Living above the clouds… as if perfecting perfection / Volume 1

P1

As if residing in a perpetual hermitage, or retreat – as the ultimate space you call home. Our place for the moment but a cornucopia of flowers, bees, and butterflies. With thoughts and actions of the virtue that define us above the clouds, seemingly above both heaven and earth.

With the Tao teaching that our innate nature emulates the sun, moon, the earth below us, and stars. Man alone measuring time. As eternity moves through us we go forward cultivating mindfulness. Universal energy passing through the cosmos endeavoring only to simply stay present in the moment.

We are, as with all things found in nature, simply the manifestation of the Tao. With God only the definition we give to the ultimate creator of what is left unknown. As we follow and learn from our divine innate nature and scripture passed down from those who came before us. My goal to set out on a new road following old paths to destinations that return to my beginnings. The ultimate cycle of life, death, and re-birth to live and understand my role and ultimate purpose knowing that… the one who sees makes us all see. With this I say –

To those who have awakened                                                                                  re-incarnation will not have a fixed limit.

To leap beyond the realm of formlessness                                                           – to suchness… and the fundamental, intrinsic,                                               innate characteristic quality or condition that takes us there.

To reside in the world while living beyond the world.

With aspirations to return home one day                                                            to be found with old friends above the clouds.                                                  To be simply above heaven and earth, once again.

The following is but a first entry of many that will follow of my own personal account as someone adhering to the Tao and thoughts mirroring my mentors from long ago. Scratching the surface of forever truths that follow me through eternity. Bringing myself and ancient scriptures into account. Making both what I write – and what I have written – the personification of my journey. Past, present, and future. Paying close attention to my Taoist past as it consolidates the present with my future. Guided by forever friends from every persuasion who also looked upward to the stars and their innate nature that would tie it all together. All hoping to contribute to what they see as the final say.

P2

Manjusri is the bodhisattva of wisdom and is one of the most important iconic figures in Mahayana art and literature. He represents the wisdom of prajna, which is not confined by knowledge or concepts. Images of Manjusri, as with images of other bodhisattvas are used for meditation and contemplation.

For me, this continuing dialog begins again with ancient scripture as there is so much to distract us from the journey as we travel the mundane world. (the world in the here and now with others present) Scripture can be seen as a beacon, a universal light. Classics as seen in Confucianism, Sutras in Buddhism, and in Taoism what can be referred to as Jing. Adding an omnipresent or pervasive context, one can see reference to scripture in Christianity (for myself adding Tolstoy’s commentary and Emerson’s take on Nature is enlightening), and in the Moslem world, the Koran, the Indigenous native and shaman – all found to be in tandem with who we were in the beginning. All to be lit with the same universal flame. By my own reckoning with Eastern thought… specifically Taoism, my focus is on what is commonly referred to as Jing. Jing has historically been seen in China as calligraphy and transmitted as manuscripts. Over the centuries in China, Jing are commonly written as commentaries as well.

Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. There is a second book attributed to Lao Tzu entitled the Nei-yeh – Inward Training. It’s contribution to Taoism has been as great or greater for those who see the Taoist path as essential to living a good life. It can be found here on my website. The first two chapters of twenty-four are as follows:

Nei-yeh — Inward Training

One

The vital essence of all things –
it is this that brings them to life.
It generates the five grains below
and becomes the constellated stars above.

When flowing amid the heavens and the earth
we call it ghostly and numinous. (spiritual or supernatural).
When stored within the chests of human beings,
we call them sages.

Two

Therefore, this vital energy is:
Bright! – as if ascending from the heavens;
Dark! – as if entering an abyss;
Vast! – as if dwelling in an ocean;
Lofty! – as if dwelling on a mountain peak.

Therefore this vital energy
cannot be halted by force,
yet can be secured by inner power or virtue.
Cannot be summoned by speech,
yet can be welcomed by awareness.
Reverently hold onto it and do not lose it:
this is called “developing inner power.”
When inner power develops and wisdom emerges,
the myriad things will, to the last one, be grasped.

Even my own writing spanning more than twenty-five years can be seen as inspired by the I Ching, and ideals of Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu more specifically. For the Taoist, or those seen  as following Taoist precepts, this becomes the manifestation of the Tao in the world expressing the numinous (spiritual and/or mysterious) presence of the Tao. Unifying our qi is the essential first step in aligning with who we are yet to become.

It will be our qi – our breath – our spirit – our heart/mind that defines us in eternity. The ancients saw this as our blood and color red that took us there. All the universe asks is that we do our best with what we are given.

The manuscripts (two were published in China) and several hundred thousand words here on my website are my attempts to understand an innate nature with myself that has always been present, yet mostly unaccounted for as I have gained my own voice. Ultimately, my purpose seems to be expressing what I have always known for the benefit of others and to be reminded again of my own journey. My role to express this through my writing. This culminates with what appears here through The Kongdan Foundation. Spiritual refinement being the never-ending purpose of our soul.

This study in self-reflection and refinement continues as the central practice of life. The words of Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu and many others have not only gone through me, but are now simply me expressing my highest good as if emulating the sage. Retooling what I have previously written so that I too may take the next step. Wang Chongyang, as expressed in the book The Way of Complete Perfection, tells us that it is not only reading the ancient Chinese scriptures… but more importantly to understand that the point of reading and study is to deepen practice. One endeavors to apply a given text’s insights to one’s daily life. Not only intellectually taking us to new heights, but with spiritual intent focusing on transformation and what you gain from Taoist, and/or additional scriptural readings.

It is not just one thing that guides us. It is the combination of what we study, how we practice, and what we incorporate into our daily lives. With this we learn discernment, what is relevant, and how practice carries us through each day. To what we hold as sacred. This is the essence of stillness and mindfulness and a complete meditative custom or habit. It becomes “where are we doing it from”.

As a practicing Taoist, this is because our jing, our take on things ethereal or what lies beyond us, connects us to threads that bind us to networks we have always known and simply need to be reminded of that lead us to the next step along the way. It is what the central core of the Tao… or Way, has always been over the millennia. It becomes our contract with our own heart-mind. As we seem to move through eternity at our own pace.

It is here that my friend Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man comes to mind, or at best into play. Seeing our humanness as a reminder that we are here to both teach and to learn. One of the first things I wrote in re-affirming with this path, appears in my first book that was to be my introduction to the I Ching and Taoism I called “An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond” published in China in 2004. Something I wrote more than twenty-five years ago.

Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man

As Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man begins by abandoning the ways of the world, you begin by simply letting go of that which is not significant to the Tao. As you are now seen traveling with old friends who guide you along an unknowable path or way.

Just as the dragons would have it, they are pleased.

Eternal sacrifice made to capture the moment knowing everything rests on your finding and staying on the road yet to be traveled.  Searching for immortality and freedom to go where few have gone before.  Just as a sage would find the true reality of all things. Always leading the way. Knowing that the Tao is everywhere to be found by simply looking and understanding what is and finding one’s own standard within the oneness of virtue.

Eternity existing forever both before, now and yet to come. As you continually search for your place in the overall scheme of things. With a comfort known as something done repetitively, over and over again. A great sense of satisfaction that all becomes and is second nature.

Remain simply within the oneness of everything and pursue nothing beyond the ethereal as the reclusive sage. Complete with the knowledge  of the Tao and understanding what it means. Remember from where you have come. As we are here to remind you of where you will return with us. Everything is here within yourself to rediscover and relearn. Keep to the open road as the Perfected Man and know immortality can only follow. 4/12/94

Keeping to the open road, the ultimate challenge of the everyday or mundane world. As I proceed, it is in writing, speaking, and teaching others about the Tao and relying on scriptural teachings that are so essential. You must become it – before you can relay it to others – the essence of teaching. I love Liu Changsheng’s teachings on early Quanzhen, especially the commentary by Fan Yi in 1185AD. The thoughts below are what I aspire to do in my own writing:

“With his expansive aptitude and learning, he connects old and new. His heart/mind wanders between the Dao (Tao) and virtue. Thus, with broad-minded thinking he investigates what is essential, searching out the mysterious and making inquiries into the hidden. He puts his all into clear commentary and explanation. Providing simple understanding, he makes it easy to know and easy to practice. It is thus beneficial for all generations. It truly can be called an application of the heart-mind that is full of compassion and kindness for others”.

It is what connects what may be called Eastern Thought focusing on Taoist Cosmology and Buddhist inspired maps of consciousness that I find most intriguing. As well as the development of both the Quanzhen or Northern and Nanzong or Southern School of Taoism.  Going there, following commentaries in literature written over hundreds, even thousands of years, along with expressing the intricacies of the Tao, is where I hope to take my own “commentaries” over the next several months, perhaps years as well.

Stay tuned for Volume 2

By 1dandecarlo

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