Showing posts with label Tao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tao. Show all posts

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Faux Prayer Beads and Dreamcatching

Happy Sunday, Comic Towel Readers.  Can I say that?  Maybe.  Anyway, with a birthday coming up, I decided to buy things.  Lots of things.  Things besides books--although I got books!  In any case, Saturday (2/15/14) turned out to be such a great day.  I don’t know about you, but I love spending my Saturday mornings, moving into Saturday afternoon, out and about.  There’s something about the glow of a Saturday sun that just livens me up.  I could attribute it to those childhood years of watching Saturday morning cartoons before heading out shopping and begging for books.  So there’s this irrefutable desire in me to spend every Saturday out in that sunshine shopping before lunch.  Thankfully, I got to do that yesterday.  Something about between 11am-2pm glow while out shopping and eating on a Saturday just… there are no words for what that does to my inner child. 

I spent doing much of the same (buying stuff and eating) as the evening rolled around.  I ended up at Import Treasures and damn near had to hold myself back from spending.  This place is fantastic.  Had I thought about it at the time, I would’ve taken pictures of their various products to show.  Though… that might’ve upset the clerk.  Anyway, the place sells things like huge, vintage Chinese vases, lucky bamboo plants in porcelain pots (I almost got one featuring a quartet of happy panda bears).  They also sell Japanese furniture like decorative cabinets, hall pieces, and Oriental-themed landscape paintings/bamboo scrolls.  The majority of said furniture items were stamped with SOLD stickers and awaiting customer pick-up.  Assortments of figurines, bust art, sculptures, and woodcarvings line the back of the shop.  We’re talking Native American inspired pieces to pagan/deity inspired ones.  There’s Buddhist, Hindu, Norse, Egyptian, and Greek figurines and products aplenty.  It just goes on and on, sedging into crystals, stones, and salt rock lamps traditionally used to purify the air.  I almost got a Chinese porcelain tea cup, although I don’t drink tea.  It was just beautiful.  Damn me for not taking pictures.  I was just too excited and found out quickly that I needed to find something and leave.  I shopped there before, leaving with some maneki-neko (lucky cat) figures instead of engaging with my impulse to reach for the higher priced items.

So I kept it simple, drawn to two of the smaller items presented in this post.

"Xiao Kou Chang Kai" is inscribed on the back
It may or may not seem apparent to you in the photo, but this Laughing Buddha Pendant prayer bead tassel is made of anything but wood.  Much to my sorrow, it’s made of plastic.  At least the beads are.  The pendant portion is copper, according to my best guess.  I suppose there shouldn’t be a difference between prayer beads (or mala) being made of plastic versus the usual wood.  At least I hope after I've already snatched this item up squealing without the forethought that it was made of plastic instead of wood.  Maybe its purpose is for d├ęcor, as opposed to its usual practice in creating tranquility and inner-peace in its bearer.  I haven’t yet decided, hedged on the fact that I’m not exactly a practicing Buddhist to begin with.  Nevertheless, there was simply something about it that I was drawn to; I've never had anything like it before.  I wouldn’t’ve noticed it behind a stage of child-size floor vases had I not asked my guide to direct me toward something I may need within the store.  I can’t say that I’m going to burst out in a synchronized mantra recital as I draw the beads toward me.  I can say that it’ll have the same effect similar to a placebo pill; my mind will instantly register a smiling Buddha radiating prosperity and good fortune my way.  It's a lucky charm after all.  Then again, maybe I’ll try to ignore the niggling “plastic” concerns and see if there’s a practical purpose for the item in terms of Buddhist/Hindu tradition.  We all start somewhere.

I’ve never owned a dream catcher before… until now.  There’s not much I can say in line with its origin and purpose, at least to those already familiar with the craft.  But I will say that I was attracted to this one--out of many in the shop--by its color and the chimes.  The feathers are natural and, unlike the Buddha pendent tassel, the beads are real wood.  This points to another little nugget of knowledge I’ve come to understand that gave me pause to the Buddha beaded tassel.  While we all know that the Native American legend behind the dreamcatcher is to capture bad dreams, what I didn’t know until recently is that the wooden beads and feathers aren’t there for decorative purposes.  They are actually meant to attract and guide good dreams and thoughts into the individual, mainly positioned above his or her bed.  

Anyway, thanks everyone for sticking with me.  I just wanted to share these light and sweet little goodies added to my collection of other goodies.  I have a last question though, are there any thoughts on how some goods such as Buddha pendants and dreamcatchers are often commercialized?  Is that an actual concern or am I over-thinking some of this?  Do you have any experiences you would like to share?  If so.  Do so.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Tao and Limitlessness

A couple of years ago I was sitting alone in the computer lab at school looking at a big, less-than-20%-grade-achievement on a line of math assignments that would surely reroute me back into the course the proceeding semester.  I was struck with panic.  I was tired and wasted with the idea that I could somehow conquer my math anxiety as well as other complications with the generality of arithmetic.  I was just about ready to let my defeat wash over me, turning into a wave of hate and resentment for life as I hit another block.  Somehow I managed to swallow a scream.  Then I simply... quietly... just sat still.  That stillness was silent enough for me to recall a video featuring Louise Hay and her philosophies on life.  Right then and there I managed to calm myself by stating the affirmation she shared in the video.  "All is well," she'd said.  "From this experience only good will come and I am safe.  For the Universe is on my side now and forevermore.  All is well."

That was all I had; I left out of that lab smiling.  While I didn't pass the course, a few months later I was redirected toward another school where I got all of the help I needed in math.  I left their prerequisite math course with a solid B.  Needless to say, I learned to use that affirmation often.  Whether a problem arises or I need to calm my thoughts down from over-obsessing about the future, I hang on to the truth that all is well.

After that experience I decided to seriously focus closer on the changes I wanted to make in my life through healthier thinking.  And while there were plenty, one of the old patterns of thinking gave me a little more resistance than others.  I found it difficult to squelch the idea that what was necessary and good in my life felt limited by my unconscious need to create time limits or expirations on them.  From money, to friendships, to my ability to accept grace and new found creative freedom, everything had a frustrating time limitation on it.  From the ability to be receptive to allowing certain dreams that I’d dreamed up to be, or to at least staple them down to becoming possible through some general actions toward their direction, had a time limit.  It was as if things had to change at a certain time in my life because I was always trying to escape the possibility of being tied down to a worthless existence.  I couldn't trust the process and there seemed to never be enough to work with.

Reversing that form of limited thinking required me to put forth the ever true concept that whatever I needed from God/Universe is forever in a state of endless abundance and assistance.  There is no limit to what God/Universe can do and provide.  Therefore, there is no need to limit my thinking about money because money would always be available to get me where I desired.  There was no need to think about my lack of friendships because friendships were always available and ready for creation (though most of that issue resided in my reclusive ways toward others).  There was no need to believe that my creativity had a limit, because God/Universe would always provide avenues to explore my creativity and share it further.  Inspired by change, I realized that all things are possible if I let go and put trust where it belongs.

Relating the Tao’s translation by Derek Lin to Wayne Dyer’s made me realization that the purpose of Chapter/Verse 4 is to recognize that bottomless abundance provided by God/Universe, and that we have to trust in how endless such a resource is.  Much of that realization can be achieved by reading the first four lines.  Nevertheless, let’s start with Lin’s translation stating:

The Tao is empty

When utilized, it is not filled up
So deep!  It seems to be the source of all things


It blunts the sharpness

Unravels the knots
Dims the glare
Mixes the dusts


So indistinct!  It seems to exist

I do not know whose offspring it is
Its image is the predecessor of the Emperor


Whereas Dyer’s translation reads:



The Tao is empty

But inexhaustible,
Bottomless,
The ancestor of it all.


Within it, the sharp edges become smooth;

The twisted knots loosen;
The sun is softened by a cloud;
The dust settles into place.


It is hidden but always present.

I do not know who gave birth to it.
It seems to be the common ancestor of all, the father of things.

Amazing, right?  Probably the shortest and clearest verse I’ve come across so far.  I find myself drawn to the comfort of words--between the two translations--like “empty”, “inexhaustible”, and “bottomless.”

So how do we shut our minds down long enough to let God/Universe/Tao do what it does and provide for us with its bottomless edge of abundance and assistance?  Or how do we allow these “forces” to bring abundance through ourselves?  It takes practice, but I believe the key within all of this is to quickly affirm that all is well.  This allows our mind enough calm to let God/Universe/Tao to provide us clear answers, or even deliver us the solution.  As I shared in my little mathematics story, I learned to quickly shut my mind up when problems arise.  Instead of jumping up to resist the issue, I tell myself that all is well.  This gives me time to chill, reorganize my thoughts, and put aside all of the thoughts that only make the situation worst.  Doing so at least gives me enough time to think up a solution or allow a solution to come.  Sometimes those solutions don't show up until days down the road, but I have to trust that that's okay too.  I'm not saying I always get it right, but I am always aware of the potential behind the tool of simply stating that "all is well".  From there, I begin to trust the process when the resources surrounding me are abundant.

Lesson number 125 titled, In Quiet I Receive God’s Word Today, in A Course of Miracles kind of expands on the idea of silencing ourselves to grasp what many refer to as that inner voice (I leave that open to personal interpretation; some say it's angelic, God, Christ, etc.).  A passage from the lesson reads:

“Today He speaks to you.  His Voice awaits your silence, for His Word can not be heard until your mind is quiet for a while, and meaningless desires have been stilled.  Await His Word in quiet.  There is peace within you to be called upon today, to help make ready your most holy mind to hear the Voice for its Creator speak.”

A Course in Miracle: Text, Workbook, Manual for Teachers: The Advent of a Great Awakening. [United States]: Barnes & Noble, 2007. Print.

Dyer, Wayne W. Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2007.

Lin, Derek.  “Accurate Translation of the Tao Te Ching.”  Accurate Translation of the Tao Te Ching.  N.p. http://www.taoism.net/ttc/complete.htm.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tao and Satisfaction

I’m pretty sure we all believed or have stated that we don’t ask for much from people and life; whether that‘s outwardly true it's what we inwardly believe.  We attempt to be comfortable in our given--or created--situations.  We focus and strive for the biggest, most desired bit of transformation that we feel is required to bloom order and fulfillment into our lives.  We think that maybe if we get that one thing to happen, everything else will fall into place.  Or maybe those other annoyances concerning life wouldn't matter; fading away as we travel through our passions and destinies toward greatness   So when we've obtained our “big picture”, lying comfortably within it, where do we go from there?  And what is it about wanting more after receiving?

As I've read the third verse/chapter of the Tao through Dyer’s book and Derek Lin’s translation, I come to realize that learning how to be satisfied with life’s little unfoldings might be more of a fantasy than reality.  Like many, I've been condition to want so badly that I don’t believe it is even possible for me to reach such a level of content.  A level so strong that it blocks out all of my egocentric-driven desires.  See, I’m not sure where and when it happened, but life always just feels like a fight.  Like everybody else, I’m constantly contending with deep levels of inner habituations and outer influences.  So what am I (or we) left with when we travel through the two different verses of the Tao’s third verse/chapter translation?  Verses that ask us to let down our guard and relax ourselves on this plane by being auto-piloted by our spirits.  As always, let’s look at Dyer’s version then Lin’s.


Dyer’s translation reads as:




Putting a value on status
Will create contentiousness.
If you overvalue possessions,
People begin to steal.
By not displaying what is desirable, you will
Cause the people’s hearts to remain undisturbed.

The sage governs
By emptying minds and hearts,
By weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

Practice not doing…
When action is pure and selfless,
Everything settles into its own perfect place.

And Lin’s reads:

Do not glorify the achievers
So the people will not squabble
Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain
So the people will not become thieves
Do not show the desired things

So their hearts will not be confused

Thus the governance of the sage:
Empties their hearts
Fills their bellies
Weakens their ambitions
Strengthens their bones

Let the people have no cunning and no greed
So those who scheme will not dare to meddle

Act without contrivance

And nothing will be beyond control

As always, I connect with Lin’s version better.  Yet, I always read his like poetry while in need of Dyer’s interpretation to sort of reorient any of my thoughts.  Nevertheless, I think at its basis, this verse/chapter is simple and clear:  let life do the heavy lifting and just show gratitude for what is as is unfolds into the purist form of your desires.  If you can’t accept things as they are and be appreciative, then you’ll always be in want of something.  Nevertheless, as I mentioned, it would take me tons of work to get pass my ego in order to reach such a state.  However, in many ways it really comes down to a single conscious thought for promoting inner change.  That nugget of information is there--it's with you now.  Depending on how persistent you are for change, you'll always have access to it.  So if you can at least program yourself (unless or until it comes unconsciously) to recognize situations that ask you to allow life to be, then you can make the conscious decision to do so when said situation arises.  That's a good place to start in my opinion.  It's an idea that helps many people who are just starting on spiritual paths or paths for change.  Because think about it, at one point you didn't have the tools necessary to change.  You were just bumbling about.  So maybe that'll be enough for now.  Recognizing the opportunities to step back and let life do the heavy lifting.

Sources

Dyer, Wayne W. Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2007.

Lin, Derek.  “Accurate Translation of the Tao Te Ching.” Accurate Translation of the Tao Te Ching. N.p. <http://www.taoism.net/ttc/complete.htm>.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tao and Oneness

To change my scenery a bit, I took my laptop notebook to a window door.  From my position on the floor, legs tucked over a dark green fleece blanket, I see that our grass needs cutting in all its sound greenery.  There’s also that tree stump created last winter.  It hosts a small cluster of mushrooms where a butterfly currently keeps dipping on and off.  The two weeks worth of recyclables are parked at the curb, the bin and the plastic trash can filled with empty bottles of zero calorie drinks, 20oz water bottles, and Kashi cereal boxes.  A FedEx truck just raced by, and I wish there was something for me to receive as I sit writing, continuing to find ways to bring comfort to this thing called life.

I was a little hesitant to sit before my neighborhood with my notebook, seeing that a couple of years ago our neighborhood was hit by a group of teens breaking into homes.  Unfortunately, I became a victim of said teens when they got into my new, used car and took the non-operational stereo out.  It recently came to my attention that they have long been caught.  Two of them found themselves on the receiving end of a bullet fired from strapped homeowners in another area of the city.  The two survived their karmic twists.


So why am I sharing all this?  Why am I bringing up my lawn, a butterfly, recycling, and thieves?  Because I find it the appropriate time to look back and discuss the Tao’s second chapter/verse through the translation of Derek Lin and Dr. Wayne Dyer’s interpretations.  It is here that we acknowledge some of the good and the bad in life, and how it is kind of unnecessary to gnaw on their differences when they both come and arrive from the same source.


Derek Lin’s translation goes as:


When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other
Therefore the sages:
Manage the work of detached actions
Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away


Wayne Dyer's read as:

Under heave all can see beauty as beauty,
only because there is ugliness.
All can know good only because there is evil.

Being and nonbeing produce each other.
The difficult is born in the easy.
Long is defined by short, the high by the low.
Before and after go along with each other.

So the sage lives openly with apparent duality
and paradoxical unity.
The sage can act without effort
and teach without words.
Nurturing things without possessing them,
he works, but not for rewards;
he competes, but not for results.

When the work is done, it is forgotten.
That is why it lasts forever.

What can we say is the meaning behind this verse?  Of course it depends on your personal interpretation.  However, I got the sense that it coincides with the expression that “everything is everything” or “it is what it is.”  I believe the key terms between both verses are “each other”, “duality", "unity", and "success."  So how inspiring the better person can be to acknowledge the parallels we see daily in life and nature, and accept them equality.

And because I tend to over think, I must go on...  


A single thing, concept, idea, or existence can’t be labeled or called such without the recognition of its opposite--even by its opposite.  Dyer points out an example in this chapter where he asks the question: “Has it ever occurred to you that beauty depends on something being identified as ugly?”  With that said, the idea of beauty has also fashioned the idea of ugly, just like life can generate the idea of death.  Good can conjure up the meaning of evil.  Male knows of female.  It is almost like saying we/life live in a grayness where we/life possess even the things we sometimes reject or judge unfairly.  According to the Tao, or my thinking/seeking, these possessions are all necessary in their oneness.


I think we as humans may be the only animals that place focus on these differences.  Seriously, like Dyer says, “the daffodil doesn't think that the daisy is prettier or uglier than it is.”  Why would it when--as a plant--it simply just is?  Nevertheless, we do the opposite of it every day to other people, and in view of some of their circumstances.  We’re all guilty, and I can be honest in saying that I don’t know how I can reach such a state of perceiving.  Especially in a time where I am so busy trying to change my life as thoughts rush pass me while I speed along.


But I think one of the keys here is to live and respond with good intent toward others.  This allows comfort within yourself that you don’t necessarily have to justify yourself to no one.  Half the time not even to yourself.  What you like is what you like.  Who you are is who you are.  All you can do at the end of the day is do good and be.  So why waste so much time fighting those who do the same?


A complicated mess, but thank you so much for reading. (^.^)


Sources:


Dyer, Wayne W. Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao.  Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2007.

Lin, Derek. "Accurate Translation of the Tao Te Ching." Accurate Translation of the Tao Te Ching. N.p. .




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