Action or Reaction

Action or Reaction

Chapter 33

Those who understand others are intelligent

Those who understand themselves are enlightened


Those who overcome others have strength

Those who overcome themselves are powerful


Those who know contentment are wealthy

Those who proceed vigorously have willpower


Those who do not love their base endure

Those who die but do not perish have longevity

In any given moment we may perceive a snapshot of life. The underlying reality of the physical domain is always in a state of change. Sometimes, many times one these snapshots will be perceived and then defined as problematic. The ego, or ignorant aspect of self has its own desire seeking perspective along with its own agenda of how life should be. When that perspective is not in alignment with what is, suffering arises.

When suffering arises, the ego mind is inclined to react. Reaction is that spontaneous response of non acceptance of the underlying reality. The ego whose macro-viewpoint is only about “me” and the fulfillment of desire, sensation seeking or distraction will judge the now it finds itself experiencing.  Not accepting the now it is experience gives over to reaction.  Ego’s solution and reaction will many times result in feelings of lust, greed, envy, anger, hatred, desperation, revenge and many other non virtuous emotions. These emotions will automatically become responses by means of reacting. When this happens, cause and effect makes a course change along the path of life. The resulting destiny can and often is one leading to more problems and suffering. These reactions initiate a downward spiral of suffering and self destruction. Prisons and jails are filled those who made bad choices. Hospitals and graveyards are filled with the victims of those who made bad choices. In the collective, wars have been initiated and thousands have died because of ego reaction.

When something happens to us, when something is said to us and we respond with inappropriate emotions or we take a comment personally, this is ego at work. This is the ego reacting. So what is the alternative?

The alternative is self awareness and mindfulness of action. When the mind perceives one of those inevitable changes, one can be aware of the ego rising to respond and implement “self” control. In that moment, we can, if we are self aware and mindful realize it is a moment of choice. In that moment we can choose from a multitude of choices. One choice may be to do no-thing, to take no action. Or one may wait it out, get more information, seek alternative perspectives. Then, after using wisdom of experience, we can take some action. Even making the choice of no action is an action. Yet it is the choice of wisdom, the true self rather than the automatic reaction of the ignorant mind. Wisdom is learning from previous experience and ignorance is ignoring experience and being controlled by ego emotions (anger, lust, jealousy etc.)

So in any given moment we have a choice; action (from wisdom) or reaction (from ignorance). In that moment when reaction is beginning to rise we pause and take the position of the true self, and employ wisdom. When we can understand what we are doing and why we are doing it we are on the path to enlightenment. When we overcome the ignorant ego mind, we become powerful, no longer controlled by ego. In this moment free of ego, will power is available for the choosing and implementing. When the ego identity is controlled, we do not die, we experience longevity. Through our actions we choose the authentic life of the true self. Through reactions, we begin the down spiral of coping with the illusions of ego desire and self fulfillment..

To control the ego, one must transcend the egoic thinking through meditation. By practicing  meditation over and over, we create a “strong base”. This foundation of self awareness is the strengthening of our realization as the true self. This realization is the highest state of consciousness. The opposite is distraction and the domain of ego. As we walk our life path we exercise the power of wise choice by paying special attention, moment by moment we let go of reaction. This is mindfulness. In that moment of choice, we can seek the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching and learn to unite with the Tao, the true source. In this way we “do not perish and have longevity”.

In this now, in this moment, as you read these words, you are having moment of truth. A moment of seeing the underlying reality. Before your mind slides back into distraction and under the control of ego, set the intention to learn meditation and how to practice mindfulness. The control of your destiny awaits you.

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