Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Verse 24

If you stand on tiptoe, you cannot stand firmly.

If you take long steps, you cannot walk far.

Showing off does not reveal enlightenment.

Boasting will not produce accomplishment.

He who is self-righteous is not respected

He who brags will not endure.

All these ways of acting are loathsome, distasteful.

They are unnecessary excesses.

They are like a pain in the stomach,

a tumor in the body

when walking the path of the Tao,

this is the very stuff that must be

uprooted, thrown out, and left behind.

Lao-tzu

The 24th verse is about living without excess, Lao-tzu advises us to pull and discard our excess weeds. These weeds are ego-driven desires of self-importance. Our desire to feel important and our desires to brag and be boastful of our accomplishments are allowing our ego to drive us instead of the all giving Tao. It is this desire which keeps us away from walking the path of the Tao. The Tao teaches us that inner approval is healthy, but it is these mind frames of thinking you are better than anyone else which is destructive. These desires for self-importance are like a cancer on our souls. Our ego is our greatest enemy on our journey to discover the Way.

The verse starts with an analogy of standing on our tip toes. I believe this represents us trying to be greater than we are. If we try to fill ourselves with self-importance we will not be able to stand firmly. Lao-tzu’s advice is to stop trying to be what we are not, and instead live as we are. We should be humble in our daily affairs, and be content with who we are at all times. Everyday we should show gratitude for everything we have, and everything we are. Showing daily gratitude centers us and keeps us on the path of the Way. Practice focusing on what you have, and not what you want, then show gratitude for everything the Tao has given you. In the part about taking long steps; I think this advises us to live in the moment and not try so hard to get were going. Instead of focusing on our end goal we should be humble and enjoy the process.

The next part of this verse is advising us to not brag or be boastful. Showing off does not show enlightenment. Bragging about our accomplishments only make us look like fools. In the second verse of the Tao Te Ching it says “when the work is done, it is forgotten. That is why it lasts forever,” or in the ninth verse it says “retire when the work is done; this is the way to heaven.” These are all examples of working without bragging or taking credit for your hard work. It is nice to be acknowledged, but this should not be our primary goal. I see my faults in this part of the verse. I have written posts on my frustration with my writing career progress. I want to have five thousand visitors a day, and in my mind this would be an accomplishment worthy of bragging. In my mind I need to be successful immediately, or I am disappointed. I am standing on my tip toes and taking long steps. I need to just sit back and allow my writing career to happen.

I am most interested in the line “He who is self-righteous is not respected.” The definition of self-righteous is “a feeling of smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.” This is an interesting line in that the Tao condemns being holier than thou in our religious affairs. Unlike Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism do not send its followers out on missionary trips to spread the word. They do not pretend to be superior to others who believe differently. This is why you have never seen an inquisition in these faiths. The Tao does not judge you based on if you believe in the Way or not. It will still provide you with everything you need. I think this lesson is far different from some other religions out there, which is why I have found a spiritual home in this religion.

Instead of letting our ego drive us with the desire to boast, or only work for the accolades of a good job, we should instead be grateful for everything the Tao has given us. The Tao does not seek acknowledgement for all it does for us. The Tao does not come to us saying “look what I have done for you, now what will you do for me.” This is a lesson the Tao tries to teach us by example. We should not see ourselves as important or special for the gifts the Tao has given us. We should appreciate her, and her unselfish giving. The Tao teaches us to be a giver rather than a taker, we should be providing for others and ask nothing in return. The Tao always exists in a state of unlimited giving, and teaches us to do the same. If we are able to mimic this sense of gratitude and giving we will be closer to walking the path of the Way.

“By returning to radical humility and seeing the greatness within everyone you’ve than cleared your life of excessive self-importance…and this is the way of the Tao.”

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Over the last couple weeks I have been confronted with my own mortality. This has become a crippling fear which is overwhelming me. It all started from reading my Sports Illustrated. In the beginning they have these small little blurbs, and I begun to notice there were many people who were dying of cancer at a relatively young age. I am not talking as young as say twenty-five; I am saying these guys were dropping dead in their fifties or sixties. This concept has been eating away at me. I think that I may only have twenty to thirty years left to live, and my first thirty-one years have gone by in a heart beat. I smoke and chew so my time may be even sooner than that. So this has been bothering me, but what really set me off was a response I received from one of my Facebook status messages. It was from my cousin reminiscing about our youth. I sat back and realized this time, and it seemed like just yesterday. Yuk! I am festering with fear right at this very moment.

This comment has been hanging over my head like a dark rain cloud. I remember going to see my grandparents over the weekend with my dad. Their place is as clear in my mind as if I just saw it yesterday. I remember catching salamanders and snakes, and exploring their gigantic garage, which seemed to have a little bit of everything in it. I remember picking raspberries and exploring the massive woods around their property. These memories are so fresh in my mind yet were over twenty years ago. In sitting here I can bring up emotions and feelings I had during this time, and the thought I will never experience them again terrifies me. I will never again know and feel what it is like to be six or even thirteen years old. I am stuck in the age that I am in, and at times I feel like a prisoner inside of myself.

It is amazing how fast time goes, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Tomorrow will come regardless if we want it to or not. One guarantee in life is every year you are moving closer to death. I end up focusing on this very fact and it blinds me from seeing today. There will never be another day like today. It will slip away from you if you do not siege the present moment. If I am unable to be completely present in what is going on right at this moment then I am cheating myself out of yet another day. If I continue to fear my own mortality before I know it I will soon be confronted with it. The last thing I want is to look back during my dying breath and realize I lost so much time worrying about this very moment.

I really do not want to die, I mean who does. There are times when life is at its worst when I dream of being released from my torture, but these times have grown to be few and far between. I am so afraid of the concept of never having another thought. I fear being lowered into the ground and in time forgotten. When you think of the millions upon millions who have died in the last twenty years how many of them do you think are truly remembered? I know I never think of my great grandparents and I have zero memories of their lives. They have been forgotten and yet life still moves on. Time does not care about anything and is as cruel as the devil himself. It can never be conquered. Even the mightiest armies will fall to father time, if this is so then what chance do I have?

Verse 23

To talk little is natural:

Fierce winds do not blow all morning;

a downpour of rain does not last all day.

Who does this? Heaven and earth.

But these are exaggerated, forced effects,

and that is why they cannot be sustained.

If heaven and earth cannot sustain a forced action,

how much less is man able to do?

Those who follow the Way

become one with the Way.

Those who follow goodness

Become one with goodness.

Those who stray from the Way and goodness

become one with failure.

If you conform to the Way

its powers flow through you.

Your actions become those of nature,

your ways those of heaven.

Open yourself to the Tao

and trust your natural responses…

Then everything will fall into place.

Lao-tzu

I have been reading this verse over and over again and doing nothing but spinning my wheels. I just kept trying to find the meaning and how to articulate it. Whenever I am stuck in life, or in my journey through the Tao I will consult my wife. If I read her a verse she immediately can point out the meaning as if she has known this stuff her entire life. My wife and my son are the two most enlightened Taoist I have ever known, and neither are Taoists. The amazing thing is how quick she picks up the meanings and does a wonderful job articulating that meaning to me. I am being honest with you when I say she should really be writing these things not me. When I read it to her she looked at me funny and said “how do you not get it?” She went on to say that this verse is a great lesson to be learned by me. After a brief talk my eyes were opened to a few things.

When I looked into the analogy of storms not lasting forever I think the message is no matter how hard life gets it is but a passing storm. When it talks about heaven and earth not being able to sustain a forced action I translated that to mean if Mother Nature cannot sustain a storm that lasts a lifetime, than neither can any of our troubles last forever. This is a comforting statement for me considering I have a penchant for dealing with dark storms. When my darkness comes my mantra I say over and over in my head is “this to shall pass.” I think this is part of what the message Lao-tzu was trying to get across.

My wife saw a different translation. She said that heaven and earth not being able to sustain a forced action (storm) means that man cannot sustain a forced life. In this she explained trying to force things that should just be let go and allowed to flow. She brings up my OCD and how because of my compulsions I try to force things to be a certain way and control my surroundings to ease my anxiety. She said that this type of lifestyle cannot be sustained because things are being forced, being forced is not natural and will eventually wear you and the world around you down, just as if it were to storm and blow fiercely for days on end, nothing could sustain that.. This can also be true in the sense of trying to always be in charge, always be right and always in control. These types of behaviors cannot last forever and indeed go against the very laws of nature.

Lao-tzu urges us to follow the Way and to follow goodness. How true is it that those who follow goodness become goodness!! Its simple, you are what you do, you follow negativity, negative will come, you are disrespectful, disrespect will come to you, you are self-centered, and you will be all by yourself. Life will always give back what you give to it. Living as nature does is how we are supposed to live. When troubles come bend not break, for after the storm you will be standing tall once again. Nature moves along naturally nothing is forced every action is as it is supposed to be. Every reaction is in line with the Way. I think conforming to the Way is probably one of the hardest steps. First when I see the word conform or what have you I immediately feel the urge to do the complete opposite. If we live as nature does, if we flow like a river, listen more and talk less the power of the Way flows through us and with us. When our actions are one with nature we are living a Tao centered life, and our ways transform into the ways of heaven.

I look at a current conundrum I am in. I had this great idea for a gift for my wife. My wife sacrifices everyday for our family and I cannot remember the last time she thought about her self first. So I had this great gift idea, but the problem comes where we may not have the money to get it. She chose to get gifts for others instead of the gift for herself. I get this, but I really think she deserves this gift and it is perfect in my mind. My ego wants to step in and control the situation and say “this is what we are going to do, okay great let’s get it done.” This forceful approach has done nothing but cause problems. I need to step back take a deep breath and just allow whatever was meant to happen will happen. If we have the money then the gift will come if we don’t then it wont. I need to be at peace with this situation regardless of the outcome, and let the natural order just happen. I am happy to report that I was able to get her gift and she loved it. Amazing how the Tao works.

If we are living a Tao centered life trusting our natural actions and reaction without ego-driven thought and actions then we are at one with nature. If we are one with nature and ultimately the Tao then everything will always fall into place. This is by far the most comforting piece for me. The knowledge that if I trust in a power greater than myself and follow the Taos lessons then everything will always fall into the exact place it is supposed to be.

I can remember as a child getting excited when it snowed. I would play outside building snow forts, constructing massive snowmen, and going sledding on any hill I could find. The kids in the neighborhood would have snow ball fights so the forts we built came in handy. I also remember playing pick-up games of football and it always made it more fun playing in the snow. The cold didn’t bother me then like it does now, because I was being so active. I loved when it snowed so much they had to cancel school. Those were the good old days before I wised up to the shityness winter brings. I had no concept about the horrors of driving to and from work. I am in a consistent panic worrying about the next time I need to drive. It causes all my other MI symptoms to flair up and I easily enter into a psychosis. The drive in this morning was horrible and I am freaking out about having to drive home. To me driving in this weather is playing Russian roulette with a car. I worry each time I head out to drive that this moment may just be my last.

This consistent flow of anxiety and panic always comes in mid-November or after the first snow fall. I worry and I worry until I work myself up in a tisi. My mind is consistently bombarded with images of injury, or death. What fucks me up the most is the ice; this is the invisible killer. You cannot see it but you know it is there waiting for you to make a mistake and when you do BAM! Your dead thank you for playing. It rained this morning and has now turned to snow, this means that the water on the roads will turn into ice. I really just want to bring a cot to work and stay here until Friday. If I were to do this then I would only need to drive in this crap two times a week. I am not necessarily worried about me (although I am) I am more worried about the crazy drivers who think they are invincible. They drive with no cares in the world because they think their four wheel drive will save them from death. Agh I am just sitting here counting down the minutes until I have to drive again.

In the end winter is evil, and is Mother Nature’s way of trying to eradicate us. I think she was really mad when we created fire and housing so we didn’t freeze to death. I do not know why I still choose to live in Minnesota, considering how much I despise winter. I just want it to be over and in reality it is just starting. YUK

Listen here

With little cheer

We will all disappear

Within his inner ear

Dark barking deer

Show no fear

Wondering solar year

Gods appear

Earth like Pap smear

Bloody kings spear

His words sincere

His orders clear

Within one year

The judgement severe

The celestrial sphere

Will disappear

Poem from my upcoming book “Yin”

By: Tim Lundmark

Favor and disgrace seem alarming.

High status greatly afflicts your person.

Why are favor and disgrace alarming?

Seeking favor is degrading:

alarming when it is gotten,

alarming when it is lost.

Why does high status greatly afflict your person?

The reason we have a lot of trouble

is that we have selves.

If we had no selves,

what trouble would we have?

Man’s true self is eternal,

yet he thinks, I am this body and will soon die.

If we have no body, what calamities can we have?

One sees himself as everything

is fit to be guarding of the world.

One who loves himself as everyone

is fit to be teacher of the world

Lao-tzu

The thirteen verse of the Tao Te Ching is encouraging us to live with an independent mind. We need to be free from the positive and negative opinions of others, and allow yourself to be guided by your internal nature. In order for us to flow with the Tao and live within the natural order of the universe we need to nourish our individuality. If we make the assessments of others more important than our own we will afflicted.

Seeking others acceptance, praise, and a desire for higher status goes against the natural order of things. The Bible says we are given free will. The Tao teaches us a similar lesson in that the Tao does not interfere or force itself upon us. The Tao lets us work in our own way to produce results naturally. Whatever approval is due to us will come to us, any wealth or status will be in perfect alignment as long as we are flowing with the Tao. This is also true for any disapproval; it will come in perfect alignment with the universe. The more we try to go against the grain of the Tao; the greater chance of a splinter.

The Tao tells us that living for ourselves is not the way to go. In earlier verses we learned feeding into our ego and its desire for possessions and self-importance is destructive to living our lives with the Tao. If we are able to live without ego, and without selves or concern for status and praise than we should have no problem following and listening to our true selves, free from outside influences.

I have problems following this verse; due to my low self-esteem I rely on what others think of me to fuel my life. I need this praise to continue following and listening to my internal self. If I receive no praise I tend to let go of my true self and conform to a certain way of life to feel I am important. I am a slave to outside messages of praise, I allow others opinion of me or my writing to direct my life. If someone gives me disfavor it destroys my inner self and I work really hard to change their opinion of me. I am sometimes able to live the way of the Tao and allow my independent mind to flow freely. When I am able to achieve this I am filled with a greater sense of happiness.

I need to spend more time meditating and listening to what my inner self is passionate about and what my inner self feels about who I am, follow it. This will put me in harmony with the Tao and the universe. I want to become a teacher of this world.

The five colors blind the eye.

The five tones deafen the ear.

The five flavors dull the taste.

Racing and hunting madden the mind.

Precious things lead one astray.

Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.

He lets go of that and chooses this.

Lao-Tzu

Verse twelve of the Tao Te Ching encourages us to live with inner conviction, oftentimes we are guided by outer senses; ignoring our inner vision. This leads to a life of pleasure seeking with the material world. Lao-tzu says if we choose to seek the pleasures of our five senses, we will madden our mind. You will never achieve a state of peace when you seek the pleasures of the material world because it is never enough. You will always need more power, possessions, or greater wealth. We will wake up every morning seeking these pleasures and ignoring the beauty behind what lies beyond your outer senses. This will impede our growth as a person.

Lao-tzu says we should be guided by what we feel as opposed to what we see. Letting go of that and choosing this is hard in the busy consumer society we live in. Many of us are so consumed with our inner senses of stress; we are unable to enjoy life.

If we can let go of our stress, and choose peace; our depression and stress will decrease. The Eastern religions encourage us to live in the moment as observers allowing things to come and go, allowing our negative and positive energies to come and go. The true sages of the East prefer what is within, not what is without. The sage sees the silliness appearances; avoiding the lure of success and possessions. This frame of mind and faith leads the sage to enlightenment.   

We need to look beyond our senses; otherwise we lose touch with what lies beyond them. Inner conviction comes down to ones faith. I spend much of my religious energy trying to see a higher power through what has been created. In essence faith is the belief in something you cannot see, or even explain. I can’t seem to look beyond the world of appearances when it comes to religion. I do not let this lack of faith take away from the moral and ethical teachings of religions.

What do you think?

After my post yesterday on fallibilism; I started to contemplate on animal’s capability to make logical decisions, and compared them humans. I didn’t dwell on this theory until I received a comment from braonthree.wordpress.com. Her stance behind humans ability to make logical decisions and the philosophical doctrine of fallibilism; was any logic or reasoning by humans is fallible. She credits reason, memory, and emotion as examples for why humans are unable to obtain absolute truth. This comment brought my earlier theory to the forefront of my mind. My conclusion was animals have superior logic and reasoning skills. Animals possess these superior skills, because they do not make their decisions based off memory, emotion, and perceived objective and subjective facts.

 When lions are confronted by a pack of hyenas trying to steal their kill, they do not retreat based off the emotion of fear; this is likewise for the hyenas decision. The lions/hyenas are able to break down the situation, and make their decision based on logic. If they choose to retreat it is not due to emotions, it is their ability to know they are outnumbered. They understand the statistical odds of their survival, even if they are not aware of their capacity to break down complicated math formulas. If food is scarce and hunger kicks in, they are able to adjust their logic based on the probability of starvation if they do not stand and fight. These decisions are based off a finely tuned trial and error turned into instinct which is passed on to each generation, creating perfect logic.

 If we look at human beings fondness of war, death, and destruction; we discover humans are incapable of passing down our trial and error lessons. The sad part is we have history books reminding us of the futile efforts of such behavior, yet we are unable to learn from past mistakes. Ignoring these lessons from our past, is a result of emotions such as; greed, pride, anger, intolerance, and hate. Logically Hitler had to know the genocide of the Jews; because he was denied into art school didn’t make any sense. He had to know there was truly no difference between him and the ones he aimed to eliminate. Logically he had to know there was no way Germany had a realistic chance at taking over the world. To Hitler all these things were logical. The decisions he made were based off emotion which he rationalized into logic.

 Birds, fish, and various mammals do not migrate out of need; they do so out of necessity. Geese don’t migrate south for the winter because they feel like it. Geese know they will not survive the winter if they felt like sticking around. They make the logical choice and fly south. Salmon do not have an urge to swim to the same location every year to mate and lay their eggs; they do so to continue their species. Humpback whales do not migrate to Alaska because they want to visit; they go there so they can eat. You get the idea.

 Humans on the other hand choose to stick around in places which prove to be destructive to them. If we look at all the impoverished, war consumed, starving people in third world countries. Logically they must know their chances of survival are not great, yet they stick around. I understand some may feel they do not have a choice to leave, but realistically there is always a choice. If our ancestors migrated to greener pastures so can these people.

I am sure if I were to do conduct studies of animals; I would find fallibility in their instinctual logic. The examples I gave clearly show; animals think in a more logical manner than humans. I would love to engage in some philosophical discussions on this topic.

To keep on filling

is not as good as stopping.

Overfilled, the cupped hands drip.

Better stop short than fill to the brim.

Over sharpen the blade,

and the edge will soon blunt.

Amass a store of gold and jade,

and no one can protect it.

Claim wealth, titles, honor and pride,

and disaster will follow.

Retire when the work is done.

This is the way of heaven.

Loa-tzu

The 9th verse of the Tao Te Ching teaches us humility. Our society has created a society full of greed. The commercials we see on T.V. tell us we will find happiness drowning ourselves in possessions. Our society promotes status, and to seek approval in all our deeds. The tainted concept of the American Dream has transformed the people of this country to live an ego centered life. Living through your ego, takes us further away from a Tao centered life.

This ego driven mentality is a cancer responsible for our current economic situation. We have been driven ourselves deep in to dept, in order to keep up with the Joneses. The dream of owning your own home, has caused many families to lose their homes. The banks in this country were not only given billions of dollars in bailout funds; they also took over millions of homes. We have fallen for the great lie; if we live with ego, pride, and greed we would find happiness.

The creative force of the Tao is beautifully balanced in the principle of humility, mirror and listen to the great Tao. Know when you have filled your hands with too much water. Know when to stop sharpening your blade to avoid dullness. If you find wealth, do not hoard it to yourself; share to better humanity.

Seek the pleasures in what you’re doing, rather than how it will benefit you. Enjoy the means, not the end. Living humility knows when to stop, step back, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Center your life with the Tao, and dismiss your ego.

The supreme good is like water,

which nourishes all things without trying to.

It flows to low places loathed by all men.

Therefore, it is like the Tao.

Live in accordance with the nature of things.

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.

In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.

In speech, be true.

In ruling be just.

In action, watch the timing

No fight: No blame

One who lives in accordance with nature

does not go against the way of things.

He moves in harmony with the present moment,

always knowing the truth of just what to do.

Lao-tzu

The 8th verse is one of my many favorites of the Tao Te Ching. In meditation, with the goal of becoming centered I focus on the main theme of this verse; “living in the Tao is to flow as water flows.” Throughout my day, I find myself trying to control situations, or forcing situations. When I stew in this mind frame I fall in the trap of ego, and go away from the Tao. When I am un-centered in such a way, my life goes astray.

If you try to forcefully grab water; it will elude you. If you cup your hand you will be able to hold it. If you hold on to long it will lose its essence. These lessons about water hold true to our personal lives, and our ability to live with the Tao.

If we try to forcefully grab the people around us, they will be gone. If we try to hold on to tight, and deny our partners of their natural order; they grow complacent. If we allow those around us to flow free, they will meet our needs without being asked. If we think about water; it does without doing. When it rains, water does not intend to water the crops and provide plants with sustenance. Water does not try to quench our thirst, it just does. Water is the key ingredient to life, yet it does not try to be. Water is the purest form of doing without doing.

Water has no goal in mind of changing the many things it encounters, or the obstacles in its path, because of this water can literally move mountains. Water will flow, and within time it will erode the very mountains and valleys which contain it. Water flowing down the river, will not allow a rock or many rocks to stop it on its path. It goes around, over, or under. It still maintains its essence and strength, despite the obstacles it faces. When water flows past its obstacles it does not hold on to the experience it lets it go. These are valuable life lessons.

The lesson of water flowing downward, instead of upward is another valuable lesson. Water will flow down, even if it means it ends up in our sewers. Without the water in our sewers our waste would flood the streets. Water endures this place loathed by men, not because it has no choice; it just does. It does not attempt to take the highroad in order to evade this fate. We to can learn to not flow upward. We can live this in our personal and professional lives, as well as a lesson on how to treat your fellow-man.

In “The Hidden Messages in Water,” by Masaru Emoto, he explored the way this compound reacts. He discovered by respecting and loving it, we can change its crystallization process. He kept water in two separate containers with different words on each one. He discovered the containers that contained words such as “love,” “thank you,” or “your beautiful” the water became beautiful radiant crystals. The containers with words such as “you fool,” “Satan,” or “I will kill you” the crystals broke apart, were distorted, and seemed confused. This is yet another example of the significance of water. If we are made up of primarley water, and we are out of balance, or unloved the result is distortion and confusion.

Water shows us the cycle of the Tao, it comes from the Tao in the form of rain. In its existence on earth it lives the Tao lessons, by action with no action and giving without being asked. Finally it evaporates into the Tao only to fall again.

“Water of life am I, poured forth for thirsty men.”

Isaiah 44:3