House Kheperu


Taoist Concepts

Written by: Michelle Belanger

Most of you know that I study a number of the Eastern esoteric traditions in an effort to better understand how my beliefs and practices work and fit into established metaphysical paradigms.

I've long been fascinated by Taoism and its related energy techniques, because so many of the texts I've read correlate with the nature and function of vital energy as I've learned of it through personal experience. I've often scoured these texts looking for a description of the process we in the West label psychic vampirism. To me, it only makes sense that a culture that understands the notion of vital chi would have *something* written on those individuals who need to take this energy to maintain their well-being. Yet I could never find anything that specifically stated the Eastern take on vampirism. I took heart in the fact that only some texts are translated into English, and not all of the translations are good or complete. Additionally, with the coming of Communism and the Cultural Revolution, much of this material has been suppressed even in China itself. So it's very hard here in the States to find good resources and good teachers for the material. Even the most in-depth guides are invariably missing something.

So, here's where my new job comes in. I just got hired at a hotel. The general manager is Chinese. He's a very nice gentleman, probably about 35, graduated from the same college out here that I did. He's got that feel to him that someone who meditates regularly and practices some form of esoteric art gives off -- I figured he was Taoist, but wasn't quite sure how to approach him on the matter.

He solved the problem by approaching me. We had a pretty mind-blowing conversation (I'm used to people picking me out as a little "spooky" but he noticed that I did energy work right off the bat and wasn't at all intimidated by this), and by the end of it, my manager had answered my long-standing question about Chinese energy-techniques and the Western notion of vampirism.

Most of the Taoist texts I've read talk about meditation and gathering chi, or vital energy. And they give you lots of breathing exercises for the first stage of meditation. And they tell you that the next stage is about gathering your chi, then concentrating it, then circulating it around.

Some of the texts, particularly "Opening the Dragon Gate" trans. by Thomas Cleary, seem to talk about feeding. However, I've always been afraid to jump to conclusions on this simply because I could be biased and reading too much into the text. It never helps that most texts refer to certain techniques by established names, like the "Abstention from Grain" exercise or the medicine of "End of Year Snow" without any explanation for what these phrases -- so obviously symbolic -- actually relate to. So it's like shooting in the dark sometimes.

To my manager -- he's comparing notes with me about meditation, and pretty much we're trying to see whether we do things the same way or if we have different techniques. And he comes out with this bit of wisdom: "The next stage is gathering chi, and most people think this is just your own chi to be gathered. But it is not just your own -- you must take chi from outside of you, from other sources."

Bingo! I think, as he goes on to describe the process that I have come to know as "feeding".

A lot of people who call themselves vampires and who at least in some corner of their minds feel that this is a bad thing, or the result of some lack within themselves, draw energy from nature, from the elements, from animals, from storms. But according to Taoism -- not just the texts, but now from a living practitioner -- this is not "vampirism" with all the negative connotations we in the West have learned to associate with it. The need to take in energy from the world around you is a necessary and natural part of cultivating spirit.

So if you look at it from this point of view, vampirism is *natural*. It's how individuals who have cultivated spirit and who operate on a more refined spiritual level interact with the world. So why do we in this culture get so bent out of shape in accepting it in ourselves? Why are we so tortured by the notions that vampirism must be a "curse" or a "disease" or some kind of energetic imbalance?

Our culture has no precedent for these energetic activities within and with the world around you. And so when we sense these things, when we feel the need to "gather chi from outside sources", we wonder what's wrong with us. Hell, in our culture, the very fact that we can sense these things that aren't physically there is enough to make us question our sanity. But the problem is not with us. It's because Western culture is spiritually immature. Western culture has put all of its focus on the material world to the almost total exclusion of the spiritual. And thus, those of us for whom the spiritual side is obvious, integral, and undeniable, our awareness of this seems like some kind of terrible handicap. Think about living in a world of blind people where being able to see is viewed as a handicap -- you don't need to imagine it -- we're living there right now!

Strik09, many posts ago, raised a question about vampirism and energetic sources that ties in with this thread. He asked whether we thought vampires needed to feed off the energy of people mainly because more natural sources just weren't available in any kind of abundance. The Taoists, for example, prefer to take their energy from nature -- mountains, trees, streams, etc.,

But we live in a very urban world here in the states. There's just not that much nature available. So are some of us at least driven to feed off the energies of other people because that is the only abundant source that's available over here?

I'm not going to say that this little revelation covers all vampirics. Some people are clearly unable to process energy from any source but people, and that seems to be a slightly different matter. But especially for those who are able to link into other sources -- think of the repercussions if you had been raised in a Taoist household. How would your opinions about yourself change? How much easier would your awakening have been? How much easier would your self-acceptance come?

And even for those limited to the energy of other people -- just think -- it's not unnatural. It's just how things work. You cultivate spirit, you must take spirit in to cultivate. No guilt -- just Yin and Yang and the flow of the universe.