The Dalai Lama, the Tao, war, and thoughts of loving kindness
I’ve heard the Dalai Lama say that having compassion for oneself is the basis for developing compassion for others. In a basic Buddhist teaching Chogyam Trungpa also taught this when he spoke about how to genuinely help others—how to work for the benefit of others without the interference of our own agendas.
An important step is maitri, a Sanskrit word meaning lovingkindness toward all beings. It can also mean unlimited friendliness towards ourselves, with the clear implication that this leads naturally to unlimited friendliness toward others.
Maitri also has the meaning of trusting oneself— trusting that we have what it takes to know ourselves thoroughly and completely without feeling hopeless, without turning against ourselves because of what we see. But to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises that serves to release anger and fear.
It is my sense that we should choose what is the very most expression of our innermost nature, the Tao, not something forced upon us by circumstances.
That the only meaningful life is the life that strives for the individual realization, a realization of our own individual law. That if we remain untrue to this law of our being, we have failed to realize our own life’s meaning. What is there to this becoming sage-like, when presuming such is for naught? One cannot presume to be a sage, as though acknowledgement cannot occur until after you have returned home, and only then judged by your peers? As you remember maitri, and not be too hard on yourself. Knowing this the scholar and sage has always focused on the choosing of wise rulers and then helping them.
Even Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst said that there was the undiscovered vein within us as a living part of the psyche known as the Tao that flows like water to an irresistible goal.
To rest in Tao means fulfillment, wholeness, one’s destination reached, one’s mission done; the beginning, end, and perfect realization of the meaning of existence innate in all things. To a place where Zen Buddhists call our own “true nature”. To what I call… “To once there… to just be”. It’s where we go in meditation. Understanding that this irresistible source is nothing more than our desire to return to our beginnings, to return home.
Poets of the beat generation like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac in the 1950’s and 60’s helped to take a generation of Americans to a place that questioned authority, especially taken in context of the very unpopular Vietnam War at the time. Eastern philosophy of “lovingkindness”, even helped to spur the counter-culture with the help of the popular radio program “Way Beyond the West”. Through it Alan Watts brought listeners a practical side of Zen, which he prescribed as “a cure for education and culture.” Introducing Buddhism, yin/yang theory and the I Ching to millions of young people in the USA. He, more than anyone encouraged this idea of finding and returning to our source. While the closest thing resembling the “beatnik” persona of the 1960’s would be the Taoist hermit sage found on mountaintops of old, and truth be told, even today in China. The sage’s ultimate reprieve to his liking, as he remains hidden from view. Then the Beatles went to India… George Harrison soon came out with “My Sweet Lord” and took us all to the mountaintop, to a sacred place with him. When I reach my own highest aspiration, I imagine that’s where you’ll find me too.
In China, I would equate the above to the Warring States Period dating from about 450 BC to the Early Han in 221 BC. A similar time when armies of hundreds of thousands fought for power and influence. This was a time of great intellectual expansion and debate, exemplified by Confucius, Lao Tzu, Mencius, and Xun Zi, the legalist all vying for attention and followers. This renaissance of philosophical thought would be the framework for future generations of China.
While Chuang Tzu taught that we have nothing to fear in death, because we are simply returning to review where we have been and places we still need to go, so that we can build on progress still unattained, as yet. The Taoist Chuang Tzu, as much as anyone, contributing to the beginnings of Chan Buddhism in China.
What if you had more than five thousand years of uninterrupted history, as in China, to act and think about it. That if life is but an unending stream, is it something philosophical that is endowed over time as innate wisdom? That life is but a strand of pearls to add on to.
Value only added by what we polish when given a chance through our virtue. Like shining our shoes before stepping out with our best foot forward. That knowledge was something not to fear or reject, but simply learning how best to proceed in the present. As if guided by cause and effect to where we find ourselves just now.
What I like to call reverberations or pulses connecting us to the universe, living vibrations from the sun, moon, planets, and stars. What can innate wisdom be, but that imparted as universal love that never dies? Resonances like tones in music, or electromagnetic waves that we are eternally connected to when we ourselves are born and are pulled to follow every day as with by the seasons, etc.
Something the earliest shaman came to appreciate and understand, and that every religion has dictated through history as their own. Connections not to disparage any particular view, but to acknowledge they all are responding to the same source. Our personal challenge is simply not to be tone deaf, connecting us to ours, and how we choose to respond.
Failing to see the root cause lies deep within ourselves as to how we got to where we are in the first place. This is what the ancient sage and shaman from every culture understood – that when we follow innately virtue found intrinsically in nature, we gain both knowledge and wisdom.
That we are one with the ten thousand things. Remembering this we become universal again. Once learned, or perhaps recalled, do we use this knowledge to bring others along with us for the ride as well? Doing so has always been the greatest paradox of the sage. But also, the greatest admiration among his peers for choosing to do so.
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 26 and 27, appear below. Verses 1 through 25 were seen here on my most recent posts. The balance can be found under the Taoism and Lao Tzu tab here on my website. Verses yet to appear here in my blog have not had additional commentary added yet.
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 26 – Preparing for Your Grand Performance
Remaining heavy and still always controlling yourself and learning to keep your place.
In stillness you control those who are busy and are undeterred by what is small that cannot hold down something large. In keeping with the path you now travel, keep your words weighty and what you have learned close to your vest.
Travel as if you are the son of heaven with ten thousand chariots at your command.
Remembering all the while that what remains external from your body; success and failure, wealth and honor will be forever fleeting. That it is in stillness that tranquility endures allowing you to remain simply within yourself and your true nature.
Remaining still, the universe comes forth at your command. ##
Han Fei says, “Heavy means controlling oneself. ‘Still’ means not leaving one’s place. Those who are heavy control those who are light. Those who are still direct those who are busy”.
Confucius says, “A gentleman who has no weight is not held in awe, and his learning is not secure” (Lunyu: 1.8).
Ch’eng Hsuan -Ting says, “Roots are heavy, while flowers and leaves are light. The light wither, while the heavy survive. ‘Still’ means tranquil, and ‘busy’ means excited.
Excitement is subject to birth and death. Tranquility endures. Hence the still rule the busy.”
Te-Ch’ing says, “’Heavy’ refers to the body, ‘light’ refers to what is external to the body: success and fame, wealth and honor. ‘Still’ refers to our nature, ‘busy’ refers to our emotions. People forget their body and chase external things. They forget their nature and follow their emotions. The sage isn’t like this. Even though he travels all day, he doesn’t leave what sustains him.”
Verse 27 – Paradox Revealed
As things take shape, you seemingly remain shapeless. Out of the way, in a corner out of view. This appears to be the greatest paradox living comes forth to greet me each day.
For in emulating the life of the true sage, good appears to flow directly from my every movement. The more I try to push it away, the easier it is to find me. When I promote my vision, or image, of how things should unfold I become further enmeshed in life’s action.
Is this perhaps the underlying reason for your presence here at this moment in time? To come out of the well-worn shell you have insulated yourself into to become the image, or mirror to be held up for all to follow. Becoming a sage precludes the fact that few can follow in the same footsteps. That once you have acceded to the obvious you can truly lead the way. And is that not why you are here?
As you have seen and done it all before, can it matter if attention and attributes you bring forward bring accolades from those around you? Is not the attention you have garnered a prod to assist you to re-define your purpose to insure it is the Tao leading the way? With you simply putting the pieces into place.
If good walking leaves no tracks, then perhaps the way should be shown that lessens ego and individual and strengthens community.
If good talking reveals no flaws then perhaps you should let only positive re-enforcement guide your way. If good counting counts no beads, then show how material advantage does not portend the future.
If you have closed the door properly behind you it cannot be re-opened as if there were no need for locks and if what has been put in place is secured by your light then there can be no knots to be undone and everything finds its rightful end by relying on their nature not their form.
In staying focused the true path of the sage becomes revealed and his motives defined. He becomes good at saving the day while leaving no one behind. By showing no favorites, everyone is allowed to find their natural place.
By remaining in the background as others come forth to claim their good they ultimately become as a cloak or outer garment to cover an inner garment thus you continue to remain unseen. As the path becomes clear, the way remains hidden. Your light remains shining, but stays as if above the clouds.
It is in this way you are comfortable in knowing that you are as stated before like water, that you can come forth free from impurity and seemingly without effort. By showing your true likeness, or virtue, others become ready to find their own. Blinded by the light of your reflection in others, you are prepared to gaze off into the distance to places seldom seen or traveled. Forgetting the world, your success only determined if those who have met you have forgotten your name.##
Lu Tung – Pin says, “’Good’ refers to our original nature before our parents were born. Before anything develops within us, we possess this goodness. Good means natural.”
Ho-Shang Kung says, “Someone who is good at walking finds the Way in himself, not somewhere outside. When he talks he chooses his words. When he counts, he doesn’t go beyond one. When he closes, he closes himself to desire and protects his spirit. When he ties, he ties his mind.”
Wang Pi say, “These five (good walking, good talking, good counting, good closing, and good tying) tell us not to act, but to govern things by relying on their nature rather than their form.
Hsuan-Tsung says, “The good are like water. Free of impurity and without effort on their part, they show people their true likeness. Thus they instruct the bad. But unless the student can forget his teacher, his vision will be obscured.
Kongdan says to follow the ancient teachings, “One who wants nothing, fears nothing.”