Finding our purpose is discovering within ourselves how to express universal love to all things, to all people, in every situation. We are to become that expression from within ourselves, understanding that there is no separation between ourselves and all other things. We are them – and they are us as we learn to see beyond ourselves. The universe begins from within and ends with us as we are eternal. It is as John Lennon and so many before and after have said… “All you need is love”. Love is grace. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love is being grateful for our own presence from which we are here to express. We become what we think, say, and write. It is the ability to have whatever we do that appears on the outside ONLY be the reflection from inside as we express love. It is the ultimate kung fu, of wu wei, the art of becoming our true selves. It is learning to express this in the moment as who we are – that defines the only reason we are here and knowing that all you (we) need is love. It is the essence of Inward Training…
Nei-yeh — Inward Training and everything as it should be.
The Way has no fixed position;
it abides within the excellent mind.
When the mind is tranquil and the vital breath is regular, the Way can thereby be halted.
The Way is not distant from us;
when people attain it they are sustained
as it is not separated from us.
When people accord with it they are harmonious.
Therefore, it becomes concentrated! As though you could be roped together with it.
Indiscernible! As though beyond all locations.
The true state of the Way –
how could it be conceived of and pronounced upon?
Cultivate your mind, make your thoughts tranquil, and the Way can thereby be attained.
As for the Way –
it is what the mouth cannot speak of, the eyes cannot see, and the ears cannot hear.
It is that with which we cultivate the mind and align the body.
When people lose it they die;
when people gain it they flourish.
When endeavors lose it they fail;
when they gain it they succeed.
The Way never has a root or trunk,
it never has leaves or flowers.
The myriad things are generated by it;
the myriad things are completed by it.
We designate it “the Way.”
The above translation of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism.
By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:
“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).
The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism.
The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. 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. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.
It is when this spirit of oneness encompasses us, that a sense of prevailing gratitude becomes pervasive in our heart, mind, and actions. This sense of “grace and gratitude”, or spiritual attainment, begins to occur through us as we come to rely on the divine presence from within. It is from this acknowledgement our individual spiritual expression find it’s home. This connection to the universe through observation of nature, cause and effect, and ancient wisdom is the benchmark of our character. Ultimately conveying that it matters who we are and what we do. It help us to find mindfulness and know the way to becoming transcendent ourselves.
Continuing from my last entry with the notion of the “Great Unity”. It appeared in the Lǐyùn chapter of the Book of Rites, one of the Confucian Chinese classics. It’s origins actually predate Confucius by almost five hundred years to Ji Dan, the Duke of Chou who also was from the city of Lu (Qufu), considered to be in about 900 to 1000 BC.
According to it, the society in Great Unity was ruled by the public where the people chose men of virtue and ability and valued trust and harmony. People did not only love their own parents and children, but also secured the living of the elderly until their ends, let the adults be of use to the society and helped the young grow. Those who were widowed, orphaned, childless, handicapped and diseased were all taken care of. Men took their responsibilities and women had their homes. People disliked seeing resources being wasted, but did not seek to possess them; they wanted to exert their strength, but did not do it for their own benefit. Therefore, selfish thoughts were dismissed, people refrained from stealing and robbery, and the outer doors remained open.
In China, various opinions came forward as “commentaries” to previously accepted doctrine. However, the I Ching would dictate change is inevitable and that nothing remains the same or stagnate over time, and the Great Unity would show how to live one’s life within this prevailing structure. That a certain pragmatism exists in the universe with all things being equal. That when things get to far out in one direction or another, they must swing back in the opposite direction. As if there is a ridgepole defining left and right making decisions for all in the middle. If the stars above moved from day to day, and nature, i.e., cause and effect, and the seasons changed, then how could we be different and not change as well? The nature of man, and more importantly the universe was always changing. Man would change inwardly, so that outwardly he could survive. Hence, new commentaries as to what was meant by this reality would always be changing. But even then, when Confucianism was mandated by the state, the old shrines to shamanism were discarded. But the innate sense of confluence, of unity between difference philosophies and religions endured.
Because of thousands of years of being connected to the sun, moon, stars, and nature in the East, man did not need a God separate from himself. God was everywhere, even inside himself. How could he be a part of it all and what could be found outside of himself, not be the same as inside? The universal spirit was already present inside everything. Man was “one of ten thousand things”. There was nothing to be separated from. The goal would always be to transcend yourself into your highest endeavor to fulfill your ultimate destiny. Following the path that fits who you are yet to become. There would be heaven and hell, in Taoism this would be known as “upper heaven and lower heaven”, and in Eastern religions there would be hell. But you could return to make up for evil, or bad things you may have done this time. (karma) If man’s spirit was eternal, then how could there not be a connecting “universal spirit” as something we innately just follow along from within and why would there be separation between man and all other things? These questions, and attempting to know the unknowable have been with us from the beginning of time only to be answered from within ourselves. All things being equal in an ever-changing universe meant nothing could remain the same over time, as everything in its own time coming forward. (the essence of the I Ching) It is how man has tried to answer the mysteries of the universe that has defined him and his relations with others and his environment.
Over the centuries, a unifying spirit that connected all under heaven with the sense of confluence, of unity between difference philosophies and religions endures. Despite some who try to say otherwise for their own self aggrandizement. One’s place in the universe is beyond questions of relevance of what is to be known or unknown, or that we might express as philosophy or religion. Connections to what we would consider as “universal” should be beyond question, even sacrosanct, considered as extremely sacred, not to be trespassed upon, or interfered with that matches our own vital essence and mirrors this truth. What’s important is identifying and nurturing what we would call our “niche” in life. What it is we are here to do. This is the true definition of what we call tai chi.
For myself, it is questions relating to how we unify ourselves with others who have had both similar and different life experiences that is key. What can it be that separates us from others, if anything, and how and why does that become important? When we can acknowledge what connects us is so much more important than what separates us. Who and what is it that takes our thoughts to where they now reside? Its easy to sing the praises, or give accolades to those in the distance or from the past, but it is how we re-act to those in the present whose reputation we look to that become our mentors today. Who do they look to for guidance?
Thoughts of Inward Training are universal, not just to China or Taoism, or Lao Tzu, but in identifying with spirit, where our own internal spirit can find and rest in the place we call our eternal source. The power and energy of our spirit and consciousness lies in our understanding of love and unity and what that means. That we are not here to judge or separate ourselves from others who may have a different take on things. We are here to grow our own sense of universal awareness through love. I am not a theologian, a person versed in theology, especially Christian theology; but only an individual trying to make sense and bring connections to it all for myself and perhaps others. If anything, I see myself as a historian focusing on Chinese and Eastern philosophy and religion. But that changes with entries to be seen here regarding this “unity of spirit”, and Western thought and transformation with the likes of Meister Ekhart, Kant, Emerson, Thoreau, the Fillmore’s and many others. This idea of unity of thought and convergence has always intrigued me and is of great interest. That we are all universal, all one, and that it is in this unity we will prevail with our nature intact.
If man’s spirit was eternal, then how could there not be “a universal spirit” to be found in all things? How and why would there be separation between man and all other things? These questions, and attempting to know the unknowable have been with us from the beginning of time. Its how man has tried to answer the mysteries of the universe that has defined him and his relations with others.
From my own maybe unique perspective, and interest in China, I am drawn to what makes the “Family Christian Church” work in China. The Christian faith, or religion, in China is accepted and certainly allowed in China, but within a different perspective. From a historical standpoint there is even something called the Great Unity, as mentioned above. It is a Chinese utopian vision of the world in which everyone and everything is at peace. It is found in classical Chinese philosophy, which has been invoked many times in the modern history of China. What is important to note here, is that this concept is not based on a “religious pretext”. Except for the notion found empowering in all religions… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I hope to expand on this idea here at another time, but for now this from my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu” found here on my website.
Everything as it should be
Nothing escaping change within the oneness of Tao. Looking you do not see it, listening you cannot hear it, groping you cannot touch it. Lieh Tzu says heaven and earth cannot achieve everything. The sage is not capable of everything and none of the myriad things can be used for everything.
It is the responsibility of heaven to give birth and to shelter, the responsibility of earth to shape and to support; the sage to teach and reform and for each thing to perform its function. As a result, there are ways in which earth excels heaven and ways in which each thing is smarter than the sage. Why is this?
Heaven which brings birth and shelters cannot shape and support, earth which shapes and supports cannot teach and reform. The sage who teaches and reforms cannot make things act counter to their functions, things with set functions cannot leave their places.
Therefore, the way of heaven and earth must be either yin or yang. The teaching of the sage must be kindness or justice and the myriad things, whatever their function must be, either hard or soft. All these observe their functions and cannot lose their places.
Everything acting together in harmony. Everything the same and nothing the same all at the same time. Shape coming from the shapeless, form from the formless. Everything finding its essence in the way of the Tao. Everything only as it should be. 1/15/95