“But qi (vital energy) is an emptiness, a waiting for the presence of beings. Dao alone is what gathers in this emptiness. And this is the fasting of the mind.”“Confucius” is explaining what he means by the “fasting of the mind” as a means to experiencing the Daoist vision of transcendence. When we realize the limitations of our ‘normal’ means of interpreting the world as mediated through the “understanding consciousness”, we open ourselves instead to qi. Qi is not an entity, a thing, but “an (inner) emptiness” out of which things, including our particular selves, arise. The experience of Dao is found just here, in this emptiness. The ‘qi-spot’ is that emptiness in us which is our interface with our unknowable source.
Yan Hui said, “Before I find what moves me into activity, it is myself that is full and real. But as soon as I find what moves me, it turns out that “myself” has never begun to exist. Is this what you mean by being “empty”?’”
Confucius said, “Exactly.”
(Zhuangzi, 4:9; Ziporyn)
What is the experience of Dao? I call it ‘psychological’ because Dao is not a thing; it is not something ‘out there’, or even ‘in here’; it is a state of mind realized through finding in ourselves that fundamental emptiness out of which we arise and from which all we do likewise ultimately arises. Releasing into this, we experience our being-in-the-world in a new way. This is to “open (ourselves) broadly into the vastness at the root of things”.
The wondrous thing about this metaphor is that the means to our transcendence is ever at hand as our most intimate and innate experience. It is right here, every moment, this fundamental sense of lack and groundlessness. That which would seem to be our greatest limitation, is our gateway to the limitless. We are groundless; transcendence is found in this very groundlessness. This is the essence of the Daoist spirit; it seeks no affirming Ground of Being, but instead embraces the human experience as it actually is and finds its freedom there.
To hear with qi is to open ourselves to a vastness unknowable and indiscriminant. This is not an easy thing to do because it dissolves all the trappings of the egoic self — a sense of discreet identity, of judging between things, of grasping reality through 'knowing' it, of believing ourselves to be in control. It requires a profound surrender, a complete letting go of apparent control. And this requires a trust so vast that mere 'faith' does not touch it. This is mysticism without metaphysics.
There is neither qi nor Dao in any sense that we are able articulate them; they are merely metaphoric fish-traps by which to free our hearts from every dependence.
You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.