culture, in the context of how we can create ourselves in tai chi chuan.
For potential students who are concerned about their religious faiths, I advocate that they quickly bring up the subject with the tai chi college they intend to attend. If they really feel uncomfortable, they need to move on to a diverse teacher or college – mainly because “persons are persons” for that reason, teachers differ broadly in their viewpoints, coaching, credentials and acceptance of other folks. Students need to never ever assume 1 teacher or college is representative of all.
For a conservative religious adherent who will scoff that tai chi enthusiasts are relying on items “external to God” to heal our bodies or influence our energies, I advise hunting at it like this: We are appreciating and making use of the gifts that God offered to us without the need of our bodies and inside His creation. Why ignore these wonderful gifts inside us if you can cultivate them and use them in approaches that are good? If you contemplate this, you can see that the versatile and open-minded character of Taoist philosophy can make the practice of tai chi possibly be the greatest mental and physical activity for even the most conservative of religious adherents.
The 1 issue that is unacceptable is for religious leaders to shirk the duty of checking the information for themselves and then creating blanket statements about practices from philosophies and cultures that they do not have an understanding of or are prejudiced against. All this does is bring about continued misinformation and xenophobia – undoubtedly not the cornerstone of something spiritual.
Really feel cost-free to maintain your religion and take pleasure in the positive aspects of tai chi chuan.