Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

TAOISM by Huston Smith

Emperors would claim this shadowy figure as their ancestor, and even scholars—though they do not see the Tao Te Ching as having been written by a single hand and do not think it attained the form in which we have it until the second half of the third century B.C.—concede that its ideas cohere to the point where we must posit the existence of someone under whose influence the book took shape, and have no objection to our calling him Lao Tzu....Corresponding to the three ways te or power can be approached, there have arisen in China three species of Taoism so dissimilar that initially they seem to have no more in common than homonyms, like blew/blue or sun/ son, that sound alike but have different meanings. ...Because Philosophical Taoism is essentially an attitude toward life, it is the most “exportable” Taoism of the three, the one that has the most to say to the world at large, and as such will receive the longest treatment—not until the second half of this chapter, however. ...Taoist “adepts”—as we shall call the practitioners of this second kind of Taoism because all were engaged in training programs of some sort, many of them demanding—were not willing to settle for the philosophers’ goal of managing their allotments of the Tao efficiently. ...These efforts to extract ch’i from matter in its solid, liquid, and gaseous forms were supplemented by programs of bodily movement such as t’ai chi chuan, which gathers calisthenics, dance, meditation, yin/yang philosophy, and martial art into a synthesis that in this case was designed to draw ch’i from the cosmos and dislodge blocks to its internal flow. ...Michael Saso writes that “a Taoist is by definition a man who seeks immortality in the present life,” but he goes on to add that for many this immortality “is not so much a longevity whereby man does not die but a state wherein he does not descend to the punishments of a fiery underworld after death” (Taoism and the Rite of Cosmic Renewal [Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1989], p. ...Much of it looks— from the outside, we must always keep in mind—like crude supersti- tion; but we must remember that we have little idea what energy is, how it proceeds, or the means by which (and extent to which) it can be augmented. ... When we add to these the energies that magnetic personalities, rabble-rousers, and even pep rallies can generate, to say nothing of mysterious reserves that hypnotists tap into, concerning which we haven’t an explanatory clue—if all this is borne in mind, it may temper our superciliousness and allow us to give Religious Taoism a fair hearing. ...When a hypnotist tells a subject that when his shoulder is touched his body will become rigid, and that happens—assistants can then place the subject’s feet on one chair and his head on another without his body slumping—we come close to magic in the traditional sense, for the hypnotist calls into play powers that are not only astonishing but mysterious. ...Philosophical Taoism, vitalizing programs for increasing one’s indi- vidual ch’i, and the Taoist church: the three branches of Taoism, which at first seemed to have little in common, now show their family resemblances. ...Those from chapters 8, 15, 24, 31, and 78 are from Stephen Mitchell’s renderings in his Tao Te Ching (New York: Harper & Row, 1988); those from chapters 9, 12, 17, 23, 27, 29, and 30 are from Witter Bynner’s The Way of Life According to Laotzu, 1944, reprint (New York: Putnam, 1986).Original linkOriginal author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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"The Law of Attraction: Does It Grant Us an Evolutionary Edge?" by Michael Bernard Beckwith

Did you know that you have a magnetic field that draws to you the people, experiences and things that mirror the vibratory equivalent of your thoughts, perceptions, opinions, beliefs, insights — in short, your overall state of consciousness? ...To understand this at the kitchen sink level of every day life, in the 60s it became commonplace to describe how we did or didn’t vibe with another person. ...He is describing our inherent soul-capacity to consciously operate the law of attraction and draw into our magnetic field whatever is required to support our fundamental life structures as we grow, develop, and expand in consciousness with an “all needs met” awareness and gratitude....Moving into a deeper spiritual understanding and practice of working with the laws governing the universe through affirmative prayer, Life Visioning, and visualization, which attune you to the law of attraction;Practicing meditation and surrender at such a depth that you no longer need to attract anything because you live in alignment with the law of radiance which automatically provides all that is required to sustain you and cause you to flourish.Living in the first domain provides an entry into the understanding that you have come on the planet with a purpose, that you are an “on purpose” being endowed with tremendous capacities, powers, and qualities. Living in the second domain provides factual evidence that you can indeed consciously participate in the co-creation of your life in attunement with the law of attraction. The third domain, living in attunement with the law of radiance, causes the emergence of your essential self, which is to say that you live from the inside out....It is up to us to actively participate, to consciously contribute to the process of co-creating the right conditions for our inner vision to outwardly manifest. We do this by first cultivating an intention to educate ourselves on the universal laws governing the planet, how they function and how we may consciously apply them to the various aspects of our life.Next, we begin to experiment with these laws in the laboratory of our consciousness, not in a big serious way, but in a playful, trusting mindset of wonder and appreciation.Original linkOriginal author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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"What I Wish People Knew About My Depression" by Emma Rabinowitz

I wish people knew that, when I turned down trips to farmer’s markets or walks downtown, or dinner in the dining hall, it wasn’t because I’m an antisocial person.I wish they knew I genuinely wanted to go and had every intention of going, but the second my right foot stepped out the door my depression said “today’s not the day” and made me go back inside.I wish they knew I wasn’t a flaky person and I didn’t mean to snap at them when they questioned me. I wish they knew depression had a harness and leash on me and was yanking me back every time I tried to run away.I wish people knew that when I don’t have much to say, it isn’t because I don’t enjoy their company.I wish they knew I had this feeling deep within my gut that felt like an empty hole where laughter and joy should belong, but for some reason, depression kicked them out.I wish they knew I wanted to speak and have a great, genuine conversation, but I couldn’t find the words and depression was holding my tongue.I wish people knew I’m not going to let depression win. My story has only begun, and I am ready to take on the battle of my life. With a sword and shield in hand, I plant my feet in the ground and hold my breath....I walk my own walk and take on every challenge depression throws at me.Original linkOriginal author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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"The Practice of Forgiveness" (excerpt from THE WISE HEART) by Jack Kornfield

As we let ourself feel the pain we still hold, forgiveness comes as a relief, a release for our heart in the end.  Forgiveness acknowledges that no matter how much we may have suffered, we will not put another human being out of our heart....It was only when he lay dying that I could look back and reflect on what had released me from our family suffering.  When, at age 75, ten years after his first heart attack, my father was near death from congestive heart failure, frightened and in pain. ... Because I had sat in the charnel grounds and with others as they died, I was able to offer the steady presence he needed. By now I also knew enough not to blurt out that I loved him, but I also knew that he could feel that I did....As I meditated and wept, I felt the pain of my own closed heart and wondered how I could forgive him. ... Then I gradually saw, too, his creative and loving side, along with his capacity to hurt those he loved, and finally his humanity, all our humanity. ...Julie was not sorry for her attempts at love and connection, but she deeply regretted the pain and betrayal she had caused....Then she had to find a way to forgive herself so she could be released from the past and let it go....She said, “Now that I’ve lived in the city, when I go into the coffee shop and see the old clothes, the uneducated farmers, it’s so easy to judge them and feel myself as different. Original linkOriginal author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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"Living From the Heart: Demoting Your Brain as CEO" by Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum

They start a diet, and fail; begin an exercise program, then quit; make a vow to do something positive for themselves, but get deterred in one way or another and get off course. We all have a little bit of this in us, but the truth is that there is nothing more powerful than knowing exactly who you are, and that includes getting to know those dark little voices in your head....In many ways, this has been necessary to get us where we are today, but at some point, our brains got a little bit power-happy. ... Our phones and other devices are constantly beeping and dinging and vibrating to remind us that we are continuously consumed with obligations and many of us have the idea that we need to take care of everyone and do everything perfectly....I see women in their 30s, 40s, 50s — women in the prime of their lives — in my office with symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations and dizziness all stemming from the stress hormones released in the body due to overactive perseverating brains that so often can sabotage success and happiness.After seeing these patterns repeatedly, I decided it was time to share what I’ve learned about how to help women stop living entirely from their heads and remember how to live from their hearts. I want to help women understand their hearts, prioritize their hearts, and know exactly what it means to care for their hearts on every level, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious, from direct physical heart health to managing the emotional repercussions of life in the 21st century. ...We are so used to letting our heads be in charge of our lives that when we start reacting with our hearts instead, it feels like a miracle, like a whole new existence. ...When we compartmentalize our lives and forget what matters most to us, we tend to listen to those critical voices in our heads — those nefarious “I can’ts” and “I trieds,” and suddenly we are less than we could be. ...Or is the real truth, “My previous attempts at making a living as an artist didn’t work, but I can still find a way to channel that part of me and call myself an artist”? ...Living from the heart means really knowing who you are, knowing what makes you happy, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, knowing what makes you tick, and understanding that while you are not perfect, you can be as perfect as possible.Original linkOriginal author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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