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My editor liked this chapter and put a smiley face by the following paragraph. I hope you find it useful.
… You can begin to understand and appreciate emptiness when you realize that it is a necessary component for benefiting from the physical aspect of nature. Whereas you use material objects in your world of form, its functionality can only be created in the space for which it operates. In this way you can realize that importance of the space (emptiness) provided in the wheel hub so that the axle can slide into and turn. Thus the vehicle becomes functional with the turning and connection of the wheel with the axle. When you enjoy your next cup of tea or coffee, consider how the container you drink from can only hold the liquid in the space created by the sides of the container. It is the emptiness in the cup that makes room for the tea or coffee. Functionality is one thing, realizing emptiness as a source is at a deeper level. You may as well start with the cosmos which began with the big bang or so it is theorized. Just before the big bang, there was nothing but emptiness, then “BANG” the universe is unfolding. From emptiness came everything that we know… To attain the Tao, you must become empty from the control of the ego and its incessant thinking and pursuit of sensation seeking and distraction. In this way, the emptiness gives function as spirit. In spirit one aligns with source.
From Section Two, Chapter Twelve, Emptiness As The Source.
This might be a useful meditation for beginners who are suffering from stress. This meditation is a mindfulness of thinking meditation to help quiet the mind and relax the body. With continued practice, the Tao cultivator can regulate the emotional mind, the moods, emotional states,and reaction. In the beginning, we must learn to transcend the thinking mind and the ego and find the true self within stillness. I sinerely hope that this guided meditation can help in some way for you to find mental peace. It is a bundle that is both an downloadable mp3 audio and a pdf outline that was followed during the meditation. You may have to download a mp3 player for some smart phones and tablets.
Regulating The Mind – mindfulness of thinking, guided meditation we are in a beta trial so you can listen for no charge by adding beta in the coupon code box. Otherwise the fee is $1.50. If you wish to donate $1.50 to the program, just leave the coupon blank and fill out the credit card info.
From the upcoming book: “Sovereignty – Mother Principle of Power
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.”
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.
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.
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.