Assisting others in finding the meaning, or bliss of their own achievement. Or even having no greater endeavor than taking the next step that better explains the intent, or universal understanding today of what was said before we arrived on the scene. As we live to tell our own story by following our heart.
Four of my friends came by today.
Did they leave feeling better than they did when the came?
Did I say things to enlighten their spirits?
Did I acknowledge their pain and frustration?
Did I impart a sense of well-being, compassion and true concern?
Living the Tao leads one to safe refuge in knowing the way and helping others to find theirs.
Four of my friends came by today.
1/28/94 (From the Introduction of my first book published in China in 2004).
I think we sometimes lose focus on the true meaning of divine mind, our connection with spirit and the past. I like to carry forward the thought about an ancient idea that seems to have originated in Mexico where the majority of Hispanics are Roman Catholics. The Church teaches that the soul is eternal and continues on after the physical body has died. This religious faith also treats all human life as sacred and that each of us die three times. First, when we actually die a physical death. Second, when we are buried, and third, when nobody remembers our name.
The premise being what have we left behind that contributes to understanding of our role and ongoing, or continuing, spiritual nature. In effect knowing that we are here to connect with the past in the present and paving the way for others – going forward. It’s not really a matter of attempting to achieve something outside ourselves, as much as, looking within and expanding the notion of who we are and taking the next step. As if we breathe in an atmosphere of peace and beauty the natural outflow of a mind to whom harmony is not just an aesthetic pleasure, but the expression of a life (our own) devoted to the realm of the spirit.
Instead of stopping where we find comfort with where we are at the moment, we look beyond what is known as we contribute to eternal wisdom that brings us to enlightenment. As if our ultimate role is in furthering the philosophy and thoughts of those who preceded us through our actions… as we look forward. As if one’s destiny is measured and becomes ensured as you add to the wisdom of the ages. Finally, the greatest thing we have to give is to love the journey. My New Year’s resolution – becoming more authentic to my true self.
Nei-yeh — Inward Training / Setting sail into the Infinite / or maybe just our transforming reflections
When your body is not aligned, the inner power will not come.
When you are not tranquil within,
your mind will not be ordered.
Align your body, assist the inner power,
then it will gradually come on its own.
The numinous [mind]: no one knows its limit;
it intuitively knows the myriad things.
Hold it within you, do not let it waver.
To not disrupt your senses with external things,
to not disrupt your mind with your senses:
this is called “grasping it within you.”
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. Divine mind is not singular to any one spiritual expression or connection. As I’ve said many times here, it is simply the path that takes us there.
An image of Mencius in the sanctuary of the Mencius Temple, Zoucheng
Two people come readily to mind that epitomized this sense of Divine Mind. In the East an example would be Mencius, and the West… Earnest Holmes. Continuing the process of becoming transcendental (the process we use to see beyond ourselves) and who is it we choose to follow. Mencius was considered to be a descendant of the Duke of Zhou (Ji Dan), who was credited with elaborating the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven that was used to justify the rule of the emperor and codifying the Book of Rites. The Duke of Zhou was from Qufu and lived five hundred years before Confucius.
For Western thought, it’s about transcendentalism, transformation and taking the next step. For Eastern thought and philosophy and looking to Mencius it’s best to consider ideas of human nature, and how thought and philosophy were solidified and transitioned over time. Mencius lived in China in about 350 BC, about the same time as Plato and Aristotle did in ancient Greece.
While Confucius himself did not explicitly focus on the subject of human nature, Mencius asserted the innate goodness of the individual.
Believing that it was society’s influence – its lack of a positive cultivating influence – that caused bad moral character saying “He who exerts his mind to the utmost knows his nature” and “the way of learning is none other than finding the lost mind.” Something Emerson would have said as well referring to one’s intuition.
For Mencius this was exemplified with expressions of love…what would later be called “Divine Mind”. That this moral character has Four Beginnings:
1)The feeling of commiseration (to feel sorrow or compassion) is the beginning of humanity; 2) the feeling of shame and dislike is the beginning of righteousness; 3) the feeling of deference and compliance is the beginning of propriety; and 4) the feeling of right or wrong is the beginning of wisdom.
To show innate goodness, Mencius used the example of a child falling down a well. Witnesses of this event immediately feel alarmed or distress, not to gain friendship with the child’s parents, nor to seek the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor because they dislike the reputation of lack of humanity if they did not rescue the child…
A Yuan Dynasty turtle with a stele honoring Mencius
Men have these Four Beginnings just as they have their four limbs. Having these Four Beginnings, but saying that they cannot develop them is to destroy themselves. This idea is the same as that proposed in the Taoist Inward Training we have been following and illustrative of how it all ties together with early Chinese popular culture.
Human nature has an innate tendency towards goodness, but moral rightness cannot be instructed down to the last detail. This is why merely external controls always fail in improving society. True improvement results from educational cultivation in favorable environments. Likewise, bad environments tend to corrupt the human will. This, however, is not proof of innate evil because a clear-thinking person would avoid causing harm to others.
This position of Mencius puts him between Confucians and others such as Xunzi who thought people were innately bad, and Taoists who believed humans did not need cultivation, they just needed to accept their innate, natural, and effortless goodness. The four beginnings could grow and develop, or they could fail. In this way Mencius synthesized integral parts of Taoism into Confucianism. Individual effort was needed to cultivate oneself, but one’s natural tendencies were good to begin with. The object of education is the cultivation of benevolence, otherwise known as Ren as we acknowledge that the mind and spirit are one.
I have been to what is called the Mencius Temple a half dozen times in Zoucheng, a city about twenty miles south of Qufu. References in the beginning here as to dying when nobody remembers your name… well, the Mencius Temple was built during the Song Dynasty, more than a thousand years after his death.
Dan at the Mencius School at the Mencius Temple in Zoucheng
His primary claim to fame was the codifying, or as an interpreter of the teachings of Confucius with Confucius’ grandson Zisi. His interpretations of Confucius caught the attention of the emperor and became a central tenet of the examination system required for advancement in Chinese society. Mencius descendants became known as one of the “Four Families” (Confucius, Mencius, Zeng Zi, and Yan Hui) who were dedicated to keeping the teachings and spirit alive of Confucius in China for more than two thousand years.
The school for their descendants in Qufu, adjacent to the Confucius Mansion and Temple, now a high school, is where I taught and lived for more than two years (2011 – 13). In many ways it was like returning home. It was Mencius focus on love and benevolence that was to be the foundation of Confucius teachings and a factor in it becoming a lasting philosophy. His contribution with others is what made Confucius immortal, while his own family’s lineage today can be traced back for more than three thousand years. For myself, this pull of returning to Qufu and western Shandong for almost twenty years seems much more connected to Mencius than Confucius himself.
According to Mencius, education must awaken the innate abilities of the human mind. He denounced memorization and advocated active interrogation of the text, saying, “One who believes all of a book would be better off without books”. One should check for internal consistency by comparing sections and debate the probability of factual accounts by comparing them with experience. Mencius also believed in the power of destiny in shaping the roles of human beings in society. What is destined cannot be contrived by the human intellect or foreseen. Destiny is shown when a path arises that is both unforeseen and constructive. Destiny should not be confused with Fate. Mencius denied that Heaven would protect a person regardless of his actions, saying, “One who understands Destiny will not stand beneath a tottering wall”. The proper path is one which is natural and unforced. This path must also be maintained because, “Unused pathways are covered with weeds”. One who follows Destiny will live a long and successful life. One who rebels against Destiny will die before his time. I would add that our fate lies within us, we only have to be brave enough to see it.
Reflecting on this, it becomes easier to see how others over time saw “the innate abilities of the human mind” as Divine Mind and could/would manifest these ideals into their own consciousness and become transcendental themselves regardless of where they were. For Earnest Holmes, the idea of universal wisdom focused on the Oneness of God and man. The enlightened in every age have taught that in back of all things there is One Unseen Cause, as if a spark just waiting for the right moment to be ignited. You can tell he was inspired by the likes of Henry David Thoreau and his thoughts on how all things are connected, just as in Eastern thought, we would call this cause and effect. That which ties things back to their Original nature – their source. That the word unity signifies the union of parts, the result of many drawn together into one perfect harmonious whole, oneness. One life, of which we are a part, One intelligence in which we use, and One substance which is brought into manifold manifestation.
The Church of Religious Science is fundamentally in accord with other New Thought churches in its beliefs that there is a Divine Universal Force of Goodness, and we as human individuals can improve our conditions by aligning and harmonizing with this universal force.
From Science of Mind Archives: “Our time should be devoted to knowing the Truth that sets humanity free from the problem of ignorance; that Truth which alone can bring enlightenment to the world, that war should cease, that people should live together in harmony because they have recognized the Divinity in each other.”
An introduction to Earnest Holmes… Who was Earnest Holmes? Where did he come from? And how is it that a man who had a distaste for organized religion become the founder of the Science of Mind movement? In studying his life, our goal is not to just learn about the life of this man but to attempt to capture his consciousness knowing that that consciousness is the vitality of our teaching.
Earnest Holmes founded the International Religious Science movement and wrote The Science of Mind and numerous other books on metaphysics. He also founded the international monthly periodical, Science of Mind Magazine, which has been in continuous monthly publication since 1927 and has influenced millions of people. His Science of Mind teaching, recognized today as one of the leading viewpoints in modern metaphysics, is a spiritual philosophy that people throughout the world have come to know as a positive, supportive approach to life.
Earnest Holmes said, “Out there in the vast reaches of outer space and here in the equally vast reaches of inner space, everything is in order. Our task is to begin to understand that the Universal Mind is resident everywhere, and also, of necessity within us. Our prayer is that the Truth be made known, that it cannot fail to be revealed.”
The General Summary in Earnest Holmes excellent book, The Science of Mind, A Philosophy, A Faith, a way of life, begins with the premise that “The Mind of man is some part of the Mind of God; therefore, it contains within itself unlimited possibility of expansion and self-expression. The conscious mind of man is self-knowing, self-assertive; it has volition (the faculty or power of using one’s will), will, choice and may accept or reject. It is the only part of man’s mind which can think independently of conditions. The sub-conscious mind of man is simply the Law of Mind in action. It is not a thing of itself but is the medium for all thought action. It is the medium by which man may call into temporary being whatever he needs or enjoys on the pathway of his experience.” For myself I think, Holmes had to be looking back to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideas of our intuition that ties us back to universal thought action, to God.
Holmes continues, “The Mind of God is Infinite. The mind of man is some part of this Infinite, Creative Mind of God. Therefore, the mind of man is as Infinite as is man’s capacity to understand his true relationship to God or Spirit. The mind of man is continuously unfolding into a greater recognition of its real plan in the creative order of the Universe. It does not yet comprehend its own power or scope but it does know how, in some measure, to consciously co-operate with the Infinite.
Spirit is really the only Mind there is. It is Eternal. It never began nor will It ever cease to be. It is complete and perfect, happy and whole, satisfied and at peace with Itself. The spirit is the only Conscious Intelligence in the Universe. Therefore, It is the only Divine Intelligence in the Universe, Because the mind of man is the Mind of God in man, the mind of man is conscious and directive. It is to man what God is to the Universe”.
The book describing “Science of Mind” above is a great source of inspiration, and is a must (for me anyway), in seeing how the thoughts of transcendentalism and “New Thought” took the next step in connecting everything together and understanding how we are a part of it all, immediately following Emerson and Thoreau. How we think and act is about context. How we piece together what we think we know and understand, with the reality of how things got to where they are now. How we piece together thoughts and our actions with eternal knowledge with eternal wisdom we have always known but forgotten, or maybe just left along the wayside as we travel in the here and now. Or maybe just as important acknowledging the path others have gone before us as teachers of how we are to take the next step and where it might lead.
Maybe it is as Thoreau taught us… “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” With thoughts of our own immortality and what we might be here to add to the discussion for others who might see “our take on things”, and with this, see the spark of their own Infinite possibilities that carry them forward to find their authentic self as well. As if we are each taking the next step into the Infinite… or as Van Morrison sang we were born before the wind in “Into the Mystic”. For now, this from my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu” found here on my website.
Refreshing one’s memory, the world becomes more real than the nothingness from where we come and will return. However, can life be but a dream or are we dreaming, therefore we have come alive?
Traveling through time from one lifetime to the next, can our dreams be more than illusions we cling to along the way. When we awoke this morning from a blissful sleep did we have any sense that what we have dreamed is less than the reality we lived yesterday or the day before or will come to know today, tomorrow or the next?
When dreaming, are we aware that we are dreaming? When awake are we truly aware that we are awake? Or are we simply living our dreams? If both are the same, then the question becomes what can we be awakening into?
Dreaming that we are but a butterfly darting from flower to flower are we not as Chuang Tzu in his dream, or are we but the butterfly dreaming that he is Chuang Tzu? Are not our dreams living out the reality of who we are? Is not life but a dream which lasts until death, when we find our ultimate unveiling?
Is not awakening midstream in one’s life the opportunity to come closer to one’s true reality beyond the Tao? Is not all that breathes and becomes lifelike or has appearance therefore taking shape simply illusion? Where can reality and dreaming differ? Is not the ultimate truth only the reflection found in mirror images of ourselves?
If our experiences while we are awake are the same as when we sleep, then are not experiences found while we sleep the same as when we are awake? Is not true living to abolish any division between illusion and reality? Thereby becoming indifferent to the world around us. All things being equal, do we not become transformed and continue onward to vistas we have known and seen before? 2/5/95