Is it Values over Virtue… and why should it Matter
Many people pay little or no attention to history. Thinking all they need to know is within their own way of thinking today. Everything now seems driven by 24-hour news cycles and social media, and how it fits within our own ideas of “what is – and how things should become an image of our own beliefs”. We adhere to what fits with who we think we are, without truly knowing what or who that is. We seem to be lost in our own values and how our world, and everyone else’s must come into our own take on outcomes. And with positions on things without regard if virtue resides on our side or not. The problem being that our true nature and virtue do not take sides. Those who try to live with values without virtue seldom win the day. The shaman, Lao Tzu, and Confucius taught benevolence toward others leads back to ourselves and we should act with our virtue remaining intact.
This was always the first order of business in China for dynasty after dynasty and it is why the benevolence and virtue expressed by Confucius has permeated Chinese culture for more than 2500 years. Today there are more than 800 Confucius Institutes outside of China that dot the globe. They teach Chinese language, culture, and the importance of Confucian virtue. I think the USA has the equivalent in military bases. Think about that for just a moment. The Chinese see things first in five-year increments that lead to one hundred-year spans of history, while we are limited to social media and to what may happen today.
If our virtue is ultimately what defines us as individuals (and from the standpoint of the universe it is all we come into and depart with when we leave), then what values that support these virtues do we embrace? If we pre-suppose that we are a spirit having a human experience, then can we further our position in the universe by not understanding that everyone we meet, see, and yes touch… is also on a similar personal journey.
The Sage’s Ten Commitments
- Do not ruminate over trifles – things of insignificance in the scheme of things. Losing attachments the means of letting go.
- Reflect cause and effect – know what comes around goes around. Minimize all encounters not in keeping with your journey.
- Be who you are yet to become – reflect the image of your highest endeavor and destiny. Resting in the assurance and reminded of from where you came and to where you will return.
- Be the teacher of what should be done in every situation you encounter.
- Encourage and strengthen others in defining their role befitting their own endeavor and destiny.
- Never be the one bringing drama or self-interest to the situation.
- Do only the minimum – leaving no tracks as to your presence. Only wisdom others can reflect on and call their own.
- Let the world come to your doorstep. If it decides to go or look elsewhere then you were not needed or necessary to the final outcome. Remembering that the saga or circle is never-ending.
- Celebrate and acknowledge you are on the path you are meant to be on – stay tuned in as there will always be outside influences meant to test your resolve, perseverance and intentions.
- Stay in the moment – reflecting what is in front of you bringing it to what and where it should be as only the Tao and dragons and God would have it. 7/17/2010
A commitment is how the sage sees our place in the world and steps toward enlightenment. My last entry here focused to Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and its role on setting the stage for how we approach life.
Verse three ended with the paradox of the sage lies in rather to take action… or not. Wei Yuan explained it this way “The reason the world is in disorder is because of action. Action comes from desire. And desire comes from knowledge. The sage does not talk about things that can be known or display things that can be desire. This is how he brings order to the world.” For myself, it is this conundrum that defines the paradox living in the world and deciding how to live our lives.
Fortunately, life and things don’t end here. There are eighty-one verses of the Tao Te Ching to evaluate and study. Why? It represents the essence of personal transformation and how the perception and connection with some sense of enlightenment permeate who we are to become.
Rather we do so this time or the next, or the next… Truth be told, it addresses how we modify our own behavior in light of what we acknowledge as internal truths. What we are here to acknowledge is that life, and yes death, are a continuation. What Chuang Tzu called the pivot becomes how we learn to make the best if it. Awakening can occur in an instant or not at all. It is often how we are paying attention and who our travelling companions are, that determines our fate. We continue now with verse four of my interpretation and commentaries of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. The complete book entitled, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, can be found on my website. Selected commentaries are from Red Pine’s Taoteching.
Verse 4 – Remaining as the Ancestor of all Things
Reminded constantly to remain empty. To go with the flow letting events carry you onward with no sense of predetermined outcome. Yet shaping everything along the way.
Adjust your light to the crowd and merge with the dust of the world. All the while lifting those around you to otherwise unattainable heights.
Appear to have no ambition, dulling edges and not insisting on anything. Have no fear and display utmost courage thereby untying every knot and avoiding nothing. Remaining as the ancestor of all things. Clear and yielding yet ever-present. As if close by, but not making any appearances just the same. ##
Wang An-Shih says, “The Tao possesses form and function. Its form is the original breath that doesn’t move. Its function is the empty breath that alternates between Heaven and Earth.”
Li His-Chai says, “The ancient masters of the Way had no ambition, hence they dulled their edges and did not insist on anything. They had no fear, hence they untied every tangle and avoided nothing. They did not care about beauty, hence they softened their light and forgot about themselves. They did not hate ugliness; hence they merged with the dust and did not abandon others.”
Lu Nung-Shih says, “Clear describes what is deep. If it is deep, it is clear. The Tao comes from nothing. Hence the Tao is the child of nothing.”
Verse 5 – Remaining Empty Yet Inexhaustible
Again, reminded to remain empty.
Quiet and still, as if a bellows only responding to what fits. Not tied to the present or attached to the past, as if heaven and man were the same lineage. As you continue to guard your inner virtue, or voice from that which would drain you.
To know without needing to know, talk without needing to talk, hear all things without needing to hear. You are simply the essence of the one true spirit contained in all things yet remaining hidden from view.
Too many choices lead to lost chances. Divert not from the path the Tao would have you to follow. Remain in cheerful countenance to all you encounter. Empty yet inexhaustible thereby becoming the voice of eternity. ##
Huai Nan-Tzu says, “When we make straw dogs or clay dragons, we paint them yellow and blue, decorate them with brocade, and tie a red ribbon around them. (like a modern-day Christmas tree) The shaman puts on his black robe and the lord puts on his ceremonial hat to usher them in and see them off. But once they’ve been used, they’re nothing but clay or straw.” Similar description appears in Chuang Tzu: 14.4.
Wang P’ang says, “A bellows is empty so that it can respond to things. Something moves, and it responds. It responds but retains nothing. Like Heaven and Earth in regard to the ten thousand things or the sage in regard to the people, it responds with what fits. It isn’t tied to the present or attached to the past.”
Hsin Tu-Tzu says, “When the main path has many byways, sheep lose their way. When learning leads to many directions, students waste their lives” (Lieh Tzu: 8-25).
Verse 6 – Accepting My Fate and Ultimate Aspiration
Reflect on the words of the ancients when they remind you of the age-old axiom – you are not here to create… you are here to relate.
The ten thousand things all must have their beginning, middle and end. Yet as they continually evolve, they remain never-ending.
The cycle remaining true to form and the Tao. Remain as the valley always nourishing that which comes forth to be made new again. What remains empty continues to have form. What has form takes shape and what take shape becomes the ten thousand things.
Everything you need is here waiting to be revealed the moment you are ready to accept your role in filling in the details. Simply embody the Tao and grow. ##
Wang Pi says, “The valley is what is in the middle, what contains nothing, no form, no shadow, no obstruction. It occupies the lowest point, remains motionless, and does not decay. All things depend on it for their development, but no one see its shape.”
Yen Fu says, “Because it is empty, we call it valley. Because there is no limit to its responsiveness, we call it a spirit. Because it is inexhaustible, we say it never dies. These three are the virtues of the Tao.
Tu Tao-Chien says, “This verse also appears in the Lieh Tzu: 1,1, where it is attributed to the Yellow Emperor instead of Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu frequently incorporated passages from ancient texts. We see their traces in ‘thus the sage proclaims’ or ‘hence the ancients say.’ Thus, Confucius said, ‘I don’t create. I only relate. (Lunyu; 7.1).
These three verses (4, 5 and 6) of the Tao Te Ching, all are attributable to the process of setting the stage, or finding ourselves in the right frame of mind to proceed with our virtue intact. First, acknowledging who we are and that we are to remain empty. Then defining, questioning, and coming to terms with our place in the Tao. As if we are the bellows that lies in the valley. Remaining shapeless, we return to our vital essence and begin again as we learn to relate with the ten thousand things. Knowing innately what we already know, that there is no reason to create anything new. Only to learn how everything should relate with each other as our values have no place else to find. With this we become whole and become both student and teacher to our surroundings before returning home once again.