Energetically, the Inner Smile asks us to accept that our personal inner Being is part of the Original Spirit (yuan shen) of the Tao (Dao). According to ancient Chinese thinking, Original Spirit exhaled the Original Breath as the pure, non-polar breath of the Cosmos. This breaths follows the cosmic law of the Tai Chi principle of harmony. Its invisible guidance deep inside our body is why we constantly seek harmony in our everyday life.
Think of Tao as the Source of Nature. Tao breathes out its spiritual qualities or "de". The de shines out as our personal inner will power to manifest the various spiritual qualities in our life, one of which is our physical body itself as a vessel for cosmic energies. Thus the title of Lao Tzu's classic of 500 b.c. was titled the Tao te Ching (Dao de jing), the Book of the Way and its Power.
Smiling Lao Tzu (Laozi) rides on an Ox. Ox is the symbol of worldly burden, the earth element, and of the human soul riding atop its physical body. The Tao sages in China are usually depicted as smiling. This is an Inner Smile, suggesting that no matter how bad the worldly burden becomes, the Tao within their inner heart will remain an eternal source of smiling joy.
There is a classic painting of Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu sitting around a vat of vinegar. Each one is taking a sip of the vinegar. Confucius has a sour look on his face. Buddha has a bitter look. Lao Tzu has a big smile on his face. Life's outer vinegar is alchemically transmuted to inner wine in the Tao adept's inner cauldron.
As our Tao-Being "breathes" our de-Becoming into the physical plane, our non-dual Original Breath polarizes into yin and yang breaths. The harmonious flow of this trinity - the two yin-yang breaths and the one Original Breath - is called Tai Chi. This polarizing of energy into yin-yang creates all the forces of Nature such as hot and cold, night and day - and female and male bodies.
This polarization of our original cosmic energy injects a dynamic tension into our physical Becoming that is essentially experienced as a sexual-creative tension in our personal body-mind. Everyone is unique, so everyone experiences this sexual-creative tension differently.
Some of this tension gets acted out in our sexual relations. But mostly it is directed at sexual reproduction at the cellular level, the constant task of birthing a new physical body. In Daoist alchemy, the psycho-sexual tension is re-directed to birthing our physical lead-like heaviness into a "golden light body" that is not subject to death. That is the "gold" substance that internal alchemy seeks to cultivate.
This sexual-creative tension is what makes worldly life exciting, as in the beautiful interplay between loving men and women. But it can also make life miserable, as in the ugly battle between the sexes or the struggle between mind and body that results in illness. Underneath, this outer tension originates as the tension between our neutral inner Being and our sexually polarized process of Becoming.
We could call this Being-Becoming tension an apparent split between "mind and body" or "spirit and matter". But the ancient Daoists didn't see this as a split. They experienced these polarities as a smooth continuum. Even though humans find themselves in a male or female body, each of us internally has a continuum of masculine and feminine qualities.
The ultimate purpose of the Inner Smile is to bring this underlying tension into consciousness, embrace it, and harmonize it. Smiling is a method to smooth out this tension that is incredibly simple, powerful, profound, peaceful, effortless - and FUN!
Using the Inner Smile to cultivate our Original Breath (yuan chi) is a key secret to resolving this deep tension in our body-mind. This yin-yang sexual-creative tension is so deep that many of us don't even know it exists. Yuan chi is inherently neutral and balanced. The topic of sexuality is too vast to be covered here. If you are interested in exploring it more deeply, you may find the Daoist secrets of sexology and inner sexual alchemy quite interesting. (Both available as Tao Home Study courses, but recommended only after proceeding through the Chi Kung Fundamentals and Fusion of the Five Elements).
Experience of yuan chi inspires us to live in a simple, continuous, heart-centered chi flow. It grows our inner feeling of peace and deep presence, even while life and other people struggle around us. Our yuan chi, or Original Breath, is what allows us to embody the notion of wu wei , or "effortless action".
When one's inner being smiles, all doubts - accumulated for years -disperse instantly, like shadows fleeing sunlight. People think, "I don't have time to meditate". This is really just a way of saying they choose to put their priority elsewhere, or that their outer life is so stressful they can't take care of their inner life. Welcome to the Inner Smile, where that excuse doesn't work.
It doesn't take any extra time to smile. You can practice the Inner Smile even while you do everything else in your busy life. We don't sacrifice anything when we inner smile. We are only adding more heartfelt presence to whatever else we are doing. The only thing we lose by smiling inwardly is the unconscious "inner frown" many people are carrying around.
This inner frown is a form of self-inflicted chronic stress. Over time, it begins to weigh on us, as if we were wearing our resistance to life like a big heavy chain around our neck. Unfortunately, we often inflict this inner frown on those around us. If you look into the mirror of your life, you can see if this is the case for you. We each need to ask ourselves, I am ready to get serious about throwing off this heavy yoke, and begin living more lightly, guided by our inner smiling self?
Have people used the inner smile to change real life situations?
I have heard many, many stories from people about their outer success with the inner smile. One person told me they got a big salary raise. A woman did the Inner Smile to her very mean boss who was very tight with money.
She started smiling at the guy for a couple of days, just connecting her inner heart to his inner heart, careful not to project anything about money. Then she just walked in one day into his office and said, "I really need a raise". The mean boss looked up, just kind of smiled, and said OK.
That is what I call effortless change. Mean, stingy people don't want to be that way, they are just afraid to be something different, to be someone that is loveable. So when you in effect love someone silently, in a safe, neutral way, their being can then shift the structure of the outer personality. And voila!
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