From Section Two – A Book Of Tao Virtues


There are more fake guides, teachers in the world than stars. The real guide is the one who makes you see your inner beauty, not the one who wants to be admired and followed.

~ Shams Tabrizi1

The core of Sovereignty is truth. To be honest is to be truthful and to understand the underlying reality of your life. Truth is a key component for the person cultivating Sovereignty. Honesty is embracing truth and being free of deceit. For most of us, this is a work in progress, especially when it comes to self-honesty and how we deal with the problems in our life.

Self Honesty

Cultivating the Tao must include self-honesty. Realization that you are a spiritual being happens when you recognize that there is a part of you that avoids the truth of how things are. The ego-self can get you into trouble when it has complete control of your life. When mistakes are made, the ego is slow to admit fault because that is its nature. Yet, to develop wisdom, you must be able to admit the truth of what went wrong and make better choices. This cultivation begins with self-honesty. The virtue of honesty begins with being true to yourself. Self-honesty is a spiritual virtue that is the true-self is grounded in. The sovereign is one who has made this realization and controls the self-deception of the ego.

Integrity and Trust

Integrity, a complement of self-honesty, has two side that have relevance. Integrity plays an important role in healthy strong relationships. Without being true to yourself and others, integrity does not have a chance to grow. With integrity, trust can be built as part of the foundation for cooperation and good relationships. The sovereignty is careful to nurture relationships, friendship and teamwork by being honest and developing trust and integrity.

Honesty and Intentions

Your intentions become your actions. So it is important for you to be mindful of what your intentions are sourced from. An over simplified perspective would begin with discerning whether your intention is coming from the true-self or the ego-self. Is the rising intention sourced from virtue or desire? The answer to this requires self-honesty. When you are sovereign and in control over the ego, you will see quickly its trickery. This admission is self-honesty. Self-deception occurs when the ego is captivated by illusion. Rather than face the truth, it will deceive itself so it can justify its actions which almost always self-serving. The true-self, your spiritual core, recognizes the illusion and dispels it with being honest and then setting a virtuous intention. Others who are the recipients of your will recognize your honesty and will trust you as having integrity. This is the basis of true friendship and your word will have great merit.

Honesty, Karma and Mystic Virtue

There are several more considerations regarding the sovereign’s cultivation of honesty and truth. There is the principle of karma. Consider honesty and truth on a spectrum with deceit and cunningness. If you look at it as a vertical scale, honesty and truth would be at the top and dishonesty and deceit at the bottom. Moment by moment the average person will move up and down the scale depending on how they are reacting to life. Over the course of time, your level of honesty will result in the well-being you are experiencing right now. As discussed earlier in the chapter on karma, you learned that your views and actions are like seeds that get planted. These seeds or actions will mature and be realized in some future now. So if you are planting seeds of honesty, truth, and virtue, the result later down your path will one of harmony. If you are planting seeds of dishonesty, deceit, beguiling, and trickery to take advantage of others, the result will be the same. So in this sense, honesty and truth are just a more practical strategy of keeping life simple and filled with a sense of success and well-being.

This  principle is present several times in the Tao Te Ching. In this chapter see the concept of governing is a metaphor for you as the manager of your life which is referred to as the “state”. This is a key concept of sovereignty, being the sovereign ruler of your life.

Those of ancient times who were adept at the Tao

Used it not to make people brighter

But to keep them simple

The difficulty in governing people

Is due to their excessive cleverness

Therefore, using cleverness to govern the state

Is being a thief of the state

Not using cleverness to govern the state

Is being a blessing of the state

Know that these two are both standards

Always knowing these standards

Is called Mystic Virtue

Mystic Virtue is profound, so far-reaching

It goes opposite to material things

Then it reaches great congruence

Chapter 65 Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu tells us that knowing the “two [states: being a thief or being a blessing] Mystic Virtue “is profound, so far-reaching”. With regard to honesty and the simple truth as a means ruling your life and your personal interaction with others, Mystic Virtue is the karma result that will result down the path. The wisdom is to use honesty, truth, and simplicity in your actions. To benefit from Mystic Virtue in the best possible way is be mindful your mindset and choices with how you manage and govern your life.

There are two two important strategies to use to govern your life effectively.

  1. Be honest and keep things simple in your dealings
  2. Be aware of beguilement, trickery, cleverness and complexity from others.

This is not only managing your own ego and its tricks but to recognize the complexity and cleverness of others and their ego traits.

How have you been doing so far? To see the answer, you must be honest in your discerning of how your life is going. Here are some questions that can ask yourself to see where whether you are the “cunning thief” or a “blessing”.

Does it seem like the world if full of lies and deceit?

Are you constantly being ripped off?

Is your life overly complicated?

Do you feel like honest people always finish last?

Do you take advantage of people who seem less smart

Do you get a kick out of tricking children?

Are most people less clever than you are?

Do you pride yourself in being able to use your cleverness to take advantage of situations?

This is just a few to ask yourself. As the same time, you can consider how others you know may answer these.

Your Relationship With Need.

You can begin to see the complementary relationship between honesty and simplicity. You should reflect on times in your life when you feel a sense of need. There are basic needs that we all require to be met. But then there is a sense of need that rises up when life gets complicated. Complications in life create stress. Stress will generate a sense of needing relief and a means of coping. The more complex a situation is, the more complicated it becomes. The more complicated it is the more attention and energy it consumes. If you use the metaphor of juggling to view your life and all its complications, you can see how at some point, inevitably you will become tired and drop a ball or two.

Another good example is when we are not truthful (lying to yourself) with our self and others. The more complex the lie, the more complicated it is to maintain the illusion that we have created. The karma result can be very negative.

If you can cultivate mindfulness of need, this can be a barometer of whether you are keeping things in your life simple or too complicated. You will be able to realize how stressful and needy you are and implement virtue and wisdom by being honest, accepting and implementing a virtuous action.

Hopefully, you can see how important being self-honest and truthful with yourself and others is an important virtue in cultivating sovereignty. You will know that you are improving by how mystic virtue rewards you realize how loved you are. You will know that you are making progress when you realize how much better you feel when things are simple and you don’t need a lot to be happy and content. Remember what Lao Tzu said

Mystic Virtue is profound, so far-reaching,

It goes opposite to material things

Then it reaches great congruence[harmony]”

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