Opening doors while staying behind / Volume 9

The people of the world do not comprehend the way of the sage. Standing apart from others, he is often seen as an enigma, a person of puzzling or contradictory character. Always present, yet at times appearing as if the harvest moon in autumn fading away in the brightness of the coming winter sun. An equilibrium of yin and yang seemingly indifferent to events found in the mundane world.

Often alone with his thoughts, the sage appears to be studying the ways of virtue, almost translucent beyond reach. For a presence felt internally – to be found present looking to transformation while having compassion for sentient life. He speaks and acts as virtue as if the pivot, as the Tao.

It seems that everything in nature must go through a seemingly endless pivot – including us. Only constant as birth, finding our way as living intended, then death. As if our spirit has been given a chance to take stock of whatever progress we have made this time before given a chance to try again. Changing to meet the pull of the sun, moon, and stars as nature intended that define and guide our way. With impermanence and alternation, one step always leading to the next comforted by the change that we know must occur.

The “Blast Furnace” atop Fillial Son Peak on Huashan Mountain where Lao Tzu is said to have created the pill of immortality. Huashan was also an important place for immortality seekers, as many herbal Chinese medicines are grown and powerful drugs were reputed to be found there. Kou Qianzhi (365–448), the founder of the Northern Celestial Master School of Taoism received revelations there, as did Chen Tuan (920–989), who spent the last part of his life in hermitage here on the west peak. Ultimately, what Lao Tzu taught us was that the “pill of immortality resides within us”. The “blast furnace” is our internal nature acknowledging our eternal role we are to play.

As we will forever be in the process of becoming something else. The Taoist believes that the innate nature of heaven is best seen as ourselves, our humanity. We’re not going someplace that already resides as grace within us now. That our heart-mind becomes the pivot through and by our wisdom.

I think this idea of “eternal wisdom” is how Taoism and Buddhism came together as Zen as Alan Watts taught us.

That all things found in nature – all sentient beings everywhere (the ten thousand things) originally, from their beginning, possess the buddha nature. That nature exists eternally and is without change, meaning you cannot lose it, only not recognize as innate nature you have always possessed. The Buddha died just as Lao Tzu. However, both continue to this day as the flow of eternal life (as reflected in a never-ending circle) as the source of wisdom relayed through us continues. This “flow” is what sustains our spirit from one generation to another. Moving forward as a life well lived.

It is by stabilizing ourselves with nature we move beyond the mundane to become who we are meant to be in the present. Every day we go through a transformation defining who we are yet to become. It is why accepting the status quo is never an option for the sage, because nothing seen as done ever is meant to be finished. The continuum of life and nature is never-ending and changes as everything else is changing as well. There is nothing to agree or disagree with… only our acknowledgement of what role we are here or hope to play.

It is as Elton John sings in “The Circle of Life”.

In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
‘Til we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life

Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars.

It is said that the Tao is not hard to know, but difficult to follow. For many who would follow Confucius, they would say, “The Tao is what we can never leave. If we can leave it, it isn’t the Tao”. Disney had another hit on their hands the following year with the movie Pocahontas, and once again, they made reference to the circle of life in the movie’s theme song, “Colors Of The Wind”, as the heroine sings, “we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends.” The song was inspired by Native American poetry, music and folklore, as well as a famous letter sent to the United States Congress by Chief Seattle, a Suquamish and Duwamish chief, regarding humanity’s relationship with nature.

Part of the letter reads: “The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So, if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.”

This idea runs through all native Indigenous people, that everything is connected with and to us through its inherent nature. It is the circle of life coming to us as the immortal Way taking care of the spirit without effort that brings peace to the world as virtue. Often appearing as our highest good like water not necessarily to compete, but to transform.

A famous writer in Chinese history, Wang Pi, once said “From the infinitesimal all things develop. From nothing all things are born. When we are free of desire, we can see the infinitesimal where things begin. When we are subject to desire, we can see where things end.”

As philosophy goes, I like to follow Wang Pi’s idea of Confucian ethics and Taoist metaphysics. Looking at the Taoist absolute, or ontological substratum of the universe (the tao), as the metaphysical basis of Confucian social organization, with a single ruler and a hierarchical society harmoniously cooperating according to ritual and the traditional Confucian virtues. This idea was re-enforced on numerous occasions as I traveled around Shandong Province visiting the villages of my students where they lived in the countryside while teaching at Jining University in Qufu in 2011 – 2013.

An underlying premise of Taoism is that “Those who practice the Way put an end to distinctions, get rid of both name and form, and make for themselves a home for the Way and virtue.” To what remains constant as the heart-mind and connects us with all things. As with what is known as Zen, it becomes the naturalization of our spontaneous, original self.

The Tao Te Ching makes use of some very famous analogies to drive home its point. Sages know the value of emptiness as illustrated by how it is used in a bowl, door, window, valley or canyon, as seen in Verses 11 and 41:

 Verse 11 – Opening Doors while Staying Behind

 Remaining empty to become full.  Knowing your place is to put all the cards on the table so that the proper path becomes obvious for all to see. Becoming simply the vessel from which all that represents virtue is known, endured and followed as the way by all.

The Calling    Buddhist Temple in Chongqing

Reminded as our breath ebbs and flows we become full by remaining empty as our mind and thoughts remain the catalyst for change and enlightenment. Our usefulness only determined by the emptiness that fills us. Employing nothing to gain advantage that would allow ego to stand in the way.

As you seek only virtue and leave only vestiges of yourself behind. Your role is to open doors for others as you nurture and prepare them to walk through.

Giving birth to virtue and letting it grow. Nourishing what comes forth without claiming to own them. Remaining as the hub of a wheel… constant, reliable and still, yet ever-present and nonexistent. ##

Bianzhong Bells – Zengzi Temple in Jiaxiang, Shandong. Zengzi was said to have composed and/or edited the Classic of Filial Piety under the direction of Confucius. He was also associated with transmission of the Great Learning. My daughter Katie and I visited the Zengzi Temple in 2012 with some of my students. I also taught and lived next to the Qufu Normal School in Qufu. The school was originally for the descendants of the “four families” who were responsible for continuing Confucian traditions and legacy. One of those families was Zengzi’s. The other three families were the descendants of Confucius, Yan Hui (Zhu Xi), and Mencius.

To the left is the Temple of Yan Hui. It was a few blocks down the street on Gulou Street where I lived past the drum tower.  

This idea of remaining like a hub on a wheel empty while the spokes all converge on it is as if they cannot do what is intended without the hub’s direction. Seeing beyond oneself, as if non-existent, becomes emblematic of stabilizing the way forward. Realizing the principles of the universal Tao are the same as the Way of Heaven both steadies and sustains all in nature.  Practicing the Tao, finding the middle way, we become one with the presence we are here to build on.

Tao Te Ching      Verse 41 – Contending for the Middle

How is it that some can hear of the correct way and follow it with devotion, while others when hearing of it are content to argue whether it is real or not?

Luohan Buddhist Temple  Chongqing

And still others cannot seem to keep from laughing at such folly. However, if the latter did not laugh it wouldn’t be the way.

For contentment to find its middle both extremes must be shown.  The brightest path to some seems dark, the quickest path seems slow.

The smoothest path remains rough. The highest virtue low. The whitest white seems pitch black. The greatest virtue wanting while the staunchest virtue timid.  The truest truth remains uncertain. The perfect square will seem to lack corners as the perfect tool remains idle and does nothing. The perfect sound is hushed and quiet, as the perfect form remains shapeless.

Luohan Buddhist Temple  Chongqing

It is through these opposites that the two sides of everything become clear.

Once clear, the Tao remains hidden from view, except to those who can truly see. Remaining hidden from view himself, the sage can easily find beginnings and endings and know when to start and how to finish as he already knows having seen both sides many times before.

Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries 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 seventeen and eighteen of twenty-six are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Seventeen

For all [to practice] this Way:

Becoming Translucent

you must coil, you must contract,
you must uncoil, you must expand,
you must be firm, you must be regular [in this practice].
Hold fast to this excellent [practice]; do not let go of it.
Chase away the excessive; abandon the trivial.
And when you reach its ultimate limit
you will return to the Way and the inner power.

Eighteen

When there is a mind that is unimpaired within you,
it cannot be hidden.
It will be known in your countenance,
and seen in your skin color.

The Procession – Sichuan Museum

If with this good flow of vital energy you encounter others,
they will be kinder to you than your own brethren.
But if with a bad flow of vital energy you encounter others,
they will harm you with their weapons.
This is because the wordless pronouncement is more rapid than the drumming of thunder.
The perceptible form of the mind’s vital energy
is brighter than the sun and moon,
and more apparent than the concern of parents.
Rewards are not sufficient to encourage the good;
punishments are not sufficient to discourage the bad.
Yet once this flow of vital energy is achieved,
all under heaven will submit.
And once the mind is made stable,
all under heaven will listen.

All this becomes transcending the world of nature and society, what we see and hear, to combining intuitive wisdom and practical knowledge with contemplation and social action. The role of the sage has always been to affect and influence the listener. To bring them to a universal understanding often as the storyteller with suggestive images so that you can see things for yourself as well. Often writing and speaking as the storyteller bringing others to an indefinable reality, they must look to their own “blast furnace” – to within themselves to find.  

By 1dandecarlo

Passing the baton and test / Volume 8

Sharing the process of discovery. Putting your hand out and asking others to come on the journey with you. Allowing others to cross over the line and come into what you are writing.

Garden of the Tàipíng Heavenly Kingdom Historical Museum in Nanjing

 Making what you write more available, so that others may follow. Sharing your vision and letting another’s eyes see it. Giving the reader space to see themselves, thereby creating their own.

Becoming universal and making others say: “Yes ‑ me too!”    1/7/1995

Mindfulness –How are we to meditate so that our silence is but a true mirror of ourselves? Begin by letting thoughts and the writings of others pass directly through us without thinking about our previous thoughts and emotional attachments. See yourself as the conduit for/of universal teachings and spirit as time becomes irrelevant as connecting with these vibrations are what define us in eternity. It’s identifying with how and who we are, and yet to become.

 “I teach because you and all beings want to have happiness and want to avoid suffering. I teach the way things are and that you should be your own guiding light.” The Buddha

 It’s what Plato, Emerson, Buddha, Confucius, etc., knew connecting us through nature with our essential selves knowing that the atoms that define us have always been present. As we become the continuum, or conduit, for who we have always been. Meditate on that… and what will be our own highest endeavor going forward. Loving ourselves as we are merely a reflection of the sun, moon, and stars as our own guiding light that mirrors and brings us into harmony with the universe.

For myself, it’s just to think as Lieh as if at home with simplicity, to speak with insight and freedom as Chuang, and to act with universal wisdom as Lao Tzu. What more could there ever be as my writing continues their story.

From the Tao Te Ching – The sage settles himself, and knows how to be content.

Verse 46   Prevailing Contentment

How can we live within what the Tao teaches us, if we are never content with what the world brings to our doorstep and why should it matter? If we are busy cultivating things instead of ourselves, how can we find our true place in the ten thousand things? What can the seeds of contentment bring unless controlling our desires comes to the forefront and contentment decides to stay?  If we do not remain still, how will we know when the way comes to find us?

Cultivating the Tao through meditation, thought, appearance, action and deed is the key to the sage’s security. By not seeking things outside himself, he becomes an extension of the Tao. He is internally guided by the knowledge that no crime is worse than yielding to our desire, no wrong is greater than discontent and no curse greater than getting what you want when you are unprepared for the consequences.

Before showing the way, the sage must truly know contentment and remain confident with what the Tao teaches and exude that confidence by showing the contentment of being content.  When he can do this, others can see the folly of what external desires bring and can begin to find contentment for themselves.

Finding that the Tao has come full circle and begun to prevail in the world, the sage can be on his way. ##

The three above landscapes are from the Chongqing Museum. If I become published in the future, appropriate credits will be given. If only for my enjoyment just acknowledging where all photographs originate is enough.

It always comes back to what we are doing to emulate “the Virtue of Heaven” and acknowledging that there is no separate self.

The Bodhi Tree or Bodhi Fig Tree (“tree of awakening”) was a large and ancient sacred fig tree located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher who became known as the Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment or Bodhi circa 500 BCE. 

While Buddhism and Taoism always seems inseparatable (for me anyway), Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries 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 fifteen and sixteen of twenty-six are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Fifteen

For those who preserve and naturally generate vital essence
on the outside a calmness will flourish.

Pre-historic Dragon / Wuhan Temple

Stored inside, we take it to be the well-spring.
Flood like, it harmonizes and equalizes and we take it to be the fount of the vital energy.
When the fount is not dried up,
the four limbs are firm.
When the spring is not drained,
Vital energy freely circulates through the nine apertures.
You can then exhaust the heavens and the earth
and spread over the four seas.
When you have no delusions within you,
externally there will be no disasters.
Those who keep their minds unimpaired within,
externally keep their bodies unimpaired.
Who do not encounter heavenly disasters
or meet with harm at the hands of others,
call them Sages.

Sixteen

The Winding Path

If people can be aligned and tranquil,
their skin will be ample and smooth.
Their eyes and ears will be acute and clear,
their muscles will be supple and their bones will be strong,
they will then be able to hold up the Great Circle [of the heavens]
and tread firmly over the Great Square [of the earth].

They will mirror things with great purity
and they will perceive things with great clarity.
Reverently be aware [of the Way] and do not waver,
and you will daily renew your inner power.
Thoroughly understand all under the heavens,
and exhaust everything within the Four Directions.
To reverently bring forth the effulgence [of the Way]:
This is called “inward attainment.”
If you do this but fail to return to it,
this will cause a wavering in your vitality.

What does it mean to see beyond oneself knowing time is best spent with old friends made in eternity? Moving beyond what may be considered or seen as superficial – to great purity and great clarity as described above.

Life becomes a transformative process as you proceed assisting others in having compassion for all sentient beings as illustrated by your everyday thoughts and actions. You try not to take yourself too seriously. But at some point, you must acknowledge that there is something to all this. To what others may see as simply a vivid imagination. Or even as The Buddha tells us that with life as simply a continuum… there is never a last word.

Perhaps it is to awaken others through your writing from worldly dreams and perceptions by resonating with the way of nature and virtue, while internally following the Tao and Buddha.

For myself, this transformation becomes my own highest endeavor. To be blessed with finding comfort now in doing so moving all further to new heights. When I first began writing it seems I was admonished to “Keep to the lower clouds”.

Now twenty-five years later – after much study, and almost fifty trips to China and living there the equivalent of over eight years… I sense that I have earned my keep. Chuang Tzu laughs at the thought I would feel the need to do so and reminds me of something I wrote years ago from my book in April 1994, “An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond”, as I wrote of things yet to come.

As 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.

Xian Old City

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.

    Xian Old City

Remain simply within the oneness of everything and pursue nothing 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. 4/12/1994

Then something the following year from “My travels with Lieh Tzu”…

Chapter One – Heaven’s Gift

Introduction…    Becoming Sanctified

Traveling as one with the wind you become sanctified as one with Lieh Tzu. Coming out of the security you have found as the sage forever only concerned about images and things always to remain translucent. Keeping always to new heights found only in the mountain retreat where nothing is to be found but stillness.

Everything following its natural course as heaven and earth dictates. Simply coming to know the seasons and continuity found in following day and night.

The inn at the mountain pass  Qingcheng Mountain north of Chengdu

Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, growth and decay, birth and death. Man alone in knowing his true path. With only the sage knowing the proper sequence of events of the path that must be followed.

Man occupying the small unseemly place on the mountain’s trail as shown in the paintings of antiquity. Living only to come forward to find the true way to be found only by following the Tao. Without thought or purpose. Without choosing to be born or to die. Yet following the Way. Basing our every action on instinct and spontaneity. To distinguish between benefit and harm, understand alternative courses of action and form moral and practical courses of conduct without the need to do so.

Appropriate rituals Qingyang Taoist Temple Chengdu 

To discard knowledge unfamiliar with the Way, cease to make distinctions, refuse to impose your will on nature. To return to the innocence found in a newborn child and allow your actions to come naturally as a part of nature itself. To reflect things like a mirror and respond as an echo without intervening thought.

Perfectly concentrated and perfectly relaxed as one who finds his second nature on hands and knees pulling weeds from his garden. Cleansing one’s soul of unwanted intrusions.

Remaining fully attentive to the external situation. Responding naturally to events as they occur. Not analyzing, as if spontaneously allowing your response to just take the unified action that comes forth simply to occur.   1/10/1995

Finally, from the Book of Chuang Tzu:

Section 3                The Secret of Caring for Life

Follow the middle staying with what is constant. Use your limitless power to rediscover your latent talents and abilities.  Come forth to use the power and knowledge you have always possessed unconcerned with how others see or perceive you in their limited vision of the way.  Travel in complete sincerity and wu wei. What you need will always be present at that moment without need to worry about the past or some sense of time wasted as you have lived your life. As a student of Chuang Tzu, you are safe from harm. Just live and rest in the moment and all will be made clear.

Resting in the moment with sincerity… the key to learning wu wei. What comes naturally without hesitation with pure joy, as you have become a transformative influence. How you will live will show others how to live. It’s as the Tao tells us we establish the Way of Heaven from within. For those with doubts, let your actions show the way.

By 1dandecarlo

Our ultimate aspiration as we look to pivot and embody transcendence / Volume 7

Unfortunately, our lives often mirror the luminescence of fireflies thinking our light, our eternal connection can come and go at will… until the mirror becomes us as we set or live our intention.

I often think we are here to attend to the activities of the universe. To do our part. What is it we are doing that is beneficial to everything we find in nature? What does our own “inner nature” tell us as we live in the present moment?

I Ching at Taoist Cave adjacent to Buddhist Temple and Leshan Giant Buddha south of Chengdu

What are the elements of both Eastern and Western thought and philosophy that serve to pull us to a common place? Why don’t we spend more time modeling our universal similarities with who we are and will become in the future? Yes, I embrace Taoism, but following my own innate inclination and nature serves to take me there. But there are many paths to follow and have relevance. All are divine when tied to nature and indiscriminate virtue. It is entering the flow of universal vibrations that are present for everyone as we wake up to what’s essential.

Within the tradition of Western Civilization, the Acropolis in Athens Greece, has often been invoked as a key symbol of classical Greek legacy invoking Plato, Socrates, and so much emblematic of what was to become “Western Thought and Philosophy”. What we know and continue originates and flows from them.

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s understanding of the connection between Eastern and Western thought that helped to invoke the wisdom of our “inner nature” with all that drives us. He saw the nature of transcendence through and by our connection with nature. Understood the essence of Taoism, as well as the teachings of both the Old and New Testament of the Bible, had read Lao Tzu, Plato, the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, Kant, and much more.  He is credited with the term “transcendentalism”. That the One… the universal presence is all inclusive, cosmos (quantum) driven, and essential element of “the ten thousand things, i.e., the inner nature found in all things”. Emerson served as a pivot for what came before him and what was to follow, becoming what can be called a “timeless sage”.

What does it mean to embrace the One? Importantly, what does our power of observation along with cause and affect tell us about our environment in which we choose to live? How do we illuminate our world with common vision towards a celestial one for all and all for one? To be infused with the heaven of pure qi… for who we have always been. Beyond thoughts of religion and philosophy to seeing the universe as it has always been as well.

For those studying the meaning of Taoism to better understand what was meant in the works of the early shaman, the I Ching and Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu; following historical commentaries has always been essential. The stories and references to actual historical figures juxtaposed, i.e., placed side-by-side especially for comparison or contrast, is what was done to see what flows, is inclusive, and what fits over time… think of Emerson.

Moving all to their ultimate endeavor and destiny. Always looking to our connection to the stars has always been the role of the shaman, sage, and the philosophers over the centuries. In directing us, they developed their own commentary or “take” on what was really meant through their own writing or thoughts streaming to the forefront. As stressed below, it is an awareness that precedes words, i.e., letting the universe tell you – then proceed.

One of twenty-four stone tablets depicting the sage riding the dragon at the Qingyang Taoist Temple in Chengdu. The star chart on the bottom giving directions home.

Having or letting events flow naturally, as if finding divine order. To what is the essence of heaven, nature, and the Tao with underlying contradictions coming forth of and by themselves.

It is the forever quintessential, as attempts at gaining the pure meaning and essence or embodiment of what was said, that would lead to adapting to complimentary opposites and a sense of pragmatism as seen in nature. It is this that writers have tried to replicate through their own thoughts, writing, and commentaries over the centuries.

In other words, you don’t simply think, write, or say something about it you come to embody it. As it becomes you – you become the story as well as the translator of your own life’s events. While hoping the true meaning isn’t lost in translation through your actions. What is universally understood as following your own ticket home.

It always comes back to what we are doing to emulate “the Virtue of Heaven” and acknowledging that there is no separate self. Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries 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 thirteen and fourteen of twenty-six are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Thirteen

There is a numinous [mind] naturally residing within;
one moment it goes, the next it comes,
and no one is able to conceive of it.
If you lose it you are inevitably disordered;
if you attain it you are inevitably well ordered.
Diligently clean out its lodging place
and its vital essence will naturally arrive.
Still your attempts to imagine and conceive of it.
Relax your efforts to reflect on and control it.
Be reverent and diligent
and its vital essence will naturally stabilize.
Grasp it and don’t let go
then the eyes and ears won’t overflow
And the mind will have nothing else to seek.
When a properly aligned mind resides within you,
the myriad things will be seen in their proper perspective.

Fourteen

The Way fills the entire world.

Reaching the Top   Mount Taishan

It is everywhere that people are,
but people are unable to understand this.
When you are released by this one word:
you reach up to the heavens above;
you stretch down to the earth below;
you pervade the nine inhabited regions.
What does it mean to be released by it?
The answer resides in the calmness of the mind.
When your mind is well-ordered, your senses are well-ordered.

When your mind is calm, your senses are calmed.
What makes them well-ordered is the mind;
what makes them calm is the mind.
By means of the mind you store the mind:
within the mind there is yet another mind.
That mind within the mind: it is an awareness that precedes words.
Only after there is awareness does it take shape;
only after it takes shape is there a word.

Only after there is a word is it implemented;
only after it is implemented is there order.
Without order, you will always be chaotic.
If chaotic, you die.

In between the two books I often refer to, the first being on the I Ching, and second my version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, I wrote a third much longer manuscript/book that appears here on my website that is my own take on “The Book of Lieh Tzu”. It’s entitled, “My travels with Lieh Tzu – Interpolations along the Way”. Of course, the meaning of the Way here, is meant as the Tao.

Beginnings

It is said that each of us is granted two lives, the life we learn with and the life we life after that. To perchance awaken midstream in our lives. As if we have been reborn; given an opportunity to find and follow our true destiny and endeavor.

The phoenix and dragon are deeply rooted in Chinese culture, dragon and phoenix were regarded as the most sacred animals and used to be emblems of emperor and empress. The Chinese dragon is traditionally the embodiment of the concept of yang (male), while phoenix was paired (yin, female) with dragon.

That our ultimate task is not only to discover who we are – but where we belong in history. Is not this the ultimate challenge? To simply rise up, traveling as one with the prevailing winds. Becoming one with the angels, or dragons, as they manifest before us. Letting our spirit soar. Freeing our mind, heart, and soul to go where few dare to wonder.

I know my task as a writer will be complete when my writing is as indefinable as my subject. Just as I know my task as an individual, as I exist in the here and now, will be to simply tell the stories that I have learned along the way. That we each have a story to tell. As we free ourselves of attachments and ego and baggage we have clung to as we try to find our way. That the ultimate travel is the travel of our spirit and to share our gift with others.

The Ding, a bronze vessel from the Zhou Dynasty in Luoyang the capital of ancient China location on Wangcheng, the site of the Capital City of Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC-221BC).

To become one with the ages. To bring forth the stories, myths and legends that tell the way. To stay interested in life, as I am in reality here only for an instant before moving on.

My task only to look for constant renewal. Finally, true expression of self is in losing myself through expressing the voices of the past. That I am here to relay that the fears and hopes of humanity rest not in where we find ourselves in the here and now, but in reality, to find and reflect our inner nature waiting to be re‑discovered and built upon again and again.

That all true learning is self-learning of who we ultimately are to become. That once we have awakened so that we can see beyond ourselves, then have not we found our spirits traveling the winds through eternity. This being so, could there be a more ultimate way of travel than to be found traveling with Lieh Tzu?      1/21/1996

A second entry from the manuscript of “My travels with Lieh Tzu – Interpolations along the Way” is as follows:

Changing Clothes

Forever reaching for the next rung on the ladder that must be followed. Beyond earthly endeavors. Attachments strewn about like dirty clothes waiting for their place in the right laundry basket.

The sage knocking on the door and finding benevolence / Qufu

One’s life simply the process of cleaning the clothes previously worn that must be recycled over and over again. To be constantly reborn. Anything that is seen of paramount importance only a test to be mailed in after you have found and corrected your own mistakes.

Outcomes only determined by lessons learned with only yourself checking and knowing the right answers. Mistakes although constantly repeated. Leading only to an eternity of self‑fulfilling prophecies of our own unwillingness to follow the ultimate path we know must be taken. Finding the courage to change. Leaving behind patterns filled with adversity we have come to know as a life support.

Letting go of ego…  student and the sage Qingcheng Mtn Chengdu

Forever keeping us down as a one-thousand-pound weight around our shoulders. Continually given the eternal chance to change. To keep living until we get it right as we live and die simply by letting go.

Finally finding the ladder. Cautious steps of optimism leading to places previously unheard of and unseen.  Knowing that eternal truth lies only in the steps that must be followed. Never looking back, thereby losing your balance the constant order of the day.

Be forever the agent of change. Knowing that the content found by others with everything as it remains is not the way things ultimately will be. Remaining forever unattached, letting go and finding yourself in clothes that are eternally clean.     12/30/94

It seems like I have been traveling the winds with dragons for as long as I can remember. Its like what I knew from the beginning hasn’t changed so much except to be built upon. Only the speed of my journey that always returns to places and to what I have always known. Reminding me over and over again, its not where you are – its who you are and what are you gaining in the present moment.

By 1dandecarlo

We are keepers of the dream – as we practice the art of nameless simplicity / Volume 6

*Special thanks to inspiration from Mei-lan Maurits. Also, for those who may wander, my audience lies far beyond those which may be expected or encountered.

Perhaps it is the restoration of our original selves free from personal wants and ambitions that should outweigh our outer selves as we focus only on inner cultivation. It becomes the ultimate freedom to know both structure and discipline that defines our path…

Last time I ended with the thought of “realizing the Tao” by maintaining constant dedication and keeping to our highest aspiration. What can be meant by happiness, the joy, found when we find the presence that resides from within?

The symbols depicted to the left are four mythological creatures appearing among the Chinese constellations, (the big dipper and stars above) and viewed as the guardians of the four cardinal directions. They are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise of the North. Each of the creatures additionally represents other aspects, including a season of the year, a virtue, and one of the Chinese “five elements” (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) and the essence of the I Ching. 

It’s like finding and coming in tune with our true selves. What Tolstoy called “everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

It is the transforming sense of virtue that does not seek reward as we move from fear – shifting ourselves to the balance found in our breath so that we can begin to dream of endeavor and destiny and what that means to then see beyond ourselves. It is what takes us there.

To breathe as the ancients taught us from the soles of our feet. To set our intention. To begin to accept everything as we are anchored in this moment. Open to vibrations that define our heart-mind. Learning to breathe through and as our grace again as the key. It is this that commends, or entrusts us to the universal Tao. Acceptance of ourselves, those around us, and finding our role through patterns of virtue that eternally defines us. To begin to enjoy the lightness of who we are, finding contentment – what is our niche – what brings us to joy.

What the Tao (Dao) teaches us is that there are stages of growth in the development of every person and each stage yields a harvest of wisdom upon which the next stage is built upon. Our foundation is what we grasp as the starting point in which we grow from. It is from here we begin to become the dream again. We are not simply keepers of the dream; we are contributors of the ultimate dream living as our true selves. What Joseph Campbell called the process of finding our bliss”. He reminds us that it is the universal consciousness we identify with and then learn from that takes us there.

Sitting in divine meditation    Shaanxi Museum    Xian

What is it that sets the sage apart from others? Many will say that it is something referred to as wu wei.  This is a question asked over the centuries that always comes back to the impact of the universal teachings of Confucius, Lao Tzu, and so many others, with Confucius touting “benevolence and relationships” as Lao Tzu presses “where are we doing it from.” As they are like stars passing overhead, we simply latch onto from time to time. Perhaps the easiest and best way to relay my own thoughts describing the essence of transcendence is Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Chingfrom the verses of my book, “Thoughts on becoming a sage, the guidebook to living a virtuous life”. Something I wrote twenty years ago.

It is said of the sage that they act effortlessly and spontaneously as one with Dao and in doing so they act with de, or virtue, without deliberation or choosing to challenge the paradox life brings to our doorstep.

The Anchor of Success located in the Da Ci’en Buddhist Temple at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian

The sage lives naturally and free from desire rooted in the discriminations that human society makes.

Verse 37 – Upholding the Tao

Practicing the art of nameless simplicity, I go forth with no desires and nothing on my agenda.

With the Tao as my anchor I am guided by the virtue of heaven.

The Tao itself doing nothing yet finding that there is nothing it does not do.  Yet while following the Tao, I do everything that I should do. Through effortlessness and following the natural course of events, change begins to occur.  By upholding the Tao, others begin to emulate your actions and begin to see through their own desire and they too can begin to become still.  In stillness, simplicity becomes nameless and seeing beyond oneself becomes self-apparent.

Stilled by nameless simplicity their desires become non-existent.  Once gone the world begins to fix itself.

支持道

那无名的朴,我没有欲求,没有日程

以道为锚,以天德引路。

道无,但无所不。然而,作道的从者,我做我应该做的所有事情。不用花气力,跟随事物的自然展,化就随之而来。大家都支持道,他人自然就要仿效你,开始淡泊名利,与你一,也得宁静。宁静中,得无名,超越自己就而易

In keeping with the Tao – The Eight-Diagram Pavilion is a landmark of the Qingyang Taoist Temple in Chengdu; it features a square foundation and a cylindrical body with the theory of “a square earth and spherical heavens”. 

了无名朴的宁静,他的欲求随之然无存。一旦欲求消失,世界就开始自我修复

What is that guiding principle of growth we look to that produces the confluence, the coming together of our thoughts and actions, our past with our future? As relayed in the previous entry we are about becoming our authentic self, and becoming the catalyst for change. The Taoist would say to experience life just the way it is. This idea of finding effortlessness and upholding the Tao. Re-reading the above entry, taking note – internalizing its purpose is a good way to look again from the inside out. To as Chuang Tzu would say, “The ancients ruled the world by doing nothing. This is the Virtue of Heaven”.

Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries 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 eleven and twelve of twenty-six are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Eleven

The steps – Huangshan Old Town

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.

Twelve

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.”

Riding the Tiger – At home at The Temple of the Immortals in Xian

What is the innate internal journey we take to transcendence once we do as Socrates taught us that “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom?” With thoughts of “realizing the Tao”, we begin to write this on our heart-mind and live within the qi of Yin/Yang… heaven and earth as the Tao intended. It becomes effortless because it grows into nothing more than an extension of ourselves – as if to do and say without thinking.

Lao Tzu tells us, “I do nothing and the people transform themselves” in verse 57 of the Tao Te Ching. In my own version, I express it this way:

Verse 57 – Becoming one with the dust of the World

The words of the sage cannot be heard. It is through his actions that he leads the way.

Leading with simple virtue he remains quiet and unassuming.

When he talks, he does so in almost a whisper so that others have to listen carefully so that nothing is missed. By controlling his breath, he focuses on self-control and stays away from extremes. To bring forth the virtue in the world he begins by transcending his human frailties and accepting his destiny and where it takes him.

In mirroring those around him, he begins by knowing when to enter and when to exit. As if he were sealing an opening or staying behind to close the gate. He focuses on dulling the edges and untying tangles to still the spirits.

Little Yellow Dragon  Duke of Zhou Qufu

He softens the light and joins the dust to adapt all things to what is the proper way. He unties all things but leaves no trace as if he was never there.

Transcending himself the sage cannot be embraced, cannot be abandoned, cannot be helped and cannot be harmed. He cannot be exalted or debased. While uniting with nothing, there is nothing that does not unite with him. Yet there is nothing he does not do or has not done.

混同于

圣人的是听不的,他通众人。怀朴的大德

Two Dragons Qingyang Mtn

圣人保持沉静和谦逊

圣人说话阴声气,人必小心听,以防漏掉了什么。通过调整气息,圣人心于自我控制,不走端。了把大德授于世人,圣人超越人的脆弱,接受命运的安排

了反映他身的人,圣人知道退,好像他在堵塞缺口或留在后面关。圣人不露芒,解开缠结精神得以安静。他减弱光,混同于世,使万物适于道。他打开万物之,但不露痕迹,如同他从来没有到过这

越自己,圣人不能抱,不能抛弃,不需要帮助,不能

圣人不接受赞扬,不能低估。当用无来解,没有圣人所解。世界上最也没有什么事情圣人不做或不能做

Coming back down to earth, we ask what is it we do when we feel guided by the Tao to do our part to protect the divine nature of Heaven we find here on earth? What divine talents have we been given to expand knowledge and wisdom to take steps in doing so? What is it we are here to do? We begin as if again and again by realizing and awakening to the Tao. In doing so we gain constancy in clarity and stillness.

It is as if we are responsible for preserving the wu wei, the qi of the Tao ourselves through our own eyes and perception. In doing so, we become the pivot between heaven and earth. Its why understanding the true meaning of the internalization of the I Ching is so important.

It’s what Alan Watt taught us about Zen Buddhism – and the connections between Buddhism and Taoism. Not as a religion or philosophy, but a way of life. That we are here to attend to the activities and aspirations of the ancients… the keepers of the dream – and to contribute our own two cents worth – simply that is all. Amen.

 

By 1dandecarlo

The way of transcendence and becoming authentic / Volume 5.

To live within an ancient knowing that our spirit shall be washed with the souls of mountains. As we travel under the blue sky until the moon sees our light within the stars as reminders of our eternal beginnings.

The dragon outlined in the stars of antiquity at the Taoist Cave adjacent to the Leshan Giant Buddha.

Let the blue waters know that a new era is to be written. Remaining loyal to nature and the Tao as your ultimate endeavor and forever patient as your destiny awaits you. The darkness that may cover the world must be enlighted by us.

What and who do we think of as the ideal person? What and who do we emulate? Who were our role models that we looked up to when we were in school, or growing up – or later when we assumed some identity for ourselves? A teacher, coach, a minister, someone we know, or read about. In America, we think of our history and can’t go back more than three maybe four hundred years. Unless speaking for the Indigenous peoples who have been here for eons…. But in China, where history can easily be traced for more than five thousand years to the earliest shaman, they’ve had a long time to think about it.

To the right the totem honoring one’s mentors who carry us through both good and bad. The eternal totem that connected us through eternity with nature and the universe we came in with.

People who stand out as exemplifying how we should live our lives, such as Confucius, The Buddha (also known as Siddhartha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama), Lao and Chuang Tzu.

Following them brings one not so much to a religion, but a way of life. To a philosophical understanding of our place in the world. When I write, it is not so much about what may appear as outside myself, as who I am and my place in it all. Following the thoughts and words of my mentors. To be one with those regarded as a sage, and going there.

Wuhan Temple in Chengdu          Acceptance / from the Three Kingdom Culture 220–280 AD 

Confucius, Chuang and Lao Tzu haves all influenced me greatly, just as Emerson, Gandhi, Tolstoy and others in the West. They are thought to be called a sage, in Chinese called a sheng ren, or the perfected person influenced in the Tao Te Ching, or the Way of Virtue, the Tao.

The Chinese word zhen   means to be “true; real; authentic”. It was originally written with an ideogram depicting “spiritual transformation”. It originated in the Dao De Jing.  The Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) has the first recorded usages of zhenren “true person”. The sage is considered as the ultimate teacher whose endeavor reaches the destiny of all. Buddhists used it to translate as “enlightened one”. 

Wenshu Monastery (文殊院 – Wen Shu Yuan)  I’ve been here many times while visiting Chengdu. I especially liked the large room as you entered that encouraged sitting in meditation. Initially built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Wenshu Monastery was once called Xinxiang Temple. In 1681, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Cidu, an accomplished Buddhist monk, came to the temple. He built a simple hut between two trees and for several years lived an ascetic life there. Legend has it when Cidu was being cremated; the statue of Wensu (Bodhisattva Manjusri in Sanskrit) appeared in the flames, staying for a long time. So people regarded Cidu as the reincarnation of the Bodhisattva Manjusri. Thereafter, Xinxiang Temple became Wenshu Monastery.

It begins with letting go of who we think we are and moving towards our authentic selves. Moving from fear to change as our consciousness, with our spirit and desire to share what we have been given with others seen as potential that’s always present that makes us immortal as well.  

I’ve had the privilege of living and teaching in Qufu, the home of Confucius. I have taught and lived at the school next to the Confucius Mansion and Temple. My Chinese name is Kongdan. Kong is considered to be the Confucius family name. I was given the name Kongdan by friends in Qufu due to my love of Chinese history.

The picture to the left is said to be students at the school who were descendants of Confucius taken in 1904 or 1905. After the 1912 revolution founding the Republic of China, the school was opened to students from across China.

What is it that sets a sage apart from others? Many will say that it is something referred to as wu wei.  This is a question asked over the centuries that always comes back to the teachings and impact of Confucius and Lao Tzu. Perhaps the easiest and best way to relay my own thoughts describing Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, is from the verses of my book, “Thoughts on becoming a sage, the guidebook to living a virtuous life”. Something I wrote twenty years ago.

It is said of the sage that they act effortlessly and spontaneously as one with Dao and in doing so they act with de, or virtue, without deliberation or choosing to challenge.

Several traits of the sage are exemplified in the Tao Te Ching, for myself wu wei, or our natural selves, is best relayed in Verses 2 and 63 as follows:

 Verse 2 – Transforming Realities

The sage transforms his feelings and returns to his true nature thus becoming one with the universe once again.

What displays beauty cannot be beautiful. What is hard must become soft.

He focuses on ending distinction, getting rid of name and form and making of himself a home for virtue. ##

What is our destiny and how is it we make ourselves a home for virtue? How do we attract our “better angels”,  or dragons as I call them who are anxious to guide us on the path we are here to learn and follow? To live as if our souls are to wash the mountains before returning to the stars.

Verse 63 – Becoming a sanctuary to all you meet

The sage acknowledges and understands that there is nothing that is not in keeping with the Tao.

Especially true is that the Tao resides in each of us. Thus, in showing the way the sage is good at saving and directing those around him, while abandoning no one. Since the sage in essence is simply the embodiment of the Tao, abandoning or leaving behind another person could or would never enter his mind.

The sage’s surroundings are illustrative of how he sees his place in the ten thousand things. As though he is seen creating a sanctuary that reflects his innermost sense of who he is yet to become.

Kind and reflective, still yet expansive, he competes with no one and no one competes with him. His strengths and weaknesses have become razor sharp as he uses them to cut through what is perceived to be truth and falsehood. While he remains on the edge pushing others to place they would not otherwise go, he leaves no foothold for those who would follow except by accepting and following the Tao.

When he himself becomes the sanctuary for others to take refuge and follow, finding the comfort only found in the expression of the Tao, he is reminded that he who searches will find it and those who don’t only escape to wait until another day. ##

My thought for today It is as if we are being asked – do we have the power to change what should be seen as inevitable? Do we have within ourselves the wisdom to change on a personal level to improve the human condition that we all can share. That it is compassion, empathy, and knowing who we really are that makes us and our world a better place. That our humanity and hope lie within each of us to find and nurture.

Some events are so overwhelming you can’t simply be a witness, you can’t be above it, you can’t be neutral, you can’t be untouched by it. Simple as that. You see it. You live it. You experience it and it will be with you the rest of your days. The place where our endeavors come into alignment with our destiny.

There is nothing singular about our journey, but we are tempted to go there. We are here ultimately to teach and to learn. We can only be guided by the beauty of nature and love that the universe wants us to discover and know, i.e. the Dao, or Tao. Called by other names, it is still the Dao.  We may bring brightness to our garden, but the world needs us.

Taoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries 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 nine and ten of twenty-six are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Nine

Those who can transform even a single thing, call them “numinous”; those who can alter even a single situation, call them “wise.”

But to transform without expending vital energy; to alter without expending wisdom: only exemplary persons who hold fast to the One are able to do this.

Hold fast to the One; do not lose it, and you will be able to master the myriad things.

Exemplary persons act upon things, and are not acted upon by them, because they grasp the guiding principle of the One.

Ten

With a well-ordered mind within you, well-ordered words issue forth from your mouth, and well-ordered tasks are imposed on others.

Listening   Nanjing Museum

Then all under heaven will be well-ordered. “When one word is grasped, all under the heavens will submit. When one word is fixed,
all under heavens will listen.”

It is this [word “Way or the Dao”] to which the saying refers.

For the sage, the greatest challenge, the ultimate paradox, is living in the world with others present. Looking to stillness from within, you are drawn to mountain vistas where the stars seem ever-present. To that time just before sunrise when you can reach out and touch infinity and the suchness that fills us all. 

Over time when the true way becomes clear, the hermitage… i.e., returning home, as if a mandate from heaven becomes self-evident. 

Daybreak atop East Peak on Huashan Mountain. Huashan is one of the Five Great Taoist Mountains in China. It is said that there are 72 caves scattered throughout the mountainous area. These caves are hard to access, have been used for hundreds of years, and is meant to provide seclusion for Taoist hermits practicing their Qi meditations.These mountains are sometimes referred to by the cardinal directions they occupy, and Huashan, being in the west, is known also as Xiyue. These mountains have been considered sacred by the Chinese for millennia. I spent two night on the mountain in October 2018.

You are living this life as your authentic self – as who you came here to become. When patience found in yourself and others become the bell-weather that determines our progress as preferences become non-existent you come to embody transcendence.

It is said sages act as new-born infants, who move naturally without planning and reliance on the structure given to them by culture and society. This is best described in Verse 15 of the Tao Te Ching.

Verse 15 – Staying on Course

Taking stock, you stop to reflect why you are here in this place and time just now.

Portion of vase in doorway depicting the sage in the clouds with his mentor

You have succeeded in getting the attention of many as your reflection has cast a long shadow.  You have shown an uncanny ability to uncover the indiscernible and penetrated contradictions previously covered by darkness. As you become concerned your ego is bringing you to the forefront, while your nature tells you it is better to stay behind.

You are reminded to remain empty and still.  That you are not here to make a show of yourself and that you are to leave no tracks. To be so conscience of the correct action that needs to be taken that you simply flow with events. That the essence of the Tao consists of nothing more than taking care, as you know that inner truth cannot be perceived, only the outward form of your actions.

Throwing Pots / The Tao  Sichuan Museum in Chengdu

That it is by intuitive understanding that the darkness becomes clear and by means of movement the still becomes alive.

That it will be by letting each thought remain detached and each action well considered that your ultimate success is determined with your virtue the only measure taken home.

The Tao Te Ching tells us that the sage empties himself, becoming void of the discriminations used in conventional language and culture. Sages concentrate their internal energies (qi). They clean their vision as described in Verse 10:

Verse 10 – Exposing ever-present but forgotten traits of Virtue

Remember what you have always known. That it is our virtue that lights the universe.

Yin and Yang Dragons Huangshen

That it is your memory of who you once were and are yet to become that resides in your heart, mind and intellect.  As you open your mind to see and know what comes forth, you are simply reminded of what you have forgotten.

That your energies are here to be replenished as you are transformed into the sage whose mind remains still. As you become still once again, you reflect and mirror heaven and earth and the ten thousand things.

You scoff as you know the best way to govern is without governing and using the efforts of others.  If you don’t obstruct what the Tao begets at their source and suppress their true nature, things mature by themselves.

Virtue remaining ever-present, its owner unknown until you appear along the way.

The sage manifest naturalness and plainness, becoming like uncarved wood (pu) Verse 19.

Verse 19 – Truly Reflecting the Tao

As I look around to see reflections of the Tao, I am drawn to rediscover what is simple and pure and discard what is considered alien to my original nature.

Reflecting the Tao      Qingyang Temple in Chengdu

That if wisdom and reason are only used for self-interest then they should be abandoned. Instead collective wisdom and reason should be used to take all to previously unknown heights.

That if kindness and justice are only shells to pursue selfish motives, then putting an end to arrogant kindness and treacherous justice will enable people to unite on their own.

That if our behavior with others is governed by cleverness and profits our innermost nature would be fulfilled more assuredly if we remain focused on that which remains undyed and uncarved as if driftwood washed up from the sea.

Acknowledging the Tao leads us to understand what is real and unreal, what is artificial and inappropriate and remaining wholly within ourselves. ##

For the Taoist (Daoist), it is important to remain constant and being consistent. This is where our humanness comes into play and explores why we are here. Where we are to rectify our thoughts and orient ourselves towards the path to perfection. Its why meditation is so important in clarifying our steps forward. When we think of the heart-mind, we are in effect “realizing the Tao”. Not to be perfect, but to move ourselves to our highest endeavor.

To be seen traveling with dragons above the clouds on Yellow Mountain once again.

Having the ability to transform ourselves is “realizing the Tao”. It’s always going back to the beginning that we learn our true path. Back to the oneness of nature we came in with and will return to again.

To live within an ancient knowing that our spirit shall be washed with the souls of mountains. As we travel under the blue sky until the moon sees our light with stars as reminders of our eternal beginnings. Letting the blue waters know that a new era is to be written. Remain loyal to the Tao as your ultimate endeavor and be patient. As your destiny awaits you – as you are here to add to your own transcendence and eternal story.

By 1dandecarlo

What do we do as our legacy awaits us? / Volume 4

The Way and the secret are hidden in legacy. As our own legacy calls us. Can there such a thing that defines our purpose? Are we more than where the present finds us? Are we just floating through time without a higher purpose, or is there something about mysterious undertakings we are here to follow? Can there be a transformation awaiting us as our ultimate endeavor and destiny. Should thoughts of clarity and stillness serve to rectify, or remedy, our hesitation to move beyond the clouds as our ultimate destination. Is our ultimate obligation to protect nature and our environment as the rectification of the world? How can this not be so? It is in understanding the underpinnings of the Tao, that our way becomes clear with the wisdom to acknowledge that our motivation conditions our thinking, or cognition. While our words simply convey breath and spirit.

Just as the teachings of the sage are meant to instill pure harmony, teach, and reform. With traits meant to set the benchmark for others to follow. We should acknowledge that all things come into this world to create perfection. That it is in this way, our origins come to the forefront. As described earlier, it is as if in descending through this we are here to be made whole.

The three entries below are from my unpublished manuscript “My travels with Lieh Tzu”.

Falling away or giving way  

Imperceptible shifting of time within the elements. Things forever shrinking and swelling, maturing and decaying, being born and forever dying all the same.

Always present in the end. Never aware of changes at the onset or the results sure to come. Our essence taking shape as we live always changing. From birth to death our features, knowledge and bearing differing as we are but a mirror moving through time.

Always growing as we fall away. Never knowing the intervals. Only waiting for the results sure to come. How else can we ever know?     1/11/1995

Not some pie in the sky thing that is outside of ourselves. A wise man once said that we should talk about our dreams not our troubles. It is the connection from within with that which seemingly lies beyond us. One of my favorites saying is “that the only barrier we may have is self-imposed” – as we may have decided that things must be a certain way where the outcome fits who I am and what I believe. There are times that I think that I’m here this time only to learn patience. Just to stay on the path and it will come to light when I’m ready. It’s that illumination and radiance thing that fills and activates our divinity from within.

While the universe is in continual change, we seem to think it stops just for us. Nature teaches that when we live outside the natural order of things, it is us who do not last. Things either adapt with change or begin to die. Its what Confucius taught more than twenty-five hundred years ago. That we are here to relate to and with our environment with benevolence and virtue – not create… as all we need is already here within us and found in nature. Again – humans – i.e., we – are only one of the ten thousand things. There is no lack and limitation in nature, only what adapts to change that goes forward. Are we on an eternal glide path focused on our highest endeavor, or are we stuck with what is meaningless and mundane that we attach to along the way?

Sometimes when I think of the compatibility between Taoism of Buddhism, I recall the Buddhist term, prajna that is in reference to spiritual insight and wisdom relating to the true nature of existence. Namely thoughts of suffering based on desire, impermanence, and no-self. Just as with Daoism, we must first learn to follow our inner nature and virtue, respect complimentary opposites, and acknowledge boundaries.

Everything remaining Perfect

Have no fear of the end of heaven and earth. Thereby lacking a place to rest or that you forget to eat or sleep. Heaven nothing more than the air around us. Where is there that there is no air? Your own weight in it allows you to walk and stand tall breathing in through lungs filled only with it. Always breathing in and out as your inner chi or essence makes itself known to dragons.

The earth nothing more than the soil and water that sustains us. Filling and giving shape to the place we only temporarily call home. As we walk and stand tall with feet forever attached to it. Always letting the earth be the ultimate messenger of nature’s way.

What can the air be but the rainbow, clouds and mist, wind and rain and the four seasons? Simply heaven at its purest. What can soil be but mountains and hills, rivers and seas, metal and stone, fire and wood? The essence of earth at its fullest. How can there ever be an end to it? As all things have beginnings and endings what will happen must happen. Endings always ending bringing new beginnings that simply begin again.

Fearing the worst will happen is not as it should be. What can eternity be but the innate sense that heaven and earth are simply the same only in different forms for different reasons? Things just taking shape in the end. Have no concern for final outcomes and know peace. Simply rest easy and eat and drink from the cup that living brings you. With everything remaining perfect to the end.     1/13/1995

How is it we are to severe ties with appearances? There are times on our journey that our best friend is stillness and loneliness. That we should not wait for others to understand us. None of them will understand you. They cannot see the horizon inside you. Bravery is equal to making everyone a part of your dreams. Bravery is telling everyone your dream. Do not feel hopelessness, as others come to find comfort in your shadow. The sage learns to be steady as a rock.

When I first began writing, the two prevailing thoughts that pervaded my thinking were endeavor and destiny. How that applied to me, who I am, and how I was to amplify this that would take me there. My writing was the signal that led me to the Tao, the Way of Virtue and thoughts of becoming a sage. As if going home to the place I had always known simply to be with old friends once again. It would be presumptuous to consider being a sage, as the sage is beyond human endeavor. A moniker given by others once we are gone that defined our merit while we are here. How is one deemed to be worthy of becoming a sage?

In what might be considered a metaphor by some, it was as if Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu were always in the background waiting for me to come forward to claim who I have always been, but not yet ready to assert my own legacy. Until that fateful Christmas day in 1993 when hearing the words “it is through you Dan, we speak”. I have been listening and writing ever since that day. When the words come in my writing, I often have to smile and ask myself… where did that come from.

From the beginning, it was as if I was to be found dancing above the clouds with dragons. And I have been dancing ever since, never to be seen as one to live for appearances sake.  Re-joining them has always been my ultimate endeavor and destiny. It is not enough to know what it means to have a legacy we are to follow. It is what we do when it becomes obvious we have one. It was never a case of denying it, it was always how I was to embrace and exemplify how to live so my writing would take me home in good stead.

Traveling Companions

Possessing the Way is like knowing the unknown, it cannot be done.

Being your body is not possible. As it is the possession of heaven and earth. Simple harmony granted a time to be spent in the world as you come to know it.

The ultimate – to be found dancing above the clouds on Huashan mountain… again.

Your nature and destiny not belonging to you. Only the course of events laid out only for you to follow. Constantly in ebb and flow. Belonging only to them.  Everything everywhere simply belonging to them. Families and friends but a gift. Not in your possession, but heaven and earth casting off others only as they see fit.

Therefore, you travel without knowing where you go, stay without clinging and are made secure without knowing how. You are simply the breath of heaven and earth. Nothing more and nothing less.     1/14/1995

One of the keys to what is known as “Taoism”, is that man is considered as no better or worse than anything found in nature. We are simply one of the Ten Thousand Things. This is a concept that western civilization has difficulties with because of ideas of separation between man and all other things. That everything was placed here for the benefit of man.

Universal companions found in the I Ching

Therefore, all other things are here for “our purpose”, as prescribed by God. In Taoism there is no differentiation or thoughts of separation – special treatment beyond that given by nature that is here for all things. Most all Indigenous populations worldwide believe in nature’s ability to transmit universal evenhandedness.

Remember our discussion about clarity and turbidity. When we are no longer guided by appearances and truly observe the stillness of our thoughts, our heart-mind becomes realized. It is here that serenity and wisdom reside and the true sense of knowing reside. The key for us is acknowledging that the heart-mind is the pivot. For many, it is meditation and for some even deep breathing, we use as the method that clears the way for intention.

Daoism always seems to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries 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 seven and eight of twenty-six are as follows:

Nei-yeh – Inward Training

Seven

For the heavens, the ruling principle is to be aligned.

              The sage Shaanxi Museum

For the earth, the ruling principle is to be level.
For human beings the ruling principle is to be tranquil.
Spring, autumn, winter and summer are the seasons of the heavens.
Mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys are the resources of the earth.
Pleasure and anger, accepting and rejecting are the devices of human beings.
Therefore, the sage:
Alters with the seasons but doesn’t transform,
shifts with things but doesn’t change places with them.

Eight

If you can be aligned and be tranquil, only then can you be stable.

With a stable mind at your core,
with the eyes and ears acute and clear,
and with the four limbs firm and fixed,
you can thereby make a lodging place for the vital essence.
The vital essence: it is the essence of the vital energy.

                          The water urn Sichuan Museum

When the vital energy is guided, it [the vital essence] is generated,
but when it is generated, there is thought,
when there is thought, there is knowledge,
but when there is knowledge, then you must stop.
Whenever the forms of the mind have excessive knowledge,
you lose your vitality.

What is it about knowledge that takes us away from the essence of virtue and wisdom? In the West, it was the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and that apple… that got Adam and Eve and the snake that got them in so much trouble. Heavenly virtue verses what is to be found in the mundane world. It seems as though what we may deem as values can separate and pull us apart that keeps us from becoming universal in nature.

It is thoughts of what brings us into alignment and tranquility that interest me at the moment and what takes us there. How we rectify our thoughts without partiality. What does it mean to penetrate even transcend emptiness that reveals our original spirit? Why does going there have to be veiled as something/being mysterious? Why does banishing or leaving behind those things in the mundane world we become attached to so essential to our ultimate journey? Why do we allow out heart-mind to go there? It is often not knowing the right questions to ask that are as important as knowing the answers.

Most all traditions tell us we have a responsibility to bring the water of life to the ones who are thirsty for faith, to what lies within each of us that connects with and to the eternal. But we seem always to think there is but one way… the one we have found for ourselves. Becoming convinced that the one we have found should also serve as the way for all. While it too remains forever in refinement and change and impermanence. Leaving no tracks, it is as if our own legacy is meant to assist others find this within themselves.

I think it falls to illumination, virtue, even inner observation. What I like to call the vision of the Tao as a divine perception – an inner knowing. Moving beyond what may be called vexation that disturbs our mind, or impurities of consciousness. There is so much here and many directions to follow. My next entry will follow the teachings of Lao Tzu in my own commentary of the Tao Te Ching following the path of the sage as described in my book, “Thoughts on becoming a Sage, the Guidebook to leading a virtuous Life”.

By 1dandecarlo