The Art of Effortless Living (Taoist Documentary)

The Art of Effortless Living (Taoist Documentary)


Our suffering as a species comes from the
incorrect perception of living in the past through our attachment to memories that then
shape our future. The phantoms of past and future are only of
use to the intellect, because it gives individuals the idea that they are in control of their
lives. Yet, as an individual grows, he begins to
understand that no matter how grandiose his attempts at control, life always has a way
of changing those plans. And in doing so, life also destroys the individual’s
imagined ability to control the future outcome. This mentality of forcing ourselves upon life
is the socially accepted practice of modern civilization. An individual’s attempt to control life
according to her own beliefs, and as a result to force this perspective upon others, is
the beginning of tyranny. Lao-tzu’s essential teaching of wu-wei,
on the other hand, illustrates the futility of our attempts to control life. He emphasizes that it is only when you give
up forcing or controlling anything that you begin to get the kind of control you always
wanted, but never knew existed. The Taoism of Lao-tzu was about the Way, the
Tao, which is something we experience when we are more attentive to our inner and outer
worlds. The Tao can be followed and experientially
known when we have surrendered our controlled, conditioned identity over to the effortless
realm of spontaneity and trust, wu-wei. Translated into English, wu-wei means “nondoing,”
“nonaction,” or “effortless action.” These translations are literally correct and
lead us to the intuitive and ultimate psychological experience of wu-wei. This effortless psychological experience means
“not forcing” or “allowing,” a state of “intelligent spontaneity.” This effortless realm is why the Tao is usually
referred to as “the way of nature,” because when we follow the Way, we can experience
the same spontaneity of nature within our own experience; as a result, we trust our
path through life. The discovery of this spontaneity in life
allows us to sink deeply into the awareness that we are nature and not separate from any
aspect of it. The essential teaching of wu-wei can only
be known if the individual is sincere in surrendering control and, as a result, giving his life
over to something much bigger than himself. Tao is That which is bigger than our personal
lives. Its depth of understanding is vast. Wu-wei is the fragrance of Tao. It is the spiritual attitude that is expressed
and lived by many adepts, gurus, masters, saints, sages, shamans, and yogis. When we discover the flow of Tao moving within
our own lives, as a sage does, we begin to be receptive to where our experience in life
is leading us. We cease clinging to the experiences of the
past and instead become rejuvenated in the present. The future becomes nothing more than a mirage,
as the pure transparency and reflectivity of our consciousness begins to be absorbed
in the feminine womb of the Tao. When you don’t force yourself upon life,
you discover that you are life. All our vain attempts to control life result
from the way we are raised, because our culture and society influence us to believe that we
do not belong to the world. We are taught to feel like aliens in this
world, like in a great cosmic joke with no punch line. We are raised to believe that we exist in
a hostile universe, so we ought to fear one another and never trust anyone. This ideology is bringing the human race to
its knees. At the rate of speed that we are polarizing
ourselves, it is hard to imagine there will be any remnants of higher, conscious life
on this planet a thousand years from now. Our lack of trust is destroying our civilization
and also causing a huge dent in the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms. This type of neurosis has gotten to the point
that on an individual level we do not even trust our own psychological states. We do not act authentically, and we confuse
our identity with our social identity. In being mere shadows of who we are, we cause
violence toward others, condemn anyone who opposes our opinion, and hypnotically hurt
those we love. All of this is done in the name of force and
control. Social and cultural norms teach us this dichotomy. To act or function any other way is, from
the point of view of the status quo, absurd. Government, organized religion, society, and
culture mark the physical advent of the trust that is lacking within the individual. If individuals lose their natural essence
of trust, then some form of external tyranny in the guise of a trustworthy parental figure
will take its place. Individuals fail to trust themselves, and
this is why a lot people ignorantly trust their government without question. In giving our power away to government, the
individual begins to depend on the government as a parent, rather than seeing it in its
original position— as a servant to the individual. Our lack of responsibility implies our lack
of trust in ourselves. Government is a phantom into which we invest
too much energy. Individuals who sincerely trust themselves
and others threaten the established order of culture, society, organized religion, and
government. This threat could only become a reality if
the truth of Tao is regained and a trust in life is realized. Wu-wei is the Taoist principle of trust. The trust of wu-wei threatens any governmental,
social, religious, and cultural landscape. We align with our innate trust when we are
not forcing and instead allow life to take place. This capacity to align with your innate trust
brings you back in harmony with the entire unfolding of the cosmos. To go with the grain or with a stream, one
is not bound to the past, nor does one yearn for the future. We cannot unite with the source of Tao unless
we have given our life over to the nondoing, nonforcing, and nonreactive realm of wu-wei. Lao-tzu’s essential wisdom is nothing more
than that of an individual who can follow the effortless grace of wu-wei within her
mind. Everything else that has developed around
Lao-tzu’s essential wisdom is a way either to get to the understanding of wu-wei or to
delay our enlightenment through habitual crutches that take the form of spiritual exercises
and practices. From the perspective of the ancient masters
Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, enlightenment can only be realized in the ability to live wu-wei. The practice of wu-wei is the vehicle we use
to realize our innate freedom. The Taoism of Lao-tzu emphasizes that if we
do not let individuals grow as nature intended, they will lose their naturalness and be drawn
into the world of animal drives, desires, attachments, and ultimately suffering. This difference in the depth of understanding
between Laotzu and Confucius is articulated in an imaginary dialogue created by Chuang-tzu:
“Tell me,” said Lao-tzu, “in what consist charity and duty to one’s neighbour?” “They consist,” answered Confucius, “in
a capacity for rejoicing in all things; in universal love, without the element of self. These are the characteristics of charity and
duty to one’s neighbour.” “What stuff!” cried Lao-tzu. “Does not universal love contradict itself? Is not your elimination of self a positive
manifestation of self? Sir, if you would cause the empire not to
lose its source of nourishment—there is the universe, its regularity is unceasing;
there are the sun and moon, their brightness is unceasing; there are the stars, their groupings
never change; there are the birds and beasts, they flock together without varying; there
are the trees and shrubs, they grow upwards without exception. Be like these: follow Tao, and you will be
perfect. Why then these vain struggles after charity
and duty to one’s neighbour, as though beating a drum in search of a fugitive. Alas! Sir, you have brought much confusion into
the mind of man.” In this imaginary dialogue, Lao-tzu reiterates
that if we interfere in the natural process of any living organism, it will begin to isolate
itself from the complementary parts of the whole. This isolation brings about a disassociation
from the whole, so that a lack of trust plagues the mind. Confucius’s ideas of charity and duty to
one’s neighbor are ageold teachings, which artists, philosophers, and spiritual teachers
have contemplated from the dawn of civilization to the present day. On the surface, we may all feel convinced
that he is correct in postulating that we have a duty to others. But the Taoist Way of Lao-tzu suggests that
in attempting to interfere with others’ affairs, no matter how large or small, we
are assuming that the natural experience of life is not happening spontaneously; instead
we think that life is a series of controlled steps following a predictable and mechanical
process. Lao-tzu is not saying that we should abolish
duty or charity. He is saying that everything in the universe
is integral and symbiotic in nature, and that everything functions harmoniously according
to the rhythm of the universe. So, he asks, why would humanity be the exception? The Way of the Tao and our experience of it
comes from allowing all aspects of the universe to happen as they will without conscious interference. This understanding of Tao is a trust in and
affirmation of life that cannot be broken. Humanity’s superficial differences could
be dissolved if each individual could live by this trust. Yet society and culture have been built on
ideologies such as Confucianism, communism, and democracy, which all teach us in some
way to impose our will over one another, a goal based on the erroneous idea that we are
achieving freedom in this process. To trust the Way of the Tao is the complete
backflip to Confucianism or any present-day ideology or theology. Lao-tzu’s wisdom exposes humanity’s selfish
tendency to impose the will of one individual, nation, religion, race, or gender over another. We are always interfering with each other’s
natural sovereignty. Many people arrogantly and ignorantly do this
daily and then proclaim that they know what freedom and love are. How can we listen and help each other if it
is merely from our own cultural, social, or religious perspective? If we have a set of beliefs to sell another,
then we are surely imposing our idea of life upon her without letting her grow as nature
intended. It is this personal agenda that Lao-tzu reveals. If we interfere unnecessarily with any organism
on this planet, we hinder its growth through our attempt to control it. When it is interfered with, an organism finds
itself in a struggle to grow into everything it should be. As a result, the organism’s natural impulse
to grow is met with resistance by another organism, which assumes that it is superior
to all life and needs no other organisms to survive. We could say human beings fit perfectly into
this category because of the personal agendas we wish to cast upon the world. These agendas could only have developed in
a world devoid of trust. Because we live in fear instead of trust,
our world is designed so clinically that it resembles not a beautiful garden but a morgue. The Confucian imperative to dictate a social
way of life to the individual builds an identity conditioned by the world of concepts and objects
rather than the inner world of emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Yet we should not be critical of the Confucian
perspective only, because any ideology or theology, no matter how well intended, is
at its foundation strictly a methodology for shaping the individual according to its beliefs. Lao-tzu points to this in the Tao Te Ching. He says that humanity is in a perpetual trap
in which we seek to change one another or society based on our own belief systems. Because we have not made our inner world conscious,
we continue to seek change in the external world of forms, as if the inner world were
a construct of the outer. Many theologies and ideologies operate from
this perspective. But this is an absurd view for the simple
reason that the world is devoid of meaning until the observer gives it meaning according
to her beliefs. This should be fundamental to the way we think
and perceive the world. But instead we are told that the world is
purely material by the teachers of our cultural, social, religious, and educational machine,
who themselves have been indoctrinated. To cultivate a sane society, we first need
to understand that our perception was pure before it was colored by external influences. And all of these external influences are interpreted
differently by each individual, which adds to the confusion. Patanjali, the great sage of India and father
of yoga, expresses this sentiment in the wisdom of three of his sutras regarding freedom:
“People perceive the same object differently, as each person’s perception follows a separate
path from another’s. But the object is not dependent on either
of those perceptions; if it were, what would happen to it when nobody was looking? An object is known only by a consciousness
it has colored; otherwise it is not known.” We have built a world that operates in reverse
to the natural order of growth and harmonious living. The world’s general view identifies with
what colors consciousness rather than with the unbound and limitless pure awareness at
the core of our being. Lao-tzu’s essential teaching of wu-wei is
a medicine for this illness. But you must understand that wu-wei is not
an ideology, theology, or something you need to believe in. On the contrary, wu-wei can only be known
through your own experience. Then it simply strengthens your trust in wu-wei. The natural order of growth and harmony depends
upon allowing life to take its course without conscious interference. This is how the Tao flows when wu-wei is experienced. Many people resist the very thought of allowing
things to take place in life, because from our perspective we can’t see how anything
could be achieved in that way. But if we are more observant, we discover
that each and every attempt to categorically control our life is invariably upended by
the spontaneity of natural experience. No human being is above this universal spontaneity. And yet many people seek to control life down
to the finest detail, failing to realize that the very things that shaped their identity
were beyond their control. The impulse to control life is a symptom of
the power that we believe we have lost. But true power resides in the mind of one
who is liberated from the acquisition of wealth and the control of others. When we give up attempting to control life,
we find that we are no longer clinging to or conditioned by any aspect of life. Thus we are freed from its attachments. The most liberated people on this planet have
been those who were free in this way, such as the twentieth-century Indian sage Sri Ramana
Maharshi. The virtuous individual always presents danger
to social, religious, and cultural systems that seek to bind humanity with superficial
constraints. The individual who knows and follows the Tao
is a threat because his way of being is liberated from the shackles of external influence. From the cultural, religious, and social perspective,
these individuals are rebels who threaten to disrupt the hypnosis of the status quo. This is why we see the unceremonious killing
of such figures who know and follow Tao, such as Jesus of Nazareth (no matter whether you
take the story of Jesus to be real or metaphor). True and eternal freedom is loathed by the
tyrants of cultural, ideological, theological, social, and religious dogmas, because when
we are liberated by the true freedom that we can only find within us, we cease to conform
to the machinations of tyranny. Artists, mystics, philosophers, scientists,
and the spiritually inclined all exhibit this exalted state through their own creativity
and humility, which often exposes the flaws of a system that seeks to dictate to the masses. The rebellion of Lao-tzu’s Taoist Way has
always posed a threat to the established order, especially in China. True Taoism was suppressed in the first decades
of the People’s Republic of China (with people even persecuted during the Cultural
Revolution), though it continued to be practiced in Taiwan. Taoism has often been scorned because the
essential Taoist teaching of wu-wei is about surrendering your life into the comforting
arms and the Way of the universe rather than conforming to social ethics. The Absolute Tao is the prerogative of the
original Taoist. But this sincerity is confusing to any established
order, because the Tao of Lao-tzu is as vast as it is vague, and so it escapes conventional
thought and behavior. An authentic Taoist is often thought of as
a soothsayer or witch, because our world seeks to find definitions for everything. This absurd definition gives the masses some
sort of psychological closure, as if they now somehow understood Tao. But what Lao-tzu and other Taoists knew within
themselves is beyond intellectual debate or conjecture. This eternal truth, known only by some people,
frustrates those who know it not. In the eyes of an established ideology, theology,
or organized religion, this experiential truth disrupts the social indoctrination that keeps
the masses moving to the beat of someone else’s drum. This is one of the main reasons why Lao-tzu’s
Tao conflicts with Confucius’s ideology. Lao-tzu understood that any form of social
or cultural hierarchy destroys the awareness of trust in the universe. Confucius could not accept this, because his
approach was only for those who governed. He thought if those who governed were liberated
and morally noble, society would benefit. In truth, this view is not oriented toward
the freedom of the individual; rather it is a clever system devised to manage society
without the people of that society questioning their position. Democracy is similar. The ideology of democracy tries to maintain
a society’s comfort and convenience based on liberal views, so that the bigger questions
of life are never asked of those imposing democracy upon the people. The hierarchical systems of governments, banking,
corporations, and royalty end up becoming tyrants rather than servants. Yet according to Lao-tzu, if any system is
devised to control anything, then we have ceased to follow the Way of nature. Then control invariably turns into a selfish
and corrupting urge to lord it over others. As John Dalberg-Acton, the English Catholic
historian, politician, and writer, wrote in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute
power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Selfish power has corrupted the world with
the belief that we can control life within a fixed reality that is devoid of spontaneity. Evolution, on the other hand, means pushing
the limitations of our minds and the traditional boundaries we have constructed. Confucianism, the religion of Taoism, and
other religious traditions are being tested in the modern era. Their dogmas have become exhausted, and the
world is becoming attuned to an authentic spirituality, as a new awareness of ourselves
in relation to each other, the world, and the universe is developing. Tradition is not intrinsically bad, and many
traditions can be beautiful. But they lose this beauty, and they become
psychologically damaging, when they set up dogmas to imprison the mind. We only have to look at modern-day Christianity
for an example. The Way of Lao-tzu was to never be attached
to any tradition that imprisoned our mind because if we hold our center within, we will
move with the evolutionary energies of the universe without resistance. These evolutionary energies materialize as
synchronicity on the level of the conscious mind. Though traditions may come and go, their remnants
sometimes linger within the collective consciousness for some time. The continent of Asia is a good example, because
even though the ideology of Confucianism is often unacknowledged as a prevailing system
of thought, the dogmatic beliefs of that socioeconomic religious ideology still keep people from
embracing change. These dogmas are bringing tenseness and frustration
into the lives of the common people, because the collective consciousness has evolved past
such rigid traditions, much as we are evolving past the vain materialism of the West and
its attempts to shove liberalism down everybody’s throat. Consciousness is dancing to a new rhythm and
vibration, both collectively and individually. There is an organic pattern, or we could say
order of the universe, that is a blueprint for nature to express its beauty. In Chinese this is called li (理). Li is usually translated as the markings in
jade, grain in wood, and fiber in muscle. It is supposed to signify a definite pattern
that originates within an organism as its nature and comes into existence when an organism
harmonizes with the Tao. This li principle is usually thought of as
Neo-Confucian rather than Taoist, because it differs from the Confucian virtue of li
(禮), which is based on correct understanding and practice of rites and ceremonies. The Confucian concept of li has no relevance
to the Way of Lao-tzu or to the harmony of nature. Nor is it relevant to wu-wei. Nature exhibits the Taoist li (理) always,
as the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms are not intelligences that could try to disrupt
its harmony. The human kingdom, on the other hand, being
the highest form of intelligence on this planet, constantly seeks to challenge nature’s laws
and rhythms. Humanity has a schizoid sense that we are
somehow alien to this planet. Yet we depend on nature for everything that
gives us life. Without the food that we eat or the air that
we breathe, we would not have evolved out of the lower kingdoms. We feel alienated from all other life because
we perceive only a linear world. From this convoluted view, we build our communities
on linear systems. The society is a construct of designed systems,
such as organized culture, government, politics, and religion, which all oppose natural laws
and swim against the current of Tao. We erroneously uphold these systems because
we feel that life would be nothing without them. Yet they are built on the notion that we can
control nature’s pattern, li. The destruction of nature for material gain
is a result of these systems’ effect on the human mind. We pay more attention to our own indoctrination
than to the actual world that gives us life. Nature, being nonlinear, cannot be understood
by a humanity shaped by a linear perspective. From this standpoint, we seek to lord it over
nature because we do not understand it. Yet according to Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, this
is the very problem that will lead us into complete and utter annihilation, because in
not understanding nature, we do not understand ourselves. The Tao that Chuang-tzu could perceive in
everything does not exclude human life. Human life is an intrinsic part of nature
because a human being is nature. The fight for control of nature stems from
humanity ignoring its own nature, which we do when we adopt external influences that
transform us into machines. Our psychology in turn resembles the repetition
of a machine rather than the spontaneity of nature. The mind of the average individual is solely
focused on the maintenance and upkeep of a linear system. Such a person is unlikely to allocate any
energy toward her own inner world, because that would conflict with her linear habits. But this orientation toward the outer world
is going to lead us into the arms of annihilation if we do not realize that all natural growth
comes from within the organism. And all of nature’s constituents, including
human beings, function according to this universal pattern. Nature’s harmony can be disturbed but never
eradicated, because the Tao courses through the patterns of li. Organisms that challenge this order do not
fare well. We generally ignore the fact that the organic
pattern and principle of li are within the human organism too. The organic pattern of li within the ecosystem
is the same intelligence that is found in our nerves, senses, and ultimately our cognitive
functions and psychology. This is why those who practice spiritual cultivation
usually have a harmonious biological and psychological disposition: they show respect to their bodies
and minds by refusing to overstimulate them with excessive consumption. The Taoist philosophy of li affirms that anyone
can attain a liberated state of harmony with the world, but only if we act in the same
way as nature. The ecosystem of nature is nothing like the
average modern life of a human being. What, then, would it take for a human to act
as nature intended? Nature’s Way is harmonious because each
of its components follows its own li, its way of harmonizing with other manifestations
of Tao. This mutual resonance and interdependence
is known as ying (應) in Chinese, and is another key aspect of Taoist philosophy. It is an essential principle for understanding
the effortless mind. The mutual resonance and harmony of nature
are only possible in the way they are as the Tao is. When we look into nature, we do not see the
busyness and complexity of, say, a city. On the contrary, we perceive a simple world
in harmony through the stillness of Tao. Chuang-tzu said that from the still point
of the Tao in the center of the circle, one can see the infinite in the world of forms. This means that the mind that is completely
empty and still can perceive reality as it truly is. The Tao liberates the mind from its linear
constraints by enabling it to follow the Way of nature. To act according to nature requires becoming
receptive to the forces of the cosmos, which can only be received in the complete stilling
of the mind. The process of settling the ripples of the
mind is known as nirodha in Sanskrit, which in Patanjali’s classical yoga means “restriction,”
the process of stopping the “whirls” (vritti in Sanskrit) of the mind. This stilling of the mind is the key objective
of many forms of meditative practices and Eastern wisdom. Yet, paradoxically, the objective can never
be attained if it is thought of as a goal to achieve. This is because the stillness of mind that
many people hope to attain is actually our natural state right here and now and not at
some future destination. But this realization is veiled by the hypnosis
that we have acquired from the external world. Enlightenment right here and now is the sage’s
axiom. A sage would ask us, how could we ever attain
or achieve something that is already our true nature? This may look simple for sages to realize,
but keep in mind that they were also once on a journey of self-discovery. They too had to undergo the process of thinning
out their conditioned personality so that they could ultimately recognize that consciousness
is naturally transparent and reflective like water. Water acts in the same way as mind. When water is disturbed, it is not transparent
or reflective, as the waves and ripples obscure its essence. But when water is completely still, it is
in its pure, true state of transparency and reflectivity. The nature of mind is stillness, which is
beyond effort. Yet the waves and ripples of conditioning
obscure this truth. Emptying your mind of these conditioned habits
and latent tendencies, you come face to face, so to speak, with the Tao. The Tao of the Absolute is within our natural
stillness, and this natural state is where spontaneity is effortlessly born. Stillness is where the virtue of wu-wei is
lived. If we come into contact with the still point
of the Tao, then we begin to nourish the rest of existence through the art of living wu-wei. Some of the greatest leaps for humankind will
be taken when we face the dire dilemma that binds us to a mechanistic world. Drastic measures are needed to reorient our
awareness back toward the natural world of the cosmic unfolding. From a sage’s perspective, the answer to
humanity’s plight is not, how do we rid ourselves of these unnatural systems, but
instead, how radical are we willing to be? Taoist teaching emphasizes that if we understand
the spontaneous function and unfolding of the universe (Tao), then we will not fight
this process; if we live effortlessly, with wu-wei, the natural harmony of the cosmos
will prevail. We cannot eradicate the established governmental
apparatus by governing more. This was one of the major differences between
Confucianism and Taoism: Confucian ideology built a strict system whereby one should govern
one’s life both within and without in accord with its philosophy. Lao-tzu, on the other hand, would have deemed
this perspective absurd, because the fundamental aspects of any external form of governance—control,
force, and a search for power—actually put one out of sync with the natural harmony of
the universe. As a result, we feel as if we do not belong
here. To govern is to control, and control is built
from the experiences of the past and a plan for the future. Nature in all its glory is locked out, which
is why a different system of government cannot be the way out for us. If we can be sincere in living wu-wei, we
will allow the course of Tao to run its path back into harmony through our own nonaction
in regard to the dilemma at hand. Revolutions and protests do not change anything,
because they are still reacting out of human conditioning and seeking to control life. To govern is to control, to control is to
destroy life, and this is what needs to be reversed through the way of nature and wu-wei. Human beings have the intelligence to comprehend
the nature of wu-wei. Yet many people do not have the knowledge
of wu-wei naturally, through their experience, unlike all other organisms, which would seem
to jeopardize our claim to being the most intelligent species on this planet. To seek refuge from these unnatural systems,
we need to understand nature itself. The organic pattern of the individual (li)
is our innate nature driven by te, virtue. Nature, then, has no relationship to force,
control, or power. The order and pattern of nature is not a forced
order, as nature is not bound by external influence or control. The Taoist term for nature is the Chinese
tzu-jan, which means that which is spontaneously of itself. When a natural organism is in harmony with
all life, it grows of itself spontaneously. Tzu-jan can only arise of itself without external
compulsion. Tzu-jan is the essence of the yoking process
found within the spiritual core of many religions, and especially in the origins of Chinese and
Indian wisdom. When we withdraw from our conditioned perception
of reality, we come back into nature and grow spontaneously in harmony with all other components
of life. What would happen if we let go of control? When we leave the animal, plant, and mineral
kingdoms alone, they continue to grow and prosper without any interference. What would happen, then, if we left people
alone? From the perspective of traditional Taoism,
if we left people alone to follow their own passions and interests, harmony would prevail
within community, no matter how large or small. If there were no interference from the external
world, people would follow their natures, because passive obedience would no longer
be a way of life. We would no longer feel the need to obey unnatural
organizational patterns, because in following our own nature we would begin to harmonize
with other people and the environment. When we leave life alone, Tao runs its natural
course, and all aspects of life come into order without seeking order. Superficially, this perspective may be incorrectly
perceived as “anarchy.” But there is a major difference: anarchists’
motives are driven by what they oppose. On the other hand, the sages who understand
tzujan just follow their own nature without any concern for institutional or organizational
power, because they are content to let such things run their course. An anarchist is still distracted by external
influences. So if the world is thrown into anarchy, then
the motive destroys the project. Nature is as it is and can have no motive,
nor is it a project to embark upon. Tao can never be induced, as its principle
happens spontaneously of itself—tzu-jan. Anarchy is an attempt to induce Tao so as
to bring about a real order through an intellectual, artificial decision to abandon the ways of
society. Though anarchy in some sense is a step in
the right direction, it is not a suitable method for liberating the world, because it
cannot avoid having an agenda. The Russian evolutionary theorist Peter Kropotkin
understood this subtle difference between anarchy and tzu-jan. Kropotkin postulated that if we were to leave
people alone to follow their own nature, a real social order and true government would
emerge out of the current system. His theory is almost a carbon copy of the
Taoist tzu-jan; its depth is equal to the thought of a sage. Yet his political theory was called anarchism
(labeled Kropotkin’s Anarchy) so that many people could conveniently put it in a superficial
context and believe they understood it. As radical as Kropotkin’s theory may appear,
it is this trust in people’s nature that will bring about a true, harmonious government
out of the ashes of a dying culture. This is in alignment with Lao-tzu’s wisdom. The true government, according to the Taoist
perspective, is the communal power that we attain when we trust one another sincerely
to live our own lives without interference. This is the te of the collective, or we could
say social virtue, because true government is only realized when we have given up the
power to govern. In giving away our power, we gain the sort
of power that we truly want, which is beyond control. In the same way that we give our power of
virtue away to get a real virtue beyond virtue, we give our power to govern away in order
to get a real government beyond government. Life is governed when we leave the world alone
to be what it will be. This is the paradox of life, although it confuses
our linear, logical view. In the classical Taoist text left behind by
Chuang-tzu, known simply as the Chuang-Tzu, he profoundly articulates this teaching: “I
have heard of letting the world be, of leaving it alone; I have never heard of governing
the world. You let it be for fear of corrupting the inborn
nature of the world; you leave it alone for fear of distracting the Virtue of the world. If the nature of the world is not corrupted,
if the Virtue of the world is not distracted, why should there be any governing of the world? Long ago, when the sage Yao governed the world,
he made the world bright and gleeful; men delighted in their nature, and there was no
calmness anywhere. When the tyrant Chieh governed the world,
he made the world weary and vexed; men found bitterness in their nature and there was no
contentment anywhere. To lack calmness, to lack contentment is to
go against Virtue, and there has never been anyone in the world who could go against Virtue
and survive for long.” In going against our nature, tzu-jan, we not
only destroy ourselves but we also contribute to the annihilation of the human race. The government we have created out of our
insecurity and irresponsibility has to come to an end, or we as a species will succumb
to the fate that all parasites experience. The big question we need to ask is, how do
we take steps to sincerely trust others and let them live life as they choose? If we can leave people alone, then the world
will naturally heal its wounds and begin to grow in harmony with the Tao. But none of this is possible if we have not
confirmed the reality of tzu-jan within our own being. Even though the wisdom of wu-wei and tzu-jan
have existed since the time of Lao-tzu, there has always been only a small minority who
are sincere in bringing peace into their hearts and the hearts of others. Most humans, on the other hand, resemble a
leader of a nation who parades around proclaiming peace through forcing war upon the world. Such insanity exists because individuals’
versions of peace are built on their own agendas and attuned to their conditioning, which is
incorrectly identified as pleasure. Many people will not admit this, because they
are still identified with the seals and veils of conditioning. In such a state, we are like a tree that is
continually pruned to grow straight and rigid. But our nature can never be straight and rigid,
because we are eternally connected to the Tao, which is beyond name and form. Even the hypnotic feeling of straightness
and rigidity arises out of the Tao, although temporarily, like a wave in an ocean. We can only leave people alone to live their
own lives if we are sincere in our own introspection and willing to discard the conditioning that
clouds our unity with our brothers and sisters. When we are sincerely humble and free from
agendas, we nourish and secretly transform the world—again, through not seeking to
transform it. A sage has no agenda, and this brings spiritual
oxygen into the world. We all have undergone various sorts of conditioning
and we all have the same physical and emotional states, so we can sympathize with the rest
of the world, which suffers as a result of the same hypnosis as ours. On the other hand, if we are all inherently
the same, we also possess the same qualities that a sage lives by. The I Ching demonstrates through a complex
system of sixty-four hexagrams how a small piece of the puzzle can transform the whole
system when that small piece allows for change, which puts it back in accord with the Tao. This is to be thought of psychologically. The change in the small piece wears away the
edges of its rigid hardness and softens its nature, which is a metaphor for a human allowing
the ever-changing universe to soften his rigid conditioning into humility. When this process takes place, tzu-jan, nature,
and virtue, te, bring the light of Heaven, tian in Chinese, into the world through the
uniqueness of an individual’s li, organic pattern. The I Ching incorporates Taoist principles
to intellectually and spiritually verify the reality that a single drop of water in an
ocean causes a ripple effect, especially when that droplet is purely reflective and transparent. Tzu-jan is a predominant principle in the
I Ching. For example, when a small piece begins to
grow spontaneously of itself, it will have an effect on the whole system, which in time
will compel the whole to follow suit. All of Taoism is built upon this concept of
natural growth, which brings one into accord with the Tao and as a result affects the whole. In observing nature, sages such as Lao-tzu
discovered that every organic system grows out of another system whose current state
no longer serves its position in life. This is the natural process of growth, death,
and rebirth. The organic world does not discard the old
but instead grows slowly out of the old into a new state. The organic world builds upon old, because
everything in life serves its purpose. Anarchism does not follow this pattern: its
method is to oppose the status quo with its own agenda for bringing order to the world. Contrary to this method is the Way of Lao-tzu,
which follows the reality of the natural world. Tzu-jan is exactly the way nature is, and
human beings are that as well. When we have retreated from external compulsion,
we grow spontaneously as nature does and in turn we affect the whole. We are slowly growing out of civilization
in its current state, even though the majority of people are not conscious of this change. The paradox here is that if we continue to
fight our current system, no natural change can happen, as we still do not trust in the
situation at hand. For organic life to grow out of the old and
into the new, it has to accept the conditions it has been dealt and begin to resonate on
a higher level in order to build upon the lower. Our current social and cultural systems have
served their purpose. Nevertheless, they are no longer needed, as
our lessons have been learned. Problems arise in the growth of our species
when we believe that the past was a mistake. This again reveals a hypnotic sense of not
belonging. Real trust acknowledges that everything we
have gone through, both individually and collectively, is exactly how it was supposed to be. No matter how much senseless bloodshed has
occurred on this planet, it has gotten us to where we are now and could have been no
other way, because where we are now is exactly where we need to be. Life is always fundamentally right, but we
have to get out of concepts of good and bad to realize this. We have to have an inclusive view of reality
rather than the exclusive view we are accustomed to. Tzu-jan can only come to fruition when we
trust that everything the universe has produced is fundamentally right and could be no other
way. The systems of government, politics, banking,
religion, and commerce are unnatural, but they have gotten us to a certain point, and
we have learned many lessons from them. It is just that they are no longer needed. The true government of the real world will
grow out of the sickness of the old to heal the world from its hypnosis. If we cannot trust the world and the people
in it, we stand no chance for survival, because a species at war with itself is doomed. You, the individual, can begin the process,
but it really depends on how sincere your trust is. People often say that they trust the universe,
but then they consistently condemn life according to their conditioned perspectives. If we are to assimilate wu-wei, we need to
be radical enough to let life go its own way. This will allow us to be seeds of growth,
which will change the world without our intention to do so. The Tao can only make use of you when you
are empty of all that blocks a union between yourself and the universe. The unity we seek is not an intellectual understanding,
but instead it is a sense of unity. Yet unity, and a sense of unity, exist only
in a liberated mind, which is the authentic contribution that one can make to the possibility
of a unified humanity. The root and essence of both consciousness
and the universe is that everything is connected and ultimately one. The universe in its awe-inspiring totality
produces consciousness, and consciousness evokes the universe. Both are inseparable and paradoxically the
same. The big picture and the small picture are
one. A sage knows this intrinsically, because the
mind, when emptied of all its hypnosis, begins to replicate the eternal space of the universe,
showing that the foundation of consciousness is space. Yet this should not be misunderstood. The essence of consciousness is not a blank
state, as many spiritual seekers believe. On the contrary, while consciousness is exactly
like space in emptiness and vastness, it is also like space in that it contains the whole
universe. Consciousness, like space, is always open
to new experiences and change. The liberated mind functions in this way,
leading to trust. In the same way that consciousness evokes
the universe, so does trust evoke a sense of oneness in the individual. The truth and reality of the universe and
consciousness are one, but trust is where the oneness is realized within our being. When you trust the universe, you become one
with it. Wu-wei dawns upon the individual in the same
way, because when we let go of control, we gain the indescribable power and virtue of
Tao. This relation of trust and oneness is the
principle of living wu-wei. When you are humble enough to leave things
alone, you begin to feel a sense of unity intuitively. Lao-tzu’s words in the Tao Te Ching reveal
this trust for the individual whose inner ear is attuned to the rhythmic silence of
the Tao. The wisdom of Lao-tzu was not to intellectualize
oneness, but instead to feel it and know it. Organized religions teach the individual about
the unity of life only intellectually, because any dogma is in its essence separate and isolated. So the teachings of these religions reflect
this isolation, as they assume that we are separate from God. Nevertheless, the core principle of all religions
is to find God within yourself. This was the template of the philosophia perennis
(perennial philosophy). The saints and sages of our past explained
that in finding God within, you understand how oneness is the only reality. Thus the Latin religare (the root of the word
religion) and the Sanskrit yuj (the root of the word yoga) are both words that describe
the union with God that can only be found within. Yet this does not mean withdrawing from the
external world, because this unity within us is what brings unity to the world. The spirit of one’s unique li brings harmony
to the entire world as the tool, so to speak, of the indescribable Tao. Once our conditioning is out of the way of
Tao, the peace residing deep within us knows nothing other than trust, because that is
the acknowledgment of unity. It is the feeling of oneness that we really
seek—a feeling of oneness within ourselves that is never disturbed by the fluctuations
of life in the outside world. When we are disturbed, we lose sight of our
innate love. We never truly love the world in this way,
because we condemn it on the basis of our own conditioning. The only way to truly love the world is to
trust it with a trust that cannot be moved by the deluded mind. Trust is the validation that the universe
is one and that you do belong. We have built doctrine after doctrine in trying
to explain the universe and our relationship to it. But these attempts are intellectual pursuits
rather than a direct experience of unity. In our overemphasis on the intellect, we have
lost sight of the beauty of life, which stands beyond reason. Religion attempts to intellectualize God,
philosophy attempts to intellectualize the universe, psychology attempts to intellectualize
the mind, and with all this we destroy the world in trying to give it meaning for our
puny intellects. God, universe, and mind are all conceptual. Yet they are referring to the transcendent,
that which is beyond time and space (although it includes time and space). The problem in our world is that we get stuck
to the intellectual meaning. From this we build our idea of the world,
which exists only in the realm of names and form. This state of perception discounts the inner
world; as a result, our planet is in a constant war among peoples of supposedly different
nations, religions, races, and genders. These catastrophic results stem from the fact
that our explanations always come from a separatist point of view. How could we explain such things as God, the
universe, or the mind from a conditioned perspective? We are constantly attempting to measure the
immeasurable. It is impossible to explain categorically
why trust opens the feeling of oneness within. Being the mere humans that we are, there are
just some things that we can never explain, and this is precisely the point of self-realization. We can’t intellectually explain why trust
is the way of unity, but we can confirm this in our own experience. If we were sincere in living wu-wei, we would
understand the truth of unity through our trust in life taking its own course. It is impossible to explain the Tao, trust,
and oneness in Taoist wisdom. It is very much like the Buddhist doctrine
of the Four Invisibles. Alan Watts states in The Way of Zen: “The
Buddhist doctrine of the ‘Four Invisibles’ is that the Void (sunya) is to a Buddha as
water to a fish, air to a man, and the nature of things to the deluded—beyond conception. It should be obvious that what we are, most
substantially and fundamentally, will never be a distinct object of knowledge. Whatever we can know—life and death, light
and darkness, solid and empty—will be the relative aspects of something as inconceivable
as the color of space. Awakening is not to know what this reality
is.” Intellectually knowing about trust and oneness
misses the essence of the experience, because these two are both dissected as relative aspects
of an absolute reality. The union with the Tao is only known as a
living reality when the so-called relative aspects have dissolved into their original
oneness. The sense of unity that we seek to discover
can never be something that we could theorize or speculate upon. As I have mentioned, the very use of language
itself is isolated to the field of duality, so all the investigations of religion, philosophy,
and science are futile if they ignore consciousness in giving preference to intellectual study. The Eastern wisdom traditions, especially
Taoism and Zen Buddhism, seek to eradicate any such intellectual debate or speculation,
because they know that a trust in self and life leads to the unexplainable peace of oneness. A Chinese Zen master of the ninth century
CE, Tung-shan Shou-ch’u, was once asked, “What is the Buddha?” and he spontaneously
answered, “Three pounds of flax.” Many philosophical debates have been hatched
about the meaning of this reply but fall short of the mark. From the Zen perspective, Tung-shan was bringing
the questioner into the reality of the now moment. The irrational answer of “three pounds of
flax” extinguishes any idea of intellectual theorizing and speculation, which is the sole
purpose of any great Zen koan. A koan is a story, dialogue, statement, and
ultimately a riddle, which is used in Zen practice to provoke great doubt in the student’s
mind as a way of testing his progress. One of the oldest koans can be found in the
Chuang-tzu text, and this is why some scholars believe Zen Buddhism is a tradition built
in part on Chuang-tzu’s wisdom. In this passage he uses complete nonsense
to puzzle our intellectual faculties so that we stand back in awe and are brought back
to the ground of the irrational impartiality of life: “There is a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet
beginning to be a beginning. There is being. There is nonbeing. There is a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet
beginning to be nonbeing. Suddenly there is nonbeing.” Wow! Trying to make sense of such a passage is
impossible—and that’s precisely the point. Actually, Chuang-tzu is using humor in this
passage, because even in his day people tried to use logic to understand the meaning of
the universe and our existence, only to arrive at erroneous conclusions. Koans are famously employed by Zen masters
to throw disciples back into the present moment, where process has no beginning or end because
thinking has completely succumbed to the irrational. One such encounter with a koan is described
in a story in which a disciple was summoned to the Zen master’s home. The master told the disciple that he wanted
an exhibition of Zen tomorrow. Leaving the master’s quarters, the disciple
was confused about how he could put together such an exhibition. That whole night he tossed and turned in bed,
anxious about how to please the master. The next day, on the way to the master’s
home, the disciple was still fretting about the problem when he saw a frog that is unique
to Japan. “Aha!” he thought, and he took the frog
to the master’s house. When he arrived, the master asked, “So can
you exhibit Zen to me?” In reply, the disciple showed him the frog. The master gave a slight smirk and said, “No,
too intellectual.” In other words, his exhibition was too contrived,
too well thought out. The very thinking about it thwarted the project. To answer the master somewhat authentically
in this regard requires no thinking, as Zen is the natural spontaneity of the universe
in the eternal now. So to exhibit Zen is not to worry about it,
because Zen is life. When we try to give a logical, intellectual
explanation to such a reality as trust, we lose sight of its significance in our own
experience. Many masters past and present, such as Tung-shan
Shou-ch’u and Chuang-tzu, have had no time for philosophical debate about the reality
of Tao. They would rather give you a direct experience
of it so you can taste it for yourself. When we step outside of all the learning we
cling to, we come back into that sense of unity. It is the individual’s choice whether or
not to live wu-wei, as this depends on no external source. To retreat from external compulsion is a gesture
in favor of trust, because no outside source of learning can take away your innate connection
to the universe. The peace that resides in the unity of trust
allows the individual to harmonize with the world. This not only brings the light of Tao into
the world but also guides and helps the individual along their journey through life. When we trust, the universe answers us through
the resonance of our experience. The feeling of oneness brings the individual
back into accord with the function of the universe, like a child nourished by its mother’s
bosom. When we trust completely, our physical, mental,
and spiritual planes of consciousness harmonize with the heartbeat of the Earth. When we have cleared the passage for Tao to
function through us with its natural velocity, the rhythms of our bodily functions and vibrations
of our mental states move as an extension of the Earth. A perfect example of this complete trust and
harmony with the planet is the Kon-Tiki expedition of Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor
Heyerdahl in 1947. In this amazing story Heyerdahl and his crew
drifted on a balsa-wood raft from Peru out into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. From a logical perspective, this attempt to
just drift into the vastness of the Pacific would appear suicidal. But somehow, in true Taoist wisdom, Heyerdahl
had a trust that his own organism and the ecosystem of the Pacific would harmonize together
as one if they were given the time to do so. Without exercising the use of force, Heyerdahl’s
trust that he and the ocean were a unified system allowed the power of te to manifest. As he and his crew drifted into the unknown,
the balsa wood of the raft began to swell up and bind the logs together more securely,
which gave their raft the durability to take on the tough conditions of the Pacific Ocean. The issue of food was another obstacle to
overcome. Yet astonishingly, as a result of their complete
trust, flying fish were on their deck every morning. Rejecting the fear of the unknown, Heyerdahl
and his crew began to replicate the intelligence of dolphins, because they were in perfect
harmony with the course of nature by following the path of least resistance. The trust in following the path of least resistance
is the power of te, which is a reflection of how the power of lightning follows the
path of least resistance and also of how the Tao works through an empty mind. A full mind is resistant. In the Kon-Tiki adventure, Heyerdahl’s trust
was answered by what we would deem miraculous events. Yet from the wisdom of sages like Lao-tzu,
these events would make perfect sense, because our organism is an intrinsic part of nature. Astonishingly, as Heyerdahl continued to follow
the ocean’s natural rhythms, he and his crew drifted 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles)
from Peru all the way to the distant islands of the Tuamotus of French Polynesia in the
South Pacific. Heyerdahl’s trust made him an aperture through
which the universe could express its nature. His trust, though it may appear extreme, was
the feeling of unity he had within by living wu-wei sincerely. In denying the use of force, Heyerdahl demonstrates
how the power of te can change the world without any intention of doing so. When we oppose our own experience and try
to control life, we develop an unnecessary anxiety within ourselves, because we fear
the uncertainty of the future. We attempt to dictate to the future through
our plans, and though these plans may be good in theory, they are in reality phantoms and
distractions from the unity that can be found in trust. Thor Heyerdahl is an example of what each
and every one of us can live by if we are radical enough to throw off our fears of the
past and future and instead live completely in the here and now. Our intentions to change the world are the
result of humanity separating itself from the here and now. But it is only when we can be completely present
in the here and now that we will know what is best for the future. Trust and unity arise in the crystalline clarity
of stillness. Our movement out of this state tends to make
us suspicious of the world. As a result, we fall into the average state
of mind, which is constantly rearranging the pieces of the puzzle to try and somehow make
sense of the world according to its conditioning. All of our intentions to change the world
are fundamentally flawed, because the very intention to change the world implies that
we do not trust the world. The unnatural systems of government and politics
are built on this lack of trust. Their primary intention is to change the world
according to their agenda. Government and politics are erroneously thought
of as instruments to bring unity to the world, but the very essence of both is designed on
the premise of a world divided. Anarchy and revolution are also flawed, because
they arise from the idea of opposing the status quo with yet another agenda of changing the
world. This perception of the world, which we have
all adopted, is a step in the wrong direction. We believe that we need to work toward unity,
yet our intentions are plagued by ours and others’ conditioned isolation. How could we work toward a unity that is already
innate in our nature? The unity we seek is already there, but it
is only revealed when we trust the world. Changing the world in the hope of discovering
unity is like a knife trying to cut itself. How can we search for something that is already
there? Unity can only come from trust. Thor Heyerdahl had no intention to reach any
particular destination; thus he reached where he was meant to go with no forethought or
preplanning. His trust was his strength, and the guidance
that led him on his journey was his union with the universe responding to his basic
needs. In any attempt to change the world, we destroy
the world, because the very intention to change something is built on the illusion of separation. Organized religion is a good example of this
process, because many religions make people feel separate from God. In feeling separate from God, we are taught
that we should pray. But the very act of prayer is, to a degree,
a lack of trust in God. When we pray, no matter how morally elevated
our prayers may be, we are trying to force God’s hand in order to satisfy our conditioning
and pleasures (unless the prayer is in selfless gratitude to the All). We arrogantly try to deny the destiny that
is mapped out for us through praying that nothing unpleasant happens to us. To force God to your will in prayer is to
lack trust in God. We are trying to change the world’s circumstances
according to our own beliefs and preferences. We will never experience the harmony with
all life that Thor Heyerdahl felt if we continue to exhibit a lack of trust in any part of
life. Trust and oneness are verified when we completely
let go of ourselves and let the Way of the Tao guide our life. But this guidance can never come if you are
anxious to change the world or force God’s hand. Our intentions for life and ourselves are
the very motive that distorts the future. Attempting to force God’s hand with prayer
is the same as trying to change the world, because both acts destroy the world. But the world destroyed in the act of praying
is the world within yourself, as you incorrectly assume that you are alien to this universe. Trust and unity come to those who do not experience
the world with the filters of conditioning in their minds. Peace on Earth can prevail if we can individually
follow our own paths in life with no resistance to the unfoldment of the Tao, which will surely
soften our hearts. It is when we force our lives to be a certain
way that we are blind to where the Tao is guiding us. The language of the Tao can only be known
when all operations of force have ceased within the psyche. The true power of te, virtue, comes into its
own when control and force have ceased within our minds. The trust that abides within us, though it
is often veiled by our conditioning, is what will allow the naturalness of the Tao to unfold
on our planet. The heart of Eastern wisdom teaches you to
be naturally in the world without rejecting it. Many spiritual paths condemn and judge the
world, as if they were enabling one to move beyond desires. But many fail to realize that they are desiring
not to desire (a point that the Buddha understood). Lao-tzu saw all these pursuits of desiring
not to desire as nothing more than spiritual pride and a moving away from our human nature. The Taoist perspective is to leave no stone
unturned in an embrace of life and yourself, as exemplified by Chuang-tzu. He dived headfirst into life, bringing his
internal harmony into the world and time in which he lived. In the introduction to The Complete Works
of Chuang Tzu Burton Watson states: “In Chuang Tzu’s view, the man who has freed himself
from conventional standards of judgment can no longer be made to suffer, for he refuses
to recognize poverty as any less desirable then affluence, to recognize death as any
less desirable than life. He does not in any literal sense withdraw
and hide from the world—to do so would show that he still passed judgment upon the world. He remains within society but refrains from
acting out of the motives that lead ordinary men to struggle for wealth, fame, success,
or safety. He maintains a state that Chuang Tzu refers
to as wu-wei, or inaction, meaning by this term not a forced quietude, but a course of
action that is not founded upon any purposeful motives of gain or striving. In such a state, all human actions become
as spontaneous and mindless as those of the natural world. Man becomes one with Nature, or Heaven, as
Chuang Tzu calls it, and merges himself with Tao, or the Way, the underlying unity that
embraces man, Nature, and all that is in the universe. To describe this mindless, purposeless mode
of life, Chuang Tzu turns most often to the analogy of the artist or craftsman. The skilled woodcarver, the skilled butcher,
the skilled swimmer does not ponder or ratiocinate on the course of action he should take; his
skill has become so much a part of him that he merely acts instinctively and spontaneously
and, without knowing why, achieves success. Again, Chuang Tzu employs the metaphor of
a totally free and purposeless journey, using the word yu (“to wander” or “a wandering”)
to designate the way in which the enlightened man wanders through all of creation, enjoying
its delights without ever becoming attached to any one part of it.” Chuang-tzu never once condemned the world. Instead he used his insightfully witty humor
to shine a light on wu-wei, which the world has unceremoniously put away in the closet. The Way of Lao-tzu has nothing to do with
transcending desires, as this would be spiritual pride. But he is also not saying one should become
lazy or sloppy and succumb to desires. What Lao-tzu is saying is that when we inquire
not only into our own nature but also into the nature of the world, we will come into
contact with the nature of the human heart, which is the nature of the universe, and that
is love. This love that is hidden within the heart
of Lao-tzu’s Taoism is not a love that one discovers and keeps for oneself. It is a love that is shared because, in the
Taoist philosophy of li, this love, which transcends any boundary, will bring harmony
to the world piece by piece, or perhaps I should say “peace by peace.” The Way of Tao that an individual experiences
brings this love into the world, and it inspires others, no matter how rigid their beliefs. This love, which all spiritual paths contend
is the fruit of an enlightened soul, is not attainable if we do not accept ourselves and
the world and gain a total comprehension of our inner and outer worlds. The complete scope of Lao-tzu’s Taoism is
hard to fathom, as each individual is unique. But we do know that it is one of the only
spiritual paths that has no set doctrine, dogma, or formulas, and this gives it the
lucidity to reach every aspect of our consciousness. Laotzu’s Taoism acknowledges the shadow,
especially in the sense that one discovers one’s intrinsic relationship to others and
the world with no preconceived idea of how they should be, which allows for a great deal
of transformation to occur and take us through our repressed pain. One of the primary purposes of the I Ching
is to understand the total picture of our psychology, which is why Jung was so attracted
by it. When we have worked sincerely within ourselves
and made conscious and accepted everything about ourselves, then we have truly become
human and are able to sympathize with the pain of others through our humble hearts. Anything other than a true humble heart, in
the eyes of Lao-tzu, would be catastrophic to the world. No relationship to another or to the world
can be developed if we still own a personal agenda and have not embraced our pain. Living wu-wei is the medicine for our ills
in this world. Trusting and accepting ourselves and others
is the remedy for building healthy, harmonious relationships, not only with one another,
but also with the natural environment. An agendaless individual, working through
the spiritual barriers within her own being, brings the wisdom of Tao into the world. In knowing ourselves, we can relate to other
people and feel our integral connection not only to nature but also to the entire universe. Any relationship we have with an individual,
nature, or the cosmos can only be genuine and harmonious if we trust their intrinsic
nature. Those who live wu-wei understand this best,
because allowing life to be as it will brings equilibrium to the world, as one reflects
the untouched purity, stillness, and aliveness of nature. Only when you understand that your real nature
is wu-wei will you be able to have a relationship not only with yourself but with the entire
universe in all of its glory. Our greatest relationship becomes a reality
when we live wu-wei. This greatest of the great relationships is
with the Tao, the Way of nature, which is our nature, Atman, which is Brahman. When we live wu-wei, we become aware of, and
experience, ourselves in relation to the Way. No form of scientific study or speculation
can ever calculate this reality, yet we know it is real, because we live it and feel it. Living it is being in harmony with that greatest
of all relationships. This Way of nature is experienced by living
wu-wei, as wu-wei is the essence of the universe. In the world that we live in now, with ecological
destruction for the sake of material possessions and with the divisions among humanity, a return
to our wu-wei nature is imperative, or we will face the dire consequences of our ignorant
actions. The way we commonly act toward each other
and the planet is staggering evidence that we at this moment in time function as nothing
more than machines that are hell-bent on destroying anything that conflicts with our greed and
yearning for power. This state of deep sleep keeps us in our own
private worlds, because we believe that we are constantly in a mode of survival against
everything else. This belief unknowingly binds us to the animal
kingdom, but if we can let go of this fear, we can finally become human. The systems we have built perpetuate this
isolation. Many religions, for example, eliminate God
from the world because a God that is known to be universal, both within and without,
conflicts with a lot of religious doctrines, which are built on a kind of political view
of the universe, in which God is a king or lord, making people easy to control. This is truly a hypnotic view of reality,
because everything in this world, including human beings, is part of nature, so how could
God be excluded from anything? We have not even mentioned our relationship
to planetary and universal forces that affect our minds, which is the essence of astrology. How could cosmic forces play a part in the
consciousness of this planet unless these forces are part of God? The limitations of religion, science, and
philosophy are destroying our minds, because anything built with boundaries, although it
may work within those boundaries, in actual fact has nothing to do with the essence of
an eternal God. Bringing back into the awareness that God
is both within us and in nature was at the heart of Lao-tzu’s Taoism. Working with nature instead of going against
it aligns us with the Tao, which allows this higher state of consciousness to produce conditions
whereby others will also realize the Tao through their own nature. The English mystical philosopher and writer
Aldous Huxley expresses this in his book The Perennial Philosophy, where he beautifully
explains our ignorance of God in the world through a story from the Chuang-tzu text:
“The doctrine that God is in the world has an important practical corollary—the sacredness
of Nature, and the sinfulness and folly of man’s overweening efforts to be her master
rather than her intelligently docile collaborator. Sub-human lives and even things are to be
treated with respect and understanding, not brutally oppressed to serve our human ends. ‘The ruler of the Southern Ocean was Shu,
the ruler of the Northern Ocean was Hu, and the ruler of the Centre was Chaos. Shu and Hu were continually meeting in the
land of Chaos, who treated them very well. They consulted together how they might repay
his kindness, and said: “Men all have seven orifices for the purpose of seeing, hearing,
eating and breathing, while this ruler alone has not a single one. Let us try to make them for him.” Accordingly they dug one orifice in him every
day. At the end of seven days Chaos died.’—Chuang
Tzu In this delicately comic parable Chaos is Nature in the state of wu-wei—non-assertion
or equilibrium. Shu and Hu are the living images of those
busy persons who thought they would improve on Nature by turning dry prairies into wheat
fields, and produced deserts; who proudly proclaimed the Conquest of the Air, and then
discovered that they had defeated civilization; who chopped down vast forests to provide the
newsprint demanded by that universal literacy which was to make the world safe for intelligence
and democracy, and got wholesale erosion, pulp magazines and the organs of Fascist,
Communist, capitalist and nationalist propaganda. In brief, Shu and Hu are devotees of the apocalyptic
religion of Inevitable Progress, and their creed is that the Kingdom of Heaven is outside
you, and in the future. Chuang Tzu, on the other hand, like all good
Taoists, has no desire to bully Nature into subserving ill-considered temporal ends, at
variance with the final end of men as formulated in the Perennial Philosophy. His wish is to work with Nature, so as to
produce material and social conditions in which individuals may realize Tao on every
level from the psychological up to the spiritual. Compared with that of the Taoists and Far
Eastern Buddhists, the Christian attitude towards Nature has been curiously insensitive
and often downright domineering and violent. Taking their cue from an unfortunate remark
in Genesis, Catholic moralists have regarded animals as mere things which men do right
to exploit for their own ends. Like landscape painting, the humanitarian
movement in Europe was an almost completely secular affair. In the Far East both were essentially religious.” If we can move beyond dogmas and work with
nature, then the right social conditions for everybody to realize Tao will appear. Ironically, the social morality for which
Confucius yearned can only be achieved in not trying to achieve it. Social morality depends on trust and the sincere
spiritual work the individual undergoes within. No dogma can set the individual, or humanity,
free, because all are built on methods to induce Tao, which are methods of force. Thus if we can be radical enough to live wu-wei,
the right social and cultural conditions will emerge that will enable people to realize
the Tao, and this will change our world through not striving for change. The act of trying to force change hinders
change. Following your own nature is the subtle act
of change. It is also the way that love transcends the
personal and moves into the universal. Our love has to exceed our boundaries to include
not only our neighbors but also our enemies and the community of animals, plants, and
minerals. Working with nature instead of against it
is a reflection of wu-wei. Living wu-wei is thought of as one of the
most difficult and, at the same time, sublime forms of spirituality that exists. Yet no matter how hard it appears to let go
and trust, nothing will reveal your nature, li, more than the Tao of wu-wei. Discovering our li in turn has the power of
te to inspire the world, as this is what truly brings harmony to life, Heaven to Earth. Spiritual isolation is necessary to get to
the deepest part of your being. But when your nature is revealed in this introspection,
you naturally want to harmonize with the world, which corresponds to the Taoist principle
of ying, mutual resonance. Li moves us out of isolation and into universal
harmony, in the same way that the mystical guru of the East leaves the isolation of the
cave to go back into the world. But this time the guru is you and the love
you share is the love you are. The world as we know it can be anything it
chooses to be, but if you do not trust the world, then the world will remain as it is. Such is the paradox of unity and our nature,
wu-wei.

19 thoughts on “The Art of Effortless Living (Taoist Documentary)

  1. Thanks for this great documentary Jason! Amazing to see how all religious traditions Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism have the same essence. The core of spiritual practice is non-duality; Tat Tvam Asi!

  2. Thank you Jason πŸ˜€
    I'm going to include your video link with an email group.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/CASS.Inner.Cosmos/permalink/1723967527737216/

  3. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to lament the past or foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time. (not my quote :))

  4. This is an exceptional message for all who are serious and dedicated to assisting others in discovering, finding and most important accepting their natural true natures.

  5. Excellent documentary. Wisdom to living life effortlessly. Just allow and be. Unity and Oneness. I will listen to this several times. Thank you Jason. This is magnificent.

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