Posts Tagged ‘Tao Te Ching’

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom

and it will be a hundred times better for everyone.

Throw away morality and justice

and the people will do the right thing.

Throw away industry and profit

and there will be no thieves

All of these things are outward forms alone;

They are not sufficient in themselves.

It is more important

to see the simplicity,

to realize one’s true nature,

to cast off selfishness

and temper desire.

Lao-tzu

This was a tough verse for me to fully grasp. I am aware that the concepts within this verse are much the same as in verse 18. If is as if I forgot the lessons learned and just spun my mental wheel because I was continually stuck on the first six lines. Lao-tzu was asking me to give up some of the very lessons the Tao has been teaching me. This was really throwing me off guard. I grew frustrated focusing all my energy on discovering the meaning of these six lines. I became blinded by them; causing me to ignore the remainder of this verse. The one aspect I was able to get and have always gotten is the benefit of throwing away industry and profit. In my opinion these two things have become a cancer on our society.

After meditating on this subject several times; I was urged to look at my interpretation of the 18th verse, then completely skip the first six lines all together and focus on the remainder of the verse. I went back and read my post on the 18th verse, and the next few times I read this verse; I was finally able to see some clarity. I focused on the main lesson I learned from the previous verse and focused on how the Tao tells us to not act virtuous but to be virtuous. Armed with this mode of thinking, the remainder of this verse seemed to fall into perspective. I was finally able to understand how these six lines played into the greater picture.

Starting out reading the seventh and eighth lines made the previous six lines make more sense. Lao-tzu was saying education, morality, and business are “outward forms” and “were not sufficient in themselves.” Lao-tzu was not asking me to throw these things out, he was saying I should not just seek out sainthood and act as how I view a saint should act. I should be saintly in all my endeavors. He was not renouncing the importance of wisdom; he was asking me to renounce my complex societal interpretation of what constitutes wisdom. He was not asking me to throw my morals and concept of justice out the window, he was asking me to not let these “laws” define how I act, but how I act should be in a manner that is inline with the Tao. He was asking me to see the simplicity of these things and tap into my true inner self, the self that is one with the Tao. If I am able to properly tap into and become one with this true inner self then I will go beyond these “outward forms.”

We need to find the true simplicity and our own inner nature; then we will become the saint we not only wanted to be, but one that is inline with the eternal Tao. Lao-tzu does not want us to be without wisdom. He warns us against seeking wisdom for wisdoms sake. Going to college, just because it is what we are suppose to do is not obtaining true wisdom. You may hold in your hand a fancy diploma from a top notch university, but this does not mean you automatically possess knowledge or wisdom. You may just end up possessing a $150K piece of paper. The simplest man living on the streets could very well be wiser, because he has within him discovered his true nature, and learned the valuable lesson of not complicating life.    

Perhaps in our search for wisdom, our desire for money, and our thought on societal obligations of morality we have some how complicated these simple things. A truth is a truth until you organize it, and then it becomes a lie. Why? Because the purpose of the organization begin to take precedence over that which it first attempted to keep in order. I think Lao-tzu is telling us we place too much attachment on these things. We hold these things in too high of regard in our lives. We blindly and selfishly desire to obtain these labels, until the labels become what we seek, not what is behind them. We begin to think these things define us as human beings; instead of being human beings that describe our labels.  

We all have a piece of God in each and every one of us, and becoming one with this part allows us to live everyday as being one with the Tao. This way of living will be “a hundred times greater for everyone” because we are living as a divine being. We look beyond these labels and become better than what we previously thought of. Our inner piece of God wants us to care for our fellow man. He wants us to obtain wisdom. He wants us to live with infinite kindness. He wants us to live within and become one with the eternal Tao. Now as for the industry and profit…well, I think he really wants us to throw them away.

Advertisements

When the greatness of the Tao is present,

action arises from one’s own heart.

When the greatness of the Tao is absent,

action comes from the rules

of “kindness and justice.”

If you need rules to be kind and just,

if you act virtuous,

this is a sure sign that virtue is absent.

Thus we see the great hypocrisy.

When kinship falls into discord,

piety and rites of devotion arise.

When the country falls into chaos,

official loyalists will appear;

patriotism is born.

Lao-tzu

To sum up the 18th verse of the “Tao Te Ching”, Lao-tzu is telling us we don’t need rules to be kind and just. We do not need society to dictate to us how to live from our hearts. If we are following the greatness of the Tao then we would be kind and love without doing it because society’s rules dictate us to. We would be kind and love because the Tao is part of us, so these behaviors come naturally.

I don’t think Lao-tzu is saying rules are necessarily bad, he is just saying it is unfortunate we even need them. If we were all one with the Tao life would be a utopia where there would be no war, murder, greed, stealing, or any other negative behavior. People would live peacefully and in harmony with the seasons of the Tao. There would be no need for money, possessions, insane working hours, and stress. We would get up, work when needed, laugh, play, relax, and enjoy the present moment everyday of our lives. I suppose the same thing could be said about the Bible or any other religious texts. If people were to follow the lessons of their faiths then life would be more peaceful. This does not include those who misread religious texts and turn it into a destructive force.

The most powerful and moving part about this verse is Lao-tzu asking us to not act virtuous but to be virtuous. Many of us act virtuous because it is how society or our faiths require us to be, not because it is one of our core values. I think the world we live in today has lost the true Way. In this process of societal deterioration there are fewer and fewer people who are virtuous not because they have to be; they do this because kindness and love are part of their core values. This is a tough verse for me to meditate on because it calls to the forefront my core values. I sit and try to look into my soul and identify exactly what they are. There are times I don’t like what I see, and there are times I try to fool myself. I do know since I have started studying the Tao Te Ching some of my core values have changed to more selfless ones.  

I think the society we live in today is a society of greed, self interest, and entitlement. We follow rules because of what is legal and illegal. We do not steal because it is illegal, but when society breaks down the human race shows its true values. When Katrina hit in New Orleans, society broke down and erupted into chaos. The people began looting and killing. They knew there was no one to stop them so they acted according to their values. Then there were the people who were in tune with the greatness of the Tao. They made every effort to do everything in their power to help their fellow man. I do not think New Orleans is an isolated incident or case study. I believe if society broke down nation wide, and our laws could no longer be enforced; you would see how your neighbor truly is. There would be those who put their ego above all else and there would be those who put the Tao above all else. Although this would be an interesting social experiment, I would not want to be around if this were to happen.

I am a bit lost in what Lao-tzu is saying in the last five lines of this verse. Is he saying when man fails to be kind to his fellow man then piety and rites of religion are created? Is he talking about other religions of his time being created to keep the people in line? When he talks about countries falling into chaos is he also speaking of what was happening in his time, like Revaluations in the Bible? Is he saying when the kindness and love of man breaks down first comes the need to control “religion” then comes government based on religious values? I am a bit lost here.

After Moses freed the people of Israel from Egypt; they sailed off into the sunset, embarking on a journey through the desert. They walked and walked and walked until they arrived at Mount Sinai. Moses took a trip up said mountain and was gone for forty days and forty nights. Upon his return he came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments carved into stone by Gods own finger. These Ten Commandments would become the list of religious and moral imperatives for those of the Jewish and Christian beliefs. The list is quaint yet eloquent. I have met people who believe the only laws God gave us were the Ten Commandments. This is not the case; God also gave us the “Book of the Covenant” which contains many more specific laws God gave us. I think the Ten Commandments became more popular among man because they were easier to remember and follow. The word “commandments” is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, and I do not feel they are just referring to the ten most popular ones. My father is the only person I have ever met who follows all of Gods laws; but I digress. My concern in relation to this post is how we consistently break the first Commandment. I am not talking about just those who believe differently, I am talking about those who follow the Christian and Catholic faiths.

The Ten Commandments are mentioned in Exodus 20:2-7 and in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. The first Commandment in Exodus 20:3-5 reads as follows:

3.Do not have any gods before me. 4. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5. You shall not bow down or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”

First I would like to point out the verbiage in this passage. It says no other ‘gods” before me. I take this as there being the possibility of other Gods out there. Which would make sense since the Tao gave birth to God, which means she could have given birth to multiple Gods. I was a bit offended by the lower case “g”.

To me this Commandment is pretty cut and dry. We should only worship and pray to one God. We should not construct any idols to worship. This is how God wanted us to be; but do we actually follow this? The answer to that question is a huge NO. Catholic churches pray and bow down to the Mother Mary, and many different Saints; where those of the Christian and Catholic faiths worship and pray to Jesus Christ. In every church I have ever been to (I didn’t start on fire after walking through the door) there was always a huge cross with Jesus perched upon it somewhere in the building. I don’t know about you, but to me this is worshiping a false idol. Not that Jesus was false, but that we have created and turned him into an idol we pray and worship to.

Matthew 15:9 “But in vein they do worship me, (Jesus) teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

I think what Jesus is saying is we would eventually get to a point where Christianity becomes more about Jesus than it does about God himself. There is a story somewhere in the Bible; I think in Exodus about two men who constructed this golden calf so they could use it as an alter to make sacrifices to God. Moses became angry and told them to step off of the golden calf because that constitutes worshiping false idols. I ask you this; what is the difference between this golden calf and all those Jesus, Saints, crosses, and Mother Mary’s statues in our churches? To me this sounds like worshiping false idols.

I tend to get confused a bit when reading the New Testament. I get the feeling that Jesus puts himself on an equal playing field as God, and insinuates he is one and the same. One of the many examples is in John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  This was taken from a conversation with a man where Jesus clearly says the commandments are his commandments. There are other examples throughout the New Testament that brings up this strange concept. I understand Jesus is the son of God, but is by no means a God himself. An opposite example is in Mark 12:29 “and Jesus answered him the first of all commandments is hear, O Israel the Lord our God is one Lord.”  Jesus is telling this man that there is only one Lord, yet throughout the Bible Jesus is referred to as the Lord. I think this confusing duality is put to bed nicely in Revelation 14:12 “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” When it comes to this conundrum I have been speaking about this chapter and verse point out that God is supreme and his commandments should be followed, and we must also have the faith of Jesus in our hearts. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe before Jesus was Jesus he was the Word. If this is true and not a part of my imagination than these types of duality comments would make more sense.

For those of you out there who are of the Christian belief I ask you to sit down and meditate about this post. Ask yourself if we have gotten to the point where we have created false idols. If the answer is yes than you must reassess your beliefs a bit. If the answer is no; then at least you got fifteen minutes of quite time.

With the greatest leader above them,

people barely know one exists.

Next comes one whom they love and praise.

Next comes one whom they fear.

Next comes one whom they despise and defy.

When a leader trusts no one,

no one trusts him.

The great leader speaks little.

He never speaks carelessly.

He works without self-interest

and leaves no trace.

When all is finished, the people say

“We did it ourselves.”

Lao-tzu

The 17th verse of the Tao Te Ching is focused on the different ways you can lead or govern people. I would like to take out leader and supplant it with parent while I highlight what I see as the meaning of this verse. We can all take away some valuable parenting lessons from studying this verse. The first step is relinquishing control for a moment and become an astute observer of how your kids are behaving, or how they go about making their daily decisions in life. Now ask yourself without interfering can I create an environment that will help my children act responsibly.

Lao-tzu advises making yourself as invisible as possible if you want to become a good parent or leader. Try allowing your children to act without feeling they need to impress you. If your child is confronted with a problem or a decision instead of giving them what you want them to do instead offer a slight suggestion or tell a brief story about what others have done to resolve a similar issue. Leave it as that; then leave it up to your children to utilize that suggestion or not. Leave them with the feeling that you trust them to come up with the right decision. Whatever decisions your child comes up with whether it is your slight suggestion, your parable of a similar situation, combination of the two, or something completely different. This will leave your child with the feeling “I fixed this on my own.” Over time this will lead to healthy decision making their entire lives.

The one part the Tao warns us against is the urge to rule with fear. If I as a parent use fear to govern my children then my children will only behave in a proper manner as long as the fear (myself) is present. This does nothing to account for how they will behave when I am not around. There was a study done on just this example. They studied two separate classrooms. The first was done on a teacher who was a strict disciplinarian; the other was done on a teacher who teaches with praise and freedom. When the teacher who was a disciplinarian left the classroom the students became chaotic. When the teacher who praised their students left; the kids behaved as if she was still in the room.

The most profound part for me of this verse is when Lao-tzu is speaking about great leaders/parents. He advises us to speak little, and never speak carelessly. I think as parents when we are frustrated with our children we can speak without thinking. Speaking carelessly can have a lasting negative affect on our children, whether we can see it or not. We should raise our children with love and without self-interest. As parents we should be in the background trusting and cultivating our children to make good decisions; not from our rules, but from the true inner goodness of our children.

Truly inspiring leaders and parents get results by their own examples. They encourage their children to do the right thing not by bragging about their perfections or their own personal view on how they should be. They create space for others to be inspired and to achieve their own greatness. The Taosist leader always leaves people to choose and pursue their own way of life, their own conception of good. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer said it best:

“I’ve always believed that parents are not for leaning upon, but rather exist to make leaning unnecessary.”

Become totally empty.

Let your heart be at peace.

Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings,

observe how endings become beginnings.

Things flourish, each by each,

only to return to the source…

To what is and what is to be.

To return to the root is to find peace.

To find peace is to fulfill one’s destiny.

To fulfill one’s destiny is to be constant.

To know the constant is called insight.

Not knowing this cycle

leads to eternal disaster.

Knowing the constant gives perspective.

This perspective is impartial.

Impartiality is the highest nobility;

the highest nobility is Divine.

Being Divine, you will be at one with the Tao.

Being at one with the Tao is eternal.

This way is everlasting,

not endangered by physical death.

Lao-tzu

 The sixteenth verse describes the constant of change, while recounting the cycles of life. The one thing we can always count on in life is change. Nothing ever remains the same. The seasons change, relationships begin then end, and all life will someday become death. All things come then they go. The Tao does not play favorites in this process The Tao will bring winter whether we are ready for it or not. The Tao will return all things to the source whether we believe in it or not. The Tao does not answer prayers, but provides you with everything you will ever need. When a door closes the Tao opens a new one. These examples all show change. Observing endings becoming beginnings is a great way to deal with death, the loss of a job, or the ending of a relationship. Understanding when one door closes another one opens is a great coping method and a divine way to live ones life.

Lao-tzu advises us to become empty and allow our hearts to be at peace amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings. I think Lao-tzu is trying to teach us coping methods for how to deal with the numerous changes we encounter in life. His 2,500 year old description of the “rush of worldly comings and goings” fits perfectly well with where we are today. Life is hectic and crazy, and many of us have issues with the consistent changes we encounter.

Many of us are afraid of change. We avoid it as much as we can. I am a creature of habit. When things change around me whether it be changing of routines, or the changing of the seasons I am unable to cope. I become either manic or slip into a depression. I need to learn to embrace this constant and allow myself to be in harmony with the Tao. I need to become an observer of the life around me and appreciate the cyclical nature of all things.

I suffer from a mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, because of this I have a harder time with things outside my routines. For example I need to park in the exact same spot when I go to therapy. If I am not able to park in my spot I become agitated and then flip into the mode of needing to control every aspect of my surroundings. I try to recreate how everything looked the last time I was there. I will try and arrange the chairs in the waiting room in perfect order. I begin to have severe anxiety and panic attacks. I tried this lesson on Tuesday when I went to therapy. I grabbed my prayer beads and counted my twenty seven progressions. With each deep breath I imagined myself becoming empty, and my heart being at peace. To my surprise this tactic worked. I still had anxiety, but it was reduced to just a minor bother.

In the sixteenth line of the sixteenth verse it say “impartiality is the highest nobility.” The seventeenth line says the highest nobility is divine. For some reason I am drawn to these two lines. I had an idea, but I was not 100% sure the exact meaning of “impartiality.” The definition I received was the ability to weigh both views and opinions equally. I look into myself, and realized this is a trait I am lacking in. When it comes to things affecting me personally I am unable to see others views and feelings as equally as my own. I am not sure I can even say I am impartial when it comes to looking outside my circle and see issues equally. I will continue to meditate on this to try and find the answer.

Every religion has an explanation for what happens to you when you die; Taoism is no exception. Taoism says everything will return to the source to what is and what is to be. Now whether this is Heaven, Nirvana, or reincarnation no one will know until we pass. I interpret this as reincarnation. My theory is your shen (what is) leaves your body, and returns to the center of everything in the womb of our mother the great Tao. When you leave this womb you return back to any planet and enter into a new life (what is to be.) As a former atheist I know this sounds crazy, but somehow seems right. I have always been afraid of death and the great unknown; but the sixteenth verse brings me peace. I may not know what the outcome is, nor will I attempt to understand it, because the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The constancy between life and death returns us to our root. I find peace in knowing I will return to the source of all things, this nameless placeless site of all of our origination.

I was outside yesterday and spotted a large bird soaring from above. I was debating over what kind of bird it was with one of my co-workers. He thought it was a hawk, but I disagreed at first. I thought it was an eagle, but I am only aware of two breeds of eagles living in Minnesota the bald and golden eagle. This bird seemed far too big to be a hawk or falcon, but we finally ended up agreeing on it as being a hawk. We just stood there staring in amazement. This bird was so majestic just gliding from above. There were times he seemed to hover in one place. As if we were not already lucky enough a bald eagle came into the picture and we were able to see both circling in the sky! The hawk was diving at the eagle trying to get it to stay out of its air space. I assumed by the way they were flying they were hunting.

I considered myself lucky to see something so beautiful. It is always fantastic to see an animal you do not normally see. I love birds so this sighting was extra special for me. My work is right by a lake so I have seen both bald eagles and golden eagles. The golden eagles I spotted about a month back, and was the first time I had ever seen that breed of eagle in my life. Birds bring me such a sense of serenity. I am not sure why; I just know I am mesmerized by them.

I am not so much into breeds you see everyday. I get extra excited spotting one which I consider rare. Not rare in extinction, but rare in my eyes. We put up a hummingbird feeder over the summer and I was skeptical over ever seeing one. I had only seen a hummingbird once in my life and I didn’t even get a good look at it. Sure enough hummingbirds started coming to this feeder everyday. The first time I saw one I was floored with joy. We were also lucky enough to have a colorful breed trying to get in our house everyday. They would fly into the window over and over again trying to get in. I figured they were canaries who got loose and were trying to find their way home. They didn’t quite look like canaries so I thought they may be a breed of finch. Between these two birds, hawks, falcons, and eagles I would say I had a fantastic summer.   

This beautiful site reminded me of the Tao. The hawk and eagle simply extended their wings took off and soared in the wind. They do not try to change the wind patterns; they just adapt, and accept this as it is. They are content with what the wind has to offer them. They never sit wishing for stronger gusts, they just use what is right in front of them. These birds are living essential lessons of the Tao. They are not even aware they are living in harmony with the Tao.

Perhaps this is the downfall of man. We have so many things in our lives which do nothing but complicate matters. We try so hard to fill our lives with things designed to bring us happiness, and we get lost in the hunt. We are raised to be guided by our ego always searching for more and living for what the future will bring rarely living in the moment. We have a hard time adapting to change. The eagle instinctually knows the only constant in life is change. We have a hard time adapting to the Tao’s changing breezes. These birds do not sit in fear over change they simply adapt.

I think the simple minds of animals keep them in constant harmony with the Tao and what is. We as humans are burdened with so much thought we lose touch with what is. The more I read and learn the lessons of the Tao; the more I realize if we were to all live her lessons on a daily basis we would have a perfect society. I can only hope one day I am able to live the lessons of the Tao everyday of my life. I can only hope I will be as knowledgeable of the Way like The Rambling Taoist. I have grown to admire him more than anyone I have ever known.

The ancient masters were profound and subtle.

Their wisdom was unfathomable.

There is no way to describe it.

One can only describe them vaguely by their appearance.

 Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.

Alert, like men aware of danger.

Courteous, like visiting guests.

Simple as uncarved wood.

Hollow like caves.

Yielding, like ice about to melt.

Amorphous, like muddy water.

 Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?

Who can remain still until the moment of action?

Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.

Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change

Lao-Tzu 

I was completely lost the first couple times I read this verse, for some reason the meaning escaped me. I was reading it but I was not listening to it. I was trying so hard to force myself to understand it, and then it hit me. I was doing the exact thing this verse teaches us not to do. The fifteenth verse of the Tao Te Ching describes the state of enlightenment the sages of old were able to obtain. Their perfect alignment with nature and the Tao were unfathomable to those they came in contact with. In reading this book I can agree with this statement. The states of mind the sages have obtained and lived described by Lao-tzu are beyond my comprehension. It amazes me they were able to stay consistent with such a perfect way of life.

They had immeasurable impact yet did this subtly without action. The sages consistently lived in the moment aware of their surroundings. A winter stream is dangerous because the ice is very thin. The sage is watchful for cracks or changes and is consistently aware of the dangers around them. The sages consistently showed love and courtesy to all those they came in contact with. The sage stays in a constant state of pu the uncarved wood. They held onto their childlike way of thinking.

I am not sure the meaning of “hollow as a cave.” Could this possibly be living with an open mind? Yielding like ice about to melt incorporates living with the flow of nature. Nothing in nature can be rushed. We need to let go and just allow things to happen without force. Our purpose is to stay in harmony with nature; as shapeless as muddy waters. We need to learn to sit quietly while the mud settles; this shows patience and highlights the importance of remaining still. Muddy waters are allowing themselves to settle. This is the perfect order, the mud does not ask to settle just as much as the ice does not ask to melt; it just does.

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalms 46:10. 

This lesson in nature applies to humans as well. We are unfolding in a divine order we can not possible understand any more than the ice understands it is melting. Much like nature all we require will be provided in divine order. We need to let go of our desires and demands be aware of the present moment and trust in the Tao. We should all make stillness a part of our day. Sit back and imagine all your dreams and things you “need” to accomplish. Take these dreams and desires and just let them go; allowing them to come to you. When we give up the desire to control every facet of our lives and become an observer we are mastering the way of the Tao. If we stop talking and taking, instead become a listener and receiver; we are able to receive the wisdom of the Tao.

  How can a man’s life keep its course,

If he will not let it flow?

Those who flow as life flows know

They need no other force:

They feel no wear, they feel no tear,

They need no mending, no repair.

“The Way of Life According to Lau-Tzu” By: Witter Brynner

Give up struggling against the current and trust in the wisdom of the Tao.

“A man should always consider how much he has more than he wants.”
Joseph Addison

How many of us are consumed with our wants? We live in a society fixated on the belief we can never have enough. No matter how hard we try we always judge our lives based on what we do not have as opposed to what we do have. If we were to just stop for a moment; be present in the moment and reflect upon what is right in front of our faces, we would see we are much more fortunate then we think we are. 

I have fallen to the evils of living strictly with consistently focusing on the things I didn’t have. I never had the right job, status, or pay I deserved. I never had a nice enough car. My house was not big enough. I never had the latest electronics, or enough clothes. The things I did have were never nice enough from what I really wanted. Living in this consistent desire to own more things infested my shen; preventing my chi from flowing properly through my body causing negative energy to rule supreme. This egocentric greed transformed me into a corporate scum bag. This transformation caused me to disconnect with my family, almost ruining my marriage, and my life. 

I was a big wig at an auto collection company. I made more money there than I made at my last two jobs combined. I scratched and clawed my way to the top not paying any attention to those I had to step on to get there. With every promotion I was never content; I always had my eye on the next promotion and never being content with my status. All day long I made my bonuses off of destroying people’s lives. One of my responsibilities was making the decision to repo peoples cars. When we would succeed the customer would call in crying begging for my mercy. I had no empathy; I was void of sympathy. I balked at the thought of assisting these people. I reveled in my perceived victory and told these customers “you should have paid your bill.”  I did not care that without their cars they would lose their jobs, and affect their family. I just cared about my bonus.

After awhile I was unable to keep my work attitude at work. It seeped into my personal life and I began having the same f u attitude at home. I was so stressed out from the hours and the toll it was having on my sub-conscience. I started to shut down and become just a big of dick at home as I was at work. Eventually it was so hard to bare I started using drugs to find relief so I could get through the day. My doctor prescribed me Ativan and Klonipin to ease my nerves. I started taking the prescribed dose, but over time I needed more and more. I then started taking pain killers everyday and everything snowballed out of control. I was finally unable to keep everything up in the air and hit the lowest bottom of my life.

I quit my job and stayed home for the summer to reconnect with my kids with my kids. I needed to have focused and dedicated time for not only them but my wife as well. When the summer was over I started to look for work. I took the first job I was offered at the nursing home where I currently work as a staffing coordinator. I took an enormous pay cut and moved to the very bottom of the totem pole with no chance of advancement, but something was telling me this was the right move. I had a hard time at first accepting where I was. I was bummed about the pay, and devastated by my lack of status and title. If you would have told me two years ago I thought this series of events was one of the best things to happen to me I would have laughed in your face.

As time passed I stopped putting such a high value on money. I no longer desired possessions, and for the first time I was grateful for the things I did have. There are four concepts the Tao has taught me so far.

  1. Stop desiring and just allow
  2. The Tao will provide me with everything I need at this moment
  3. Let go of my ego
  4. Live in the moment

I have yet to master these on a day to day basis, but for the most part it has become a way of life. The funny thing is all the possessions I always dreamed about have just come to me. I am living my dream of becoming a writer, and I founded the Bucket List Foundation. I achieved these things with action by no action. I think if we were all to take a step back and look at what we do have and find satisfaction with this our society may just become a better place.

That which cannot be seen is called invisible.

That which cannot be heard is called inaudible.

That which cannot be held is called intangible.

These three cannot be defined;

therefore, they are merged as one.

 

Each of these three is subtle for description.

By intuition you can see it,

hear it,

and feel it.

Then the unseen,

unheard,

and untouched

are present as one.

 

Its rising brings no dawn,

its setting no darkness;

it goes on and on, unnamable,

returning into nothingness

 

Approach it and there is no beginning;

follow it and there is no end.

You cannot know it, but you can be it,

at ease in your own life.

 

Discovering how things have always been

brings one into harmony with the Way.

 Lao-tzu

I have had some trouble with this verse. I have been going over this verse day in and day out since I wrote about verse 13. This verse is asking me to have faith; for me this is very difficult. I have a huge issue with the invisible, inaudible and intangible. If I can not prove something with my own eyes or experiences I tend to not have faith in its existence. The exception to this rule is scientific facts. I have been meditating and pondering trying to overcome my concept of faith, and what the Tao actually means to me. I keep coming to a description of one of my friends’ belief system, which sounds very similar to the Way.

My friend Dans belief system is his own understanding of what is. He does not believe in evil, and feels science plays a huge role in religion, and in fact proves the existence of God. The one aspect of his faith is what happens to you when you die. He believes at death your essence leaves your body and flies faster than the speed of light into the center of the universe, which he describes as heaven. It is in this heaven you meet with your spirit guide and decide what kind of life you want to live, and when you are ready you head off back to another planet into another life. This is the aspect I hold onto most in my attempted understanding of the Tao.  

I think what verse 14, and other verses Lao-tzu explains to us that trying to define the Tao is futile. Trying to hold the Tao in your hand is fruitless; it is having faith that the Tao is and has always been. I run into an issue in trying to think about what the Tao even is. Is the Tao a God, as compared to the Christian religion? I do not think so. I do not look at the Tao as a man sitting on a throne. I view the Tao as an enormous source of energy capable of taking and brining life into this universe. I think the Tao just is, and allows what be be. I do not think the Tao plays favorites granting prayers to those in need. I believe the Tao provides us everything we need at that moment in time regardless of if we understand. I think the Tao is capable of thought, but maybe not our concept of thought. This ultimately is my belief and faith in Taoism. I am sure I will need to continue to go back to this verse, until it becomes a part of me. I do know this verse is beautifully written and fills me with hope, and eases my worries about what happens to us after we pass.

The 14th verse teaches us the Tao has always been. This means the Tao was even prior to the Big Bang. The Tao like the universe has no beginning and no end. The Tao is the Alpha and Omega. I have grown closer and closer into actually having real faith into this concept; for the first time in 15 years I actually have faith in something. This faith is a small seed, but the seed has been planted and in time its roots will grow stronger and stronger brining me closer the understanding of the Way. I have reached a point where I have almost stopped trying to define the Tao, and just allow it to be.

“Stay in a persistent state of awareness of the eternal principle that animates all of life. By seeing the unfolding of God in everyone you encounter and in all of your identification with your ego based world, you’ll come to be more like Him, and less like that which has tarnished your link to Him.”

 Dr. Wayne W. Dyer “Living the Wisdom of the Tao.”   

I cannot know the Tao as it is named, but I can be it. The more time I spend trying to “be” the Tao the greater sense of peace I have. I trust the more and more I study and meditate on the Tao Te Ching the greater my faith will become.

A while ago I wrote a post about my current projects. Since then a few things have been finished and a few of my projects have been altered, because I am a shameful promoter I would like to give an update on my progress. Things have been progressing nicely although there are some tedious things causing me to dread the process. Feedback is always needed.

Dylan Thomas: This is a children’s book series written in poetry form. The goal is to create stories which appeal to ages 2-10. I want the rhyming and lush drawings to not only draw the kids in, but also make the stories enjoyable for the parents as well. I have completed the first story “Dylan Thomas: Finds His Courage.” Currently it is in the illustration phase and will be released the end of September. I hope to have the next installment “Dylan Thomas: Bedtime Songs” I hope to have this available for sale by February 2011 or sooner.

This series is probably the only way I will make any money from my writing, and hopefully this series will help me land a literary agent. The stories will follow the same flow as far as the rhyming poetry, but the illustrations will change. I think this is exciting because it will keep things fresh. The illustrator Jeff Chia has one more page to complete, and my sister Cailee is doing the editing. I hope to have everything but together by September 1st. This will allow me a month to ensure everything looks good on the actual book. I am a quarter done with the next installment.

Yin; A poetry chapbook chronicling my dark side. I have already finished this book, and should be released before November 2010.

This is completed with all poems in my journal. I just need to type and edit. I hope to have this out by November. I will either sell “Yin” and “Yang” separately or combine them into one book. If I were to combine them into one I would set it up where “Yin” is on one side and “Yang” on the other. I am planning on setting them up as pocket books.

Yang; A poetry chapbook chronicling my light side. I have already finished this book, and should be released before November 2010

Politico; Working Title This poetry chapbook focuses on my political and theological perspectives. This book is also finished with an expected release date before November 2010.

This book will contain my political, philosophical, and theological points of view. There is a website called Politico, so I am unsure if the name is copyrighted or not. If it is I will have to get their blessings to use their names. There were plenty political poems in “My Descent into Madness,” and seemed to be well received.

The Mind of a Madman: (working title) this is a novel written in poetry form describing the inner workings of a psychopath in the making, and his journey into madness, starting from the time of conception up until… the rest will be a surprise. This has been a difficult book to work on, the places these poems take me is very dark. If I spend too much time there I may become a product of my words.

I have been all over the place in writing this one. I am jumping around to different phases of the main characters’ life. I am planning on telling this story strictly in poetry form or if I should add some narrative to it. This is taking longer than I expected, because I can only stay a short time in this mans mind.

The Philosophy of Me: The life and mind of no one special: This will be a book based off 365 days of my blogging entries. This will appeal to my fans wanting all my entries in print, and introduce the site to new readers. I will also use this as part of my portfolio.

I received an e-mail from a reader saying she would purchase this even though it is just an edited version of my blog. I suppose if one person would enjoy it than others may as well.

My Journey Through Taoism; This will include every verse from the Tao Te Ching along with my quest into understanding and living the Tao. Many books are written by experts. I hope to relate to readers who are new to Taoism by explaining my journey seeking understanding. At the end of each chapter I will be including a poem based off the verse. I do not want to rush this; so I am unaware of a release date 

This will be written in real time chronicling my quest into understanding Taoism. This book is the reason I stopped adding verses in my blog. I don’t want too many books to cross pollinate. I am enjoying this project because I can spend a few weeks working on each verse which will really bring me closer to the Way. In writing this in the perspective of someone seeking the Way it may help others understand it better and assist them on their journey. 

The Humor In Theology; I was originally going to write a descriptive timeline and the evolution of religion. I realized this book would only appeal to a certain audience. I was becoming overwhelmed with the mighty scope of this project. I decided to stick with the theology aspect but instead write it in a humorous way. I think this will be informative as well as funny.

I changed this from a serious educational book into a comedy. I will look into religions of the past and current beliefs and point out the goofiness of what people believe. There is a religion in Africa which believed their God vomited up the entire universe. This is just one of the silly beliefs people hold onto. It is amazing how people completely abandon logic in the name of faith.

The Philosophy of Quotes: Everyone loves quotes, and it seems each person may walk away with different perspectives on the meaning of these quotes. This book explains my philosophical view on the meaning of quotes. I hope to turn this into multiple volumes; each volume will be broken down by letters of the alphabet. I am excited to take a deeper look at my favorite quotes. 

I thought I would enjoy this one, but I have been running into a little bit of frustrations. My mind will not shift into this mode, which is holding this bad boy up.

Deceived: (working title.) This book examines how the Christian religion has allowed itself to be destroyed by the word of man. I have read the Bible a number of times; once because of faith, once as a theologian, and once as a skeptic. You would be amazed how much the bible has been changed to not only create copyrights, but to change the original meaning of the “Word of God” to fit mans needs. This book will be written entirely on a non-biased theological way looking strictly at the Word.

If I want to properly do this one I will need to focus 100% of my attention on it. I will need to simultaneously read three to four separate versions of the Bible. I started this awhile back and read the first couple chapters of Genesis, and it made my head hurt. I really think this project has potential, but with the amount of time I have to work on my writing it would take a year or two and I am not sure if I want to make that type of commitment on something which may not reap what I sowed.

On a side note I have thought of releasing my poetry books with commentary as far as what I was feeling and the meaning. I tend to write in abstract ways and I have had people tell me they get lost in finding the true meaning. I just wonder if this is sacrilegious with poetry because poetry is meant to be subjective to the reader. I am worried my poems may lose some of its luster if I add commentary. On the flip side some of my dedicated readers may care enough to know the story behind the poem.

What are your thoughts? Do you think I may be wasting my time with some of these books? I am starting my quest today to find an agent and I wonder if they want to see complete projects or is a concept enough to wet their whistle.