(This is the second of a book series that begins with the entry on this website entitled… Finding Clouds of Virtue).
Irreverently Meandering through Time a/k/a Keeping to the lower Clouds
Are we only living and in my case writing for today. Or is it that we live to bring attention to words of the past that help to guide us in the future. I think Meng Zi (Mencius) gives us the example. He was such a powerful influence after Confucius that his Mansion and Temple dedicated in his name, was not constructed until twelve hundred years after his own death.
Who is to say what we will or will not do has such a lasting impression after we are gone as we to are found only meandering through time…
Book II – Table of Contents
- Keeping to the Lower Clouds (344) from an American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- The Eternal Spirit 339) from an American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- Following Lieh and Chuang (370) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- The never ending Story or a homecoming of Sorts List of reference materials.
- Dancing with Chi (30) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- Cloud Dancing (38) from an American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- Remaining as the Tortoise (3) from My Travels with Tzu.
- Reference material on internal structure of Tao Te Ching
- Embracing Change (4) from My Travels with Tzu.
- Keeping to the Open Road (5) from My Travels with Tzu.
- Passing the Test (10) from My Travels with Tzu.
- Coming Full Circle from My Travels with Tzu.
- Looking beyond One’s moment in time (111) My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Discussion and Timetable for Period of Confucian and Taoist Beginnings (770-220BC)
- Chapter 43 (108) of Magwangdui Text of Tao Te Ching.
- Mirroring the Tao (111) from Thoughts on becoming a Sage.
- Mirroring the Tao commentary
- Danger Taken in Stride (208) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- Finding the Islands of the Blest (73) from My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Defining Virtue (53).from My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Chapter 2 17 through 23 from Analects of Confucius.
- Kongdan’s version of Analects of Confucius.
- Confucian World Conference synopsis (Sept 29-30, 2011)
- Facing up to Reality from My Travels with Lieh Tzu
- Staying Focused within Oneself (112) from Thoughts on becoming a Sage
- Staying focused from within commentary.
- Chapter 44 (110) of Magwangdui Text of Te Tao Ching.
- List of Emperors of Shang Dynasty 17th to 11th Century BC).
- Chapter 3 1 through 8 from Analects of Confucius.
- Kongdan’s version of Analects of Confucius.
- Conversations with Old Shang (55) from My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Saying Nothing, Knowing Nothing, Knowing All (54) from My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- A Visit with Old Friends (141)from My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Unbefitting Behavior (212) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- How to define the role of the sage today.
- Chapter 45 (112) of Magwangdui Text of Tao Te Ching.
- Becoming Translucent (114) from Thoughts on becoming a Sage,
- Becoming Translucent commentary
- Chapter 3 – 9 through 16 from Analects of Confucius.
- Kongdan’s version of Analects of Confucius,
- Rejoice in Heaven and Know True Destiny (50) from My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Becoming Irrelevant (310) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- Beware of Paper Dragons (216) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- Elements of Taoism commentary.
- Staying behind to become a non-existent Presence.
- Where can Truth Lie, except within Ourselves (105) from My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Chapter 46 (114) of Magwangdui Text of Te Tao Ching.
- Prevailing Contentment (116) from Thoughts on becoming a Sage.
- Prevailing Contentment commentary
- Raining Ecstasy (154) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond.
- Chapter 3 – 17 through 24 from Analects of Confucius.
- Kongdan’s version of Analects of Confucius
- Unlocking the Doorway to Heaven (26) My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Discovering the Magic (27) My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Animal Instincts (28) My Travels with Lieh Tzu,
- Traveling with Ease (29) My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
- Rewards Yet to Come (220) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond
- The Tale Telling Illness (58) My Travels with Lieh Tzu
- Leaving Chi undone….
- Shaping events along the Way (93) My Travels with Lieh Tzu
- Chapter 47 (116) of Magwangdui Text of Te Tao Ching
- Becoming Endowed by the Way (118) from Thoughts on becoming a Sage
- Becoming Endowed by the Way commentary
- Chapter 4 1 through 8 from Analects of Confucius
- Kongdan’s version of Analects of Confucius
- Taking on Airs (Heirs) (121) My Travels with Lieh Tzu
- A Journey Eastward (224) from An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond
- Finding the Common Thread (121) My Travels with Lieh Tzu
One of the dragons from The Nine Dragons hand scroll (九龙图／九龍圖), painted by the Song-Dynasty Chinese artist Chen Rong (陈容／陳容) in 1244 CE. Ink and some red on paper. The entire scroll is 46.3 x 1096.4 cm. Located in the Museum of Fine Art – Boston, USA. Francis Gardner Curtisragon is used in the Chinese New Year, a dragon with people under a long costume. The dragon can also be seen on ceremonial dress and ancient artifacts. This is a faithful photographic reproduction of an original two dimensional work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
The dragon; a mythical creature depicted as having a scaly body, sharp taloned feet, fire-breathing jaws, huge tails and sometimes appears with wings, is a common feature in Chinese literature, mythology, cosmology and ceremonies and celebrations. Symbolic in art and literature, recognizable within the landscape and revered within the culture, the dragon represents strength and wisdom and is the supreme being of protection. The dragon, or Lung as it is called in China, appears within many stories in Chinese myths and legends.
Over the years, several relics that date over 6000 years old have been found depicting the dragon. Some of these relics are hand carved ornaments, cutlery with dragons etched upon their surface and art with pictures of dragons. The Chinese dragons’ physiology is made of several different creatures. It is said to have the head of a camel, the ears of a cow, the horns of a giant stag, the eyes of a rabbit, the neck of a snake, scales like a carp, a belly much like a clam, the feet of a tiger and the claws of a hawk. Rich in folklore and culture, the dragon is said to have had 117 scales in total, 81 yang infused whereas the remaining 36 were yin, balancing the temperament of the dragon. The Chinese dragon, being a supreme being had great powers that allowed them to control the weather including rains and storms. Dragons were the beings that transported humans to the celestial realms after death, guiding their safe arrival. They are beings that represent wealth and good luck. Dragons also had amazing abilities. They could fly, change in shape and size, change color or become invisible. They were the protectors of the Gods and the beings who overruled the wind and the rain, the jewels and precious gems. Dragons were energetic and represented the ability to overcome all obstacles to achieve success. This is why they are revered within classic Chinese history and culture to this day. People call themselves “The descendents of the Dragon” so they can utilize everything the dragon represents within their own lives. Within the context of my own writing, I certainly do. In summary, the dragon represents everything that the earth can bestow including good weather and bad weather, fire and rain, wind from the seas and growth from the earth. The ultimate giver of what defines yin and yang, light and dark, good and bad, etc, etc…
The question ultimately becomes how and where did the dragon originate. Most scholars, and I agree, that the Chinese dragon form originated from totems and the age of when the shaman gave people the symbolic protection of an animal.. Either a sheep, snake, rabbit, horse an many others and ultimately the combination of all the best attributes of each of them and needed a name for them… hens the dragon was born. Later when out of what was practical occurred, each sign of the stars in a given month were assigned an animal that became a month… Over time the calendar was born and merged with the beginnings of the I Ching. A driving force that would maintain order and continuity was needed that had a direct line of connection to the sun, moon and stars… and the dragon directing it all was born. From this numerology became important to keep score and track of how often things occurred or did not occur as predictability and the number nine became the most auspicious number. Within dragon mythology you will still find strong associations to the number nine. The dragon has a physiology made up of nine different animals, as well as, many other positive elements that have impacted Chinese history and culture. The role and influence of the dragon has become a primary figure, or allegory, in bringing forward the philosophy, thoughts, and actions of Chinese people throughout recorded history. It is from this point that I pick up the story.
Getting the attention of dragons… Coming forward yet keeping to the lower clouds the dragons in control of my destiny. At this time I was most in tune with Lieh Tzu, the reclusive sage. My writing for almost the next year and a half (April 1994 to October 1995) was explosive and Lieh Tzu was my mentor with help from others along the way. Rereading the above entry over and over again takes me back to times spent with Lieh Tzu… As stated at the end I was to ask no questions… I was simply to come forward to know the way. As such I was taken back to what I had written about the dragons and continually reminded that “what I write is who I am to become”. All these things together meant I needed to try to come to grips with who I really am… or was at that moment in time. Further reflection and meditation on what I had written reminded me of being admonished to continue to approach the Tao Te Ching all the while keeping to the lower clouds and earning my keep.
My sense of having a vision of creating an environment where the dragons would provide me direction is what I was after. I was later to learn in approaching the Tao Te Ching that my role here is not to create but to relate… But at this point in the story I was to continue approaching the Tao Te Ching and the Tao but keep away from its intricacies as I was not ready yet. Having gotten the attention of for how I depicted those responsible for what was to become known as ancient Chinese philosophy, for me Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu, and Confucius, my role was to first become grounded in the basics of my own journey that would begin with the I Ching, take me through the basic stories relayed through hundreds of years that told the story of Confucian and Taoist thought, primarily Lao’s Te Tao Ching and seek what would ultimately become my own inner peace, i.e., the purpose of my journey in the here and now.
2. Keeping to the lower Clouds
Prancing around the Tao to and fro giving life to words and meanings which otherwise would be left out in the darkness. Bringing a sense of right behavior and wholesomeness to the effort. Lao Tzu simply sitting back watching with earnest speculation. As the ultimate paradox you must keep approaching the Tao To Ching but keep away from its intricacies.
When you are prepared for the journey the dragons will let you know. Keep Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu as your mentors until they feel you are ready to proceed. There is much work ahead however.Perhaps taking a year or more before the map is laid out to be traveled by this one. There are many rivers and mountains to traverse before the Tao can be attempted and fully appreciated as to where Cloud Dancing is going with all this. Stay focused only on what must be done and have nothing to do. Just remember to keep to the lower clouds…
Capturing the essence of the Tao is one thing. Being prepared to approach the Tao To Ching is quite another matter and much further along the journey. Great things are expected of this one who has caught the dragon’s attention. Too much too soon simply clutters what must be said and done along the way.
The I Ching barely complete. 4/13/94
The paradox of it all, while gaining some semblance of who you were yet to become. The Chinese language of which I need to learn always beyond my reach, limitations that would seemingly always hold me back from the next step that needed to be taken. Plus choices and cause and effect seemed to continually block my path as wisdom seemed to elude my grasp… It was the lack of patience and not knowing what the next step on the rung would bring… more importantly not flowing with the Tao at the time, as if the universe was just waiting for me to come forward.
So here I am connecting the dots all these years later trying to bring meaning and purpose to my actions by looking back so I can see more clearly the way forward. Just as Lao Tzu told Confucius to go back and observe the findings of the I Ching so must I to reveal the beginnings or true essence of my own spiritual journey. I have always felt the pull of the ancient shaman and visionary who lead others to the correct path or way… that sense continues to this day. The underpinnings of the I Ching were the memories of those leading the way even then. It is this desire to follow the I Ching and the Tao that brings me to Confucius and Qufu. Keeping Chuang and Lieh Tzu as mentors while adding other ancient sages, Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tzu and others along the way; listening to that still small voice within, remaining still with my only motivation to grow and further become enmeshed in the Tao.
3. The Eternal Spirit
Medicine men and shaman giving way to Lao Tzu and the others with their quest for immortality putting the finishing touches on the way to be forever followed. Many false starts by many with good intentions and some sense of direction from signposts they have read and heard along the way. Starting strong, enthusiasm high with motivation found to follow what they feel is the way of virtue.
In the end few succeed as the centuries pass as the dragons look to add more to their company. The entry list is very short as those coming this way often fail to see the Tao as it should be seen. Thinking that it can be turned on and off like a faucet. Each wanting to come this way running. First hot, then cold and then hot again for the strength and comfort found only in the inner self along with the Tao.
The desire for immortality and desire to return home again to live with dragons the driving force behind the effort that must be made. The journey is not one that can begin and end over and over at one’s leisure.The immortal ones do not have time to waste on half-hearted efforts.They cannot be bothered. Keeping to one’s eternal spirit is the motivation to continue the journey. Learning and teaching others along the way.
Be happy with the road to be traveled and find comfort solely within the details. 4/13/94
Staying in tune with what the dragons would have us (me) to do. Acknowledging my own eternal spirit and remaining free to follow the Tao as it flows in and through me. Focusing on remaining in alignment with your path as God clears to way before us… That fear is a stumbling block to mystical achievement. Our vision should focus on a sense of accomplishment… our immortal greatness waiting to be expressed. What stops us is the fear of the unknown and our practice of bad habits and bad thoughts. We should face our potential not living dwelling on our limitations. Buying into the right myths is important in finding our higher purpose and living a limitless world. That our spirit and eternal nature lies waiting in a vacuum waiting for the universe to find us and push us to where we need to go based of what we need for our soul or spirit’s eternal growth. This is what I like about Unity… the takeaway is supportive of wherever you are on whatever spiritual path you happen to be on…. as long as it is God-centered the universe is out there waiting to pull you in. Each day’s entry as I progress meant to give me a sense of where I am as the knowing sage as I proceed through and/or beyond life’s transparencies. Taking the steps needed to rise above the limitations living comes forth to greet me each day. It’s like I know there’s a plane to catch… I have my ticket and should be on it but I am not quite ready to follow the flight plan that takes me to me final destination. That I am assured a ticket is there waiting for me when I am ready to get on the next flight or the flight after… That I know from where I came and where my final destination leads. The only question remaining is why I have not taken the flight after all these years in the hanger of life. I have made visits over the past several years to where I need to go that is like the way station to where my ultimate path leads… bought property there… then let it go. Made numerous friends there who hope I make a speedy return…. It as if I have seen the Promised Land… have been there… measured the curtains (I have) and then again recently for my daughter’s room here at the apartment provided by Jining University. Now as a Professor at Jinin University and consultant to I Ching/Confucius Society in Qufu I can proceed. Now more than ten years after writing the above entry my final unveiling is now well underway. From the beginning when I began writing in December 1993 as I studied Taoism and the I Ching it seemed the vehicle that pushed me onwards was the analogy of the dragon and its importance in early Chinese history… the dragons being found on clouds in the sky and my becoming an understudy of Lieh Tzu and Chuang Tzu. First by becoming adept at following Lieh Tzu, Taoism’s everyday man, in my as yet unpublished book, My Travels with Lieh Tzu and other Sages from Ancient China, and then focusing on Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man. Moving through early Taoism and spending time with my friends, Lieh and Chuang Tzu traveling companions and mentors. The intent here is to at some point get to Lao Tzu’s Te Tao Ching, but my preface is acting very much like the Prelude that preceded my actual book… Thoughts on Becoming a Sage.
4. Following Lieh and Chuang
As Lieh Tzu’s everyday man and and Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man, you may now come forward. The mantle is now being placed on Cloud Dancing with great histrionics and fanfare for all the dragons assembled.
The first portion of the journey complete. Someday you may wear the clothes of one who can see through every situation for the benefit of being at immortality’s doorstep. Keep to your inner self and know that the dragons are forever your protectors and on your side.
These One Hundred Flowers have taken you to heights you had simply forgotten. Have patience and take the time to do what must be done with Lieh and Chuang as your mentors. Keep to the I Ching and refer to what you have written as a reminder of from where you have come and what you are here to remember.
Become proficient in tending your garden as it is your balance between your mind, body and inner self as you live each moment in the Tao. Remember that repetition is the key to learning and that the discipline you need to continue on your journey with us is always present.
Great things are expected and anticipated from one with such great vision. Your ultimate key to longevity and immortality is your ability to understand understand underlying contradictions and turn them into success. Do not leave Lieh and Chuang to be masters by themselves with the others. Follow them and simply continue on your way. 4/18/94
How could someone write the above lines after completing the I Ching and not follow through as one who comes to know dragons, or in my case remember that they were once a large part of my existence and that they always will be. That I am to continue approaching the Te Tao Ching and my mentor Lao Tzu by seeing beyond life’s transparencies as if sorting through the clutter clouding your mind and your way. Then proceed to understanding Confucius and the other ancient Chinese philosophers. That I am here to come to understand that my final destination lies with the angels, or dragons, you have come to know over eons of time and space as you begin to contemplate returning home once again.
Not in the physical sense as if in the here and now, but taking steps to become the sage that belies your destiny. Knowing that true destiny can only be revealed by endeavoring to get it right this time. It is in this spirit that I come forth to pursue my final unveiling.
5. The never ending Story… or a homecoming of Sorts
I am reading Lao Tzu – Te Tao Ching, A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-wang-tui Texts… by Robert G Henricks whose book was published in 1989. I have had book for many years… I will use as primary reference as I proceed with study of Te Tao Ching … Each entry will be added as a reference point… Additional books that I will use as reference materials are as follows:
Lao Tzu’s Te Tao Ching – translated by Red Pine
Rediscovering the I Ching – Gregory Whincup
Shambhala The Sacred Path of the Warrior – Chogyam Trungpa
Tai Chi Classics – New Translations of three essential
Texts of Tai Chi – Chuan Waysum Liao
Taoism – A complete introduction to the history, philosophy,
and practice of an ancient Chinese Spiritual Tradition – Eva Wong
Cultivating Stillness – A Taoist Manual for Transforming
Body and Mind – Eva Wong
7 Paths to God – The Ways of the Mystic Joan Borysenko, Ph.D
Teachings of Chuang Tzu – Attaining Unlimited Life Ni Hua-Ching
Tao – The Subtle Universal Law and the Integral Way of Life Hua- Ching Ni
The Complete Works of Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching
The Book of Lieh Tzu – A.C. Graham
Chuang Tzu – Basic Writings Burton Watson
The Way of Chuang Tzu – Thomas Merton
Sun Tzu – The Art of War Samuel B Grifffith
Seventy seven Direct Descendents of Confucius
A Collection of Confucius Sayings (Edited in Qufu in Oct 1987)
The Analects of Confucius – Translated by Arthur Waley
The Analects of Confucius – Translated by Bao Shixiang/ english Lao An
The Taoist Body – Karen C Duval
The Universe is Calling – Opening of the Divine
Through Prayer – Eric Butterworth
Taoist Ritual and Popular Cults of Southeast China – Kenneth Dean
Scholar Warrior – An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life Deng Ming-Dao
The Elements of Taoism – Martin Palmer
Thoughts on Becoming a Sage – The Guidebook
to Leading a Virtuous Life Dan C DeCarlo
An American Journey through the I Ching an Beyond – Dan C DeCarlo
My “schedule of study” for today begins with the first of 81 entries of the Te Tao Ching. The books listed above will serve as reference materials but the primary guides will be: 1) Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching by Henricks, and my own 2) An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond , 3) My Travels with Lieh Tzu and other Sages from Ancient China (as yet unpublished), and 4) Thoughts on Becoming a Sage. and the 5)Analects of Confucius.
Today as with every day… I begin my journey again…. I seem to be starting and stopping this venture repeatedly over the past almost 18 years or so. I am not starting anew as if I have nothing to show for myself up to this point. But the truth is without structure and discipline following the proper way of virtue is tenuous as best… as I have tethered back and forth between Boynton Beach and Qufu. If I am to be taken seriously as an author, teacher and philosopher then I must “wear the right shoes” of one so to speak on such a journey. I will always try to begin the way first with an entry from my An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond, My Travels with Lieh Tzu and other Sages from Ancient China and entry from Thoughts on Becoming a Sage… that are appropriate at the moment. These are simply to establish a benchmark or starting point to help to get myself in the right frame of mind. Putting things in context means putting them in the order they have appeared.
Next come the stories of Lieh Tzu and his contemporaries (mainly Chuang Tzu, Lao Tzu, Confucius and his disciples, Mencius, etc…) who later were to be known as the fathers of Chinese philosophy and were exemplified by my book My Travels with Lieh Tzu and other Sages from Ancient China (as yet unpublished)… but generally following The Book of Lieh Tzu by AC Graham. There is a string of thought I am trying to assemble that will tie everything together. From the I Ching, to stories along the way exemplifying the inner workings of the Tao as they were and continue to be played out in everyday affairs, to Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching… to ultimately Confucius himself… making the connection as Chuang Tzu’s student letting the dragons have their say through my writing… As such there is no right or wrong way to proceed. Only the way things approach me as to their point of entry. This is to be a scholarly endeavor and I plan to approach it as seriously as I can… Taking into account what I have learned from the I Ching, Lieh, Chuang and Lao Tzu, and Confucius. All taking their cue following an orderly procession of teachings and books from previous writings and from their peers so shall I do the same.
So the way to begin will be verse one of An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond (above), the next three entries from My Travels with Lieh Tzu and other Sages from Ancient China beginning with the preface, then verse 1 of Thoughts on Becoming a Sage. Other resources and references will be added along the way every day as seems appropriate.
6. Dancing with Chi
Everything that ever was will see all that there everything now and ever will be to see.
everything that ever will be is within you now to find. You are not a know-it-all.
All that there ever was But you know all to know or that there that there is to know. will be to know is within you to find. Simply come to know your self and remember
You have been everywhere what you have forgotten. there has been to see, have seen all that there Simply to find again is to see and in the future and again and again.
7. Cloud Dancing
From the clouds dragons appear to those who have prepared. To the I Ching, heaven is to found residing with dwellings of dragons who roam the sky resting in the clouds.
Do not look for me where you have found me before. You will not see me where you have seen me before. Dancing in the clouds with the immortals is where I am to be found.
To be seen with dragons. Cavorting above it all. Beyond earthly endeavors. A strong personality who with compassion and caring succeeds by seeing his destiny in the clouds.
Finding the Tao, finding oneness and finding myself floating across the ski with chi. Cloud Dancing across the sky is easy living with dragons is not. A group of dragons are seen riding the clouds disappearing through the sky. As we disappear, I look back and see dragons resting on clouds dwelling in the sky.
An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (1 HEAVEN / Heaven over Heaven). 2/3/94
After having the I Ching pass through me over a one hundred day period, what appeared to me next was the need to follow the dragons to fulfill my ultimate endeavor and destiny… as such was that I should follow my mentor Lieh Tzu and his stories and teachings.
As one who begins to very slowly and methodically embrace the thoughts of the sage, how does one suppose his thoughts, words (written or spoken), actions or deeds could ever measure up to the glimmering glances of his mentors. But when one’s attributes do… where does one begin and how does one know how to proceed even as the words continue flowing through you like a stream from a never-ending mountain stream that is eternally being fed from underneath the ground while being continually nourished from above… Nature so much a part of you that you blend in to your surroundings… In everything you do, are and hope to become but a semblance of what you now see as your utmost endeavor and destiny always embracing nothing but the Tao,,, to flow along in seeming stillness as the tortoise. Just as your natural inclination has always been to return to the beauty of plants and flowers and just being a part of nature it is what drew you to South Florida and its temperate climate and weather.
In ancient China the tortoise was equated with longevity and having a long life… Just as you are reminded that you are here for only a moment in time before moving on to vistas you have seen and done again and again. Also having a hard outer shell to seek shelter during hardship and difficulty… as such the three stories taken together below, first, Remaining as the Tortoise, second Embracing Change and, third Keeping to the open Road all served to carry me forward while in transition from the difficulties I found in Fall River after completing the book An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond. It was as if the dragons were embracing me and bracing me for hardships that were present at that time and that were to follow before I settled in South Florida the following year. My transition after completing the I Ching …the Book of Change… was well underway at that time. The content and context of all three were actually guidepost pushing me to higher clouds… so to speak with my friends I had recently become re-acquainted with who came to me as dragons… Lie Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu. Together they were preparing me for a journey that would take me to eternity. The universe was calling… My task was to pay attention and lose the baggage that was impeding my progress. Difficulties encountered that were simply manifestations of my own limitations. From them I learned it was not where I was that was important… but who I was and who I was yet to become. And a journey that was ultimately to lead to my going to China and Shandong Province where Confucius and my mentors were waiting for me. All this occurring always pulling me forward towards finding my inner peace as where I was and what needed to be doing was a long way away from where I found myself at that moment. The beginning of a very long journey that would take me many years to complete. A journey through myself and who I was ultimately to become. As if I was sent here as a test to determine my real identity. That once found I would lose the attachments that defined me so that I could claim the legacy that awaits me at the finish of this incarnation. Keeping to the open road, looking for the virtue I seemingly had but have lost along the way. Once found I rejoice in my oneness with the universe.
8. Remaining as the Tortoise
Maintain the thick skin of the tortoise. A hard outer shell impervious to unwanted intrusions. Stay to the one and only true path to understanding. The only real importance found along the Way that will take you further ever closer to your final destination. Slow and steady. Ever ready to retreat within the inner workings of the Tao.
Finding comfort. Retreating as the sage to mountaintops and vistas visited only by the chamois and nesting crane. Both forever up and out of harm’s way. In a haven of craggy outcroppings too precarious for predators who only look to advantage and tender morsels that both represent to the utmost.
The outer shell growing tougher as adversity is encountered and allowed to roll off one’s back as the danger at hand comes and goes. Finding comfort inside one’s protective shell. Keeping kicked around and badgered by those whose only advantage can be gained by putting an end to you.
Lessons to be learned with accomplishments kept simply to oneself. Moving all the while forward at an ever moving standstill. Maintain the thick skin of the tortoise and simply keep plodding along to destinations unknown and unforeseen. Being sure to keep the wind at your back and a vision of final outcomes spread before you. 6/28/94
9. Reference material on internal structure of Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching is a short text of around 5,000 Chinese characters in 81 brief chapters or sections (章). There is some evidence that the chapter divisions were later additions – for commentary, or as aids to rote memorization – and that the original text was more fluidly organized. It has two parts, the Tao Ching (道經; chaps. 1–37) and the Te Ching (德經; chaps. 38–81), which may have been edited together into the received text, possibly reversed from an original “Te Tao Ching” (see Mawangdui texts below). The written style is laconic, has few grammatical particles, and encourages varied, even contradictory interpretations. The ideas are singular; the style poetic. The Chinese characters in the original versions were probably written in zhuànshū (篆書 seal script), while later versions were written in lìshū (隷書 clerical script) and kǎishū (楷書 regular script) styles. Taoist Chinese Characters contains a good summary of these different calligraphies. From the above one can see how Taoist thought and philosophy could be adapted to the times over the centuries. My own writing assumes a poetic style unknown to me prior to me putting pen to paper in December 1993 when I began with The Elements of Taoism written by Martin Palmer. Where it came was unlike anything I had previously written. But with this book winds of change were beginning to blow in my life that pulled me ever forward….
The Tao Te Ching is ascribed to Lao Tzu, whose historical existence has been a matter of scholastic debate. His name, which means “Old Master” or “old masters” has only fueled controversy on this issue. (Kaltenmark 1969:10). The first reliable reference to Lao Tzu is his “biography” in Shiji (63, tr. Chan 1963:35-37), by Chinese historian Sima Qian (145–86 BC), which combines three stories. First, Lao Tzu was a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 BC). His surname was Li (李 “plum”), and his personal name was Er (耳 “ear”) or Dan (聃 “long ear”). He was an official in the imperial archives, and wrote a book in two parts before departing to the West. Second, Lao Tzu was Lao Laizi (老來子 “Old Come Master”), also a contemporary of Confucius, who wrote a book in 15 parts. Third, Lao Tzu was the Grand Historian and astrologer Lao Dan (老聃 “Old Long-ears”), who lived during the reign (384-362 BC) of Duke Xian (獻公) of Qin)..
Generations of scholars have debated the historicity of Lao Tzu and the dating of the Tao Te Ching. Linguistic studies of the text’s vocabulary and rhyme scheme point to a date of composition after the Shi Jing yet before the Zhuangzi — around the late 4th or early 3rd centuries BC. Legends claim variously that Lao Tzu was “born old”; that he lived for 996 years, with twelve previous incarnations starting around the time of the Three Sovereigns before the thirteenth as Lao Tzu. Some Western scholars have expressed doubts over Lao Tzu’s historical existence, claiming that the Tao Te Ching is actually a collection of the work of various authors. By contrast, Chinese scholars hold that it would be inconceivable within the context of ancient Chinese culture for Sima Qian the historian to have engaged in confabulation. Chinese scholars by and large accept Lao Tzu as a historical figure, while dismissing exaggerated folkloric claims as superstitious legend. Taoists venerate Lao Tzu as Daotsu the founder of the school of Dao or Tao, the Daode Tianjun in the Three Pure Ones, one of the eight elders transformed from Taiji in the Chinese creation myth
Principal versions – Among the many transmitted editions of the Tao Te Ching text, the three primary ones are named after early commentaries. The “Yan Zun Version,” which is only extant for the I Ching, derives from a commentary attributed to Han Dynasty scholar Yan Zun (巖尊, fl. 80 BC-10 AD). The “Heshang Gong Version” is named after the legendary Heshang Gong (河上公 “Riverside Sage”) who supposedly lived during the reign (202-157 BC) of Emperor Wen of Han . This commentary (tr. Erkes 1950) has a preface written by Ge Xuan (葛玄, 164-244 AD), granduncle of Ge Hong , and scholarship dates this version to around the 3rd century AD. The “Wang Bi Version” has more verifiable origins than either of the above. Wang Bi (王弼, 226 – 249 AD) was a famous Three Kingdoms period philosopher and commentator on the Tao Te Ching (tr. Lin 1977, Rump and Chan 1979) and the I Ching. Tao Te Ching scholarship has lately advanced from archeological discoveries of manuscripts, some of which are older than any of the received texts. Beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, Marc Aurel Stein and others found thousands of scrolls in the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang. They included more than 50 partial and complete “Tao Te Ching” manuscripts. One written by the scribe So/Su Dan (素統) is dated 270 AD and corresponds closely with the Heshang Gong version. Another partial manuscript has the Xiang’er (想爾) commentary, which had previously been lost.
Mawangdui and Guodian texts
In 1973, archeologists discovered copies of early Chinese books, known as the Mawangdui Silk Texts, in a tomb dating from 168 BC. They included two nearly complete copies of the Lao Tzu, referred to as Text A (甲) and Text B (乙), both of which reverse the traditional ordering and put the Te Ching section before the Tao Ching. Based on calligraphic styles and imperial naming taboo avoidances, scholars believe that A and B can be dated, respectively, to about the first and third decades of the 2nd century BC (Boltz 1993:284). In 1993, the oldest known version of the text, written on bamboo tablets, was found in a tomb near the town of Guodian (郭店) in Jingmen, Hubei, and dated prior to 300 BC. The Guodian Chu Slips comprise about 800 slips of bamboo with a total of over 13,000 characters, about 2,000 of which correspond with the Tao Te Ching, including 14 previously unknown verses. Both the Mawangdui and Guodian versions are generally consistent with the received texts, excepting differences in chapter sequence and graphic variants. Several recent Tao Te Ching translations (e.g., Lau 1989, Henricks 1989, Mair 1990, Henricks 2000, Allan and Williams 2000, and Roberts 2004) utilize these two versions, sometimes with the verses reordered to synthesize the new finds. Below is the traditional picture of Lao Tzu and yin/yang
10. Embracing Change
The doves have arrived with Lieh Tzu to bring peace and tranquility to your environment in a time of upheaval and turmoil. Things have been allowed to get out of skelter. Everything seemingly gone amiss. Little things adding together contributing to outcomes gone astray. Your next footstep along the way must be grounded in knowledge of from where you came and an overall sense of your next step to come.
There is a reason and purpose for your untimely travails.The journey ahead is not meant to be easy. The Way, or Tao not meant to be found without coming to understand the true meaning of compassion, sincerity, and trust that will ultimately set you free. What you were doing was not what you were meant to be doing. Finding yourself in the overall scheme of the universe is the mission that must occupy your every word, action, and deed.
Remember what has been said and written before. Anything seemingly of value by the world’s standards cannot assist you in finding your overall purpose in the journey about to come.
Change must occur. False realities must be abandoned. You must not be tied to preconceived directions that were the results of ill winds and doors appearing to be transitory openings to success and good fortune. They can only bring temporary success in an area fraught by ill gain and earthly endeavors. Never meant to approach the way to be followed or the path that must be taken. Keep to the open road. Complete what you have started and prepare to move on. New doors are waiting to be opened that were simply waiting for old doors to shut.
Remember your strengths and use them to your advantage. Embracing change and the transformation the dragons have been waiting for. As the doves arrive with Lieh Tzu telling you to be prepared and ready to go. 8/16/94
How could I have written the above then continued doing what I had been doing as a city planner, first for a short time in March and April 1995 in West Warwick, Rhode Island then another ten years as a planner in Boynton Beach.. When the wisdom of Kongdan is finally known, how I could have written what I wrote and failed to take action with my every thought, action, and deed is astounding. Especially after the next six years and my writing Thoughts on Becoming a Sage in May 2000 after visiting Qufu in October 1999 six months earlier. The stage was set… If there was a test I must have been listening to Pink Floyd and dark side of the moon at the time and missed the starting gun….
11. Keeping to the Open Road
Keep to the open road.The dragons are waiting for your decision to come forward or stay behind with self‑doubt. Come out of the shadows. There is a time to retreat to the inner workings of the knowing sage and another time to come forward bringing all out into the light of day.Cleansing of one’s spirit is the essential first step before departing up the path to destinations unknown.
Leaving self‑doubt and criticism behind. Coming clean of past indiscretions and faults that must be dealt with before moving on.There is a light at the end of the tunnel of no return. Keep the beam of light in front of you so that you know that your next step is out of harm’s way. Problems encountered along the Way have centered around your lack of discipline. You know the right words to say. However, putting them into action and deed remains the ultimate challenge.
Coming to know the Tao cannot be a haphazard affair. Structure and knowledge gained in approaching the Way must be the ultimate direction to be followed. Discard everything not vital to your new found direction. Things of some perceived value can only serve as chains you remain forever tied to. Letting go brings a comfort in the transition that must be accounted for and observed.
New beginnings do not necessarily mean casting aside structures from where you came. Simply abandon from your itinerary anything no longer needed to travel and see the light that you must now follow.
Struggling to know the proper way is the ultimate challenge. Stay to the open road and keep the full force of the coming gale force wind behind you. Plunge into your endeavors and destiny unconcerned as to what lies ahead as only blue skies surround you. 8/19/94
What a trip… My job as city planner in Fall River had just ended in acrimony and embarrassment. Although I was to be redeemed of any wrongdoing on my part, at the time and for the next six to eight months the transition was very hard. Now we move ahead to the Tao Te Ching and six years later… I had certainly plunged into new “endeavors” as a city planner in Boynton Beach and adopted two little girls. Katie from Maoming in Guangdong Province in May 1997 she was a year old at the time and Emily from Urumqi in November 1999 when she was six.
But it was in approaching the Tao Te Ching and writing Thoughts on Becoming a Sage in May 2000 that clearly laid the framework as to what my direction was to be. Although it would take the next ten years before I was to take the eventual plunge to go to China and Qufu… Although I am writing this on January 4th, 2011 from Boynton Beach.. I have just returned from Qufu prior to Christmas and one hundred day stay (Sept 9 to Dec 20 2010) and plan to return in about a month. It is the Tao Te Ching that I look to and what I wrote that was published in Thoughts on Becoming a Sage to see where that leads me today..
12. Passing the Test
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.
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!” (1/7/95)
13. Coming Full Circle
Walking in circles. Searching for references in the passing windows and sidewalks. Looking for things you recognize from the times you came this way before.The street ahead but a reminder of where you have been and places you have yet to see. Walking in circles. Keeping to yourself. Lost in the memories of who you thought you were when you were once considered someone important.
Forever moving ahead. Finding new patterns that lead to places where new beginnings and endings are simply waiting. As your footsteps are heard coming around again. Now running in circles.The soles of your shoes worn with a certain knowledge of places and things seemingly important before.But now lost in the moment never to be found again. What was once seen as inevitable now becoming only a distant memory.
Keeping to a steady pace. Knowing distances are but to be traveled if the journey is worth taking. As your breath, your inner chi keeps everything to an even keel. Finding a rhythm needed only for the long run. Peaks and valleys ebbing and flowing. Both coming and going with a certainty inevitable as a clean finish.
Walking in circles again. Ultimately getting nowhere except back to beginnings to be found again and again. What was important found along the Way in the end is only what you find you can carry in memories you savor and forget as you keep moving forward. Walking in circles. With no beginnings or endings.
Only time fleeting away. As you have now come full circle to where you were when you began. Nothing more ‑ nothing less. But eternally grateful to the end. 12/15/94
14. Looking Beyond One’s Moment in Time
If we acknowledge we are here only for an instant and in death know we are gone for only a moment, then is not the true course of action simply to follow one’s heart? To not thwart the spontaneity of our immediate desires. To have no thoughts or be seduced by the hopes of recognition or reputation and what comes to be expected by living with others.
Yang Chu says: “A hundred years is the term of the longest life, but not one man in a thousand lives so long. If someone is lucky enough to live so long, infancy and senility take nearly half of it. Nights are lost in sleep and the days are all wasted when we are awake taking up almost half the rest. Pain and sickness, sorrow and toil, ruin and loss, anxiety and fear take almost all the rest. Of that which is left, if we tried to determine how long we are at ease and content, without the least care, it does not amount to the space of an hour.”
If we know that our time is limited, then what can there be to live for? Can it be to dress in fine clothes and to eat the best food? To listen to music and enjoy the company of women?
Yang Chu continued: “What can being open to the whims of society be but to be checked by punishments and seduced by rewards, led forward by the hopes of reputation, driven back by the fear of the law. We compete against each other for an hour’s empty praise and scheme for glory that will outlive our death. Even in solitude we comply with what we see others do, hear others say, and repent of what our own thoughts approve and regret. We are constantly striving for what we think we do not have, thereby losing the utmost enjoyment in the prime of our life. What kind of prison do we ourselves put ourselves into? How much different would it be than if we spent all our time in chains? ”
How is it that one becomes awakened to be able to see beyond what is real and unreal and begin to understand and appreciate what is? Is not the answer that anything of real importance lies within ourselves simply waiting to come forward?
Yang Chu finishes by saying: “Have not our ancestors and the sages of antiquity told us that in life we are here for a moment and in death are gone for only an instant. Therefore, they acted as their hearts prompted, and did not rebel against their spontaneous desires; while life lasted they did not refuse its pleasures, and so they were not seduced by the hope of reputation. They roamed as their nature prompted, and did not rebel against the desires common to all things; they did not prefer a reputation after death, and so punishment did not affect them. Whether they were reputed and praised more or less than others, whether their destined years were many or few, they did not take into account.”
Knowing all this, how can we care if we are praised now or hope for a reputation after death? How could accolades or punishments affect us? How could our destined years, rather they be many or few, then matter? Even though Yang Chu cannot fathom how one can be traveling from one lifetime to the next, only looking at the finality of death how can he not accept that it may not occur and say so? Always seen to be questioning convention, is not Yang Chu himself simply looking beyond his own hour of freedom and what may lie ahead? 6/30/95
15. Discussion and Timetable for Period of Confucian and Taoist Beginnings (770-220 BC)
As I continue focusing again on the Tao To Ching then with elements of each of the three books An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond, My Travels with Lieh Tzu and other great Sages of ancient China and Thoughts on Becoming a Sage, I continue to be influenced by Chuang Tzu and Yang Chu who also entered the picture in the previous chapter. It is the Mawangdui texts of the Te Tao Ching that continues to be our focus along with my own writing described above and the Confucian Analects that served then and now to provide some sense of structure.
What was it about Confucius that led to his ultimate dominance in the sway of ideas. How did he take the reins of current political thought in China twenty five hundred years ago over others who could be said to have better ideas? The truth was is that he didn’t. His preeminence or dominance in the race to relevance did not occur until after his death. How did China go from philosophy and ideas to practical political ideas that could be expressed and then promulgated from theory to action and practice over hundreds of years from about 200BC to 300AD? That five hundred year period saw the consolidation of China primarily under the Qin Dynasty and Eastern and Western Han Dynasties. While there continued to be counter ideas to what would eventually surface as Confucianism, Confucius served to legitimize the apparent supremacy of dynastic rule hens it became the state “religion” and Confucius thoughts and ideas were re-written to fit the prevailing direction the powers that be desired. Eventually every city in China was required to have a Confucius Temple that also paid homage to the dynasty. Confucianism becomes the “state religion” for over a thousand years and in order to gain government employment one had to pass a rigorous exam system based on the Confucius Analects.
770-221 B.C. Eastern Zhou
770-476 B.C. — Spring and Autumn period
475-221 B.C. — Warring States period
221-207 B.C. Qin
206 B.C.-A.D. 9 Western Han
A.D. 9-24 Xin (Wang Mang interregnum)
A.D. 25-220 Eastern Han
It is said that when Confucius met with Lao Tzu, Lao Tzu instructed Confucius to study the I Ching and continue his study of what later would be know as Taoism. Confucius had been much more in tune with Chuang Tzu who he did regularly communicate with. Chuang Tzu liked to challenge authority and existing structure the Confucius felt obligated to uphold and defend. Chuang Tzu was very adept at keeping Confucius off-balance and loved to question the authenticity of ideas expounded on by Confucius and his followers. For all practical purposes Confucius was the liaison between the philosophers at the time and what would become the dominant philosophy of China for the next twenty-five hundred years. Although rather this meeting actually occurred remains open to debate. Its purpose served to secure Confucius role as the conveyer of truths expounded on by Lao Tzu.
Predominate as well at the time in developing Confucius as the teacher was his becoming the compiler of early Chinese history up to that point in time… the rewrite of the earlier texts was his anthem or internal directive.. that he was not here to create… he was here to relate. This is expressed in the following entry I wrote in interpreting Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.
While I have been following the Mawangdui text of the Te Tao Ching, and the current Chapter is following Chapter 43 of that text, taking the next entry out of order fits the context of where we are in the story or scheme of things.. Here I also do a line for line meaning for my own en capturing of the spirit of Confucius and Taoism… but first to try to gain greater understanding as to the meaning of what I have written I turn again to… Thoughts on Becoming a Sage and A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Mawangdui Texts…
16. Chapter 43 of Mawangdui Text of Te Tao Ching
The softest, most pliable thing in the world runs roughshod over the firmest things in the world. That which has no substance gets into that which has no spaces or cracks.
I therefore know that there is benefit in taking no action. The wordless teaching, the benefit of taking no action— few in the world can realize these!
17. Mirroring the Tao
Go forth this day without form or substance and teach without words that otherwise may cloud the way. Remaining free to come and go even to places where appearances show no room as you lift the spirit of those around you and help all to find their way.
Appearing to do nothing. Remaining behind the scene as the ten thousand things are transformed and completed. Imitating the Tao. Mirroring the Tao my spirit soars with the dragons and prospers, you become speechless, following the Tao you take no action. Just as energy from the sun brings life to all it finds – it cannot penetrate a closed door or a covered window.
The light of our spirit reaches everywhere and nourishes everything once we have opened the doors and windows of our soul to the ultimate that calls us. Allowing the weakest to overtake the strongest and the strongest to find their true place in the universe. Succeeding without effort everything under heaven becomes one.
18. Mirroring the Tao commentary
1. Go forth this day without form or substance and teach without words that otherwise may cloud the way. To teach without speaking. What can it mean to bring substance to each situation without form except to say that you arrive on the scene with no pre- conceived idea as to whatever outcome that may occur. How can words convey the true essence of the Tao and nature. What can be said that has not already been said? What can the sage do that already has not been tried? What can the sage bring to any situation beyond his virtue?
2. Remaining free to come and go even to places where appearances show no room as you lift the spirit of those around you and help all to find their way. Is that not the role of a learned person or sage as you do nothing but mirror the Tao? As you remain as if a rising tide lifting all around you so that they may too catch the wave of their own. What can it matter to the sage how he is received by others many of whom caught up in attachments that keep them from seeing clearly. Showing others the way will always be fraught with danger. Is it not better to remain still letting situations come to you instead.
3. Appearing to do nothing. Remaining behind the scene as the ten thousand things are transformed and completed. Letting negative thoughts pass through you giving them no toehold to latch onto as you remain unattached to where they may lead. Appearing to remain still and unconcerned as everything is allowed to naturally occur. To be a teacher in every situation, allowing the ten thousand things to experience their own success and failure look to the sage. Is this not the way of Confucius and the ancient Taoists? Providing guidance as things are allowed to find their own sway as nature dictates.
4. Imitating the Tao and mirroring the Tao my spirit soars with the dragons and prospers you become speechless, following the Tao you take no action. What can the sage’s ultimate aspiration be but to mirror the Tao in every situation? As he knows his future is secure, how can life’s everyday occurrences cause him to stumble? Who are these dragons but the sages of ancient China; Confucius, Lao, Chuang,, and Lieh Tzu and other come and go in an effort to give direction to this one who will ultimately return home to join them.
5. Just as energy from the sun brings life to all it finds – it cannot penetrate a closed door or a covered window. What can this mean but while the sun brings life to the situation, it must be able to shed light on what it finds to show its lasting affect. Bringing light to darkness and making soft what was once hard. Once what was hard sees the light of day, it has no choice but to be made soft once more. What can the Tao do but remain present and still waiting for the closed door or window… or mind to open. While what is closed is closed, nature calls it to its opposite. However, just as some things may remain open, others will stay closed.
6. The light of our spirit reaches everywhere and nourishes everything once we have opened the doors and windows of our soul to the ultimate that calls us. What can possibly be more appealing to us than “finding our bliss’ than to find the Tao or more often than not the Tao finding us. Awakening midstream to what calls our spirit to find and secure our highest endeavor and destiny. What can it be that beckons our spirit to rise up and reach out as we travel everywhere, see everything and begin to know again what was always before us and that we have always known. As if we have been given an opportunity to climb the mountain that obscures our destiny and see the other side. In doing so we can become universal and fly with other dragons to our soul’s content.
7. Allowing the weakest to overtake the strongest and the strongest to find their place in the universe. Does not this truly mean that all can succeed without really trying? What is that the world’s greatest philosophers have said? Not just in the Chinese classics, but those from Grecian history and throughout time. That we all are searching for that which causes our bliss to rise from our depths to the surface of our entire being. That both our weakness and our strengths have been given to us to find, nourish, and overcome. As our purpose here is not only to help ourselves but to help others, does not the universe act through us as we allow the weak to overtake the strongest, thereby freeing the strongest to proceed to their rightful destiny. How could one’s success not be tied to another’s?
8. Succeeding without effort everything under heaven becomes one. What then can be our role? Everyone’s role could not be the same as each person has their own path or way to discovering who they are and why they are here. Is it not when very person can find and stay on their own path to enlightenment through the Tao and their own virtue that the journey begins and becoming universal becomes of paramount importance? How though do we make values universal when so many people are caught up in what they mistake as their virtue they’ve found on their own path as one that must be followed by everyone else? The central paradox that has burdened mankind for the ages. Just when we think we have found the way for ourselves, we destroy and misrepresent the intent of what we find as something that must be followed by everyone else as well. It makes one wonder if thousands of years ago competing shaman who wrestled for the hearts and souls of their fellow clansmen did not face the same difficulty. Who knew the best way to proceed? Was it not ultimately in their looking skyward for the answers that the universe came called for them as well? Was it not finding and following patterns that led to success that carried the day? Was that not how it all began with them beginning to jot down symbols over time that began to tell the answer as to how to proceed? And was that not the beginnings of the I Ching…and ultimately what follows as the rest of the story.
Which brings me back to my earliest writing in An American Journey through the I Ching an Beyond. Living in the world of people and events brings us into situations that challenge our inner nature that serves to guide us to our final destination. An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (43 STRIDE / Lake over Heaven). 3/12/94
19. Danger Taken in Stride
Calamity abounding everywhere. Previous encounters have created tremendous harm, both yours and the commotion caused by others. What is given to us to decide is not always what it seems. A misjudgment here and a misjudgment there soon leads to alternatives lost forever.
Staying within oneself is essential, but not easy by any means. The outside world has agendas that require action. However, it is in knowing how to respond that brings the situation out of the woods and into the light of day. Moving forward brings further disaster and humiliation. With apologies falling on deaf ears and you not seen as being serious. Knowing when to act is as important as knowing how to respond.
Finding strength and clarity you look within yourself to see the direction the wind is blowing the Tao and are comforted with the knowledge that everything is connected to all things. That you are an integral part of the universe following the light to be barely seen at the beginning of the end of a very, very long tunnel.
In keeping to the open road there are situations that can easily get out of hand as you know that both good and bad are there easily to be found. Learn from mistakes and open doors that would otherwise forever remain closed. The dragons are not unhappy as they know danger taken in stride only brings one closer to harmonious endings.
20. Finding The Island of the Blest
What are myths and legends but remembrances of the way we saw things once before in a way that explains the way we wish to see things now that lead lead to one’s final destination.
In traveling the four seas, the four borderlands, (north, south, east and west) and the four limits (up, down, and side to side) all appear to be the same as where I am today. There appears to be no difference. Therefore, it is safe o say that everything contains something smaller, and is contained in something larger without bound or limit. Heaven and earth contain the myriad things, and are contained in the same way as something else which contain both the myriad things and heaven and earth and is therefore unbounded and unlimited. Besides, how do I know that beyond heaven and earth there is not a greater heaven and earth, as Chi of Hsia explains.
Is not all this an attempt to bring sense to words and phrases centuries old? Looking for the paradise of antiquity. Keeping to myths and legends that will show the way. The dragons always leading the procession into immortality and beyond as they come to rest on their Island of the Blest. A sojourn from time spent with the elements and other immortals on clouds in the sky.
As you remain as the artisan. Knowing no limits. Knowing that all things are limitless. Letting your writing be the perfection you find in your own imperfections. That although there remains something large and small in all things you simply remain where you are. With no bounds to your direction and no limits as to who you will be.
Remembering what the ancients and others throughout time recall. As they come and go as the dragons telling the way that will ultimately set you free. Remaining simply as one with the myriad things, no better or worse than anything you encounter. Remembering the myths and legends and knowing that they remain the key to the wind blowing you onward to the Island of the Blest. That you are contained in something larger than yourself. That beyond heaven and earth there is the Tao. That as you are blown along in the wind to destinations unknown, perhaps the dragons are with you coming home once again to their island in the sea. 4/16/95
21. Defining Virtue
What sort of man follows Confucius? Four men who served him are looked upon as examples. The first, superior in kindness, the next better in eloquence, the third stronger in courage, and the fourth exceeding in dignity. All a cut above Confucius in their endeavors. Yet they chose to serve him, why is this so?
What is virtue, but that which springs forth from one’s eternal chi or soul? How can one man judge another when he has his own journey he must follow, his own destiny to find? What is there to possibly come to understand and know except the inner workings of ourselves and the loving kindness that subsequently follows?
Confucius explains: “The first is kind, but cannot check the impulse to act when it will do no good. The next is eloquent but knows not when to speak. The third is brave, but is impulsive and knows not when to be cautious, and the fourth is dignified, but cannot accept others opinions when it is their turn to speak. Even if I could exchange the virtue of these four, why would I, when they are less than my own? This is why they have chosen to serve me without question? Each person must learn their own way in the world. Can mine possibly be better than the path another has chosen to follow?”
Have not those who have decided to follow the ways of Confucius done so without questioning right and wrong, benefit and harm? Letting everything play out to its rightful end to discover their own true destiny. Since the establishment of government destroys the path for all but the true sage is it not best to find the way to govern properly for the benefit of all. Looking you cannot find it, listening you cannot hear it. In the end, there is nothing to be found again and again. 3/14/95
The above entry is written as a precursor to understanding the journey that was to follow from My Travels with Lieh Tzu. Taking things in stride and knowing there are things that confront us that are meant to teach us why we are here and push us to where we are to go… listening to the still small voice within the key to our longevity.
Myths and legends are an important part of Chinese history and culture. Where they sometimes begin and end as fact, or fiction or over centuries of telling simply part of a rich tradition of storytelling is sometimes hard to say. History tells us that one emperor in particular the first Hwang Ti was so ambitious that he not only wanted to rule China but also wanted to rule Japan as well. He sent a fleet of ships carrying three thousand girls and boys to the islands with the intent for them to return from the “Islands of the Blest”. He was a great believer of the myths of Taoism, among which was the story below and the search for the of immortality. Elixirs and alchemy were common and the time and finding the “fountain of youth”. This was where the dragons went to rest… The fleet never returned to China, but the traditions of Japan affirm it did arrive. The Japanese attribute their initiation to Chinese literature to the arrival of the fleet in the second century. The flotilla left from Shantung promontory in what is now Korea. Korea has often served as the go between over the centuries between China and Japan.
22. The Analects of Confucius (Chapter 2, 17-23)
2-17. The Master said, “Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; this is knowledge.”
2-18. Tsz Chang was learning with a view to official emolument. The Master said, “Hear much and put aside the points of which you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time of the others:-then you will afford few occasions for blame. See much and put aside the things which seem perilous, while you are cautious at the same time in carrying the others into practice: then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument.”
2-19. Duke Ai asked, saying, “What should be done in order to secure the submission of the people?” Confucius replied, “Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit.”
2-20. Chi K’ang asked how to cause the people to reverence their ruler, to be faithful to him, and to go on to nerve themselves to virtue. The Master said, “Let him preside over them with gravity;-then they will reverence him. Let him be final and kind to all;-then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent;-then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous.”
2-21. Someone addressed Confucius, saying, “Sir, why are you not engaged in the government?” The Master said, “What does the Book of History. say of filial piety?-‘You are final, you discharge your brotherly duties. These qualities are displayed in government.’ This then also constitutes the exercise of government. Why must there be that making one be in the government?”
2-22. The Master said, “I do not know how a man without truthfulness is to get on. How can a large carriage be made to go without the crossbar for yoking the oxen to, or a small carriage without the arrangement for yoking the horses?”
2-23. Tsz Chang asked whether the affairs of ten ages from now could be known. Confucius said, “The Yin dynasty followed the regulations of the Hsia: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. The Chau dynasty has followed the regulations of Yin: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. Some other may follow the Chau, but though it should be at the distance of a hundred ages, its affairs may be known.”
23. Kongdan’s version The Analects of Confucius (Chapter 2, 17-23)
Confucius says, Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is… adding that when you know a thing, you should hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; this is knowledge. Tsz Chang was learning with a view to official emolument, or about one gaining compensation or a fee for services rendered.
Confucius added that he should hear much and put aside the points of which you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time of the others, then you will afford few occasions for blame. See much and put aside the things which seem perilous, while you are cautious at the same time in carrying the others into practice. Then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument or compensation that is owed to him.
Duke Ai asked, what should be done in order to secure the submission of the people?
Confucius replied, one should advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit. .
Chi K’ang asked how to cause the people to have reverence for their ruler, to be faithful to him, and to go on to nerve themselves to virtue.
Confucius said, let him preside over them with gravity, then they will have reverence for him. Let him be final and kind to all, then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent, then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous.
Someone asked Confucius, sir, why are you not engaged in the government? Confucius said, “What does the Book of History. say of filial piety? ‘You are final, you discharge your brotherly duties. These qualities are displayed in government.’ This then also constitutes the exercise of government. What must there be that makes one be in government?”
Confucius said, I do not know how a man without truthfulness is to get on. How can a large carriage be made to go without the crossbar for yoking the oxen to, or a small carriage without the arrangement for yoking the horses?
Tsz Chang asked whether the affairs of ten ages from now could be known. Confucius says that the Yin dynasty followed the regulations of the Hsia: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. The Chau dynasty has followed the regulations of Yin: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. Some others may follow the Chau, but though it should be at the distance of a hundred ages, its affairs may be known.
How does this compilation of writing come together to create a singular vision representing the best of Chinese thought and philosophy? It has been said that it as if it is a string of pearls. Each entry but a pearl on the strand connected by a string called the Tao; the Tao but the universe that calls the ten thousand things home occasionally to check our progress. The I Ching, Lao Tzu’s Te Tao Ching, my own versions and writings, plus Yang Chu, Chuang and Lieh Tzu and Confucius and his Analects… all serving as guideposts along my way as I further embraced the Tao. Throughout my writing over the past almost twenty years they have been at various times my connection to the past as I relay their words and meaning to the future. Perhaps the real meaning of the coming together of these ancient philosophies is so that they can be better understood today and in the future and even more importantly their legacy to be further revealed. Martin Palmer’s The Book of Lieh Tzu describes how someone approaches the Tao by relaying stories and incidents in life that define how we are to proceed. In my adaptation entitled My Travels with Lieh Tzu my own journey becomes further revealed and that it is through our virtue the universe finds and defines us. What was it that Confucius and his contemporaries were trying to define? And ultimately what were the intentions of those who were to follow? How were the dynasties that followed to use this Taoist philosophy and teachings from Confucius to secure a better life with some meaning? First in defining the I Ching and then waiting thousands of years for the need for governing with virtue the precept for someone like Confucius and those later to be known as Taoists to show the way.
24. Findings of 2011 Annual World Confucian Conference
After a hiatus of several months, I know what the next step should be having returned to USA and Florida for the summer and then returning to Qufu to begin a new semester teaching at Jining University and Qufu Normal School. Also participating in World Confucius Conference has sharpened my focus considerably. My foreign expert status has also been approved. I think first a synopsis of the Confucius conference is in order as what I came away with is that they need me more that I need them. First some background on the Fourth Session of the World Confucian Conference held here in Qufu on September 26 through 29th 2011. Participants are scholars who have studied Confucian philosophy, some for many decades. The focus besides opening and closing ceremonies was the four concurrent panel discussions and academic exchanges on Confucianism. Each session had about twenty to twenty-five participants with about twelve to fifteen onlookers observing their discussion. As an onlooker I could not understand some of what was being said… but they did not know that and I never spoke so they had to assume I understood what was being said. It was at the end of the conference when they gave a summary of each session and the closing ceremony when I could use the headphones with translation of the summery of each session into English that I was able to write down that I could learn what transpired at the conference. The summaries below were basically a synopsis of the submissions of scholars through papers submitted to the conference.
Session #1 speaker summarized their topic on how to preserve Confucian values as follows:
1) We must be able to read the true meaning of the text and at the same time expand the true meaning of the text.
2) Acknowledge that the text originated several thousand years ago and face or recognize the limitations of Confucianism…
3) While lacking the instrumental tools of today’s understanding of language the focus is on values. Not to only stick to the language of the text, but develop into modern applications.
4) Develop Confucianism expressing the gist of meaning in plain words. In the future there is need to use reasoning to explain the relevance of Confucianism in modern society.
5) Greater emphasis on globalization and how to explain events using Confucian ideas. How do we make Confucian voices heard and apply to gain greater influence.
Session #2 speaker focused on innovation of Confucian ideas as follows:
1) Focus on innovation into modern daily life… the connotations of how Confucian teachings are reflected in today’s world.
2) How to convey true meaning of Confucius and the Tao and their importance in world philosophy.
3) To re-examine Confucianism as it relates to the revitalization of Chinese Buddhism with innovation as common theme.
4) To evaluate the influence of Confucius by region and study how Confucians blend in with local culture.
5) The study of Confucianism and time and spatial aspects of evolution of Feng Shui and other historical thoughts. The relationship between man and nature, the “self” verse the “environment”.
With the focus still on innovation session two discussed going through the story of Confucius and his outlook and the pursuit of freedom in Confucianism. Promoting globalization with universal understanding while not looking down on western culture. This was followed lastly by how to take the sayings of Confucius to global places around the world.
Session #3 focus was on universal values expressed expressed through Confucianism and Taoism.
1) Benevolence as the precept to one who rules. Discussion focused on the Tao, chi concepts, social justice and universal topics.
2) The modern values of benevolence and how it relates to ancient or classic literature.
3) The methodology of Confucianism and how do we explain the topic.
4) Meaning of diversified originality. How to teach objectively
5) Yin verses yang. To focus, understand and reflect on modern thoughts of benevolence.
Session #4 focused on education and Confucian rites.
1) Using an holistic approach to the rites. The dream of rites education. One should develop good habits through utilizing the rites.
2) The rites illustrate the backbone, values, and function of Confucians. They build quality of people and harmony with others.
3) The modern remedy of adhering to traditional values through the application of the rites. The I Ching and Confucius are the core of ethic values.
4) The application of the rites should be done to guarantee the stability of the modern world.
5) The motive and theory of Confucianism should be to instill and harbor the best values in people.
6) How do we get more Confucianism into modern education using school textbooks and other modern media to insure in unifying ideas of Confucius are continues insuring the succession of Confucian ideas and teachings
7) Target global issues with Confucianism.
8) There should be more study of connection between Confucianism and modern society.
The closing speech was measured thanking participants from sixteen countries, two hundred scholars and the one hundred two papers that were submitted to the conference. Everyone valued the orientation and discussion of views at the conference and saw outcome as fruitful research on Confucianism exchange and dialog. For myself, how do I see my role and how do I broaden the reach on this group? How thoughts can change the world through academic debate, new schools of thought. How to disseminate thinking… how to compile the works of the conference? How to disseminate thinking in the future and expand efforts of those participating… There is a sense of historical responsibility to share our ideas with aim of tackling problems of the world through exploring positive aspects of ancient Chinese thought. Closing speaker said Sun Tzu said we should defeat enemy through non- fighting or non aggression. Finally, China as a nation is important and universal dialog critical for world peace. We should follow principles set forth with academic excellence and dialog, exchange and universal values of Confucianism.
Following the World Confucian Conference I went to the Confucius Temple here in Qufu that was very crowded with tourists here celebrating the 2500 years of Confucius history and impact on Chinese and world history and culture. How do we take complex thought that guides human behavior with an idea and make it relevant for generations to come? How do we convey the excellent work of scholarship that circles the globe that embraces Confucian ideas and make it attractive to popular culture, not only Confucius, but all ancient Chinese philosophy.
How was this connection between Taoist and Confucian idea to mold together the fabric from themselves to the present day? And what was to be the thread that connected the hundreds of millions of people over the centuries? It was what was before them the first instant when they sat around the fire thousands of years earlier with the shaman providing order and giving individual as well as collective wisdom and direction. Was it not how we govern ourselves and how those around us govern themselves and then ultimately the results that define each of us? Twenty five hundred years ago in what cold have been this very spot here in Qufu, capital city of the State of Wu, where am sitting Confucius and his peers could very well have sat as well. Tradition says that Confucius lived without a day of joy and was mostly disregarded by the leaders of the day, while others far less worthy were venerated and respected. Confucius, along with five others in Chinese history, Shun, Yu and the Duke of Chou were revered and Chieh and Chou who were reviled. What was it that connected all these ancestors of Chinese history? Was it what they saw as their ultimate role that living and dying would bring them ad their own legacy, which bring to mind.
25. Facing up to Reality from My Travels with Lieh Tzu
Who can know how our lives will be looked upon when we are gone? Rather our endeavors lead to a lifetime of misery or one of wealth, how can we know? Yang Chu tells us of six men who the world either reveres or reviles. Yet the four who are revered Shun, Yu, the Duke of Chou and Confucius all lived without a day of joy and each died a miserable death. While Chieh and Chou inherited great wealth and both sat on the Imperial Throne, they were considered villains who followed their desires and incurred the reputation of fools and tyrants. Although in reality their reputations were undeserved. While the reputation of the four sages all exceed the reality of their situation, they died leaving a legacy that has lasted ten thousand generations. How can this be so? Is not all this simply a reminder of who we are to become and the importance of staying within ourselves? Of having no concern for the legacy we may leave, however we may have lived.
Shun plowed the fields at Ho‑yang and made pots at Lei-tse; he never found a moments ease and never had what would be considered good or sufficient food, he was unloved by his parents, and treated as a stranger by the rest of his family. When Yao abdicated the throne to him he was already old and his wits had deteriorated. Since his oldest son was incompetent he had to abdicate the throne to Yu and died at the end of a miserable life.
Years earlier Shun had had Yu’s father killed as he had been responsible for draining the earth of the flood and had not succeeded. Yu had taken on the responsibility of draining the flood and had served his enemy thinking of nothing but his responsibility to the land. When finally Shun abdicated the throne to him his life was miserable with his body paralyzed and his feet callused. He later died having lived a miserable life, the most over driven man under the sky. After the death of King Wu, the Duke of Chou (Ji Dan) controlled the administration of the empire to the displeasure of the Duke of Shao. Rumors circulated slandering the Duke of Chou to the point that he was forced to retire for three years. He executed his older brothers and banished his younger brothers barely escaping with his own life. He died at the end of a miserable life in more fear than any man under the sky. Confucius, the best remembered of the group, understood the way of the Five Emperors and Three Kings and accepted the invitations of the rulers of his time. In each place he was driven to the end of his resources, trapped by his enemies, humiliated by the Chi family and insulted by Yang Hu. In the end he died a broken man, the most harried and distraught man under the sky.
Yet for all their difficulties, each of the four are immolated in our history. All coming to represent something much beyond themselves. Something much beyond who they were when they lived and died. Chieh and Chou on the other hand both inherited the wealth of successive reigns and both sat facing south on the Imperial Throne. The highest rank and honor imaginable. Chieh had enough wit to hold down his subjects and enough authority to make everyone tremble at his merest suggestion. While Chou’s authority prevailed everywhere. They both vented their passion at will, were unconcerned about propriety and duty. Both lived and lied merrily. The most boisterous and carefree of men under the sky.
Both lived in the joy of following their desires and died incurring the reputation of fools and tyrants. Truly their reality was not what their reputations deserved. Whether they were reviled or praised Shun, Yu, the Duke of Chou and Confucius or Chieh and Chou once they are gone, what can they care? The four sages while admired, suffered to their end. While the villains, although condemned were happy to the end. However they all died just the same. 7/18/95
Rather we are reviled or revered while we are here what can it matter? As we scurry or run here and there for a reputation while others are seen doing the same. Does not the Tao teach us that all being equal in the universal, swaying this way and that only takes us further from our center. While Chieh and Chou had it all… what could it matter as they were not equal to the task living brought them each day. Yet for all the troubles of Shun, Yu, the Duke, and Confucius they are still remembered and revered to this day because they knew what was made difficult or easy could not matter when they were true to themselves, inner peace, divine harmony, and the Tao.
26. Staying focused within Oneself
By knowing what is vital can one hold onto fame or health? If he has to choose would it be his health or riches, and in the end would he know which is more harmful, loss or gain. If something is loved, the more it costs, the bigger the treasure the greater the loss when it is gone.
The sage stays clear of that which lies outside him and focuses on enhancing his inner voice and virtue. Keeping clear of what lies outside his true nature.
Staying in tune with his own natural rhythm. While those who would shame him find nothing to shame. He remains aware of his limits and constantly in tune with the Tao. In keeping in sync with the Tao, all flows through him and finds its proper place.
Knowing when to stop is as important as knowing when to start. Knowing restraint contentment soon follows. Finding happiness and wealth within himself his spirit soars and cannot be exhausted.
27. Staying focused within Oneself commentary
1. By knowing what is vital can one hold onto fame or health? What can fame or health possibly mean or matter to one in tune with and at one with his place in nature and the universe? Completing the task at hand and returning to one day reside with dragons. Staying above what he finds each day as their importance only being remaining still and wholly within his virtue.
2. If he has to choose would it be his health or riches, and in the end would he know which is more harmful, loss or gain. The sage knows his time here is measured as an instant in time as he remains tied to the ethereal, or as if he is above all there is he may find in the here and now. Ultimately the task he knows he must conquer is internal within himself. Finding his discipline that has eluded him for an eternity. Knowing this the sage remains still knowing riches will remain elusive if he is on the path that leads to his ultimate prosperity. While focusing on his health and longevity.
3. If something is loved, the more it costs, the bigger the treasure the greater the loss when it is gone. As a lack of discipline and remaining unattuned and unaware of one’s ultimate endeavor occurs, it becomes easy to focus on attachments and a sense of always wanting more. Only when living a virtuous life is lost does one realize what you thought you needed outside yourself only clouds your vision as to what you truly need. To love something you must be the first to be ready to give it away.
4. The sage stays clear of that which lies outside him and focuses on enhancing his inner voice and virtue. Keeping clear of what lies outside his true nature. Knowing that when contention is present truth and falsehood are always the first to leave the scene of the coming conflict, the sage knows his role is to be the one who is next to go. While bringing harmony to the external situation, it is more important that he focuses on fine-tuning his own inner voice that only he can hear. Following in the footsteps of his mentors, Lao, Chuang, Lieh Tzu, Confucius, and many others, the sage simply remains still. Keeping his feet on the ground and his eyes clearly focused as to the path ahead, the sage stays within his true nature as the teacher in every encounter that comes his way.
5. Staying in tune with his own natural rhythm while those who would shame him find nothing to shame. Keeping to his own natural rhythm, the sage is forever being put in situations where because he shuns attention and convention, when both attention and convention when both appear. Always aware that there will be others who are unaware of his fateful journey, as the sage remains an enigma to both friends and family. Finding himself as the teacher Emulating his mentors others soon begin to keep negative thoughts and actions to themselves and out of view of the sage.
6. He remains aware of his limits and constantly in tune with the Tao. One of the greatest challenges of the sage is remaining aware of his own limitations. Knowing to stay balanced, keeping good and bad both at arms length he remains in tune with the Tao Through meditation and reflection his own inner virtue and limitations soon become only those that he imposes on himself.
7. In keeping in sync with the Tao, all flows through him and finds its proper place. Is this not the essence of following the Tao that Confucius, Lao Tzu and all the great philosophers discovered? That by allowing the Tao to flow through themselves, they became the vessel of virtuous thought giving all the way to follow through their individual words, actions and deeds. What better way to do this than as a respected teacher and follower of words of wisdom that the ten thousand things can take their place simply following them and the Tao.
8. Knowing when to stop is as important as knowing when to start. The paradox living brings each day. Knowing when does one thing ends and another begins with the sage remaining indifferent to the outcome as he focuses on shaping events as they emerge. As our timing becomes the only factor determining our success and failure the yin and yang of each thing comes forward simply taking its turn as all thing remain equal under the sun. 9. Knowing restraint contentment soon follows. As you re-create the Taoist way for living in today’s world, you recognize that it is the lack of restraint and discipline that allow underlying contradictions to flourish. Contentment can only be invited to stay when there is no contention present. 10. Finding happiness and wealth within him his spirit soars and cannot be exhausted. Having seem and done it all before does not the sage remain still letting his virtue remain his only accounting. Knowing from where he came and will someday return all the wealth and happiness he will ever need already resides as his virtue to be seen by all he knows.
The above two entries from Tao Te Ching pretty well define where I am in Qufu today following the Confucian Conference I attended in late September 2011 here in Qufu. I now have the platform as a teacher, coveted foreign expert status, and membership in Qufu I Ching Society. Knowing restraint, contentment can soon follow as described above. I should further my efforts in meditation and both internal and external discipline. How to get ahead by staying behind .The paradox being nothing of relevance usually occurring unless initiated and facilitated by myself. What is my role? And does it matter in the end. Something that should be noted, is that from an historic perspective, is the view that the Tao Te Ching may not have been written by one person, but is a collection of wisdom with commentary over several hundred years. Seconded it must be noted that the Taoism of the sages and philosophers of the an dynasty and onwards did not exist when the text was being created. When both Confucius and Lao Tzu left on their own journey (just as you have), they did so not because they were rejected… but out of disgust for bad management of the state during their time. To stay might have been at their own peril, just as it would have for yourself prior to your own decision to come to Qufu.
28. Chapter 44 of Mawangdui Text of Te Tao Ching
Fame or your body—which is more dear? Your body or a possession—which is worth more? Gain or loss—in which is there harm? If your desires are great, you’re bound to be extravagant; If you store much away, you’re bound to lose a great deal. Therefore, if you know contentment, you’ll not be disgraced. If you know when to stop, you’ll suffer no harm. And in this way you can last a very long time.
29. Emperors of the Shang Dynasty
Order Name Notes Reign Time (years)
1 Tang Family name: Zi; Given name: Tang; He overthrew the tyrannical rule of Jie of the Xia Dynasty. The society was stable and the people lived happy lives during his reign. 30
2 Wai Bing Son of Tang 3
3 Zhong Ren Son of Tang and younger brother of Wai Bing 4
4 Tai Jia grandson of Tang 33
5 Wo Ding Son of Tai Jia 29
6 Tai Geng Son of Tai Jia and the younger brother of Wo Ding 25
7 Xiao Jia Son of Tai Geng 36
8 Yong Ji Brother of Xiao Jia; The dynasty began to decline under his rule. 12
9 Tai Wu Younger brother of Yong Ji 75
10 Zhong Ding Son of Tai Wu 11
11 Wai Ren Son of Tai Wu and younger brother of Zhong Ding 15
12 He Dan Jia Son of Tai Wu and younger brother of Wai Ren 9
13 Zu Yi Son of He Dan Jia; the Shang Dynasty came into prosperity again. 19
14 Zu Xin Son of Zu Yi 16
15 Wo Jia Son of Zu Yi and the younger brother of Zu Xin 20
16 Zu Ding Son of zu Xin 32
17 Nan Geng Son of Wo Jia 29
18 Yang Jia Son of Zu Ding; the country was in decline during his reign. 7
19 Pan Geng Son of Zu Ding and the younger brother of Yang Jia; He moved the capital to Yin, thus the dynasty is also called Yin Shang. The country was prosperous during his reign. 28
20 Xiao Xin Son of Zu Ding and the younger brother of Pan Geng. The country declined again in his reign. 21
21 Xiao Yi Son of Zu Ding and the younger brother of Xiao Xin 21
22 Wu Ding The best emperor after Pan Geng. He enlarged the domain of the country through a war. Social productivity developed to a high level, including aspects of textile, medicine, and astronomy. There were great achievements during his reign. 59
23 Zu Geng Son of Wu Ding 7
24 Zu Jia Son of Wu Ding and younger brother of Zu Geng 33
25 Lin Xin Son of Zu Jia 6
26 Geng Ding Son of Zu Jia and younger brother of Lin Xin 6
27 Wu Yi Son of Geng Ding 4
28 Tai Ding Son of Wu Yi 3
29 Di Yi Son of Tai Ding; the country was declined even worse. 37
30 Zhou Family name: Zi; Given name: Xin; He acted atrociously toward his people and doted on his imperial concubine, Daji. He was finally defeated by the tribe of Zhou. 33
30. The Analects of Confucius (Chapter 3, 1-8)
3-1. Confucius said of the head of the Chi family, who had eight rows of pantomimes in his area, “If he can bear to do this, what may he not bear to do?”
3-2. The three families used the Yungode, while the vessels were being removed, at the conclusion of the sacrifice. The Master said, “‘Assisting are the princes;-the son of heaven looks profound and grave’;-what application can these words have in the hall of the three families?”
3-3. The Master said, “If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with the rites of propriety? If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with music?”
3-4. Lin Fang asked what was the first thing to be attended to in ceremonies. The Master said, “A great question indeed! “In festive ceremonies, it is better to be sparing than extravagant. In the ceremonies of mourning, it is better that there be deep sorrow than in minute attention to observances.”
3-5. The Master said, “The rude tribes of the east and north have their princes, and are not like the States of our great land which are without them.”
3-6. The chief of the Chi family was about to sacrifice to the T’ai mountain. The Master said to Zan Yu, “Can you not save him from this?” He answered, “I cannot.” Confucius said, “Alas! will you say that the T’ai mountain is not so discerning as Lin Fang?”
3-7. The Master said, “The student of virtue has no contentions. If it be said he cannot avoid them, shall this be in archery? But he bows complaisantly to his competitors; thus he ascends the hall, descends, and exacts the forfeit of drinking. In his contention, he is still the Chun-tsze.”
3-8. Tsze-hsia asked, saying, “What is the meaning of the passage-‘The pretty dimples of her artful smile! The well-defined black and white of her eye! The plain ground for the colors?’ “The Master said, “The business of laying on the colors follows the preparation of the plain ground.” “Ceremonies then are a subsequent thing?” The Master said, “It is Shang who can bring out my meaning. Now I can begin to talk about the Odes with him.”
31. Kongdan’s version The Analects of Confucius / Chapter 3, 1-8
Confucius said of the head of the Chi family, who had eight rows of pantomimes in his area, “If he can bear to do this, what may he not bear to do?” As was the norm at the time, the three families used the Yungode during the sacrifices. While the vessels were being removed at the conclusion of the sacrifice, Confucius relayed that ‘assisting with the sacrifices are the princes; the son of heaven looks profound and grave’. Seeing this, what application can these words have in the hall of the three families?”
Confucius then said, “If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with the rites of propriety? If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with music?”
Lin Fang asked, “What was the first thing to be attended to in ceremonies”. Confucius nodded and said, “A great question indeed! “In festive ceremonies, it is better to be sparing than extravagant. In the ceremonies of mourning, it is better that there be deep sorrow than in minute attention to observances.”
Confucius then confided, “The rude tribes of the east and north have their princes and are not like the States of our great land which are without them.” The chief of the Chi family was about to sacrifice to the T’ai mountain. The Master said to Zan Yu, “Can you not save him from this?” He answered, “I cannot.” Confucius said, “Alas! will you say that the T’ai mountain is not so discerning as Lin Fang?”
Confucius then said, “The student of virtue has no contentions. If it be said he cannot avoid them, shall this be in archery? But he bows complaisantly to his competitors; thus he ascends the hall, descends, and exacts the forfeit of drinking. In his contention, he is still the Chun-tsze.” .
Tsze-hsia asked, saying, “What is the meaning of the passage ‘The pretty dimples of her artful smile! The well-defined black and white of her eye! The plain ground for the colors?'” Confucius then said, “The business of laying on the colors follows the preparation of the plain ground.” “Ceremonies then are a subsequent thing?” The Master said, “It is Shang who can bring out my meaning.
Now I can begin to talk about the Odes with him.”
A note here about the Analects and Confucius… most of what Confucius may have said during his lifetime was not written at the time he was actually alive but was later attributed to him by his followers. Even here in Qufu, where Confucius lived over twenty five hundred years ago, much is attributed here in relation to the Confucius Temple, Confucius Mansion and cemetery as to what was said by him and his philosophy has grown and been refined over the centuries. This is why 2500 years later Confucius is venerated and reached a “deity”, or “God-like” status, in Chinese history. Excerpts from my book, My Travels with Lieh Tzu offers an accounting of the Taoist and Confucius look to everyday encounters and events that explain the concepts they want others to understand and emulate. Showing the way and bringing continuity between the past, present, and future Confucius and others knew ultimately man’s virtue determines his fate and gave the venue to find it by striving to find it through rites and how one should govern himself before attempting to govern others. Stories and events were portrayed in such a way to explain a set of circumstances that told the meaning of Taoism. At the time the Tao was as yet undefined as a philosophy, but they captured the competing thoughts of the day bringing debate, consensus and cohesion to their efforts
When Confucius spoke of the Shang he was referring generally speaking of the Shang Dynasty and in context the person who was seen and known as the person at the beginning of recorded Chinese history; Old Shang and the I Ching that was to follow. The oracle scripts, from which the I Ching is credited, contain records about solar and lunar eclipses, stars and other celestial happenings. The records clearly demonstrate great advancements in astronomy. During this time, the calendar system continued to advance and in the area of math, people performed elementary accounting distinctions between odd and even numbers appeared.
The script found on tortoise shells is renowned as the oldest Chinese characters. It was created in the Shang Dynasty (17th – 11th century BC) and has over 3,600 years of history. The characters were usually carved on tortoise shells or animal bones recording the divination for the future in the later period of Shang Dynasty (14th – 11th century BC). The rulers during the Shang Dynasty believed in the god and ghost. Whenever they took up a task, they felt the need to predict their fortune by seeing the shape of the cracks on burned tortoise shells or bones. The prediction dates, person’s names, affairs predicted and even the results were all carved on the tortoise shells or animal bones. The Oracle Stone Inscriptions were first found in 1899 of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) by a merchant called Wang Xirong. Due to a flood at the time, many stones and tortoise shells were taken from a village in Anyang, Henan Province (the place where Yin – the capital city of Shang – is situated). People at that time mistook them as some dragon bones used as medicinal materials. However, Wang Xirong found strange patterns carved on the shell fragments and collected them. After much research, numerous characters were found. In Yin Ruins (now Anyang in Henan Province), over 150,000 pieces of tortoise shells or animal bones bearing Oracle Script engravings have been excavated. There are 4,500 words in all with about 2,000 words that can be understood. As for their basic vocabulary, grammar, and the structure of the words, they are consistent with the later Chinese characters. Many important events of the Shang Dynasty concerning the society, economy and culture were recorded in oracle script, giving a fascinating insight into how these people lived. Today oracle script is regarded as the earliest and most expensive cultural relic in China.
What is it that separates me from people here in Qufu, back in Florida, and family and friends in the present? Several times over the years I have been asked… or asked myself to find myself in time. As if where I find myself in the present does not reflect who I am, or that it will enable me to get to where I need to be or go. The seeming difference between myself and others who have through the centuries written about the I Ching, Confucius, and Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu, is that I am not simply dictating their exploits and their musings… but I have become one with them. They each could be writing this themselves. As such I have become the sage of today. What is this conversation with Old Shang except my own personal accounting with the first most honorable master? Being sat down on my mat, in my humblest endeavor to see beyond right and wrong, benefit and harm and come to find inner peace and the virtue that has always guided my way. Finding myself in time could only occur if I was able to transcend myself, to remember beginnings and endings… especially my own… as the knowing sage.
32. Conversations with Old Shang
Upon reflection, you are asked to find yourself in time as before to understand the true essence of knowledge as you follow the wishes of Lieh Tzu. To know beginnings and endings, repeating events and images over time to bring forth from within life’s true meaning. As the knowing sage, what use is knowledge without a firm foothold on the sheer cliff’s edge you have traveled? As you now see the top so close at hand.
Just as you cannot stay where you are now, any more than you can return down from where you have come. Your footprints lead only up and over the edge to new vistas now spread before you.
As when with what Lieh Tzu found while studying with Old Shang, after three years his mind no longer dared to think of right and wrong, his mouth no longer dared to speak of benefit and harm; it was only then that the master so much as glanced at him.
After five years, his mind was again thinking of right and wrong, his mouth was again speaking of benefit and harm, and for the first time, Old Shang relaxed with a smile. After seven years, Lieh Tzu thought of whatever came into his mind without any longer distinguishing between right and wrong said whatever came into his mouth without any longer distinguishing between benefit and harm and for the first time his master pulled him over to join him on the mat.
After nine years, he thought without restraint of whatever came into his mind and said without restraint whatever came into his mouth without knowing whether the right and wrong, benefit and harm, were his own or another’s. Only then when Lieh Tzu had come to the end of everything inside and outside of himself; his eyes became like his ears, his ears like his nose, his nose like his mouth, everything was the same.
His mind concentrated and his body relaxed, bones and flesh fused completely. He did not notice what his body leaned against and where his feet tread, what his mind thought and his words contained. If you can be like this, what principles of what is to come can be hidden from you.
As you now write this for the third time, what could be made more clear? First, as you began by piquing immortality’s interest’ in the One Hundred Flowers, and then again while you were ‘finding yourself in time. The masters or the dragons as they have manifested before you, are telling you again what was before you the first instant as you began your travels. Simply remain as one with Lieh Tzu coming to the end of everything you once held in importance and know that there can be nothing without the Tao. Just as you quietly strengthen your inner resolve as you continue forward on your journey. With no concern for outcomes, that may follow.
What Old Shang conveys to Lieh Tzu, he now tells you as well. New doors are now opening. Just continue clearing your mind and opening your heart and all will follow and be as it should be. What may appear to others over several lifetimes has come to you in an instant. Rejoice in your new‑found friends and in the immortality yet to come. The dragons are pleased with new beginnings as you are now seen traveling with Lieh Tzu upwards through the clouds. 3/15/95
If I was never to write another word interpreting the way of virtue, and simply followed the path laid down before me and shone to me by the dragons – I would have done enough. Becoming the sage means that everything must travel through me before I am ready to take the next step with my thought and actions occurring where I can thrive in a place above change. Accepting the role I am here to play. To live as the sage in an environment where I am seen as one on the path where the ultimate outcome is understood, respected and even revered. All of the above traits have me residing in Qufu. A I continue to assemble this montage of collective wisdom I have assembled at the behest of my mentors, the dragons, I am reminded that I must simply continue the next step on my journey. Living and teaching in Qufu affords one an opportunity to emulate and live the Tao in every aspect of one’s life.. And how could I succumb to authority in the here and now when I have traveled to heights unseen and unknown by all I meet. The idea of staying as one with Lieh Tzu as I continue to approach Confucius and the Tao is important. While the paradox continues, leaving behind vestiges of the past of who you once were enables you to fill the vacuum left behind with images of where you are yet to go. To simply clear your mind and open your heart to your journey that follow. You have indeed “piqued immortality’s interest” now as you come to Qufu you must continue paying your dues. Back to your beginnings and coming to know endings again. This connection to oracle bones and tortoise shells and the I Ching with the Shang Dynasty is critical to establishing the benchmark of understanding. Yes, I have written my own book on the I Ching… and captured the essence intended by my mentors, the dragons… but there is much more to study, evaluate, and learn as I make connections to past knowledge.
33. Saying Nothing, Knowing Nothing, Knowing All
Once on his own with many followers around him, Lieh Tzu had a neighbor with whom he hardly ever spoke. This man, Nan Kuo Tzu, also was a respected Master with his own followers. For twenty years they lived side by side and never spoke and when they chanced to meet their eyes seemed hardly to catch the other’s glance. No one could understand this chasm between them.
When Lieh Tzu was asked if he and Nan Kuo Tzu were enemies, he exclaimed: “Nan Kuo Tzu’s face is full, but his mind void. His ears hear nothing, his eyes see nothing, his mind knows nothing, his body never alters. What is the point in visiting him? However, since you insist I may as well take a look at him.”
Once in the home of Nan Kuo Tzu, Lieh Tzu saw that his neighbor appeared as a clay image with no apparent way to make contact. Lieh Tzu soon also took on a faraway look, his spirit having left his body. With no one able to reach him as well. Upon returning to his own house, Lieh Tzu was asked why neither of them spoke,he responded:
“Whoever gets the idea says nothing. Whoever knows it all also says nothing. Whether you think that saying nothing is saying or not saying, whether you think that knowing nothing is knowing or not knowing, you are still saying and still knowing. But there is nothing that he either does not say or says, nothing that he either does not know or knows. This is all there is to it. Why should there be anything more?”
That Lieh Tzu continued this on‑going dialog or nondiscussion with his neighbor remained a mystery to all except those who truly knew both men. That in reality, these two men had been traveling great distances together for many years. Yet had never been formally introduced. Not that it mattered. 3/15/95
Confucius knew, as did Lao Tzu and the Taoists, that the key to understanding the future is in knowing the past. I would add that the ability to interpret and understand underlying contradictions is ultimately the key to both success and failure. The great sages knew this and extolled this in their own writing. From the time of the shaman thousands of years ago we have always embraced the way shower. The one who led the way away from danger to a better life… Of all the things I have written over these many years, the entry below in my book My Travels with Lieh Tzu, speaks to me the most. That I am one with the universe and that I have come and gone over thousands of years and I have chosen to be here instead of staying above the clouds with my friends, mentors, and companions in time… In reality it is as if I have left the company of dragons if only for an instant.
34. A Visit with Old Friends
Remaining as one with the universe. One’s instincts in constant tune with your surroundings. The only secrets worth telling remaining those that remain non‑contending. Staying in the background as the ever‑knowing sage. As you have seen it all before, is not your time better spent seeking the wisdom and knowledge you find in conversing with your old friends that you have recently re‑discovered. As you have been away for a millennia, but have now come home again. Everyone, Lieh, Chuang, Lao and all the others waiting to hear why you have been away for so long. Or then again, was it only for just an instant?
You explain that you have been exploring human nature and trying to understand how people through the ages could become so confused and off‑centered. That those you have come across are vain in the prime of their beauty and remain impetuous in their strength. That they are quick to tell others how to live without due consideration of how they should do so themselves. That all those you have come across seem lost in their own attachments. They remain inept in their attempts to find the Way, and even more so when they think they have. There remains this constant sense of need to remain proud and impetuous so that it remains difficult to impart and relay the true essence and goodness needed to preserve humanity. Instead of remaining as one with nature, they seem intent on destroying it. Finally, they must constantly be reminded of who they ultimately are to become and need someone or something to keep them steady.
As you finish your account, knowing glances abound as others have come and gone and relayed similar stories. All want to know if you are planning to stay with your old friends or return to your writing in hopes that perhaps one in a thousand may too come forward to learn the proper way. You are amused in that it is known that the sage gives his work to others so that his own power does not diminish as he grows old. Otherwise grappling with confusion when his own knowledge runs out. Back home after a thousand years and the only question that remains is when you leave again. 8/5/95
Ah the dragon scroll, as portrayed in the movie Kung Fu Panda… conveying that the only secret ingredient is the power and virtue found only in oneself. The key to finding limitless power it seems is in fact my own writing and compilation of ancient Chinese thought expressed by the Taoists Lao, Chuang, Lieh Tzu, and Confucius. And that that only thing important is who you are now. Could this cavorting with dragons be what has been pulling me to my highest endeavor and destiny? What was it almost eighteen years ago (December 1993) that made me pull that book. The Elements of Taoism off the shelf at a bookstore at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island that changed my life and ultimately brought me to Qufu. Perhaps it is as Master Oogway says in Kung Fu Panda that there are no accidents. Or that after a month of pouring through this book I would turn to the I Ching and tell my own story that introduced me to my mentors, the dragons to follow my true endeavor and destiny. But why did it take me so long to get here and why so many obstacles… It seems one does often find his true destiny on the road he takes to avoid it… again with apologies to Master Oogway… The key obstacle it seems is this lack of discipline I am saddled with and the need for order in my personal affairs. Its like my mind is agitated with too many distractions. But when it becomes settled everything becomes clear. Remembering that the only thing important is who you are right now…. which brings to mind…
35. Unbefitting Behavior
Doing the right thing and keeping up appearances requires much juggling with many things always in the air always at the same time. With guests arriving food and furnishings fit only for oneself should not be offered to others unprepared. Proper behavior as an invited guest is imperative. Improper liaisons with those who should not be touched can forever scar the outcome. Girls pretending to be ladies and men acting like boys can lead to unforeseen and unwelcome circumstances.
The dragons frown on illicit behavior unbefitting one on such an important journey. Continued movement in this direction will lead to your abandonment along the roadside forever lost and forever forlorn. Keep to the correct manner of action and know that you are assured of accolades and dignified celebrations.
Surging feelings towards both parties must be kept in check. If the attraction is for real they should be explored much later after an interval of proper time, space and distance. Respectful situations require actions requiring eternal respect.
Eventual meetings leading to fulfilling one’s destiny will last like a deep pool in the stream bed once the stream itself has disappeared. If life in the bed is to live, it must respect the eternal ways of nature itself. Actions inappropriate to the situation will lead to disrespect. Respect yourself, learn to respect others and be eternally respected.
An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching 44 RENDEZVOUS / Heaven over Wind) written on March 12, 1994.
36. How to define the role of the sage today
Fitting it all together like it has been exclaimed before like a string of pearls. Each shimmering in the sunlight with its own luster. Once strung together they show a sense of commonality yet a distinction that illustrates their own contribution. Isn’t that what Confucius attempted to do. First with a complete understanding of the meaning of the I Ching as requested by Lao Tzu… then gathering up all the old ideas expounded on in the five ancient classics and making them new again…To show the connectedness of how the Tao… although not yet defined as Taoism as yet at the time, could become the structure of humanity going forward. And how do we fit these pieces together to bring continuity to popular culture today. With this as our underlying premise where do we go from here.
How to define the role of the sage today? And where does he find himself and what impact if any should he have… maybe simply as a teacher conveying his wisdom letting others decide their own place in the scheme of things. As his virtue speaks for itself his own future is assured. The only question remaining is…. from where to continue this dialog with the dragons but with a continuation of the Te Tao Ching, Confucius and my own writing and making sense of it all.
37. Chapter 45 of Mawangdui Text of Te Tao Ching
Great completion seems incomplete; yet its usefulness is never exhausted. Great fullness seems to be empty; yet its usefulness is never used up.
Great straightness seems to be bent. Great skill seems to be clumsy. Great surplus seems to stammer.
Activity overcomes cold; tranquility overcomes heat. If you’re quiet and tranquil you can become the ruler of the world.
38. Becoming Translucent
By not treating things as they are but as they can be everything has an opportunity to complete its cycle and return empty. To treat what seems incomplete as great, what seems empty as full, what seems crooked as straight, what seems clumsy as clever is transcendent. To do all while seeming translucent, or still, is in keeping with your highest purpose and in keeping with your place in the ten thousand things.
The sage is content if the greatest thing is incomplete or the fullest thing is empty for the greatest thing never wears out and the fullest thing never runs dry. He understands that the greatest thing cannot be seen in its entirety hence it seems incomplete. That the fullest thing cannot be seen in its totality hence it seems empty. That the straightest thing cannot be seen in its completeness; hence it seems crooked. That the cleverest thing cannot be seen in its perfection, hence it seems clumsy.
It is when opposites complement each other that the highest order is maintained. When order is found and balance maintained we become perfectly still. When we become perfectly still the order of the universe becomes known and all becomes translucent, or clear.
39. Becoming Translucent commentary
1. By not treating things as they are but as they can be everything has an opportunity to complete its cycle and return empty.
Isn’t this what I have always done? By NOT treating things as they are but as they can be has been my operating premise as long as I can remember. As I have always followed what Gandhi said… “we must be the change we want to see in the world.” The difficulty always not recognizing that at some point we must understand “it is what it is” has sway on the outcome as well. Helping people and things complete the cycle for which they are here is the paramount call of nature and the universe. Isn’t this the ultimate role of the knowing sage?
2. To treat what seems incomplete as great, what seems empty as full, what seems crooked as straight, what seems clumsy as clever is transcendent. To remain unaffected by circumstances is key as if everything is perfect in its current state or stage of development. Remaining still with your virtue intact and plain to see by all around you. Thereby allowing everything to find its own place as it emulates the path you have left them to follow. Following the path themselves to their highest endeavor and destiny. Acknowledging things as they are, while giving what you find license to exceed their own expectations.
3. To do all while seeming translucent, or still, is in keeping with your highest purpose and in keeping with your place in the ten thousand things.
For myself, this is the greatest challenge of the sage. Remaining still… Letting each situation play itself out while staying in the background. Things never seem to occur unless initiated by myself, but then in the end nothing lasting really has occurred. As if I was never really present but only remembered for what I let behind, all the while remaining an enigma as if invisible to those around you.
4. The sage is content if the greatest thing is incomplete or the fullest thing is empty for the greatest thing never wears out and the fullest thing never runs dry. When the ten thousand things remain in the stage of always becoming they are never complete, remain forever empty, never wear out or run dry… they can then become universal. When all things become equal and non contending becomes apparent virtue can appear to fill the stillness and decide to stay. As the sage prefers stillness above all else he can remain unnoticed and focus on cultivating his own inner virtue and his own place in the universe. As he has seen and done it all before, the sage simply remains the teacher for others to see and follow.
5. He understands that the greatest thing cannot be seen in its entirety hence it seems incomplete. As everything in the universe is constantly changing into something else nothing remains static, or unchanged. It would be impossible to see things in their entirety or suggest an outcome since everything remains never-ending. As things remain incomplete, what could the sage possibly do to affect an outcome that cannot already be known?
6. That the fullest thing cannot be seen in its totality hence it seems empty. As there is nothing that does not appear as some sort of matter, if something appears to be full it is only waiting until it has reached its limitations so that it can begin again as being empty once again. How can a thing have totality if it can never remain full as its nature calls it to be made full then empty again and again and again. 7. That the straightest thing cannot be seen in its completeness; hence it seems crooked and the cleverest thing cannot be seen in its perfection, hence it seems clumsy. As the straightest thing must continue forever as if it has no beginning or ending point, how can we see it being completed when it appears to be crooked before its end… Just as when cleverness takes sides it leaves perfection behind and is seem as unwieldy and not fitting to the circumstances at hand. 8. It is when opposites complement each other that the highest order is maintained. The universe looks to balance and moderation in all things. Extremes in any direction brings unwanted attention that pull us from our ultimate endeavor that being when our inner virtue is found, nurtured, and kept close by to guide our way. Opposites are like magnets with apposing sides. They automatically repel the other side. No cajoling or attempts at persuasion can convince them to take to the other side. Finding the middle means there will be little of no contention present. As the sage abhors and averts contention whenever possible, he knows maintaining order in all things brings order to the universe.
9. When order is found and balance maintained we become perfectly still. Contending for the middle and finding moderation with our virtue intact is the true way of the knowing sage. It is in stillness we find our highest endeavor and our destiny becomes clear.
10. When we become perfectly still the order of the universe becomes known and all becomes translucent, or clear. The sage thrives in stillness and finding balance in all things. He disdains contention and looks for harmony and virtue to guide his daily routine and endeavors.
40. The Analects of Confucius (Chapter 3, 9-16)
3-9. The Master said, “I could describe the ceremonies of the Hsia dynasty, but Chi cannot sufficiently attest my words. I could describe the ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, but Sung cannot sufficiently attest my words. They cannot do so because of the insufficiency of their records and wise men. If those were sufficient, I could adduce them in support of my words.”
3-10. The Master said, “At the great sacrifice, after the pouring out of the libation, I have no wish to look on.”
3-11. Some one asked the meaning of the great sacrifice. The Master said, “I do not know. He who knew its meaning would find it as easy to govern the kingdom as to look on this” pointing to his palm.
3-12. He sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present. He sacrificed to the spirits, as if the spirits were present. The Master said, “I consider my not being present at the sacrifice, as if I did not sacrifice.”
3-13. Wang-sun Chia asked, saying, “What is the meaning of the saying, ‘It is better to pay court to the furnace then to the southwest corner?'” The Master said, “Not so. He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.”
3-14. The Master said, “Chau had the advantage of viewing the two past dynasties. How complete and elegant are its regulations! I follow Chau.”
3-15. The Master, when he entered the grand temple, asked about everything. Some one said, “Who says that the son of the man of Tsau knows the rules of propriety! He has entered the grand temple and asks about everything.” The Master heard the remark, and said, “This is a rule of propriety.”
3-16. The Master said, “In archery it is not going through the leather which is the principal thing; because people’s strength is not equal. This was the old way.”
41. Kongdan’s version The Analects of Confucius / Chapter 3, 9-16
Confucius said, “I could describe the ceremonies of the Hsia dynasty, but Chi cannot sufficiently attest my words. I could describe the ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, but Sung cannot sufficiently attest my words. They cannot do so because of the insufficiency of their records and wise men. If those were sufficient, I could adduce them in support of my words.”
Confucius added, “At the great sacrifice, after the pouring out of the libation, I have no wish to look on.”
Some one asked the meaning of the great sacrifice. “I do not know. He who knew its meaning would find it as easy to govern the kingdom as to look on this”-pointing to his palm. He sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present. He sacrificed to the spirits, as if the spirits were present.
Confucius then said, “I consider my not being present at the sacrifice, as if I did not sacrifice.”
Wang-sun Chia asked, saying, “What is the meaning of the saying, ‘It is better to pay court to the furnace than to the southwest corner?'” Confucius responded, “Not so. He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.” Confucius then added, “Chau had the advantage of viewing the two past dynasties. How complete and elegant are its regulations! I choose to follow Chau.”
As Confucius entered the grand temple he asked about everything. Some one said, “Who says that the son of the man of Tsau knows the rules of propriety! He has entered the grand temple and asks about everything.” Hearing the remark, Confucius added, “This is a rule of propriety.”
In conclusion Confucius added, “In archery it is not going through the leather which is the principal thing; because people’s strength is not equal. This was the old way.”
Below is one of my stories about Confucius from my as yet unpublished book, My Travels with Lieh Tzu… the paradox being having discovered the true way and having the ability to follow it. I have written all that I need to write. Now its just a matter of putting the pieces together in a coherent passage for me to follow. I must learn to live through my writing and teaching. The sage transforms his feelings and returns to his true nature. One’s ultimate aspiration would be to stay as one with the universe. Retreating into the essence of virtue and respect for one’s environment; one’s own innate nature and the world around him comes forth to greet the sage each day. Having an almost ethereal, or celestial, approach to what he responds to. To always be or remain in the state of becoming. To fully enmesh oneself in the “I am that I am” syndrome that leads to a life of meditation, reflection, teaching and humility.
42. Rejoice in Heaven and Know True Destiny
Can there be a careless side of rejoicing in heaven, know true destiny and still have no cares? Asked to explain, Confucius tells us: “The training of your personal character, indifferent to failure and success; awareness that the events which have happened and will happen to you, do not depend upon yourself and should not disturb your thoughts. This is what you understand by the carelessness of rejoicing in heaven and knowing true destiny.”
However, in attempting to instill this order and make it plain for all generations to follow, everything soon deteriorates and whatever good inclinations that may have occurred soon vanishes. If this way does not work now, how can it possibly work in the future? I now know that what comes and goes are of no help in restoring order. Can this be what the one who rejoices in heaven and knows true destiny has to care about?
Nevertheless, I have discovered the true way. Keeping to earthly endeavors and desires is not what is meant to be followed. Rejoicing in nothing and aspiring to nothing are the true rejoicing and the true knowledge. So that you rejoice in everything, know everything, care about everything, do everything. If attempting to instill order cannot be done, why attempt to replace it if it remains the true way of knowledge? Therefore the training of your personal character, indifferent to failure and success becomes a part of nothing. As you are reminded that the events which have happened and will happen to you do not depend upon yourself and becomes a part of nothing. Understanding this, how can your thoughts be disturbed.
If one is true to oneself, then he can begin to come to understand the carelessness of rejoicing in heaven and abiding by his true fate. Having no cares coming in, coming to know heaven and whatever destiny that follows. 3/5/95
As I write this on October 8, 2011 on my fifty-ninth birthday, I am reminded of why I am here and that my greatest aspiration is to one day return to live with the dragons How can emotions guide my way when I know I am here only to build on my highest endeavor, my greatest aspiration and succumb to my ultimate destiny. From this day forward, from this moment forward, I cleanse myself of human frailties of thought, action, and deed and I accept the legacy for which I have been chosen and fully commit myself to the Tao and wherever that may lead and so it will be. Amen. This is the covenant I have made with the universe, the dragons, God, and the Tao. In following my instincts I revert back to… An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond and an original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching.
43. Becoming Irrelevant
Know that inside and outside are the same. That truth and falsehood are not the issue and begin to travel with dragons on clouds in the sky. Know that there is no way to discuss the ultimate joy found in finding the true path of virtue and the oneness to be found in all things.
Physical descriptions become irrelevant to explanation of how all things fit together in a unifying purpose to be found as one yesterday, today and forever for all things to be found in the universe. The Tao teaches that the essential elements making up all things are to be found in everything only shaped in different ways.That sameness is the essential Tao. Coming to know this basic tenant is the underlying reason for one’s journey.
The journey is long and arduous. It is difficult to bear, hard to continue and only more impossible to endure. You are forever blown along with the wind. As a leaf with no real destination. Only a sense of purpose brought along for the ride into eternity as the crane and tortoise are to longevity and beyond. Final destinations unknown.With nothing brought along as an itinerary except as the elements dictate things to come. A randomness that foregoes any relevance to anything not essential to the true way.
Assist only with the collapse of reason and find the path blocked for everything except that that can begin again to built on a true foundation. Built solid in the words and images of the Tao and by God himself as all that will be needed to succeed. 4/11/94
Simply to begin to come to understand the carelessness in rejoicing in heaven and knowing your true fate; to remain clear of earthly endeavors and desires not in keeping with the virtuous path you are to travel. as you release what you care about, rejoice in heaven, and know true destiny…. It was the book The Elements of Taoism that helped to make sense of the texts I was to use… putting all together within my own context of past, present and the future. As I try to understand as much as possible from which events have occurred over the centuries. The first line above, to value compassion and learn humility is the first step in finding our innate virtue. Just as Lao Tzu told Confucius to begin with the I Ching… so was I. From there it was on to the Te Tao Ching and writing my own version of each one. To capture the essence of both, gaining a coherent sense of what there is to gain in learning to follow the Tao.
44. Beware of Paper Dragons
Value compassion and learn humility. Sense the fear that others feel and know their pain and know the true way of understanding and virtue. Contrasting adversity and success under pressure completes the cycle that must occur in all things to have any real meaning.
Gathering together to celebrate hopes and dreams and success and past failure brings forth redemption and calls for the sacrifice that must be made. Be obligated to good fortune and find moments of incoherence much more fully appreciated and endured. Contemplating the worst will happen in the best of times only dampens the arrival of what was truly anticipated in the worst of times. Facing the reality of the moment is much less demanding than what you might expect and is generally within your make up to handle.
With responsibility comes a certainty of events as they become yours to control. Remain confident of how things will be disposed of and find comfort in the final results. Beware of paper dragons and straw dogs set up to impede your real progress. They are simply an illusion to test your true strength and mettle.
Getting by will require more than a good show and will need a display of backbone and true grit. Expressions of sincerity will keep you above reproach. As with the tortoise, slow and steady prevails. Know endurance, but be prepared to retreat into your shell. 3/12/94
With the purpose being to begin my task of “making sense of the text and calling it my own”. Gaining the sense of language, meanings and origins that seem to permeate the Te Tao Ching as it runs through you. You are not to simply read it. You are to become what you read. To internalize the text and become as one with it… The content itself lends itself to kingship, or pragmatic or sagacious advise as to how to rule others. The wisdom expanded a few pages back in Chapter 44… questioning which is more important. Your fame or your true self, your true self or your wealth. Ultimately questioning which is more valuable. The sage knows that valuing and enhancing his inner voice and virtue is key. Finding and staying in tune with one’s natural rhythm allowing the Tao to run through him as he becomes simply an extension of the universe he finds happiness not in wealth and riches, but within himself. Doing this one can begin to follow eternity’s dream for himself. To begin to perhaps see yourself for the first time.
45. Elements of Taoism commentary
This idea of ruling others by first gaining rule of oneself is the key to understanding what Confucius and his peers were grappling with. Especially the focus on wisdom to be imparted to or by anyone in a position of authority. It was the Taoist use of paradox to use writing or text of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and of Chuang Tzu and the putting together the five classics by Confucius that begin moving people. To at one level condone power, authority and dominion as being valid ways for the use of what was to become “Taoist wisdom”. It was again the need to find and stay within this natural rhythm of “thought” that would lead you to immortality though your words and what you had written. Just as the greatest Taoist and pragmatism, Confucius was able to do. It is when one thinks of the anti-authority stances of the later Taoist sages; of how the utter renunciation of such means by the sage living alone in the wilderness or on mountains; if the utter disdain, or dislike, the immortals, the sage view such pursuits. Yet from their beginnings both the I Ching and Tao Te Ching there was not only an acceptance of such means but instructions on being effective within them. This point is extremely important in addressing how to move the structure from thoughts written thousands of years ago up to the modern culture of today and can it be done?
The paradigm of the times dictated what could be accepted as popular culture and what would not be. How did they do it? Trial and error… Understanding underlying contradictions and complimentary opposites as to what would work and what would not. Moving people and events in tandem, i.e., together, in the same direction is difficult at best. The Taoist would say “why should it matter”. If I am here after a thousand year absence as I have written in “A visit with Old Friends” in My travels with Lieh Tzu, that I am here to explore human nature and trying to understand how people through the ages could become so confused and self or off centered. That just as my friends Lao and Chuang Tzu and Confucius found twenty five hundred years ago, people you have come across are vain in the prime of their beauty or what should be known or considered as their wisdom and yet remain impetuous in what they perceive as their strength. Its as if nothing has changed and you can see why staying above it all watching from above is where you are better suited to remain. As a scholar and teacher you see your role as imparting some sense of wisdom so others may catch their own breath, or wind to someday fly away with the dragons just as you have done yet have returned. Now you know… taking almost twenty years to capture the essence of your highest endeavor you see now that your place is to stay above humanity as you continue to reside with them. Remaining an enigma as the paradox you encounter daily continues.
What can it possibly mean for and to the sage to remain above change, From the beginning with the shaman and the I Ching… literally known throughout history as the “Book of Change”. There has been an eternal understanding that change is the order of the universe. I think Verse (Chapter 45) of the Tao Te Ching is so important that it bears repeating here again in its entirely.
The premise of becoming translucent, as if I am here but not here, providing a way or seamless path to the Tao in keeping with the character I have assumed is critical to ultimate endeavor. Keeping myself focusing through my writing is paramount. This passage symbolizes what it is that makes me so different than others I meet everyday. For myself the essential truth is I am becoming what I write. Or better said, my writing brings forth who I have always been. It is as though I am being directed by hands above the true meaning of the Tao as the ancient philosophers, my mentors would have it.
How could I not do this – and how could I not bring this innate ability to Qufu and finally break through this barrier and need to expand on the sense of understanding /misunderstanding that has existed for thousands of years. How can I not accept my dual role as one of the ten thousand things as I alternate filling and emptying myself with events that swirl around me, while at the same time accepting my role as one for the ages, the sage? When you can know the world without leaving your doorstep and are able to succeed without trying by relying only on your true nature, your vision moves beyond the distant horizon. Your ultimate endeavor becomes living within the image you have created through your writing and bringing others along for the ride too. Living the Tao means becoming the Tao and finally accepting your role just the same. For the sage, how could it happen any other way? But again… what was it in December 1993… that virtually awakened me to who I am and who I am yet t become. The key to limitless power is my ability to speak to their meaning and bringing forth an understanding to modern thinking. The dragon scroll is my own ability to see past immediate limitations. The paradox always being that little happens unless I initiate it… but then in the end nothing really happens materially. I just continue on the road to finding and living in virtue. It is as if that in itself should always be enough.
46. Staying Behind to become a non-existing presence
Sometimes its best to confront an underlying contradiction head on… Describing the paradox as Chuang Tzu was so adept at doing. Seeing life as his “perfected man” who sought to see beyond what seemed obvious. As Chuang said himself – “The perfect man uses his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing. It receives but does not keep.”
47. Where can Truth Lie, except within Ourselves
How do we measure the essence of completeness or deficiency within ourselves, or can we as they can only come of themselves? Is that not the initial hurtle? As we learn that there can be no effort to measure, estimate or calculate what may effect us. Does not the Tao teach us that it is only by measuring nothing that we come to measure everything, become completed and be without deficiency?
Do not those who measure benefit and harm, estimate fact and falsehood and calculate the feelings of others lose as often as they win. Can knowledge help to bring victory where one would otherwise lose, or does lack of knowledge ultimately bring the same results? Again, with both sides winning as often as they lose.
Therefore, is it not said: “life and death depend on destiny and that riches and poverty depend on the times? He who resents being cut off in his prime does not know destiny. He who resents poverty and distress does not know the times. To meet death unafraid. To live in distress without caring is to know destiny and accept what time brings.”
Can this possibly be what brings sense to it all? Can we be satisfied with the correctness of our own wisdom? Can we be assured with the subtlety of our own skill? Can we be convinced that our talents will bring us success? Can our ego and faults go without saying, making us irreproachable? Can we not take a close look at ourselves to determine if our behavior fits the times?
While each of the above attitudes are different, are not each simply the manifestations of the destiny given to each of us? How can success be seen as success for one when it is seen as failure for another? Where can truth lie? How can wisdom by itself know when to act and when to stop? When to come forward and when to stay behind? Does not the answer lie simply within ourselves? 6/19/95
Also from Chuang Tzu, “The non-action of the wise man is not inaction. It is not studied. It is not shaken by anything. The sage is quiet because he is not moved, not because he wills to be quiet… Joy does all things without concern. For emptiness, stillness, tranquility, tastelessness, silence, and non-action are the root of all things.” Both Lieh Tzu and Chuang Tzu have been my mentors guiding my way for many year watching where I will go while I am here in the here and now. Always pushing me to recall and remember who I am and to where I will someday return. While Chuang Tzu is seen as the perfect man, Lieh Tzu is known as the opposite, the common man with both playing a role in defining Taoism’s ultimate role.
The paradox and quandary knowing when to come forward and when to stay behind as always seeming life’s central question. Who has the right to speak as the voice of heaven? Was it the emperor who saw himself as the embodiment of how heaven was to be squared with on earth. Or was it each man for himself and how to rectify this with the working of the Tao. Using Chuang Tzu’s example of asking if we are in a dream or truly awake… and could it matter. As with the infamous butterfly and his dreaming of the butterfly then waking up asking rather in reality he was the butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu or the opposite… he as Chuang Tzu becoming the butterfly… and in the end could it have mattered. Rising above earthly endeavors dreaming he was the butterfly, Chuang Tzu could see beyond himself and in doing so was adept in question what appeared as what “was” into a sense of what could be.
48. Chapter 46 of Magwangtui Text of the Te Tao Ching
When the world has the way, ambling horses are retired to fertilize the fields. When the world lacks the way, war horses are reared in the suburbs.
Of crimes—none is greater than having things that one desires; of disasters—none is greater than not knowing when one has enough. Of defects—none brings more sorrow than ones desire to attain.
Therefore, the contentment one has when he knows that he has enough is abiding contentment indeed.
What is to come of this channeling the ancient philosophers that I seem so adept at? Could it be I have always known them as my “forever friends” and that I have gained their eternal respect and admiration for returning here when I could have stayed with them beyond the clouds with my own human infirmities in the here and now simply to serve as a reminder of who I once was and will be again. And would I myself simply be awakening from a dream at some point to begin preparing to return to live with dragons once more. It is our own lack of discipline that keeps us from completely embracing the Taoist traditions we need to follow. However, this seems to be the trend from the beginning… In my own case it has been my lack of physical coordination that inhibits my ability to do tai chi and my lack of memory to be able to learn mandarin, both illustrative of something much more fundamental than a lack of discipline… my putting off for more than ten years my coming to Qufu to pursue my ultimate endeavor and destiny the question remains that with such talent as a writer and conveyer of Taoist thought and philosophy, why have such difficulties been persistent in my life. The answer is the lack of discipline and weaknesses that my writing tells me only compliments my strengths.
49. 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.
50. Prevailing Contentment commentary…
1. 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. As the sage has seen it all before and traveled the heavens over eons of time, how and why should it matter what the world brings to our doorstep and why should it matter. Living within what the Tao teaches begins with learning to living wholly within ourselves immune from outside endeavors. How and why should they matter? How could we accept the premise of looking for or finding contentment in the world around us as we have seen beginnings and endings many times before and know the ultimate outcome of things to come.
2. If we are busy cultivating things instead of ourselves, how can we find our true place in the ten thousand things? Is that not the crux of it… that when we are attracted to adornments and attachment outside ourselves and not remaining still, listening to that still voice within us we may miss our calling when the universe comes to find us. How and why should be remain busy cultivating things outside ourselves if they are foreign to our internal nature? Should not we refrain from such folly and entertain only those things that assist us in finding our true place with the ten thousand things.
3. 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? Can it be that it cannot be enough just to know we have had enough? What can desires be but those things we come to know in the here and now that distract us from our virtue. That we must be content from the beginning to know when contentment comes and decides to stay. Doing so we can see what is important and what will never be. What is it that drives some to only look for things outside themselves and not seek to discover the richness of the Tao found only within themselves? Why is it some can find the Tao in an instant and others never know how to look within themselves for what has been there all along? Or better said , how do we find our calling so that the universe can simply carry us forward to our ultimate endeavor and greatest destiny?
4. 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. To seek only those things that resides within himself and speaks of only those things emulating the Tao. Knowing that through meditation and self knowledge can return to find the pureness of his eternal virtue that will carry him forward just for today. Doing so daily he knows tomorrow will always simply take care of itself because he knows that when tomorrow arrives it will be simply another day like today. With this his every thought, his appearance, his actions and deed can never go beyond the boundary he has set for himself. It is in this way the sage remain secure in his own keeping. By staying close he becomes the reflection of the Tao and is seen as remaining beyond himself and nothing more that an extension of the Tao.
5. 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. Is it not when the sage returns to the eternal path that acknowledges he is only here for an instant before he moves on, that these three ailments are the bane of mankind… That it is in the yielding to our desires that discontent comes to find us. That it is in doing so we are forever unprepared for the consequences that are sure to come. That we live by cause and effect that is all. What we sow we reap and cultivate for an eternity and is all we have to eat along the way.
6. 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. Why an how could it have taken eighteen years for me to see what was before me the first instant and a full seven years from that instant before I wrote this eleven years ago? I guess finding the content and coming to know contentment are two vastly different things. It was the attachments I had accumulated for a lifetime that I had to dismiss and leave behind. Now that I know the seeds of my contentment were always present, how could I not just live within what I already know? Finally, finding confidence within my own skin encourages others to come forward for themselves to find their own content and contentment.
7. Finding that the Tao has come full circle and begun to prevail in the world, the sage can be on his way. As the teacher he was always ultimately here to become, the sage begins to see a glimmer of hope as others come forward to live within their own virtue, seeing this his role here complete he simply returns again to stay and live with his mentors, catch upon old times before preparing to depart again.
51. Raining Ecstasy
You are constantly reminded that there can be no rush. That everything has its place and time. Learn to have patience and simply become a part of the events swirling around you. Come to know the essence of being yourself. Find comfort in the connectedness of everything and the silence that surrounds you.
As the rain falls on an April morning delays your own plans, know that the falling rain is much more important to the renewal necessary to continue than any seemingly simple sense of self importance you may have on your own agenda. As you come about outside simply enjoying the oneness the rain brings to all things, merely find the satisfaction of being a part of it all.
Essential to the journey is not to challenge the balance of nature.But to simply know your place within the elements. While you may have seen all of this before, with every step the window of opportunity opens a little wider letting the breeze blow and the light shine on path you have to follow.
Remain as the shaman and reclusive sage keeping the dragons and immortality as the uppermost dimension of your eternal spirit. Be as one with the crane and tortoise and come to know peace and longevity along the way. Keep to the lower clouds as the immortals wish and be prepared to simply look up feel the rain falling on your face and know true ecstasy. 4/16/94
52. The Analects of Confucius / Chapter 3, 17-26
3-17. Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep connected with the inauguration of the first day of each month. The Master said, “Ts’ze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony.”
3-18. The Master said, “The full observance of the rules of propriety in serving one’s prince is accounted by people to be flattery.”
3-19. The Duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers, and how ministers should serve their prince. Confucius replied, “A prince should employ his minister according to according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with faithfulness.”
3-20. The Master said, “The Kwan Tsu is expressive of enjoyment without being licentious, and of grief without being hurtfully excessive.”
3-21. The Duke Ai asked Tsai Wo about the altars of the spirits of the land. Tsai Wo replied, “The Hsia sovereign planted the pine tree about them; the men of the Yin planted the cypress; and the men of the Chau planted the chestnut tree, meaning thereby to cause the people to be in awe.” When the Master heard it, he said, “Things that are done, it is needless to speak about; things that have had their course, it is needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is needless to blame.”
3-22. The Master said, “Small indeed was the capacity of Kwan Chung!” Some one said, “Was Kwan Chung parsimonious?” “Kwan” was the reply, “had the San Kwei, and his officers performed no double duties; how can he be considered parsimonious?”
“Then, did Kwan Chung know the rules of propriety?” The Master said, “The princes of States have a screen intercepting the view at their gates. Kwan had likewise a screen at his gate. The princes of States on any friendly meeting between two of them, had a stand on which to place their inverted cups. Kwan had also such a stand. If Kwan knew the rules of propriety, who does not know them?”
3-23. The Master instructing the grand music master of Lu said, “How to play music may be known. At the commencement of the piece, all the parts should sound together. As it proceeds, they should be in harmony while severally distinct and flowing without break, and thus on to the conclusion.”
3-24. The border warden at Yi requested to be introduced to the Master, saying, “When men of superior virtue have come to this, I have never been denied the privilege of seeing them.” The followers of the sage introduced him, and when he came out from the interview, he said, “My friends, why are you distressed by your master’s loss of office? The kingdom has long been without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue.”
3-25. The Master said of the Shao that it was perfectly beautiful and also perfectly good. He said of the Wu that it was perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good.
3-26. The Master said, “High station filled without indulgent generosity; ceremonies performed without reverence; mourning conducted without sorrow;-wherewith should I contemplate such ways?”
53. Kongdan’s version The Analects of Confucius / Chapter 3, 17-24.
Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep connected with the inauguration of the first day of each month. Confucius told him…”Ts’ze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony.”
Confucius said, “The full observance of the rules of propriety in serving one’s prince is accounted by people to be flattery.” The Duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers, and how ministers should serve their prince. Confucius replied, “A prince should employ his minister according to according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with faithfulness.”
Confucius said, “The Kwan Tsu is expressive of enjoyment without being licentious, and of grief without being hurtfully excessive.”
The Duke Ai asked Tsai Wo about the altars of the spirits of the land. Tsai Wo replied, “The Hsia sovereign planted the pine tree about them; the men of the Yin planted the cypress; and the men of the Chau planted the chestnut tree, meaning thereby to cause the people to be in awe.” When the Master heard it, he said, “Things that are done, it is needless to speak about; things that have had their course, it is needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is needless to blame.”
Confucius said, “Small indeed was the capacity of Kwan Chung!” Some one said, “Was Kwan Chung parsimonious, or very frugal in his affairs?” “Kwan,” was the reply, “had the San Kwei and his officers performed no double duties; how can he be considered parsimonious… or so frugal?” If not for wanting to spend so little, then did Kwan Chung know the rules of propriety?” Confucius continued, “The princes of States have a screen intercepting the view at their gates. Kwan had likewise a screen at his gate. The princes of States on any friendly meeting between two of them, had a stand on which to place their inverted cups. Kwan had also such a stand. If Kwan knew the rules of propriety, who does not know them?”
Confucius instructing the grand music master of Lu said, “How to play music may be known. At the commencement of the piece, all the parts should sound together. As it proceeds, they should be in harmony while severally distinct and flowing without break, and thus on to the conclusion.”
The border warden at Yi requested to be introduced to the Master, saying, “When men of superior virtue have come to this, I have never been denied the privilege of seeing them.” The followers of the sage introduced him, and when he came out from the interview, he said, “My friends, why are you distressed by your master’s loss of office? The kingdom has long been without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue.”
Confucius later said of the Shao that it was perfectly beautiful and also perfectly good. He said of the Wu that it was perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good and then added that high station filled without indulgent generosity; ceremonies performed without reverence; mourning conducted without sorrow;-wherewith should I contemplate such ways?”
The following four stories from The Yellow Emperor chapter in My Travels with Lieh Tzu; Unlocking the Doorway to Heaven, Discovering the Magic, Animal Instincts, and Traveling with Ease, all illustrate the Taoist approach to living. Granted, they were written centuries ago, but they illustrate the focus and energies needed to stay within yourself. Keeping to one’s internal power is what taps one’s eternal power. Finding the doorway to Heaven. Is that not we all seek? All four entries here were written in one day in January 1995.What better way to travel than to ride the wide as Lao Tzu has taught me as the knowing sage. Now more than sixteen years later, here teaching in Qufu, living a stones throw from the Confucius Temple and Mansion, I find myself embracing the Tao as I hear the universe and the dragons calling….
54. Unlocking the Doorway to Heaven
Walk under water and do not drown, on simmering coals and do not burn, or on the trembling earth and do not become rattled. Keeping to one’s internal power has nothing to do with skill or daring. For whatever has features, likeness, sound or color is a thing like that described earlier in ‘That Which Does Nothing‘.How can one put himself or itself ahead of it or another? Why should it matter? As everything remains merely form or color.
Come to know, grasp and understand the essence from which everything is created as the Tao dictates. Finding simply the comfort in one’s lot and not exceeding it. Staying behind without origin to find the beginning and ending of all things. Unifying nature and tending only to your own internal energies. Maintaining virtue as you travel full circle to where all is created again.
Finding the doorway to the heaven inside you that will keep you safe and secure. As with the flawlessness found in the knowing sage. Cognizant that the keys are carried only by your inner self. Knowing this, how can other things come inside to disturb you?
Ride the wind as Lao Tzu taught you. As if a drunken man thrown from a cart. Though falling it does not harm him, he remains unharmed due to the integrity of his spirit. He rides and falls without knowing it. As life and death, astonishment and fear can find no entry into him, he shows no fear or remorse.
If the drunken man can be protected though he has drank too much plum wine, how much more is possible for the one knowing the benefits of heaven lie solely within himself. 1/22/95
55. Discovering the Magic
Coming into the realm of others one is asked to complete feats of magic. Poked fun of and cited as different and out of the ordinary only for the benefit of all assembled. Asked to jump off a high building for gold you jump unknowingly to the ground unharmed. Asked to retrieve a hidden pearl from the river’s bend you jump in and find the pearl no one knew really existed.
When the great stores burn you are asked to save that of the highest value. You enter the flames unknowingly and retrieve what has been asked. In wonderment others marvel at your magic. However, in your heart you do not know how you accomplished such great feats. You can only reflect and wonder.
In coming, you came only with the hope of bettering your lot in life. Arriving, you felt everything everyone said was true and knew no difference either way. Fearing only that you would fall short in believing and acting on whatever was already known by all, you explain: “I forgot benefit and harm, becoming single‑minded. Therefore, nothing could cause me harm. Now that I know that what you requested was in simple jest, worry and suspicions now fill me. How can I ever go near fire or water again”.
It is said that a perfect man can with faith make other things react to him. He moves heaven and earth making spirits respond to him and fills the universe in every direction with nothing standing in his way. This being so, how do you suppose that things can stand in the way when trusting a lie, much less when others are seen as sincere as oneself?
56. Animal Instincts
Having come to know the animals and birds attracted to your garden and yard, you are asked how you control wild beasts and make them find comfort in your presence.
You are asked to train another in the art of knowing your secrets. Reluctantly you relay that it is the nature of things with wild blood in its veins to have it’s own way and become angry when thwarted.
The man who feeds tigers does not dare give them a live animal as it can find only rage in another’s destruction. Approaching the tiger only when it is full penetrating angry feelings. Although different from man they allow the one who rears them because he allows them to have their own way. Killing him only when they cannot. Therefore, to thwart the animal would make them angry. Pleasing them would upset the balance of things and this is not done either. When joy runs its course only anger prevails, just as when anger is through we revert to joy.
As I neither give them their way nor thwart them I am regarded as one with them in their world. How could either I or they know fear? That being so, it is only natural that when they roam my yard they do not recall their wild ways. Just as when they find the comfort of my garden, they no longer desire or long for the wilds of the valleys and mountains from whence they came as they have found their home.
The Tao teaches that since we all are the same only taking form in different shapes, how could I possibly be any different from them. 1/22/95
57. Traveling with Ease
Know that anyone who can swim can steer the boat. Simply because he takes the water lightly as he forgets the water’s presence. That a diver could handle the boat having never seen it before. Because the depths under it are as dry land and the boat tipping would be no worse than a cart tipping backward.
Though ten thousand ways in which the cart may slip may exist, they never enter his mind. Therefore he travels with ease wherever he goes. Gambling for tiles you play skillfully. For the shirt on your back and your confidence is gone. For gold you are lost. You have not lost your skill, but in holding yourself back you have given weight to something outside yourself becoming inwardly clumsy.
The Tao teaches to simply know without knowing. Until what you do outwardly is but the reflection of what you already have come to know inwardly. Simply as an extension of yourself. Fear never entering the picture as neither success or failure can matter in the end. Since neither can outweigh the other, the consequences are irrelevant making your actions truly non‑existent. Being non‑existent one becomes one with the water. Steering the boat with ease. As what can occur but the extension of ourselves in the only way that could possibly happen.
As with the cart slipping backward. How could this ever occur? As it is not an option that can enter your mind. You have become one with the path you now follow so the cart can only naturally follow behind with ease.Simply found and seen to be following Lieh Tzu with ease. 1/22/95
58. Rewards Yet to Come
As with resisting the elements, climbing a mountain a step at a time or in swimming a river one stroke at a time, the ultimate goal is the same. Simply to get to the top or over to the other side. Without knowing one’s ultimate direction the effort seems fruitless and if the truth ever enters the picture – it is..
Persistent efforts pay off with dividends to spare. Rewards may come and go like the tide, but in reality it is only truth seen by the inner self that counts. Clarity suddenly becomes much clearer like a deep still pool found in a mountain stream. The trout darting back and forth many feet away always forever seemingly within arm’s reach.
Balance suddenly becoming like two sides being equally found in nature. All things finding their place and a place being found naturally for all things. Stay within the strength of your persistence, clarity and inner balance and know the end result will be as it must be. Simply to your advantage. The ultimate victory occurs only with the decision to follow the true path of virtue. It is only through hard work and ever present diligence that success is ultimately achieved.
Half-hearted efforts result in half-hearted finishes that are evident for all to see. Know the difference through desire for peace and harmony in all things. Keep to the middle of the road and enjoy the ultimate rewards yet to come.
How could someone not be affected by this entry entitled “Ascendance” and not acknowledge it as simply a precursor of things to come. I was never writing in the abstract. It was as if I was writing the documentary of my own life in anticipation of what was to follow. It was as if the ancient dragons had found one of their own and were guiding his way back home.
59. The Tale telling Illness
Seeking an explanation from your doctor, you relay that you have been ill and ask him if he can find a cure. The doctor explains that you only need to tell him your symptoms and he will find what ails you.
You explain that you do not think it an honor if the whole town praises you or the whole state reviles you. That you take no joy in winning and have no anxiety about losing. That you look at the same way at life and death, riches and poverty, other men and pigs, yourself and other men: you live in your home as if it were for sale or an inn, look out at your neighborhood as though it were a foreign and barbarous country.
Having all these ailments, titles and rewards cannot induce me, punishments and fines cannot awe me, prosperity and decline and benefit and harm cannot change me, joy and sorrow cannot influence me. Consequently, I cannot serve my chosen livelihood, have dealings with my family and friends, comfort my wife and tend to my affairs as before. What illness is this? Can there be a cure for this?
Your doctor asks you to stand with your back to the light. Stepping back, he ponders momentarily from a distance, then explains all: “Hmm, I see your heart! The place an inch square is empty. You are almost a sage. Six of the holes in your heart are stopped up. Can this be the reason why you now think the wisdom of a sage is an illness? There is no known cure for this.”
In pondering your fate you are now reconciled to the fact that there is nothing to be done except to live with the diagnosis. With the loving heart of the sage you have now become, how can your illness be considered life threatening? Knowing that it is only when you come to the end of everything that represents who you thought you were can you begin to be well again. 3/15/95
The questions above help to define the argument of strength verses virtue and how we choose to live each day. Setting one’s will on virtue and living with whatever consequences that may come. Over the centuries it has been in commentaries written by scholars, poets, artisans and many others who have tried to bring emphasis and meaning the both Confucius and Taoist philosophies. The arguments used by Confucius and many others to sort through how man should live and act as one of the ten thousand things. The idea of using our virtue and stories that tell the way has been the mechanism that conveyed the meaning, real or imagined of what Confucius, his followers and various schools of Confucian and Taoist thought have brought forward into what we see and know today. In my as yet unpublished book, My Travels with Lieh Tzu, I go through the traditional Chinese classics that convey the events that occurred and myths and legends that illustrate the truisms of Confucian and Taoist thought. As told above were a continuation of some of the stories that convey the meaning of Taoism over the centuries with each story written as if I am an integral part of the story myself.
It took me over fifteen years after writing the above to “come to the end of who I once was” to actually move to Qufu to live out my truest endeavor and destiny. Once here as a teacher, back where I had spent so many years before, to in effect come to live with the diagnosis outlined above.
Who was the man through the ages for thousands of years who studied the Confucian Analects in the hope of gaining favor of higher-ups who might see fit to promote him? How many thousands of men traveled here to Qufu to the Confucius Mansion, Confucius Temple and cemetery where over one hundred thousand of the Kung family is buried. I myself have visited all three numerous times, and sense the reverence people here have for this great philosopher. What was it the Confucius conveyed that had such an eternal meaning that both emperors and commoners and all in between have followed for over twenty five hundred years?
What was it that brought me here to Qufu, this small town that is not even in top fifty in size in Shandong Province? Ultimately, while the Taoist explained the way, it was Confucius that put things in context that showed the way… But the way to where and what would it mean when and if you arrive. If you did what would be your state of mind and body once you arrived, and if you did what would you do next? Over the centuries, Confucian “thought” was molded to fit the times while shaping events by providing structure and guidance for how to govern. The Analects depicted here in each chapter are here simply to serve as a reminder of what it is said he said… no one is sure but Confucius is credited just the same.
60. Leaving chi undone leaves things to the unknown..
It’s the mistakes we make along the way… and what we set up for ourselves as cause and effect that keep us from proceeding as we should.. To allow the outcome and events to simply occur and just to flow with them… then through my writing I learned that there is no right or wrong. What could this mean for someone following the “way of virtue”… as I have continually lacked the patience to let things simply occur… but at the same time taken no action to move forward either until now. Again, I turn almost painfully; going to something I wrote eleven years ago… Leaving chi undone leaves things to the unknown… until we are ready to accept and follow the outcome that guides us to our own destiny.
61. Shaping Events along the Way
Keeping to the refrain of doing nothing. While letting the spontaneity of each situation come forward as the ultimate invitation to remain at peace and as one with nature. Life’s events either streaming forward of themselves spontaneously or as the end results of one’s efforts or endeavors. Who can say which will lead the way?
Where is the dividing line between what can be considered as heaven’s intent and where a man’s actions will begin and end?
The Confucians tell us that whether our actions are right or wrong depend wholly upon ourselves. But whether they lead to wealth, poverty, a long life or early death is only for heaven to say. While the Mohists claim that wealth and long life also depend on ourselves since they are heavens reward for righteous and moral conduct. Both having their own designs on what should become of our destiny’s moral endeavors.
However, should you not remain free of questions of destiny knowing all efforts of endeavor are useless in determining one’s fate? What can benefit and harm, right and wrong come to if all have the same results in the long run. The sage knows to take the road to spontaneity. That the Tao teaches to act instinctively. To know without knowing. To see without the need to see. To hear without needing to hear. To touch without needing to touch. To know what needs to be said, but remaining silent. Simply to be. Remaining lost to space and time.
Be the first to respond without conceiving alternatives. With your actions natural to the events swirling around you. Commit to your own essence of an unpremeditated oneness through simple acts of kindness. What can then come forth, but your own predictability? Training yourself so as to allow your actions to be so of themselves as to happen without conscious thought. Conscious choice and endeavor becoming one so that any destiny is assured. So that there becomes no choice only our natural response. 5/30/95
62. Chapter 47 of Mawangdui Text of Te Tao Ching
No need to leave your door to know the whole world; no need to peer through your windows to know the Way of Heaven. The farther you go, the less you know.
Therefore the Sage knows without going, names without seeing, and completes without doing a thing.
63. Becoming Endowed by the Way
When you are ready to come forth with a vision fully endowed by the way, you become the way. When you are ready to accept the mantle conferred by dragons by accepting Heaven as your ancestor, when virtue becomes your home and the Tao your door, only then can you begin to see beyond the limitations life brings each day as Chuang Tzu has taught you.
When you can remain above change, becoming a sage becomes clear. When you can understand others by knowing yourself and understand other families by knowing your own, nothing more in the world is needed to be known. The sage does not need to ascend to the sky or descend into the depths to understand the way of heaven and earth.
When you can know the world without leaving your doorstep and are able to succeed without trying by relying only on your true nature, your vision moves beyond the distant horizon. Seeing what is coming allows you to stay behind. Staying behind allows you to remain as one with the ten thousand things. Remaining as one with the ten thousand things you become empty once again. Becoming empty, the sage remains unmoved by the events that may swirl around him.
64. Becoming endowed by the Way commentary
When you are ready to come forth with a vision fully endowed by the way, you become the way. It is when the Tao becomes you that you know through your every action that your first to remain still. By remaining still, you become at peace with one that surrounds you and one with the universe. When there is no duality present in your everyday thought, actions and deeds only then can you proceed. Clearing your mind of the excess baggage that clutters your vision is the first step to knowing the way.
2. When you are ready to accept the mantle conferred by dragons by accepting Heaven as your ancestor, when virtue becomes your home and the Tao your door, only then can you begin to see beyond the limitations life brings each day as Chuang Tzu has taught you. It has been this duality, living in paradox since the dragons first appeared almost eighteen years ago, that has kept pulling me to my highest endeavor and destiny. Pulled toward the light of the universe as if calling my name. First as Cloud Dancing, then as Dantzu, now as Kongdan I have accepted and simply built upon the nomenclature, or name, that has identified me with the path I am here to follow. In writing the entire book from which these excerpts are now extracted…. this treatise… ‘When you are ready to accept the mantle conferred by dragons by accepting Heaven as your ancestor, when virtue becomes your home and the Tao your door, only then can you begin to see beyond the limitations life brings each day as Chuang Tzu has taught you.’ pretty much says it all.
3. When you can remain above change, becoming a sage becomes clear. Is it not living as the sage that becomes the ultimate challenge when your human frailties continually seem to get in the way? Knowing his limitations going in, he rises above them letting his virtue speak for itself. When his outermost actions can match his innermost thoughts, staying above what life brings to greet him each day becomes real.
4. When you can understand others by knowing yourself and understand other families by knowing your own, nothing more in the world is needed to be known. Is this not the first step in living each day simply a moment at a time? Coming to know ourselves and that we are simply a manifestation of Heaven and nature as the Tao would have it. This concept and idea of coming to know others by knowing ourselves is the key to building relationships with others. That all true learning begins and ends with learning about ourselves and beginning to discover why we re here in the first place. Once this manifests itself into our families and how we treat each other, does this not teach us how to treat those above us? Is not the sage simply in effect rediscovering his own bliss he has known all along? Is this not the basic structure and elements taught by the five Chinese classics and Confucius… as all philosophies begin with basic premise of “know thyself”…
5. The sage does not need to ascend to the sky or descend into the depths to understand the way of heaven and earth. Having seen and done it all before, does not the sage only focus on fine-tuning way and remain still? As he knows all learning is self-learning is not his time better spent keeping to himself? As he has returned to this place to observe human nature both his own and that of others he spends his time in observation and staying above the fray. Ultimately he is a teacher who has little or nothing to do but to simply be himself. Rather his time to spent in meditation on clouds in the sky with his old friend or here on earth with new friends, ultimately the only thing important is what he leaves behind for both as he comes and goes over and over… again and again and again.
6. When you can know the world without leaving your doorstep and are able to succeed without trying by relying only on your true nature, your vision moves beyond the distant horizon. To be able to succeed without trying by relying on your true nature. By knowing the world without leaving your doorstep what possibly more could matter? When your thoughts remain focused on the Tao and your vision remains attuned to what lies beyond the distant horizon what could possibly occur to disturb your peace of mind.
7. Seeing what is coming allows you to stay behind. Staying behind allows you to remain as one with the ten thousand things. Remaining as one with the ten thousand things you become empty once again. Becoming empty, the sage remains unmoved by the events that may swirl around him. As the ten thousand things and in particular other people come and go, what can matter if they decide to stay or go in the presence of the sage. Having thought out all the options of what may occur and knowing whatever outcome may follow, how can it matter if others act as if the sage is not present. If most are on a path focused only on their own attachments and how to gain more.. what could the sage possible do to “assist them”, as their only interest is their fixation on their own well-being they define by their own attachments that hold them back… When they see the sage has nothing of monetary value for them, they cease to have any interest in the sage and the sage can gratefully return to his teaching, virtue and stillness.
65. The Analects of Confucius / Chapter 4, 1-8
4-1. The Master said, “It is virtuous manners which constitute the excellence of a neighborhood. If a man in selecting a residence does not fix on one where such prevail, how can he be wise?”
4-2. The Master said, “Those who are without virtue cannot abide long either in a condition of poverty and hardship, or in a condition of enjoyment. The virtuous rest in virtue; the wise desire virtue.”
4-3. The Master said, “It is only the truly virtuous man, who can love, or who can hate, others.”
4-4. The Master said, “If the will be set on virtue, there will be no practice of wickedness.”
4-5. The Master said, “Riches and honors are what men desire. If they cannot be obtained in the proper way, they should not be held. Poverty and meanness are what men dislike. If they cannot be avoided in the proper way, they should not be avoided. “If a superior man abandon virtue, how can he fulfill the requirements of that name? “The superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue. In moments of haste, he cleaves to it. In seasons of danger, he cleaves to it.”
4-6. The Master said, “I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue, would esteem nothing above it. He who hated what is not virtuous, would practice virtue in such a way that he would not allow anything that is not virtuous to approach his person.
“Is any one able for one day to apply his strength to virtue? I have not seen the case in which his strength would be insufficient. “Should there possibly be any such case, I have not seen it.”
4-7. The Master said, “The faults of men are characteristic of the class to which they belong. By observing a man’s faults, it may be known that he is virtuous.”
4-8. The Master said, “If a man in the morning hear the right way, he may die in the evening hear regret.”
66. Kongdan’s version The Analects of Confucius / Chapter 4, 1-8)
As Confucius would contend… is not having virtue the crux or jest of the central argument. That it is virtuous manners which constitute the excellence of a where we live. Rather our street, our neighborhood, city or state. If a man deciding on a residence does not fix on one where such attitudes and virtue prevails, how can he be wise? Confucius would continue saying that those who are without virtue cannot abide long either in a condition of poverty and hardship, or in a condition of enjoyment. The virtuous rest in virtue; the wise desire virtue and that it is only the truly virtuous man, who can love, or who can hate, others.
Confucius would agree with Mencius that if our will is set on virtue there will be no practice of wickedness. Riches and honors are what men desire. If they cannot be obtained in the proper way, they should not be held. Poverty and meanness are what men dislike. If they cannot be avoided in the proper way, they should not be avoided. Knowing this was it not Mencius who stressed we should love our neighbor as ourselves.
Confucius continues by saying that if a superior man abandons virtue, how can he fulfill the requirements as being considered to be virtuous? That the superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue. In moments of haste, he cleaves to it. In seasons of danger, he cleaves to it as his talisman, or guiding light. That he has never seen a person who loved virtue or one who hated what was not virtuous. He, who loved virtue, would esteem nothing above it. He who hated what is not virtuous, would practice virtue in such a way that he would not allow anything that is not virtuous to approach his person.
In conclusion Confucius would ask, “is anyone able for one day to apply his strength to virtue? I have not seen the case in which his strength would be insufficient. Should there possibly be any such case, I have not seen it. Finally, the faults of men are characteristic of the class to which they belong. By observing a man’s faults, it may be known that he is virtuous… adding that if a man in the morning hears of the right or virtuous way, but does not follow it, he may die in the evening hearing and having regret.”
67. Taking on Airs (Heirs)
Becoming as Tuan Mu Shu of Wen living on the inheritance of my great uncle, who was a disciple of Confucius. Living life to its fullest on the good works of those who came before me. Living in complete luxury on an estate worth more than ten thousand pieces of gold. Caring not about the issues of the day, only living by impulse and doing as I please. Living fully where my inclinations lead me. Doing that which all desire to do, following my impulse and doing as I please.
Keeping my estate with its great walls and rooms, terraces and pavilions, parks and gardens, lakes and ponds, my food and drink, carriages and dress, singers and musicians, wife and concubines the same as the rulers of Chi and Chu. Nothing whatever my passions decide staying out of my reach. With whatever my passions decide to enjoy, whatever my ears wishing to hear, my ears to see or my mouth to taste only a moment away. Or if not close by, sent for regardless of its distance. Traveling great distances wherever I please. However perilous the mountains and rivers, regardless of however long or distant the roads to get there. My adventures the same as others who question stepping out of their houses a few paces. Everyday my guests numbering into the hundreds, with the fires in the great kitchens never burning out and in my halls and chambers music that never stops playing. With leftovers from the great banquets scattered far and wide, throughout my large family and clan, the next town and all the villages throughout the district.
Keeping nothing back, living every day to its fullest with joy and sadness always present. Yet always thankful of what my predecessors have left me. Finally reaching the end, knowing in old age that my days are numbered with my health and vitality on the wane. I decide to give it all away. As I have always questioned my place in history knowing that I could never live up to the great ideas of my uncle and his mentor, the great Confucius. Only making it up to them in the only way I know how.
In the end giving away all the precious things I have gathered through the years. My treasury and storehouses, all my carriages and robes, even my concubines. Giving everything away in a span of less than a year. Leaving nothing to my children and grandchildren except the good times they came to know as they stood by my side.
Finally falling ill and near death with hardly a needle or medicine in store for his care, Tuan Mu Shu died lacking the money for his own burial. Upon hearing this, the people throughout the whole country who had long enjoyed the great feasts and good times spent at his expense took up a collection among themselves for his burial and helped to restore his property to his children and grandchildren. Much discussion ensued by many of those with similar wealth who concluded that Tuan Mu Shu was a madman who had disgraced his ancestor Tzu‑Kung, the noted disciple of Confucius with his antics.
Others knew that Tuan Mu Shu knew truly how to live. Even surpassing the qualities of those who had brought the great wealth to his family that he had spent a lifetime spending. Everything he did astonished and flaunted the accepted mode of the day. But he knew precisely how to live and die and did so effortlessly. Those who complained could only compare Tuan Mu Shu with the manners they were brought up with. How could they possibly judge the right or wrong way to live and to die?
As we are reminded of the initial refrain: “Becoming as Tuan Mu Shu of Wen living on the inheritance of my great uncle who was a disciple of Confucius. Living life to its fullest on the good works of those who came before me. Living in complete luxury on an estate worth more than ten thousand pieces of gold. Caring not about the issues of the day, only living by impulse and doing as I please”. As you have now come full circle with Yang Chu leading the way, how could you have done differently and what better lesson could he have taught? 7/7/95
The entry below from my first book, written in March 1994, was an actual depiction of events that occurred eight to ten years earlier when I lived in Springfield, Missouri. After serving in the Missouri House of Representatives in 1979 and 1980 I helped to form a neighborhood association called the Westside Community Betterment Association and was the director of the group until 1984. While I was there, I encouraged the City of Springfield to do a master plan for the neighborhood. Later in 1987 I moved to Kansas City to work for a few months for the Coalition for the Environment. In March, 1988, I moved to Massachusetts and got a job as Senior Planner for the City of Fall River. The master plan I had facilitated in Springfield was what got me the job in Fall River where I also was chairman of the Regional Planning Agency in southeastern Massachusetts in the early nineties.
A Journey Eastward, below depicts my travels outlined above. Fall River, Massachusetts is about ten to twelve miles from the homestead where my grandparents settled in America after coming from Naples, Italy in 1910 about one hundred years ago. After living in Fall River for about five years, my wife Marie and I moved to Boynton Beach, Florida where I became a planner and neighborhood specialist for the City of Boynton Beach until June 2005.
68. A Journey Eastward
Prospects depleted with your actions worn into the ground, you decide it may be time to pack up and move on. Ties and friends becoming unraveled and frayed like an old coat worn much to long.
A situation you helped to create has led to much good for all in the neighborhood. But your involvement has come in the end, it is time to go. Three years hence has come and gone bringing anguish and unsurety as to which way should be taken. However, your chi tells you to be gone. Feeling abandoned and trapped by situations of your own making the decision is made.
A position is found in a large city, the environment not too far away. Working with the elements advocating protection of the earth, wind water and sky. Lobbying your old friends in the capital city that you can see eye to eye. Protecting the environment certainly a worthwhile cause. Knowing all the while that this is only a worthy pause. Insight and action prevailing in the end. Another situation awaits, time to move on again.
Journeying eastward finding yourself close to the home of your ancestors you feel as though you have finally come home. A new position found with the knowledge that everything experienced to date has only been to prepare for that which is still to come. Doors and situations now opening. You are prepared to settle down and stake out your claim.
69. Finding the Common Thread
Knowing the Way is simply coming to know what is native within ourselves. Growing up it becomes what is natural and in maturity becomes destiny. Set your will on the aim of what is your internal truth. Outwardly knowing the highest speech is to remain quiet, just as the utmost doing is doing nothing.
Looking beyond the surface of what is brought up around you. Finding the substance to know the true way and never matching yourself against the world as you are bound to overreach your true objective.
Remain as Lieh Tzu with his own mentor Hu Tzu and not question what has yet to come forward. Just as Hu Tzu’s integrity is questioned unwittingly by the visiting shaman who ultimately flees in panic, know that your own vitality is centered only on the path you have chosen to follow. Old beings and dragons do not question where they go. They simply arrive at the place meant for them to be. Not dreaming when they sleep and with no cares when they awake. Always in the end, returning to the place of their ancestors.
Just as Chuang Tzu says that the Perfect Man breathes from his heels, the common man breathes from his throat. Be the one whose breath comes from knowing the true aims of heaven and know that immortality is now within you to come to know and find.
As Lieh Tzu left Hzu Tzu to spend three years on his farm living simply, coming to know detachment and freedom of all things, so must you. Your destiny is in the clouds with dragons. Simply doing by being. 1/23/95
It was while I was in Fall River that I began my journey as if reborn when I discovered Taoism when I purchased the book Elements of Taoism by Martin Palmer in December 1993. It was as if that was the demarcation line. Everything before that date and what was to come afterwards. It was a very difficult time as events were occurring that I could barely understand at the time, however it was as if the universe and China came to find me… and decided to take me home…Although there were numerous times before in hindsight that China and the dragons were attempting to get my attention. It was as if my spirit was lifted up and carried first to the I Ching and the dragons who were to show me the way. It was during this period that I wrote An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond in one hundred days from January to March 1994; then a few months later I was to being piecing together the initial writings that were later to become My Travels with Lieh Tzu that began in late 1994 and was not to be completed until almost a year later after moving to Boynton Beach, Florida in May 1995. But for now the focus remains on the stories and progression of my new found relationship with my friends, Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu and My Travels with Lieh Tzu.
What a great way to end this section with Lieh Tzu who I feel has been guiding my way from the beginning with Finding the Common Thread. Is that not what this is all about. Approaching the Tao with comfort and ease in knowing my place is secure, The process of putting it altogether and bringing a continuity to it all. What I knew from the beginning I simply repeat again and again. A seeming repetition intended to remind me of my place in the scheme of things. I seem to have always known from where I came and can put words and phrases to paper conveying the hopes and dreams of the universe. To one day return t the place of my true ancestors. To emulate Chuang Tzu’s Perfect Man while here, learning detachment and staying free from attachments as I continue writing my way into history…
Author’s Note… This completes this section of the as yet unpublished manuscript. Chronologically, this is section 5 of 9 as follows:
Section 1 Chapters 1 – 9
Section 2 Chapters 10-18
Section 3 Chapters 19-27
Section 4 Chapters 28-37
Section 5 Chapters 38-47
Section 6 Chapters 48-54
Section 7 Chapters 55-63
Section 8 Chapters 64-72
Chapter 9 Chapters 73-81