Yielding & Flexibility

 

boneyard beach St Simons

Endurance and longevity require the ability to be able to yield and be flexible. Rigidity and inflexibility is short lived. This photo was taken in 2005 at Boneyard Beach, St. Simons Island, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

From Chapter 8, Yielding and Flexibility.

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Karma the great executioner

karma the great executioner

 

People do not fear death
How can they be threatened with death?
If people are made to constantly fear death
Then those who act unlawfully
I can capture and kill them
Who would dare?
There exists a master executioner that kills
If we substitute for the master executioner to kill
It is like substituting for the great carpenter to cut
Those who substitute for the great carpenter to cut
It is rare that they do not hurt their own hands

Chapter 74, Tao Te Ching

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

Choice and Destiny

“If you want to know your past,

look at your present conditions.

If you want to know your future,

look at your actions today.”

Chinese Proverb- Unknown

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

It is essential that you understand the following points:

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

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

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Read Sovereignty For Free – at kindle unlimited lending library

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

kindle unlimited with book cover

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

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

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

How To Cultivate Wu Wei

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

Canyonlands, Utah.

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

 

Cultivation & Practice

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

The softest things of the world

Override the hardest things of the world

That which has no substance

Enters into that which has no openings

From this I know the benefits of unattached actions

The teaching without words

The benefits of actions without attachment

Are rarely matched in the world

Chapter 43, Tao Te Ching

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

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

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

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

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How to Take Charge of Your Destiny

take charge of your destiny

Cultivating your Destiny.

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

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Work on the Self – First

Two people practicing yoga.

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

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

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

Ego-goals are well intended but almost always fail.

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

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The Critical Moment of Choice

Young woman portrait.

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

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

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The Silent Witness

29716186_129264804584561_2072355538892488704_n(1)

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

Excerpt from Chapter 27. Sovereignty – The Tao Principle of Self Managment

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Soveriegnty Just Published

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The foundation for longevity is laid with the Tao Principle of Self Management. Without Sovereignty, it is too easy to give into the desires and emotions of ego.

Back Cover Description

Imagine what it would be like to rule over your life from a place of stillness, calm, and tranquility? Imagine what it would be like to wake up and remember what it feels like to find the world beautiful and interesting again. This power is yours when you learn to follow the way of virtue. This is the power of Sovereignty. This book will explain and guide you into becoming the sovereign over your life and destiny. This is true power.

Softness

grand canyon black and white

The softest things of the world

Override the hardest things of the world

That which has no substance

Enters into that which has no openings

From this I know the benefits of unattached actions

The teaching without words

Are rarely matched in the world

Chapter 43, Tao Te Ching

Softness is both a Tao principle and virtue. In this book, I am putting under the category of a Tao virtue because of its inherent power. The first two verses bring emphasis to the inherent power of using softness to overcome hardness. The most commonly used metaphor and easiest to understand is water. Water is soft to touch and has little substance when you try to pick it up. Stone is the commonly used metaphor for hardness and a material which has no openings. To appreciate the inherent power of softness penetrating something harness, take a look at the Grand Canyon in the American Southwest. Water has slowly worn away the hard and rocky plateau to create one of the great wonders of the world. It is also quite evident when you take a look at a sandy beach or sand bar. Water has reduced solid rock into tiny particles. The process begins with water slowly penetrating the hard surface of the stone. Slowly and patiently water seeps into the rock in a process that to disintegrate its structure. Wind and Sun, also without substance, assist the process until the solid stone is no longer there.

The power of softness is especially useful in dealing with many aspects of life. It is so applicable in everyday life. As a life strategy, it gives you a methodology for resolving hard problems.  Use softness to penetrate the obstacle, get informed on what is going on. Be detached from the intended outcome and allow time chip away at the hardness. Let the Tao guide on your course. And one day, that mountain will be a big pile of sand.

One example is when dealing with some of the personality traits of the ego. Some of those hard characteristics might be stubbornness, anger, and aggression. The soft approach to these might be patience, non-reaction, or empathy.

Here is a story that I will share to reflect how softness can overcome hardness in interpersonal relationships.

In the city where I was living, there was a consignment shop that I affiliated with as a vendor. It was during the great recession. Times were hard, and people experienced a lot of stress trying to make ends meet. The owner and manager of this consignment shop had a challenging time trying to keep her business going. Her stress created a lot of tension among the people who worked there. Because of her anxiety, she was not a good manager, and retention was a problem. One of the more successful vendors, a lady who had a lot of experiencing in the antique market decide to leave and start her own business. She was a friendly and optimistic person who finally had enough of the stressful environment and opened up a similar business across the street. She was an immediate success. Most of the customers left the business of the cranky lady and started giving business to the new business across the street. Then many of the vendors, having had enough of the constant drama, left and came over to the new business too. It didn’t take long before the first business was in serious trouble with a lack of loyal customers and workers. One day which has been particularly bad for her, she got angry and marched across the street to have it out with the woman who had left and started the successful business. She threw open the door, walked up to the new store owner and begin to bless her out. Momentarily, she paused in her onslaught to take a breath. During her verbal attack, the other woman, the friendly optimistic and prosperous new store owner, smiled and said,

Oh honey, I am so sorry you are having such a hard time. I know how difficult it is. Let me hug you”. She embraced the angry woman, who suddenly wilted and began to sob. She returned to her store, and before long it was closed and out of business. Later, she came to work at the new store for the friendly lady. The last time I saw them, they were both at peace and happy again.

In this true story, the friendly optimistic lady used a soft, non-reactive, empathetic and compassionate response to the hard attack. It is a classic case of wisdom vs. ego. Witnessing that event raised my spirit, and to this day, I keep that example in my mind as a strategy for dealing with hard personality types. I have told this story many times, and people have shared their own stories where they found it to be successful.

In this chapter of the Tao Te Ching, Wu Wei activates the inherent power of softness.

“From this, I know the benefits of unattached actions” verse 5 from above is talking about Wu Wei or “unattached actions.” Footnote

To see the inherent power consider this sample sentence:

Because she reacted softly with empathy and compassion, the woman stopped attacking her.

Verse 6, “The teaching without words

Are rarely matched in the world”

That woman taught me and everyone there how to use softness to overcome hardness for a beneficial outcome. We learned from her example. Later I asked her about it, and she said that she was living through her Christian conviction of “love thou neighbor.”

It takes self-discipline of ego control to choose softness. Self-control and ego management is the greater principle of sovereignty. In the moment of action, you have a choice. If you are mindful of ego, you can be detached from reacting. In that detached state, you can choose the wisdom of the Tao. In this case, the wisdom is the virtue of using softness to overcome hardness.

Moderation

Chapter 24

MODERATION

...Therefore the sage:

Eliminates extremes

Eliminates excess

Eliminates arrogance”

Excerpt from Chapter 29 Tao Te Ching

I define moderation as avoiding excess or extremes. Complements of moderation are balance, harmony, and conservation. There is inherent power in the ability to moderate behavior and choices.

Understanding moderation is not rocket science. Implementing moderation can be quite challenging. Any reasonable person knows and understands that going to the extreme in any situation erodes balance and well-being and that excess leads to depletion. Most people know this. Then why do most people suffer from some form of excess or extreme?

In most cases, it is due to the cause and effect of choices made by ego. These options usually begin with one person and often spreads to include many other people. When the egos of the many collude, it becomes collective ego. It is easy to observe how an individual or a group of people are out of balance. The result of extreme or excessive behavior is evident by the lack of harmony. Here are some examples to consider.

  • Health and fitness harmony (weight, vitality, energy)
  • Mental and emotional peace (self-destructive behaviors and habits)
  • Financial health – income and debt balance
  • Interpersonal relationships – how well do they get along with others. Cooperation, teamwork, friendships, filial relationships)

If you are experiencing any of these, try realizing where a lack of moderation has created disharmony. The deeper insight will be to realize how ego played a role in the choice that led to excess. You can use moderation as a conscious management of decisions and actions so that balance and harmony are maintained in all aspects of life. Moderate choices are only possible when you have learned to manage the ego. Management of the ego is the self-discipline of sovereignty. To gain control the ego, see the chapter 5 on meditation and mindfulness.

The inherent power of moderation as a virtue.

We all have experience challenges in life. Things happen to us, and we find ourselves in stressful situations. When they do, the ego is quick to react. Often the ego will overreact. These are times when we are most likely to go to excess or extreme. The sovereign is mindful of ego reactions and chooses to use a moderated response.

Here is an example where you can see the inherent power of moderation.

“because of her moderate approach to gambling in Las Vegas, she was able to leave the casino with her winnings and invest them in real-estate.”

The lesson: because she managed the ego’s lust and greed for more, she wisely left while she was away. She was then able to invest the net gain winnings into something with stable growth. This example involves other virtues as well as their inherent powers. In this one, you can see, patience, wisdom, moderation, conservation, and constancy.

…Excessive vitality is said to be inauspicious

Mind overusing energy is said to be aggressive

Things become strong and then they grow old

This is called contrary to the Tao

That which is contrary to the Tao will soon perish”

Excerpt: verses 14 – 18, Chapter 55 Tao Te Ching

I included the excerpt from above in Chapter 55, because it is directly relevant to our modern life.

Excessive vitality. Too many people strive to be successful. There is excessive use of stimulants such as caffeine and energy drinks to raise their vitality for high performance. Or they maybe too tired or hung-over from excessive partying the night before. Either way, the pursuit for extreme energy is known to create health problems.

Mind Overusing Energy. This term has many examples. But the one that I want to focus on is worrying. Being concerned about potential problems is a regular part of life. Chronic worrying can quickly become toxic. Too much anxiety is stressful and is a serious imbalance in the mind and body. Many self-induced sicknesses have their beginnings worry-stress. Again the antidote for this is meditation and mindfulness.

Karma. Now is a good time to remind you of the relationship between moderation and karma. Remember the relationship between choices, cause, and effect. Your future, your destiny is being created in the present. When act or react with extreme measures the future results will be even more extreme and problematic. Taoists call karma “the great executioner” because it does not play favorites and you cannot hide from it. No one is exempt. In this regard, it is imperative to use moderation as a management tool to prevent a dreadful destiny. And your circumstance now can be understood by what you did in the past. Take another look at the list above of areas in your life that may be out of balance. These are the results of some choices or reactions from the past. They may be a result of your own decisions or from others. If they are from others, you must still be mindful of how you respond and use moderation as a guide. This insight is also a reminder of how your choices can affect other people. Moderation is the wise approach.

The sovereign takes care in moderating each step along life’s path. Sovereignty is being mindful of how choices affect your destiny and that of others. The sovereign is mindful of the fact that all things are connected and creates a destiny that serves everyone in the best way possible by avoiding ego-indulgent choices. And that is the power of moderation. Conserving and preserving life by preventing extremism.

Simplicity

End sagacity; abandon knowledge

The people benefit a hundred times

End benevolence; abandon righteousness

The people return to piety and charity

End cunning; discard profit

Bandits and thieves no longer exist

These three things are superficial and insufficient

Thus this teaching has its place;

Show plainness; [hold to simplicity]

Reduce selfishness; decrease desires.

Chapter 19 of the Tao Te Ching

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

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

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

Another complement of simplicity would be conservation. The vanity of ego can be the source of non-useful expenditures of resources. Complexity leads to difficulty and complication. This leads to stress and worry. Stress and worry generate a need to cope which drains your energy and resources.

A good example of this can be been seen with the late genius and entrepreneur Steve Jobs. It is said that he wore the simple attire of jeans and black shirt as his primary wardrobe. Not having to worry about what he wore must have freed up his genius for more creative wonders.

Exercise/Example

Imagine what the simple life would be for those who are cultivating sovereignty. What if you lived your life in simplicity?

  • Consider areas of your life and how simplicity would have a more positive effect on something like your financial picture.
      • Are your finances complicated? Why?
      • How much debt do you carry that is due to non-essential needs?
      • Why do you choose:
        • the car you drive?
        • The clothes you wear?
        • The person you married?
        • The house you bought
        • The church you attend?
        • The person you voted for?

The chain of complexity might go like this:

  • Complexity leads to a higher potential for problems to occur.
  • Problems create stress.
  • Stress leads to unhappiness.
  • Unhappiness leads to coping.
  • Coping leads to desire.
  • Desire creates attachment.
  • Attachment leads to striving.
  • Striving leads to complexity.

Often, coping means buying stuff to make yourself feel better and find happiness. It becomes a circularity for suffering; a daisy chain of ignorance that is avoidable. Because of problems, you might be thinking
“if I could just get that (fill in the blank). ” So you spend money and get one. One day you realize that you are still unhappy. So you buy something else. At some point, you may realize that you have acquired too much debt. You can now add debt and financial problems to your unhappiness. Searching for happiness in material possessions often creates a downward spiral.

When you can learn to find true joy and happiness in the simple things in life, usually non-tangible items, you can find lasting joy and happiness.

This concept always hits the ego the wrong way. So if you feel resistant to the idea of living a simple life free of attachments, that is the ego influencing your mind and mood. Sovereignty is the ability to reign in the ego and to realize the power of simplicity.

This where simplicity becomes a virtue of power.

  • Simplicity reduces complexity and paves the way to fewer problems.
  • Fewer problems means less stress.
  • Less stress means less striving.
  • Less striving creates unattached action.
  • With unattached action, there is nothing one cannot do”.1

The phrase “nothing one cannot do” is a pretty good example of success. So simplicity is a virtue that can lead to success. Constancy2, which is returning to self-awareness and unity with the Tao is easier when life is free of distractions of attachment.

If you are keeping a journal, notate the times where you are successful at keeping to simplicity. Especially note where you have an opportunity to improve (setbacks). Be mindful of the choices that lead to complexity and see the ego’s influence in your decision making.

If you look at a list of antonyms for virtue, you will see words like dishonesty, evil and imperfection. Practicing these traits will end in ruin.

All virtue has inherent power. You can see the inherent power in simplicity.

Example: Because she kept things simple and easy to understand, the project was completed smoothly and quickly.

Practicing the virtue of Simplicity enables Sovereignty. Sovereignty is “the mother principle of power”. 3

1See v4, chapter 48 of the Tao Te Ching
2See the Chapter on Constancy for more detail.

3See Chapter 59 Tao Te Ching.

Humility

The third is called not getting ahead in the world”

from verse 11, Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching

The verse above stating “not getting ahead in the world”, is stating the virtue of humility. This virtue, humility, is a complementary of compassion and conservation. In conserving spirit, you have transcended the self-important perspective of ego. Compassion is having loving kindness and caring for the suffering and well-being of others. The joining of compassion and conservation opens the door to a state of not striving to get ahead in the world or non-self importance. This state of being is humility. Humility or selflessness is the antithesis of ego.

As you gain skill at sovereignty, you gain more and more control over the ego. This is the point that the need for self-importance begins to reside. Neediness is a core principle of the ego-self. The need to have attention, to be seen as the best, to always win is how the ego spends its life. Seeking ”to get ahead in the world”, rather than being like water and seeking the low places” 1.

Like the hub of a wagon wheel, being empty of ego, humility gives function to so many other principles and virtues of the Tao.

Chapter 8: “The highest goodness resembles water,

Water benefits myriad things without contention

It stays in places that people dislike”

Therefore it is similar to the Tao

Chapter 22: “….be low and become filled

Be worn out and become renewed

Have little and receive

Have much and be confused

therefore the sages hold to the one as an example to the world

Without flaunting themselves, they are seen clearly

Without presuming themselves, and are distinguished

Without praising themselves, and so have merit

With boasting about themselves and so are lasting”..

Chapter 28 “…The eternal virtue does not deviate

Return to the state of the boundless

Know the honor, hold the humility”…

Chapter 39 “The honored uses the lowly as a basis

The higher uses the lower as a foundation…”

Chapter 66 “ Rivers and oceans can be the kings of a hundred valleys

Because of their goodness in staying low

So they can be kings of a hundred valleys

Thus is sage wish to be over people

They must speak humbly to them…”

The inherent power of humility the first two treasures possible. Because you are not trying to get ahead in the world, your spirit resides in compassion. Because of your humility you are free from the greedy desire of ego never caring for conservation. The ego is too hungry with desire, it is ignorant to conserving resources. Through Sovereignty, you can engage the inherent powers of the three treasures and experience a long joyful life.

Humility is the principle and centerpiece for so many insights within the Tao. Humility opens the mystic door to the insight that those who are blinded by ego/desire/self-importance cannot see or comprehend the power of humility. Humility is the gateway to the Tao.

1See the chapter on Softness

Conservation

the second is called conservation

verse 10 from Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching

The second of the three virtues is conservation. Conservation is the virtue of preserving, protecting, not being wasteful and using resources in a wise method. It is used in both material and non-material aspects of life.

Examples:

Material resources: money, home, clothes, car etc.

Non-material resources: friendship, relationships, energy, time etc.

These material and non-material things in life are limited. Since they can be used up, it is important to take care of things that can be hard to replace. Your most important resource is life. Life is limited for everyone, therefore you must learn to conserve your life so that you can endure successfully. Sovereignty is the self-disciplined management of ego so that you don’t waste your life experience. Longevity and endurance depend on skillfully managing your resources so that your biggest resource, life, can be long and full.

Conservation has complementary relationships with other virtues such as moderation, patience, harmony and mystic virtue. When you practice patience, you can use your resources in moderation to keep balance and harmony in your life. Longevity, endurance, prosperity, and harmony are all inherent powers of conservation.

Conservation of Spirit. (constancy)

The foreword section of this book defines life as a sacred journey of experience. You are called to be awake, aware and experiencing life to gain wisdom. Successful realization of sovereignty can only happen when you continually return to self-awareness and unity with the Tao. This constantly returning/awakening is called constancy.1

Conservation of spirit is one of the highest virtue. Conservation of spirit empowers you to manage the ego and desire so that you do not deplete your resources. As always it comes back to conservation of spirit to be mindful of choices. Choosing actions that conserve both intangible and tangible assets is key to longevity and avoiding suffering and death.

Remember, your actions are like ripples in a pond. We are all connected. Your compassion or your indifference can affect so many. When you deplete your spiritual awareness and make selfish choices, the result can affect others. When you stupidly waste your life, others must sacrifice some of their own resources to help you start over. Those with compassion are willing to help. However, it is important to know that compassion from others can have a limit along with patience. If you hit bottom and have a chance to start over, you must use the gifts of compassion from others to help yourself return to harmony. Gratitude for assistance can go a long way.

The penalty for continuing to be the prisoner of ego and self-serving narcissism is dealt out by karma. Karma2 sometimes called “the great executioner” does not play favorites. Any notion of “it can’t happen to me” will be crushed. Karma is the result of your own ignorance choices. You must be honest with yourself and realize your actions. Conservation is a virtue that the Sovereign works at to build wisdom. You must be mindful of your resources and keep harmony in your life.

1See the chapter on Constancy. Section Two Chapter

2See the Chapter on Karma, chapter 10, section one.

Compassion

I have three treasures

I hold on to them and protect them

The first is called compassion

verses 7,8, and 9, Chapter 67 Tao Te Ching

Compassion is a conviction of love and kindness for another being. It is a virtue that comes from the heart. The Sovereign, as a spiritual being, recognizes the spirit in other living beings. Note that the sovereign does not discriminate in its recognition of other living beings. As human beings, we share the planet with a very large number of other beings, who just happen to dwell in a different body. The Tao is not exclusive to humans and an argument can be made that plenty of beings in the animal world are closer in unity with nature (Tao) than a lot of humanity. But at least for the beginner on the path, compassion (loving kindness) for other humans is a useful place to begin.

As discussed earlier, true virtues have inherent powers. The inherent power of compassion is true courage.

“compassionate, thus able to have true courage”, verse 12

It is important that you study an accurate translation of the Tao Te Ching. The character for compassion sometimes gets translated as “pity”. However, pity is too far off the mark and will not make sense when consideration of the deeper study of compassion especially when used in verse 12. The inherent power is revealed when you realize that true courage comes from compassion. Pity (feeling sorry for someone) and empathy are important, may focus more on victimization. When you insert the word pity instead of compassionate in verse 12, you can see where it falls short.

Example: Pity, thus able to have true courage.

True compassion can be seen easily when you think of a parent/child relationship. Better yet, is to consider the mother/child bond.

Courage is sometimes confused with bravado or showing off by doing something dangerous. 1 Courage by virtue of compassion can be seen when the mother comes to the defense of her child. It is not just a human attribute. This compassionate courage can be seen throughout nature. Just as a human mother will not hesitate to face great odds against her, mother in nature will do the same. The internet is full of videos showing animal mothers protecting their young against dangerous predators. Even in our own homes, you can see dog or cat mothers standing up for their babies against anything they feel is a danger. This is true courage and is sourced in the love and selfless compassion for their children. The inherent power of compassion is not limited to mothers. You too can practice compassion (loving kindness, caring) and realize the power of true courage.

So you can begin to see that compassion is a specific kind of love and caring. Love has several perspectives including self-love, romantic love, or adoration for a material thing. This type of love is for someone or others. It doesn’t have to be for your children or family, it can be for your community or country. It is having compassion, love, and kindness for other than yourself.

One more area of compassion to focus on.

If one fights with compassion, then victory,” verse 20

Fighting here is not in the martial sense, but more as a metaphor for the battles or struggles in life. Courage to successfully get through life’s battles can be found when we are fighting for something important other than just ourselves. It is working hard, persevering and enduring so that others may benefit in a good way. When your efforts are grounded in the compassion of helping someone outside of yourself courage will empower you to stick with the effort and to endure. In a very simplistic perspective, true courage is not found in ego bravado, it is found the selfless caring of something other than yourself.

1See the Chapter True Courage, Chapter 16 for clarity on courage vs bravery

The Three Treasures

The Three Treasures

Everyone in the world calls my Tao great

As if it is beyond compare

It is only because of its greatness

That it seems beyond compare

If it can be compared

It would already be insignificant long ago

I have three treasures

I hold on to them and protect them

The first is called compassion

The second conservation

The third called not daring to be ahead in the world

Compassionate thus able to have true courage

Conserving, thus able to reach widely

Not daring to be ahead in the world

Thus able to assume leadership

Now if one has courage but discards compassion

Reaches widely but discards conservation

Goes ahead but discards being behind

Then death

If one fights with compassion, then victory

With defense, then security

Heaven shall save them

And with compassion guard them

 Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching

It is understandable why Lao Tzu called these three virtues as treasures that he holds on to and protects. These three virtues are applicable in every aspect of life. Picking up from the last chapter of Constancy, returning to spirit is sometimes easier said than done. It takes years of practice in cultivating constancy. So I listed the three treasures as a recommended next step in keeping grounded within the Tao.

When combined the three treasures form a complementary foundation for the Sovereign path. Each one gives true context for the other two.

three treasures

Compassion harmonizes with Conservation and Humility

Conservation harmonizes with Humility and Compassion

Humility harmonizes with Compassion and Conservation

If you are just beginning your conscious effort of cultivating, start with these three. Use these three as your moral compass in everyday life. When you have practiced them long enough, they will become the default perspective as you develop your Tao strategies for moving around life’s problems and obstacles.

On a personal note, I consider these three treasure as one of the key or highest virtues. You could spend the rest of your life attending to your ability to follow just these three. It is worth the effort for yourself as well as the rest of the world.

In the first chapter, you read that the concept of this life experience as being a sacred journey. Now it is time to realize that this is the journey back home. Home is where you live. Spiritually speaking, home is a returning from striving in the world of form to the tranquility of stillness and being. The path back home is very hard if not impossible without following the path of virtue. I consider the three treasures very significant guides on the road back home.

Wisdom

owl wisdom

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

I define wisdom as the intelligence that consciously combines knowledge and experience for sound judgment. There are many books and articles that use the phrase “wisdom of the Tao”. I take that to mean, intelligence gained through study and practice of Tao lessons in everyday life. However, it is important to note the distinction of knowing the wisdom and using the wisdom. Acquiring knowledge alone is not enough. To benefit from the real power of wisdom, you must actually cultivate it and use in the moment by moment choices that create your destiny. The opposite of wisdom is ignorance and stupidity. A colloquial definition of stupidity or ignorance is to keep repeating the same destructive mistakes expecting new and different results.

There are two main points I hope that you will gain from this study of wisdom. One is to cultivate wisdom and the other is to choose to use it.

Cultivating Wisdom

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

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

The wisdom is found in both failure and success. One teaches you what leads to failure and one teaches what leads to success. Over time, your experience becomes the true wisdom.

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

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

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

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

The inherent power of wisdom is the right action of intelligence. One of the complements2 of patience is wisdom. Patience can provide the space and opportunity for wisdom by controlling the reactive ego. Detachment can provide the opportunity for patience. You can see these virtues work together in a tapestry to create wisdom. You just have to be present and self-aware.

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

Accumulating virtues means that there is nothing one cannot overcome

When there is nothing that one cannot overcome

One’s limits are unknown

The limitations being unknown, one can possess sovereignty

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

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

2Complement (no compliment) something completes or perfects the associated virtue.

Patience

In the previous chapter, I stated that acceptance is a gateway virtue that enables other virtues such as patience. Patience is what I would call a lynch-pin virtue. It is the complement of so many other important virtues. A lynch-pin joins the axle of the wagon wheel to keep the wheel in position. The lynch-pin keeps the axle from sliding out of the hole in the wheel hub. Thus, the emptiness of the hub gives function to form and holds it all together so the vehicle can move forward towards its destination. In its most important role patience unifies possibility and intention to destiny. Destiny is determined by your choices. To choose wisely, you must be patient, and not be pushed by impulsive negative traits of the ego mind.

wagon-wheel

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In holding the soul and embracing oneness

Can one be steadfast without straying?

Verse 1, Chapter 10

Meditation leads to the stillness of the mind and emptiness of ego. Stillness and emptiness is the space for acceptance. Acceptance creates space for patience. Patience enables you to be steadfast without straying like the lynch pin holding the wheel to the axle. It is said that emptiness gives “functionality to form.”1The inherent power of patience is the wisdom to resist ego and avoid impulsiveness and reactionary choices. This is the inherent power of patience.

Example: Because she was so patient, the children came to love and respect her.

Patience creates the space for hope, giving you the courage to overcome fear. By the phrase ‘creating space’, I mean that you become present and self-aware. Free of the impatient ego, you can choose to be patient. In the moment of patience, you return to your true path.

Continuing with the wagon wheel metaphor, let thirty spokes of the wheel, be some of the many virtues one can practice as a sovereignty cultivator. Patience allows you to view many different perspectives and possible choices to the situations that you face. Without patience, these virtuous choices will probably not be realized. Lack of patience and impulsiveness can lead to costly stupid mistakes.

Exercise:

Here is a list of some important virtues, that when mindfully practiced can transform your life in a dramatic and wonderful way. Looking at the group of the virtues below, think about how well you practice them. Get a piece of paper and write each one down. Write down beside it score from 1 to 5. 1 is no patience and 5 is the patience of a Saint. You probably ought to begin with honesty and work your way down. Do you have the patience to stick with this exercise? Or are you already telling yourself you will come back later?

Honesty

Acceptance

Wisdom

Will Power

Contentment

Courage

Discipline

Cooperation

Detachment

Gratitude

Generosity

Simplicity

Flexibility

Softness

Honor

Modesty

Hope

Tranquility

Service

Tact

Wonder

Listening

Seeing

Moderation

 

 

Now if you scored low of any of these important virtues, sit quietly and reflect on why these virtues are difficult. The answer will lie in seeing how your ego resists virtue of patience. This is really where spiritual growth if effective. Seeing your faults and then choosing the right action. With sovereignty over ego, you can be mindful and then choose patience over the ego response. Can you see how powerful it is to be able to over-ride the self-destructive reactions of the ego?

Try these powerful steps of cultivation. The following chapters on virtues require you to exercise patience and practice. Here are some actions steps for cultivation.

  1. Mindfulness. Take a course in meditation and mindfulness. Learn how to focus the mind away from the mind-stream of incessant thinking. Pay attention in a judgmental way to how the mind lost in ego intentions/responses. Consciously choose to ignore the impulsiveness and re-activity nature of the ego.

  2. Keep a journal. I have found that it helps to keep a journal of some sort. At the end of each day, make notes in your journal of what you experienced.

  3. Cultivate patience for a couple of weeks before moving onto the list of other virtues to incorporate into your life. Patience empowers self-discipline. Try to spend 3 or4 weeks on cultivating patience and use your journal to chart your progress.

  4. Cultivate A Life Path of Virtue. Start with the virtue that you scored the lowest and work your way up to your best. The following chapters are some that I find very important to work on. Take each virtue and live with it for a week. At the beginning of each day, take a moment to set the intention to follow the virtue. Work your journal. Use moderation in your efforts. Always be mindful of ego. It is the great pretender. So, avoid attachment to outcome. You will experience some set-backs with cultivating patience so do not lose patience with yourself. That is an ego response (impatience).

You do not have to become an expert at virtuous living. Even just a modest improvement will transform your life. Just do the best that you can. Remember, that your choices will initiate cause and effect (karma). The causation of virtue will result in true wisdom which will guide to true success. What you concentrate on, what you send out will return bigger, deeper and strong. The more you invest in virtuous choices, the bigger the return of Mystic Virtue2. This is the foundation for a long and successful life. This is the way of sovereignty. Begin with patience and self-honesty.

1Chapt 11, verse 2, Tao Te Ching

2Mystic Virtue; Chapter 11