Taoism > Basics


What is Fu?

According to Julian Pass, the Taoist Fu must be related to the idea of returning to roots, like in the Biblical saying: You are dust and you return to dust. One may find this term in Tao-te ching, for example par. 16: 2:

    All things come into being
    And I see thereby their return

Returning to roots is one of the modes of acting of the Tao itself, therefore a model of conduct for the Taoist adepts who try to emulate the Way.

In Shambhala Dictionary of Taoism we read, related to this:

    The law underlying all appearances is that all things return to their origin. All things arise from Tao and must return to it. In Taoist meditation practice, "returning to the root or source" is synonymous with attaining the enlightenment. (p. 40).

Returning to the source of all things is portrayed by Chuang-tzu who narrates the meeting of Confucius with Lao-tzu:

    Confucius went to see Lao Tan [Lao-tzu], and arrived just as he had completed the bathing of his head, and was letting his disheveled hair get dry. There he was, motionless, and as if there were not another man in the world. Confucius waited quietly and, when in a little time he was introduced, he said: "Were my eyes dazed? Is it really you? Just now, your body, Sir, was like the stump of a rotten tree. You looked as if you had no thought of anything, as if you had left the society of men, and were standing in the solitude (of yourself)." Lao Tan replied: "I was enjoying myself in thinking about the commencement of things." (Book XXI, par. 4, Legge).

In Legge's view this is the Taoist trance and seemingly a suggestion of a mental contemplation of the beginning and ending of everything which cause an unceasing delight to the Taoist sage.

The term Fu is used in I-ching too, but in an obvious different manner. It is assigned to the Hexagram #24, translated Return (Wilhelm). This hexagram points to a time of decay followed by a prosperous one. Fu itself is seen as a turning point..

Hexagram 24 - Fu

Hexagram Fu

In the words of Wilhem: "The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by force [...] The idea of RETURN is based on the course of nature. The movement is cyclic, and the course completes itself."

About this cycle or movement through alternation of opposing poles we taught in our Initiation into Taoism email course. Learn more about this course here.

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