TAO TE CHING TEACHINGS: A MOTHER’S HEART

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“Engendering and nurturing

Creating life without owning it”

These lines describe the maternal aspects of the Tao that we must work to practice in ourselves. In Buddhism, there is the quality of Bodhicitta – a heart filled with compassion and wisdom, driven to attain happiness and libertation from suffering for all beings.

When we develop this quality, we become as a mother to all beings. We regard all beings as if they were our children; looking upon them as Buddhas and wish-fulfilling jewels, always willing to bow to the divinity within them. This practice is the supreme way of feeling true love for all beings, and eliminating any of the negativity or attachment we might otherwise feel towards them.

Ultimately, it about cultivating Selfless Love – love that is  – not love that has. This is the distinction of the line ‘Creating life without owning it.’ If we love something, and expect to get something out of it in turn, then we have fallen into a pit. Merely feeling love for any being is a gift in and of itself – such a love does not need to be actuated or reified in anyway.

But, as soon as we expect something from the thing we love – expecting it to give something back to us, even though it has already given us the insurpassable gift of experiencing love – then this is like taking a shit on a shooting star. We have taken purity, and debased it, by making demands of it. Never ask how the thing you love can serve you – only how you can selflessly serve it.

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Tao Te Ching Teachings: Shining Forth

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“Shine forth

Your pure enlightenment everywhere

Without doing a thing”

When we first set forth on the Way, helping and benefiting people is something that we have to actively try and do. It’s something that takes effort, and which has to be forced due to our conditioning. But, as we progress, and we become more and more enlightened, we find we help people not through doing, but through being. Our mere cultivation and vibrational rate benefits people – we do not have to consciously direct it.

There are plenty of stories like this in the biographies of holy men. Paul Ekman, the leading expert in body language, had long suffered from problems in anger management. But, after holding The Dalai Lama’s hand for several minutes during a Buddhist-scientific dialogue, his daughter reports that his temper was almost completely curtailed following the experience.

Striving soon becomes non-striving – benefiting through action eventually turns into benefit through non-action.

TAO TE CHING TEACHINGS: Savior or Dictator?

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“Love and lead

The country and its people

Without artifice or guile”

The Path of the Taoist is essentially the path of the Bodhisattva. Practicing the Way gives you a direct life-line to an infinite source of power. Having such an intimate relationship with an unquenchable source of energy, one can either become a megalomaniac or a saviour.

Many of the people who rule and ruin the world have immense power which they derive from occult means. Not good occult, like meditation and tantric, but bad occult – warfare, sacrifice, cannibalism, black magic and other practices too disgusting to be spoken of. Having been enslaved by dark forces, they use this power to enslave others, spreading misery and suffering everywhere in the process.

The Taoist, however, does not just cultivate power – he cultivates virtue and integrity, so that his power is always being channeled in a positive direction. If he still possessed an ego, or was too attached to his self, he might run the risk of using this power exclusively for his own personal gain, instead of the gain of all.

So, through mindful awareness, the sage is constantly present to everything occurring in his mind. A thought can’t so much as let out a silent fart without him knowing. Anything that reeks of falsity, of selfishness, he acknowledges immediately, and deals with appropriately.

What are artifice and guile? The desire to manipulate the thoughts and actions of those weaker then yourself, in a way that serves yourself. The Bodhisattva sort of does the same, but in a good way. Like the Beach Boys song, he uses his good vibrations and supreme mentality to radiate peace throughout the cosmos. He puts the potential of deeper wisdom, love and understanding out into the universe, but he does not deny people the right to make their own choices with that potential. The sage is a savior, not a dictator – he must always make sure that he doesn’t let his power turn him from the former into the latter.

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Clarifying Your Consciousness

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“Purify the fathomless depths of your consciousness

So it is stainless and without distortion”

Consciousness is infinite. It is the substance of everything. Though we might think it is just confined to our bodies and brains, upon investigation, we discover that it is everywhere; no matter how much we try to reduce it, it can never be reduced. How else would such things as remote viewing, astral projection, and premonitions of past and future events be possible?

In Buddhism, the substance of mind has been compared to a diamond: unbreakable, crystalline, and clear. All of our minds are basically like this – serene, clear, and empty. But, in the same way that our oceans and coasts have been ruined by toxic waste and oil spills, so this empty clarity has been lost by our minds, filled with delusion, neurosis, and distorted perception.

Many of these erroneous views are forced upon us by the inadequacies of our culture; others are the result of having a physical form; others may be karmic in nature. Through constant analysis and awareness of our mental state, we begin to identity all of those qualities that limit, cloud, or hinder the infinite clarity of the mind. We put measures in place to prevent them occurring, and have sensible plans of action for responding safely to them if they occur anyway.

Through actively studying reality, we learn to tell the real from the unreal, embracing the former and rejecting the latter. Reality can only be known through deep investigation, acceptance, meditation, and the willingness to let go of everything you thought to be true. Let go of it all, and, at last, the truth will welcome you.

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Centering Integrity

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“Without disintegration”

What helps us to keep mind and body close together? Te, or integrity/power. To have integrity means that every part of you, no matter how seemingly disparate or contradictory, is perfectly integrated into a harmonious whole. You reject or dismiss no part of yourself, but explore and express it in a healthy way, so it can be put to good use, and dwell in its rightful place, like a computer code that only functions when all of the digits are in the right order and combination.

When we disintegrate, it is a sign that things are not in their proper place; that we have suppressed or ignored important aspects of ourselves that need to be explored and expressed. When we act in accordance with The Way, we possess integrity; when we go against the Way, we disintegrate. It is as simple as that. All power and unity comes from being centred. Stay centred at all times, and integrity will stay with you.

TAO TE CHING: Vitality and Spirit

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“Cultivating vitality and spirit

Embrace this unity”

Vitality is the totality of energy of your physical being. Spirit refers to transcendental energy – the part of your energy that inhabits and vivifies your body, but is not dependent upon it, only visiting it as a guest.

For the Taoist, it is essential to nurture these two things. Taking care of our physical being, we live easier, and make ourselves more receptive to the spirit, aligning ourselves with the earth. Cultivating spirit, we align ourselves with heaven, learning to control our body without becoming attached to it.

Cultivating one, we enhance the other. What is good for spirit, is good for vitality – what is good for vitality, is also good for spirit. They are a unity – no difference should be made between them.

But, because of the materialistic philosophies of our culture, we only think about the vitality of the body, and ignore the crucial role the mind and spirit have in regulating it. Only cultivating vitality through physical exercise, with no concomitant refinement of the mind, will exhaust you, and be of little purpose. Only cultivating spirit through meditation and psychological practice, without also flexing our bodies, altering our lifestyles, and improving our diets, then all our spiritual achievement will be impractical, and our relationship with our bodies will be unhealthy and out of balance.

Many mystics were serious haters of the body. The body is a walking coffin, a ticking time-bomb, a prison for the spirit. It can seem like our greatest impediment to growth at times. But, the very difficulty of having a solid body is what enables us to make so much spiritual progress while we are in it. Our body can feel our resentment and hatred for it. We have to love it, or it will not comply with us, any more than a dog will return loyally to an owner who beats it.

TAO TE CHING TEACHING: Houses of Gold

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“A house filled with gold and jewels

No one is able to protect”

Having more things does not mean having more happiness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It just means we have more things to worry about and accept responsibility for. Poor people don’t need security guards or CCTV cameras, because no one can steal what you do not have. No one can take emptiness away from you. It is your private treasure forever.

But the story has been played out over and over again throughout history. Blessed with an extraordinary amount of wealth, one’s life becomes mired with paranoia and distrust. People only come to you to seek out emoluments – no one cares about the hidden wealth of your character. Knowing of your prosperity, every thief and bandit will want to rob from you. Even if you have people to guard it, it will not prevent you from worrying about it. Thus:

A bank full of gold

Is a mind full of worries

A house full of riches

Is a heart full of woe

A belly filled with desire

Is a life filled with trouble

A chest full of treasure

Is a soul bereft of any

Don’t treasure wealth

Treasure integrity

And you will be as rich

As the Buddhas themselves

TAO TE CHING TEACHINGS: Minimum for Maximum

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“Pounding and hammering it –

You won’t preserve it long!”

Carrying on in the same vein, Lao Tzu continues to warn us against the perils of over-doing things. In this context, Lao Tzu uses the metaphor of refining or sharpening a blade. Continually trying to refine and perfect it, trying to make it ever sharper, even once it’s reached its peak level of sharpness, we damage what we are striving to perfect.

If we interfere and meddle with things constantly, we do not give them an opportunity to develop by themselves. If you over-water a plant, you’re likely to drown it in its pot. If you constantly poke and scratch a healing wound, you prevent it from being able to heal.

So, in working, do what you need to do and no more. Give time for your actions to resonate, so you can proceed according to the consequences they beget. It’s like speaking. If you start saying one thing while you’re already in the process of saying another, you will stammer, and people will not hear your message clearly. If you strike another note before letting the first one ring, you’ll end up with dissonance.

The notion that doing more always gets you more is incorrect. Doing things in the right way, to the right degree, at the right time is what makes the difference. If you do lots, but it is all wrong, then you will just be sowing difficulties. If do what is right, but to an extreme degree, you produce a response that may be opposite to the one you intended.

It is like stroking a cat. Cats want to be stroked. But you have to stroke them in the right way, to the right degree, and at the right time. If you stroke a cat too often, it is likely to scratch you. Make a habit of it, and the cat may even avoid you completely. But if you a stroke a cat well, but only a little, it will be clamouring for your attention to receive more of the affection it has tasted.

Using the absolute minimum of energy to reach the maximum effect – this is the way of the Taoist.

TAO TE CHING TEACHINGS: Not Over Doing It

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“Attached to over-doing it?

Better not do it at all!”

It is better to do nothing than to do something wrong. This is why mastering restraint is one of the most important things a Taoist can ever learn.

Restraint is all about prevention and self-control. It is about not doing something we would otherwise very much like to do. If you feel angry or frustrated, and would like to express your anger and frustration through violence, then you know beforehand that such an action would have bad consequences. If you hit someone, there will be pain. Causing another being pain engenders bitterness, resentment, enmity, and fear. It could even lead to a life-long feud that just grows ever more dangerous and complex. Your life would be so much simpler if you had just not done it!

You desire to eat or drink something that you know is unhealthy. You know that it will make you sick, and that consuming it on a regular basis will fuck up your health and make functioning easily much more difficult. But, if you go ahead anyway, letting your desires govern you instead of your wisdom, then you are knowingly permitting danger and disharmony to become a part of your life, developing asthma, diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, and any number of related health problems. Once again, you save yourself so much pain and interference, simply by not doing something!

So restraint is non-action. Not acting unnecessarily, only acting when it is essential to act, we keep our lives simple, and avoid amassing chaos and complexity. Over-doing things always invites destruction. The original Chinese here uses the metaphor of filling a vessel beyond its capacity. If you blow up a balloon beyond its capacity to stretch, it will burst. If you fill a pool beyond its capacity, it will flood. If you fill a belly beyond its capacity, you will get fat and sick. If you act beyond your capacity, you will wear yourself out. If you have sex beyond your capacity, you will drain your vital force.

If we follow the way of balance and restraint, we fill things to their capacity, and then no more, if indeed we must fill them at all. Making sure things do not transgress their limits, how much benefit we gain by simply not doing stupid things!

Tao Te Ching Teachings: The Importance of Timing

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“The best actions are well-timed”

The universe has rhythm. It has beats, breaths, spans, cycles, grooves and a gradually reoccuring network of ever-evolving revolutions. Though on a transcendent level all things are timeless, on a practical level we still have to function within the confines of linear time, even if we no longer feel its restrictions. So, for this reason, it is essential to investigate and comprehend the overlapping cycles of life so that we can harmoniously align ourselves to them.

It is not just enough to act in the right way; we must also act at the right time. The right time is when all of the appropriate factors are properly in place; though, sometimes, when these factors our lacking, if our aim is s selfless one, then it is necessary to create these salubrious factors through our own doings.

In living life, it is necessary to respond to life. But a large portion of our response is based not just in responding to what arises, but in being prepared for their arising to begin with, and so cultivating a sense of vigilant alertness; always remaining in a state of fluid alacrity, ready and prepared for any circumstances we might have work with.

A good example would be a martial arts battle. Naturally, you need to respond to the blows your opponent throws at you. If you only defend after you’ve been hit, then you’re doing things in the wrong order! In order to be effective, it is not only necessary to respond, but to be prepared to respond. If you have this prescience, then you can see the arising of things before they actually arise, thanks to your comprehension of the simple natural principles that cohere everywhere.

A man who does not see a blow coming, or even suspect one is coming, will be completely overcome, because it will have occurred when he was most vulnerable. Not being prepared for sudden swift changes in life keeps you in a state of perpetual vulnerability. However, if you make one move, and know your opponent is likely to respond to this in a given way, then you can use the momentum of his response against him. Being prepared for the sudden swift transformations of life, we ride the wave instead of being overcome by it, using it to our advantage.

For those who want to search out these transformations further, study and use The I Ching, astrology, tarot, and any other relevant divinatory practices, in addition to regular meditation.