Daily TAO – July 31st – Form

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At first, form is needed.
Then doubt and inhibition must be dispelled.
Eventually, form is celebrated with joy,
And expression becomes formless.

In all fields of endeavor, including spirituality, one must start out with certain structures, procedures, and forms. Even though one admires the seemingly effortless virtuosity of the masters, it will take some time before one can reach that level.

Take dance, for example. The novice student must drill constantly on the basics, isolating each step and movement with meticulous attention. Although the emphasis on structure may add to be beginner’s inhibition, it must be done. Eventually, the dancer will learn to let go. The steps will have become a natural part of movement. Then dance can be celebrated joyously. Our now mature dancer may even dance in a way that seems so spontaneous, so magical, that it will seem formless – or more precisely, the form will emerge with fluidity, grace, originality, and beauty.

The same is true of spirituality. At first, all the restrictions and practices seem quite constricting. Eventually, you reach a stage where meditation flows quite spontaneously. Every day is new, fresh, and full of wonderful insights. The beauty of the world, then shows itself as it is, doubts fade away, and the banality of ordinary life is replaced by the awe and grandeur of the soul. This is true formlessness.

Screaming Stew22

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Daily TAO – July 30th – Absolute

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They say, “You are god.”
But everyone is.
They say, “All is god.”
They why are there differences?
They say, “All is an illusion.”
But does that include god?

Those who follow Tao declare there is no evidence that a god created our world. They have not found any empirical proof, and they cannot accept the idea philosophically. They reason that god must be absolute and this means oneness, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Naturally, anything separate and distinct would not satisfy this criteria. If there was a god and world that god created, then there would be two things – and god could not then be considered absolute. If there were an absolute god, there could not be anything separate from god.

Everything is god. We are also god. However, we fail to realize this. Why? Because we look for god outside of ourselves. We make the mistake of taking ourselves as the viewer and then seek god as the object of our examinations. Unfortunately, everything we perceive is tainted by our subjectivity, and anything we define as god “out there” cannot be god because it is not absolute. All you’ve found is something that exists in relation to your perceptions.

You are god. The only way to confirm this is to remove the barrier of subjectivity that prevents you from realizing your essential oneness with all things.

2015-07-25 16.39.51

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Daily TAO – July 29th – Variation

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Never jump out of the same hole twice.

We all yearn for success. Not just the success of money, prestige, or power – the simple success of having things work. If you have a hobby like gardening, you love to see your flowers respond to your care. If you are in school, you want to master your courses. If you are a scientist, you look for results from your experiments. All of us want to be successful.

But once you hit on something that does work, it takes great courage to keep going beyond your limits. This is especially obvious in creative fields such as art, music, and writing. It is hard to reach an appreciative audience; once you find something that works, it is hard to let go of it. You keep doing the same thing, like musicians who make a career of performing the same tune. But no matter what your fields of endeavor, you mustn’t do that. Don’t jump out of the same hole twice. You may not be a materially successful, but you will be more successful on a larger level.

Spirituality is creativity. Only with creativity can you have the power to follow Tao. Only with creativity can you remold your personality into a spiritual vehicle. Only with a great breadth of variation can you follow the constantly changing Tao. Therefore, when following Tao, don’t cling to methods and dogma. Be spontaneous.

2015-07-27 19.03.35

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Daily TAO – July 28th – Trap

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Age is covered with cosmetics,
Gray hidden with dye,
Confidence is sought in men,
Awareness deferred for the future.
She toils on her job,
Enduring tension and fatigue,
Subsisting on tranquilizers,
Pinning futile hopes on her children.

Many people allow themselves to be trapped into a miserable life. When we see this, we might think “How tragic,” but in actuality, they did it to themselves. We should all know how our lives are going, for we need only track the decisions that confront us every day.

There are people who think it does not matter what they do. Or they shrug that they are victims of circumstance. That does not justify an unhappy life. Illness, stress, divorce, maladjusted children, and fear of death trap us.

Those who follow Tao do not want to end up in this way. They want to be free. They do not want to be victims. Therefore, although it is a difficult path, they constantly seek to expand the parameters of their lives. They do not suffer to be exploited or enslaved, and they will eschew what is considered “normal” in order to be happy.

It's a trap: Admiral Ackbar's recreation of Shepard Fairey's infamous 'HOPE' poster featuring Barack Obama. David Eger/Rex Features

It’s a trap: Admiral Ackbar’s recreation of Shepard Fairey’s infamous ‘HOPE’ poster featuring Barack Obama.
David Eger/Rex Features

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Daily TAO – July 27th – Essence

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When admiring a painting,
Don’t examine the paint.
When meeting an artist,
Don’t look at the brush.

Searching for life in the mechanics of cells and molecules is like trying to appreciate a painting by analyzing the paint. It might be interesting in a narrow way, but the true point is to grasp the idea the painting conveys.

Why concern yourself exclusively with the mechanics of a situation? That is like seeking an artist’s genius in the brushes; it is the mind of the artist, not the tools, that is responsible for the beauty of a painting.

In the same way, the nature of life cannot be merely understood as the interplay of mechanistic forces. It may only be comprehended by taking in the essence behind the physics, chemistry, biology, math, and other scientific outlooks. All too frequently, we become so mesmerized by life’s details that we fail to comprehend the whole.

The essence of life shall never be known by a human being as long as that person seeks to observe life like viewer and subject. The absolutely essential nature of life can only be comprehended by merging fully with the flow of life, so that one is utterly a part of it.

2015-07-25 16.08.22

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Daily TAO – July 26th – #Evolution

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Organic molecules from cosmic slot’s,
Millions of years in the midst of eternity.
We sprang from the primordial;
Our spirituality came in the evolution.

There is strong evidence that human beings evolved from basic early molecules. Those molecules were formed from the gases and birth processes of the stars and planets. Those stars and planets were in turn formed by the first movement of the universe. That first moment of the universe came from nothingness. So we are on the crest of a certain wave of evolution.

Narrowing it down to the human situation from the cosmic, our minds represent the ultimate expression of who we are. Further, spirituality is the ultimate expression of the mind. One might say, therefore, that spirituality is not a belief, mental construct, or opinion. Rather, it can be considered a function or outgrowth of evolution.

If spirituality is simply a function of life, the edge of a cosmic ripple, then where is it going? We don’t know. Like the universe, it is still expanding into unknown territory. We can decide to cooperate and go with that wave, or we can ignore our spirituality and thereby ignore one of the basic meanings of being human. If we choose to engage in the full process of being human, then we will truly fulfill our part in the universe’s evolution.

2015-07-25 09.48.07

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Daily TAO – July 25th – Scorned

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Why do you scorn others?
Can it be that you are that proud?
No matter how accomplished you are,
There are people ahead of you and behind you.
All beings on the path,
All victims of the same existence,
All with body, mind, and spirit.
No one is better than the next person.
Help others for all the times that you have been ignored.
Be kind to others, for all the times that you have been scorned.

The journey of humanity is the journey from ignorance to enlightenment.

It’s like an endless march of souls through eternity. If you are standing in an infinitely long line of souls, how can you say your position is superior to others? When there is no head and no end to the line, it doesn’t matter what place you hold. Therefore it is foolish to look down on those standing behind. They now occupy the place where you once stood. Instead of pride, you should feel compassion. If you cannot remember this, then just think of all the people ahead of you. You aspire to their place, and you should work diligently.

There is injustice in this world, yes. But there is no need to add to it. When you see someone less fortunate than you, express compassion. When you see someone more advanced than you, try to learn from them. Any other feelings are superfluous.

2015-07-24 11.37.31

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Daily TAO – July 24th – Clarity

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Can you see a sound?
Can you hear light?
Can you unite your senses?
Can you turn inward?

What we are all seeking is clarity. Forget about religious rationalizations. Forget about elaborate explanations. What we all want is clarity. What we abhor is ignorance. Ignorance confuses us, brings us misfortune and sorrow, and makes us miserable. If we have clarity, then we can live with equanimity.

It is a misconception that spirituality brings everlasting happiness. There is no such thing. Sadness still comes to the wise, but, unlike most people, their clarity of mind allows them to see beyond the temporal emotionalism of the moment. They are farseeing, and so happiness and sorrow become the same to them.

True clarity is more than just being smart, more than just being wise. Clarity manifests from meditation. It comes when you can unite all the faculties of the mind and unify them into a magnificent light of perception. It is hard to talk of this in anything but mystical terms. Our language is unfamiliar with the frontiers of the spirit because few have ever seen those limits, let alone described them. But let’s try.

If you unite sound with vision, then you will create light.

That light is the concentrated force of the mind.

It is by that brightness that truth is revealed.

2015-07-23 18.38.39

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Daily TAO – July 23rd – Accomplishment

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The more you cultivate,
The more you accomplish.
Why doubt?
When distance separates you from others,
They cannot overtake you.

In the beginning of training, it may seem as if you are doing very little. You compare yourself to your teachers and to more accomplished people, and you may despair at ever reaching their levels. But if you are diligent, then it is inevitable you will make something of yourself. Once you reach such a plateau, you will be able to relax a bit and contemplate where you are on your journey.

One of the most refreshing things to realize is that you now have something that no one can take away from you. Spirituality is yours to keep, yours to touch. No one else can gain access to it, yet this precious accomplishment can sustain and guide you. It will give you increased health, and it will give you knowledge you could not gain through normal means. Once you tap into this source, you have gained a foothold on the spiritual path.

Uncertainty will not plague you. Who can argue with you? You have seen it yourself. So once you have reached this milestone on your journey, it is proper to rejoice a little, indulge in a little contentment. Then take up the journey once again.

R. the Clown by W.L.S. 1967

R. the Clown by W.L.S. 1961

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Daily TAO – July 22nd – Invisibility

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Invisibility is the best advantage.
But if forced to a confrontation,
Come out with all your skill.

There was once a roadside vendor who sold rheumatism formulas to the passersby. He was a cheery old man who was faithfully at his spot for years. One day a young bully began to harass the vendor. The old man tried very hard to avoid the confrontation, but eventually the bully became convinced he had a coward to abuse as he pleased. When the moment of attack came, the old man defeated him with superior boxing skills. Significantly, the old man was never seen again. He had manifested his superiority at a critical moment, but once he had exposed himself, he disappeared.

In this competitive world, it is best to be invisible. Go through life without showing off, attracting attention to yourself, or making flamboyant gestures. These will only attract the hostility of others. The wise accomplish all they want without arousing the envy or scorn of others. They make achievements only for the sake of fulfilling their inner yearnings.

Yet it is inevitable you will have to prove yourself at one time or another. When that is necessary, then you must marshal all your skills and do your very best. Prove yourself when it is demanded, and when you must prove yourself, be superior. At that moment, there is no time to talk of philosophy and humility. Act. Do. Then fade back into invisibility.

indian with stew

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