Words Along the Way – #1

Quote

“Knowing that there is a creative principle that reacts to that which I entertain in thought, I now establish in my thinking an attitude of expectancy of good things. I let go of the limitations of the past and live with an enthusiastic expectancy of the good that will encounter today.” ~ excerpt from Creative Ideas by Ernest Holmes

Use this as a daily affirmation. Try it for a week and see how it changes your outlook on things. When negative and limiting thoughts come, remind yourself of this excerpt and realize that those thoughts are not worth entertaining. If your thoughts have a creative force behind them, then do you really want to create more negativity?

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.

42nd Verse – Be the Change

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The Tao gave birth to one.
One gave birth to two.
Two gave birth to three.
And three begat the 10,000 things.
The 10,000 things carry yin and embrace yang;
they achieve harmony by combining forces.

People suffer at the thought of being without parents, without food, or without worth.
Yet this is the very way that kings and lords once described themselves.
For one gains by losing, and loses by gaining.

What others taught, I teach.
The violent do not die a natural death.
That is my fundamental teaching.

The Tao is the creating force of all things and is outside the control of our mortal hands. Everything that we see and experience carries both darkness (yin; also associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime) and light (yang; also associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime). However, in order to achieve balance and harmony, both must be accepted.

People associate the possessions and the circumstances of their life with the level of happiness and contentment that they enjoy. However, one gains happiness and contentment by losing their attachment to those things of the outside world that they have become reliant on.

This last stanza can be summarized with the statement “what you put out is what you have given to you in return”. If you are a violent and angry person, then that is what you receive from others in return. That is the karma that you have created. On the other hand, what the verse is alluding to, but not explicitly stating is that the inverse is also true. If you exhibit love, peace, and joy then that is what you will receive more of in return. That is not to say that you will never see anger or misuse from others, but rather you will learn to not have your internal state impacted by such actions.

To summarize this verse, we can say that we must accept what is and understand that we have no control over the outside world. Therefore, we mustn’t become attached to things and expectations regarding situations in our lives. In return, no matter what the outside circumstances of our lives are, we must come from a place consistent with the qualities that we want to see in the world. Ergo, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

33rd Verse – Self Mastery

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One who understands others has knowledge;
one who understands himself has wisdom.
Mastering others requires force;
mastering the self needs strength.

If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.

One who gives himself to his position surely lives long.
One who gives himself to the Tao surely lives forever.

We live in a society where we think that everything is controlled by forces outside ourselves. Our emotional state, our level of success, our happiness, and our worth are all dictated by the world outside.

Power and success are seen as having control over others and possessing certain things. This type of success is short lived and hangs on a knifes edge. As we have seen in a previous verse, things that are forced cannot be sustained. Force causes stress which is weakening. In addition, success that is reliant on others can succumb to the winds of human capriciousness and can be overturned in an instant. This is very evident in the world of celebrity news.

Self-mastery is harder to obtain, but more rewarding, more stable and longer lasting. According to the teachings of the Buddha, wisdom gained in one lifetime passes through towards the next and moves one on the path to enlightenment. Material success passes away and in fact can move one farther away from enlightenment.

Self-mastery is harder because it requires strength and mental fortitude. It is easier to blame others or outside forces for our personal state than it is to master our own mental state in all situations.

The need to master others means that you are seeking value, worth, and validation from others instead of being secure in your self. Your personal state is dictated by how others treat you, how others act, and their state of mind. You live in reactivity to the roller coaster ride of other’s emotions. I know this well because this is the state that I have spent most of my life entwined in.

If instead you are coming from the wisdom of the Tao, you know that you are responsible for your own reactions at any given moment. There is no one outside of yourself that has power over you. You are receiving value, worth, and validation from your own state of being. You realize that you are enough and you have enough already. Other’s needs to control and react do not matter to you anymore.

This is true success. This is true wealth. This is wisdom. This will last lifetimes by putting you in tune with the eternal Tao.

If you work with your mind, you will alleviate all suffering that seems to come from the outside ~ Buddha

26th Verse – Stillness in the Midst of Unrest

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The heavy is the root of the light.
The still is the master of the unrest.

Realizing this,
the successful person is
poised and centered
in the midst of all the activities;
although surrounded by opulence,
he is not swayed.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your root.
To be restless is to lose one’s self-mastery.

Unrest stems from reactivity to anger, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and want. Most of us live in a state of constant reactivity. Bouncing between one reaction provoking situation to the next. It is almost as if we have forgotten how to feel without some external force pushing back against us.

I have mentioned before that my son has Sensory Processing Disorder. One of the symptoms of sensory kids is that they often lack the ability to know where they are in space compared to other things around them. Sensory kids will often bump into walls, furniture or other people as a way to center themselves and signal where they are in relation to others.

My son’s disorder is at least identifiable. Most of us, without even knowing it, live with a different kind of sensory disorder where we are addicted to the external stimuli of reacting to others and having others react to us in order to know our place in life. We use caffeine to wake up and drugs to put us to sleep and spend our days looking for someone or something to “bump up against”. I.e. That other driver to vent our frustration at; that family member or coworker to start drama with in order to feel that we matter; that thing that we decide we want and proceed to beat ourselves up because we don’t have it yet.

Self-mastery comes when we learn to come from the stillness inside of us that is peace, love, and contentment. We must learn to respond using this internal stillness instead of reacting to the external stimuli.

Through self-mastery we know our place in the world because we understand our purpose and no longer need external stimuli to provide us with our value in life. The external world can blow to and fro and we stay connected to our root and remain still amongst the unrest.