All posts by The Dixie Taoist

I'm just a fellow traveler on the path.

To Find Your True Path – Start Here

path through the forest

Your Path Starts Here –

Introduction (from the book: The Dixie Taoist Handbook – How To Find Your True Path, expected Fall 2014)

The Tao Te Ching is much more than a book. It is a path of virtue and wisdom on how to experience life as the true self on the true path. Important Lesson One Lesson number one is that no wisdom, including that of the Tao cannot be followed unless the person is awakened as the true self. The true self is the higher consciousness of self awareness. In each moment we choose which way we step along the path. There is always the choice to follow the true path, the path of virtue or to follow the false path of ego. The intention to follow the true path of the Tao will quickly be lost in distraction if one does not learn to stay awake and pay attention. In each present moment, each now, that choice is available. It is in those moments we create our destiny. We chose the true path or we chose the path of ignorance and suffering. It is very important to realize we should take care and choose our steps as if our life depended on it. We must realize that our life does depend on the choices we make. Our destiny is created in the moment by moment choosing. Each choice is like a seed being planted. Karma, which is known in the west as cause and effect is the result of the seeds being sown. Our choices, our steps along the life path are like the seeds of karma being planted. You will reap what you sew. You can plant seeds of virtue and wisdom or you can plant seeds of ignorance and suffering. The first step is to learn how to wake up and to be mindful (pay close attention) to what we are thinking and how it affects our choices. This is the practice of meditation and mindfulness. Paying attention and choosing wisdom is the most powerful development a human can adopt and learn. This is the true path. The Tao Te Ching contains powerful wisdom, yet it is only effective when implemented. The wisdom is implemented through careful wise choosing in each now. We create our reality, our life path, our circumstances with these often subtle choosings. The Tao cultivator is one that takes great care in constructing their destiny and their life. Lesson number Two is that it is important to learn the ancient wisdoms from a source and teacher who fully understands the teachings. There are many translations available for the Tao Te Ching, and many are incorrect. This is especially important because as mentioned in the previous paragraph, constructing one’s life is often done through subtle choices. Even if a person is self aware and seeking carefully the wisdom, it only takes one mistranslated word to misdirect an understanding. There are no insignificant choices. So it is important to follow a teacher and translated that is accurate as possible. It is important to be able to tie the ancient wisdom to modern day culture and life. I do not explain what the Tao means. I leave that sages like Derek Lin. So I strongly recommend the translated version of the Tao Te Ching that he has written. His book is titled: “Tao Te Ching – Annotated and Explained”. As of this writing Derek offers free classes online each week on in depth understanding of each and every verse. As a Tao cultivator and one who practices humility, you will not hear Derek claim any titles such as master. Yet in my view he is a master of the teachings and I look to him for guidance. I recommend that you also take him on as your Tao guide and teacher. My intention in this book is to help you realize your true self and to assist in application of the wisdom through self awareness along the true path. These words are to help you put together your own book of wisdom. Your own true self handbook for a happy successful life by following the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching. I do not translate nor annotate, that is done by Derek and others. What I intend is to help you cultivate the self awareness necessary to practice the teachings that the Tao Te Ching offers in the present moment. As I mentioned earlier, at first I found the Tao Te Ching, to be enigmatic and hard to comprehend. The Tao Te Ching Annotated and Expanded brought clarity and understanding. Yet as I explored the Tao Te Ching, sometimes it was difficult and tedious to search and find the lesson for the situation at hand. As I explored the book, I began to compile a road map on how to get to the various wisdoms so I could go straight to the lesson I needed when contemplating a problem or situation. This book is written for the beginner to help develop self awareness. Awake and aware one is to use the wisdom found in the Tao to find the true path and experience life as the true self. This book will help the reader get to that wisdom as they encounter the choices of life. As you begin taking charge of your destiny, you will face many opportunities for growth and life cultivation. These opportunities will appear as problems and obstacles to the ego. Yet, when you become present (mindful) the true self will be realized. In that moment seek the wisdom of the Tao. Use this book to find the relevant teaching. Use Derek Lin’s book, “The Tao Te Ching Translated and Annotated” to understand the deep true wisdom of the Tao. In this book Get your ready. Set the intention, make the commitment to practice willpower and self control with wisdom. Wisdom is learning from you past mistakes and not repeating them. Ignorance is repeating the bad habits and mistakes and not learning from them. This increases problems and suffering. Study Section Two and begin to cultivate an understanding of the Tao and the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching. The nature of the Tao is mysterious and can seem enigmatic. Yet with study and practice your experience will open the secret doors. Study the Section on Ego and get to know and realize how this aspect of your mind cause so many problems. Embrace the Section on the True Self. Study and practice how to manage and control the sensation seeking, greedy, self serving ego and discover the power of mystic virtue. Only the true self can make this discovery. Develop your own wise and virtuous strategy by listening and following the guidance of the Tao Te Ching There is only way to find and follow the true self and the true path and that is through meditation and mindfulness. You may want to start a journal of your self discovery. As you learn each new insight, put it in your playbook. Later you may want to refer back to previous experiences to help yourself to not repeat the same mistakes again. Your learning will happen one experience at a time over a life time. Take things slow and steady, turning experience into wisdom. Through meditation in stillness, the knowing will take place and take root. When you are aware of life as it happens, you experience life as it happens. Wisdom is cultivated one experience at a time and destiny is created one path at a time. Find others on this path who understand and support one another in sustaining self awareness and following the Tao. Cultivate your ability of “holding to the one” as it says in the Tao Te Ching. By keeping company on regular basis with others who are cultivating the true path or “The Way” of understanding, you stand a better chance of successfully bringing balance into your daily life. Are you ready to begin the new life? Get a copy of The Tao Te Ching Translated and Annotated by Derek Lin and together with this book begin creating your new destiny. In chapter 64, we are given the wisdom “a journey of a thousand miles begins beneath the feet” Here is your first choice. Here is the first step beneath your feet. The True Path begins here. .

Give With Out Expectation

Give With No Expectations

Chapter 79

After settling a great dispute
There must be remaining resentments
How can this be considered good?
Therefore the sage holds the left side of the contract
But doesn’t demand payment from the other side of the person
Those who have virtue hold the contract
Those without virtue hold the collections

The Heavenly Tao has no favorites
It constantly gives to the kind people

Chapter 79 gives the reader a clear test to see if the ego mind is in control in our interpersonal relationships. We are being asked to give and share with others without an expectation of some payback or reward. It has been discussed in other chapters how the path of virtue leads to harmony and that mystic virtue is the key to unlocking the doorway to source. This virtue of giving without expectation is a very powerful insight that comes from spirit if you can be at one with it.

This insight of giving without expectation is only possible from a position of great strength and true power. True power and true strength only reside in with sovereignty. I am defining sovereignty as true and supreme power. This is sovereignty over mind, specifically the ego self. When we have realized who we are and reside in sovereignty as the true self (spiritual self) then we no longer cling to the illusions that the ego is lost in. The virtue here is that we can give, share and not cling to those things in the world of form.

Virtue (goodness, high level of morality) is rooted in selflessness. Ego is rooted in self serving. We the ego shares or gives, there is always a greedy strategy of “what’s in it for me”. Ego only gives with expectation of benefit of return. In your mind you maybe thinking of giving in the sense of some “thing”, like money or some other tangible. Yet giving can also be in the sharing of our love, affection and attention. The true self sees others as spiritual beings. The ego sees others and judges others as according to gender, race, ethnic background, economic level, physical beauty etc.

One can tell who their true friends are by seeing the conditional nature of the relationship. True love and friendship is unconditional. Perhaps you or someone you know has been in a situation where circumstances arose where so called friends quickly bailed out on you because the conditions for love and friendship were no longer favorable. Or maybe, after the dust settled there was one true friend or loved one still standing with you with love and friendship holding strong and true. Are there people in your life who accept you as you are? Sometimes we can be especially blessed when we are loved in spite of our failings. True friends and loved ones are are gifts from heaven. Can you too become a gift from heaven?

This virtue of giving without conditions and expectations is truly as aspect of heaven. It is also a matter of choice. Choice is available to the self aware person. The self aware person is residing as the true self while the distracted delusional person is stuck in ego. Through the practice of meditation we can awaken and be aware. We can learn to be mindful of what the state of mind is. In this higher state of consciousness we choose the path of virtue. We can give with no expectations.

The law of cause and effect is always at hand. It is an integral part of the creative force of the Tao. What you put out into the universe will return to you, many times stronger. In this way you plant the seeds of the future. We are called to be wise and aware of what we are creating. If you want to experience heaven and the mystic virtue, those are the seeds that you must plant. If you want to be loved, love is what you must share with the world. If you want to experience heaven, you must practice the virtue of heaven.

Dear reader, the quirky way life flows will present you very soon with the opportunity to give without expectation. It may be your spouse, friend, child, co worker or some stranger. It may be the homeless person you notice on the street who does not want your money but only a smile or to be acknowledged. You may be invited to give the gift of forgiveness with no expectation. The strength for giving without expectation is very special and may have to be cultivated. Try it. If you fail, then try again.

I encourage you to wake up and be self aware and watch for the opportunity to gain this insight. Some circumstance will present itself where you will be called on to help someone, give to someone, love someone… to give without expectation. This will be another moment of truth for you to grow and transcend ignorance of ego. If you can do this from the heart, if you can give with no expectations, if you can give and share from a place of love and compassion, the doorway to heaven will open to you. It is there in front of you. It has always been there, but is hidden from the ego mind. When you realize your self as spirit, your inner eyes open and mystic virtue will flow into your life.

The opportunity will present itself in the present moment, the now. You will find yourself with the opportunity to give without an expectation. In that moment, you must remain connected with source. Since we can not share what we do not have, we must make sure that we have virtue in our hearts at all times. We must be sovereign and rule over our ego.

There is a saying that goes something like: “Giving is its own reward”. Yet you must not give with the expectation of virtue for that is tricky ego playing a being virtuous. Because love is its own compliment, we begin to realize that giving without expectation is love. Give and let go. Share and remain quiet. This is the way of heaven, this is the way of the Tao.

Balance and Harmony – The Path to True Joy and Fulfillment

Balance, Harmony and Moderation

harmony

Chapters 9, and 18

In the Chapter on Mystic Unity of Virtue we find the Tao Te Ching pointing to balance between the spiritual and physical realms as the “mystic unity”.  Other Chapters go on to guide us further on cultivating balance, harmony, and moderation.

Chapter 9

“Holding a cup and over filling it

Cannot be as good as stopping short

Pounding a blade and sharpening it cannot be kept for long”

Moderation is the path of Balance and Harmony. To the person whose life is grounded purely in the physical aspect, one of always seeking to fulfilling some desire, enough is never enough. Always striving, always needing more, balance is just a platitude and seen as a weakness.

Yet, balance creates harmony. Harmony is the gift we realize when our path is smooth and our life becomes one of calm abiding. To the person who is burned out, sick and tired, peace, harmony and wellness is a pretty big deal. The 9 out of 10 people who are striving for egoic achievement are never satisfied and will never understand this until they hit bottom. When they do hit bottom, the moment of truth is at hand, and the choosing to become at peace through balance and harmony is apparent.

Moderation is the key to unlocking the doorway to source through balance. Overfilling, striving, and pushing against the natural flow of the Tao is the way of ignorance. Being caught up in the egoic path, always striving, always in deep need for some “thing” as a source of fulfillment is distraction. Distraction is the disconnect from our spiritual self and the the Tao.

Balance for the Tao cultivator is being mindful of our steps along our life path and using the wisdom of moderation to enjoy life but not become obsessed with or controlled by desire. Desire fulfillment can be and often is the slippery slope of egoic decline. Yet desire is a part of the living experience. The Tao cultivator learns to balance desire fulfillment through the practice of moderation. We learn when enough is enough. Over Pouring the tea cup is wasteful, messy and non useful affair. Pouring too little is not fulfilling and may generate a sense of being deprived. The feeling of deprivation is fuel for the ego to gain traction to create a sense of longing. Unfulfilled longing can lead to despair. When are self aware we can choose wisdom step by step along the path. We can fulfill desire yet not become attached. We can realize desire, fulfill desire yet not become entangled by desire. As the true self, we must realize that enough is enough. We remain present and have the experience. Rather than cling to the experience we can release it and remain free of the ego trap.

The trap of ego is when we allow our self to become entangled. Entanglement happens when we mistakenly believe that the the fulfillment of a given desire is the source of happiness. When we believe this illusion, it becomes a way of coping. As we experience stress, we may turn to the fulfilling of desire as the source of contentment and happiness. This is the trap. To disentangle one’s self from the trap, one must let go of the attachment to the sensation. You must transcend the idea or notion that true happiness is a material satisfaction. Nothing material last, therefore happiness based on form (material) will not last. Happiness grounded in the spiritual (love) is lasting.

Chapter 18

“… the six relations are not harmonious

there is filial piety and kind affection

The country is in confused chaos

There are loyal ministers.”

Balance and Harmony is a must for good and useful interpersonal relationships. The positive effect of mystic virtue can be realized when balance, harmony, and moderation is an integral aspect of how we relate to others. It is effective on all levels. We all have opportunities for leadership by example. As leaders in government, as company managers, as parents, as siblings as friends and neighbors, we are called to create harmony through balance in our relationships.

These harmonious relationships between people are created by unity with source as the true self. The altruistic path of wisdom that is the creative path of mystic virtue. In team building exercises this has been called “synergy”. The sum is greater than total number of parts. This is accomplished through balance, harmony and moderation. By following the three treasures one can created harmonious relationships.

As mentioned before, this realization and putting into practice requires an ongoing presence of self awareness. Moment by moment along our path, we are mindful of what we are thinking, feeling and doing. Are we self serving the ego or are we serving others with love and compassion.  In all aspects of our culture we can observe the results of individuals and organizations that either practice balance and harmony or the self serving of individual and collective ego.

You might stop and consider your part in society. How would you honestly describe your interpersonal relationships. How might others describe you? Are you one of the 9 of 10 who are self serving and ignorant? Or you the 1 in 10 who people love and cherish and known for your wisdom and compassion? The answer may not be easily revealed, so it takes practice. This is the cultivation that we work on in every moment that we can be self aware.

There are opportunities all around us. We can sense the level of balance by the harmony of flow around us. Are you and those around you feeling tension and anxiety? Or is there a sense of harmony and flow and freedom. Are you an enabler, one who empowers others towards self realization and fulfillment? Or you one who steps on others on your way to “success”. Do you seek or create drama ? Or do you use softness to overcome the hard?

Recently, we all observed an example of how an organization can cease to flow with harmony when we consider the gridlock by our congress in the year 2013. The legislative body of our government, the decision makers who are to be attending our well being as country cease to function in a harmonious way. When enough people become attached to their own egoic view to the point of obstruction, the country begins to experience chaos and disharmony on many levels. As individuals as well as groups, we can become so self absorbed with the material and the emotional, that the self serving becomes a danger to the whole.

Yet when, we can free ourselves from the prison of the purely material and balance our view with a basis of harmony and non self-serving, the prison doors are opened and benevolence is at hand. Balance is a choice. How do we choose? We must be self aware at the moment of choice and let wisdom guide us. Wisdom is the path of the true self. Imbalance through ignorance is the path of ego.

Interpersonal relationship are especially important in families. For it is within families we grow and bond as children. As we grow up, our mental landscape is shaped and conditions by experience. Those who grow in a loving and compassionate family setting thrive and find love and fulfillment as the way of moving through life. Those who grow up in abusive dysfunctional environments may spend all of their adult lives searching for and never finding contentment, fulfillment, peace and harmony. This is not a all or nothing, black and white, reality, there are shades of grey. It is quite possible to change our path, when we become self aware, that is realizing the true self and following the path. The amount of ignorance and suffering in a person’s life can vary by many degrees. Yet we are all offered the chance to be the one in ten, to find true happiness and contentment of the way, … The Tao.

Once again dear reader, your moment of truth is at hand. Can you be self honest and see where you are and which direction you must turn? Are you willing to unclench the gripping fist of ego and allow the open hand of balance and moderation to bring harmony to your life? Can you let go of those attachments of the physical domain and appreciate the spiritual in a balanced way? Can you reach out and open the door to truly fulfilled life?

The True Self

Audio Download available 99 cents

The True Self and the Path of Virtue
Chapter 10

“In holding the soul and embracing the oneness
Can one be steadfast and not straying?”

The chapter on Ego begins with the question “who are you?”
And many people will answer “I am ‘ME’.
The next question is “who is me” ?
This is where many will have to pause and consider. In that chapter on Ego, the discussion centered the me-ism. The thinking me.
This chapter is about guiding you, the reader, towards a deeper more profound identity.
The “me” inside us finds this identity by summarizing the life story, the story of ‘me’ and then goes on to define this ‘me’ with descriptions, roles and labels. The ego ‘me’ is the agent for experiencing the physical realm. Often this is all we know of our self. Yet we can learn to look deeper and realize more.
Me begins to define itself by descriptions such as:
– I am a man or a woman
– I am so many years old
– I belong in this ethnic or racial catagory
– work catagory (I am a doctor, attorney, teacher, plumber sanitation worker etc)
These are all roles, labels and description of the material world. There is a deeper aspect of self and that is the spiritual self. The spiritual self is also known as the authentic self, … the true self.
How do we arrive at this self identifying? We think about it. As we begin to think about this or anything else our identity usually becomes absorbed in the thinking process. The thinking process is a great tool yet too often we dwell in thinking so much that we become distracted. The thinking can and often does become the initiator of suffering. We cannot seem to turn the thinking off and it will drive us crazy. That voice in the head can become a recurring loop which defines reality and perception. When thinking is under complete dominance of the emotional mind, the ego, we begin to experience problems. Problems initiate reaction. Reaction can create more problems.
The alternative is to realize we are not our thoughts. In mindfulness meditation one learns to observe the thinking. Observing is not thinking. It is … well … observing. This begins to help us realize subject (the observer) and object (the observed). By becoming an observer, one can observe thinking. Thus when we become the observer, we are not our thoughts. In this way one can also realize that thinking is a function or mental process.

So who is this observer ? It is not the ego self. It is not that part of “me” that dwells only in the material or physical domain. The ego believes it to be the sole identity because it is the thinking. Philosophers of western thought, such as Descartes, belong in this area of rationalism. What I am describing is Eastern philosophy and spiritual determination that is the source of the material realm. My intent here is not to change your mind if you are dead set in the material realm nor to supercede materialism.
What I would have you understand is that we are in essence, spiritual beings having a physical experience. Just as Quantum Science is a deeper realization than Newtonian Mechanics spirituality or spiritual realization is a transcendence of the physical thinking me. This state of consciousness that is the observer, the knower is the true self. It is consciousness that give order to the undifferentiated chaos to the Tao. (See Chapters on Nature of the Tao).
So rather than to define the self as physical realm and ego identifiers, the true self just is. I is a realization of “I am”. This is just being. Being is consciousness experiencing life in the physical realm
So the question that we might begin to contemplate could be “how do we realize this spiritual beingness”?.
This realization is meditation, that infinite continuum whose doorway stands in the gap between the thoughts. The technique or practice in bringing the attention to this point between thoughts is lesson unto itself and discussed in other chapters. Meditation training is best learned by working with a teacher who can guide you gently, slowly and surely to this state of consciousness.

In this timeless place of stillness we remember or awaken unto the realization that we are spirit and are at one with spirit. This aspect of your-self is the true self. This part of us is that which is unified with The Tao. Through virtue we follow the path of the the Tao. This is The Way.

In holding to our realization as the true self we can embrace the oneness, we can become one with the Tao. Lao Tzu is asking us can we hold to this oneness or will will give over to the ego and thinking? Can we learn to reside in the eternal place between thoughts or will be fall back into desire, materialism and ego self serving. As spiritual entities, the true self is our true nature. Nature is the manifestation of the Tao. The Tao is both emptiness and source. (see nature of the Tao)
We have this temporary experience as a physical being in a realm of material form and we call it life. When we are awake and self aware we experience life. When we are distracted, that is when we are lost to our true self and our spiritual source we live in the world of ego. Yet since we are physical beings, we have our place in the physical realm. Thus we are spiritual beings (conciousness) experiencing (life) in this physical realm. The way (the path of the Tao) is bring balance between the two. Balance brings a very special harmony that is called “mystic virtue”.

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 lose their base endure
Those who die but do not perish have longevity

Those who understand their identity as the true self are enlightened. This is clarity of being. The ego seeks intelligence and power, the true self seeks wisdom through virtue and unity with source. We are called to let go of the singular view that we are only a physical being and realize there is more than sensation seeking and fulfilling physical desires. We must apply the wisdom at the spiritual level which requires that we let go of serving the ego (self serving). By orienting your perspective internal, we can be released from the external.
Moment by moment, experience by experience the Tao cultivator brings harmony and balance to life. On the path of enlightenment, we make our mistakes and return to self realization over and over, gaining wisdom and willpower and true contentment. In meditation we cultivate our base as the true self, the spiritual being we are. Mindful of ego, we learn to free ourselves from the chains of desire and material form. In each moment, we can seek unity through virtue or surrender to ego and the path of suffering.

The true self seeks balance and harmony, the ego seeks to feed desire.
The true self practices meditation to strengthen unity with the Tao, the ego seeks distraction.
The true self is grounded in the Three Treasures, the ego is grounded in sensation seeking.
The true self realizes the power of choice, the ego is imprisoned to emotional reaction.
The true self chooses wisdom in awareness, the ego is lost in ignorance only to repeat the same coping and creating suffering.
The true self embraces the Tao, the ego embraces distraction and is lost to source.

The Tao cultivator is the true self awakening and strengthening its awareness, learning how to avoid the pitfalls of ignorance. Self discipline is the true self in charge and guiding the spirit to balance, harmony and enlightenment. Self control is the true self staying above the egoic temptations enjoying life in moderation and wisdom.
The true self uses the unity with the unlimited ultimate source as their base, enduring in the living experience with longevity and well being.

Sovereignty

From the upcoming book: “Sovereignty – Mother Principle of Power
Chapter 1

In governing people and serving Heaven

There is nothing like conservation

Only with conservation is it called submitting early

Submitting early is called emphasis on accumulating virtues

Accumulating virtues means 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

This is called deep roots and firm foundation

The Tao of longevity and lasting vision

Chapter 59, Tao Te Ching

What Is Sovereignty?

The word Sovereign can be defined as one who is the supreme authority or ruler over some kind of domain. You can think of it as being the ruler of a country like a President, a Prime Minister, a King or a Queen. Sometimes these supreme rulers are great leaders, and sometimes they are hated as a wicked despot. Sometimes they are a great success and are loved by the people. History remembers them as a benevolent and wise leader. Popular quotations of their words are memorialized as common sayings. And then you can look back through history and see where the supreme rulers have created catastrophe and suffering. These types of rulers have left devastation and remembered as examples of humanity’s dark side.

Now for a moment think of yourself as a supreme ruler and the domain you rule over is your life and the people you interact with and the challenges everyone experiences. As the ruler over your life, how is it going? As the president of your life, your choices and decisions play a big role in both the present moment and your future. The seeds of the future, your destiny, are planted in the present moment. The present moment you are experiencing now began in your past. As the top decision maker what kind of life have you created?

This book is about how to be a successful and effective ruler through the conscious cultivation of sovereignty.

Sovereignty is more than just a term, it is a state of being. It is a being self-aware and mindful of how you perceive reality along with wise choices and right actions1. It is a management system implemented in a state of self-awareness. This self-awareness is an awakened state as a spiritual being managing and experiencing life. Sovereignty is a perpetual state of self-discipline through self-awareness.

Sovereignty is discipline over the ego sense of self or the ego identity. Sovereignty is actualized through the choices while being in the highest state of consciousness which is “self-awareness”. Self-awareness is the realization that you are a spiritual being and you experiencing life in a physical plain.

This state of being transcends identity and is much more than just your thoughts and the mind. You are the consciousness that has the moment by moment experience as a physical being. This detached state of being is sometimes referred to as the silent witness or the observer. I have observed Taoist refer to this transcended self as “true self.”

Why Sovereignty?

Continuing with Chapter 59…

With this mother principle of power [sovereignty], one can be everlasting

This called deep roots and firm foundation

The Tao of longevity and lasting vision.

Some key words to note here are everlasting, longevity and lasting vision. Sovereignty is the mother principle of power which gives you endurance to experience not only a long physical life so that you can evolve spiritually (enlightenment.) Sovereignty is the constancy of spirit. Sovereignty is being. Sovereignty is the Tao (the way) of longevity and lasting vision. And this is why you should cultivate

Sovereignty as if your life depended on it. Because guess what, it does. Sovereignty is being the ruler over emotional, desire seeking ego so that you can attain the Tao.

Section one are Tao principles that are just some of the insights into the great mystery of how the universe seems to work. “The universe” is a good description for what Lao Tzu refers to as “the myriad of things.” Everything that was created since the big bang.

Section Two is a short list of Tao virtues. Virtues are high moral and ethical standards that keep the Tao cultivator in unity with the Tao.

Section Three contains a list of strategies to help you cultivate sovereignty using the principles and virtues of the Tao (the way). These are spiritual strategies that are both practical and powerful if worked on through real life experience.

Consider these words again:

Accumulating virtues means there is nothing one cannot overcome

When there is nothing that one cannot overcome

One’s limits are unknown

This is an ancient wisdom on how to be an unlimited being. Only through the willpower and self-discipline as the sovereign can you transform your life. Cultivating Sovereignty is a life-long commitment of mindfully attending to your path. This book is a collection of just some of the Tao Strategies for cultivating Sovereignty that I have experienced and gained some effective insights. I sincerely believe that they will benefit you as much as they have helped me.

1“right action” is an important term in both Buddhism and Taoist teachings. In Taoism it is a central part of several Tao principles such as Karma, Wu Wei and Mystic Virtue.

Adopt a Child Like Sense of Wonder (or there are no ordinary moments)

Adopt A Child’s Sense of Wonder

Chapter 20  verse 5

IMG_2701897643030

My granddaughter visiting the Aquarium for the first time.

Chapter 20, verse 5            “like an infant not yet smile”

There is a modern cliche that goes something like “knowledge is power”. Thus seeking information and knowledge become just another form of striving. We are called to balance our pursuit of knowledge with becoming one with the underlying reality of the Tao. Life and the world at hand holds so much wonder. We can let ourselves become so caught up in striving and seeking that we lose sight of what is going on right in front of our eyes.

Our ego can dominate our view so that sensation seeking or distraction become all that we can see. And in this, the beauty wonder and awe of the natural world can become lost to us. The wisdom of the Tao encourages us to remember and adopt a child like sense of wonder at what is present.

An example might be where one stands before the grand canyon, yet is so caught up in their cell phone or tablet that they find nothing inspiring before them. The Tao cultivator realizes the majesty of life and appreciates our world and the universe in which we have our life experience.

The Tao cultivator considers our place in nature. As spiritual beings we can be self aware of this physical experience. In this experience we can and should be appreciative of our form in a universe of form. We are gifted with sense, the self awareness to appreciate this existence of form, yet so often we are so distracted that we have lost our connection and oneness with it. When we are distracted we are no longer aware. Often, we can become so distracted that we lose our ability to experience life. That is to say, we are no longer experiencing life. Take a look at your life. How distracted are you? How much of the living experience are you missing? It may seem crazy yet there are many of us who purposely try to disconnect from life. We seek distraction. When life become too problematic the ego self seeks distraction. Distraction can become a habit, maybe even an addiction. The ancients have told us that the purpose in ife is to experience and grow. Yet in our modern age, we seek to disconnect with life. How do we break our being lost in distraction and wake up?

This is something so basic and simple that it begins with just taking a moment be aware that you are alive. We can just stop and be present. We can just …be. After all we are human “beings”. Yet when we become obsessed with being distracted, we are no longer aware of being … and being alive. A good way to realize how deeply one is buried in ego is to notice how resistant one is to just being. Ask your “self” why just being, doing nothing is so hard and so boring.

As in all things, the Tao cultivator establishes balance. This is especially important in the basics of life experience. All creatures are involved with doing. Non sentient creatures stay busy supporting their existence, and who knows how much awareness and sentience they may have. Yet as human “beings” we have the ability to be self aware and sentient, yet we allow this state of consciousness to become out of balance. Distraction is when the mind is lost to something where we are no aware of being and being alive. Humans are gifted with enough sentience to be self aware, yet we avoid it with great determination. Sometimes this is necessary to focus on something to the extent that we become distracted. Yet we must not become so distracted that we remain disconnected to the world and our life experience.

The self aware Tao cultivator brings balance to the world of being and doing. In self awareness we can return and become at one with our universe and appreciate it through an innocent sense of wonder. A child’s sense of wonder. Children who have not learn yet to be disconnected from life, whose ego has not yet learned to see everything as mundane… see everything as new and wondrous. Even though we grow older and accumulate experience, we do not have to lose touch with the childlike sense of wonder. Wisdom is learning from experience. We can treat our past experience as important aspects and remember the feeling of wonder we once felt with life. We are encouraged to keep this as part of our wisdom. In this way life does not become mundane and boring. Each moment is not ordinary and we find that in a child’s sense of wonder, there are no ordinary moments.

Conquering Fear and Worry

Use Love To Conquer Fear

 

This chapter contains quite a bit of first person narrative. The reason for this is because I feel that it might best be understood if I talk about this subject from my own learning experience and perspective. So I begin by letting you know that I am one of those people who have suffered a lot from fear and worry. Fear and worry have influenced my choices in so many ways over my life, and I can only wonder where I would be now if I had learned this insight at a younger age.

Woman with Headache

Fear and worry are deeply influential to our outward behavior and should be recognized as life changers. If you are being honest with yourself and have a moment of truth, you may realize that fear and worry have been pushing your buttons. The ego may resist accepting that there is an element of worry and fear for it does not want to be seen in a negative way. However, for this insight to be truly known, we must use honesty and truth as our guide.

 

The path to managing fear and worry requires a high level of self awareness. Only in self awareness we can be honest with our recognizing our fears and worries and bring them to the forefront for examination. I also advise that you should not overreach in your discernment of whether you worry too much or not. It can be as simple this; do you feel stress and anxiety from fearing something? Or do you worry about some aspect of life so much that it causing you to suffer? If you are suffering, you will know. If you are not suffering, fear and worry is being managed appropriately.

 

Being self aware [this is the true self], we can become mindful of fear as it arises and then take steps to not be overcome by it. In the beginning, I believed that the way to overcome fear was to raise the spirit (hope) and find courage. But as one of my mentors pointed out, this is just the surface level of understanding. Often courage does not last and you will probably find yourself right back in that dark place of fear and worry.

 

The deeper understanding that I have come to realize is that courage is good but it needs something to support it. It needs a strong foundation. I would never have found this wisdom on my own, fortunately, this deeper insight was shared with me by a wise Taoist who has helped me in many ways of understanding.

 

What he helped me to realize was that there must be a foundation for courage to rest on. That foundation is love. I have found love to be unique in its nature. By that, I mean that love is different in its nature by being able to be present in two places at once. It is the eternal bridge between the spiritual and the physical. As my mentor pointed out, Love is different than other motivating forces in that it [love] is its own counterpart, it is its compliment.

 

As he explained it to me, the first notion about love and its compliment is that we mistakenly think that the compliment of love to be hatred. But that is not understanding at the deeper level. The deeper insight is found in contemplating the source of love. While we can appreciate that ego is the source of hatred, one then has to wonder “what is the source of love?” The amazing insight and answer to this question is this: “love is the source of Love” and “the pure essence of love is the source of the manifestations of love in our lives”.

 

I did not readily understand this. I quite literally had to spend some time in contemplative meditation and then holding to this concept while observing it during my own periods of fear/suffering. What I eventually and gradually came to realize was that fear and worry is or can be yet another self serving aspect of ego. While fear can serve as an important notice or red flag warning for us that something is not right or something might go wrong, when it is out of balance, it creates suffering. When we become obsessed with worry and fear, we are stuck in the physical domain of ego. We are in a self serving loop that we must transcend this mental construct and return to spirit, the true self. Too little fear and we might run head on into danger and trouble. Too much fear and worry we suffer and harm our well being. When self serving ego has control over our mental state we allow fear to dominate.The ego feels “I don’t have time to listen to your problems, I’m too busy with my own fears. Please let me obsess in my fear”

 

Where does love fit into all of this? We must transcend the self serving ego so that our love of others becomes the motivating force to seek balance. Self aware we realize we are suffering from fear, or worrying too much. We then seek the wise and spiritual solution. The Tao cultivator will let go of ego and find the love we have of others and the serve them. When we love others, we put their needs ahead of our own in a balance way. When we love others, serving them can become the foundation for courage. For me, it was the realization that I was just letting ego serve itself.

When I turned my consciousness to those I love most, my family, courage rose and energy came forth to serve them because I love them. This love empowered me to keep on trudging, to not give up hope, and to keep their needs in the forefront. Not only does love give courage but it also and importantly gives purpose to life.

 

Because love can be the foundation for courage over fear, we can keep returning to it. When we slip and allow ego to get back on top, we may feel discouraged again. Yet, by being mindful of our thoughts and feelings, we can realize fear rising and redirect through spirit to remember to love and serve those we love. Then as the obsession of fear loses energy, we can raise our heads, and fill our hearts again and again.

 

Here is the 3 step advice that my mentor gave me:

 

1. Balance fear with love before you do anything else.

2. Balance the look into the future (fear) with a retrospective of the past.

3. Bring it all back to the present moment (right here, right now).

 

To implement these steps, one must be able to become present and self aware. This is case of any of the Tao teachings. We must learn to become awake and aware, which is best learned through meditation. We must remain mindful and pay attention to our inner mental landscape and spot ego and its aspects as they rise. Then, self aware, as the true self, the spiritual self, we can choose wisdom of the Tao to practice and follow.

 

There is the old saying “love conquers all”. Importantly, love conquers fear. Fear leads to hatred, so we must balance the fear with love and build a foundation upon it. We can access our wisdom by understanding our experiences of the past. Wisdom is not repeating the same mistakes but learning from those experiences. Fear arises when we worry about a future now. Wisdom of the past experience can balance our expectations of the future. Balance the future with the past and reside in this now. In this present moment, find love and with it let go of self serving to serve and love others. If life is a journey of a thousand miles, the first step is right below your feet. Right here, right now. Let love be your compass. Let love give you the power to take that next step and balance fear with wisdom. Free your self from fear, with love.

Regulating The Body

This is a lecture from the Qigong Series, The Five Regulatings.

 

Li Ching Yuen for slide

Meet Li Ching Yuen, 250 year old Qigong Adept and Herbalist. How did he do this? How can you live a long healthy life of well being ? Here is how.

Consider the term “life form”. Perhaps it is useful to consider this to mean a form for experiencing life. What and who is having the experience through form?

This study is about hold the form for the spirit to experience the physical realm.

The consideration begins with the life form coming together. First there is the initial combining of chromosome material and a mixing of the dna sequence coding. Once initiated, the combining continues for a duration until there is point at which the form is considered to be mature. Then the form begins to age and the process of atrophy begin to deconstruct the form.

Specifically let us consider the source for intention of form and the process or holding form together. When cells begin to combine and replicate this intention or force holds them together. A useful term might be “life force”. We also know this powering for life as energy. The ancient in China called it “Qi”

When a life form sustains itself through this life force, it experiences life. What or who is having the experience and why?

Consider what happens if the force that holds the form together is interrupted. The form begins to lose its ability to hold itself together for the purpose of experiencing life. Sometimes external causes affect the form to lose cohesion.

let us consider the cause of internal sources of cohesion. What is it that human life forms do that unnecessarily cause the form to lose the battle with atrophy? Why do people initiate self destruction ? How and why would we interfere with the ability to experience life?

As we experience life, sometimes the meaning we give to that experience is unsatisfactory to the ego self. The more resistance this aspect of mind has toward what is, generates stress. The stressful state of mind, the reactive feelings and mood that result from becoming absorbed within the reaction creates a the mental state of anxiety. This stress directly affects the body. Since the mind and body are directly linked, what we experience across the ind will be reflected across the body.

In the first regulating class, which covered regulating the mind, we learn to disengage from currents of the mind stream. I am calling the mind stream that linear string of connected thoughts or thinking that can carry the person away in a kind of waking, “what if” nightmare. The emotional energy generated with this very powerful and can permeate consciousness with the dark feelings of fear, anger, desperation, worry, agitation, frustration and more. This stressful mindset cause many problems with the body which is responding with the fight or flight stress response. When we become lost in this continuous mindset, our body uses most of its life force energy in process. Before long the body becomes depleted and exhausted. After enough episodes of this, it will begin to break down. In addition to this stress, our mind seeks compensate for the stress by coping measures that are often not healthy remedies. The stressed out person may eat too much, drink toxic beverages, and other self abuses.

The simple and straightforward most healthy remedy is to practice becoming relaxed. I use the term straightforward because relaxation and meditation is not complicated and should be simple. One should sit still,and quiet the mind and body until peace is realized. The more stress that is at hand, the longer one must sit quietly allowing first the mind and then the body to become calm.

Bringing the mental focus out of the mindstream and becoming present is to become self aware. When we have broken our attention free from being absorbed in the busy self destructive thought activity, we concentrate at holding the focus non thinking state of consciousness which is observing. Observing the breath has been the practice for meditation for centuries and it works. It is simple and can be practiced anywhere at almost anytime. Use the breath as an anchor. It can become as a lighthouse in a storm. In one of the breaks between thinking onsets, there be a break or pause in the stream of thought. In one of these gaps one can realize what is happening and seek the breath. In that gap, ask “am I breathing?” And see the answer by finding breath. In that instant you detach from thinking and move the awareness to seeking and observing. Once you find the breath, work at staying with it.

As you begin to take and keep your attention, your mental focus, close at hand, or rather close with the breath by observing it, the thinking energy will begin to lose some of its “grip”. The more one practices this the better they will become at staying present. It is not necessarily easy, but is very powerful.

When the mind is present and at one with the breath, the connection to body is established. From the breath, the observer can use the mind sense to bond with the body and reach a knowing about its state. From here one can bring relaxation and healing to areas that are suffering from tension, anxiety and stress.

In the beginning, guided meditations can help a lot in developing the technique of letting go of thought stream and staying with breath. Guided meditations are good for beginners, but the individual must not become dependent on having to have a guide. It is extremely important to cultivate and practice the ability of sitting quietly by the self and establishing the rapport with spirit and stillness. In this state of calm abiding, the body can heal.

In Qigong we must create and cultivate the conditions for the “life force energy” to flow and nourish our physical self. It is an awesome and very powerful system to which we only need to refrain from interfering with. The biggest interference is stress. We still energy from well being and use it by useless mind states that just drag us down. When the life force energy that can and will sustain us is blocked or interfered with, we lose our ability to heal and sustain our robust vigor. Stress wears us down and depletes our ability to regulate the body.

Regulating the body, begins with regulating the mind. Regulating the mind begins with meditation and regulating thought and emotion. This is must. Meditation and regulating the mindy body connection is a non-negotiable function that you must become proficient at. You dont have to become a super human, you just have to restore balance to enjoy the miracle of life. Qi (life force energy) sustains longevity, distraction and stress sustains atrophy.

Ego and the Path of Ignorance

Ego

Ask yourself the question, “Who am I?”

Most people will answer “I am ME”

 

Before I introduce you to your “self”, lets begin with a disclaimer. This description or illumination of the inner voice may  or may not be in complete alignment with terms found in psychology. You may or may not find descriptions of the Id, Ego and SuperEgo to correspond to the ancient concepts of self, self awareness and mindfulness. Perhaps one might consider id and ego as what the one aspect of material self as “ego”. Maybe the super ego is a very sterile way of considering the true self or spiritual self.

The important thing is to learn and become proficient in regulating the mind so that self control and management is held by the higher self or spiritual self.  When one transcends the view of only experiencing the physical realm the feeling is like an awakening. It is an awakening into clarity. This higher consciousness is the highly awakened state of meditation. In this period many spiritual teachers have found a usefulness in grouping the physical experience, the emotional “me” self in a broad category and are calling ego. So in my original question of “who are you” the question is more about which identity is in control ? Which you am I talking to ? Is this the ego self or the true self?

 

One beginners metaphor  would be to imagine the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Many of us have spent a lifetime being influenced by the devil’s voice on our shoulder and only occasionally hearing the voice of virtue, wisdom and spirit whose avatar is the angel. Many have only ever experienced the ego self identity and that may be all that they know.

 

Here is a test. Sit down in a chair, and try doing nothing for 30 minutes. As this you sits there and begins to feel restless, bored, antsy, irritated try to be mindful of this from a detached perspective. Is it possible to step back from the feeling of “i” am feeling restless or bored and just observe this feeling. It is possible to ask “oh look, what part is this that is feeling restless?” Is is possible to recognize the shift from being the feeling and observing the feeling. If so, perhaps this “me” can ask who is this observing and detached or removed from the feeling of restlessness. The question may arise what is the other part that is experiencing the feeling of restlessness. This return to observing or “being” is self awareness. One is aware of the feeling yet separate from it by choice. If you can first conceptualize this and then learn to practice and cultivate self awareness, you can transform your life. This higher state of consciousness, this waking up into self awareness is unifying with spirit. This is realizing your spiritual identity. Paradoxically, the true self is often lost to most people. Perhaps it is a kind of amnesia where we have forgotten who and what we truly are. We are a spiritual being having a physical experience called life. Metaphorically speaking, many of us have only listened to self desructive devil on our shoulder never having realized or remembered our spiritual self. Our spiritual self is connected to the Tao, the source of all we can perceive and yet never fully understand. Ego is the distracted state of mind, the aspect of self that only seeks the tangible physical experience. The physical is experienced through the senses. Sensual desire is characterized by a distraction called “sensation seeking”. Ego is heedless of cause and effect and seeks sensual desire fulfillment at any cost. More importantly ego is realm of self esteem. Self Esteem is defined by the ego. When ego dominates consciousness, the reactive nature of the ego mind is constantly defining the life experience by qualitative measure. Ego has its own unrealistic agenda to which it expects life to comply with. When ego agenda does not align with reality, the ego experiences a “problem”. For the ego, problems lead to suffering. Suffering leads to coping. Coping leads to sensation seeking and distraction.The ego is a distracted state of mind and consciousness becomes absorbed by ego thinking.

 

Ego has an unsustainable appitite. It is the antithesis of patience. So when the beginner sits down to practice meditaiton and waking up, the ego resists. Ego feeds off of stimulation. When one sits in meditation, the ego feels starved and experiences a feeling of boredom and agitation. There is this neediness to “do some thing”. It is often so powerful, that the failure rate for first time meditation students is near 100%. Ego need for stimulation is so powerful that it may choose electric shock desperate for some type of stimulation. So now you can begin to understand why people do some of the desperate things that they do. You may also use this same insight to understand others do what they do. Perhaps in this moment, the insight is reaching and you are beginning to glimpse reality for just a moment as the true self. If you are able to see your own behavior from the non “me” state and see the behavior for what it is, you are having a moment as the true self. Welcome to self awareness. Before you are once again lost to distraction and ego, perhaps you can take this opportunity to set an intention to wake up again. Leave your higher self a note, or set your watch alarm to go off at some interval and when you hear it, wake up and observe what is happening to the inner landscape. How do you wake up? Ask your “self” if you are breathing. When you look for the breath, you’re bringing your mind, tuning your mind back to awareness; self awareness (awakening). Practice this over and over until you, the higher true self you, realizes constancy, that is to say, staying awake.

The ego mind is the antithesis of spiritual cultivation and the virtuous path of the Tao.

The Tao Cultivator recognizes and accepts that ego is an aspect of the self identity and seeks to control its manic behavior by strengthening the identity of the wiser true self. Balance is the target, harmony is experienced.

 

Meditation is the practice of transcending the ego mind and realizing the true self. Paying attention to manage ego is the practice of mindfulness. The Tao cultivator pays attention to the choices one makes and chooses the wisdom of the Tao. In each choice, we manage our destiny. Paying attention, we can ask, “is this choice in alignment with wisdom? Or is it in alignment with ignorance which is the way of ego”.

 

The Tao Te Ching advises in numerous chapters on controlling ego in various situations.

Chapters 3.9.12, 13.16.17 are just a few to hear Lao Tzu warn us of how to manage the ego mind.

 

The Tao cultivator learns to manage ego and cultivate the spiritual self. Realization as the spiritual or true self allows self awareness to rise and control the crazy voice in the head, that devil on the shoulder. By paying attention in that non judging concentrated way we cultivate through meditation, we be mindful of mind, of ego influence and practice follow wisdom and virtue.

 

If you can pay attention long enough to realize what you are doing in any given moment, you will begin to see the ego mind/self at work. Awakening from the ego self is the awakening from distraction.

 

There was an article on the web that reported that a study showed that most participants chose electric shock when asked to sit quietly with no entertainment for a period between 6 and 20 minutes. Most people elected a shock over stillness. Why is this?

 

What part of us would be so impatient to choose electric shock over stillness? The needy, greedy, and oh so impatient ego. Once we highlight ego it becomes pretty easy to understand why it is so hard to just “be”. Meditation is the practice of overcoming the power of ego through unifying with the higher self (true self). We do this when we find breath and leave the ego to its insanity. How do you find breath? Just close your eyes and ask your “self”. am I breathing? Then… look inward and find the answer. Turning your mind away from the impatient mind is also TUNING your mind out of distraction and into the awakened state of self awareness. In the beginning Ego wins the battle most of the time. Yet, with practice and will power, one can learn to remain present. Once present, one can remain present by concentration. In presence we are free to choose all that life has to offer and free ourselves from the voice of ego. As shocking as that is (pun intended) if the article above is true, the ego mind would literally seek an electric shock as a means of distraction because it just cannot abide stillness (presence). Even as you read these words, ego may be raising its voice trying to keep your from waking up and moving into the light of awareness. Tired of the ego “me” calling the shots? Find the nearest mindfulness group and learn how to free your “self”.

 

The True Self And The Path of Virtue

The True Self and the Path of Virtue

Chapter 10

“In holding the soul and embracing the oness

Can one be steadfast and not straying?”

It is time to ask your “self” what part of this being that I identify as “me” can become at one with the spiritual realm? It is certainly not the ego self. It is not that part of “me” that dwells only in the material or physical domain. So in this question at once we begin to contemplate our spiritual beingness. In meditation, that infinite domain whose doorway stands in the gap between the thoughts, there is part of us that observes and has a deep sense of knowing. In this timeless place of stillness we remember or awaken unto the realization that we spirit and are at one with spirit. This aspect of your-self is the true self. This part of us is that which is unified with The Tao. Through virtue we follow the path of the the Tao. This is The Way.

In holding to our realization as the true self we can embrace the oneness, we can become one with the Tao. Can we hold to this oneness or will will give over to the ego, to desire and materialism and ego self serving. As spiritual entities, the true self is our nature. We have this temporary experience as a physical being in a realm of material form. When we are lost to our true self and our spiritual source we live in ignorance of the underlying reality. This is the world of ego.

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 lose their base endure

Those who die but do not perish have longevity

Those who understand their identity as the true self are enlightened. This is clarity of being. The ego seeks intelligence and power, the true self seeks wisdom through virtue and  unity with source. We are called to let go of the singular view that we are only a physical being and realize there is more than sensation seeking and fulfilling physical desires. We must apply the wisdom at the spiritual level which requires that we let go of serving the ego (self serving). By orienting your perspective internal, we can be released from the external.

Moment by moment, experience by experience the Tao cultivator brings harmony and balance to life. On the path of enlightenment, we make our mistakes and return to self realization over and over, gaining wisdom and willpower and true contentment.  In meditation we cultivate our base as the true self, the spiritual being we are. Mindful of ego, we learn to free ourselves from the chains of desire and material form. In each moment, we can seek unity through virtue or surrender to ego and the path of suffering.

  • The true self seeks balance and harmony, the ego seeks to feed desire.
  • The true self practices meditation to strengthen unity with the Tao, the ego seeks distraction.
  • The true self is grounded in the Three Treasures, the ego is grounded in sensation seeking.
  • The true self realizes the power of choice, the ego is imprisoned to emotional reaction.
  • The true self chooses wisdom in awareness, the ego is lost in ignorance only to repeat the same coping and creating suffering.
  • The true self embraces the Tao, the ego embraces distraction and is lost to source.

The Tao cultivator is the true self awakening and strengthening its awareness, learning how to avoid the pitfalls of ignorance. Self discipline is the true self in charge and guiding the spirit to balance, harmony and enlightenment. Self control is the true self staying above the egoic temptations enjoying life in moderation and wisdom.

The true self uses the unity with the unlimited ultimate source as their base, enduring the living experience with well being longevity.

The Nature of the Tao (script from Audio Recording)

Audio download avaialble for 99¢ here: 

Hey there ! The Dixie Taost here with a study of the

Tao Te Ching. This talk is about –

“The Nature of the Tao”

 

Reading from Chapters 1, 4, 6, 11, 34

 

Chapter 1

 

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao

The name that can be named is not the eternal name

The nameless is the nature of heaven and earth

The named is the mother of myriad of things

Thus constantly without desire one can observe its essence

Constantly with desire one observes its manifestations

The two merge together but differ in name

The unity is said to be the mystery

Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

This very first chapter in the Tao Te Ching seems to offer a paradox. The first time I read it, I reread it several times trying to get to the context of what was being said. One may wonder,  that if the Tao cannot be named why do we call it the Tao?

The author of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu is explaining to us that that we cannot name something so infinitely complex. The message is that by naming a thing, we tend to limit it.  When we limit the infinite source of all things in the universe, we have limited our ability to connect to the infinite source.

 

It is the nature of the ego mind to to quantify and define everything. The ego mind, the ignorant self is always acquiring and accumulating. The initial part of this process is to define a thing or concept by putting a name or label to “it”. So this very first lesson for the Tao cultivator is realize and accept that the source, the path …

the Tao is mysterious and beyond our full understanding. Thus … it is futile to limit the unlimited by giving it a label. However, it is necessary, for the sake of language and discussion that we call “it” something,   so we will call it the Tao understanding that it is just a name and in no way comes near explaining the full mystery.

In verse 5, it says

Thus constantly without desire one can observe its essence

When we have transcended the physical domain and realized the true self,… the spiritual self…  we can observe  the essence of the Tao.

Verse Six:  Constantly with desire one observes its manifestations

 

Constantly with desire is the ego mind firmly grounded in materialism and desire. So all that ego can perceive is

 

This is the dichotomy of our life path. Two sides of the coin where one aspect is the spiritual self and the other, the physical self is how we have the spiritual experience.

 

As a spiritual being capable of physical experience, we can experience life through our senses.

 

The two merge together but differ in name.

The path of the Tao cultivator is one where the human being realizes both and brings them into balance.  When the balance is dominated by the physical aspect of self, the ego, our path follows one of materialism and only observes its manifestation.

Verse 8 The unity is said to be the mystery

Verse 9 Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

Thus the great mystery that in later chapters is refered to as “mystic virtue”. Being the mystery of mysteries, it is the door to all wonders and cannot be named.

 

Following the path of the Tao is the balancing of these perspectives to realize a merged unity.  This unity is said to be the great mystery or “mystic virtue”. Mystic virtue is the door to all wonders. Mystic virtue is an important topic unto itself, and discussed in another discussion.

The important point being made here today is to realize how the ego would dismiss the infinite power of the ultimate infinite source, “The Great Tao”.

 

You may recognize the mindset that takes the stance that if it can not be touched, smelled, heard, tasted or seen, it does not exist nor does it deserve merit. If it cannot be named it worthless and does not exist. This very limited view is pure ego, and disconnect consciousness from creative source. Call it non-inspiration. It is a disconnect from the true nature of the Tao.

 

The next chapter is

Chapter 4

 

The Tao is empty

When utilized it is not filled up

So deep it seems to be the source of all things

 

Its blunts the sharpness

Unravels the knots

Dims the glare

Mixes the dust

 

So indistinct ! It seems to exist

I do not know whose offspring it is

Its image is the predecessor of the Emperor

 

So the obvious question here is

“how can emptiness or nothingness be a source of all “things”?

Lets consider the big bang.

Quantum Scientist theorize that before the big bang, there was emptiness, or at least a moment of nothingness. Then suddenly, BANG and everything we now can perceive came through in one massive explosion that  is not only continuing but is also accelerating in its expansion. One moment nothing, … the next …the universe is filling up with stuff. In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu refers to all the stuff and 10,000 myriad of things”. So anytime you hear or see the phrase it is referring to everything that has formed since the big bang.

 

In the 13.8 billion years since the big bang, a lot has come and gone. Stars have formed and then self destructed.

Even in the 4.5 billion years that the earth has been around, so much has come and gone and is in a constant evolution of change.

 

Through constant change everything we can perceive comes and goes.

Whether it is a mountain or a human life, everything comes into form and then deconstructs back into the original components of the big bang.

 

These components then become part of a new form, some new creation that nature brings forth in a continuing and eternal cycle.

 

So in this now what we believe we understand is a lot different from what we …  as humans…. understood 500 years ago.

One can wonder what the understanding will be 500 years from now. So even knowledge and understanding is subject to the law of change.

 

Chapter 6

 

The valley spirit, undying

Is called the mystic female

 

The gateway of the mystic female

is called the root of heaven and earth

 

It flows continuously, barely perceptible

When utilized, it is never exhausted.

 

The Tao Te Ching continues with sharing with us how the Tao is the inexhaustible source of everything. It is the creative source and the creative that gives birth to everything, thus Lao Tzu refers to the Tao as the “mystic female”.

Higher consciousness is our spiritual connection to this source.

We cannot fully understand the mystery but we can begin to realize that recycling of form as an inexhaustible source.

Chapter 11

 

Thirty spokes join in one hub

In its emptiness there is the function of a vehicle

Mix clay to create a container

Cut open doors and windows to create a room

In its emptiness, there is the function of a room

 

Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit

That which is empty is used to create functionality

 

In the beginning, the Tao cultivator may not be able to comprehend how nothing or “emptiness” can have value. Yet, with contemplation, we can  begin to see that emptiness as a source holds the potential for everything.

 

When emptiness gives function to the solid, we begin to appreciate the potential inherent in the void or emptiness.

 

If we only allow ourselves to focus on the tangible ( the material domain, only the physical senses) we will not be able to be creative and be inspired by source.

 

When we empty our mind, we unify our conscious (awareness) with the emptiness of source.  When our mind is cluttered with sensation seeking and emotional drama, we are spiritually deaf to what is potentially read to connect to us.

When we do finally quiet the mind for even just a small duration, in that empty space, we become one with and  unite with the infinite potential.

 

When our minds are resolute in only accepting that which is black and white, or when we mistakenly think that everything is absolute, we remove the ability to be creative. Creativity is born in possibility and potential.

 

When we consider things in only the absolute, we remove possibility. What if our ancestors refused that something solid like steel could never be used as something that would float on water, ships would still be limited to just wood.

Or what if our predecessors refused to believe that a solid object could fly, there would be very little advancement in airplanes, jets and rockets. In this way we can appreciate how emptiness gives rise to possibility. We see how emptiness provides functionality to concept.

 

Chapter 34

The great Tao is like a flood,

it can flow left or right

 

The myriad of things depend on it for life but it never stops

It achieves it work but does not take credit

It clothes and feeds myriad things but does not rule over them

It can be named great

 

Even in the end, it does not regard itself as great

That is how it can achieve its greatness

 

Source is creating, changing, flowing incessantly in an omnipresent function that life thrives on.

 

The flow is life. In Qigong we call this creating and sustaining life force “ Qi “.

 

When we align our consciousness with the flow, we can begin to perceive the source. When we realize that the universe itself is self aware and when we align our own consciousness it,

we are one with the infinite source of all.

 

The self aware universe does not have ego, it just is. It is unorganized, undifferentiated choas. It is pure potential that only need consciousness to bring forth possibility into reality. This spiritual connection is an extension of the  true self, or the spiritual self.

 

The self of the physical domain, the ego gravitates toward materialism and the tangible. As a realized spiritual being we can emulate the Tao and be unified with the flow. LIke the Tao we need not take credit.

 

This need to be seen and to take credit is pure ego. Selflessness is the being free to serve one’s ego which can be labeled by names like “me” “myself”.

 

By being free of neediness of being seen as great and seeking greatness will open the space or emptiness for greatness will flow through us without effort, like water in flood around obstacles.

 

There are other chapters in Tao Te Ching explaining the nature of the Tao. There are lots of verses that advise how to be like the Tao, or source.

You are called to explore these and seek the wisdom.

By waking up from distraction and the ego self, you can align with your spirit, .. .your true and authentic self, which is already in alignment with the Tao. One just has to realize this. True self realization.

 

By learning mediation, to free the mind and align with emptiness, you provide the means of aligning with source. Letting go of the thinking mind and learning to just be, is to awaken as the true self.

 

You, as a spiritual being, once again having this physical experience, can realize clarity and realize the true nature of the Tao, the ultimate and eternal source.

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.

Complexity and Cleverness – “The Devil Is In The Details”

The ego seeks complexity

 

Chapter 65

 

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 Mystic Virtue

Mystic Virtue is so profound and so far reaching

It goes opposite to material things

Then it reaches great congruence.
The ego loves complexity and confusion because it creates opportunity for manipulation. Interestingly, this was as important 2500 years ago as it is today. Yet one can realize that this concept of ego and complexity goes back even further. The first lines written by Lao Tzu 2500 years ago refers to the “ancients”. Lao Tzu was referring to wisdom that was a few thousand years old in his time ! So we can quickly see that ego trickery has been around for a long time. Today, we see the modern version of this when we go to purchase something, only to be overwhelmed with complexity and detail.

 

The greedy needy aspect of self serving ego loves to confuse and misdirect for the intention of serving itself. Trying to keep up with the complexity only wears the individual down and in the end they are overwhelmed and give in because it is just too much. Perhaps you may remember an experience buying a car, computer, or some complicated service where you found the more you tried to understand how things worked, the more complex it became. On those occasions where ego is at work, there is cleverness with the intention for manipulation. In many cases, they just want your money. The ego and collective ego of the organization to which you are interacting with is just in it for themselves and just want your money, your vote, your whatever it is that is being sought. Complexity and confusion creates opportunity for the non-virtuous and self serving.

 

In the passages of chapter 65, it can be effective in applying this understanding that the “state” is your life path, and the “people” those who you interact with on a daily basis.  Using cleverness to manipulate people to enhance your life is a function of the ego mind. Since the path of virtue, leads to mystic virtue, following the path of ego leads to disharmony. Disharmony leads to failure at life and suffering.

 

When the opportunity to help relieve the suffering of someone along our path presents itself, we have the choice to respond in either a virtuous manner of compassion and empathy or with egoic self serving. When we are suffering and when others are suffering, they are vulnerable. As a virtuous and spiritual being we can choose to walk the higher path and help others in a simple straight forward manner. Or… as in the case of evil ego, we can, in a moment of self serving, create an opportunity to manipulate a vulnerable being through cleverness and trickery to get what we want.

 

If you are thinking that it seems that those people seem successful because gain wealth and prestige, then you are only seeing things on the surface level. The underlying reality is that “great executioner” which is karma (cause and effect) will return all that the ego put into action. Besides that, those who understand ego, understand that the ego is never satisfied. Ego can at best only feel a fleeting moment of satisfaction or fulfillment because of the nature of its inherent desire. Those who reside as the true self, the spiritual self, know that true fulfillment does not come from the material plane. True joy and lasting fulfillment only come through mystic virtue. We can be mindful of our intentions and discern what we are doing and why. We can be self aware and step away from ego when we find that we are about take advantage of someone and using cleverness for self gain. We can also use self awareness and realize when someone, some ego, is attempting to manipulate us with complexity and cleverness. You can at once see your own ego being needy and vulnerable and the opposing ego taking advantage. And that is a formula for suffering. Two egos circling each other, one manipulating and the other being manipulated. It creates a downward circularity that ends in suffering for all involved. Yet it does not and should not be this way.

 

As Tao cultivators, we can embrace the three treasures and use them as a compass for guiding us along life’s path. We can first be compassionate and empathize with another’s situation. We can be conservative and keep things simple and straightforward and remember to be humble by embracing selflessness. Only through mystic virtue can we experience the extraordinary successful life.

Life

Life

 

Chapter 10

 

In holding the soul and embracing the oneness

Can one be steadfast, without straying?

In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation

Can one be like an infant?

 

In cleaning away the worldly view

Can one be without imperfections?

 

In loving people and ruling the nation

Can one be without manipulation?

 

In the heavenly gates opening and closing

Can one hold to the feminine principle?

 

In understanding in all directions

Can one be without intellectuality?

 

Bearing it, rearing it

Bearing without possession

Achieving without arrogance

Raising without domination

This is called the mystic virtue.

We are called to embracing the oneness, to refrain from straying and to holding the soul. How does one accomplish this? Unifying the physical with the spiritual is the state of consciousness we know as meditation. Holding the soul is the moving above the singular view of materialism and sensation seeking (ego) and experiencing life without constant distraction.

 

When we contemplate the nature of distraction, we can realize that it is a tuning out of life. Distraction is by nature the dropping of attention and our being captivated by the irrelevant. Experiencing life is the singularity of physical experience. We can refine the experience by paying attention to each moment and letting go of those things which block or create resistance.

 

Being relaxed and concentrating our life energy we become like infants, soft pliable and full of wonder. Allowing our “self” to become distracted and dominated by ego, we create resistance, stress and the sense of wonder is lost to anxiety and problems. When we allow our mental focus to become absorbed by distraction, we have lost our foothold on life as the spiritual or true self.

 

The Tao cultivator tunes into life, and pays attention to protect the sanctuary of keeping a peaceful heart. The sage or wise person does not lose nor waste energy on unnecessary clenching and striving against the flow of life. The sage reaches balance and harmony by realizing the flow and becoming one with it. The harmonizing of the spiritual and soul with the physical experience of life brings forth mystic virtue. This is the authentic path of heaven and true being.  This does not mean there are not difficulties. This means we do not give into ego coping because the experience we are having is difficult. With hope, we bridge the gap between fear and courage. Especially in times of turmoil, we return to spirit for guidance and solace. The sage seeks the path of balance and harmony. The balance between the spiitual self and the physical world is the path of mystic virtue. Without arrogance, without dominance, without the illusion of possession, and  without ego, the Tao cultivator embraces mystic virtue. This is life. This is true living.

Be Like Water (the strength in humility)

Be Like Water (the strength of humility)

Chapter 8, 34

The power of humility is experienced when we become like water and seek the low places. What does this mean? To understand true strength and courage we undertake the cultivation of controlling the ego. Ego always seeking attention and self gratification abhors humility. In the Tao Te Ching we are called to “resemble water”.  In the opening verses of Chapter 8, Lao Tzu teaches us with these words:

“The highest good resembles water

Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention

It stays in places that people dislike

Therefore it is similar to the Tao”

Those lower places that people dislike is where we find the Tao. It is the place of humility. For the ego cannot dwell in low places, because it is too concerned about it how it looks, what people think, and loss of status. Ego is concerned with “getting ahead” and it could care less about how it may trample upon others. Humility is the putting aside of ego and seeing, accepting reality as it is.

In Chapter 34, we see how getting beyond obstacles is smoothly accomplished by flowing around objects. When we free ourselves from the ego, and unify with life as the true self, we are not chained to the reactions of the ego. Flowing like water around obstacles is the true self accepting things as they are. In self awareness we can practice letting go and moving on, not get caught up or entangled in attachment and desire.

“The great Tao is like a flood

It can flow left or right”

An easy example of this is when someone says something to us that the ego takes offense at. The ego takes things personally and begins taking on a sense of contention and retribution. The Tao cultivator becomes like water. Not imprisoned by the reaction of ego, they move on and around the comment and do not become stuck. As we bump into the trivial obstacles in life, we can just let them and go and move around and onward within the flow of the Tao.

There was a story told recently about a Tao cultivator who was an author. For a moment his focus became caught up in desire of increasing sales of his book. He sought to improve his standing in both sales and appreciation by readers by getting more good reviews for his book. Then a Tao sage read his comments and showed him how his actions were not in accordance with the Tao. The author realized what was happening and released the grip of egoic desire and need. Rather than take offense, he accepted the truth of sages words. In humility he became free, or “unstuck” of this desire. If his ego has remained in control, he would have taken offense at the sages words and become stuck in the illusion that he must have the reviews to be successful. He could have become involved in distraction of being offended and the suffering that comes with it.  Being like water, he assumed the low place  (humility) that ego could not dwell in. In this way he allowed his wisdom mind to come forth and to become strong. The Taoist Sage gifted him with the truth, yet it was only accepted and understood through humility. There is strength is humility because ego has no purchase to root. It dies from lack of attention and pride. With ego removed wisdom and knowing take root like the blossom of the lotus flower, rising above and becoming at one with the great Tao.

We can recognize ego at work when we find ourselves unable to be humble. If you begin to sense that pride, arrogance and contention taking root, that is ego. If you cannot even for one moment practice humility and take the low place, that is ego. If you cannot move on from some perceived slight or offense that is ego. Humility is medicine, the cure, the antidote to the ego which is poison to the spirit. Free your self, return to your true self and experience the strength and courage of flowing like water.

Cleverness

Cleverness

Chapter 65

Those of ancient times who were adept at the Tao
Used it not make people brighter
But to keep them simple
The difficulty in governing people
Is due to their deceptiveness

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 so profound, so far reaching
It goes opposite of material things
Then it teaches great congruence

There is an old saying that goes something like “the devil is in the details”.
When the ego mind is at work it strives. In striving, ego always sets up as many incoming vectors of self serving as possible. In a given situation, it believes that the more complex something is the more elegant. It strives to create confusion so that those it would manipulate are not aware of its true intention. Ego loves tricky, clever misdirection so that it can act in deceitful ways to manipulate and take advantage of the those around them.

An example can be found in this when engaged with sales people who go to great lengths to create confusion and employ cleverness to get the sale. They can be found in every industry where hard work and honesty are dropped in favor of clever wording and psychological parlor trick manipulate people into giving up their money.

We even do this to ourselves. When ego is allowed to run freely as the creator of our path, it can be so very clever in justifying the self gratifying poor choices that get us into so much trouble. Sometimes our striving can become so complex that we believe our own tricks and deceive ourselves. While living within ego our cleverness can get us into serious trouble.

Ego living for the pursuit of desire fulfillment creates problems from poor choices. Ego thinking that it can buy happiness through the purchase of material items, will soon run out of money because there is just not enough stuff to ever find that feeling of fulfillment. When the money runs out, it seeks more, often in the form of credit cards. Soon the ego is feeling clever at how well it can ‘rob Peter to pay Paul”. It will set up what it thinks are clever schemes to shuffle money around, even feeling proud of how tricky and complex their system is. Yet, it cannot last and one day the house of cards collapses. The mess they create they can create can be so complex that it is impossible to sort out and come up with a viable solution. Thus ego creates situations that are too complex and impossible to solve.

The Tao cultivator learns to keep things simple and to follow those who seek simplicity and straightforward demeanor over cleverness. Importantly they also recognise the tricks of cleverness in others and learn to not fall into the traps that clever egos set up. In this balanced way the the Tao cultivator can experience the grace of mystic virtue. Staying away from trouble keeps them on the path. When trouble is at hand, they use simple straightforward steps to go beyond the problems areas of life because they are not overburdened with complexity and detail.

The self aware person is mindful and present. They pay attention to the choices at hand and carefully choose the way of simplicity. By managing their own ego, they are able to discern the cleverness of other egos and steer away from trouble. In this way they do not take upon themselves the distractions that lead to suffering and misery.

Striving

Striving

chapter 73

The bold in daring will be killed

The bold in not daring will survive

 

Of these two, one may benefit, the other may harm

The one hated by heaven? – who knows the reason?

Even the sages still find this difficult

 

The Tao of Heaven

Does not contend and yet excels in winning

Does not speak and yet excels in responding

Is not summoned and yet comes on its own

Is unhurried and yet excels in planning

The heavenly net is vast

Loose, and yet does not let anything slip through

 

In the chapter on Wu Wei, we learned the meaning of action without striving. It becomes relevant to understand the nature of striving and how the Tao of success follows a different approach. One meaning of to strive is to work vigorously towards some goal. Or it can mean to struggle or contend in an effort to gain or achieve some result. For many people this is just the only way known to realize accomplishment or achievement.

Working against the natural order of change creates friction. Moving against the flow of underlying reality is contentious. The ego is contending that the external conditions along the path should not change and refuses to change with the situation. Going against the current of life creates friction and strive. The ego is belligerent and clings to its agenda in a bullish sense of pushing through obstacles. Even when common sense or instinct would guide one to use caution and consider alternative, the ego swells with pride and daring and tosses away wisdom as if it were a hindrance. In Chapter 13 we can read

 

“Favor and disgrace make one fearful

The greatest misfortune is the self (ego)

What does “favor and disgrace make one fearful” mean?

Favor is high and disgrace is low

Having it makes one fearful

Losing it makes one fearful

This is “favor and disgrace make one fearful”

 

This seeking favor and becoming fearful of disgrace will cause the person realize misfortune. This sets up the ego for striving. Because ego is fearful it contends with life and strives to avoid at all costs the loss of face, to look bad. Following this course of striving leads to resistance to the flow of life. The striving creates stress and tension.

 

Another root of striving is found in stubborness. This ego trait should not be confused with resoluteness. Stubbornness is ego refusing to consider any alternative because it must be seen as being “right”. Ego will not change course, change its mind, or consider alternatives because it fears being seen as “wrong”. This is a classic setup for striving. Not being will to change even when it makes sense, is being stubborn. Stubbornness leads to striving.

 

Tao cultivators achieve successful results without striving because like water they flow around obstacles. They find alternative when life changes around them. Tao cultivators pay attention to ego and let go of feelings of needing to refuse help or ideas from others. Tao cultivators do not fall victim to the need to “hurry up” when things change, they merge with the rhythm of the underlying reality, and the flow of life.

 

It is very easy to get caught up in the ignorant whims of ego. It requires the practice of mindfulness or paying attention to what we are thinking, feeling and “doing”. Being in a state of distraction, one is captivated by the desires and feelings typical of ego behavior. We must practice self awareness so that we do not get mired down and become lost from our path. This is not necessarily easy to do yet with practice we can learn to realize when we are striving and to return to the Tao.

 

From an energy standpoint, stiving is a very inefficient use of resources. The resistance created in striving, in going against the flow, creates stress. In chapter 6 we are informed that the Tao  “flows continuously and is barely perceptible”.

 

In distraction we are ignorant of the flow and cannot perceive it.  So at the end of a day of striving we feel exhausted. We have used all of our energy up in pushing through life and its perceived obstacles rather than moving around them. In chapter 76 we are informed that it is more efficient to be yielding and flexible. In chapter 8 we can begin to see that “goodness resembles water, water benefits myriad of things without contention, it stays in the places that people dislike”. This place that people dislike is humility, and that aspect of people that cannot abide humility is ego. In humility we can let go of ego traits that cause resistance.

 

In chapter 22 the Tao Te Ching further tells us that in yielding there is strength. Yielding is the opposite of striving.  “Yield and remain whole, bend and remain straight”. When we refuse to yield to life as it happens, we wear ourselves down and become depleted. Constant striving against the flow will bend us over with an unsustainable pressure. When we quit the stubborn and clinging behavior behavior we begin to unify with the source again. Humble we become “low and become filled”, letting go of ego “we might be “worn out and become renewed. Striving is the refusal of becoming humble, yielding, and become like water, flowing and seeking the low places.

 

Balance and harmony Striving is the action that leads us away from balance and harmony. Chapter 46 states: “the satisfaction of content is the lasting satisfaction”. Striving is the pursuit of ego agenda. Wu Wei is the action without striving which brings about balance and harmony. Opposite of striving is allowing, bending, being flexible and open to other perspectives.

 

When we encounter the inevitable changes along the path, the ego will define these changes as “problems”. Sometimes the problems may seem insurmountable. If we allow emotion and ego to dominate we will be able to hear the subtle nuding of the Tao in the form of hope. In hope we can find courage. With courage we can let go of ego and seek guidance of the eternal source. When we are unified with the underlying reality we are once again moving with the flow of life and most importantly we are not striving. Move with the Tao, resistance begins to fade away, It is in these moments that hope turns into inspiration. That is we move from ego into spirit,and follow our spiritual true guidance. This is the path of the true self.

 

Desire an Sensation Seeking

mugshot

Desire and Sensation Seeking

 

Chapter 12

“The five colors make one blind in the eyes

The five sounds make one deaf in the ears

The five flavor make one tasteless in the mouth

 

Racing and hunting make one wild in the heart

Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause damage

 

Therefore the sages care for the stomach and not the eyes

That is why they discard the other and take this”

For the individual who is lost to ego, desire and sensation seeking are the reason for living. They live to fulfill desire. Take a moment  and take an honest look back over your life with the intention to find the truth of your life purpose. Ask and look to see how much of your intention has been to acquire material things and pursue sensual gratification.

What is your purpose in life and how does desire play a role in it? Some of you may find that serving others is your intent. Many will realize, if they are honest, that they spend most of their waking life and energy towards fulfillment of desire. They do this thinking that fulfilling desire is the same as happiness, contentment and joy.

Desire is a hunger, a longing, a craving for enjoyment or satisfaction. We must explore deeply the what and why of this hunger before we can become free of it. When there is false purpose in life, a hunger is created. From this hunger desire for fulfillment and contentment is experienced and leads to craving. The ego mind thinks that happiness can not be experienced until that craving is satisfied. This illusion that true joy, happiness and fulfillment are temporary and last only as long as the experience itself. When it is over, the ego returns back to craving. It becomes a never ending cycle that becomes our purpose in life. The downward spiral of trying to satisfy craving only grows in intersity. It becomes strong and stronger the longer we obsess with it.

We can look at common situations and see obvious areas of imbalance in our life.

When we use food/calories as a coping mechanism, we create a sensual craving for food. Distracted in the sensation of eating, we may enjoy a temporary fulfillment. It does not last and soon we are craving more. The more emotional stress we experience, the more food we crave and eat. We become overweight which is a state of imbalance and leads to self inflicted disease if not corrected. One day we are finally wake up to the fact that we may be dying as a result of our own actions.

When we pursue material things as a coping mechanism for life’s pain we begin to feel and believe that happiness will be found when we obtain that thing. Frequently this means purchasing some ‘thing’. Each time we get that ‘thing’ we may experience a temporary period of satisfaction. Yet it is almost never lasting. Soon we are craving more things or stuff to find happiness, fulfillment or contentment. It can soon become our purpose. When the budget can no longer afford the purchase of more ‘things’ we seek and find credit. When the credit runs out, we may soon find ourselves in a situation of not having enough money for essentials. The spiral often continues downward until the phone begins to ring and debt collectors are calling. This pressure causes more suffering which in turn creates more craving. A moment arrives where we become desperate to stop the madness. It is a madness brought on by illusionary pursuit of happiness. It is a madness brought on by ego.

Today or tonight, wherever you are, there is someone not too far away who is suffering from some type of substance abuse. Right now, in our country, somewhere on some road or highway, someone is being arrested for drunk driving. They are being handcuffed and are headed to jail because they are no longer able to control their actions. At some point they may begin to have that moment of truth where they ask themselves how it all came to this. At the root of this misery is ego and craving. When problems arise, the ego seeks avoidance and distraction. The distraction is often in a sensual experience. When we suffer from stress and emotional pain, we may seek to disconnect from life. The more painful the experience is, the deeper the craving for distraction is. Drugs, including alcohol, can temporarily numb some of the emotional pain. But like other forms of distraction, the pain will return and with it the craving. Because many of the forms of drugs used for distraction are physically addicting, a person can get into deep trouble very quickly and find that the way out seems hopeless.

We do not have to look far to see people who are obsessed with some type of crazy desire or sensation seeking devotion. They live in the illusion that life is the experience of those moments of relief or temporary ecstasy.

The Tao cultivator is aware of this aspect of ego self and is mindful of rising desire. The true self is grounded in appreciation for things are. In a sense they enjoy the sensations of living because they are present and aware. Yet when the experience is over, there is no clinging. They understand that true and lasting contentment and fulfillment are found in joy of serving others. They appreciate and enjoy the sensual experience yet do not become attached. When the experience is over, they allow it to be completed and let go. Because they realize that it is not where purpose is found they do not give in to the ego craving for more. Desire is easily satisfied with acceptance and appreciation.

Where does the true self find fulfillment and purpose? It is found in the three treasure.

In compassion, the serving of the needs of others is a sharing of not only the experience but of resources so that the many share in the abundance. There is a deep satisfaction when contentment is shared by the many.

In conservation, we can realize that more is not better and we can enjoy what is at hand. The true self easily accepts that enough is enough. Resources are depleted because of insatiable desire.

In humility, we are honest about our desires. In this way way we find strength to overcome weakness. By admitting and recognising the ego tendency we can let go as it arises and avoided becoming attached. This is hard work in the beginning and requires constant vigilance. It is advised that the person who is just starting out on the path of self awareness should surround themselves with supporting people who understand and support your intention to free yourself from the illusions of sensation seeking as a means finding happiness or contentment. If you surround yourself with other people disconnected from the true self and are lost in ego sensation seeking, you will only continue towards the destiny of misery and suffering. Therefore you should be with people who will help you stain on the path. Th Tao cultivator understand that they must follow the virtuous path as if their life depends on it. For they know that this is the path of authentic living