Finding mountains of joy for just who we are.
From a practical perspective, there is great power in intention and how it can shape the present moment and even the future—because if you approach this present moment with wisdom, kindness, and a sense of responsibility, you won’t have to worry about the future. It will take care of itself.
This sense of commonality to and with nature that seems to permeate Eastern philosophy, especially from Buddhism and Taoism, expresses the idea I like to call, “from where we are doing it from”, i.e., as if living our lives above it all with abundance and joy.
I am inspired this week by the song “True Colors” by Cindy Lauper and the lines:
And I’ll see your true colors
I see your true colors
I see your true colors
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow.
One of the anthems of the LGBTQ community, Lauper’s authenticity to be true to our “souls consciousness” sings true. One does not have to be this way to respect another’s choice to be so. We ultimately teach others through our own acceptance and actions by treating others as we want to be treated ourselves. Nature and the Tao also teaches us that we are all equal in the eyes of the universe. Fitting because a rainbow represents all colors as one. It is standing for what is right that ultimately gives each of us strength to become empowered to become our true selves. It is in this way we break the bonds of doubting our own self-worth and we learn that nothing separates us from God, and the Tao. Or as if adding lyrics to the Beatles song in Two of Us, “We are simply rainbows on our way back home”.
I am especially inspired this week by the song “Ain’t no mountain high enough ain’t no valley low enough to keep me from loving you” sung by Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. Mountains are here to climb and in seeing the other side we discover the panorama of life, of heaven and earth, and our place in it all. Why be afraid of the unknown when it is this that makes us complete? Who are we to get in the way of another’s joy?
As with all things that must know their way, leaving things undone due to flights of fancy can lead to one’s undoing. Learn from your mistakes and know that what has come will come again.
Be patient, know and understand that staying close to the Tao keeps one protected. Stray and bad things can occur. Find purpose and meaning in what you do and what needs done will get done. Both good and bad are the same. However, knowing the outcome leads one to know the way of virtue.
Accept faults and accept the true fate. Once admitted you are accepted again. Remember what is now taken for granted and loosely kept can easily be taken back again.
What is fundamental is that the eternal oneness of all things will change. Yin become yang. Yang becomes yin. Leaving things undone opens chi to the unknown. Letting nature find its course leads one to finding the joy in all things.
An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (5 WAITING / Water over Heaven). 2/6/94 The above is found on this website at The I Ching / Voices of the Dragon.
It has always been the need to see beyond simply language and words to the ethereal, to be closer and ultimately one with the Tao, or God. In China, it was the mountains where one could go to attempt to see beyond what could be explained into the horizon.
In America, it was the sacredness of the Black Hills of the Dakotas, the Appalachian Trail, the Great Smoky Mountains and Daniel Boone, and the travels of Lewis and Clark over the continental divide over uncharted mountains and rivers westward to the Pacific that has always intrigued me. As if there is an unconscious knowing and something more than imagination reminding us that, yes, we were there too.
But it was the sacred and historical context and connections to mountains in China over an extended period, that I most drawn to and find most appealing. It is truly as if you are facing forward while looking back.
It is this link with and to nature and creation that triggers the ultimate connection with and to our source. That it is in the remembering we forget what diminishes us. As if the sameness of everything, meant it could return just as easily as something else. It is as if by design it is meant to be forever indefinable… it is Tao. To the Taoist and the acknowledgment of the “ten thousand things” (of which you are only one of many), you can begin to understand the universal nature of God and you.
In China, many have even gone so far as to reside here, on a mountain as what are called a “hermit”. Abandoning the ways of the world, to move beyond earthly cares to simply become one with it all. To a place where it becomes easy to find and become reclusive. Surely not meant for everyone, as if ultimately defining joy only for oneself. Well my friends it’s hard to imagine. Someday after I’ve gone missing the likely responsible suspects of where I might be found may happen to lie below. Ah, the paradox of every sage. In my heart I’m already there… as if I never left. As if found roaming the sky with dragons only stopping to catch my breath on top of mountains. Except to come down seeking others who need only encouragement to join us. All that is required is we, as Cindy Lauper said… see our true colors shining through and become them.
My favorite, of course, is Qingcheng Mountain north of Chengdu, one of the most revered Taoist holy mountains.
Historically through the millennia, it has been the ability to rise above the clouds with your feet still firmly planted on the ground that enables us to converse with the eternal. To live or to be moving into the state of becoming who we are meant to be that has always been our primary purpose.
Like the words in the song Forever Young… May you build a ladder to the stars and climb onto every rung. May you stay forever young.
The Sacred Mountains of China are divided into several groups and were the subjects of pilgrimage by emperors and commoners alike throughout in Chinese history and dynasties. They are associated with the supreme God of Heaven and the five main cosmic deities of Chinese traditional religion. The group associated with Buddhism is referred to as the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism and those associated with Taoism are referred to as the Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism, although those making the list seems to depend on the author. For myself the list can easily be expanded to six depending on personal preference. Three of which I have been to, the remaining three are on my bucket list…
Six sacred mountains of Taoism:
1) Wudang Shan in the northwestern part of Hubei. For myself a highlight is the Crown Prince’s Hall at the highest point of the Fuzhen Temple (Revelation Temple) complex. If you are a kung fu enthusiast, Taizipo is also home to The Eight Immortal Temple because tai chi gets all the credit for Wudang’s martial arts. Its sometimes easy to forget the mountain is home to many other forms as well, including ones that use weapons.
Wudang derives its name from the Five Dragon Palace. Once a bustling area of Taoist temples, it was long the area known for cultivating the most accomplished Taoist priests. Unfortunately, it is also the area whose temples, halls, and palaces have undergone the most destruction. That being said, it is still a particularly scenic area and is the only place on the mountain that has a forest reserve. The cliffs here are quite spectacular, too. The Wudang Mountains are renowned for the practice of tai chi and Taoism as the Taoist counterpart to the Shaolin Monastery, which is affiliated with Chinese Chan Buddhism.
2) Longhu Shan literally “Dragon and Tiger” in Jiangxi Province. The Lónghyiǔ Shān scenic area encompasses 200 sq km, most of which is located along the eastern bank of the Lúxī River.
It is particularly important to the Zhengyi Dao as it is the home of the Shangqing Temple and the Mansion of the Taoist Master that are located here. The temples in Shangqing are mentioned in the beginning of the famous Chinese novel “Outlaws of the Marsh”.
3) Qiyun Shan literally “Cloud-High Mountain”, in Anhui. Mount Qiyun is a mountain and national park located in Xiuning County in Anhui Province, China and is noted for its numerous inscriptions and tablets, as well as monasteries and temples. Through Chinese history, Chinese poets and writers including Li Bai, Tang Yin and Yu Dafu have visited Mount Qiyun either to compose poetry or to leave an inscription. I visited here in October 2016 and climbed to the summit, it is one of my favorite spots in China.
4) Qingcheng Shan literally “Misty Green City Wall”; (Nearby city: Dujiangyan in Sichuan. In ancient Chinese history, the Mount Qingcheng area was famous for being for “The most secluded place in China”. I came to Qingcheng in June 2015 and I am anxious the return. It is famous as a Taoist retreat over the centuries and has some of the greatest vistas of mountains anywhere. It is easy to see why the theme of getting back to nature and how closeness to the Tao and God are transposed into one’s persona as once having been there makes it difficult to leave.
5) Hua Shan’s four major peaks, that are capped with ancient temples that have been the site of prayer and sacrifice since at least the period of emperor Qin Shi Huang in 200 B.C. Famous because Lao Tzu was supposed to have resided there for a while, and number one on my bucket list to visit.
The chess pavilion, from the top of the East peak
Once called the West Mountain in ancient times it is noted for very steep and narrow trails. East Peak (also called the Morning Sun Peak), is the best place to see the sunrise; West Peak (also called the Lotus Flower Peak), because of the a large flower shaped rock which stands in front of Cuiyun Temple; the central Peak (also called the Jade Lady Peak).
Legend has it that the daughter of the King Mu lived here; South Peak (also called the Wild Goose-resting Peak), towers over all other peaks on the mountains and is covered by pines and cypresses; and North Peak (also called the Cloudy Terrace Peak). From a distance, these five peaks look like a lotus flower among the mountains, hence the name of Huashan.
6) Tai Shan in Shandong. Perhaps saving the best for last, Mount Tai Shan is the one I am most familiar with having been there many times. It is the most famous Taoist mountain in China because being furthest to the east, it is where from its summit you can be the first to see the sun rise to the east. For over a thousand years tradition required the emperor to make a pilgrimage to Tai Shan on his return to Beijing after visiting Qufu and paying homage to Confucius.
At the base of the mountain is the Daimiao Temple. One of my favorite points of interest is the ‘Peitian Gate’. It is an excellent example of how Confucian and Taoist thought resided and complemented each other over the centuries.
The stele, or entryway had a saying with the theme,” The virtues match the heaven and earth”. It highlighted the ‘Azure Dragon’ and ‘White Tiger’, two of the principal symbols of the Chinese constellation that were enshrined in the hall.
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 52 and 53 appear below. Verses 1 through 51 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 52 – When our Virtue becomes us
When the ten thousand things came forth in the world, they did so as offspring of a great mother.
When you know this mother, you can begin to understand her offspring understand the child and its mother becomes secure and. lives without trouble. Begin to focus on the Tao with the path you must take becoming clear and this mother will nurture you forever.
When we block the opening from that outside ourselves and close the gate to those who would bring us misfortune, we can live without toil or struggle. When we leave the opening unprotected and meddle in affairs outside of what the way teaches us, we live without hope.
When we follow the words of Confucius when he reminds us that just as things have their roots and branches, those that know what comes first and last may approach the Tao.
When we understand what motivates those around us and events when they are small, we can be quick to change our behavior and magnify our vision.
When we learn to trust our vision, we can see beyond ourselves and live beyond our death. When we live beyond our death, we can become free to travel the universe with the dragons as our virtue becomes us.
Li His-Chai says, “The Way is the mother of all things. Things are the children of the Way. In ancient times, those who possessed the Way were able to keep mother and children from parting and the Way and things together. Since things come from the Way, they are no different from the Way, just as children are no different from their mother. And yet people abandon things when they search for the Way. Is this any different from abandoning the children while searching for the mother? If people knew that things are the Way, and children are the mother, they would find the source in everything they meet.
Confucius says, “Things have their roots and branches. Those know what comes first and last approach the Tao (Tahsueh: intro).
Tung Ssu-Ching says, “People are born when they receive breath. Breath is their mother. And spirit dwells in their breath. When children care for their mother, their breaths become one and their spirits become still.
Hsuan-Tsung says, “If someone can see an event while it is still small and can change his behavior, we say he has vision.”
Verse 53 – Gently guiding Others
Slow down and let your virtue lead the way. Stay fixed to the Great Way not letting distractions lead you astray. Stay focused on doing nothing and do everything simply with that you have learned by following the Tao.
Just as others look to you for direction, you must first gather them up like laundry, put them in the same basket, wash and dry them, then sort them in an orderly fashion. Folded and put away they await their turn to come to the forefront for all to see.
Instead of pushing certain things to happen, sit back and let your nature gently guide those around you. Instead of being in such a hurry, taking shortcuts and finding nothing but trouble, let events play themselves out. While the sage remains ahead by staying behind, his only concern is leading people down such a path.
However, as events play themselves out, he remains always ready to show the next step along the way.
Ku His-Ch’ou says, “The Tao is not hard to know, but it is hard to follow”.
Ho-Shang Kung says, “Lao Tzu was concerned that rulers of his day did not follow the Great Way. Hence, he hypothesized that if he knew enough to conduct the affairs of a country, he would follow the Great Way and devote himself to implementing the policy of doing nothing.”
Lu Hsi-Sheng says, “The Great Way is like a grand thoroughfare: smooth and easy to travel, perfectly straight and free of detours, and there is nowhere it doesn’t lead. But people are in a hurry. They take short cuts and get into trouble and become lost and don’t reach their destination. The sage only worries about leading people down the wrong path.”
Sung Ch’ang-Hsing says, “When the court ignores the affairs of state to beautify its halls and interrupts farm work to build towers and pavilions, the people’s energy ends up at court, and fields turn to weeds. Once fields turn to weeds, state taxes are not paid and granaries become empty. And once granaries are empty, the country becomes poor, and the people become rebellious. When the court dazzles the people with fine clothes, and threatens people with sharp swords, and takes from the people more that it needs, this is no different than robbing them.