Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Tag

The Nature of Love   2 comments

"Love"

Sensitivity, Understanding, Forgiveness, Compassion, Detachment, Liberation, Nurturance, Heaven

These are some thoughts about love from my Taoist perspective; that compassionate detachment is the highest virtue and discontentment the greatest misfortune and understanding that even “joy” is not always a good thing and that often “sadness” is. Finding a balance with our emotions keeps the qi balanced within our internal organs; indeed unchecked emotions lead to “stuck qi”, the root of most sicknesses.

Some say love is an emotion; I think not.  Emotions, largely, are calls to action, fear, anger, worry, sadness, loneliness, frustration, guilt; all these things are actually telling us what we need. To my mind, “love” is what I would call a “state of being,” the catalyst that facilitates our understanding of our emotions. My previous post about the nature of evil tries to explain how unchecked negative emotions tend to escalate, culminating into a state of being I call “evil”. I did not get this from any book or anything, these are just my personal opinions based on my observations.

Love then, would be the opposite of evil, in that when we respond to emotions in a positive way we move in that direction.  This love is not that “romantic love” that is often controlling, manipulative, and selfish and even at times leads to evil; think of the love/hate relationships many people suffer through.  No, true love is something far greater than that. True love is something many people will never know, oh, they think they know about love, but seldom follow a truly loving path. It can be a very sad thing when one mistakes a greedy, needy, clingy, self-serving definition of “love” for the truth about what is means to really love.

If you reread the post about the nature of evil, you will see I outlined several emotional steps that progressively twist normal emotional signals out of harmony with the truth. Each time we move along the chain of emotions and fail to choose the correct action we unwittingly take a turn each time towards the dark side.  Collectively choosing the “negative” options for each subsequent emotion leads us farther and farther away from ’love” and closer and closer to evil. I attempt to illustrate this with a sliding scale moving from Evil on the left to Love on the right.

Remember the steps leading to evil?
Fear… Anger… Resentment…  Hate… Prejudice…  Domination… Destruction…and Hell.  Today I will give you my corollary to that progressively sick, evolution of animal’s way of dealing with our emotions. The answers are simple really; each negative emotion has an “antidote” so to speak that will (if followed) take one away from the darkness and into the light. Consider the following comparison of each negative emotion and its opposite, one choice leads to Heaven the other leads to Hell.

Fear……………………..…Sensitivity
Anger………………………Understanding
Resentment….……………Forgiveness
Hate………………………..Compassion
Prejudice ………………….Detachment
Domination……………..….Liberty
Destruction…………….…..Nurturance
Hell………………………….Heaven

I know all this is a very common sense thing and yet is seems nothing is so rare these days as “common sense.” Before you let an emotion take you on a ride towards the dark side apply these simple solutions:

Next time you feel fearful, be sensitive to the situation and keep your awareness. If you feel anger rising up, understand that maybe your rules are too strict or maybe you need to explain them better to others or just get out! Instead of resenting others, forgive them immediately, on the spot; resentment is a major pivot point towards evil. Before you find yourself resenting, judging, and hating someone, just find your compassion for whatever may be driving your harsh judgment that leads to hate. If you feel hate it may develop into prejudice about a person or a situation. The answer to these hateful feelings is to just detach from it, no matter how loathsome you may think something is, you can at least be glad that it is not you or about you!  When judging and hating others, people often start controlling and manipulating in an attempt to dominate them, maybe because they feel out of control themselves. Liberate them instead!  Just let it go or get yourself out… Give them all the freedom you would hope for yourself. True love never gives ultimatums or forces people to comply with rules; this applies to government as well. Instead of acting out of frustration at your failed attempts to control and coerce, (and thereby destroying your relationships or your communities) instead be nurturing of the other’s right to be free. All these responses are loving ways to relate that could save your family, nation and our world, if only people would choose them.

Even if only for yourself, follow these principles. According to Chinese medical theory, uncontrolled emotions cause energy to stagnate and damage the organs, for example:

Fear can damage the kidneys and bladder
Anger can disrupt the liver and gall bladder
Passion can upset the heart and small intestines
Worry can damage your stomach and spleen
Grief may lead to fluid in the lungs and obstructions in the large intestine.

Balanced emotions actually benefit each of the organs; healthy emotions cure each other. Later I will explain how healthy anger can cure fear, and how a little passion can help you get over anger; that worry can save you from excess joy and passion, and some grief is a good way to let go of your worries. Coming full circle, some healthy fear can pull you out of grief.

And what makes this all work? What magic element, process, elixir, or “emotion” turns the “wheel of emotions”? You guessed it I am sure. By living in a “State of Love” remaining, Sensitive, Understanding, Forgiving, Compassionate, Detached, Liberating, and Nurturing in all your dealings you can stay forever in Heaven, forever contented and forever loving.

See also:  The Nature of Evil

The Nature of Evil   3 comments

M C Escher’s Heaven and Hell

Fear, Anger, Resentment, Hatred, Prejudice, Domination, Destruction, Hell.

It starts with fear that leads to anger… not your normal healthy anger mind you but the uncontrollable anger that leads to hatred.  Most anger starts with fear, fear of the unknown, fear that someone or something will harm us. Normal anger can save our lives or pull us out of debilitating fear; healthy anger comes from the feeling that someone or something has broken one of our “rules”.  We all have rules that are a construct of our beliefs, and/or that have been programmed into us by habitual conditioning.

The reasonable person can see this for what it is and uses anger to give him an opportunity to learn. For example, maybe your “rules” are too ridged, maybe you expect too much from a person or a situation. Maybe you did not explain your rules to those around you that you feel have broken them, or maybe you are in the wrong situation and your rules do not apply.  Anger is a chance to take positive action by either, changing your rules to adapt, or explaining your rules better to someone or maybe to move on and get away from a place where your personal rules do not fit.

Failing to take proper action when angry usually leads to resentment. Now we discover the real “root of all evil”…resentment. Resentment is a failure to deal with our anger. Usually coming from an ego based sense that someone is to blame. The nature of resentment is to kill healthy relationships by being unable to forgive.  If one cannot forgive or leave a situation, is unable or unwilling to explain their rules, or cannot adapt, then often there arises the need to make others responsible for their anger. When a person blames others (or themselves) for their anger they are not taking responsibility for their own emotions, this will always lead to resentment. You might say resentment is way of moving away from our angry by projecting it onto a situation or other people.

Being resentful and blaming invariably leads to hatred. How could it not? Being fearful and getting angry about things and subsequently feeling helpless to find resolution amplifies resentment to the point that anger becomes manifest as hatred. You might say that hatred is habitual anger. This habitual anger is the root of all prejudice.

This is how propaganda works by keeping people angry with others over a length of time hatred is the result…. Governments have been using this tool forever. Keep people angry with the “rich” or “ the Jews” or “the Christians”, “Blacks”, “Whites”, “men”, “Americans”, “Muslims”  pick whoever you want it is still evil to hate.  Hate often comes from self-loathing, and more out of control emotions like guilt.
Whenever you fall victim to being angry, and resenting and hating, you are on a path to hell. Being prejudice, hating, and a continued sense of fear and helplessness often ends up becoming a need to control and to dominate others.

In a desperate need to quench anger, the ultimate expression of hatred and prejudice becomes focused by an egocentric rationalization that if we can control or dominate others our personal suffering will be alleviated. This is often sensed to be a righteous path;  “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.  We rationalize that we are “doing the right thing” and /or “fixing the injustices of the world. Seldom do the “do gooders” realize that their motivation is actually coming from their hatred. Case in point: Hitler believed that the Jews caused his suffering, resentment lead to hatred, lead to prejudice, domination, and destruction. Because a person feels out of control anger and they blame another they try to force others into submission and rationalize that they are doing the right thing.

We all need to find a sense of fearlessness that will stop anger from leading to the hate that leads to suffering. People were born free; Taoists recognize the natural laws that govern man’s existence; a spiritual commitment to human freedom. Taoist philosophy is natural law. The way of humans follows the way of nature. This is not always the way we want it to be but it is the only fair way.  Have faith that things are what they are everything will turn out OK. We may not be happy with the results but the evolution of the universe is out of our control. Taoists do not try to change the world they have faith in the understanding that with Yin and Yang everything works itself out instead, they cultivate the pathway to heaven; “adapt and overcome”.“The greatest misfortune is discontentment”.

Perhaps if everyone did more Taiji and learned to embrace the philosophy of Tao instead of arguing and about how to try to control and dominate others there would be more peace and harmony in the world.  Humans are still learning how to be, class is always in session, everywhere. The answer to all the suffering and disharmony some people feel is actually quite simple.

Do not judge others, do not let anger go beyond the impetus to adapt, never fall victim to resentment and if you do, immediately forgive others, right there on the spot. Always help your friends and neighbors, be kind and yet firm. Do not overlook evil, do not be drawn into the fray. Never give a pass to hatred, prejudice or domination onto your spirit. Taoists have a very important belief that always gives them solace…its called Faith.

See also:  The Nature of Love

Posted November 27, 2010 by The Maui Taoist in Relationships, Tao

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #7 Finding Heaven   Leave a comment

“The sage sees the universe without going out the door”

 

Small Heavenly Circle (Microcosmic Orbit) Meditation Part #1

Attaining Tao is to merge with the wonders of heaven. In the very first verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “The Tao that can be named is not the real Tao”. What he is saying is the greatest of all things is beyond words, and once we attempt to name it we have defined the indefinable, which obviously is not going to work.  So then, how do we merge with the undifferentiated source of all things? Simple, start by just letting go of your desire to be or do anything and focus your energy into heaven.

If you have read the six prior lessons on Taoist meditation basics and practices and if you have actually tried some of these techniques then it is time to expand your horizons. Be sure to read Tuning the Breath as well.

I hope by now you have had some success with staying “in the moment” and have learned to use some of these tools to dissolve your mind into your body. Learning to control your thoughts is the basic methodology to allow your energy to find a higher calling. In this article, I will give you a little piece of treasure, another tool for your meditation that will help you reach a higher state of consciousness.

Much has been written about the “Small Heavenly Circle” also known as the “Microcosmic Orbit” meditation; a simple Google search will give you over 5,000 results.  I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel here, (pun intended) but instead I will give you my method.  This method of meditation takes the practitioner on an inward journey along the superhighway of energy that predominates within the human body.  My method is a straightforward and simple way to start exploring the universe within.

On the inward journey, the first things we learned were to dissolve our thoughts and get in touch with our energy, something you are getting skilled at if you have been doing the lessons so far. Now I am going to explain how to circulate that energy within your body.

We start with a basic energy circuit that runs up and down the torso in a circular path just under the surface of the skin; this path is called the “Small Circle.”  The vessels and meridians in your body that carry the qi are usually along high conductivity tissue such as tendons  and sometimes muscles. The centerline of both the front and back of our torso is mostly tendons, and this is a good conductor for the qi to flow within.  Learning to follow this path is a major step to moving even deeper into your body, and will give you more insight into the universe within you. My method starts with identifying the two major pathways of energy (that connect into a circle) by defining 15 points along the way. Like planets in a galaxy, we will travel to each one, picking up provisions along the way.  As we get to know each “planet” we will gain an understanding of our inner workings, this is the “Sage seeing the universe with out going out the door”

The two main paths have many names and energy can be moved in a variety of ways. In this beginning technique, we are going to follow the natural flow of energy down the front and up the back. For now, just think of them as Yin and Yang.  The “Yang path” starts at the perineum and then the base of the spine, continues up and over the crown of the head, and ends at the pallet. The “Yin path” starts at the tip of the tongue and flows down the front of your body and ends at the perineum at the bottom of your torso. Technically the “Ren” channel ends at the ovarian palace but since the connecting “Tu” channel emerges at the perineum I start there. Again, there are many resources available online for your perusal. Here I want to give you my method of navigating this “orbit.”

First, let me name, locate, and describe each “planet” along the orbit. Since we have to start somewhere, I start from that place where you “see things” when you close your eyes, a place between the eyebrows that is sometimes called “the minds eye.”

There are many more than these 16 points (that are really bigger than “points” that is why I think of them as “planets“) but I like to keep things simple. Picking these 16 allows us to be clear about each one and later we will apply a breathing technique to help propel your “spaceship” to each “planet”.   As your awareness grows you will feel and communicate with many more places than I have put on this list.  For example, between numbers  8, 9 &10 there are 2 others, the anus for instance, which is actually 6  in itself, front, back, each side, the center and the outer muscle!

My list of 16 celestial destinations within:

Classic texts would have you start at the Dan Tian and “contemplate your navel” for “as long as it takes to feel the qi there“.  I will not refute this method but there are alternatives. While this skill is admirable, I think we get the point; moving on from there, I believe spending a few minutes at each point is a better way to learn this orbit. Of course take as long as you want to explore each world, again the “classics” say to spend as long as a couple of months on each point until you can send your awareness and feel your qi there.

Once you have “opened the channel”, you will notice the qi moves rather quickly around the orbit. I usually do not need to linger long at each place at this point in my training and because I am not writing a book here, think of this as a quick tour through the planets,

The Mind’s Eye (behind your forehead)
The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet)
The Throat, (thyroid gland)
Thymus gland
The Heart
The Solar Plexus
The Dan Tian (just one inch below the navel)
The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel)
The Hui Yin (the perineum)
The Tip of the Tail Bone
The Gate of Life (on the spine opposite the Dan Tien)
The Kidneys and Adrenals (on the spine opposite the Solar Plexus)
The Shen Dao, Between the Shoulders (opposite the Heart)
The Da Zhui, at the C-7
The Jade Pillow (at the base of the skull)
The Bai Hui or Crown Point (at the top of the head)

My planetary journey starts where I already am…

Sit and tune the breath,

Bring your awareness to,

1.    The Minds Eye (behind your forehead); Starting where your mind is already is a good place to start. When you close your eyes, you will “see” or rather “observe” energy actively moving about. Then just let the awareness sink down trough the Yin Path….

2.    The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet); When I put my awareness here I feel saliva welling up from the bottom of my mouth and pooling around the base of my tongue encouraging me to swallow.

3.    The Throat; This spot sends the flow downward along the yin channel. Here lies the thyroid gland a tiny little gland that controls the rates of regeneration for your entire body.

4.   The Thymus gland is a very sensitive gland that is an emotional regulator, sensing the heart and breathing rates, etc.

5.     The Heart; When my mind travels here I feel my heart moving a little bit, not so much an increase in speed, but sort of a warm gentle thumping.

6.    The Solar Plexus; This is a major nerve gathering center in your chest, at this location I feel a lump that seems to radiate out in all directions.

7.    The (Lower) Dan Tian (one inch below the navel); This is the home planet for your Qi. When qi gets stuck in your head (Upper Dan tian) it can cause rampant thinking, when the qi is at your Thymus or Solar Plexus, (in the middle Dan tian), you might feel emotional, but when the qi is here it will feel at home. After my first few years of practice, I began to feel a rotational sensation here.

8.    The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel); This space is connected to all of your glandular systems and placing my mind here, brings me a sense of being connected internally.

9.    The Hui Yin (the perineum); When here, I feel a pulsing feeling as though there is a warm current flowing through my perineum moving towards the back of my body. This is the bottom of the torso and it is full of muscles that support the pelvic floor. The Hui Yin is sort of the launching pad for the next part of the orbit, the Yang path.

To keep things simple just do this for now…

First Tune your Breath and then just work on putting your awareness on each spot until you notice it; just like when you were using your hands; remember, “listening” for the tingling sensation there? If not re-read the other lessons. The point is, if you can send the energy to your hands it is a logical step to move to these orbit spots here. Just do this a little bit and see if you can feel the flow of energy coming down from your head to your perineum.

In the next lesson, I will lead you through the rest of the orbit.

Soon you will see that Taoist meditation and internal qigong are similar. You are now starting to learn the fine art of “Nei Gong” or “internal qigong”

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Earth Day   7 comments

We cannot "save the planet"

Did you know?

The earth has survived volcanoes, ice ages, earthquakes, floods, erosion, plate tectonics, collisions with asteroids, gamma ray bursts, and who knows whatever for billions of years; always surviving, evolving and adapting.

Did you also know that in China in 1931 between one and 2.5 million people died in a flood?
Or that also in China in 1887 between 900,000 and 2 million people died in a flood.
In addition, in 1556, an earthquake killed 830,000 in China.
And another earth quake in China in 1976 left 242,419 people dead? And in 1920, 243,117?
How about the earthquake-generated tsunami in Indonesia, 230,000 lives lost.
And the death toll in Haiti is estimated at 230,000?

The eruption of the Volcano in Iceland puts more CO2 into the air in one day than the entire population of Europe did in the last 100 years.  And did you know that CO2 is a scant 0.033% of the atmosphere; and it is the only source of life for all the green plants on the Earth?

Did you also know 250 million people each year get malaria resulting in between one to 2.7 million deaths? In addition, did you know that environmentalists, through the EPA banned DDT, and yet DDT was heralded as having saved over 500 million lives in the two decades before it was banned?

The bottom line is: we cannot “save the planet” and conversely we cannot destroy the planet. Are we so arrogant that we think we can destroy the planet when we are only a minuscule drop in an ocean of planetary history?  Everything here is from here….whatever we dig up, or burn or eat or whatever, came from here and it is going to stay here. The planet will adapt and evolve. We may not adapt however, and so life goes on. The planet will be fine.

Yin/Yang, Taoist thought understands these things, sure, we all want a clean environment, and we also don’t want millions to die from malaria or perish in cheaply made lightweight vehicles.  Nature always works things out.  If we are not meant to survive then, we will not. Perhaps we need war and disease to teach us what to do, or what not to do. These things are all part of nature, even our strange lifestyle is part of nature, as are we. There are those people that will not eat meat and consider it wrong for people to eat meat, do they protest the tiger, fighting extinction, and begrudge him his last meal?

Heaven and Earth are eternal, our physical selves, not so much. The Human experience for an individual is all we have here and now. Do not fret or worry about mother Earth, she will survive. Our only challenge is to deal with each moment correctly, enjoy what we have and let nature take its course.

If we are going to live full and joyous lives, we need to live in harmony with the way things are, adapt and overcome. To change with change is the way of nature; to be discontent is the greatest misfortune.

Happy Earth Day

The Lettuce Seed   Leave a comment

One day I was eating lunch with my children.  My pre-teen daughter was enjoying a green leafy salad when my 5-year-old son asked me “Daddy, where does lettuce come from?”

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to stimulate his thinking I replied, “Well son, it comes from Heaven.”

He gave me that tilted head look and asked, “What!  How can that be?

I continued, “It’s like this, have you ever seen a lettuce seed?”

He shook his head “no”,

“Well, it’s really really small, you can barely see it. There is no lettuce in it, just a recipe for lettuce, you need to add Heaven”

“How do you do that ?” he said.

“Well,” I went on, “you need to plant the seed in the Earth, that’s a part of Heaven” I reminded him. “Then, the sun light shines down on it from above,  you know, another part of Heaven, and then  ‘poof’ you’ve got lettuce”

“Hmmmm… I get it,” he said. Then he gave me the strangest look ever, I could just feel him thinking, and out popped his next question. “Daddy, where do I come from?”

“Well sweetie, you come from Heaven too!”

“What? Aw come on Daddy, how can that be”

“It’s like this, have you ever seen a human seed?”

He shook his head “no” ”

Well, it’s really really small, you need a microscope to see it. There is nobody in it, just a recipe for a person, you just need to add Heaven”

“How do you do that?”

I said, “Eat your salad!”

Posted November 30, 2009 by The Maui Taoist in Stories

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