Letting go / reducing (損 sun) in internal practices

„Practicing the Dao, you let go every day. You let go and let go, to get to non-action.“ (Daodejing, chapter 48)

In my last blog post I was talking about ziran in the context of internal practices. However, following movements, observing them and allowing them to simply be sounds far easier than it actually is.

Indeed, very often it is quite difficult to let go of conscious movement control, to simply let things happen, more or less adopt the role of observer, to put more trust into the movement knowledge already within one’s own body and to simply engage with it. From a Daoist perspective, it definitely is very important to foster a dialogue between the will and the knowledge within your body, to find a good balance in order to avoid a „dictatorship“ of the will. As I have already said in my fist blog post, in internal movement traditions, finding orientation in philosophical principles for every exercise of a Daoist practice is more important than the formal or technical, wilfully controlled criteria for this practice. Although, they are not unimportant either since I first need some orientation for the concrete sequence of movements. But as soon as formal and technical requirements are principally met, far more profound philosophical concepts take over.

In Daoist thought the concept of letting go / reduction (損 sun) is of great importance in the current context. According to Daoist philosophy, you get to ziran processes by letting go of everything that keeps you from acting in accordance with your potential. Therefore, you need to let go of anything that hampers the unfolding of potential–so to speak, dissolving internal „petrifications“. Often, however, you might not necessarily even realize that primarily, you may not be held back by something, but that you, yourself, are first of all holding yourself back. This being the case, Daoist philosophy is much less focused on doing (為 wei) than on getting out of the way for things to happen naturally–non-action (無為 wuwei).

In internal movement traditions–no matter, whether we are talking about internal martial arts or Daoist healing movement methods–you therefore actually learn primarily by taking yourself back, by letting movements happen by themselves, simply by letting go–all this happening in a caring and constructive setting (內笑、面帶微笑 inner smile, etc.).

I have used the word potential several times already. A natural question now is, when I talk about potential, what kind of potential am I talking about, and what kind of potential does Daoist philosophy focus on? In the Daodejing (道德經) nourishing, caring qualities are at the core of all of its concepts (慈生育長畜養). This is the kind of potential a Daoist context is focused on. I will talk about this in more depth in another blog post. Those practices generally called „nourishing life“ (養生 yangsheng) do therefore not solely focus on nourishing one’s own life, but rather represent an attitude towards life in general, towards the world at large.

Regarding quotes from the Daodejing:

The Daodejing (= Tao Te King = Tao Te Ching = Laozi = Lao-tzu  老子、道德經) is the centerpiece of Daoist philosophy. You can find a very large number of translations into English and German, sometimes starkly differing from each other, since there is a multitude of possibilities as to how to translate even a single text version of the Daodejing. But to make it even more complicated, there actually are a large number of differing Chinesr editions of the Daodejing. My doctoral dissertation on the Daodejing offers translations of several editions of the „original“ Chinese text(s) of the Daodejing, mainly in German, plus explanations. You can download a PDF version of it either from the website of the University of Trier (http://ub-dok.uni-trier.de/diss/diss27/20010129/20010129.htm), or–including hyperlinks to the 81 chapters of the Daodejing–from my own website: https://tao-moves.com/qigong_wing-chun/literatur/ (Eine Synopse und kommentierte Übersetzung des Buches Laozi)