Taoist Glossary

Taoist terminology and their explanations

Tao: Tao means the way—the way of man, nature, and the universe—the natural way of evolving in our life to our highest, most refined, ultimate state of being and experience. This implies a process of ‘returning’ from the grosser levels of our manifested physical existence through the more subtle aspects of our being to our unconditioned, unrestricted pure-self. At that point we merge and become one with the Wu Chi—the nothingness, the all-conscious void underlying all that ‘is’—comparable to the Christian and other religions’ concept of becoming one with God.

Taoist: An individual who subscribes to and practices the methods associated with the pursuit of the Tao is referred to as a Taoist. There are many steps along the way to attaining this underlying state of exalted being. Hence, there are various practices for health, healing, refining and longevity to support ourselves with sufficient energy and time to accomplish the goal. Going back thousands of years in China, people have accumulated and refined ways of cultivating the integrated physical body, energy body, mind and spirit for a balanced healthy, happy life in pursuit of the Tao.

Taoism: Various combinations of practices traced to Taoist roots. However, through time and diversity in different areas and with the impact of different social, religious, philosophical and political influences—different schools of thought and practice have proliferated. Various combinations of practices traced to Taoist roots and these other traditions are referred to as Taoism. Historically, a body of literature has accumulated that provides a base of reference for the roots and principles known as the Tao. Among the many Taoists to whom Taoist authority is attributed are Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Tan Jing-sheng and Huang Ti, the Yellow Emperor. Paradoxically, as Lao Tzu tells us in beginning his Tao Te Ching: “The Tao that is voiced is no longer the Tao. The name that has been written is no longer that of eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of the cosmic universe. The named is the mother of the myriad creatures.” Science is providing us with a deeper knowledge of what is, but the Tao is still beyond words and knowledge. It can only be truly known by direct personal experience.

Primordial Force: Taoists long ago—before the modern scientific discoveries of electromagnetism, electric energy power and quantum field mechanics—recognized subtle invisible forces in their subjective personal experience. They classified these forces in nature and the universe in terms of their category of effects in humans (physical, energetic, mental or spiritual qualities). Since they experienced the effects of the invisible forces and energies in the practices and found tremendous benefit for completing their inner alchemy, they called it the Supreme Natural Force, Original Force or Primordial Force. When they accessed it to apply it in the processes of inner alchemy they also referred to it as Primordial Chi. This use of terminology is analogous to the usage in modern life to ‘electromagnetic force’ and electric energy when the force is activated and used in some application—the term ‘energy’ is used to identify its effects in action, like chi is used by Taoists. Sometimes ‘force’ and ‘chi’ are commonly used loosely and interchangeably. See the summary of ‘Dark Matter’ for further clarification of the nature of Primordial Force/Chi.

Inner alchemy: In order to attain this highly evolved state of experience and being, the state of existence beyond the restrictions of time and space—immortality—Taoist practitioners strived to discover what was missing and needed. They recognized that they needed to change the conditions and qualities of their normal everyday physical life. Master Mantak Chia’s lineage of Taoists, the ‘Inner-Alchemy-Just-Practice Taoists,’ learned to change the quality of their inner state of energy in order to more effectively access the original quality of energy, primordial chi, that all of existence is derived from. This begins with the simple process of transforming the normal negative emotional energies in the vital organs into the positive qualities. This changes the PH balance between the acidic and alkaline states, producing a more favorable quality of body chemistry, hormone balance, etc. This is part of a highly refined process of inner change in the inner state and quality of one’s being—inner alchemy—which evolves to higher levels of refinement and experience stage by stage by the individual practitioner. Many practices combine to achieve the desired results. Therefore, we have Master Chia’s “Nine Tao Alchemy Formulas of the Immortal Self.” Herein, ‘Tao Alchemy’ refers to the practices that collectively bring about important qualitative improvements in all aspects—physical, energetic, mental and spiritual—within each practitioner’s life, culminating in the nameless TAO!