May The Circle Be Unbroken

Signs of Love
– Taking and Giving

I have heard that there are people out in the world who have lost the ability to love anything other than their own ego. I have never met one. Most the people I know are somewhere between desperately seeking love or blissfully surrounded by love. There is a great discovery to be made by anyone seeking to love and be loved. People share love and communicate love in all sorts of ways. Today I realized a much deeper understanding about human behavior, love and how we demonstrate our love and affection.

The insight began as a small kernel of abstract thought triggered when I noticed an internet article on my wife’s computer that I was eaves-dropping on.

“That one”, I say, as she scrolls back up and I begin reading about an article that tells us how toddlers communicate love. “they demonstrate and communicate their love by sharing”. I considered this for a while, comparing it what I have experienced in life, and my experienced with my own children and now grand children. I even get up and go into the next room to observe my grand daughters at play”.

My toddler grand daughter looks up from her work with play dough and says with a great big smile,
“look Popa”. In that instant, 10,000 occurrences from my life experiences filled my mind and realized how many times people along my path had shared and showed me love.

Later, in meditation, exploring this arising and intuitive insight, I began to wonder, explore, remember how I responded to these acts of love. In all those years where the ego pulled my strings, there were not too many sincere loving responses. In the years since I began the work of sovereignty over ego, the joy of receiving was known, experienced.

I looked back over the years, and realized some of those times where I completely missed what was not being said. I was now aware of so many opportunities to receive love from someone but was to self absorbed to know it for what it was.

As the insight began to mature, I realized the other part of the sharing. The giving part. There are memories where I gave but the other ego did not care or appreciate the giving, and my ego reacted with resentment. But then, I also realized how much ‘not giving’ or giving to my ‘self’ that had taken place. Its a wonder that anyone ever loved me, but that is one of the miracles of life, I guess.

I also recall the times where I was expressing my own love or affection for someone and felt the warm feelings that arose because of their sincere gratitude for my offering. There is something so very special about sharing, giving to someone you love and they love you back for it. These are exquisite moments.

When love compliments with love, spirit is joined. With every fiber of my being, I believe this is one of the door, if not THE doorway to heaven, or your version of it.

Giving and receiving, with a loving heart is of the highest virtue. This is the bridge between the spirit of each and the bridge between our spirit and source. We are called by so many of the common spiritual paths to practice this as a way of life.

It can happen anywhere at anytime. Perhaps you are in line at the grocery store, or come across a homeless person, or it maybe the little old lady sitting in the waiting room who offers a smile and friendly comment. We should especially pay attention to those who share their lives with us. They are our wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends, sons, daughters, co-workers, club members, and those who consider themselves our friends. The inner circle people are who you serve and love first. Then try extending your taking and giving to those in the outer circle in your life.

Finally, when you can realize and truly understand how the ego causes so many people to do crazy things, your own spirit can recognize this and remain above it. When you know and understand why people strike out and hurt (ego), then it is possible to forgive them and still love them. Ego, self serving, and distracted striving lose touch with the taking and giving of love with others. The True self, the spirit, does not give into the sharing of the dark side of ego (anger, hate, revenge, manipulation etc). Spirit moves above ego and uses love as a means to transcend the dark side. In spirit, the true self, will practice and be willing to wait on the lost person to find themselves again. Then, in a moment of love, they will build the bridge with an offering. In a moment of love the other may also transcend love and join in with the taking, feeling appreciation and gratitude. And once again the circle of light is joint. The giving and receiving of love.

My friend, where ever you are, who ever you are … may that circle be unbroken.
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Lyrics to Song, sing along with youtube video at very bottom (Gregg Allman of course, im from Georgia)

I was standing by my window,
On one cold and cloudy day
When I saw that hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away

Will the circle be unbroken
by and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
in the sky, Lord, in the sky

I said to that undertaker
undertaker please drive slow
for this lady you are carrying
Lord, I hate to see here go

Will the circle be unbroken
by and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
in the sky, Lord, in the sky

Oh, I followed close behind her
Tried to hold up and be brave
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave

Will the circle be unbroken
by and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
in the sky, Lord, in the sky

I went back home, my home was lonesome
missed my mother, she was gone
all of my brothers, sisters crying
what a home so sad and lone

Will the circle be unbroken
by and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
in the sky, Lord, in the sky

We sang the songs of childhood
Hymns of faith that made us strong
Ones that Mother Maybelle taught us
Hear the angels sing along

Will the circle be unbroken
by and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
in the sky, Lord, in the sky

Will the circle be unbroken
by and by, Lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
in the sky, Lord, in the sky

src=”https://thedixietaoist.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/wuji.png?w=193″ alt=”wuji” width=”193″ height=”300″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-314″ />wu ji

Stillness; The Underrated Power

Stillness is a much ignored and underrated power. Stillness may even be perceived as a oxymoron when used in the same sentence as “power”. But those who have practiced meditation understand that stillness is the gateway to the higher consciousness.

To appreciate stillness, one can begin with its opposite. That might be stress, anxiety, or its physical opposite; movement. In human evolution we acquired the gift of the stress response. The ability to instantly raise our physical and mental abilities to a very high level so that we could survive through fight or flight. Most people have heard of this and know it is as the fight or flight response or stress response.

But what many people do not realize is that nature also gifted us with its antidote. The nature of the Tao contains the creative element of change. Circumstances are always changing. It can be observed in weather and climate patterns. On the daily scale the weather will change with the sun and night (yang changing to yin). On the weekly perspective, one can observe the daily patter layered upon a slower change as weather systems and fronts come and go. Each season brings a change from the last each with its variations hourly, daily, weekly and upward. Even climate change across eons can now be observed through the study of layers of ice crystals from the Arctic ice shelf.

In these changing patterns we notice the yang and yin patterns. In our more local universe, we should also become aware of the nature of change and use consciousness to maintain the natural balance.

When we live a life too much in motion, that is too much activity in both the internal and external, the natural rhythm of our mind body is interrupted. Typically in modern society, we spend too much of our life striving for more. We eat too much, we engage in way too much emotional drama, we experience too much anxiety and stress. We over stimulate our minds with too much cognitive function whether it is working too much, to much TV drama, too much video games, too much worry, or any obsession that is too much.

This out of balance state is often easily seen. Imbalance will manifest as weight problems, financial problems, emotional problems, stress problems, or sleep problems. These imbalances will many times overlap and feed each other. This path of imbalance is one of self destruction. We must begin to moderate our path with our moment by moment choices.

How do we do that?

The antidote to too much internal and external motion is stillness. In concept and function it is very simple. Yet in application it is very difficult for most. This is because for many people, the ego has assumed control of the path we walk and it chooses distraction and sensation seeking as the central purpose in life. The only way to control the ego is to transcend it grip. This is done through meditation. Meditation is the transition to a higher state of consciousness where the true self is realized. When we stop and allow stillness to merge with being, we begin to restore balance.

There is even a clincal term for this act of nature. Dr. Herbert Benson refers to it as
“The Relaxation Response”. His book clearly defines and shows what happens with the mind body relationship when we become still.

Stillness is restoration. What we restore is balance to both the internal and external. As we sit still and the mind becomes quiet, the body will follow. What happens across our mental landscape is reflected (extended and experienced) across our physical landscape. When we concentrate our attention (awareness) outside of thinking, and allow the mind to become still, the body will follow.

As we sit in stillness, the opposite of the stress response begins to process. In stillness (the relaxation response), the heart slows, the breathing becomes deeper and slower. Blood pressure drops, the immune system activates, more oxygen is available, and most importantly, the body will release a different set of hormones that will bring about a feeling of peace. Other research now shows that regular mediation (stillness) helps to restore chromosome damage by restoration to the tips of the telemeres. (Read what Sage Dr. Deepak Chopra says about this process)

Stillness (meditation/relaxation response) slows down the aging process through efficient cell repair. I know from personal experience how effective it can be for healing sickness.

Through the practice of stillness, we can restore our emotional state, solve problems, reduce debt, become healthy, experience well being and live longer. I submit that this is very powerful indeed.

Think about it for a moment. Nature has even built in the requirement for a return to stillness. With very few exceptions, everyone one of us must sleep at some point. This is nature’s way of making us restore ourselves even when we do not have the sense to do it by choice. We can fight, resist and prolong it, but sleep will eventually overtake us. And this is because we must spend time in restoration (stillness). So, quit fighting with stillness. This is just ego.

If you can practice self discipline (ego management), you can craft your life into its optimum experience. Please… don’t fight with nature, learn to flow with nature. Balance life’s action phases with stillness phases.

Just find time to be still. Find a park bench, a porch swing, a bean bag or lay on a picnic blanket and watch the clouds in their ever changing patterns. Allow the mind/body to become still so that you can restore the ability to experience life.

From stillness we come and to stillness we will return. It is the underlying reality of being-ness. Stress is created when we resist and go against the flow of life in either the spiritual or physical realms. Learn to merge with nature and experience harmony. This is the power of mystic virtue. This is the power of stillness.

Strategy #7: True Goal Achievment

The Dixie Taoist Handbook
Chapter 41
Strategy Number Seven:

True Goal Achievement

The Strategy: Work on your Self First; the Goal is secondary. Implement unattached action. Flow like water toward the destiny of your true path.
Its Application: Goals are destinations. To arrive there successfully one must focus on the journey in each step. Applying the wisdom and virtue of Wu Wei, which is unattached action we are congruent with the flow the underlying reality. Without striving we arrive at our goal which is just one of many destination along our path.

Goal setting is the crafting of the strategy for your destiny. This chapter is a big deal, so read carefully. If you want to truly effect your destiny, you must focus your mind and be present. This is the practical ability to connect with the Tao (the source of everything) and to hold unity with the wisdom (the knowledge gained from life experience). When you have connected with the Tao, you are beyond distraction (that chaotic voice in the head that you wish you could shut up). In this state of consciousness you see where you have been, be in this now, and be guided by the spirit of the true self. Inspiration is that aspect of mystic virtue where Tao insight connects with a source that has infinite potential. Inspired is a most powerful spiritual virtue. From despair, inspiration can launch the spirit and instantly one is surrounded the ability to choose from infinite possibilities. And then a clear vision of your path of what can be fills the surface of your mind. Every fiber of your being vibrates with virtuous intention.
Be mindful of intention, so craft a worthy goal. Be patient, in meditation view your goal from the perspective of wisdom.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 37
The Tao is constant in non action
Yet there is nothing it does not do
If the sovereign can hold to this
All things shall transform themselves
Transformed yet wishing to achieve
I shall restrain them with the simplicity of the nameless
The simplicity of the nameless
They shall be without desire
The world shall steady itself

In modern culture we are taught to strive for achievement. In the western society many view striving as a good thing. Strictly defined by a popular online dictionary, one can read that striving is:
“to make great efforts to obtain or achieve something”
“to struggle or fight vigorously”
Let us look below the surface level of striving. Interestingly, one can see that the two definitions above are not necessarily describing the same thing. It can be one thing to make a “great effort” or to “obtain” and it can be argued that struggling and” fighting vigorously” is something else. Either way, the deeper insight is realize that great effort, struggle, and to fight are not the way of the Tao.
There is a better way to achieve the goal. The Tao offers something so extraordinary that it boggles the mind. See if you can wrap your mind around the concept of
NOT“trying” to do anything, yet accomplishing everything. What is being described here is “effortless achievement”. See Tao Te Ching Annotated And Explained by Derek Lin, Chapter 37).
This highly realized way of being is the authentic path of the true self. As the true self, we are sovereign. In this context, to be sovereign means to master the self. This is self control, self discipline and keeping the ego tamed. When one can follow “the way” (the Tao), we bring our reality into alignment with the destination which is our goal. We are working on the self in order to reach our intended destiny (goal). We all know that to reach a goal, requires self discipline and self control. Otherwise, we become distracted and fall off of the path. But that is not all. Going even deeper, we must determine our destiny (goals) as the authentic self. Authentic or true goals are those that are inspired when we are self aware and aligned in that balanced state of spirit and physical. In strategy four we apply the strategy of following mystic virtue as our guide. In this strategy, we use mystic virtue to determine and follow the path of the true self.
Is the determined destiny, the goal, an authentic one or is it just another sensation seeking desire of ego. Does the goal align with the three treasures? Is the goal a naturally evolution of the true path?
Here is the game changer. The struggle, fight, great effort are experienced by the ego. For alignment the Tao is to flow effortlessly with harmony. Do what you are supposed to do and being who you are supposed to be. Wu Wei is unattached action. Unattached is to be free of ego clinging and domination through ignorance. Wu Wei is action through mystic virtue. So we work on being sovereign, that is say, we rule over the ego.
As the true self on the true path, determine the direction and destiny that you know to be true. Then flow effortlessly in that direction by working on the self first. How do you know if your path is true? The answer is that if you are striving and knocking yourself out, burning up energy and feeling stress, that is not it. Are you tired, stressed out, sick, and anxious ?
On the other hand, are things happening in an almost miraculous way that seems to good to be true? Are the right people showing up at just the right time with the perfect elegant solutions? Are coincidences popping up all of the time that seem weird in a good way? Is intuition singing to you in harmony with life?
Self aware, our moment by moment choices will naturally come into alignment with our goals. In a synchronistic manner, and paying attention in that special way of mindfulness, all aspects of life will fall naturally into place. The people we meet, the coincidences, intuition, and all manners of what seems to be “good luck” begin to guide us in an effortless way. We just to pay attention and remain aligned with this reality. We must hold to the one (the true self) and resist the absorbing ego thinking which is the path of striving or pushing.
To be able to “hold to the one” requires that we work on ourselves. That is to say, we work on ourselves first and we will arrive at the goal we have brought into alignment with the Tao. Working ourselves is to work on being sovereign. This means we learn to become aware of our ego self and control its influence on our choices. Choices are the steps we take in each moment. If those choices, those steps are misguided by ego, we fall off the true path.
Mindful of our actions, we can ask ourselves,
“does this take us closer to or further from my goal”.
Am I keeping with the Tao?
Am I practicing mystic virtue and remaining humble, compassionate and frugal (the three treasures)?
Here is where it gets interesting. The ego, which is never patient wants to hurry and get there. The ego which is attached to outcome is our aspect of self that strives. Ego actions pushes and struggles to “get there” at any cost. This is not the effortless achievement of the Tao cultivator. This is not Wu Wei (unattached action).

Tao Te Ching Chapter 48
Pursue knowledge, daily gain
Pursue Tao, daily loss
Loss and more loss
Until one reaches unattached action
With unattached action there is nothing we cannot do.
Take the world by constantly applying noninterference
The one who interferes is not qualified to take the world

When achievement and goals rise in the mind, often one might think that we require to gain more knowledge. Immediately striving begins to form in the pursuit of more knowledge. Striving for more knowledge is ego introducing complexity where it need not be. Complexity only creates potential for distraction and the probability for things to sway us from our goal. Simplicity is the the way of the true path. There is a saying “keep it simple stupid”. A little harsh, yet we can appreciate the wisdom of keeping things simple and allowing. We we pursue the wisdom of the way of simplicity we lose the distracting aspect of ego desire.
The more loss of desire from ego, the less we strive. Striving is unnecessary effort, flow is effortless achievement. We practice cultivating our self control until we reach the point where our action, what we do, is unattached to outcome and aligned with the Tao (the way, the true path). This 4,000 year old wisdom is telling us that when we reach and hold this virtue of unattached action, “there is nothing we cannot do”.
“Take the world”, that is achieve our goals, without allowing the ego to disrupt the connection to spirit and the effortless flow along the true path. The strategy is to cultivate becoming and holding to the true self. To practice the virtues of the way (the Tao), to practice patience rather than striving and pushing. To allow and accept rather than interfere with the flow. Keep the march forward simple and use moderation to keep balance. Because of cause and effect (karma), striving and forceful achievement will cause friction and failure. When we plant the seeds to effortless achievement we reap the fruit of smooth and timely goal achievement. When one plants the seeds of striving and action attached to outcome, the result will more of the same. Striving and not hitting the true goal.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 77
The Tao of Heaven
Is like drawing a bow
Lower that which high
Raise that which is low
Reduce that which as excess
Add to that which has deficiencies…

The last part of goal setting for the Tao cultivator is the use of moderation in moving towards goal destination. Consider the goal itself. Is the goal just a product of the ego. Is it vain? What desire is it fulfilling. How does it measure with the the three treasures? Who benefits from this goal. Will others suffer as a result of achieving this goal.
The goal itself should not be too high, or too low. Adjust the objective as you cultivate your wisdom of the true path. Adjust your steps with moderation, seeking balance and harmony in each now, each moment. As you work on your “self” you cultivate your ability to follow the Tao, the true path.
Remember, true power is only held by sovereignty of self. Everything else is just illusion of ego. Wu Wei is holding to the one and using unattached action to move toward authentic destiny. This is the true path, this the way (the Tao).

International Day of Peace

a single thought
Today is International Peace Day.

Today let go of contention, arguing, debating, meddling, gossiping and fighting.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 68

The great generals are not warlike
The great warriors do not get angry
Those who are good at defeating enemies do not engage them
Those who are good at managing people lower themselves
It is called the virtue of non-contention
It is called the power of managing people
It is called being harmonious with Heaven
The ultimate principle of the ancients

Today, hold to the one.
Tao Te Ching Chapter Ten

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

How to do this?

Tao Te Ching Chapter

I have three treasures
I hold on to them and protect them
The first is called compassion
The second is called conservation
The third is called not daring to be ahead in the world
Compassionate, thus able to have courage
Conserving, thus able to reach widely
Not daring to be ahead in the world
Thus able to assume leadership

Today, here in Athens I will be meditating for peace with others at an event. Where ever you are, who ever you are, for a moment, bring love into your heart and seek the peace. This is the true self, this is the true path. Will you join us?
TDT
108 sun saluations yoga

Taiji – What its about (at least for the Taoist)

night sky over lake
Its a cool, early autumn evening in the rolling hills of North Georgia. A perfect night for Taiji. The earth/sky energy is moving into a Yin state and the air is cooling. My body and energy are in a strong yang state. The energy wants to play, it yearns to flow. I sneak outside and work the magic under the stars. I feel at once light and powerful. My body guides itself through the forms. The energy is circulating with the occasional Peng-zap from foot to hand. My metabolism is so strong working the energy that I am hot to the touch. I am getting wet with perspiration, As I look over my arm in single whip the steam rises off of my right arm. As I pause between ‘push the mountain and “brush knee” I bring the energy back in a tight circularity between my hands with open and closing hands. I shiver as the energy ripples up my spine and blooms in the center of my head. At once the world comes into perfect clarity and I at one with the Tao. This body is nearly 60 years old, yet in the moment I feel 30. To capture the spirit and martial energy, one must become one with the Tao. This is Taiji.

“The One Qi is Taiji, and Taiji is the one Qi. (Sun Lu Tang).

My friends if you can walk this path, you will experience the truly extraordinary.
TDT

Conservation. Excerpt from Chapter 27 of the The Dixie Taoist Handbook

august moon

“I have three treasures
I hold on to them and protect them
The first is called compassion
The second is called conservation”
excerpt from Tao Te Ching Chap 67

The Second Treasure Conservation 9, 23, 50,

Tao Te Ching Chapter 59
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

Conservation is a very powerful virtue in several respects. In the text above the old sage is sharing the wisdom that in controlling our desire and ego tendencies can we keep our alignment with the Tao (source). Through conservation, the preservation of this “divine” connection we strengthen our connection by following the virtuous path. When we can hold this connection the ancient (Lao Tzu) tell us that when we become at one with virtue,

“there is nothing we cannot overcome”

.

That is a pretty dramatic statement. So if this is true, then the Tao cultivator can overcome anything by controlling the ego and staying on the path of virtue and wisdom.
And then it gets even better.

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

By staying on this path, “one’s limits are unknown”. When we possess sovereignty (control over ego) “one can be everlasting”
Thus this is the secret to long abundant and extraordinary lives. This is how the Tao cultivator creates and controls destiny. This is authentic power.