I think, therefore I am not here.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I think, therefore I am not here.
Thich Nhat Hanh
~How Wisdom Grows- Educating Hearts and Minds~
What is wisdom and is it something that can be taught or learned? Philosophers have debated this for thousands of years. Aristotle said that “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Put another way, intelligence that is not informed by our hearts- by compassion- is not really intelligent at all.
Looking around at our world today the human family is at a crisis point. Young people spending more time playing video games and texting then reading books, learning crafts or communicating with members of their family. Investment bankers and corporations seeking wealth and profit without concern for the health, happiness and well being of those who purchase their products or work for them. Consumers everywhere buying and throwing away materials in such a way that our planet is being treated like an all-you-can-eat buffet table and a garbage dump, simultaneously.
How did we get to this point in our “evolution” as the dominant species on the planet? Can humanity change course, solve the complicated problems we’ve created and become wiser? There’s no simple answer to this, but I will share a few thoughts on what I see as a primary cause of the problem and a possible solution.
In short, I think that we need to bridge the gaps that exist within many of us – between our hearts (compassion), our imagination (visual thinking) and the complex yet disconnected bits of knowledge we hold in our heads. Bridging those gaps is how greater wisdom arises, in my opinion.
Compassion means to care, to feel empathy and sympathy for fellow beings. That’s pretty straight forward. Knowledge is the complex information we teach our children and consider to be important as a culture. But what is imagination, and why is that so essential?
Most of us think of the imagination as something active only in creative people and artists, a tool for making ideas and things that do not yet exist. That is indeed one of it’s primary functions, but even more importantly, the imagination is the means by which we do visual thinking, how we mentally represent and understand the world around us. When used this way the imagination provides a kind of virtual landscape for organizing information and knowledge.
Our world view- our understanding of everything around us- makes use of mental models and visual representations of the world. We build these up over time, based on the information that comes in – from teachers, the internet, television, books, movies, friends- work, school, entertainment and play – all realms of human experience.
What is sometimes called “systems thinking” is a mind building such visual models so that they represent the complexity and interdependence of reality accurately, and then becoming skilled at using these understandings effectively.
In many tribal traditions the imagination seems to be used in this way, where visual thinking informed by the heart is the primary mode of reasoning, the basis by which wisdom is generated and shared. Unfortunately, in modern societies much of the information we have been taught in schools has been separated and divided up, compartmentalized.
As such our visual understandings do not accurately represent the connections between phenomena. People’s minds have become ignorant- they ignore- the interdependent nature of reality as it actually exists.
The psychologist Ellen Langer talks about this in terms of mindfulness and mindlessness. Mindfulness is thinking that stays open to input from our surroundings and generates a clearer representation of what is really going on. Mindlessness, as she uses the term, is thinking based on received knowledge from the past that does not accurately reflect the current situation.
Langer has written about how it’s a common trap of “experts” in all fields, who have been “well educated” and think they understand what they are doing, where in reality they don’t have a complete or clear picture of the situations they are dealing with.
In Eastern traditions such as Buddhism the term mindfulness is used in a related way. The term means nonjudgemental observation, carefully observing what is going on without conceptual ideas and judgements. There methods such as meditation are used to help a person train their awareness, to master a way of observing the world that is open to sensory input and free from the bias of dualistic and compartmentalized beliefs. As Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki put it, “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few.”
Wisdom, in my opinion, arises when we bring together compassion, mindfulness, imagination and knowledge synergistically, so that we are developing more accurate understandings about the world around us, and then making decisions guided by all of these faculties together.
It’s what has given birth to the deeper forms of art, literature, myth, science, movies, poetry and music that people have created; and its what leads to wise decision-making by leaders in all fields of human activity. The imagination’s accurate representations of knowledge help us to understand the nature of situations, what is really going on. Feelings of compassion help us make wise choices, aware of (and caring about) how actions will affect others. Mindfulness allows us to stay in touch with what is really happening, to update our knowledge representations, and to become more skillful in our actions.
On the other hand, the meaningless, destructive, selfish and manipulative activities of humanity represent people’s imaginations cut off from deeper wisdom and accurate understanding. Knowledge and imagination that is not grounded by mindfulness and rooted in wisdom creates fantasy worlds that can quickly become nightmares. Without basic common sense and wisdom we have been unable to solve our problems and continuously create new ones.
This is the “modern” world we live in, a world we have created together. It is the result of minds that have been compartmentalized, where different areas of society and the brain are not communicating with one another. To bridge these gaps we all need to grow more connections between the various areas of our bodies and brains, and in society as a whole. We need to listen to our hearts, re-learn what we think we know, and encourage our children to think and behave differently, to live more in synch with Nature.
If we do this successfully we can become wiser as a species, more “eco-logical.” We and the planet that gave birth to us can be happier and healthier, healed and transformed.
The Art of Learning/Creative Systems Thinking
Feb. 20, 2013
“We have entered the uncharted territory of a global emergency, where ‘business as usual’ cannot continue. It is now urgent that we take corrective action to ensure a safe-climate future for coming generations of human beings and other species.” ~The Dalai Lama
“This is the time for humankind to embark upon a new historical epoch. We ourselves have to make the critical decisions, individually and collectively, that will determine our future destiny.” ~Bikkhu Bodhi
“If we continue abusing the earth this way, there is no doubt that our civilisation will be destroyed. This will require enlightenment, awakening. The Buddha attained individual awakening. Now we need a collective enlightenment to stop this course of destruction.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
“The world itself has a role to play in our awakening. Its very brokenness and need call to us, summoning us to walk out of the prison of self-concern.” ~Joanna Macy
“This surely must rivet the urgent, critical attention of anyone who takes the bodhisattva vows.” ~Susan Murphy Roshi
Shared as part of
“Zen, Nature & Climate Change”
Back in 1965, a grad student in molecular biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology stumbled across a class of five people on Zen Buddhism. He’d never heard of Zen and knew nothing of Buddhism. Nearly half a century later, that grad student, Jon Kabat-Zinn, has arguably done more than any other individual to put Buddhism into the mainstream, not just in America, but in dozens of countries around the world. Now, Downing Street policymakers are keen to hear more.
“That first class took the top off my head. I found a sense of largeness beyond my little preoccupations of what would happen to my future, or my relationships,” says Kabat-Zinn. “It opened up a new dimension of being which could offer more meaning and enable me to interface more effectively with society in a way which could be healing and transformative.”
Kabat-Zinn’s enthusiasm for that dramatic breakthrough is still palpable as he talks of how as a scientist he resolved to find a way to bring those benefits to millions of others. What he evolved over the next 15 years was the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme; an eight-week set of meditation and yoga practices in classes and at home, which instil the basics of paying close attention to the current moment.
“I was teaching molecular biology of muscle development in medical school at the time, and began to ask doctors: ‘What percentage of your patients do you help?’ They thought it was about 15% to 20%.”
So Kabat-Zinn set up a clinic to help the untreatable majority. “Patients turned up with all kinds of conditions: hypertension, cancer, anxiety.”
As a scientist, Kabat-Zinn knew he needed evidence; anecdotes and testimony were not going to be enough to persuade the American health establishment. “I wrote up the chronic pain results first because they were astonishing.” Since then, a steady stream of academic papers, books and, more recently, randomised control trials, have helped pave the way for hundreds of MBSR programmes in hospitals and medical centres across the US.
Kabat-Zinn’s work has spawned a cluster of different applications of mindfulness training, including for addiction, the elderly and parenting. In the past couple of decades, Kabat-Zinn has collaborated with psychologists in the UK who have adapted his work for Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which has won recognition from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), as a treatment for depression.
All of which explains why our interview is happening in Westminster, where Kabat-Zinn has a string of meetings with senior politicians before he heads to Downing Street for a session with policy advisers. There are good reasons for the policymakers to be listening closely, as Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues have a compelling proposition: mindfulness has unlimited applicability to almost every healthcare issue we now face – and it’s cheap.
“The find it, fix it model of medicine doesn’t work any more. The US healthcare system is bankrupting the country, bankrolling the insurance companies and exhausting healthcare staff,” says Kabat-Zinn. “And despite all that, we are ranked 50th in the world for life expectancy.”
The UK has huge challenges in healthcare, with an explosion in mental illness and an ageing population, he points out, adding that mindfulness is relevant to the debate about how to instil compassion and attentive care in healthcare workers to avoid a repeat of the Mid Staffordshire scandal. Mindfulness training inspires compassion, he argues. Just the act of being in the moment and paying attention to that moment allows the innate compassion within us all to emerge.
“It’s all about training what you pay attention to,” he says, admitting that this goes against the grain of a culture that trains us to privilege thinking and which offers endless opportunities for constant distraction from the present moment. “It’s common sense. It’s not about cures, it’s about over time developing a different relationship with one’s experiences, whether that’s anxiety, pain, stress or depression. We know that changes the shape of the brain, it affects the behaviour of cells.”
Kabat-Zinn has been one of the leaders of the dialogue between science and Buddhism, in which the Dalai Lama has been an enthusiastic participant. But it is the insistence of a very practical approach that has perhaps been the key factor in his success. Kabat-Zinn wanted to translate the Buddha’s central insight, mindfulness, into a language that anyone could grasp. That’s why he stopped calling himself a Buddhist; this is about being human, he says.
He now believes that mindfulness is on a steep adoption curve. Given the benefits of mental clarity, insight and creativity that practitioners claim, the interest from corporations is wellestablished, particularly in Silicon Valley, where Kabat-Zinn is a regular speaker. Even the US military has adopted a version of mindfulness for training soldiers.
None of these applications faze Kabat-Zinn, although they are far from the ethos of his own work. Even if mindfulness is used by the banker or the soldier to improve their professional skills, he says, it will also nurture the innate compassion of their humanity.
“It is what makes us human, what distinguishes us from other animals. We can be aware of being aware.”
Has no fish.
Daikan Basho, Contributing Writer
We live in a complex world and simplicity is often difficult to come by. This is especially so in the world of intangible ideas about things such as the future. What the world should look like tomorrow.
In seeking to manifest tomorrow, we participate in politics, religion, civics, activism, evangelism and so on, consuming ourselves with outwardly organizational efforts to tweak the future to our liking.
Virtuous as it may be to volunteer, stump, debate and donate, the genuine source of our societal problems goes overlooked by most.
The true nature of mankind can not be hidden from time. The Tao Teh Ching effectively captured the truest essence of human nature 2500 years ago, and returning to its simple wisdom can help us to overcome the confusion about the nature of our world.
The deep insights offered by this timeless text shows us how can genuinely affect change in this world. And that is by addressing the root of our problems: the self.
Ponder this beautiful passage from the Tao Te Ching, #38:
One of subtle universal nature
is not conscious of being virtuous,
therefore, he is truly virtuous.
One of partial virtue attempts to live up to
an external standard of virtue.
Therefore, he is not truly virtuous.
One of whole virtue does not need to do anything
in order to be virtuous,
because virtue is the very essence
of one’s true nature.
But, one of partial virtue believes that something
must be done in order to prove that he is virtuous.
Thus, partial virtue becomes prevalent
when people fail to follow their own true nature.
Benevolence becomes prevalent
when people fail to be naturally kind.
Etiquette becomes prevalent
when people fail to be righteous and considerate.
When people find no response with etiquette,
they roll up their sleeves
and force others to respond to them.
When people stray from the subtle way of universal nature,
they can no longer perceive their own true nature.
Thus, they emphasize relative virtue.
When natural virtue is lost,
society depends on the doctrine of humanism.
When natural virtue is lost,
society depends on the doctrine of humanism.
When humanity becomes corrupted,
social and religious teachings appear
and become powerful forces.
When social and religious teachings become corrupted,
what is left behind is the empty shell
of superficial ceremonies and artificial etiquette.
When etiquette is emphasized,
it is because people lack the simple qualities
of fairness and kindness.
This is the starting point of people of confusion.
All of these man-made, partial virtues
are merely superficial flowers, a false nature.
When people begin to move away
from their own true nature,
it is the beginning of hypocrisy.
Clarity comes in simple packages.
Daikan Basho is a traveling guru of life. A Yogi, philosopher and eternal student of the martial arts, he searches tirelessly for self-perfection. Through the physical arts and written word he intends to move the people he comes in contact with toward the realization of a happier, more fulfilled life. Daikan is a contributing writer to WakingTimes.com.
From “The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching“. Translation and elucidation by Hua-Ching Ni.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
A rich man asked a Zen master to write something down that could encourage the prosperity of his family for years to come. It would be something that the family could cherish for generations. On a large piece of paper, the master wrote, “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.”
The rich man became angry when he saw the master’s work. “I asked you to write something down that could bring happiness and prosperity to my family. Why do you give me something depressing like this?”
“If your son should die before you,” the master answered, “this would bring unbearable grief to your family. If your grandson should die before your son, this also would bring great sorrow. If your family, generation after generation, disappears in the order I have described, it will be the natural course of life. This is true happiness and prosperity.”
For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. “Is that so?” Hakuin said as he handed them the child.
I had a discussion with a great master in Japan, and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, “That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because the sound of the rain needs no translation.”
~ Alan Watts ~
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected in dewdrops. Although its light is wide and great, the whole moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. Each reflection manifests the vastness of the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky. Just as Enlightenment is reflected in an individual.
~ Dogen ~
Editor’s Note: Waking Times is excited to feature this article by the editor of IMOS Journal, The International Journal of Qigong and Taiji Culture.
Anthony Guilbert’, Contributing Writer
Whether you believe movements like ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ or ‘We are the 99%,’ represent valid social concerns, what is clear is that they are representative of a growing global class struggle. Though you might believe that assessment is boastful, or even wishful thinking on the part of the protesters, it is, none-the-less, the position held by Progressives as well Conservatives.
Its not often that we see Progressive critics such as Henry Giroux of ‘Truthout’ agreeing with Conservative pollsters like Frank Luntz, who openly states these movements are “getting dangerously big.” With both sides making the same claim, we might just have to bite the bullet here, and agree, we are indeed living in a time of ‘Global Class Warfare.’
At the onset of the Occupy Movement, as the protesters began tweeting news from the streets, I wondered if internal arts such as Tai Chi or Qigong could offer some benefit to the world as it erupts into these desperate times.
Focusing on the Taoist roots of Tai Chi and Qigong, many practitioners I questioned invoke the concept of ‘wu–wei’ (non-doing or non-action) as a justification for not getting involved in social issues. One of the highest Taoist virtues, the enigmatic ‘wu–wei’ is often the Taoist rationale for retreating, all together, from society.
Like Buddhism, Taoism is an ontological discourse aimed at individual cultivation, and inner transformation. And, it faces many of the same concerns as Buddhism when considering how it should engage a society whose constraints it is trying to dissolve.
Socially engaged Buddhism finds its momentum in the Bodhisattva’s vow, commonly associated with the Mahayana tradition. Vowing to “save all sentient beings,” has become the fuel behind Buddhism’s various social movements.
Lacking such an overt moral code, Taoists have to dig a bit to find support for engaging in social action. However, it can be found:
The sage does not accumulate for himself.
The more he uses for others, the more he has himself.
The more he gives to others, the more he possesses of his own.
The Way of Heaven is to benefit others and not to injure.
The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.
~Tao Te Ching (81)
In this excerpt from Lao Tzu’s classic, we see a clear imposition toward ‘selflessness.’ The benefits of which only come to fruition by directly engaging others. ‘Selflessness’ is the bridge that allows Taoists to become socially engaged, even while pursuing goals of individual cultivation.
By keeping our intention, our ‘yi,’ focused on others, we explore the interconnectedness of things. Social action, whether it is joining the ‘Occupy’ movement, working with disadvantaged communities, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, can become an opportunity for practice. Putting aside what I view as a parochial interpretation ‘Wu–Wei,’ allows us to focus in on the deep fabric of the Tao, while both cultivating and expressing our ‘yi.’
Unfortunately, I do not think this is what is holding practitioners back from engaging in social issues. Many whom I spoke with seemed to be either misinformed or just caught up in the general malaise of our culture. Myself included. Beyond the few issues I work with directly, I found myself at a loss to understand, let alone explain, what we are witnessing happen to our world.
To get a global understanding on this issue, I spoke with indie-filmmaker Velcrow Ripper. Producer of the award winning films ‘Scared Sacred,’ ‘Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action,’ and the forthcoming ‘Occupy Love’ which chronicles the ‘Occupy’ movement, Ripper has traveled the Earth documenting those engaged in spiritually based social action.
Like many progressive thinkers, Ripper describes these times in terms of a coming paradigm shift. “We’re in the midst of a transition, a societal transition from an industrial growth society, to a life sustaining civilization. We’re experiencing the maturation of our species. The challenge is to survive our stormy adolescence and grow up in time.”
In support of this, Ripper argues for a “shift toward a deeper set of values:” a deeper sense of community, a deeper connection to the world, cultivating a deeper sense of ‘meaning’ in our lives. These “values need to rise to the surface and become . . . more intrinsic.” The looming fear is that if we continue the way we are headed, the world could suffer “full on systems collapse.”
“What is called for is a return to balance ––this is where arts like Tai Chi and Qigong can help.” “Balance is the most important skill to master… When we are in balance we become less re-active and more responsive.” Being more aware, more responsive, and more focused on our communities and the world is the core of the coming paradigm shift.
In my conversation with Ripper, he referred to Robert Jay Lifton’s idea of the ‘protean self’ to explain our current need for balance. In his book with the same title, Lifton discusses the emergence of a “fluid and many-sided personality” in society as a juxtaposition to the failing, highly rigid, personalities that have brought the world into its current crisis. The implication here is that the ‘protean self’ responds to the world with a greater capacity for flexible imagination and action. Lifton tells us, “the protean path is a path of hope. It embraces an act of imagination and is, as such, a profound beginning.” Ripper believes that mind/body arts can help us balance the intricacies of this new fluid identity.
Ripper, like many others, sees mind/body integration & world change as intrinsically connected: “We cannot create sustainable change without a corresponding internal change. . . We must change from the worldview of René Descartes to that of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, (the visionary French Jesuit, enthralled with the possibilities for humankind) . . . We must integrate models of being and doing that address the inner self as well as the outer self. Healing our modern pathology will require deep mind/body work ––this will be deeply connected to any global change.”
The previous generations called for us to “Be Here Now.” Ripper challenges the current generation to “Do Here Now.” “This is not a time for 20 years in a cave. Its time to bring our training with us out into the streets and learn these concepts in motion.” To face the world that is emerging “we need to be fierce ––fiercely harmonious ––we need to be warriors!”
To borrow a phrase from another of Lifton’s books, what Velcrow Ripper outlined as the major problem facing our world is the tension arising from a bifurcation of a “species awareness” from the old, “individual awareness” epitomized by consumer culture. A movement away the mindset that romanticizes the suffering and trauma of others as a necessary function of the world, to one that acts from a feeling of empathy for the suffering of others.
In Chapter 77 of ‘Tao Te Ching,’ Lao Tzu anticipates our current situation and gives practitioners of internal arts a prescription:
Those who try to control,
who use force to protect their power,
go against the direction of the Tao.
They take from those who don’t have enough
and give to those who have far too much.
The Master can keep giving
because there is no end to her wealth.
She acts without expectation,
succeeds without taking credit,
and doesn’t think that she is better
than anyone else.
(trans. S. Mitchel)
“Give” without bound . . . “act without expectation” . . . “succeed without taking credit.” Though my reading maybe biased, it seems that through “selfless” social action we achieve an awareness of the Tao, and become an agent of it. Though we often romanticize Taoists as wandering ascetics, monks cloistered in monasteries like Wu Dang, or court alchemists, truth is there is enough in the Tao Te Ching, and the other classics, to support the idea of Taoist Social Action.
To see if there was support for this concept, I asked teachers who have written for IMOS in the past for their views on internal arts and social action. Here are their responses:
John Leporati | New York, USA
Those who seek social justice, as the Wall St. Occupiers in my native New York, embrace the Tao. They are like water dwelling close to the ground as they come from ordinary backgrounds and lives. In governing themselves, they don’t try to control things, letting points of view emerge and evolve organically. They know that those who chase after money clench their hearts eternally. They wait at the center until the correct action arises of itself. Most importantly, when confronted with forces that are stiff and inflexible, they remain flexible and supple. In this way, they follow the Tao–and their victory is assured.
Dan Kleimn | Massachusetts, USA
While I’m not sure whether there are specific moral tenets dictated by Taiji or Qigong, I’ve always felt that one of the big benefits of an internal arts practice is that it makes your inner world feel more stable and comfortable. With a strong inward foundation, you are more able to move out into the world and engage, confront, and respond thoughtfully to everyone and everything you meet.
Paul Read | Madrid, Spain
As twenty-first century warriors whom are we training to fight:
Black-veiled Ninjas on Pagoda rooftops?
Samurai swordsmen at the supermarket?
Gun-wielding henchmen in darkened alleyways?
Put down the comic books.
Come out onto street.
Bring your skill and strength
to defeat contemporary enemies of common man:
The corrupt and timid democracies, incestuously linked
to all those institutions that defend the boundaries
of an unjust and immoral economic path.
Brian Milani | Toronto, Canada
The last 5000 years of human evolution have been an era of material accumulation based in various forms of domination: of nature (and parts of ourselves most connected to nature), of women, and of classes, nations and races. Today, this kind of accumulation has reached its limits—threatening our survival—even as emerging productive forces rooted in human creativity, and community & ecological regeneration, are crying out for expression. Many of today’s martial arts are implicated in the fabric of domination that now threatens the planet. But some others, grounded in deeper principles of harmony and awareness, can teach us much about how to deal with conflict on many levels—in ways far more beneficial and effective than simply doing damage to others. Happily, social change strategy today can also be more focused on positive alternatives than on oppositional activity, because most of the cutting-edge alternatives are so decentralized. Opposition to exploitation and domination is much more effective when we can point to, and initiate, more regenerative arrangements—from food, to energy, to financial systems. Green energy analyst Amory Lovins, e.g., often advocates an “aikido strategy” of social change, based on subtle redirection of the system’s momentum. Disciplines of human potential development, including the internal martial arts, can be invaluable tools in helping create both the mindsets and models for a harmonious new world.
Ronnie Robinson | Glasgow, Scotland
The world is in turmoil, and the things that many held to be true have disappeared into thin air. Values have changed and questions are being asked; anger and potential violence grows.
Life is life and it changes…. can we stay true to what is important, the calm pond in the sea of chaos?
Feel your feet, feel your breath and let the winds blow where they must. Your integral central core will guide you and allow you to truly realize what is important, what it is that feeds you, and your friends and family, and what can continue to sustain you.
Breathe…. feel your breath…. let it flow and always have your feet firmly planted in the earth.
Ted Kardash | California, USA
The writings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu do not shy away from social action. Several chapters in the Tao Te Ching address the issue of leadership and how to govern in a just and effective manner according to Taoist principles.
Chuang Tzu, using a conversation between a teacher and his apprentice, devotes several pages of text to explaining how a tyrant must be approached in order for balance and harmony to emerge successfully.
The ideas of compassion, humility, and respect for one’s fellow beings, both on a personal as well as a social level, are key principles in the teachings of these sages and are the basis for social endeavors.
Teresa White | New York, USA
My initial thoughts are that Taiji and Qigong play a role in social change by virtue of their role in changing the individual. The changes to individuals inevitably change the whole, i.e., be the peace you seek in the world. Taiji, as a martial art, empowers the individual and strengthens their health. Qigong is a method by which individuals empower themselves by taking hold of their health and well being making them less dependent on the sick-care system. Therefore, those who are less dependent on the powers-that-be are in a better position and better able to take on that very system/establishment.
You Sheng Li | Ontario, Canada
Lao Tzu says, “Heaven and earth unite to rain down sweet dew; the people, nobody ordering them, balance to equality.” Now both wealth and inequality have skyrocketed in a global village that is far more complex than Lao Tzu imagined.
Taoism provides a solid ground for ordinary people both to protest again the richest and to keep a serene mind to themselves. Taoism also gives the technique: Transcendence.
We all experience such moments when we emerge ourselves into the amazing landscape of nature or absorbed into a masterpiece of arts, a world of beautiful serenity where secular concerns become irrelevant.
There are a few lines by American poet Walt Whitman that truly capture the spirit of this global movement toward social justice: “My spirit has pass’d in compassion and determination around the whole earth. I have look’d for equals and lovers and found them ready for me in all lands.”
Across the whole of the globe, ordinary people, moved by spirit and justice, are standing up to tackle “dragon-size” issues. No matter how much we argue about what Lao Tzu, or Chuang Tzu, believed about social action, the final statement on the issue will be a matter of choice. Do you choose to help guide the world toward balance or not?
Do you choose to follow “The Way of Heaven”?
Anthony Guilbert is an American poet & essayist, as well as, a distinguished teacher of writing and mind-body arts. An erudite explorer of the human experience, Guilbert brings a poet’s sensibilities to the study and promotion of human potential.” Among the new generation of mind/body thought leaders, Guilbert stands out as one of the most ambitious pundits of Qigong & Taiji culture. He is the publisher of ‘Into Mountains, Over Streams: an International Journal of Qigong & Taiji Culture online.’
Many of Guilbert’s thoughts on Taoism & social action are continued in The Teapot Monk’s interview with him on The Bean Curd Boxer. [http://teapotmonk-thebeancurdboxer.blogspot.com/2012/01/erasing-cultural-operating-system-10.html]
When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds, there could be no rain, and there would be no flower. Without time, the flower could not bloom. In fact, the flower is made entirely of non-flower elements; it has no independent, individual existence. It ‘inter-is’ with everything else in the universe.
~ Thich Nhat Hahn ~