Mentor Series #9
Sage: A person attaining the wisdom that a philosopher normally seeks. Lao Tzu is considered the father or founder of Daoism, or Taoism as we know it, “The Way,” the path that leads us all to truth and understanding. He was a Chinese philosopher that was said to have also been the “librarian” for the imperial records, a writer credited with authoring the great book “Tao Te Ching.”
One of my favorite mentors, or, author of the book “Tao Te Ching,” I found the concepts presented were too pure not to add into my life. I know, it’s so cliche of me to “add value to my life” from a book I’ve read, when so many people are looking for motivation and inspiration. However, my life path has been about transforming my “self” into a new being, one not needing motivation and inspiration to exist(the ups and downs of life), which means I seek true wisdom, which begins inside. Wisdom is inner knowledge recognized as truth and applied mentally then physically without fail. This is the key to being “wise.”
These next ten concepts are the reasons why Lao Tzo has played such a big role in my mental development towards discovering the true nature of truth and wisdom.
Tao Te Ching
- On Modesty : “The wise are heard through their silence, always self-full through selflessness.” It’s not about “us.” It’s about other people. It’s about listening more than we speak, giving more than we take. Through this action of giving more than we receive, we remain full inside, instead of always looking at how we can fulfill our void through our own desires. Modesty isn’t necessarily about wearing so many clothes people can’t see you, it’s about being more aware of others. It’s not about living “lavish,” but more about how we give to others in various ways. Pulling back in heart, soul, and mind. Our thought to make modesty about clothing is another way we have shown our attachment to the physical, when modesty is a state of being.
- On overfulfillment: “Keep filling your bowl, and it will spill over. Keep sharpening your knife, and it will blunt. Keep hoarding gold in your house, and you will be robbed. Keep seeking approval and you will be chained. The Great Integrity leads to actualization, never over fulfillment.” Referring back to the modesty piece, we can now understand why the goal should be to give more than we take, listen more than we speak, and give more than we receive. What is our obsession with obtaining items most times we don’t use anyway?
- On the importance of what is not: “We shape clay to birth a vessel, yet it’s the hollow within that makes it useful. We chisel doors and windows to construct a room, yet it’s the inner space that makes it livable. Thus do we create what is to use what is not.” The things we don’t see or understand can provide meaning in this life. Sometimes it’s not what’s said, but how it’s said. It’s whether someone makes time, not their excuse for why they couldn’t or didn’t. Looking deeper into our actions, we can find all of the issues we face in life, mostly by paying attention to the things we aren’t doing that we know we should.
- On tranquility: “Although all forms are dynamic, and we all grow and transform, each of us is compelled to return to our root. Our root is quietude. To fully return to our root is to be enlightened. Never to experience tranquility is to act blindly, a sure path to disaster. To know tranquility is to embrace all. To embrace all is to be just. Justice is the foundation for wholeness. Wholeness is the Great Integrity. The Great Integrity is the infinite fulfilling itself.” Why is it that stress makes us sick? Why do most of us run towards the noise? Why do we seek out distractions? Most of us are afraid of the silence, because of the power that’s in it. We know the answers we seek are within the silence we run from, but running from those answers and the silence is also what brings the stress and anxiety.
- On celebrating paradox: “No thing remains itself. Each prepares the path to its opposite. To be ready for wholeness, first be fragmented. To be ready for rightness, first be wronged. To be ready for fullness, first be empty. To be ready for renewal, first be worn out. To be ready for success, first fail. To be ready for doubt, first be certain. Because the wise observe the world through the Great Integrity, they know that they are not knowledgeable. Because they do not perceive only through their perceptions, they do not judge this right and that wrong. Because they do not delight in boasting, they are appreciated. Because they do not announce their superiority, they are acclaimed. Because they never compete, no one can compete with them.” It’s still what “isn’t,” not what is. What is exists only as a medium to see the fullness of what is not.
- On seductions: “Inner strength is the master of all frivolities. Tranquility is the master of all agitated emotions. Those who succumb to frivolities have lose their inner strength. Those who succumb to agitated emotions have lose their tranquility. The wise cultivate inner strength and tranquility. That is why they are not seduced by addictive temptations.” The ability to understand and accept that one is NOT their body helps with the pursuit of cultivating inner strength. The inner soul wants to do wonderful and amazing things while in this body and world, but it is impossible without the inner strength necessary to navigate through the path life takes us on. If one cannot learn inner discipline to say now, one will be tormented by the desires of the flesh.
- On our relation to the world: “All attempts to control the world can only lead to its decimation and to our own demise since we are an inseparable part of what we are senselessly trying to coerce. Any attempt to possess the world can only lead to its loss and to our own dissolution since we are an intrinsic part of what we are foolishly trying to possess.” The control we seek to have over everything in the physical is yet another indication that we are weak spiritually. Spiritual is not a religious term, it’s just something science has not been able to quantify, as mankind has a hard time quantifying that which we cannot see, even though we spoke earlier on two quotes that alerted us to the fact it’s what’s NOT there in the physical that’s most important. We must see to control and understand what’s within, before we can understand what’s outside, manifesting physically.
- On war: “The wise hold steady on the passive yin path, and those who are aggressive prefer the active yang. Weapons are instruments of coercion and devils of death. Resort to them only in dire necessity. Peace is our natural state of being. If weapons must be wielded to defend ourselves, and we are victorious, never rejoice. Can there be joy over the slaughter of others?” War is a state of stress, produced by our lack of seeking peace within. We take the stress and put it on others, making our anxiety and stress the fault of another, allowing us to still not seek what is within, and instead attack what is outside of ourselves in the physical.
- Too much invites disaster: “What is overexpanded becomes diminished. What is too strong becomes weakened. What is too high is cut down. What is overpossessed becomes impoverished. It is in the nature of the process that in the final stages, those who are overextended, overarmed and overprivileged, shall be overcome. Disaster stalks the fish which swims up from its deepwater home, and the army which threatens to conquer those beyond its own borders.” Modesty. If only you could see the smile on my face as I write this commentation, because I know personally that everything is connected, and the connection starts within. We spoke on modesty and having too much earlier, and what that says about our inner state, so I will not continue the discussion here.
- Distinguishing the Highest from the Lowest Morality: “You can readily recognize the highest virtuousness because it never places itself on display. You can readily recognize the lowest virtuousness because it is always announcing itself. The highest virtue quietly serves universal needs. The lowest virtue actively strives for personal success. The highest morality serves common needs. The lowest morality is self-serving. True benevolence acts without intention. But when rituals go unheeded, they are enforced with rolled-up sleeves. Failing the Great Integrity, we resort to virtuousness. Failing virtuousness, we resort to moralizing. Failing moralizing, we resort to dogma, the most superficial form of faith and loyalty, and the nourishment for confusion. Natural persons are attracted to substance rather than form, to the nutritious fruit rather than the enticing flower, to that which dwells deep within, rather than to that which clings superficially to the surface.” Less is more. The more we return to inner peace and solitude, the more we can see the damage we have caused by releasing our inner demons of stress and anxiety into the world by our actions. No need to shout or proclaim if you are confident, that will be seen. No need to announce if one is secure. If you know, you know, and if you don’t know, one typically tries to act as though they do. We fake it till we make it, never BEING what we should, but doing just the opposite.
Thank you for spending time with me today. I hope to continue serving you with some truths to feed your soul and help you cultivate from within, so that what is without blossoms like a flower planted in fertile soil. Comment on my commentary on the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, and let me know what you think!