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: 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.

The Bottomless Heart

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“The best hearts and minds are fathomlessly deep”

Most people have a limited conception of themselves. How we describe and conceive of ourselves often shackles us, preventing us from being so much more than we tepidly imagined. Whenever we have reached the limits of our mind, we must always know there is more; whenever we reach the bottom of our heart, we must realize it carries on without end.

People cling to tiny hearts and minds because infinity scares them. Not comprehending the patterns of Heaven, it all appears chaotic to them; a frightening morass, beyond comprehension. Thus, they dwell in confined personalities, restrictive social structures, and rigid classifications, because they are too afraid to confront the majestic spontaneity of the boundless.

The Wayfarer is not like this. He does not shirk things just because they do not give up their secrets readily. He is drawn to the fathomless like a magnet, for that is where he makes his home. Always approaching what he does not understand, and venturing into places he has never known, he consistently expands the purview of his heart/mind until it is without limits. With such depth within him, he is able to see that same depth within everything. What to others seems ordinary and prosaic, to him openly confides the enigmatic secrets of life. Being fathomless, he is a mystery to all around him. Incapable of being comprehended by narrower men, he cannot be corrupted, exploited, or understood. Only those who follow the Way will understand.

How can we cultivate minds/hearts of fathomless depth ourselves?

  • Meditate
  • Overcome attachment to material things, materialistic viewpoints and assumptions
  • Take emptiness as the foundation of your mind. Do not presume to know anything until you have investigated it carefully; and even then, proceed with caution
  • Be impartial – reject attachment to preferences – show kindness and compassion to all beings without exception
  • Refuse to let fear prevent you from seeking the truth. Losing boundaries and definitions is always scary –you must learn to love loss

TAO TE CHING 48

cherry temple

A student of learning

Gains day after day

A student of The Way

Loses day after day

Losing and losing

Until non-doing is attained

Non-doing

Yet nothing is not-done

Non-being

Yet nothing is not become!

Do not interfere

And you’ll win all Below Heaven

Meddle and overmanage

And even having all Below Heaven

Will not be enough to content you

 

Tao Te Ching Commentary: Bellows of Heaven

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“The space between

Heaven and Earth

Is like a bellows

Empty yet inexhaustible

Each motion pouring out

More and more”

Moving away from impartiality – (which could be called the ‘emptiness of wisdom’) – Lao Tzu returns to the inherent emptiness of all things. Like a bellows, it is this inherent emptiness that enables the universe to create continually, always producing more and more. Flutes or saxophones are only able to make music because they are hollow inside. We are only able to speak and breathe thanks to the hollows and cavities within our bodies which enable resonance. If we were nothing but solid matter, we would die in an instant, destroyed by the rigidity of our own density. Even our bones are largely hollow, filled with spaces, and comb-like cavities. If they were nothing but pure calcium, and devoid of space, they would break as easily as a brittle branch, incapable of sustaining any shock or impact.

So, space leaves room for creation, like the blankness of a canvas, or the hollowness of a womb. Space is the essential mystery behind all creation. To try and be rid of it would be to pour cement into all your orifices. Death is density – life is space.

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Divine Playtime

krishna

“Blending its light

To become one with the world”

Being infinite nothingness, Tao is also infinite light. However, unlike the light of the sun, this light requires no source, for it is the source.

Both transcendent and immanent, Tao is both beyond the world, and completely present inside everything within the world. This understanding of the mutual interdependence of immanence and transcendence plays a big part in many religious cosmologies around the world. To the devotees of Krishna, Krishna created the world, and then entered into his own creation. Everything is understood to be a consequence of this divine being engaging in play with himself. Thus, he is both transcendent and immanent, like a programmer who creates a virtual reality game, and then chooses to play it.

This is also a metaphor for our own experience. Coming from that original fount of godhead, we enter into specific bodies, with specific lives, to experience something we would not otherwise be capable of experiencing in our true, ineffable state. We are Krishna. We are the divine playing with itself. So have some fun!

Meditation: Seeing the Mountain

 

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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!