Primal Union

Guard your senses.

Smelling something bad, my first instinct is to move away from the odor. If it is toxic, I could be in danger. Otherwise, it is just unpleasant. Our noses are a first line of defense that would be unwise to ignore.

If it smells bad, it is probably not a good idea to eat it. If it tastes bad, spitting it out would be preferable to swallowing it. Taste, like smell, is a protective measure designed for our safety.

Touch, like the other two senses, is a protective measure. The skin holds everything in and is designed to keep the unwanted out. Pain is a fantastic indicator of a break in the system.

That leaves hearing and sight. Over-exposure can cause irreparable damage. Like the other major senses, they send their signals to the brain. However, hearing and sight are gateways to the soul. If we do not guard what we hear and see, we can allow unwanted and potentially dangerous messages to penetrate our inner beings and expose us to subtle toxins.

Temper your sharpness.

If it is sharp, it is designed to penetrate and cut. It is a weapon that can hurt ourselves and others. Our weapons are our words and actions. Lacking discipline, our sharpness will leave pain in its wake.

Think of a swordsman. Any fool can pick up a sword without regard to the damage it can cause. But a master knows its power and will only use it in times of dire need.

Mask your brightness.

There is a great light within each of us. It is my pride that would cause me to shine my light on those unwilling to see it. If I become so bright, others will either turn away or attempt to dim it. They will only see and hear the things they choose.

I can attempt to mask my brightness with humility. Therefore, others can choose of their own accord whether to see my light.

Be at one with the earth.

To be at one with the earth is to live in harmony. The instrumentalist that cannot maintain harmony will not get the chair in the orchestra. The team member that sows discord will eventually get thrown out of the office. We are a part of this universe. We are a member of our community, a community that will live long after we are no more.

We are the catalysts for a better tomorrow. To be at one with this earth, we must be the stewards that ensure that work is done.

Guard your senses. Temper your sharpness. Mask your brightness. Be at one with the earth. This is primal union.

Lao Tzu

Primal Union

How do we achieve primal union? We must become the people we were intended to be. we cannot do this if we cannot guard our senses. If we cut and injure others, who would be willing to come close to us? If we think that shining the repulsive light of our pride on others will attract them to us, then we are mistaken. And if we cannot  be in harmony with the universe, then we will get greased like a squeaky wheel.

Within Oneself

Belief

I have a confession to make. I believe in myself. I believe I can achieve what I set out to do in life. This is my faith. I am an optimist when it comes to fulfilling my destiny. Better to be an optimist than a pessimist.

This does have a drawback. Sometimes I get so excited about my hopes for the future and how I intend to achieve it that I want to share with others. But as I learned in The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler, telling others what I intend to do before I do it, prematurely sends dopamine to the brain. Because I imagined it and told others, I have tricked my brain into thinking it has already been accomplished. This makes doing the work even harder as the brain has already gotten the “high” it was looking for.*

Do I need to tell others? No. I have a belief in myself. That is enough. Therefore, I must temper my excitement. I must let go of the egotistical desire for aplomb. I don’t need to convince others of my plans. Instead, I must execute the plans.

Contentment

What makes me happy? Am I a dog that derives happiness from the approval of others? Happiness is internal. Being designed for action, I am happiest when I perform the work I was created to do. If I squander away my time, if I do nothing or get “busy” doing that which is outside of my life’s purpose, then my happiness wanes. Isn’t this true for all of us?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do find joy in the success of others. If you are happy, then I am happy for you. But to be content with myself, I must do what God created me to do.

Acceptance

Approval is nice. So is acceptance. However, this also is internal. My conscience is intact. It knows what is right and wrong. If I violate it, it sends a message to the rest of my being that I am in a state of discord. If I repeatedly abuse my conscience and learn to dismiss its signal of disapproval, then I will nullify this beautiful tool designed for harmony. I am what I am. I am not what I am not. I can accept this. It is something I can work with. I hope the world can accept this. If not, then I apologize. For I cannot be anything other than what I am.

Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need other’s approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.

Lao Tzu

We must look inward to find our peace, our harmony, and our happiness. Others cannot provide this for us. It is a task we must achieve on our own.


*While Latham and Locke originally believed that making your goal public increased motivation, a series of additional studies by NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer showed that talking about a goal significantly lessens your chances of achieving it. By giving voice to an aim, you’re creating what’s called a “social reality,” and this has negative consequences for real reality. The act of telling someone about your goal gives you the feeling that the goal’s already been achieved. It releases the dopamine you’re supposed to get afterward, prematurely. -Art of Impossible, Steven Kotler

Be Content and Rejoice

One of the last things I do before I go to sleep is say a prayer of thanks. I am grateful for friends and family, breath and life, health and love. I have food, shelter, and the means to provide for my wife and son. Sound of mind, body, and soul.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.

Lao Tzu

Of course, I want more. But in truth, I have more than I really need. If I only pursue the latest and the greatest, I will be a slave to every new generation of “stuff.”

I have so much, and that is enough. For this I am thankful. Truly, I am blessed.

Feature photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Stretching to New Limits

As children, we are naturally flexible. But as we age, we tend to lose that flexibility. In death, we become totally stiff, otherwise known as rigor mortis.

A way to offset this stiffness is through stretching. We can push ourselves slightly past our comfort zones. Do this often enough, and we can regain some of the flexibility of our youth.

If we lay in the bed or sit on the couch too long, for example when we are sick, our muscle fibers shorten and we become stiff. Our bodies become dormant and the ability to move becomes more difficult. Bodies in rest tend to stay in rest. And if this is true, then the opposite is true. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Motion leads to greater flexibility.

It is not just in our bodies that we can lose our flexibility. We allow ourselves to slip into routines. We mold ourselves into boundary sets (principles, standards, and ideals) that in time become difficult to break. If we become too afraid to step out of our comfort zones, our whole beings will stiffen. We will become dead to new possibilities.

Stiffness is thus a companion of death; flexibility a companion of life. –Lao Tzu

Our hope is to find the courage to move beyond the known. Beyond the safe and the comfortable. It is in this, we will find growth. We will find motion and in time become more flexible.

Death Later, Life Now

Faith 12/13/2019

What is the one guarantee you have in this life? You are going to die? You are not guaranteed health or even old age? Only death. It comes for us all. No discrimination. Unless you are Enoch or Elijah, you are going to experience it.

Yes, you will die. But you are not dead yet. With this knowledge, how will you live the rest of your life? The seconds fly by. How will you use them? This is the one resource you cannot buy more of. Once your allocation is gone, it is gone forever.

But what about your problems? They are so numerous and cause so many limitations. We all have them, and we all have to make do with what we have. As you take in these words, consider:

  • You have your eyesight
  • You have the ability to read and/or hear
  • You have breath

There are those who lost the ability to see and to hear. All that have gone before us can no longer breathe. Yet, you have it. And if we think about it, there is so much more that we have. There is so much that we can be grateful for. What we have far outweighs all our problems.

Death is coming. But right now, we have life. It may not be perfect, but it doesn’t matter. Use what you got to make the most out of the time you have left.

Heaven and earth are impartial. They allow all things to die. –Lao Tzu

Temperance 2/19/2019

True power. True wisdom. If you want it, Lao Tzu has the key…

Knowing others is intelligent. Knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.

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The Virtue of Temperance

Control. Discipline. Restraint. Call it what you will. But if you don’t have it, then life will be much harder. Rather than automating your life for success, your habits will be weak and detrimental. Temper your desires of excess. There is joy in moderation.

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When I Let Go

If you have arrived into a state of being that is less than you imagined. If you don’t like where you are. If the path you have followed turned out to be the wrong path. How do you correct the course and get to where you want to go?

You start by letting go. You have to let go of all the things that brought you to your current state. You have to change. You cannot repeat the same behaviors and expect a different result. It was those behaviors that prevented you from your success. It was those behaviors that you now have to strip away from your life. You have to change. You have to let go.

Identify the area(s) in your life that you are not happy about. Examine the behaviors involved. Begin to make the changes. They don’t have to be radical changes in the beginning. They can be incremental. Do it long enough, and in time you will be amazed of the progress. Start now. Let go of the old ways.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. –Socrates

My metamorphosis isn’t complete. The process began years ago, but I was resistant to the change. I knew I needed to change, but it was hard to let go. I wasn’t happy with my physical condition. Lack of attention to my diet and an inconsistent exercise regime is a recipe for mediocrity. At my best, I was only mediocre. That is not where I wanted to be. I had to change. I had to let go. But it wasn’t only in my body that change was needed. I needed a change in my heart and a change in my mind. And though I have started making changes, I am far from where I need to be. It is process. A very long process that requires my constant examination of what I am doing. Keeping a journal has truly helped.

Why I am doing it? Because I can be better. I haven’t added enough value to this world, which means I haven’t maximized my potential. And if I am not maximizing my potential, then I am not getting the most out of this life. If I don’t change, I cannot become what I might be.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. –Lao Tzu

I have spent weeks meditating on this quote. I don’t know what I might be. All I know is that I am moving in that direction. It is my path. The only thing preventing me from my destiny is holding on to old me, the old ideas, and the old behaviors. I have to let go.

How Big Is Your Universe?

Over the last several months, I began a habit of storing most of my projects on a thumb drive. I did it for convenience, because it gave me the ability to have the same data at work and at home. Those projects are what I believe the foundations of my life’s work, at least what I am presently hoping for. I only kept it on one thumb drive, so I had to protect it. If I lost it, my foundations would be lost. I didn’t lose it. That cheap little thumb drive that hadn’t been backed up in over a month stopped working. My foundations have crumbled. There goes my life’s work. My world is crashing around me.

Okay, that may be a little dramatic. The foundations have already been laid. I just have to rebuild. But in today’s world, we hear phrases like “my universe is falling apart” pretty often. In some instances, it doesn’t take very much to have one of these apocalypse events take place. When was the last time the sky really fell? Sometimes the anxiety we create is so great that we become blind to everything outside of our immediate surroundings.

After completing my 30th day in a row of meditating (This is becoming the newest habit I am most excited about), my perception on this tragic loss of thumb drive is much different than it would have been in the past. My world is barely a speck in the universe. When time is added to the equation, that tiny speck is even more insignificant. Time and the universe continue on. In the grand scheme of things, this instance is nothing.

If our own individual worlds are so insignificant, then one might ask if there is any point to our existence. There might not be. But what if your individual world had a greater effect on other worlds? If I only live for myself, then the chances of my world crashing around me tend to be much greater. But if my mission in life involves others, then my universe gets much larger. All of a sudden, these minor setbacks become less apocalyptic and the mission goes on.

Note: I have learned a lesson here that I should have remembered from the past. This isn’t the first time I have lost data. I need to back up my work on a regular basis. Maybe even spread it around, so all my eggs are not in one basket.