The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Taoism

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao

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is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning
of heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother
of the ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can
see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one sees
the manifestations.
These two spring from the
same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
~ Lao Tsu ~
Tao Te Ching

True perfection seems imperfect

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Tao & Zen Community Forum


The Tao of Pooh

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“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that’s why he never understands anything.”
From the Tao of Pooh…

“Literally, Wu Wei 無爲 means ‘without doing, causing, or making.’ But practically speaking, it means without meddlesome, combative, or egotistical effort. When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of wu wei.

Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made — or imagined — by man, the creature with the overloaded brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.

When you work with wu wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole.

Cleverness tries to devise craftier and craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong. Wu wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But things get done.

Or, in the words of Chuang-tzu, the mind of wu wei “flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo.”

Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


The Tao of Physics

“Five years ago, I had a beautiful experience which set me on a road that has led to the writing of [The Tao of Physics]. I was sitting by the ocean one late summer afternoon, watching the waves rolling in and feeling the rhythm of my breathing, when I suddenly became aware of my whole environment as being engaged in a gigantic cosmic dance.

Being a physicist, I knew that the sand, rocks, water, and air around me were made of vibrating molecules and atoms, and that these consisted of particles which interacted with one another by creating and destroying other particles.

I knew also that the earth’s atmosphere was continually bombarded by showers of “cosmic rays,” particles of high energy undergoing multiple collisions as they penetrated the air.

All this was familiar to me from my research in high-energy physics, but until that moment I had only experienced it through graphs, diagrams, and mathematical theories.

As I sat on that beach my former experiences came to life; I “saw” cascades of energy coming down from outer space, in which particles were created and destroyed in rhythmic pulses; I “saw” the atoms of the elements and those of my body participating in this cosmic dance of energy…

I felt its rhythm and I “heard” its sound, and at that moment I knew that this was the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers worshiped by the Hindus.

I had gone through a long training in theoretical physics and had done several years of research. At the same time, I had become very interested in Eastern mysticism and had begun to see the parallels to modern physics.

I was particularly attracted to the puzzling aspects of Zen which reminded me of the puzzles in quantum theory. At first, however, relating the two was a purely intellectual exercise. To overcome the gap between rational, analytical thinking and the meditative experience of mystical truth, was, and still is, very difficult for me.

In the beginning, I was helped on my way by “power plants” which showed me how the mind can flow freely; how spiritual insights come on their own, without any effort, emerging from the depth of consciousness. I remember the first such experience.

Coming, as it did, after years of detailed analytical thinking, it was so overwhelming that I burst into tears, at the same time, not unlike Castaneda, pouring out my impressions on to a piece of paper.

Later came the experience of the Dance of Shiva… It was followed by many similar experiences which helped me gradually to realize that a consistent view of the world is beginning to emerge from modern physics which is harmonious with ancient Eastern wisdom.

I took many notes over the years, and I wrote a few articles about the parallels I kept discovering, until I finally summarized my experiences in the present book…”

~Fritjof Capra; December, 1974
Preface to the “Tao of Physics”

Tao & Zen


Be content with what you have

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“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
― Lao Tzu

 


The rainmaker

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“There was a great drought where the missionary Richard Wilhelm lived in China. There had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic. The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers, and the Chinese burned joss sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result. Finally, the Chinese said: We will fetch the rainmaker. And from another province, a dried up old man appeared. The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day, clouds gathered and there was a great snowstorm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rainmaker that Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it.
In true European fashion, he said: “They call you the rainmaker, will you tell me how you made the snow?” And the little Chinaman said: “I did not make the snow, I am not responsible.” “But what have you done these three days?” “Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I am also not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao, and then naturally the rain came.”

From The Nature Writings of Carl Gustav Jung

 

 


We are all one mind

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Ram Dass has shared a story of a young woman who told him, “My family hates when I’m a Buddhist but loves when I’m a Buddha.” In other words, it’s not what religion we identify ourselves with that matters, but how we think, feel and keep our hearts open with others that matters most.

In my experience, it’s often beneficial to not identify too strongly with any group or “ism”… When I identify my self as a Buddhist then a non-Buddhist becomes “the other” – and there’s an immediate wall of separation- us/them, me/you.

The same is true for anyone who identifies strongly with being a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jew while failing to apply the deepest wisdom and compassion of those traditions.

More important than identification with a religion is to live the teachings― to focus on being peaceful, loving, joyful, generous, grateful, mindful and kind. To “be the change,” as Gandhi put it, transcending the conceptual categories and divisions in our heads.

Simplifying our sense of identity, being with people fully, sometimes silently (knowing in our hearts that we are all part of one unified reality) is transformative. Giving everyone you meet your undivided love and attention― as small children often do― is one of the greatest gifts we can share with ourselves and the world (which were never really separate in the first place).

By focusing on the interdependence, unity and connectedness that was always there from the beginning, the “problem” of self/other is not so much solved, as dissolved and transcended.

~Christopher Chase
Tao & Zen​

Being a Buddha: Transcending the Sense of Self/Other https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/being-a-buddha-transcending-the-idea-of-selfother/


How A Fourth-Century Taoist Concept is Treating Anxiety

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Waking Times

Derek Beres, Big Think
October 25, 2018

 

While the Tao Te Ching is not one of the world’s most discussed religious texts, at least relative to the amount of attention the Bible, Quran, and Buddhist and Hindu doctrines receive, Laozi’s slim volume of instructions has massively influenced how we think about Eastern philosophy. The basis of Taoism is embedded in his series of short and punchy ideas that are rooted in, at times, paradoxical thinking.

Consider one of his most famous aphorisms: “The Tao does nothing, and yet nothing is left undone.” The ‘nothing’ is wu-wei, often translated as ‘non-action.’ One translation of Taoist ideas, Tao: The Watercourse Way, written by British philosopher Alan Watts and Chinese philosopher Chungliang Al Huang in 1975, state that the concept should not “be considered inertia, laziness, laissez-faire, or mere passivity.”

The Fine Art of Non-Doing

As with those who believe meditation is ‘doing nothing,’ wu-wei is not an easily graspable concept when approached from a mindset of constant action, i.e. the perpetual distraction our brains (and by extension, technology) afford us. Rather, the idea is to not battle yourself to, at times, let the course of life have its way with us. As the authors put it:

Wu-wei as ‘not forcing’ is what we mean by going with the grain, rolling with the punch, swimming with the current, trimming sails to the wind, taking the tide at its flood, and stooping to conquer.

They compare the practice to judo and aikido, two martial arts that teach seasoned practitioners to use their opponent’s force against themselves. By waiting for the challenger to overextend himself, you exploit their exertion and use his body weight to overthrow him. To accomplish this, you need to maintain calm and composure in the midst of potential violence and chaos.

Obsession with Overthinking

Which is why Nick Hobson, a research psychologist and lecturer at the University of Toronto, recently suggested implementing wu-wei as an antidote to our rising rates of anxiety and depression. Instead of pinpointing a singular cause for our growing dissatisfaction with our lives, he points out the reasons are myriad: smartphones, sleep deprivation, a lack of meaningful social connection, and not enough movement. He doesn’t mention diet, though plenty of research implicates bad eating habits as well.

While the causes are many, Hobson points to our penchant for overanalyzing every situation as the elephant in the mind. Instead of holism, a cognitive trait he associates with Eastern psychology, we choose the trees over the forest, leading to an obsession with overthinking.

This stark cultural difference has been confirmed by thinkers like social psychologist Richard Nisbett, who devoted an entire book to the topic. One of the most revealing instances involves the ways in which Easterners and Westerners—these terms are generic and broad, but serve to supply a bit of yin to our yang, at least as a metaphor–view art. Americans seek out a subject, an overarching detail that exemplifies the ‘purpose’ of the painting. Asians, by contrast, seek to understand the relationship between everything in the scene. Their focus is more on interdependence than independence.

Triad Test

Hobson uses the ‘triad test’ to make this point:

Suppose you’re presented with a dog, a rabbit, and a carrot, and then asked which two belong together. The analytic thinker chooses the dog and rabbit because both satisfy the internally held rule of ‘animal category.’ The holistic thinker, on the other hand, chooses the rabbit and carrot because of the interconnected and functional relationship between the two: A rabbit eats carrots.

Western ‘rule-based reasoning’ leads us to believe every problem has a solution. Research in cognition and narrative has shown that when we aren’t offered a resolution to a story, we’ll invent one, often to our detriment—your partner is cheating on you if they haven’t texted, while the reality is anything but. When we’re not provided an answer, we tend to overanalyze the situation, heaping anxiety upon anxiety.

Two Ways to Find Calm in the Chaos

Which is why Hobson suggests two Laozi-era practices to calm our overactive imaginations. Wu-wei is the first, which he says means “we shouldn’t hurry to action.” While he prescribes “to not do anything at all,” which is slightly different from Watts’s and Al Huang’s translation, Hobson recommends an “intuitive style of thinking” to chill our over-analyzing minds. Meditation and visualization exercises are two ways of rerouting our mental habits.

The second involves dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), an evidence-based therapy created by Dr. Marsha Linehan. Among its many applications, it is designed to promote skills for cultivating “mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.”

To make this connection, Hobson points to Taoism’s great export, the yin-yang symbol, which denotes mutual dependence exists in everything. Hobson continues:

Two things can be mutually opposed, and at the same time, mutually connected. You can be, for example, in an anxious state and still have perfect control of your situation and your life. Thinking in this way allows a person to tolerate contradictions and to accept the uncertainties that inevitably present themselves.

Hobson writes that DBT has proven more effective than cognitive behavioral therapy (Linehan considers DBT a form of CBT) and pharmacological interventions. The goal is to make incremental changes by admitting that:

a) not everything is going to be exactly how you want it, and that’s okay, b) certain changes will have to be implemented, so practice those changes, and c) recognize that life is worth living. In the balance between states that afflict those suffering from psychological disorders—complete control and lack of control—an emotionally salient mindset can be achieved.

Breaking Free

Not that any of this is easy, but as Hobson mentions, neuroplasticity is a real phenomenon. Seeing the landscape instead of the singular figure walking through it is essential for breaking free of isolationism and the overwhelming burden of anxiety. As Watts and Al Huang phrased it:

Is a long life such a good thing if it is lived in daily dread or in constant search for satisfaction in a tomorrow which never comes?

We all intuitively know the answer. Putting that intuition into action, ironically through a bit of non-action, might just be an important key to healing our anxious minds.

Source: How A Fourth-Century Taoist Concept is Treating Anxiety


Nature does not hurry

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Nature does not hurry
yet everything is accomplished.
Lao Tzu
Artist: Tomas Sanchez

Art of Wu Wei : The Taoist Principle of Action in Non-Action (8 min)

Wu wei refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world.


The wisdom of non-action

Wu wei (無爲) is a concept in Taoism sometimes translated as non-action or non-doing. It means aligning with the wisdom of Nature, not taking action based on self-centric thinking. Some problems are best solved simply by staying calm and allowing life to take its natural course.

Tao & Zen


Those who seek knowledge

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The usefulness of the cup

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The usefulness of the cup

is its emptiness.

Lao Tzu

The Fragrance of the Rose

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The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-tzu’s dictum:
“Those who know, do not say;
Those who say, do not know.”
When the master entered,
they asked him what the words meant.
Said the master, “Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?”
All of them indicated that they knew.
Then he said, “Put it into words.”
All of them were silent.
~from One Minute Wisdom by Anthony DeMello

Zen Buddhism Community


3 Lessons from the Taoist Philosophy of Water

March 3, 2018
 

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ~Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is well-known for his comment about water, which described the essence of his personal journey toward self-actualization. He was not alone in this realization, however, for in the 2600 year-old classic text, The Tao Te Ching, the qualities of water were elucidated in the poetry of Lao-Tzu.

In Tao Te Ching number eight, water, as it relates to our world, is described as such:

“The supreme goodness is like water.
It benefits all things without contention.
In dwelling, it stays grounded.
In being, it flows to depths.
In expression, it is honest.
In confrontation, it stays gentle.
In governance, it does not control.
In action, it aligns to timing.
It is content with its nature and therefore cannot be faulted.”
~Lao-Tzo, The Tao Te Ching

In a recent TED talk, Raymond Tang talks about the hectic and overwhelming nature of our technologically connected society, and how even in the presence of such chaos, one can find fulfillment by relating to the simple and elemental forces of nature.

He discusses the nature of water, drawing out three useful lessons that have been known to the Chinese for millennia.

The first lesson is about humility, and he notes the lowly, yet supportive nature of water as a life-giving force.

“If we think about water flowing in a river, it is always staying low. It helps all the plants grow and keeps all the animals alive. It doesn’t actually draw any attention to itself, nor does it need any reward or recognition. It is humble. But without water’s humble contribution, life as we know it may not exist.”

Secondly, he draws out the lesson of harmony, and how water always achieves it’s aim effortlessly in spite of any obstacles along its path.

“If we think about water flowing towards a rock, it will just flow around it. It doesn’t get upset, it doesn’t get angry, it doesn’t get agitated. In fact, it doesn’t feel much at all. When faced with an obstacle, somehow water finds a solution, without force, without conflict.”

The third lesson regards openness and our tendency to resist change along the path of life.

“Water is open to change. Depending on the temperature, it can be a liquid, solid or gas. Depending on the medium it’s in, it can be a teapot, a cup or a flower vase. In fact, it’s water’s ability to adapt and change and remain flexible that made it so enduring through the ages, despite all the changes in the environment.”

Relating these three lessons to the modern pursuits of business and education, he explains how the lessons offer us a perspective on life that allows for greater fulfillment in everything we choose to take on.

Watch the inspiring full talk, here:

Read more articles by Dylan Charles.

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and co-host of Redesigning Reality, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.


Mastering others is strength?

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 Knowing others is intelligence;

knowing yourself is true wisdom.

Mastering others is strength;

mastering yourself is true power.

~ Lao Tzu

The Art of Learning


Empty yourself of everything

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 Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall
while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish
and then return to the Source.
Returning to the Source is stillness,
which is the way of Nature.
~Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching, Verse 16

Yield and overcome

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Tao & Zen


The great way is not difficult

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 The Great Way is not difficult,
for those who have no preferences.

Let go of longing and aversion,
and it reveals itself.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.

If you want to realize the truth,
then hold no opinions for or against anything.

Like and dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood the intrinsic peace of mind is disturbed.

As vast as infinite space,
it is perfect and lacks nothing.

Indeed, it is due to your grasping and repelling
That you do not see things as they are.
Do not get entangled in things;
Do not get lost in emptiness.

Be still in the oneness of things and dualism vanishes by itself.

(Hsin Hsin Ming [Trust in Mind], by Seng-Ts’an, the 3rd Patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism, translated by Eric Putkonen).

Image from Great Thoughts Treasury.

Foot Note:

This is the 1st chapter of the Hsin Hsin Ming, and it has been referred to as a poem. It is an easy read, please feel free to click on the link below for the entire pdf.

http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Hsin-Hsin-Ming.pdf

Zen Buddhism Community


The ten thousand things rise and fall

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Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall
while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish
and then return to the Source.
Returning to the Source is stillness,
which is the way of Nature.

~Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching, Verse 16


Returning to the source

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Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall
while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish
and then return to the Source.
Returning to the Source is stillness,
which is the way of Nature.
~Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching, Verse 16

A tree that is unbending is easily broken

 “A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending
is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding
is the disciple of life.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.”
~Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching

The way to do

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Tao & Zen Community Forum


The sage has no mind of his own

The sage has no mind of his own.
He is aware of the needs of others.
He is good to people who are good.
He is also good to people who are not good.
Because Virtue is goodness. Has faith in people who are faithful.
And also in people who are not faithful.
Because Virtue is faithfulness.The sage is shy and humble –
to the world he seems confusing.
Others look to him and listen.
He behaves like a little child.

~ Lao Tzu ~
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 49