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The Flame of Life
There are several definitions for Alchemy. The most common is the process that has been in various cultures around the world where there were attempts to transform common metals into gold. There is another perspective and definition that we will be using here and that is
“A power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way”
Another word that might give a slightly different view is the modern “Synergy.”
Synergy is defined as an interaction or cooperation giving rise to a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.
Summary: The internal alchemy of Qigong is the harmonizing of the Three Treasures of Qigong to create and sustain the flame of life.
Here is an example. We all know about fire. We all have a basic idea of how a flame is created by combining three elements: heat, oxygen, and fuel.
There must be suitable fuel.
The flame of fire will only ignite if the conditions between the three elements are exactly right. Exactly right means in balance, in harmony with each other. If the fuel is not exactly right, being too wet, then no flame. If there is not enough heat to ignite the fuel, there is no flame. If there is not enough oxygen for the fuel to ignite, there is no flame.
But when these conditions between get exactly right, then you have ignition. The term “just right” signifies the ignition point created in the harmonious balance of the three conditions. Harmony is an enormously powerful creative force in nature.
Another example could be observed through listening. Imagine a group of musicians with different instruments. Each instrument can make sounds that have the potential to sound pleasing. Each instrument must have its own harmony. It must be in good working order. It must be tuned in such a way as to make a pleasing sound. It must be operated in such a way to sound pleasing. This is brought together by the musician who cultivates the ability to play the instrument in a pleasing way.
When the musician brings the instrument and joins with others, they must all cultivate the ability to play at the same time to create something that sounds pleasing.
If they each have the wrong rhythm, it is uncoordinated with the rest and not pleasing.
If they each play sounds not in harmony with the others, it is disharmonious and not pleasing
If they are not playing the same notes, it is disharmonious and not pleasing.
But when they play the same notes, all coordinated, and in harmony, something special happens. They create music that is very pleasing to listen to. Music is synonymous with ‘flame’. The basic elements come together in a harmonious way to create something more than the individual parts.
Qigong is such a synergetic phenomenon that you cultivate the skill to do. The “flame” in Qigong is life force-energy, or vital energy or Qi (chee). Another good description would be “vital energy” and “life-force energy”.
For the newcomer, it is best to begin by bringing the three elements of “The Three Treasures” into harmony to produce a strong vital life force so that you nurture a robust vital force for the duration of a long life (Longevity).
Internal Alchemy, as the name implies, is the cultivation of the internal vital energy, Qi. When we are born, we come preloaded with robust vital energy and the ability to continue producing it. This incredibly special life energy that we inherit from our parents is called prenatal Qi. The infant has an abundant amount of the original energy to carry it a long way in life. Yet it is extremely important to nurture and protect it. Once the umbilical cord is cut, the source of the prenatal energy is gone so the infant must protect its original energy and immediately begin producing its own. This self-made energy is called post-Natal Qi.
The miracle of birth includes the miracle of energy production. All living lifeforms have this aspect of life, of being born already preloaded with internal instruction and the ability to adapt to the environment it finds itself in. This is enough for most non-human lifeforms because they have not evolved to a point where they self-destruct. More from the chapter of “Internal Alchemy – The Flame of Life from the book, The Tao of Longevity, soon to be publish.
In the meantime, please take a look another Tao Cultivator book, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F1J4JG4
Hopefully, you have read the blog, “Work on The Self – First”. That post gives valuable insight into why self-reflection is so important. Self-reflection appears several places in the book. It is a necessary aspect of working on the self. Working on the self is the cultivation of Sovereignty.
As you reflect on your life and you can relive a place in your memory. In your mind, travel back to a previous experience. Through consciousness, a bridge has formed between this ‘now’ and a ‘now’ in the past. You are in the present and reliving the other simultaneously. Does this meet the criteria for being classified as a quantum event? It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how you remember what it feels like to be connected to live in a spiritual sense. The mind is how we interface with life through perception, so it matters if you can pay attention to how it is affecting your state of being. Transcending the mind is meditation. Intentionally paying attention to it in a non-judgmental way is mindfulness…” Chapter 43 – Life as A Sacred Journey.
“…Chapter 26 is titled, “Work on The Self, First.” By working on the self, you will cultivate the discipline to keep moving in the right direction. Use the way of virtue to consciously step in the right direction.
In self-reflection, you can realize what you should have done and thus learn from your failure by taking the correct action steps next time around. The power of the Tao Te Ching is understanding which discipline/s to choose and implement for the situation you are in. Thus, through the universal law of cause and effect, or karma, you will unify with the creative force to realize true success…” From the Introduction, How to Use This Book.
“…Through self-reflection, you can realize the true nature of your mental state. Then, how you perceive reality is made through discernment and choice…” From Chapter 4, Meditation and Mindfulness.
“…Self-honesty is a first step in the study of the virtue of acceptance. If you can observe your self-talk you will realize the aspects of selves (ego and spirit) talking to each other. All sorts of self-deception can occur when the ego, the opposite of sovereignty, is in charge. Self-honesty is a virtue of the true self. Self-honest empowers you to accept the truth of how you got to where you are at this moment of your life. Good or bad this is the destiny that you have created. To evolve spiritually, you must practice self-honesty to the best of your ability. It is not always easy. It is a lifelong practice to be cultivated. Sometimes it is difficult understanding what the truth is. You will find your self-truth through meditative self-reflection and acceptance…”
From Chapter 18, Acceptance, under the subsection: Self-Honesty.
About the picture. Sandy Creek Trail, Athens, GA. This is a place I like to spend quiet time.
These excerpts are found in the book: Sovereignty – The Tao Principle of Self-Management
Cultivating sovereignty is an inward journey. Identifying those subconscious traits that cause us to mess up is an important part of cultivation. This video gives great insight into how these inner ego traits are formed through repressed dramatic experiences.
Watch this video and meditate (self reflect) on your own repressed unremembered memories that push your buttons. By being mindful, you can recognize the next this personality (trait) arises and then consciously choose the right action which is to say be the sovereign by managing the ego. Know your “self”.
Want to learn about the Tao Principle of Self (ego) management? Click below
“Great means passing
Passing means receding
Receding means returning”
Verses 9-11, Chapter 25, Quote Tao Te Ching
Nature is a manifestation of the innate creative principle of the Tao. It is the myriad of things produced by the movement of the Yin and Yang. Insights about nature are insights into the workings of the Tao. You can see it in both living organisms and in the non-living aspects of the cosmos that we live in. The essential nature of yin and yang is change.
In the physical world, the weather is a good example for seeing how energy affects our weather and climate. The sun heats the water, air, and land. The build-up of temperature and density causes a change in the polarity of key sub-atomic particles. When this potential reaches a critical point, there will be a convergent release or movement. This is the same movement that you experience and realize this with the onsett of lightning.
The Yin and Yang perspective is relevant to the Tao cultivator because it sets the foundation for understanding how the Tao operates as both the source and a way of spiritual discipline. This binary perspective of changing polarity applies to everything. It is an important understanding for developing life strategies. When you factor the Yin-Yang principles of what has happened and what will happen, you can have more success in shaping your destiny. Knowing that permanence is an illusion, you can accept that change is inevitable.
Clarity is the term for realizing how things are. Clarity is seeing the nature of the Tao in life. Through clarity, you can observe the nature of life in the Tao. Acceptance is having clarity and abiding with the truth. Going against the nature of the Tao creates stress, tension, and suffering.
Example: When inconvenient weather intervenes with planned outdoor activity and you get upset.
Example: When you become impatient because it is taking too long to make that left turn.
Understanding and acceptance of this fundamental universal law is a necessary step in developing your wisdom. Resisting, fighting, and denying, only cause internal conflicts. You can learn to unify with the flow of the Tao and find harmony. Striving is going against the nature of something. Harmony is the balance achieved when working with the nature of things.
The wisdom is accepting that creation and change are part of nature. The wisdom is in both acceptance and unifying with nature and its laws. Awareness of this Tao phenomenon and integrating it into your life is an element of attaining the Tao.
What is your relationship with the laws of nature? This may be the first time that you have ever considered such a notion. Tao and the divine are one in the same. When you align your higher consciousness with the Tao, you are attaining the Tao. Attaining the Tao is to be at one is to be in unity with nature. Why would you not seek that? Your answer will reveal your present relationship to the Tao.
I encouraged you to enrich your perspective of life events and situations by realizing more than one perspective on any given situation that will arise. A multi-perspective view will empower you to increase wisdom. Learn to see and accept the underlying reality of the world around you.
Are you working in harmony with the laws of the universe (nature)? Going against the natural order of things creates striving, stress and distraction. To be at one with the Tao you must become aware and mindful of the patterns and flow. Then you can adapt to the timing of circumstances. If you are too distracted, too inflexible, too rigid in your beliefs, you will miss the true nature of life in those moments.
This is a paraphrase from Chapter 9, Sovereignty; The Tao Principle of Self Management
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“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
The last blog post contained the lesson “before goals, work on the self first”. This post continues with this context. With New Years right around the corner, many of us are contemplating resolutions for the new year. We are making promises to ourselves and setting goals to improve our lives. But before we make that selection and promise, it is wise to contemplate the motivating intention. This too is working on the self first.
As mentioned before, self-management (sovereignty) is ego management. Ego intentions can lead to an unexpected and undesired destiny. Self-reflection is a good meditation to explore the why and what of the intention being considered. Its good to step back and pay attention to the emotions that may be driving those intentions. It’s good to acknowledge and remember that the ego is mostly self-serving and narcissistic. And it is always wise to remember take a moderated approach.
Ask your self these questions and give honest answers. They will reveal what is behind your intentions. Your intentions should be grounded in wisdom and virtue. Look to see if the ego intentions such as vanity, greed, or envy.
Why do I really want to achieve this goal?
If you are intending on aquiring something, is it “want” or a “need”.
What am I trying to accomplish?
What will it take to achieve this? What level of commitment are you willing to give?
What role is the ego playing in this desired goal?
Will this cause harm to others?
What future and destiny am I creating for myself?
Goal achievement takes a measure of discipline to continue when you face obstacles along the way.
What is your strategy for staying on the path when you have the inevitable setback?
How will you maintain willpower and not give in to distraction and desire?
Finding answers to these questions is working on the self. Sovereignty is the ability of the true-self to manage the ego self from hijacking good intentions and getting lost on the side paths.
For more strategies on working on the self, please see my book.
Available in Paper Back, Sovereignty; The Tao Principle of Self Management
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Whether we realize it or not
Keeping to simplicity, you can consider the Tao in two fundamental ways:
Excerpt from Chapter 3, Sovereignty – The Tao Principle of Self-Management
As stated above there are two simple but important ways to define the Tao. One is to recognize it as the void or emptiness that is full of potential and the source of all things. The second is The Tao translated as“the way” or the path. This is a spiritual path. The word “path” is a metaphor for the long experience you have as a sentient being. It becomes a spiritual path when a person becomes self-aware and witnessing of the life experience as it happens.
Distraction and Disconnectedness
Being consciously aware of life as it is happening is the point, the reason, and purpose of life. To witness and have the experience. The prime directive for all living beings is to experience, to learn, to evolve. Most of the lower animals do this naturally. Their central purpose is to just remain alive in a dangerous world. Humans have evolved to the point where it has become too easy to be in a state of distraction and detached from being aware and present with life. One the one hand the distraction might be some kind of desire fulfillment. On the other hand, it might be a way of coping with the obstacles in life. In this state, those who are constantly distracted are disconnected are unaware of the life they are creating through unwise choices. So even though they are on life’s path, they are unaware of their destiny because they become detached from it.
In every moment of every day, we each make choices that form our destiny. Choices and actions create the future that will be experienced later on life’s path. This future is our destiny.
“The great Tao is broad and plain
But people like the side path…”
Excerpt Chapter 53, Tao Te Ching
This path, the true path is not hard to stay on if you just pay attention. As stated above, it “is broad and plain”. You are on this path whether you choose it not. So the best wisdom is to wake up and manage your life. We all must disengage from distraction and reconnect with life by being present and paying attention to what we do and why we are doing it. By being mindful of what we focus on we can moderate life with balance and create harmony. As you make your mindful choices, avoid extremes and be moderated in your way forward (choices).
It is the lower level of spirit, the ego, which “likes the side path”. Ego always following desire and self-serving interest becomes a lost in the weeds at the side of the road. Often we are searching for happiness in all the wrong places. By becoming self-aware and mindful, your choices keep you on the true path. This is sovereignty.
So, no matter who and where you are, you are on the path. Wake up from the side paths and take charge and pay attention. Develope sovereignty to manage the ego and stay on your true path.
For more life path strategies, please read Sovereignty; The Tao Principle ofSelf Management
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Imagine what it would be like to have the self-discipline to really achieve your dreams and goals. There are so many techniques, plans, diets, life-style changes out there which sound great but if you do not have the self-discipline to follow them, then they just become just another wasted opportunity.
So many of us are overweight, in-debt, and chronically unhappy because of what we do to ourselves. If you could control that part of yourself that cops out, gives up, cheats, and return back to the same old way and the same old thing this is affecting the quality of life, real and lasting has a chance to change things for the better.
Imagine if you could stay on a healthy lifestyle (diet and exercise) until you reached your optimum physical state.
Imagine if you could stay on a balanced budget and investment plan so that you become wealthy.
Imagine if you could stop listening to that aspect of yourself that dark, moody, and angry with life.
Imagine what it would be like to rule over your life from a place of stillness, calm, and, tranquility?
Imagine what it would be like to wake up and remember what it feels like to find the world beautiful again.
Imagine being able to understand some of the rules of the universe, and learn to play by the real rules of reality and live a truly successful life.
This is the power of Sovereignty.
Sovereignty is a principle of the ancient spiritual discipline called “The Tao (Dow)”. This translate as “The Way”. Following the way is a spiritual discipline of “self” management. The “self” meaning ego, that troublesome alter ego that is the root of so many of our problems. Imagine what it would be like to be able to control desire, craving, and destructive emotions, habits, and behaviors.
This book will explain and guide you into becoming the sovereign over your life and destiny. This is true power.
Every new year, many of us set new goals and resolve to make positive changes that will make life better. Yet many will fail because of the lack of discipline. Specifically, “self” discipline. This book will explain and guide you into to exercising your higher willpower and self-discipline.
Your future, your destiny is determined by you in every choice you make. So before setting those goals and agendas, learn work on your “self” first, meaning that if you cannot control your “self” then you will fail and any goal. By working on self-control and will power first the way goal success will a lot easier. Real success awaits the person who can best manage and control the ignorant self-destructive ego-self. When you realize this sovereignty of ruling over the ego, then you can take charge of your destiny which is created in every choice you make. In any given moment you can choose the action that takes you closer too or further from realizing success if you have Sovereignty (ego discipline).
Buy the book, pick just area you would like to improve and use the power of Sovereignty to realize success. This path has changed my life in so many wonderful ways; I sincerely hope that you can make this work for your “self”.
Work on the “Self” first, goals are secondary.
The new year is just around the corner. It is a time when people pledge new resolutions. Lofty goals of self-improvement are set and like so many of us, they have been forgotten by March. I found a way that helped me to stay on the goal path until the achievement has been made. Your first resolution should be to work on your “self”.
Before you can work on your goals and strategies, you must lay the foundation for success through self-discipline. The first discipline that you must commit to is to cultivate your “self” first. Chapter 26, Sovereignty.
I picked up this invaluable insight while listening to Derik Lin, and I have found it to be one of the most important first strategies to cultivate. Goals without willpower and self-discipline are just good intentions. The chances of not finishing are much higher without them. You know the old proverb about the road to hell as being paved with good intentions.
What does “work on the self first” mean? It means to learn to control the wild ego part of the spirit that is the epitome of self-satisfaction and desire. The discipline in maintaining full management and control over emotions, desire, and distraction so that you can avoid the pitfalls and temptations that lead to failure.
Ego-goals are well intended but almost always fail. Every January, many people state a new resolution to accomplish a personal goal. Weight loss is a very common one, and we all know that the failure rate is very high. We lose our momentum towards the weight loss goal when we:
Lose the will to continue
become distracted (forget or don’t pay attention to what we are doing)
Lie to ourselves
set the goal for the wrong reasons
and most importantly, when we lose our battle with desire
Only if you are mindful of your emotions, feelings, choices, and actions can you wisely navigate life to accomplish long-term goals. Goal achievement lies somewhere in the future. The steps you take to reach that point in your destiny are made right here and right now. That moment of choice is the point whether you remain true to your higher self or fail at self-discipline. You must have virtuous clarity in picking your strategies and goals otherwise you will serving the ego’s path of desire. How to work on the self begins with meditation and mindfulness. A good teacher can help you begin to be aware of the ego’s effect on your choices and actions through mindfulness. Being aware of your intentions and choices are mandatory to have the willpower and discipline to not make those working choices. Awake, aware and in touch with your higher wisdom, set you goal and finish what you start one step at a time.
“A journey of a thousand miles
begins beneath the feet.”
Verse 10, Chapter 64, Tao Te Ching, (Lao Tzu)
These are excerpts from the book. For this and more Tao wisdom please consider getting a copy here:
Sovereignty, The Tao Principle of Self-Discipline, available on
In the book (Sovereignty, The Tao Principle of Self-Management), section three is devoted to the concept of “working on the self-first”. This is the concept and practice of cultivating ‘self’ discipline as a mandatory first step in setting goals and taking action. Sovereignty is the spiritual discipline whose foundation is laid upon self-awareness and mindfulness. With self-discipline, you can keep the ego from sabotaging your efforts in achieving goals. Being aware of ego distractions and its various traps can go a long way in helping you stay on course to reach your goal. Every new year, people make resolutions to improve their plight in life. Yet by spring, those goals have been forgotten. The discipline to stay on the right path is “working on the self, first”. By being self-aware and mindful of ego distractions and it’s various coping mechanisms, we can avoid the traps of failure. (See chapter 4 of the book.) Making fewer unnecessary mistakes will bring more success and boost your quality of life. However, while cultivating discipline can boost your success in life (like careers, relationships and job performance etc.), it is very difficult to do this in everyday life. Working on the self means that you are working on controlling the effects of the ego on the choices that affect your destiny (your goals). (Chapter 26).
We all want to get the most out of life yet only about 1 in 10 people consciously cultivate it. Chapter 50 is comprised of two sections. Those who do not (9 out of 10 people), and those who do (1 in 10). Chapter 50 of the Tao Te Ching holds a powerful lesson on developing sovereignty and getting the most out of life.
Chapter 50, Tao Te Ching
Coming into life, entering into death
The followers of life, three in ten
The followers of death, three in ten
Those whose lives are moved toward death
Also, three in ten
Why? Because they live lives of excess.
I’ve heard of those who are good at cultivating life
Traveling on the road, they do not encounter rhinos or tigers
Entering into an army, they are not harmed by weapons
Rhinos have nowhere to thrust their horns
Tigers have nowhere to clasp their claws
Soldiers have nowhere to lodge their blades
Why? Because they have no place for death
The lesson of not being extreme in its many perspectives is found throughout the Tao Te Ching. This Chapter is the focus of three extreme behaviors that lead to failure in life.
Section One describes three main groups where most people go wrong and the one group where people successfully cultivate life. The three failure groups make up the majority which is 9 out of 10 who experience some type of serious failure. This leaves just 1 out of every 10 people who have highly actualized successful lives.
Section two focuses on the one in ten. It indicates the how and why they thrive and endure longer successful lives of happiness and well-being. These are the 1 in 10 who achieve sovereignty.
As you read and process these insights, remember that moderation is the key to understanding and applying wisdom. People differ in the degree of suffering. Some more extreme than others. This group of people is not living their life in accordance with the Tao. The more extreme a person is the more out of balance they are. Balance leads to harmony, and harmony opens the way for joy and well-being. The more self-aware and moderate in your approach to life determines how happy and successful you are. As you evaluate yourself, try to be honest. You will probably have a different percentage of each of the four groups. Start with a true assessment.
Verse 1 Coming into life, entering into death
Verse one “Coming into life and entering into death” is speaking of how people live in their lifetime.
The Followers of Life -Verse 2
2 The followers of life, three in ten
The Keyword: living in fear and worry
“The Followers of Life” describes the first group that makes up 3 out of ten people. Here followers of life are those who live with the extreme of fear and worry. Moderation is arguably the best way to cultivate life. When a person becomes extreme in their views, they are no longer following the Tao. It is said that “Followers of life” are people whose choices are directed by seeking security and avoiding risk as a way of life. Extreme fears are personal but not necessarily unique. Fears limit us because it deteriorates the willingness to try. “Followers of life” always play it safe. The life of always playing it safe is one that can lack innovation. It is difficult to find inspiration when you are always running away from the things that you fear. This kind of life can become dull and stagnant. The followers of life are weakened by dullness and lack of challenge. Always playing it safe to the extreme is not the way of a full and successful life.
The Followers of Death – Verse 3
3 The followers of death, three in ten
The Keyword: reckless behavior
“Followers of death” describe the second group. “Followers of Death” are the direct opposite of the followers of life. They live lives with recklessness abandon. They can be excitement junkies, always seeking that emotional rush and electrifying excitement. Without moderation, this sensation-seeking behavior creates a reckless and careless relationship with life. The probability for disaster and mayhem become very high. Individuals who take reckless and unnecessary changes have been known to end in failure and destruction.
Those Who Are Moved by Death – Verse 4
Those whose lives are moved toward death
Three out of ten people are in this category.
The Keyword: Over Indulgence
This is the life that is enslaved with desire. They overindulge in the way they live their life. “Those who are moved by death” don’t know when to stop. Enough is never enough. “Those who are moved by death” are similar in one way to “those who are followers of death” in that by living a life over-indulgence is living recklessly. Some easy to observe examples could be over-eating, over-spending, over-drinking, and over-doing anything without moderation. The ego is always hungry and rarely satisfied. For “those who are moved by death” more is always better.
Those Who Are Good At Cultivating Life – Verse 7
7 I’ve heard of those who are good at cultivating life
Most self-destructive behavior is rooted in ego. Sovereignty is the ability and discipline of managing the ego. Being self-aware and mindful of intention, the Sovereign can avoid the self-destructive problems of these three groups and be very successful in life. This brings us to the final group. Out of 10 people, 9 make up the way of failure. That leaves just one out of ten people who cultivate sovereignty.
On some level, we all know that we should not live in the three groups that bring failure and suffering. It is the lack of discipline that leads us to the poor choices that cause us to fail. It is not rocket science, it is just spiritual discipline. It is a spiritual discipline because to be sovereign, is to be self-aware and present as spirit. Only spirit can control ego. Through meditation, spirit (your higher consciousness), awakens and pays attention to the self-destructive ego. In each moment of choice, you can choose to turn away from fear, worry, desire and ignorance. You can and must choose the right action. The right action is the way of virtue and altruism.
Lao Tzu (author of the Tao Te Ching), uses metaphors to describe how the Tao takes care of those who follow wisdom and virtue.
Traveling the road (living life), They do not encounter rhinos or tigers,
Rhinos (those who gouge with sharply pointed words) have nowhere to thrust their horns. Tigers like Rhinos can hurt those on their level.
Sharp words do not affect the sovereign because the ego is not allowed to become offended. The sovereign does not engage in drama and ego driven gossip. They’re not often the target of ‘Rhino’ people. When sharp words come their way, sovereigns do not take comments personally nor over-react. That only happens with the ego. When the ego cannot get a response, it gives up. Aggression and bullying cannot stand up to true courage which is only demonstrated by spirit. Because sovereigns live a life of virtue and compassion, people like them a lot. They have many friends who care for them. Harsh people (Rhinos and Tigers) leave them alone.
Soldiers represent aggressive personalities and behaviors encountered in your social interaction. They are very competitive and must always win or be right. Victory is everything. They like to fight and are attracted to competition as a means of overpowering others. The Sovereign is impervious to the soldier’s blade because of their high level of integrity. They do not engage in judgmental gossip, blaming, antagonizing, and argumentative behavior. Their non-competitive posture gives the soldier no reason to use their blade. When you do not argue and contend with people, they have no need to cut you with their weapons. To understand this concept, try to think of someone in your life who lives with such a high integrity and virtue that it is hard to think negatively of them. If you can’t think of one, keep trying. They are always surrounded by people who love, and care for them.
The Sovereign person is the one in ten. The only one who consciously cultivates the life of virtue. It is never too late to take up the path and cultivate being the one in ten. Sovereignty is the mother principle of power (Chapter 59, Tao Te Ching) which requires practice and discipline. Can you become the one? You can learn how to cultivate sovereignty and become the one in ten by studying the lessons in the book.
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Clarity is the foundation for sovereignty. Seeking truth is something we do many times a day. Our beliefs are something we choose and can change. Truth is often a subjective matter of perspective. Perspective is elastic and constantly changing. Often, the illusion of truth tricks us. Two people will often view the same circumstance with different perspectives because of their different experiences in life. From these different experiences and perspectives arise different truths. Since truth is subjective and not absolute you can realize that your truth may not be the same as someone else’s. Seeing the perspective from someone else’s point of view is the beginning of empathy. Empathy leads to compassion.
What do you see in the drawing above? Do you see two people talking or a vase?
Hopefully, you can see both. Notice how the mind can switch perspective and meaning, back and forth. This simple optical illusion shows how perception is subjective. If you were seeking the truth, how would you know which is more truthful?
Sometimes life experiences are complex, and sometimes they are straightforward. The ego, which is a part of the physical mind-perspective is often dominant. So, emotion and desire influence perspective. The spiritual mind, the true self, can realize many perspectives and arrive at a more informed decision.
Mindfulness has been defined as paying attention to the mind in a non-judgmental way with intention and purpose. As you can see there are two parts involved. These are paying attention part and how you avoid impulsive reactions[ avoid value judgment] to what you observe. This opens the possibility for clarity or seeing things as they are without being subjugated by the influence of the emotional ego. When you are free of the reactive ego it becomes possible to discern more than one perspective. Through the lens of altruism and virtue, you can gain the insights of the various perspectives. With clarity, you will make the better choice through right thinking and right action.
Mindfulness and detached observation can open the way to consider reality from the perspectives of empathy, compassion, humility, courage, patience, and simplicity just to name a few. The gift of these insights will serve you well when making your choice of what the right action might be. As we all know, karma will create destiny from what is created in that moment of choice. Simplified, it is just cause and effect. For a deeper study of perspective, please see chapter 7, A Matter of Perspective, from the book.
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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
…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.
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)
 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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“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.
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.
 Paraphrased from various translation. These may not be completely accurate.
“…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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Yield and remain whole
Bend and remain straight
Verses 1-2, Chapter 22, Tao Te Ching
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 the book Sovereignty; Chapter 8, Yielding and Flexibility.
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.”
“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:
… 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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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.
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.
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
“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
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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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