Finding our eternal balance and rhythm
What was it that Mahatmas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we just celebrated, taught us to honor and accept, but our own sacred mission and immortality?
That showing the way was a personal endeavor that ties each of us to our eventual destiny once we accept the mantle of who and why we are here. Teaching…. what if every person began their life knowing that they too were immortal? That we in reality come in with certain traits – strengths and weaknesses – this time to correct, or build on. That we are not here to be ordinary. That we can make our lives beautiful if we choose to do so. To live from the point of our highest expression or consciousness, through our own divine energy just as they did.
What I like to call reverberations or pulses connecting us to the universe, in effect or reality as living vibrations of the sun, moon, and stars. What can innate wisdom be, but that imparted as universal love that never dies, or as John Lennon said… that in practice all you need is love.
Resonances like tones in music, or electromagnetic waves that we eternally connect to when we are born and are pulled to follow every day as with by the seasons. That sadly we often come and go without acknowledging, finding, or attempting to even catch our own eternal rhythm. Or perhaps it is the opposite that is true… our eternal rhythm and history that is chasing after us. (Picture to the left of Madame Sun Yet Sin (Soong Ching-Ling) meeting Gandhi in Nanjing in 1942). An example being the Soong sisters leaving an indelible mark on the 20th century when our memories serve us correctly.
That what’s here to guide us over time is our own need for balance and following our personal intrinsic tendencies.
The key for me, being philosophical Taoism, that re-confirms our responsibility to and connection with all found in nature. That deep within, we too possess this idea that immortality is unending life. That our own divinity can direct us to this place. Certainly, there are those in ancient China who sought to achieve it.
Elixirs and potions concocted by them led many to early death, and even by coincidence the invention of gun power. Most misguided, and best known was the excess of First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, who had the terra cotta warriors built to serve and protect him in eternity.
His tomb in Xian of over two thousand years cannot be approached even today because of severe amounts of mercury encasing it. Today we often put a person’s name on material things thinking this may illustrate and feed their importance, their immortality. Their true legacy however, if self-centered, fading like Qin’s over the test of time. A note of interest… almost all the terra cotta warriors, horses, chariots, etc., were found broken into thousands of pieces. It is theorized that a wooden roof was put over the top of everything. It was later set, or caught on fire. It fell onto the terra cotta below and broke it, or so the story goes…
Instead could it be something we already possess within ourselves worth saving instead of simply pinning attributes onto someone else. To the left is the Dunhuang Map of what is known as the North Polar region from the Tang Dynasty. This map is thought to date from the reign of Emperor Zhongzong (705–710 AD) from Dunhuang, Gansu Province. Constellations of the three schools were distinguished with different colors: white, black and yellow for stars of Wu Xian, Gan De and Shi Shen respectively. The whole set of star maps contained 1,300 stars. It was brought to the British Museum in London in 1907 and is the oldest sky chart ever recorded.
The north star and Big Dipper, depicted here, are central in the sky and following them has been universal in man’s quest to find meaning to it all… and his own origins. It was the balance seen in the sky’s panorama that has entertained us for millennia as stars coming around in the sky would always return to their place of origin once every year. The beginnings of the idea “what goes around – comes around”. That we could point to the stars and see home. Adjusting our own way of travel, just as a horse find’s his gait, and return again once more.
The point being we could always look to the stars to show us the way beyond the horizon that lead us to our highest aspirations of ourselves. To learn to see farther than who we think we are. Why mountain vistas have been seen as closer to Heaven.
As we rise and see ourselves above the clouds. As if in doing so we too could see and gain a sense of immortality. If what we look up in the sky and see every night is eternal and is always there, along with the sun and moon, then why aren’t we? But we are soon lost in attachments here of our own making, as we are often happy to stay within the confines of where we are just now. What if, as Carl Sagan said, we are all star stuff. Matter coming and going with a soul. Taking on different characteristics each time to fix the things that need correcting. Or maybe some are more advanced and come back by choice to move humanity in the proper way, or direction.
What if some souls, i.e. people coming into this life, were filled with misconceptions, or misdirected anger, not caused due to someone else’s shortcomings, but for their own inability to live up to intentions and expectations they have created for themselves.
Perhaps with issues, or things that need to be reconciled. Lacking the desire or sense of ability to see through universal falsehoods, hardships and negative attachments that keep them from their higher selves. Seemingly unable to open the door when it appears. Prisons are filled the world over with those unwilling to release what… either anger or fear, or both. Usually directed at someone or something outside themselves. The worst prisons, of course, already existing inside oneself.
This idea of letting go, i.e., finding and staying within our own eternal rhythm, and truth be told often overlooked innate wisdom, is trusting that we have what it takes to know ourselves thoroughly and completely enough to do nothing.
Something called living with wu wei that Chinese for thousands of years have known we can discuss another time. As if we are once again given an opportunity to return to our original self. To a nothingness where over-inflated egos go to die. Where what defines us as what is known, what can truly never be known, and to live in the balance we find in-between. It is this that is central to the theme I am following here with Lao Tzu.
It becomes the central core of what was to become the teachings of the shaman and of Taoism, and for many the practical application Confucius built on.
The Tao Te Ching becoming like a road map to better behavior. Wang Pi’s version became an integral part of the Imperial Examinations during and after the Han Dynasty. That Taoism and Buddhism, along with the virtue and benevolence taught by Confucianism became central elements of Chinese popular culture going now for thousands of years was no accident and continues to this day.
As I continue to go through my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in May/June 2000 and my book, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is he so important? I know I spoke of this last time, but some may have missed so it bears repeating. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was the culmination of thousands of years of philosophical thought of what was to become Taoism thanks in part to copies found in tombs of those who were buried with copies of it in China.
There are eighty-one verses in the Tao Te Ching. Verses 24 and 25 appear below and complete the first chapter. Verses 1 through 23 were seen here on my most recent posts. The balance will be seen here over the coming months. A partial preview can be seen on the Lao Tzu and Taoism tab here on this website.
Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught along the way that guides us. The commentaries below are meant to be read as a discussion between Lao Tzu and those interested who have thought deeply about the text itself. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.
Thoughts on becoming a Sage
Verse 24 – Staying within my own Gait
Learning to shun those things not in keeping with the proper way. Oh, the challenges and paradox life come forth to greet me each day. As if life’s indulgences and excesses are extremely happy to continually get in my way and obscure my true path and identity.
Staying within the confines of who I am yet to become. Not standing on tiptoes to see over others or walking faster than my own natural gait. To act as if life’s reflections are translucent and bringing attention to your actions is alien from what motivates you.
Just as I have learned that it is said that he who watches himself does not appear, he who displays himself does not flourish, he who flatters himself achieves nothing and he who parades himself does not lead.
As you recall that the mind of the sage remains free of desire and selfless, you are reminded that those who cultivate the Tao yet think about themselves are like people who over eat or over work.
Food is to satisfy hunger, work should suit the task. Ultimately the way of heaven does not depend on offerings or prayers.
It is simply who follows the Tao will live long. Remember it is as Lao Tzu says and that those who lose their way do not. ##
Te Ch’ing says, “People raise themselves up on their tiptoes to see over the heads of others, but they cannot stand like this very long. People take longer strides to stay in front of others, but they cannot walk lie this very far. Neither of these are natural.”
Sung Ch’ang-Hsing says, “Selfless and free of desire is the mind of the sage. Conniving and clever is the mind of the common man. Watching himself, displaying himself, parading himself, he thus hastens his end, like he who eats too much.”
Li His-Chai says, “Those who cultivate the Tao yet still think about themselves are like people who overeat or overwork. Food should satisfy the hunger. Work should suit the task. Those who keep to the Way only do what is natural.
Chang Tao-ling says, “Who follows the Way lives long. Who loses the Way dies early. This is the unbiased law of Heaven. It doesn’t depend on offerings and prayers.”
Verse 25 – Coming Home with the Tao
Returning to where you began you find nothing, yet remain complete and indivisible. You are simply one with the Tao.
No true beginning or end, pure and impure seem unimportant, past and future become one, good and bad the same. One with the Tao, you are unsure you exist yet are comforted by the knowledge you will live forever.
As the sage you have learned to stand-alone unwavering, travel everywhere without leaving home as you have seen and done it all before. You have become as if you were everyone and everything’s mother. As you return to the root of where it all began, you have come home to the Tao. ##
Wu Ch’eng says, “Nebulous means complete and indivisible.” Su Ch’e says, “The Tao is not pure or muddy, high or low, past or future, good or bad.
Its body is a nebulous whole. In man it becomes his nature. It doesn’t know it exists, and yet it endures forever. Heaven and Earth are created within it.
Sung Ch’ang-Hsing says, “The Tao does not have a name of its own. We force names on it. But we cannot find anything real in them. We would do better returning to the root from which we all began.”
Ho-Shang Kung says, “The Tao is great because there is nothing it does not encompass. Heaven is great because there is nothing it does not cover. Earth is great because there is nothing it does not support. The king is great because there is nothing he does not control. Man should imitate Earth and be peaceful and pliant, plant it and harvest its grains, dig it and find its springs, work without exhaustion and succeed without fuss. As for Earth imitating Heaven, Heaven is still and immutable. It gives without seeking a reward. It nourishes all creatures and takes nothing for itself. As for Heaven imitating the Tao. The Tao is silent and does not speak. It directs breath and essence unseen, and thus all things come to be. As for the Tao imitating itself, the nature of the Tao is to be itself. It does not imitate anything else.”