Yes, there are lots and lots of teachers out there, offering many different classes.  This page is designed to assist those, both new and old, to the practice of the Tao, in it’s true precepts, and how to discern frauds from legitimate practitioners.

The practice of the Tao, and it’s philosophy, is based on egalitarianism, equality, humbleness, humility and an holistic understanding of the entire universe and our small place in it.  As the image suggests, we are all part of a much larger cycle that encompasses all of us, together.

The true Tao has NOTHING to do with hierarchy, as so many more masculine-driven martial arts and cultures do.  In our modern world, many western teachers have simply taken the Tao and stuffed its true essence into the confines of our predominantly hierarchical and patriarchal social system.  That is not the Tao.  And that is how the frauds are easily discerned.

In the true Tao, there are no ranks, no belts, no certificates of completion bestowed from some “higher authority,” and certainly no titles nor trademarks. Those teaching from such foundations are not in alignment with the essence of the Tao.  In fact, the true Tao bestows ultimate freedom from all hierarchies, allowing the individual the gift of authentic and spontaneous expression of his/hertrue Self.  That authority of authenticity and its stamp of approval belongs to the individual alone.  It is cultivated out of their own desire and discipline and search for excellent for and of themselves.

Thus, anyone bestowing upon themselves the title of “Si Fu” or “Master” when advertising their expertise in the Tao are frauds.  So are those who claim they can offer you “enlightenment” or “mastery” in a weekend or can give you some piece of paper with their stamp of approval after a few short days or months of “study” with them.  Without exception, these “teachers” all have other agendas, primarily financial  and egotistical in nature, which require you to put out more money to follow them on their track of “certifications” or other such nonsense.  Do walk away before you find both your pockets and spirits empty.  Such people do not have your best interests at heart, only theirs.

Restoring the Ancient Tao

The ancient Tao is, indeed, one in which the individual, him or herself, either does or does not represent the principles of the Tao.  One does or does not have a clear and coherent practice of “kung fu/chi.”  One does or does not understand the subtle wisdoms of the Tao.  Those qualities are entirely and solely up to each individual person to practice, cultivate and manifest – or not.

And the true Taoists can easily discern the false from the real.  For it shows in everything we do.  It is about an entire way of thinking and being and is revealed in the way we walk, the way we greet others, the manner in which we open a door, the way in which we sit down in a chair or how we engage in making love.  Discernment is key.  The Tao cultivates discernment and the asking of as many questions as we need to, indeed, discern for ourselves that which we wish to believe.  Hold to her principles and she will never let you down.

You are your own Tao.  Yes, it’s principles need to be learned, just like the steps in a new dance.  But, once learned, the music and the dance belong to you and you alone.

The Tao is deeply personal in nature and requires the individual student’s commitment to cultivating an internal locus of control (versus external, which is all about the material world and its acquisitions) in his or her life and, of course, no one can “certify” that.

The true Tao is a personal freedom of expression and self-determination bestowed upon the individual through their relationship and commitment to the Tao and the teacher they have chosen to communicate its principles to them.  And there is no hierarchy in that, just as there should be in no human relationship.  There are deep honor, respect and trust to be found in  engaging in such a relationship, just as there should be in every thing we do.  Simple, plain and clear.

If one wants to understand the true Tao, all one has to do is visit a park in one of the urban areas (preferably coastal cities of our nation, where many immigrants of asian descent reside) and watch their very, very old and careful practice of their Tai Chi.  These are the true masters, practicing for the sake of practicing, cultivating their chi without fanfare, audiences or grotesquely exorbitant fees.  They do it for the joy of it.  And, notice that they are very internally focused, moving extremely, extremely slowly.  That  focus and slowness are the essences of  true mastery.  They do it because it is a deeply satisfying, aesthetically pleasing and spiritually enlightening thing to be done.  They do it because it cultivates their individual, personal and spiritual natures.  They do it for no other reason than that.  And they do it anonymously in parks and gardens and backyards and living rooms all over this planet.  They seek no reward, for the doing of it IS the reward.

Westerners just so do not get that.  Not at all.  They want a payback for everything they do, at all times.

In our racing, stressful western lives full of degrees and rankings and all such, we do not understand that kind of humble discipline and mastery at all.  And those who wish to exploit the fragmented, stressful and illusory world of money and domination have, indeed, found a way to use and usurp others’ personal power.  The more we look outwardly for confirmation of our selves, the more diminished we are inwardly.  Those teachers participating in the passing out of certificates or ranks know this and are exploiting that very vulnerable part of the human being.

The Tao is about cultivating our own, intrinsic and divinely granted personal power, one which no human being can usurp nor take away.

So what is a “Si Fu?”

A Si Fu is, indeed, a master.  But the choice to call one a Si Fu is the student’s choice.  Always.  That name is bestowed not from above, but from below, in the Tao.  It is a commitment of profound relating, over a long period of time.

In ancient times, a student partook of many teachers in order to discern which teacher they wished to follow.  All true Taoist teachers strongly encouraged their students to take classes from many other teachers in order to discern the right one for them.  In the end, it is the student who chooses the teacher and names that teacher as their Si Fu.  It is a relationship of important meaning between both student and teacher, when it is chosen with contemplation, reflection and discernment.  It is one of great intimacy, dedication and discipline when undertaken with the right attitude and intention between both parties, as is any intimate relationship.

So few in our modern world have any understanding of such an intimate relationship, cultivated over many years – a lifelong exchange between teacher and student (or lovers, or business partners, or siblings, or parents and children).  Such a wonderful, though now lost, art, once transmitted not through writing, but through real, face-to-face relationship that evolved over time.  And they all have their ebbs and flows, their disconnections and reunions.  That is the essence of the Tao – to listen deeply into what is needed at any given time and to surrender to it.

In that same tradition, one does not go around as a teacher saying, I am a Si Fu ( or Master).     It is solely the student’s discretion to choose whom they will follow and name as their own, true master/teacher/si fu. Such proclamations are total, ego fraud and a terrible embarrassment to the rest of as, as well as a serious diminishment to the practice of the true Tao.  It should inspire a serious cringe, as well as a clear path resolutely away from such folk.

Ego has no place in nature, which is what the Tao is: the study of nature and her natural flow among all things.  All are equal in that.

The Tao is about humbleness and humility.  Those who practice it at its ancient, original level know that they are nothing more than transmitters of something far more intelligent, complex and beautiful than they are.  That intelligence can be “owned” by no one.

It was in this spirit that I received the teachings of the Tao from my own Si Fu’s so many years ago;  and it is in that same spirit that I attempt to transmit it to others.  Once the Tao is given to you, you own it for yourself.  And no one can take it away.  Not even your teacher.  And that is it’s beauty.  It is yours and yours alone to behold like a jewel in the palm of your own hand.

No belts.  No ranks. No certificates.  It’s just you and your tao practice.  It is us as a group coming together to discover a way of being that transmits the power of joy.  That is what my teachers gave to me and that is what I would like to pass on to others.

I wish you all so well in your pursuit, exploration and discovery of that which transcends all human ego or ownership.