As a preface for continuing my journey, I am first directed back to the Beijing Museum and my thoughts going forward. There was an immense presence from the Buddhist statues and spirit of Chinese antiquity. I asked about my pilgrimage to connect Buddhist/ Confucius/Taoist thought with the world and asked “who am I supposed to be” the answer was to simply be who I am supposed to be. Simplify to nothing and continue on your way. It is through sincerity and compassion that your innate traits of goodness appear – Keep to the Tao. Don’t let lack of attention by others to your writing slow you down. You write only for your own enlightenment and to share this with others. Keep to your path and always remember, it is not where you are that is important. It is who you are and how your essence reflects on those around you. Go to Tibet. Continue to be inspired letting the dragons take you to new heights and know that they are pleased. Sincerity, discipline, and patience; your “work” is only these three and keep to the path as you were told in the beginning. Have faith and let your grace and goodness be your guide – love and you will be loved. From here, continue on your retreat and be filled with who you are yet to become letting go of all other things. Keep to the open road as you are living in dolpo – in the middle – when it is time to go one way or another you will know and the path will be made clear. Don’t despair or get caught up in your daydreams. Just share your goodness through your writing. This way the message to others and yourself will be evident. Follow the path you have laid out all these year ago. There can be no rush. There is nothing to rush to – just acknowledge who you are and go there.
I arrived last night by fast train from Beijing and was met by my friend Andy. (Shu) Initially my plans are to be here for three days (Friday/Saturday/Sunday), then on Monday morning leave for Luoyang. I will return to Qufu for the Confucius festivities on Thursday, September 27th. Planning for the rest of my trip will happen this weekend, especially arrangements to go to Tibet. Stay tuned…
When I am in Qufu it is as if I walk on sacred ground. It is as Ekhart Toll, the great English philosopher said… “We are one with the universe and the universe is one with us, or better said I am one with God, and God is one with me”. It is as though we are living history when we can accept our role and to become one with it. The dragons, or sages, all came through here. Ji Dan, the Duke of Zhou in 1000 BC, was here five hundred years before Confucius came in 500 BC, and the Yellow Emperor, Huandi, the great shaman and instigator of what would become the I Ching one day more than a thousand years earlier in 2700 BC. All were from Qufu. How am I to add to what has already been said and written? Maybe it to to transcend the limitations of language. I am reminded again of the three things I need to work on – sincerity, discipline, and patience. But then, I am blessed to have many friends and acquaintances I have made as a teacher and my activities in the almost twenty years I have been coming to Qufu.
Today was a day for catching up with old friends and making travel arrangements. I met with the headmaster of the Confucius College, Mr. Buan Yan Ping on Friday morning (9/21) being one. After first going by to see another friend, Dr. Hua and updating my membership in the Confucius/I Ching Society, I served as Vice President of the national association last year. I then went to visit the Confucius College where they asked me to teach a couple classes and have lunch with the students.
As we got ready to have lunch, the students all rose and said the following:
感恩父母的养育之恩 Thank parents for their upbringing.
感恩老师的辛勤教导 Thank teachers for their teaching.
感谢同学的帮助与关心 Thank classmates for their help and concern.
感谢农民的辛苦劳作和所有付出的人 Thank farmers for their hard work and all those who give.
对饮食，勿拣择 Don’t pick up the food.
食适可，勿过则 Don’t over eat.
或饮食，或坐走，长者先，幼者后 Eat or sit, the elder first.
一粥一饭当思来之不易 Food is hard to come by.
食不语，请老师先吃 Eat quietly. Teachers first.
Later, after lunch, I met Chris and his wife Vicky at the Shangri La Hotel where they both work and with another friend Maria who helped me to book my train tickets for Luoyang for Sunday evening. Later I spoke to my friend Jenny who is a teacher. Jenny did the translation from English to Chinese for the Daily Words which we published here in Western Shandong Province in 2006 and 07. Finally, I spoke to Yak in Chengdu about my travel arrangements to go to Tibet, especially getting to Lhasa and the best dates for the tour. I am to send copies of my passport and visa information tomorrow to begin the paperwork. (We sent over Andy’s phone). My plans later changed because of holiday. I was not able to get a return train ticket to Qufu to see Jenny and her family on this trip.
There is a naturalness here. I felt it the first time I came almost twenty years ago. Acceptance and who you are is self-evident and plain to see for everyone you meet. As if I am finding my own step following the footsteps of Confucius and so many others before me. It seems I have always been a living embodiment of an anomaly never really fitting in or caring as if there is someplace else I am meant to be. Rarely satisfied with the way things are, always seeing through to what can or should be. It seems as though the more I attempt to have the outer world be a reflection of my inner self – the less the outer world caught up with the status quo and “outer stuff” appeals or relates to me. In Qufu, it is connecting with your inner spirit that makes you “attractive” to others on a similar journey. A feeling that is universal to not just Qufu. As if I don’t have to detail the history here of Confucius because it is on the face of all you meet. Over half of the more than 80,000 people here have the last name Kong. Confucius family name and are descendants. Hence, here I am simply Kongdan. Over the centuries it doesn’t matter where I am – this will always be home.
Just being here in Qufu with old friends is enough. On Saturday morning (9/22), I do what I always do in Qufu and that is to walk. I found myself at a tea shop I often visited with the owner Mei. We had lunch over a bottle of wine and I bought a dragon/phoenix tea holder. We will have dinner again after I return from Luoyang over the holiday. ( As stated above, I was unable to return to Qufu on this trip. I asked Andy to convey my disappointment to Mei).
That in following the Tao we have no plans. We learn to go with the flow of life and do what comes naturally in unison with our essence, or soul.
That being present is always enough. What I like about Qufu is the is no pre-supposition as to what outcome will occur – just be yourself and the universe comes to greet you – those you see and meet are on a similar path – you are here for them and they are here for you. Where you find yourself you can’t stay there for long. As if fleeting your light travels fast and shadow never lingers. Your essence only left behind for those to ponder their own fate and what can be seen as important in where they see themselves just now, and where it takes them. In every circumstance you are present for only an instant before moving on. The status quo is not for you to bother. Others caught up in their day dream must come to the light within and wake up mid stream in their own life. That everyone is coming from the same place. It it not necessary to expand further on Confucius or others just now, because you are the essence of everything – the Tao is you and you are the Tao.
There is a symmetry, a certain flow of or lives we all seek. A sense of connection to what appears as universal that answers who we are and what it is we seek. Something all great artists, philosophers and writers have found to some degree. What Monet and DaVinci found and knew, what Edison, Einstein, Emerson,and Walt Whitman knew. In China it was what Lao Tzu, Confucius, and many others found. It was the ultimate meaning in the Shangri La story that so invigorates us, our soul, or essence, our chi. It is what the shaman knew all those centuries ago from following the stars, the heavens above – then going there.
It’s what I was returning to the instant I knew I found, or re-discovered it, on my first trip to Qufu in October 1999. Yes, it was represented in a place, but it only serves to remind me of what I am here to do. For years everyone has wanted to know why I keep coming to Qufu (especially the security bureau and police. It was this trip and just a couple days here spent in Qufu that the sense staying in flow of where I have been takes me to my next step… to Luoyang via fast train. Tonight I arrive in Luoyang for my next step in my journey.
Pictures from this trip to Qufu…
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 76 and 77 appear below. Verses 1 through 75 were seen here on my most recent posts. The balance will be seen here over the coming weeks. Hopefully, I can complete this journey through Lao Tzu on this trip to China.
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 76 – In death the Tao acknowledges the Sage
Before there was considered to be a force in the universe that would be known as God there was the Tao. Before there existed the myriad of shamans, saints, priests and holy men considered to be here to lead the way, there was the Tao.
As the ten thousand things came forth from antiquity to manifest and begin the cycle of being born, dying and being born again continually as the natural extension of the way, the sage ultimately came forth as one protected by dragons. The dragons, but those who have been chosen to impart simple virtue as those who follow the correct path or way of heaven.
The sage coming forward to find that the reason there is suffering or hunger for life is that others impose too many restrictions on how we should live, therefore people remain unfulfilled. That the reason people are hard to get along with is that those who would lead the way have forgotten the path in which all should follow. However, when death follows as the natural course of events after everything has passed through him and acknowledges his ultimate place in the universe, the loving life becomes secondary as eternal life comes forth to greet the great sage.
Loving God and what He and the Tao teaches, he simply lets his enthusiasm come naturally as the centuries have shown him the proper way.
Ho-Shang Kung says, “When people are born, they contain breath and spirit. This is why they are soft. When they die, their breath ceases and their spirit disappears. This is why they are hard”.
Lao Tzu says, “The weak conquer the strong”.
Wang P’ang says, “In terms of yin and yang, yin comes before, and yang comes after. In terms of Heaven and Earth, Heaven is exalted, and Earh is humble. In terms of Virtue, the soft and the weak overcome the hard and the strong. But in terms of material things, the hard and the strong control te soft and the weak. The people of this world only see things. They don’t understand Virtue.”
Verse 77 – Letting your Enthusiasm open every door
Fortunate again to be born into weakness, we are soon caught up in what may be perceived as making us strong.
Lieh Tzu, my friend and mentor, tells the world that t.”he path to victory is weakness. As the hard and strong lead people away from the Tao, they do so with great effort. Confused into thinking that our strength is needed to help us find our way when just the opposite, our weakness, will bring us victory.
They refuse to remain still letting events come to them. Convinced that controlling what occurs they will find their direction. Remaining oblivious to what remains effortless may just appear as weakness.
Observing the simple, letting everything play out to its own conclusion, the sage appears soft and seemingly weak. When things become hard and stiff they can only be close to their end. Remaining supple and bending with the wind the soft and weak can stay in tune with life.
Staying within the confines of his own virtue, the sage easily converses with his mentors bringing nothing hard and fast to the table. He confines himself to his humble beginnings letting the Tao lead the way. Letting his enthusiasm remain his signature that softens every encounter he is not bound by things seemingly apparent in the world as he opens every door that finds him.
Kao Heng says, “In attaching the string to a bow, we pull the bow down to attach the string to the top. We lift the bow up to attach it to the bottom. If the string is too long, we make it shorter. If the string is too short, we make it longer. This is exactly the Way of Heaven.” (this is based on the Shuowen, which says, “Chang means to attach a string to a bow.”
Lu Hui-Ching says, “The Way of Heaven does not intentionally pull down the high and lift up the low. It does nothing and relies instead on the nature of things. Things that are high and long cannot avoid being pulled down and shortened. Things that are low and short cannot avoid being lifted up and lengthened. The full suffer loss. The humble experience gain”.
Wang P’ang says, “The Way is Heaven is based on the natural order. Hence it is fair. The Way of Man is based on desire. Hence it is not fair. Those who possess the Way follow the same Way of Heaven”.