Small country, few people
Let them have many weapons but not use them
Let the people regard death seriously
And not migrate far away
Although they have boats and chariots
They have no need to take them
Although they have armors and weapons
They have no need to display them
Let the people return to tying knots and using them
Savor their food, admire their clothes
Content in their homes, happy in their customs
Neighboring countries see one another
Hear the sounds of roosters and dogs from one another
The people, until they grow old and die
Do not go back and forth with one another
It is not uncommon to hear friends and colleagues lament that there never seems to be enough hours in the day. It is not just that we are incredibly busy. It is as though time itself is compressed; squeezed into something dense and at times challenging to navigate. The paradox of modern living is that we often find ourselves longing for the Simple Life. Is it possible to have both? The guidance offered in this verse of the Tao suggests that it is.
The reason modern times feel so demanding is that we tend to isolate ourselves. Sure we have more ability to connect than ever. Internet, email, texting, phones that reach Mars but has that promoted socialization or has it just made it easier to communicate without leaving the office, car or our home?
Recently my tri-state region was pummeled by super storm Sandy. Much of the area lost electricity, phone service, cable and Internet for days. Many areas are still without power. That forced us back to basics. We started communicating in a more fundamental, simple way. We talked face to face. The effects of that great storm were profoundly devastating but we found solace and support as we began to reconnect and acknowledge our interdependence.
We are not meant to live solitary lives. We are meant to form communities and participate within them. We are meant to be neighbors. The lesson that we can take from this is remember to cultivate connectedness. However, as human beings we tend to fall back into our old ways so the true goal is to cultivate sustainable connectedness.
Sustainable connectedness has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with the feeling created by growing genuine relationships. The key to this is acceptance. We need to walk away from our dualistic nature to judge, comment and alienate and move toward promoting civility, respect and mutual support. I believe that this is possible.
We are entering an age that is described by some vibrational healers as a time of the Solar Feminine. This is a term for a world where the masculine (Yang) energetic principles of life; private ownership, greed, might over right and war are brought into balance by the feminine (Yin) energetic principles of collaboration, co-creation and connectedness.
The challenge is to balance the masculine and feminine energetic qualities we each possess. We can do this if we are willing to struggle less and ease into life as it is. We need to stop a minute, survey the clutter and remove the barriers to our ability to connect first with ourselves; than with others.
Deciding to commit to cultivating sustainable connectedness means making quiet time; being patient and coming to know yourself in a way that is gentle, kind and accepting. This is the foundation of compassion. Mediate on the Four Immeasurable:
- Loving Kindness: the wish for you and all sentient beings, without exception, to be happy
- Compassion: the wish for you and all sentient beings to be free from the self-imposed suffering or perpetual discontent
- Joy: the ability to rejoice in your virtues and happiness and the virtue and happiness of others
- Equanimity: the ability to be accepting of everyone as an equal
Make these virtues a part of your guiding principles. It is not that doing this will make it easier for you to connect. It is that doing this will make you irresistible therefore; creating and maintaining relationships will be Simple.