Wu wei is allowing things to work out properly. You don’t act out of the emotions of the ego or try to force a resolution. You act from proper principles in a gentle and sincere way. In Christian terms this is trusting in God’s providence. it is amazing how, if we would just get out of our own way and in the way of the sage, the right people and circumstances will come along. God brings the people and pieces into play; sometimes we make it very difficult for Him, but he will get the job done. Why would you allow yourself to be led by secular people or ways when God Almighty is standing right in front of you with outstretched hand ready to lead and guide you?! But the point of the post today is that as the Unknown is bringing people and pieces into play for you, He is also bringingyou Iinto play for others. You are also a ssolution. So it is even more important for you to cultivate superior qualities and develop good gong fu-knowing what to do- so that when God brings you onto play you can fulfill His plan and not make Him go to plan B!
Of all the precious gifts in the world to have, we encouraged to place wisdom at the top of the list. In the Book of Sirach, in the Bible(I’m not sure if Sirach is only in Catholic editions, it comes right after the book of , well, Wisdom!), it is clear that the beginning of wisdom is Fear of the Lord. Now, let’s define fear, because, in this context, it certainly does mean fear like being afraid. But it means more, and anyone with any kind of wisdom knows that people can try to make you fear them but there is no lasting quality to being made to do things out of fear. So here, fear means also recognizing, acknowledging God the Creator and all powerful and almighty. Wisdom begins with this awareness of God.
If you cultivate wisdom, wisdom will serve you well. How do you become wise? Experience. Awareness and love of God. Going to the 2 wells, the well of holy books like the Bible and the I Ching, and the internal well of your own mind heart and spirit. Striving to live with right action. Not acting out of the emotions of the ego. A fearful man is not a wise man. An anxiety ridden person is not wise. A person who takes no time to think and reflect is not wise. A person who is overly ambitous is not wise.
A person who treats others with friendliness and a genuine good will will act wisely and become wise.
Wisdom is a gift, but we can cultivate ourselves so that we are ready and prepared to accept this grace of wisdom. Mike Murdoch, whatever the real deal is with him, has done tremendous work on wisdom.
Being good is wise. Learning and education and knowledge leads to wisdom. Cultivating good friendships is wise. Honoring your famly is wisdom. Being good stewards of the things placed under your ausppices is wise. Wasting is not wisdom.
Surround yourself with people who are wise. Surround yourself with buffoons and idiots and it will rub off on you.
We sometimes think it’s hard to make the wise choice. Maybe it’s not so hard. Consult the I Ching. It is filled with wisdom. Consult your own heart. It really knows what is right.
Saturday night, I had a wonderful breakthrough. After work, I drove up to one of my favorite Starbucks with my journal, got a cup of coffee, and just sat and wrote for two hours. And what it clarified for me is that I am called to sit. It’s ironic because at work I am obligated to stand. This is what the secular world demands. But in the Contemplative Practice of Tai Chi Chuan Kung Fu, while it is important to stand and move and do the forms among many other things, it is also important to sit.
And there are many ways to sit. Look, I recognize I am called to a contemplative life. We sit like yogis in lotus or in my case half lotus and engage in various yogic or taoist meditation exercises. We sit like the Buddha. We sit like catholic contemplatives, centered on Christ.
But there is another way to sit, which I’ve discovered throughout my life that has its own sublime quality, its own connection to the numenous and the divine. A way to sit that is replete with the graces of God and the Holy Spirit.
I was given my first grace filled sitting experiences when I was nine years old and got my first dog. It was my job to walk him, a boxer mix. He would come get me early in the morning and I’d reluctantly get out of bed. He loved those walks. We’d go down the block, then up the other side. Most times, I’d say he was walking me! But then we’d get back to the house, climb the stairs, and sit together at the top of the steps. The early morning air, the soft breezes, the peaceful quiet of an early Saturday, and the sun rising as our house faced east. And I learned to sit in silence and just watch. Sit and enjoy. Sit in awesome wonder! And my dog would sit too, strong, peaceful, loving unconditionally. He was like a physical guardian angel at my side. To have the time to just sit, think, but not worry, but just to give yourself time to think and reflect and be.
The second place that geographically was amazing for me was the steps in front of Low Library at Columbia in New York. The steps are large and faces out on the quadrangle. The Library is huge like a mountain. And all through school and for years after, I would return to those steps, find a good spot, and just watch the world as it arranged itself. And that time spent on those steps, with a coffee and a pack of smokes, were precious and sublime and filled with holiness. Oh, there were other people sitting there, maybe not getting the vibe, but it was like waves of holiness on the steps on 14th street and on the steps at Columbia.
The third place, geographically is in front of this Starbucks here in Florham Park New Jersey. It’s hard to understand. Are there actual places in the world that have a spiritual specialness about them? Sure there are. I should visit a few of the more famous ones, although I would think they are mostly hidden and unknown. And is the experience the same for me as it is for you?
In any event, Up at that Starbucks, which also faced East, I would open early in the morning and go out on my break and sit like a yogi and watch the sun come up and just be and think a bit and reflect and enjoy the preciousness of having the time to sit in silence. Oh and I had the coffee and smokes too. I guess it’s good I didn’t have the coffee and smokes when I was nine!
There have been other places where I have had good sitting experiences, but they don’t rise to the sublime holiness of these three places. I hope to find other places that work as well.
You know, one of the things I learned Saturday, in addition to affirming my calling to sit in silence, is that when you give yourself the time, at first your mind needs to just start to sort things out. Then as you write and write and write, everything becomes focused and the revelations and inspirations come. You start out not knowing, but if you let it work, eventually you get to a good point. It’s like working a crossword puzzle or playing the guitar. Eventually, it seems like the song writes itself. And if you sit and think and reflect, eventually the thoughts will think themselves.
You know, the secular world is committed to not giving you the time to think. The meaningless tasks are created and the silly entertainment all work to occupy the mind with nonsense and distract you and pull you off center. How can you think clearly or have room for something deep when you are constantly occupied with nonsense!
One of the nice things about this sitting is that it can be social too. Many times at Starbucks, after work, I would sit cross legged in a chair at a table outside and in no time be surrounded by friends and acquaintances, and we would share the journey. Yes, we talked about mundane stuff, but we talked about spiritual stuff as well.
So enough. Go sit and shut up. Let your mind do what it wants to do. I’ll warn against obsessive thought, of worry and anxiety thinking. But give yourself some time to think and reflect and worki out solutions to problems, and allow the sublime to do its part as well.
I had been reflecting on the trinity in Catholicism, a mystery of truth that tells us God is three persons, one God. I mentioned before how Tai Chi in a sense reflects the “perichoresis” or dance of the intimate relationship of the Father Son and Holy Spirit, with the only caveat being that the metaphor of dance is something that makes tai chi really less than what it is, that is, tai chi is not dancing, but the revolving interrelationship of yin and yang.
Today, I wanted to make the point that if we are made in the image and likeness of God, then we ought to reflect in some way this trinitarian nature. For us, I believe the likeness is in the threefold nature of man, that is, the body, mind, and spirit. In tai chi, we learn that the body informs the mind, the mind informs the body, and when the two are working in harmony, we develop and cultivate the spirit. It is very clear when one practices tai chi, that using mind intent helps immensely the body to do what you want it to do. In similar fashion, when you are physically centering, moving in flowing, harmonious ways, the mind follows. A physical inner smile creates a psychological, mental, and spiritual smile.
Also in tai chi, an alchemy takes place through the various practices, transforming, “jing” or essences such as food, water, saliva, and so on, into “chi,” the life force that runs through us and keeps us healthy when it is flowing freely and there are no blockages. In time, chi is transformed into “shen,” or spirit. It is this spirit that is developed by the adepts, the masters, and even those who are on the path, and this spirit embodies all the superior virtues of the tai chi person.
We reflect the divine, the numenous. To keep body and mind separated is a disservice to ourselves, to deny our own numenous qualities is a disservice.
In music, a chord is several notes played together. Alone, they don’t make a chord. Their individuality is important. Each note on its own is important, but played together, they form the chord.
We are called to recognize our true divine nature which in this case happens to be trinitarian, and to place ourselves in the presence of the divine as often as we can, to the point that we are able to always keep ourselves aware and in the presence of the Holy. This is who we are. The secular world distracts us, and does a great job at it, making us forget and ignore our true nature.
Today is the beginning of the Lenten season, it snuck up pretty quickly! But I have been reflecting on the cross, its meaning in the Catholic faith, for Christians, and how it is compatible with the taoist way, the tai chi way. For Catholics, without the cross, there is no redemption. The great sacrifice of the cross is what restores us to the father. What greater love than this, to lat down your life for another. And in imitaton of Christ, we are encouraged in faith, when faced with it, to embrace our sufferings and to pick up our cross and carry it as the Lord did.
But perhaps what is most significant in the cross from the tai chi perspective is the restoration of balance. Tai chi is all about balanced and harmony. For Catholics, the belief is that before Christ, the world was completely out of balance, the pendulum had swung too far in the wrong direction, and in order to balance things out, to rebalance the world, to restore man to harmony, the most extreme action was necessary: death on a cross, which of course leads to the resurrection and the restoration.
In Taoism, suffering is part of the natural way of things. It comes and it goes. We don’t focus too much on one or the other, suffering or joy. We take it as it comes and are zen about it, living in the particular moment. A taoist does not try to force change or bang his head against the wall or try to manipulate the situation in his favor. He does what he is required to do by the laws of right action and then steps back.
Where has the pendulum swung now in our day and age? There is still a need for balancing energy, for harmony energy. As taoists, we have to practice this balance and offer some of it to the worls
In thinking about how to explain the internal goings-on in tai chi, I came up with the metaphor of a man on a high wire. In the circus, when the walker steps onto the long wire, the wire does not rise up and try to push him off. The wire sinks and stretches, creating a strong tension, much like the bow in a bow and arrow. A slight bounce by the walker and the wire will pop with dynamic force and bounce him high into the air.
This is similar to what is going on internally in tai chi. With peng, or ward off, we absorb the incoming pressure, and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in our body relax but stretch like the high wire. When we release the bow, it’s like snapping an internal rubber band, creating a very powerful dynamic force.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
A short piece on healing and wellness. Visualize yourself as healthy and well. If you have an illness, sit in meditation and visualize the part of you that is ill as well. See your heart, for example, as strong, healthy, beating, pink, full of vigor. Seeing yourself to wellness is an excellent technique.
Depending and trusting in the tao to help is also important. Open awareness will lead you to both metaphysical and physical answers to your needs. It will lead you in the right direction, get you to the right doctor, help you discover the right therapy.
It is my intuitive belief that we can heal ourselves and others through mind intent, and the power to heaql is in the palm of our hands.
I have been reflecting lately on the concept of Emergence, the idea that order comes from chaos, or better put, emerges out of chaos. We see it in nature all the time, and we see it in our own lives. Situations emerge, winning teams emerge, leaders emerge. We operate in a given landscape, and walk the line between letting the natural emerge and playing too much with the recipe and mucking it up, picking the fruit as it were too early or too late.
The opposite also happens. Order can devolve into chaos, sometimes very quickly. I’m tempted to say order devolves into chaos when we engage in wrong or incorrect action, when, as the I Ching says, we give in to the emotions of the ego, greed, lust, anger, and so on. But while I’m sure this contributes to devolution, I would want to reflect more on whether devolution also occurs naturally.
In any case, the zen way, the taoist way, is to allow the universe to emerge around us, to create a natural order, and within this landscape, act with right action, that is, practice wei wu wei, or the art of non doing.
The primary way we seek guidance in life decisions in tai chi and taoism is through the I Ching and the Sage, which I’ve blogged about in previous posts. The I Ching makes use of the laws of synchronicity in helping us approach life’s struggles with foundational ways of correct action.
Another way of seeking guidance is by trusting in the Universe and realizing that all the answers we seek are in the palm of our hand, are in our circle, are available to us for the asking. In decision making, even a taoist will use logic and reason and weigh and reflect on the positives and negatives of an action. A wise and educated person can make wise and educated decisions about most of life’s issues and questions. But wisdom takes us further in knowing that we can access a deeper consciousness and all we have to do is learn to recognize and translate into our physical, conscious language, the answers we are getting when we ask.
The process certainly involves trust, both in the figure of the Sage or of the Holy Spirit working behind the scenes and an acceptance that we may not understand why or recognize the truth of the way things are unfolding. We must also develop a sense of trust and faith in that if we just ask a question, the universe is prepared to answer it, in fact it has already be answered, and it’s just waiting for us to see it.
When it comes to this kind of metaphysical guidance, we certainly are a little poor sighted and need to develop our eyes and our ears. So many people go through life oblivious to the signs that are staring them in the face. Even diligent practitioners can miss the obvious.
One exercise I like to do in reflection is to write down all the major synchronous events that have occurred in my life, at least the ones that I’m aware of. It really is amazing how things fall into place, the people, the places, the jobs. Even the jobs I didn’t get, there seems to have been a behind the scenes workings to keep me from going down the wrong path.
So, really, all you have to do is ask. Frame the question. Wait for the answer. It’s sort of that simple. Of course, practicing tai chi or yoga trains the body and the mind to be aware and receptive. Practiced meditation also helps. But you must understand that the things you need and want, the people who are supposed to be in your life at any particular time, and the people who, thankfully, are not in your life at any particular given time, is all synchronistically happening all around you and you need to learn to see it. One way of being able to see is to ask and then let it go. It will come.
Visualization is another way of tapping into the source to gain guidance and perspective. A self guided meditation in which you travel to meet your inner teacher, inner mentor, or spirit guide, is an amazing way to tap in.
The answers we get may be unexpected and may come at the most unexpected time. That’s the way this works. Also, it is important to note that we are co creators and co responsible for things, so if an answer comes to a problem, it may be that it leads us into the direction of having to do more work and more preparation in order to make use of the answer we get. For example, when I was out of work 4 years ago, I did the physical, freshened up the resume, searched the internet, sent out applications. The job I got was synchronistically brought to me by a friend and was solidified when I knew the person interviewing me. But I still had to do the work to be prepared to make use of the synchronous event in my life.
An example of not being ready is my famous Cheryl Crow story. When I was deciding back in 1998 to be a Blues Rock musician, I went to see several open jams at a place called Manny’s Car Wash in New York. It felt very safe since there weren’t too many people in the place if I made a fool of myself my first time out. But the night I decided to bring in my guitar, the place was jammed. I chickened out. I wasn’t ready. And the reason it was jammed was because Cheryl Crow was performing some songs from her new album and the guy running the jam was on the album. So I missed my opportunity to play with Cheryl Crow.
There is a a lot of static in the material world, in the secular world, and secular goals that work at cross purposes of our spiritual progress and living the correct life. We need to train through tai chi and meditation and chi kung and reflection with the I Ching, and doing visualizations with out inner guides to weed out the static and be able to hear in high definition what the universe is telling us.
I’ve actually posed some things to the universe today. I asked for a mentor. I asked for a benefactor. I am open to receiving both in my life right now. I am going to say that the way of things is accidental, but I say it in a way to mean that there are no accidents. Life is coincidence in its root meaning, life is synchronous. It’s happening. The answers are in the palm of our hand. The people are right in front of us.