All posts by The Dixie Taoist

I'm just a fellow traveler on the path.

Are You Ready ?

Ignorance might be defined as the behavior of repeating the same mistakes expecting new results. In the introduction to this companion book, there is a reference made to Chapter 50 which observes that nine out of ten people are caught up in three patterns of ignorance. Only one in ten are able to and willing to take up the “journey of life”. Only one in ten are willing to take the path of wisdom.

Sun setting over beach.

One has to wonder what it is that the one in ten realize that would inspire them to follow the altruistic path? The internet is full of wise sayings and common cliches. Yet, even though they may be appreciated in a brief moment of thought while viewing one of the social media sites or reading a fortune cookie, they are rarely ever practiced. Why is that?

The answer is that it becomes a matter of choice and choosing. That might sound simple, but in practice it can be quite the challenge. True choice is made by the true self. The true self or the higher self is that which has transcended the lower aspect of the mind, also called the ego.

The majority of people, the nine out of ten mentioned in the Tao Te Ching, are not choosing the ultimate path of wisdom because they are not aware that is not even possible to live any other way. The choice is mostly not available to pick the path of wisdom because choice is only available when one is awake and aware.

The awakening process into true awareness is called transcendence. The root word, to transcend is to rise above, move beyond, and be released from, some type of confinement. When the nine out of ten are faced with a given situation, choice is not available because of the lower state of mind of not being aware. This lower state of consciousness that most people dwell in called ego. Choice is available to an individual residing in the ego state, yet it is a very limited choice. Maybe reaction would be a better description of how ego responds to life’s situations. The ego does not have the patience to consider other perspectives. It is too greedy, too emotional, and too caught up with coping to see the big picture.

The 9 out of 10, are just not ready to let go of the life of sensation seeking, distraction and coping to practice the cultivation of wisdom. Many times, the one of ten person reaches the bottom of a long downward spiral and finds that the only way the prison of egoic suffering is to try something else. Sometimes people become inspired by another one in ten and see the higher path. What ever the reason, this choice will change their lives for the better, if they follow it through.

So one awakens from distraction and the path of materialism and ego, and seeks the path of wisdom. Awake and aware they are ready to follow the path of truth. Yet newly arrived on the path, the often do not know where to turn to for the source of wisdom. This where the Tao Te Ching becomes a life saver. To assist in find the wisdom for the encounters you will have this companion book will point to the chapters that are relevant situations.

The Tao Te Ching illuminates the traps of ego, and will guide you to a life of simplicity, joy and success. It has served people for 2500 years, and the truth it offers is still relevant today. So here you are with your moment of truth. You are awake, aware, and present. Will you become the one and ten, who will find the path to a life of balance and harmony? If so, lets move to the next chapter.

After years of cultivating ignorance and distraction, it becomes the conditioned way of life. Quite often the person is so grounded within the conditioning, it is quite literally all that that know. It is the only reality they are tuned to. So reaction is the conditioned response that is actualized by the ego. Choice is captivated by the ego and the life experience is thus the one created by the materialistic ego. Our reality and the details of our path are the myriad of things we create, moment by moment. Imprisoned by ego, choice has little meaning.

Awakening from this lower state of consciousness is the transition cultivated through meditation. The awakened state is one of realizing and comprehending the true self. The true self is in unity with the true source, The Tao.

Awake and aware, paying attention and choosing wisdom is the path. We can realize the powerful gift that Lao Tzu has made available to us when he put the many words of wisdom together for us in the Tao Te Ching. In this higher state of awareness we can choose the wisdom of the Tao by listening with the spirit to the wisdom found in the Tao Te Ching.

Paying attention, moment by moment (mindfulness), we guide our creative steps along our life path with this wisdom. We study the ancient teachings and cultivate our ability to stay in unity with the creative source. We learn to avoid the pitfalls of ego and the lowers self.

This book is to help you find and cultivate the wisdom found within that is to say the wisdom of the true self. As you experience life and encounter the flow of constant change, you will have infinite opportunity to try the wisdom in real life situations. You can begin right away. As you sense your next fork in the road of life, some decision or choice at hand, ask what would the Tao have to say. Find the Wisdom, virtue or ignorance in here by looking through the index and glossary, and see what the instructions are for you.

Tao Master Derek Lin has gifted us all with the true translations and meanings found in the Tao Te Ching. We can all read in a way that is relevant and easy to understand what the wisdom is that we are to incorporate. The Dixie Taoist handbook is to help you locate the wisdom you are seeking in the Tao Te Ching and to integrate into your consciousness through the process of self awareness and implementing it as the true self.

In each and every moment, there is inherent to each of us, the potential for choosing the higher path. Following this path will have such profound results, you will understand soon why it has been consistently at large for over 4000 years.

Now that you are once again made aware of what is waiting for you, can you choose to wake up and realize who you really are? Or will you remain within the prison of ego and slog along with nine of ten, repeating the same mistakes, the same behaviors, the same bad habits, and experiencing the limited life.

When you are ready, the Tao will be there. It is available to all of us. The Tao is the ultimate source for all of us. It is available to everyone, even those who are disconnected and lost within the ignorance of ego and the material domain. Yet when one has suffered enough and they hit bottom, the path awaits them which will take them to Tao.

If you choose, that is to say, if you are ready, the true source is awaiting discovery. You only have to wake up and leave the fetters of ego behind.

Be Like Water

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.

 

Tuning Into Life – Meditation

Life

hunting island beach

Tao Te Ching; 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 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 and expericing 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 “selves” to become distracted and dominated by ego, we create resistance, stress and the sense of wonder is lost to anxiety and problems.

Serenity and calm abiding is the norm. The Tao cultivator tunes into life, and pays attention to protect the sanctuary of keeping a peaceful heart. The sage does not lose nor waste energy unnecessary clenching against the flow of life, the sage reaches balance and harmony. 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. Without arrogance, without dominance, without the illusion of possession, and  without ego, the Tao cultivator embrace mystic virtue.

Getting Started

There are many spiritual paths and many philosophical studies to help us find wellbeing and happiness. At the beginning of each new year, many of us pledge and set new resolutions to change our habits and behaviors to move in a new direction. Billions of dollars are spent each year by people seeking help and self improvement. At the heart of success or failure is “self control” and “self discipline”. Will power is a lofty word implying that we can employ power by simply willing it. Yet why do so many of these ambitious beginnings fail and why is happiness and fulfillment so illusive?

The first step along the path of transformation is self honesty. We must take ownership of where we are and how our own choices and decisions created the life we are experiencing in the present. It may not seem like much of a choice, yet choice is available to us in each and every moment.

You may feel like you are a victim of circumstances. There may be some truth to that and we all have situations happen to us that we cannot control. The first insight is to realize that while we cannot control what happens to us all of the time, we can learn how to control how we react to the things we experience. Reaction is what happens at the moment an experience is beginning. It is in that very first perception of “what is” that we can implement choice. Reaction is simply having your buttons pushed and responding in accordance with your life-long conditioning. Typically reaction is automatic and we are not even aware of the reactive element until we suffer the consequences. After we have repeated the reaction enough times it just become our customary behavior, what we do when things cause an emotional trigger.

Therefore to prevent the reactive aspect of the mind from following its usual routine some other part of the self must intervene. This other aspect is called the higher self or the wisdom mind. This aspect of the mind is usually in the background, and its wise advice usually ignored. The reactive mind, ego is usually in charge the aspect of self that gets us into to trouble. We must learn to pay attention to what the mind is experiencing and how it is reacting. To “pay attention”, we must be aware of how we are identifying or being. Which aspectof the self is in charge. Identifying as the higher self, or the true self is the aspect of your conscious being that is awake and aware. Distraction is being lost in emotional thought that is driven by ego and a prisoner to reaction.

So how do we awaken from distraction, focus the mind long enough to become one with our true self? The answer is meditation.

In meditation we practice holding our attention where the intention is set by the true self. In many traditions such as Qigong, the breath is the focal point. We train our organic brain mind to pay attention for sustained periods so that it can unify with the spiritual mind, the true self. This may sound easy, but many find it difficult. It becomes a matter of patience and practice. The ego mind is bored easy and always always seeking stimulation. The ego wants something “to do”. If life is too problematic it will seek distraction from the reality of life and find something sensual to become lost in. That is the reaction. Life is problems and painful so lets tune out. Another term would be coping. The person grounded in ego is always coping with various forms of distraction and sensation seeking.

So at first , meditation seems very hard to do as our higher self begins to take charge of the mind. The harder it is to be still and quiet is an indicator of how energetic the ego mind is. The mind gets stimulated by activity. Sometimes it is just cognitive stuff required for doing work, or solving a problem. Other times it is artificially stimulated by engaging in emotional activities. In our modern culture Television and video games have become big culprits in over stimulating the mind for reasons of distraction. Busy days at work, work related stress and drama, make it very hard to “unwind” at the end of the day. Yet this is the very thing we must do in order to relieve stress.

The more stimulated the mind is, the more you need meditation and stillness. Yet the more stimulated the mind is the harder is to do. It is paradox that is only solved by sitting in stillness untill the mind finally runs out of energy. Then we must refrain from over stimulating and return to stillness over and over until we have trained our mind and the true self is securely in control. This is true self control.

We the true self is in control, those moment by moment decisions that create our life are made with patience and wisdom. When ego is in control, we cope with life with distraction. Being is experiencing life through consciousness. This spiritual aspect of you is your true self. We get lost from it after years of neglect and cannot find our way back. Meditation is the unifying of our physical aspect of self with our spiritual aspect of self. We then have the self control, the self discipline and willpower to create a life of well being and longevity.

So no matter which spiritual path you take up, one must first awaken and return to being. This awaken is the unifying of the two domains or the two selves. The spiritual and the physical becoming as one. Then, grounded in being, awake and aware we realize there are no ordinary moments. Awake and aware we realize that all we ever have is right now, and that the present moment holds eternity.

I follow and recommend the ancient path of the Tao. To follow the path of this ancient wisdom we must become self aware through meditation. That is a truth you can take to the bank. There are numerous meditation techniques and methods for returning to stillness and realizing the spiritual self. To transform your life you must find and practice the one that works. It takes faithful practice, and the reward is wonderful.

So here is a moment of truth for you. Will you slide back into ego? Will you seek the awakening of the true self and the wisdom that is available?