50th Verse – Live With the Realization That You Will Never Die

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Between birth and death, three in ten are followers of life;
three in ten are followers of death.
And men just passing from birth to death also number three in ten.
Why is this so? Because they clutch to life and cling to this passing world.

But there is one out of ten, they say,
so sure of life that tigers and wild bulls keep clear.
Weapons turn from him on the battlefield,
rhinoceroses have no place to horn him,
tigers find no place for claws,
and soldiers have no place to thrust their blades.

Why is this so? Because he dwells in that place where death cannot enter.

Realize your essence and you will witness the end without ending.

If you believe that all you are is the body that you exist in, then you are part of the 90 percent that “clutch to life and cling to this passing world”. If instead you are aware of your connection to the eternal energy of all creation, you will dwell “in that place where death cannot enter”.

Everything in the physical world comes and goes, rises and falls, enters and leaves. We have no control over that. What we can control is our attachment or our “clutching” to the physical world.

If we believe that we are of this world then we become attached to the things that surround us in the physical world including our bodies. Attachment to physical things only leads to suffering because those things do not last. If instead we realize that we are merely in this world and that it is merely a stop along the greater journey of our soul, then we can remove the suffering caused by attachment. We release our “clutch” on the things of the physical world.

By doing this, we can enjoy life for what it is and remove fear of the deterioration and eventual destruction of this suit called our body. We can use and enjoy the things of the physical world without becoming obsessed or attached.

By realizing the essence of our eternal self we can witness the end of our attachment to the physical world without it having to actually end. We will loose our grip on the physical things of this world and our time in this physical body will come to an end not matter how hard we clutch and cling. Why not loose that attachment now and live by enjoying life and the things in it freely without fear or possessiveness.

45th Verse – Look Beyond the Surface

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The greatest perfection seems imperfect,
and yet its use is inexhaustible.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
and yet its use is endless.

Great straightness seems twisted.
Great inteligence seems stupid.
Great eloquence seems awkward.
Great truth seems false.
Great discussion seems silent.

Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat.
Stillness and tranquility set things in order in the universe.

To our ego-centered mind, everything and everyone that we encounter is interpreted a certain way on the surface. However, if we go beyond the initial surface interpretation, we can see the underlying truth and perfection.

For example, if I meet someone for the first time, I would instantly set certain expectations and make certain judgments of the person based on their surface level appearance. Their hair color, skin color, clothes, profession, etc all set certain interpretations.

However, if I allowsmyself to get to know that person better, I might find out that there is much more to him or her than my original ego-based assessment told me. In addition, I might learn that many of my original assessments were completely wrong. (This was one of the epiphanies that I wrote about from my recent Vipassana mediation course.)

This is the same with situations that we come across in our life. We see situations in our life and assess them on the surface as all wrong. I am in the wrong job, only if the weather was different, those people shouldn’t act like that, my kid isn’t behaving as I wanted him/her to act, etc.

That which seems wrong, twisted, stupid, awkward, false, etc on the surface is really perfection in the eyes of the Tao. Everything is unfolding just as it should even if it does not meet the expectations of our ego-centric mind.

Even though we refuse to agree with it, the bad things that happen in the world are part of the perfection according to the Tao. They are just as important as the good things that happen. This is the yin and the yang. Both are needed for either to exist.

By connecting with the stillness inside of ourselves, we can learn to see all things as neither good nor bad. They just are. Only when we realize this can we see “order in the universe”.

Some take-aways from this verse.

    • Learn to connect with the stillness and tranquility inside through meditation techniques.
    • Whenever you encounter someone or some situation, take notice of your internal self-talk. Realize what expectations and judgements you are creating as a result.

These steps start to build awareness, which is always necessary before any change is possible. Once you can utilize these steps on a regular basis, then you can learn to let the expectations and judgements go without attaching to them.

44th Verse – Get off the Treadmill of Want

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Which means more to you, your name or your renown?
Which brings more to you, you or what you own?
I say what you gain is more trouble than what you lose.

Love is the fruit of sacrifice.
Wealth is the fruit of generosity.

A contented man is never disappointed.
He who knows when to stop is preserved from peril,
only thus can you endure long.

What are you putting emphasis on in your life? On your true self or on the person that relies on the approval and acceptance of others? On the person that is connected to everything and has everything needed or on the person who needs more and more material things to feel complete?

If you are putting more emphasis on getting more acclaim from others and more things, then, according to this verse, you are only looking for more trouble. What does this mean? If you reliant on outside things and people for your happiness and satisfaction, then you are going to be constantly disappointed. In addition, once you get that approval you are seeking or that object that you think you need, that will soon not be enough and you will then need the next person’s approval or the next bigger thing.

By gaining these things, you are losing because you are allowing those things to define you.When things define you, they are never enough and when you lose them, which you will, you lose your definition.

Love and wealth come to those that give without the need for retribution. What is wealth in this context? Wealth is a well lived life full of love, happiness and contentment.

“A contented man is never disappointed” because his (or her) satisfaction is not tied to any particular outcome. He/she sees the beauty in whatever is offered. He/she is grateful for what already exists and understand that everything and everyone is already connected, so there is no need for want and nothing is really ever missing.

The last two lines refer to knowing when to “stop”. This means to know when to get off of the constant treadmill of want and lacking. The desire for more and feeling that something is missing is a never ending cycle. Under this mindset, once something is gained, more is wanted.

By knowing when to get off that treadmill, one removes suffering and unhappiness.

Reblog: There is a war in my area now, and this is what I think about it.

Ido Lanuel Blog Image

This is a reblog from Ido Lanuel’s blog on his take on the the war that is effecting his area of the world.. Below are my thoughts on his post.

Storytelling is one of the oldest and most impactful forms of human communication. We are compelled by well told stories, we are moved by their messages and we are drawn to their mystique. Great stories of adventure, mystery, and drama are the makings of Hollywood movies, blockbuster books and Broadway plays.

There is another kind of storytelling. This kind is more subtle and yet, for many of us, it is a major driving force in our lives. This is the storytelling that we use to identify ourselves. We all have stories in our mind that we have collected over our lifetime that we use to define who we are.

There are two sources of these stories. The first is from our own experiences or at least how we internalized those experiences. You know the kind…”Oh I never speak in front of an audience. I had a bad experience in high school and I have been terrified ever since”, “I have a weight problem because I can’t stay away from cake”, “I’ve never been good at writing. I just can’t put the words together. It’s just such a struggle that I don’t even bother”.

The other source is the society and culture that we live in. As we grow up, we hear stories about how “our people” or “our family” have certain norms or expectations that we follow or believe in. “That’s just the way I act. What can I say, I’m Italian”, “Our family has always had bad luck with money”. These can also be more personal such as “You are never going to be good at that. Don’t even try”, “You are always acting up in class. You are an unfocused person”, “Don’t even bother trying; you don’t have the voice for that”.

At some point I want to write a post about the personal stories. These are a huge factor in how far we go in life because people use their personal stories to either propel them forward in life or keep themselves stuck.

For this post, I want to focus on the societal stories. Ido is close to the war in the Middle East. He created the attached image and wrote the material on the image as a way to describe why he thought that war is still going on in his region of the world.

The reason that he gives is because of stories. These are the stories that are defined by the cultures of the two sides of the conflict.

This conflict is the one between Palestine and Israel. Why does this conflict continue? Because stories have built up on both side about how someone of a different culture has perpetrated against “our people” in the past. Furthermore, because “those people” are a part of that culture, they will continue to perpetrate against us.

This is just a story. Tony Robbins says that “your story may be true, but it’s not what’s happening today”. In other words, yes what happened in your story may have actually happened (or at least you perceived it that way), but that doesn’t mean that the same thing needs to be happening now. If you decided to change the story or not live from the same story of the past or of your ancestor’s past, might the situation you are currently in be different?

We are raised to believe that “I am part of this culture and this is the way that I am”. Really? We all come from the same source. We are all born with the same potential and the basic capabilities. It is merely the stories that we are taught along the way that separate us.

For example, let’s use the conflict mentioned above between Palestine and Israel. If you took a baby from each country and allowed them to grow up together without the influence of the stories from either’s cultures, do you think that they would just naturally hate each other and decide to go to war with one another. Of course not. If those babies grew up and then came to know of the stories of their respective cultures and how each culture was treating the other, they would be shocked. I imagine that they would be appalled at how their countrymen were behaving.

In his post, Ido makes a profound statement at the end:

“It is a call for each and every one of us to take a deep look inside, and see for himself if a story is worth suffering for. If we are willing to tell our babies the same stories that we’ve been told.”

It is up to each one of us to decide not to let our lives be dictated by our old stories. We can decide to write a new one with what we want to be happening in our life now. More importantly, we can decide which stories we carry forth to our children so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes that our generation and the ones before us have made.

Thank you Ido for the thought provoking post. Stay safe!

Where’s Your Focus?

It the ground hurt your feet, you could cover the entire earth with material to soften it, but you would spend your life trying to get enough material to cover it?

Instead you could simply cover your feet with a small amount of the material and accomplish the same goal.

There is an ancient Buddhist story that goes something like the above. This is a metaphor for dealing with issues in your life.

You could focus on changing everything around you to remove your pain and suffering. This is unrealistic because there is no way that you will ever be able to rid the world of everything that upsets you or gives you reasons to suffer.

If instead you leave your surroundings as they are and focus internally on how you deal with them, you can be at peace no matter the situation.

This saying reminds me of another more modern saying “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. External stimuli that causes pain will always be there as long as we are alive. How we allow that pain to effect us mentally and emotionally determines if we suffer as a result.