Over the years, many people said they “have been studying Taoism” and would want to learn Taoist magic from me. If you are one of them, then read this article! I will write this article as if I am talking to you by e-mail, in a very “human” way. I want to keep it as “real” as possible. Read it out yourself as if I am talking to you, feel it, and take it seriously.
First, do you have a master, and are you ordained in a sect of Taoism? If your answer is a “yes,” you should return to your master and ask for teachings. This is about loyalty. Once you are ordained into a sect in Taoism, you are a disciple of that sect and a Taoist of THAT Tao, not the others. Ordaining into another sect means you are married to one wife, and then you get married to a second one; it’s a form of betrayal and is very insulting to your sect and the gods of your sect. However, if you find that the current sect is not what you want to study under, you must withdraw before you ordain into the new sect of your choice. Anyone who claims to hold multiple sects of Taoism is a pure betrayer of all sects they connect with, just like a person who says they “love their wife,” but they have a few wives, so who is your true love? None of them.
If you have not been ordained into a sect and don’t have a master yet, then you are NOT studying Taoism. Maybe you are just studying Taoism history by reading books and other materials, but that doesn’t mean you are a Taoist since you don’t belong to any sect of Taoism. Even if you “study” for 80 years like this, you are not going anywhere, and you have no progress made because you have not even entered the door; nothing is happening, and you are purely just doing worthless readings that do nothing to you.
Many say they have been “studying” or “practicing” taichi/taiji, chi kung/qi gong, neigong, etc. Stop here; these are NOT Taoism; any martial artist can practice them. For example, Hung Gar martial artists have chi kung/qi gong. Or let’s say even Shaolin has their version of “Taichi,” too. You can also learn taichi in the park from people who believe in nothing but themselves. There are also many Christian taichi groups out there. Then Chen’s village is famous for their Chen-style Taichi, but they are not religious! Doing taichi doesn’t mean you are doing Taoism, not even 1% close. Yes, Taoists (some) do taichi, just like Taoists do video games, play soccer, or sing karaoke; why not? It’s just part of what we “can” do as Taoists, but this is not what makes us Taoist! If you have been doing these things above, you are not even touching Taoism.
Have you been reading many books like Tao Te Ching? Zhuang Zi? Etc.? Well, that’s not Taoism, either. You have been reading some ancient classics written in a system that no one understands 100% in the modern days anymore. Most of the stuff you find are just “interpretations” with translations that are often misleading and vague, and even worse is that some are all “converted” to mean something that the China government wants the people to believe in, so you will see Tao Te Ching sounding a bit Buddhism-ish and so on. It’s best not even to read them at all. Even if you have read many of these, it doesn’t make you 1% Taoism; you are doing nothing but just reading books, yet you have not even made the first move to become a Taoist – to find your Tao and then get ordained.
Finding Your Tao
Finding your Tao means searching around for a master who represents a sect of Taoism and seeing if you like their stuff, how you feel about their sect, and so on. If their teachings and content click with you and you like how the master teaches, you can consider ordaining into their sect and learning as a disciple.
The first step of becoming a Taoist is to get ordained and enter the door of the lineage like you must enter the school system to learn in the school! No matter in the ancient or modern days, Taoism is never a subject that can be “taught” to the public. We can do introductory videos and teachings openly, but it doesn’t benefit the person until they are a disciple. The real deal part of Taoism is when you are ordained, you have a relationship with the Tao of the sect, and you are finally like “connected to the server.” It’s like you have a phone, but you don’t have service, then your phone is still not going to do anything even if you press the buttons! When you have ordained, your phone got the service hooked up, and it’s LIVE. Now you can dial the phone, and it will WORK. Can you play an online game without the internet? Can you start working and earning money without being hired? Same idea. Being a Taoist, you become part of the system; then, you can input or withdraw power from the system.
The master is very important because, in my own experience – even though I teach people face-to-face all the time, they can still go the wrong way or go off track after a day or two. I must keep checking, correcting, fine-tuning and polishing the disciple to ensure they are doing the right thing or “really” understanding the things I have taught. It’s not easy, and you will fail if you try to self-teach or read-only from books. No disciples can learn independently because the subject is VERY sophisticated and deep.
Those people who try to DIY/self-taught and flood the forums online? I have read their stuff and summarized it in one word – “disastrous.” It’s off, don’t learn from that group!
What is the Main Goal of a Taoist
The main goal of being a Taoist is to HAVE A TAO, which is that sect's higher power, the gods. This power will take care of you when you are alive and even when you are dead. In our lineage, our Tao provides us with the guidance, power and methods to deal with hurdles and improve our quality of life when we are alive. When we are dead, our Tao helps us transition through the dimensions and reach our destination, which we call our “Taoist heaven,” We will then go to where the gods are to continue our life there. You see, doing taichi, reading Tao Te Ching, doesn’t bring you there!
Taoism is a religion, not a martial art sect, so the main focus is religion, life, and not a martial art. There is a lot of American who are amused by the Wu Dang Taoists because of their martial art, then they go to China and study for a few years, bring the stuff back and dress up as “Taoist” – however, all they know is doing a martial art, playing flute or Qin, and drink tea. Nothing about the Tao, seriously. Their focus is 100% off already. What is a religion? What is the real focus of being a Taoist? Why are you so focused on doing your martial art? The main thing about religion is the relationship between humans and the gods, not “yourself” and not “nature.”
Oh, right, those who believe” Taoism is about believing in nature,” etc. Even if you are looking at the martial-art-oriented sect like Wu Dang, you can see what’s going on at the temple. Why are there an altar, statue, and people in robes chanting? About nature? They are not worshiping a tree or a rock. Just like Chinese food, when it gets to the western side, it’s Americanized to fit the “taste’ of the non-Chinese. Sweet and sour, chips, etc. You don’t see those in real Chinese food much!
How to Start
If you came by my website, podcast, YouTube, or any of my eBooks, and you feel that you like the way I teach and the content hype you up, then you should consider this your Tao. You have FOUND it already, and now it’s your turn to make a move.
If you want to “go real,” then get ordained.
If you don’t have the budget yet or are not ready, go for the free-initiation route and learn on your own after the registration.
Always learn to empty your cup if you want to learn well here. That means dumping everything you have had in you in the past. You don’t need that. You come into our lineage; we have everything you need and will feed it to you progressively. You do not ever need to go around the world to pick up things here and there and “assemble your own thing.” Learn to be a good disciple, and you can always start by listening to our “internal podcast” playlist to learn about the basic virtues that a disciple should have. It will save you a lot of time and energy when you have the proper mindset, to begin with!