Mattijs how did you get from the Art Academy into Tao? Can you tell us about your journey and how it all started?
I had been interested in Taoism from a philosophical point of view since from around age 15. Taoism matches a non conformistic-, natural living-, easy does it-, and spirited way of life that i also encountered with a lot of artists. But like i develloped a discontent to the mental approach to art (that was paramount when i was in Art School), i found i could deepen my approach to the Tao by physically getting into it; with practice.
(Taoism offers an array of aspects that can actually be practiced to embody its philosophy. In fact, its whole philosophy is about the natural way of things – how things work in daily life. Food can be a philosophy but you can also notice its effects on your person, intimately. Same goes for Tai Chi Chuan. Or Feng Shui – which deals with spatial order – you can feel it!)
So this felt real good! Being very enthousiastic, at one point i got asked if i would be interested in teaching and i reckoned this would be a good way to integrate the work in my daily life.
How do you feel about art? Do you still make art?
Art is without a doubt an excellent way of connecting with many different layers of reality – both for the artist as for the spectator. In this it serves an admirable purpose; to expand conciousness from a narrow, conditioned state of being into … well … infinity, really.
Why would this be admirable? Because it serves life. Because it generates wonder, amazement. And hope, and joy. All reasons to get up in the morning!
And yes, i do still make art. I make comics. Drawings, illustrations at times.
There are many branches in Tao Tai-Chi or Dao-In how did you get interested in the Healing Tao?
Sex. Healing Tao is the branch that most openly disclosed some of the ‘secret’ practices of Taoism: Bedroom Arts. The whole Yin-Yang, copulating nature of planet earth is, in man, most clearly present in his sexual energies!This encompasses way much more than just erotica.
What is it healing Tao exactly, can you actually heal with it?
Healing Tao is a huge system of practice that one can use to become better ‘at one with oneself’. Vital, balanced, clear and strong. Through movement and through meditation. But food, astrology, massage, arts and reason are also included.
And yes, you can definitely heal. – With the emphasis on self-healing first. Suffering for the salvation of others is not promoted.’Be the change you want for the world’ is more like it.
How can you use it best?
Best way to use it is to not try too hard. Change comes slowly. Do not create distance from your practice by making it an ‘exercise’. Do it and you get it.At the bus stop. At the family dinner table. In the bedroom.
Do you still train to keep up, do you have a master?
I have a lot of the practice integrated in my life. As a teacher i have a steady amount of training throughout the week. I practice Aikido with my master Franciska van Leeuwen. I follow seminars now and then. And i am still reading!
You have visited China was it what you expect it?
Some was. But i had modest expectations. I had expected the Chinese to speak English just a bit more.
What do you think people in our society should do different, if there is anything what would that be?
Gratitude. Have it, practice it. For this amazingly strong and vulnerable body of being that we are to experience this crazy turbulent life with.
What is it in Tao that attracts you so much why not tantra or something else for example?
I don’t really know a whole lot about Tantra and other things. But it seems Tao more than anything is about dealing with what is real. The here and now.
And to do it with a smile.
– Like in this famous story about the ‘Vinegar Tasters': even if the ‘juice of life’ may be dead sour – would you want to spend your life saying it should be different?!
This is an ancient art form used for many purposes where the ancients smarter you think? In what way yes or no?
There has definitely been a time in which man was more closely related to the natural processes of life. ‘Arts’ based on dealing with this originated in times when society had already strayed; conceived, conditioned. Certainly it takes a genuine art and excellent men and women to have it passed on for more than 4000 years.
While sex was evil here in the west it was sacred and used for healing in the east, how do you feel about that?
Sexual energy is creative energy. It can create life, obviously. But it actually enforces whatever you direct it to. It is a force that can be manipulated to any cause – benevolent or not.
Its economical value (in advertisement for example) and power value (in wars for example) are obviously exploited – although few people are actually conscious about it.
The biggest slip is to never realise its tremendous potential – which indeed includes health, vitality and spiritual practice as well.
You work with energies called Chi/Qi, how would you describe those energies?
Nothing special. I reckon in this time most people are to be able to relate to anything as forms of energy. ‘Wind’ differs from ‘wall’ differs from ‘apple pie’. They are different energies. To be aware of different energies, or qualities, inside or outside your own skin you just need to stop your head thinking a whole lot about it. A problem for the Western mind is that Energy has long been objectified: first as a Divine (or Devilish) Attribute, and then as an Attribute of Nature – And these both were allocated outside your own Noble Self.But your noble ass is in that same soup.
Can you learn to work with Chi/Qi in a short period of time, because those people were very strict about many things and it took years to learn how to use it properly, how do you feel about it?
You can play and work with Qi easily. Like you can pick up a guitar and get a sound out. The extend to which you can be a virtuoso depends on both disposition and dedication. Mind that I do not believe strictness will get you very far. However: things like joy or wonder may inspire to be dedicated!
How can Healing Tao improve one’s life?
It can help you hear, or understand whatever you need to improve your life. For one this means practicing strength, for the other softness (though often it amounts to the same thing). For most people in modern day over-active, 24-7, media crazy, performance driven society it simply means becoming a bit more quiet.
What else did you learn while studying and teaching the Tao?
I understood that even when i got deeper and deeper, i was still only skin deep. The deepness and vastness of human conciousness is unfathomable (or that’s just how far i got 😉
Did your life changed in any way? How so or not?
I don’t know – life is always changing in any and every way. And then it is still the same me in the mirror. But i enjoy doing this. Now.
Do you think it affects the brain in any way?
Yes. Granting the ‘Clever’ brain less importance makes one clearer. The thinking brain is deceived so easily. All your concepts and ideas really get you far from being where you’d best be. Your guts don’t lie. Healing Tao is definitely a sound practice for getting down to what is real.
What do you require in order to learn working with sexual energies, with Chi?
A bit of humor, probably, to get around 2000 years of demonisation of anything below the belt.
One of the wisest things you have learned so far is?
My teacher Hu often responded “It depends!”. It don’t come much wiser than that!
Are you planning on doing something else in the future?
No. I’d like to spend some more time on art. Play music.
Is there anyone you would like to meet or work with?
I would like to work with CEO’s in companies or government – inspire some big shots to get connected. I would like to meet anyone that inspires me to connect more fully to life, everytime!
Thank you Mattijs!