Dao Cultivation and Self knowledge
Friday, June 15, 2007 5:03:23 AM
Recently i have been thinking alot of self awareness and how as a Dao cultivator i cn do more to look within myself. As ever i found what i was thinking about in the Tao Te ching
Those who understand others are intelligent
Those who understand themselves are enlightened
Those who overcome others have strength
Those who overcome themselves are powerful
Those who know contentment are wealthy
Those who proceed vigorously have willpower
Those who do not lose their base endure
Those who die but do not perish have longevity
How do we then understand ourselves? Do we just go through life "going with the flow" and then one day go "eureka i know myself now"..... or is there some practice we can learn to look deep within ourselves not only into our charecters and emotions but into our spirits and formation? Or does it depend on the individual? Or is it a bit of everything?
My words are easy to understand, easy to practice
The world cannot understand, cannot practice
My words have basis
My actions have principle
People do not understand this
Therefore they do not understand me
Those who understand me are few
Thus I am highly valued
Therefore the sage wears plain clothes but holds jade
Hmmm could it be that Lau Tzu is giving us a hint as to how to understand ourselves? In how to apply these teachings to our lives? "Easy to practice..." and "have basis".... it is probable that as with much of the TTC there are many meanings, most valid, one could ascribe to this but for this post lets take explore the possibility that Lau Tzu is saying his words have basis in practice.... so perhaps his words and understanding come from what we refer to as meditation. That to understand and apply the way to best do this is to cultivate and explore within ourselves. To truely learn how to look at the mirror within us.
To know that you do not know is highest
To not know but think you know is flawed
Only when one recognizes the fault as a fault
can one be without fault
The sages are without fault
Because they recognize the fault as a fault
That is why they are without fault
One idea i have seen explored is that this chapter means sages have no faults, as in they never make mistakes. Well this seems a little incongruous given sages are living beings and all living beings make mistakes. Even animals in the wild sometimes have "duh" moments like one young lion who tried to take on a crocadile ... soon learnt it had made a slight error. Making mistakes is how all beings learn. The difference this chapter points to between sages and everyone else is sages when they make mistakes view them from detachment so are able to admit their error and to learn from it and let it go.... "because they recognise the fault as a fault they are without fault...".
How would they come to such a place? Through self knowledge. And this is where for many of us the difficult part comes in. Many of us have lived full lives we have had experiences good. bad and indifferent, these experiences leave us with what are now called "issues" and sometimes having that courage to really look inside and explore the depths of memories long supressed of the true us, can be tough. And it is tough especially if you have had some difficult things happen in life it can be very tough to look within and keep learning.
The Dalai Lama in a TV interview i saw with hm once said that ""of course he feels anger like everyone else at some things, he said especially when he saw of abuses to humans or aniamls he got upset and angry but it was a fleeting feeling like the rising and ebbing of the tide. Why? He was asked. Because he answered, i have worked hard to know myself and to learn to let go of these things, when i was a younger man i had a great temper whcih stemmed from having to deal with many things at a young age. i learnt to know myself and through this process to recognise my fault and let it go."" this is a rough summary of that interview but the essence is captured.
It is sometimes said that to know the world we must know ourselves.
I know that self knowedge for me is an ever changing process one which is not static it is not like you reach a point of self knowledge and then stop because your suddenly a sage or enlightened even great spiritual sages continue looking within. It is as with most other things in Daoism and/or Dao cultivation a matter of reaching harmonious balance, of both going with the flow, and in practicing meditation and other forms of cultivation to learn about our inner selves and how bes tot apply Dao cultivation/daoism to all aspects of life.
peace to you