Tao Te Ching 81

moo

 

Sincere words are seldom pleasant

Pleasant words are seldom sincere

Good people do not argue

Argumentative people are not good

The wise do not know everything

And know-it-alls are not wise.

The sage is not possessive

The more he does for others

The more he has for himself

The more he gives to others

The richer he grows himself

The Way of Heaven

Helps without harming

The Way of the Sage

Never goes against nature

 

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Tao Te Ching Teachings: The Virtue of Non-Competition

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“Without going against them.”

As already stated, water is necessarily yielding and subservient to everything around it. Beholden to gravity, is always humbles itself, moving from great heights, to immense depths. As the I Ching has it:

“Fire rises

Water descends”

Even when water does appear to be aggressive, it is not doing so of its own accord. Violent waves, tsunamis and monsoons are produced as a consequence of atmospheric changes, the influence of the moon, the cycle of the sun’s solar flares, and the electromagnetic actions of the heavenly bodies. Water never initiates actions on its own, but always responds to the actions of others. Depending on others for motion, and thereby preserving its own energy, it never wastes away, and can respond in a diverse multiplicity of forms.

The sage is the same. Preserving his energy as much as possible, he rides the currents of Heaven and Earth, following their will, instead of exerting his own. He does not initiate actions unnecessarily or superfluously, but only in accordance to what is of benefit to the world.

Not going against beings means that he does not compete, argue, or strive or struggle at futile, self-aggrandizing pursuits. At the moment, we see a planet torn apart by conflict and disunity. Every being is competing with one another, always wanting the best for themselves, and less for everyone else. And so, we end up with the situation we are in now, where most of the wealth of the world belongs to an incredibly tiny portion of the world, whilst many die from hunger and poverty, denied access to the gifts of the world, which were placed here for all to share.

Competition may seem to have provisional benefits, if you think innovation always means improvement, but it is not sustainable – only co-operation and harmony is sustainable.

The Australian Aborigines were completely non-competitive in their culture. Having no personal possessions, they shared everything with one another. The same is true of the Native Americans, who happily gave gifts to the very first colonists. In both cases, the colonists, corrupted by competition, were bewildered by this guileless generosity, and quickly abused it to the extreme.

When Aborigines were introduced to the game of football by Christian missionaries, they found it impossible to grasp the logic of one team winning whilst another team lost. Surely such a binary outcome leaves fifty percent of the people unhappy at any given time – what benefit could there be in that? So, when they played, they would make sure the score was kept equal at all times, so both teams could be declared to have won!

So, if you want to help people, competing to be better, greater than they are, is not the way to do it, as that always leaves someone excluded. We must be like water, always willing to lower ourselves, serve everyone, and embrace everything, without partiality or prejudice. Going along with beings, we perfect them through harmony instead of conflict. In a piece of eccentric political advice, instructing a minister on how to tame an unruly king, Chuang Tzu says:

“If he acts like a baby, then act like a baby along with him. If he acts unconventionally, then act unconventionally along with him. If he acts without restraint, then you act without restraint along with him. Thus can you awaken him and lead him onto to blamelessness.”

Thus, in not going against others, we fill in their gaps. Where they are deficient, we are full. Where they are excessive, we are balanced and moderate. Where are too complex, we manifest pure simplicity. Balancing out all beings, we give them what they lack, instead of what they want. Like water poured into an empty vessel, we take on the most useful form.

Diary of a Mystic: Anubis and DNA

anubis

Duration – over ninety minutes, maybe a hundred. Mantra –Medicine Buddha’s, as I am still feeling unwell today, and it seems to exert a strong effect on me. Almost continual rocking  and shaking throughout, as with yesterday’s meditation. After focusing on making Medicine Buddha’s body my own, one of the first beings I encountered was Anubis, the jackal-headed guardian of the underworld in Egyptian mythology. He was stood in the middle of space, and flailing a red whip around, which may have had a fiery tip. I guess it was appropriate to see him, given the transformation that I’m undergoing. The whip seemed to remind me that all these deaths of the self are all about learning to further tame and subdue the self – it must be subdued and made to hurt a good deal before one finally conquers it. His presence unnerved me at first; but, I quickly assimilated to him and moved on.

Flying through the insides of massive of Egyptian temples – seemingly never-ending corridors of statues of all the great gods. Full-blown Egyptian space cities later in the dream.

I became aware that all of the 97% ‘junk DNA’ that we house in our bodies actually contains a limitless amount of infinite knowledge – no doubt closely connected with the Akashic records and the collective unconscious. I’m sure that if one were to analyze the DNA of spiritually advanced individuals and masters, they would discover far more of the DNA in operation than amongst members of the normal population – also amongst psychics and alien/human hybrids.

I ask to be taught more about love, and am whisked away to a beautiful planet – truly indescribable energy and colours here. I am standing on a tremendous red cliff outside a very beautiful temple with a large spire. I have a blue skin, a large crown, and am bedecked with lots of interesting armour and jewellery; my consort/lover is garbed in much the same kind of gear, has beautiful eyes and blue skin, is very slender and agile, and may have a tail. We look like a cross between Osiris and Isis, and Shiva and Shakti (though, unlike the iconography, both of the women are blue-skinned in this instance). We link together, and I experience being both of us at once. Either two or one – we can separate or come together at will.

I think this is one of the reasons people are so attached to touch in this realm. In other dimensions, to touch another, is truly to become another – here, unless one is very advanced in tantric mysteries, that sense of division and separation still stands, causing a lot of frustration and dissatisfaction.

Yesterday, I saw both Lao Tzu (as Lord Lao on a throne) and The Yellow Emperor – they both resided in extremely lofty heavens. Today, I also saw a being wearing the same shining yellow robes as The Yellow Emperor, but he had a large, dark blue alien head.

The very loving presence of Tara also came to visit me at one time. I took refuge in her enormous green body, and the beautiful green land in which she resides. I also saw Manjushri – accepted his sword of wisdom, and, after, perusing through the book he always carries, I consumed it.

 

Tao Te Ching: 12

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Too much colour blinds the eyes

Too much noise deafens the ears

Too many flavours spoil one’s taste

Hunting and racing in the field

Derange heart and mind to extreme

Rare goods that are hard to come by

Impair good conduct and action

Therefore, the Sage

Follows his spirit

Not his senses

Rejecting one

Abiding in the other

Tao Te Ching Commentary: The Gateway to All Mystery

deeper

“Call them both deep,

Deep, and again, deep

The Gateway to all Mystery”

Here, Lao Tzu re-iterates the word ‘deep.’ In Ancient Chinese, this word is hsuan, a multi-tiered and mysterious word, which, itself, refers to all that is dark, mysterious, secret, vague, obscure, hidden, unknowable, and incomprehensible, like a never-ending abyss. Taoists adore poetic phrases such as these, for they subtly describe all that cannot be described. Whilst the word abyss is synonymous with Hell in most religions, in Taoism, an abyss is a metaphor for pure Absence and Unknowability – an endless, infinite void of darkness – like space, itself – containing the potential for untold bliss, beauty, marvel, and light. As The Great Way cannot be known, it can only be known through directly plunging into and uniting one’s self with the unknown.

This hidden dark depth also poetically illustrates the development of meditation, and the celestial light within darkness. Sitting down to meditate at night, in a darkened room, with our eyes closed, we enter into a state of pure darkness. Because our eyes are closed, and there is no light, we are unable to see – and because we are sitting still, and not moving our body, eventually our senses turn off and inwards, and we begin to become aware of things to which we are normally blind. We merge mysteriously with our surroundings, and begin to experience things we would not normally experience.

And, though we are sat in darkness, once our physical eyes close, we give our spiritual eye a chance to open. This spiritual eye could rightly be called ‘The Gateway to all Mystery,’ though it also refers to The Crown Chakra, and the state of our consciousness, as it passes from this dimension, into another one. This spiritual eye is the pineal gland that resides within the brain, externally, between the points of your two eyebrows. About the size of a pea, it is literally a ‘vestigial eye’ and is fully endowed with its fair-share of retinal cells. However, unlike your two eyes, this spiritual eye is designed to look inwards, rather than outwards.

Once you unlock this gateway of mystery, you’ll find that there is no end to it – it truly is hsuan. When I meditate, I regularly have visions of other dimensions, and planes of existence, that stretch on into infinity. And, even though that might sound incredible to your average person, I am still right at the starting gate, and I have an interminable bounty of things left to experience.

If you find all this hard to comprehend, just think about dreams – something mysterious we all regularly experience, but which no one, not even science, has a comprehensive explanation for. Within them, you roam whole worlds, realities, and landscapes – some familiar, and obviously of terrestrial origin; others, bizarre, and unlike anything you’ve ever seen in your entire life. If you’ve never seen such things in your entire life, then where are these image and experiences coming from? They’re obviously not coming from your physical brain, as they have nothing to do with your existing memories. Rather, it is a perception of something beyond your ordinary perception.

Taoists, and all mystics, are dedicated to exploring these alternate modes of non-ordinary perception as much as possible. They are not satisfied with the narrow spectrum of reality we are ordinarily capable of perceiving; they want to throw the doors of perception wide open and see how things look when you are released from the shackles of ordinary human consciousness.

So, if you want to follow The Way, as Lao Tzu says, you must go deeper, ever deeper. For the willingness to always go deeper, and to always keep pushing back the frontiers of the unknown, is truly, The Gateway to all Mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

Tao Te Ching Commentary: Names can Names No Lasting Names

 

Tree

“Names can name no lasting names”

After explaining that The Way cannot be expressed in words, Lao Tzu goes on to explain the illusory nature of words and language. A word is a verbal or symbolic signature that we use to refer to a specific thing. We see a large pillar-shaped life-form with branches and leaves, and call it a ‘Tree.’ Once we learn to tell it apart from other trees, we might be more specific, and call it ‘a Maple Tree’ or an ‘Ash Tree.’ From then on, if we want to be really pedantic, we might start using its Latinized name, in conjunction with the various ‘scientific terms’ that designate its specific attributes, until we find ourselves drowning in names and nomenclature! How far removed this all is from that beautiful, peaceful life-form rooted in the Earth, and dancing with the wind! Have any of these names brought us any closer to comprehending and understanding the essence of a tree? Or has it just bound it up in a conceptual prison, so that we can never again look at our friend, the tree, with clear, innocent eyes?

Of course, names are useful, as they help to distinguish one thing from another, and grant us a feeling of intimacy and kinship with the thus named object. This year, I charged myself with the task of learning the names of all my local trees, and I do truly feel closer to them as a result.

But, the important point that Lao Tzu is making, is that we must not mistake names for reality. Names are just labels – they are not the thing thus labelled. Just because we know the name of a particular thing, being, or object, we must not think that means we now fully understand the nature of that object. A name is just the external aspect of a thing, like clothes or flesh on the human body.

Taoists are not concerned with externals. They only care for externals in so much as they can reveal the internal.

But names can never tell you about the inner reality of a thing. They are distracting and inhibiting, and should not be trusted as a valid demarcation of truth, for the truth is no words.

Clinging to these words confuses and misdirects us. One of the reasons the teachings of Taoism and other Eastern Religions/philosophies so often strikes Westerners as bizarre and contradictory is because our language is very binary, and mono-dimensional. In our language, if one word testifies to the truth of a given thing, then it must, by implication, negate all that is does not specify. Tao is the very opposite of this, because it negates nothing, embodying all things. This is why Taoist psychologists urge us to cultivate The Mind of Tao, not The Human Mind.

The Human Mind is hindered by distinctions, divisions, theories, and categories. Endlessly dividing things into smaller and smaller pieces, it moves very far away from reality.

The Mind of Tao keeps things intact; whole. It does not need words, thoughts, or concepts to understand things. It is not separate from the things it seeks to understand, so it understands them effortlessly. Thus it is said “All knowledge is self-knowledge.”

So, names can names no lasting names. A tree is called one thing in this country, and another thing in a different country. In a different time, it will be called this, and in another time period, it will be called that. The names change, never lasting – but the tree remains – the permanent part of reality, around which illusions orbit.

It should also be understood just why Lao Tzu feels this way about language. Though Lao Tzu is our very ancient ancestor – (his name literally means ‘The Old Master’) – whom we consider to be the very embodiment of The Way, he was very much a renaissance man, who recognized that his own time period was very far from The Way indeed. Living during the historical Chinese era of The Warring States period, the country with torn apart by rivalries between emperors and feudatories. Confucianism had just appeared, endorsing rigid morality, social structure, hierarchy and bureaucracy. Philosophers squabbled over meaningless terminology, and wasted time on erudite arguments. Peace was nowhere to be found.

These were times in which Lao Tzu was living in. His understanding of Tao was not inspired by this tumultuous present, but by a past he was hoping to recreate. In this pre-historic golden age, men had no need for words, because people could communicate soundlessly to one another via telepathy. People were so in harmony with Heaven and Earth, that there would be no need to communicate anything about their external environment, as it was already a part of their internal environment. No distinction existed between inner and outer, as all things were One.

So, for Lao Tzu, the very fact that the Tao had to be put into words to guide people back to it, already demonstrated how far people had strayed from living in accordance with it. Sorrowfully, he laments this state of affairs. But, moved by compassion, and wanting people to partake of the harmony and bliss they had lost, he penned this sutra, hoping that people might use his wisdom-filled words to return to a state where words have no meaning, and nothing needs to be expressed or understood, for all things already are expressed understood.

Meditation: Seeing the Mountain

 

Open

When I last saw my father  and told him I had become a meditation teacher, he said:

“Meditation? So you teach people to sit still and do nothing? What good is that?”

In fact, Chinese mystics from the three jewels of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism have long referred to meditation as ‘sitting still doing nothing.” They recognized the immense treasure to be had from stillness and emptiness.

Our culture has always encouraged movement over stillness; excess over emptiness; intellectualism over transcendence; and opinions over observations. So, to most of us, emptiness and stillness sound like strange and frightening concepts. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we associate stillness and emptiness with death, and so avoid them as much as possible.

But they’re right. Meditation is death. We use it to kill the egoistic/selfish mind that is the source of all our suffering. Because people have identified themselves with their egos for so long, they think that, were they to be truly egoless, that would kill them. But only when we are free from our concepts of self, do we have the freedom to really become ourselves, without definitions, distinctions, attachments or delusions binding us, and keeping us restricted. As one translator of the Tao Te Ching has it:

“If you do not forget yourself,

Then how can you become yourself?”

Let me draw an example from my own life. Where I live in Wales, we are blessed with beautiful countryside, amazing mountains, and dramatic skylines.

On a bad day, when my ego mind is calling the shots, and I am lacking in inner peace or stillness, all of that natural beauty might as well not be there. I get encumbered by my thoughts, and, as a result, I am afflicted with perceptual tunnel vision. A phoenix could fly before me, or a dragon sprout from beneath my feet, but it would’t matter. Like an overflowing venue, my mind is already too packed with thoughts to allows anything else in. The dragons and phoenixes will have to wait.

However, if I am at my best, and have achieved inner peace and stillness within, then all is bliss. Not only am I able to relish these mountains and landscapes in all their beauty and wonder, I feel them, I become them. Such is the state of receptivity thanks to my emptiness that I can perceive everyone and everything with the utmost perceptivity. Boundaries between self and not-self disappear. All is unified. All is one.

So, emptiness is the difference between seeing the mountain and being the mountain. Try as you might, you won’t be able to eat one on a full stomach – how much less so a full mind!

Book Blog: ‘Road To Heaven’ by Bill Porter

Bill POrter

ROAD TO HEAVEN: ENCOUNTERS WITH CHINESE HERMITS

China’s history has long been feted with legends of mysterious recluses and hermits, living in the remote mountains of The Middle Kingdom’s fairy-tale landscapes. These recluses have traditionally been Taoist non-conformists, who have removed themselves from the inequalities and dust of the world, to pursue The Way, and cultivate spiritual immortality. Occasionally, these hermits have appeared from their seclusion to offer wisdom and political advice. But since the persecution of Buddhists and Taoist by Communists during The Cultural Revolution, it was believed that this institution had largely been destroyed.

But was that really the case?

Driven on by rumors and uncertain testimony, Bill Porter – (translator of many esteemed Chinese Poets and Buddhist/Taoist sutras)  – travels into the mysterious sacred mountains of China, hoping to meet some modern-day hermits, who are keeping this tradition alive.

Along the way, he meets myriad Zen and Taoist hermits, living in remote and inaccessible locations; and passes such sacred locations as the observatory tower commemorating the place where Lao Tzu penned The ‘Tao Te Ching’ before disappearing into the West on his ox. He meets  monks and nuns with whom he discusses nothingness and the uneasiness of spiritual practice within modern China, whilst dispersing the accounts of his journey with tales from Chinese history, mythology, and mystical exegesis.

In one amusing account, Bill visits a Taoist temple, where he jokes that his rather wizened looking photographer is at least 700 hundred years old. Given that Taoists take such matters as immortality and longevity seriously, he did feel quite guilty when he had to confide to them that he was not even a-hundred.

And yet, even in spite of the fruits of his search, I can’t help but feel that their must be myriads of  Taoist sages of high attainment, living in locations so remote, no ordinary mortal could possibly access them, untouched by the ravages of time, or the catastrophe of The Cultural Revolution.

An inspiring and exciting read, I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in Taoism, Zen, or Chinese History and Mythology.

On Spiritual Alchemy

Alchemy

One of alchemists’ favorite quotes from the Tao Te Ching is Lao Tzu’s injunction to:

“Empty the mind, fill the belly,”

But what does this mean? In Chinese, the ideogram for heart and mind is the same. The heart and mind are one – there is no division between them. When the heart and mind are filled up with thoughts and desires, then reality it distant from us. We cannot sense the Tao, because our cravings and thoughts on the world are getting in the way.

You cannot clearly perceive what things are, when you try and understand them via intellectual categories. You cannot clearly see reality for what it is when you are desiring it to be something else. Both of these qualities obscure the heart and mind, and divorce us from nature.

So what do we do? We empty the heart and mind of these thoughts and desires. We do this through meditating, and using every experience as an opportunity to refine our consciousness.

But once we begin to experience emptiness, then there is danger, because there is the possibility of false awareness returning once again. Once you have emptiness, you must fill the belly.

Filling the belly does not mean eating lots of food! Nor does it mean accumulating energy in just the lower energy center around the navel.

The belly is the inherent void of our existence. Every particle of our being is empty by nature. Every physicist will be able to tell you that.

So, now that you have apprehended emptiness, fill it – “the belly” – with the pure, original energy of The Tao. Visualizations are the best way to do this. Fill yourself with light, with jewels – however you best perceive that pure energy – and let it illuminate every last part of your being. Advanced practitioners don’t even need to visualize. Abiding in non-doing, they can return to the original being