Life

Life

 

Chapter 10

 

In holding the soul and embracing the oneness

Can one be steadfast, without straying?

In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation

Can one be like an infant?

 

In cleaning away the worldly view

Can one be without imperfections?

 

In loving people and ruling the nation

Can one be without manipulation?

 

In the heavenly gates opening and closing

Can one hold to the feminine principle?

 

In understanding in all directions

Can one be without intellectuality?

 

Bearing it, rearing it

Bearing without possession

Achieving without arrogance

Raising without domination

This is called the mystic virtue.

We are called to embracing the oneness, to refrain from straying and to holding the soul. How does one accomplish this? Unifying the physical with the spiritual is the state of consciousness we know as meditation. Holding the soul is the moving above the singular view of materialism and sensation seeking (ego) and experiencing life without constant distraction.

 

When we contemplate the nature of distraction, we can realize that it is a tuning out of life. Distraction is by nature the dropping of attention and our being captivated by the irrelevant. Experiencing life is the singularity of physical experience. We can refine the experience by paying attention to each moment and letting go of those things which block or create resistance.

 

Being relaxed and concentrating our life energy we become like infants, soft pliable and full of wonder. Allowing our “self” to become distracted and dominated by ego, we create resistance, stress and the sense of wonder is lost to anxiety and problems. When we allow our mental focus to become absorbed by distraction, we have lost our foothold on life as the spiritual or true self.

 

The Tao cultivator tunes into life, and pays attention to protect the sanctuary of keeping a peaceful heart. The sage or wise person does not lose nor waste energy on unnecessary clenching and striving against the flow of life. The sage reaches balance and harmony by realizing the flow and becoming one with it. The harmonizing of the spiritual and soul with the physical experience of life brings forth mystic virtue. This is the authentic path of heaven and true being.  This does not mean there are not difficulties. This means we do not give into ego coping because the experience we are having is difficult. With hope, we bridge the gap between fear and courage. Especially in times of turmoil, we return to spirit for guidance and solace. The sage seeks the path of balance and harmony. The balance between the spiitual self and the physical world is the path of mystic virtue. Without arrogance, without dominance, without the illusion of possession, and  without ego, the Tao cultivator embraces mystic virtue. This is life. This is true living.

Be Like Water (the strength in humility)

Be Like Water (the strength of humility)

Chapter 8, 34

The power of humility is experienced when we become like water and seek the low places. What does this mean? To understand true strength and courage we undertake the cultivation of controlling the ego. Ego always seeking attention and self gratification abhors humility. In the Tao Te Ching we are called to “resemble water”.  In the opening verses of Chapter 8, Lao Tzu teaches us with these words:

“The highest good resembles water

Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention

It stays in places that people dislike

Therefore it is similar to the Tao”

Those lower places that people dislike is where we find the Tao. It is the place of humility. For the ego cannot dwell in low places, because it is too concerned about it how it looks, what people think, and loss of status. Ego is concerned with “getting ahead” and it could care less about how it may trample upon others. Humility is the putting aside of ego and seeing, accepting reality as it is.

In Chapter 34, we see how getting beyond obstacles is smoothly accomplished by flowing around objects. When we free ourselves from the ego, and unify with life as the true self, we are not chained to the reactions of the ego. Flowing like water around obstacles is the true self accepting things as they are. In self awareness we can practice letting go and moving on, not get caught up or entangled in attachment and desire.

“The great Tao is like a flood

It can flow left or right”

An easy example of this is when someone says something to us that the ego takes offense at. The ego takes things personally and begins taking on a sense of contention and retribution. The Tao cultivator becomes like water. Not imprisoned by the reaction of ego, they move on and around the comment and do not become stuck. As we bump into the trivial obstacles in life, we can just let them and go and move around and onward within the flow of the Tao.

There was a story told recently about a Tao cultivator who was an author. For a moment his focus became caught up in desire of increasing sales of his book. He sought to improve his standing in both sales and appreciation by readers by getting more good reviews for his book. Then a Tao sage read his comments and showed him how his actions were not in accordance with the Tao. The author realized what was happening and released the grip of egoic desire and need. Rather than take offense, he accepted the truth of sages words. In humility he became free, or “unstuck” of this desire. If his ego has remained in control, he would have taken offense at the sages words and become stuck in the illusion that he must have the reviews to be successful. He could have become involved in distraction of being offended and the suffering that comes with it.  Being like water, he assumed the low place  (humility) that ego could not dwell in. In this way he allowed his wisdom mind to come forth and to become strong. The Taoist Sage gifted him with the truth, yet it was only accepted and understood through humility. There is strength is humility because ego has no purchase to root. It dies from lack of attention and pride. With ego removed wisdom and knowing take root like the blossom of the lotus flower, rising above and becoming at one with the great Tao.

We can recognize ego at work when we find ourselves unable to be humble. If you begin to sense that pride, arrogance and contention taking root, that is ego. If you cannot even for one moment practice humility and take the low place, that is ego. If you cannot move on from some perceived slight or offense that is ego. Humility is medicine, the cure, the antidote to the ego which is poison to the spirit. Free your self, return to your true self and experience the strength and courage of flowing like water.

Cleverness

Cleverness

Chapter 65

Those of ancient times who were adept at the Tao
Used it not make people brighter
But to keep them simple
The difficulty in governing people
Is due to their deceptiveness

Therefore using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a thief of the state
Not using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a blessing of the state?

Know that these two are both standards
Always knowing these standards
Is called Mystic Virtue
Mystic Virtue is so profound, so far reaching
It goes opposite of material things
Then it teaches great congruence

There is an old saying that goes something like “the devil is in the details”.
When the ego mind is at work it strives. In striving, ego always sets up as many incoming vectors of self serving as possible. In a given situation, it believes that the more complex something is the more elegant. It strives to create confusion so that those it would manipulate are not aware of its true intention. Ego loves tricky, clever misdirection so that it can act in deceitful ways to manipulate and take advantage of the those around them.

An example can be found in this when engaged with sales people who go to great lengths to create confusion and employ cleverness to get the sale. They can be found in every industry where hard work and honesty are dropped in favor of clever wording and psychological parlor trick manipulate people into giving up their money.

We even do this to ourselves. When ego is allowed to run freely as the creator of our path, it can be so very clever in justifying the self gratifying poor choices that get us into so much trouble. Sometimes our striving can become so complex that we believe our own tricks and deceive ourselves. While living within ego our cleverness can get us into serious trouble.

Ego living for the pursuit of desire fulfillment creates problems from poor choices. Ego thinking that it can buy happiness through the purchase of material items, will soon run out of money because there is just not enough stuff to ever find that feeling of fulfillment. When the money runs out, it seeks more, often in the form of credit cards. Soon the ego is feeling clever at how well it can ‘rob Peter to pay Paul”. It will set up what it thinks are clever schemes to shuffle money around, even feeling proud of how tricky and complex their system is. Yet, it cannot last and one day the house of cards collapses. The mess they create they can create can be so complex that it is impossible to sort out and come up with a viable solution. Thus ego creates situations that are too complex and impossible to solve.

The Tao cultivator learns to keep things simple and to follow those who seek simplicity and straightforward demeanor over cleverness. Importantly they also recognise the tricks of cleverness in others and learn to not fall into the traps that clever egos set up. In this balanced way the the Tao cultivator can experience the grace of mystic virtue. Staying away from trouble keeps them on the path. When trouble is at hand, they use simple straightforward steps to go beyond the problems areas of life because they are not overburdened with complexity and detail.

The self aware person is mindful and present. They pay attention to the choices at hand and carefully choose the way of simplicity. By managing their own ego, they are able to discern the cleverness of other egos and steer away from trouble. In this way they do not take upon themselves the distractions that lead to suffering and misery.

Striving

Striving

chapter 73

The bold in daring will be killed

The bold in not daring will survive

 

Of these two, one may benefit, the other may harm

The one hated by heaven? – who knows the reason?

Even the sages still find this difficult

 

The Tao of Heaven

Does not contend and yet excels in winning

Does not speak and yet excels in responding

Is not summoned and yet comes on its own

Is unhurried and yet excels in planning

The heavenly net is vast

Loose, and yet does not let anything slip through

 

In the chapter on Wu Wei, we learned the meaning of action without striving. It becomes relevant to understand the nature of striving and how the Tao of success follows a different approach. One meaning of to strive is to work vigorously towards some goal. Or it can mean to struggle or contend in an effort to gain or achieve some result. For many people this is just the only way known to realize accomplishment or achievement.

Working against the natural order of change creates friction. Moving against the flow of underlying reality is contentious. The ego is contending that the external conditions along the path should not change and refuses to change with the situation. Going against the current of life creates friction and strive. The ego is belligerent and clings to its agenda in a bullish sense of pushing through obstacles. Even when common sense or instinct would guide one to use caution and consider alternative, the ego swells with pride and daring and tosses away wisdom as if it were a hindrance. In Chapter 13 we can read

 

“Favor and disgrace make one fearful

The greatest misfortune is the self (ego)

What does “favor and disgrace make one fearful” mean?

Favor is high and disgrace is low

Having it makes one fearful

Losing it makes one fearful

This is “favor and disgrace make one fearful”

 

This seeking favor and becoming fearful of disgrace will cause the person realize misfortune. This sets up the ego for striving. Because ego is fearful it contends with life and strives to avoid at all costs the loss of face, to look bad. Following this course of striving leads to resistance to the flow of life. The striving creates stress and tension.

 

Another root of striving is found in stubborness. This ego trait should not be confused with resoluteness. Stubbornness is ego refusing to consider any alternative because it must be seen as being “right”. Ego will not change course, change its mind, or consider alternatives because it fears being seen as “wrong”. This is a classic setup for striving. Not being will to change even when it makes sense, is being stubborn. Stubbornness leads to striving.

 

Tao cultivators achieve successful results without striving because like water they flow around obstacles. They find alternative when life changes around them. Tao cultivators pay attention to ego and let go of feelings of needing to refuse help or ideas from others. Tao cultivators do not fall victim to the need to “hurry up” when things change, they merge with the rhythm of the underlying reality, and the flow of life.

 

It is very easy to get caught up in the ignorant whims of ego. It requires the practice of mindfulness or paying attention to what we are thinking, feeling and “doing”. Being in a state of distraction, one is captivated by the desires and feelings typical of ego behavior. We must practice self awareness so that we do not get mired down and become lost from our path. This is not necessarily easy to do yet with practice we can learn to realize when we are striving and to return to the Tao.

 

From an energy standpoint, stiving is a very inefficient use of resources. The resistance created in striving, in going against the flow, creates stress. In chapter 6 we are informed that the Tao  “flows continuously and is barely perceptible”.

 

In distraction we are ignorant of the flow and cannot perceive it.  So at the end of a day of striving we feel exhausted. We have used all of our energy up in pushing through life and its perceived obstacles rather than moving around them. In chapter 76 we are informed that it is more efficient to be yielding and flexible. In chapter 8 we can begin to see that “goodness resembles water, water benefits myriad of things without contention, it stays in the places that people dislike”. This place that people dislike is humility, and that aspect of people that cannot abide humility is ego. In humility we can let go of ego traits that cause resistance.

 

In chapter 22 the Tao Te Ching further tells us that in yielding there is strength. Yielding is the opposite of striving.  “Yield and remain whole, bend and remain straight”. When we refuse to yield to life as it happens, we wear ourselves down and become depleted. Constant striving against the flow will bend us over with an unsustainable pressure. When we quit the stubborn and clinging behavior behavior we begin to unify with the source again. Humble we become “low and become filled”, letting go of ego “we might be “worn out and become renewed. Striving is the refusal of becoming humble, yielding, and become like water, flowing and seeking the low places.

 

Balance and harmony Striving is the action that leads us away from balance and harmony. Chapter 46 states: “the satisfaction of content is the lasting satisfaction”. Striving is the pursuit of ego agenda. Wu Wei is the action without striving which brings about balance and harmony. Opposite of striving is allowing, bending, being flexible and open to other perspectives.

 

When we encounter the inevitable changes along the path, the ego will define these changes as “problems”. Sometimes the problems may seem insurmountable. If we allow emotion and ego to dominate we will be able to hear the subtle nuding of the Tao in the form of hope. In hope we can find courage. With courage we can let go of ego and seek guidance of the eternal source. When we are unified with the underlying reality we are once again moving with the flow of life and most importantly we are not striving. Move with the Tao, resistance begins to fade away, It is in these moments that hope turns into inspiration. That is we move from ego into spirit,and follow our spiritual true guidance. This is the path of the true self.

 

Desire an Sensation Seeking

mugshot

Desire and Sensation Seeking

 

Chapter 12

“The five colors make one blind in the eyes

The five sounds make one deaf in the ears

The five flavor make one tasteless in the mouth

 

Racing and hunting make one wild in the heart

Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause damage

 

Therefore the sages care for the stomach and not the eyes

That is why they discard the other and take this”

For the individual who is lost to ego, desire and sensation seeking are the reason for living. They live to fulfill desire. Take a moment  and take an honest look back over your life with the intention to find the truth of your life purpose. Ask and look to see how much of your intention has been to acquire material things and pursue sensual gratification.

What is your purpose in life and how does desire play a role in it? Some of you may find that serving others is your intent. Many will realize, if they are honest, that they spend most of their waking life and energy towards fulfillment of desire. They do this thinking that fulfilling desire is the same as happiness, contentment and joy.

Desire is a hunger, a longing, a craving for enjoyment or satisfaction. We must explore deeply the what and why of this hunger before we can become free of it. When there is false purpose in life, a hunger is created. From this hunger desire for fulfillment and contentment is experienced and leads to craving. The ego mind thinks that happiness can not be experienced until that craving is satisfied. This illusion that true joy, happiness and fulfillment are temporary and last only as long as the experience itself. When it is over, the ego returns back to craving. It becomes a never ending cycle that becomes our purpose in life. The downward spiral of trying to satisfy craving only grows in intersity. It becomes strong and stronger the longer we obsess with it.

We can look at common situations and see obvious areas of imbalance in our life.

When we use food/calories as a coping mechanism, we create a sensual craving for food. Distracted in the sensation of eating, we may enjoy a temporary fulfillment. It does not last and soon we are craving more. The more emotional stress we experience, the more food we crave and eat. We become overweight which is a state of imbalance and leads to self inflicted disease if not corrected. One day we are finally wake up to the fact that we may be dying as a result of our own actions.

When we pursue material things as a coping mechanism for life’s pain we begin to feel and believe that happiness will be found when we obtain that thing. Frequently this means purchasing some ‘thing’. Each time we get that ‘thing’ we may experience a temporary period of satisfaction. Yet it is almost never lasting. Soon we are craving more things or stuff to find happiness, fulfillment or contentment. It can soon become our purpose. When the budget can no longer afford the purchase of more ‘things’ we seek and find credit. When the credit runs out, we may soon find ourselves in a situation of not having enough money for essentials. The spiral often continues downward until the phone begins to ring and debt collectors are calling. This pressure causes more suffering which in turn creates more craving. A moment arrives where we become desperate to stop the madness. It is a madness brought on by illusionary pursuit of happiness. It is a madness brought on by ego.

Today or tonight, wherever you are, there is someone not too far away who is suffering from some type of substance abuse. Right now, in our country, somewhere on some road or highway, someone is being arrested for drunk driving. They are being handcuffed and are headed to jail because they are no longer able to control their actions. At some point they may begin to have that moment of truth where they ask themselves how it all came to this. At the root of this misery is ego and craving. When problems arise, the ego seeks avoidance and distraction. The distraction is often in a sensual experience. When we suffer from stress and emotional pain, we may seek to disconnect from life. The more painful the experience is, the deeper the craving for distraction is. Drugs, including alcohol, can temporarily numb some of the emotional pain. But like other forms of distraction, the pain will return and with it the craving. Because many of the forms of drugs used for distraction are physically addicting, a person can get into deep trouble very quickly and find that the way out seems hopeless.

We do not have to look far to see people who are obsessed with some type of crazy desire or sensation seeking devotion. They live in the illusion that life is the experience of those moments of relief or temporary ecstasy.

The Tao cultivator is aware of this aspect of ego self and is mindful of rising desire. The true self is grounded in appreciation for things are. In a sense they enjoy the sensations of living because they are present and aware. Yet when the experience is over, there is no clinging. They understand that true and lasting contentment and fulfillment are found in joy of serving others. They appreciate and enjoy the sensual experience yet do not become attached. When the experience is over, they allow it to be completed and let go. Because they realize that it is not where purpose is found they do not give in to the ego craving for more. Desire is easily satisfied with acceptance and appreciation.

Where does the true self find fulfillment and purpose? It is found in the three treasure.

In compassion, the serving of the needs of others is a sharing of not only the experience but of resources so that the many share in the abundance. There is a deep satisfaction when contentment is shared by the many.

In conservation, we can realize that more is not better and we can enjoy what is at hand. The true self easily accepts that enough is enough. Resources are depleted because of insatiable desire.

In humility, we are honest about our desires. In this way way we find strength to overcome weakness. By admitting and recognising the ego tendency we can let go as it arises and avoided becoming attached. This is hard work in the beginning and requires constant vigilance. It is advised that the person who is just starting out on the path of self awareness should surround themselves with supporting people who understand and support your intention to free yourself from the illusions of sensation seeking as a means finding happiness or contentment. If you surround yourself with other people disconnected from the true self and are lost in ego sensation seeking, you will only continue towards the destiny of misery and suffering. Therefore you should be with people who will help you stain on the path. Th Tao cultivator understand that they must follow the virtuous path as if their life depends on it. For they know that this is the path of authentic living

The Majesty Of Life

 

Sunset at beach.

The Majesty and Grandeur of Life

Perhaps the greatest choice of all is that of choosing life. That is to say that when we choose to allow our attention to be absorbed in distraction we are disconnecting from life and are no longer having the living experience.

When we can become still an empty our mind of run away thinking, there is so much to observe. In the natural world nothing is ordinary, nor are the experiences to be had. When we have detached our attention from an ego agenda and become our true and authentic self, we begin to find the simple beauty of life in the world around us.

To the egoic mind, beauty and good are defined by how much sensation they can generate or how distracting they can become. The beauty of a flowers may not be notice or experienced because they do not generate enough sensation. When we become still and our minds are quiet, we unify our consciousness with source, the Tao, and the beauty within us finds unity with the beauty of nature. The true self dwells in simplicity and has little prerequisite for appreciation. There is simply this undefined beauty in the life around us. This unification with the divine is experience when something as simple as observing a child’s joy or the sincere smile of a friend or loved one.  This joy is natural and present when we can create the conditions for happiness to spontaneously blossom into our consciousness.

Infants will beam and gush with pure joy with only a moments connection with another person. When we gaze and smile at an infant, we connect with something divine and at once we both experience something very special and very pure. So it is no surprise when the Tao guides us to take up a child’s sense of wonder (Chapter 20). This is natural joy and the nature of the true self.

There is something symbolic and significant with the dawn and dusk of our day. There is a beauty, majesty and grandeur of a sunrise. In it lies the beauty of a new day along with the promise of yet another period of experiencing life. At the end of the day, the sunset promises a return to life after our nightly rest. After the evening sunset, we return to stillness and sleep. Repairing and mending our mind and body. Then in the early hours dawn approaches with yet another adventure and another period of experiencing the wonder of life. This is the underlying reality for which we are meant to be part of.

It is when we disconnect from the natural world and the cycle of life that self inflicted suffering and the problematic life of ego is experienced. Acceptance of life, even in its times of challenge has purpose. It is human nature to experience life in a duality where we compare this and that. So the good only has value when we have previously experienced the bad. Acceptance of the underlying reality is to accept life as it is. By practicing self awareness, that is by keeping ourselves as the true self we can avoid the resistance to life as experienced by the ego.

Where ever you are right now as you read these words, stop, and be present. Where are you in this moment of the life cycle? Is it night or day? In what ways are you in unity with the life cycle? In what ways are you out of sync with the natural cycle of life?

Soon, there will be a new dawn or a new sunset. Even if it is cloudy and raining, above the clouds and rain the sun will shine or the moon and stars will be out. If it is not cloudy, take just a moment to find the sunrise or sunset and allow your mind be still. In the stillness notice the appreciation of the natural light as the sun comes over and drops below the horizon. Notice the colors and wonder at how nature gifted us with vision that can perceive and a spirit in which to appreciate the beauty.

Notice any inclination to be impatient, to go and do. Thier may be a voice that is saying “so what, it is just a sunrise”. This is the voice of impatient and unappreciative ego. In this now, choose …. choose to let go of ego and thinking and just be. Just be at one with the universe and at one with the life as it unfolds around you. This my friend is living.

 

The Power of Choice

The Power of Choice

gandhi quote future depends on now

“Dont let them take your power”, says my wife to a preschooler who is crying and complaining about being mistreated by another child. When I heard her give this child this advice I wondered what she meant. Later I asked her about it and she explained that it meant that we can choose whether or not we will let someone or some ‘thing’ control how we feel. Power in this sense is about how one feels. The instruction is to choose to not let something external control the internal. The ability to manage how we feel is very significant. This power of choice is available to us all if we can just wake up and exercise it. In everyday life, we are to take control of choice away from the ego aspect of self. This is automatic when we return our identity to the true self or higher self.

Awakening we begin to realize how we create our moment to moment destiny by what we choose. In self awareness we can examine our intentions and question whether they are aligned with the path of virtue or mired in ego. How significant is it that we take back our power? The very quality of our lives depend upon this awakened choosing.

In this present moment as you read this, there are people lying in a hospital beds around the world suffering from self inflicted diseases caused by inappropriate lifestyles and coping with stress. There are others right this very minute standing behind bars in a jail or prison who can only blame themselves for the path that lead to their incarceration.

The Tao cultivator is understands that we each are managers of our destiny and take great care in the directing of our life path. The direction taken is a matter of choice. Choice can either be assumed by the ignorant mind of ego, or it can be unified by the wisdom mind of the true self.

Why do we not always chose the path of joy, fulfillment and abundance? Why would anyone agree to allowing themselves make stupid mistakes? And one of the best questions of all, why do smart people make such ignorant mistakes? Why do people create such suffering for themselves?  The answer is simple. People create a life of suffering because they are lost in distraction, and ignorance is all that they know. This not something new and one can quickly look around and find all sorts of ancient teachings that point to different paths of wisdom. The Tao Te Ching is such a path. It is a collection of wisdoms that have had over 4000 to 5000 years to be refined. It is guaranteed that if you follow these teaching with spirit intended you will transform your life in a profound and positive way. It is as simple as that. Or perhaps we might say, it is as hard as that. Reading and conceptualizing this wisdom is the easy part. Staying present and choosing wisdom over ignorance is the hard part. The longer you have become to be conditioned in the old path, the harder it is and the more practice it requires to move above, or to transcend, the distracted path of ego.

So this is your wake up call. By that, it is meant that you should wake up, be present, seek the wisdom and choose. You must set your intention in alignment with the wisdom mind, the true self. It takes practice. It takes meditation and being mindful. You must learn to pay attention in those critical moment what you choose and why. As you face those forks in the road of life, in each scenario, you can seek what the wisdom of the Tao tells you and then you choose. When you practice this consistently,over and over, the awakening continues and the spiritual self will blossom into clarity. Not only will you realize and begin to understand where you made mistakes and what the correct step to choose is, you will also begin to understand why other people do what they do. As you see ego and ignorance at work in other people, this insight will provide the ability to remain humble and choose compassion for them rather than be arrogant and vengeful. In many cases, your interactions with others becomes harmonious and they will begin to seek out the wisdom that you are sharing. By your example, others may realize that there is a higher path to follow.

It all comes from that moment of choice. Where choice is unified with source and virtue is your compass. This mystic virtue, where the physical domain is balanced with the spirit, is the domain of miracles. But… you must choose it.

Taking Ownership of your Destiny

Taking Ownership of your life and your destiny

Chapter 71

To know that you do not know is the highest

To not know but think you now is flawed

 

Only when one realizes fault as fault

Can one be without fault

 

The sages are without fault

Because they recognize fault as fault

That is why they are without fault.

Realizing Fault as Fault
Realizing Fault as Fault

Self honesty is the door to self exploration. If we cannot be honest about our ignorance and mistakes, we cannot become free of them. The ego being vain and insecure must pretend to be the highest and most adept, especially when it is not the case. When are able to free ourselves from the ego and return to the true self, we can admit that we don’t know. In that admission we open the door to wisdom and allow ourselves to see wisdom. One can immediately see this if we simply take the practice view. Ignorance is repeating the same behaviors and experiencing the same suffering while at the same time refusing to change or let go. Wisdom is the higher understanding of acceptance of not knowing yet seeking realization and being willing to change. If ignorance is a prison for the spirit, ego is the gatekeeper. When we admit our lack of adherence and understanding, we become humble. Humility is the very powerful virtue that releases us from the clinging to ignorance.

If we view fault as an unsavory or unsatisfactory feature, then through self honesty we can admit our faults. Humility is the power to admit faults so that we can overcome them. Think of some area of your behavior where you have fault and notice any resistance to accepting that in fact it is there. If you can successfully see and admit your fault, you are seeing life as the true self.

In each moment, in each now, we have choices to make which shape our destiny. This means in each moment we are choosing either the path of ignorance or the path of harmony. We can create our own suffering or we can create our own fulfillment. It begins with admitting when you do not know and when we have fault. Knowing comes through wisdom, and harmony is realized when we rid ourselves of fault. This is done through self awareness and alignment with the Tao.

 

Are You Ready ?

Ignorance might be defined as the behavior of repeating the same mistakes expecting new results. In the introduction to this companion book, there is a reference made to Chapter 50 which observes that nine out of ten people are caught up in three patterns of ignorance. Only one in ten are able to and willing to take up the “journey of life”. Only one in ten are willing to take the path of wisdom.

Sun setting over beach.

One has to wonder what it is that the one in ten realize that would inspire them to follow the altruistic path? The internet is full of wise sayings and common cliches. Yet, even though they may be appreciated in a brief moment of thought while viewing one of the social media sites or reading a fortune cookie, they are rarely ever practiced. Why is that?

The answer is that it becomes a matter of choice and choosing. That might sound simple, but in practice it can be quite the challenge. True choice is made by the true self. The true self or the higher self is that which has transcended the lower aspect of the mind, also called the ego.

The majority of people, the nine out of ten mentioned in the Tao Te Ching, are not choosing the ultimate path of wisdom because they are not aware that is not even possible to live any other way. The choice is mostly not available to pick the path of wisdom because choice is only available when one is awake and aware.

The awakening process into true awareness is called transcendence. The root word, to transcend is to rise above, move beyond, and be released from, some type of confinement. When the nine out of ten are faced with a given situation, choice is not available because of the lower state of mind of not being aware. This lower state of consciousness that most people dwell in called ego. Choice is available to an individual residing in the ego state, yet it is a very limited choice. Maybe reaction would be a better description of how ego responds to life’s situations. The ego does not have the patience to consider other perspectives. It is too greedy, too emotional, and too caught up with coping to see the big picture.

The 9 out of 10, are just not ready to let go of the life of sensation seeking, distraction and coping to practice the cultivation of wisdom. Many times, the one of ten person reaches the bottom of a long downward spiral and finds that the only way the prison of egoic suffering is to try something else. Sometimes people become inspired by another one in ten and see the higher path. What ever the reason, this choice will change their lives for the better, if they follow it through.

So one awakens from distraction and the path of materialism and ego, and seeks the path of wisdom. Awake and aware they are ready to follow the path of truth. Yet newly arrived on the path, the often do not know where to turn to for the source of wisdom. This where the Tao Te Ching becomes a life saver. To assist in find the wisdom for the encounters you will have this companion book will point to the chapters that are relevant situations.

The Tao Te Ching illuminates the traps of ego, and will guide you to a life of simplicity, joy and success. It has served people for 2500 years, and the truth it offers is still relevant today. So here you are with your moment of truth. You are awake, aware, and present. Will you become the one and ten, who will find the path to a life of balance and harmony? If so, lets move to the next chapter.

After years of cultivating ignorance and distraction, it becomes the conditioned way of life. Quite often the person is so grounded within the conditioning, it is quite literally all that that know. It is the only reality they are tuned to. So reaction is the conditioned response that is actualized by the ego. Choice is captivated by the ego and the life experience is thus the one created by the materialistic ego. Our reality and the details of our path are the myriad of things we create, moment by moment. Imprisoned by ego, choice has little meaning.

Awakening from this lower state of consciousness is the transition cultivated through meditation. The awakened state is one of realizing and comprehending the true self. The true self is in unity with the true source, The Tao.

Awake and aware, paying attention and choosing wisdom is the path. We can realize the powerful gift that Lao Tzu has made available to us when he put the many words of wisdom together for us in the Tao Te Ching. In this higher state of awareness we can choose the wisdom of the Tao by listening with the spirit to the wisdom found in the Tao Te Ching.

Paying attention, moment by moment (mindfulness), we guide our creative steps along our life path with this wisdom. We study the ancient teachings and cultivate our ability to stay in unity with the creative source. We learn to avoid the pitfalls of ego and the lowers self.

This book is to help you find and cultivate the wisdom found within that is to say the wisdom of the true self. As you experience life and encounter the flow of constant change, you will have infinite opportunity to try the wisdom in real life situations. You can begin right away. As you sense your next fork in the road of life, some decision or choice at hand, ask what would the Tao have to say. Find the Wisdom, virtue or ignorance in here by looking through the index and glossary, and see what the instructions are for you.

Tao Master Derek Lin has gifted us all with the true translations and meanings found in the Tao Te Ching. We can all read in a way that is relevant and easy to understand what the wisdom is that we are to incorporate. The Dixie Taoist handbook is to help you locate the wisdom you are seeking in the Tao Te Ching and to integrate into your consciousness through the process of self awareness and implementing it as the true self.

In each and every moment, there is inherent to each of us, the potential for choosing the higher path. Following this path will have such profound results, you will understand soon why it has been consistently at large for over 4000 years.

Now that you are once again made aware of what is waiting for you, can you choose to wake up and realize who you really are? Or will you remain within the prison of ego and slog along with nine of ten, repeating the same mistakes, the same behaviors, the same bad habits, and experiencing the limited life.

When you are ready, the Tao will be there. It is available to all of us. The Tao is the ultimate source for all of us. It is available to everyone, even those who are disconnected and lost within the ignorance of ego and the material domain. Yet when one has suffered enough and they hit bottom, the path awaits them which will take them to Tao.

If you choose, that is to say, if you are ready, the true source is awaiting discovery. You only have to wake up and leave the fetters of ego behind.

Be Like Water

Be Like Water (the strength of humility)

Chapter 8, 34

The power of humility is experienced when we become like water and seek the low places. What does this mean? To understand true strength and courage we undertake the cultivation of controlling the ego. Ego always seeking attention and self gratification abhors humility. In the Tao Te Ching we are called to “resemble water”.  In the opening verses of Chapter 8, Lao Tzu teaches us with these words:

“The highest good resembles water

Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention

It stays in places that people dislike

Therefore it is similar to the Tao”

Those lower places that people dislike is where we find the Tao. It is the place of humility. For the ego cannot dwell in low places, because it is too concerned about it how it looks, what people think, and loss of status. Ego is concerned with “getting ahead” and it could care less about how it may trample upon others. Humility is the putting aside of ego and seeing, accepting reality as it is.

In Chapter 34, we see how getting beyond obstacles is smoothly accomplished by flowing around objects. When we free ourselves from the ego, and unify with life as the true self, we are not chained to the reactions of the ego. Flowing like water around obstacles is the true self accepting things as they are. In self awareness we can practice letting go and moving on, not get caught up or entangled in attachment and desire.

“The great Tao is like a flood

It can flow left or right”

An easy example of this is when someone says something to us that the ego takes offense at. The ego takes things personally and begins taking on a sense of contention and retribution. The Tao cultivator becomes like water. Not imprisoned by the reaction of ego, they move on and around the comment and do not become stuck. As we bump into the trivial obstacles in life, we can just let them and go and move around and onward within the flow of the Tao.

 

There was a story told recently about a Tao cultivator who was an author. For a moment his focus became caught up in desire of increasing sales of his book. He sought to improve his standing in both sales and appreciation by readers by getting more good reviews for his book. Then a Tao sage read his comments and showed him how his actions were not in accordance with the Tao. The author realized what was happening and released the grip of egoic desire and need. Rather than take offense, he accepted the truth of sages words. In humility he became free, or “unstuck” of this desire. If his ego has remained in control, he would have taken offense at the sages words and become stuck in the illusion that he must have the reviews to be successful. He could have become involved in distraction of being offended and the suffering that comes with it.  Being like water, he assumed the low place  (humility) that ego could not dwell in. In this way he allowed his wisdom mind to come forth and to become strong. The Taoist Sage gifted him with the truth, yet it was only accepted and understood through humility. There is strength is humility because ego has no purchase to root. It dies from lack of attention and pride. With ego removed wisdom and knowing take root like the blossom of the lotus flower, rising above and becoming at one with the great Tao.

 

We can recognize ego at work when we find ourselves unable to be humble. If you begin to sense that pride, arrogance and contention taking root, that is ego. If you cannot even for one moment practice humility and take the low place, that is ego. If you cannot move on from some perceived slight or offense that is ego. Humility is medicine, the cure, the antidote to the ego which is poison to the spirit. Free your self, return to your true self and experience the strength and courage of flowing like water.