The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Seven

Without going out the door, know the world
Without peering out the window, see the Heavenly Tao
The further one goes
The less one knows

Therefore the sage
Knows without going
Names without seeing
Achieves without striving

                                                                    Lao Tzu

In this verse of the Tao, Lao Tzu is asking us to never forget that all we really need is contained inside of each of us and that we need  not torture ourselves with the relentless search of joy and contentment in the outside world. The sources of our Discontent (craving and clinging to attachments) are contained within, and so are the answers to the relief from that self-imposed Suffering/Discontent.

The inspired proses of Lao Tzu have guided me to write much on the need for professional and family caregivers to participate in meditation and gentle introspection as a means to be in touch with personal truths. Self-awareness is vital but the process should not be taken to the point of getting in the way of your own joy. The goal of all this invaluable self-work is to open you to the magic of living from your heart; not to mandate you to over think each thought and deed and box you up in your head.

Life can certainly be challenging but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we often make it. The payoff for all the time spent on understanding yourself and accepting that you are basically good is for you to cash in on your birthright to be at peace with yourself.

Make time to participate and enjoy the world around you. Turn off the TV, put down the device and just take in the simple joys. Seek simple pleasures. Practice random acts of kindness. Think ice cream. Be happy now. Slow down and breathe.

 

 

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Six

When the world has the Tao
Fast horses are retired to till the soil
When the world lacks the Tao
Warhorses give birth on the battlefield

There is no crime greater than greed
No disaster greater than discontentment
No fault greater than avarice
Thus the satisfaction of contentment
is the lasting satisfaction

                                                               Lao Tzu

Clearly every major religion of the world has a common belief of love, a belief of benefiting mankind through spiritual practice, and a goal of making their followers better human beings. These values are so universal and so very simple; yet we all know that we tend to focus on how our practices separate us rather than see how the common thread they share sews us all into a beautiful fabric.

Early this morning someone made the conscious choice to go into a crowded movie theater and open fire on an innocent crowd of movie watchers. This act will be reviewed an analyzed in the press and in our conversations for many days to come as we all struggle to understand the motive behind that decision. It is an unthinkable deed that no one, not even the shooter, will ever fully understand. When man imposes his own plan rather than align with the Eternal Plan, he brings suffering and evil to us all.

The only good that can come from such an event is that others can also make a conscious decision; a decision to live each moment fully and more peacefully. Let us unite today through the common values shared in our very diverse ways of believing and honoring the Universe and be good Caregivers to one another. Today, let us listen more than we talk, smile more than we frown and help each other find a reason to laugh. Life is the greatest of all possessions. Make a better choice. Choose peaceful co-existence.

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be
With God as our father, brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony…”

Sy Miller and Jill Jackson 1955

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Five

Great perfection seems flawed
Its function is without failure
Great fullness seems empty
Its function is without exhaustion
Great straightness seems bent

Great skill seems unrefined
Great eloquence seems inarticulate
Movement overcomes cold
Stillness overcomes heat
Clear quietness is the standard of the world

                                                                    Lao Tzu

These words from Lao Tzu are a gentle whisper into the ear of every Caregiver. Slow down and be present. The world is speeding up and your ability to be therapeutic was never more needed. Resist reacting to every call to action. Let your presence be the stabilizing, calming factor to each situation you encounter. Allow others to participate. Refrain from judging and just accept. Guidance is all around you but you need to be still so that you can hear it and recognize it for what it is. Often help comes from unexpected sources.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story…         An excerpt from
Desiderata

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Four

Fame or the self, which is dearer?
The self or wealth, which is greater?
Gain or loss, which is more painful?

Thus excessive love must lead to great spending
Excessive hoarding must lead to heavy loss

Knowing contentment avoids disgrace
Knowing when to stop avoids danger
Thus one can endure indefinitely

                                 Lao Tzu

The lesson shared by Lao Tzu in this Forty-Forth Verse of the Tao is simple. True contentment cannot be attained from anything in this physical/material world. Worldly sources of happiness are superficial and often hook you into not only wanting more but needing more in order to sustain the illusion of contentment.

True contentment is the natural result of the cultivation of your character and living in an authentic manner fueled by an open heart that is capable of being vulnerable and compassionate. True contentment is a state of gratitude for all you are, all you are capable of and all you are invited to contribute toward.

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want but the realization of how much you already have.” Anonymous

 

 

 

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Three

The softest things of the world
Override the hardest things of the world

That which has no substance
Enters into that which has no openings

From this I know the benefits of unattached actions
The teaching without words

The benefits of actions without attachment
Are rarely matched in the world

                                                                   Lao Tzu

Verse Forty-Three speaks to the professional or family caregiver that has ever been criticized for stepping up to help or perhaps even resented by the one you intended to serve. If you ever found yourself mumbling, no good deed goes unpunished, then this verse of the Tao is for you.

So often caregivers are overtly or covertly relied upon to get things done. While it can be a great complement to be known as a mover and shaker; we can sometimes get caught up in our own ego-based needs and confuse being tough for being strong. This is where we invite all sorts of trouble for ourselves.

The guiding message of this verse is to channel all your desire and well- meant ability to be of assistance into a subtle rather than overt effort. This is not to say that less is more but rather not underestimate the value of non-action. In this example non-action does not mean, do nothing. Rather it is a reminder to be mindful of your motivation. If your desire to be of help is fueled in anyway by your clinging to a need to be needed, then non-action is required.

Lao Tzu likes to use nature as a metaphor for his lessons. He often suggests focusing on the nature of water. It has a gentle quality that flows around obstacles yet relentlessly carves its own path over time. He references the wind as the force that moves much without being seen. Caregivers must always be more self-aware than most. The lack of self-awareness can sow the seeds of compassion fatigue; because you will never be able to fully have what you crave without creating a distance or a void between you and the recipient of your compassion.

Non-doing is also a powerful method of self-discovery.  As you attempt to refrain from your usual behavior, you uncover the internal forces that make stopping so difficult. You learn where you are attached; and learn about the emotions, impulses, and beliefs that keep you caught up in that attachment.  When you resist doing something out of habit, you will be afforded the opportunity to see, perhaps for the first time, the cost of your behavior. Of course this goal can only be attained through much gentle introspection but with time you will be more self-aware, more authentic and more able to use your good judgment before leaping into action.

 

 

 

 

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Two

Tao produces one
One produces two
Two produce three
Three produce myriad things
Myriad things, backed by yin and embracing yang
Achieve harmony by integrating their energy
What the people dislike
Are alone, bereft, and unworthy
But the rulers call themselves with these terms

So with all things
Appear to take loss but benefit
Or receive benefit but lose
What the ancients taught
I will also teach
The violent one cannot have a natural death
I will use this as the principal of all teachings

                                                                       Lao Tzu

In this Forty-Second Verse of the Tao, Lao Tzu is referencing the ancient Chinese legend of the Pangu. This story conveys that Chinese explanation of Creation. The Tao is the Great Oneness, the Great Oneness produced the dualist, yet balanced nature (Yin/Yang) of all things; Yin/Yang energy in turn, produced the third vital element of our existence, our life force or our Chi. Stories of creation are meant to serve as the foundation for building a spiritual practice and living a good life. This version is no different and its message is very simple. Do all you can to address any obstacles to the natural Flow of your life force/Chi.

Those caregivers who practice Holistic Wellness through the various implementations of Complimentary Therapies are well schooled on the subject of blocked energetic meridians that can close off the flow of Chi within the body and environmental obstructions that can hinder the flow of Chi within any space. I have practiced Feng Shui for over a dozen years. It is powerful form of energetic healing and quite honestly, it has changed my life completely.

However, the changes that honoring the principles of Feng Shui jump started within me and then supported; did not just happen because I hung and mirror or a crystal. The changes occurred because I was honest in my personal assessment and acknowledged to myself that I was not content and knew I could be better. In essence the message I received from the Universe during that time was, caregiver care for yourself.

I started with the basics, addressing clutter. Not just the clutter of a closet or a room but actually addressing what that clutter meant. It meant that I was stuck. Stuck in the loop of old repetitive thoughts and actions that no longer served. I had formed attachments to unhealthy coping mechanisms and mindsets that were not only slowing my journey down my Path, but sabotaging any future I could have envisioned for myself. Letting go of anything that does not serve you such as old clothing, items stored in a closet or garage so long that you don’t know what is in those boxes, or outdated neurotic needs that trap you in self-induced misery; creates a much needed space for new energy to enter and revitalize everything.

In Tibetan Buddhism, ego-based thinking and the distress that it brings is known as Samsara.  A person spins the wheel of repetitive thinking in an attempt to steady themselves from fear. The irony of course is that any ego-based thinking is always fear-based; so we place ourselves in this hamster-like wheel of self-torture and perpetuate what keeps us stuck in the cycle. We wrap ourselves up in a Cocoon where we feel warm and safe until one day there is no denying just how claustrophobic and trapped we feel.

Complimentary therapies offer vital assistance and support to an individual in his/her efforts to purge themselves from this energetic clutter that blocks the healthy Flow of their Chi. I cannot overstate just how much faith and courage this effort takes. Often it dredges up such wonderful feelings as regret, remorse and self-contempt. Little wonder this adventure can take a lifetime.

It is vital that anyone who decides upon this journey to remember the closing lines of Verse Forty-Two. It restates the Universe’s mandate against violence and makes it very clear that the Universe will never support anything that uses violence as a fuel. Therefore, as we do this introspective work and process what we discover, we must seek to understand the etiology of our issues but resist assigning blame; we cannot turn any anger that arises inward and become depressed. Rather we must be patient, embrace our essential goodness and demonstrate great loving kindness to ourselves all along the way.

Today, my fellow caregivers is Independence Day in the United States. Should you choose to begin to address the clutter in your cocoon on this day, the symbolism in your personal declaration cannot be lost. Om ma ni pad me hum.The meaning of this Sanskrit phrase is, I honor the life force within you.