Dispensing Utilization—Returning to the Root
Returning (to the beginning) is the movement of the Dao.
The weakness (i.e., the gentleness) is the utilization (i.e., function) of the Dao.
Myriad objects (i.e., all objects) under heaven (i.e., in the world) are begotten from “having,”
and “having” is originated from “nothingness.”
“Returning” implies “to return to the beginning,” which means cycling. He Shang Gong (河上公) said: “Reverse means (return to) the root (i.e., origin). This (returning to the) root is the reason for the Dao’s movement. When there is movement, thousands of objects are created. If they go against this rule, they die.” Repetition is the main action or movement of the Dao. Without this movement, the Dao cannot be manifested into the De (德). The De is the manifestation of the Dao. The first sentence was further interpreted by Shi, De-Qing (釋德清):
“Returning is the main body (i.e., major content) of the Dao. It is said that the body of the Dao is insubstantial, nothingness, extremely calm, and is the master of all movements. In the world, people only know how the movements move and do not know that where there is a movement, there is a calmness. The Book of Changes (《易經》) says: ‘The movement under heaven (i.e., the universe or the world) is purely only one.’ This is because the movements of all movements all originated from the insubstantial, nothingness, and extreme calmness. Therefore, it is said ‘reverse’ is the movement (i.e., action) of the Dao.”
When the Dao is manifested, it is through soft (weak) action or movement. Therefore, the softness is the application or utilization of the Dao. Song, Chang-Xing (宋長星) said:
“The movements of the Dao’s function do not disobey timing and do not lose qi (i.e., energy). When it gives, it does not choose objects, but is following myriad objects’ needs. It does not oppose the usage of objects; thus it is able to follow the property of the objects, yielding entirely. This can be called: ‘weak’ (or ‘soft’). However, when it is in use, it can enter the water and fire without a gap, penetrate the metal and stone without a trace, and satisfy myriad objects without a shortage. It does not use hardness, but softness. This is what The Book of Changes (Yi Jing, 易經) said: ‘When seeing a group of dragons without the head (i.e., the leader), it is a good fortune.’ Therefore, it is said: ‘softness is the usage of the Dao.’”
Song, Chang-Xing also said: “If a human handles business in this world with peaceful and harmonious talking, then listeners will accept this talking easily without being against it. When managing affairs with an open and forgiving heart, all matters can be accomplished without failure.”
When there is a group of powerful dragons, without a leader, they will be soft. Thus, it is good fortune. However, if a group of dragons has a leader, they will become aggressive and invasive. Thus, it is a misfortune.
Nothingness is the origin of having. Nothingness and having are two, but one. They cannot exist without the other. The Dao is the one who initiates myriad objects from nothingness and also the one who returns myriad objects to their root, to nothingness. This repeating process is the way of the Dao (Nature). Du, Guang-Ting (杜光庭) said: “Nothingness is the body (i.e., the root) of the Dao and having is the end of the Dao. Thus, because of the root (i.e., nothingness), the end (i.e., having) is produced. All shapes are formed and (thus) ‘the having’ is initiated. When investigating the causes and pondering the origins of all of this, we can see all of them are created from the Dao. Therefore, ten thousand objects are originated from marvelous nothingness.
In qigong society, spirit is considered as the Dao in your body. Spirit is marvelous and mysterious, yet so powerful. Time does not have meaning for spirit and space does not have restriction for spirit. For example, we can travel with our spirit to yesterday or tomorrow without limitation. We can also travel with our spirit to anywhere in this universe instantly without confinement.
The mind is related to spirit, but is not the spirit itself. As we have seen, according to qigong, the mind can be divided into the conscious mind and subconscious mind. The conscious mind is generated from brain cells that provide your thinking and memory. From the conscious mind, humans create the human matrix and dogma. In this matrix, everyone has a mask and lies to each other in order to survive in this masked society. However, the subconscious mind that resides in your limbic system has memory and feeling, but is without thinking. This subconscious mind is more truthful and is the fundamental body of your spirit.
Usually, our spirit has been suppressed due to the active functioning of the conscious mind. Once you learn how to calm down your conscious mind, your subconscious mind will be able to wake up. The first crucial key of calming down the conscious mind is setting you free from emotional bondage.
In order to reach this goal, you must bring yourself to a semisleeping state. When you reach this state, you feel you are there but not there. From this state, you gradually learn how to reconnect your spirit with the natural spirit.
In this condition, you will be in an extremely calm and peaceful state. Not only that, you will be in the state of “regulating of no regulating” (wuwei, 無為). This will allow the qi to circulate anywhere in your body. In your body, qi is the softest and is able to reach every corner of your body. Wang, Bi (王弼) said: “There is no place where the qi cannot enter.” “Qi is insubstantial, soft, and weak (i.e., gentle), but there is no place that it cannot be transported, there is nowhere that cannot be reached. It is extremely soft and cannot be bent and broken. From this, the benefits of ‘wuwei’ are known.”
Understanding the natural course is the first step to being in accord with the Dao. First, we should recognize that myriad objects, at the end, all return to their root, nothingness. Second, we must follow the Dao and apply it with softness so the spirit can become evolved. Having and nothingness are only the two faces of Nature. Between these two, the spirit within is the most important and connected with Nature.
The above is an excerpt from The Dao De Jing: A Qigong Interpretation, Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, Pub Date September 2018 by YMAA Publication Center, ISBN 13: 978-1-59439-619-9.