4) Nei-yeh — Inward Training and transcendentalism

What is it we are looking for when we find ourselves literally above or beyond AW2what we know with our source? As if we are creating, or in the flow of our highest selves. Not waiting for the world as we find our natural rhythm or spirit that takes us there. It’s like that mountain top experience – where time and space dissolve and you become one with it all again, if only for a moment. What the presence within yearns to return to… as if going within we find ourselves coming home to a place we’ve been a thousand times before. It is in acknowledging this transcendence, we re-discover or find what nurtures us that empowers us in eternity. As if we are here only to refine the spirit within that takes us there.

Nei-yeh — Inward Training and transcendentalism / Wisdom to be shared by All

Seven

For the heavens, the ruling principle is to be aligned.

AW3

The Listener Shaanxi Museum

For the earth, the ruling principle is to be level.
For human beings the ruling principle is to be tranquil.
Spring, autumn, winter and summer are the seasons of the heavens.
Mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys are the resources of the earth.
Pleasure and anger, accepting and rejecting are the devices of human beings.

Therefore, the sage:
Alters with the seasons but doesn’t transform,
shifts with things but doesn’t change places with them.

Eight

If you can be aligned and be tranquil, only then can you be stable.

AW4

The Decanter Urn Sichuan Museum

With a stable mind at your core,
with the eyes and ears acute and clear,
and with the four limbs firm and fixed,
you can thereby make a lodging place for the vital essence.
The vital essence: it is the essence of the vital energy.
When the vital energy is guided, it [the vital essence] is generated,
but when it is generated, there is thought,
when there is thought, there is knowledge,
but when there is knowledge, then you must stop.
Whenever the forms of the mind have excessive knowledge,
you lose your vitality.

The above translation of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism.

By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:

“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).

The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century AW5BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism.

The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.

It is when this spirit of oneness encompasses us, that a sense of prevailing gratitude becomes pervasive in our heart, mind, and actions. This sense of “grace and gratitude” of spiritual awareness begins to occur through us as we rely on the divine presence from within. It is from this acknowledgement our individual spiritual expression finds its home. This connection to the universe through observation of nature, cause and effect, and ancient wisdom is the benchmark of individual spiritual expression.

Henry David Thoreau once said about the practice of yoga, “Free in this world as the birds in the air, disengaged from every kind of chains, those who practice yoga gather in Brahma (as in to preserve) the certain fruits of their works.

AW11

Thoreau’s famous quotation, near his cabin site at Walden Pond

Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga faithfully. The yogi, absorbed in contemplation, contributes in his degree to creation; he breathes a divine perfume, he hears wonderful things. Divine forms traverse him without tearing him, and united to the nature which is proper to him, he goes, he acts as animating original matter. To some extent, and at rare intervals, even I am a yogi”. For myself, it is living in a state of constant wonder… of transcendence.

Ultimately conveying that it matters who we are, what we think, and what we do. Are we here to just find comfort in where we find ourselves, or discover a sense of purpose as we learn inwardly who we are and perhaps teach what we come to know? Or as Thoreau would say, “Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself. So, live the life you imagined”.

What I am attempting to do here is exploration of the central meaning of Inward Training, this twenty-six chapter/thirteen-part series, by recognizing a few of the key people who developed ways of thought, that added to philosophy and religion over the centuries that brings us to where we are now. Not just simply East verses AW12West, but to explore commonalities and how people came to conclusions that expanded their own vision of the universe, consciousness, and their own role, but to what should be our role in general. Quite a task I know. By comparison, one can look to the teachings of Jesus Christ as if we live two lives. With Jesus representing how we look and act towards the outside world, and to the Christ, as we cultivate our spirit in our own inner world. It is in combining the two, we too can become transcendent.

Looking at key individuals who contributed to thoughts of how we came to be where we are today and trying not to favor one path over another. Who is it we follow? And where is it we’re going and can it matter using this premise of Inward Training as the highest point of empowerment that serves to take us there.

AW6

Shakyamuni

Kind of like the Herman Hesse story of Siddhartha and his journey searching for his own enlightenment not through the eyes of another (his father), but through self-discovery and eventually finding it for himself. Ultimately following a path similar to that of Shakyamuni, the Buddha and in seeing beyond ourselves and where that may lead.

Transcendentalism is considered to be any system of philosophy, including that of Emanuel Kant, holding that the key to knowledge of the nature of reality lies in the critical examination of the process on which depends of the nature of existence… and where does that come from. In that philosophy leads to what we call philosophical speculation to the point of finding yourself in the state of being transcendental, such as thought or language, that is in and of itself considered transcendental that can take you there. It would be Emerson who later suggested emphasizing intuition as a means to knowledge in the search for the divine.

AW8

Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

What’s interesting is our popular culture thinks of transcendental meditation and Eastern philosophy and religion starting from the 1960’s when the Beatles went to India and “re-discovered” being transcendental for America. Western philosophical thought also has its roots in transcendentalism. It seems to have always been here, forgotten, and serves to simply re-enforce our universal presence.

AW7

In 1781, Emmanuel Kant published the Critique of Pure Reason, an enormous work and one of the most important on Western thought. He attempted to explain how reason and experiences interact with thought and understanding. This revolutionary proposal explained how an individual’s mind organizes experiences into understanding the way the world works. Kant focused on ethics, the philosophical study of moral actions. He proposed a moral law called the “categorical imperative”, stating that morality is derived from rationality and all moral judgments are rationally supported. What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong; there is no grey area. Human beings are obligated to follow this imperative unconditionally if they are to claim to be moral.

AW10

Confucius

One could argue that the teachings of Confucius in the updating of the five ancient classics of Chinese history, his version of the I Ching, and first chapters of the Ten Wings, i.e., commentaries, had a similar long-standing influence of what was to be followed in Eastern philosophy and thought based on virtue. Just as what Kant did in the west having a similar result on attitudes, customs and culture. More on Confucius another time. Each created a benchmark for others to follow.

Kant drew a parallel between the Copernican revolution and the epistemology, or branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge with his idea of transcendental philosophy.

AW9

Copernicus

He never used the “Copernican revolution” phrase about himself, but it has often been applied to his work by others. Kant’s Copernican revolution involved two interconnected foundations of his “critical philosophy.”

  1. the epistemology of transcendental idealism, and
  2. the moral philosophy of the autonomy of practical reason.

For Kant, and his Critique of Pure Reason, it was the idea of the soul as a mental entity, with intellectual and moral qualities, interacting with a physical organism but capable of continuing after its dissolution, derives in Western thought from Plato and entered into Judaism during approximately the last century before the Common Era. (Common Era refers to the beginning of year 1 without referencing Christianity). He reached a similar conclusion as Meister Eckhard had centuries earlier. That our soul is a mental entity that connects with the universe on an on-going basis. As if there is a “universal consciousness” that connects all in nature, including man himself.  This is also a fundamental aspect of Taoism.

Perhaps the central and most controversial thesis of the Critique of Pure Reason is that human beings experience only appearances, not things in themselves; and that space and time are only subjective forms of human intuition that would not subsist in themselves if one were to abstract from all subjective conditions of human intuition. Kant calls this thesis transcendental idealism, i.e., moving beyond your physical self to enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time and causation are mere sensibilities; that “things in themselves exist, but their nature is unknowable” leaving us to try to make sense of it all.

100_5685

I Ching at the Giant Buddha in Sichuan

I think this is why I am so passionate about the history of the shaman, I Ching, and Taoism. How does one make sense out of what can’t be known? You first look to others who share this passion for attempting to know the unknowable… where it led them… and their conclusions? How did they get from here to there? What is it a philosopher does, and why should it so important for the rest of us? As in asking “what is the underpinning of our own conscious thought and what becomes of our natural inclination to follow this once it gets our attention?”

The meaning of the European word consciousness as we understand it today is often attributed to René Descartes (1596-1650), who used the word “conscientia.”

AWLocke

John Locke

Others attribute the current notion of consciousness to John Locke’s “Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” published in 1690. Locke defined consciousness as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind.” An 18th-century encyclopedia defined consciousness as “the opinion or internal feeling that we ourselves have from what we do.” More on this later in a future entry.

What is important for me, as a historian in Eastern philosophy, is connections over time. How everything fits together that leads one to rational conclusions based on understanding underlying contradictions coupled with cause and effect. As if connecting again with eternity’s wisdom, i.e., with that synergy, the flow of our energy and intuition, as well as, what we have come to know, as if we are transcending time. How it all fits together and continues, but for now this from my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu” found here on my website.

Wisdom to be shared by All

The sage prefers conversing with those who share his wisdom. While the DSCI0153ordinary man finds comfort in those who looks as he does and avoids anything that does not fit the patterns he has accepted or that may be different from himself. Anything without a skeleton, hands or feet that do not fit the pattern, the beasts and birds of the world have been set apart from man.

Why is this so? The ordinary man who seeks knowledge and wisdom only among those with certain looks, cannot find it as they are as the racehorse with blinders running down the track. Aware only of what lies ahead.  Unaware of what may be from side to side that may divert his attention from the finish. He may win DSCI0155the race, but he has missed what is important. And that is what he sees and learns along the way. As with the Tao, it is not the speed in which one finds his final destination. But what is learned in the process and learning to appreciate that which may be different from ourselves.

What is it that separates the others from man? They may differ in shape and voice. However, are they really so different? They wish to preserve their lives as we do and only follow their own instincts in doing so. Male and female mate together, mother and child keep close together.They avoid harm and seek shelter, avoid cold and seek DSCI0217out warmth, they travel together keeping their young protected. They lead each other to water and call out to each other when they find food. Are these things so different from man?

In the beginning, they were man’s equal. It is only when man found advantage could be gained by controlling the others, did he separate himself from all other things. That from ancient times man has been able to converse with animals is not lost upon the sage. The sage shares his wisdom with all those that will listen, man beast and bird. With no advantage given except that which nature provides. How else could it be?  1/27/95

By 1dandecarlo

3) Nei-yeh — Inward Training and everything as it should be.

Finding our purpose is discovering within ourselves how to express universal love to all things, to all people, in every situation. We are to become that expression from within ourselves, understanding that there is no separation between ourselves and Five7all other things. We are them – and they are us as we learn to see beyond ourselves. The universe begins from within and ends with us as we are eternal. It is as John Lennon and so many before and after have said… “All you need is love”. Love is grace. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love is being grateful for our own presence from which we are here to express. We become what we think, say, and write. It is the ability to have whatever we do that appears on the outside ONLY be the reflection from inside as we express love. It is the ultimate kung fu, of wu wei, the art of becoming our true selves. It is learning to express this in the moment as who we are – that defines the only reason we are here and knowing that all you (we) need is love. It is the essence of Inward Training…

Nei-yeh — Inward Training and everything as it should be.

 Five

The Way has no fixed position;
it abides within the excellent mind.
When the mind is tranquil and the vital breath is regular, the Way can thereby be halted.

IChing69

Following the right footsteps 

The Way is not distant from us;
when people attain it they are sustained
as it is not separated from us.
When people accord with it they are harmonious.
Therefore, it becomes concentrated! As though you could be roped together with it.
Indiscernible! As though beyond all locations.
The true state of the Way –
how could it be conceived of and pronounced upon?

Cultivate your mind, make your thoughts tranquil, and the Way can thereby be attained.

Six

As for the Way –
it is what the mouth cannot speak of, the eyes cannot see, and the ears cannot hear.

It is that with which we cultivate the mind and align the body.

Five2

The Sage at home – Qingyang Mountain

When people lose it they die;
when people gain it they flourish.
When endeavors lose it they fail;
when they gain it they succeed.
The Way never has a root or trunk,
it never has leaves or flowers.
The myriad things are generated by it;
the myriad things are completed by it.
We designate it “the Way.”

The above translation of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism.

By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:

“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).

The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century Five3BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism.

The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.

It is when this spirit of oneness encompasses us, that a sense of prevailing gratitude becomes pervasive in our heart, mind, and actions. This sense of “grace and gratitude”, or spiritual attainment, begins to occur through us as we come to rely on the divine presence from within. It is from this acknowledgement our individual spiritual expression find it’s home. This connection to the universe through observation of nature, cause and effect, and ancient wisdom is the benchmark of our character. Ultimately conveying that it matters who we are and what we do. It help us to find mindfulness and know the way to becoming transcendent ourselves.

Continuing from my last entry with the notion of the “Great Unity”. It  appeared in Five4the Lǐyùn chapter of the Book of Rites, one of the Confucian Chinese classics. It’s origins actually predate Confucius by almost five hundred years to Ji Dan, the Duke of Chou who also was from the city of Lu (Qufu), Five6considered to be in about 900 to 1000 BC.

According to it, the society in Great Unity was ruled by the public where the people chose men of virtue and ability and valued trust and harmony. People did not only love their own parents and children, but also secured the living of the elderly until their ends, let the adults be of use to the society and helped the young grow. Those who were widowed, orphaned, childless, handicapped and diseased were all taken care of. Men took their responsibilities and women had their homes. People disliked seeing resources being wasted, but did not seek to possess them; they wanted to exert their strength, but did not do it for their own benefit. Therefore, selfish thoughts were dismissed, people refrained from stealing and robbery, and the outer doors remained open.

In China, various opinions came forward as “commentaries” to previously accepted Five7doctrine. However, the I Ching would dictate change is inevitable and that nothing remains the same or stagnate over time, and the Great Unity would show Five8how to live one’s life within this prevailing structure. That a certain pragmatism exists in the universe with all things being equal. That when things get to far out in one direction or another, they must swing back in the opposite direction. As if there is a ridgepole defining left and right making decisions for all in the middle. If the stars above moved from day to day, and nature, i.e., cause and effect, and the seasons changed, then how Five9could we be different and not change as well? The nature of man, and more importantly the universe was always changing. Man would change inwardly, so that outwardly he could survive. Hence, new commentaries as to what was meant by this reality would always be changing. But even then, when Confucianism was mandated by the state, the old shrines to shamanism were discarded. But the innate sense of confluence, of unity between difference philosophies and religions endured.

Because of thousands of years of being connected to the sun, moon, stars, and nature DSCI0113in the East, man did not need a God separate from himself. God was everywhere, even inside himself. How could he be a part of it all and what could be found outside of himself, not be the same as inside? The universal spirit was already present inside everything. Man was “one of ten thousand things”. There was nothing to be separated from. The goal would always be to transcend yourself into your highest endeavor to fulfill your ultimate destiny. Following the path that fits who you are yet to become. There would be heaven and hell, in Taoism this would be known as “upper heaven and lower heaven”, and in Eastern religions there DSCI0104would be hell. But you could return to make up for evil, or bad things you may have done this time. (karma) If man’s spirit was eternal, then how could there not be a connecting “universal spirit” as something we innately just follow along from within and why would there be separation between man and all other things? These questions, and attempting to know the unknowable have been with us from the beginning of time only to be answered from within ourselves. All things being equal in an ever-changing universe meant nothing could remain the same over time, as DSCI0019everything in its own time coming forward. (the essence of the I Ching) It is how man has tried to answer the mysteries of the universe that has defined him and his relations with others and his environment.

Over the centuries, a unifying spirit that connected all under heaven with the sense of confluence, of unity between difference philosophies and religions endures. Despite some who try to say otherwise for their own self aggrandizement. One’s place in the DSCI0021universe is beyond questions of relevance of what is to be known or unknown, or that we might express as philosophy or religion. Connections to what we would consider as “universal” should be beyond question, even sacrosanct, considered as extremely sacred, not to be trespassed upon, or interfered with that matches our own vital essence and mirrors this truth. What’s important is identifying and nurturing what we would call our “niche” in life. What it is we are here to do. This is the true definition of what we call tai chi.

For myself, it is questions relating to how we unify ourselves with others who have DSCI0003had both similar and different life experiences that is key. What can it be that separates us from others, if anything, and how and why does that become important? When we can acknowledge what connects us is so much more important than what separates us. Who and what is it that takes our thoughts to where they now reside? Its easy to sing the praises, or give accolades to those in the distance or from the past, but it is how we re-act to those in the present whose reputation we look to that become our mentors today. Who do they look to for guidance?

Thoughts of Inward Training are universal, not just to China or Taoism, or Lao Tzu, but in identifying with spirit, where our own internal spirit can find and rest in DSCI0073the place we call our eternal source. The power and energy of our spirit and consciousness lies in our understanding of love and unity and what that means. That we are not here to judge or separate ourselves from others who may have a different take on things. We are here to grow our own sense of universal awareness through love.  I am not a theologian, a person versed in theology, especially Christian theology; but only an individual trying to make sense and bring connections to it all for myself and perhaps others. If anything, I see myself as a historian focusing on Chinese and Eastern philosophy and religion. But that changes with entries to be seen here regarding this “unity of spirit”,  and Western thought and transformation with the likes of Meister Ekhart, Kant, Emerson, Thoreau, the Fillmore’s and many others. This idea of unity of thought and convergence has DSCI0127always intrigued me and is of great interest. That we are all universal, all one, and that it is in this unity we will prevail with our nature intact.

If man’s spirit was eternal, then how could there not be “a universal spirit” to be found in all things? How and why would there be separation between man and all other things? These questions, and attempting to know the unknowable have been with us from the Five11beginning of time. Its how man has tried to answer the mysteries of the universe that has defined him and his relations with others.

From my own maybe unique perspective, and interest in China, I am drawn to what makes the “Family Christian Church” work in China. The Christian faith, or religion, in China is accepted and certainly allowed in China, but within a different perspective. From a historical standpoint there is even something called the Great Unity, as mentioned above. It is a Chinese utopian vision of the world in which everyone and everything is at peace. It is found in classical Chinese philosophy, which has been invoked many times in the modern history of China. What is important to note here, is that this concept is not based on a “religious pretext”. Except for the notion found empowering in all religions… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I hope to expand on this idea here at another time, but for now this from my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu” found here on my website.

Everything as it should be 

Nothing escaping change within the oneness of Tao. Looking you do not see DSCI0111it, listening you cannot hear it, groping you cannot touch it.  Lieh Tzu says heaven and earth cannot achieve everything. The sage is not capable of everything and none of the myriad things can be used for everything.

It is the responsibility of heaven to give birth and to shelter, the responsibility of earth to shape and to support; the sage to teach and reform and for each thing to perform its function. As a result, there are ways in which earth excels heaven and ways in which each thing is smarter than the sage. Why is this?

Heaven which brings birth and shelters cannot shape and support, earth which DSCI0116shapes and supports cannot teach and reform. The sage who teaches and reforms cannot make things act counter to their functions, things with set functions cannot leave their places.

Therefore, the way of heaven and earth must be either yin or yang. The teaching of the sage must be kindness or justice and the myriad things, whatever their function must be, either hard or soft. All these observe their functions and cannot lose their places.

Everything acting together in harmony. Everything the same and nothing the same all at the same time. Shape coming from the shapeless, form from the formless. Everything finding its essence in the way of the Tao. Everything only as it should be.    1/15/95

By 1dandecarlo

2) Nei-yeh — Inward Training and the Unity of Spirit

Nei-yeh — Inward Training and the Unity of Spirit

Three

All the forms of the mind are naturally infused and filled with it [the vital essence], are naturally generated and developed [because of] it.

Aunity 1

Huangshan Mountain

It is lost
inevitably because of sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire, and profit-seeking.
If you are able to cast off sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire and profit-seeking,
your mind will just revert to equanimity.
The true condition of the mind
is that it finds calmness beneficial and, by it, attains repose.
Do not disturb it, do not disrupt it
and harmony will naturally develop.

Four

Clear! as though right by your side.
Vague! as though it will not be attained.
Indescribable! as though beyond the limitless.
Aunity 2The test of this is not far off: daily we make use of its inner power.

I Ching / Qingyang Taoist Temple – Chengdu

The Way is what infuses the body,
yet people are unable to fix it in place.
It goes forth but does not return,
it comes back but does not stay.
Silent! none can hear its sound.
Suddenly stopping! it abides within the mind.
Obscure! we do not see its form.
Surging forth! it arises with us.
We do not see its form,
we do not hear its sound,
Yet we can perceive an order to its accomplishments.
We call it “the Way.” (or the Tao).

The above translation of chapters three and four of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundation of Taoist Mysticism.

By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:

“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).                  

The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism.

Aunity 3

Jiming Buddhist Temple  Nanjing

The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.

Focusing, keeping our attention, and reading the above more than once is how we internalize thoughts we want to become familiar with, relate to, or both.

Aunity 4

The Dragon and Phoenix 

Like studying for a test. For myself, when I was teaching, I would read aloud first as I would in class, to adjust how the words sounded as I spoke. It was much easier then when I “put on the words” again, as if they were old friends. What is the meaning of what I am reading, saying, or listening to, and how does that relate to undoing old habits and learning new ones. It’s part of the essence of mindfulness we referred to earlier and remaining in the present. This relates to the idea of “clearing our mind – or as some have said finding the silence”, that serves so ably in empowering us. Removing those things of little or no use to us we sometimes refer to as attachments, and filling with structure so that we pay attention to what does.

Western thought, philosophy, and religion can do the same. Staying in the present means however that we are open to what takes us to new horizons. Not leaving behind essentials, but prepared to replace as if clothes that are worn out, and replacing with new clothes and a better fit that helps to take us there. As we look for the common thread that binds it all together.

Aunity 5

Hereford Cathedral, the Church of England

As we begin to think of Western philosophy as to what unifies all under what we would say in the Lord’s Prayer… “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. In the West there were inquisitions and excommunication prior to the renaissance in 15th century Europe as to what Thy will is… or was. If God is out there – then who speaks for Him? The New World was founded partly because people were escaping the Church of England and others due to religious intolerance. Even in New England, this “puritan” sensibility dictated norms.  Whereas, in China, various opinions came forward as “commentaries” to previously accepted doctrine. However, the I Ching would dictate change is inevitable and nothing remains the same or stagnate over time. What can define us other than where we find ourselves in nature and our surroundings?

Oftentimes history tells the story, regardless of how we may wish it were told. In the Aunity 6East, it would be the sense of convergence of what might be seen as opposites that meant all would find a way to acceptance and unity. If the stars above moved from day to day, and nature, i.e., by cause and effect, and the seasons changed, then how could we be different and not change by way of our thoughts and attitudes as well? As if acknowledging a thread-like string of pearls running through it all and recalling that we are simply an extension of those stars above as our source we forever will remain attached to.

Above is Xiantao Feng commonly referred to as “Fairy Peach Peak”,  or “Flying Rock”;  also known as “Old Man watching the Sea” on Yellow Mountain in Huangshan, Anhui Province.

The nature of man, and more importantly the universe was always changing. Man Aunity 7would change inwardly, so that outwardly he could survive the elements. Just as in nature, change was seen as inevitable. Adapting to change, both internal and external, led to pragmatism that would lead to a better life. Hence, new commentaries as to what was meant by this reality would always be changing. But even then, when Confucianism was mandated by the state and the old shrines to shamanism were discarded, they remained as innate traits of the people themselves. Historically, the tasks of the shaman had included rain-making, divination and medicine; work or duty that involved a performance element using music and dance that brought everyone into the realm of what we would call today the spirit, supernatural… or attribute to God or a deity.

Unity of Spirit

One cannot help but think Meister Eckhart in the 1300’s looked back to Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Greek philosophy as he was teaching at the university in ParisHe was sent to the University of Paris in 1294 to lecture on Peter Lombard’s Sentences, the main text in the Middle Ages on intermediate theological studies, as part of his own curriculum leading to the coveted title, Meister/Master by the the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church. The University of Paris was the center of medieval academia, a place where Eckhart had access to all noteworthy works—and he evidently read most of them. For Eckhart, God’s supremely glorious nature can only mean that God is fully transcendent and fully immanent, entirely beyond all and yet completely within all as the One who alone is pure spirit and the essence of all.

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Aristotle

 Aristotle, was a Greek philosopher and scientist, a student of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great.  It was Plato who appears to have been the founder of Western political philosophy. He believed that there must be something beyond simple knowledge that leads us to wisdom and that it is our nature that takes us there. Eckhart was convinced there was an underpinning unity, or starting point recognizing it all begins with philosophy for what we choose to believe.

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Plato

For Eckhart, this manifested as a “unity of spirit”, that served as the vital reasoning for how it all fit together.  He too, felt the beginning point was from within each person who needed to reach out and touch the universe with his own presence, his own thoughts, as he responded by lighting his own world, as well as, the world around him. That it begins from within. It is as though we try to give credit to who may have invented the wheel. When in fact it was created, almost globally, as if only by the universal needing to do so.

Two things stand out to me, among many, as to Eckhart’s role. First, Eckhart contended that the absolute principle (or the absolute cause: God) is pure intellect and not being.

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Meister Eckhart

According to this view, being is always caused and thus presupposes intellect itself without being, as the cause of being. Eckhart holds that being is, in intellect, nothing other than intellect and, therefore, not simply being, but instead being that has been elevated to intellect. If someone should nonetheless object that in God knowing or anything else might be described as ‘being’, the proper response for Eckhart is that this ‘being’ still presupposes the knowing of intellect. As if saying… if you wish to call intelligizing being, that is all right with me. For thirteenth century Europe this idea was pretty radical. He was on the way to being charged by the church as heretical and as suspect of heresy. Eckhart, however, did not live to see his condemnation; he died sometime before April 30, 1328.

Second, was the goal of the rational form of life – of living in and with the spiritual perfections at the level of that transcendental being – is living in and from the absolute one (in and from the divine nature as presuppositionless unity). This idea is as close to being recognized as in line with Taoism, and general Eastern philosophy, as could be… He contended, “If, God’s ground is my ground and my ground God’s ground”, then man is no longer simply on the way towards unity. Instead, unity is something that has always already been achieved. By and through his nature he is already universal, i.e., unified with the divine. (In Chinese philosophy man is simply one of the ten thousand things). He alone is what matters, in that he is responsible not only for himself, but all he encounters. Because man, once he becomes accountable from within himself has left behind everything Aunity 11that stands in the way of his living in and from this unity. Man was one with God, and God was one with him. That the soul is more interior in this unity than it is in and of itself. This is true equanimity – letting go – as the goal of human life becomes not only okay, but essential. Living in and from unity in the manner envisioned by Eckhart as the end of self-discovery becomes possible through a change in intellectual disposition. The possible intellect – which, as defined by Aristotle, can become all things and is able to be known either as ordinary consciousness, or as self-consciousness through self-knowledge… or Inward Training. Or as stated above… The Way (Tao) is what infuses the body.

Five hundred years later, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau would take this idea of “unity of spirit”, and create what was to become the transcendental movement that changed America and the world.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

They deserve an entry of their own, so it will be coming in a few weeks here on my website. Challenging the status quo as to man’s relationship with God, nature and the universe, was to have a similar effect.  Especially the writing of Emerson, similar to that Ekhart had on the status quo as a given challenging the theology of Thomas Aquinas many centuries earlier, who was the accepted voice of the church at the time.

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Thomas Aquinas

Again, it would be in this unity of thought… now seen as “New Thought”, that was to move this sense of the “Universal or Christ presence” that resides within each of us to new heights.

From my own maybe unique perspective, and interest in China, I am drawn to what makes the “Family Christian Church” work in China. The Christian faith, or religion, is accepted and certainly allowed in China, but within a different perspective. From a historical standpoint there is even something called the Great Unity, whose beginnings can be traced back to roughly 900 BC, and sometimes referred to in Chinese as Datong. It is a Chinese utopian vision of the world in which everyone and everything is at peace.  It is found in classical Chinese philosophy which has been invoked many times in the modern history of China.  What is important to note here, is that this concept is not based on a “religious pretext”. Except for the notion found empowering in all religions… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. More on the Great Unity next time.

Something I wrote many years ago as I was going through a difficult transition that Aunity 14ultimately led to moving to another state and new job seems appropriate here… I especially like the clothes analogy. I often think of churches and spiritual communities as grades in school, just as with a circle of friends. When you reach a higher level of spiritual maturity you just graduate out, unless the whole group graduates with you. It’s bringing others along for the ride that makes it all so worthwhile and appealing. Some though seem happy with just where they are. Perhaps we should just be happy for them too. From my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu”.

Changing Clothes

Forever reaching for the next rung on the ladder that must be followed.

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Sewing at the eternal loom

Beyond earthly endeavors.

Attachments strewn about like dirty clothes waiting for their place in the right laundry basket. One’s life simply the process of cleaning the clothes previously worn that must be recycled over and over again. To be constantly reborn. Anything that is seen of paramount importance only a test to be mailed in after you have found and corrected your own mistakes.

Outcomes only determined by lessons learned with only yourself checking and knowing the right answers. Mistakes although constantly repeated. Leading only to an eternity of self‑fulfilling prophecies of our own unwillingness to follow the ultimate path we know must be taken.

Finding the courage to change. Leaving behind patterns filled with adversity we have come to know as a life support. Forever keeping us down as a one-thousand-pound weight around our shoulders. Continually given the eternal chance to change.

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Having a sense of the eternal journey  Wuhou Temple Chengdu

To keep living until we get it right as we live and die simply by letting go.

Finally finding the ladder.

Cautious steps of optimism leading to places previously unheard of and unseen.  Knowing that eternal truth lies only in the steps that must be followed. Never looking back, thereby losing your balance the constant order of the day.

Be forever the agent of change. Knowing that the content found by others with everything as it remains is not the way things ultimately will be. Remaining forever unattached, letting go and finding yourself in clothes that are eternally clean.     12/30/94

By 1dandecarlo

1) Nei-yeh — Inward Training and Mindfulness

Nei-yeh — Inward Training

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The vital essence of all things – it is this that brings them to life.
AM7It generates the five grains below
and becomes the constellated stars above.

When flowing amid the heavens and the earth
we call it ghostly and numinous. (spiritual or supernatural). When stored within the chests of human beings, we call them sages.

Two

Therefore, this vital energy is:

AAApictureBright! – as if ascending from the heavens;

Dark! – as if entering an abyss;

Vast! – as if dwelling in an ocean;

Lofty! – as if dwelling on a mountain peak.

Therefore, this vital energy cannot be halted by force, yet can be secured by inner power or virtue. Cannot be summoned by speech,  yet can be welcomed by awareness.

Reverently hold onto it and do not lose it: this is called “developing inner power.”

When inner power develops and wisdom emerges, the myriad things will, to the last one, be grasped.

The above translation of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundation of Taoist Mysticism.

By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:

“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).   

The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism.

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The Taoist Monk Qingyang Mountain

The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.

I think of it as if we are simply going home… To places we’ve been before and will see again and again. For myself, the path leads back to Lao Tzu and Taoism and ideas of convergence. What the Taoists call bianhua, or pien-hua, i.e., transformation – what becomes the underlying principle of change within the world and what it is that connects us with all things.

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Lao Tzu at Wuyou Buddhist Temple at Leshan Giant Buddha

While some say Nei yeh – Inward Training is anonymously written, many trace its beginnings back to Lao Tzu and what is defined as the essence, or beginning, of what would come to be known as Taoist philosophy.

The first two of the twenty-six chapters are found above. The entire text can be found here on my website at thekongdanfoundation.com. I plan to share this text over the coming “holiday season”. As much for my own gaining of insight and wisdom, as what I might be able to share with others. Ultimately, the question or even quest remains… how do we get there from here and where do we begin? How do we find ourselves living in the present moment reflecting the inner peace, i.e., the sanctuary within and train our thoughts and practice of daily living and actions in what we call “mindfulness?”

Opening ourselves to mindfulness… the ultimate of who we are here yet to become.

What is mindfulness? There has to be a starting point and how can we get there… A place where we simply let go and let our highest endeavor match our ultimate destiny.

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Qingyang Taoist Temple  Chengdu

The dictionary says that mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences  occurring in the present moment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training. What the ancients have always referred to as “Inward Training”. The question has always been – where do I begin? It was this question that was the genesis behind the I Ching. Seeing how everything is connected leads to answers that fit in nature’s way. This is what later was to become known as the indefinable Tao. As if you have reached the conclusion that you don’t want or need more than you already have. To the Buddhist, this is the essence of the Bodhisattva’s vow… the most important thing is to keep working for the world we long for, even when the odds seem overwhelming.

It is finding that peaceful state of awareness that we hope to meet that defines us. This becomes what I like to think of as our “sanctuary”… our state of mind where the place we reside both in the “inner world” that internally defines us… matches with the “outer world” where we find ourselves with others as becoming one and the same. As if living in the state of becoming universal, where it’s not where we are – but who we are that becomes paramount in our lives.

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Contemplation   Qufu

Finding that peace of mind where there is no separation between the two. This is not “new thought”, but found in the oldest texts of antiquity. Seeing the world, the universe as our source, as something beyond ourselves with our ultimate goal to resonate and find our place in it.  It is the smile found on the face of the Buddha, in which he is assured that each of us will ultimately find inner peace for ourselves and go there.                

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali term sati, “memory,” “retention,” “mindfulness, alertness, self-possession,” which, by example, is a significant element of Buddhist traditions, while the concept is related to Zen and Tibetan meditation techniques.

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Shaolin Temple   The beginnings of Chan Buddhism in China

While “mindfulness” has been translated and interpreted as “bare cognition,” in a Buddhist context it has a wider meaning and purpose, namely the ability of discerning what is beneficial and what is not and calming the mind by this discernment. Individuals who have contributed to the popularity of mindfulness in the modern Western context include Herbert Benson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Richard J. Davidson. In Eastern thought, in addition to Buddhism and Thích Nhất Hạnh, Taoism, Lao Tzu, and Confucius have played a significant role in our gaining wisdom as to our inner development that is to dictate our outer motivations.

Our life can quickly pass us by when we’re not focused on what matters. We have a bad habit of emphasizing the negative and overlooking the positive. Being mindful can help.

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Sichuan Museum Chengdu

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When we are mindful, we carefully observe our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Mindfulness can also be a healthy way to identify and manage hidden emotions that may be causing problems in our personal and professional relationships. It means living in the moment and awakening to our current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. Mindfulness is frequently used in meditation and certain kinds of therapy. It has many positive benefits, including lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, improving our overall health, and protecting against depression and anxiety. There is even research suggesting that mindfulness can help people cope better with rejection and social isolation.

From mindfulness, we enter into contemplation and thoughts as to how could this all be connected, and more importantly what does this have to do with me, or those reading this? First, earlier talking about Nei yeh – Inward Training, and now finding the connection from Taoism to Buddhism in not an esoteric way, to be understood or meant for only a select few who might have special knowledge, or interest, but for everyone. Wisdom to be gained by all becomes universal in nature. N7What we would refer to as “common knowledge”, or what can be described or seen as new beginnings. Not only to refine what we feel may be existing core beliefs. But to recognize many paths, as a confluence that leads to the same place.

For myself, the purpose of acquiring mindfulness is gaining wisdom, i.e., the knowledge of what is true – coupled with compassion and virtue that leads one to judgment as to what action we should then take, if any, coupled with sagacity, discernment, or insight. Mindfulness begins with this as wisdom in tow and helps to take us there as we discover ways of accessing what may be considered as enlightenment.  For me, its communing with nature, gardening, my writing of course, planning my next trip to China and thinking of where that all may lead serves the present as what may be called inward training, or by some meditation. Reading and writing from the inside out – as if opening doors so that our heart and mind can enter to see how others have led by example, as we teach and learn along the way. The earliest shaman of every culture was always concerned more with what they didn’t know than what they thought they did.

My next entry here, chapters three and four of Nei yeh – Inward Training, will N8focus on western thought and philosophy with Christian mystics such as Meister Eckart, Saint Francis, Saint Augustine, and Catherine of Siena who spent three years in meditation, who afterward said that we should not elevate divinity above the common miracles found in every-day life…  A very Zen-like statement. Saint Catherine of Siena (March 25, 1347 – April 29, 1380), was a philosopher and theologian who had a great influence on the Catholic Church.

On my recent trip to China and Tibet, as I went through museums and Buddhist monasteries and temples, one character stood out for me over and over again. As if a certain mystical quality exemplified what I was feeling and seeing. In going there, we go from mindfulness to the mystical that serves to lift us up to somewhere we wouldn’t otherwise go. Manjushri (or manjusri) is the embodiment of all the N9Buddha’ wisdom. The word manju means “charming, beautiful, pleasing” and Shri means “glory or brilliance”. The Bodhisattva is regarded as the crown prince of Buddhist teachings, or the one who can best explain the Buddhist wisdom, that is able to extinguish afflictions and bring about enlightenment. Manjushri has this title because eons ago, he was the instructor for seven different Buddhas, the last being Sakyamuni Buddha. Manjushri is often depicted with his right hand holding a double-edged flaming sword and his left hand holding a lotus flower on which rests the Prajnaparamita (Great Wisdom) Sutra. As if saying follow the lotus flower, or bare the consequences.

Wisdom is insight of the true nature of reality… as said by Shakyamuni Buddha, and what many feels is our ultimate purpose that guides and directs us. For reference, I like to refer to the Lotus Sūtra, that is one of the most popular and N10influential Mahayana sutras, and the basis on which most of Buddhism was established. According to Paul Williams, “For many East Asian Buddhists since early times the Lotus Sutra contains the final teaching of the Buddha, complete and sufficient for salvation.”

In Ch. 14, of the Lotus Sūtra – Peace and Contentment – Manjushri asks how a bodhisattva should spread the teaching. In his reply Shakyamuni Buddha describes the proper conduct and the appropriate sphere of relations of a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva should not talk about the faults of others or their teachings. He is encouraged to explain the Mahayana teachings when he answers questions. Virtues such as patience, gentleness, a calm mind, wisdom and compassion are to be cultivated. It was this premise that served as the connection between Buddhism, Taoism, and the benevolence expressed by Confucius, that came together and continues today in China.  It begins with this idea of Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and ourselves, and the vital essence of all things.

Everything remaining perfect                                                                                       

Have no fear of the end of heaven and earth. Thereby lacking a place to rest or that you forget to eat or sleep.

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The bell tolls for thee Qingyang Taoist Temple  Chengdu

Heaven nothing more than the air around us. Where is there that there is no air?  Your own weight in it allows you to walk and stand tall breathing in through lungs filled only with it. Always breathing in and out as your inner chi or essence makes itself known to dragons.

The earth nothing more than the soil and water that sustains us. Filling and giving shape to the place we only temporarily call home. As we walk and stand tall with feet forever attached to it. Always letting the earth be the ultimate messenger of nature’s way.

What can the air be but the rainbow, clouds and mist, wind and rain and the four seasons? Simply heaven at its purest. What can soil be but mountains and hills, rivers and seas, metal and stone, fire and wood? The essence of earth at its fullest. How can there ever be an end to it?

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Horizons Unknown  Huashan Mountain

As all things have beginnings and endings, what will happen must happen. Endings always ending bringing new beginnings that simply begin again. Fearing the worst will happen is not as it should be. What can eternity be but the innate sense that heaven and earth are simply the same only in different forms for different reasons?  Things just taking shape in the end.

Have no concern for final outcomes and know peace. Simply rest easy and eat and drink from the cup that living brings you. With everything remaining perfect to the end. DCD  1/13/95

 

By 1dandecarlo

Dan’s Sunday, Oct 28 Unity of Springfield China Presentation

My trip to China began and ended in Beijing… with a whole lot of stops in-between which is usually the case.

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October 8 Sunrise on Huashan Mountain

After twenty years of coming to China, I looked at this trip as sort of a sabbatical. A journey of the heart that was like coming home and finding the next step that would propel or take me further towards my ultimate destination. We all have this thing about finding and returning to our source. It’s like bringing our human conscious awareness into alignment with who we are as the universe sees us becoming… Although for most of us it’s like an unconscious pulling that we can never define well enough to go there, so we look for what we think will make us “happy” – and remain stuck where we are. Finding ourselves takes courage and 100_4894ultimately most people in the end – when it becomes too late to change – are sorry they never went there. What is our purpose… who am I to say? But it is as I always told my students in college in China – who planned to be teachers themselves … that life begins with finding our true niche and pursuing this with all our heart. You will know this by what the universe tells you is your next step. It’s the one thing in common that all great artists, teachers and philosophers of every era and generation have always come to know. That to find ourselves, we often have to suspend disbelief going forward, (our inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true), that then leads to the transformation of who we are here to become.

Today will be more of a history lesson than simply like a tourist visiting various sites, 9 dragon walltaking pictures, and then going home. It was much more than that and hopefully you will think so after today’s presentation. After Beijing, and my spending a day at the National Museum to focus on what I am here to learn over the coming month, my trip took me to five cities, three mountains and many places in-between… The nine dragon wall depicted here at Beihai Park next to the Forbidden City in Beijing is a great place to visit. The park is very famous as it was a favorite of many emperors in China’s history. I usually come here when I have time when I’m in Beijing.

My trip focused on going to the following places:

Qufu home of Confucius, Ji Dan and Yellow Emperor (and my home when I am in China),

Luoyang and Songshan Mountain/Shaolin Temple and Longman Grottoes.

Xi’an, home of the terra cotta warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and Huashan Mountain to the east,

Chengdu and the Lushan Giant Buddha, and

Lhasa, Tibet where I spent two days at four Buddhist monasteries and temples and getting to know the city and customs of the people… Of course, like everywhere else I want to go back.

A detailed account of each location is here on my thekongdanfoundation.com website following the timeline of my visit to China, so I will only try to give highlights here of my trip.

People in China often ask why I go back to places I’ve already been, like the Wenshu 100_5826Buddhist monastery, the Taoist Qingyang Mountain and Temple, and People’s Park teahouse in Chengdu where I often go. I tell them that everywhere I go is like meeting again with old friends from the past and updating our stories. It is for the stories I learn and remember that I am inspired to hear more and write – telling and reminding people about their origins and conversing again with them who we all have been.

Each stop had a specific purpose. Qufu for a few days where I Qufu4taught a few classes at the Confucius College while I was there… took lots of pictures for my books at a park I have visited frequently over the years, then left for Luoyang. I had intended to return to Qufu but couldn’t, because of all the holiday travel.

Over 105 emperors of 13 dynasties had their capitals in Luoyang during China’s history. Luoyang was the center of politics, economy, and culture in China for 1,500 years. Since the Xia Dynasty (2070–1600 BC), Luoyang had begun its history as a 100_5183capital city due to its location in relation to mountains and rivers in the area. There is so much history here that I want to come back to Luoyang for further study. An example is the Sanhuang Basilica found near the top of Songshan Mountain that by tradition housed the Three Sovereigns (the Heavenly, Earthly, and Human Sovereigns). 100_5209

It is said Lao Tzu lived here for a while and Taoism got its beginnings on Songshan Mountain where I visited and with the Shaolin Temple famous for what was to become kung fu. It was a place where Chan Buddhism got its start teaching the physical moves of the famous kung fu at what is now the Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center that 100_5310were aligned with much more than physical improvements and continued to grow over the centuries. All these things for me fit a pattern of discovery… that served as a reminder of our past. As if an archaeologist sorting through what was important and re-learning what was familiar to you at the time.

Our sister city group from Boynton Beach donated 200 wheelchairs to Qufu in 2007… the wheelchair below I saw in front of the Shaolin Temple, was the first one I’ve seen in over ten years. It was here an hour south of Luoyang, while I was at the Taoist Temple on Mt. Songshan 100_5244that I saw the inscription written by Emperor Wuding of the Han dynasty, who ruled from 141 to 87 BC, that he pointedly referenced the connection between all philosophies and gave credence to the idea of convergence, of finding or reaching 100_5140a common conclusion in living one’s life. He founded the Songyang Academyone of China’s four major Confucian academies; and the Taoist Zhongyue Temple, here dedicated to Lao Tzu and Taoism. This concept of finding and nurturing the best attributes of each was well in place prior to the arrival of Buddhism that would help to bring all three together in Chinese culture going forward. This was a very big deal.

When I visited the Shaolin Temple there were 50,000 kung fu students at the adjacent Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center that day. After returning to Luoyang, I went to the Longman Grottoes where there are as many as 100,000 statues within the 2,345 caves. The grottoes were excavated and carved with Buddhist subjects over the period from 493 AD to 1127 100_5337AD. They suffered severe damage during the cultural revolution from 1965 to 1975, as did cultural sites throughout China during that time.

What struck me was the continuing presence as if the joining or coming together of history with one’s natural environment and connecting this with the universe, or divine spirit within us and that which surrounds us as well. All this has to be something much bigger than ourselves. Perhaps it’s the sense of 4 to 5 thousand years of history that has an intrinsic meaning that helps to define 100_5353within you defining who you are, as well as, what surrounds you on the outside. You become one with it without even your acknowledging. To be treated as if you are coming home to visit something that is innately a part of yourself. Something you have always known, but simply needing to be reminded.

I got this sense especially at the Longman Grottoes where  thousands of caves and images of the Buddha were carved out of solid rock. This seems to be the motive behind all these ancient “temples”. What we in the west today would describe as “sites having great historical and religious significance”. They bring a sense of longevity and simplicity to it all spanning thousands of years and being reminded that both the inner and outer are the same 100_5037reality we each choose to live every day. The Buddhist White Horse Temple on the outskirts of Luoyang has always been on my bucket list here in China. It’s influence in the spread of Buddhism over the centuries has been immeasurable. At some point in our lives there is something more than just knowledge and understanding. It comes with wisdom, as acceptance, and an enduring presence. What is it we’re grounded too? Others may teach, but ultimately it is something that becomes innately ourselves.  It is having the presence of self-assurance knowing that kindness and simplicity are the keys that opens all doors. (something I need to work on) Keeping things simple means there are fewer doors that need to be opened as well. As if “becoming simple minded” is a good thing.

Two other overreaching influences from Buddhism to China was that Luoyang was the start of the Silk Road that headed back to Venice in Italy. It was by way of the Silk 100_5014 (1)Road (and elephants going through Tibet to Xian), that Buddhism came to China. By the time Marco Polo came here with his father and uncle in 1270 AD on their way to visit Kublai Khan in Beijing, the Silk Road had been a functioning means of transportation of goods and culture between east and west for almost fifteen hundred years. Both were here at the time and Luoyang would have been the last stop on the silk road before heading for Beijing. The White Horse Temple and the Longman Grottoes have had the most lasting historical presence in this area of China. According to tradition, the first Buddhist temple in China, established in 68 AD under the patronage of Emperor Ming in the Eastern Han dynasty was here in Luoyang and was later to become the 100_5354White Horse Temple.The grottoes were excavated and carved with Buddhist subjects over the period from 493 AD to 1127 AD.  Of special interest to me was that they are often referred to as the “Dragon’s Gate Grottoes” derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south.

After going to Luoyang, I went to Xi’an which is famous for the terra cotta warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and Moslem Quarter among other places. IMG_4541I had been to all three on a  previous visit. I spent the Chinese Moon Festival here for four or five days more in contemplation and reflection than anything else. DSCI0140I’ve always had a love/hate relation with Xi’an. The first emperor of China (the guy who had the terra cotta warriors built and connected all the smaller walls into what would become the Great Wall), burned all the books and killed the scholars who knew of Chinese history, thinking all important 100_5360history in China was to begin with him… It is for them I come to Xi’an in their memory.  I did visit and walk on the ancient wall around the old city of Xi’an. No words just memories. Sometimes a journey of the heart is not so pleasant. It is the largest wall still standing around an ancient city in China. If you want to see 3000 years of China’s history, go to Xi’an and Luoyang. The roots of Chinese history and culture are here. DSCI0018One of my favorite places in Xi’an is the Taoist Temple Home of the Eight Immortals. The last emperor escaped from Beijing to come here to this place in Xi’an in 1912 when China ceased being a dynasty and became a republic.

After Xi’an, I went halfway back to Luoyang to Huashan Mountain. Lao Tzu was 100_5418here too. I spent two nights on top of the mountain… you saw one of the pictures I took of the sunrise at East Peak. I was here over the holiday (of course) with hundreds of other people. I should know better by now. The view from here is overwhelming. It’s easy to see man’s connection with nature, the stars and 100_5449planets from up here. Two of many highlights were the Jitian Taoist Palace, and a place on the mountain top referred to as the “Gateway to Heaven”. No kidding. Anyone thinking they have an 100_5467exclusive licensing agreement with God should come here and see how the universe works. It is you – and you are it. Everywhere you go, you see this ancient connection to the stars and sense you are one with it all. I could talk here forever, but it’s time to go back to Xi’an and take the fast train to Chengdu before going to Tibet.

Chengdu… the city famous for tea houses and the hot pot. Where Taoism and 100_5759Buddhism came together almost two thousand years ago and together left a permanent imprint. To what some later would call heaven on earth, or Shangri la. If you have a sense of Chinese history… you can just feel their calming and relaxing, come as you are, presence. This was my fourth or fifth visit to Chengdu. I love it here. When I truly retire this is where I most likely will be found. Many retirees come here for the weather, the tea houses, and the 100_5791atmosphere… I referred earlier to my favorite places in Chengdu. This trip was also highlighted by a trip to the Chengdu Opera (which I enjoyed immensely), and the 100_5671Leshan Giant Buddha. Of great surprise when I got here was the Taoist Caves adjacent to the Buddha honoring Lao Tzu and Taoism and the great stone carvings of the symbol of the I Ching. The Giant Buddha was built at the 100_5685coming together of two rivers that had flooded the area every year. Its intent was the stop the flooding with the help of the Buddha… But what I saw was the coming together of Buddhism, Taoism, and the 100_5699I Ching representing the confluence of all three for the purpose of one goal… unifying philosophical and religious ideals for one common purpose. For myself, this is what the idea of what Unity means. When you study the Filmore’s teachings, and spend time at the library at Unity Village in Kansas City, you can easily see this transcendental expression of Christian teaching and connection that became Unity in America. It was this idea of convergence that allowed The Kongdan Foundation to publish the Unity Daily Word in China over ten years ago. With this as a backdrop it was on to Lhasa and Tibet.

On Sunday morning, October 14, I got up at 4 AM and headed for the Chengdu airport and Lhasa. Several things that stood out to me after my arrival in Tibet. First, the devout and intensity of what I would call religious fervor of the local people. When your way of life has been challenged by “authorities” after thousands of years, your faith becomes inherently more real. I have written about both Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Chan Buddhism… this is an area I need to explore and study more. I arrived here in Lhasa on Sunday in what would be a “free day”.

We toured four Buddhism monasteries and temples on Monday and Tuesday, then I 100_5949went to airport on Wednesday morning to fly to Beijing and home. On Monday we went to the Drepung Monastery in the morning and Sera Monastery in the afternoon. We could not 100_5957take pictures inside.

The two things that got my attention at the Sera Monastery were first, the afternoon debates in the courtyard. The daily 100_6024debating is a class to practice and test the monks mastery of Buddhism. The second was the Circle of Life, or Wheel of Life, depicted here that describes Tibetan Buddhist 100_6014philosophy.

On Tuesday we went to the Polata Palace and Jokhang Temple. Second point was the spinning wheel we often see depicted with Buddhism. I thought the explanation was 100_6034intriguing.  Each of the spinning wheels have a sutra (what we might call a Bible verse, or scripture). Passing by spinning the wheel in the right frame of mind meant that bits of the sutras would be released and absorbed by you. Third, was the tradition of walking by the locals everyday on paths that connected the monasteries and temples in Lhasa. I give a great explanation of this on my blog. 100_6028Finally, the monasteries here in Lhasa have debating sessions in the afternoon (which you can observe), where the monks debate their own take on the meaning of Buddhist scriptures, the sutra, and take turns defending their position.

My take on my trip is on my blog. Basically, it is living in the realm of who you are yet to become. If you think you are there now, it often takes an event like the death of a family member, loss of a job that you thought defined you, a natural disaster (fire, flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, etc.), that redefines attachments as to who you thought you were, but in reality, wasn’t who you are meant to be. Its like the universe has to take extreme measures to get your attention. Once it does… there is no turning back.

By 1dandecarlo

My recent trip to China /Presentation and Discussion

You are invited to come to Unity of Springfield located at 2214 E Seminole at 9:15 AM this coming Sunday morning, October 28, for a presentation of my recent trip to 100_5671China and Tibet. My focus will be on ideas of “convergence”, how this idea changed China over the centuries, and how we get to where we are going with 100_5699enlightenment and our endeavors that lead to our ultimate destiny. All that is important is that we find and follow the path meant for each of us. It’s why we are here. Its finding a sanctuary from within and having a sense of following where it might lead.

In the program at Unity of Springfield Sunday morning, I will attempt to reduce a month traveling to various cities in China and to Lhasa, Tibet to 45 minutes. For me, it was taking over 1,200 pictures and through them, my impressions of where I was, and my writing… telling me where I was to go next, and what my “takeaway” should be.

For those who don’t know me that well, I have been writing about Chinese history 100_4894and philosophy for twenty-five years, made almost fifty trips (I’ve lost count) to China, and taught English at university and high school in Qufu, in Shandong Province for many years. I have been attending Unity first in Delray Beach, Florida, now in Springfield, Missouri since 1997. I am the President/CEO of my own foundation, The Kongdan Foundation, that was founded in 2006. It’s primary purpose is the be a conduit for better global understanding through conveying the history, philosophy, and culture of ancient China, and how it remains relevant to how we live our lives today.

A synopsis of Sunday’s program will appear here afterwards on this website.

By 1dandecarlo