The Critical Moment of Choice

Young woman portrait.

I have had many conversations with people about how to cultivate self-discipline. Self-discipline is exercised in a moment of choice. Lack of self-discipline is the ego always following the desire of the moment. Alternatively, sometimes a loss of discipline happens when raw emotion overwhelms us. Fear and anger can drive us to take self-destructive actions. In the critical moment of choice, you will be faced with whether you will give in to it or not.

Excerpt from Chapter 27, Sovereignty – The Tao Principle of Self-Management

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Simplicity

…If you look at a list of antonyms for virtue you will see words like dishonesty, evil, and, imperfection. Practicing these traits will end in ruin. All virtue has inherent power. You can see the inherent power in simplicity.[1]

The root of the word simplicity is simple. The term “simple” can be defined as easy, clear, uncluttered, and, natural.

Simplicity is a virtue because of its altruistic nature (selfless action). Those who are aware of the ego’s desire for details and complexity know how it can hide cunning and trickery. If you look up the antonyms for simplicity you will see complexity, difficulty, and complication.

End sagacity; abandon knowledge

The people benefit a hundred times

End benevolence; abandon righteousness

The people return to piety and charity

End cunning; discard profit

Bandits and thieves no longer exist

These three things are superficial and insufficient

Thus this teaching has its place;

Show plainness; [hold to simplicity]

Reduce selfishness; decrease desires.

Chapter 19 of the Tao Te Ching

The complement to simplicity is honesty. Those who are honest with themselves and others feel no need to make things anything other than easy, clear, straightforward or natural. Telling the truth keeps things simple. Lying is complicated because of the difficulty in keeping the details straight. The more the lie is defended, the more complex it becomes. Often it will evolve into something indefensible, and it will become painfully apparent that the truth would have been much simpler.

Another complement of simplicity would be conservation. The vanity of ego can be the source of non-useful expenditures of resources. Complexity leads to difficulty and complication, which ultimately leads to stress and worry. Stress and worry generate a need to cope which drains your energy and resources…” Excerpt from Chapter 21, Simplicity (Section Two – A study of Virtue)

[1] See chapter 16, True Courage, subsection Inherent Power

About the photo: What better symbol for simplicity than a moment watching the sunrise? Just simply be present with the moment as the natural beauty unfolds. Just observe, witness, and appreciate being alive.

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Cultivating Wisdom

owl wisdom

The ultimate purpose of the Tao Te Ching is to provide us with wisdom and insights that we can apply to life. If we cannot do that then it doesn’t matter how well we understand the passage. The true Tao must be lived.” Derek Lin1

I believe that there are two parts to cultivating wisdom. They are experience and knowledge. Of the two, experience is the key ingredient and knowledge is a by-product. Society tends to promote the opposite of this path which is striving for knowledge with little regard for wisdom. The pursuit of knowledge is something the ego is fond of when the motivation is vanity, greed, or to manipulate.

The distinction is that learning and training to build knowledge is sound when it is intended as a foundation to build experience. Later, when you have practiced what you learned from real life experiences, your wisdom will be true. The wisdom of the Tao follows the same process. You are to study the Tao lessons and gain experience through use in everyday life. Over time, you become conditioned to be guided by what you have learned through the teachings and your experiences.

Wisdom is found in both failure and success. One teaches you what leads to failure and one teaches you what leads to success. Over time, your experiences become the true wisdom.

The other point to know is that the gained experience must be applied. Wisdom has no value if you do not listen to it and use it. This may sound mundane, but it happens every time your ego overrides your wisdom. It is the reason that smart people make stupid mistakes.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Jalaluddin Rumi [2]

Learning the sovereign ability to rule over the ego is the purpose of this book. In that important moment of choice, you can be aware of the many options available. The voice of the ego will often be the loudest. Sovereignty is accessing your wisdom-mind whose intelligence is learned from both knowledge and experience. At that moment, you can override the emotional ego and make a wise choice.

Again, meditation and mindfulness practice will provide the presence of mind and awareness to make a wise choice. Without this skill, your mind will be captivated by the ego influence and the emotions that go with it. Emotions, mood, and desire can be the cause of the obvious mistake.

Tao cultivators can remain calmly detached from these negative factors so that the wisdom-mind can prevail.

 

Wisdom is one of the power virtues of Sovereignty. And remember what Lao Tzu stated in chapter 59; verses 5-9:

Accumulating virtues means that there is nothing one cannot overcome

When there is nothing that one cannot overcome

One’s limits are unknown

The limitations being unknown, one can possess sovereignty

With this mother principle of power, one can be everlasting”

1Excerpt from Tao Te Ching – Annotated and Explained. Written by Derek Line, published by Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT Published 2009.

[2] Paraphrased from various translation. These may not be completely accurate.

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To Experience Life, You Must Rise Above Distraction

morning after sunrise

 

“…When you are in a moment and fully experiencing the flow of reality around you, it is anything but ordinary. It is only the ego, and its insatiable desire finds life mundane. To experience life, you must rise above distraction and awaken to life as the spiritual being you truly are…” Excerpt from Chapter 43, Life; A Sacred Journey

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Yielding & Flexibility

Wisdom requires that you must be able to change perspectives when circumstances change. You must be flexible and willing to yield. There is a belief among Sovereign cultivators that it is important to be moderate and avoid absoluteness and rigidity of perspective.

One of the pitfalls of absolutism is that it is inflexible. When something is inflexible, it becomes too rigid and cannot change with its environment. For example, if a tree is flexible and it can bend with the force of each wind gust it tends to survive longer. Trees that are too rigid or too brittle will break when moved by the changing direction of the wind.

Being open-minded allows the assimilation of new data. An absolute perspective is inflexible and stunts growth and innovation. In your personal life, an absolute view will become your prison. So, for the sake of pragmatism, open your mind to the possibilities that are waiting for your discovery.

Wisdom is found in the understanding that most things you perceive in life are changing and impermanent…

From Chapter 8, Yielding and Flexibility.

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Karma the great executioner

karma the great executioner

 

People do not fear death

How can they be threatened with death?

If people are made to constantly fear death

Then those who act unlawfully

I can capture and kill them

Who would dare?

There exists a master executioner that kills

If we substitute for the master executioner to kill

It is like substituting for the great carpenter to cut

Those who substitute for the great carpenter to cut

It is rare that they do not hurt their own hands

Chapter 74, Tao Te Ching

The philosophy of Karma has the same principle found in physics. Results are always preceded by an action that produced it. In Taoism, both play a significant role in understanding how the Tao is reflected in the spiritual and physical realm. An even simpler way to put it is, “what comes around goes around.” Alternatively, you may have heard “what you put out into the world comes back to you stronger or bigger.”

Choice and Destiny

“If you want to know your past,

look at your present conditions.

If you want to know your future,

look at your actions today.”

Chinese Proverb- Unknown

Choosing is an action, and the result or effect is destiny. In any given moment you plant the seeds of your future. Inner intentions drive the choices you make, so it is important to be aware of these moments. By reflecting on your past, you can gain insight into the circumstances you realize in the present. These conditions, whether right or bad, are the result of earlier choices. Or they may be the result of someone else’s choice. So, you can see how important the action of choosing is. Not only is it guaranteed to affect your future, but it may, and often does, influence the future of others.

It is essential that you understand the following points:

  • Karma does not play favorites.
  • No one can escape Karmas influence or the destiny they create.
  • Seeds are planted to grow a garden. What you plant now is what you will reap later (the garden is a metaphor for your life).
  • Choices create destiny. What you choose now creates the circumstances of your future (or the future of someone else). The results may come sooner or later.

… No one escapes the effect of karma. When and where the convergence happens is unknown and unpredictable. It may return very soon, or it may not catch up to you until another lifetime. You can run, but you cannot hide.

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Read Sovereignty For Free – at kindle unlimited lending library

Hopefully, you have been enjoying the short insights that I share on this blog. You may be interested to know that the Ebook is available for free at Kindle Unlimited (KU). KU is Amazon’s lending library. Members can check out up to 10 books at a time. Membership is $9.99 per month. Sovereignty is available as a “read for free” for those members. So if you are Kindle Unlimited ed member, I recommend downloading my book and gain some powerful insights.

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With the digital version of this book on your phone or tablet, you can read it where ever you happen to be. So while you are waiting, you can learn some of the ancient secrets for a happier longer life. You can and should work on your self where ever you are. Real life is where truth is discovered and wisdom realized.

The ebook is designed to easy to navigate back and forth at random. The inherent links and bookmarks along with the Kindle e-reader features make it easy to highlight sections and make notes. This book is a handbook for cultivating the Tao Discipline of Sovereignty and user friendly.

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These Taoist strategies and discipline will improve your success at life. Get the book, read a lesson that interests you. If it works, keep the book. If you don’t want to keep it, just trade it back in for something that works better. I hope you will give this book a try. Get the book here

How To Cultivate Wu Wei

 “No matter what it is you do, there is always a way to do it that is effective, effortless, and enjoyable at the deepest level. This is the true meaning of Wu Wei.”  Derek Lin 

Canyonlands, Utah.

Aerial view of  The Gorge in Canyonlands National park, Utah. Nature doesn’t have an agenda, it doesn’t strive, and it doesn’t have an attachment to outcome.  What separates us from the Tao? Ego

 

Cultivation & Practice

Cultivate the ability to accomplish more by doing less (effortless achievement) and without striving. This is accomplished through detachment from the outcome.  Be mindful of ego attachments and intentions initiate the reaction.

The softest things of the world

Override the hardest things of the world

That which has no substance

Enters into that which has no openings

From this I know the benefits of unattached actions

The teaching without words

The benefits of actions without attachment

Are rarely matched in the world

Chapter 43, Tao Te Ching

Wu Wei (detached action) takes cultivation and practice. Many times, in hindsight, you will see how you could have succeeded through unattached action. That is how wisdom and skill are developed through trial and error in real life.

Without the ability to be your true self and sovereign over the ego you will be a prisoner to attachments. These attachments cause striving. Attachment to the outcome is something you must be able to choose to let go.

Practice meditation and mindfulness as a discipline so that you can be present and aware of the rip currents occurring in your life. Be willing to see different perspectives, and you will be able to see how to “catch the wave” of effective, effortless, and enjoyable outcomes.

Excerpts from Chapters 11 (Wu Wei) & chapter 31 Cultivate Wu Wei), Sovereignty – The Tao Principle of Self Management.

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How to Take Charge of Your Destiny

Why is this so important? Mindfulness and meditation are necessary to take charge of your destiny. Destiny is the result of choices you make each moment of each day. Sovereignty is the ability to take charge of your destiny and rule over the ego along with its influences over the mind and emotions. Therefore, to transform your life into one of joy and success, you must cultivate the ability to practice mindfulness and be the Sovereign. Excerpt from Chapter 4

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Work on the Self , First

Two people practicing yoga.

Before you can work on your strategies and goals you must lay the foundation for self-discipline. The first discipline that you must commit to is to cultivate your ‘self’ first. Cultivating the ‘self’ means to awaken as the true self and then control the ego-self. Self-awareness is the heart and soul of self-discipline. Only the true self can control the ego-self.

Cultivating self-discipline is done in a state of self-awareness. Cultivating the true self is cultivating virtue and wisdom. So, before you start adopting strategies and goals you must have the wisdom to know which are in unity with the Tao. Without self-control, the ego will lead you astray by subjugating your strategies and goals. You will not be able to stay on the path without being mindful of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Once you commit to the cultivation of the true self, you can begin to have the clarity necessary for developing strategy and goals.

This uncommon insight was given to me early on by my Tao mentor, and I have found it be the most important first strategy to cultivate. Goals without willpower and self-control are just good intentions. The chances of not finishing are much higher without them.

Ego-goals are well intended but almost always fail.

Excerpt from Chapter 26, Sovereignty – The Tao Principle of Self Managment

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The Silent Witness

The Silent Witness

If you practice enough, there will come a time when your skill matures into a relaxed transition into the stillness. You will know when this happens because you will be free from the pull of ego and mind-wandering. You become the silent witness. This is becoming consciously aware without actively thinking about it. This is the center of being. The more you can experience this state, the more you become a part of this nature. Excerpt from chapter 27.

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