Water and the Tao: Why Water is Like God
by James Khan
This section explores why Water is considered a symbol or a pointer to the Tao (or Spirit/God).
Like emptiness, water goes by largely unnoticed, but without water, life would not exist. Just as life would not exist without the Tao.
Just as we can not see the emptiness, we can not see the Tao (or God), but could water point us to the Tao?. Thats is could water lead us towards God?
In Taoist traditions, water is said to point us to the Way.
Here we look at what it points to, give some pointers on your way, and give some insights to help wake up the awareness that is reading these words, but is kept asleep by the mind – your mind.
The Tao Teh Ching (The Way and its Power) is a simple book attributed to the old sage Lao Tzu.
It manages to encapsulate the essence of the ancient Taoist system that has been followed in China for over 5,000 years in just a few pages.
It explains the nature of life and existence; the nature of the Infinite; the opposing forces of good and evil, positive and negative and much more.
Lao Tzu explains this by using carefully selected images and symbols from the natural world.
Water was one of Lao Tzu’s favorite images and water is the quintessential symbol of the Tao in philosophy, art and science.
There was something formless yet complete
That existed before heaven and earth;
Without sound, without substance,
Dependent on nothing, unchanging,
All pervading, unfailing.
One may think of it as the mother
Of all things under heaven.
Its true name I do not know;
‘Tao’ is the nickname I give it
In this passage from the Tao Te Ching, notice how each description can be applied so accurately to water. That is why water is such an important symbol:
Water alone is like all of these things.
Our bodies are mostly water, yet we rarely think about water; it’s as if we don’t see it.
99% of the molecules in our body are water molecules. We’ll talk about the bones, muscles, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, enzymes, minerals and other nutrients – yet all these compose only a tiny fraction of our body.
Water is around 75% of our body – we are effectively walking blobs of water! A 5% drop in body fluids will cause a 25 to 30% loss of energy in most people, a 15% drop will cause death.
The Tao is like that; we miss it completely and focus on objects, on illusions; we focus so much on noise that we miss the silence.
We miss the real because we are so focused on the shadow.
The degree of softness in our body is related to the water content. A baby in the womb is 95% water, the dead are some 50% water. An absence of water (or the Tao) is dryness, the way of death.
When he is born, man is soft and weak;
In death, he becomes stiff and hard.
The ten thousand creatures and all plants and trees
Are supple and soft in life,
But brittle and dry in death.
Truly, to be stiff and hard is the way of death;
To be soft and supple is the way of life.
Hardness comes from the mind, and the emotions generated by the mind. From this you get the dogmas, and the belief systems that we are plagued with; the need to be right; the ego; the arguments; the labels for other rigid opinions that your mind doesn’t agree with; the hatred, the violence; and all the rest of the problems that humanity is burdened with.
Softness comes from the absence of the mind, from the inner perception, the connection to the Tao. It comes when you make an energetic connection to the Chi, the life force that animates all things. It is being connected to the inner femininity, the soft, yielding inner self behind the hard exterior.
The most important visible facet of water is its softness and its reflection.
It’s as if through Water, mother nature is telling you that all you see around you is a mirrored reflection; telling you to be soft and yielding.
If you become soft, if you yield then you will prevail against all things in the same way that water pervails against all things.
These are images made by water clusters taken by Dr Emoto. The water in each case was subjected to different sounds, thoughts, music or environment. It was crystallized, and the photographs taken.
While visiting the US, Dr Emoto was introduced to ionized micro-clustered water. He was fascinated with the concept of their being ‘Water Clusters’.
What would they look like?
Each snowflake is unique, what could account for this, what could be the source of this uniqueness?
Could there be something, a message hidden by nature in water clusters?
Being religiously inclined, Dr Emoto felt that he was led to the discovery of a mystery to life – could water reflect the environment that it is in?
Dr Emoto’s pictures are the first tentative evidence that water reflects not only light, but also your inner thoughts, attitudes and emotions. Water responds to (reflects) thoughts, musical vibrations and more.
Dr Emoto has had a number of critics from some scientists that can’t except truth when it is placed in front of their noses. His critics are convinced that it is impossible for water to have memory, reflect thoughts, emotions, musical vibrations and the environment.
You be the judge, you be the witness. Dr Emoto just took the pictures of the images that water made.
Dr Emoto didn’t paint the pictures.
What do the pictures ‘say’ to you?
Why are some pictures ‘pleasing’ to you, others not?
What is ‘beauty’?
Who judges beauty?
The power of water
Though soft and yielding, in the end water is all powerful.
As Lao Tzu says:
But when it attacks things hard and resistant,
There is not one of them that can prevail.
When scientists are looking for the possibility of life on a planet, they first try to establish if there is water present. If water is present, then life can exist on a planet.
Presence of Water gives the possibility of Life
Presence of the Tao is the Way of Life.
The Tao is PRESENT when you are not being occupied (i.e. imprisoned) by thoughts.
Thoughts always scramble for attention. The Tao does not scramble for attention. Like the Tao, water gives life to everyone, yet is happy to remains in low places.
As Lao Tzu says:.
The highest good is like that of water
The goodness of water is that it benefits the ten thousand creatures,
Yet itself does not scramble for attention,
But is content with places that men disdain.
It is this that makes water so near to the Way.
Free your self from attachments to thoughts that keep scrambling for your attention, and you will be living in the presence of the Tao.
As a symbol or pointer to the Tao, water helps with the understanding or the awareness that all objects that we can see, hold in our hands, dissect and label are illusory.
Yet there is ‘something’ that exists behind them or inside of them.
Unseen because we don’t focus on it and our five-senses can not detect it.
As our five senses can’t detect it, we need something to point to it, so that we may become aware of it.
In other words, so that we may become self-aware.
Water then is a symbol provided by nature that is telling us to be self aware.
Don’t look at the finger!
In the Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon, Lee in a Shaolin monastery explains to his student about a finger pointing to something.
The student looks at the finger.
Lee slaps him and says:
Don’t look at the finger
look at what it is pointing to.
This concept gets misunderstood, because the finger points to something external, the sun, a tree, an opponent or whatever.
The Tao is not like that, because the Tao is not out there, it is not where a finger can point to.
The Tao is like the truth and the truth is NOT out there.
If not out there, then where else can it be?
Could it be in here?
Again, as a finger, what does water point to?
It points to something internal. Not internal as in our physical body, because the body, the brain, the cells, the atoms are composed of objects, sub-atomic particles, which as we will explore, do not exist.
Yet, as the hermit Milarepa said: “the bodily substance is the palace of divinity“
What exactly is this divinity?
It is this divinity within the illusory body that water points to. This divinity animates the body and gives life to it. Divinity also exists within all things, for all things are alive; if you could see a stone from the energetic perspective you’d see it as vibrant, pulsing with life. You can feel it as your energetic presence if you practice Chi Gung. Chi, an emanation from the Tao, is the one universal life force that animates all things. If you merge your awareness with it, become one with it, you will become aware of the one life that animates all things.
As a symbol water points to the divinity that animates the illusory body. It points to the consciousness or awareness, that is the ‘mother of all things under heaven‘.
Bruce Lee often advised about the need for the warrior to be like water:
The martial arts taught in the far east at, for example, the Shaolin Temple were not taught as methods of attacking ones enemies.
They were not taught as methods of self-defence by frightened monks either!
Martial arts, however, can be used for attack or for self defense.
Real martial arts were taught as a mechanism to move to the present moment, the Now, in full alertness, in the absence of any thoughts.
Martial arts are a form of moving meditation, just as dance or sports can be when you move into the now, free from thoughts.
When you are fully in the Now or the Tao, you will see that the shortest distance between 2 points is Now, and so is the longest distance.
Keep reading and you might see why.
What is the shortest distance between two points?
A martial arts instructor asked his students this question as they were struggling to get the timing right on blocking punches and kicks.
Think about it. Any distance that you come up with between two points will always have a shorter one.
How short is short?
After much soul searching, one student came up with the answer, probably when he stopped thinking. He said: “Now! The shortest distance between two points is Now”
The instructor smiled. Lesson over.
If you don’t understand the question, never mind the answer, please read on about the Physics of Space, Atoms and Particles.
An atom is some 99.99999% empty space, yet we ignore this huge space and focus on the atomic and subatomic particles.
All objects are 99.99999% empty space too.
Yet, we just don’t see the empty space, we seen unable to focus on the pace.
The 0.000001% atomic and subatomic particles that we believe to be solid, actually show no evidence of being solid either!
Scientists at CERN and elsewhere, using the most powerful computers analyzing the data from the worlds biggest particle colliders, working round the clock for decades, have not found a single particle that has mass or any substance.
So far as science has been able to measure to date, 100% of an atom is empty space.
It is accepted in Quantum Physics that the particle (visible) like behavior of a quantum is a property that is dependent upon the observer, unobserved it exists as a wave (invisible) like phenomena.
Just like in a dream, the dreamer manufactures the dream. Qunatum physics suggests that we manufacture the world around us by observing it.
We live in a dream world, just accept it.
Scientists still find this difficult to accept – they keep looking for that ever elusive ‘particle’ that will give substance to life.
All our senses detect objects and space in relation to other objects. When we create artificial sensors, again we are detecting objects.
Time also depends on the existence of discrete objects. Time is something we say passes when an object moves from point A to point B.
But do objects exist?
Latest quantum physics suggests that objects, particles don’t exist, unless we think they do! Our thinking creates the objects, the mind manufactures them from thin air.
If A and B don’t exist, how can it take time to go from A to B?
The enlightened little boy tells Neo in The Matrix:
Know the truth
Neo: What truth
Boy: There is no spoon
The boy could have continued:
This is fact.
What Taoists and Buddhists have known for thousands of years, cutting edge science has confirmed.
Experiment after experiment has shown that the observer affects the experiment. The experiments have shown that reality is a reflection of the observer, it behaves as it is expected to by the experimenter.
The spoon only ‘exists’ because we think it does, it does not have any substance, it does not have an independent, objective existence
The world does not have an inherent existence.
There is nothing ‘solid’ in it.
If you take away the mind, you would perceive the world as it is; a single unified whole where all things are connected.
In 1935 Albert Einstein and two colleagues, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen developed a thought experiment to demonstrate what they felt was a lack of completeness in quantum mechanics as proposed by Bohr and Quantum Mechanics.
This is known as the EPR paradox.
Einstein, being a realist, subscribed to the theory of an independent, objective world. He could not accept the proposition of Bohr’s quantum theory that the particle (therefore the world) only existed because of the observer.
Eventually an experiment was done by the Alain Aspect based on the groundwork developed by David Bohm and one of his enthusiastic supporters John Bell in 1982. This experiment proved that Einstein was wrong, and the quantum theorists were correct.
It has been repeated several times, with the same results. It proved that at the nuts and bolts atomic level the world is not as we understand it.
In other words the world as we understand it is an illusion, the reality is totally different and can not be explained by the rules of Physics/mechanics and neither is it subject to them.
The Aspect experiment demonstrated that 2 particles, irrespective of the distance between them, showed a connectivity or communication between them. A change in one particles angle of polarization had a corresponding change in the other particle. This happened instantly (i.e. faster then light, if the particles are a billion light years away, then it happens at a billion times the speed of light!).
They also showed that this is the case between ANY of the infinite number particles.
Think about this for a while, see if you can grasp the complexity, see if you can explain how this could possibly be happening (zillions of particles connected to or communicating with zillions of others at every instance). String Theory or Super String Theory does not explain it, particularly when you consider that the damn, elusive particle only exists when it’s being observed in the first place!
The Alain Aspect experiment proved that Einstein was wrong about an ordered universe, and the Quantum Theorists were proved right.
Einstein being a realist had intended that the EPR paradox would demonstrate the quantum theorists could not be correct.
However, the Aspect experiment showed that QM were correct and so Einstein was wrong.
This would have been a shock to his beliefs, he could not accept the indeterminate, haphazard, senseless world that world of the quantum theorists.
His famous words that expressed is inner belief were ‘God does not play dice.‘
David Bohm – Einstein proved right!
David Bohm continued from where Einstein left, he shared the same belief of an inherent order. His subsequent work showed that at the Implicate level Einstein was correct – there is an inherent order behind the apparent chaos.
At the explicate level, the Aspect experiment proved Einstein wrong, but not at the Implicate, or hidden level.
What does explain EPR, the Aspect experiment, and countless other unexplained ‘mysteries’ is David Bohm’s idea of the ‘Implicate Order’ and ‘Wholeness’: Reality is a dynamic hologram or holomovement.
The brilliant, legendary physicist David Bohm explained the results of the Aspect experiment in his Wholeness and the Implicate Order.
He showed that the explicate world, the world of objects and particles exists only as a hologram or holomovement. It is not real.
David Bohm explains that there is a hidden order at the Implicate level, which projects as a ‘particle’ in the explicate. The holographic projection is not ‘real’, it does not have any substance, just like a 3D movie it appears real, but isn’t.
The only real thing is the Implicate (which corresponds to the Tao or our consciousness) that is projecting the hologram.
There is an Implicate order where all things are connected or whole; the universe is a kind of a holographic projection from the Implicate order.
In the implicate order all things are one even though they appear to be discrete, independent objects to us as we view them in the explicate order.
What we see, or think we see (the explicate), is a projected reality, just like a movie projected on to the screen.
Behind the apparent diversity is one consciousness.
Our attention is so focused on or in the screen that we believe the projection is real.
There is an excellent book called ‘The Holographic Universe‘ by Michael Talbot that explains the nature of holograms and how they are used by scientists such as Bohm and neuropsychological Karl Pribram to explain the nature of the universe. Talbot provides considerable evidence to show that the universe and everything in it is composed only of ghostly images; images that are projections from a level of reality beyond time and space.
From the perspective of the Yogis, Buddhists and Taoists and cutting edge Quantum Physics, there are no objects, and there is no Time. It can not take time to go from A to B if separate A and B do not exist.
This means that there is no past and there is no future. There is just the NOW in which all things appear to exist.
All objects are mirrors of the real that exists NOW, all objects are symbols of the Tao, but water is a better symbol because of its special nature.
We have seen that objects do NOT exist outside of the mind of the observer. We have discussed that water is a symbol that points to the Tao, or the consciousness that is projecting the ‘objects’ that our senses tell us exist.
Our senses tell us that objects do exist; therefore our senses are lying to us.
Our senses sense objects, which we know do not exist.
Our minds are also lying to us.
The mind/brain/5 sense mechanism decodes holographic data and presents it to us as solid objects that we are familiar with – sticks and stones, earth, heavens and so on.
We believe this to be true: we see an apple, touch it, smell it, taste, hear the sound as we munch it. As each sense confirms the others, we conclude that the apple is real and solid.
It is the mind that actually sees, feels, tastes, smells and hears.
By this mind/brain/five-sense mechanism we become attached to and identify with the world of form.
In other words, consciousness is held prisoner by the mind/brain/five-sense mechanism.
However, freedom is just a thought away – you are free when you stop identifying yourself with the thought or the thinker.
The one gave birth to the two things
Then to the three things
Then to the ten thousand things
The two things are the Yin and the Yang, the opposing forces upon which the cosmos is built; the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’; the pleasure and the pain, the positive and the negative forces; the male and female polarities, and so on.
The ‘three things’ are the three treasures of essence, energy and spirit: Jing, Shen and Qi
Jing energy, also called “essence”, is the primordial energy unique to an individual that is passed to them at conception. Jing is received from one’s parents and has no “material form”. Its closest Western counterpart is DNA (our genetic material). This energy governs the developmental growth processes in the body and the rate and degree of determination of the body. Chinese Medicine teaches that Jing can be strengthened through diet, life-style and herbal treatments.
Shen is known as the “psyche”, “mind” or “spirit”. Shen is said to be the driving energy behind activities that take place in the mental, spiritual or creative planes. Moderately weak Shen often manifests itself as anxiety, mild depression or chronic restlessness. Very weak Shen is possibly indicated by deeper psychological problems. Shen can be strengthened through medication, physical exercises such as Tai Qi and Qi Gong and by herbal remedies.
Qi is the most dynamic and immediate energy of the body. This unique energy results from the interaction of yin and yang. It has been called “energy”, “vital energy”, “primal energy” and “life force”. A healthy body is a wellspring of constant circulating Qi which moves around the body, in and out of the body, up and down within the body. Vibrant Qi has warming properties that bring about a sense of complete harmony and wellness.
The three treasures are described in detail by Daniel Reid’s in his book Guarding the Three Treasures: The Chinese Way of Health
The five thief’s are the five senses. They will steal the three treasures while you sleep, if you let them. The monkey mind is their ring-leader!
Remember, you are asleep when the monkey mind is in charge.
Wake up. Wake up from your dream, the dream of thought and identification with the mind. Wake up now, or you will lose everything of value, including your life.
All belief systems are products of the mind, they are simply ‘mind-stuff’ that attempt to establish a solidity for an abstract concept where none exists.
Each system tries to persuade its adherents to believe that it is the truth and therefore the opposite must be wrong and should be opposed.
Beliefs divide people into arbitrary groups in opposition to each other. Catholic against Protestant, Hindu against Muslim, Muslim against Christians/Jew, Communist against Capitalist, Left against Right, Feminists against Chauvinists, Germans against the English, English against the Irish, Indians against Pakistani, Muslim Terrorist against the West, and so on.
They say that the two things one should never discuss with friends is religion and politics, because these beliefs seem to be the most firmly established, and if you do, the chances are you’ll lose your friends!
But why? When you un-identify with the mind, you will not identify with any belief system that you have been led to believe.
A belief is just a thought and is as valid or invalid as any other thought, and it makes no difference because it’s just a thought, and soon there will be a different one to occupy our attention if we let it.
Don’t see people as Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Americans, Germans or as anything else that you can label. See them as they are, the expression of the one life.
Ignore the manipulated mind and the mind created belief systems that have been forced upon us. Just be like water, soft, adaptable, life enhancing.
We live in virtual reality, a sort of a matrix, that has become a prison. We have become slaves to the mind, because we identify with the mind, we wrongly believe that our mind is us.
“I think, therefore I am“, does not follow because thinking is not the same as being.
The mind and the senses are just tools, quite useful tools for ‘operating’ in this illusion, but dangerous if we let them become our masters. Our problem is that the instrument has taken over and imprisoned us.
The mind can not get to the truth, because the mind is part of the problem.
The mind and the senses are not designed to arrive at the truth, in fact they are designed to keep us away from it.
When we think, our minds try to dissect the infinite, partition it, label it and put it in a pigeon hole.
The conscious mind finds it difficult to function in the absence of objects, which are actually created by another part of the mind (the subconscious or the collective subconscious), our five senses then detect these objects, which the mind decodes into illusory 3D reality.
We need to focus upon the absence of objects and the absence of thoughts; we need to focus on the emptiness, the void, the stillness, or the Tao.
As Gautama, the Buddha said:
In all the world of man, and in all the world of Gods,
this alone is the truth: All things are impermanent.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
All things ARE impermanent, as the Buddha says, yet there is “something”, which is not a thing, that IS permanent.
It existed before heaven and earth, and will exist after heaven and earth have gone.
It is the One Life that existed before heaven and earth, without sound, without substance.
Lao Tzu called it the Tao and said that water was very much like it.
It is the awareness that is perceiving these words, which then become thoughts. Without it there would be no perception, no thoughts, no objects and no world.
When you deeply realize this, nothing in the world of form can trap you. The simple realization that the world is ephemeral, fleeting, impermanent is one half of enlightenment, which Buddha explained not as a super-human state, but as the end of suffering, when you stop identifying yourself with your thoughts, you will reach this state, for all suffering is caused by the mind.
Zen Koan: What is wrong with this moment if you don’t think about it?
All ‘things’ are actually mind-stuff, and there is nothing good or bad in the world. So long as we are attached to this mind-stuff, identify with the mind and the world of form, the world of illusion, the world of maya, we are subject to its illusory laws of birth, death and rebirth in samsara.
As Shakespeare put it:
We are such stuff as dreams are made of,
and our brief life is rounded with a sleep.
There is nothing good or bad in the world, but thinking makes it so
All things exist as a fleeting reflection of the Tao. There is nothing ‘solid’ in them as quantum physics has shown.
Your body, the earth, the sun, the galaxy, the universe; the multi-verse, all the countless dimensions and parallel worlds of God and the Gods that people talk of visiting; they are all impermanent, they will all pass away.
They are all just fleeting reflections of the Tao.
All ‘things’ exist in Maya, Illusion; they exist because thinking makes it so.
It is said that Infinite love (the Tao) is everything, all else is is an illusion
Infinite love is the other half of enlightenment; the half that the Buddha was silent about when he said ‘all things are impermanent’.
Illusion is all we see, but just as darkness defines the light, you need the illusion to realize the real.
This is the purpose of the illusion.
Water, Wasser, Aqua, Pani, l’Eau all describe the same thing.
What other names could we call the Tao by?
God? What God? Whose God?
Whatever God we use, even the word ‘God’, has been corrupted by vested interests into a religion, and will take us away from the Tao. The moment you give a name, term or title to what you are or believe, you are trapping yourself in a prison made of mind-stuff.
As the Sufi Kabir would say:
Kohi Boleh Ram, Ram, Kohi Boleh Kudahi
Some say ‘Ram, Ram’, Some say Kudahi
Ram is a Hindu word for God, Khuda is an Islamic name for God, both words are in the same language, Hindi/Urdu.
As Lao Tzu said:
The name that can be named is not the real name,
the path that can be followed is not the true path
God, Lord in Heaven, Allah, Ram, Krishna, Consciousness, Awareness, Being, Oneness, the Infinite, Infinite Love, the Implicate Order – all are the Tao by other names, but still not the real name!
Let’s just leave it at that.
The Tao is like silence, without which there can be no sound. When you hear any sound, focus not on the sound, but on the silence behind the sound. When you hear a clock ticking, focus not on the tick, but on the gap between the ticks.
The silence gives the sound ‘space’ as it were, so that it can be heard, just as water allows biological life to exist.
Water is an illusory pointer to the silence, to something existing that our senses can not detect.
It’s as if an item in the illusion, the matrix, the maya, the explicate order is telling us to focus upon what is projecting it.
Water tells us this again and again, but we don’t listen, we don’t pay attention because we are occupied by the mind, we place or attention on thoughts and ‘objects’ that are the reflection of thoughts.
We are focused on the refection that we miss the real.
Lao Tzu’s makes many simple observation on the void, emptiness, nothingness which is the essence of all ‘things’:
We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness
of the wheel depends.
We turn clay to make a vessel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness
of the vessel depends.
We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness
of the house depends.
Therefore, just as we take advantage of what is, so we should
recognize the usefulness of what is not
What is the essence of your room?
The walls? No, they are just the boundaries.
The furniture? No, they are just items in the room.
The essence of the room is the empty space where there is nothing.
This applies to all things, but we miss it because we focus upon the ‘things’ and not upon the no-thing. Our mind and senses fool us because they are designed to detect ‘things’.
The essence of a sound is not the noise, but the silence which gives birth to the sound and sustains it while it exists.
If you asked a fish about water, and if the fish had a mind like ours it would say something like ‘Water, what is water? I don’t understand water.’
The transparency and lack of solidity of water points to the no-thing that is the essence of all things. The ripples and waves that you see on the deep, silent ocean are like the thoughts on the surface of being. Your thoughts are just like waves that attract attention; know the silent depth and focus your attention upon it.
It is the essence of ‘things’.
As we discussed, there are no objects and there is no time; there appear to be objects and time because our thinking makes it so.
Eckhart Tolle, in his magnificent book The Power of Now, explains that the present moment is all there is. There was never a time when it was not Now, and there will never be a time when it will be anything but now.
The ‘past’ is a mind created concept that your mind creates now, and you experience it now in such things as your reactions, thoughts and energetic configurations. The ‘future’ is also a mind created world that you will never get to because it does not exist, accept in your mind.
Moving into the now, the present moment, frees you from the tyranny of the mind.
Another word for the Eternal Tao would be the Eternal Now.
The focus of all Taoist practices like Chi Gung is in being present, in ‘stilling the monkey mind‘, which wants you to run away with it to an imaginary future, or to a remembered and interpreted past that gives the mind/ego its identity.
Be soft like water, offer no resistance, just be present and you’ll catch the Monkey.
Our minds avoid the present moment, preferring to live in the future or in the past, never content, never accepting what is.
Macbeth at the end of his life voiced how our dysfunctional mind works; it avoids the present moment and is always looking for fulfillment in the ‘future’:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
At the end Macbeth, like Socrates, like Gautama and the Taoists realizes that ‘life’ in the world of form is ‘a walking shadow’ an illusion, just an act. It’s as if he steps out of the role he was playing and realizes that all the ‘sound and fury’, the thoughts that plague and trouble our minds, each one pretending that it is the most important thing, are insignificant.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Look around you; the wars; the killings; the ever more sophisticated, efficient and powerful bombs; the fear; the hatred, the fascist global police state; the multinationals bent on exploiting and ruining the world; the pharmaceutical cartels; the drugged society; the greed; the divisions amongst people; the worried, unfriendly, unhappy faces, rushing to their graves – what is it that you are seeing?
You are seeing the effects of the tyranny of the mind. The unconscious mind is being reflected in the world that you are seeing.
We are very proud of our mind, but is our mind ours?
Don Juan used to tell Castaneda that the mind was a ‘foreign installation’. He talked about a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and imprisoned us, and uses us as a food source. This predator gave us his mind, and his belief systems, the purpose of these system of beliefs is to ensure that we remain a continuous supply of food for it.
Eckhart Tolle explains that the mind is kind of an occupying entity, it possesses us when we become attached to thoughts, and becomes stronger the more we identify with thoughts.
Enlightenment is becoming free from this attachment, it is waking up from the dream; waking up from the ‘dream of thought‘.
The entire 5000 plus years of Taoist tradition, philosophy and practice is concerned with silencing the mind and harnessing the energy of the cosmos via Chi Gung.
Underneath the dogmatic, rigid belief systems of the worlds religions, there is an inner, almost hidden sub-culture that is virtually the opposite of what the external, autocratic religion is about.
The core Buddhist and Yogic beliefs and practices are concerned with taming the mind and the emotions.
The inner Islamic belief is about total submission or surrender of the mind to the Infinite One; there is an Islamic tradition that all creatures from the blades of grass, cats and dogs to the cosmos naturally live or exist in this state and therefore are muslims; man exists in this state at birth, but as he grows older he disconnects with the Infinite One. The prayers, mantras, rituals are intended to re-establish that connection by silencing the mind.
In the inner Christian beliefs there are similar practices for mental stillness, as expressed by:
Be still and know that I AM.
Be still and know that I AM within
Be still and know that I AM God
Meditate upon what water symbolizes and you will become aware of the real nature of the world behind the illusion. This is like a detox of the mind, you remove the noise pollution from the constant thoughts that plague and trouble your mind. Make no mistake, thoughts are poisons that can kill us just as effectively as external pollution and poisons.
Like the Tao, which ‘does nothing’, the Taoists like to be still and do nothing. The doing nothing mainly applies to thinking, because thinking is doing something.
True meditation is the focus upon awareness, in the absence of thoughts. The trick is to become soft like water, thoughts might come like waves, but you don’t pay any attention to them. Just observe your breathing. After a while, with your lack of attention, thoughts will stop pestering you and go away.
You could be still and do nothing while walking, doing Chi Kung or even dancing; so long as you’re not thinking, not identifying with the thoughts or the thinker. This is like a moving meditation, which the Taoists consider is more powerful then physically still meditation.
The stillness of mind is the key.
If you metaphorically asked the water in a lake, sea or river what it was doing, it would say that it was “doing nothing”, yet all life comes from and is sustained by it. The Tao also does nothing, yet all life comes from and is sustained by it.
Thoughts are like noise. Internal thoughts are like external sounds.
Without silence, how can there be a sound?
Without awareness, how can there be a thought?
Who is aware of a thought?
Thoughts arise from the stillness of awareness, the stillness of Being, the stillness of the Tao.
The Tao is without sound, without substance; it is found in silence, the silence of the mind.
Don’t focus on the thoughts (noise), focus instead on the absence of thoughts, focus on the space prior to the birth of the thought that you are occupied with.
Remember that you are not your thoughts, and you are not the thinker. You are the knowing or the awareness in which thoughts arise and then objects manifest or are projected to have a brief illusory existence.
Remember that this awareness is outside or behind the world of form, it alone is outside the impermanent world of Maya.
Focus on the moment before a thought arises.
Focus on the stillness of awareness, the stillness of being, the Tao or oneness which is YOU when you remove the lens of the thinking mind and the five senses.
If you know that you are Oneness and all else is illusion, you can accept the holographic world, be content with it, and even have fun with it.
As the great Tibetan Sage Milarepa said:
Milarepa: be content
My son, as monastery be content with the body
for the bodily substance is the palace of of divinity
As a teacher be content with the mind,
For knowledge of the truth is the beginning of holiness.
As a book be content with outward things
For their number is a symbol of the way of deliverance.
As food be content to feed on ecstasy
For stillness is the perfect likeness of divinity
Raging enemies be content to shun
For enmity is a traveler upon the wrong path.
With demons be content to meditate upon the void
For magic apparitions are creations of the mind.
Your world may not appear to be as you’d like it to be, but try to accept it as it is.
Denial, resistance, struggle, dogmas, slogans, enemies, hatred are not the Way and its Power.
Be like water; soft, flexible, adaptable, content and you will be the Way and its Power.
Accept the body, the mind and all outward things as they are, knowing that infinite oneness lies behind them.
Knowing that holographic reality is created by thought, you can visualize the world as you want it to be. Visualization or Imagination is concentrated thought, which creates holographic reality.
Remember, there is no pain or tears in the Tao, but there is joy and laughter. Where there is suffering, there is the absence of the Tao. As Eckhart Tolle says:
You can not be present and be suffering.
If there is one emotion, one deluded thought that is used to trap aspects of consciousness to the world of form, the world of illusion, it is fear. Fear holds us back from doing the things we would love to do, fear causes war between people, fear ruins lives. Maya and samsara are built and maintained by fear.
The reason that there is so much fear and troubles in the world is because there is a creature (what Ekhart Tolle calld the Pain Body) that lives upon the energy generated by fear.
The trapping entity is a thought projection, an energy that was thought into illusory existence, that has taken a life of its own when it discovered a new energy source: the human emotion of: fear.
Human emotion of fear is a kind of energetic food source for what in old times people would call demons. These “demons” are kind of solid, intelligent ‘though forms’, a projection and product of the mind.
Milarepa wrestled with his demons. There is a tradition that Milarepa came face to face with demons – and he invited them in for tea in his cave!
Castaneda called them ‘flyers‘ that gave us their mind and belief systems.
David Icke calls them ‘the reptilians‘ that in particular possess blood-line families and absorb energy for the ‘Matrix’ in an effort to ensure its survival by creating more and more fear.
The writers of the movie Matrix called them ‘the machines’ that maintained the Matrix by feeding of the energies of human beings.
Originally, in the Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle wrote in detail about the ‘pain body‘ as a kind of a possession from an external energetic entity, an entity that has possessed mankind since the dawn of time. This entity lives on pain and fear, and does whatever it can to generate more pain, which makes it stronger.
This is why we have so much pain in our lives and in the world.
Talk to anyone and unless they are enlightened, they will tell you of their pain, their suffering. In fact, they will be very reluctant to let go of it, because they have identified with it for so long. When we identify with pain, see it as ‘my pain’, the more energy we give to this entity.
Eckhart’s publishers felt that this was ‘too spooky’ and got him to take much of it it out. He decided to make a tape recording, where he talks about this ‘pain body‘.
Eckhart also writes about the mind as another possessing entity, that feeds on us and traps us in the world of form.
Courage: facing ones Fears
Courage is about facing ones fears – the fear remains, but you dwcide to face it, you decide to overcome it, because unless you overcome your fear, it will be your master and you will be fear’s slave.
Fear of Death – the ultimate Fear
We may fear many things – loss of money, loss of possessions, loss of face, loss pf ego, loss of liberty, loss of job, loss of health.
Most fears such as these, though, are imaginery fears – your world won’t end if what you fear most comes true and you lose your money, your job or whatever your fear is.
Your life will still go on.
Milarepa, the great Tibetan Sage, faced all his fears, fears that in the civilised modern world we never even experience. He faced starvation in the jagged, snow covered Tibetan Himalayan mountains, where the fierce winds tore into his skin and threw him ovr cliffs.
Tthe naked hermit made his home in the barren snow covered land. We will look at how he faced his fears, including the fear of death.
Death, or the fear of death is real; death is surely the ultimate fear. A fear that we all need to face because we will all die, death is a certainty.
On death your world, your show, your performanc on the stage of the world will end.
The mind and the mind created ego fear death, and avoid the thought of its death.
“To the ego, death is always just around the corner”
The mind thinks that it can live forever, but is frightened in case it dies. It tries to ensure that it survives, it tries to ensure that it will live forever. This makes the mind attach and cling to the world of form.
People build bigger and bigger empires, obtain more and more power, exploit more and more people, and so on; if they can, they ensure that their funeral and grave are paid for, funds for children and life assurance policies are set up; the mind thinks that in this way it will achieve immortality.
All these are reflection of a deep fear; the fear of death. It is a hidden fear; the mind and ego hide it even from themselves.
In a Carlos Castneda book, one thing that Don Juan wanted to impart to Castaneda was the realization that we are beings that are going to die, and to act accordingly. The ego and the mind need to know and live by the truth; the absolute certainty of its death.
Death is an absolute certainty – there is no escapng from death.
When the ego realizes that it is going to die, it stops prancing around so much.
“Even the sun will die” as Eckhart Tolle says. So will the universe, composed of billions of galaxies, each having billions of stars like our sun.
Eckhart was an unhappy, suicidal young man, fed up with the world and his life. He had wanted to kill himself even as a child; one day he decided that this time he would make no mistake; the thought that kept repeating in his mind was “I can’t live with myself any longer” he knew that he couldn’t live with himself any longer.
The suddenly he became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. He wondered if he was one or two – I and the self. Maybe one of them was false, he wondered. This was such a jolt to his system that his mind stopped; he was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts.
He realized that the mind itself was the false self. He effectively killed it, to become a ‘nobody’, nothing that the mind can label and attach to.
Dying is an important part of Shamanic practice, where the death of the ego and the mind is an essential requirement. Dying is an important part of Tibetan traditions too: Lamas go through ceremonies like ‘the little death’; Tibetan hermits used to decide to be walled in and to face death, effectively buried alive.
The mind has no choice but to face its death when it is buried alive!
One reason that sports like rock climbing, skiing and other high risk sports are so beneficial is that they force you to face your death. At that moment your attention is forced on the present, on the Now, away from anything you may be thinking otherwise a moments lapse of attention and you could die.
The mind doesn’t like this, it can only exist in an imaginary past or future. When forced to focus on the present moment, it seems to disappear.
The mind can not exist in the Now for very long, it gets bored and leaves!
So long as we identify with the mind and the ego that was created by the mind as we grew up, we will be subject to the minds fears. Amongst the biggest fears for our minds are the fear of death, the fear of hunger, the fear of loneliness and the fear of want.
To overcome these fears we need to first be aware of them, be aware of who is afraid. The false mind created ‘self’ is afraid because it fears its annihilation, the eternal one life that is the real you is not. All the tyranny of the mind that we see is the result of its fears and a silly attempt to become immortal by it.
Once you know of the awareness that you are, you can remain for longer and longer periods in that awareness. A process that the Tibetan sage Milarepa explained as building a house of the void of truth and living in it.
It simply involves moving into the emptiness of pure silence, the inner silence from the noise of thoughts.
Milarepa: the Tibetan sage
Milarepa summed it all up beautifully in his poem I Fear Not.
In it he cleverly uses our basic desires (for a house, food, wealth, companions and that ever elusive thing, happiness) that the mind promises will come ‘tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow‘; or one day, when this and that happens, but never delivers.
This way the listener can hear and understand with his mind, but realize deep inside that what he really wants will only come from the void, the emptiness, the Tao.
It comes when he takes back the his awareness from the control of his mind.
In fear of death, I built a house
And my house is the house of the void of truth
Now I fear not death
The void: where exactly is it?
How do I build a house there?
The void is inside you. The void exists where there is no moving mind. Stop your mind now, drop your attachments to the thoughts that come to you, and you will reach it.
The more time you spend in a state of no mind, the more will the Tao shine through you; think of it as building your house, brick by brick.
When you have built your house in the void, you can stroll outside it whenever you like, and go back to it when you’re done. In other words, you can switch off your mind and experience the alertness, the pure awareness that you are in the present moment, the timeless now; and you can switch it on when there is a task that needs to be done in the clock-time, light-filled, world with objects – sounds, smells, separate things, and I.
We will let Milarepa, hte Great Sage, have the last word:
In fear of death, I built a house
And my house is a house of the void of truth
Now I fear not death.
In fear of want, I sought wealth
And my wealth is glorious, unending, sevenfold.
Now I fear not want.
In fear of hunger, I sought food
And my food is the food of meditation upon truth.
Now I fear not hunger.
In fear of loneliness, I sought a companion
And my companion is the everlasting void of bliss.
Now I fear loneliness.
I am a Sage who possesses in plentitude
The manifold treasures of desire,
and wherever I dwell I am happy.
Translations of the Tao Teh Ching from Daniel Reid.