Strategy Number Three – The Power Of Choice

The Power of Choice

Strategy: Developing strategies one and two, meditation and mindfulness empower one to pay attention in a non judgmental and balanced way. Now that you are paying attention, realize that your choices are creating your life. Reactions of ego are not true choices, they are just reactions. True choice is realized only by the true self. In this way you are creating your life along the true path. The strategy here is the base your choice of experience, wisdom, and virtue.

Application. Learn meditation, practice mindfulness, and realize the power of choice. Choose each step with wisdom. Choose moderation and find balance. Balance the physical with the spiritual by following wisdom and virtue over ego and desire. Virtues are overlapping and support each other. Patience harmonizes with Wu Wei (unattached action, non striving). Wu Wei harmonize non attachment, Non attachment supports acceptance. Acceptance opens the door for compassion. Compassion opens the door to forgiveness. It goes on and on, each virtue connected in the tapestry of mystic virtue. Mystic virtue is the mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders.

Tao Te Ching
Chapter 33
Those who understand others are intelligent
Those who understand themselves are enlightened

Those who overcome others have strength
Those who overcome themselves are powerful

Those who know contentment are wealthy
Those who proceed vigorously have willpower

Those who do not lose their base endure
Those who die but do not perish have longevity

In this context, let us define choice as the ability to select from a number of possibilities. The intention in this strategy and its application is to help you realize the power of choice. We do not have to make uninformed reactive choices. Reaction of ego is the illusion of choice that is experienced is guided by desire and non virtuous emotions and thinking.

If you have not yet read the section and chapters regarding ego, it might be useful to do so now. The nature of ego is to be impatient and self serving. More importantly, its nature is to react to what it perceives. Moment by moment we perceived aspect of life as it unfolds. In any given moment, something will arise that that will prompt the ego to define and react. The definition and corresponding reactions fall into a wide spectrum of responses. None of these responses will be developed through patience or any virtue or wisdom. Ego desire will prompt the reaction of need and greed. Ego fear will react will anger, rage, and aggression. Ego pain will prompt the need for coping. In each case the ego reacts to what it perceives. We experience this every time someone or something pushes one of our buttons and we react. This auto response is so automatic, that choice is not available and reaction is automatic. Patience is a virtue of choice, we must transcend the absorption of ego to choose it. This is self control and self discipline. To choose the self must be aware of the act of choosing. This requires a moment of self awareness and being present which is not something ego can do.

Only by following strategy one and two, can you implement strategy 3. Only by becoming self aware (meditation) and paying attention to your mind (mindfulness) can you use wisdom and virtue to guide your choices. These choices create your life circumstances. The physical realm is always changing, and with it the circumstances you are or may be (distraction) perceiving. So life and reality just happen and you cannot control this. However you can control how if and how you react or respond to life circumstances.

The first choice is accepting life as it is. This is just the underlying reality of how things are. If you are self aware and paying attention you can remain detached from reaction before you become lost in it. In that moment, in that now when you perceive some ‘thing’ happening, you can choose what action if any, you might take. Remember, choice is the selecting from a number of possibilities.

Think about playing a game of chance. Maybe it is a card game, maybe it is a board game. One rolls the dice, spins a wheel and chance presents the result. In that moment, one can pay attention to the reactive mind. If the ego perceives that the results are not in accordance with desire and the need to win, the reaction begins to rise. Emotion such as resentment, frustration, anger will begin to bubble up. As the reaction matures is effects decision making and choice. Your next move, will effect the probability of future success. Interestingly, on a deeper level we know we should ignore emotion and frustration and use logic and strategy to choose the next move, the next strategy. Yet, for many of us, we react with reactive emotion. If one is playing cards and secrecy is part of the strategy, that success is lot when we slam the cards down in frustration.

This reaction is always relevant and present in sports. In these physical games, we blend physical form with spirit and logic in a competative attempt to average a higher performance. Yet notice how those who can self regulate and use self control over reactive emotion sometimes pull victory out of a certain loss. When competitors are so closely matched in physical abilities and training, the only difference is often one’s ability to manage emotion and raise the spirit (in case this means self morale). When one overcomes the certainty of defeat to win against the odds, one has “snatched the victory fro the jaws of defeat”. When one is a sure win but “chokes”, it can be said that one “snatches the defeat out of the jaws of victory”. In life strategy, it is no different. Self destruction is a behavior we do to ourselves; unnecessarily. Possibility and probably are many times maluable. They are shaped and guided by consciousness. When consciousness is absorbed by the lower ego mind, reaction becomes the guiding principle.

Possibility and probability are part of self aware universe. We can be unified with source and seek to realize the many perspectives. The many perspectives can inspire many possibilities. In the infinite now, which above the illusion of time, you can choose.

By transcending the ego view of reality we unify with the Tao. As spiritual beings we are called to unify with source. Here is a useful video clip to show a tangible application of how this works:

Watching this video, I am reminded of the first verse in Chapter 10

In holding the soul and embracing oneness
Can one be steadfast, without straying?
In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation
Can one be like an infant?

Notice how Juno becomes present and unifies with source. This seemingly miraculous ability is available to us all. Rather than remain absorbed in despair and loss, we can “tune in” that is realize our true self and become the miracle that we ALL are.

But wait a minute you say. This is just a movie. Ok, here is a video of the same thing in real life.

 

Patience is a virtue that gives great power to choice. Often it is the first of many choices in choosing the next step in your true path. Being patient provides the infinite space for consideration of the many perspectives. You can assume a multi-perspective view to gain insight and understanding of the underlying reality of a given situation.

Then you can consider what virtue and what wisdom can you choose from to take the next step. In this context, we are considering the ancient wisdom of the Tao as communicated by Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching”.

Yet you must realize that for the wisdom of the Tao to be available, you must be paying attention to mind-state (mindfulness – strategy 2). So in that moment, before choice is made, you can consider, “of all the choices I have before me, which and what do I choose?” Being self aware, being patient, what is the virtue that applies here? What is the wisdom that applies.? What have I learned from my past experience? What did I learn from past mistakes, that I do not want to repeat?”

Patience is a good start, Wu Wei is another virtue to practice before choosing. See the chapter on Wu Wei. Wu Wei is action without striving. So the consideration is … what action can be taken that is not one of strive, contention and conflict?

Choosing is the unifying with virtue and wisdom as the true self. The true self experiences life along the true path. In each now, experience is happening. If we are self aware, we are aware of the experience. Experiencing is the purpose of the physical life. We are spiritual beings experiencing life in the physical realm. When we become distracted we are disconnected from the true path. When we are disconnected from the spiritual realm then all that we can experience is the physical realm. When we are distracted, ego is in charge and the limited physical realm is all that we know. This is the path that is often experienced through suffering.

Yet suffering has an alternative perspective. If in suffering, we finally feel enough pain that we seek connection to source, the suffering experience becomes wisdom. When we have suffered enough, we seek our true self and the true path. Realizing (unity with underlying reality), and understanding who we really are, a spiritual being in this physical experience, we begin to understand our “self”. The true self along the true path. This is enlightenment. This the Tao.

Strategy Number Two – Mindfulness

Aerial of Maui coast.

Strategy Number Two – Mindfulness,

Strategy: Wake up, Stay awake and pay attention.
Application: Meditation does not end when you open your eyes. We must pay attention to our state of mind and return to the true self (self awareness) and not become lost in ego and distraction.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 10

“In holding the soul and embracing oneness
Can one be steadfast, without straying?”

In the first strategy, one learns to wake up and become self aware as the true self. In strategy number two we must learn to not stray too far from our true self and oneness with virtue. Self aware, we balance being present with thinking and doing. In this way, life becomes meditation.

Many, if not most people, live their lives in various degrees of distraction. In this sense, distraction means to divert the attention away from being present. Let us define attention as where the mind is concentrated. Self awareness is the attention held as the true self, the highest state of consciousness. But the attention can be absorbed in thinking or some distraction and become disconnected to the true self. This can become so deep that even the identity can be absorbed. In this state, many identify with their thoughts. In this state where thought and subject are the same, our whole reality is influenced and defined by what we think about. When our attention becomes absorbed in the prison of stressful thinking we become trapped and suffer, not knowing how to extract ourselves.

However, the ancients of eastern spirituality have long known that this ego self is the ignorant identity and can be transcended. Here ignorance is defined as a lack of knowing or understanding. When only the emotional mind is apparent, when only desire seeking is known, we are following the path of ignorance which leads to self destruction. Thinking is neither good or bad, it is just a cognitive function of the brain mind. But thinking when controlled by the ego, is a state that is out of control. When ego and thinking cannot be controlled, the voice in the head will drive us crazy. Since thinking is a necessary part of life, we must bring thinking under management of the true self, the higher self. Consciousness observes thinking, and uses it as a tool to insight and higher understanding. Thinking can be directed and controlled. When thinking and ego are in controlled, things are in reverse and we experience chaos and suffering. Perhaps the metphoare of “the tail wagging the do” will give you the insight.

We must to learn to control the ego and take back control of the mind. This is the intention in mediation, where we learn to leave or transcend being absorbed with thinking. By concentration we can transcend thinking and observe the thoughts. When we are observing our thoughts we can then pay attention them and manage this process. When thinking begins to slow down and become still, we can realize our true self. This realization of your ‘self’ outside of thought is the true self. You are not your thoughts. By lots and lots of practice we can learn to become empty of the thoughts. Thinking is fueled by attention. The mindstream can build up a powerful inertia and when we get captivated, that is when we become absorbed by the thinking and cannot stop, we just continue to feed the stream of thought.

When we concentrat our attention out of thinking onto something else, like the breath, we are no longer giving the thinking mind the fuel it needs to keep going. If we sit long enough without feeding the ego and thinking, it will eventually slow way down. Finally the mind will become still and empty of the crazy thoughts.

Now here is the a big insight. Even though thinking becomes still, you still exist. Existentialism is not and should not be grounded in thinking, its foundation is being and stillness. The beingness, this stillness is found in the present moment. The now.

The now is infinite and eternal. In this infinite and eternal now, you connect with source. This is the realm of spirit. And spirits avatar is the true self. This is where we manage the physical realm from to follow the true path. If is only found in mediation. Strategy number two is returning to the now and managing the the physical with the spiritual. This is mystic virtue.

Sometimes after meditation, one may resume their regular life of distraction, where they return to the conditioned mind set. That is, however, unless they become mindful of this distraction and keep from being completely absorbed. This is the practice mindfulness and the heart of strategy number two. This is very powerful and a necessity in changing your life.

When we are completely absorbed, we are bound by ego, desire, sensation seeking and distraction. Lost to the true self, discipline and self control are lost to ego. Ego decides what choices are made. These choices are going to choose from the ego’s menu of desire, sensation satisfaction and distraction from living. If you are trying to transform your life from one of suffering and learn one of well being and wisdom, you must control your attention. This is concentration. This you that I a speaking to, is the true self. The you that has set the intention of making virtuous life changes. This is the identity that must remain present and manage the ego mind. Your spirit, that is your mood, morale or state of mind is influenced by the emotional state of the mind. If you let the ego run the show, you will feel whatever it is feeling. It does not have to be this way. You must be mindful of your thoughts and feelings and return to the true self to seek wisdom and virtue. Choices made while in the ego mind state are the ones that get us all in trouble.

So, how does one develop mindfulness? One must practice the mindfulness of mindfulness or maybe mindfulness of paying attention to attention. Just kidding around here, playing with labels and terms. Seriously, we must find ways to wake up, and stay awake and keep the attention present.

In our modern society there are tons of technical gadgets that can help. Watches and smart phones are great. One can even use strategically placed sticky notes where they can been seen. You leave your “self”, your true self, a clue, to wake up and be present, to return to the now, and the spiritual.

I learned this before the advent of smart phones. I those days, digital watches were trending and I had one that would chime at what ever integral I wanted to select. In the beginning, I set my watch to beep every hour. When I heard the watch beeping, I would stop, find my breath and return to the present. I found my attention completely absorbed in the craziest thought places. I would be in various states of emotion and mood, usually ones of stress. Yet when I woke up and payed attention, I could choose to let the stressful thinking go. Even in traffic, or I should say especially in traffic, I could find my breath and concentrate my mind there, until stillness set in and the stress thinking receded. This had an immediate positive effect on my life. As I begin to extend the stillness in mediation to my active life, my stress levels begin to drop. As the stress dropped, my weight went down, and my energy went up.

In the beginning, my watch was set for every hour. After a while, I begin to realize that just before the hour, I was anticipating the chime. My body and my inner clock were becoming conditioned for regular relaxation and quiet time. So I moved my alarm to chime to every half hour. Later I took it down to every 15 minutes. Eventually I gave up wearing a watch altogether. My mind and body had learned to balance between being and doing.

Once I was paying attention to my choices, and being the true self, my choices changed dynamically. There was kind of critical mass of sustaining awareness and choosing wisdom in everything that I did. People began to notice and very much approved of the new “me”. I eventually wrote a book about my experience and published a self awareness handbook on how people with messed up lives can turn things around.

Both strategy number one and two are critical must do’s. These are not optional for true transformation. People are in different ends of the spectrum for self awareness and their ability to be present and mindful. So this process is easier for some and harder for others. The rule of thumb is, the more deeply your consciousness is embedded in ego, the more your spirit is dominated by ego. The more you are transcendent and identifying as the true self, the more self control you have and employ. You probably know by now where you fall on the spectrum. The more out of balance your life is, the deeper you are absorbed by the ego, the more problematic your life is. To find the true path is to realize who you really are as the true self. Follow strategy number one and two as if life depends on it. Why? Because they do. One is self realization the other is self destruction. Self aware and paying attention, we can choose the way of happiness and well being. This is the way of the Tao.

Moderation

Moderation

Chapter 9

Holding a cup and overfilling it
Cannot be as good as stopping short
Pounding a blade and sharpening it
Cannot be kept for long

Gold and jade fill up the room
No one is able to protect them
Wealth and position bring arrogance
And leave disasters upon itself

When achievement, fame is attained
Withdraw oneself
This the Tao of heaven

Not so long ago, popular culture adopted the mindset that if more is better, extreme is the best. There were television shows that proclaimed all sorts of extreme interest areas. It became a goal, a competition to see who be the most extreme. And then the great recession hit and brought the advent of extreme unhappiness.

Why is it, that enough is not enough? The concept of moderation is simple enough and the result in practicing it is known to be a virtue of wisdom. So why is it that so many of us cannot practice moderation?

The answer to this can be realized when we identify the ego self in charge of our life. Ego is the emotional and desire aspect of the self that seeks to fulfill desire. Ego is self serving and is completely grounded in a perspective more is better when it comes to sensation. Enough is never enough. Ego, initiates the self serving circularity, where ignorant indulgence leads to disastrous consequences that lead to suffering. To ease the suffering, the ego copes with more sensation seeking. The cause and effect of these choices leads to more disastrous results, which leads to more coping. Round and round it goes in a downward spiral. This is all ego knows. Ego is absolute in its belief that happiness lies in fulfilling desire. When the ego experiences unhappiness it seeks to to cope. The coping creates desire. That desire may be a bacon-cheese burger and biggie fries or it might be that tv show that brings a few minutes of distraction. Sometimes the coping device is addictive. Our coping mechanisms are always personal and are rarely practiced with moderation.

Moderation brings balance. Balance brings harmony. Harmony is a state of well being that cannot be acquired. There is no happiness store with boxes of happiness that you can consume. True and lasting happiness is not sourced in any material form. To be free from this downward spiral of ego suffering, one must find their true path. One must wake up and become self aware. In this moment of self awareness where you are paying to what you are doing and why you are doing it, you can choose… moderation. Mindful of of our desires we can choose moderation.

Moderation allows one to keep balance. When we can enjoy some thing and then let it go without clinging, then we do not become bound by it or we do not become attached to it. When we cannot seem to let go, we become entangled, dependent, trapped and addicted.

Chapter 12
Sensation Seeking and Desire

The Five Colors make one blind in the eyes
The Five Sounds make one deaf in the ears
The Five Flavors make one tasteless in the mouth

Racing and hunting make one wild in the heart
Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause danger

Therefore the sage cares for the stomach and not for the eyes
That is why they discard the other and take this

Have you ever heard music and really enjoyed it? Sometimes we hear a particular song that moves us. Maybe its the words, maybe it is the sounds themselves or the chords. And sometimes really beautiful songs combine both in such a way that we pause and experience a profound moment. It may be a song from our past that provokes a wonderful memory, and for a minute we experience a kind of blissfulness. These create a sensation of wonder and joy which feels good on many levels. And then here comes the ego. Instead of enjoying the moment and letting it go without clinging to it, ego becomes attached. It feels and says to itself “I have to have it”, “I have to hear it again”, and “I need to hear it over and over”. The ego mind quickly slides into striving to immerse itself in the blissfulness that was just experienced and the mindset becomes “more is better”. Enjoyment quickly becomes dependence.

But notice what happens. After the ego has listened the song over and over for a period, the blissfulness begins to fade. The meaning becomes mundane. The song no longer brings the sensation it once did. The ears no longer hear the magic. Time for a new song.

In this way, the ego whose eyes once held the beauty of another person becomes blind after obsessing over them for a time. The trap lies in the clinging and becoming entangled.

These days when someone says something is “very vanilla” it is not a compliment. It means very plain or ordinary. Yet to someone who has never eaten vanilla ice cream, it [vanilla] will be felt as exotic, wonderful and extravagant. Vanilla once was an exotic spice that only the rich could enjoy.

The self aware person, who as the true self, can mange ego and appreciate the simple life. They learn to be happy with the basics in life. And when they hear that song, or taste vanilla it is wonderful and magical. In wisdom, they enjoy the moment fully, staying above distraction, and become one with that experience. When the experience ends, they let it go, not seeking to cling to it. They do not become bound by it or become dependent upon it. The wise person realizes and appreciates the virtue of moderation. This middle way of enjoying with becoming trapped is very powerful. It is a power that can only realized by being sovereign over the ego self.

The willpower to practice moderation is only found in the true self.
The true self is realized through self awareness.
Self awareness is realized through meditation.
Self awareness is maintained along the path through mindfulness.

Paying special attention to what the mind is being influenced by and choosing moderation will bring about harmony. Harmony brings well being and well being is an aspect of the true path.

One can see where there is moderation in their life by realizing how well their life is in balance. One can realize how there is a imbalance and see the lack of moderation. Stop and view your life as it truly is.
Are there areas of imbalance?
Look at the obvious. How much debt do you have? How is your savings?
Is your weight in balance? Are you over or under weight?
How is your health? Are you causing any decline because of bad habits?

You must be honest. You must take ownership. Most importantly you must wake up and pay attention to what you are doing and why. You must free yourself from the ego domination and balance your life with wisdom.

This does not mean that you must stop enjoying life. Remember all things in moderation. This even includes how you moderate your life. “All things in moderation, even moderation” is a saying credit to the Buddha.

Moderation is the path of balance. In spirit we must find balance between the true self and the ego. This the balance between the spiritual and physical. This balance is known as mystic virtue. This is the way of the Tao.

Strategy Number One – Meditation and Self Awareness

Woman in straw hat.

Tao Cultivator Strategy Number One

Strategy: Build the foundation for self control through meditation and self awareness.

Application: By transcending the ego mind and thinking one can wake up into the higher state of consciousness of the true self. Transcending distraction and ego dominance is realized by concentrating or “tuning” the mind and becoming “present”. As the true self is realized, wisdom becomes the foundation for self control, discipline and implementing wise choices. In each moment, in each step, in each choice along life’s path, we create the new reality.

Any project must have a good foundation. To transform your life you must build the plan upon a good foundation. Strategy number one is building that foundation on Self Awareness and Meditation.

To implement any strategy, you must have set an intention. To follow the path of virtue you must keep a virtuous intention. How does one keep a virtuous intention? Through willpower, self control, and self discipline. These are terms that you have heard all of your life yet may  not have been able to stick to them. The only way to change a bad habit is by adopting a good habit and sticking to it. It has to become the new default. This takes self control. This is something you already know at the surface level. A deeper understanding of self control is to realize which self is in control.

If one is only able to make and keep bad habits and self destructive behaviors, it is the ego self that is in control. Please read the chapter on Ego to understand what drives this aspect of the self. For now, just understand that this is the ignorant self that can not break the need to fulfill desire.

The wisdom self also known as the true self is the higher aspect of self that can control the ego and implement patience and wisdom. This also your spiritual self that has great power because it is the aspect that is unified with source. To wake up and realize the true self, you must align your spirit with source (the Tao). Thinking is a cognative function that can be influenced by either aspect of the mind, yet it is only the true self that can control the ego and manage the thinking mind.

Self discipline and self control are choices. The secret or deeper understanding is to realize who is doing the choosing. There is the true self and the lower ego self. The true self, your authentic self and your spiritual self is not bound by desire and the clinging of the physical domain. That is the essence of the ego. The true self is also called the wisdom mind and this is the part of you that can make the wise choices. Think of the image of the devil on shoulder and the angel on the other.  The angel is a metaphor the spiritual self, the wise you. When your sense of “I” becomes the true self, you are identifying as your spiritual self. When your mind becomes absorbed by the physical desire and sensation nature of the physical realm, many of the dark elements arise.

We must train, learn to find wake up and realize our true identity, which is the true self. This waking process is done through meditation. Meditation is a higher state of consciousness where we transcend from or move above the purely thinking mind. The transition in meditation is the raising of the true self, the waking of the true self, the remembering of the true self and taking charge of the ego and emotional mind. The practice of meditation is to” tune” the mind  or to focus and concentrate the attention from thinking to observing. Thinking is necessary and has its place, but it is not the sole aspect of existence. You are not your thoughts. The imbalance of too much thinking and especially distraction is where suffering begins.

Realizing that you are not your thoughts is a good first realization. This realization happens when we can observe the thoughts and thinking. In the beginning of the mindfulness meditation, one begins to practice observing the breath.

Here is an exercise. Close your eyes and ask yourself “am I breathing?”

Look and see. Look with your mind and observe whether or not you are breathing. In that instant, you switch from thinking to seeking and observing. There is very short moment that you notice the breathing. You may even make your self breath just to make sure. Yet for just a brief instant you were observing.

Who is this that is doing the observer?

Now watch the breath for a few minutes with judging or thinking. Just allow the natural rhythm of breathing to happen without interference. You may even silently count them. You may or may not count very far before thinking begins. When the thinking begins your attention becomes absorbed somewhere else, in the thinking. But as soon as you leave thinking and return to observing, your back. This being “back” is to be “present”. You are present when you are observing. When you are present, you are in a state of “being”. For most beginners, there is a switching back and forth between thinking and observing. It will back and forth, back an forth, with thinking eventually taking back over. Meditation is the cultivating of remaining longer in the being  or higher consciousness state of mind. This state of being is found in that tiny gap between thoughts and thinking episodes. “Being” in the gap is fleeting at first, but with practice one learns to remain longer and longer. This is the waking up from the thinking mind. This is the identity shift from purely physical being to spiritual being. This may too simplified, but try practicing this and you will find that it is extremely effective in balancing mindfulness.

Since we are spiritual beings having a physical experience, we must first wake up and take back the identity of the spiritual self, or the true self. Yet we are having a life experience in the physical realm, so that is part of us too as long as we are alive.

Meditation and mindfulness is the balancing of being, as both the true self and the ego self. If your life is a mess, it is because the ego self has been in charge and only knows one plane of existence., the material world of form. When we realize our spiritual self, the true self take over management. The spiritual self is not bound illusionary world of the physical. So when we are realized as the true self we can effectively manage our physical experience, and this other aspect of consciousness. The true self is not bound by sensual desire or need for distraction. The true self is not a prisoner to physical neediness, but is aware of them and even enjoys them in moderation. Self control and self discipline are manage by the true self. So if a person wants to practice them, they must wake up and become assume the identity of the true self. They must wake up from the physical and return to spirit. Spirit is the confluence of both selves, the true self and the ego self which is like your physical life avatar.

 

This brings us to choice. The dichotomy is wise choice and emotional reaction. When any experience is perceived what happens next depends on which state of mind the person is in. If they are lost in ego, then the mind will react in accordance with the sensation seeking, distraction seeking, narcissistic and “what’s in it for me” point of view. If the person is awake and “self” aware as the true “self”, then it [spirit] is free from ego influence and considers various perspectives and will use wisdom to guide in choice. And this is how we create our reality and our life.

 

Therefore, to implement the wisdom of the Tao sages, we must be awake and aware. We must be mindful of what we are doing and why. We must be present as the true self and be aligned with the Tao create along with it. Ego is “tuned outward” or absorbed and  true self is tuned to source or present in being. Distraction is the state of consciousness where we are not awake and aware. You can quickly notice that when our minds are captivated for long periods of time with obsessive thinking, we are “away” for extended periods. Decision making is on ego autopilot. The consequences can be severe.

 

Here is an example. Think about driving your car to some destination. As soon as you sit in the car, crank up and go, what is the mind doing? Typically, as soon as you pull away, the mind goes away too. You will go off in a prolonged mental state of thinking and be completely unaware of the driving experience. Amazingly, we can drive for many miles, passing through dozens of traffic lights and dangerous intersections, switching lanes and stopping at stop signs without ever being aware of it. We do all of this without having the driving experience. We are only vaguely aware of driving the car. Its no wonder that ther are so many traffic accidents. And in this modern day, there are additional distractions added to being lost in thought. Now many of us are trying to use phones, send text message, surf the internet and more … while we are driving in very dangerous conditions! This is not a lecture about texting and driving. The insanity of this is obvious to the self aware and wise person.

So strategy number one is to learn and practice meditation so that you can wake up and stay awake as you live your life. If you are awake and aware you can develop a strategy, implement the wise strategy and stay with it because you can choose. You can choose from the foundation of self discipline and self control.

Each moment, each step, and each day you can recreate your life by choosing the wise path. This is not just good advice, this is a necessity for well being and longevity. We can look at our own life or the life of others and see how well life is in balance. The imbalances are very obvious and many time, if not most of the time, the result of poor choices. The obvious question is “why”. Why do we cause ourselves to have so many difficulties and cause so much suffering to yourself? Now you know the answer. It is due to being lost in the mind of ego.

How do we wake up from ego? By practicing meditation. How do we pay attention to ego and seek balance? The answer is Mindfulness.

How do we develop a wise and effective life strategy and stick to it? The answer: by our choices. Harmony is created by balance. Balance is achieved by returning to the true self and  choosing wisdom over ignorance.

Most importantly, the true self always brings balance. Balance between the spiritual and physical. Balance in all areas of life. Moderation is the wisdom, harmony is the result.

Mindfulness instruction is in most major cities. You just have to look for them and begin the practice. Here is the link to a guided meditation to give you something to practice with.

https://taichiuniversity.dpdcart.com/cart/add?product_id=89660&method_id=93802

The power of the Tao (source) is only realized by the true self. To return to source, you must first return to being. This is the way, this is the Tao.

Guided Meditation – Regulating The Mind

This might be a useful meditation for beginners who are suffering from stress. This meditation is a mindfulness of thinking meditation to help quiet the mind and relax the body. With continued practice, the Tao cultivator can regulate the emotional mind, the moods, emotional states,and reaction. In the beginning, we must learn to transcend the thinking mind and the ego and find the true self within stillness. I sinerely hope that this guided meditation can help in some way for you to find mental peace. It is a bundle that is both an downloadable mp3 audio and a pdf outline that was followed during the meditation. You may have to download a mp3 player for some smart phones and tablets.

Regulating The Mind – mindfulness of thinking, guided meditation  we are in a beta trial so you can listen for no charge by adding    beta     in the coupon code box. Otherwise the fee is $1.50. If you wish to donate $1.50  to the program, just leave the coupon blank and fill out the credit card info.

Thank You

 

TDT

 

To Find Your True Path – Start Here

path through the forest

Your Path Starts Here –

Introduction (from the book: The Dixie Taoist Handbook – How To Find Your True Path, expected Fall 2014)

The Tao Te Ching is much more than a book. It is a path of virtue and wisdom on how to experience life as the true self on the true path. Important Lesson One Lesson number one is that no wisdom, including that of the Tao cannot be followed unless the person is awakened as the true self. The true self is the higher consciousness of self awareness. In each moment we choose which way we step along the path. There is always the choice to follow the true path, the path of virtue or to follow the false path of ego. The intention to follow the true path of the Tao will quickly be lost in distraction if one does not learn to stay awake and pay attention. In each present moment, each now, that choice is available. It is in those moments we create our destiny. We chose the true path or we chose the path of ignorance and suffering. It is very important to realize we should take care and choose our steps as if our life depended on it. We must realize that our life does depend on the choices we make. Our destiny is created in the moment by moment choosing. Each choice is like a seed being planted. Karma, which is known in the west as cause and effect is the result of the seeds being sown. Our choices, our steps along the life path are like the seeds of karma being planted. You will reap what you sew. You can plant seeds of virtue and wisdom or you can plant seeds of ignorance and suffering. The first step is to learn how to wake up and to be mindful (pay close attention) to what we are thinking and how it affects our choices. This is the practice of meditation and mindfulness. Paying attention and choosing wisdom is the most powerful development a human can adopt and learn. This is the true path. The Tao Te Ching contains powerful wisdom, yet it is only effective when implemented. The wisdom is implemented through careful wise choosing in each now. We create our reality, our life path, our circumstances with these often subtle choosings. The Tao cultivator is one that takes great care in constructing their destiny and their life. Lesson number Two is that it is important to learn the ancient wisdoms from a source and teacher who fully understands the teachings. There are many translations available for the Tao Te Ching, and many are incorrect. This is especially important because as mentioned in the previous paragraph, constructing one’s life is often done through subtle choices. Even if a person is self aware and seeking carefully the wisdom, it only takes one mistranslated word to misdirect an understanding. There are no insignificant choices. So it is important to follow a teacher and translated that is accurate as possible. It is important to be able to tie the ancient wisdom to modern day culture and life. I do not explain what the Tao means. I leave that sages like Derek Lin. So I strongly recommend the translated version of the Tao Te Ching that he has written. His book is titled: “Tao Te Ching – Annotated and Explained”. As of this writing Derek offers free classes online each week on in depth understanding of each and every verse. As a Tao cultivator and one who practices humility, you will not hear Derek claim any titles such as master. Yet in my view he is a master of the teachings and I look to him for guidance. I recommend that you also take him on as your Tao guide and teacher. My intention in this book is to help you realize your true self and to assist in application of the wisdom through self awareness along the true path. These words are to help you put together your own book of wisdom. Your own true self handbook for a happy successful life by following the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching. I do not translate nor annotate, that is done by Derek and others. What I intend is to help you cultivate the self awareness necessary to practice the teachings that the Tao Te Ching offers in the present moment. As I mentioned earlier, at first I found the Tao Te Ching, to be enigmatic and hard to comprehend. The Tao Te Ching Annotated and Expanded brought clarity and understanding. Yet as I explored the Tao Te Ching, sometimes it was difficult and tedious to search and find the lesson for the situation at hand. As I explored the book, I began to compile a road map on how to get to the various wisdoms so I could go straight to the lesson I needed when contemplating a problem or situation. This book is written for the beginner to help develop self awareness. Awake and aware one is to use the wisdom found in the Tao to find the true path and experience life as the true self. This book will help the reader get to that wisdom as they encounter the choices of life. As you begin taking charge of your destiny, you will face many opportunities for growth and life cultivation. These opportunities will appear as problems and obstacles to the ego. Yet, when you become present (mindful) the true self will be realized. In that moment seek the wisdom of the Tao. Use this book to find the relevant teaching. Use Derek Lin’s book, “The Tao Te Ching Translated and Annotated” to understand the deep true wisdom of the Tao. In this book Get your ready. Set the intention, make the commitment to practice willpower and self control with wisdom. Wisdom is learning from you past mistakes and not repeating them. Ignorance is repeating the bad habits and mistakes and not learning from them. This increases problems and suffering. Study Section Two and begin to cultivate an understanding of the Tao and the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching. The nature of the Tao is mysterious and can seem enigmatic. Yet with study and practice your experience will open the secret doors. Study the Section on Ego and get to know and realize how this aspect of your mind cause so many problems. Embrace the Section on the True Self. Study and practice how to manage and control the sensation seeking, greedy, self serving ego and discover the power of mystic virtue. Only the true self can make this discovery. Develop your own wise and virtuous strategy by listening and following the guidance of the Tao Te Ching There is only way to find and follow the true self and the true path and that is through meditation and mindfulness. You may want to start a journal of your self discovery. As you learn each new insight, put it in your playbook. Later you may want to refer back to previous experiences to help yourself to not repeat the same mistakes again. Your learning will happen one experience at a time over a life time. Take things slow and steady, turning experience into wisdom. Through meditation in stillness, the knowing will take place and take root. When you are aware of life as it happens, you experience life as it happens. Wisdom is cultivated one experience at a time and destiny is created one path at a time. Find others on this path who understand and support one another in sustaining self awareness and following the Tao. Cultivate your ability of “holding to the one” as it says in the Tao Te Ching. By keeping company on regular basis with others who are cultivating the true path or “The Way” of understanding, you stand a better chance of successfully bringing balance into your daily life. Are you ready to begin the new life? Get a copy of The Tao Te Ching Translated and Annotated by Derek Lin and together with this book begin creating your new destiny. In chapter 64, we are given the wisdom “a journey of a thousand miles begins beneath the feet” Here is your first choice. Here is the first step beneath your feet. The True Path begins here. .

Give With Out Expectation

Give With No Expectations

Chapter 79

After settling a great dispute
There must be remaining resentments
How can this be considered good?
Therefore the sage holds the left side of the contract
But doesn’t demand payment from the other side of the person
Those who have virtue hold the contract
Those without virtue hold the collections

The Heavenly Tao has no favorites
It constantly gives to the kind people

Chapter 79 gives the reader a clear test to see if the ego mind is in control in our interpersonal relationships. We are being asked to give and share with others without an expectation of some payback or reward. It has been discussed in other chapters how the path of virtue leads to harmony and that mystic virtue is the key to unlocking the doorway to source. This virtue of giving without expectation is a very powerful insight that comes from spirit if you can be at one with it.

This insight of giving without expectation is only possible from a position of great strength and true power. True power and true strength only reside in with sovereignty. I am defining sovereignty as true and supreme power. This is sovereignty over mind, specifically the ego self. When we have realized who we are and reside in sovereignty as the true self (spiritual self) then we no longer cling to the illusions that the ego is lost in. The virtue here is that we can give, share and not cling to those things in the world of form.

Virtue (goodness, high level of morality) is rooted in selflessness. Ego is rooted in self serving. We the ego shares or gives, there is always a greedy strategy of “what’s in it for me”. Ego only gives with expectation of benefit of return. In your mind you maybe thinking of giving in the sense of some “thing”, like money or some other tangible. Yet giving can also be in the sharing of our love, affection and attention. The true self sees others as spiritual beings. The ego sees others and judges others as according to gender, race, ethnic background, economic level, physical beauty etc.

One can tell who their true friends are by seeing the conditional nature of the relationship. True love and friendship is unconditional. Perhaps you or someone you know has been in a situation where circumstances arose where so called friends quickly bailed out on you because the conditions for love and friendship were no longer favorable. Or maybe, after the dust settled there was one true friend or loved one still standing with you with love and friendship holding strong and true. Are there people in your life who accept you as you are? Sometimes we can be especially blessed when we are loved in spite of our failings. True friends and loved ones are are gifts from heaven. Can you too become a gift from heaven?

This virtue of giving without conditions and expectations is truly as aspect of heaven. It is also a matter of choice. Choice is available to the self aware person. The self aware person is residing as the true self while the distracted delusional person is stuck in ego. Through the practice of meditation we can awaken and be aware. We can learn to be mindful of what the state of mind is. In this higher state of consciousness we choose the path of virtue. We can give with no expectations.

The law of cause and effect is always at hand. It is an integral part of the creative force of the Tao. What you put out into the universe will return to you, many times stronger. In this way you plant the seeds of the future. We are called to be wise and aware of what we are creating. If you want to experience heaven and the mystic virtue, those are the seeds that you must plant. If you want to be loved, love is what you must share with the world. If you want to experience heaven, you must practice the virtue of heaven.

Dear reader, the quirky way life flows will present you very soon with the opportunity to give without expectation. It may be your spouse, friend, child, co worker or some stranger. It may be the homeless person you notice on the street who does not want your money but only a smile or to be acknowledged. You may be invited to give the gift of forgiveness with no expectation. The strength for giving without expectation is very special and may have to be cultivated. Try it. If you fail, then try again.

I encourage you to wake up and be self aware and watch for the opportunity to gain this insight. Some circumstance will present itself where you will be called on to help someone, give to someone, love someone… to give without expectation. This will be another moment of truth for you to grow and transcend ignorance of ego. If you can do this from the heart, if you can give with no expectations, if you can give and share from a place of love and compassion, the doorway to heaven will open to you. It is there in front of you. It has always been there, but is hidden from the ego mind. When you realize your self as spirit, your inner eyes open and mystic virtue will flow into your life.

The opportunity will present itself in the present moment, the now. You will find yourself with the opportunity to give without an expectation. In that moment, you must remain connected with source. Since we can not share what we do not have, we must make sure that we have virtue in our hearts at all times. We must be sovereign and rule over our ego.

There is a saying that goes something like: “Giving is its own reward”. Yet you must not give with the expectation of virtue for that is tricky ego playing a being virtuous. Because love is its own compliment, we begin to realize that giving without expectation is love. Give and let go. Share and remain quiet. This is the way of heaven, this is the way of the Tao.

Balance and Harmony – The Path to True Joy and Fulfillment

Balance, Harmony and Moderation

harmony

Chapters 9, and 18

In the Chapter on Mystic Unity of Virtue we find the Tao Te Ching pointing to balance between the spiritual and physical realms as the “mystic unity”.  Other Chapters go on to guide us further on cultivating balance, harmony, and moderation.

Chapter 9

“Holding a cup and over filling it

Cannot be as good as stopping short

Pounding a blade and sharpening it cannot be kept for long”

Moderation is the path of Balance and Harmony. To the person whose life is grounded purely in the physical aspect, one of always seeking to fulfilling some desire, enough is never enough. Always striving, always needing more, balance is just a platitude and seen as a weakness.

Yet, balance creates harmony. Harmony is the gift we realize when our path is smooth and our life becomes one of calm abiding. To the person who is burned out, sick and tired, peace, harmony and wellness is a pretty big deal. The 9 out of 10 people who are striving for egoic achievement are never satisfied and will never understand this until they hit bottom. When they do hit bottom, the moment of truth is at hand, and the choosing to become at peace through balance and harmony is apparent.

Moderation is the key to unlocking the doorway to source through balance. Overfilling, striving, and pushing against the natural flow of the Tao is the way of ignorance. Being caught up in the egoic path, always striving, always in deep need for some “thing” as a source of fulfillment is distraction. Distraction is the disconnect from our spiritual self and the the Tao.

Balance for the Tao cultivator is being mindful of our steps along our life path and using the wisdom of moderation to enjoy life but not become obsessed with or controlled by desire. Desire fulfillment can be and often is the slippery slope of egoic decline. Yet desire is a part of the living experience. The Tao cultivator learns to balance desire fulfillment through the practice of moderation. We learn when enough is enough. Over Pouring the tea cup is wasteful, messy and non useful affair. Pouring too little is not fulfilling and may generate a sense of being deprived. The feeling of deprivation is fuel for the ego to gain traction to create a sense of longing. Unfulfilled longing can lead to despair. When are self aware we can choose wisdom step by step along the path. We can fulfill desire yet not become attached. We can realize desire, fulfill desire yet not become entangled by desire. As the true self, we must realize that enough is enough. We remain present and have the experience. Rather than cling to the experience we can release it and remain free of the ego trap.

The trap of ego is when we allow our self to become entangled. Entanglement happens when we mistakenly believe that the the fulfillment of a given desire is the source of happiness. When we believe this illusion, it becomes a way of coping. As we experience stress, we may turn to the fulfilling of desire as the source of contentment and happiness. This is the trap. To disentangle one’s self from the trap, one must let go of the attachment to the sensation. You must transcend the idea or notion that true happiness is a material satisfaction. Nothing material last, therefore happiness based on form (material) will not last. Happiness grounded in the spiritual (love) is lasting.

Chapter 18

“… the six relations are not harmonious

there is filial piety and kind affection

The country is in confused chaos

There are loyal ministers.”

Balance and Harmony is a must for good and useful interpersonal relationships. The positive effect of mystic virtue can be realized when balance, harmony, and moderation is an integral aspect of how we relate to others. It is effective on all levels. We all have opportunities for leadership by example. As leaders in government, as company managers, as parents, as siblings as friends and neighbors, we are called to create harmony through balance in our relationships.

These harmonious relationships between people are created by unity with source as the true self. The altruistic path of wisdom that is the creative path of mystic virtue. In team building exercises this has been called “synergy”. The sum is greater than total number of parts. This is accomplished through balance, harmony and moderation. By following the three treasures one can created harmonious relationships.

As mentioned before, this realization and putting into practice requires an ongoing presence of self awareness. Moment by moment along our path, we are mindful of what we are thinking, feeling and doing. Are we self serving the ego or are we serving others with love and compassion.  In all aspects of our culture we can observe the results of individuals and organizations that either practice balance and harmony or the self serving of individual and collective ego.

You might stop and consider your part in society. How would you honestly describe your interpersonal relationships. How might others describe you? Are you one of the 9 of 10 who are self serving and ignorant? Or you the 1 in 10 who people love and cherish and known for your wisdom and compassion? The answer may not be easily revealed, so it takes practice. This is the cultivation that we work on in every moment that we can be self aware.

There are opportunities all around us. We can sense the level of balance by the harmony of flow around us. Are you and those around you feeling tension and anxiety? Or is there a sense of harmony and flow and freedom. Are you an enabler, one who empowers others towards self realization and fulfillment? Or you one who steps on others on your way to “success”. Do you seek or create drama ? Or do you use softness to overcome the hard?

Recently, we all observed an example of how an organization can cease to flow with harmony when we consider the gridlock by our congress in the year 2013. The legislative body of our government, the decision makers who are to be attending our well being as country cease to function in a harmonious way. When enough people become attached to their own egoic view to the point of obstruction, the country begins to experience chaos and disharmony on many levels. As individuals as well as groups, we can become so self absorbed with the material and the emotional, that the self serving becomes a danger to the whole.

Yet when, we can free ourselves from the prison of the purely material and balance our view with a basis of harmony and non self-serving, the prison doors are opened and benevolence is at hand. Balance is a choice. How do we choose? We must be self aware at the moment of choice and let wisdom guide us. Wisdom is the path of the true self. Imbalance through ignorance is the path of ego.

Interpersonal relationship are especially important in families. For it is within families we grow and bond as children. As we grow up, our mental landscape is shaped and conditions by experience. Those who grow in a loving and compassionate family setting thrive and find love and fulfillment as the way of moving through life. Those who grow up in abusive dysfunctional environments may spend all of their adult lives searching for and never finding contentment, fulfillment, peace and harmony. This is not a all or nothing, black and white, reality, there are shades of grey. It is quite possible to change our path, when we become self aware, that is realizing the true self and following the path. The amount of ignorance and suffering in a person’s life can vary by many degrees. Yet we are all offered the chance to be the one in ten, to find true happiness and contentment of the way, … The Tao.

Once again dear reader, your moment of truth is at hand. Can you be self honest and see where you are and which direction you must turn? Are you willing to unclench the gripping fist of ego and allow the open hand of balance and moderation to bring harmony to your life? Can you let go of those attachments of the physical domain and appreciate the spiritual in a balanced way? Can you reach out and open the door to truly fulfilled life?

The True Self

Audio Download available 99 cents

The True Self and the Path of Virtue
Chapter 10

“In holding the soul and embracing the oneness
Can one be steadfast and not straying?”

The chapter on Ego begins with the question “who are you?”
And many people will answer “I am ‘ME’.
The next question is “who is me” ?
This is where many will have to pause and consider. In that chapter on Ego, the discussion centered the me-ism. The thinking me.
This chapter is about guiding you, the reader, towards a deeper more profound identity.
The “me” inside us finds this identity by summarizing the life story, the story of ‘me’ and then goes on to define this ‘me’ with descriptions, roles and labels. The ego ‘me’ is the agent for experiencing the physical realm. Often this is all we know of our self. Yet we can learn to look deeper and realize more.
Me begins to define itself by descriptions such as:
– I am a man or a woman
– I am so many years old
– I belong in this ethnic or racial catagory
– work catagory (I am a doctor, attorney, teacher, plumber sanitation worker etc)
These are all roles, labels and description of the material world. There is a deeper aspect of self and that is the spiritual self. The spiritual self is also known as the authentic self, … the true self.
How do we arrive at this self identifying? We think about it. As we begin to think about this or anything else our identity usually becomes absorbed in the thinking process. The thinking process is a great tool yet too often we dwell in thinking so much that we become distracted. The thinking can and often does become the initiator of suffering. We cannot seem to turn the thinking off and it will drive us crazy. That voice in the head can become a recurring loop which defines reality and perception. When thinking is under complete dominance of the emotional mind, the ego, we begin to experience problems. Problems initiate reaction. Reaction can create more problems.
The alternative is to realize we are not our thoughts. In mindfulness meditation one learns to observe the thinking. Observing is not thinking. It is … well … observing. This begins to help us realize subject (the observer) and object (the observed). By becoming an observer, one can observe thinking. Thus when we become the observer, we are not our thoughts. In this way one can also realize that thinking is a function or mental process.

So who is this observer ? It is not the ego self. It is not that part of “me” that dwells only in the material or physical domain. The ego believes it to be the sole identity because it is the thinking. Philosophers of western thought, such as Descartes, belong in this area of rationalism. What I am describing is Eastern philosophy and spiritual determination that is the source of the material realm. My intent here is not to change your mind if you are dead set in the material realm nor to supercede materialism.
What I would have you understand is that we are in essence, spiritual beings having a physical experience. Just as Quantum Science is a deeper realization than Newtonian Mechanics spirituality or spiritual realization is a transcendence of the physical thinking me. This state of consciousness that is the observer, the knower is the true self. It is consciousness that give order to the undifferentiated chaos to the Tao. (See Chapters on Nature of the Tao).
So rather than to define the self as physical realm and ego identifiers, the true self just is. I is a realization of “I am”. This is just being. Being is consciousness experiencing life in the physical realm
So the question that we might begin to contemplate could be “how do we realize this spiritual beingness”?.
This realization is meditation, that infinite continuum whose doorway stands in the gap between the thoughts. The technique or practice in bringing the attention to this point between thoughts is lesson unto itself and discussed in other chapters. Meditation training is best learned by working with a teacher who can guide you gently, slowly and surely to this state of consciousness.

In this timeless place of stillness we remember or awaken unto the realization that we are spirit and are at one with spirit. This aspect of your-self is the true self. This part of us is that which is unified with The Tao. Through virtue we follow the path of the the Tao. This is The Way.

In holding to our realization as the true self we can embrace the oneness, we can become one with the Tao. Lao Tzu is asking us can we hold to this oneness or will will give over to the ego and thinking? Can we learn to reside in the eternal place between thoughts or will be fall back into desire, materialism and ego self serving. As spiritual entities, the true self is our true nature. Nature is the manifestation of the Tao. The Tao is both emptiness and source. (see nature of the Tao)
We have this temporary experience as a physical being in a realm of material form and we call it life. When we are awake and self aware we experience life. When we are distracted, that is when we are lost to our true self and our spiritual source we live in the world of ego. Yet since we are physical beings, we have our place in the physical realm. Thus we are spiritual beings (conciousness) experiencing (life) in this physical realm. The way (the path of the Tao) is bring balance between the two. Balance brings a very special harmony that is called “mystic virtue”.

Chapter 33
Those who understand others are intelligent
Those who understand themselves are enlightened
Those who overcome others have strength
Those who overcome themselves are powerful

Those who know contentment are wealthy
Those who proceed vigorously have willpower

Those who do not lose their base endure
Those who die but do not perish have longevity

Those who understand their identity as the true self are enlightened. This is clarity of being. The ego seeks intelligence and power, the true self seeks wisdom through virtue and unity with source. We are called to let go of the singular view that we are only a physical being and realize there is more than sensation seeking and fulfilling physical desires. We must apply the wisdom at the spiritual level which requires that we let go of serving the ego (self serving). By orienting your perspective internal, we can be released from the external.
Moment by moment, experience by experience the Tao cultivator brings harmony and balance to life. On the path of enlightenment, we make our mistakes and return to self realization over and over, gaining wisdom and willpower and true contentment. In meditation we cultivate our base as the true self, the spiritual being we are. Mindful of ego, we learn to free ourselves from the chains of desire and material form. In each moment, we can seek unity through virtue or surrender to ego and the path of suffering.

The true self seeks balance and harmony, the ego seeks to feed desire.
The true self practices meditation to strengthen unity with the Tao, the ego seeks distraction.
The true self is grounded in the Three Treasures, the ego is grounded in sensation seeking.
The true self realizes the power of choice, the ego is imprisoned to emotional reaction.
The true self chooses wisdom in awareness, the ego is lost in ignorance only to repeat the same coping and creating suffering.
The true self embraces the Tao, the ego embraces distraction and is lost to source.

The Tao cultivator is the true self awakening and strengthening its awareness, learning how to avoid the pitfalls of ignorance. Self discipline is the true self in charge and guiding the spirit to balance, harmony and enlightenment. Self control is the true self staying above the egoic temptations enjoying life in moderation and wisdom.
The true self uses the unity with the unlimited ultimate source as their base, enduring in the living experience with longevity and well being.

Sovereignty

From the upcoming book: “Sovereignty – Mother Principle of Power
Chapter 1

In governing people and serving Heaven

There is nothing like conservation

Only with conservation is it called submitting early

Submitting early is called emphasis on accumulating virtues

Accumulating virtues means there is nothing one cannot overcome

When there is nothing that one cannot overcome

One’s limits are unknown

The limitations being unknown, one can possess sovereignty

With this mother principle of power, one can be everlasting

This is called deep roots and firm foundation

The Tao of longevity and lasting vision

Chapter 59, Tao Te Ching

What Is Sovereignty?

The word Sovereign can be defined as one who is the supreme authority or ruler over some kind of domain. You can think of it as being the ruler of a country like a President, a Prime Minister, a King or a Queen. Sometimes these supreme rulers are great leaders, and sometimes they are hated as a wicked despot. Sometimes they are a great success and are loved by the people. History remembers them as a benevolent and wise leader. Popular quotations of their words are memorialized as common sayings. And then you can look back through history and see where the supreme rulers have created catastrophe and suffering. These types of rulers have left devastation and remembered as examples of humanity’s dark side.

Now for a moment think of yourself as a supreme ruler and the domain you rule over is your life and the people you interact with and the challenges everyone experiences. As the ruler over your life, how is it going? As the president of your life, your choices and decisions play a big role in both the present moment and your future. The seeds of the future, your destiny, are planted in the present moment. The present moment you are experiencing now began in your past. As the top decision maker what kind of life have you created?

This book is about how to be a successful and effective ruler through the conscious cultivation of sovereignty.

Sovereignty is more than just a term, it is a state of being. It is a being self-aware and mindful of how you perceive reality along with wise choices and right actions1. It is a management system implemented in a state of self-awareness. This self-awareness is an awakened state as a spiritual being managing and experiencing life. Sovereignty is a perpetual state of self-discipline through self-awareness.

Sovereignty is discipline over the ego sense of self or the ego identity. Sovereignty is actualized through the choices while being in the highest state of consciousness which is “self-awareness”. Self-awareness is the realization that you are a spiritual being and you experiencing life in a physical plain.

This state of being transcends identity and is much more than just your thoughts and the mind. You are the consciousness that has the moment by moment experience as a physical being. This detached state of being is sometimes referred to as the silent witness or the observer. I have observed Taoist refer to this transcended self as “true self.”

Why Sovereignty?

Continuing with Chapter 59…

With this mother principle of power [sovereignty], one can be everlasting

This called deep roots and firm foundation

The Tao of longevity and lasting vision.

Some key words to note here are everlasting, longevity and lasting vision. Sovereignty is the mother principle of power which gives you endurance to experience not only a long physical life so that you can evolve spiritually (enlightenment.) Sovereignty is the constancy of spirit. Sovereignty is being. Sovereignty is the Tao (the way) of longevity and lasting vision. And this is why you should cultivate

Sovereignty as if your life depended on it. Because guess what, it does. Sovereignty is being the ruler over emotional, desire seeking ego so that you can attain the Tao.

Section one are Tao principles that are just some of the insights into the great mystery of how the universe seems to work. “The universe” is a good description for what Lao Tzu refers to as “the myriad of things.” Everything that was created since the big bang.

Section Two is a short list of Tao virtues. Virtues are high moral and ethical standards that keep the Tao cultivator in unity with the Tao.

Section Three contains a list of strategies to help you cultivate sovereignty using the principles and virtues of the Tao (the way). These are spiritual strategies that are both practical and powerful if worked on through real life experience.

Consider these words again:

Accumulating virtues means there is nothing one cannot overcome

When there is nothing that one cannot overcome

One’s limits are unknown

This is an ancient wisdom on how to be an unlimited being. Only through the willpower and self-discipline as the sovereign can you transform your life. Cultivating Sovereignty is a life-long commitment of mindfully attending to your path. This book is a collection of just some of the Tao Strategies for cultivating Sovereignty that I have experienced and gained some effective insights. I sincerely believe that they will benefit you as much as they have helped me.

1“right action” is an important term in both Buddhism and Taoist teachings. In Taoism it is a central part of several Tao principles such as Karma, Wu Wei and Mystic Virtue.

Adopt a Child Like Sense of Wonder (or there are no ordinary moments)

Adopt A Child’s Sense of Wonder

Chapter 20  verse 5

IMG_2701897643030

My granddaughter visiting the Aquarium for the first time.

Chapter 20, verse 5            “like an infant not yet smile”

There is a modern cliche that goes something like “knowledge is power”. Thus seeking information and knowledge become just another form of striving. We are called to balance our pursuit of knowledge with becoming one with the underlying reality of the Tao. Life and the world at hand holds so much wonder. We can let ourselves become so caught up in striving and seeking that we lose sight of what is going on right in front of our eyes.

Our ego can dominate our view so that sensation seeking or distraction become all that we can see. And in this, the beauty wonder and awe of the natural world can become lost to us. The wisdom of the Tao encourages us to remember and adopt a child like sense of wonder at what is present.

An example might be where one stands before the grand canyon, yet is so caught up in their cell phone or tablet that they find nothing inspiring before them. The Tao cultivator realizes the majesty of life and appreciates our world and the universe in which we have our life experience.

The Tao cultivator considers our place in nature. As spiritual beings we can be self aware of this physical experience. In this experience we can and should be appreciative of our form in a universe of form. We are gifted with sense, the self awareness to appreciate this existence of form, yet so often we are so distracted that we have lost our connection and oneness with it. When we are distracted we are no longer aware. Often, we can become so distracted that we lose our ability to experience life. That is to say, we are no longer experiencing life. Take a look at your life. How distracted are you? How much of the living experience are you missing? It may seem crazy yet there are many of us who purposely try to disconnect from life. We seek distraction. When life become too problematic the ego self seeks distraction. Distraction can become a habit, maybe even an addiction. The ancients have told us that the purpose in ife is to experience and grow. Yet in our modern age, we seek to disconnect with life. How do we break our being lost in distraction and wake up?

This is something so basic and simple that it begins with just taking a moment be aware that you are alive. We can just stop and be present. We can just …be. After all we are human “beings”. Yet when we become obsessed with being distracted, we are no longer aware of being … and being alive. A good way to realize how deeply one is buried in ego is to notice how resistant one is to just being. Ask your “self” why just being, doing nothing is so hard and so boring.

As in all things, the Tao cultivator establishes balance. This is especially important in the basics of life experience. All creatures are involved with doing. Non sentient creatures stay busy supporting their existence, and who knows how much awareness and sentience they may have. Yet as human “beings” we have the ability to be self aware and sentient, yet we allow this state of consciousness to become out of balance. Distraction is when the mind is lost to something where we are no aware of being and being alive. Humans are gifted with enough sentience to be self aware, yet we avoid it with great determination. Sometimes this is necessary to focus on something to the extent that we become distracted. Yet we must not become so distracted that we remain disconnected to the world and our life experience.

The self aware Tao cultivator brings balance to the world of being and doing. In self awareness we can return and become at one with our universe and appreciate it through an innocent sense of wonder. A child’s sense of wonder. Children who have not learn yet to be disconnected from life, whose ego has not yet learned to see everything as mundane… see everything as new and wondrous. Even though we grow older and accumulate experience, we do not have to lose touch with the childlike sense of wonder. Wisdom is learning from experience. We can treat our past experience as important aspects and remember the feeling of wonder we once felt with life. We are encouraged to keep this as part of our wisdom. In this way life does not become mundane and boring. Each moment is not ordinary and we find that in a child’s sense of wonder, there are no ordinary moments.

Conquering Fear and Worry

Use Love To Conquer Fear

 

This chapter contains quite a bit of first person narrative. The reason for this is because I feel that it might best be understood if I talk about this subject from my own learning experience and perspective. So I begin by letting you know that I am one of those people who have suffered a lot from fear and worry. Fear and worry have influenced my choices in so many ways over my life, and I can only wonder where I would be now if I had learned this insight at a younger age.

Woman with Headache

Fear and worry are deeply influential to our outward behavior and should be recognized as life changers. If you are being honest with yourself and have a moment of truth, you may realize that fear and worry have been pushing your buttons. The ego may resist accepting that there is an element of worry and fear for it does not want to be seen in a negative way. However, for this insight to be truly known, we must use honesty and truth as our guide.

 

The path to managing fear and worry requires a high level of self awareness. Only in self awareness we can be honest with our recognizing our fears and worries and bring them to the forefront for examination. I also advise that you should not overreach in your discernment of whether you worry too much or not. It can be as simple this; do you feel stress and anxiety from fearing something? Or do you worry about some aspect of life so much that it causing you to suffer? If you are suffering, you will know. If you are not suffering, fear and worry is being managed appropriately.

 

Being self aware [this is the true self], we can become mindful of fear as it arises and then take steps to not be overcome by it. In the beginning, I believed that the way to overcome fear was to raise the spirit (hope) and find courage. But as one of my mentors pointed out, this is just the surface level of understanding. Often courage does not last and you will probably find yourself right back in that dark place of fear and worry.

 

The deeper understanding that I have come to realize is that courage is good but it needs something to support it. It needs a strong foundation. I would never have found this wisdom on my own, fortunately, this deeper insight was shared with me by a wise Taoist who has helped me in many ways of understanding.

 

What he helped me to realize was that there must be a foundation for courage to rest on. That foundation is love. I have found love to be unique in its nature. By that, I mean that love is different in its nature by being able to be present in two places at once. It is the eternal bridge between the spiritual and the physical. As my mentor pointed out, Love is different than other motivating forces in that it [love] is its own counterpart, it is its compliment.

 

As he explained it to me, the first notion about love and its compliment is that we mistakenly think that the compliment of love to be hatred. But that is not understanding at the deeper level. The deeper insight is found in contemplating the source of love. While we can appreciate that ego is the source of hatred, one then has to wonder “what is the source of love?” The amazing insight and answer to this question is this: “love is the source of Love” and “the pure essence of love is the source of the manifestations of love in our lives”.

 

I did not readily understand this. I quite literally had to spend some time in contemplative meditation and then holding to this concept while observing it during my own periods of fear/suffering. What I eventually and gradually came to realize was that fear and worry is or can be yet another self serving aspect of ego. While fear can serve as an important notice or red flag warning for us that something is not right or something might go wrong, when it is out of balance, it creates suffering. When we become obsessed with worry and fear, we are stuck in the physical domain of ego. We are in a self serving loop that we must transcend this mental construct and return to spirit, the true self. Too little fear and we might run head on into danger and trouble. Too much fear and worry we suffer and harm our well being. When self serving ego has control over our mental state we allow fear to dominate.The ego feels “I don’t have time to listen to your problems, I’m too busy with my own fears. Please let me obsess in my fear”

 

Where does love fit into all of this? We must transcend the self serving ego so that our love of others becomes the motivating force to seek balance. Self aware we realize we are suffering from fear, or worrying too much. We then seek the wise and spiritual solution. The Tao cultivator will let go of ego and find the love we have of others and the serve them. When we love others, we put their needs ahead of our own in a balance way. When we love others, serving them can become the foundation for courage. For me, it was the realization that I was just letting ego serve itself.

When I turned my consciousness to those I love most, my family, courage rose and energy came forth to serve them because I love them. This love empowered me to keep on trudging, to not give up hope, and to keep their needs in the forefront. Not only does love give courage but it also and importantly gives purpose to life.

 

Because love can be the foundation for courage over fear, we can keep returning to it. When we slip and allow ego to get back on top, we may feel discouraged again. Yet, by being mindful of our thoughts and feelings, we can realize fear rising and redirect through spirit to remember to love and serve those we love. Then as the obsession of fear loses energy, we can raise our heads, and fill our hearts again and again.

 

Here is the 3 step advice that my mentor gave me:

 

1. Balance fear with love before you do anything else.

2. Balance the look into the future (fear) with a retrospective of the past.

3. Bring it all back to the present moment (right here, right now).

 

To implement these steps, one must be able to become present and self aware. This is case of any of the Tao teachings. We must learn to become awake and aware, which is best learned through meditation. We must remain mindful and pay attention to our inner mental landscape and spot ego and its aspects as they rise. Then, self aware, as the true self, the spiritual self, we can choose wisdom of the Tao to practice and follow.

 

There is the old saying “love conquers all”. Importantly, love conquers fear. Fear leads to hatred, so we must balance the fear with love and build a foundation upon it. We can access our wisdom by understanding our experiences of the past. Wisdom is not repeating the same mistakes but learning from those experiences. Fear arises when we worry about a future now. Wisdom of the past experience can balance our expectations of the future. Balance the future with the past and reside in this now. In this present moment, find love and with it let go of self serving to serve and love others. If life is a journey of a thousand miles, the first step is right below your feet. Right here, right now. Let love be your compass. Let love give you the power to take that next step and balance fear with wisdom. Free your self from fear, with love.

Regulating The Body

This is a lecture from the Qigong Series, The Five Regulatings.

 

Li Ching Yuen for slide

Meet Li Ching Yuen, 250 year old Qigong Adept and Herbalist. How did he do this? How can you live a long healthy life of well being ? Here is how.

Consider the term “life form”. Perhaps it is useful to consider this to mean a form for experiencing life. What and who is having the experience through form?

This study is about hold the form for the spirit to experience the physical realm.

The consideration begins with the life form coming together. First there is the initial combining of chromosome material and a mixing of the dna sequence coding. Once initiated, the combining continues for a duration until there is point at which the form is considered to be mature. Then the form begins to age and the process of atrophy begin to deconstruct the form.

Specifically let us consider the source for intention of form and the process or holding form together. When cells begin to combine and replicate this intention or force holds them together. A useful term might be “life force”. We also know this powering for life as energy. The ancient in China called it “Qi”

When a life form sustains itself through this life force, it experiences life. What or who is having the experience and why?

Consider what happens if the force that holds the form together is interrupted. The form begins to lose its ability to hold itself together for the purpose of experiencing life. Sometimes external causes affect the form to lose cohesion.

let us consider the cause of internal sources of cohesion. What is it that human life forms do that unnecessarily cause the form to lose the battle with atrophy? Why do people initiate self destruction ? How and why would we interfere with the ability to experience life?

As we experience life, sometimes the meaning we give to that experience is unsatisfactory to the ego self. The more resistance this aspect of mind has toward what is, generates stress. The stressful state of mind, the reactive feelings and mood that result from becoming absorbed within the reaction creates a the mental state of anxiety. This stress directly affects the body. Since the mind and body are directly linked, what we experience across the ind will be reflected across the body.

In the first regulating class, which covered regulating the mind, we learn to disengage from currents of the mind stream. I am calling the mind stream that linear string of connected thoughts or thinking that can carry the person away in a kind of waking, “what if” nightmare. The emotional energy generated with this very powerful and can permeate consciousness with the dark feelings of fear, anger, desperation, worry, agitation, frustration and more. This stressful mindset cause many problems with the body which is responding with the fight or flight stress response. When we become lost in this continuous mindset, our body uses most of its life force energy in process. Before long the body becomes depleted and exhausted. After enough episodes of this, it will begin to break down. In addition to this stress, our mind seeks compensate for the stress by coping measures that are often not healthy remedies. The stressed out person may eat too much, drink toxic beverages, and other self abuses.

The simple and straightforward most healthy remedy is to practice becoming relaxed. I use the term straightforward because relaxation and meditation is not complicated and should be simple. One should sit still,and quiet the mind and body until peace is realized. The more stress that is at hand, the longer one must sit quietly allowing first the mind and then the body to become calm.

Bringing the mental focus out of the mindstream and becoming present is to become self aware. When we have broken our attention free from being absorbed in the busy self destructive thought activity, we concentrate at holding the focus non thinking state of consciousness which is observing. Observing the breath has been the practice for meditation for centuries and it works. It is simple and can be practiced anywhere at almost anytime. Use the breath as an anchor. It can become as a lighthouse in a storm. In one of the breaks between thinking onsets, there be a break or pause in the stream of thought. In one of these gaps one can realize what is happening and seek the breath. In that gap, ask “am I breathing?” And see the answer by finding breath. In that instant you detach from thinking and move the awareness to seeking and observing. Once you find the breath, work at staying with it.

As you begin to take and keep your attention, your mental focus, close at hand, or rather close with the breath by observing it, the thinking energy will begin to lose some of its “grip”. The more one practices this the better they will become at staying present. It is not necessarily easy, but is very powerful.

When the mind is present and at one with the breath, the connection to body is established. From the breath, the observer can use the mind sense to bond with the body and reach a knowing about its state. From here one can bring relaxation and healing to areas that are suffering from tension, anxiety and stress.

In the beginning, guided meditations can help a lot in developing the technique of letting go of thought stream and staying with breath. Guided meditations are good for beginners, but the individual must not become dependent on having to have a guide. It is extremely important to cultivate and practice the ability of sitting quietly by the self and establishing the rapport with spirit and stillness. In this state of calm abiding, the body can heal.

In Qigong we must create and cultivate the conditions for the “life force energy” to flow and nourish our physical self. It is an awesome and very powerful system to which we only need to refrain from interfering with. The biggest interference is stress. We still energy from well being and use it by useless mind states that just drag us down. When the life force energy that can and will sustain us is blocked or interfered with, we lose our ability to heal and sustain our robust vigor. Stress wears us down and depletes our ability to regulate the body.

Regulating the body, begins with regulating the mind. Regulating the mind begins with meditation and regulating thought and emotion. This is must. Meditation and regulating the mindy body connection is a non-negotiable function that you must become proficient at. You dont have to become a super human, you just have to restore balance to enjoy the miracle of life. Qi (life force energy) sustains longevity, distraction and stress sustains atrophy.

Ego and the Path of Ignorance

Ego

Ask yourself the question, “Who am I?”

Most people will answer “I am ME”

 

Before I introduce you to your “self”, lets begin with a disclaimer. This description or illumination of the inner voice may  or may not be in complete alignment with terms found in psychology. You may or may not find descriptions of the Id, Ego and SuperEgo to correspond to the ancient concepts of self, self awareness and mindfulness. Perhaps one might consider id and ego as what the one aspect of material self as “ego”. Maybe the super ego is a very sterile way of considering the true self or spiritual self.

The important thing is to learn and become proficient in regulating the mind so that self control and management is held by the higher self or spiritual self.  When one transcends the view of only experiencing the physical realm the feeling is like an awakening. It is an awakening into clarity. This higher consciousness is the highly awakened state of meditation. In this period many spiritual teachers have found a usefulness in grouping the physical experience, the emotional “me” self in a broad category and are calling ego. So in my original question of “who are you” the question is more about which identity is in control ? Which you am I talking to ? Is this the ego self or the true self?

 

One beginners metaphor  would be to imagine the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Many of us have spent a lifetime being influenced by the devil’s voice on our shoulder and only occasionally hearing the voice of virtue, wisdom and spirit whose avatar is the angel. Many have only ever experienced the ego self identity and that may be all that they know.

 

Here is a test. Sit down in a chair, and try doing nothing for 30 minutes. As this you sits there and begins to feel restless, bored, antsy, irritated try to be mindful of this from a detached perspective. Is it possible to step back from the feeling of “i” am feeling restless or bored and just observe this feeling. It is possible to ask “oh look, what part is this that is feeling restless?” Is is possible to recognize the shift from being the feeling and observing the feeling. If so, perhaps this “me” can ask who is this observing and detached or removed from the feeling of restlessness. The question may arise what is the other part that is experiencing the feeling of restlessness. This return to observing or “being” is self awareness. One is aware of the feeling yet separate from it by choice. If you can first conceptualize this and then learn to practice and cultivate self awareness, you can transform your life. This higher state of consciousness, this waking up into self awareness is unifying with spirit. This is realizing your spiritual identity. Paradoxically, the true self is often lost to most people. Perhaps it is a kind of amnesia where we have forgotten who and what we truly are. We are a spiritual being having a physical experience called life. Metaphorically speaking, many of us have only listened to self desructive devil on our shoulder never having realized or remembered our spiritual self. Our spiritual self is connected to the Tao, the source of all we can perceive and yet never fully understand. Ego is the distracted state of mind, the aspect of self that only seeks the tangible physical experience. The physical is experienced through the senses. Sensual desire is characterized by a distraction called “sensation seeking”. Ego is heedless of cause and effect and seeks sensual desire fulfillment at any cost. More importantly ego is realm of self esteem. Self Esteem is defined by the ego. When ego dominates consciousness, the reactive nature of the ego mind is constantly defining the life experience by qualitative measure. Ego has its own unrealistic agenda to which it expects life to comply with. When ego agenda does not align with reality, the ego experiences a “problem”. For the ego, problems lead to suffering. Suffering leads to coping. Coping leads to sensation seeking and distraction.The ego is a distracted state of mind and consciousness becomes absorbed by ego thinking.

 

Ego has an unsustainable appitite. It is the antithesis of patience. So when the beginner sits down to practice meditaiton and waking up, the ego resists. Ego feeds off of stimulation. When one sits in meditation, the ego feels starved and experiences a feeling of boredom and agitation. There is this neediness to “do some thing”. It is often so powerful, that the failure rate for first time meditation students is near 100%. Ego need for stimulation is so powerful that it may choose electric shock desperate for some type of stimulation. So now you can begin to understand why people do some of the desperate things that they do. You may also use this same insight to understand others do what they do. Perhaps in this moment, the insight is reaching and you are beginning to glimpse reality for just a moment as the true self. If you are able to see your own behavior from the non “me” state and see the behavior for what it is, you are having a moment as the true self. Welcome to self awareness. Before you are once again lost to distraction and ego, perhaps you can take this opportunity to set an intention to wake up again. Leave your higher self a note, or set your watch alarm to go off at some interval and when you hear it, wake up and observe what is happening to the inner landscape. How do you wake up? Ask your “self” if you are breathing. When you look for the breath, you’re bringing your mind, tuning your mind back to awareness; self awareness (awakening). Practice this over and over until you, the higher true self you, realizes constancy, that is to say, staying awake.

The ego mind is the antithesis of spiritual cultivation and the virtuous path of the Tao.

The Tao Cultivator recognizes and accepts that ego is an aspect of the self identity and seeks to control its manic behavior by strengthening the identity of the wiser true self. Balance is the target, harmony is experienced.

 

Meditation is the practice of transcending the ego mind and realizing the true self. Paying attention to manage ego is the practice of mindfulness. The Tao cultivator pays attention to the choices one makes and chooses the wisdom of the Tao. In each choice, we manage our destiny. Paying attention, we can ask, “is this choice in alignment with wisdom? Or is it in alignment with ignorance which is the way of ego”.

 

The Tao Te Ching advises in numerous chapters on controlling ego in various situations.

Chapters 3.9.12, 13.16.17 are just a few to hear Lao Tzu warn us of how to manage the ego mind.

 

The Tao cultivator learns to manage ego and cultivate the spiritual self. Realization as the spiritual or true self allows self awareness to rise and control the crazy voice in the head, that devil on the shoulder. By paying attention in that non judging concentrated way we cultivate through meditation, we be mindful of mind, of ego influence and practice follow wisdom and virtue.

 

If you can pay attention long enough to realize what you are doing in any given moment, you will begin to see the ego mind/self at work. Awakening from the ego self is the awakening from distraction.

 

There was an article on the web that reported that a study showed that most participants chose electric shock when asked to sit quietly with no entertainment for a period between 6 and 20 minutes. Most people elected a shock over stillness. Why is this?

 

What part of us would be so impatient to choose electric shock over stillness? The needy, greedy, and oh so impatient ego. Once we highlight ego it becomes pretty easy to understand why it is so hard to just “be”. Meditation is the practice of overcoming the power of ego through unifying with the higher self (true self). We do this when we find breath and leave the ego to its insanity. How do you find breath? Just close your eyes and ask your “self”. am I breathing? Then… look inward and find the answer. Turning your mind away from the impatient mind is also TUNING your mind out of distraction and into the awakened state of self awareness. In the beginning Ego wins the battle most of the time. Yet, with practice and will power, one can learn to remain present. Once present, one can remain present by concentration. In presence we are free to choose all that life has to offer and free ourselves from the voice of ego. As shocking as that is (pun intended) if the article above is true, the ego mind would literally seek an electric shock as a means of distraction because it just cannot abide stillness (presence). Even as you read these words, ego may be raising its voice trying to keep your from waking up and moving into the light of awareness. Tired of the ego “me” calling the shots? Find the nearest mindfulness group and learn how to free your “self”.