Living in the state of wonder as a dragon among men. 

Following in the footsteps of Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu. Lao Tzu’s family is said to have come from an area of China where a grandson of the Yellow Emperor resided, representing the shaman’s beginnings. Lao Tzu’s given name was Li Erh referring to one with wisdom.

Today, June 6th, is a good day to celebrate with what is called the “strawberry moon” above us. 

Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching teaches us to live as if we are under a new moon, at Heaven’s Gate. The place of a new beginning. Someone starting on a trip – free to move in any direction as if across the sky. Universal in nature – empty yet inexhaustible. Never dying. Waxing and waning we follow phases of the moon never quite full of ourselves. We are to become like a beacon of light that shines but never blinds… immortal. 

We submit to the cycle of change. To the symbol of change, the I Ching, both light and darkness as we make something out of nothing, we string together images of our breath and spirit as we come and go. Leaving our minds to praise something we cannot name, much less imagine. We are to approach this by our virtue, our moral character. As the doorway we use as the power to act with what we are to cultivate. 

How did the ancients know to follow cycles of the moon and the seasons? They followed by charting the stars as they revolved around them creating a calendar to anticipate what would appear through the seasons. Within the stars were dragons.  Universal messages to live by. Over the centuries through observation this would become the I Ching and a study of light verses dark with the past always catching up with the present. Some would later call this karma. It begins with the differentiation of light and dark – the sun and moon.

They discovered that they were a part of the seasons as they changed just like all things found in nature, giving reasons to celebrate. Man, and women were not separate entities but were a part of what was to become known as the ten thousand things. The phases of the moon coinciding with natural phenomena and events. With this they were universal, not separate from what they found becoming a benchmark with responsibilities to both heaven and earth. 

This respect for all things found in nature and themselves would become known as a virtue. A manifestation that would become known as the Tao, or Way of Heaven and to live as though you have already arrived. In all things found in nature this way is what virtue contains and without virtue the Way would make no appearances or have no power.

Virtue was to be seen as the Tao at work. Action that requires no moral code beyond self. No self no other – with any action simply coming in and of itself we are to become one with nature, inheritors, cast off the stars above, and universe. This was to be called wu wei. We are to remember that life is what we pay attention to. Think about that for a moment; it is such a simple idea, but it is so true. It is both inspirational and empowering because it implies that we have it within our control to determine what our lives are like. How we create and live our highest aspirations as we learn to live by authenticity not authority. 

In referencing the I Ching we look to yin and yang – light and dark, cause and effect, and complimentary opposites.

The dark becoming the body, or essence of the Tao. or Way, and Te, the light, the function of spirit as virtue.

With this we see our origin is from Tao, our universal beginnings and as we live Te comes forth. The dark gives the light a place to shine. This light enables us to see and illuminate the dark. It becomes yin verses yang – light verses dark as they complement each other. 

Undeterred, people chasing the light hastens destruction, in contrast to choosing the dark where understanding less is more, following weakness instead of strength – inaction versus action. With this as our beacon, the light becomes us. This is what becomes the essence, or core, of Lao Tzu’s teachings of what was the be known as the Tao Te Ching. In China, Lao Tzu and Confucius became the spiritual heirs together.

With Lao emphasizing the yin and Confucius the yang aspects of the Way of Heaven we follow with the ancient axiom that you can’t shape the future without knowing your past. As if there is a river running through your soul. 

By 1dandecarlo

Perfecting, or developing traits of greatness and virtue

We sometimes get angry because we want everything to be perfect and nothing ever appears to be… least of all ourselves. As we look to perfection and to why we are here – the paradox we appear to live and die for. Why the writing of Inward Training has been like a clarion call through the ages. As we look to and become mentors who are here to show the way. As ancient scriptures and texts through the ages have tried to lay out, or give, the framework for us to follow. While we spend our time getting lost in manifestations of things of little or no eternal value instead of what provides comfort and takes us there. 

Why a great teacher must thoroughly know his or her subject with the understanding of absorbing and conveying both knowledge and wisdom. Showing the way has been the motive behind all great teachers through the ages. Seeing beyond ourselves we soon learn that we have many purposes while we are here.

Why the cycle of both teaching and learning is by its very nature a function of our own growth. Why knowing history becomes essential as it begins by expecting nothing but greatness from us. Acknowledging just as with us, that what is found as greatness in nature is what has taken centuries to perfect over time. 

How do we know what greatness is without believing and then seeing it from within ourselves? It is looking for perfection with the compassion previously mentioned, that remains so elusive. As our ego and what may be defined as humaneness gets in the way of virtue.

For some time, I have wanted to look for the right format or venue that can provide the benchmark, or starting point, which speaks to our highest endeavor. It is something I have had here on my website for several years entitled Nei-yeh – Inward Training. Asking where do seeds of greatness exist, if not from within ourselves. 

It’s twenty-six verses were written in China well over two thousand years ago as the companion piece or response to Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. With little accolades and attention, it is a precise fixture that serves as a starting place as we look to seeds of virtue that reside from within each of us. For many it may appear too simple for our modern-day 21st century way of living, but as Emerson and Thoreau in 18th century America taught us…  it’s not complicated. What is virtue but the barometer we use to measure our personal growth as demonstrated through our actions as if no one is watching and doing the right thing unconsciously, or anonymously. Just by being us. 

What can be the value of meditation if not acting as the benchmark reminding us of our past endeavors and steps we are to take in the present. Greatness in and of itself is not enough. Even attributes of genius are not enough – it takes courage to change minds. Especially our own. It is what is often seen as unimportant things that contribute to our greatness. We often confuse living with doing important things such as what changes we need to make that contribute to the lives of all living things found in nature. But it is the unimportant, or insignificant things, that often serve to define our motives that define the outcome. 

Approaching Inward Training is not a haphazard affair. Why Buddhist and Taoist monks and precepts would take years of preparation and study to first “clear and get their mind straight.”  Crossing over the stream.

A lifetime of understanding the value of nothing important against the benchmark of virtue. It’s letting go that makes us great as we look to the inner virtue that defines us. What caught my attention more than thirty years ago in a time of turmoil was Ram Das saying, “The person I am from nine to five is not who I am from five to nine.”

What segues together defines who we are meant to be as a person. But we must first condition our body, mind, and spirit, to go there. The hardest part is wanting to change who we think we are – to become who we are meant to be. It is like opening yourself to go somewhere different, and embracing the new when it comes. To go fearlessly with courage to what is yet undefined, but to embrace the new with passion.

It is simply a matter of “establishing the presence of mindfulness and having our daily routine and activities follow with greatness and virtue in tow”. 

The complete work of Inward Training is found here on my website at Please refer to at your leisure.  

By 1dandecarlo

What can be our role except to take others to places they otherwise may not go with compassion? 

Every person plays their own melody, we just must take time to listen. Perhaps what is needed is just a little fine-tuning along with freedom from fear. It has been said that there is no use getting old if you do not know everything, therefore remaining forever young. That whatever we intend, whatever we plan, and whatever we have a tendency toward, will become the basis on which our mind is established often from the most romanticized version of a story. The story that most people want to hear. 

If we can develop ourselves on compassion, any cruelty can be abandoned. For myself, this thought is the key to actively appreciating the world around us as we gain a thankful recognition for all living things. We sometimes equate this with Buddhism and Buddhist teachings, but this is universal in nature as we learn to temper our actions beyond ourselves. 

In my travels to China, I have visited more than a dozen Buddhist and Taoist temples, monasteries and national museums that have taught me to have a greater appreciation for the benefits of studying history and my own innermost thoughts. Living and teaching next to the Confucius Temple in Qufu for many years helped to gain insight as well.  

I have also travelled to Lhasa, Tibet in 2018 and visited several Buddhist monasteries and temples, taken hundreds of pictures and have learned to value the spiritual benefits of living a certain way of life. Do I consider myself a Buddhist, no, but a student of the value of inner growth that responds as inner-being, and acknowledgment that we each play a role in spreading compassion in our world. Just what is in meaning of “Compassionate feelings for all living things and how does that impact how we are to live.” Many will say Buddhism is not a religion, but a practice – a way of life. Having been to Lhasa and travelled on the ring (path) connecting the Potala Palace with Buddhist temples and monasteries, I would say it can be both.    

There is a universal intrinsic sense of gratitude and virtue found in communing with both nature and our fellow man when we learn to express compassion. Eastern philosophy has epitomized this teaching and understanding.

First, in Taoism and then in Buddhism. Ideas of we are one with all things found in nature became the benchmark with how we are to go about living. When Confucianism came along more than twenty-five hundred years ago conveying benevolence and virtue it became the glue expressed as filial propriety directed towards behavior for oneself, one’s family, and community.  

Even to the ancient truism expressed as “To be born a Taoist, live as a Confucian, and to die a Buddhist, is the ultimate expression of one’s life.”   

For someone who follows another religious philosophy, it’s good to remember that there was over four thousand years of history before Christianity was introduced that stayed in China.

The Silk Road served to introduce new thoughts, but the intrinsic value of self-knowledge (Taoism) and pre-disposition towards the universality of all things (Buddhism) gave the ancient Chinese wisdom to understand how man and nature were one (the virtue of Confucius).  Our history tells us to take a far-sighted view as we acknowledge the interconnectivity of all things. 

From the Dalai Lama… “I belong to the twentieth century, an era that is past. I want to share with those of you who are young, if you start to collect the causes now, you will live to see a happier more peaceful world.

Philosophers and yogis from the East believed in the power of correct speech, therefore, they derived the mantras. The same story is true in the case of the well-known Tibetan Buddhist Mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. The stone inscription is found in Llasa outside the Potala Palace.

The Dalai Lama continues: Do not be content with the present circumstances, take a more far-sighted view. When the heart is closed, it leads to fear, stress, and anger. Nurturing the idea of the oneness of humanity has the effect of opening the heart. When you think of all other human beings as your brothers and sisters it’s easy to communicate with them all.” 

Buddhist wisdom has much to offer in these times of planetary crisis—most notably the teachings of compassion and interdependence. The Buddha taught that all of life is interdependent, arising from the same source and empty of a separate existence. The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh called this the truth of “interbeing”, describing our essential interconnectivity with all of life, including plants, animals, and the rest of the natural world. Vibrations in which our own melody is to play in harmony and in sync with a universal chorus. 

By 1dandecarlo

Quantum Entanglement… how we communicate with others through space and time 

What is the conscious connection we share with others in nature that serves to shape what we think of as consciousness? Even going a step further to what may be called as having an “enlightenment experience”.  

Is there a universal flow of energy, a cosmic symmetry, we can tap into that helps to shape our thoughts? Enmeshed together are not we all one… or even better said just one big happy family that defines the nature of all things? And importantly, who are we speaking to or with that may not actually be present? Far-fetched yes, intuitive, but little do we know for sure, except to say that there is a fundamental unity in all things to which I have already spoken. Science tells us we are there. 

Leading to the question asking, “who we really are”? Does life and death really matter once we can see beyond the linear present to where our consciousness, i.e., our spirit leads or takes us?  

If we are truly universal is our heart/mind just sub-atomic particles looking for a home with ego simply a temporary illusion? Just who is our “immediate family” beyond definitions of relations? Questions we seldom encounter beyond the theoretical as we ask, “what can it matter” and what difference can it make in my present life?              

Where do my true attachments lie just waiting to be revealed and why should I care? But then, yes, eternal connections and all life matters, including my own.

We often hear the phrase when someone dies that they are going home, or heaven, to be with other departed family members. Why just them, why not to re-join those who we have always known or have been connected to, and still are… not simply evading reality but absorbing it. 

If we can step outside of what we accept as our given state of understanding for a moment, suppose we are connected to all things found in nature and there is no separation between you, me, and others, and all life, everything as a continuum. That we are to re-discover the flow of vibrations that suits us and go there.

With family only a construct devised out of communal necessity. Not only are we to nurture and support immediate family – but our universal family, i.e., all things found in nature intertwined for the common good and welfare.  

Quantum entanglement, what is it really beyond the theoretical? What is theory except what we think may be true but is yet unproven with what we consider to be true, but we are not sure just yet. It is like peeking into the unknown… but remaining unsure if we want to go there because it challenges who we think we are and we are comfortable with where we are just now, and do not want to change what we think we know as the reality in which we live.

What is religion and philosophy, except accepted tenets of the best way to seek and see universal truths and to live accordingly? Our best attempts to reconcile between the two. Finding a connection with these universal truths and the best way to adhere with nature as we go there. Finding ways of expressing consciousness has always been the premise of storytellers through history and who we have been speaking for and to and being able to tell the story. And it is not seeing is believing, but just the opposite – believing it to be true, you must believe in something to see it. Not with your eyes but with your heart.

My personal favorite is to study Indigenous peoples across the globe and the stories told over the centuries. To what and who the storyteller was following and the timeline of events. How legends and myths developed randomly, but universally, following a central or common thread of truth that makes everything real to the listener. Taking others beyond what they think to be true and being able to say from within – yes, ” Now I’ll know it when I see it”. 

Importantly defining who we are and where our history has taken us thus far that gives us identity, and how we are to add to this for future generations.

Teaching that all things found in nature are one and that there is no separation between man, nature, and all things. Similarities much greater than differences that serve as reminders of our and their innate divine beginnings as we travel from one voice to the next for millennia. While making our way into the next world less final with stories yet to be written and told…

Quantum means the “smallest part” of a thing, and the term is popular thanks to quantum mechanics, a field of physics that seeks to understand the nature and behavior of particles at the subatomic level, behaviors that often are not explained by the laws of classic physics. Many of these ideas are only theoretical or are judged by probability and predictions rather than simply observation.  

Quantum entanglement is the behavior that has been noted by these sub-atomic particles that sometimes seem to react in concert or seem connected, even with the ability to span time and space. Reassuring us that matter/spirit never dies.

This suggests that these particles could in effect become immortal throughout the universe as they in turn respond to certain vibrations that occur in nature (us and all living things). Some scientists think this entanglement even explains the great mystery of human consciousness. 

Quantum entanglement suggests that acting on a particle here, can instantly influence a particle far away without the constraint of time. This is often described as theoretical teleportation.

Like hearing someone’s thoughts over time even though they might be hundreds, or thousands of miles away. Even taking thoughts beyond the time in which they occurred to someplace new as we too look to becoming immortal in another place and time. 

By 1dandecarlo

Mastering the art of Wu Wei as we live in the spontaneity of Zen 

What comes to us is not for us to decide. Only what we do when it does with the time that is given us. There are forces we learn to follow or avoid; all we must do is what is given to us. As we acknowledge the paradox found with inward training guided by the universe verses living in the world with others present.  

If we contemplate what this may mean, then where do our imagination and thoughts pull or take us? What can it mean if we do not release our ego along the way.

Looking inward to the stars and to the horizon we go where our beginnings lie for answers we have always known. Defining for ourselves what it means becomes almost mystical. This universal continuum we awaken to shows the way forward as simple virtue that speaks to us. Why returning to nature serves to clear away the clutter so we can act without thought, with spontaneity. Spontaneity that becomes us as if inward meditation that expresses our universal appeal. 

To do without thinking and to act with virtue without concern for the outcome. A purposeless Zen experience with recognizable conclusions acting on a premise as though everything is the Tao.  

Consequences that may be applied to any conceivable human activity that leads to a certain quality of life, eliminating what is blocking us and going ahead without hesitation.

For more in-depth study I recommend reading Alan Watts – The Way of Zen. We read as though we are on a journey opening doors to wisdom and understanding ourselves. We ask what opens the door to greater understanding of the true meaning of our journey, when friends we encounter along the way are ready to assist in taking us there. Watts is someone who readily acts as a guide through his writing.  

There is an ancient term in China that refers to wu wei as the way to live. The answer lies in what takes us there when our mind, body and spirit are free as both internal and external are blended into unity. 

We find this wu wei when we follow our inherent, for lack of a better word, self, and go where it takes us. When we identify with the needs of all things found in nature, not simply ourselves. How we often arrive at decisions spontaneously and know we must lose attachments that clutter or act as a crutch to the universal flow of spirit. We learn to only listen and follow what contributes to what is eternal where we do no harm to ourselves or others as we embrace both compassion and sincerity.

For each of us, there is a decision to make. What is it we do when we have a choice to make? Do we do those things that clear our minds as if we are following a master plan, or road map, which will take us there without needing one. Do we stop along the way at places that distract us from our destination, like watching the TV show Wheel of Fortune, or do we keep going to the place beyond the horizon?

In the end, most are happy to be lost along the wayside, with only a few willing to look beyond the present and go there, or the wheel of the sutra that gives us eternal guidance. It no longer becomes necessary to concern yourself with the next step, because you’ve already taken it. 

The key is to act as if you are living beyond the present as you have arrived. Being present means you have assessed what is here to take with you in a selfless matter, versus what you leave behind as a teacher for others. I have even heard it expressed that we should “fake it until we make it” (a phrase that has multiple meanings) as our mind takes on its own natural inclination. Taking the next step learning that “it’s not where we are, but who we are” that matters. As we know where the outcome will take us, the only thing in question is the time of our arrival. With some simply coming home for return engagements. 

Why the focus on living in wu wei becomes important. This idea of self-introspection becomes essential to our growth and not becoming too caught up in the present verses appreciating our eternal presence along the way. As a student of the Tao (referred to by many as the Dao), it helps to demystify and impersonalize the meaning of virtue.  

That all things found in nature are sacred. Why do we keep returning to those things that take us there with the belief and hope that upon seeing them we too may acknowledge our own sacredness as well. 

Why Eastern thought and philosophy are so homogeneous, looking to both Buddhism and Taoism like a prism that allows many looks and angles to follow all leading back to one source.

The path, or way, is not difficult once you can see yourself both in, and as the light. It is here that the way becomes clear, and we can begin to see that it is not only for us to decide. Often, we must be shown the way out of the darkness that resides within us, by and through the light that resides there as well. It is when our light catches the reflection of that which is eternal, often from a kindred spirit, we will choose to follow. 

So, we set the stage for our next encounter not knowing when it will arrive, only living in the meantime beyond the present. When someone asks what it means to live in the present, it means you are ready when the right outcome arrives. 

By 1dandecarlo

In life we narrate our own story as we embrace divine order 

It is as if we are storytellers of where we have been and who we are yet to become. We live an on-going saga as we imprint ourselves on others and all we touch with memories and an eternal presence. We live in a theatre watching the story of our lives with others present as they tell their own stories as well. Thier take on events similar but much different than our own.  

On the theatre’s big screen, we tell of successes and loss, trials, and tribulations, detailing both what we have seen and done as both good and bad reflecting bridges we have crossed both real and imagined. 

Seated in the theatre next to you is your father and mother who have watched and tried to support you over the years. Next, a former teacher who has watched your life with some sense of pride, and disappointment who knows of your untapped abilities, and finally friends you have always known. All watching the story of your life, but seeing an entirely different movie with certain expectations, verses seeing how things turned out. 

We ask ourselves; have we been grounded by gazing into the resonance known as quantum physics, beyond simply cause and effect, as we relearn the benefits of virtue? To look to sacred texts and oral traditions of native Indigenous cultures, of the shaman and storyteller who have kept universal truth alive and passed this divine attribute down to us.  

Looking back, we can say that it was not just family or friends, but teachers who helped to meld or frame who we are to become through the sacredness of our thoughts and actions.

   And as with any movie, have we been concerned with the salability to our audience and who may be watching in history? Are there flashbacks to past events, or can we even fast-forward to anticipated outcomes? Are we in turn watching ourselves as if ninety feet in the air? And most importantly, does the part we are here to play have any real significance in the lives of others? Are we a part of all the characters that ever played with an open-ended finish with words and music saying and saving our immortal soul. 

These are not simply random thoughts, but a collective vision that permeates everything found in nature and the cosmos. Following up from my last entry, we can ask what our task is that helps to unify our purpose with divine order intact.  

Do we have a sense of direction as the vehicle to further our ultimate sense of selfless ego and are we ready for the ride? And more importantly, what have we imparted as teachers along the way and what have we learned as well?

I see many changes occurring now in early March in my garden as Spring approaches. Annuals from last year that will not return, and perennials, some of which will return, and others that won‘t.  

Nature is always in the process of change, both reconstructing and deconstructing at the same time, which reminds us of both impermanence and resiliency. 

In the past before retiring in my professional life I was a city planner focusing on neighborhood revitalization and master plans, and later teaching English in China, I always tried to focus on teaching what people could do for themselves that would sustain both minds and communities. Tearing down impediments to our understanding of sustainability, and how we are sustained as individuals and collectively. 

I often think about the bodhisattva vow and Maitreya Buddha [the future incarnation of the Buddha on Earth]. Maitreya Buddha can be seen as the ground of our reconstruction, and represents a just society at the individual, communal, institutional, and global level.

What we are to base our own decisions on? Except to vibrations employing the four qualities of a just society embodied as lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.  

We should remember that every human personality has shortcomings. If we are engaged in observing the imperfections of others, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities of learning from them. I find meditating on this principle helps to see them in a different light and asking what theatre we are in, and what movies we are watching. That we all have a spark of goodness, of what is called Buddhahood, or bodhicitta. That when we concentrate on the faults of others, we deprive ourselves of the light emitting from them.     

And by equanimity, I do not mean accepting anything. For myself, equanimity means divine order and profound stability. Equanimity comes from an open heart, open mind, and a clear direction of energy toward enhancing the direct trajectory of history from which we came and to which we will return.

By 1dandecarlo