Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Shamanic Roots of Taoism

Taoism originated in China between 600 and 500 BC, but the roots of Taoist beliefs, like many other spiritual belief systems, can be traced back to shamanic practices from the earliest tribal communities. China's recorded history began some 5,000 years ago when a tribal people settled in the Yellow River Basin -- the cradle of Chinese Civilization. These early people were hunter-gatherers and farmers. Their relationship to the cosmos was a shamanic one. Animism, ecstatic flight and spirit worship were characteristic of the primitive religion of archaic China.

Historical records describe certain members of this tribal community as experts in exorcisms, extractions, prophecies, rainmaking, and healing. Their role in tribal society was to enter trance states in order to gather information from the spirit world to aid the community. Practitioners, predominately female, were able to communicate directly with plants, minerals, and animals; to journey deep into the earth, or visit distant galaxies. They were able to invoke, through dance and ritual, elemental and supernatural powers, and enter into ecstatic union with them. The class of people most adept at such techniques became known as the Wu -- the shamans of ancient China.

As tribes evolved into cities and states, the Wu shamans played a crucial part in every state court. However, the influence of the Wu was pushed aside around 200 BC when Confucianism became the central belief system of the Chinese Empire. The Wu's shamanic performances in Chinese court were finally abolished in 32 BC. The shamanism practiced by tribal groups disappeared, in part due to the oppression of the Confucian government, and in part due to the emergence of Taoists as a dominate shamanic group.

There is much, in fact, from this early period of China's history, and in particular its shamanic world-view and practices, that is reflected in the subsequent emergence of Taoism. Spirit-travel to planets, stars and galaxies are practices found within the Shangqing sect of Taoism. Taoist magicians use talismans to invoke the powers and protection of supernatural beings. Components of many Taoist rituals and ceremonies, as well as certain forms of qigong, are oriented toward communication with the plant and animal kingdoms.

The roots of Taoism lie in the ancient shamanic practices with which it has always shared beliefs. Taoist traditions are a fountain of wisdom and knowledge for restoring our relationship with the Earth. Taoism, like shamanism, is a way of living in harmony with nature, rather than an adherence to a religious doctrine. By practicing these ways of being, we awaken our soul calling and our connection to nature. They provide a myriad of responses to the spiritual quest of self-discovery. They are ways that embed us in the living web of life, yielding greater awareness and perspective. These practices are easily integrated into contemporary life and provide a means of navigating the turbulent times in which we live.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Samadhi: Free Meditation Music Download

The Barcelona-based magazine La Senda del Coraz√≥n (The Path of the Heart) interviewed me in September 2019. You can read the entire interview by clicking here. They asked me to contribute one of my songs to Samadhi,  a meditation music compilation they are releasing for charity that features eleven artists from around the world. In Hindu yoga, Samadhi is a state of intense concentration attained by the practice of Dharana (focused attention) and Dhyana (effortless meditation) when the True Essential Nature is known without the distortion of the mind. It is considered to be the culmination of the meditation process. Please listen to the album on Bandcamp Radio and consider donating to some of the following charities:

The Koala Hospital
Animal Welfare Institute
Native American Rights Fund
The Nature Conservancy
Action Against Hunger-USA
Animal Nepal