No Original Idea. Know the Tao of Heaven!

the tao of heaven

What is the Tao of Heaven? The ancient Greeks wrote of “the Logos” as the guiding principle behind all of reality. Was this their idea?  The Egyptians spoke of Toth as the guiding word, and son, of the supreme god, Osiris. Where did they get this idea? When Lao Tse, in east-central China, wrote his Tao Te Ching he gave us great detail of the Tao of Heaven. This the nameless Path, or Principle, guides all the Universe from within. How did all these people, in all these places, get the same idea all these thousands of years ago? John’s Gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word.” Did he think this up?

In this day it’s common to think that spiritual awareness is a made-up idea. The truth is that that idea, itself, is a pretty recent notion. Early people, we’re told, worshiped the sun, the stars, or some other aspect of Nature. While we’re sure many did, isn’t it wiser to say that these things serve to remind us that we aren’t as big, or alone, after all? Or, do they help us see how big we really are, encompassing it all?

To put it another way, considering the immensity of the heavens puts us in touch with the Tao of Heaven, and our own tao. . In fact, it’s fair to say that the folks who are the loudest with these anti-spiritual ideas haven’t seen these things. They have never been far enough out in the open to have a good look at the sun. Not many have been far enough to see the stars away from the cities’ light clutter. What is the Tao of Heaven? If we said the Tao is the conscious essence within the universe we would be stopping short.

Spiritual awareness is not something we can find just in books. One very wise writer, Zhuang Tse, wrote that a truly aware person – a sage – can’t impart this experience, but only offer evidence of it in the dry bones of writings left behind.

The Tao of Prayer tells about living into this Word, Logos, and Tao. The blog considers a little of what it means, day by day. Welcome!

In the Zone! Ooo-Wee! Mastery, Mindfulness and Wu-Wei.

in the zoneWhat to they mean, “In the Zone?” Have you been in the Zone, doing what you love, or whatever it is you’re best at? Maybe it’s running, playing music, or maybe making stock trades. We can be so far into what we’re doing that we lose ourselves in it, so that the task seems to be doing itself through us, and we’re in kind of a high, even intoxicated as we observe it all happening. People have been looking at just what this is for a longer time than most of us know – from the early-ancient philosophers to the latest neuro-science research teams. What have we learned? How can we use it? Continue reading “In the Zone! Ooo-Wee! Mastery, Mindfulness and Wu-Wei.”

Inner Space: The Final Frontier

One of the marks that speaks the loudest about our generation is the frenzy to define and control the environment around us. People clamor to “change the world,” to control even the weather, and push ever outward to find out what exists on other planets, or even the chemical make-up of faraway stars in distant galaxies. “We” focus our attention on all these things beyond our own selves, but what do we know of our selves?

We try to look strong, wise, and independent, but in whose eyes? What is strength, when we can’t control our own passions? Our bellies, or, our eyes, command us to take the shortest route to the refrigerator, the next exit with a burger joint, or the most enticing sexual interest  – are we so enslaved to our physical appetites? We grasp for the easiest conquest over others.  Does our pride have that much power over us? We seek to find out what is the smallest sub-particle in an atom, or the latest gossip in the entertainment world. Are we more than data storage units? We say we want independence, but from what, really? Are we more than our outward pride? Do we exist only to perfect our posing skills?

The most ancient sages of every culture reflect this one insight – that the human heart, the core of our being, is more expansive than the universe itself. It is deeper than any ocean trench, more complex than the finest study of physics, and broader than the very reaches of space-time, yet we have been taught to ignore it, to “pay no attention to the Man behind the curtain.” The Tao of Prayer invites us to explore and discover this frontier, and what it really means, what it costs, and what i really means to become truly,  fully Human, and Divine.

Holy Nature

meditation blue mtns

The Celts never doubted it, and surely few peoples ever did. Every landscape, be it snow-covered prairies, bald stone mountains, or green bogs that go on forever to the gaze, there is a sense of majesty that, at the same time, appears to us as infinitely Other, and yet quietly draws us to somehow, intimately, take part in the whole of it. All of Nature is, after all, Creation, and, as even the smallest creation – any snapshot or trinket – draws us to see something of that creator’s own personhood, and to see as the artist sees, the Universe cries out constantly, with sound, or without, to see it, and see ourselves, through the eyes of a greater Artist.

I have stood atop a mountain, two miles high, and felt the urge to throw myself as a soaring bird into the beauty of the peaks below, even as into the arms of a waiting lover. The encompassing swell of the sea has called me with the soft, unyielding power of its waves. The green sod of my ancestral Isle has called to me, “here you will rest.” None of this is unusual. Too many people have felt the same, even gazing at the transcendent colors of an evening’s sunset.

In “another life” I worked as a photographer. I made my money on smaller things – recording the joy of a wedding, the love of a family reunion, or the tragedy of a fire or a tornado’s damage. No film, no matter how fine the grain or contrast, no lens, no matter how perfectly polished, could ever do more for a landscape or a vespers sky than to say, “it was there,” or, “it happened.” The only way to experience such things is just that – to experience them, personally.

In the same way, what little I have experienced, what shards I know, of the Tao’s mysteries can only be known first-hand. The best photograph, the most detailed painting, tell us first of all not of the thing pictured but the artist’s skill at capturing the image. Even so, I must seek to know all I can of this wonder, share what little I’m able, and disappear, so it will be that Wonder, and not this wanderer, filling your own life.

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