Cultivation in ancient times and later as the Completer Reality Taoists taught it has nothing to do with cultivating anything or doing any specific practice. Such practices are just for beginners. You are correct, Religions and teachers who do not understand this create a duality between themselves and the world which can lead to all kinds of ignorant actions such as wars and religious power politics. Probably today the term should not be used at all because it confuses people. The cultivation of essence and life is simply a way to explain the ways Taoists tend to practice until they go beyond those practices. Which is the goal of all practice. To go beyond them. The problem is most Taoists never go beyond them.
That said, no cultivation is needed to realize our true nature. And the idea of Enlightenment is, it's true, an obstacle or hindrance in realizing the Tao. On the other side of the duality it is just as foolish to allow needless suffering to rule your life and do nothing about it, thinking that by doing nothing freedom will just falls out of the sky someday. To just accept your suffering as part of you and say you don't need to do anything about it. is the flip side of asserting that practice is necessary for enlightenment. Being Content with your suffering swings to the flipside discontent when the suffering gets to be too much, because both approaches are dualistic.
i had a teacher who used to say that the only thing that falls out of the sky you wouldn't want to be standing under when it does. The idea of practice is a dualistic notion. Yet if you are suffering because of negative ideas you carry there must be a way to go beyond them? Which is just common sense. The Sages teach common sense. They teach inner harmony and unnaloyed happiness and the way to it. The Way to it is no way. It is the pathless path. It is in seeing that,as you said: "that everything that comes to us -- including our occasional base and destructive tendencies -- is "natural." Not to struggle with things but more importantly to see that "Not everything that comes to us naturally is useful, though." What is not useful is by definition something to be gotten rid of. Which is the key. The way to get rid of those things that are not useful is to discover what it is that is always truly useful.
Our own true nature is the most useful of things. Discovering that deep source of inner peace within gives you the wisdom and discrimination to mine the gold of your true nature and discard the dross of negative personality tendencies. The ego is not a problem whatsoever. The personality is not the enemy. The self limiting ideas and tendencies that veil ones true nature are not real only imagined. When "The discerning eye detects this, and chooses "usefulness" over "not useful." then wisdom reigns over unnecessary ignorance. Which is all well and good. Not to struggle, with or deny natural tendencies. The question to ask yourself is what is this discerning eye?
Just as the eye cannot see the eye. The mind of thought cannot see thought. There is something other than the mind of thought and the conceptual framework we call the ego, there is a mysterious and inexplicable something right here and now that is always miraculously aware in us. What is that? As you get to know this mysterious unalloyed unnamable source or essence, our true nature, without striving for anything or state other than what it is you are right now, you are in right at this moment, you discover a deep and profound experience of inner peace and happiness, in the now, within you in which you can easily let ideas go that once caused you suffering. This is called opening the eye of wisdom. It is not unique to certain enlightened individuals and it is not something you do. If anything it is a dropping out and letting things be. It is however a different way of seeing the world than merely allowing things thoughts people, circumstances and events control and confound you.
The mistaken notions that are the defining factors of dualistic thinking are gone beyond when you look into the indefinable essence, the source of love and happiness within, which as you look more and more deeply into it (and this looking is non looking). you discover It is being in the moment allowing things to come and go and abiding as that. The more you do the less suffering over silly things you once thought defined and controlled you or caused you to feel limited or unhappy come up. It is not a struggle but a joy to live from the heart and as you do you become less interested in being conrolled by things that used to cause you to suffer and more intersted in celebrating the wonder and joy of the Tao in every moment of daily life as a reflection of your own true self.
: "Humanness if defined as uninhibited
: uncontrolled expression of ones baser
: emotions and tendencies can hardly be called
: the heights of human consciousness."
: I completely agree.
: Perhaps you understand me to be suggesting
: that the expression of our baser tendencies
: is a "good thing." A thing to be
: encouraged or nurtured. That would be an
: incorrect understanding.
: I believe that everything that comes to us
: -- including our occasional base and
: destructive tendencies -- is
: "natural." Not everything that
: comes to us naturally is useful, though.
: The discerning eye detects this, and chooses
: "usefulness" over "not
: "Cultivation is the very elimination
: of the idea that "I" am
: "here" and "it"
: (reality, illumination) is
: On the contrary, cultivation is the defining
: element of dualistic thinking. It is the
: attempt of the ego (the ego that,
: paradoxically, is perceived by so many
: cultivators as the "enemy") to
: separate us from that which is inseparable
: from us. In so rending and tearing, it does
: harm to our essential natures.
: The "Cultivation Mystique"
: reinforces the notion of an
: "enlightened" and an
: "unenlightened" class.
: Countless wars have been fought and endless
: blood spilled by those who have professed to
: have "seen the light."
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