May 1, 2018

Moving to a higher frequency away from the Herd

Simply by turning on the light, you can instantly destroy the darkness. Likewise, even a rather simple analysis of ego-clinging and afflictive emotions can make them collapse. —Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

What is it that distinguishes us but the consciousness we bring from the past. How is it that something springs forth from nothing, only to over time revert back to nothing again, and again like clouds floating on the wind. As if our DNA has imprinted our divine origins and it’s our job to re-discover and use to our and others advantage.

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Ancient coming and going    Wuhou Temple in Chengdu

Could it be awareness of our own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc., that stretches beyond the life we life today?

To as the Taoist would say, “To stand with the divine integrity of all things. With none having dominion, or a more secure place than the next.” For myself, the biggest challenge is to not “engage” in what seems to be the drama found in living with others present every day. If any trait is self-defining is that I abhor conflict. It seems the central tenet of meditation is that we find our own place setting. As if determining where we are making our contribution from… where is our heart in all this?

A place where only silence, and perhaps music, resides that seems the key to contentment. Taking us to places that move us as the Beatles or Beethoven would say. This has always been the paradox of the sage and why vistas found on mountain tops seem so appealing. But then we are brought back with the realization that there is something we are here to do. As if a tuning fork is guiding our way.

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One of the earliest depictions of the dragon  in SW China dating back to prehistory now on display at the Wuhuo Temple

To move away from what may be called the herd mentality. From that which clouds our inner vision of what defines us. Something we came into this world to grow with, to see, and perhaps to be, but get distracted or lost by attachments. I think at some point, we all look to faith in our higher destiny through consciousness and inner development, versus the paradox living brings each day.

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What we ultimately grow with   Wuhou Temple in Chengdu

To what is our “soul’s intent”. What seems to matter is connecting things to the past as a living tradition and conscious connection to our origins. Along with not being afraid of change and recognizing that it is the nature of all life to do so. What could be more in keeping with nature’s intent, than natural selection… where the ten thousand things subscribe to the idea of the most adaptable and strongest getting to go forward. Finding the harmony meant where everything and everyone finds their place. With our consciousness in unison with nature, the universe, and the Tao (God), getting to make the final call. In other words, just as the shaman said thousands of years ago – we get to have a say in our fate and our world through both our decisions and our own conscious connections with the divine.

I guess it’s partly the way of explaining what I do here… attempting to rediscover the true meaning of the teachings of the past, primarily found in ancient China and other traditions. Moving things beyond simply beginnings and endings and a literal translation, to a practical transliteration or interpretation that applies today.

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Weaving from a loom  Wuhou Temple in Chengdu

What is the responsibility of the storyteller? And can we do this only for ourselves or serve as inspiration and by example. Our own nothingness to be made into something, only to return to be made into nothing again, and again, and again. Much of what we learn we accept as an “article of faith”, or just what we allow daily as routine must be acquired and brought back to life or resuscitated by those whose interest is piqued by the past. Just as things happen twice – first as a thought which comes as DSCI0450nothing, and second in reality when we make it into something, as the conditions supporting our existence are constantly evolving and changing. As we rise above limitation, we find a greater truth, our own consciousness, perhaps even to a higher frequency. To what we call living true to ourselves, finding harmony and our divine mind. (Built in 223 AD, Wuhou Memorial Temple in Sichuan Province in Chengdu is the Emperor’s tomb integrated with his prime minister’s shrine in one temple. It is seen as the foremost museum of the Three Kingdoms Period. The above photos are believed to pre-date the date of the opening of the museum by several hundred years in antiquity. I have visited the museum several times over the years.)

My Grandmother’s Garden

She comes in peace knowing utmost harmony. Nurturing. Receptive and forgiving, restrained yet uncomplicated. The dragons flying through the sky disappear into the clouds retiring, once strong and assertive now retreating and finding a secure place.

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Two Deer Qingcheng Mountain

Looking down Mother Earth comes into focus with new growth and new beginnings. Differences occur but a connectedness of all things with the seasons begins. Yang becomes yin.

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A Gaggle of Geese / Qingcheng Mountain

Strong becomes weak, hard becomes soft, male becomes female in the oneness of Tao.

Leaving the clouds behind and finding the earth beneath my feet, I discover that I am here to find clarity, to focus, to listen and most importantly to learn. To find the ways of my garden. To know the earth as my grandmother taught me. To know beginnings and endings. Simply to know and remember what my grandmother taught me.

My Grandmother’s Garden is an original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (2 EARTH / Earth over Earth). 2/5/94. The above is found on the website at The I Ching / Voices of the Dragon.

Who is it that takes on the task of keeping alive the remembrances of the greatness of the spirit? Who tells the history of who we have been that serves to inspire us to continually build on or make something memorable? To add on to what is known in a new or different way? Many times, as I travel around China taking pictures in museums, Buddhist and Taoist temples, holy mountains, something I’ve written about, or simply something of historic interest, etc., I ask myself – am I simply a tour guide doing a travelogue, or framing things from personal experiences and impressions as if on a pilgrimage.

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Standing at the top of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui

Favoring places off the well-worn or beaten path.  Oftentimes differing or distinguishing from the norm as if not following a laid-out plan or itinerary with a fixed aim or a limited purpose. On a whim where the path leads each day as if given a gift I am here to unwrap with my pictures and writing telling the story. The path carrying its own message, or meaning itself, just waiting to be told. As if discoveries made on the wayside seem to be more important than what you thought you were looking for. With nothing on your agenda but simply to be present. Once found, it is as if an urge has brought you to a spontaneity that connects the outer environment with your innermost being or core. When the images you experience take on a life of their own as if just waiting for you and their own story to be told. As if there is no coincidence that you yourself are a part of an undying past.

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Dan with students in Qufu

It’s like when I was teaching at the university in Qufu to students who were going to be English tour guides at historic sites throughout China. I would tell them not to just learn or memorize the story by rote, but to know enough about the subject to in effect become the story as if re-living history.        

We often see that here in USA in Branson at Silver Dollar City and in Orlando at Disney World. Becoming the person, or character that tells the story in such a way that you become the story as well. As if words and images can take on a life of their own, it’s what the storyteller does. As if you learn and can begin practicing how to internalize and personify yourself. We call it Nei-yeh – Inward Training.  The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. 

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China Pavilion at Epcot in Orlando

Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. It can be found here on my website. I am often reminded in my travels of how the ancient shaman was able to transcend themselves in an effort to bring everyone along for the ride. Back when sitting around the fire gazing at the stars, he or she would mesmerize their audience. Often music would be used as we brought a certain rhythm to the rhyme that would bring a sense to the meaning of life and how everything was connected. Why immersing in a greater truth and creating relationships in and for the whole clan was important. The same songs ring true today. Their purpose to tell a story and serving as a reminder of beginnings, endings, and most important the value of being present and staying in the moment. More than anything the shaman was the teacher and way shower. He serves as a reminder of everyone’s connection to and with the stars. Reminding us that we are one with them in eternity. That we and the stars will forever be connected as our destiny unfolds. Lest we forget.

In learning the true sense of basis of tai chi and meditation today, soon you forget going simply through the motions and live the movements and spontaneity that you become. Many say this is done in silence. But for me music serves as a guide and reminder of steps yet not taken. As if having a personal experience as you live the story itself. I think my dream job would be to teach English to students who were going to by tour guides in Chengdu in Sichuan Province.  I have a friend who has a private school that teaches English there and who knows it may find its way onto my bucket list.

The Paradox

Some people go through their entire lives not knowing who they are, where they have been, or where they are going.

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Book of Rites Qingyang Taoist Temple

You are fortunate. You have a chance to see to know to understand where you are from, why you are here, and where you are going. To know who you are, who you have been, and you will be along the way.

However, you must know that to know is not to know, and to have is not to have. To see is not to be, and who you will be is not to see.

For whatever is useful by the world’s standards cannot be useful in finding the Tao. It is the eternal nature of the Tao and Te (the way of virtue) that is to be found. Reality becomes, is and will be the chance endeavor to find the Tao.   1/15/94

It is as though words have or can create a poetic vision that can take us to places we otherwise would never go. Or as described in The Way of the White Clouds by Lama Anagarika Govinda, as he relays that “what may appear as poetic imagination actually contain a deeper reality than any matter-of-fact description of outer events and situation could ever have conveyed, because these events and facts become meaningful only if seen against the background of inner experience”. In other words, what they mean to us. To what we are innately pulled to.

Thus, the pilgrimage described above, becomes or is actually a mirrored reflection of an inner movement, or awakening, directed towards an as yet unknown distant aim. As if we cross the horizons of both the familiar, as well as, the unknown. With the ultimate aim of finding the harmony that fits it all together as you find a greater life that connects you with the path you now follow.

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 Finding Harmony People’s Great Hall of Chongqing

To what many would say connecting or following our source and what could be defined as our ultimate destiny. The metaphor I use as the dragon floating on clouds in the sky is symbolic of reaching out to greater horizons, to what remains hidden from view. It is when the pilgrim abandons himself to the greater life that springs forth from within, that leads him beyond horizons as yet unseen to an aim which is already present within him. To what Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces would call the paradox of creation. Our Achilles heel as such, to find our point of limited existence, to shatter and pierce it. Thereby, transcending our limited existence and fully becoming who we are as the universe sees us. Or as Campbell continues, “It will be always the one, shapeshifting yet marvelous constant story that we find, together with the challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told”. The only question remaining will be who is here to tell the story? As if, finding glimpses of ourselves away from the herd it all simply becomes clear.

As I continue to go through my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in B15May/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 44 and 45 appear below. Verses 1 through 43 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 44 – Staying focused within oneself

By knowing what is vital can one hold onto fame or health?  If he has to choose would it be his health or riches, and in the end would he know which is more harmful, loss or gain. If something is loved, the more it costs, the bigger the treasure the greater the loss when it is gone.

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    Finding one’s rhythm     Chongqing Museum

The sage stays clear of that which lies outside him and focuses on enhancing his inner voice and virtue. Keeping clear of what lies outside his true nature.

Staying in tune with his own natural rhythm. While those who would shame him find nothing to shame.  He remains aware of his limits and constantly in tune with the Tao. In keeping in sync with the Tao, all flows through him and finds its proper place.

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The community   Chongqing Museum

Knowing when to stop is as important as knowing when to start. Knowing restraint contentment soon follows. Finding happiness and wealth within himself his spirit soars and cannot be exhausted. ##

Huang Mao-Ts’ai says, “What the world calls fame is something external, and yet people abandon their bodies to fight for it. What the world calls riches are unpredictable, and yet people abandon their bodies to possess them. How can they know what is vital or precious? Even if they succeed, it’s at the cost of their health.”

Lu Hui-Ch’ing says, “Heroes see fame and merchants seek riches, even at the point of giving up their lives. The one loves fame because he wants to glorify himself. But the more he loves fame, the more he loses what he would really glorify. Hence the cost is high. The other masses wealth because he wants to enrich himself. But the more wealth he amasses, the more he harms what he would truly enrich. Hence the loss is great. Meanwhile the man of virtue knows the most vital thing is within himself. Thus, he seeks no fame and suffers no disgrace. He knows the most precious thing is within himself. Thus, he seeks no riches and encounters no trouble. Hence he lives long.”

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Knowing Virtue   Chongqing Museum

Li His-Chai says, “If we love something, the more we love it, the more it costs us. If we treasure something, the more we treasure it, the more it exhausts us. A little results in shame. A lot results in ruin. And regret comes too late. A wise person is not like this. He knows he has everything he needs within himself. Hence, he does not seek anything outside himself. Thus, those who would shame him find nothing to shame. He knows his own limits, and his limits are the Tao. Hence, he doesn’t act unless according to the Tao. Thus, those who would trouble him find nothing to trouble. Hence, he survives and, surviving, lives long”.

Verse 45 – Becoming Translucent 

By not treating things as they are, but as they can be everything has an opportunity to complete its cycle and return empty. To treat what seems incomplete as great, what seems empty as full, what seems crooked as straight, what seems clumsy as clever is transcendent. To do all while seeming translucent, or still, is in keeping with your highest purpose and in keeping with your place in the ten thousand things.

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The fullest thing never runs dry Chongqing

The sage is content if the greatest thing is incomplete or the fullest thing is empty for the greatest thing never wears out and the fullest thing never runs dry. He understands that the greatest thing cannot be seen in its entirety hence it seems incomplete.  That the fullest thing cannot be seen in its totality hence it seems empty. That the straightest thing cannot be seen in its completeness; hence it seems crooked. That the cleverest thing cannot be seen in its perfection, hence it seems clumsy.

It is when opposites complement each other that the highest order is maintained. When order is found and balance maintained we become perfectly still. When we become perfectly still the order of the universe becomes known and all becomes translucent, or clear. ##

Wu Ch’eng says, “To treat the great as great, the full as full, the straight as straight, and the clever as clever is mundane. To treat what seems incomplete as great, what seems empty as full, what seems crooked as straight, what seems clumsy as clever, this is transcendent. This is the meaning of Lao Tzu’s entire book: opposites complement each other”.

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Telling opposites

Lu Nung-Shih says, “The greatest thing cannot be seen in its entirety; hence it seems incomplete. The fullest thing cannot be seen in its totality; hence it seems empty. The straightest thing cannot be seen in its completeness; hence it seems crooked. The cleverest thing cannot be seen in its perfection; hence it seems clumsy.”

Han Fei says, “Ordinary people employ their spirit in activity. But activity means extravagance, and extravagance means wastefulness. The sage employs his spirit in stillness. Stillness means moderation, and moderation means frugality.”

Confucius says, “Those who govern with virtue are like the North Star, which remains in its place, while the myriad stars revolve around it.

By 1dandecarlo

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