"As soon as the world regards something as beautiful, ugliness simultaneously becomes apparent.
As soon as the world regards something as good, evil simultaneously becomes apparent.
In exactly the same manner, existence and non existence, give birth to each other.
Difficult and easy define each other.
Long and short form each other.
High and low make each other distinguishable.
Silence and sound, make each other conspicuous.
Front and back, connect each other.
Realizing this, one does not separate one's being from the subtle essence of the universe.
One holds no preconceptions, and does things without insisting on personal conditions.
One guides people by living in accord with the essence of life.
One brings good things about but has no intention of possessing them.
One performs work, but has no intention to acquire personal power when one's task is accomplished one let's go of it and seeks no reward or recognition.
Because one does not claim credit for one so one does not do any damage to oneself and his or her virtuous influence endures.
—-Chapter 2 of the Tao Teh Ching, Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Translation and Elucidation by Hua Ching Ni, Tao of Wellness Press
How's that for a leadership guide perhaps for city, state, country and for the world?
Leadership starts from within. This chapter discusses several very important concepts and practices within the Integral Way Tradition as it defines the polarity of all things and phenomenons of nature and of the universe. These are the mere expressions of yin and yang. It also encourages the unification as opposed to the separation. As students of Tai Chi will appreciate that the entire practice of Tai Chi is based on the alternating movement of yin and yang, complementary movements to each other even though they may appear to be opposites in motion, like contraction and relaxation of muscles, but they are indeed complimentary. And it is also by this polarity that we can see and discern the difference between two expressions of the whole.
However, at the end of the day these differences are also merely conceptual. Because when we insist on their differences and the contrasting definitions, we become partial, in favor of one or another. Think of good and evil, black and white or right or wrong. Instead, think of day and night, these are simply two halves of a 24-hour period. As soon as we divide and separate, we lose the understanding that the wholeness is the reality. Life, as a whole cannot be separated, neither can mind and body nor front and back, feminine and masculine, day and night, active and rest--these must complement one another as parts of the whole.
"As soon as the world regards something as beautiful, ugliness simultaneously becomes apparent. And as soon as the world regards something as good, evil simultaneously becomes apparent." When you're parenting kids, of course, the first inclination is to teach the children to be and do good, because you want them to understand that when they violate the manmade rules and laws, they will get punished. Yet, the tao advises that when people have become lost from the natural way, manmade laws becomes the default. If you follow the natural way and when you violate the subtle universal law, there is always a natural consequence. In some way, you don't need to define what it is if you live naturally for when you stay up late at night and sleep in during the day, you feel groggy and do not feel good. When you run out in the middle of winter in Minnesota with just a T-shirt and develop pneumonia you learn quickly what is right or wrong, naturally.
What one needs to do is merely observe the universe, and then suddenly the universal law becomes clear in terms of what is in harmony with it, and what is in violation of it. It isn't necessary that we need to define good and evil, or beautiful and ugly, but rather that they are natural expressions of the universe. An example would be that we generally regard the universe as benevolent, and that it's always good. Then again, is it? Well, not if you were a victim of a hurricane, typhoon, earthquake, or wildfire or any of the natural calamities or disasters. if you are a victim of a natural disaster or you are in the winter years of your life, do you then regard that as good or bad? This is a challenge for the human mind because we're taught that we should always be seeking the good and the beautiful and that we should avoid anything that creates negativity or make us sick.
The human mind defines things in very narrow terms. What we need to do is go back to our spiritual studies and meditation and cultivation in order to to understand that the reality of the world and of our lives is to live in the the midpoint between yin and yang and the constant oscillation and balance between the two poles. That's where the creative, productive and healthy life exists. Because when we seek only beauty then we also ignore and discriminate against the so-called ugly. Ugly, in fact, can be just as nourishing and useful. I recall in my late teens after I moved out of my parent's house and lived on my own, I sustained on very little money. I used to go to the supermarket--it was the local Co-Op and I'd head towards the back of the store or near the entry to the stockroom, the workers would put out a rack full of produce that were bruised or slightly damaged or shall we say, ugly. However, they were substantially marked down from the regular price and just as nutritious!
The beautiful part of that story, of course, is that I subsisted on these ugly, bruised, produce that shoppers did not want because of their appearance for a number of years and, and it served me just perfectly because there was nothing wrong with the produce because they were just a little bruised during transport--it did not affect their nutritional content. What the world has become is that we go to the market and we pick through the good looking produce including beautiful apples, strawberries and the vegetables. We insist that things look beautiful and we end up paying high price for these. But if you think about it, is it necessary that we should always seek to have beautiful food instead of plain yet nutritious food? Do you want to spend your hard earned money for beautiful food? Marketers specialize in appealing to your proclivity for "beautiful things". Better watch your wallet!
What about all these adored furnishings and the things that we accumulate in our lives-- these so called beautiful objects? Instead of practical and useful, we succumb to our desires for beautiful and yet impractical things. Likewise, we also like to associate with beautiful and good looking people in our circle and yet it's the everybody else whom may not fit your definition of beautiful that keeps the world turning. They include the people behind the scenes like the clerks at the grocery store that keeps it stocked, the delivery drivers who bring food to your doors, and the people that clean your house, your clothes and take care of your children.
And those at the front lines, including the healthcare workers taking care of the sick, the police patrolling the streets and the firemen that put out the fires—no question they are critical and lifesaving and should get the credit and yet the behind-the-scenes people are unacknowledged and forgotten. Is this not the yin and yang, one is in the spot light while the other is in the shadow and yet both perform important and critical functions for our sustenance. We need to stop our conceptual division, stop our discrimination and embrace the whole of world and of life.
“As soon as the world regards something as good, evil simultaneously becomes apparent.”
what is evil?” Evil can be defined as anything that may threaten the health and the survivability of our lives or in some cases, a perceived threat. So is it proper to say that we don’t want evil in our lives? Yes, that’s generally true but we must realize that it is contextual. Perhaps we can use another word to describe it better—negative energy which may compromise your health and survival.
But yet, negative energy exist everywhere in nature, including in people. Would you say that winter is evil or negative because it causes destruction of vegetation and terminates lives of countless insects and animals? Or a forrest fire that flattens plains and hills? Yes, in destruction there is negativity as life is threatened and yet after the dead of winter and a forrest fire, life is renewed, once again.
In another instance, a virus would typically be considered evil and negative as it makes one sick. However, once you get over the cold or the flu you develop antibodies that will protect you against it, if you should encounter it again. Is a vaccine evil as it contains viruses? Once the virus has been “defanged” as in a vaccine, the “negative energy” is neutralized and the beneficial antibodies protection is the conversion of the negative into “positive energy.” What about scientist using viruses to treat cancer? What’s good and evil? It all depends on how and what you use it for. Similarly, gunpowder was invented in China. The Chinese used it to make tunnels and displays of magical fireworks. The West turned it into weapons of mass destruction, killing millions.
What about immigrants? Are they evil and negative as some people would perceive them to be? Well, if that’s the case with immigrants then every non-American Indian should be evicted from America as we are all children of immigrants on this US soil. The immigration to America of many people of diverse cultures and skills over the last four hundred years brought about the flourishing of a great nation—the greatest the world has ever seen in its short, civilized human history. Have there always been only the good and never the bad? The fact is there have always been good and evil, positive and negative, constructive and destructive elements throughout American history, and that of humanity’s. The key is to offer enlightened leadership and guidance so that everyone, no matter their role can become productive members of society.
Since negative energy or expression is part of nature, our task is to transform it into the positive. This is the reason we cultivate spiritually so that we become aware of what’s blocking our ability to thrive and evolve—the negative traits and transform that into the positive—the evil into enlightenment. The antithesis is allowing your life to become an imitation of reality TV shows. Apply the principle of transformation to our daily lives when we find ourselves in situations that we don't like, illnesses that make us sick or relationships that don't work out. It would serve us to stop for a moment, be still and step back from further entanglement. And observe and truly understand the meaning of these negative energy expressions and figure out how we can apply our knowledge and skills to transform it into more positive energy, or at least neutralize it.
The problem with defining what is good and what's evil in the world is that you end up generalizing, insisting that your perception is righteous and therefore take action that may be extreme that cause the loss of sensibility and balance and may lead to the opposite of your intended outcome. Human history is rife with persecutions of those who looked different, nonbelievers in a religion or those whose activities violates the church. In the Cleansing of the Temple narrative tells of Jesus expelling the merchants and drove the money lenders out of the temple, accusing them of turning the Temple into “a den of thieves” through their commercial activities.
Without a question, there have been corrupt bankers and financiers whom have brought the world to nearly ruins. And yet, when credit and loans are used prudently, they allow people to own their own homes, expand their livelihood and serve the public good. We don't throw an entire basket of apples out because of one rotten apple, should we ban all the bankers because of a corrupt few? Likewise, contemplate the good and evil in your life and ask yourself, am I being discriminatory? Do I have the correct perception of the situation or person? Am I jumping to conclusion and acting on my judgement prematurely? Stand at another vantage point and you may see something entirely different.
“In exactly the same manner, existence and non existence give birth to each other.” Before we are born, we’re nonexistent. After our birth, we are existent. Does life have a beginning and an end or is it a continuum without beginning or end—a loop? This concept deals with a time—pre heaven and post heaven (before and after the birth of the universe), prenatal and postnatal (of our lives) and past, present and future. Yet, time is a continuum and it’s the human mind that created an artificial way to track time, to separate time into past and future but in reality, present is not static but rather omnipresent.
Strictly from the human mind’s perception, the day is here so does that mean night does not exist at this very moment? In reality, right now it’s 7 am on Sunday morning in Los Angeles, time to rise and start my day, but in Fiji in the South Pacific it’s 2 am Monday morning in the future and yet in American Samoa—also in the South Pacific, a mere 2 hour flight away from Fiji, it’s 3 am Sunday morning, well in the past. So really, past, present and future are all happening at the “same time” but the most important lesson is you are here and now in your current existence—that’s what really matters.
“Difficult and easy define each other.” If you were a trust fund baby and decided to make your life easy by never getting out of bed, have servants bring you all you meals in bed, sleep, eat and use electronic devices at will and make no effort whatsoever to get the day’s routine going. What would be the outcome of that “easy” lifestyle? Not good for sure. For most people, it's a struggle just getting out of bed in the mornings. However, it is by overcoming the difficult, your day becomes easier.
It’s always the first step of any action that you want to take that you need to overcome inertia but once you get the ball rolling it gets easier, whether it’s starting an exercise program, changing your diet, or committing to living your life’s purpose. As Lao Tzu said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Moreover, the contrast of easy and difficult is a perception, once again, as soon as you perceive something that is easy, difficult arises in contrast to the easy, and vice versa. Do not pigeonhole your mind and make it difficult for yourself in any situation. Look for the glass that’s half full so that easy and difficult will simply fall away.
“Long and short form each other, high and low make each other distinguishable.” The law of polarity, yin and yang describes both the physical measurement as well as cycles. When we take a step, we must necessarily contract or shorten one muscle and relax or elongate the opposing muscle simultaneously, in order to move. The mountain is high and reaching into heaven and the valley is low, deeper into earth. They are merely expressions of two aspects of the whole. Likewise, in modern times we use many types of charts to input data and interpret them for cycles in weather, economy, social trends and multitudes of industries. Ultimately, we use them to identify long and short cycles of high and low values that educate and inform. A peaceful and healthy life prefers long cycles of small waves rather than disruptive large waves.
“Silence and sound make each other conspicuous.” Sound is part of communication among humans and nature. In our “who can make the most noise gets the attention” world, silence is not valued as a virtue because it is inconspicuous. Sound is an energy that oscillates with waves. Our world is noisy, even in the quiet moment there’s the humming and whirling of refrigerator, computer or air conditioning providing background noise that when exposure to it exceeds 60 decibels (which is most fridges) for more than 4 hours a day can increase one’s risks of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. My sister-in-law once remarked, after she visited my father’s house in the woods of Oregon, “I could not sleep at night because it was so silent and quiet!” The extreme imbalance of sound and silence in our modern life leaves little for reflection and restoration. Get some silent time and you’ll know what I am talking about.
Front and back connect each other.” As humans we have the front side that face the world and must necessarily hide our back and yet we cannot separate the two sides of ourselves. In other words, we present the “good side” to the world but what about our “back side”, the parts that we don’t want the world to see or even for ourselves to see? Yet, it’s there part of us, part of the whole and cannot be ignored because it’s connected to our entire being. What does it mean to be authentic? It means to embrace all of you, first accept who you are, and improve on aspects that are deficient and evolve to actualize your full potential, but never be embarrassed by your back side.
“Realizing this, one does not separate one's being from the subtle essence of the universe.” And again, the conceptual mind separates everything including our selves—I, me and myself, from you, he and she, also from nature and from the universe. It is this separation when the ego is allowed rein that creates a lot of the unnecessary struggles and difficulties in life. Because when you naturally embrace and unify your being with the subtle essence of the universe, you stop the struggles. You realize that you're not alone. You are part of a greater whole, connected to the source of all existence.
“One holds no preconceptions and does things without insisting on personal conditions.” What if you got up in the morning and went about your day living your life’s purpose and being of service unconditionally to others when needed? When your mind is filled with what you want to do or how the world ought to be then you are surely setting yourself up for possible disappointment because trying to control your environment, other people and the world is simply futile. You may think life is like a laboratory where the variables of your experiments are all controllable. Yet, life isn’t a laboratory with controlled conditions but rather life, as in nature is fluid, changeable and dynamic. In order to find peace and balance, stop trying to insist on your way and instead allow your activities to be expressions or reflection of the greater purpose.
“One guides people by living in accord with the essence of life.” The teachers of the world, from preschools to graduate universities, from churches to temples, and from state capitals to corporate board rooms all have the responsibility of teaching by example which is to treasure and value the wholeness and sanctity of life. How can we expect a better world and life when politicians are corrupt, priests guilty of sexual misconduct, and corporate chieftains consumed with greed? How is each succeeding generations supposed to trust, develop and advance on the shoulders of giants—their ancestors when those who are in a position to guide others lose their way? And students must not project onto their teachers their own desires and inadequacies and also must be mindful that even teachers themselves are not perfect and are still evolving and working on themselves.
“One brings good things about but has no intention of possessing them.” When you help the world and give of yourself and you produce something that's truly beneficial and positive, don’t try to possess it because these deeds are merely expressions of you. As soon as you try to possess it, you're bound to lose it. And when you do, that's when conflict and pain can arise. So whether it's possession of material, emotions or love, loss always brings suffering. In fact, when you try to possess love it turns on you, unleash an angry and jealous monster within you.
“One performs work but has no intention to acquire personal power. When one's task is accomplished, one let's go that then seeks no reward or recognition. Because one does not claim credit for oneself, one does not do any damage to oneself.” This is a guide for the leaders of the world and in communities. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the leaders of the world, a country, a city, performs good work, but has no intention to acquire personal power? What would the world look like? This reminds me of the enlightened period of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors in Chinese history starting with Fu Xi, Shen Nong to Huang Di—they were all elected leaders who were chosen because of their vision, capabilities and virtuous deeds. Once the current leader finds someone else whom the community regarded as surpassing them, each would persuade the next to accept the leadership position and then retreat back into their peaceful lives.
Do you see Mother Nature claim credit for her benevolence? Her gracious giving, her abundant crop, her healings, her life giving? No, nature does not claim credit for herself. Likewise, when you offer your sincerity and your energy to the world, to your neighbors, to the company that you work for, to the customers that you take care of you're offering your positive, creative, and loving energy just like mother nature. What you receive in return is an expression from another in response to your offering. And yet, you have no expectation in return for your deeds. In this way, you suffer no disappointments or loss.
Do not become attached to any outcome because the outcome from our action is not always predictable. As soon as we make our sincere offer, we let it go and have no expectations so we can be free to move on to the next moment. When you can live your life this way, you become aligned with the universe, the higher purpose and you become inseparable from the divine universal essence.
Easter holiday originated with the pagan celebration of Eostre, the Saxon goddess Easter with carnival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of the return of spring. The word carnival originated from the Latin “carne vale” meaning “meat, farewell”, therefore common offerings during the festival were rabbits and colored eggs to signify the end of winter. After the Christian missionaries converted the Saxons in the 2nd century, they adopted this holiday as it closely coincided with the time of Christ's resurrection, so Easter became a holiday representing the miracle of Jesus' rise from the dead. In a way the original meaning of the Easter festival as celebrated by the Saxons aligns with the story of Christ's resurrection as they both represented spring awakening--the rebirth, renewal and revitalization.
Because after a long winter, the snow gives away to the coming of spring. And so the grass began to sprout and the trees will get their leaves back. And at the same time you know, the creatures of Earth merrily go around beginning their whole reproductive cycle again--this spring awakening, fertility and reproduction-- this natural phenomenon of rebirth that occurs without any interruption every year, every spring. It's observed everywhere. No matter where you are, even in the coldest of places, eventually, spring would arrive. And rebirth will occur, that's the natural law. It's just a matter of timing.
And for most of the Northern Hemisphere, early to mid April the signs of spring are all around. So this whole concept of rebirth or renewal is not lost on the adherents of the integral way as well. In our tradition, we celebrate renewal, we celebrate the rebirth. We do so every day when we are awakened from our sleep. When we open our eyes in the morning, we're given life we're given the chance to live a life, yet again. And this repeats itself on a daily basis every single morning.
So what is your rebirth and renewal? In the time of Christ, Jesus would have become a mortal man, a sage, a philosopher, a teacher, if it wasn't for the single act of miracle--his resurrection, and because he was resurrected as the Bible told, he was recognized as the Son of God, he had to be immortal as mortals die and do not return to life. The term immortal is a familiar one to our tradition as well. Because what we cultivate is our spiritual immortality. The whole idea of immortality is the ultimate objective of why we cultivate. Besides, the benefits of self cultivation are many, and they range from good health, inner peace to longevity. On longevity, when you cultivate, you can live a long life.
When the average lifespan was 30 to 40 years a few thousand years ago, and the taoist masters were living well beyond a hundred years, spanning three generations would have made them appear to be immortal. But they didn't stop there. The taoist went into the mountain, into seclusion, undistracted and became hermits to study nature, to study the universal law, to study how they can achieve not only superb health, great vitality, clarity of mind, but also when the time does arrive, and the body is simply recognized as a vehicle, to cast off their bodies and their spirits shall rise from their bodies and that spirit IS immortal.
In the Christian tradition Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Let me remind you that we are All children of God. So, in each and every one of us, we represent the Christ, the Sons, the daughters of God. We too, are immortal. It's a matter of you discovering your own immortality. But in order to do so, the masters of the Integral Way tradition has preserved and passed down, valuable wisdom, precious treasures of practices, teaching and meditations, Chi Gong, Tai Chi and knowledge of healing and maintaining vitality with herbs and food and the secrets of living in accordance with the natural law instead of violating it.
Accordingly, we all shall live for a very long time and achieve, at least our minimum lifespan of 120 years. Interestingly, in the book of Genesis 6:3, "Then the LORD said, My spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." In the Integral Way tradition, we also use the 120 as a cycle of life because it's made up of two cycles of 60. The first 60 years are the yang years. The second 60 years are the yin years.
And so for those of you who are still in your yang years, you need to be careful not to allow your "fire" to extinguish. And for those of you who are in your yin years which is beyond 60 years of age, it's important that you cultivate and continue to nourish yourself and to understand how to harness the precious sustenance called "jing" or essence, which comes from the benevolence of the heavens. This precious source we draw from is just like a baby draws her sustenance from her mother's breast continually and unceasingly, unless of course you cut yourself off by violating the subtle universal law.
From birth to 60 years of age you are in the growth years and it is also called yang years. One’s life is just like the seasons, you're born in spring and grow in the summer. And from ages 60 to 120 is your yin years and that corresponds to autumn and winter and in this second phase you need to make preparation for winter which means It's even more important for you to cultivate. You see, in the first half of our life, we're building our lives. We are forming new families. We are putting our energies out in a way that sustains us, by our livelihood and our productive activities. That's why it's so important to choose the right work to express your energy to who you are. Your work is an expression of your life's purpose. Choose your work wisely.
In the second phase of your life it is for you to return and provide the wisdom you have gathered and the material you've accumulated. This is the natural cycle as in early fall when the crops and grapes are harvested and we use the abundance of harvest which comes from the benevolence of heaven and earth, to nurture ourselves and our loved ones, our neighbors, our friends, our community and others. We share the wine that is made from the grape, this wine is a symbol of our diligent efforts and our wisdom, all contained in the cup that we share with others.
We use the term Wu Wei to signify that we must live our lives in our everyday action, in our every thought always maintaining naturalness and always maintaining appropriate action or inaction, and appropriate thought and that way means balance in the natural way. It means nothing too much, or nothing too little. If you exercise too little, meaning you're sedentary, your body will weaken. If you exercise too much, you will also exhaust and weaken yourself. If you eat too little, you don't have enough to sustain. If you eat too much, you will gorge yourself and cause strain to your digestive organs and develop obesity. If you say too much, you may cause opposite reactions, resistance or anger from others. If you say too little, then you have not done your part in helping others to awaken to the truth.
It's not so easy to know, ultimately, what are appropriate thoughts, words and deeds. That's why we study the spiritual books and cultivate ourselves, in our meditations and in our daily practices. Because through that, we become self aware and closer to nature and therefore shall understand and be like nature. Spring comes after winter, and when spring comes we're reborn, the Earth is renewed so I will read from the sacred spiritual book that is the Complete Works of Lao Tzu, book one is the Tao Teh Ching. I felt that Chapter 16 would be an appropriate reading for today:
"Attain the utmost unoccupiedness. Maintain the utmost stillness and do not interfere with all the things that rush together in activity and grow luxuriantly. Then you can see how living things flourish and renew themselves. Yet, they must return to the root again, each to its simple source. Knowing to return to the root is to be refreshed. This is called the secret of revitalization. To restore one's vitality is to constantly renew oneself. To know constant renewal is to have achieved clarity. If one does not know constant self renewal and thus act foolishly, disaster will soon occur. Knowing constancy in renewing oneself, one can extend the duration of one's life. If one can deeply understand the extension of life's duration, one is able to contain all things within oneself. To be all inclusive, is to be impartial. To be impartial is to realize the positive, creative virtues of heaven. To be heavenly is to be one with Tao, the subtle essence of the universe. To be one with the Tao is to enjoy everlasting life. Such a one will be preserved, even after the dissolution of his physical body."
Chapter 16 of the Tao Teh Ching encapsulated the spirit of Easter. According to Christianity, every person is a sinner and the salvation from our sin is to believe in Christ, a belief in God. But what exactly does “belief” mean? Do we simply just worship someone? A divine being? A deity? Is that all we have to do, just believe? Or is there something more that we must do and not do, act and not act, and think and not think? The essence of it is encapsulated in the Tao Teh Ching. According to the Bible, Jesus lived a sinless life. When you follow the passage here in Chapter 16, it explains what it means to be sinless. Because if you know "the how", that is the key to the kingdom.
Modern Christians know that pragmatically simply "believing" doesn't provide you the salvation for your life, but that you must also embody and live the teaching in your life. As stated in the book of Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 16, "attain the utmost and unoccupiedness and maintain the utmost stillness." First, you need to be still, and you can't get in trouble being still. And what stillness does is akin to the water in the pond, when the water is stirred you can't see the bottom but when it is still, the mud settles down to the bottom and now, you can see clearly what's in the water.
"Do not interfere with all things that rush together in activity and grow luxuriantly.” Do not interfere. This is an important understanding of Wu Wei? Early translators of the Tao Teh Ching translated Wu Wei to be “non-interference” and “do nothing”? Well, it's partially true and unfortunately does not encompass the whole meaning of Wu Wei. Do nothing may mean that you sit on your behind and do nothing to advance your life. In some way, that summarized what the hippies did in the 70s, and that didn't get them too far, until they started to live their life in earnest. The complete meaning of Wu Wei is to be proactive and be nature but not interfere artificially or unnecessarily.
"Then you can see how living things flourish and renew themselves." The observation that nature is a gift and that this gift of rebirth, renewal and the growth of all things and, "Yet, they all must all return to the root again, each to its simple source." This is why after the expansive growth of Summer, autumn arrives and trees are unburdened by the leaves. So similarly we as humans shed our clothes and return to our original nakedness, back to our root. And only by doing so, can we prepare to regrow again. We are born again.
"Knowing to return to the root is to be refreshed. This is called subtle revitalization. To restore one's vitality is to constantly renew oneself." Why do we sleep every night? Well, if you don't sleep for eight hours each night, you will not feel good the next day as you'll be sleep deprived. And if you suffer from some form of sleep apnea or you don't sleep enough, you will suffer the consequences such as aging prematurely, increasing your risks of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. "To know constant renewal is to have achieved clarity." Only by having clarity will you know to eat the right foods, perform the right deeds, engage in the right activities and say the right words.
"If one does not know constant self renewal and thus acts foolishly. Disaster will soon occur." I have recounted numerous times of my own foolishness that nearly cost my life. I for one have been extremely lucky. And in many ways I am so blessed starting from my accidental fall from the rooftop of our three story house and suffered brain damage and spinal cord injury and lied in a coma for a month. It turned out that that one month was pivotal in my realization. I was shown the truth of life. I was able to float around the house and observe, listen to conversations and was completely aware and yet physically I was confined to a room, not conscious and not being able to move. It was then that I realized that spirit exists and that the body was simply the vehicle. I wasn't supposed to die so returned to this life to tell my story.
And there was the time when I went backpacking in Sequoia National Park at 18 years of age and got lost in the snow for seven days and thought that I may not survive. And then the time in Yosemite when I encountered a mama bear with her two cubs between her and I. When she stood up on her hind legs I knew I was in trouble. In all these situations with good luck I was able to get away to safety. When we go back in our lives and reflect on the times that we made bad decisions and choices, acted impulsively and perhaps even had our own brush of near death experiences we can see the consequences of our foolish actions and thoughts, leading to “disaster will soon occur.”
“Knowing constant renewal one can extend the duration of one's life.” I observe that my father OmNi’s life has been a perfect example of this. On a daily basis, he still gets up at 4am to begin his practice of meditation and Dao-In. And then he goes to the backyard and does Tai Chi and eight treasures qigong and at the conclusion of that he goes for a walk. After his walk he has his first meal of the day. Then he goes about the majority of the morning, reading, writing and corresponding. Up until 35 years ago he was a practicing doctor of Chinese medicine but maintained a routine of seeing patients in the morning, six days a week and around noon he eats a very light lunch and afterwards takes a half an hour nap. Even now that’s still his schedule.
After lunch and nap, he reads and curates videos for me that he finds in Chinese and English. Very sweet of him to be doing that. And then he practices more of qigong and Tai Chi and goes for a second walk.. He gets on average 12,000 steps every single day, rain or shine. And if it rains outside, he'll do the Cosmic Tour and merry-go-round which is a circle walking around the dining room table--we made sure to get him a very large dining room table. And he'll eat a little soup for dinner, meditates and then goes to bed at 8 pm. This has been my father’s routine day in and day out for as long as I’ve known him.
“If one can deeply understand the extension of life”s duration, one is able to contain all things within oneself. To be all inclusive is to be impartial.” This is why we don't define what Tao is. Because as soon as we use the intellectual mind to try to come up with the definition of Tao, then we have become partial, because there is no word in the English language that can fully encompass the true meaning and essence of Tao, just like it’s impossible to define God because the human mind tend to project what it can relate to such as a father-like figure that sits up on a throne in the sky looking down at its creations on earth. To be all inclusive is to be whole in mind and body--our perception and our actions without division or separation.
“To be impartial is to realize the positive creative virtues of heaven.” Do you not see that it is heaven that bestows and displays its benevolence upon us? If the sun stops shining, there would be no life. “To be heavenly is to be one with the subtle essence of the universe.” To realize this you must cultivate and meditate in order to gain the understanding that the subtle essence of the universe is the bosom of the Mystical Universal Mother and that she nurtures her offspring, unconditionally. She’s here and now.
“To be one with the subtle essence of the universe is to enjoy everlasting life.” When you have grasped the secret, when you have the key to the treasure box, to the kingdom, it's yours but you must set off on a lifelong journey of adventure, exploration and hard work to find the key. We are fortunate to have the Integral Way to show us the way and not have to be in the dark searching and reinventing the wheel. “Such a one will be preserved even after the dissolution of his physical body.” Once again, we explore the meaning of resurrection. As we have done this and every morning, we resurrected ourselves from our sleep, which is a form of death, to be reborn into today, here and now. So don't squander the opportunity called life that you're given and double down on your commitment and your diligence in your practice.