Tag Archives: Qigong

Chapter Twelve – Emptiness As The Source (an excerpt)

My editor liked this chapter and put a smiley face by the following paragraph. I hope you find it useful.

TDT

… 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.

Be Honest With Your “self”

Self Honesty Opens The Door To The True Path

 

The Strategy: Be honest with yourself. Take ownership of your life, where you are, and how you got there. To change your life from one of struggle into one of success requires and honest and accurate self assessment. Pay attention to the voice of ego.

Its Application: Being honest with anyone, whether it is yourself or others is only possible when we transcend the influence of the ego mind. Free from the opinion of others, practicing acceptance of how things really are, admitting fault and mistakes is the true self turning adversity into wisdom. The true self learns from experience. The ego sticks to ignorance.

 

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 71

To know that you do not know is the highest

To not know but think you now is flawed

 

Only when one realizes fault as fault

Can one be without fault

 

The sages are without fault

Because they recognize fault as fault

That is why they are without fault. 

Self honesty opens the door to self exploration. If we cannot be honest about our ignorance and mistakes, we cannot become free of them. The ego being vain and insecure must pretend to be the highest and most adept, especially when it is not the case. When are able to free ourselves from the ego and return to the true self, we can admit that we don’t know. In that admission we open the door to wisdom and allow ourselves to see wisdom.

Ignorance is repeating the same behaviors and experiencing the same suffering while at the same time refusing to change or let go. Wisdom is the higher understanding of acceptance of not knowing yet seeking realization and being willing to change. If ignorance is a prison for the spirit, ego is the gatekeeper. When we admit our lack of adherence and understanding, we become humble. Humility is the very powerful virtue that releases us from the clinging to ignorance. 

If we view fault as an unsavory or unsatisfactory feature, then through self honesty we can admit our faults. Humility is the power to admit faults so that we can overcome them. Think of some area of your behavior where you have fault and notice any resistance to accepting that in fact it is there. If you can successfully see and admit your fault, you are seeing life as the true self.

Being honest with ourselves also includes not being too hard on ourselves. The important aspect is see things as they really are. We are called to become at one with the underlying reality. If we are with fault we recognize this. If we are not at fault, we can recognize this as well.  Self assessment must be grounded in truth.

In each moment, in each now, we have choices to make which shape our destiny. This means in each moment we are choosing either the path of ignorance or the path of harmony. We can create our own suffering or we can create our own fulfillment. It begins with admitting when you do not know and when we have fault. Knowing comes through wisdom, and harmony is realized when we accept when we do not know and when we have fault. This is done through self awareness and alignment with the Tao. 

Not being honest is living in an illusion that is generated by the ego. Thus one can begin to understand that the true path cannot be found and maintained if we are blinded by illusion and non-truth. Ignorance and illusion are both perspectives of the ego. The true path can only be seen through eyes of honesty and virtue. It awaits us all and will magically rise before us when we enter into wisdom. This is the true path, the way.

 

Strategy Number 30: Be Independent From The Good Or Bad Opinion Of Others

Become Independent From the Good or Bad Opinion Of Others

The Strategy: Free yourself from the influence of what other people think of you.
Its Application: Sovereignty of self is true power. This is especially true when we can become free from the opinion of others. The true self follows the moderate path of wisdom and virtue. The ego is either striving for acceptance and the good opinion from others or it is striving to avoid the bad opinion from others. Either way, this striving influences the decisions and choices that create one’s destiny. The Tao cultivator works on being free from this ego trait and through virtue (such as the three treasures) will find and keep harmony and balance in a successful life.

Non Virtuous Trait: Dependence on the good opinion of others

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 13

Favor and Disgrace make one fearful
The greatest misfortune is the self
What does “favor and disgrace make one fearful” mean ?
Favor is high, disgrace is low
Having it makes one fearful
Losing it makes one fearful
This is “favor and disgrace makes one fearful”

What does “the greatest misfortune is the the self” mean?
The reason I have great misfortune
Is that I have the self
If I have the self
What misfortune do I have

So one who values the self as the world
Can be given the world
One who loves the self as the world
Can be entrusted with the world</blockquote>

So many of us frivolously use up a lot of energy on the worry of what others are going to think about us. The description “frivolously” is used because this such a self indulgence. This Self of course meaning the ego. When we allow our self esteem to rest on the foundation of what others think we set ourselves up for a lose/lose result. Either way we become dependent on an illusion that cannot be sustained. Those of us whose happiness is placed on what others think will always be disappointed. The ego mind can be become trapped between the seeking the good opinion of others or trying desperately to avoid the bad opinion of others.

The ego is very sensitive to criticism. So that any negative opinion becomes a kind of false truth that can be used to manipulate someone who is living a life dominated by the ego self. For the ego mind, self worth is based on what others think. This will be experienced as “misfortune” and suffering. If we have based our ego self esteem on the good opinion of others, we worry about losing it. If we have not yet gained the good opinion of others, we strive to obtain it. Striving leads to misdirection of destiny and suffering.

Striving is distracted action for ego results. It is a waste of energy thus it is a waste of our most precious resource. Wu Wei is the virtue to follow. Wu Wei is unattached action or action without striving. Dependence upon the good or bad opinion of others sets us up for striving. The Tao cultivator upholds dignity by holding to constancy. Constancy of the true self is the maintaining the balance between spiritual and physical. By following virtue and wisdom, the true self avoids the traps of the ego self and choices are altruistic. The Tao cultivators is upheld in the community because of wisdom and dignity and it happens effortlessly.

Yet we do not have cast out our ego self. It is a part of who we are. As Tao cultivators we seek balance which raises harmony. When we are self aware, that is when we are aware of the ego feelings of seeking that good or bad opinion we can step back, let this striving go and be actualized as the higher self. When we are mindful of ego and observe a state of worry over what the opinion of others might be, we can let go and return to the independence of the true self. In balance we can be aware of those opinion yet not be dominated by them. It can be useful to have a good opinion from others yet, we cannot allow ego place a prerequisite for happiness, fulfillment and self worth on them.

As Tao cultivators we stay connected to others, we are aware of those opinions for what they are worth but not controlled by them. As leaders in our community, we are aware of what other feel and think about us but we would not foreclose what we know to be moral and right. There is a balance to be found in regulating the ego mind and the value we place on what others think. Returning to spirit, we free ourselves of dependency on the good or bad opinion of others.

Karma – The Great Executioner

Karma – The Great Executioner

The Strategy: Be mindful and take great care in creating your future.

Its Application: Karma is the great executioner. The Tao does not play favorites. We create through cause and effect. What you concentrate on, your actions are planting the seeds of the future. Your actions now will have consequences in a future now.

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 74
There exists a master executioner that kills
If we substitute for the master executioner to kill
Its 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

The great executioner is called the law of cause and effect. It is also is called karma. Because the Tao does not play favorites, the law of cause and effect applies to everyone. Therefore the wisdom of the Tao is that it is not always or necessarily our place to act as judge and jury and to dispense out punishment. People will receive their punishment or reward regardless of what humanity does. In the case of capital punishment is can be seen now as it was 2500 years ago that criminals are not mindful of it as a deterrent. The understanding here is that regardless of laws and rules set up by humanity, nature and the law of cause and effect will be the creative agent for each person’s destiny. When any of us plant the seeds of self destruction, that is what we will reap in some future now. What we put into the world we will receive back. What goes around will come around.

In every moment of every day along the path, we make choices and choose this or that. Our choices are the seeds that will grow into maturity later on. If we manipulate others for self gain, we will experience being manipulated by others and become the victim later on. If we initiate the suffer of someone by intent, we will experience the greater reward to suffer even more in some distant moment.

The Tao cultivator leaves anger and revenge to the master executioner. Because they know that by holding that sort of negativity in the mind is to create the same negativity along their path. Judgment is a blade that is double edged and cuts two ways. Like an unskilled carpenter who would “try to cut wood” (judge and interfere with another’s life) is more likely to cut themselves in the process.

There may come a time when we are called to judge and punish others, but those times are uncommon and rare. When those times come, we must use virtue to guide us with great care of stepping along this slippery slope.  As leaders, managers or parents we can be empathetic and compassion to help us step carefully. By understanding our own ego and how it works, we can begin to understand other egos and why they do what they do. In this way, understanding that when they are lost and blind in ego they do not know what they are doing and why.

We must use meditation to strengthen our self awareness and remain in clarity and awareness. We must pay attention to ego when judgement begins to arise. Then and only then, when we are awake and present as the true self, can we make wise choices. We can be aware in each moment that these choices are creating our destiny by planting the seeds of the future.

Using the knowledge of karma as guidance will help us make those virtuous choices so that the great executioner become the great benefactor. Living as a spiritual being our steps are guided by inspiration. Planting seeds of virtue will allow us to reap the sweet fruit of harmony and well being. In this way we cultivate the extraordinary life.

This is the true path, this is the Tao.

Close The Mouth and Shut The Doors

Close The Mouth And Shut The Door

 The Strategy: Pay attention to the mouth and the words that come out it. It can be a source of inspiration or a device for hurting others.

 

Its Application. Mindful of ego, we must be alert for what it has to say. Managing ego through self awareness we must refrain from hurting others by what we say.

 talk talk talk

Chapter 56

 

Those who talk do not know

Those who know do not talk

 

Close the mouth

Shut the doors

Blunt the sharpness

Unravel the knots

Dim the glare

Mix the dust

This is called Mystic Wonder

 

Ego has the distinctive failing that covers up its lack of understanding  by pretending to know. It pretends to know by talking a lot. The self realized person (the true self) has confidence and patience and has no need to prove anything. By paying attention we can discern what the ego is covering up by how it works so hard at denial. In this passage Lao Tzu wisely points out how those ego minds that do not know, will spout off with words to cover up the lack of understanding. When the ego feels inadequate and experiences an embarrassing lack of accomplishment, it will attempt to create the illusion of knowing by by talking. The Tao cultivator knows that actions have merit and words can often be empty. Promises are made and easily broken.

 

Those of us who have had to work hard at cultivating the true path, know first hand how much trouble our mouths can get us into. The unwise person is lost in ego and is so distracted that words come out the mouth before they realized what they sound like and how much they can hurt others. The path of virtue is to be diligent in our mindfulness practice so that we manage and control the ego’s need to say stupid and hurtful things. We must be alert and pay attention to the rising emotions and feelings before the mouth is engaged.

 

Lao Tzu calls to us to be mindful of sharp words that hurt or breaks the harmony. We are to say what we men with straight talk and not be deliberately confusing in our interactions. The true self, uses humility to dial back the ego’s need to sound brilliant so that it can be admired and look good. The wise Tao cultivator is grounded in virtue and selflessness, speaking and acting with simplicity. When it comes to words and speaking, more is not better.

 

As a spiritual being in pursuit of the true path, it is imperative that we pay attention to how we interact with those around us. The path is one of harmony and selflessness. Thus as Tao cultivators, we are mindful of what we say and what we mean. When we realize that ego is about to react and say something that will break the harmony, we step back and choose virtue. When we are called to speak, we may take a moment to pause and be present. Using the three treasures as a guide is a good start. When interacting with others, one can consider compassion, conservation and humility before the words form on the tongue. In this way we stay on the true path and maintain the harmony of mystic oneness.

 

 

Expect The Unexpected

expect the unexpected

The Strategy: Expect The Unexpected

Its Application: Understand that the ego has its own agenda. It is a unrealistic view that life is without change and problem should not happen. The true self realizes that understanding of full understanding of life is illusive. Because we cannot know the future and what will happen a lot of the time, we must expect the unexpected. When the unexpected happens, we use the wisdom of the Tao to flow like water around a large boulder. By holding to the one (true path, the way) we endure.

Chapter 21

The appearance of great virtue
Follows only the Tao
The Tao, as a thing
Seems indistinct, seems unclear

So unclear, so indistinct
Within it there is image
So indistinct, so unclear
Within it here is substance
So deep, so profound
Within it there is essence

Its essence is supremely real
With it there is faith
From ancient times to the present
Its name never departs
To observe the source of all things
How do I know the nature of the source
With this

In our arrogance, the collective ego of humanity believe that it understands all there is to know about our nature and our cosmos. Yet time and again, we are shown how little we really understand. Weather is one example where we are lulled into a complacency with forecast and when they are incorrect we get angry with the forecaster. Weather is just one way that energy moves about the universe and the wise forecasters tell us to always be prepared for disaster. We are advised to store food, water, and other essential supplies for the time when the unexpected happens. In this way way we can expect the unexpected.

The Power Of Acceptance – Strategy Number Six

Acceptance
angry sunset

 

The Strategy: To practice accepting life as it happens. Stop resisting reality. Be humble, patient and seek wisdom for deliberate action.

Its Application. In each moment we can become aware of how we are reacting to the things that happen to us in life. Opposite of reaction is acceptance. Accepting things as they are we no longer waste energy on that which just is. We can align with the wisdom of the Tao and overcome obstacles with much less effort.

 

Chapter 22

 

Yield and remain whole
Bend and remain straight
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 for the world
Without flaunting themselves, and so are seen clearly
Without presuming themselves, and so are distinguished
Without praising themselves, and so have merit
Without boasting about themselves, and so are lasting.
Because they do not content, the world cannot contend with them
What the ancients called “the one who yields and remains whole”
Were they speaking empty words?
Sincerely becoming whole, and returning to oneself.

Yielding is surrendering to acceptance. Resistance is opposing the reality of life in a given moment. Yielding is surrendering the egoic stance and allowing courage of the true self to remain firm. Ignorance is resisting the underlying reality and taking a set of details personally.

 

So here you are facing some obstacle in your life. The unrealistic ego expects everything to go its way. In that instant, in that now, when you are faced with the obstacle or problem, you have a choice. You can allow the ego to react which is not really a choice or you as the true self you can choose an action.  You can choose to accept and yield or you can choose to resist and move against the flow of the underlying reality. Action is a product of a the self-aware choice. In another chapter, we will discuss Wu Wei which is the action of not striving. Action does not necessarily have to be a “doing” thing, your action may be to hold off and seek wisdom. Ego is enslaved to ignorance and reaction, and the True Self takes a measured action according to wisdom and virtue. The outcome of this reacting or striving can be very self-destructive.

 

Ignorant reaction is one where ego is making the decisions. The decisions are usually based on an emotional state that can often not be based in reality. Fear about what may happen, worry about some distant point in the future, Ego usually has a distorted view of the facts and therefore choices made within this perspective can be flawed. Since cause and effect (karma) is always present, your choice will become part of the new reality.

 

The alternative is to be present as the true self, be unified with the Tao and to choose from the perspective of wisdom. In that first instant, you can transcend the ego reaction and discern what may be unfolding. In this orthogonal perspective you may realize a whole host of possible choices or alternatives. By choosing to accept and yield where possible, we can remain whole and not lose virtue to ignorance. By not resisting we can bend and remain straight instead of breaking. When we spend a lot of energy resisting the flow of life as it is, we become tired, yet when we yield and remain soft, we conserve energy and renew.

 

Chapter 71 (accept when you do not know, accept when you are at fault)

To know that you do not know is the highest
To not know but think that you know is flawed
Only when one recognized fault as a fault
Can one be without fault
The Sages are without fault
Because they recognize the fault as a fault
That is why they are without fault.

 

This wisdom is practical and should be easy to implement. Yet if you are grounded in ego, accepting that you do not know or that you are at fault is almost impossible. Not accepting these realities is to just continue on with the illusion of self-deception. Only when we accept that we do not know can we begin to seek the understanding that leads to knowing. Only when we realize and admit that we are at fault can we begin to correct the fault. Otherwise we just continue the path of ignorance, which is the reality of not knowing and being at fault. This is a huge waste of time and energy (Qi) and only results in the false destiny. The Tao cultivator stays on the true path by the acceptance of knowing that they do not know and accepting fault as fault. Only then can they resume the true path.

 

Other areas of acceptance that can help us return to the true path are:

 

accepting that we may never know the great mysteries

accepting that we have not hit the mark (failure)

accepting that we have setbacks (a lapse back into ego)

accepting that the details of life are constantly changing, nothing remains the same, that there is impermanence to all things

accepting that we are not right (correct and at fault)

accepting that we are attached to something.

accepting the present moment as it is

By not being overtaken by distraction and ignorance, we can “hold to the one”.  We can hold to that authentic path of the true self. In this way, by not making the mistakes of ignorance, the Tao cultivator is recognized by their wisdom. Without flaunting, their example endures and their virtue is seen clearly. By not getting caught up in self promotion (ego) they are distinguished and are given high merit. By remaining virtuous and in alignment with divinity, they last.

 

Reacting to other people, circumstances and situations with ignorance is a form of resistance known as contention. When we react to someone in a negative way we are contending. Contention is to struggle with, to grapple with, and to oppose. This is resistance which creates friction. Friction uses up a lot of energy resulting in depletion. So when we contend, we may as well expect the to also to meet contention. This is a stagnation in ignorance where there is no winner. In relationships there are always going to be opposing views. Yet, the Tao cultivator can accept that there is an opposing view without agreeing with and still without contention.

 

Yielding for the Tao Cultivator does not mean that we give up what we know to be the path to wisdom. The Tao cultivator remains above the reaction of resistance and contention and flows like water around the obstacle. By remaining in wisdom, the Tao cultivator seeks the myriad of possible solutions by remaining free of taking things personally and holding to the one. If we use the metaphor of life being like a series of cards to be played (a card game), inevitably, we will receive a hand that is not productive. The ego will freak out, the true self is patient and will transcend emotion and consider the best strategy to continue forward.

 

Cause and effect are seeds that get planted in each moment we face a fork in the road of life. This is how our destiny is formed. The Tao cultivator, is ever-present of holding to the one, their destiny, they do not let the ego control the process. Mindfulness is the paying attention to this process and holding to the one. The Tao cultivator follows the wisdom of the Tao as if their life depends on it. Because what is life but our spiritual self experiencing reality in the physical realm and each moment holds the seeds of the future.

 

If yielding and acceptance seem like a weakness, this is the ego view. The moment one can realize, even for an instant, the freedom, the power to let go and accept and yield, virtue has risen. This is the power of the Tao.

 

Choose To NOT Self Destruct; Choose Life

Avoid Self Destruction And Choose Life

The Strategy: Avoid self destruction through burnout and excess and maintain harmony between spiritual and physical energy.
It’s Application: We must ask our “self”, why do we choose self destruction? We are a Life form with the potential for self awareness. We absolutely must not interfere with the life force [Qi] that holds our form together. We must nurture and support our life form, our body, so that we can continue to experience life in the physical realm.

Chapter 55
Those who hold an abundance of virtue
Are similar to newborn infants
Poisonous insects do not sting them
Wild beasts do not claw them
Birds of prey do not attack them
Their bones are weak, tendons are soft
But their grasp is firm
They do not know of sexual union but can manifest arousal
Due to the optimum of essence
They can cry the whole day and yet not be hoarse
Due to the optimum of harmony
Knowing harmony is said to be constancy
Knowing constancy is said to be clarity

Excess vitality is said to be inauspicious
Mind overusing energy is said to be aggressive
Things become strong and then grow old
This is called contrary to the Tao
That which is contrary to the Tao will soon perish

Li Ching Yuen for slide
In many of the various traditions, we have heard stories and legends of ancients who lived very long lives. To do this in a time before moderation medicine they must have had a secret that kept them going for such extraordinary lifetimes. In more recent times there are some stories of individuals who lived far longer than the average person. One such person who live for 250 years was a Chinese man named Li Cheng Yuen, that is somewhat documented to have been born in 1678 and died in 1928. It has been reported that he was an adept in Qigong and an Herbalist. Successful Qigong practitioners were also followers of the The Tao. The secret, which is really no secret is found in the chapter above. One might bring special attention and focus on the section above in italics.

“Due to the optimum of essence” is stating the bodies ability to repair and sustain energy, health and well being through the nurturing of the Qigong practice of regulating the essence. To regulate essence requires that we create and sustain the conditions for our Qi to flow unencumbered. To keep things simple just understand we must moderate our mental and physical activities. Moderation is the best starting point. Moderation of the body begins with the mind and its state of harmony or stress.

Mind overusing energy is said to be aggressive” was apparent in Lao Tzu’s day just as it is in our modern culture. One can realize just how tired they can become from doing nothing other than too much mental activity. Often this mental activity is from negative emotions and thinking such as fear, worry, anger, frustration and anxiety. One does not have to do anything physical to become completely depleted and drained of energy to reach burnout.

Important Insight. One may think that burnout is just something we get over and move on from. Yet the deeper wisdom in this insight is realized when one gains a deeper understanding of the role of Qi, the spiritual energy, or life force energy as it often called in the West.

Think about how all living organisms come into form. Not only is there an organizing and emergent property of nature that constructs form for consciousness to experience life, but this same force, this same energy sustains, repairs and holds all of these life forms together. In Qigong, it is understood that essence is the catalyst through which the energy works to create and sustain the life form. When a being, any being, overuses the energy, the environment to which the life form energy breaks down. The energy is blocked and interfered with. As the flow of Qi is impeded, atrophy begins to go to work. Think of atrophy as nature’s deconstruction process where it takes elements and building blocks of nature and redistributes them to other place where they are needed. We we experience burnout, we have set up the conditions for atrophy and open the door for our body’s deconstruction. The form, the body, our body, struggles to keep the form whole and functioning. Too much interference with this process leads to disease and death through atrophy.

It is really quite simple. We are to create harmony within the mind and body to help nature hold us together. If we interfere with the process, we breakdown, become sick and die. There are plenty of “natural causes” that humans succumb to that just happen and are not preventable. Yet there are many many causes of disease and death that are caused through our interference from stress and anxiety. Thus, we must all create balance and harmony in our life form, our body to support nature’s life force energy to keep us well. If we do this, and we are lucky, we can live to be very old and experience happiness and well being. It is a matter of choice.

Choice is made by the true self which is our spiritual self fully realized and following the path of wisdom. If you have read everything in this chapter up to this point, you are now faced with a moment of truth Will you allow ego to interfere with spirit and nature and the inherent energy? Or will you wake up (meditation) and pay attention (mindfulness) to what you are doing and why you are doing it?. It is really no complicated secret. Sovereignty of self is also known as self control, and self discipline,

If you are beginning to realize this insight and see the wisdom, you may ask “why would anyone destroy themselves”? Hopefully you will understand the ignorance that ego is guided by and begin the process of waking up and following virtue. In each moment we have choices that guide us to either well being and longevity or burnout, disease and death. We must pay attention to this as if our very lives depend upon it. Self Control and self discipline is a matter of controlling the ego desire part of the mind. This can only be done by transcending the ego and being. Being self aware is the true self. After all…. we are “human” beings, and we have the potential to be self aware.

Most of the time we are lost to distraction. Many of us seek distraction. We seek it because we are coping with a life that has run astray and we desire happiness. Only the ego believes that happiness and joy is found in the material world. Only the true self, the spiritual connection to source understand the really meaning of joy and happiness.

The path is always right here and right now. It is always before you in plain sight. We only have to take the blinders of ego off and return to “being”. It (happiness, joy and well being) does not lie in the past, nor does it lie in the future. It is only here, now, in this present moment. We only have to wake up and choose.

This is the way, The Tao.

Strategy Number Three – The Power Of Choice

The Power of Choice

Strategy: Developing strategies one and two, meditation and mindfulness empower one to pay attention in a non judgmental and balanced way. Now that you are paying attention, realize that your choices are creating your life. Reactions of ego are not true choices, they are just reactions. True choice is realized only by the true self. In this way you are creating your life along the true path. The strategy here is the base your choice of experience, wisdom, and virtue.

Application. Learn meditation, practice mindfulness, and realize the power of choice. Choose each step with wisdom. Choose moderation and find balance. Balance the physical with the spiritual by following wisdom and virtue over ego and desire. Virtues are overlapping and support each other. Patience harmonizes with Wu Wei (unattached action, non striving). Wu Wei harmonize non attachment, Non attachment supports acceptance. Acceptance opens the door for compassion. Compassion opens the door to forgiveness. It goes on and on, each virtue connected in the tapestry of mystic virtue. Mystic virtue is the mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders.

Tao Te Ching
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

In this context, let us define choice as the ability to select from a number of possibilities. The intention in this strategy and its application is to help you realize the power of choice. We do not have to make uninformed reactive choices. Reaction of ego is the illusion of choice that is experienced is guided by desire and non virtuous emotions and thinking.

If you have not yet read the section and chapters regarding ego, it might be useful to do so now. The nature of ego is to be impatient and self serving. More importantly, its nature is to react to what it perceives. Moment by moment we perceived aspect of life as it unfolds. In any given moment, something will arise that that will prompt the ego to define and react. The definition and corresponding reactions fall into a wide spectrum of responses. None of these responses will be developed through patience or any virtue or wisdom. Ego desire will prompt the reaction of need and greed. Ego fear will react will anger, rage, and aggression. Ego pain will prompt the need for coping. In each case the ego reacts to what it perceives. We experience this every time someone or something pushes one of our buttons and we react. This auto response is so automatic, that choice is not available and reaction is automatic. Patience is a virtue of choice, we must transcend the absorption of ego to choose it. This is self control and self discipline. To choose the self must be aware of the act of choosing. This requires a moment of self awareness and being present which is not something ego can do.

Only by following strategy one and two, can you implement strategy 3. Only by becoming self aware (meditation) and paying attention to your mind (mindfulness) can you use wisdom and virtue to guide your choices. These choices create your life circumstances. The physical realm is always changing, and with it the circumstances you are or may be (distraction) perceiving. So life and reality just happen and you cannot control this. However you can control how if and how you react or respond to life circumstances.

The first choice is accepting life as it is. This is just the underlying reality of how things are. If you are self aware and paying attention you can remain detached from reaction before you become lost in it. In that moment, in that now when you perceive some ‘thing’ happening, you can choose what action if any, you might take. Remember, choice is the selecting from a number of possibilities.

Think about playing a game of chance. Maybe it is a card game, maybe it is a board game. One rolls the dice, spins a wheel and chance presents the result. In that moment, one can pay attention to the reactive mind. If the ego perceives that the results are not in accordance with desire and the need to win, the reaction begins to rise. Emotion such as resentment, frustration, anger will begin to bubble up. As the reaction matures is effects decision making and choice. Your next move, will effect the probability of future success. Interestingly, on a deeper level we know we should ignore emotion and frustration and use logic and strategy to choose the next move, the next strategy. Yet, for many of us, we react with reactive emotion. If one is playing cards and secrecy is part of the strategy, that success is lot when we slam the cards down in frustration.

This reaction is always relevant and present in sports. In these physical games, we blend physical form with spirit and logic in a competative attempt to average a higher performance. Yet notice how those who can self regulate and use self control over reactive emotion sometimes pull victory out of a certain loss. When competitors are so closely matched in physical abilities and training, the only difference is often one’s ability to manage emotion and raise the spirit (in case this means self morale). When one overcomes the certainty of defeat to win against the odds, one has “snatched the victory fro the jaws of defeat”. When one is a sure win but “chokes”, it can be said that one “snatches the defeat out of the jaws of victory”. In life strategy, it is no different. Self destruction is a behavior we do to ourselves; unnecessarily. Possibility and probably are many times maluable. They are shaped and guided by consciousness. When consciousness is absorbed by the lower ego mind, reaction becomes the guiding principle.

Possibility and probability are part of self aware universe. We can be unified with source and seek to realize the many perspectives. The many perspectives can inspire many possibilities. In the infinite now, which above the illusion of time, you can choose.

By transcending the ego view of reality we unify with the Tao. As spiritual beings we are called to unify with source. Here is a useful video clip to show a tangible application of how this works:

Watching this video, I am reminded of the first verse in Chapter 10

In holding the soul and embracing oneness
Can one be steadfast, without straying?
In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation
Can one be like an infant?

Notice how Juno becomes present and unifies with source. This seemingly miraculous ability is available to us all. Rather than remain absorbed in despair and loss, we can “tune in” that is realize our true self and become the miracle that we ALL are.

But wait a minute you say. This is just a movie. Ok, here is a video of the same thing in real life.

 

Patience is a virtue that gives great power to choice. Often it is the first of many choices in choosing the next step in your true path. Being patient provides the infinite space for consideration of the many perspectives. You can assume a multi-perspective view to gain insight and understanding of the underlying reality of a given situation.

Then you can consider what virtue and what wisdom can you choose from to take the next step. In this context, we are considering the ancient wisdom of the Tao as communicated by Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching”.

Yet you must realize that for the wisdom of the Tao to be available, you must be paying attention to mind-state (mindfulness – strategy 2). So in that moment, before choice is made, you can consider, “of all the choices I have before me, which and what do I choose?” Being self aware, being patient, what is the virtue that applies here? What is the wisdom that applies.? What have I learned from my past experience? What did I learn from past mistakes, that I do not want to repeat?”

Patience is a good start, Wu Wei is another virtue to practice before choosing. See the chapter on Wu Wei. Wu Wei is action without striving. So the consideration is … what action can be taken that is not one of strive, contention and conflict?

Choosing is the unifying with virtue and wisdom as the true self. The true self experiences life along the true path. In each now, experience is happening. If we are self aware, we are aware of the experience. Experiencing is the purpose of the physical life. We are spiritual beings experiencing life in the physical realm. When we become distracted we are disconnected from the true path. When we are disconnected from the spiritual realm then all that we can experience is the physical realm. When we are distracted, ego is in charge and the limited physical realm is all that we know. This is the path that is often experienced through suffering.

Yet suffering has an alternative perspective. If in suffering, we finally feel enough pain that we seek connection to source, the suffering experience becomes wisdom. When we have suffered enough, we seek our true self and the true path. Realizing (unity with underlying reality), and understanding who we really are, a spiritual being in this physical experience, we begin to understand our “self”. The true self along the true path. This is enlightenment. This the Tao.

Moderation

Moderation

Chapter 9

Holding a cup and overfilling it
Cannot be as good as stopping short
Pounding a blade and sharpening it
Cannot be kept for long

Gold and jade fill up the room
No one is able to protect them
Wealth and position bring arrogance
And leave disasters upon itself

When achievement, fame is attained
Withdraw oneself
This the Tao of heaven

Not so long ago, popular culture adopted the mindset that if more is better, extreme is the best. There were television shows that proclaimed all sorts of extreme interest areas. It became a goal, a competition to see who be the most extreme. And then the great recession hit and brought the advent of extreme unhappiness.

Why is it, that enough is not enough? The concept of moderation is simple enough and the result in practicing it is known to be a virtue of wisdom. So why is it that so many of us cannot practice moderation?

The answer to this can be realized when we identify the ego self in charge of our life. Ego is the emotional and desire aspect of the self that seeks to fulfill desire. Ego is self serving and is completely grounded in a perspective more is better when it comes to sensation. Enough is never enough. Ego, initiates the self serving circularity, where ignorant indulgence leads to disastrous consequences that lead to suffering. To ease the suffering, the ego copes with more sensation seeking. The cause and effect of these choices leads to more disastrous results, which leads to more coping. Round and round it goes in a downward spiral. This is all ego knows. Ego is absolute in its belief that happiness lies in fulfilling desire. When the ego experiences unhappiness it seeks to to cope. The coping creates desire. That desire may be a bacon-cheese burger and biggie fries or it might be that tv show that brings a few minutes of distraction. Sometimes the coping device is addictive. Our coping mechanisms are always personal and are rarely practiced with moderation.

Moderation brings balance. Balance brings harmony. Harmony is a state of well being that cannot be acquired. There is no happiness store with boxes of happiness that you can consume. True and lasting happiness is not sourced in any material form. To be free from this downward spiral of ego suffering, one must find their true path. One must wake up and become self aware. In this moment of self awareness where you are paying to what you are doing and why you are doing it, you can choose… moderation. Mindful of of our desires we can choose moderation.

Moderation allows one to keep balance. When we can enjoy some thing and then let it go without clinging, then we do not become bound by it or we do not become attached to it. When we cannot seem to let go, we become entangled, dependent, trapped and addicted.

Chapter 12
Sensation Seeking and Desire

The Five Colors make one blind in the eyes
The Five Sounds make one deaf in the ears
The Five Flavors make one tasteless in the mouth

Racing and hunting make one wild in the heart
Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause danger

Therefore the sage cares for the stomach and not for the eyes
That is why they discard the other and take this

Have you ever heard music and really enjoyed it? Sometimes we hear a particular song that moves us. Maybe its the words, maybe it is the sounds themselves or the chords. And sometimes really beautiful songs combine both in such a way that we pause and experience a profound moment. It may be a song from our past that provokes a wonderful memory, and for a minute we experience a kind of blissfulness. These create a sensation of wonder and joy which feels good on many levels. And then here comes the ego. Instead of enjoying the moment and letting it go without clinging to it, ego becomes attached. It feels and says to itself “I have to have it”, “I have to hear it again”, and “I need to hear it over and over”. The ego mind quickly slides into striving to immerse itself in the blissfulness that was just experienced and the mindset becomes “more is better”. Enjoyment quickly becomes dependence.

But notice what happens. After the ego has listened the song over and over for a period, the blissfulness begins to fade. The meaning becomes mundane. The song no longer brings the sensation it once did. The ears no longer hear the magic. Time for a new song.

In this way, the ego whose eyes once held the beauty of another person becomes blind after obsessing over them for a time. The trap lies in the clinging and becoming entangled.

These days when someone says something is “very vanilla” it is not a compliment. It means very plain or ordinary. Yet to someone who has never eaten vanilla ice cream, it [vanilla] will be felt as exotic, wonderful and extravagant. Vanilla once was an exotic spice that only the rich could enjoy.

The self aware person, who as the true self, can mange ego and appreciate the simple life. They learn to be happy with the basics in life. And when they hear that song, or taste vanilla it is wonderful and magical. In wisdom, they enjoy the moment fully, staying above distraction, and become one with that experience. When the experience ends, they let it go, not seeking to cling to it. They do not become bound by it or become dependent upon it. The wise person realizes and appreciates the virtue of moderation. This middle way of enjoying with becoming trapped is very powerful. It is a power that can only realized by being sovereign over the ego self.

The willpower to practice moderation is only found in the true self.
The true self is realized through self awareness.
Self awareness is realized through meditation.
Self awareness is maintained along the path through mindfulness.

Paying special attention to what the mind is being influenced by and choosing moderation will bring about harmony. Harmony brings well being and well being is an aspect of the true path.

One can see where there is moderation in their life by realizing how well their life is in balance. One can realize how there is a imbalance and see the lack of moderation. Stop and view your life as it truly is.
Are there areas of imbalance?
Look at the obvious. How much debt do you have? How is your savings?
Is your weight in balance? Are you over or under weight?
How is your health? Are you causing any decline because of bad habits?

You must be honest. You must take ownership. Most importantly you must wake up and pay attention to what you are doing and why. You must free yourself from the ego domination and balance your life with wisdom.

This does not mean that you must stop enjoying life. Remember all things in moderation. This even includes how you moderate your life. “All things in moderation, even moderation” is a saying credit to the Buddha.

Moderation is the path of balance. In spirit we must find balance between the true self and the ego. This the balance between the spiritual and physical. This balance is known as mystic virtue. This is the way of the Tao.

Strategy Number One – Meditation and Self Awareness

Woman in straw hat.

Tao Cultivator Strategy Number One

Strategy: Build the foundation for self control through meditation and self awareness.

Application: By transcending the ego mind and thinking one can wake up into the higher state of consciousness of the true self. Transcending distraction and ego dominance is realized by concentrating or “tuning” the mind and becoming “present”. As the true self is realized, wisdom becomes the foundation for self control, discipline and implementing wise choices. In each moment, in each step, in each choice along life’s path, we create the new reality.

Any project must have a good foundation. To transform your life you must build the plan upon a good foundation. Strategy number one is building that foundation on Self Awareness and Meditation.

To implement any strategy, you must have set an intention. To follow the path of virtue you must keep a virtuous intention. How does one keep a virtuous intention? Through willpower, self control, and self discipline. These are terms that you have heard all of your life yet may  not have been able to stick to them. The only way to change a bad habit is by adopting a good habit and sticking to it. It has to become the new default. This takes self control. This is something you already know at the surface level. A deeper understanding of self control is to realize which self is in control.

If one is only able to make and keep bad habits and self destructive behaviors, it is the ego self that is in control. Please read the chapter on Ego to understand what drives this aspect of the self. For now, just understand that this is the ignorant self that can not break the need to fulfill desire.

The wisdom self also known as the true self is the higher aspect of self that can control the ego and implement patience and wisdom. This also your spiritual self that has great power because it is the aspect that is unified with source. To wake up and realize the true self, you must align your spirit with source (the Tao). Thinking is a cognative function that can be influenced by either aspect of the mind, yet it is only the true self that can control the ego and manage the thinking mind.

Self discipline and self control are choices. The secret or deeper understanding is to realize who is doing the choosing. There is the true self and the lower ego self. The true self, your authentic self and your spiritual self is not bound by desire and the clinging of the physical domain. That is the essence of the ego. The true self is also called the wisdom mind and this is the part of you that can make the wise choices. Think of the image of the devil on shoulder and the angel on the other.  The angel is a metaphor the spiritual self, the wise you. When your sense of “I” becomes the true self, you are identifying as your spiritual self. When your mind becomes absorbed by the physical desire and sensation nature of the physical realm, many of the dark elements arise.

We must train, learn to find wake up and realize our true identity, which is the true self. This waking process is done through meditation. Meditation is a higher state of consciousness where we transcend from or move above the purely thinking mind. The transition in meditation is the raising of the true self, the waking of the true self, the remembering of the true self and taking charge of the ego and emotional mind. The practice of meditation is to” tune” the mind  or to focus and concentrate the attention from thinking to observing. Thinking is necessary and has its place, but it is not the sole aspect of existence. You are not your thoughts. The imbalance of too much thinking and especially distraction is where suffering begins.

Realizing that you are not your thoughts is a good first realization. This realization happens when we can observe the thoughts and thinking. In the beginning of the mindfulness meditation, one begins to practice observing the breath.

Here is an exercise. Close your eyes and ask yourself “am I breathing?”

Look and see. Look with your mind and observe whether or not you are breathing. In that instant, you switch from thinking to seeking and observing. There is very short moment that you notice the breathing. You may even make your self breath just to make sure. Yet for just a brief instant you were observing.

Who is this that is doing the observer?

Now watch the breath for a few minutes with judging or thinking. Just allow the natural rhythm of breathing to happen without interference. You may even silently count them. You may or may not count very far before thinking begins. When the thinking begins your attention becomes absorbed somewhere else, in the thinking. But as soon as you leave thinking and return to observing, your back. This being “back” is to be “present”. You are present when you are observing. When you are present, you are in a state of “being”. For most beginners, there is a switching back and forth between thinking and observing. It will back and forth, back an forth, with thinking eventually taking back over. Meditation is the cultivating of remaining longer in the being  or higher consciousness state of mind. This state of being is found in that tiny gap between thoughts and thinking episodes. “Being” in the gap is fleeting at first, but with practice one learns to remain longer and longer. This is the waking up from the thinking mind. This is the identity shift from purely physical being to spiritual being. This may too simplified, but try practicing this and you will find that it is extremely effective in balancing mindfulness.

Since we are spiritual beings having a physical experience, we must first wake up and take back the identity of the spiritual self, or the true self. Yet we are having a life experience in the physical realm, so that is part of us too as long as we are alive.

Meditation and mindfulness is the balancing of being, as both the true self and the ego self. If your life is a mess, it is because the ego self has been in charge and only knows one plane of existence., the material world of form. When we realize our spiritual self, the true self take over management. The spiritual self is not bound illusionary world of the physical. So when we are realized as the true self we can effectively manage our physical experience, and this other aspect of consciousness. The true self is not bound by sensual desire or need for distraction. The true self is not a prisoner to physical neediness, but is aware of them and even enjoys them in moderation. Self control and self discipline are manage by the true self. So if a person wants to practice them, they must wake up and become assume the identity of the true self. They must wake up from the physical and return to spirit. Spirit is the confluence of both selves, the true self and the ego self which is like your physical life avatar.

 

This brings us to choice. The dichotomy is wise choice and emotional reaction. When any experience is perceived what happens next depends on which state of mind the person is in. If they are lost in ego, then the mind will react in accordance with the sensation seeking, distraction seeking, narcissistic and “what’s in it for me” point of view. If the person is awake and “self” aware as the true “self”, then it [spirit] is free from ego influence and considers various perspectives and will use wisdom to guide in choice. And this is how we create our reality and our life.

 

Therefore, to implement the wisdom of the Tao sages, we must be awake and aware. We must be mindful of what we are doing and why. We must be present as the true self and be aligned with the Tao create along with it. Ego is “tuned outward” or absorbed and  true self is tuned to source or present in being. Distraction is the state of consciousness where we are not awake and aware. You can quickly notice that when our minds are captivated for long periods of time with obsessive thinking, we are “away” for extended periods. Decision making is on ego autopilot. The consequences can be severe.

 

Here is an example. Think about driving your car to some destination. As soon as you sit in the car, crank up and go, what is the mind doing? Typically, as soon as you pull away, the mind goes away too. You will go off in a prolonged mental state of thinking and be completely unaware of the driving experience. Amazingly, we can drive for many miles, passing through dozens of traffic lights and dangerous intersections, switching lanes and stopping at stop signs without ever being aware of it. We do all of this without having the driving experience. We are only vaguely aware of driving the car. Its no wonder that ther are so many traffic accidents. And in this modern day, there are additional distractions added to being lost in thought. Now many of us are trying to use phones, send text message, surf the internet and more … while we are driving in very dangerous conditions! This is not a lecture about texting and driving. The insanity of this is obvious to the self aware and wise person.

So strategy number one is to learn and practice meditation so that you can wake up and stay awake as you live your life. If you are awake and aware you can develop a strategy, implement the wise strategy and stay with it because you can choose. You can choose from the foundation of self discipline and self control.

Each moment, each step, and each day you can recreate your life by choosing the wise path. This is not just good advice, this is a necessity for well being and longevity. We can look at our own life or the life of others and see how well life is in balance. The imbalances are very obvious and many time, if not most of the time, the result of poor choices. The obvious question is “why”. Why do we cause ourselves to have so many difficulties and cause so much suffering to yourself? Now you know the answer. It is due to being lost in the mind of ego.

How do we wake up from ego? By practicing meditation. How do we pay attention to ego and seek balance? The answer is Mindfulness.

How do we develop a wise and effective life strategy and stick to it? The answer: by our choices. Harmony is created by balance. Balance is achieved by returning to the true self and  choosing wisdom over ignorance.

Most importantly, the true self always brings balance. Balance between the spiritual and physical. Balance in all areas of life. Moderation is the wisdom, harmony is the result.

Mindfulness instruction is in most major cities. You just have to look for them and begin the practice. Here is the link to a guided meditation to give you something to practice with.

https://taichiuniversity.dpdcart.com/cart/add?product_id=89660&method_id=93802

The power of the Tao (source) is only realized by the true self. To return to source, you must first return to being. This is the way, this is the Tao.

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.