The way of transcendence and becoming authentic / Volumn 5.

To live within an ancient knowing that our spirit shall be washed with the souls of mountains. As we travel under the blue sky until the moon sees our light within the stars as reminders of our eternal beginnings.

The dragon outlined in the stars of antiquity at the Taoist Cave adjacent to the Leshan Giant Buddha.

Let the blue waters know that a new era is to be written. Remaining loyal to nature and the Tao as your ultimate endeavor and forever patient as your destiny awaits you. The darkness that may cover the world must be enlighted by us.

What and who do we think of as the ideal person? What and who do we emulate? Who were our role models that we looked up to when we were in school, or growing up – or later when we assumed some identity for ourselves? A teacher, coach, a minister, someone we know, or read about. In America, we think of our history and can’t go back more than three maybe four hundred years. Unless speaking for the Indigenous peoples who have been here for eons…. But in China, where history can easily be traced for more than five thousand years to the earliest shaman, they’ve had a long time to think about it.

To the right the totem honoring one’s mentors who carry us through both good and bad. The eternal totem that connected us through eternity with nature and the universe we came in with.

People who stand out as exemplifying how we should live our lives, such as Confucius, The Buddha (also known as Siddhartha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama), Lao and Chuang Tzu.

Following them brings one not so much to a religion, but a way of life. To a philosophical understanding of our place in the world. When I write, it is not so much about what may appear as outside myself, as who I am and my place in it all. Following the thoughts and words of my mentors. To be one with those regarded as a sage, and going there.

Wuhan Temple in Chengdu          Acceptance / from the Three Kingdom Culture 220–280 AD 

Confucius, Chuang and Lao Tzu haves all influenced me greatly, just as Emerson, Gandhi, Tolstoy and others in the West. They are thought to be called a sage, in Chinese called a sheng ren, or the perfected person influenced in the Tao Te Ching, or the Way of Virtue, the Tao.

The Chinese word zhen   means to be “true; real; authentic”. It was originally written with an ideogram depicting “spiritual transformation”. It originated in the Dao De Jing.  The Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) has the first recorded usages of zhenren “true person”. The sage is considered as the ultimate teacher whose endeavor reaches the destiny of all. Buddhists used it to translate as “enlightened one”. 

Wenshu Monastery (文殊院 – Wen Shu Yuan)  I’ve been here many times while visiting Chengdu. I especially liked the large room as you entered that encouraged sitting in meditation. Initially built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Wenshu Monastery was once called Xinxiang Temple. In 1681, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Cidu, an accomplished Buddhist monk, came to the temple. He built a simple hut between two trees and for several years lived an ascetic life there. Legend has it when Cidu was being cremated; the statue of Wensu (Bodhisattva Manjusri in Sanskrit) appeared in the flames, staying for a long time. So people regarded Cidu as the reincarnation of the Bodhisattva Manjusri. Thereafter, Xinxiang Temple became Wenshu Monastery.

It begins with letting go of who we think we are and moving towards our authentic selves. Moving from fear to change as our consciousness, with our spirit and desire to share what we have been given with others seen as potential that’s always present that makes us immortal as well.  

I’ve had the privilege of living and teaching in Qufu, the home of Confucius. I have taught and lived at the school next to the Confucius Mansion and Temple. My Chinese name is Kongdan. Kong is considered to be the Confucius family name. I was given the name Kongdan by friends in Qufu due to my love of Chinese history.

The picture to the left is said to be students at the school who were descendants of Confucius taken in 1904 or 1905. After the 1912 revolution founding the Republic of China, the school was opened to students from across China.

What is it that sets a sage apart from others? Many will say that it is something referred to as wu wei.  This is a question asked over the centuries that always comes back to the teachings and impact of Confucius and Lao Tzu. Perhaps the easiest and best way to relay my own thoughts describing Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, is from the verses of my book, “Thoughts on becoming a sage, the guidebook to living a virtuous life”. Something I wrote twenty years ago.

It is said of the sage that they act effortlessly and spontaneously as one with Dao and in doing so they act with de, or virtue, without deliberation or choosing to challenge.

Several traits of the sage are exemplified in the Tao Te Ching, for myself wu wei, or our natural selves, is best relayed in Verses 2 and 63 as follows:

 Verse 2 – Transforming Realities

The sage transforms his feelings and returns to his true nature thus becoming one with the universe once again.

What displays beauty cannot be beautiful. What is hard must become soft.

He focuses on ending distinction, getting rid of name and form and making of himself a home for virtue. ##

What is our destiny and how is it we make ourselves a home for virtue? How do we attract our “better angels”,  or dragons as I call them who are anxious to guide us on the path we are here to learn and follow? To live as if our souls are to wash the mountains before returning to the stars.

Verse 63 – Becoming a sanctuary to all you meet

The sage acknowledges and understands that there is nothing that is not in keeping with the Tao.

Especially true is that the Tao resides in each of us. Thus, in showing the way the sage is good at saving and directing those around him, while abandoning no one. Since the sage in essence is simply the embodiment of the Tao, abandoning or leaving behind another person could or would never enter his mind.

The sage’s surroundings are illustrative of how he sees his place in the ten thousand things. As though he is seen creating a sanctuary that reflects his innermost sense of who he is yet to become.

Kind and reflective, still yet expansive, he competes with no one and no one competes with him. His strengths and weaknesses have become razor sharp as he uses them to cut through what is perceived to be truth and falsehood. While he remains on the edge pushing others to place they would not otherwise go, he leaves no foothold for those who would follow except by accepting and following the Tao.

When he himself becomes the sanctuary for others to take refuge and follow, finding the comfort only found in the expression of the Tao, he is reminded that he who searches will find it and those who don’t only escape to wait until another day. ##

My thought for today It is as if we are being asked – do we have the power to change what should be seen as inevitable? Do we have within ourselves the wisdom to change on a personal level to improve the human condition that we all can share. That it is compassion, empathy, and knowing who we really are that makes us and our world a better place. That our humanity and hope lie within each of us to find and nurture.

Some events are so overwhelming you can’t simply be a witness, you can’t be above it, you can’t be neutral, you can’t be untouched by it. Simple as that. You see it. You live it. You experience it and it will be with you the rest of your days. The place where our endeavors come into alignment with our destiny.

There is nothing singular about our journey, but we are tempted to go there. We are here ultimately to teach and to learn. We can only be guided by the beauty of nature and love that the universe wants us to discover and know, i.e. the Dao, or Tao. Called by other names, it is still the Dao.  We may bring brightness to our garden, but the world needs us.

Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries here, I make reference to a second book attributed to Lao Tzu entitled the Nei-yeh – Inward Training. It’s contribution to Taoism has been as great or greater for those who see the Taoist path as essential to living a good life. It was written more than two thousand years ago. It can be found here on my website. The next two chapters, chapters nine and ten of twenty-four are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Nine

Those who can transform even a single thing, call them “numinous”; those who can alter even a single situation, call them “wise.”

But to transform without expending vital energy; to alter without expending wisdom: only exemplary persons who hold fast to the One are able to do this.

Hold fast to the One; do not lose it, and you will be able to master the myriad things.

Exemplary persons act upon things, and are not acted upon by them, because they grasp the guiding principle of the One.

Ten

With a well-ordered mind within you, well-ordered words issue forth from your mouth, and well-ordered tasks are imposed on others.

Listening   Nanjing Museum

Then all under heaven will be well-ordered. “When one word is grasped, all under the heavens will submit. When one word is fixed,
all under heavens will listen.”

It is this [word “Way or the Dao”] to which the saying refers.

For the sage, the greatest challenge, the ultimate paradox, is living in the world with others present. Looking to stillness from within, you are drawn to mountain vistas where the stars seem ever-present. To that time just before sunrise when you can reach out and touch infinity and the suchness that fills us all. 

Over time when the true way becomes clear, the hermitage… i.e., returning home, as if a mandate from heaven becomes self-evident. 

Daybreak atop East Peak on Huashan Mountain. Huashan is one of the Five Great Taoist Mountains in China. It is said that there are 72 caves scattered throughout the mountainous area. These caves are hard to access, have been used for hundreds of years, and is meant to provide seclusion for Taoist hermits practicing their Qi meditations.These mountains are sometimes referred to by the cardinal directions they occupy, and Huashan, being in the west, is known also as Xiyue. These mountains have been considered sacred by the Chinese for millennia. I spent two night on the mountain in October 2018.

You are living this life as your authentic self – as who you came here to become. When patience found in yourself and others become the bell-weather that determines our progress as preferences become non-existent you come to embody transcendence.

It is said sages act as new-born infants, who move naturally without planning and reliance on the structure given to them by culture and society. This is best described in Verse 15 of the Tao Te Ching.

Verse 15 – Staying on Course

Taking stock, you stop to reflect why you are here in this place and time just now.

Portion of vase in doorway depicting the sage in the clouds with his mentor

You have succeeded in getting the attention of many as your reflection has cast a long shadow.  You have shown an uncanny ability to uncover the indiscernible and penetrated contradictions previously covered by darkness. As you become concerned your ego is bringing you to the forefront, while your nature tells you it is better to stay behind.

You are reminded to remain empty and still.  That you are not here to make a show of yourself and that you are to leave no tracks. To be so conscience of the correct action that needs to be taken that you simply flow with events. That the essence of the Tao consists of nothing more than taking care, as you know that inner truth cannot be perceived, only the outward form of your actions.

Throwing Pots / The Tao  Sichuan Museum in Chengdu

That it is by intuitive understanding that the darkness becomes clear and by means of movement the still becomes alive.

That it will be by letting each thought remain detached and each action well considered that your ultimate success is determined with your virtue the only measure taken home.

The Tao Te Ching tells us that the sage empties himself, becoming void of the discriminations used in conventional language and culture. Sages concentrate their internal energies (qi). They clean their vision as described in Verse 10:

Verse 10 – Exposing ever-present but forgotten traits of Virtue

Remember what you have always known. That it is our virtue that lights the universe.

Yin and Yang Dragons Huangshen

That it is your memory of who you once were and are yet to become that resides in your heart, mind and intellect.  As you open your mind to see and know what comes forth, you are simply reminded of what you have forgotten.

That your energies are here to be replenished as you are transformed into the sage whose mind remains still. As you become still once again, you reflect and mirror heaven and earth and the ten thousand things.

You scoff as you know the best way to govern is without governing and using the efforts of others.  If you don’t obstruct what the Tao begets at their source and suppress their true nature, things mature by themselves.

Virtue remaining ever-present, its owner unknown until you appear along the way.

The sage manifest naturalness and plainness, becoming like uncarved wood (pu) Verse 19.

Verse 19 – Truly Reflecting the Tao

As I look around to see reflections of the Tao, I am drawn to rediscover what is simple and pure and discard what is considered alien to my original nature.

Reflecting the Tao      Qingyang Temple in Chengdu

That if wisdom and reason are only used for self-interest then they should be abandoned. Instead collective wisdom and reason should be used to take all to previously unknown heights.

That if kindness and justice are only shells to pursue selfish motives, then putting an end to arrogant kindness and treacherous justice will enable people to unite on their own.

That if our behavior with others is governed by cleverness and profits our innermost nature would be fulfilled more assuredly if we remain focused on that which remains undyed and uncarved as if driftwood washed up from the sea.

Acknowledging the Tao leads us to understand what is real and unreal, what is artificial and inappropriate and remaining wholly within ourselves. ##

For the Taoist (Daoist), it is important to remain constant and being consistent. This is where our humanness comes into play and explores why we are here. Where we are to rectify our thoughts and orient ourselves towards the path to perfection. Its why meditation is so important in clarifying our steps forward. When we think of the heart-mind, we are in effect “realizing the Tao”. Not to be perfect, but to move ourselves to our highest endeavor.

To be seen traveling with dragons above the clouds on Yellow Mountain once again.

Having the ability to transform ourselves is “realizing the Tao”. It’s always going back to the beginning that we learn our true path. Back to the oneness of nature we came in with and will return to again.

To live within an ancient knowing that our spirit shall be washed with the souls of mountains. As we travel under the blue sky until the moon sees our light with stars as reminders of our eternal beginnings. Letting the blue waters know that a new era is to be written. Remain loyal to the Tao as your ultimate endeavor and be patient. As your destiny awaits you – as you are here to add to your own transcendence and eternal story.

By 1dandecarlo

What do we do as our legacy awaits us? / Volume 4

The Way and the secret are hidden in legacy. As our own legacy calls us. Can there such a thing that defines our purpose? Are we more than where the present finds us? Are we just floating through time without a higher purpose, or is there something about mysterious undertakings we are here to follow? Can there be a transformation awaiting us as our ultimate endeavor and destiny. Should thoughts of clarity and stillness serve to rectify, or remedy, our hesitation to move beyond the clouds as our ultimate destination. Is our ultimate obligation to protect nature and our environment as the rectification of the world? How can this not be so? It is in understanding the underpinnings of the Tao, that our way becomes clear with the wisdom to acknowledge that our motivation conditions our thinking, or cognition. While our words simply convey breath and spirit.

Just as the teachings of the sage are meant to instill pure harmony, teach, and reform. With traits meant to set the benchmark for others to follow. We should acknowledge that all things come into this world to create perfection. That it is in this way, our origins come to the forefront. As described earlier, it is as if in descending through this we are here to be made whole.

The three entries below are from my unpublished manuscript “My travels with Lieh Tzu”.

Falling away or giving way  

Imperceptible shifting of time within the elements. Things forever shrinking and swelling, maturing and decaying, being born and forever dying all the same.

Always present in the end. Never aware of changes at the onset or the results sure to come. Our essence taking shape as we live always changing. From birth to death our features, knowledge and bearing differing as we are but a mirror moving through time.

Always growing as we fall away. Never knowing the intervals. Only waiting for the results sure to come. How else can we ever know?     1/11/1995

Not some pie in the sky thing that is outside of ourselves. A wise man once said that we should talk about our dreams not our troubles. It is the connection from within with that which seemingly lies beyond us. One of my favorites saying is “that the only barrier we may have is self-imposed” – as we may have decided that things must be a certain way where the outcome fits who I am and what I believe. There are times that I think that I’m here this time only to learn patience. Just to stay on the path and it will come to light when I’m ready. It’s that illumination and radiance thing that fills and activates our divinity from within.

While the universe is in continual change, we seem to think it stops just for us. Nature teaches that when we live outside the natural order of things, it is us who do not last. Things either adapt with change or begin to die. Its what Confucius taught more than twenty-five hundred years ago. That we are here to relate to and with our environment with benevolence and virtue – not create… as all we need is already here within us and found in nature. Again – humans – i.e., we – are only one of the ten thousand things. There is no lack and limitation in nature, only what adapts to change that goes forward. Are we on an eternal glide path focused on our highest endeavor, or are we stuck with what is meaningless and mundane that we attach to along the way?

Sometimes when I think of the compatibility between Taoism of Buddhism, I recall the Buddhist term, prajna that is in reference to spiritual insight and wisdom relating to the true nature of existence. Namely thoughts of suffering based on desire, impermanence, and no-self. Just as with Daoism, we must first learn to follow our inner nature and virtue, respect complimentary opposites, and acknowledge boundaries.

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. 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? 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.     1/13/1995

How is it we are to severe ties with appearances? There are times on our journey that our best friend is stillness and loneliness. That we should not wait for others to understand us. None of them will understand you. They cannot see the horizon inside you. Bravery is equal to making everyone a part of your dreams. Bravery is telling everyone your dream. Do not feel hopelessness, as others come to find comfort in your shadow. The sage learns to be steady as a rock.

When I first began writing, the two prevailing thoughts that pervaded my thinking were endeavor and destiny. How that applied to me, who I am, and how I was to amplify this that would take me there. My writing was the signal that led me to the Tao, the Way of Virtue and thoughts of becoming a sage. As if going home to the place I had always known simply to be with old friends once again. It would be presumptuous to consider being a sage, as the sage is beyond human endeavor. A moniker given by others once we are gone that defined our merit while we are here. How is one deemed to be worthy of becoming a sage?

In what might be considered a metaphor by some, it was as if Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu were always in the background waiting for me to come forward to claim who I have always been, but not yet ready to assert my own legacy. Until that fateful Christmas day in 1993 when hearing the words “it is through you Dan, we speak”. I have been listening and writing ever since that day. When the words come in my writing, I often have to smile and ask myself… where did that come from.

From the beginning, it was as if I was to be found dancing above the clouds with dragons. And I have been dancing ever since, never to be seen as one to live for appearances sake.  Re-joining them has always been my ultimate endeavor and destiny. It is not enough to know what it means to have a legacy we are to follow. It is what we do when it becomes obvious we have one. It was never a case of denying it, it was always how I was to embrace and exemplify how to live so my writing would take me home in good stead.

Traveling Companions

Possessing the Way is like knowing the unknown, it cannot be done.

Being your body is not possible. As it is the possession of heaven and earth. Simple harmony granted a time to be spent in the world as you come to know it.

The ultimate – to be found dancing above the clouds on Huashan mountain… again.

Your nature and destiny not belonging to you. Only the course of events laid out only for you to follow. Constantly in ebb and flow. Belonging only to them.  Everything everywhere simply belonging to them. Families and friends but a gift. Not in your possession, but heaven and earth casting off others only as they see fit.

Therefore, you travel without knowing where you go, stay without clinging and are made secure without knowing how. You are simply the breath of heaven and earth. Nothing more and nothing less.     1/14/1995

One of the keys to what is known as “Taoism”, is that man is considered as no better or worse than anything found in nature. We are simply one of the Ten Thousand Things. This is a concept that western civilization has difficulties with because of ideas of separation between man and all other things. That everything was placed here for the benefit of man.

Universal companions found in the I Ching

Therefore, all other things are here for “our purpose”, as prescribed by God. In Taoism there is no differentiation or thoughts of separation – special treatment beyond that given by nature that is here for all things. Most all Indigenous populations worldwide believe in nature’s ability to transmit universal evenhandedness.

Remember our discussion about clarity and turbidity. When we are no longer guided by appearances and truly observe the stillness of our thoughts, our heart-mind becomes realized. It is here that serenity and wisdom reside and the true sense of knowing reside. The key for us is acknowledging that the heart-mind is the pivot. For many, it is meditation and for some even deep breathing, we use as the method that clears the way for intention.

Daoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries here, I make reference to a second book attributed to Lao Tzu entitled the Nei-yeh – Inward Training. It’s contribution to Taoism has been as great or greater for those who see the Taoist path as essential to living a good life. It was written more than two thousand years ago. It can be found here on my website. The next two chapters, chapters seven and eight of twenty-four are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Seven

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

              The sage 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.

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.

                          The water urn Sichuan Museum

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.

What is it about knowledge that takes us away from the essence of virtue and wisdom? In the West, it was the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and that apple… that got Adam and Eve and the snake that got them in so much trouble. Heavenly virtue verses what is to be found in the mundane world. It seems as though what we may deem as values can separate and pull us apart that keeps us from becoming universal in nature.

It is thoughts of what brings us into alignment and tranquility that interest me at the moment and what takes us there. How we rectify our thoughts without partiality. What does it mean to penetrate even transcend emptiness that reveals our original spirit? Why does going there have to be veiled as something/being mysterious? Why does banishing or leaving behind those things in the mundane world we become attached to so essential to our ultimate journey? Why do we allow out heart-mind to go there? It is often not knowing the right questions to ask that are as important as knowing the answers.

Most all traditions tell us we have a responsibility to bring the water of life to the ones who are thirsty for faith, to what lies within each of us that connects with and to the eternal. But we seem always to think there is but one way… the one we have found for ourselves. Becoming convinced that the one we have found should also serve as the way for all. While it too remains forever in refinement and change and impermanence. Leaving no tracks, it is as if our own legacy is meant to assist others find this within themselves.

I think it falls to illumination, virtue, even inner observation. What I like to call the vision of the Tao as a divine perception – an inner knowing. Moving beyond what may be called vexation that disturbs our mind, or impurities of consciousness. There is so much here and many directions to follow. My next entry will follow the teachings of Lao Tzu in my own commentary of the Tao Te Ching following the path of the sage as described in my book, “Thoughts on becoming a Sage, the Guidebook to leading a virtuous Life”.

By 1dandecarlo

On becoming whole / Volume 3

We are the beacon of virtue that lights the world.

So, what is our purpose, our role, and how do we find our niche so to speak. Are we a singular version of the “I am that I am”, bent on tapping into 100_5685universal consciousness without regard to the nature that surrounds us and relationship with others? Concerned only for this space, this hermitage, in keeping with our own enfoldment. 

Are we what we do… or the person we are here to yet to become and does it matter? The reason the ideas of emptiness, mindfulness, and learning discernment are so essential, is that they serve to precede everything else. I often interchange the word Tao and Dao; they are the same. Tao is the version used in English, and Dao is the more correct version. Old habits die hard they say. But that’s the essence of it all. What we intrinsically follow is in keeping with both what we learn and our innate nature, our instincts, and the true meaning of synchronicity. It’s why we are here.

Or in that found in ancient Taoist scripture “That carrying the ethereal and corporal souls, embracing the One, can you be without separation?” Even further, thoughts of “returning to the Source is called 3513stillness; this means returning to life-destiny. Returning to life-destiny is called constancy; knowing constancy is called illumination.” (An illusion to chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching by Guigen). This is known as following sagely advise, or the dragons. 

What habits we unconsciously do are often seen as in keeping with our second nature – what we do without thinking. It’s how we act and how others see us.  Is it something we’ve learned recently, or perhaps our virtue we’ve always known but have often forgotten or just ignored, that connects us to our Source showing us the way? That it is our virtue that lights both our way and the world. How is it we are to contribute to our environment that is to enhance both this innate divine nature and the outer world in keeping with what may be called our responsibility to our ancestral alignment or mystery? Something to ponder or think about. Perhaps even going so far as saying “We are that we are” here to build on and show respect for both. It is embracing the One, the Tao, the yin and yang that resides in all of us.

Commentary of Lao Tzu’s Te Tao Ching

Verse 10 – Exposing ever-present but forgotten traits of Virtue 

Remember what you have always known. That it is our virtue that lights the universe.

That it is your memory of who you once were and are yet to become that resides in your mind and intellect.  As you open your mind to see and know what comes forth, you are simply reminded of what you have forgotten.

That your energies are here to be replenished as you are transformed into the sage whose mind remains still. As you become still once again, you reflect and mirror heaven and earth and the ten thousand things.

You scoff as you know the best way to govern is without governing and using the efforts of others.  If you don’t obstruct what the Tao begets at their source and suppress their true nature, things mature by themselves.

Virtue remaining ever-present, its owner unknown until you appear along the way. May 2000

第10节 展示大德

牢记你已知的东西,这是我们普照宇宙的大德,这是留在你脑海有关你的过去和未来的记忆。当

你打开思维,看看什么将要来临时,你就会回想起你所忘却的东西。

当你变成头脑冷静的圣人时,到这里来补充能量。当你变得平静如水时,你就成为了天地万物的化身。

面对世俗,你冷然嘲笑。你知道无为而治和善于用人是最好的治国之道。如果你不妨碍道的传播,不抑止他们的天性,万物自己会成熟起来。

大德永存。直到你出现之前,不会有人知道谁是有大德的人。

Virtue translates into de, which also can appear as inner power. While de may mean moral or ethical activity, it has a larger sense of being pervaded by the numinous presence of the Dao. Virtuous behavior is an expression or manifestation of that condition. This idea is constant throughout the Tao Te Ching. Hidden in form, the Tao is constantly acting through us as unified qi circulating without ceasing, and is ever-changing. Its support is what sustains us and is immeasurable. It is the essence that burns inside us looking to change who we are and will become in our travels ahead. Like a beacon of light to transform, mold, and fashion our environment. What we do, what we say, and how we act. It is our virtue that makes us immortal.  

Asking us how long will this sleep last. When will you take up your mission? If you are reading this, you may think or say – this doesn’t apply to me, or is not available to me. Therefore, making a judgment on something that I am not sure of is beyond my ability to reason. For myself, I draw inspiration from Taoist notions about living harmoniously with nature and the Tao, the cosmic order that pervades the universe. When do we move beyond philosophical thoughts and aesthetic values to join what is calling us? Perhaps we are here to illuminate the highest reached of the cosmos. To know constancy and move towards proper understanding. Transforming the clarity and stillness we know, into transparency through our own efforts. Maybe the Tao remains hidden in form so that each of us may capture it for ourselves.

Daoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries here, I make reference to a second book attributed to Lao Tzu entitled the Nei-yeh – Inward Training. It’s contribution to Taoism has been as great or greater for those who see the Taoist path as essential to living a good life. It was written more than two thousand years ago. It can be found here on my website. The next two chapters, chapters five and six of twenty-four are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

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.

That Way is not distant from us;
when people attain it they are sustained
that Way is not separated from us;
When people accord with it they are harmonious.
Therefore: Concentrated! as though you could be roped together with it.
Indiscernible! as though beyond all locations.
The true state of that 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.
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.”

Commentary of Lao Tzu’s Te Tao Ching

Verse 22 – On becoming Whole

When all has passed through you – everything becoming the same with no opposites pulling at your attention, then you are free to follow the Way of Virtue, or Tao.

When you can think and act as if innately following the Tao, you can become whole.

Knowing virtue and honesty are one, you make a list of those things not in keeping with the path you have chosen to follow and begin removing them, as they have become stumbling blocks to completing your endeavors as the sage.  Once encountered and accounted for, they disappear and cannot be traced back to their maker.

Continually redefining the role of the traditional sage. Mirroring the Tao, you become adept at sharing your vision instead of simply trusting the word of others. Instead of relying on the strength of others, you take all to otherwise unattainable heights through reluctantly displaying your own strength.

Your enthusiasm and vision carrying the day. Living in paradox, as in reality you prefer to remain hidden from view. You stand apart, not competing hens no one finding a foothold to compete with you. Remaining steadfast you become whole.

第22节          论合一

当经历了一切之后,世间万物变得如此和谐协调,再也没有什么令你分心的了。你因此可以自由地踏上通向大德之路。当你能够象天生就信仰和追随道那样去想去做,你就合一了。

要明白大德和诚实是一致的。你把可能有违道德之事一一列出,当这些事情变为你成为圣人道路上的绊脚石时,就把它们搬走。一旦遇上,分辨清楚,它们就会永远消失,无影无踪。

继续完善作为一个普通圣人的职责,你代表道与大众分享你的憧憬,而不仅仅是相信别人。不要依赖别人的力量,你不情愿地显示你的力量,但必须把众人带向不可达到的高度。

的生活充满了热忱和希望。生活在一个矛盾百出,似是而非的世界里,你不愿意抛头露面。

你依然支离破碎,因此没有人可以找到与你竞争的立足之地。继续努力,终成合一。

Verse 22 Addendum – Becoming a beacon of light for all to see 

Could it be that your ultimate role is to report back to the dragons the role of the sage in the here and now?

To take the thoughts of Lao, Lieh and Chuang and all the others to places they have not been before and to perhaps try them on for size in a different environment.

That it is not you becoming whole, as much as transitioning this ancient way into current thought and action. As your task remains internally to mirror the Tao, perhaps your role in the here and now is to rediscover for the ages how externally one can remain pure and whole in such a material world.  Keeping to eternity’s promise, but making limited appearances just the same.

Challenging the order of the day, you have become the ultimate agent of change and virtue.

Coming forth to claim your place in the universe, you accept the mantle placed upon you with an ever-present humble demeanor. As you prepare to move on to accept your greater destiny.

第22节 (补遗)     作众人的指路明灯

此时此刻,你可以回到群龙那里充当圣人的角色了吗?把老子,列子,庄子和其他古代圣贤的思

想提升到一个新的高度,并且在不同的环境尺度下运用。

把古代的方式方法变成现代思想和行动不能与成为合一相提并论。因为心中有道,也许此时此刻你的职是重新发现在物欲横流的世界上如何长久地保持纯洁和合一。恪守永恒的诺言,但减少露面。

发起向传统势力的挑战,因为你已经成为变革和大德的全权代表。

前来拥有你在宇宙应有的地位,接受永远代表谦恭的斗篷。继续漫游,接受更大的挑战

Going forth seek only clarity and understanding what can be called turbidity. Clarity is what is seen and understood as coming from the cosmos. What is dictated by nature’s call. The structure in place we are here to build on and is understood as a “given” that manifests in myriad form. Turbidity refers to what is defined as the delusion of the mundane world. Clarity and turbidity are the qi of yin and yang and circulate and flow by ascending and descending within all things. This becomes the synchronicity of our spirit on our way to becoming whole.  

As Lao Tzu teaches – we are to emulate the highest in nature and the cosmos with great compassion, extend clarity and stillness, establish the teachings and guide others. Align ourselves with virtue, embody perfection, and our Source by embracing the One, the Tao.

By 1dandecarlo

The paradox… finding the flow and going there / Volume 2

It is always said that when the source is clear and the current is still that you can find your way. When your foundation is stable you can embrace the circulation of pure energy, or your qi as described in the last entry. It becomes what we fill ourselves with – then empty to our environment that defines us. It’s what Confucius called benevolence and virtue. Heaven and earth are to be seen as the origin of benefit and harm, just as we know that P201the yin and yang of I Ching are the essential forces behind all that moves in the universe.

Picture of the ancient lynx at the Confucius Family Mansion in Qufu. A lynx is a symbol of silence, balance, observation, second sight, patience, honesty, shyness, caution, intuition, solitude, poise, wisdom, loyalty, comfort, and playfulness. The wild animal as a totem guide encourages you to be flexible and cheerful while carrying out your day to day routine.

We begin by creating structure and the discipline to follow it into the P202future. To build on – as a roadmap for scripture study and reading writings of the past, the commentaries, the thoughts and directions of the ancients. Staying true to where they take us. While we get to choose our own path. Eastern philosophy seems to be my own guiding directive, with the writings of the West – Plato, Kant, Emerson, and others like a tuning fork, whose vibrations center my thoughts and writing as well. It’s staying true with Taoist thought that keeps me centered though. It’s a liturgy and confluence with scripture with hopes that my own writing and subsequent actions will suffice as an adequate commentary.

As stated before, we are here to instill a new take, a new version that carries our heart-mind forward to new places that will serve to benefit both nature and humanity. That if we want to inspire others, we must remain above what living brings each day.

Writing for me is in many ways spiritual training following many paths and finding/rediscovering, coming in tune with, the flow that is ever-present. Re-establishing and connecting with the stream of consciousness our spirit has always known. For me, this is the best unkept secret that lies out in the open for all to see. This flow of energy… vibrations of universal love we run from in order for our ego… the who we think we are… that define us. We P214are constantly confronted by people and situations placed before us to aide in finding and refining our spirit. What may be called numinosity, as if to choose unified clarity.

Monet’s Artist Garden at Giverney

This is heaven’s gift and when we are ready for serenity, we see this in the unity of nature’s abundance. It is here that the Tao becomes pervasive and we begin to transform into what Emerson coined as transcendence, or transcendentalism. To where our imagination can take us when we see with our heart and mind’s eye.

What Gandhi saw as non-violence to gain a greater purpose beyond simply P203oneself. Emerson could see how nature resonates with the universe. Seeing beyond what is known. And just as importantly, how our inner nature defines us and the cosmos – how we are all one with it. That we are all one.

Emerson did not act in a vacuum entering the flow of thought that preceded him. It was finding perfection found in nature and embodying the truism that there can be no separation. He was a true mystic and became immortal P204due to the transcendence he mirrored and epitomized. He knew that when we can see it, we should say it and to study the way of enlightenment is to study ourselves. To in effect to forget the self, who we are in the material world. To forget the self is to become actualized by the myriad things, or as the ancient Chinese believed that we are simply one of the ten thousand things. 

Among those that Emerson studied were Plato, Tolstoy, and Lao Tzu. Later it was Emerson’s writings that inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and more recently John Lewis. All knew that we must become a benchmark for others to follow. That we must become focused and embody this suchness, a spontaneity, as if attuned to P205and with nature and the mysterious Dao, or Devine Origin. Continually refining our spirit and emerging with a universal presence that mirrored the oneness of Dao – that space above both heaven and earth. It is through the transformation of our spirit we enter the universal presence that we seek that accords us with the flow of divine law. That what we lack is the discipline to go there. The key is remembering who you are and from where you came.

It is when we brush up against our true ancestors, we find ourselves in paradox with distractions found in the present. When we acknowledge the emptiness needed to enter the flow of our ultimate endeavor and aspiration where clarity and stillness reside, we are changed. We are no longer the person we thought we once were as we become the teacher for just ourselves. This becomes the ultimate paradox, or self-contradictory proposition, that aligning with the transforming of our innate spirit takes us. When we can say we are in the mundane world – but not of the mundane world. We are P206in the world – but not of the world so to speak as we remain steadfast with the Dao.

For many, finding this balance is the true essence of understanding the parallels of the I Ching – the yin and yang that resides in both us and all things that nature provides that will make us universal. This is our ultimate choice. In almost all religious teachings there comes a time when your spirit rises above the here and now to a place of higher purpose. Our challenge is made more difficult by the attachments we cling to.

The Paradox

Some people go through their entire lives not knowing who they are, where P207they have been, or where they are going.

Book of Rites Qingyang Taoist Temple

 You are fortunate. You have a chance to see to know to understand where you are from, why you are here, and where you are going. To know who you are, who you have been, and you will be along the way. However, you must know that to know is not to know, and to have is not to have.

To see is not to be, and who you will be is not to see.

For whatever is useful by the world’s standards cannot be useful in finding the Tao. It is the eternal nature of the Tao and Te (the way of virtue) that is to be found. Reality becomes, is and will be the chance endeavor to find the Tao. 1/15/1994 (From the Preface of my first book – An American journey though the I Ching and beyond).

This is no different from the challenge those closely adhering to the Tao, or Buddhism face. For many following Buddhism, the admonition to “take the Bodhisattva vow” becomes the way to transcend personal wants and desires to become who we are in a much more universal arena.

The Bodhisattva vow is the vow taken by Mahayana Buddhists to liberate all sentient beings. One who has taken the vow is nominally known as a Bodhisattva. This can be done by venerating all Buddhas and by cultivating supreme moral and spiritual perfection, to be placed in the service of others. In particular, Bodhisattvas promise to practice the six perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, P208concentration and wisdom in order to fulfill their bodhicitta aim of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings.

Prayer wheels at the Buddhist Luohan Temple in Chongching. Each prayer wheel contains a Buddhist sutra (or prayer). Spinning the wheel is said to release the sutra for the benefit of the one doing the spinning.

It is this being placed in the service of others that we find attachments that seem to make our decisions for us. Discernment can lead us to become self-centered verses seeing the need to help others to find their own path. You don’t necessarily have to be a Buddhist or Daoist to see and feel this way.

It begins with an enlightened presence and compassion for all beings. This 715becomes the paradox of those entering the universal flow of energy when we see ourselves above the mundane world and wish to take others there too.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian for whom the bells tolls…

Do we stay above the mundane word as a singular effort of our highest endeavor and ultimate destiny, or are we now empowered by this higher source to take others there as well? This is the ultimate paradox that history teaches us that man has struggled with for millennia. It’s like an ancestral mystery with the universe attempting to bring us in alignment with who we are supposed to be. It is for this reason we follow the ultimate source, the mysterious Dao. What some may refer to as God. It is what Lao Tzu calls the great Dao that is without form and brings forth both heaven and earth. 

Daoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my first entry here, I make reference to a second book attributed to Lao Tzu entitled the Nei-yeh – Inward Training. It’s contribution to Taoism has been as great or greater for those who see the Taoist path as essential to living a good life. It was written more than two thousand years ago. It can be found here on my website. The next two chapters, chapters three and four, of twenty-four are as follows:

Nei-yeh — Inward Training

Three

All the forms of the mind are naturally infused and filled with it [the vital P209essence], are naturally generated and developed [because of] it.

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.
P210The 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.”

It’s how we internalize and become in tune with the path we are to follow that determines our fate. Finally, from my own version… a commentary of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching entitled “Thoughts on becoming a Sage”, written in May 2000 and published in China in 2006. The book is found here on my website.

Verse 21 – Forever replenishing our virtue

 What is this thing called virtue and value placed on emptiness and how can P211they be so inter-related?

Remaining hidden from view  Confucius Temple in Qufu

That virtue cannot be found unless we are willing to remain empty, that the Tao remains hidden from view except as virtue found through emptiness. Following the Tao, we are continually subject to change and are redefined as our virtue waxes and wanes.

As if guided by the phases of the moon I find structure through tending my garden just as Shen-ming, the divine husbandman, who discovered agriculture along with the healing properties of plants and a calendar to be followed by the sages of long ago. Could it be that virtue is the manifestation of the Tao, or Way, that should guide us? That the Way is what virtue contains and without it could have no meaning or power. That without P212virtue, the Way would have no appearance or ability to come forward.

Replenishing our virtue    Confucius Temple in Qufu

 Taking no form, the Tao takes expression only when it changes into virtue.  It is when the sage truly mirrors the Tao that virtue can be given an opportunity to manifest and grow and the natural course, or scheme of things, becomes apparent for all to see.

The Tao by itself neither existing or not existing. As if coming and going as the essence of one’s heart and soul – simply by maintaining its presence as… virtue. Everything in the universe held accountable to the Tao. Continually changing – with our identity the first to go.  What was once true becomes false and what was once false slips into becoming true.  It is only our essence expressed as virtue that is kept and continually replenished by the Tao.

21          练大德,永无止

大德是什么?虚空是什么?他们之间的关系又如何?如果我们不愿意保持虚空,大德就无从谈起。来自虚空的大德是可见的,除此之外所有的大德都不可见。大德时多时少,我们必须不断修练和完善。

P213             Longevity and Virtue Completed – Confucius Mansion in Qufu

仿佛受到月的盈亏的指点,我象神农那样,通过耕耘我的花园发现了万物的结构。神农是一个伟大的农夫,他很久以前就发现了农业耕作,植物的治病作用和圣人们用来记事的日历。它是道通过大德的显示吗?可以用来指导我们吗?道为大德所拥有。没有大德,道就毫无意义和力量,没有大德,道就无法表现或缺乏动力。道无形,道惟有隐于德时才会显示出来,自然规律或万物法则才变得清晰明了。

道亦有亦无,随着心灵意念来来去去。有德则有道,万物皆有道。我们要不断变革,从改变自身开始。原来的真实现在变成了虚假,原来的虚假现在变成了真实。保留的只有充满道的大德。

By 1dandecarlo

Living above the clouds… as if perfecting perfection / Volume 1

P1

As if residing in a perpetual hermitage, or retreat – as the ultimate space you call home. Our place for the moment but a cornucopia of flowers, bees, and butterflies. With thoughts and actions of the virtue that define us above the clouds, seemingly above both heaven and earth.

With the Tao teaching that our innate nature emulates the sun, moon, the earth below us, and stars. Man alone measuring time. As eternity moves through us we go forward cultivating mindfulness. Universal energy passing through the cosmos endeavoring only to simply stay present in the moment.

We are, as with all things found in nature, simply the manifestation of the Tao. With God only the definition we give to the ultimate creator of what is left unknown. As we follow and learn from our divine innate nature and scripture passed down from those who came before us. My goal to set out on a new road following old paths to destinations that return to my beginnings. The ultimate cycle of life, death, and re-birth to live and understand my role and ultimate purpose knowing that… the one who sees makes us all see. With this I say –

To those who have awakened                                                                                  re-incarnation will not have a fixed limit.

To leap beyond the realm of formlessness                                                           – to suchness… and the fundamental, intrinsic,                                               innate characteristic quality or condition that takes us there.

To reside in the world while living beyond the world.

With aspirations to return home one day                                                            to be found with old friends above the clouds.                                                  To be simply above heaven and earth, once again.

The following is but a first entry of many that will follow of my own personal account as someone adhering to the Tao and thoughts mirroring my mentors from long ago. Scratching the surface of forever truths that follow me through eternity. Bringing myself and ancient scriptures into account. Making both what I write – and what I have written – the personification of my journey. Past, present, and future. Paying close attention to my Taoist past as it consolidates the present with my future. Guided by forever friends from every persuasion who also looked upward to the stars and their innate nature that would tie it all together. All hoping to contribute to what they see as the final say.

P2

Manjusri is the bodhisattva of wisdom and is one of the most important iconic figures in Mahayana art and literature. He represents the wisdom of prajna, which is not confined by knowledge or concepts. Images of Manjusri, as with images of other bodhisattvas are used for meditation and contemplation.

For me, this continuing dialog begins again with ancient scripture as there is so much to distract us from the journey as we travel the mundane world. (the world in the here and now with others present) Scripture can be seen as a beacon, a universal light. Classics as seen in Confucianism, Sutras in Buddhism, and in Taoism what can be referred to as Jing. Adding an omnipresent or pervasive context, one can see reference to scripture in Christianity (for myself adding Tolstoy’s commentary and Emerson’s take on Nature is enlightening), and in the Moslem world, the Koran, the Indigenous native and shaman – all found to be in tandem with who we were in the beginning. All to be lit with the same universal flame. By my own reckoning with Eastern thought… specifically Taoism, my focus is on what is commonly referred to as Jing. Jing has historically been seen in China as calligraphy and transmitted as manuscripts. Over the centuries in China, Jing are commonly written as commentaries as well.

Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. There is a second book attributed to Lao Tzu entitled the Nei-yeh – Inward Training. It’s contribution to Taoism has been as great or greater for those who see the Taoist path as essential to living a good life. It can be found here on my website. The first two chapters of twenty-four are as follows:

Nei-yeh — Inward Training

One

The vital essence of all things –
it is this that brings them to life.
It 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:
Bright! – 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.

Even my own writing spanning more than twenty-five years can be seen as inspired by the I Ching, and ideals of Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu more specifically. For the Taoist, or those seen  as following Taoist precepts, this becomes the manifestation of the Tao in the world expressing the numinous (spiritual and/or mysterious) presence of the Tao. Unifying our qi is the essential first step in aligning with who we are yet to become.

It will be our qi – our breath – our spirit – our heart/mind that defines us in eternity. The ancients saw this as our blood and color red that took us there. All the universe asks is that we do our best with what we are given.

The manuscripts (two were published in China) and several hundred thousand words here on my website are my attempts to understand an innate nature with myself that has always been present, yet mostly unaccounted for as I have gained my own voice. Ultimately, my purpose seems to be expressing what I have always known for the benefit of others and to be reminded again of my own journey. My role to express this through my writing. This culminates with what appears here through The Kongdan Foundation. Spiritual refinement being the never-ending purpose of our soul.

This study in self-reflection and refinement continues as the central practice of life. The words of Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu and many others have not only gone through me, but are now simply me expressing my highest good as if emulating the sage. Retooling what I have previously written so that I too may take the next step. Wang Chongyang, as expressed in the book The Way of Complete Perfection, tells us that it is not only reading the ancient Chinese scriptures… but more importantly to understand that the point of reading and study is to deepen practice. One endeavors to apply a given text’s insights to one’s daily life. Not only intellectually taking us to new heights, but with spiritual intent focusing on transformation and what you gain from Taoist, and/or additional scriptural readings.

It is not just one thing that guides us. It is the combination of what we study, how we practice, and what we incorporate into our daily lives. With this we learn discernment, what is relevant, and how practice carries us through each day. To what we hold as sacred. This is the essence of stillness and mindfulness and a complete meditative custom or habit. It becomes “where are we doing it from”.

As a practicing Taoist, this is because our jing, our take on things ethereal or what lies beyond us, connects us to threads that bind us to networks we have always known and simply need to be reminded of that lead us to the next step along the way. It is what the central core of the Tao… or Way, has always been over the millennia. It becomes our contract with our own heart-mind. As we seem to move through eternity at our own pace.

It is here that my friend Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man comes to mind, or at best into play. Seeing our humanness as a reminder that we are here to both teach and to learn. One of the first things I wrote in re-affirming with this path, appears in my first book that was to be my introduction to the I Ching and Taoism I called “An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond” published in China in 2004. Something I wrote more than twenty-five years ago.

Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man

As Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man begins by abandoning the ways of the world, you begin by simply letting go of that which is not significant to the Tao. As you are now seen traveling with old friends who guide you along an unknowable path or way.

Just as the dragons would have it, they are pleased.

Eternal sacrifice made to capture the moment knowing everything rests on your finding and staying on the road yet to be traveled.  Searching for immortality and freedom to go where few have gone before.  Just as a sage would find the true reality of all things. Always leading the way. Knowing that the Tao is everywhere to be found by simply looking and understanding what is and finding one’s own standard within the oneness of virtue.

Eternity existing forever both before, now and yet to come. As you continually search for your place in the overall scheme of things. With a comfort known as something done repetitively, over and over again. A great sense of satisfaction that all becomes and is second nature.

Remain simply within the oneness of everything and pursue nothing beyond the ethereal as the reclusive sage. Complete with the knowledge  of the Tao and understanding what it means. Remember from where you have come. As we are here to remind you of where you will return with us. Everything is here within yourself to rediscover and relearn. Keep to the open road as the Perfected Man and know immortality can only follow. 4/12/94

Keeping to the open road, the ultimate challenge of the everyday or mundane world. As I proceed, it is in writing, speaking, and teaching others about the Tao and relying on scriptural teachings that are so essential. You must become it – before you can relay it to others – the essence of teaching. I love Liu Changsheng’s teachings on early Quanzhen, especially the commentary by Fan Yi in 1185AD. The thoughts below are what I aspire to do in my own writing:

“With his expansive aptitude and learning, he connects old and new. His heart/mind wanders between the Dao (Tao) and virtue. Thus, with broad-minded thinking he investigates what is essential, searching out the mysterious and making inquiries into the hidden. He puts his all into clear commentary and explanation. Providing simple understanding, he makes it easy to know and easy to practice. It is thus beneficial for all generations. It truly can be called an application of the heart-mind that is full of compassion and kindness for others”.

It is what connects what may be called Eastern Thought focusing on Taoist Cosmology and Buddhist inspired maps of consciousness that I find most intriguing. As well as the development of both the Quanzhen or Northern and Nanzong or Southern School of Taoism.  Going there, following commentaries in literature written over hundreds, even thousands of years, along with expressing the intricacies of the Tao, is where I hope to take my own “commentaries” over the next several months, perhaps years as well.

Stay tuned for Volume 2

By 1dandecarlo

45) Unity of Springfield World Religions Class. April 26, 2020 – Alan Watts and the Way of Zen Part 2. / Staying in tune with the spontaneity of Zen and living from the center of our heart.

Liberation and cultural transformation and why Confucius was instrumental to the flow of benevolence and virtue. To the great Zen Master Dogen, beginner’s mind, and to what brings forth an unfolding of a new vision of reality. It begins from within each of us. With compassion and mindfulness, we see that the heart is the ground from which our speech grows. We learn to restrain our speech in moments of anger, hostility, or confusion, and over time, to train ourselves to be more frequently inclined towards wholesome states such as love, kindness and empathy. To live from the center of our heart as the starting point in which we begin again. As Gandhi told us that “We should speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

As relayed earlier by Watts reckoning and many others, Taoism was the original Chinese way of liberation which combined with Indian Mahayana Buddhism to produce Zen. This idea of liberation is something that we keep coming back to over and over again. The question and underlying contradiction have always been – what are we liberating ourselves from – and when we have a sense of it – what do we do next. What are we doing to promote this transcendent flow of energy? If the eternal essence, this flow of the universe already exists within us, then our role becomes simply to continue moving it forward. It is often said we do this with love. But how do we express this and what is our medium of expression?

The greatest contributors to the flow of transcendence, to this flow of energy for me was illustrated in the West by Plato, Emerson, Tolstoy, MLK, Eckhart Tolle, and yes, I would say Alan Watts. What is this ability to connect with the universal never-ending flow of transcendental thought and philosophy? This voice historically has also been expressed through the arts. Music and painting, have always been the best way for many to express this transcendence. As best defined by the truest sense of kung fu – the essence of our own greatest gift to ourselves and others. But Watts was unique, as all these were, in that they found a starting point and built on the idea of being liberated from convention to what amounts to the creative power of te, of virtue as discussed in my last entry. What is virtue and more importantly, how does it define us? To appreciate and understand a sense of virtue, there is no better place than to look to those who chose a path that led to a positive, what we might call, Zen outcome.

I recently used the depiction of “following the yellow brick road” as depicted in the movie classic The Wizard of Oz in my writing and how Elton John transformed the idea to say “Beyond the yellow brick road” in his music. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the American-English phrase yellow brick road as denoting a course of action or series of events viewed as a path to a particular (especially positive or desired) outcome or goal.

 We are reminded that transformation and change are the keys to our growth and longevity understanding that the person that we are today is not who we will be tomorrow. Many people could stand out as models to follow through actions that led to their success. As a sports fan, I miss baseball. Specifically, Cardinal baseball. One of my favorite players was always Ozzie Smith the shortstop known as the “Wizard of Oz”. I was fortunate to get to see Ozzie play many times in Saint Louis before he retired in 1996. In his Hall of Fame speech in 2002 he was honored as probably the greatest shortstop of all time. he said… “Ozzie Smith is not a uniquely talented person, in fact, he’s no different than any man, woman, boy or girl in this audience today. Ozzie Smith was a boy who decided to look within. A boy who discovered absolutely nothing is good enough if it could be made better. A boy who discovered an old-fashioned formula that would take him beyond the rainbow, beyond even his wildest dream. A boy who discovered a formula that was, and is still today, a mind to dream, a heart to believe and the courage to persevere.” As close a statement reflecting a Zen attitude that could be made. I miss baseball very much, as I am sure many watching do as well. Ozzie used to have a restaurant in St Louis we visited as well.

Another person whose artwork I deeply appreciate is Claude Monet who was the founder of French Impressionist painting. His paintings for me were very Zen-like as they illustrated the philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature. The term impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impressive, Sunrise. I first gained my own appreciation for Monet in a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in 1980 forty years ago. It is this “expressing one’s perceptions before nature” that rings true and is timeless. It is easy to find yourself and get lost in his impressionist paintings at the same time. His paintings have a lack of structure that allows you to go there on your own. Very Zen… That college class you took in Art Appreciation takes on a whole new meaning once you incorporate for yourself how what you are seeing relates to you personally.

As if we are here to find our niche as the universe would have it and spend our time going there. I would often tell my students in China that most people don’t have a clue as to who they are until the age of thirty… then with attachments already made (family and job that does not assist in taking hem there) they feel stuck. We are to use our life’s events for growth and change and go into the unknown fearless understanding of cause and effect.

A famous depiction of the three philosophies show the three men are dipping their fingers in a vat of vinegar and tasting it; one man reacts with a sour expression, one reacts with a bitter expression, and one reacts with a sweet expression. The three men are Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu. Each man’s expression represents the predominant attitude of his philosophy: Confucianism saw life as sour, in need of rules to correct the degeneration of people; Buddhism saw life as bitter, dominated by pain and suffering due to desires; and Taoism saw life as fundamentally perfect in its natural state. Another interpretation of the painting is that, since the three men are gathered around one vat of vinegar, the “three philosophies” are one and the same and reflect the convergence of Zen in Eastern thought and philosophy.

Alan Watts understood that in order to get to the bottom of what was to become Zen Buddhism, you must first see the adaptability of Chinese thought. For myself, there seems to be a universal connecting tissue that ties universal thought together as if a single thread. I see this especially in Tolstoy, Emerson, and Watt. In Eastern thought, there had been an integration spanning thousands of years of defining who they were before Buddhism came from India in a big way. This maturity led to workable patterns of social convention derived from Confucianism with ideas of Taoism and particularly “leaving well enough alone”. This led to a synthesis, to what would become Chan, or Zen Buddhism whose premise was “ok, how do we find a practical application that would define a way of life for everyone following normal instincts and pre-existing patterns”. Ultimately, asking – is it all that important to see yourself as the rest of the world does?

I would add that both mystical and mythic consciousness demands that certain things – sacred things – be approached not with the distance of disinterested scrutiny but in a spirit of faith. But freedom from the self comes not through the dulling of consciousness, but through its refinement, not through dissolving the ego but through moving beyond it. It’s what every great storyteller attempts to do by becoming enmeshed, or a part of, what appears as an extension of the unknown, eventually falling into a harmonious rhythm or flow that washes away extraneous thoughts and brings our senses back to life.

It seems that in practical terms that I always come back to Confucius and his hometown, Qufu. I got my Chinese name (Kongdan), from my friends in Qufu. Kong is Confucius family name. Over half of people who live in Qufu have Kong as their family name. So, the name Kongdan seemed the next step for me over the years as I kept coming back (and still do). Over the past twenty years I have made over forty trips and lived next to Confucius Mansion and Temple and taught at the school founded by his descendants adjacent to both. But the point here is the flow of divine universal thought and energy. How for over thousands of years this continuum transposed how we were to live and what we were to connect to that make us universal. That we are more than what we see – as nature gets the final call. It’s like all you need is a great Monet print on your wall at home as you sit and go there. A blending from one age to the next and deciding this is eternal and we (I) am a part of it all. A great aide in meditation by the way.

In trying to understand how it all comes together it seems each of us possess what I would call a transcendent imperative… once we know we take the next step to freedom. A certain pragmatism that honors varying ways of thinking leaning on the strengths of each of us. Like saying whatever works best to get you there will do. It’s like possessing an underlying simplicity and structure as to how we live our lives that can obscure the richness of its implications. That’s the task of all great teachers and what they leave behind for us to grab onto that will define us as well. This is what Confucius did that Watts was trying to relay. Saying wherever we are doing it from in virtue is empowering, and can enhance our capacities to find enjoyment throughout the events of daily life. For Confucius this sense of responsibility leads one to benevolence, virtue, and grace.

When I’m here, I always seem to return to thoughts of illumination, liberation, freedom, ideas of the flow of universal transcendence, and wanting to live from a state of grace. What my own mentors would have done next, and most importantly, remembering what takes us there. It’s like a grounding of eternal presence that becomes understood and acknowledged before going forward with the next step reminding us of the innate wisdom, perhaps one might say, a kind of touchstone, we have always possessed. This always seems to bring me back to moderation, and the benevolence and virtue of Confucius and Kongdan. What this means is that whatever the impermanence we find of our lives in this moment… we can change. Often, I would take the bus to a neighboring city or village to visit the home of one of my students. As we would turn the corner or see vistas of mountains or hillside there would be a sense of dejavu – I have been here before. This feeling often occurred in Qufu.

To appreciate and understand Alan Watts, there is a need to “get under the skin” of pre-existing thought as to what made Zen Zen. As if, you must understand the journey it took over the centuries to grow and manifest into something that people could see as an instrument to follow as a compilation of thought and philosophy.

It’s not only that we return to the flow of universal thought, but where we allow it to take us. Like an institutional memory we each contribute to that allows us to tap into that shows the way. A willingness to proceed into the unknown as the central element in acknowledging our own path, and that no two may be the same. As with the I Ching you must return, or go back to the beginning, before the route ahead shows you the way. Over the centuries it becomes the roadmap to eternity. For me, it’s always returning to my source and Qufu. As with seemingly all things opposites occur with Qufu in northeast China and Chengdu in Sichuan to the southwest.

When the world is experienced, as the thirteenth-century Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen writes, “with the whole of one’s body and mind” the senses are joined, the self is opened, and life displays an intrinsic and unitive richness. This from a famous passage Dogen from Genjokoan, (whose meaning is to actualize, or to appear to become one with the whole universe.)

Dogen writes:

To study the Buddha Way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be illuminated by all things.

Adding that – great enlightenment is the tea and rice of daily living.

Its characteristics include joy, deep concentration, emotional buoyancy, a heightened sense of mastery, a lack of self-consciousness, and self-transcendence. While living in South Florida a few years ago, I attended a Buddhist Sangha Community weekly meditation that used the book “The Essential Dogen” as a guide. I still have the book, and often find myself returning to it. I have found it both enlightening and inspirational. In a future entry as an introduction to Watt’s version of Zen, I hope to use this as another tool. Ultimately, we attain wisdom not be creating ideals, but by learning to see things clearly, as they are. That it is as Confucius said, “We are not here to create – we are here to relate”.

One of Dogen’s teachers was Rujing. What I especially liked was his idea that practice and realization cannot be divided as we proceed each moment in what Watt would call ‘the essential Now’. To acknowledge the starting point as what the Buddhist would call ‘beginners mind’. To what Eckhart Tolle calls “The Power of Now”. With this we focus on aligning with the destination that is always present.

What Watts calls when we have an experience, or find ourselves in a state of consciousness which leads to our liberation that often is referred to as self-knowledge, or the beginnings of self-awakening. It is with this state of mind we make the discovery of who or what I am (we are), when I am (we are) no longer identified with any role or conventional definition of the person we thought we were. This “self-knowledge” often leads to identifying with our own divinity. To succeed in the cultivation of mindfulness, is the highest benefit, informing all aspects of our life. The idea of a starting point has always intrigued me. With the I Ching, it always reminds us to start with the beginning. To go within as if in prayer or meditation letting our outward actions simply mirror our innermost acknowledgment of our own divinity. What I like most about Zen Buddhism, is there are no rails keeping us from actualizing who we are meant to become. I like to think this was Chuang Tzu’s contribution to Chan that later transformed into Zen.

To grow as we come to know our presence – to know ourselves. This was always the strength of Confucius teaching as it allowed the blending and structure that encouraged Taoism and Buddhism to flourish with the addition of Indian Mahayana Buddhism to produce Zen.

In China this was often called Chan Buddhism and in Japan… Zen Buddhism as exemplified by Dogen. Teachings would often vary due to structure and preferences of Masters seeped in culture and direction with the flow of wisdom they felt they needed to expand. What did Confucius do that made him so famous? He was a compiler of the history of China that came before him. For myself after more than twenty-five years of acquaintance, he was/is the ultimate storyteller. He is said to have updated what was known as “the Five Classics”, which included the Book of Rites made famous by Ji Dan, the Duke of Zhou, from five hundred years earlier. Also, the Analects and his take on the I Ching, plus the writings of Lao Tzu, who tradition says they once met. He did not become famous for over a hundred years after his death.

Confucius inspired people to act with benevolence and virtue that would accept the spiritual path of others. For well over two thousand years after Confucius, Qufu was considered to be the “Religious center of China”, because what Confucianism became was the way of acceptance of family, community, and the emperor. Every city from about 200 AD during the Han dynasty going forward, was required to have a “Temple of Confucius”, not so much in a spiritual sense, but a philosophical understanding of how the individual should live going forward. Much of the examination system in place for well over a thousand years required for moving up in society was centered of a thorough understanding of the teaching of Confucius.

If you are still with me, I hope you will see the value in “self-appraisal”. Modeling our heart and our thoughts, to match others we can look to as guides that help to design the path, we know instinctively we must take when we are ready. I especially like to follow what is called the oral tradition, words and stories from the East. As personified by the sage, or shaman, as a heritage embodied in what is transmitted in what we might call not necessarily a ‘religious’ sense, but one that involved directing others in a whole way of life. This is the fate of the storyteller. Creating cohesion that take us to the unknown in such away we must follow. The earliest shaman knew to follow his/her instincts into the unknown. What was it that took Alan Watts and so many others on their own journey to the knowledge of the ultimate reality? It’s where we shall endeavor to go here as well.

Finally, Watts reminds us that we are eternal. That our lives are like a Monet painting with our own canvas making impressions as if we are present, but not really here.

By 1dandecarlo