Will Power & Self-Discipline

Woman stretching at gym.

The Strategy: Work on your ‘self’ first. Cultivate will-power and self-control to be able to achieve your goals with less striving and failure.

“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…” Excerpt from Chapter 59

Every New Years Day in the United States, millions of people set up personal goals that are sometimes called “resolutions”. The premise seems to be; its a new year so it is a time for a new me. For many reasons, they become motivated for a change in behavior. The change in behavior has a wide range. The behavioral change can be starting something or stopping something. Sometimes, maybe anytime, we fail to achieve those goals and by springtime, we have lost the motivation.

Harmony is the foundation for good karma. The western mind can understand Karma as the law of cause and effect will manifest through your choices. Will-power of the true-self will seek harmony through moderation and right thinking. In this way, you can reach your goals and realize the success of your new year resolutions. With proper motivation, and the execution of true will power you can reach your goals. The wisdom is to work on your ‘self’ first, to achieve sovereignty, and goal success will happen without as much striving or failure.

The realization that we must change our path when it is leading us away from harmony comes from the inner nature of the true-self. We have those moments where we admit to ourselves that we need to change and resolve to do so, hence the new years’ resolutions. In those moments where we are contemplating our destiny as the true-self, we can make some choices to change our ways.

So how do we continue working towards our self-improvement goals even when we no longer feel motivated? It takes will power.

Will-power is cultivated through self-control and self-discipline. Sovereignty and will power are the mental states where we consciously choose to follow the higher path. In previous chapters, we discussed at length how to cultivate self-control and self-discipline.

Without will power, you have a much more likely chance of not succeeding in realizing those self-improvement goals. Will power is that nature that will keep you on the path even and especially when you feel like giving up.

There are those difficult moments where the choice of staying on the path is right before you. Do you maintain or do you cave in? It becomes a battle of will between true-self and ego. Which aspect will become sovereign?

How do you do this? You must transcend the ego and take over the management of your emotional life. This is done through a self-awareness and the discipline of meditation and mindfulness. This is working on the self first. With Will-power, self-control, and self-discipline you can better avoid the poor choices that lead to distraction and failure. This is sovereignty.

Sovereignty takes over management of intention from the willful ego. Ego seeks to fulfill desire. The true self seeks to implement virtue and wisdom. The path of desire has many traps to prevent you from achieving a true success. Hidden intentions or imprinted intentions can operate in the background and control how you navigate down your path. So it is important to practice meditation and mindfulness to stay strong in your calm abiding nature. Insight meditation (self-reflection) can help you uncover hidden or subconscious intentions that can erode your will-power. This is part of “self-discovery” or the sacred path set out in chapter one.

Even the intention of the goal itself should be examined. When you are self-aware, you can examine the what and why of the goal. An important question to ask is if the goal is just a means of seeking happiness and fulfillment through material gain? Is this just more “self-indulgence1 (ego indulgence).

It is my conjecture that you should first seek to find and know your true path. That you should be living your life with your higher purpose. Your goals should be aligned with your higher purpose that is one of virtue and in the service of others. Be aware of ego goals that are vain, petty and non-spiritual. Rather than seeking fame and fortune, seek to share your true gifts with others.

When you find your true path and realize those worthy goals, then begin the hard work of cultivating the true-self.2 Become the sovereign, whose will-power will accomplish worthy achievement through self-discipline and self-control. By working on the self to be in spiritual harmony, the goal you seek, the goals you achieve will be done without striving. This is accomplishing more by doing less. This is a principle of Wu Wei3. This is being Sovereign.

This is a chapter from the upcoming book “Sovereignty”. From section three; Tao Strategies.

1See the section on the “self”.

2See The Dixie Taoist Volume One: How To Find Your True Path

3See the chapter on Wu Wei

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Listening

I opened a fortune cookie the other day. The fortune inside said “you can hear a lot just by listening”

A long time ago I heard a story about listening. The story goes that during his presidency, Franklin Roosevelt noted that few people were paying attention to what he said. To see how true it was, he decided to test his theory out during a white house gathering. As he greeted each person, he would say”I murdered my grandmother this morning.” Not hearing what he said most people just smiled, nodded and gave a courteous response such as “how nice” and “good for you”. Finally, he got a response when the Bolivian Ambassador responded with “Well she must have deserved it”.

To Listen; is to be present and give one’s attention to perception1

Communication Lets begin with the obvious.When we talk, we are not listening. Even when someone else is talking, we may not be listening.Even if you are hearing you may not be listening. On a deeper level, the listening is done with the mind, and hopefully, consciousness paying attention. You are looking at someone while they are telling something they feel is hugely compelling, only your mind is buried deep within your mind stream2. When something wakes you up and you pay attention outward, you realized that you haven’t heard a word of what was said because your attention was somewhere “upstream”.

Listening goes deeper than that. This chapter is about cultivating the skill to pay attention to what you hear. Or deeper yet, it is to pay attention to what you perceive3. It’s not just sound wave in the form of another person’s voice. It is “hearing” what the consciousness behind the words is conveying to you.

Intuition. Listening is a complement of Intuition. Deep listening leads to intuition. When you listen, you perceive. What you perceive, you can observe. The product of what you is what you hear. That is unless your attention is deeply in mindstreaming.

The anecdote to this is to be present and mindful. Being able to stay focused on hearing, listening and experiencing what you perceive is transforming.

Being able to stay focused and to listen requires not thinking at the same time. Recall what was discussed in the chapter on emptiness about it having functionality. Emptiness gives function to listening. Being empty in order to receive.The mind is still so it can observe. You cannot listen while you are thinking.

Contrary to how this may sound, this is the highest form of waking consciousness. Note the following words that are listed at the beginning of this chapter.

The function of the ear ends with hearing,
that of the mind, with symbols or ideas.
But the spirit is an emptiness ready to receive all things.

Excerpt from the Chuang Tzu Chapter 4

As I have mentioned many times in this and other books, the ability to wake up from mindstream and pay attention, hold focus is a spiritual ability cultivated through meditation. It is applied over and over in your waking life through continuously becoming mindful.

You are listening. Your mind drifts. Your consciousness realizes that your focus drifted and you refocus back to observing/listening (perceive/to pay attention). Listening with focused attention is a skill. When you practice it the same person enough, they will tell you that you are a good listener. The people in your life will regard you more favorably. They will also notice if you miss a lot because your mind is busy while they are talking to you. When you present some deep nuance that only you understand, then they will tell you that you ”think too much”.

So this focused attention is to be applied often but in a balanced way. The is a certain harmony that you must achieve where you observe/listen to each moment along with the need to think about what you are doing. It is best if you approach this with moderation. Just practice gently, giving yourself the rest of your life to cultivate it.

While you are reading this, notice how the “voice” will comment. Or notice how your mind will drift off when you perceive some interesting concept. Your eyes and mind will still be processing the material, yet the attention off in mindstream. Then you wake up and have to go back and reread the previous sentence. Sometimes the content can be so complex that it can provoke thinking, and you have to reread over a of bunch times. So stop right here. Raise your head up and think about this.

Spirit to spirit. If you did it, and now you are back. You went from listening to distraction, and now you are back listening. Interestingly, the information in my mind right now is taking a quantum leap and traveling through time and space. It is being perceived by your consciousness in some future date and in some other location. From my spirit essence to yours in the now continuum. Each spirit and mind still yet connected. Perhaps listening is a quantum event. This is the power of being present in the “now”. Such is the power of listening.

The final point is this; when you are present and still (out of mindstream), you are in the Tao. This is the Tao connection. When you listening and at one with the Tao, you are in the highest state of being. Your potential (what you are capable of) becomes unlimited when unified with the Tao. It is easier said than done. Yet you can transform your life with even the smallest connection. You connect every time you become still and listen. Listen with constancy4

The sovereign cultivates the ability of returning to the Tao and listening. With a bit of work, you can gain the ability listen to your own thoughts with a sense of detachment. Within your true nature is wisdom. Being able to remove your attention from ego mindstreaming and know your wisdom is a very effective skill. Work at it. Become a good listener.

1This definition was a composite from several sources.

2Mind stream, or mindstreaming is an ancient spiritual concept defined as the “moment to moment continuum. The focus of your consciousness is often deeply concentrated in thought. A type of ongoing distraction creating a loss of presence.

3 to perceive is the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. Or a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression

4See the Chapter on “constancy”. – returning to one’s true nature

Emptiness

The perfect man is like a mirror; it does not move with things, nor does it anticipate them; it receives but does not retain them. Therefore he is able to deal with things, but he is not affected by them.”

excerpt from Chuang Tzu (Chapter 7)1

Why Emptiness? At first look, you may wonder how the concept of emptiness can have any value. After all, by definition, it can be defined as nothingness. The wise sovereign looks beyond what may seem obvious to seek other perspectives. The concepts of non-absolute, inevitable change, and seeking multiple perspectives will give you a starting point.

If it is true that emptiness is not absolute, then there must be something more to emptiness. Empty and nothing are sometimes subjective and are relevant to the observer. Accepting that even emptiness is not absolute will give you a reason to look deeper. If at this point your are arguing in your mind about this, try relaxing your tight grip on that perspective and just see where it goes. A different point of view or perspective is not necessarily a threat, right?

Consider the void of outer space. For so long humanity has considered the nothingness between planetary bodies to be completely empty of anything. Perhaps this is because there was little to perceive through visual means. But when scientists use other instruments or devices to scan the void of space they find a lot of other phenomena going on. The human eye can only see light-energy in one area of its’ spectrum. So even though it may at first appear to be empty, with help we can see something where there appears to be nothing.

While it is not absolutely known what existed before the big bang, many theorize that there was only a void. From this void came the universe in a creative bang that is still in the creative process. From nothingness came everything. From the smallest cluster of wave packets to the largest galaxies, the expanding universe began from emptiness.

The stillness in stillness is not the real stillness.

Only the stillness in movement,

can the spiritual rhythm appear which pervades heaven and earth.

The Caigentan (Ts’ai-ken t’an)2

Another way to view emptiness is in the concept of stillness. Stillness of the mind as a state of being, is to be empty of the incessant mind-stream of thinking. Within the stillness, that gap between the episodes of thinking, you can gain insight. Stillness is the residence of the spiritual self.

Consider, who it is observing the mind? That alone should give you pause. This is the object of meditation. Realization of that which observes. It is pure consciousness. This is the true self, your spiritual core as a living being. Observing and realizing what is crossing over the mind, yet free from it, is the realization of true self-awareness. Sitting in stillness you return to calm abiding (meditative state).

Creative potential remains unseen in emptiness or where there seems to be nothing. Then some motive initiates the spark that unleashes change. As the sovereign, the ruler of your mind-kingdom, you hold the potential for creation. Consciousness, or spirit, observes and gives birth to thought. Thought becomes creative action that will manifest in the outer or external world. Consciousness is the stillness before thought. Each of us has enormous potential waiting in the stillness. When thinking arises it creates the reality we dwell in. When your spirit becomes sovereign over the rest of the external mind, (the ego), then choices are coordinated from a deeper intention. Choices can be aligned with wisdom to create a better world.

Emptiness gives function to form

Thirty spokes join in one hub

in its emptiness is the function of a vehicle

Mix clay to create a container

In its emptiness there is the function of a container

Cut open doors and windows to create a room

In its emptiness, there is the function of a room

Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit

That which is empty is used to create functionality

Chapter 11 Tao Te Ching

wagon-wheel

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In chapter 11, Lao Tzu shares the concept that emptiness gives functionality to that which is solid.

  • It is the hole in the wagon wheel hub that allows an axle to be placed.
  • A coffee mug that is a solid cylinder has no space for coffee.
  • A room with no doors or windows has little function without a means to enter and exit. It also would have no way for air and light to enter. If a room were solid, there would be no place to dwell and thus have no relevant function.

From an abstract perspective, you may consider that an absolute and solid conviction about any subject leaves little room for possibility and discovery. When we can empty our minds from the ego and an entrenched perspective we allow:

  • Stillness (pure consciousness) to create space for spiritual insight.
  • Spiritual insight (intuition) to create space for possibility
  • Possibility to create space for hope
  • Hope to give rise to courage and willpower

Consider how the insight of emptiness overlaps with the first four steps listed in the previous chapters.

Sacred Journey

Your sacred journey “begins beneath your feet.” If you are without hope or are too bound up within the ego frame of perspective you may never take the first step. When open to possibility, hope will empower you to begin your journey of self-exploration.

The Way

If you are open-minded and empty of entrenched beliefs and views you allow yourself to consider the ancient wisdom of the Tao. This philosophical wisdom has matured over 4500 years and is as relevant today as it was back then.

Change

When you step back from absolutism you give function to potential by opening the door to possibility. Extremism is a room with no doors and windows which may only function as a mental-emotional prison cell. Change is the only absolute and is the creative force of nature.

Yin/Yang

Emptiness gave birth to the “myriad of things”3 that we can observe as the universe. Free of absolutism, you can accept impermanence and change is the process of creation. The complementary relationship between yin and yang can also be seen in another complementary relationship of empty becoming less empty, or nothing becoming something.

Karma

Cause and effect is a law of nature for both the internal and external aspect of reality. Your choices are seeds planted in the present moment that grows into a destiny realized in a later now. Thoughts become action through choice. Choice initiates change which results in your destiny. When you can be empty of a fixed perspective, you become open to a possibility. Realization of what is possible, you can allow inspiration and hope to enter your empty mind and guide you out of the prison of suffering.

Emptiness As A Source

Emptiness is the source by which possibility becomes reality through choice. Good choices create a more successful destiny. Emptiness, possibility, hope, inspiration, and intuition reveal the door to your mental prison and give you the courage to walk out of the darkness and into the light.

Mindfulness meditation is a way of cultivating the ability to observe what is on your mind. When you learn how to observe without judgment and reaction you can gain insight.

Insight meditation is a concentrated observation or reflecting on your life and being able to view it through multiple perspectives. This is a kind of openness or emptiness that can free a person from the prison of mental activity.

In cultivating sovereignty, you will work towards understanding and the implementation of the concept of emptiness as a source. Hopefully, by now, you realize the necessity of meditation as the awakening process from the ego-mind into pure being and spiritual awareness.

Contemplate the insight of how emptiness can give function to substance (form) for both the internal and the external. Being the sovereign of your mental kingdom (your mind), it becomes possible to make better choices that create your life. In stillness, the sovereign can be open and able to provide the space for hope, possibility, inspiration, intuition, and change.

1Paraphrase from several translations of the Chuang-tzu

2Ts’ai-ken t’an: a treatise written in the late 1500’s by Ming Dynasty philosopher Hong_Zicheng. A compiliation of teachings from Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

3“myriad of things” This phrase is used in various chapters of the Tao Te Ching and means “all things” or “all under creation” (everything)

A Study Of Taiji and A Study Of Longevity

Hi everyone, and Happy New Year.

I am adding two new categories to the blog site; they are Taiji and Longevity.

Taiji also known as Tai Chi was founded by the legendary Chinese immortal Zhang Sanfeng (1247 – 1417). A Taoist priest Zhang is credited with founding this dynamic system of attaining the Tao. As the first Taiji Master, he is considered an enlightened immortal, sage, Master (if not founder) of Internal Kung Fu.

As you can see his lifespan stretched 170 years. At age 170 it said that he ascended into the Tao. So attaining the Tao has the important benefit of longevity. Since then there have been other “immortals” who have been documented as living even longer.

One such person is the renown  Li Ching Yuen, a Qigong Master who is thought to also have studied martial arts. Li Ching Yuen for slide

It is my intention to share my amazing discoveries of what Taoist Taiji can do for health and longevity. This blog is a study of these three elements of Tao cultivation.

What I will tell you will sometimes be hard to believe. However, your skepticism is welcome. You can read my story here. Years later I am getting stronger even though I am getting older. For someone who is devoted to “the way”, Tao cultivation and Taiji is a game changer. My duty is to share my experience and what I have learned so you too can live a much longer, healthier, fun, energetic, interesting and productive life of well-being.

These books that I have written and the ones I intend to write are steps along the path. You can take these steps with me. Free Your Self was my first book. It is meant to help cultivate self-awareness (realization of

“Free Your Self” was my first book. It is meant to help cultivate self-awareness (realization of true self)

The Dixie Taoist Handbook – How To Find Your True Path” [Volume 1]is my second book which is step by step guide to waking up, finding your true path and living your true purpose.

“The Dixie Taoist Handbook – Sovereignty” [Volume 2] is being written with an anticipated release summer of 2017. This book on Sovereignty is a how-to on taking your Tao cultivation to a much higher level ofattainment. Sovereignty is a discipline and way of life. It is an investment that pays off huge dividends such as longevity and wisdom.

Future books; A Study of Taiji, and “A study of Longevity” will share with you how to cultivate the crazy and wonderful power of Qi and development the “Seed Of Elixer” which was the alchemy that the immortals cultivated living a long, long time. But first steps first and that is working on the ‘self’.

More to come…

sam