1st Verse – The Eternal Tao

Sunset on Crystal Lake

The Tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal name.

The Tao is both named and nameless.
As nameless it is the origin of all things;
As named it is the Mother of 10,000 things.

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery;
Ever desiring, one sees only the manifestations.
And the mystery itself is the doorway to
all understanding.

Faith

Faith is what this verse speaks to me. Faith in “the way”, faith in yourself, faith in “what is”.

As I meditated and let the words from this verse pass through my mind, I focused on not intellectualizing the words, but instead let them repeat and fill the spaces between my thoughts. Once I cleared my mind of competing ideas and thoughts, I felt the word “faith” roll across my mind. I repeated the word to myself once it came to me and I felt the word reverberate around my consciousness. Even though the intellectual part of my brain told me that “faith” did not make sense for this verse, I instantly felt a direct connection with that word and this verse.

Let go and trust

The next day in Yoga class I set this verse as my intention for the day. As I performed the yoga moves called out by the instructor, I let the words from the verse repeat in my mind. Once again, I felt a series of certain words present themselves to me. As I was in some position that I don’t remember; breathing, sweating, and grimacing from pushing the position past the edges of my abilities, I felt the words “Let go and trust” come to mind. Like in the meditation, they were not words that I was thinking, but rather feeling. It was as if someone was speaking the words to me instead of me creating the words in my own mind.

These words to me seem to be just another way to say “faith”.

The funny thing is that not only did I see a direct connection with this verse, but also with my life. If you read the opening blog post on why I decided to start this blog, you know that in the weeks leading up to this journey, I was asking for guidance and determined to let go of the reins holding me back in my life. Coincidence?

More About the Verse

It may not be evident at first how this verse speaks faith and to be honest I was confused at first why that word came to mind in regards to it. So lets look at what this verse is saying.

There is a quote from Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher from the 1800’s.

“Once you label me, you negate me”

This means that once you put a label on someone such as black, white, Asian, Latino, etc. you are limiting that person to the expectations or stereotypes that go along with that label. When in reality that person is endless in possibility; more endless than we even realize. If instead we saw that person without labels, we could see their infinite potential.

The same goes for labels that we put on ourselves. Take a minute to think of the labels that you believe in yourself. Fat, skinny, angry, friendly, lawyer, doctor, Mom, Dad, brother, sister, old, young, etc. There are labels that we give ourselves and others for our occupation, our looks, our hobbies, our wealth, our health…and on and on. Each of those labels has a set of common characteristics that go with them. We expect that someone with a particular label is a certain way. Think about how freeing it would be without all of those labels.

“As nameless it is the origin of all things”, meaning that if we don’t assign labels or names, everything is endless and connected with the source.

“As named it is the Mother of 10,000 things”, meaning that now that we have put a label or a name on it, it is limited to the things that we can come to know with our senses.

“Ever desireless, one can see the mystery”, meaning that if we let go of trying to label it and essentially trying to control it by limiting it to our labels, we can see the mystery or the source.

“Ever desiring, one sees only the manifestations”, meaning that if we have the need to seek out labels in order to define it, we limit it to what we can experience with our senses and to the characteristics that we associate with the label.

I struggled with the last two lines of this verse. “And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding.”

I kept trying to intellectualize these lines. These are the two lines that I was chanting in my mind when the words “let go and trust” hit me during my yoga class.

To me this means that if we let go of our need to label or control and let go of the reins by trusting in the source, we can then start to realize our true potential.

In other words, having faith in what is.

How are you holding back the reins in your own life? How do you limit yourself and those around you by labeling?

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The “Coincidences” that Led Me to this Journey

The Path

Coincidence?

Is there such a thing as coincidence or do things happen for a reason? You know that feeling you get when something happens that seems to be blaring “pay attention, this is a sign”, but you gloss over it thinking that it was just a random occurrence.

Do you ever grab hold of that “sign” even when it is something that you never would have thought of being a part of your life’s journey?

I usually don’t either. However, this time I decided to pause after a “random set of circumstances”, take notice and explore the possibilities.

This all started a few weeks prior to my revelation to start this journey. I had started to twice daily say a prayer to God, the universe, or whatever your preferred term is for a divine source. The prayer went something like this…

”Thank you for all that I have in my life and for the experiences that I have had. I am ready to give up the reigns of my life to you. I ask that you help guide me by giving me the strength and clarity to follow the path that will allow me to fulfill YOUR purpose for me in this life”.

And So It Begins

During the second week of doing this I received or stumbled upon several articles regarding blogging. It was like everywhere I turned the universe was sending me something related to blogging, bloggers, and the blogosphere. As an example, on Friday (1/20/2012) I received a newsletter from Oprah.com with an article called What’s Holding You Back? 9 Ways to Spark a Breakthrough. The very first method described in the article was about going public to keep your idea alive. It described a woman who decided to run 50 marathons in 50 states and to help motivate herself and keep her focused on her goal she started a blog. I didn’t pay much attention to these articles at the time, but they did plant a seed in my head.

The weekend that followed was horrible. It was the culmination of weeks of wrangling with frustration, negativity, self-doubt, and anger. I felt ready to give up. I felt at the end of my rope. I curled up in bed and recited the prayer over and over like a madman trying to stop the end of the world.

I awoke in the morning and felt a certain lightness which was different than the weight of the world that I seemed to be carrying the previous few days. Maybe it was a breakthrough or maybe it was attributed to the fact that I had just slept for 13 hours.

I proceeded downstairs where the rest of the house was already awake and going about their day. The TV was on and my wife was watching an episode of Oprah’s Soul Sunday. I grabbed my mug of Sunday coffee and curled up on the couch to watch the show.

Dr. Wayne Dyer was the guest on that particular episode and they were talking about the Tao Te Ching. I had a copy of Dr. Dyer’s interpretation of this book in my bedroom for a couple of years and had read through most of it. However, I had let my plans to really study it and make it a daily habit fall through as I had done with most of commitments that I made to myself.

He talked about how he had committed a year of his life to studying the Tao Te Ching, spending 4 days on each verse. The end product was the book that I tucked away somewhere upstairs. I remembered how much I enjoyed the book and thought about renewing my commitment to read it and live it.

I had a thought similar to the one that the woman had who decided to run all of those marathons. I thought that I should make that commitment publicly so that I would actually follow through this time. I could do that by starting a blog about my adventures reading the book and attempting to apply the teachings to my life. At that point, it was just a fading thought and I didn’t put much effort into it.

The Deflated Epiphany

Later, that morning as I was going to get something out of our bedroom closet I heard a dog barking outside and walked over by my wife’s side of the bed to the window that overlooks our back yard. I noticed a magazine on the floor and saw that it was the February edition of Yoga Journal magazine. I picked it up and opened to a random page. On that page was an announcement that Yoga Journal magazine was looking for bloggers. Like a Tsunami rushing through my mind, all of he signs that I had seen over the past week or so started to come back to me.

“That’s it”, I thought, “this has got to mean something”. I decided that I was going to take hold of these signs and pursue my thought from that morning.

As the day passed and I thought more about the idea and did some research, the typical negativity started to creep into my mind and the excitement waned. “You can’t do that. The blogs on that website are about Yoga, not your idea. You don’t have what it takes to follow through on that. You are not a writer”. The heaviness started to build through the day until I was back to where I had been prior to the morning’s feelings of peace.

The Final Straw

Monday morning while at work and having a hard time getting this notion of this potential journey out of my head and to focus on my duties on the job, I opened a new Excel Spreadsheet. I plugged in the current day’s date. Then in another cell, I told it to calculate today plus 324 days (the number of days that it would take to get through the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching spending 4 days on each verse). The end date came up to be 12/12/12.

“That’s strange”, I thought. Is this a coincidence or is this, as Oprah terms it, a God whisper? Is it a sign for me to pay attention to this journey that I had been contemplating? As these thoughts crossed my mind, I once again rehashed all of the “coincidences” that occurred around this idea.

I was teetering on the quandary to embark on this journey or ignore it like so many other potential journeys that I know I have passed up previously.

The heaviness lifted once more and the journey was born.

Are there signs or “coincidences” in your life that you have been ignoring or too afraid to pay attention to?

Maybe it’s time to pay attention.