It is always said that when the source is clear and the current is still that you can find your way. When your foundation is stable you can embrace the circulation of pure energy, or your qi as described in the last entry. It becomes what we fill ourselves with – then empty to our environment that defines us. It’s what Confucius called benevolence and virtue. Heaven and earth are to be seen as the origin of benefit and harm, just as we know that the yin and yang of I Ching are the essential forces behind all that moves in the universe.
Picture of the ancient lynx at the Confucius Family Mansion in Qufu. A lynx is a symbol of silence, balance, observation, second sight, patience, honesty, shyness, caution, intuition, solitude, poise, wisdom, loyalty, comfort, and playfulness. The wild animal as a totem guide encourages you to be flexible and cheerful while carrying out your day to day routine.
We begin by creating structure and the discipline to follow it into the future. To build on – as a roadmap for scripture study and reading writings of the past, the commentaries, the thoughts and directions of the ancients. Staying true to where they take us. While we get to choose our own path. Eastern philosophy seems to be my own guiding directive, with the writings of the West – Plato, Kant, Emerson, and others like a tuning fork, whose vibrations center my thoughts and writing as well. It’s staying true with Taoist thought that keeps me centered though. It’s a liturgy and confluence with scripture with hopes that my own writing and subsequent actions will suffice as an adequate commentary.
As stated before, we are here to instill a new take, a new version that carries our heart-mind forward to new places that will serve to benefit both nature and humanity. That if we want to inspire others, we must remain above what living brings each day.
Writing for me is in many ways spiritual training following many paths and finding/rediscovering, coming in tune with, the flow that is ever-present. Re-establishing and connecting with the stream of consciousness our spirit has always known. For me, this is the best unkept secret that lies out in the open for all to see. This flow of energy… vibrations of universal love we run from in order for our ego… the who we think we are… that define us. We are constantly confronted by people and situations placed before us to aide in finding and refining our spirit. What may be called numinosity, as if to choose unified clarity.
Monet’s Artist Garden at Giverney
This is heaven’s gift and when we are ready for serenity, we see this in the unity of nature’s abundance. It is here that the Tao becomes pervasive and we begin to transform into what Emerson coined as transcendence, or transcendentalism. To where our imagination can take us when we see with our heart and mind’s eye.
What Gandhi saw as non-violence to gain a greater purpose beyond simply oneself. Emerson could see how nature resonates with the universe. Seeing beyond what is known. And just as importantly, how our inner nature defines us and the cosmos – how we are all one with it. That we are all one.
Emerson did not act in a vacuum entering the flow of thought that preceded him. It was finding perfection found in nature and embodying the truism that there can be no separation. He was a true mystic and became immortal due to the transcendence he mirrored and epitomized. He knew that when we can see it, we should say it and to study the way of enlightenment is to study ourselves. To in effect to forget the self, who we are in the material world. To forget the self is to become actualized by the myriad things, or as the ancient Chinese believed that we are simply one of the ten thousand things.
Among those that Emerson studied were Plato, Tolstoy, and Lao Tzu. Later it was Emerson’s writings that inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and more recently John Lewis. All knew that we must become a benchmark for others to follow. That we must become focused and embody this suchness, a spontaneity, as if attuned to and with nature and the mysterious Dao, or Devine Origin. Continually refining our spirit and emerging with a universal presence that mirrored the oneness of Dao – that space above both heaven and earth. It is through the transformation of our spirit we enter the universal presence that we seek that accords us with the flow of divine law. That what we lack is the discipline to go there. The key is remembering who you are and from where you came.
It is when we brush up against our true ancestors, we find ourselves in paradox with distractions found in the present. When we acknowledge the emptiness needed to enter the flow of our ultimate endeavor and aspiration where clarity and stillness reside, we are changed. We are no longer the person we thought we once were as we become the teacher for just ourselves. This becomes the ultimate paradox, or self-contradictory proposition, that aligning with the transforming of our innate spirit takes us. When we can say we are in the mundane world – but not of the mundane world. We are in the world – but not of the world so to speak as we remain steadfast with the Dao.
For many, finding this balance is the true essence of understanding the parallels of the I Ching – the yin and yang that resides in both us and all things that nature provides that will make us universal. This is our ultimate choice. In almost all religious teachings there comes a time when your spirit rises above the here and now to a place of higher purpose. Our challenge is made more difficult by the attachments we cling to.
Some people go through their entire lives not knowing who they are, where they have been, or where they are going.
Book of Rites Qingyang Taoist Temple
You are fortunate. You have a chance to see to know to understand where you are from, why you are here, and where you are going. To know who you are, who you have been, and you will be along the way. However, you must know that to know is not to know, and to have is not to have.
To see is not to be, and who you will be is not to see.
For whatever is useful by the world’s standards cannot be useful in finding the Tao. It is the eternal nature of the Tao and Te (the way of virtue) that is to be found. Reality becomes, is and will be the chance endeavor to find the Tao. 1/15/1994 (From the Preface of my first book – An American journey though the I Ching and beyond).
This is no different from the challenge those closely adhering to the Tao, or Buddhism face. For many following Buddhism, the admonition to “take the Bodhisattva vow” becomes the way to transcend personal wants and desires to become who we are in a much more universal arena.
The Bodhisattva vow is the vow taken by Mahayana Buddhists to liberate all sentient beings. One who has taken the vow is nominally known as a Bodhisattva. This can be done by venerating all Buddhas and by cultivating supreme moral and spiritual perfection, to be placed in the service of others. In particular, Bodhisattvas promise to practice the six perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom in order to fulfill their bodhicitta aim of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings.
Prayer wheels at the Buddhist Luohan Temple in Chongching. Each prayer wheel contains a Buddhist sutra (or prayer). Spinning the wheel is said to release the sutra for the benefit of the one doing the spinning.
It is this being placed in the service of others that we find attachments that seem to make our decisions for us. Discernment can lead us to become self-centered verses seeing the need to help others to find their own path. You don’t necessarily have to be a Buddhist or Daoist to see and feel this way.
It begins with an enlightened presence and compassion for all beings. This becomes the paradox of those entering the universal flow of energy when we see ourselves above the mundane world and wish to take others there too.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian for whom the bells tolls…
Do we stay above the mundane word as a singular effort of our highest endeavor and ultimate destiny, or are we now empowered by this higher source to take others there as well? This is the ultimate paradox that history teaches us that man has struggled with for millennia. It’s like an ancestral mystery with the universe attempting to bring us in alignment with who we are supposed to be. It is for this reason we follow the ultimate source, the mysterious Dao. What some may refer to as God. It is what Lao Tzu calls the great Dao that is without form and brings forth both heaven and earth.
Daoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my first entry here, I make reference to 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 was written more than two thousand years ago. It can be found here on my website. The next two chapters, chapters three and four, of twenty-four are as follows:
Nei-yeh — Inward Training
All the forms of the mind are naturally infused and filled with it [the vital essence], are naturally generated and developed [because of] it.
It is lost
inevitably because of sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire, and profit-seeking.
If you are able to cast off sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire and profit-seeking,
your mind will just revert to equanimity.
The true condition of the mind
is that it finds calmness beneficial and, by it, attains repose.
Do not disturb it, do not disrupt it
and harmony will naturally develop.
Clear! as though right by your side.
Vague! as though it will not be attained.
Indescribable! as though beyond the limitless.
The test of this is not far off: daily we make use of its inner power.
I Ching – Qingyang Taoist Temple – Chengdu
The Way is what infuses the body,
yet people are unable to fix it in place.
It goes forth but does not return,
it comes back but does not stay.
Silent! none can hear its sound.
Suddenly stopping! it abides within the mind.
Obscure! we do not see its form.
Surging forth! it arises with us.
We do not see its form,
we do not hear its sound,
Yet we can perceive an order to its accomplishments.
We call it “the Way.”
It’s how we internalize and become in tune with the path we are to follow that determines our fate. Finally, from my own version… a commentary of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching entitled “Thoughts on becoming a Sage”, written in May 2000 and published in China in 2006. The book is found here on my website.
Verse 21 – Forever replenishing our virtue
What is this thing called virtue and value placed on emptiness and how can they be so inter-related?
Remaining hidden from view Confucius Temple in Qufu
That virtue cannot be found unless we are willing to remain empty, that the Tao remains hidden from view except as virtue found through emptiness. Following the Tao, we are continually subject to change and are redefined as our virtue waxes and wanes.
As if guided by the phases of the moon I find structure through tending my garden just as Shen-ming, the divine husbandman, who discovered agriculture along with the healing properties of plants and a calendar to be followed by the sages of long ago. Could it be that virtue is the manifestation of the Tao, or Way, that should guide us? That the Way is what virtue contains and without it could have no meaning or power. That without virtue, the Way would have no appearance or ability to come forward.
Replenishing our virtue Confucius Temple in Qufu
Taking no form, the Tao takes expression only when it changes into virtue. It is when the sage truly mirrors the Tao that virtue can be given an opportunity to manifest and grow and the natural course, or scheme of things, becomes apparent for all to see.
The Tao by itself neither existing or not existing. As if coming and going as the essence of one’s heart and soul – simply by maintaining its presence as… virtue. Everything in the universe held accountable to the Tao. Continually changing – with our identity the first to go. What was once true becomes false and what was once false slips into becoming true. It is only our essence expressed as virtue that is kept and continually replenished by the Tao.
Longevity and Virtue Completed – Confucius Mansion in Qufu