Aloha all, here is a link to my interview with Occult of Personality.
Aloha all, here is a link to my interview with Occult of Personality.
If you want to shrink something,
you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to take something,
you must first allow it to be given.
This is called the subtle perception
of the way things are.
The soft overcomes the hard.
The slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery.
Just show people the results.
Tao Te Ching #36 (trans. Stephen Mitchell)
If you want to be a great leader,
You must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
And the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
The less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
The less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
The less self-reliant people will be.
There fore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
And people become honest.
I let go of economics,
And people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
And people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
And the good becomes common as grass. -#57
Lao Tzu says it so much better than I could. One imagines our world is too far gone now to try not-doing – and yet, we can all learn from this wisdom, and dream of a better world.
… the sages:
Manage the work of detached actions
Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away
TTC, Chapter 2, trans. Derek Lin
Free Will is a topic that has always fascinated me. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will for a lengthy definition and explanation of the many aspects and philosophies surrounding this issue. Determinism and incompatibilism, libertarianism and compatibilism, argue one way or the other whether free will truly exists, or whether it is an illusion.
Wikipedia states that the I Ching contains “A shifting flow of probabilities for futures,” and that, “Probabilities take the center of the stage away from things and people. A kind of “divine” volition sets the fundamental rules for the working out of probabilities in the universe, and human volitions are always a factor in the ways that humans can deal with the real world situations one encounters. If one’s situation in life is surfing on a tsunami, one still has some range of choices even in that situation. One person might give up, and another person might choose to struggle and perhaps to survive. The Yi Jing mentality is much closer to the mentality of quantum physics than to that of classical physics, and also finds parallelism in voluntarist or Existentialist ideas of taking one’s life as one’s project.”
I myself tend to agree with the I Ching. I believe that our possible futures are constantly shifting, and that our decisions are based on our various backgrounds and psychologies. Whether Everything is predetermined is hard for me to say – it seems like if it were, life might seem fruitless – if it is, at least thinking we have a choice might be all we need. However, to control the Tao is not our job either – TTC#74, “Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place.”
But I do believe that within the Flow of things, within the Tao, exists the choice that will ultimately lead to the most harmonious outcome. We work with knowledge of the Tao, allowing it to guide us, not being too attached to the desired outcome. Finding the most harmonious path and allowing it to guide, is what I call ‘Surfing the Tao’ – yet I concede that for many of us, making such choices may require a ‘revolution’ of our (perceived) free will, since it may be against popular notions of ambition and wealth.
The Master allows things to happen.
She shapes events as they come.
She steps out of the way
and lets the Tao speak for itself.
-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, #45
Once upon a time there was a poor farmer in China who had a son, but no horse. One day a beautiful stallion appeared at his door. “Oh, good luck, good luck,” said the villagers. “Good luck, bad luck, who knows,” replied the farmer. One day his son rode the horse, fell off and broke his leg. “Oh, bad luck, bad luck,” cried the villagers. “Good luck, bad luck, who knows,” the farmer said. The next day the army rode through town, recruiting youths for a faraway war. They took many of the villages sons to the distress of their families, but passed over the farmer’s son, because of his broken leg. “Oh, good luck, good luck,” said the villagers. “Who knows,” said the wise farmer.
Taoism is difficult to absorb for the modern, western mind because its tenets are so opposite to what we are taught in the world. Most of us are raised to be ambitious or aggressive about we want in life, and to react negatively when things don’t go ‘our’ way. Taoists believe in a more organic approach; to not label things or events as bad or good, but instead learn to use everything in a continual evolution. If we hold to tight to one aspiration, for example, we may be unable to recognize an even better opportunity when it comes along. Sometimes the best things that happen in life might have been called accidents or mistakes. It’s like a silver lining approach to life – whatever happens can be good if we simply decide to perceive it that way. All events can be part of a process of growth and change.
When we attempt to force something out of life, or out of ourselves, we are, perhaps unknowingly, deciding to disregard that the Universe, the Tao, might have something better in store for us. In fact, many people even practice magic, attempting to reroute the powerful flow of the Tao for their own desires. Rather, Taoism teaches one to become at rest in the midst of this universal flow, finding gratitude for the now and allowing the future to take care of itself; allowing the great ‘magic’ of the universe to weave the ultimate web of life. It is much the same idea of living in faith, described in other religions. Many of our great sages attempted to explain this.
Trying to control the future
is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place.
when you handle the master carpenter’s tools
changes are that you’ll cut your hand.
-Tao Te Ching, #74
This doesn’t mean we have no say in our own lives. We are still responsible for making decisions and choices every day. But our free will is arguably limited if we are not aware of all our choices. Are we always clear on what we are choosing? Are we following our own selfish desires, to the detriment of other people and the world around us? Are we making the effort to find that stillness and peace within us, and seek the answers there first? Are we aware that this Way of life is truly is an “Art of Peace”?
Peace originates wth the flow of things – its heart is like the movement of the wind and waves. The Way is like the veins that circulate blood through our bodies, following the natural flow of the life force. If you are separated in the slightest from that divine essence, you are far off the path.
-Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace
To Surf the Tao, this flow of all things, we must first become aware of the Surf in the first place. Becoming aware of the Spirit, that vibrating harmonic of life all around us and within us, is different for each person. There is a great flowing Source of energy just waiting for you to choose its Way of love, peace and harmony. When you are in this Flow, your life will naturally become one of prosperity and peace.
Remember, we are human beings, not human doings. I will allow Lao Tzu sum up, for he said it better than I ever could, “The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking; not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things…The Master sees things are they are, without trying to control them. She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle…Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”
Throughout our history there have always been those for whom war, disasters and the like have been a means to profit. World Wars I and II, as well as the multitude of post-1945 foreign wars, generated a substantial increase in U.S. corporate profits thanks to the increase in military and defense spending. The New York Times reported in 1940 that Standard Oil and other U.S.Japan) with oil and other technical information. companies were continuing to supply even Nazi Germany (and And, “beginning with 1965, the rapid Vietnam buildup of military contracts gave several years of extra life to the tired boom and raised it to new heights: This added stimulation was primarily for military reasons; its economic consequences were side-effects.” (Victor Perlo, “Economic Aspects of Military Spending”, in David Mermelstein: “The Economic Crisis Reader”, 1975)
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. emerged as the great world economic power. According to an article on http://abundance.org.uk/ (The Profits of Abundance and War, Part xi), “We are now witnessing the development of a war policy which appears to envisage war continuing for the foreseeable future, not just to boost America’s massive armaments corporations, but the economy as a whole.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State George Schulz each hold millions of dollars worth of in shares of Gilead Sciences, the biotech company which owns the rights to Tamiflu. Fear of a pandemic of bird flu has sent their stocks soaring. (more at http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/31/news/newsmakers/fortune_rumsfeld/) Another company, Chiron Corp., was recently awarded a $62.5 million dollar contract by the Department of Health and Human Services to begin producing a similar vaccine. Of course we want to be prepared, but an article at http://www.WantToKnow.info notes, “Isn’t it interesting that over $60 million dollars has been “awarded for a vaccine against a bird flu that hasn’t even mutated yet?…How do we know these vaccines will work when it hasn’t even mutated?…the pharmaceutical industry…is raking in huge profits…”
Then of course there’s Exxon/Mobil, which announced yesterday it is now America’s largest corporation, surpassing even Wal-Mart. Interesting that their highest profits were recorded in the quarter following Hurricane Katrina. Of course they are a business, but wouldn’t it be nice if during times of human misery, profit might be considered secondary to relief?
Lao Tzu wrote, “Throw away industry and profit, and there won’t be any thieves.” (#19) “When a country is in harmony with the Tao, the factories make trucks and tractors. When a country goes counter to the Tao, warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.” (#46)
The Master keeps her mind at one with the Tao; that is what gives her her radiance. The Tao is ungraspable. How can her mind be at one with it? Because she doesn’t cling to ideas. The Tao is dark and unfathomable. How can it make her radiant? Because she lets it. Since before time and space were, the Tao is. It is beyond is and is not. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see. (Tao Te Ching, #21)
To be ‘one’ with the Tao means to live with the awareness of this Flow, even if we may not understand it completely. We may still find ourselves faced with various daily fears and issues – but it is how we react to these troubles, which determines our progress along the spiritual path. We have a choice – we can either react along with our worldly programming, becoming hurt, angry, or fearful; or we can choose to react instead with calmness and kindness. This choice, an act of our free will, is the greatest power we have to overcome obstacles along our path. It is a step towards awakening our Spirits.
Surfing the Tao refers to an awareness of this ‘Higher Power’, or consciousness, without all the trappings, archaic ritual or questionable authority of a worldly religion. Our greatest sages all taught us that the truth is contained within us – all we need to do is be still long enough to find it. With stillness and love, we can awaken our spirits. The experience can be profound – or subtle. Often it can be both. The changes happen gradually at first, when the mind finally rests of chatter, and true breath takes hold. Breathing techniques, prayer, yoga, meditation and other tools are available to us which can help us along this path. But they are only a means to an end, not the end in and of themselves.
Find love within you and you have found the Tao. Behave peacefully amidst the chaos and you have found the Tao. Live in harmony with others, and with nature, and you have found the Tao. As you walk through each moment of your life in this way, your awareness of this higher power will grow and grow, until it is no longer difficult to be the eye of the storm. Surf the Tao to a higher consciousness, and watch your life, and the world, transform.
“It is a lot like surfing… you catch a wave by being prepared, timing your move and having your board in position. Like surfing, you have some control, but the Flow has all the power.”