Review of Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching

Review of Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching

Many wonderful books inspire us to be the best version of ourselves, but on occasion one rises above the pack to Lao Tsu Tao Te Chingchange the very fabric of our lives when it reveals the nature of the human condition. Such a book knows no political boundaries or cultural barriers. Time does not dilute its message, because it is immortal. Gia Fu Feng and Jane English’s translation of Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching has been such a book to me.

Available direct from the author at http://www.eheart.com/TAO/TTC/TTCbook.html or on Amazon.com.

Peace out,
Robert

Offer the Tao

Offer the Tao

Whether you seek refuge or treasure, return to the source.  There you will find fulfillment. How do you return to the source? Choose it and the way will be revealed. How do you choose it?  Accept all that you are.

Chapter 62

“Tao is the source of the ten thousand things.
It is the treasure of the good and the refuge of the bad.
Sweet words can buy honor;
Good deeds can gain respect.
If people are bad, do not abandon them.
Therefore on the day the emperor is crowned,
Or the three officers of state installed,
Do not send a gift of jade and a team of horses,
But remain still and offer the Tao.
Why does everyone value the Tao?
Isn’t it because you find what you seek and are forgiven when you sin?
Therefore this is the greatest treasure in the universe.”

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.

Offer the Tao.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace out,
Robert

Great Alaskan Adventure

Great Alaskan Adventure

Good morning friends. Rebecca and I are off on our Great Alaskan Adventure. We want to thank David for his gracious generosity. We will be staying at his beautiful place in Girdwood, but first we have to get there. It’s quite the journey. We began at 5:30 am for last-minute packing and then rushed to my daughter’s house where a very grumpy girl got up at 7:30 am on Saturday morning to take her parents to the airport.

We all love the security check point. You know the drill…empty your pockets, remove any metal dental fillings etc. Except, Rebecca was chosen “randomly” for a pass, while I had to endure the indignities. I’m pretty sure she bribed someone.

Now we’re at Starbucks relaxing in big comfy chairs while we sip coffee and have our breakfast. Our flight doesn’t leave until 10:20 am. We have several connecting flights and don’t expect to arrive at David’s place in Girdwood until midnight Alaska time. That’s 4:00 am eastern. Yikes!

Peace out,
Robert

Teaching Without Words

Teaching Without Words

Nonverbal communication tells more of the story than you might realize. Maybe it’s because body language doesn’t lend itself to deception as easily as words. If you pay close attention to a person’s body language, then you usually get a pretty good idea of their real intentions. Children learn more from our actions than our words. They learn the most when our actions and words are consistent.

We usually feel at ease in our relations with people whose words and body language tell the same story. Sometimes our communications with others is full of misunderstandings. It could be because there is an inconsistency between our words and our nonverbal communication.

Rather than trying to alter your body language from the outside, take a long hard look at what’s on the inside. Are you saying exactly what you mean? Are you clear about what you want?

“Teaching without words and working without doing
Are understood by very few.”
Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.

Peace out,
Robert

Attending Fully

Attending Fully

Sometimes we lose our way and need to make a fresh start. The idea of being like a newborn is a theme running through many spiritual practices and that is about as fresh as it gets. Since we were all children once, you’d think this would be an easy thing to do, but that’s not always the case. To make matters worse, most of us can’t remember much before the age of four or five. It’s as if someone erased the files.

For this reason, we have to rely on our own observations to get clues about this practice. A newborn is wide eyed and curious about its surroundings. “Childlike wonder” is a descriptive phrase we often use to describe a newborn. Lao Tsu uses the phrase “attends fully” to convey the same idea. You get the sense that newborn children are fully alive and centered in the present moment. They do not sulk about the pains of birth, nor do they worry about their next meal.

Maybe we can’t remember our lives before the age of four or five because we lived fully and completely in the present and never gave a thought to such things as “the past or the future”. If this is this so, then our lives changed dramatically when we began to think about the past and the future.

So, what of this business of making a fresh start? Mastery is the ability to self-correct. Maybe the old masters are suggesting that in those instances when we lose our way, we can look to the example of a newborn as one possible way to make a fresh start. Spend a little time attending fully and see what happens. All you have to lose are the old wounds that distract you from living the life you were meant to live.

Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,
Can you avoid separation?
Attending fully and becoming supple,
Can you be as a newborn babe?
Washing and cleansing the primal vision,
Can you be without stain?

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.

Peace out,
Robert

The Unborn Paradox

The Unborn Paradox

The old master wrote, “They are unborn, so ever living.” Like a Zen Koan, this sentence challenges our assumptions about birth and life. You have to be born to live, do you not? Paradox only exists when assumptions prevail. This is particularly true when our assumptions support the illusion of duality.

In the passage below, Lao Tsu combines concepts in a way that doesn’t make much sense if you believe in the dual nature of the world. For instance, “The wise stay behind, and are thus ahead”. In a dual world, you cannot get ahead by staying behind. They are opposites.

Again, he writes “They are detached, thus at one with all.”

Finally, “through selfless action, they attain fulfillment.”

Maybe linear thinking is flawed. What if life and death are the same thing? Could it be possible that there is no such thing as “ahead” or “behind”? Perhaps these linear concepts are a fiction.

There is much hate and anger in the world…this group pitted against that group. Look where it has led us. We are surrounded by violence, destruction, and death.

Lao Tsu wrote of being at one with all, but what does that mean? Maybe it means there is no separation between “this” or “that”, between “you” and “me”. As a simple exercise, try to embrace everything around you and see what happens. What could it hurt? It’s only a hug and a hug never hurt anything.

Chapter 7

Heaven and earth last forever.
Why do heaven and earth last forever?
They are unborn, so ever living.
The wise stay behind, and are thus ahead.
They are detached, thus at one with all.
Through selfless action, they attain fulfillment.

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.

Peace out,
Robert

Walking the Main Road

Walking the Main Road

For all our talk of family values, we are surrounded by distractions that keep us apart. Often families do little more than sleep under the same roof. There are just too many things that demand our attention. Sadly, these things succeed in luring us away from the ones we love the most.

For example, we live in a materialistic society and our possessions take a lot of work to maintain. Home ownership is a dream for most young couples. It’s a place to nest and raise a family, but the price is high. With it come mortgages, property taxes, lawnmowers to keep the weeds at bay, the cost of repairs to leaky roofs, etc. Then there is the matter of protecting our homes. Instead of sharp swords, today we have security systems, municipal police forces, standing armies and handguns.

The cost of home ownership is high and the resources to maintain it must come from somewhere. For most families, someone has to work long hours to pay for it, and to make matters worse, the growing trend today is for both parents to work long hours. In that instance, who is raising our children?

I’d like to believe there was a time when we were less distracted, worked less and spent more time raising our children, but in my lifetime, this is the way it has been for my friends and neighbors. Indigenous people are disappearing at an alarming rate. I like to think that they live a slower and simpler lifestyle that gives them time to raise their children and really know each other well. Perhaps this is the main road Lao Tsu spoke of in the Tao Te Ching.

Chapter 53

If I have even just a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear will be of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people are easily distracted.
When the court is arrayed in splendor,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are empty.
Some wear gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
And indulge in food and drink;
They have more possessions than they can use.
They are robber barons.
This is certainly not the way of Tao.

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.
Available direct from the author at http://www.eheart.com/TAO/TTC/TTCbook.html or on Amazon.com

Peace out,
Robert

Meeting Ground of the Universe

Meeting Ground of the Universe

These are aggressive times. Many hold the view that we must fight for every inch we can gain and yield nothing. On the surface, it looks like they might be right. Time and again, victory seems to go to those who strike hard and fast, but what if they are wrong. What if aggression leads to loss in the end? What if the aggressor’s victory is an illusion…it appears to be a gain, but in reality is a huge setback.

2,600 years ago, an old man’s parting advice to a great empire was to encourage it to yield to smaller nations. There is no fight in Lao Tsu’s advice. He does not advocate aggression. In fact, he defines a great nation as a “meeting ground”.

Folks, you can’t get much lower than the ground and it sounds like Lao Tsu believes a great nation can accomplish more by throwing a party for everyone. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot better to me than acting like the neighborhood bully.

Be still and overcome. Yield and conquer.

Chapter 61

A great nation is like low land.
It is the meeting ground of the universe,
The mother of the universe.
The female overcomes the male with stillness,
Lying low in stillness.
Therefore if a great nation yields to a smaller nation,
It will conquer the smaller nation.
And if a smaller nation submits to a great nation,
It can conquer the great nation.
Therefore those who would conquer must yield,
And those who conquer do so through yielding..

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.
Available direct from the author at http://www.eheart.com/TAO/TTC/TTCbook.html or on Amazon.com

Peace out,
Robert

Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough

The world around us is filled with riches beyond our wildest dreams. To be surrounded by great wealth, but feel poor is tragic. We feel poor because we believe those riches belong to someone else, but ownership is a fiction. We never truly own a thing to the exclusion of others.

For example, take that cherry tree growing in your front yard. In the spring, its pink blossoms cast their beauty for anyone who has eyes to see. You don’t own its beauty and you certainly can’t stop others from admiring the blooming tree. Bees gather pollen from its blossoms and carry it to their hive hanging high in your neighbor’s oak tree where they transform it into the sweetest honey. You don’t own the pollen, the bees or their honey though you may gather some for your table.

If you believed the pollen was yours, and yours alone, such that you tried to block the bees’ thievery with poisonous chemicals, you would only succeed in destroying the source of the sweetest thing you ever put in your mouth. Your killing spree has other consequences as well. Without the bees, the pollen will not spread and the tree will eventually stop producing cherries for your Independence Day pies.

No, my friends, you don’t own the cherry tree. Enough is enough.

Chapter 46

When the Tao is present in the universe,
The horses haul manure.
When the Tao is absent from the universe,
War horses are bred outside the city.
There is no greater sin than desire,
No greater curse than discontent,
No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself.
Therefore he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.
Available direct from the author at http://www.eheart.com/TAO/TTC/TTCbook.html or on Amazon.com

Peace out,
Robert

How to Live

How to Live

If you want to know a man’s thoughts, pay attention to what’s happening in his life.  A man, who dwells on fearful thoughts, lives his fears.  If he fears death, then death is what he gets.  Focus your thoughts on living and death has no place to enter.  Your life will be full and weaponless.

 

Chapter 50

He who knows how to live can walk abroad

Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.

He will not be wounded in battle.

For in him rhinoceroses can find no place to thrust their horn,

Tigers no place to use their claws,

And weapons no place to pierce.

Why is this so?

Because he has no place for death to enter.

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.

Available direct from the author at http://www.eheart.com/TAO/TTC/TTCbook.html or on Amazon.com.

 

Live large my friends,
Robert