The first step in understanding the meaning of consciousness is having a sense of self-awareness and loving ourselves unconditionally.
How that transcends who we think we are and how we help others by loving ourselves. It is from our authentic selves that our “inward knowing or wisdom” begins and our innate talents connect with who we are yet to become as we move from simply I AM to WE ARE. As if saying – it is not enough to believe an abstract truth. That it is just as important to understand the method or way it was attained and how you live to express it as well.
Perhaps having a sense of mindfulness, or maybe even coming to know who we have always been. It is from this place we learn that there is nothing we cannot do or heal. This concept is central to the idea of Inward Training or Inner Cultivation expressed here as our inequities heal when we become aware of our worth. I’m going to repeat that – our inequities heal when we become aware of our worth. Not living in fear, but that learning to love ourselves first is what heals us. Your consciousness is the reflection of the universal spirit of which you manifest by being yourself. To love yourself, value yourself, and embody this truth of self-worth and self-love so that you can be the reflection of this love in action. This is how to define true service and how we become transcendent to what ultimately connects us with our soul and our eternal source. It truly is what song writers and poets have always said – that all you need is love.
With this knowledge we are able to create heaven on earth. This is the essence of both spiritual and universal truth. You are serving no one when you get lost in the problems of the world. The question becomes how and where am I not loving myself? How can I value myself more? I believe we are born knowing the truth of who we are, it’s in claiming this we initially get lost. Our challenge is to recognize our virtue, this knowledge and past wisdom that resides, as if ingrained in our inner-most being. From this place we can move on to what is called having a reflective mind. Where a certain, or simultaneous occurrence of what is seen as unrelated events occur and the belief that their simultaneity has meaning beyond mere coincidence. It’s from where and how we respond to the outer world that matters. Perhaps just doing by being ourselves.
I often come back to the idea of directing my mind and actions through meditation. Not just the physical act of sitting, but in establishing an ever-present presence of what takes me there – to love and virtue.
Establishing a benchmark, or starting point, in meditation and a practice focusing on the Buddhist ideal of existence that center on… impermanence – suffering – and egolessness as the basis for profound truths. As if it’s the next step after discussing the bodhisattva vow a few weeks ago and taking a step further to the bodhisattva ideal in establishing the directness towards a spiritual goal which can convert consciousness into a single, unified vital force that spans the universal spectrum beyond a single lifetime and our present personality – to what remains. As if surpassing previously accepted opinions or views and suspending disbelief, we travel if only by spirit to places we wouldn’t otherwise go.
It is the ability, often found when meditating with what is called a directed mind. To see things in a forward looking purposefulness way based on insight and realization of the universal nature of consciousness, rather than simply on the personal aspects of an individual past, or future. Of seeing the world beyond our own limited vision.
What attracts people to practice Buddhism is that it does not mean you have to leave behind previous thought, but to find yourself in the flow of universal mind, both inwardly and outwardly. As if directed consciousness leads one to “enter the stream towards liberation or enlightenment in which one’s universal nature is realized”. Its whatever takes you there. Two books I enjoy immensely about Buddhism are by Lama Givinda, first – The Way of the White Clouds, and second entitled The Psychological Attitude of Early Buddhist Philosophy. It is as the Buddha said, “Be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge unto yourself, without another refuge.”
Nei-yeh — Inward Training
By concentrating your vital breath as if numinous, the myriad things will all be contained within you.
Can you concentrate? Can you unite with them? Can you not resort to divining by tortoise or milfoil, yet know bad and good fortune? Can you stop? Can you cease? Can you not seek it in others, yet attain it within yourself?
You think and think about it and think still further about it. You think, yet still cannot penetrate it. While the ghostly and numinous will penetrate it, it is not due to the power of the ghostly and numinous, but to the utmost refinement of your essential vital breath.
When the four limbs are aligned and the blood and vital breath are tranquil, unify your awareness, concentrate your mind, then your eyes and ears will not be over-stimulated. And even the far-off will seem close at hand.
Deep thinking generates knowledge.
Idleness and carelessness generate worry.
Cruelty and arrogance generate resentment. Worry and grief generate illness.
When illness reaches a distressing degree, you die. When you think about something and don’t let go of it, internally you will be distressed, externally you will be weak.
Do not plan things out in advance or else your vitality will cede its dwelling. In eating, it is best not to fill up; in thinking, it is best not to overdo. Limit these to the appropriate degree and you will naturally reach your vitality.
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 seems to me, that our purpose is to have what I think of as mentioned above, a “reflecting mind”. By properly reflecting the past, we can shine a light on our own future. By identifying with our source, we can first be transformed with the knowledge of who we have always been, and then from there begin to transcend what we may perceive as our current limitations. That our nature has given us an opportunity to demonstrate through biological development the necessary conditions for the manifestation of higher consciousness.
Carl Jung (1875-1961), was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Jung’s work was influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and religious studies. He was interested in the way in which symbols and common myths permeate our thinking on both conscious and subconscious levels. Jung also noted the relationship between our personal unconscious, which contains an individual’s personal memories and ideas, and a collective unconscious, a set of memories and ideas that is shared amongst all of humanity.
It would be shared concepts, which Jung described as archetypes, (an action, or a situation that seems to represent universal patterns of human nature. An archetype, also known as a “universal symbol”, may be a character, a theme, a symbol, or even a setting) that permeate the collective unconscious and emerge as themes and characters in our dreams and surface in our culture – in myths, books, films and paintings, for example. An example in ancient China would be the role of the dragon as the shaman or sage who created, exemplified, and knew the correct path to be taken and that others should follow with the Heavens above. What caught my attention in internalizing the thoughts of Jung, was my own dreams and meditation that culminate in my writing and focus on the I Ching and calligraphy, the role of the dragon, certain people, and myths and legends of ancient China that precedes today’s understanding of our collective history. How people the world over reach similar conclusions and that the personal unconscious contains memories which we are unaware we still possess.
Jung felt that disunity among thoughts in the personal subconscious and the conscious could create internal conflicts which could lead to particular personality traits or anxieties. Such inner conflicts could be resolved, claimed Jung, by allowing repressed ideas to emerge into the conscious and accommodating (rather than destroying) them, thus creating a state of inner harmony, through a process known as individuation that can lead to higher consciousness when the mind attaches itself to what may be seen as it’s beginning. It is this inner harmony between the heart and mind that guides us to become our natural selves… entity. To who we are here to further emulate as our highest selves. It makes you ultimately come back to what we consider as heredity and the principle of preservation and continuity of acquired characteristics which result in the faculty of conscious remembering and direction through the guidance of organized knowledge. For myself, I am often amazed that when I am in tune with my internal spirit and am writing, that things appear that I can only ask “where did that come from”. What is it that separates our conscious and unconscious mind and internal and external awareness from our past? The Buddhist will tell us that heredity is only another name for our memory. It becomes the established principle and counter force of dissolution and impermanence. That it is our ability to “remember” our past that determines the level of our spiritual nature. As if simply a calling, or bell waiting for us to answer.
Looking back five hundred years before Carl Jung, this duality was expressed by Meister Eckhard who espoused similar beliefs while a professor at the University of Paris in the early twelfth century. I especially liked Eckhart’s ability to take a line in thought and follow it wherever it took him and to what defines or expresses what was meant by becoming universal. That God and we are one. That this union was not only a harmony of wills or a spiritual communion, but he envisioned a fusion of the individual with God like a drop of water returning to the sea. He was able like Chuang Tzu and what was to become the Tao in early China, to stretch the imagination to further define the flow of consciousness and what the true meaning of becoming universal might yet become, from the inside out. He called the place where God is known to an individual person “the spark of the soul” and that God and man are united because they were already one.
How this transformation occurs is what determines our present fate and destiny. It is as stated above in Inward Training, that by concentrating our vital breath (commonly called qi or chi), as if numinous, the myriad things will all be contained within us. How can we become transformational, both inwardly and ultimately affect our outer world, but through our conscious mind and loving heart? As we transcend the mundane – we too enlighten the world by becoming transcendental.
Part 1 Number 2 of the 5th Wing of the Dazhuan last time ended with the premise that the superior man finds his place in life resting content in the succession of change; he finds satisfaction taking delight in the words; when he acts, he observes the alternations (what appears as alternate succession or repeated rotation) and takes delight in the omens as if knowing the future that lies before him. Thusly, becoming the person he is meant to be. The grace of Heaven and eternal dragons always coming to his aid as the Way of the Tao becomes auspicious and open to him as his highest endeavor and destiny is now fulfilled.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part 1 Number 3
1.3 The Statements – What the Words Show
We first look to how great and small are related in the Yijing, the I Ching, and in our lives as the images and symbols that connect us to the invisible world. Great and small are key words, the oldest terms for yin and yang. Through them we know if we should be forceful and follow our own idea, or are flexible and yield to others. It is the hexagrams that refer to figures while the line statements refer to alternations. In reading the lines auspicious and disaster means success and failure. Trouble and distress refer to minor mistakes; no misfortune means mistakes can be mended. Therefore, what is seen as noble or base depends on position, just as sorting out what is great or small depends on the hexagram while discerning rather something is auspicious or disastrous depends on the statement. Worrying at trouble and distress depends on the risk as quaking at no misfortune depends on distress. Thus, the hexagrams deal with great and small, the statements deal with danger and comfort and show the way things are going.
It would be those who could successfully read the symbols that made consulting the spirit world central to what could be known and what could not be known. Just as we ourselves are in constant transformation, our spirit always advancing and withdrawing as we look for and to a change of heart. The ability to know the Way, or Tao, is through the words we speak and write. Anxiety occurs due to our innate desire to know what the Tao teaches – and staying within the limits of the Way. With this the Superior Man or Women will know how to act as their own divine return signals at both danger and ease. This is how the talisman became important as it defined one’s eternal connection with nature and the universe. (A talisman is a stone, ring, or other object, engraved with figures or characters supposed to possess power to connect one with the universe and worn as an amulet or charm. Its presence exercises remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions).
Fulu is a term for Taoist practitioners in the past that could draw and write supernatural talismans, Fu which they believed functioned as summons or instructions to deities, spirits, or as tools of exorcism, as medical potions for ailments. It is believed by Taoists that in the past the ability to write Shenfu had been once decreed by their deities to authorized priests or daoshi.
Lu (Chinese: 籙) is a register and compilation of the membership of the daoshi as well as the skills they were able to use. These practitioners are also called Fulu Pai (Chinese: 符籙派) or the Fulu Sect made up of daoshi (usually considered a Taoist priest or Buddhist monk) from different schools or offshoots of Taoji, as a symbol that connects us to the invisible world. This was one of the major precept’s outlining the shaman’s influence, (especially the Big Dipper) and what could be seen and observed in nature. This gave the shaman the ability to converse with nature. It was through symbols that the ancients found the doorway to Heaven. Examples of these symbols first illustrating the sun, moon, and stars, were unearthed during the Han dynasty at Nanyang in Henan Province and depict the sixteen stars of the Azure, or Green Dragon constellation. The Azure Dragon occupies the four constellations that define the horizon. It is in the area of the Shaolin Temple, in the region of Songshan Mountain, Dengfeng City, Henan Province. I visited this area in Sept/Oct of last year (2018).
Shaolin Temple history can date back to Northern Wei Dynasty (386 – 534), and it played an important role on the development of the Buddhism in China. From prehistory forward, the ancient Chinese felt a direct connection to the stars as if they were in reality the place of their ancestors. First on tortoise shell then later on the hip bone of a horse, bear, or elk, and even later yarrow sticks, came the desire and need to communicate with the spirit world and others and speak and then to write – to develop a vocabulary with words that spoke to the divine spirit within.
It was this innate urging to connect with the universe that cultivating stillness through meditation was fine-tuned over the centuries. It was this use of imagination and images that attached words to the divine connection of man and in stillness that man’s divine nature could manifest to the fullest. It was then that the paradigm shifted and the words could define the symbols and everything changed.
Then six lines became eight and the bagua came into being and in about 1100 BC King Wen (1152 – 1056 BC) added words, statements with meaning, to the lines. It was with the consultation process that the lines were considered as transforming. It is when a line “transforms” that is turns into its opposite. This is when the words attached to the lines take on great importance. It is here that the spirit is changing shape, so that we know how to act. Over the centuries many others would write their own commentaries as to the meaning of the lines to fit their philosophy to what they would say the I Ching and Tao really meant for themselves. Key among those would be Confucius and then later Wang Pi, whose most important works are two commentaries: one the Tao Te Ching and the other on the I Ching. On both these works he left his indelible mark. His work on the I Ching completely reorganized the book and made it much as it is today; of the extremely numerous early commentaries, moreover, his is the only one to survive in its entirety. The primary connection between the I Ching and the Tao is rather change is flowing or is blocked and it is the position of the strong and supple lines that help us to know whether our place in life is great or small. This speaks to our innate moral center or virtue and our desire to find and stay in tune with what is universal. It is in this way we return to the Tao and our eternal self. But for now our journey continues with this from my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu” found here on my website.
To be eternally awakened
How can we know who we come into the world to become? As we learn to trust our instincts and the spontaneity given to us as each moment unfolds. If it is as Lieh Tzu says: “To live and die at the right time is a blessing from Heaven and not to live when it is time to live and not to die when it is time to die is a punishment from Heaven, then is not our destiny predetermined?”
Why should some be favored over others? Why should some get life and death at the right time and others live and die when the time is not right? Know that it is neither other things nor ourselves that gives life when we live and death when we die as our destiny unfolds. Nor that wisdom or our endeavors can lead the way. Could the unfolding of our life’s events be but an endless sequence that comes to pass of themselves by way of Heaven? Indifferent to the turn of events coming forward as the unbroken wheel or circle of life. Coming in, living each moment to its fullest then going out again. Could this be the way of Heaven?
With no offense to Heaven and Earth the ultimate cardinal rule. How could the sage not go along? Continuing to clear his mind and open his heart only for eternal truths yet to unfold. His wisdom finding no time to question. Just as the demons are thwarted as they can find no footholds to follow. Each person finding truths solely for himself in silence and serenity. Without attachment, only the peace found as Heaven escorts us as we go and welcomes us as we come back again.
Embrace only those things that assist in the awakening of your eternal spirit. If our destiny can be foretold as we travel from one lifetime to the next, then should we not remain awake to the events that show us the way? Living the proper way, can death matter as we are simply waiting to be born again. 6/11/1995