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DAOIST: In Daoism, the Dao is the primary object of meditation and contemplation. At once transcendent and ever-present, the multifaceted Dao is both the eternal, unchanging principle beyond the physical world, and the primal, creative force which animates and orders that world. This "coincidence of opposites" is found in the opening lines of the Dao Te Ching by Lao Tzu:

The Dao [Way] that can be told is not the eternal Dao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother often thousand things.

Daoists meditate to reach the highest level of spiritual attainment - union with the Dao. Health and longevity, though considered essential for spiritual practice and emphasized through special techniques of internal alchemy, are seen as by-products of the spiritual quest, not its ultimate goals. The Daoist seeking union of his or her inner and outer life with the Dao engages in both contemplation and alchemy. Through contemplation, the seeker follows the path ofun-knowing and un-leaming (Chuang-tzu's "sitting and forgetting") in the return to the primal, formless Dao, whereas the alchemical practices support the physical foundation of health and longevity (or immortality).

This process of returning to the primal Dao is followed by the final stage of the meditative process, in which the Dao is actualized in the life and actions of the Daoist aspirant. As the seeker returns to and is situated in the Dao, he or she is re-created by new, vital powers. The accomplished Daoist mystic is characterized by perfection and integration of both body and spirit.

For Daoists, the ideal now-perfected and enlightened being is not one secluded in a cave or on a mountaintop, but rather one who integrates the knowledge and wisdom gained as a result of the spiritual quest into everyday earthly existence. Inwardly a saint while outwardly a king, the Taoist master becomes a vessel showing the way toward a transformation of society and the world, one in which the spiritual and the mundane are integrated, resulting in a superior world filled with the Taoist ideals of health, harmony, and immortality.

Text courtesy of the Museum of World Religions.

Traditions of Meditation:

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