The Spiritual Way of Lao Tzu – On the Art of Living ~ by hhteam

“I have three treasures. Guard and keep them: The first is deep love, the second is frugality, and the third is not to dare to be ahead of the world. Because of deep love, one is courageous. Because of frugality, one is generous. Because of not daring to be ahead of the world, one becomes the leader of the world.”
~ Lao Tzu


Lao Tzu was the most famous philosopher, mystic and alchemist in China. He is the author of the Tao Te Ching, or the Way. He is regarded as one of the foundation stones of Taoism. Originally, the word Tao meant a specific line of action, probably a military one, because the ideograms that compose this word mean “feet” and “leader”. Lao Tzu interpreted the Tao as a way, the essence of the Universe. In a written poem Lao Tzu describe “the Way” as the emptiness that cannot be filled, but from where everything manifests from.

In his most famous image, Lao Tzu is portrayed as riding a buffalo, because the domestication of this animal is associated with the Path of Enlightenment in Zen Buddhist traditions.

“Don’t think you can attain total awareness and whole enlightenment without proper discipline and practice. This is egomania. Appropriate rituals channel your emotions and life energy toward the light. Without the discipline to practice them, you will tumble constantly backward into darkness.”
~ Lao Tzu

It is believed that he lived to be 160 years old. In his old age he received the visit of Confucius, who witnessed Lao Tzu reprimanding a young disciple for being too ambitious and prideful. Ancient tales said that Confucius was so impressed by the way of discipline of Lao Tzu that he compared him to a flying Dragon that can reach heavens and winds.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
~Lao Tzu

He is considered by some to be just a mythical figure in the unconventional universe of ancient legends. One of these tales declares that he was born already with an appearance of an aged man, from which he received the name Lao Tzu, which means literally, “old sage”. Others consider this legend to be just a metaphor to describe the antiquity of Taoism and its philosophical concepts which were antecedents of the Tao Te Ching itself.

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.”
~Lao Tzu

Many consider Lao Tzu as a great philosopher and he is often venerated as a saint. He was an expert on the art of living a simple but fully spiritual life. From his teachings we can gather some important precepts that can serve as guides throughout our own life journeys.
On Being Humble

Lao-Tzu-Riding-an-Ox_Humanity-Healing“Great acts are made up of small deeds.”
~ Lao Tzu

The Master explains the concept of humbleness through the analogy with water. Comparing the Human being to the water, he says that the good individual is like water, nurturing and maintaining life but never trying to conquer the elevated positions.

“In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it”
~Lao Tzu

The water is content in keep its dominions at the lower levels because it knows that the oceans control the flow of all the currents and rivers because they are in a lower position than they are.

He also explains that there is nothing more flexible than water, but nothing can surpass it when it refers to weakening the hard rock. In other words, the weak can win over the strong and the soft can conquer the rigid, just by being malleable and humble.

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you”
~Lao Tzu

If you want to receive, you need to first give, which is the law of the seeds and the wise harvest. This precept conceives a humble attitude before the people in your life and life in general, remembering that we are all in the same path of learning and all deserve respect. In summary, there is no one that deserves hatred and everyone is in the pursuit of happiness.

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you”
~Lao Tzu

On Being Kind and Compassionate

Lao-Tzu_small-steps_kaizen_Humanity-Healing“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
~Lao Tzu

The master Lao Tzu related two big treasures of the soul; compassion and the humble desire of just being the self by disregarding the impulses of the Ego to be always the first in everything. In learning compassion, one develops the genuine interest for the well-being of others, meaning that they will not forget them in their path of development and self-enlightenment.

“Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.”
~Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu illustrates this concept of being Compassionate and Kind again through the malleable configuration of the water and its relationship as the essential element of life. He says that while a person is alive, their body is flexible and soft; but when they die, the body becomes hard and rigid. The same phenomenon happens to plants; while alive they are vibrant and bendable, but they become dry and breakable when they die.

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it”
~Lao Tzu

Consequently, to be inflexible and rigid is to be like one is actually dead. Maintaining yourself docile as the water, open and malleable, prepared to bend and render when it is necessary will lead the soul to the path of success.
On Limiting Desire

Lao-Tzu_Deity_Humanity-Healing“He who is contented is rich”
~ Lao Tzu

The ancient Master Lao Tzu affirms that people that take less will always have more. People with insatiable desires end up becoming obsessed with the object of their “affection” which tends to throw their energies, and their thought processes, out of control. To Lao Tzu, greed without limits constituted the worse of the vices. If you work towards being content with what you have, you would find that you already have enough to be happy. One can easily reach Peace of Spirit when you limit the amount of desires to manifest in your life.

“The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, the more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the Sage is to act but not to compete.”
~Lao Tzu

One Step at a Time

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
~ Lao Tzu

It is always better to deal with facts and situations while they are small, before they become bigger and more difficult. If one is planning to reach a big goal, one should establish a series of small steps that would guide one safely to the destination. This is essentially the principal of Kaizen: progress through small increments.
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Source: http://humanityhealing.net (http://s.tt/13RdV)

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the Bhagawad Gita

Terrorists are cowards. Whenever terror has struck in any part of the world, we have heard people say it is an act of cowardice. A coward runs away from action but harbours all negative feelings and does it surreptitiously.

This is exactly what happened to Arjuna. Arjuna was angry, upset, sad and wanted to run away. In the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna said not to be a coward. So, it is an antidote to terrorism. Shri Krishna said bravery is the way – face the war when it is inevitable and do your duty.

A terrorist is stuck in his identity – he hides it, has no rationale and inflicts pain. Whereas Bhagawad Gita helps one to transcend one’s identity, encourages reason and infuses wisdom. In this sense, it could be called the antidote to terrorism.

The duty of a policeman, a soldier or a king is to be impartial for the sake of the nation, whether it is their mentors or relatives. Terrorists are never impartial. A soldier is brave and a terrorist is a coward. A soldier is protecting and preventing violence and a terrorist is inflicting pain and suffering. The Bhagawad Gita is the scripture of bravery in both realms of physical and metaphysical.

Terrorism is deeply steeped in hatred. An act without hatred is what Gita propounds. The Gita epitomizes the correct action – of righteousness, of upliftment of spirit and an action or duty that ought to be performed even in the most compelling situation.

In the last 5149 years of the existence of the Gita, there is no evidence of someone becoming a terrorist after reading it. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi wrote commentaries on the Bhagawad Gita and it was an inspiration for his non-violent movement. The Bhagawad Gita is a unique scripture which caters to the entire range of human evolution, comprising every level of this vast existence.

Gita stands for poise and equanimity and for performing one’s designated duty. Krishna does not encourage everyone to take the weapons and fight but a soldier cannot sell bananas in the market. He has to take his weapon to bring security to his people. If Bhagawad Gita is a terrorist scripture then all military academies in the world are nothing but terrorist organizations. Doesn’t this sound strange? Would the courts ban Lenin, Marx and Mao Tso-Tung, who to stay in power inflicted terror on millions?

A terrorist or a coward hides and inflicts pain on others whereas a soldier sacrifices his own life to bring security and peace to people. They both may take the gun but their intentions are poles apart.

Gita encourages reasoning and dialogue while terrorists are blind to any reasoning and are closed to any form of dialogue.

Interestingly, in any military training all over the world, the soldiers are asked to see the enemies as dangerous objects which need to be eliminated. The psychology behind indoctrination of such an idea is that when they think the enemy is a human being the soldiers are unable to raise their arms. There are many such survival tactics where the army men are desensitized.

A similar situation happened to Arjuna. Lord Krishna went step by step to deal with Arjuna’s emotions, ego, mindsets and concepts. He finally touched on the nature of his spiritual being; revealing him the highest knowledge and making him realize his eternal nature. This brought him enormous strength and then propelled him to perform his worldly duties. A doctor cannot be taken as a dacoit just because he opens up the stomach of the patient.

Krishna says, no sin begets him whose intellect is unattached and free from cravings and aversions, even if he kills the whole world. Now, the condition of an intellect free from cravings and aversions itself counters terrorism. Terrorism is done when the intellect is deeply attached and is hateful. The metaphors and the high standards of humanism exhibited in the Gita are unparalleled.

Jesus had said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” In the Quran, there are many verses which talk about striking terror in the hearts of the infidels and cutting off their fingers. By these standards if you still call Gita a terrorist scripture then you have to precede such statements by Bible and Quran.

The fact is that it is not the scriptures that inflict terrorism; it is the mis-interpretation of an ignorant and stressed mind which justifies their actions quoting scriptures.

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

This article is to cater to the common man. This piece was written in December 2011, in the midst of a Russian court case against the Bhagawad Gita. The case ended with the Russian court rejecting the ban.

Always Already The Brilliant Clarity of Ever-Present Awareness ~ Ken Wilber

The Writings of Ken Wilber: Essays, Forewords, and Works-In-Progress.In this excerpt from The Eye of Spirit, Ken offers one of the most powerful—and beautiful—pieces of spiritual writing he has ever produced. This is the very first time these words have been reproduced on the web, and we invite you to share this chapter however you like.

Here’s Ken’s description: “What follows are various ‘pointing out’ instructions, direct pointers to mind’s essential nature or intrinsic Spirit. Traditionally this involves a great deal of intentional repetition. If you read this material in the normal manner, you might find the repetitions tedious and perhaps irritating. If you would like the rest of this particular section to work for you, please read it in a slow and leisurely manner, letting the words and the repetitions sink in. You can also use these sections as material for meditation, using no more than one or two paragraphs—or even one or two sentences—for each session.”

Where are we to locate Spirit? What are we actually allowed to acknowledge as Sacred? Where exactly is the Ground of Being? Where is this ultimate Divine?

The Great Search

The Realization of the Nondual traditions is uncompromising: there is only Spirit, there is only God, there is only Emptiness in all its radiant wonder. All the good and all the evil, the very best and the very worst, the upright and the degenerate-each and all are radically perfect manifestations of Spirit precisely as they are. There is nothing but God, nothing but the Goddess, nothing but Spirit in all directions, and not a grain of sand, not a speck of dust, is more or less Spirit than any other.

This realization undoes the Great Search that is the heart of the separate-self sense. The separate-self is, at bottom, simply a sensation of seeking. When you feel yourself right now, you will basically feel a tiny interior tension or contraction—a sensation of grasping, desiring, wishing, wanting, avoiding, resisting-it is a sensation of effort, a sensation of seeking.

In its highest form, this sensation of seeking takes on the form of the Great Search for Spirit. We wish to get from our unenlightened state (of sin or delusion or duality) to an enlightened or more spiritual state. We wish to get from where Spirit is not, to where Spirit is.

But there is no place where Spirit is not. Every single location in the entire Kosmos is equally and fully Spirit. Seeking of any sort, movement of any sort, attainment of any sort: all profoundly useless. The Great Search simply reinforces the mistaken assumption that there is some’ place that Spirit is not, and that I need to get from a space that is lacking to a space that is full. But there is no space lacking, and there is no space more full. There is only Spirit.

The Great Search for Spirit is simply that impulse, the final impulse, which prevents the present realization of Spirit, and it does so for a simple reason: the Great Search presumes the loss of God. The Great Search reinforces the mistaken belief that God is not present, and thus totally obscures the ‘reality of God’s ever-present Presence. The Great Search, which pretends to love God, is in fact the very mechanism of pushing God away; the mechanism of promising to find tomorrow that which exists only in the timeless now; the mechanism of watching the future so fervently that the present always passes it by—very quickly and God’s smiling face with it.

The Great Search is the loveless contraction hidden in the heart of the separate-self sense, a contraction that drives the intense yearning for a tomorrow in which salvation will finally arrive, but during which time, thank God, I can continue to be myself. The greater the Great Search, the more I can deny God. The greater the Great Search, the more I can feel my own sensation of seeking, which defines the contours of my self. The Great Search is the great enemy of what is.

Should we then simply cease the Great Search? Definitely, if we could. But the effort to stop the Great Search is itself more of the Great Search. The very first step presumes and reinforces the seeking sensation. There is actually nothing the self-contraction can do to stop the Great Search, because the self-contraction and the Great Search are two names for the same thing.

If Spirit cannot be found as a future product of the Great Search, then there is only one alternative: Spirit must be fully, totally, completely present right now—AND you must be fully, totally, completely aware of it right now. It will not do to say that Spirit is present but I don’t realize it. That would require the Great Search; that would demand that I seek a tomorrow in which I could realize that Spirit is fully present, but such seeking misses the present in the very first step. To keep seeking would be to keep missing. No, the realization itself, the awareness itself: this, too, must somehow be fully and completely present right now. If it is not, then all we have left is the Great Search, doomed to presume that which it wishes to overcome.

There must be something about our present awareness that contains the entire truth. Somehow, no matter what your state, you are immersed fully in everything you need for perfect enlightenment. You are somehow looking right at the answer. One hundred percent of Spirit is in your perception right now. Not 20 percent, not 50 percent, not 99 percent, but literally 100 percent of Spirit is in your awareness right now—and the trick, as it were, is to recognize this ever-present state of affairs, and not to engineer a future state in which Spirit will announce itself.

And this simple recognition of an already present Spirit is the task, as it were, of the great Nondual traditions.

To Meet the Kosmos

Many people have stern objections to “mysticism” or “transcendentalism” of any sort, because they think it somehow denies this world, or hates this earth, or despises the body and the senses and its vital life, and so on. While that may be true of certain dissociated (or merely Ascending) approaches, it is certainly not the core understanding of the great Nondual mystics, from Plotinus and Eckhart in the West to Nagarjuna and Lady Tsogyal in the East.

Rather, these sages universally maintain that absolute reality and the relative world are “not-two” (which is the meaning of “nondual”), much as a mirror and its reflections are not separate, or an ocean is one with its many waves. So the “other world” of Spirit and “this world” of separate phenomena are deeply and profoundly “not-two,” and this nonduality is a direct and immediate realization which occurs in certain meditative states—in other words, seen with the eye of contemplation—although it then becomes a very simple, very ordinary perception, whether you are meditating or not. Every single thing you perceive is the radiance of Spirit itself, so much so that Spirit is not seen apart from that thing: the robin sings, and just that is it, nothing else. This becomes your constant realization, through all changes of state, very naturally, just so. And this releases you from the basic insanity of hiding from the Real.

But why is it, then, that we ordinarily don’t have that perception?

All the great Nondual wisdom traditions have given a fairly similar answer to that question. We don’t see that Spirit is fully and completely present right here, right now, because our awareness is clouded with some form of avoidance. We do not want to be choicelessly aware of the present; rather, we want to run away from it, or run after it, or we want to change it, alter it; hate it, love it, loathe it, or in some way agitate to get ourselves into, or out of, it. We will do anything except come to rest in the pure Presence of the present. We will not rest with pure Presence; we want to be elsewhere, quickly. The Great Search is the game, in its endless forms.

In nondual meditation or contemplation, the agitation of the separate-self sense profoundly relaxes, and the self uncoils in the vast expanse of all space. At that point, it becomes obvious that you are not “in here” looking at the world “out there,” because that duality has simply collapsed into pure Presence and spontaneous luminosity.

This realization may take many forms. A simple one is something like this: You might be looking at a mountain, and you have relaxed into the effortlessness of your own present awareness, and then suddenly the mountain is all, you are nothing. Your separate-self sense is suddenly and totally gone, and there is simply everything that is arising moment to moment. You are perfectly aware, perfectly conscious, everything seems completely normal, except you are nowhere to be found. You are not on this side of your face looking at the mountain out there; you simply are the mountain, you are the sky, you are the clouds, you are everything that is arising moment to moment, very simply, very clearly, just so.

We know all the fancy names for this state, from unity consciousness to sahaj samadhi. But it really is the simplest and most obvious state you will ever realize. Moreover, once you glimpse that state—what the Buddhists call One Taste (because you and the entire universe are one taste or one experience)—it becomes obvious that you are not entering this state, but rather, it is a state that, in some profound and mysterious way, has been your primordial condition from time immemorial. You have, in fact, never left this state for a second.

This is why Zen calls it the Gateless Gate: on this side of that realization, it looks like you have to do something to enter that state—it looks like you need to pass through a gate. But when you do so, and you turn around and look back, there is no gate whatsoever, and never has been. You have never left this state in the first place, so obviously you can’t enter it. The gateless gate! “Every form is Emptiness just as it is,” means that all things, including you and me, are always already on the other side of the gateless gate.

But if that is so, then why even do spiritual practice? Isn’t that just another form of the Great Search? Yes, actually, spiritual practice is a form of the Great Search, and as such, it is destined to fail. But that is exactly the point. You and I are already convinced that there are things that we need to do in order to realize Spirit. We feel that there are places that Spirit is not (namely, in me), and we are going to correct this state of affairs. Thus, we are already committed to the Great Search, and so nondual meditation makes use of that fact and engages us in the Great Search in a particular and somewhat sneaky fashion (which Zen calls “selling water by the river”).

William Blake said that “a fool who persists in his folly will become wise.” So nondual meditation simply speeds up the folly. If you really think you lack Spirit, then try this folly: try to become Spirit, try to discover Spirit, try to contact Spirit, try to reach Spirit: meditate and meditate and meditate in order to get Spirit!

But of course, you see, you cannot really do this. You cannot reach Spirit any more than you can reach your feet. You always already are Spirit, you are not going to reach it in any sort of temporal thrashing around. But if this is not obvious, then try it. Nondual meditation is a serious effort to do the impossible, until you become utterly exhausted of the Great Search, sit down completely worn out, and notice your feet.

It’s not that these nondual traditions deny higher states; they don’t. They have many, many practices that help individuals reach specific states of postformal consciousness. These include states of transcendental bliss, love, and compassion; of heightened cognition and extrasensory perception; of Deity consciousness and contemplative prayer. But they maintain that those altered states—which have a beginning and an end in time—ultimately have nothing to do with the timeless. The real aim is the stateless, not a perpetual fascination with changes of state. And that stateless condition is the true nature of this and every conceivable state of consciousness, so any state you have will do just fine. Change of state is not the ultimate point; recognizing the Changeless is the point, recognizing primordial Emptiness is the point, recognizing unqualifiable Godhead is the point, recognizing pure Spirit is the point, and if you are breathing and vaguely awake, that state of consciousness will do just fine.

Nonetheless, traditionally, in order to demonstrate your sincerity, you must complete a good number of preliminary practices, including a mastery of various states of meditative consciousness, summating in a stable post-postconventional adaptation, all of which is well and good. But none of those states of consciousness are held to be final or ultimate or privileged. And changing states is not the goal at all. Rather, it is precisely by entering and leaving these various meditative states that you begin to understand that none of them constitute enlightenment. All of them have a beginning in time, and thus none of them are the timeless. The point is to realize that change of state is not the point, and that realization can occur in any state of consciousness whatsoever.

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