Living History – matching our own ultimate aspirations… with the stars.
The sage creates a sacred space around him. He emits an aura of compassion and mindfulness and seeks only to impart the wisdom of the universe to others. The sage releases what has blocked him in eternity, as he listens to signals from the dawn of time. The sage retires from unhappiness, worry, and the pursuit of possessions. The sage fills his life with the energy of abundance, defines prosperity as the positive energy from within, and withdraws from the strain of seeking security. As he admonishes others to retire from unhappiness, as you spend every moment creating and manifesting your own eternal vibrations. Enjoy the moments given you. Love the people around you. Live the life offered you. And know that it is when you show up as authentic, that you give others permission to do the same.
Living history is said to be the task of each successive generation. It’s something we all do. As if we are constantly reinventing ourselves to meet, or fit, the times. It is what we tell future generations what we have left behind. That we create the world as we go with what the ancients have taught us as cause and effect through the ages. We often forget that the most important thing is the evolving of our soul. The choice we have is what vehicle are we using for our personal growth. As we are not to forget, but instead build onto our spiritual identity. Becoming resilient to what we come in contact with becomes the key.
As the future speaks for itself, along with and what the memories of those who came before are telling us today. It is as the Taoists say, that what goes into something must equal what comes out as the universe teaches that there are no short-cuts. It’s what the shaman learned in following what was to become or known as following nature, the I Ching, or what we would call complimentary opposites. Just whose and what aspirations do we follow, if any? As we follow the clarion call to do no harm.
Knowing this, a wise man once said that you should never believe something simply because you want to believe it. Perhaps we all should examine what we think we know, as we acknowledge that the chaos and/or enlightenment we create is but a ladder. Both for ourselves and others that goes both up and down, or maybe static and remains as if glued in place. I recall visiting Stonehenge and Bath, England in 1995 with my wife Marie and going by the sculptures of angels climbing Jacobs Ladder on the west front of Bath Abbey, whose history spans well over a thousand years. With the local Roman baths, a thousand years prior to the church that had been hidden from view for centuries.
Stonehenge itself is perhaps one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments. It was built in several stages: the first monument was built about 5,000 years ago, with the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC.
Stonehenge beginnings were about the same time of the Dawenkou culture in early Shandong Province in China, not too far from Zibo and even Qufu. The figure on the right is an ancient sunrise painting. The painting was a design inscribed on a big-mouthed pottery jar-a sacrificial vessel to the sun by primitive Chinese forebears in Shandong during the period when the Dawenkou culture thrived (4000-2000 BC). This painting, or design, consists of three parts: upper, middle and bottom. The upper part is a round sun. Below it is a moon. A huge mountain with five peaks is at the bottom. Some experts think this might be the original of “sunrise”, with the sun above a cloud (or perhaps above the setting moon), on top of a mountain. The same character appears in inscriptions on bone or tortoise shell, on ancient bronze vessels, in lesser seal characters, in official script and in regular script in later times. The origin of the character is shown in the picture. From the angle of calligraphy, we might regard the sun in the picture as round as a circle. The moon is a bit wavelike. The mountain is drawn with the brush exerting strength.
The parallels would be the shaman’s attachment to astronomy and telling the future based on man’s early connection to nature and the moon, following the stars, and earth’s rotation around the sun and our own pull and connection to it all. Just as with the astronomical finding around the history of Stonehenge. The depiction to the left is the yin/yang symbol of the I Ching in front of the Hall of the Three Purities at the Qingyang Taoist Temple in Chengdu. Reminded even then of the cosmic principles of yin and yang as we think of the ridge pole, up verses down, dark verses light, and things seen as opposites. Of thoughts of energy and matter and the flow of all existence that we are to stay in tune with and play the role we are given. Of transformation and what it all means, ultimately for ourselves and others.
Gaocheng Astronomical Observatory, also known as the Dengfeng Observatory, is a World Heritage site in Ji Dan, the Duke of Zhou’s shrine, Gaocheng Town, near Dengfeng in Henan province, China. This site has a long tradition of astronomical observations, from the time of the Western Zhou up to the early Yuan dynasty. There is also a gnomon used for the Da Yan calendar in 729 AD and the great observatory of the Yuan Dynasty. It is believed that the Duke of Zhou (c. 1042 BC) had erected at this place a Ceyingtai (observatory measuring the shade or gnomon) to observe the Sun. The great observatory was expanded extensively in 1276 in the early Yuan dynasty on the order of Kublai Khan. It is definitely on my own bucket list, the next time I’m in China.
The point here is that both ancient cultures were following vibrations, or signs of the universe, perhaps a higher power, to base and make their decisions. As if saying that eternity is already etched, or ingrained, in my soul and I am already home. That the more attuned, and in line with nature I find myself, the more I am in keeping with my path. That I am happiest when I am finding my way, as if I am found returning to my source. This is the essence of what Taoism was yet to be called and become. As stated earlier, we often forget that the most important thing is the evolving of our soul and following vibrations leading back to our source. The shaman has always directed us to look to nature, the universe, and the stars knowing they are the ultimate vehicle that connects us with our spiritual identity. Staying true to ourselves once we find the path, or way, has always been the key. That the way, becoming one with the Tao, has always been within us to find.
Today you can add an application to your cellphone called OSR – Star Finder that can identify your location in relation to the stars. Simply point your phone upwards and scan the stars on the horizon. The constellations will be pointed out to you. Amazing. (Aries, Cancer, Virgo, Sagittarius, I am of the Libra constellation… my own star is up there somewhere). We are all as you know simply as Carl Sagan said… “star stuff”.
Below is a portion of the Preface of my book that was published in China in 2006, that explains Taoism a little, for those who may be unfamiliar. “Thoughts on becoming a Sage” represents the author’s interpretation of the Tao Te Ching in a personalized style that illustrates the way of virtue and steps one would take in seeking out those attributes most resembling a “sage like” lifestyle and ways to live in the secular world.
The paradox being that one cannot see oneself as a sage in the here and now… This would be seen as presumptuous. That one should begin to see beyond and simply aspire to see beyond himself and whatever his shortcomings may be and in doing so he can catch glimpses of his highest endeavor and destiny.
Just as there is an underlying or unity of philosophical religious teachings throughout the world, as shown by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, Mohammed of Medina, Hindu and the Bhagavad Gita, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Mencius, Confucius, and others… one who emulates or strives to live a life of virtue sees past self-imposed religious differences and intolerance found in the world around him. They see the likeness in everyday activities where virtue, or man’s highest endeavors, are reflected and accepted as universal truths; i.e., that we are all God’s children. It is when one reflects on his or her place in the scheme of things reaching an understanding of where they fit into this unity found in nature that the journey begins for real.
In Chinese history there was an individual who lived in the sixth century during the Tang Dynasty that epitomized this universal sense of collective spirit and wisdom. Li Fang saw the need for Confucius teachings to be seen as compatible with Taoism, the teachings of Lao Tzu and Buddhism the teachings of Loashan Buddhism that was prevalent at the time. He professed to an understanding that all religions followed a core belief of a singular God. All religions simply served as the mechanism to help people get to a similar place and that no one process was necessarily better than another. Each simply the process of finding and following one’s natural inclination to nurture a personal relationship with God.
To begin to understand Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, you must first begin by understanding what he meant by the Tao, or what is commonly referred to as the way or path one should follow throughout one’s life.
The way defines one’s path to ultimate reality. Although Lao Tzu continually throughout the Tao Te Ching re-affirms he does not know it’s true name, without a name it simply becomes the way, or better known as the “way of virtue. Albeit serving to find one’s ultimate path… That ultimate reality is to reach a commonality or understanding of one’s place in the physical universe, known as heaven and earth, and relationship with all things in it or what is commonly referred to or known as the ten thousand things.
The author’s understanding of Taoism as reflected in today’s culture and society, is illustrative of a sense that the Tao does not simply give birth to all things. It continues to remain present in each individual thing as a power or energy.
In a truly religious sense we refer to it as one’s eternal spirit or soul, or qi (chi). As the Tao manifests within an individual, it can remain static or awaken the person midstream to question his or her role, and what they are to be doing once they awaken to their true endeavor and destiny. Possibly even to grow in a certain way in tune with their true nature. Finding this one can develop their religious identity identifying with the path most comfortable for each individual.
What is it that more than five thousand years of uninterrupted history brings, but a collective consciousness from the days of the earliest shaman, that brings us or leads to a sense of pragmatism, i.e., choosing the middle way that serves the benefit of all?
Common wisdom grew around the needs of all in the community being met. This is not only true of China, but every culture. We seem to have a hard time with this basic principle of life when we think some of us are more deserving than others. That it is when we acknowledge and reconcile with the past that we learn steps going forward. And what could serve as both inspiration and aspiration that serves to guide us. One of Chuang Tzu’s greatest contributions as to the impact of Confucian ideology and what was to later become Taoism, was to question what you see or believe as given. That just because you want to believe something, does not make it true. That if it defies nature it cannot last… Who can know what lies beneath the surface of things, just as in Roman bathes in England, for what is seen and unseen, what may be unknown and all possible outcomes?
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 36 and 37 appear below. Verses 1 through 35 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 my website. Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught others 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 36 – Hoping weakness Prevails
What you would shorten you should lengthen instead. What you would weaken you should spend your time strengthening.
What you would topple, you should raise and what you would take you should spend your time giving.
Most importantly do not abandon your weaknesses as it will be through your weaknesses that your strengths will prevail and endure.
The sage hides his light so it can be kept safe and secure.
While cultivating the Tao he speaks softly and with care. Just as a fish cannot survive out of water, the sage’s greatest asset is not meant to be seen, but should remain in humble and non-intimidating surroundings. Keeping still as in a deep pool he remains unknown to the world. ##
Te-Ch’ing says, “Once things reach their limits, they go the other way. Hence lengthening is a portent of shortening. Strengthening is the onset of weakening. Raising is the beginning of toppling. Giving is the start of taking. This is the natural order of Heaven as well as for Man. Thus, to hide the light means the weak conquer the strong. Weakness is the greatest tool of the state. But a ruler must not show it to his people. Deep water is the best place for a fish. But once it is exposed to the air, a fish is completely helpless. And once a ruler shows weakness, he attracts enemies and shame.”
Lu Hui-Ch’ing says, “To perceive shortening in lengthening, weakening in strengthening, toppling in raising, taking in giving, how could anyone do this if not through the deepest insight?”
This is the hidden light. Moreover, what causes things to be shortened or lengthened, weakened or strengthened, toppled or raised, taken or given is invisible and weak. While what is shortened or lengthened, weakened or strengthened, toppled or raised, taken or given is visible or strong. Thus, the weak conquer the strong. People should not abandon weakness, just as fish should not abandon the depths. When fish abandon the depths, they are caught. When a person abandons weakness, he joins the league of the dead.”
Chuang Tzu says, “The sage is the world’s greatest tool, but not one that is known to the world” (10.3).”
Sung Ch’ang-Hsing says, “According to the way of the world. The weak don’t conquer the strong. But Lao Tzu’s point is that the weak can conquer to strong by letting the strong do what they want until they become exhausted and thus weak. Those who cultivate the Tao speak softly and act with care. They don’t argue about right or wrong, better or worse. They understand the harmony of Heaven and Earth, the Way of emptiness and stillness, and become adept at using the hidden light.”
Verse 37 – Upholding the Tao
Practicing the art of nameless simplicity, I go forth with no desires and nothing on my agenda. With the Tao as my anchor I am guided by the virtue of heaven.
The Tao itself doing nothing yet finding that there is nothing it does not do. Yet while following the Tao, I do everything that I should do.
Through effortlessness and following the natural course of events, change begins to occur. By upholding the Tao, others begin to emulate your actions and begin to see through their own desire and they too can begin to become still. In stillness, simplicity becomes nameless and seeing beyond oneself becomes self-apparent.
Stilled by nameless simplicity their desires become non-existent. Once gone the world begins to fix itself. ##
Chuang Tzu says, “The ancients ruled the world by doing nothing. This is the Virtue of Heaven”.
Lao Tzu says, “I do nothing and the people transform themselves.”
Te Ch’ing says, “If nobles and kings could only uphold the Tao, all creatures would change by themselves without thinking about changing. This is the effect of upholding the Tao. When creatures first change, their desires disappear. But before long, their trust fades and feelings well up and begin to flow until desires reappear. When this occurs, those who are adept at saving others must block the source of desire with nameless simplicity.”
Ho-Shang Kung says, “’Nameless simplicity’ refers to the Tao, which all creatures use to transform themselves and which nobles and kings use to pacify those who engage in cleverness and deceit.”
Hsuan-Tsung says, “Once the ruler uses nameless simplicity to still the desires of the masses, he must then give it up so that they don’t follow its tracks and once again enter the realm of action. Once our illness is cured, we put away the medicine. Once we are cross the river, we leave the boat behind. And once we are free of desire, we must also forget the desire to be free of desire. Serene and at peace, the ruler does nothing, while the world takes care of itself.”