Daily Tao

The Tao in Everyday Life

Archive for the category “Psychology / Mind / Religion”

On Trusting the Intuition: the Sixth Sense Organ

Every day as we go about our lives we rely on (and trust) our sense organs of smell, sight, touch, taste and hearing. These we take for granted and do not even give it a second thought. There is however within our brains a 6th organ of sense which we have completed abandoned (and eventually learned to distrust) through basic lack of use.

The Buddhist teaching on Prajna is quite an interesting one. It is understood to be the natural state of all things animate and inanimate. Basically it is the source of all manifestation.

The more we let go of our beliefs, needs and ideas the more we fall into this natural state. It’s first felt a s a dim glimmer and, in the beginning, when we’re not too familiar with it, we all too readily dismiss its solutions in favour of our intellect (which are intimately tied to the 5 senses) because we have been conditioned to do that. If it’s not logical dismiss it !

But as you progress in your practice, in your meditation, you begin to recognise it more and more, its light grows stronger, illuminating your mind and thoughts until you  begin to trust its judgment just as much as you trust the judgment of your sight or other sense organs, or even more  as there will be a growing sense and realisation in you that this is actually your true self, your only self, the only self that can possibly be.

So how do you recognise it in practice, what’s its footprint ? It’s a feeling of certainty, of joy and of happiness beyond external circumstances. You will begin to feel that this is not of time, but that of which is beyond time. And its manifestation ? A much happier, fulfilled and successful life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 – New International Version (NIV) – with thanks to biblegateway.com

Let’s end with the Buddha’s last words :

So long as the monks shall live among the worthy, cherishing, both in public and private, that infallible intuition that results in the cessation of sorrow of him who acts according to it – so long may you be expected not to decline but to prosper. – The Wisdom of Buddhism, Christmas Humphreys


Tao Lessons from Bruce Lee: Non Fixation

Non fixation, non straining and non striving, (just) aim at the spontaneous development of yourself …

bruce lee

True Mastery According to Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee, martial arts legend, once said: “I don’t fear the man who knows ten thousand techniques – I fear the man who has practised one technique ten thousand times.”

In the East they have a much different notion of mastery, much further removed from technology than we have here in the West, almost becoming spiritual in nature: Two braggarts once entered an inn and started to taunt an elderly man that was sitting there quietly eating his food. After the man had finished his food, he simply flicked his chopsticks and caught a fly. In quick order the two braggarts left. What they had realised in that moment was that they were dealing with a master, someone who had probably mastered whatever craft he was into, and was probably a master of anything else that he did, including punching you in the guts.

Mastery is a matter of spirit, not of technology.

Becoming a Master According to Bruce Lee

Before I studied the art a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. When I started studying the art a punch was no longer a punch and a kick was no longer a kick. Now that I understand the art a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.

This describes beautifully the process of mastering any art or discipline. We are all born with an inner freedom and an innate sense of right and wrong but as soon as someone tries to point us to it we stop to think about it and suddenly we lose that original sense of freedom. Bruce Lee once said in the development of his fighting art of Jeet Kune Do that a good teacher points his or her student towards their own inner freedom without crippling them with a “classical mess” … or words to that effect.

Therefore real learning is all about re-discovering the innate talents and freedoms we have lost during the course of our own evolution.

Inspirational Quotes from Bruce Lee

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

“We shall find the answer when we examine the problem, the problem is never
apart from the answer, the problem IS the answer, understanding the problem
dissolves the problem.”

courtesy of jkdlondon.com

Zen Lessons : The Ghosts of Master Linji

Linji (Jap. Rinzai), the father of Rinzai Zen, used to say that his purpose was in exercising ghosts. He would advise :

Followers of the Way [of Chán, that is Zen], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you’re facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go.

In other words freely kill any concept that comes your way, do not become entangled with it.

Of course concepts do have their uses, as we have witnessed to much benefit in the sciences for example, but unfortunately most of us are completely taken in by them, entranced into a ghostly world of thoughts, concepts, ideas and symbols. Buddhism calls this the world of Maya (or Delusion), a completely false identification with the process of thinking which is but a representation, a symbolisation, a partialisation of the reality we live in and not the reality itself.

And this is the cause of much suffering, dis-ease, misapprehension, misunderstanding and distrust. One obvious example is the flag symbol where we have witnessed countless times throughout history how ordinary people will carry out the most inhumane acts for its name.

Heaven is Attractive but Hell is Popular

A sinner once won a holiday to Heaven. After a few days in Heaven the sinner approached the angel Gabriel to complain:

“Gabriel…I have been seven days in Heaven and not a single murder, or rape, or beating, or slander or bad word said against anybody ! Gabriel, Heaven is soooo boring !”

The sinner packed his bags and returned to Hell.

I believe that Buddhists have a saying:  “There is no one in Hell that truly doesn’t want to be there”. The truth is people like pain, strife and suffering, it makes them feel alive … And when it gets too much they turn to  a dubiously vengeful God to complain about what they themselves  manufactured !

The truth is a lot of our suffering is self created.

Lessons in Prayer from Eckhart Tolle

I was recently listening to a lecture on YouTube by Eckhart Tolle, truly one of the most inspirational teachers in our modern times, and I’d like to share some interesting distinctions  between 3 different types of prayer. And it’s interesting to note the similarities between prayer and meditation.

The most basic form of prayer is where the petitioner prays to a God outside of themselves and asks for a specific favour. This type of prayer operates on the level of duality where there is a psychological distinction between the self of the petitioner and God.

More advanced prayers, but still operating on the level of duality, are Affirmations: When you pray feel as though you already have it, visualise the desired outcome. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, wrote that thoughts mixed with strong emotions can have a very powerful and definite effect.

Then there are the most advanced forms of prayer where the petitioner does not look for themselves in the outcome nor do they  look for any form of self fulfilment. This seems to be the best form of prayer, because there seems to be no intervening ego that interferes with the strength of the request. In fact Buddhists or other practitioners of meditation would simply recognise this as just that, Meditation. The Metta Bhavana (Loving Kindness) meditation in Buddhism is one example of such prayer (or meditation). – eg. May all beings be well and happy. This kind of prayer opens up a door in the mind of the petitioner and brings them into an awareness of stillness. What matters here is the stillness  and not the result. To quote the Old Testament: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Thoughts Are Things !

What the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.  Thoughts are things!  And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches – Napoleon Hill

Thinking has the power to transform reality – It is an energy all of its own which can be directed to the highest purposes imaginable by any man but can also lead him into the very depths of hell.

Empty Mind, Empty Hand

Gichin Funakoshi is widely credited to have been the father of Modern Karate through his art of Shoto-Kan Karate (literally meaning “Tiger’s Tail”, his pen name). One of his favourite phrases was that not only that Karate-Do is the Way of the Empty Hand (from the Japanese characters Kara meaning empty, Te meaning hand and Do meaning way) but more importantly the Way of the Empty Mind, in other words a mind devoid of ego and the pursuit of self. Noble maybe but the spirit still rings true. Whatever you do do with an empty hand and, more importantly than that, do with an empty mind. Do not seek the results of your own actions, only be content with their own doing.

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