“Personal Development” and the Taoist Warrior
Some years ago, I put together a program of training which
combined Taoist Qi and
meditation training with various high-level personal
development techniques which were being taught by “success” coaches in the
The program became known as “Taoist Warrior Training.” I ran this program
successfully for several years, and participants informed me
that it had a very positive impact on their lives. Sifu Hayward very graciously invited me to
share this brief description with the readers of his blog.
So what IS the Way of the “Taoist Warrior?”…
The Way of the Taoist Warrior is to “Live Large”--finding
and following your Bliss-that
which gives you utmost energy and makes you feel most deeply
aligned with “the Force.” It is about discovering and respecting your own
particular “Internal Economy,” or level of Qi which makes you feel most resourceful, centered,
It is about finding your own unique balance of physical,
emotional, and spiritual forces
which, focused in powerful synergy, can fulfill your
personal “Life Dream”---that sense of vision, purpose, and joy you’ve always
had somewhere deep in your soul, and which most ultimately gives meaning to
It is not necessarily about more “success” or “achievement,”
though that may come as a
by-product. It is, however, about exquisite health, a
feeling of inner power, harmony and
balance, and a feeling of abiding joy and good humor in the
everyday real world.
So what does “Taoist Warrior” Mean?
The Taoists were the Sages of China who revered, observed,
and followed the total way of Nature, or Tao. Their goal was to achieve a
perfect balance in life between their physical energies, their spiritual
destiny, and the Tao-or the “Source of the Force.”
Although many Taiji aspirants today deplore the term
“Warrior,” the Warrior ideal does
not connote aggression or violent activity, but referred to
a Sage who could face all of life’s challenges, even (especially) very
unsettling ones, or even life and death combat, with equanimity and
centeredness. The Warrior has such a firm center and internal power that s/he can
always maintain flexibility and balance even in the most adverse circumstances.
Though the Warrior’s own sense of internal power and
integrity is immense (tremendous Yang), in dealing with others, a Warrior is
flexible and gentle (Yin). It is this balance of the highest level of both Yin
and Yang qualities which makes the true Taoist Warrior.
In the ancient days, the Warriors were usually very
multifaceted individuals. Often they
were astronomers, scientists, chemists, physicians,
strategists, and protectors of the people.
In our time, the concept can be applied to a well-rounded individual who
acts with a sense of unerring inner purpose, yet is always aware of the Larger
Picture. And whose primary concern is always to maintain a state of attunement
with the Tao or “The Force."
A short story of how this all began…a bit of personal
history which will put the idea into
All of my life I have been fascinated by the “grand
life”—how to live to one’s best
potential while radiating an aura of joy and positive energy.
I guess that was my “quest.”
It was a varied and fascinating quest which brought me into
fortuitous contact with some
remarkable human beings—martial arts masters, master healers,
and people of great spiritual insight from Swamis and Zen masters to Catholic
contemplative monks. . A journey of
constant discovery and challenge…
After being a weightlifter and Karateist, Taiji seemed to me like the ultimate ideal—an exercise
whereby one could become stronger through relaxation and which promised
“startling stamina beyond the ordinary stages of retrogression and decay.” A long, healthy life with abundant energy and
mental acuity—that was for me!
So I trained and practiced assiduously and had the good
fortune to work with some remarkable teachers who totally embodied not only the
Taiji “forms,” but what seemed to be something
larger and of even greater value—a kind of Life Strategy.
Unlike many of the martial arts masters of the media, who
are often portrayed with a
“macho,” sometimes even sociopathic image, these teachers
seemed to embody a tremendous power, but also a genuinely “human touch.” They
were people of compassion and absolute integrity, sometimes even puckish,
childlike good humor. Yet each of them embodied tremendous inner power as well.
I began to see that the “Strategy” was perhaps even more
valuable than the Taiji
exercises and forms. But that the “forms” somehow led to the
Strategy. And the teachers would give broad hints about The Strategy, but never
seemed to provide any specific details about how to achieve it.
As I continued my studies, I sadly noticed Players,
sometimes even highly talented Taiji
and other martial art Players who seemed to lack the
Strategy—whose lives seemed to be off center or who were consumed with the very
power they seemed so intent on developing. Often they had tremendous
difficulties in their financial or personal lives.
So my quest continued…
I decided to look at Western approaches to “Success” and
read scores of books, attended
seminars by some of the best known “Success Gurus,” and
truly had a ball doing it! There was something expansive and liberating about
it all, and some wonderful and very generous people associated with these
Interesting to me, many of the “success” approaches seemed
to emphasize Yang energy—be more, do more, imagine more, never give up, keep on
affirming and visualizing----until you reach your goal. And then set an even
bigger goal and start all over again!Was this “what it was all about?” The
contrast between that and the serenity and joy of my Taiji masters created a question in my mind. Was
there perhaps a “softer and gentler way?”
I was immensely surprised by the fact that only a relatively
small percentage of people
who attended the “Success” programs really seemed to
experience profound changes in their lives. Frequently I met people who, a few
months down the road, had reverted to the status quo of their drudgerous lives
(as they described them to me) and who remembered the powerful --and usually
very expensive seminar-- only as a momentary “high.” For some reason, they just
could not follow through, even though they had invested large amounts of time
This truly amazed me—until I realized that the key to ALL
life success is ENERGY. Just
energy—the energy to follow through in realizing your
dreams. Can you have a creative,
exciting career if you feel tired all the time? Can you have
a passionate, vibrant relationship if you’re always feeling “run down?” It
seemed that the answer was no, that the single most critical requisite of
“success” in any arena of our lives is energy.
So I began to explore Energy.
It was obvious to me from my decades-long study of Taiji and
Chinese healing arts that
the Chinese had developed a superlative “technology” for
cultivating, harnessing, and enhancing personal energy. After all the concept
of Qi was central to all of Chinese culture—not only medicine and martial arts,
but even architecture, painting, and cooking! So maybe Qi was the “missing”
ingredient to success and even to a truly viable Life Strategy.
As I began working to combine Eastern and Western approaches
to the “grander life,” the greatest revelation of all appeared brought by a
teacher who pretty much just “showed up” on my doorstep one day when I felt I
had hit a dead end. She showed me how to understand the relation between mental
intent and the actuality of our everyday life. What we vibrate in resonance
with infallibly appears in our life.
Of course, like most people, I had already heard lots about
setting goals, focusing the
mind, creating a vision of my life, etc., etc. I all but
dismissed the new revelation as just more of the same “old stuff,” when I began
to see that what my previous learning had lacked was that mental focus was not
enough. Of infinitely greater importance was that one’s inner personal core had
to be in a harmonious and precise vibrational frequency which matched whatever
we were visualizing or focusing on. And there had to be a feedback mechanism to
verify that the match was actually happening. Once I discovered and worked with
this “revelation” a whole series of gateways opened up for me. I had at last found the “softer, gentler
way,” that fully unified principles of the Tao with Western approaches to
“success” and personal development.
So that’s what this program evolved into—a synergy of
Chinese “energy technology”
with state of the art western discoveries in personal
development—and all of that joined with the critical cornerstone of it
all—being able to sense and adjust our moment by moment vibrational core to be
perfectly in sync with real-world daily life as well as our personal vision of
the grander life for us.
I am still traveling on my Way of refining “The Strategy.”
© Paul B.