January 2017

Realignment of body – mind – and spirit…   to live contentedly in wu wei with Lao, Chuang & Lieh Tzu, Gandhi & Bobby as my spirit guides as an agent of change.         

 January 2017

 “Tranquility and calmness are that by which the nature (self-cultivation) is nourished. Harmony and vacuity are that by which potency is nurtured. When what is external does not disturb what is internal, then our nature attains what is suitable to it. When the harmony of our nature is not disturbed, then potency will rest securely in its position. Nurturing life so as to order the age, embracing potency so as to complete our years, this may be called being able to embody the Way.”

“The nature of water is clear, yet soil sullies it. The nature of humans is tranquil, yet desires disorder it … If the spirit is clear, lusts and desires cannot disorder it … If the spirit is clear, then consciousness is illumined”, from the Huainanzi, Harold Roth, Inward Training.

A new year, new beginnings. Of finding harmony between who we are in eternity with who we are now. Coming to understand the “as above – so below” that defines us. It is as if we are on a rite of passage as we surrender to the bliss our soul truly longs for. As if you are on a vision quest with your soul becoming purified and you realize life isn’t about seeking something outside yourself – but connecting deeply into the depths of your own soul. My affinity and passion for Taoism is because it speaks to my soul. With this understanding, after more than twenty years of “embracing the Way”, I realize that I am a teacher. I acknowledge my past as both shaman and sage and reorient my activities to reflect my highest endeavor. But first, I must continue the process of clearing away debris and continue realigning my energies to realization, otherwise known as a “spiritual transformation”. When you are in alignment with the universe is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

I am reminded of what my dear friend Chuang Tzu says about death as relayed by Po Chi’i from the Tang Dynasty in Musings of a Chinese Mystic from a book by Lionel Giles:

                                     Peaceful Old Age

Chuang Tzu said, “The Tao gives me this toil in manhood, this repose in old age, this rest in death”.

Swiftly and soon the golden sun goes down.                                                                                       The blue sky wells afar into the night.                                                                                                   Tao is the changeful world’s environment.                                                                                       Happy are they that in its laws delight.

The Tao gives me toil – youth’s passion to achieve.                                                                       And leisure in life’s autumn and decay.                                                                                                    I follow Tao – the seasons are my friends.                                                                                  Opposing it – misfortune comes my way.

Within my breast no sorrows can abide.                                                                                                    I feel the great world’s spirit through me thrill.                                                                               And as a cloud I drift before the wind.                                                                                                    Or with the random swallow take my will.

As underneath the mulberry tree I dream.                                                                                         The water clock drips on, and dawn appears.                                                                                         A new day dawns over wrinkles and white hair.                                                                               The symbols of the fullness of my years.

If I depart, I cast no look behind.                                                                                                                 If still alive I still am free from care.                                                                                                 Since life and death in cycles come and go.                                                                                           Of little moment are the days to spare.

Thus strong in faith I wait and long to be                                                                                             one with the pulsings of Eternity.

Chuang Tzu had a great understanding of what death means as an end of body and mind, but not the spirit, or soul. We are eternal. The other major philosophical schools of ancient China, such as Confucianism, Legalism, and Mohism, were all concerned with concrete social, political, or ethical reforms designed to reform people and society and thereby alleviate the problems and suffering of the world.  His writing inspired Chan, or Zen Buddhism, to take hold in China. Most of the Buddhist sutras (religious writings) as they entered China were translated into Chinese by the Taoists who were heavily influenced by the writings of Chuang Tzu. However, Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) believed that the key to true happiness was to free oneself from the world and its standards through the Taoist principle of “inaction” wu wei, action that is not based on any purposeful striving or motives for gain.   His ideas of separation and service and questioning authority when it did not make sense through the use of humor and paradox, would permeate philosophical and religious practice and teachings to this day.

But it was his understanding that death was not simply an end, but a continuation of our meandering or wandering through the cosmos, or universe that was for many most significant.The term “wandering” (yóu 遊) is used throughout the stories of the Zhuangzi to describe how an enlightened person “wanders through all of creation, enjoying its delights without ever becoming attached to any one part of it.” Our service here is to honor the eternal nature of both ourselves and the universe… to better understand our own transcendence,  do no harm and contribute to it’s well being without being attached to any outcome that may follow.

It is sometimes said that this “spiritual transformation” is a gradual process, requiring numerous experiences, usually through a regular practice of meditation. Meditation for many is considered as peak experiences, no matter how profound, and merely temporary, passing, transient states. In order for higher development to occur, those temporary states must become permanent traits. Higher development involves, in part, the conversion of altered states into permanent realizations … This is where meditative states become increasingly important. Unlike spontaneous peak experiences (which are fleeting), meditative states access these higher realms in a deliberate and prolonged fashion. As such, they more stably disclose the higher levels that eventually become, with practice, permanent realizations.” (Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, Shambhala, 2000, p. 15-16). When you can reach the point where every moment is spent in spontaneity aligned with eternal truths and the Tao, you are living in the moment. There is no longer a need to set aside a time for meditation as you live in a constant state of mindfulness and awareness. Except to remind you of your original purpose.

What is my role and the mission of the Kongdan Foundation? How does my passion for Chinese history and philosophy move beyond my own since of returning to my source, to one of conveying the universal truths that I am here to convey? How do I assist in “becoming a bridge for global understanding of Eastern history and philosophy”? The coming year is focused on setting the right intentions and matching challenges with my own skill levels. For this I look to what I refer to as three sets of three. First, is following my mentors Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu, and living in the spontaneity of the Tao and wu wei. Second, to endeavor to have the mindset of Gandhi when he said. “You must be the change…” And third as Robert (Bobby) Kennedy said:

“Our choice is not whether change will come, but whether we can guide that change in the service of our ideals and toward a social order shaped to the needs of all our people. In the long run we can master change not through force or fear, but only through the free work of an understanding mind, through an openness to new knowledge and fresh outlooks which can only strengthen the most fragile and the most powerful of human gifts: the gift of reason.”

For myself, it is stepping out of the clouds to support change (the I Ching), in the service of our ideas… and our highest self, as above – so below, that challenges my innate sense of tranquility and mindfulness. This website, thekongdanfoundation.com, second my Facebook page, and third, opening a bank account to expand the voice, message, and intent to serve those things that support our endeavors will be our foremost intent in the coming year.

By 1dandecarlo

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