Everything we need we already have

I was going through my travels in China, especially visits to Buddhist temples and monasteries that included several museums depicting thousands of years of history. It was as if seeing ancient relics reminded my of times spent with old friends. I have tried to include pictures from a few places below.

As you read… open your heart and mind and let them take you there. If perhaps only for a moment in time. Taking pictures always seems to help to take me back to see them again.

In what was my last city (Shanghai), on the last day of was was my last trip (2018), I wrote the following. Reminding me again that everything we need we already have.

Tuesday afternoon I was writing in my journal at McDonald’s on W Nanjing Road when I kept thinking about traveling alone in China and not having a traveling companion, something that seems always the case. As I wrote the words just came… Your traveling companion is not intended to be another person. You travel as if unattended through time, but rest assured that you are being upheld.

Live the life you are meant to become – be natural and unafraid. Be gentle with never a harsh word and let patience be your virtue. You are in no rush because you have already arrived. Again, let patience be your virtue. Let acts of patience be illustrated by your kindness towards others through virtue. There can be no rush to the virtue found inside yourself that you already possess. Do not allow weakness within yourself to cloud your virtue. Stay totally within yourself. Find the confines of what makes you happy wholly within you. Become the companion you want to be and this person will always be present. Let your own happiness be the sunshine that brightens every day.

Thoughts on Buddhism…  Stand clear of antagonism – be the first to leave when contention appears and the first to stay when love arrives. Make your own perceived weaknesses your greatest strengths. Become the person others are looking to that soothes away fear and anger. Perhaps this Buddhist inclination on the trip is a signal to let go of self and that you stay within your own higher consciousness or enlightenment. Become a Buddha. Change yourself and change the world. Change yourself first – then change the world. Become or emulate the world the universe is counting on or looking to. Surround yourself with love and be happy with what you already have. Exemplify the person that you want the world to become.

Bring others to their highest endeavors, or selves – without judgment becoming the mentor they need. Be the companion they should have knowing selflessness endures, not one’s ego is what survives. Live solely within the virtue that defines you. Enlightenment is the process of self-change leaving behind traits not in keeping with who you are ultimately to become.  If you come back to experience them – then use them to lose them.

Let virtue define you. It is not an either/or…You know the path you are to follow. Just do it leaving no one behind. Leave no one behind – not your family – not your students – not your friends – and not those waiting to be your friends. Become the road map for others to find the way for and within themselves. There is no choice to make. Live the choice you have become regardless of where you are. There is no paradox, only the paradigm you have chosen to follow.

If we want others to see beyond what they see as weaknesses in us – then we must first be able to see beyond what we perceive as the weakness we see in others. As we grow and mature, gaining wisdom and insight along the way – we must bring them along with us. Remember your own virtue is tied to having patience for others while the world is catching up with you…

By 1dandecarlo

Living beyond the fear of the unknown as the maker of our own myth 

Beginning with today’s entry, I look to the garden and meditation as the response to those who have commented on my spending quality time with old friends. A reminder that we are never alone.  

I think of and turn to Rumi and the whirling dervishes and keeping to an inner mystical dimension that connects us to the universe and with eternal spirit.

The dervish embraces all humanity with love, since Sufis believe that the human being was created with love in order to love. As a quote by Rumi states that, “All loves are a bridge to Divine love.”    

For myself, moments of meditation and silence are as if I am meant to be spinning, joining with others both past and present. Thinking of the whirling dervishes and the bliss found with meeting up with old friends, being at peace comforted by universal love. A couple Rumi quotes to help take us there would be What you seek is seeking you”, and “The garden of the world has no limit except in your mind”.  To this I would add… who you seek is seeking you as well.

Mediation should be meant to take us to places where we are not alone with our thoughts.

Spending time in silence meant as a portal that opens the door to our highest aspirations – and to what takes us there. I know this may run counter to focusing only on clearing our minds of present-day clutter, or what my Buddhist friends would call eliminating “monkey mind.” But when leaving “monkey mind” behind, just where is it we are to go and what or who is it that takes us there?  

Simply adhering to the silence is not enough. For myself, this gives ultimate meaning to the journey ahead. After meditating for more than thirty years, I have discovered that doing so alongside a mentor (often more than one), that where I want to go and where I need to go often merge as my writing brings an alignment with the past. It is like a gathering of old friends, or a homecoming of sorts.  

Through evolutionary means, it is believed that our brains are wired in a way to make connections between memory and our senses. Hearing a song as mentioned before or smelling something like newly baked bread or wood burning in an outside fire pit, can serve or tend to reset our memories. And just where is it that it takes us? 

These things can connect us to our past beyond genetics, to a time we may have known but simply forgotten. Even taking us to a place some have called “the scent of eternity.” To what the ancient Egyptians called the “scent of eternal life”.  

Where we are given the opportunity to breathe in the fragrance of history with the ability to live again, or even to be reborn into what is to be continued.  

Into what may be called a continuum acknowledging that our eternal spirit never dies. I think the ancient Egyptians may have been on to something; however, their methods though were not all together there or complete. Like attempting to complete a puzzle with a few missing pieces thirty-five hundred years ago.

Something science and quantum physics tries to answer more clearly for us today.  

Our spirit floating about looking for a new home anxious to complete tasks that have been left undone. With some looking for a new home and others not caring or needing to do so. Perhaps even just coming to see what has changed since their last visit.

As though for some, this place, or scent of eternity has been found. We learn that caring for our lives and others are like tending to our garden, regardless of how big or small our reach.

Institutional memories gained over time and maintaining nature’s core structure tells our story. With this, we learn that if well-kept, tending to the edges is all that is needed. 

It is our fear of the unknown that creates an illusion that reflects us. We often cannot see ourselves through our own eyes, needing a mirror to behold ourselves to what may be real or simply imagined. So that the perception we have of ourselves becomes a mirror-image, or illusion. The same can be said for how others perceive us as we are but an evolving spirit. With others seeing what they want to see we illustrate this so-called fragrance of history through our actions. Showing others what we want them to know or see. 

If we are untrue to our inner selves, that means simply that everyone sees nothing but an illusion…

As smiles, or nodding heads appear in the background as you go about your day. Or as a favorite from the Sufi mystic Rumi says we are to “Be the maker of your own myth. 

By 1dandecarlo

Four of my friends came by today reminding us that we too are eternal

Did they leave feeling better than they did when they came?

Did I say things to enlighten their spirits?

Did I acknowledge their pain and frustration?

Did I impart a sense of well-being, compassion, and true concern?

Ancient wise men calling out to the universe / Chengdu Wuhan Temple

Living the Tao leads one to safe refuge in knowing the way and helping others to find theirs.

Four of my friends came by today. 1/28/94

(From Preface of the book” An American journey through the I Ching and Beyond” published in China in 2004).   

Four of my friends came by today… as I joined them in singing and writing songs to the ethos, our virtue, and the universe. Lao and Chuang Tzu, Tolstoy, and Emerson – East meeting West universal in nature with others coming at our beck and call. To simply listen and tell stories that convey wisdom and thought-provoking discussion all freely share. For us we are blessed with individuals whose genius causes an indelibly, lasting mark to be left as life as we know it. These four and many others have done so.  

Telling us that we are to be guided by the best ambitions and attributes of our ancestors to move forward despite any personal difficulties. As though karma is simply to be dealt with and forever cast aside. As we embrace those, we are meant to love who will never leave us. Life ends but the tale of life never ends. Telling us that the story of our lives is never ending and that we are here to convey and believe it. Even to build on the perfection they aspired to and inspired, connecting the mundane to the divine.

Creating the intermediary or go-between in this world and the next through or as their writing. 

Lao Tzu would tell or remind us in the Tao Te Ching that if you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself, if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you must give is that of your own self-transformation. 

Four of my friends came by today… each with a story to tell adding to the universal language of love and virtue even with Confucius and my friend Thomas Cleary, who translated scores of Buddhists, Taoist, ancient Chinese, and other texts into English, broadening access to these works in the West on the sidelines watching with knowing glances. All conveying similarities found in both East and West, the foundation of what to make of the underpinning seen here on the Kongdan Foundation – as I am referred to by them as Kongdan. Real or imagined, spending time with my peers being time well spent simply following in the footsteps of greatness.  

Becoming enmeshed in the thread that knows no end like pearls on a strand residing as stillness and universal in the nature that becomes us. Listening with the mirror held to the past giving way to the present as Chuang Tzu says that the Perfect Man employs his mind like a mirror; it grasps nothing; it refuses nothing; it receives but does not keep. 

 Four of my friends came by today… with a certain sameness with each speaking as though as one voice conveying the eternal with contributions beyond worldly, or human understanding unless we are willing to go there. What is it we are to emulate while we are here, but lessons learned both past and present from shared experiences of ourselves and others. While following the stars that take us there. 

 I think of Leo Tolstoy born into an aristocratic family in Russia in the mid 1800s. Most think of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, epic books that made him famous. But he lived as a connecting rod for others in the realm of promoting universal understanding. Gandhi who was in South Africa at the time went as far as to create the Tolstoy Farm in appreciation. He was a great linguist in his time and conveyed universal thoughts that were appreciated by many. From him then Gandhi, who Emerson read the circle was to continue. As MLK would learn that it is not just having a dream today but living the dream for tomorrow’s sake. 

For us, it becomes the teachings and wisdom we have followed, the essence of our going forward, contributing to what we have always known. It is the absolute simplicity that you love about it. Your mind clear of confusion as you focus on the light coming from within you reflecting the cosmos and stars above.

Your thoughts becoming focused and sharper, sounds around you richer, as you become filled with a deep and powerful presence. 

Four of my friends came by today… with vibrations converging from the stars above that we attune to for all of us. My role is simply as the storyteller, the connective tissue we all speak to at one time or another. With the evolving question being – what is the role we are here to play for eternity’s sake?

Our efforts becoming the environment and portal created as simply a reminder that we are not only here. Entering the flow of the universe and eternity our home becomes everywhere.  

Finally, Emerson conveys to us the essence of self-reliance and the nature of our role and how we are the mediate differences between the two. Taken together as we become attuned to how we are to respond to the universal algorithms spoken of previously. How is it we capture not only the meaning of what they said, but convey this today?

Together we take people to places they might not otherwise have gone. Today our role should be simply an extension of their genius that speaks to all of us.

Four of my friends came by today…

By 1dandecarlo

Keeping rhythm with the music that we have always known and simply forgotten 

It is said that people often confuse what they do with who they are yet to become. In Italian culture there is something called dolce far neinte known as the sweetness of doing nothing… a way of thinking that appreciates the present moment and enjoys it without any worries or obligations.

In Italy, the Italian countryside is called “la campagna.” To the left is a picture of what may have been the small village of my ancestors in central Italy. From a large family many migrated to America in the early nineteen hundreds. My father was five years old making me a first generation American. My Italian grandparents settled in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts and were truck farmers. They were gardeners… They shared a love of nature like me. They lived and did what came naturally to them. 

Reshaping our perception of the concept of work, it seems, is one way to channel dolce far niente. Where work – deliberate, steady, and relaxed – is worlds away from today’s pervasive fast-moving philosophy. It is as though we are speaking to the universe with our thoughts and voice – to speak through our memories with actions simply vibrations tied to nature and what is yet to come.

Meditation going to our garden stilling our mind and just letting it be.

Always to be ready for the transformations of our lives. 

Clearing out the space of what is unwanted as weeds or unnecessary plants and creating a vacuum to be filled as a doorway… even a portal.

What I often refer to as a place that welcomes the universe to enter, creating the capacity to love what we find in nature and ourselves… with annual cleome, cosmos, and zinnias.

Even perennials with daises, pink coneflowers, and butterfly bushes. As we let nature be our teacher. 

Like what the ancient Chinese called wu wei. The practice advocated by Taoism of letting one’s action follow the simple and spontaneous course of nature rather than interfering with the harmonious working of universal law by imposing arbitrary and artificial forms: doing or making nothing except in conformity to the Tao.

To create and live within this conformity. There is no better example of a place I have visited many times. When I was teaching English at a university in China many of my students were to be tour guides. Some were to go to Suzhou… I was so jealous. Their connection to wu wei over the centuries represented a lifestyle once perfectly suited and demonstrated living under the auspices of “the art of doing nothing”. I saw this in their villages in the countryside when I visited. As tour guides, they were to express this. They were well-suited to do so.

It is as if we have two families. The one we know in the present, and the one aligning with spirit and memories from the past. With lives made up of choices not content with one thing if we need to choose another. Aligning and listening to eternal algorithms, we soon learn we cannot sustain two things at once.

We learn to leverage the rhythm and melody of the way we speak naturally to imbue characteristics into these algorithms that define who we are and how we live. We often find the music we listen to helps to take us there, tying us to universal connections we have always known.

Often turning the corner of someplace new and sensing we have been here before with memories that are eternal that speak to and for us. These universal algorithms connect us to places and things we have seen and known before. They serve as guideposts, and some would say as portals taking us to steps of transformation that simply awaits us. 

Just what is it that takes us there… It is for some music. For instance, Bebel Gilberto and the song Somba da Bencao from the movie Eat, Pray, Love and Julia Roberts quest and her guru in Bali not knowing how old he is… as though he is ageless an inherent force of nature.

To be brave enough to leave behind who we thought we were as we set out on truth seeking journeys. Regarding everything that happens along the way as a teacher prepared to face and forgive realities and these truths will not be withheld from us. As we just listen to the music and let it and our memories take us there. 

By 1dandecarlo

To act with mindfulness in such a way that everything you do is the right thing.  

To live as if you have three great swords cutting through what is non-essential. First to set goals, second to fight injustice, and third, to gain or give protection and help to achieve those goals. Living beyond what seems possible, unconcerned with what may lie around the corner and what may hold the key. Making a difference for those who follow just the same. 

Just as stated before, the best things happen without knowing. To fight battles without concern for winning with clarity, virtue, and a just cause.

As though guided by a mythical altered state of consciousness or mindfulness. Remembering, and even perhaps emulating the dance called the Pace of Yu, knowing that all things exist and change as they should in the right climate…

In ancient China, the leaders were chosen by ability. Yu the Great had made a name for himself by controlling the flooding of the Yellow River, so he eventually became the emperor of the Xia dynasty. From his reign, China’s dynastic cycle began where the kingdom was passed on to a relative, usually from father to son.

In popular culture over the centuries Yu the Great was emulated as Yubu, translated as Pace(s) of Yu or Step(s) of Yu, the basic mystic dance step of religious Taoism. 

Today we would simply see this as anticipating climate change and doing no harm by or through our actions, guided by the direction nature intends us to go… as we too take steps to become the change. Just as Yu the Great devised the plan to stop the flooding. Following our natural instincts, we must want to go there to get there. Giving meaning to what we do brings quality to our lives following our heart first and expression second. Acting as though others know how you are feeling inside and living beyond the surface of conditions with a sense of accomplishing things as if looking down from the clouds… As we live within what is known as Heaven’s Gift. 

(Below is the introduction to Chapter One of My travels with Lieh Tzu and following entries).

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 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. 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. 

The inn at the mountain pass Qingcheng Mountain north of Chengdu                                                                 Man occupying the modest, unpretentious 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.

To discard knowledge unfamiliar with the Way, cease to make distinctions, refuse to impose our will on nature. To return to the innocence found in a newborn child and allow our 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.   1/10/95 

Everything as it should be 

Nothing escaping change within the oneness of Tao. Looking you don’t see it, listening you cannot hear it, groping you cannot touch it. Lieh Tzu says heaven and earth cannot achieve everything. The sage is not capable of everything and none of the myriad things can be used for everything. 

Moments in the mist before sunrise on Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province in China

It is the responsibility of heaven to give birth and to shelter, the responsibility of earth to shape and to support; the sage to teach and reform and for each thing to perform its function. As a result, there are ways in which the earth excels heaven and ways in which each thing is smarter than the sage. Why is this? 

Heaven which brings birth and shelters cannot shape and support, earth which shapes and supports cannot teach and reform. The sage that teaches and reforms cannot make things act counter to their functions, things with set places cannot leave their places.

Staying in tune with Heaven’s gift     Big Wild Goose Pagoda Xian                                                                                                      Therefore, the way of heaven and earth must be either yin or yang. The teaching of the sage must be kindness or justice and the myriad things, whatever their function must be, either hard or soft. All these observe their functions and cannot lose their places.  

Everything acts together in harmony. Everything the same and nothing the same all at the same time. Shape comes from the shapeless, form from the formless. Everything finds its essence in the way of the Tao. Everything only as it should be.      1/15/95 

By 1dandecarlo

To live as though we are looking down from above the clouds with nothing new under the sun.

Reminded of something you wrote all those years ago from the Preface of your first book written in February 1994 and published in China ten years later in 2004.

Appearing as the ancient crane above the clouds.

The book’s title was “An American journey through the I Ching and Beyond.” It appears here on my website as, “The I Ching / Voices of the Dragon”.  

XVIII.       Dancing with Chi 

Everything that ever was everything now and that ever will be is within you now to find. All that there ever was to know or that there will be to know is within you to find.  

The ancient dragon of antiquity depicted as the sage in the clouds with the wisdom of the ages firmly in tow.

You have been everywhere there has been to see, have seen all that there is to see and, in the future, will see all that there ever will be to see.

You are not a know-it-all. But you know all that there is to know. Simply come to know yourself and remember what you have forgotten. Simply to find again, again and again. 2/6/1994  

Just who are we when found transcribing the world in and as our own voice? Not just someone driven by events or ego. But… someone who has awakened, transcending this life accessing the deepest levels of inherent well-being, here and now. Aspiring to awaken as though we are in affect looking down from above the clouds consisting of transforming our mind so that toxic states rooted in greed, hatred, and delusion no longer occur. While a full range of healthy emotions and other cognitive capabilities remain active, in balance, and even enhanced.  

To be multi-dimensional in our mind and thoughts. Not so much answering the question “who are we, as who we aspire to be”. As we become free to travel with old friends again.   

Life as a series of mind moments, each one a new creation. Every moment we inherit something from our past as though knowing our true essence, or face before we are born. Transforming it in our present experience, and thereby seeding the consequences of our future. (Meant to be re-read again and again…) 

At each moment, the toxins we encounter may be either compounded or abandoned. A moment without greed, hatred, or delusion is an awakened moment.

We are to live as we look down from above the clouds to the distant horizon to what we have seen and done before and will be in the future. 

Manjusri the bodhisattva is depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, representing the realization of transcendent wisdom which cuts down ignorance and duality. The scripture supported by the padma (lotus) held in his left hand is a Prajñāpāramitā sūtra, representing his attainment of ultimate realization from the blossoming of wisdom. 

A person may not be considered awakened unless the toxins are thoroughly eliminated, but even an unawakened person can have an awakened moment. As the Buddha says, 

If one shows kindness with a clear mind— 
Even once! — for living creatures 
By that one becomes wholesome. 
(Itivuttaka 1.27

We are meant to become that person as well. What has been over the centuries called taking the “bodhisattva vow”.

By 1dandecarlo