Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From Having to Being

The Tao is like a well: 
used but never used up. 
It is like the eternal void: 
filled with infinite possibilities.
(Lao Tzu; Tao Te Ting)

Walking the Tao is a journey of finding ourselves. Before our journey started we thought happiness was about "having" instead - having a prestigious job, a hot partner, stuff, money, a big house. But then we didn't find peace even though we objectively had what others would lust after. So we started looking for something more meaningful. A journey of finding the truth started.

It was not hard to find our peace and joy in religion or in spiritual communities. We finally understood what happiness and serenity is all about  and wanted to be in that state every day. However, even then our struggles and restlessness return. Spirituality is not a panacea. We can even lose our freedom when we join a network and we find that interpersonal conflict can be as rampant in a spiritual community as in the worldly world. We were looking for peace but we did experience struggles and conflicts here as well. So we ended up realizing that we have always have been looking for peace, love and joy in the external world in vain.  Finally we realized that we have to look within. It is the light that we are after - a bush that burns without ever being consumed. 

This fountain of energy has to be discovered within. Nothing external - no guru, no fancy house or job title -can help us with it. We have everything we ever needed and then some at our disposal. We have all the strength and skills we need to dance with life. The never-ceasing well that Lao Tzu discovered many thousands of years ago is still with us. Life is about being, not having. "I Am That I Am" - Yahweh - is the burning bush that is never consumed by the fire. When you have found the Source, share the light freely by just being yourself. Joy, peace, love, wisdom, strength, spring all over you and you are Home, finally.

By Christian and Su Zhen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Be Ye as Little Children

The greatest advantage of speaking the truth is that you don't have to remember what you said.

I saw a fascinating documentary the other day. It pointed out that lying can be discovered neurally. When you lie all kinds of areas in your brain light up. Apparently you have to use lots of mental energy to overwrite what you know is true. Well, it turns out being a spiritual traveler gives you a big energy advantage since discovering and telling the truth is our mission. 

When I saw that documentary I was wondering, what happens then when we fool ourself with something that we subconsciously know is not true? Does our system lose energy in this state as well? I would think so. I have discovered often - even in myself - when we say something but our body language is telling the opposite. That must cut into our energy supply. Actually, I would be surprised if we spiritual folks fare any better than others in that dimension. While we certainly aspire to tell the truth, we probably also wear rose-colored glasses at times. We aspire to be truthful, enlightened, peaceful, loving and happy while our body language and the events point to the contrary.

Being on a spiritual journey is a process. It may take a while until we have aligned all parts of our being, but eventually we are getting there. We accept who we are, we accept what comes our way, and we speak the truth to the best of our abilities. Sure we fool ourselves on occasion but when reality stacks up against what we believe we change course as well. After all, going after the truth is what this journey is all about. We humans are multi-dimensional and conflicted on many levels but when our mission is a sound one we can line up subconscious, conscious and the spiritual as the years go by. Eventually all the neural paths line up in the same direction, in unison will all subconscious programs and our spiritual belief sets. With little baggage to carry, with clear thinking and a straight-forward purpose, we spiritual travelers have a big energy advantage over others.

Jesus often emphasized that a spiritual journey is all about regaining our lost innocence. "Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). A spiritual path is all about decluttering our life - "not this, not that" becomes our mantra. We face our life and live our mission until we have squared the circle with a little divine help. Keep the faith my friend, the going might be tough at times but your face, your heart, your neural pathways and your energy level will thank you for it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hanging Out with the Unknown

We have the tendency to find a solution as fast as possible whenever we come across a difficult situation. It literally hurts us not to know what lies ahead so we press to find a solution as quickly as possible; yet, experience tells us that certain problems need stewing over, hard as it is. Same with taking medication when we fall sick. Being slow, aching and being vulnerable is unacceptable so we demand the magic pill that restores our health immediately.  Seldom are we are willing to face this pain, find the root cause, and take necessary action to fix the underlying issues.

We have the restlessness and impatience when we face some unfamiliar or challenging issues. Too often do we just want to grab the first solution at hand and try to put the issues to rest. Observe how you feel when you take this approach. Do you really feel peaceful or do you perhaps still struggle even after you have made your choice?
When we face an unfamiliar situation or confront a difficult issue, we have to allow ourselves to be there with the insecurity and the unknown. We have to give ourselves time to digest the issues and let the answer arise in us.  It takes courage to face the unknown and be friend with Her.  When we take a fast solution we certainly can be in conflict with the present moment.  

A spiritual path is an encounter with the unknown. We mostly feel at peace but we do not know which step will be next. We may feel panic in the beginning but can get used to the creative power of the unknown pretty soon and fall in love with Her. But not every phase is rosy; there are also stretches when lingering tensions and conflicts come to the surface. It would be tempting to do what we used to, go for a drink, go shopping, have steamy sex, watch a movie or drown in work. But no, for the first time ever, we just accept the darkness. We take it in and just be with the fear, with the greed, with the restlessness. We don't take drugs, we don't run, we just hang out with the scary unknown and then magic happens. The conflict dissolves.

The secret of spirituality is always the same. No matter whether you have to make important decisions, face conflicts of the past or face your daily life. Center yourself, stay in the unknown, and suddenly, a way is shown to you. You know exactly what to do.  The words and answers are given to you, all you have to do is to show up and face whatever it is that comes your way.  You know it is the Way. The Tao is walking with you wherever you turn. Hang out with what is and joy, love, creativity and peace will be with you. Holding Her hand you meditate every step of the Way. Enjoy!

By Christian and Su Zhen 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Story of the Old Monk

There was once a revered old monk in a monastery. Every day he went out and took care of the garden. He didn't shy away from hard work despite his age. The other monks worried about him and one day decided to hide the shovel that he always used for his work. The monk said nothing and stopped working just as the other monks had hoped he would. A few weeks later he died!

It appears the monk took the missing shovel as a sign from above to just let go. Catering to the garden had given him life's meaning while without it nothing could keep him on earth anymore. That is exactly how death works - it is a decision. For most of us these changes happen subconsciously and we experience death as an event beyond our control. But for some big souls it can be an active choice as well. Nothing is really strong enough to beat us, but when we hear the voice inside that it is time to let go, we do sooner or later.

Viktor Frankl in his book Man's Search for Meaning had a strange observation that confirmed this thesis. During his stay in a Nazi concentration camp he noticed that whenever someone was found smoking a cigarette, that person would often die within a few days afterwards. During those times cigarettes acted as currencies, so lighting a cigarette meant that you were literally setting money on fire! Frankl took this as a sign that they had simply given up on life. Conditions were so so tough during these days that only a strong will for surviving gave you a shot of making it to the next day.

Sun Tzu once claimed, "victory is reserved to those who are willing to pay the price." Well, we are that powerful, we can accomplish whatever we set our heart on. But then there are the times when we are unwilling to pay the price. That's when we are ready to move on. How do we know when it is time to fight and when it is time to move on, you might ask. Well, that depends on your mission in life. As long as you have one and are willing to see it through no matter what the price, no one can keep you from it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Make Peace with Yourself

What do you do when you find gray hair in your mirror? Are you able to show your weaknesses to your friends? How do you cope with failure?

We live in a culture that encourages us to show people only our positive side and hide our dark side. Spirituality is not any different. We keep our eyes on the good, on peace, on happiness, on God, not realizing  that in all the struggle for the light, the shadow only grows bigger. 

It is like we put on a mask when we are in a dark mood. "We fake it until we make it" is our philosophy. This is certainly more pleasant for the others we deal with but it comes at a heavy price to us. We also dislike admitting any weakness. It goes against what we see in the movies and what we read in the Law of Attraction books. So we do our best to get rid of these weakness or worse, pretend that it is not there. By pretending we start a war inside against ourselves. We engage in the yin and yang of good and evil and find that we alternate back and forth.

We accept ourselves and we accept you! Every unholy and dark desire that we have difficulties accepting always has an authentic element to it. Don't negate it in the name of spirituality. Just observe how turbulent you feel whenever you deny your being. Aren’t we supposed to be our best friend instead of our worst enemy?  Observe how often you have beaten yourself up whenever negative things happen in your life. Observe how angry and scared you get when you perceive a weakness in you.

Be patient with yourself. Everything our spiritual community talks about is true. Yet we are born humans not Gods. Bring your human dimension along the Way with love and respect. Give love, respect the struggles in others and love yourself. We are not here to be saints. We are here to be ourselves. The end of struggle comes when we finally make peace with who we are.

By Christian and Su Zhen

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reflections on God's Number

I remember once saying to someone - this must have been just at the beginning of my spiritual journey - that the number 4 was evil. My insight had little to do with numerology, i.e. the knowledge that the number we are all so afraid of, 13, adds in fact up to 4 in numerology. I also knew nothing of the Chinese linguistic fact that 4 rhymes with death. No, it was based on an observation that negative market and economic shocks appeared to be coming in four year intervals.

As I said, this was a while ago, today I would say instead that four is in fact God's numbers. How do I get there? Well, something is missing in the Holy Trinity. We revere the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, but we do it with the perspective of an outsider. The sonship is part of us. God is complete if we join the holy union. Four equals three plus one! Yet, we have not yet managed to join the union so we are afraid of what we don't understand.

Often we are afraid of God's "wrath" just because we don't understand the Force that operates in a higher dimension than we do. This was not always the case and other societies don't have our psychological hang-ups. The Indian's for example value Durga - our Holy Mother's benevolent face - as much as Kali - our Holy Mother's occasional fury. The Holy Mother knows best, the reverent Hindu would say. "Inshallah" - as God wills it - the reverent Muslim would add. As many of you know, I am a Taoist, so here would be my spin.

You could write the number 4 in numerology as 123 and 7. One Two Three is a clear symbol of an uptrend. We say this is easy as one two three. Seven in contrast is the symbol of completion. So the fear is that the number 4 will in fact bring the end of the good period. We Tao travelers are not afraid of change, we welcome it. The creator in us see the end of an uptrend as an invite to start an even more powerful uptrend. And even if we are about to enter a contraction phase, the Tao will make this period of decay meaningful to us.  We embrace everything life brings our Way, even the most feared transition of them all - our own death. Lao-Tzu writes in the Tao Te Ching, "and if death finally comes, the Master will be ready."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tainted Love

You've got it all wrong. You didn't come here to master unconditional love. That's where you came from and that's where you'll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of messing up. Often. You didn't come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human.
(Courtney A. Walsh) 

How do we square a circle? It is impossible, unless, of course, all we have to do is to describe a single point in time. We can do that quite well with our linear tool set - a tangent does that perfectly well - as long as we understand that it only works for the timeless moment we are in, the holy Now. Being human automatically implies that we will never reach the infinite but that doesn't prevent us from seeing and experiencing the perfect moment in time with both feet on the ground. Spirituality is the art of seeing and feeling, and yes, every moment you can be holding Her hand.

How do you generate the thirst for unconditional love? It is the imperfection that makes you long for this perfection. It is the realization that you are a sinner deep down inside that makes you fall on your knees when you finally touch a saint. Never look down on the tainted force inside of you, consider it your fountain of energy instead. Spirituality is the art of falling in love with what is. Every moment can be perfect once you are ready for it. No matter what your motivation may have been in the past, the moment you stand next to Her the world is whole and you can finally enjoy what is.