Sept 26, 2018 Luoyang cont’d

Below are additional pictures and comments for Luoyang. It rained and was heavily overcast today in Luoyang. Not a good day to be outside again but a good day to update and work on pictures. I paid for the Tibet tour this morning. Now I can take care of airfare to Lhasa and return afterwards to Beijing. Pictures below are from Buddhist White Horse Temple. I still have a few more from phone to enter. Once the weather clears up, I hope to go the Long Men Grottoes and Shaolin Temple before heading to Xian next Monday. Their pictures will appear here as well. In the afternoon I decided to take a walk and get a foot bath, then walking further I came across Zushi Temple, dedicated to Lao Tzu. A brief description and a few pictures are below…

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L24  L25  L26   L27  L29

L28  L30  L31  L32

It is as though now that I have entered this journey, there is an acknowledgment that there is no turning back to the person I was before I left. I’ve been gone for only a week, and it seems so long ago. I have always been enamored with the stars and cosmos… what is seen as universal. It makes sense now that what is changeless and immortal is not your mind/body, but rather the Mind that is shared by all existence. Stillness that never ceases because it never becomes more than the present. It simply is. I think this is helpful in releasing ego that then dissolves into nothing. It is here that we can enter the mystic nature of who we are. A commonality that enhances… as if a cosmic field of vision that becomes you. I know that’s all pretty deep, but going there is what literally helps me to focus and see beyond myself.

It is where my Taoist beginnings are taking me now that means I must get my “mind right”. As if living a dream as the dream becomes me. All else falling away, this re-inforcement of Buddhist and Taoist thought moving me fearlessly as Van Morrison would say….”Into the Mystic”.

As if on ques, I found the Zushi Temple, dedicated to Lao Tzu just around the corner from where I am staying. It was constructed in the late Yuan and early Ming dynasties. According to the inscription the temple underwent frequent renovations during the reigns of Hongzhi, Kangxi, Yongchan, Qianlong, and Jiaqing up to the period of the Republic of China.

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By 1dandecarlo

Sept 24 – Oct 1, 2018 in Luoyang…

I am posting my tentative schedule so we can book the train schedule and airfare between cities. Maria is trying to help with the fast train tickets. Very hard over the holiday.

Currently I am staying at the Luoyang Anximen Hostel until Thursday (9/27) then the Luoyang Heartland Hostel until Monday, October 1st. I would travel from Luoyang to Xian on Monday 10/1 and stay at the Xian Hentang House until Friday, October 5th. First thing I learned in all the years I have traveled here in China is you must be flexible. Second, I should stop coming during holiday when travel is difficult.

Everything changed for the balance of my trip this afternoon (Tuesday 9/25). Travel to Tibet was moved from October 10th-13th to 14th-17th. I checked flights and I can get a flight from Lhasa to Beijing on the 17th.

All of the dates are tentative due to difficulty in getting tickets, summary:  10/1 Luoyang to Xian and hotel there is all that is confirmed for now. I need to cancel Chengdu Flipflop booking and reschedule for later in the month if needed. Airplane tickets summary:  10/14 Need to be in Lhasa; 10/17 Lhasa to Beijing and 10/18 Beijing to USA.

Luoyang was home and capital of thirteen dynasties, until the Northern Song dynasty moved it east to Kaifeng in the 10th century.  Both the Tang and Sui dynasties were centered here in what was considered the height of Buddhist influence and demonstrate how the connection between Luoyang and early Buddhism became so important. At one point there were 1300 Buddhist temples here. Luoyang was home to many emperors and had lasting importance to early Chinese history. On Monday (9/24) I went with three students by bus to the Buddhist White Horse Temple. I took several pictures until my battery stopped then I used my phone camera for a few more. Many I encounter think I am brave to travel alone where I can’t speak the language. But I counter that I generally know them by their history than they know themselves. After seeing my writing they mostly agree.

What struck me was the continuing presence as if the joining or coming together of  history with one’s natural environment and connecting this with the universe, or divine spirit within us and that which surrounds us as well. To be treated as if you are coming home to visit something that is innately a part of yourself. Something you have always known, but simply needing to be reminded. This seems to be the motive behind all these ancient “temples”. What we in the west today would describe as “AW1parks having great historical and religious significance”. They bring a sense of longevity and simplicity to it all spanning thousands of years and being reminded that both the inner and outer are the same reality we each choose to live every day. The Buddhist White Horse Temple on the outskirts of Luoyang has always been on my bucket list here in China. It’s influence in the spread of Buddhism over the WH4centuries has been immeasurable. At some point in our lives there is something more than just knowledge and understanding. It comes with wisdom, as acceptance, and an enduring presence. What is it we’re grounded too? Others may teach, but ultimately it is something that becomes innately ourselves.  It is having the presence of self-assurance knowing that kindness and simplicity are the keys that opens all doors. (something I need to work on) Keeping things simple means there are fewer doors that need to be opened as well. As if “becoming simple minded” is a good thing.

Two other overreaching influences from Buddhism to China was that Luoyang was the start of the Silk Road that headed back to Venice in Italy. It was by way of the Silk Road (and elephants going through Tibet to Xian), that Buddhism came to China. By the time Marco Polo came here with his father and uncle in 1270 AD on their way to visit Kublai Khan in Beijing, the Silk Road had been a functioning means of transportation of goods and culture between east and west for almost WH3fifteen hundred years. The White Horse Temple and the Long man Grottoes have had the most lasting historical presence in this area of China. We will visit both later in the week. What Buddhism brought was a sense of permanence and presence that people could see as their own connection to what we would now call “becoming universal”. That you were more than your body, and a good life could lead to better things, as yet unknown, in the future. That we are one and there is no separation between the world we live in and what we might find for ourselves afterwards. This connection was what the Taoist Chuang Tzu expressed so well inWH5 what would become known as “Chan Buddhism”.  (maybe even a becoming a butterfly)

There seems to be a progression in my travels, first to Beijing and the Llama Temple, then the opening of the gate with Confucius in Qufu. Finally for now, coming the the famous White Horse Temple and Long Man Grottoes. Like stepping stones to greater appreciation, understanding, and hopefully wisdom of my own origins in Chinese history. As if midway – later heading back to Xian and Chengdu before ultimately going to Tibet. With more than a week in between to discover new mountain vistas and clouds waiting to rise above.

The White Horse Temple, one of the oldest temples in China, is located about 6 miles from the city of Luoyang in eastern China’s Henan Province. It is a place that disciples of the Buddha school recognize as the palace of Buddhist ancestors and the place where Buddhist theory was taught. It was built by Emperor AA123Ming of the Eastern Han Dynasty (29 A.D.–75 A.D.), and there is a legend about its establishment. According to the historical book of records, Emperor Ming dreamed of a pleasant scene in which a shining golden god flew into his palace. Emperor Ming called his ministers to inquire about his dream. Minister Fuyi said: “On April 8 of the 24th year of King Zhou in the Zhou Dynasty (971 B.C.), the landscapes rocked and the rivers flooded. At night the splendid light beams of five colors flashed in the western sky.” As if something must be done to mark this spiritual revelation, the temple was built.

Early History of the White Horse Temple

The two senior monks She Moteng and Zhu Falan, preached at White Horse Temple and jointly completed the translation of the 42 chapter Sutra, the first Chinese version of Buddhist scriptures. After She Moteng passed away, Zhu Falan continued to translate a number of scriptures. Their translations of the scriptures were all treasured in the Main Hall for the monks to worship. It was said that in the Northern
Wei Dynasty (386 A.D.– 534 A.D.), when the Buddhist monks worshiped the scriptures, the scripture suddenly glowed with colored lights and lit up the Main Hall.

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Turning Everything Upside Down  Sichuan Museum Chengdu

During the reign of Tang Dynasty Empress Wu Ze Tian (624 A.D.–705 A.D.), the White Horse Temple was very popular, and there were more than 1,000 monks living here. However, the Temple was greatly damaged during the An Si Rebellion (755 A.D.–763 A.D.) and the Huichang Suppression of Buddhism (840 A.D.–846 A.D.). The damaged White Horse Temple was only found later through broken pieces of inscriptions on the stones and ruins. Repairs to the temple were later conducted by Sung Dynasty Emperor Taizong (939–997), Ming Dynasty Emperor Jiajing (1507–1567), and Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi (1662–1722). The above description is why I like museums so much telling the story of what was important at the time. As if the remnants left behind have their own secrets to tell.

This is the way I like to travel. I have a week here in Luoyang to explore the area.  Hopefully it will stop raining. Two main things I want to see are the Long Man Grottoes and the Shaolin Temple. Not having google is a serious detriment to my travels. I still need to try to fix my Chinese camera, or more batteries for my little canon camera. It takes excellent pictures. Almost all pictures here on my website are one’s I have taken with the canon camera.

Tuesday (9/25) appears to a day to stay inside here in Luoyang and update my blog. It looks like it will rain all day and the Cardinals are on my computer this morning. Maria got my train ticket for next Monday to Xian. (thanks Maria) It sounds like my getting to Tibet prior to October 14th will work. It seems I am alone here in Luoyang. I guess that’s what one does on a retreat to seek inner meaning to what comes next. Plus the rain makes for staying inside. I did go to the bank next door to see if they can help me to send via WeChat money for the Tibet tour. They can help. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow. Next will be confirming airfare to Lhasa and Lhasa to Beijing afterwards. Just go with the flow and what needs to occur always does…

Everything regarding the balance of the trip changed this afternoon. Due to holiday the four day tour I was about to pay for has been delayed to October 14 to October 17.  I still want to do the tour, but first I must confirm I can get a flight from Lhasa to Beijing on the 17th (ok), as I fly back to USA on the 18th. I still stay in Luoyang until next Monday, October, 1st and go to Xian. I had planned to go to Chengdu on the 5th, but now there is no hurry.

As I continue to go through my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in May/June 2000 and my book, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is AT11he so important? I know I spoke of this last time, but some may have missed so it bears repeating. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was the culmination of thousands of years of philosophical thought of what was to become Taoism thanks in part to copies found in tombs of those who were buried with copies of it in China. There are 81 verses in the Tao Te Ching.  Verses 78 and 79 appear below. Verses 1 through 77 were seen here on my most recent posts. I plan to complete this journey through Lao Tzu (verses 80 and 81) from the top of Huashan Mountain made famous as a respite by Lao himself next week. I hope I am ready.

Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught others along the way that guides us. The commentaries below are meant to be read as a discussion between Lao Tzu and those interested who have thought deeply about the text itself. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage

Verse 78 – Following the way of Heaven

The sage endeavors to follow the way of heaven while only revealing everything for its true and natural place. Pulling down the high while lifting the low he stays on an even keel finding the natural balance of all around him.

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Continually moving forward unsure or unconcerned if what he does is ultimately good or bad as long as the natural order of things are followed and are allowed to take their places.  Moving without presumption or staking claim to what may be perceived as personal achievement.  Choosing to remain in the background and not displaying his skills, nothing can deter or get in his way.  His burden to keep his virtue to himself and not revealed to those who continually come running to his doorstep.

Modeling his actions after the way of heaven, the sage takes from the long and gives to the short so that the ten thousand things naturally find their places.  For all things under heaven to find their place, it is best for heaven to sit back and do nothing. Allowing the nature of all things to come forward unimpeded fulfilling its ultimate endeavor and finding its true identity and destiny.

Hsung-Tsung says, “The nature of water is to stay low, not to struggle, and to ake on the shape of its container. Thus nothing is weaker. But despite such weakness, it can bore through rocks, while rocks cannot wear down water.”

Li Hung-Fu says, “The soft and the weak do not expect to overcome the hard and the strong. They simply do.”

Chuang Tzu says, “Everyone wants to be first, while I alone want to be last; which means to endure the world’s disgrace.” (33.5).  Mencius says. “If the ruler of the state is not kind, he cannot protect the spirits of the soil and grain” (4A.3).

Su Ch’e says “Upright words agree with the Tao and contradict the world. The world considers enduring grace shameful and enduring misfortune a calamity.”

Li Jung says, “The world sees disgrace and innocence, fortune and misfortune. The Taoist sees them all as empty.”

Verse 79 – Being Present at Destiny’s Table

The sage is reminded of the words of an old friend who once told him that the true nature of one who follows the Tao is like water. It is the nature of water to stay low, not to struggle and to take on the shape of its container thus appearing to be weak.

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Is this not the way of the sage?  Appearing weak, but in reality able to cut through any obstacle as he ultimately finds his true path.

What is perceived as weakness often wins through persistence while what appears to be hard easily becomes brittle unable to withstand the pressure of determination.

Should not we follow the ways of Chuang Tzu who decried that everyone wants to be first, while he alone waits, wanting to be last enduring to the end so that he may be 100_3371present at destiny’s table.

Emulating Chuang Tzu’s perfected man cannot the sage by following the Tao and the way of heaven ultimately turn everything upside down thereby betraying conventional wisdom at every turn.

In looking beyond the present and reminding himself of what’s to come, does not the sage simply prepare to return to find this place confident that the stage has been set and his place at the table assured.

Su Ch’e says, “If we content ourselves with trimming the branches and don’t pull out the roots, things might look fine on the outside, but not on the inside. Disputes come from delusion, and delusions are the prducts of our nature. Those who understand their nature encounter no delusion, much less disputes.”

Sung Ch’ang-Hsing says, “Seeking to make peace with others is the Way of Man. Not seeking to make peace but letting things make peace by themselves is the Way of Heaven. Despite the expenditure of energy and action, energy and action seldom bring peace. Thus the sage holds the left marker because he relies on inaction and the subtlety of letting things be.”

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

September 21 – 23, 2018 / Qufu

As a preface for continuing my journey, I am first directed back to the Beijing Museum and my thoughts going forward. There was an immense presence from the Buddhist statues and spirit of Chinese antiquity. I asked about my pilgrimage to connect Buddhist/ Confucius/Taoist thought with the world and asked “who am I supposed to be” the answer was to simply be who I am supposed to be. Simplify to nothing and continue on your way. It is through sincerity and compassion that your Ben4innate traits of goodness appear – Keep to the Tao. Don’t let lack of attention by others to your writing slow you down. You write only for your own enlightenment and to share this with others. Keep to your path and always remember, it is not where you are that is important. It is who you are and how your essence reflects on those around you. Go to Tibet. Continue to be inspired letting the dragons take you to new heights and know that they are pleased. Sincerity, discipline, and patience; your “work” is only these three and keep to the path as you were told in the beginning. Have faith and let your grace and goodness be your guide – love and you will be loved. From here, continue on your retreat and be filled with who you are yet to become letting go of all other things. Keep to the open road as you are living in dolpo – in the middle – when it is time to go one way or another you will know and the path will be made clear. Don’t despair or get caught up in your daydreams. Just share your goodness through your writing. This way the message to others and yourself will be evident. Follow the path you have laid out all these year ago. There can be no rush. There is nothing to rush to – just acknowledge who you are and go there.

confucius003I arrived last night by fast train from Beijing and was met by my friend Andy. (Shu) Initially my plans are to be here for three days (Friday/Saturday/Sunday), then on Monday morning leave for Luoyang. I will return to Qufu for the Confucius festivities on Thursday, September 27th.  Planning for the rest of my trip will happen this weekend, especially arrangements to go to Tibet. Stay tuned…

When I am in Qufu it is as if I walk on sacred ground. It is as Ekhart Toll, the great English philosopher said… “We are one with the universe and the universe is one with us, or better said I am one with God, and God is one with me”. It is as though we are living history when we can accept our role and to become one with it. The dragons, or sages, all came through here. Ji Dan, the Duke of Zhou in 1000 BC, was here five hundred years before Confucius came in 500 BC, and the Yellow Emperor, Huandi, the great shaman and pervaer of what would become the I Ching one day more than a thousand years earlier in 2700 BC. All were from Qufu. How am I to add to what has already been said and written? Maybe it to to transcend the limitations of language. I am reminded again of the three things I need to work on – sincerity, discipline, and patience. But then, I am blessed to have many friends and acquaintances I have made as a teacher and my activities in the almost twenty years I have been coming to Qufu.

Today was a day for catching up with old friends and making travel arrangements. I met with the headmaster of the Confucius College, Mr. Buan Yan Ping on Friday AQ1morning (9/21) being one. After first going by to see another friend, Dr. Hua and updating my membership in the Confucius/I Ching Society, I served as Vice President of the national association last year. I then went to visit the Confucius College where they asked me to teach a couple classes and have lunch with the students. Later I met Chris and his wife Vicky at the Shangri La Hotel where they both work and with another friend Maria who helped me to book my train tickets for Luoyang for Sunday evening (9/23) and return trip to Qufu thursday evening (9/27).  Later I spoke to my friend Jenny who is a teacher. Jenny did the translation from English to Chinese for the Daily Words which we published here in Western Shandong Province in 2006 and 07. Finally, I spoke to Yak in Chengdu about my travel arrangements to go to Tibet, especially getting to Lhasa and the best dates for the tour. I am to send copies of my passport and visa information tomorrow to begin the paperwork.

There is a naturalness here. I felt it the first time I came almost twenty years ago. Ben7Acceptance and who you are is self-evident and plain to see for everyone you meet. As if I am finding my own step following the footsteps of Confucius and so many others before me. It seems I have always been a living embodiment of an anomaly never really fitting in or caring as if there is someplace else I am meant to be. Rarely satisfied with the way things are, always seeing through to what can or should be. It seems as though the more I attempt to have the outer world be a reflection of my inner self – the less the outer world caught up with the status quo and “outer stuff” appeals or relates to me. In Qufu, it is connecting with your inner spirit that makes you “attractive” to others on a similar journey. A feeling that is universal to not just Qufu. As if I don’t have to detail the history here of Confucius because it is on the face of all you meet. Over half of the more than 80,000 people here have the last name Kong. Confucius family name and are descendants. Hence, here I am simply Kongdan. Over the centuries it doesn’t matter where Ben8I am – this will always be home.

Just being here in Qufu with old friends is enough. On Saturday morning (9/22), I do what I always do in Qufu and that is to walk. I found myself at a tea shop I often visited with the owner Mei. We had lunch over a bottle of wine and I bought a dragon/phoenix tea holder. We will have dinner again after I return from Luoyang over the holiday.

That in following the Tao we have no plans. We learn to go with the flow of life and do what comes naturally in unison with our essence, or soul.

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Lunyubeiyuan Park in Qufu

That being present is always enough. What I like about Qufu is the is no pre-supposition as to what outcome will occur – just be yourself and the universe comes to greet you – those you see and meet are on a similar path – you are here for them and they are here for you. Where you find yourself you can’t stay there for long. As if fleeting your light travels fast and shadow never lingers. Your essence only left behind for those to ponder their own fate and what can be seen as important in where they see Ben5themselves just now, and where it takes them. In every circumstance you are present for only an instant before moving on. The status quo is not for you to bother. Others caught up in their day dream must come to the light within and wake up mid stream in their own life. That everyone is coming from the same place. It it not necessary to expand further on Confucius or others just now, because Ben2you are the essence of everything – the Tao is you and you are the Tao.

There is a symmetry, a certain flow of or lives we all seek. A sense of connection to what appears as universal that answers who we are and what it is we seek. Something all great artists, philosophers and writers have found to some degree. What Monet and DaVinci found and knew, what Edison, Ben6Einstein, Emerson,and Walt Whitman knew. In China it was what Lao Tzu, Confucius, and many others found. It was the ultimate meaning in the Shangri La story that so invigorates us, our soul, or essence, our chi. It is what the shaman knew all those centuries ago from following the stars, the heavens above – then going there.

It’s what I was returning to the instant I knew I found, or re-discovered it, on my first chengdu 1trip to Qufu in October 1999. Yes, it was represented in a place, but it only serves to remind me of what I am here to do.  For years everyone has wanted to know why I keep coming to Qufu (especially the security bureau and police. It was this trip and just a couple days here spent in Qufu that the sense staying in flow of where I have been takes me to my next step… to Luoyang via fast train. Tonight I arrive in Luoyang for my next step in my journey.

As I continue to go through my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in May/June 2000 and my book, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is AT11he so important? I know I spoke of this last time, but some may have missed so it bears repeating. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was the culmination of thousands of years of philosophical thought of what was to become Taoism thanks in part to copies found in tombs of those who were buried with copies of it in China. There are eighty-one verses in the Tao Te Ching.  Verses 76 and 77 appear below. Verses 1 through 75 were seen here on my most recent posts. The balance will be seen here over the coming weeks. Hopefully, I can complete this journey through Lao Tzu on this trip to China.

A partial preview can be seen on the Lao Tzu and Taoism tab here on my website. Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught others along the way that guides us. The commentaries below are meant to be read as a discussion between Lao Tzu and those interested who have thought deeply about the text itself. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage

Verse 76 – In death the Tao acknowledges the Sage

Before there was considered to be a force in the universe that would be known as God there was the Tao. Before there existed the myriad of shamans, saints, priests and holy men considered to be here to lead the way, there was the Tao.IMG_5445

As the ten thousand things came forth from antiquity to manifest and begin the cycle of being born, dying and being born again continually as the natural extension of the way, the sage ultimately came forth as one protected by dragons.  The dragons, but those who have been chosen to impart simple virtue as those who follow the correct path or way of heaven.

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The sage coming forward to find that the reason there is suffering or hunger for life is that others impose too many restrictions on how we should live, therefore people remain unfulfilled.  That the reason people are hard to get along with is that those who would lead the way have forgotten the path in which all should follow.  However, when death follows as the natural course of events after everything has passed through him and acknowledges his ultimate place in the universe, the loving life becomes secondary as eternal life comes forth to greet the great sage.

Loving God and what He and the Tao teaches, he simply lets his enthusiasm come naturally as the centuries have shown him the proper way.

Ho-Shang Kung says, “When people are born, they contain breath and spirit. This is why they are soft. When they die, their breath ceases and their spirit disappears. This is why they are hard”.

Lao Tzu says, “The weak conquer the strong”.

Wang P’ang says, “In terms of yin and yang, yin comes before, and yang comes after. In terms of Heaven and Earth, Heaven is exalted, and Earh is humble. In terms of Virtue, the soft and the weak overcome the hard and the strong. But in terms of material things, the hard and the strong control te soft and the weak. The people of this world only see things. They don’t understand Virtue.”

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Verse 77 – Letting your Enthusiasm open every door

Fortunate again to be born into weakness, we are soon caught up in what may be perceived as making us strong.
Lieh Tzu, my friend and mentor, tells the world that t.”he path to victory is weakness.  As the hard and strong lead people away from the Tao, they do so with great effort. Confused into thinking that our strength is needed to help us find our way when just the opposite, our weakness, will bring us victory.

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Bringing weakness along for the Ride   Shaanxi Museum   Xian

They refuse to remain still letting events come to them.  Convinced that controlling what occurs they will find their direction.  Remaining oblivious to what remains effortless may just appear as weakness.

Observing the simple, letting everything play out to its own conclusion, the sage appears soft and seemingly weak.  When things become hard and stiff they can only be close to their end.  Remaining supple and bending with the wind the soft and weak can stay in tune with life.

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Staying within the confines of his own virtue, the sage easily converses with his mentors bringing nothing hard and fast to the table.  He confines himself to his humble beginnings letting the Tao lead the way.  Letting his enthusiasm remain his signature that softens every encounter he is not bound by things seemingly apparent in the world as he opens every door that finds him.

Kao Heng says, “In attaching the string to a bow, we pull the bow downto attach the string to the top. We lift the bow up to attach it to the bottom. If the string is too long, we make it shorter. If the tring is too short, we make it longer. This is exactly the Way of Heaven.” (this is based on the Shuowen, which says, “Chang means to attach a string to a bow.”

Lu Hui-Ch-ing says, “The Way of Heaven does not intentionally pull down the high and lift up the low. It does nothing and relies instrad on the nature of things. Things that are high and long cannot avoid being pulled down and shortened. Things that are low and short cannot avoid being lifted up and lengthened. The full suffer loss. The humble experience gain”.

Wang P’ang says, “The Way is Heaven is based on the natural order. Hence it is fair. The Way of Man is based on desire. Hence it is not fair. Those who possess the Way follow the same Way of Heaven”.

 

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

September 18 – 20, 2018 / Beijing  

(under construction… my camera card would not open, I have to take from zip file and add pictures from museum later )

On Tuesday September 18 I arrived in Beijing about 2 PM went through customs at the airport, got my luggage and took a taxi to Chinese Box Courtyard Hostel where  I will spent two nights before leaving on thursday for Qufu. I spent the evening arranging my meeting with my publisher here in Beijing tomorrow to get paid for editing a book that was published was year. I also finished inserting pictures for my last post. I always seem to be both tour guide and working on my own self awareness. My focus today is on awareness. My “practice” is serenity, discipline, and patience. Accepting things as they are always seems to be the challenge.

Three things I must try do today (9/19): go by South Train Station to pick up my ticket to go to Qufu tomorrow night,  second go by publisher’s office, and third, make my way to the National Museum (I didn’t make it to the museum… maybe tomorrow). This morning I’m listening to Cardinals game against Atlanta. When games begin at 7 PM in USA… they begin at 7 AM here… GO CARDS! They won 9-1. If time, I want to make my way to Beihai Park this afternoon. It seems half my time when I am in Beijing is either waiting for or riding in a taxi. Traffic here is awful… too many cars. On my way back to USA in mid October, I hope to have time to go to the White Cloud Taoist Temple here in Beijing. I went with friends in 2005, but would like to make a return visit.

What I want to do in my full day here in Beijing is try to focus on acknowledging that both inside and outside are to same. I think that’s the serenity part and coincides with ‘inner peace”. The point of this is we will go there. That the outer is simply a reflection of our inner selves and how that is implemented through being in touch with our environment is known as feng shui… One place I especially like is adjacent to the Forbidden City called Beihai Park. It is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in China. Beihai Park is said to be built according to a traditional Chinese legend. The story is that once upon a time there were three magic mountains called ‘Penglai’, ‘Yingzhou’ and ‘Fangzhang’ located to the east of China. Gods in those mountains had a kind of herbal medicine which would help humans gain immortality. Many emperors succumbed to this desire to remain in power as long as possible. Some spent many sleepless nights pacing around the lake in Beihai Park hoping the elixir would soon be discovered. After all, the emperor was considered to be the “son of heaven”, the representative of the deity here on earth responsible for all around him.

Lessons in Feng Shui. It was believed that different mountain-water combinations in ancient Chinese architecture led to totally different effects.  So from then on almost every emperor during succeeding dynasties would build a royal garden with “a one pool with three hills’ layout” near his palace. Beihai Park was built after this traditionBeihei 2.jpgal style: the water of Beihai (Northern Sea) with Zhongnanhai (Central and Southern Seas) is the Taiye Pool; the Jade Flowery (Qionghua) Islet, the island of the Circular City and the Xishantai Island represent the three magic mountains. Beihai Park was initially built in the Liao Dynasty (916 – 1125) and was repaired and rebuilt in the following dynasties including Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing (1115 – 1911). The large-scale rebuilding in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) generally established the present scale and pattern.

To the northwest in the park is the Nine-Dragon Wall, which is the only screen 9 dragon wallhaving nine huge dragons on both sides and is among the most famous three Nine-Dragon Screens in China (the other two are located in the Forbidden City and Datong, Shanxi Province). Built in 1756, the Nine-Dragon Wall is about 90 feet (27 meters) long, 21.8 feet (6.65 meters) high and 4.7 feet (1.42 meters) thick. It is composed of 424 seven-color glazed tiles that embossing the feng shui 2 (2)screen. There are nine huge coiling dragons on each side of the screen and big or small dragons in different postures decorating the two ends and the eaves, making a surprising total of 635 dragons.

I have this thing about Chinese dragons. Every time I see this depiction of dragons I think of Chinese history about the sage who embodies heavenly qualities. Adjacent to both the Forbidden City and Tienanmen, the park is extremely popular…  When I am in Beijing and have an afternoon free I like coming to Beihai. In Spring you can almost feel the immortality they were seeking in the air.

National Museum in Beijing

Opposite Tienanmen and the Forbidden City is the National Museum. This morning I begin here. Thursday (9/20) was primarily spent at the National Museum. I had forgotten that more than ten years ago I regularly visited a friend whose government office was in the restricted access area adjacent to the museum. I was most impressed with the Buddhist collection and ancient roll paintings.

Beijing’s premier museum is housed in an immense 1950’s Soviet-style building on the eastern side of Tienanmen Square, and claims to be the largest in the world by display space. You could easily spend a couple of hours in the outstanding Ancient China exhibition alone, with priceless artifacts displayed in modern, low-lit exhibition halls, including ceramics, calligraphy, jade and bronze pieces dating from prehistoric China through to the late Qing dynasty. You’ll need your passport to gain entry. The museum is located at Guangchangdongce Lu, Tienanmen Square. The hours are from 9 am to 5 pm Tue-Sun, last entry 4 pm.

What first got my attention today is the 2000-year-old jade burial suit in the basement exhibition. I believe this is the same jade suit that I saw at the Nelson Gallery in Kansas City in Spring 1975 when it was a part of the traveling exhibit from China. It was made for the Western Han dynasty king Liu Xiu. Many highlights including the life-sized bronze acupuncture statue dating from the 15th century. A 2000-year-old rhino-shaped bronze zūn (wine vessel) is another standout. The Ancient Chinese Money exhibition on the top floor, and the Bronze Art and Buddhist Sculpture galleries, one floor below, are what I especially liked.

The museum was established in 2003 by the merging of the two separate museums that had occupied the same building since 1959: the Museum of the Chinese Revolution in the northern wing (originating in the Office of the National Museum of the Revolution founded in 1950 to preserve the legacy of the 1949 revolution) and the National Museum of Chinese History in the southern wing (with origins in both the Beijing National History Museum, founded in 1949, and the Preliminary Office of the National History Museum, founded in 1912, tasked to safeguard China’s larger historical legacy).

The building was completed in 1959 as one of the Ten Great Buildings celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It complements the Great Hall of the People that was built at the same time. The structure sits on 16 acres and has a frontal length of 1,027 feet, a height of four stories totaling 130 ft, and a width of 489 feet. The front displays ten square pillars at its center.

Front foyer with model of the Temple of Heaven.

After four years of renovation, the museum reopened on March 17, 2011, with 28 new exhibition halls, more than triple the previous exhibition space, and state of the art exhibition and storage facilities. It has a total floor space of nearly 200,000 square feet of display.

The museum, covering Chinese history from the Yuanmou Man of 1.7 million years ago to the end of the Qing Dynasty (the last imperial dynasty in Chinese history), and has a permanent collection of over a million items, with many precious and rare artifacts not to be found in museums anywhere else in China or the rest of the world.

Among the most important items in the National Museum of China are the “Simuwa Ding” from the Shang Dynasty, the square shaped Shang Dynasty bronze zun decorated with four sheep heads, a large and rare inscribed Western Zhou Dynasty, bronze water pan, a gold-inlaid Qin Dynasty bronze tally in the shape of a tiger, Han Dynasty jade burial suits sewn with gold thread (mentioned above), and a comprehensive collection of Tang Dynasty tri-colored glazed sancai and Song Dynasty ceramics. They are depicted below.

By 1dandecarlo

September 17, 2018  

The Journey Continues…

As I begin this trip I am reminded that the practice of self-reflection is not a result of intellectual analysis or complex theories. Our challenge is to just see reality as it is… AT1how everything fits and connects together. Warren Buffett puts it this way, “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and let everything pass.”

Controlling and managing our breath, or chi (qi), as it is referred to in China… learning to breathe as if all-encompassing from the soles of our feet, not simply our abdomen or stomach, the secret to finding inner peace. Setting the stage so that our mind and body follow the flow of who we are meant to be. Meshing the outer world with our inner selves while finding comfort in the details and rhythm that takes us there. As if tuning in means adapting only to what is  considered to be our “highest endeavor and destiny’.  Always setting the stage and tone for what must unknowingly come next. Letting go of any perceived idea of what outcomes may occur. Simply following what the universe and the Tao tells you along the way and to go where my writing takes me. I am reminded of William James and his work of metaphysics and especially Emerson who spoke of “the wise silence, the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related to the eternal One. And to Walt Whitman who said that no God could be found “more divine than yourself.”

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Walt Whitman

In the end we must transcend our fear of meaninglessness. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a great trip. I hope you will want to tag along here on my blog.

In my previous post I mentioned this trip to China was a sabbatical. What is a sabbatical some may ask? By definition it is considered any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc. Writing and maintaining this website and Facebook page for my foundation is my work, further clarifying what is/should be my role would be my job description. That’s a great question. What is our life’s job description? How do we as Master Oogway says, become the “master of our AT3chi”? Shouldn’t a sabbatical serve to further define the role of the sage? As with the Tao and life itself, everything is context.

As with the I Ching, you must know what comes at the beginning in order to find a rightful end. With everything in between occurring simply through cause and effect. It’s funny, after all these years of traveling to China, it is as if I live two lives. Here in USA I am simply known as Dan. In China, my friends and colleagues call me Kongdan. Amazing, one of the first things I wrote that serves as the preface of my unpublished book “My travels with Lieh Tzu” is as follows:

Beginnings

 It is said that each of us is granted two lives, the life we learn with and the life we live after that. To perchance awaken midstream in our lives, as if we have been re‑born; given an opportunity to find and follow our true destiny and endeavor. That our ultimate task is not only to discover who we are, but where we belong in history. Is not this the ultimate challenge? To simply rise up, traveling as one with the prevailing winds. Becoming one with the angels, or dragons, as they manifest before us. Letting our spirit soar. Freeing our mind, heart, and soul to go where few dare to wonder.

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The Eternal One  Shaanxi Museum  Xian

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

To become one with the ages. To bring forth the stories, myths and legends that tell the way. To stay interested in life, as I am in reality here only for an instant before moving on. My task only to look for constant renewal. Finally, true expression of self AT5is in losing myself through expressing the voices of the past. That I am here to relay that the fears and hopes of humanity rest not in where we find ourselves in the here and now. But in reality, to find and reflect our inner nature waiting to be re‑discovered and built upon again and again.

That all true learning is self-learning of who we ultimately are to become. That once we have awakened so that we can see beyond ourselves, then have not we found our spirits traveling the winds through eternity. This being so, could there be a more ultimate way of travel than to be found traveling with Lieh Tzu?     1/21/96

Yes, I wrote the above twenty-two years ago. Almost six months before going to China the first time in May 1997 to adopt my daughter Katie in Maoming, in Guangdong Province. So, considering the above, I could say this trip to China, a sabbatical as such, is one in keeping with an eternal desire for “constant renewal”. As if even now letting the dragons lead the way forward.

Finally, in wrapping my head around my upcoming journey, I like to think about the Lotus Sutra from Buddhism and begin with a koan and frame of mind in what may include a trip to Tibet.

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The Buddha at rest  Wuhan Temple in Chengdu

A koan is a nonsensical or paradoxical question from a teacher to his student for which an answer is required. If one is meditating on the question the answer can be very illuminating. In Buddhism we can choose to take refuge in the way, or sanity of enlightenment, the Buddha; trust the process of the path, the Dharma; and rely on the experience of those who guide us along the path, the Sangha. These three are often called “the three jewels”.                                                                                                                                                                              In the Lotus Sutra the story “Manjushri Enters the Gate”, the first case from the classic collection The Iron Flute appears. In Buddhist mythology, the bodhisattva Manjushri is the embodiment of wisdom, and a statue of him sits atop the main altar in Zen AT7Buddhist meditation halls. In the koan, the Buddha calls to Manjushri, who is standing outside the temple gate, “Manjushri, Manjushri, why don’t you enter?” Manjushri answers, “I don’t see a thing outside the gate. Why should I enter?”

He is saying he does not discriminate between inside the gate and outside. But still he chooses not to enter. Maybe he should accept the Buddha’s invitation to enter the temple. Truly entering the gate—truly connecting to the Buddha’s teaching—is to directly experience that there is no inside and outside. This is not just an idea: you can’t understand it from the outside. Having entered though, don’t think you are inside and others are still outside. Everyone enters with you.

Entering the gate means entering your life. Entering the Lotus Sutra means entering your life. This is a part of Buddhist practice. Practice means allowing the Lotus Sutra to enter you. To practice this way is to risk having your understanding of things overturned, again and again. This takes faith, faith enough to risk faith itself. So, we have a choice. We can complacently watch life from the sidelines, or we can risk our pride, our ideas, and whatever else we use to separate ourselves from others and leap fully into our life. Take that leap and you will find the Lotus Sutra wherever you go. ##

The key for me, in appreciating this story, is that there is there is a gate for each of us to open and that there is no separation between you, others, and all that is found in AT8nature and the universe. Having faith enough to risk faith itself, and that we have a choice.

The Vinegar Tasters… Lao Tzu, Confucius, and the Buddha

Going forward in what comes over the coming month it’s easy to see the juxtaposition, how Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucius have existed closely together almost side by side for thousands of years in China. I hope to explore and write about this “connection”. That all life and that found in nature is sacred. From the smallest bee pollinating a flower to the largest galaxy with stars far beyond the horizon. That we are ultimately here to alleviate suffering not create more. I hope you will join me in this endeavor.

Oncoming Immortality

Remaining pretentious and keeping to ostentation in one’s actions brings unwanted attention.

Simplify! Simplify! When leaving one’s house and shutting the door to visit friends and neighbors it is important to wear and show the proper countenance about oneself.  But first you must know without knowing to succeed.

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The Calling      Shanghai Museum

Strive to be of no account and be truly accounted for by all you encounter. Others will seek your favor as you are soon noted for your wise counsel, knowledge of events and as a good teacher. Remain unpretentious and find sincerity and kindness knowing that if you forget today’s lesson the only thing you’ll meet is scorn.

Propriety well placed will be received modestly by all. Making your goals and ambitions the goals and ambitions of all will bring everyone to your doorstep seeking comfort in your shadow. But first you must know without knowing to succeed.

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Adulation  Shanghai Museum

Know humility and restraint. Know how to become unassuming and know constraint. Refrain from entering the fray on the side of self interest and know your true self. Enjoy a reputation and retreat into the peacefulness of all things.

An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching    (15 MODESTY / Earth over Heaven). 2/12/94

As I continue to go through my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in May/June 2000 and my book, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is AT11he so important? I know I spoke of this last time, but some may have missed so it bears repeating. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was the culmination of thousands of years of philosophical thought of what was to become Taoism thanks in part to copies found in tombs of those who were buried with copies of it in China. There are eighty-one verses in the Tao Te Ching.  Verses 72 and 73 appear below. Verses 1 through 71 were seen here on my most recent posts. The balance will be seen here over the coming weeks. Hopefully, I can complete this journey through Lao Tzu on this trip to China.

A partial preview can be seen on the Lao Tzu and Taoism tab here on my website. Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught others along the way that guides us. The commentaries below are meant to be read as a discussion between Lao Tzu and those interested who have thought deeply about the text itself. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage

Verse 72 – Understanding one’s own affliction

What can it possibly mean to say we understand something when there can be no understanding as our attachments and afflictions keep coming forward for all to see? As we spend all our time thinking we don’t understand, when what we need has been before us trying to get our attention that brings us to understanding.

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Ann at Mencius Temple in Zhoucheng

How can we understand when understanding depends on things independent of each other coming together for their own sake? What can there be to understanding when the answers seem to lie beyond us?

Can we understand our true place in the universe once we know we are only here to come to know our spirit’s true affliction? Treating our affliction, or hardship, as a result our of lack of ability to see ourselves as who we ultimately are to become? If we cannot see beyond our transitory ego and self, how can we come to know why we are here?

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Tributes to Mencius in Zhoucheng

Or if as we say someone can awaken midstream to understand his or her place in the universe, as if suddenly seeing the light, can that understanding be understood?

Just as trying to understand the Tao through reasoning when there is no door or entrance that defines what remains indefinable.  When often tried, the sage is seen as having an affliction. When in reality the sage is not afflicted, he simply remains above understanding so that hardship or difficulty cannot find him.

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The School of Mencius Zhoucheng                                                                                  

Wang P’ang says, “When people are simple and their lives are good, they fear authority. But when those above lose the Way and enact all sorts of measures to restrict the livelihood of those below, people respond with deceit and are no longer subdued by authority. When this happens, natural calamities occur and misfortune arise.”AT15

Wang Pi says, “In tranquility and peace is where is where we should dwell. Humble and empty is where we should live. But when we forsake tranquility to pursue desires and abandon humility for authority, creatures are disturbed and people are distressed. When authority cannot restore the world. severed, and natural calamities occur.”

Ho-Shang Kung says, “He knows what he has and what he doesn’t have. He doesn’t display his virtue outside but keeps it hidden inside. He loves his body and protects his essence and breath. He doesn’t exalt or glorify himself before the world.”

Verse 73 – Staying out of the way of our own Enlightenment

For the sage that is fully engaged, keeping ego at arm’s length is his reminder of how far he has yet to travel. As he steps back for a moment to review the road map that illustrates the starting point of his journey, the road he has traveled thus far and what he hopes to learn about himself in the days ahead. Letting go and letting his friends, the dragons, lead the way.AT16

Two Famous Dragons   London Museum

His journey through the Tao Te Ching is now almost complete. He’s come far enough to know that keeping his virtue in tact requires his simply knowing himself and remaining hidden from view as he leads the way.

Scoffing at the paradox that authority always brings to the table. That those who fear authority are usually better off than those who have authority to fear. Knowing that if there are no restrictions where people live and we don’t repress how they want to live, people won’t protest. If they don’t protest there is nothing to fear. Thus, the sage is mindful of his role. Careful to keep his ego in check as he knows his ultimate success will only be measured by what is left behind as he remains unattached to things outside himself.AT17

Dragon wine decanter from Yongle and Xuande reign (1403-35) made at kilns in Jingdezhen   London Museum

He focuses only his own journey letting events propel him forward to destinations as yet unknown.

His only challenge to stay out of the way of his own enlightenment.

Li His-Chai says, “Everyone knows about daring to act but not about daring not to act. Those who dare to act walk on the edge of a knife. Those who dare not to act walk down the middle of the path. Comparing these two, walking on a knife-edge is harmful, but people ignore the harm. Walking down the middle of the path is beneficial, but people are not aware of the benefit. Thus it is said, ‘People can walk on the edge of a knife but not down the middle of a path’” (Chungyung:9).

Wu Ch’eng says, “Because the sage does not lightly kill others, evildoers slip through his net, but not the Net of Heaven. Heaven does not use is strength to fight against evildoers as Man does, and yet it always triumphs. It does not speak with a mouth as Man does, and yet it answers faster than an echo. It does not have to be summoned but arrives on its own. Evil has its evil reward. Even the clever cannot escape. Heaven is unconcerned and unmindful, but its retribution is ingenious and beyond the reach of human plans. It never lets an evildoer slip through its net. The sage does not have to kill him. Heaven will do it for him.”

Wang An-Shih says, “Yin and Yang take turns, the four seasons come and go, the moon waxes and wanes. All things have their time. They don’t have to be summoned to come.”

By 1dandecarlo

September 14, 2018

Confucius says, “I study what is below and understand what is above. Who knows me? Only Heaven” (Lunyu: 14-37).

Dancing with Chi

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

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Taoist Ritual / Temple of the Eight Immortals

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

You are not a know-it-all. But you know all that there is to know. Simply come to know yourself and remember what you have forgotten. Simply to find again, again and again.  2/6/94

(From The I Ching / Voices of the Dragon found here on my website. From the contents of my book I wrote in 1994 and published in China in 2004 by Blue Wind Publishing in Beijing. The book, An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond, can be found online in China at http://www.ecph.com.cn).

I love the Kung Fu Panda movies. The second sequel not so much, but the first and Ch2third versions were right on the mark. People laugh when I tell them, but they don’t understand the context of inner peace, tai chi, and most importantly, finding and identifying with your inner self, your chi. In western parlance we would say your soul. Discovering who we are and identifying with our highest purpose, or endeavor, is the reason we’re here that defines our destiny. It is always a choice and takes courage to go there. The thought that it is in teaching others that helps you become who you really are… and that if you only do what you can do you will never be more than you are now.  That means when you can identify with what comes naturally to you, Ch3you follow it always assured the next step will become known to you. Master Oogway saw in the panda something he himself didn’t know existed, but was able to manifest through kung fu and becoming a master of his chi. An inherent trait that exists in all of us. Or even as Don Henley sang when we come to The end of the Innocence. The problem with chi is that what is given can be taken away and that you can only master chi by first knowing who you really are. The essence of kung fu, as if wishing upon a star, is knowing your half-way home and taking that next step.

Entering the Matrix of ultimate change/helping others to know who they were meant to be…

Knowing the above, I leave for China, and hopefully Tibet on what most people would call a sabbatical. No Facebook, no TV, no family. Only doing things that are geared to take me and my writing to the next step. As if nothing is in my backpack except the camera, paper, pen, and the Tao.

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Eric Butterworth

Regardless of rather I return in a month or not, my only promise is not to return as the person I am now. It is as Eric Butterworth said in the title of his book… The universe is calling. It is as though mountaintops simply are again waiting for my arrival. Arrangements to go to Tibet are always uncertain until arriving in China and doing paperwork and securing travel. Passport and visa must be submitted at least ten days in advance prior to entry. You must travel with a group. Individual travel is frowned upon. I would not be traveling to Tibet until after the October 1st national holiday where eating Ch5mooncakes is the most common tradition. (This is the time when the annual Moon Festival is held in China) and would not go until after October 8th (my birthday). I will return to USA on October 18th, so there is time. I had planned to go last year to Tibet when I was in China for six weeks, but it proved too complicated and my planning ahead should have been better. If I do not go to Tibet, I’ve been invited to teach at the Confucius College in Qufu instead. Maybe I can do both. I cannot use Google or Facebook while in China. I will however be doing a daily blog from here on my website. I hope you will check in while I’m gone.

I begin this trip (I’ve been to China almost fifty times and in and out of Beijing what seems like a hundred) in Beijing for two days before heading for Qufu highlighted by a visit to the National Museum. I have been to many other national museums (Chengdu, Xian, and Shanghai), but this is my first visit to the museum in Beijing. I like to try to attach items to the different time periods and dynasties I’m studying and writing about.

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Da Yu (ding) from the Early Western Zhou 11th-10th BC

I wanted to stay three days, but could not get a train ticket for Friday, September 21st because all train tickets had been pre-sold for the weekend,   several weeks prior to the holiday and purchasing a ticket was not possible. Fortunately, I was able to get a fast train ticket for Thursday evening the night before. Two years ago, on October 1st, due to a problem with my passport at the train station in Beijing, the only ticket was a “standing ticket”, Yes, that meant a ten-hour overnight train ride standing up in the isle. I thought then… I’m too old for this. I’ll turn 66 on this trip.

Once you have been a teacher, especially at a university in another country in my case China, others look and perceive you differently. Especially for many in China who consider me a scholar regarding Chinese history and philosophy. When I was teaching (I have more than 400 students most of them now teachers themselves), who while looking at me as their foreign teacher, ultimately my classes were about “how do I become a better person through being able to better express myself”. And for them, if I hope to become a teacher, how do I become a better citizen of the world through learning English as a second language?

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Dan with students at Jining University

This coming from students coming from all over Shandong Province and Qufu, where Confucius was the ultimate teacher, and respect for teachers is considered paramount. There is even a national holiday every May to celebrate the role of teachers in China. Because of Confucius, it begins with benevolence and virtue and culminates with respect for your elders. When I was teaching, while it was ostensibly about learning English it was more about how to become a better person. How to discover and find your niche, and “mastering your chi”, that focuses on your strengths and knowing your weaknesses and then to build on that with virtue. In The Book of Lieh Tzu expressed here on my website as My Travels with Lieh Tzu, there is a chapter entitled Confucius and the following story:

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?

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Confucius with his students    Confucius Painting Society

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

I’ve been asked many times the meaning of the comparison between yin and yang and grace and virtue since my last post. In China, when one thinks of virtue, you Ch9automatically think of Confucius and benevolence. To me, benevolence and the true meaning of kung fu and tai chi, combine both grace and virtue as one. Flowing with the movements of tai chi is not a thirty-minute exercise, but a way of life. Identifying with your chi and letting it take you there, while grace opens us to our higher consciousness and becoming translucent. As when going through every day experiences. The more self-aware you become the more you notice and recognize grace when it happens and you flow with it. Our task is to remain within this flow that connects us to the ten thousand things, to nature, and the universe.

To my thinking, they are inseparable. Asking the same question. As if able to unite both sides of the yin and yang, as if inherently becoming the residence of complimentary opposites yourself. Once you have it – what do you do with it? It’s like the hermit who lived on the mountain with no amenities just the silence found in his cave. Once discovered he was implored to come down to the village where others were seeking spiritual guidance to teach them for the benefit of all he had learned.  The hermit knew that the time of his return to the world was upon him.

As a practicing Buddhist, and with his bodhisattva vow, he must renounce the bliss of solitude for the welfare of the many. He did so and the world became a better Ch10place for it. While I consider myself a Taoist, I am pulled to the filling of the senses I find in Buddhism.

Buddhist sutras on their initial trip via elephants to China from India.  Big Wild Goose Pagoda   Xian

When traveling around China I seem to go to as many or more Buddhist Temples as Taoist and memorials to Confucius. It seems as though they serve as if a re-discovering of what lies in every human heart, as well as, showing the journey ahead as if a road map. That its not enough to bask in the glories of the past, but to take active part in shaping the future. What is our ultimate role to be? The task as with us seems never done. Maybe even to the pull of going to Tibet this time.

Can you go back to who you were so you know what to do going forward as the shaman, I Ching, and Tao have always said? Or do we start anew each time? Maybe just filling in the blanks of inequities we are here to correct this time. Or perhaps simply coming in tune with our chi once again.  Knowing that you have always roamed the sky with dragons… that mastering your own chi will be the key to Ch11doing so again. Or maybe even to just relay to the dragons what you have learned this time as you bring them and others along for the ride too.

Giving and receiving directions   Huangshan Mountain

What is it each of us seek, but the stability of a sanctuary until we have fulfilled our own sacred purpose with energy and compassion. Perhaps to inspire, uplift, and empower others in their own journey. Maybe to become both the student and the teacher again. Or perhaps reaching the conclusion that realization can only be found in the stillness and solitude of nature. Maybe it is as Joseph Campbell described as “the stream of bliss that flows once one comes in-tune or finds his rhythm with the universe”. It is here that one finds an unspeakable peace and happiness. That the dormant powers of light are buried in every soul just waiting to come forth as our chi to find and sing out once again. As with Autumn, and this time of year, celebrating the harvest and knowing that with patience we can wait for new growth and new beginnings that begin again in the Spring.

A Plum Abundance

Learn, value and know the ways of your garden. Nature tends to care for those who tend to it. A celebration coming!

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Girl in Bloom Sichuan Museum

Mother earth is plentiful. Having patience and knowing the seasons brings forth a reason to celebrate.  Keeping victory close to the chest throwing defeat through an open window.

Tending to nature has determined if we are hungry or if we will eat well until the ground thaws in the Spring.  As the plums are picked know that harmony brings forth the fruits of our labors.  Reminders that patience and discipline are but part of the cycle down the correct path.

Building great fires once again put the dragons on notice. Remembering that if failure is to be avoided, sacrifice must be made to satisfy the heavens. Remain astute following those who follow the symmetry of the seasons.

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The Lynx  Sichuan Museum

An important occasion. Apples, peaches, plums and pumpkins signify abundance. Be grateful and know that success is riding on coattails through the sky.

An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (14 GREAT HARVEST / Fire over Heaven). 2/12/94

As I continue to go through my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in May/June 2000 and my book, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for Ch14leading a virtuous Life, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is he so important? I know I spoke of this last time, but some may have missed so it bears repeating. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was the culmination of thousands of years of philosophical thought of what was to become Taoism thanks in part to copies found in tombs of those who were buried with copies of it in China. There are eighty-one verses in the Tao Te Ching.  Verses 70 and 71 appear below. Verses 1 through 69 were seen here on my most recent posts. The balance will be seen here over the coming weeks.

A partial preview can be seen on the Lao Tzu and Taoism tab here on my website. Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught others along the way that guides us. The commentaries below are meant to be read as a discussion between Lao Tzu and those interested who have thought deeply about the text itself. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage

Verse 70 – Putting things in Divine Order or being the Guest at a fine Banquet 

In greeting those who would oppose him, the sage proceeds as if at a fine banquet. He responds only after his host sets the table and blessings have been received from heaven.

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Coming to Terms    Home of the Eight Immortals   Xian

He advances innately ready to retreat with the slightest provocation. While the host may resist, the guest remains free to compromise. While the host toils to improve his position, the guest relaxes. While the host appears busy with much activity, he retreats in quiet. The sage remains prepared to meet resistance with agreement, toil with relaxation, pride with humility and action with quiet. Knowing in reality he has no opposition or enemy as he remains fully enmeshed in whatever outcome that may arrive.

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The Sage meeting resistance with agreement      At home with the Eight Immortals

While the sage works to bring all together under the sun, as if an umbrella out of harm’s way, he is often evenly matched by those who are happy with leaving things just the way they are.

While they may be content to only expand their treasure, he is concerned with illustrating the traits of compassion and the Tao.

While remorseful about where he may find himself, the sage knows no fate is worse than having no enemy. As opposites are required for either him or the Tao to proceed, he quickly thanks his host for the sumptuous meal and then quickly and quietly recedes.

Wang P’ang says, “Because the sage teaches us to be in harmony with the course of our life, him words are simple, and his deeds are ordinary. Those who look within himself understand. Those who follow their own nature do what is right. Difficulties arise when we turn away from the trunk and follow the branches.”

Li His-Chai says, “The Tao is easy to understand and put into use. It is also hard to understand and hard to put to use. It is easy because there is no Tao to discuss, no knowledge to learn, no effort to make, no deeds to perform. And it is hard because the Tao cannot be discussed, because all words are wrong, because it cannot be learned, and because the mind only leads us astray. Effortless stillness is not necessarily right. And actionless activity is not necessarily wrong. This is why it is hard”.

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Image at entrance to Confucius Temple in Qingdao

Su Ch’e says, “Words can trap the Tao, and deeds can reveal its signs. But if the Tao could be found in words, we would only have to listen to words. And if it could be seen in deeds, we would only have to examine deeds. But it cannot be found in words or seen in deeds. Only if we put aside words and look for heir ancestor, put aside deeds and look for their master, can we find it.”

Ten Tsun says, “Wild geese fly for days but don’t know what exists beyond the sky. Officials and scholars work for years, but none of them knows the extent of the Way. It’s beyond the ken and beyond the reach of narrow-minded, one-sided people.”

Verse 71 – Proceeding with little or no Fanfare

The sage’s motives are seldom understood and no one is usually very quick to Ch18employ them. Even though his words are easy to understand and put into practice.

Comprehending the Tao   The Eight Immortals

He is reminded of the old proverb. “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand”. Confucius adds that one should study what is below and understand what is above. Besides, who can know the motives of the sage, except heaven? Understanding something that cannot be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard seems beyond comprehension.

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The ultimate arbiter     The Eight Immortals

However, all things have ancestors and nothing can begin unless something else moves out of the way and ends. The sage remains an enigma to those around him as he is somehow different than others. He does not simply see himself only in terms of the here and now. But acknowledges his presence in what has come. Up to now since antiquity and that he has seen it all before as he is assured that his destiny is to one day return to be one with the dragons.

While it is the Tao and one universally referred to as God that is to be exalted, the sage is often considered in high esteem because he can be seen. Knowing this he strives to wear plain clothes and attempt, however difficult, to remain unseen and let others lead the way. He remains difficult to know because he seldom reveals his true self, as once revealed his opposition would request equal billing. But then again, who could oppose the sage for long.

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Remaining Unseen   Sichuan Museum  Chengdu

Confucius says, “Shall I teach you about understanding? To treat understanding as understanding and to treat not understanding as not understanding, this is understanding” (Lunyu: 2.17).

Te-Ch’ing says, “The ancients said that the word ‘understanding’ was the door to all mysteries as well as the door of all misfortune. If you realize you don’t understand, you eliminate false understanding. This is the door to all mysteries. If you cling to understanding while trying to discover what you don’t understand, you increase the obstacles to understanding. This is the door to all misfortune.”

Ts’ao Tao-Chung says, “If someone understands, but out of humility he says he doesn’t understand, this is when reality is superior to name. Hence, we call it transcendence. If someone doesn’t understand but says he does understand, this is when name surpasses reality. Hence, we call this an affliction. Those who are able to understand that affliction is affliction are never afflicted.”

Ho-Shang Kung says, “To understand the Tao yet to say that we don’t is the transcendence of virtue. Not to understand the Tao and to say that we do is the affliction of virtue. Lesser people don’t understand the meaning of the Tao and vainly act according to their forced understanding and thereby harm their spirit and shorten their years. The sage doesn’t suffer the affliction of forced understanding because he is pained by the affliction of others.”

 

By 1dandecarlo