Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Living With Contentment is True Power

Finding Contentment in a Complicated World

Contentment has been taught by many traditions in a variety of ways. Different world traditions, people and systems throughout recorded history. The teachings of Lao Tsu, explores initially how we can enjoy the deep experience of contentment or "daily tranquility" in a complicated world. I believe if we can begin with trusting within and moving with the natural cycles of daily, weekly, and yearly change we can achieve a better understanding of ourselves and all that we encounter. Through the various aspects of spiritual cultivations of  Lao Tsu this answer's this yearning for many. 

If "contentment" is so important and as well as the teachings of  Lao Tsu; why are there so few public credible teachers? The reason is most of the teachers are Chinese or connected to Chinese Traditions teachers. Language barrier is for certain a problem for most seekers of the path. Also teachers of the tradition understands enough history to know that it is not a path that is for the marketed world. Most ethical Teachers of Tao Traditions are not ones that seek to"mission" their path for the masses. Even in Chinese communities its a must gain access kind of tradition. It does take time to gain access to elders within the practices. For many impatient Americans they lose patients and seek elsewhere. For many that understand this testing period; all things come to those who wait!

 Largely an oral tradition path, and infused with commentary's; the teachings of Lao Tsu's Tao Teh Ching is a lively rich tradition that teaches balance, harmony and personal spiritual wisdom. It has taken myself most of my adult life to begin to understand the heart sealed messages within the tradition. I am happy to share my personal experience from it. It is only a singular personal world view although. One person does not have the final word either on teachings of the Tao. In China the followers of Traditions of Tao have not yet self identified either what "Taosim" is either. Western Scholars actually coined the name Taoism, for the people of this syncretic tradition. Its very interesting cause people that follow the Tao actually like to ride under the popular radar historically. East Asian Traditions have become a great commodity in our world of self help therapy. It is kind of hilarious, practice systems that seek modesty, contentment and retreat are being sold constantly for quite a price, in our social world!

Life is Always in Flux

Having a unwavering view on living a life with "tranquility" to last forever is ignite for sure disappointment. It is more balanced to live our lives from moment to moment, in a state of equanimity. This is where formal meditation practice skills come into play in our everyday life. We should keep in mind not to fall into the expectations of either positive outcomes or difficulties. If we follow this our maturity, independence, and balance will increase. As things happen and we encounter difficulties, our skills to deal with trying times will come into play; and we will not react with a over the top emotional reaction. Advice here is to live your life with poise and balance. Contentment is also about learning to not live in a life of chaos and putting out fires. Its also about getting other peoples "Monkeys off your Back". Many times we train those around us how to treat us. So for many people they have to learn to cut the bondage. Its not easy for many but it is something that must be done.

The Best Leaders are the Most Peaceful

The fruits of following the way of meditation and the teachings of Lao Tsu, will pay big dividends in ones personal life. Very simply others will respect you not because of any act of cleverness or personal hubris on your part. We live in a age where we can spot the marketers now from a mile away; what are they trying to sell me now one might think. I personally loathe trying to sell any of the traditions on someone. Most people know what they are looking for. One will find the more they push trying to become popular the harder it will become. It will either have a fast uprising with a certain fall from grace. It can also just never go anywhere because the approach is just all wrong. Focus on being balanced and genuine; like the old great saying "all things comes to those who wait"!

People recognize natural simplicity and sincerity; a quality that lacks although in our "me-ism" age. Many use the titles of Master, Guru etc very easily. In East Asian Traditions its a proper way to address the elders and mentors. In many aspects for the uneducated it really does not mean a thing to their world view. Learn to be content with whom you are and be yourself! Learn to find your uniqueness in your own approach.

  Another favorite old saying "you cannot cook rice with talk" comes into leading people on traditions. When teaching people we don't have to say so many things, create so many products to give commentary's on practice. Our actions speak louder than words. Its better to lead by example and have students follow you as the model until they get it. Everything they need to know will be in the practice experience. When students are having trying times be sure to listen fully to their dilemmas. The leader whom has the ability to maintain composure and preserver even during times of difficulty with a student- speaks volumes about your personal integrity.

I always get from students hey do you know so and so etc? Part of the contentment teaching is "Competition and Comparison" should be avoided at all cost. I am happy and perfectly content being a freelance teacher, and have no need to be involved in the "mission" of popularity.  Many feel that there may be a division between yourself  and another, a sense of missing out or competing; its really the chaos of the mind and ego. Focus on yourself and you will soar above everyone else. Take care of your own that's the most important aspect of this. Harmonious unions come to those of like minded individuals. Many leaders, mentors, teachers foster a false sense of superiority which creates a chasm with students. Its better not to foster a sense of superiority over others. The best one liner I heard from one of my earlier teachers was "I am forever student; we all learn together". A very important teaching for those whom opt to operate with a ethical world view.

Final Analysis 

Learning how to adopt a world view of contentment might be easier said then done for some. It will for sure take some conditioning and relearning how you evaluate people in your life, things you do in your life, and what things you will have to let go of. This is a old lesson morphed actually in many systems. Lao Tsu most likely gets the credit. Seek to accept situations without friction, it will take personal maturity and awareness to make it happen. Eventually it will become whom you are. Put your energy (qi) into meaningful relationships and pay greater attention to areas that you may be neglecting due to the many "Monkey's on your Back" (lol).

Lao Tsu said it best "Be yourself" (contentment); free yourself from being a prisoner of what people might say about you. If not you will forever be under their spell and be their prisoner! 






Monday, May 11, 2015

Contentment: Understanding Ourself is Insight

In the teachings of the Tao Teh Ching, contentment is a key goal to strive for. Lao Tsu describes it in several parts of the Tao Teh Ching as in chapter 33:

Many teachers call this the "Who are you", Understanding Yourself is Insight, Knowing oneself"; in actuality there are no chapter titles from the traditional Chinese text. It does help I believe for anyone to remember the teachings and the many layers that will follow each section.

  • If you understand others, you are clever. If you understand yourself, you are insightful. If you control others you are uncommonly forceful. If you harmonize yourself you have unusual inner strength. If you know when you have enough, you are flourishing with true wealth. If you have great follow through with your intentions to completion, you are unwavering.
 Lao Tsu's Chapter 33 is again teaching us about contentment. The guidance that could be applicable here as a suggestion is when "flowing in the way" of contentment and you are having a great period of success of harmonizing yourself, is to make note of these peaceful and tranquil moments that we are experiencing. When it's possible let it flow to others around us to have a positive influence as well.

We all need to realistic and understand that there will be adversity; there will be people and situations one needs to dissolve out of their life. This could because of a number of reasons.  By working diligently, we can prune these people, places or things out and clear the way for true contentment and progress. Aligning oneself with others that are like minded and have a energetic affinity to ourselves will aid much great progress as well.

This could be amplified by taking a class of some type of practice which you have a desire to do and making new friends and harnessing flourishing energy and happiness along the way. If taking classes is not for you; for whatever reason, then develop a simple centering meditation practice, where you can clear the space in yourself for more illumination to enter.

The Tao Teh Ching and teachings of Lao Tsu and other aspects center around the meditation practice. Try and practice this spiritual tradition when you are at your best or when demands are on a simmer in your busy day. Until next time, more lessons on contentment and Traditions of Natural Truths..



Wisdom for the Week

Time is short like a flash; in my personal life had two friends pass away last week. They taught Spiritual traditions as well. Don't waster youre life on "What of, Could of, or Should Of". You create your own experience. Live your life follow your desires, and never look back. Above is a wonderful quote from a Steve Jobs Interview.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Contentment = A Balanced life with Happiness

I often advise new students to seek an approach that will give them "Food for the Soul"; a life without a spiritual compass will cause one to get lost in life very similar like a ship at sea. Myself I always utilize the teachings of Lao Tsu & the Tao Teh Ching. The teachings of Lao Tsu provides much wisdom in this regard.

Energy exercises will only go so far; and we are not talking about following a "Guru" or God like system. The teachings of Lao Tsu is filled with many teachings, it stands apart from many; for its absent of blind faith but actually statements of natural truth.  Most practicing Taoist will adhere to a steady daily "Centering Meditation Tradition" and use the Tao Teh Ching as their compass in their busy daily life. A perfect meditation guide to say the least!

One of the foundation teachings in Tao Teh Ching is that of "contentment". The teachings of Lao Tsu believe that you should use contentment to gauge the pain or pleasure into relation to our experiences in life. To experience contentment on any level is a blessing. It represents a state of perfect balance, appearing as a still-point in the eternally changing world we live in. These periods of harmony mark that delicate period of transition between yin/yang, the moments of night and day when one feels right with the world. Anyone has had moments in life like this I believe even in the worst of times.

Contentment gives one a sense of well being and personal freedom. Such moments are luminous to the receiver a glimpse into heaven on earth; a manifestation of the Tao. Lao Tsu teaches us that when one is content, our outlook is clear and positive. It's for many experiencing a fresh start, free from the previous problems of our muddy world.

For many although a loss of faith in our hyper paced world happens often. People tend to lose the contentment states and experiences when life gets rough. They tend to descend into the "Emotional Mud" of our modern Society. They find this to be very discouraging since they believe it should last forever and it to be effortless. Nothing great comes without toil especially in East Asian Wisdom. For sure we say nothing last forever; life is an ongoing journey. We experience the good, bad and the ugly; and our experience is a fleeting reflection of those moments not the source of it.

Lao Tsu reminds us in the teachings that we are part of the "Flow of the Tao" and learn to move in sync with it rather than against it. There is a time of fruition and a time for dissolution. These aspects are not in opposition to each other. One is not good or bad; rather they actually flow into one another and are interdependent. We can hear in Lao Tsu's writings the wisdom of his teachers to forget about worrying on nonsense we cannot control. Focus on contentment and you will develop personal freedom.

In the Tao Teh Ching chapter #15 entitled "The Wise Ones of Old". He eludes to contentment towards end of the passage "Who can find tranquility in a muddy world". Lao Tsu teaches us that we can be certain that the present conditions will not last indefinitely. The historical Buddha did as well  "Suffering will not Last Forever".

The power of "Choosing Contentment is within each ourselves power. If you are not content in your life eliminate all that is and all those whom cause you dis-content. In life we all have to stand on our two feet and everyone has to find themselves. Offer a good ear but develop boundaries with elements of  peoples emotional mud and a society that is muddy. Contentment is easy but will take work and a learning experience. Each of us have to manage our own affairs although. Release the Monkeys off your back and be happy and content!



Monday, May 4, 2015

The Age of Self Adulation (Flattery) VS Self Promotion (traditions, ideas, concepts)

 Self Promotion vs Self Adulation

 In the age we live in I find it very interesting to document a “Curriculum Vitae”, in the public domain on anyone’s personal spiritual experiences, personal training and relationships with their mentor's.Our world now is full of an abundance of "Repeated Regurgitation of Self Adulation; the long resumes of the promotion of accomplishments, that have already been done. Some people care; but for most its disheartening to ones stomach.  

I have always viewed this as a very personal and singular experience, and not something to display in general public. The East Asian Healing Traditions were never developed or promoted to be marketed or offered for recompense. The traditions were offered to the masses as a way for personal salvation, peace and enlightenment. Historically when Chinese first came over to the west, they offered their traditions to westerners as a way for them to make a living. From Traditional Healing Ways, Chinese Restaurants, Tailors, Dry Cleaners, Martial Arts, this is how they supported themselves. Orthodox Buddhist Traditions have always advocated salvation to the masses through Dana Donation System. Almost all credible Temples and groups are funded through private endeavors and Society’s connected back to Asia.

With all that being said although, anytime a tradition from anywhere comes to a new Country it ultimately is adapted. So we have seen the Spiritual Aspects in East Asian Traditions been adapted from Traditional healing enclaves of spiritual communities, to now our modern world. I think its ok for people that are qualified to offer their knowledge for some kind of exchange. Where I personally draw the line with many people today is, where people use their marketing or sales tactics to take advantage of desperate or uneducated people.

  • Self Adulation is simply me-ism the promotion of accomplishments, experiences that have already been completed. Really doesn't often reflect ones current status of where they stand within the traditions or practices they follow or teach. The experiences one do is a crucial component; you need to get out and live youre life and find where you are with what you do. Advice here is, it should not be worn on youre sleeve like a business card although. I tell the students that I teach that it's more important for people to accept you for your contribution and what you have done to advance the practices. In due time those who personally show up, and you know you have an affinity with absolutely share youre experiences and stories. For they will be in it to really know and mentor under you to learn youre art or traditions.
  •  Self promotion or should I call it "Shameless Self Promotion". I feel there is nothing wrong with self promotion, as long its balanced and truthful. People will ultimately decide if they want to pursue what you do or not. One does not have to come off like a car salesman trying to twist ones arm to take youre class or buy your products. Most people already have their mind up or not, in most cases.  
The internet is the mega vehicle for Self Promotion. Also don't forget about magazines, newpapers and local stores, to promote oneself. One still has to go out in person to promote what they do, a website can only do so much. Its simply a nice flyer or business card that never disappears. 
We have lived in a Eclectic and Integrated Society for many years if you realized it or not. Balanced self-promotion is the art of spreading traditions, ideas, concepts, and a greater vision.When we promote our traditions, we give people something to possibly enhance our personal lives. You give people a doorway  to help themselves in many cases. I remember when Bruce Lee was a very inspirational brand for myself as a youth and a generation for that matter. There have been many books and movies written about him how he transformed many lives. All due to his ability to use movies and some early books to self promote himself and Chinese Martial Arts. Without this for sure Chinese martial Arts would not have flourished as fast.
I believe focus on your products, teachings and classes,which most people are interested in anyway. People are looking for the most part for what's in it for them. Put the Self Adulation to Sleep until one day; on a dull day when everyone get's to sit around and listen to stories of old..