What on Earth is TAO for ?
Between two seconds and two minutes is all you have of existence.
However, your mind and body will tell you that you have a past and a future, and lots of things to be doing now ( usually to resolve those past and future notions). Your mind and body are so closely intertwined with the material world, with all its' delights and distractions, that you may never stand to one side just for a moment. Your brain will connect it all together and give you plenty of room to enjoy yourself, and to be concerned, and give you the impression that things are as they should be, predictable, or uncertain, and let's call it "Life".
There is actually a 'still centre', and I guess trees live in this dimension-less, timeless, state, but your mind will tell you the opposite, and keep you involved and reacting right up to the last moment.
WHAT DO TREES DO ALL DAY ?
You will only ever understand what trees are about if you spend some time with them, but this is no ordinary walk in the woods. You'll have to leave your human conceptions behind, in order to feel, see, and commune with trees.
Trees are a gateway to a different kind of perception of time, and the environment we live in. Look at it in a different way. Look at the light, the air, the space, and the sound around you now. The place that trees inhabit has all of these, and they inhabit the Earth and the sky. They transform and channel energy, and serve the great global movement of water, air, and energy. They influence the space they are in, and talk ~ just listen to different trees on a windy day. Trees have a timeless quality, but their age goes into other dimensions. Turn off your human concerns, notions, identity, and involvements, and just "be" in the same space as the tree ( in some sense you share the experience with the tree). Of course, you might not get much out of this exercise if you didn't know that trees sleep all day, and come awake at night. During the day they slumber (as we might in a daydream), so even so something is going on, at night, however, they are awake and very aware !
You can’t ‘live’ in the present moment ~ it’s too short ! What on earth are you going to do in the next two seconds or two minutes ? Your mind and thoughts, body and brain, are constructed to keep that tiny space full. The world is full !, but it's O.K., since everything only happens in the present.
You are empty, but it goes against all you believe, do, and hope for. Only TAO (an invisible energy) flows through you. If you want to know what living in the present is really like, stand next to a tree. Unfortunately, you probably won’t feel or see anything, because you don't yet know how to 'connect' (if such a thing were possible). In ancient Chinese philosophy I've tried to find a suitable translation for this ‘emptiness’, and discounting the word ‘nothing’, and cutting through all the mystifying terms and definitions, I can come up with one little solution. It is an affirmation or saying, which, as you say it, you can put it into practice . . . .
" BE HERE NOW "
You say this to yourself at any point, and at any time you get caught-up in too much concern and worry,
and, most splendid of all, at any moment during your day when you are not doing anything in particular.
This is simply looking and listening,
where you are now.
At any moment, you will find that you can enter a state, perhaps surprising to you, that is quiet, still, and magical, while being very much in the world. Now what do you think TAO is for ?
No thoughts in a garden
How can we make it through life
Without knowing inner peace
That sublime inner quiet
Of complete affinity
With all things.
Utterly unknown to us.
To the clouds
And all things
We are utterly,
When you've finished looking at the clouds,
the trees, and the wind, please read
THE SMALL PRINT OF YOUR CONTRACT
YOU ARE BORN INTO THIS WORLD AS A TOTAL STRANGER. YOU ARE WELCOMED BY PEOPLE WHO ALREADY LOVE YOU, AND OTHER STRANGERS. WHILE YOU ARE HERE, NOW, IN THIS PLACE, WHICH EXTENDS OVER THE WORLD, OVER YOUR LIFE, YOU CAN MAKE CONNECTIONS THROUGH YOUR HEART. THIS IS EASY BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT THE HEART DOES, AND THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS ARE THROUGH ENTHUSIASM, OPTIMISM, ENCOURAGEMENT, HUMOUR, AND GENEROSITY.
Don't touch that plug !
Only kidding ! You are plugged into the great flow of TAO whether you like it or not, and there isn't much you can do about it. Most just ignore it, or refute its existence. Well, it is only 'symbolic'. The advice of the TAO I CHING can be similarly dismissed, unless you have a particular personal or spiritual problem to sort out. Behind the advice, there are a few general principles that could help you avoid problems or conflicts, or make your life a little easier.
All of this suggests that an agreement or compromise should be reached, either within yourself, or with others, but it is never that straight-forward. The energy in the world won't let you get away with it that easily ! "Fate" you may be able to come to terms with, but be under no illusion, Chance and Change rule this world. TAO is the great flow of energy running through the universe, and it has two (apparently opposite) 'directions', 'flows', or 'aspects'. An understanding of these flows of energy can be found in the "TAO I CHING ~ The Mystic Gateway". These are directional flows of ENERGY, often called "Yin" and "Yang", NOT qualities, things, or positions, even if they have an array of qualities (hot/cold, light/dark, male/female, etc, etc). The energy will flow in one direction only (no matter how much you think you swap between the two). The 'direction' (and 'speed') you go in has a huge effect on you, and everything around you ! Reaction and fighting are ways to express energy in a particular way or direction, and that direction has no 'end' (even though this is sought) ~ it only perpetuates itself. So, if you shouldn't react or fight, what can you do ?
You could, call this, effortless action ‘letting go’, or ‘acceptance’, but it's not that ! It is more like 'without thought', which really will sound thoughtless or irresponsible. [Do you see what you are 'up against' in everday language, and worldly ways of looking at things.] Actually, it doesn't really matter what you do ~ it's all taken care of. Of course, you won't see this until you stop interfering 'for the best reasons', 'to get results', or 'to protect your self, or your security'. It is, I suppose, a little like a faith, which is answered, maybe not in the world, but in your heart.
Lao Tsu has a lot to say about this
in the TAO TE CHING.
There is a detailed explanation
and practice of this in the
"TAO I CHING ~The Mystic Gateway"
It is that 'smallest thing' that grows and doubles in strength. Here, The Five Spiritual Principles are applied to great effect, but they do require you to add them. Apply one or more of them at any time, or even act them out if you are not 'naturally' drawn to one of them, so that the next time you feel the need to react or get angry, add some humour, optimism or enthusiasm, and see the difference this makes ! Of course, you may not feel like doing this because you are caught in the ‘negative’ reward-seeking energy of the world, but it is the addition of these that causes a change in the world, and only you can do that. If you get this right, you'll live in harmony with the present moment, or you'll remain plugged-in to the energy you are already using.
DO NOT FIGHT
Do not fight or battle with forces,whether they be personal, social, political, legal, health issues, or worldly problems. 'The world', and all your involvements, exist to use and 're-direct' your energy. The world is full of other things that need correcting and combating. Most of the time these other 'forces', people, or situations, will have nothing directly to do with you, but do exist to subvert or divert your energy. If you fight, you will stimulate conflict, reaction, or retaliation, in an opponant or situation made for this very purpose. To 'combat' these 'other forces', don't fight them, and certainly don't react, for this will only get you deeper into the situation. This results in an endless, protracted, battle of forces that fight, not for the same thing, but for opposite reasons. You cannot win against stronger forces (that have been set-up and organised to achieve an aim). Even if you 'win' you will still be in a position to be challenged, and need to be constantly 'on your guard'.
Reaction causes, and fuels, conflict. Before you do anything, just look at the facts (your situation), and what others are doing, without criticism, advice, envy, or blame. Don't worry about what others are doing (unless they directly, physically, confront you). Decide what you want, as part of your own plans, without the aid, or discouragement, of others.
The hexagrams reflect and empower your own energy. Your energy can walk over, walk through, or walk around anything !, and you can always walk away. What you should not 'give up' is this quiet 'reflection' or way, even though the world, and events, may throw everything at you. It is a simple trust. A trust, or optimism, that everything is taken care of when you let it be. Initially, you may not be aware of this 'saving Grace', but if you try it (even without any belief), you will find it works, and in surprising ways. You can use this 'energy' (or understanding) through The Five Spiritual Principles ~ ENTHUSIASM, OPTIMISM, ENCOURAGEMENT, GENEROSITY, and HUMOUR. Once you see and understand (the power of) this, the world will 'leave you alone', provide a lot more, and you will find that your own heart governs everything. Simply do the best you can. If you are stopped, or constrained in some way, (the world, and others, are constructed for this very reason) just do the smallest thing you can.
Never give-up against the odds of the world. When you react you simply fight, and when you battle you become entrenched in warfare or conflict, and 'take your chances'. The TAO I CHING suggests a course of action, which is applied in all circumstances.
I was very small, and I was sitting on the stone surround of a statue in a park in the sunshine. Time, history, and place, hardly existed for me then. Over the next fifty years I actually travelled the whole world, and visited its' many bars and taverns, and also sampled some of the exotic religious & spiritual systems ~ most dull and conforming; a few mysterious. The drinking places matched the worshiping places in comforting oblivion.
What I never knew, and what no one ever told me, was that I was a Taoist for 30 years. Isolated, with a strange affinity for trees, grass, parks, and the ever changing daylight. I also had the ability to look deeply into the past, and the present, and often found myself in neither, in 'awake dreams'. When I completed my research and rewrite of the "Tao Te Ching" ~ The Handbook for Taoists,
TAO TE CHING
Your awareness is the door
to great wonder, peace, and pleasure.
Stop and notice
something you never thought possible.
TAO ever present.
The present is TAO.
TAO I CHING TOM LEWORTHY 2015