It is unfortunate that much religious language and otherwise valuable spiritual teachings that support hidden dualistic assumptions that are essentially anti-body. These notions occur both east and west, in Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian literature. They are often concealed within transcendental solutions that conceal anti-body sentiments.
For example, one popular modern writer speaks about a "pain body" as a container for all our suffering. This is similar to Hindu-Buddhist notions of our bodily attachments creating acquired karmic pain and thus the need to get off the wheel of incarnation and be free of the "gross" body. The very notion of "pain body" linguistically implies a negative judgment against our body-nature itself.
Is it the body's fault that it can feel pain, as well as pleasure? Why not instead call it a "pain spirit", and see the restoration of the original body (yuan jing) as the solution, not the cause? The physical body in actuality is an innocent, neutral child onto which various spirits project their positive or negative experiences in life. In my opinion, the physical body has received an unfair bad rap due to unclear spiritual thinking, unclear language, and a profound fear of being truly present in the body.
You often hear the phrase, "the mind must learn to trust the body". Ironically, this phrase itself creates a mind-body split. It implies the body has some kind of hidden intelligence that is separate from the more trustworthy intellect. This supports the illusion that all thinking occurs in the head-mind, even though another kind of essential but "lower" intelligence occurs in the body. It's more accurate to think of the head as a processing center for sensory information that all five body-spirits interact with and control.
In Tao theory, the body-mind is a single complex. The different aspects of the five shen, the biological intelligences of the heart, liver, spleen, etc. do all our sensing, thinking, and feeling. There is no separate physical body that needs to be trusted; all five body spirits exist along the same pulsing continuum of substance-energy-intelligence (jing-chi-shen). These five human body spirits are also known as the "five wills", and exist in many octaves of our greater consciousness, such as the five cardinal directions of space, the five planets, the five stellar quadrants, etc.
There is ultimately only one trust issue for humans, and that is whether the five body spirits or five wills (= ego mind) can collectively trust the Original Spirit and its Original Will, which manifests as the universal chi field. Trust is established by the inner smiling process. It can only arise if the smiling force comes from the whole body-mind consciousness. Any mind-body split in our spoken language, belief, or behavior, weakens our original trust in the life force.
The Inner Smile helps develops a kind of faith that is energetically embodied and personally experienced internally, not projected into an abstract external deity. Now it becomes clearer why we smile to the five vital organ intelligences, to all the physical parts of the body, and harmonize their smiling response. We are grounding our faith in spirit given bodily presence.
If one treats the body as something less than or separate from mind, there is a dualistic mind-body split being created. This type of intellectual ego-mind can never escape from the snare of its own dualistic language. The mind-as-intellect gets exhausted, like a dog chasing its own tail. The only practical way to short circuit this spiral of mind-chasing-the-body with words and concepts is to stop all conceptual talking. One solution is to start smiling silently, at a deeper level than the words and concepts can reach. This allows us to contact a more primal level of our will.
Smiling is a kind of silent talking. There is no need to surrender individual will in the Tao inner smiling process - only to harmonize and focus the five outer wills of the vital organ spirits so they come into alignment with our self-arising Original Will. In this sense, all five of the individual ego-wills are strengthened by the Inner Smile, but only when they come into harmony.
Our central will becomes more powerful the more one smiles and embraces the separate parts of our body-mind into an internal collective unity within the dantian. In the Daoist view, the universal collective of beings is responsible for self-creating their reality in each moment. If each being smilingly "wills" its part of the cosmic symphony, there is harmony and balance. We can experience this "microcosmically" within our body, and "macrocosmically" when we smile beyond into the body of Nature.
The in-the-body, self-arising Tao cosmology differs radically from many Christian and Hindu-Buddhist transcendental notions that the ego must surrender its personal will or bodily desire (= evil) so that one can become the will of God or Brahma or Buddha (= good). This has unfortunately led to the notion that one must "kill" the ego.
But ego is just a form of untrained consciousness. From this perspective consciousness cannot truly be killed, only suppressed, denied or transformed into a different shape. Consciousness, however evil or ignorant or prideful, cannot be killed because it is part of the universal field of consciousness. How can a part of the field kill the whole field? It can possibly disturb it, but it is not powerful enough to kill it.
I believe the idea of "killing the ego" is just another form of anti-body thinking, a religious attempt to win the mind-body battle, a sneak attack so abstract spirit can dominate matter once and for all. Should parents kill their children because they mis-behave? It's same question. Should Original Will kill its human five baby ego-wills because they are confused or disturbed by their life in the physical plane? Or should it practice smiling to them, loving them back into a wiser course of collective harmony?
If an abstract, disembodied God exists, and He didn't want humans to have individual will or bodily desire, why did that God give humans individual will and bodies? Just so humans could choose to surrender their will, and give up their body? This theological belief has an ultimately immature premise that humans should remain helpless children by surrendering their will over their own body, and that instead an omniscient Father God should decide everything for them and for their body.
Of course, this is exactly what modern science is rightfully trying to combat as being disempowering to humanity. Science is saying, humans should take control of their destiny, not some invisble god or gods. But science often goes too far in the opposite direction by denying that any collective inner will can be attributed to Nature or that any divine intelligence exists. It only accepts as real what can be measured by math or by machines.
The result: a huge split between deity-worshipping religion and matter-manipulating science. I believe that the Daoist cosmology-as-process offers a true middle way to cultivate both spirit, body, and free will. It does not deny the body or the spirit, but integrates them into a functional continuum. Daoist energy science could become the foundation for an emerging global sacred science, just as its stepchild, Chinese medicine, is one of the most powerful forces in alternative medicine.
Modern techno-science is cold. It lacks heart. Its most brilliant thinkers are generally top-heavy intellects that are often disconnected from the heart and body. Its techno-visionaries focus more on developing new smart machines than cultivating our existing biointelligence. We need a balance of ancient and new technologies. Tao inner alchemy can accept the results of natural science even as it energetically expands beyond it. It is systematic, but has a smiling heart.
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