Passionless AND Present

Ever passionless, thereby observe the subtle.
Ever intent, thereby observe the apparent.

In my own pursuit of enlightenment, these lines from the Tao Te Ching have been key to me. I have taken these lines to mean that the passionless state, in which I can observe the subtle, was the preferred one (which is perhaps correct). However, I have long thought that the way to be passionless was to be UNinvolved in each moment- to be detached and observing as from above.

As I learn more about mindfulness lately, discovering its true meaning and implications, I have come to understand that being fully present in the moment IS the path to a passionless state. Rather than being incompatible, I see that the two are wrapped up in each other- being passionless helps me be fully present, and being fully present helps me to be passionless.

Goodbye, TV. Hello, Me.

I disconnected my TV a few weeks ago. I gave it away last week some time. I don’t miss it. In fact, I feel liberated, for some reason.

A big part of getting rid of the TV was reducing the amount of time I waste. Time is the most valuable thing I have. I can give it to the big networks so they can make money from advertising, or I can invest it in myself so that it might improve my life somehow. Better yet, I can invest that time in someone else’s life- even if just to listen and not say a word (an investment in other people, is an investment in the world, I think).

Another big factor is a principle I picked up from the Tao Teh Ching. I’ve read, not seeing anything to want causes the mind not to be confused. Also, the chase and the hunt craze people’s minds. I wanted to stop allowing messages into my home that tell me that I need to buy, or be interested in, or value, myriad things that don’t serve any socially beneficial ideal. the greatest benefit I am gaining from my studying right now is my unlearning. 

It is counterproductive for me to allow corporate, profit motivated, psychologist-designed, marketing messages into my home- messages that have been designed to have maximum impact, memorability, and persuasiveness on multiple levels of my psyche. I am one man, but there are teams of highly paid professionals behind many of these ads.

do love my shows, but I don’t love commercials. For now, I will finish out my shows online, and commercial free. Eventually, I intend to move away from video entertainment altogether and use my imagination muscle again in some good books.

I have been enjoying not having TV here. I have had the sounds of a mountain stream and birds chirping playing in the background for a couple hours now. It helps support my mood, without distracting me from, well, me. Video entertainment for me, as for many I know, is an escape. It can, and has for me, become a dependency, even if minor. …

…Talk about distractions- my stomach is growling. I was so engrossed in thought, and writing on my computer, that I didn’t hear my body telling me it was time to put some fuel in it….

Computers are another thing I hope to reduce in my life. I have disconnected my printer to force myself to pick up a pen, and have a more personal connection with my writing. I have cleared the extra monitor and speakers from my desk, too. Books, not webpages (or, at least, less webpages). Pen, not keyboard. (Greater) thought and care, taking my time, slowing down…

I’m not turning into a Luddite (not that there is anything wrong with being one), but I feel driven to disconnect. I live in a city, so nature is not as accessible as I’d like. In addition, it seems that messages, to tempt and convince me to consume and acquire, are everywhere. I need a sanctuary from all that to help with clear, objective thought, and it’s formulation and expression.

… Rambling on again, AND talking about me a lot. ….

In closing, TV- gone, me- present.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I’ve been thinking about this phrase the last couple days. It’s source doesn’t seem to be certain. I personally have associated it with Christians, although I am not sure why. Some say it can be traced back to ancient Hebrew writings.

A big part of my journey, and my personal belief system, has to do with cutting through the illusions and deceptions of my (western) world. As I learn more about how and why things (including myself) work, increasing my understanding, the more of my ‘Self’ (my perceived needs, values, prejudices, etc.) I shed. This is part of what I am talking about when I refer to ‘Return’ as one side of an aspect of the human experience.

I have noticed that as this process takes place, the more I revert/return to being a person that might be called ‘good’, and the more my thoughts and actions are in line with common moral teachings of the major religions.

This process of shedding my ‘Self’, and unlearning, might be like cleaning myself up. I have been removing the stains (some of them very tough) of values and beliefs that have been drilled into me, through various channels, since I was a child. Some of these values, ideas, and ‘needs’ don’t actually serve me, let alone the community. They are selfish, divisive, materialistic, vain… They are dirt.

To paraphrase St. Paul (not that I am a Christian), I won’t be conformed to this world, but be renewed (made like new again) by the transforming of my mind. I will return to my natural/original state, perhaps created in God’s image, and perhaps intended to walk in the same manner as He walked.

In other words, as I clean myself up, removing the stains I have acquired from my/this western world, perhaps I will emulate Jesus in my own humble way, and be next to Godly

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Whoever Jesus was, He was like water. He was good to all, expressing and doing love. The Tao Teh Ching (chapter 8) says that higher good is like water- the good in it benefits all, and it can be found in lowest of places, where people dislike to be. As I make my own humble journey in this direction, I hope to emulate water- clear, yielding, noncontentious, and good to all. Having said that, I will also say that I hope to emulate Him (Jesus), in my own less-than-perfect way.

Jesus’ unconditional love, keeping company with, and guiding, even the lowest of His society (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.), placing Himself in harm’s way for others, not clinging to worldly wealth, serving others… I could go on. These are all attributes of someone who has no self, but who instead has an existence and purpose that transcends his individual life. It makes me think of someone who has achieved enlightenment and Oneness- the ultimate result of the Return.

Truly if Jesus had the consciousness of God (you can’t get any higher of a consciousness), total perception, knowledge, and understanding, then His ‘Return’ would be complete- His enlightenment would be complete, and He would be indistinguishable from the the Divine (…maybe that statement is redundant… or maybe that’s how some recognized Him to be Divine).

I have observed many parallels between the walk and attitudes of the Taoist sage, and the Christian path. I think If I were to substitute the word ‘heaven’ for ‘God’ in the Tao Teh Ching, it would be hard to distinguish the practical teachings of the Bible and that Taoist text.

I am off on a tangent here, just rambling on, thinking out loud/in typed word… Any thoughts, regardless of how religious or Christian they might be, would be welcome. Jesus’ qualities, and description as Divine, as example of the ultimate result of Return, is an idea I intend to explore.

About Having Values

Someone made a comment on my post about no Taoist giving his opinions on the issue of abortion. They brought up a point about values. He said, surely we need to value human life. Without values life would be meaningless…

I can only talk about myself here.

Not giving voice to my values doesn’t mean I don’t have some. It means that they don’t need to be expressed. I don’t think it is always beneficial to everyone for me to express them. It can hurt or offend others, and it can hurt me.

Here was my response to him:

Chapter 5 of the Tao Teh Ching (a Taoist text) says that the sage (wise or enlightened person) manages unspoken guidance. Surely, if my ‘way’ is right and beneficial, people will see that and gravitate towards it- without my having to tell them what my ‘way’ is.

Suppose I tell someone what positive things to value, and even make a decent argument for it, and they adopt that value. That change that has taken place may never be as strong as a change in them that happened spontaneously and originated from inside.

Chapter 13 of the Tao Teh ching says “Therefore those who embody nobility to act for the sake of the world seem to be able to draw the world to them, while those who embody love to act for the sake of the world seem to be worthy of the trust of the world.” The value is there, but, it is reflected in action rather than taught by words- they EMBODY their values.

Besides- what makes me, or any man, a moral authority? My life has been brief, my perspective and beliefs are subjective, and my perception of the whole world is limited. And if I state a value today, I may grow and learn that my value was wrong and change that value tomorrow (having already taken a position on an issue). Socrates said that he knew that he was intelligent because he knew that he knew nothing.

The more I learn about our human world and the natural universe around me, the more I realize that I know nothing… And the more I draw back from saying that I know anything.

Tao Te Ching 1:1

道可道,非常道。

A way can be a guide, but not a fixed path. – Tao Te Ching 1:1

As I follow this way that I am writing about, it will not be a fixed path, nor will it have a definite destination. I have a direction. I am finding my way in that direction with the help of eastern philosophers, and also the bible, Nietzsche, and various other sources.