Zhenzan Dao, the founder of the MogaDao Institute, has written this about the MogaDao tradition:
We will never know for sure whether there was ever a time and a place in history in which there was a school or tradition in which the reading and discussion of the primary Daoist philosophical texts accompanied the devoted and communal practice of a sacrosanct and archetypal qigong, explicitly related to Nature, both human and non-human Nature, which very concept, Nature, would later, in the West, be called the soul. We can only imagine that if there had been it would have made a felicitous harmony, for qigong, as I have so often said, is “Daoism of the flesh.”
We cannot say whether in this hypothetical place and time there existed also the yogic arts derived from India, where the body in yoga practice, in asana, was not merely exercised but considered a mysterium tremendum, a vessel of unconcealment—unconcealment being a concept of truth and revelation derived from the ideas of Martin Heidegger, and before him, from Aristotle; a yoga, therefore, conceived as the art of telling the truth to oneself through the sensations of the body. And though we do know that the 5 Element Theory of the cosmos evolved out of a Daoist world view, as a complicating refinement of Yin-Yang Theory, we cannot know if there was ever a yoga in the ancient past that saw the human body as a living locus of the cosmos itself, as a spirit vessel containing cosmos; a Daoist, cosmological yoga that found within the very specific function, form, and flexion of the human anatomy detailed correspondences of the 5 Daoist elements that linked human beings in asana practice to every mood, spirit, and permutation of the cosmos as a whole—making asana practice not so much a technique for transcendence as a ritual of personal transparency: natural, embodied, earthly, and ensouled.
We could never place for sure in the midst of this hypothetical historical school or tradition a foundational practice of sitting meditation, proto-Zen in nature, infinitely Daoist, in which the body was seen not as separate from or enemy to the human consciousness in its least human cell, but as the very co-creator of human consciousness, along with the soul, the body’s second name.
We could never know if within this hypothetical school or tradition in ancient China women and men practiced specific techniques for refining, strengthening, and communing with their sexual energy, for purposes of superabundant vitality, healing, and for the expression of love and ecstasy in lovemaking, and for the retrieval of the code of their personal destinies, which is cached like a secret in every human being in their procreative qi, or jing, their original life essence.
We could not say for sure whether in this imaginary practice community, country, court, or countryside, men and women trained, alongside these aforementioned arts, in the practice of gongfu, or the Chinese martial arts, not for the purposes of war or pillaging, or even for protecting the feudal palace or their own families, but for strengthening spiritual and physiological immunity in a toxic world, and for the consciousness of peace; a martial arts consecrated by the heightened attention to the mysteries of power exchange between sentient and vulnerable human beings for the express purpose of developing subtle understanding in the arts of conflict management, self-esteem, reverence for life, and compassion.
We will never be able to know if alongside these arts there were also rituals for the provision of the taking of sacred vows, vows not based on any generalized moralism or dogma but vows deeply personal, based on spiritual revelations of inmost privacy and the longing to evolve into one’s own most true self—for a self is a place where destiny makes a body, and a body is the location of sincerity in this world. A vow, then, is a body’s sincerest word.
We cannot know if prayer as it is conceived in the West, as the distilling of personal powers in super-concentration for some good or harmony that one cannot achieve without transcendence, existed, was welcomed, needed and nurtured, and ritualized in our hypothetical tradition or school in the ancient Eastern world. We cannot know for sure if prayer of this nature touched the ancient East at all, prayer whereupon an individual concentrates her or his spirit with a maximum concentration of love, both for the self and for all Being, in order to align oneself with the forces of Nature such that there might be no impediment in one’s person to the knowledge which makes Being sing, or the Dao.
All we can say for sure is that all of these practices are archetypes of human being—and that in some form or another, at many doubtlessly divergent times and places, these archetypes have been expressed to varying degrees. When these archetypes have reached their peak expression in persons—in other words when Nature has wished to be human in the form of a person—an ancestor has been born, even while she walked in the flesh, even as he planted his garden and partook of the generous air. Ancestors seed longing in the human soul; ancestors’ voices are as rain on the potential fields of human beauty.
The tradition of MogaDao, then, is the response to an extraordinary longing. For MogaDao is all of these practices, each just as beauteous as they are above described. For I never in all my searches and researches found a wholeness of practice culture, a mythos of human cultivation, as wide and as fluent as the one I have above described. Doubtlessly that is because such a width exists primarily in the sanctum of the profound human soul. Yet the tradition of MogaDao would manifest that myth right now, in this present, most unlikely hour of human history. Unlikely because conveniences of every kind, gratifications as instantaneous as they are fleeting, and an extreme excess of sensory stimulation make us weak to our strength, outcasts from our own rich primordiality. The tradition of MogaDao would be an instrument in the resurrection of human beauty, human grace, human intelligence, human compassion, and human potency, as well as an invocation of all the likewise ensouled and mysterious realms of the non-human, natural world. But not without humility. Humility is the highest reach for beauty at the most vulnerable hour.