Achievement

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 3

If achievement is valued,
jealousy will result.
If possessions are valued,
hoarding and stealing will result.

Therefore this path is one
of contentment and simplicity.
It empties the mind of its chattering,
and fills the soul with truth.
It frees us from our wanting
and returns us to our passion.

No longer needing to have our own way,
we are not fooled by clever plots and plans.
Our actions become focused, pure, and effortless.

_________________________________
Of course it is difficult to remain focused. Culture is build upon the premise that we don’t yet have everything that we want. If we think that we do, we must be quickly disabused of that heretical thought. Political polemics are based on our dissatisfaction. “Vote for me and I will make it better!” (How’s that working for us?) Our economic truism states that the consumer must be constantly stimulated to want something else, something more. It is this wanting that keeps us falling victim to the latest schemes of con artists. (Including 99% of political voices and 90% of all advertising)

Honestly, all I want is a simple life of genuine contentment; to be happy, sad, sick, well, working, resting, and ultimately dying – all in a natural, un-selfconscious way. What could I possibly purchase that would bring me this? What could I possibly achieve outside of my self that would guarantee me this? On the other hand, what could possibly keep me from this, other than my conditioned mind? I have it all already.

Flux

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 2

Beauty cannot exist
without ugliness.
Virtue cannot exist
without vice.
Living, we know death.
Struggling, we know ease.
Rising high, we know the depths.
Being quiet, we understand noise.

Everything gives rise to its opposite,
therefore we work without conscious effort,
and teach without agenda.
We enjoy everything
and possess nothing.
Our accomplishments
do not emerge from our ego
so we do not cling to them.
Thus they benefit all beings.

_________________________________

Life is flux. Everything is always changing into something else. It seems so solid and real, but that is just the way my mind (which is also always changing) constructs the data from my perceptive organs. I will likely awake tomorrow morning in the same bed in which I fell asleep. But everything will be different. Millions of cells in my body will have died and been replaced. I will have dreamed and the neuron networks in my brain will have shifted. Mount Shasta, that Queen of Mountains near my home, will look the same but it will not be the same. Snow will have melted. Winds will have shifted soil and plant matter. Plants will have died and seeds will have germinated. Birds and animals will have eaten seeds, insects, and each other. This process is happening in every micro-instant of the process of life.

The “me” that writes … this word… if different from the “me” that writes… this word. A deep understanding of this truth helps me not fall victim to clinging. Everything, my “self” included, is the River of Tao flowing and cannot be grasped. This is a frightening, yet freeing, realization. I don’t have to hold on to any of it, my “self” included.

Can I let that awareness affect my moods and actions today?

Thinking

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 1

Talking about a path
is not walking that path.
Thinking about life
is not living.

Directly experiencing life
brings unconditional appreciation and unity.
Thinking about life
brings conditional judgments and separation.

Free of conditioned thinking, we experience our true nature.
Caught in conditioned thinking, we experience only who we think we are.

Yet both our conditioned nature and our true nature are part of life itself.
Our conditioned experience of living is a gateway to unconditional life.

_________________________________

I am not who I think I am. Yet my thinking mind has created such an illusion of solidity, permanence, and reality that to conceive of myself as anything else is to venture into the realm of metaphysics and flounder around. I don’t think metaphysics is going to help me. That seems just another way of using the conditioned mind to try to solve a conundrum that it itself has created.

In the type of meditation I practice, rooted in the Taoist tradition, there is no attempt to stop the thinking mind, nor is there any attempt to attach to and use the thinking mind. I simply sit still, keep all my perceptive senses open, including my eyes, and imagine myself outside of, at a distance from the thoughts. It is as if they were a train of boxcars going by on a railroad. When I notice that I have hopped the train and am suddenly miles down the track, I simply imagine myself off the train and back in my body’s center – my heart, or my lower stomach, and return to simply watching. This process helps me realize that, though I have thoughts, I am not those thoughts.

This meditative process carries over into all of my life and helps me spend more and more of my time in the direct experience of my life. I still think thoughts, but they are not nearly as problematic as they used to be and I am open to Wonder and Joy far more often.