Daily Tao / 238 – Matrix

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This fragile body
Is matrix
For mind and soul.

We cannot afford to neglect our bodies, even if we recognize that we must not identify with them exclusively. Actually, in our search for our true selves, our physical existence is the best place to start. We can alter our lives by how we eat and exercise, and we can expedite our search by keeping ourselves healthy. If we are free of physical blockages and pain, we can identify our inner selves much better.

In the search for the mind and soul, it is wise to understand that the body is not the true self, but it is also wise to maintain the body. There should be neither denial nor mortification of the flesh, but it takes a wise person to both maintain the body and look beyond it.

Daily Tao / 237 – Body

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I am not this fragile body.

We are not our bodies. This may seem an odd assertion. After all, there is no other object on this earth that we know more intimately. Why should we not identify with it?

What is there about our bodies that is tangible? Of course it has substance, but how do we account for volition? A corpse is just as tangible as a living being, and yet no one would mistake the two. Something mysterious accounts for the differences between a live and a dead body. Something animates us.

It is the mind that directs the energy. But what of the mind can we call definite? It is like a flickering flame : At no point can we determine its exact contours. The more closely we examine ourselves, the more subtle distinctions become. Everything becomes quite indistinct. We cling stubbornly but futilely to the impression that we could find something in the reduction of things.

It’s all quite confusing. But one thing is certain : I am not this fragile body.

Daily Tao / 236 – Imprisonment

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Our subjectivity
Is a mirrored,
Spiked casket.

We surround ourselves with the reflections of our own identities. We think only of ourselves, not of Tao. All we care about is survival and gratification. When will we see that all we have done is to surround ourselves with our own illusions?

We do not see the world as it truly is. We ignore the dilemma of our existence. We are like preening idiots inside a mirrored casket. As we build upon our illusions, the box gets smaller. Soon it develops spikes — the spears of our own egotism — only we are so self-absorbed that we do not notice the points. We are too in love with ourselves. We prance around, we fluff our hair. And still the casket gets smaller and smaller.

Some succeed in getting out of this trap, but they are so attached that they drag their casket behind them for a long time. Those who drag their illusions with them are only a step better than those who are trapped in them. Only when we realize our true nature does the casket disappear.

Daily Tao / 235 – Stress

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Job pressures are overwhelming.
Responsibilities are heavy.
When I close my eyes,
The demands of others are all I see.

Sometimes responsibilities can become so great that you cannot keep your mental equilibrium. Your attention is scattered. Feelings of frustration lead to tremendous unhappiness. Your insides ache. You don’t get enough sleep, you eat poorly, and you quarrel with others.

The sages may breezily pronounce all of this to be the folly of humanity. They are undoubtedly right, but the words of the sages are too lofty when we are scrounging in the dust for our survival. Many of us must face these pressures, at least for the moment. Even if we would like a way out of this madness, we will not be able to forsake society all at once.

When one is under stress, awareness of Tao is impossible. If you are fighting on the battlefield, or fighting in the office, or fighting in your home, or fighting in your mind, there is no such thing as being with Tao. If you are involved in this type of life, then you must content yourself to face your problems bravely — until you can do nothing other than renounce it.

Every moment that you are with your problems, you are not with Tao. The best you can do is to remember that our stress is not absolute reality.

Daily Tao / 234 – Spider

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Mind in the center
Radiates to eight legs,
Creating a supreme web

To sift Tao.

A spider is a perfect creature of Tao. Its body is an elegant expression of
its mind : It spins beautiful threads, and its legs are exactly suited to create
and walk its web. From its center, a spider radiates its world out with a
spare economy.

A spider’s posture in regard to Tao is to set up a pattern. Its mind
determines this pattern. It realizes the flow of Tao and does nothing to
interfere with it. It simply creates its pattern and waits for Tao to bring it
sustenance. That which comes to it, it accepts. That which does not come
to it is not its concern.

Once its web is established, a spider does not think of expanding
unnaturally. It does not make war upon its neighbors, it does not go for
adventures in other countries, it does not try to fly to the moon, it does not
build factories, it does not try to enslave others, it does not try to be
intellectual. It is simply who it is and is content with that.

Daily Tao / 233 – Prophet

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The prophets have their secrets
And their certain magic.
I am not a prophet.
I know only the ordinary.
That is my Tao.

Prophets of Tao are a special category. These men and women are acknowledged experts in meditation, philosophy, medicine, geomancy, sorcery, martial arts, science, mathematics, literature, painting, poetry, scripture, history, music, and liturgy. They can do extraordinary things; they can answer any question. The vast number of secrets each of them embodies is staggering. The degree of extraordinary skill they command is formidable.

They are great, but that is all.

Those who follow Tao strive for perfection, but they are wary about being called prophets. That is a limited role. Being a prophet represents a great trap baited with the temptation of self-importance. The ultimate aim of following Tao is to transcend identity. Those who call themselves prophets or even masters maximize their identities.

It is far better not to be a prophet, and to eschew the responsibilities, limitations, and temptations. It is far better to be obscure and to be thought stupid. Having someone call you by a title is an interference that you don’t need. When you are seeing the greatest wonder of your life, the last thing you want is to have someone blocking the light.

Daily Tao / 232 – Labels

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Don’t call me a follower of Tao.

Following Tao is an intensely personal endeavor in which you spend each minute of your life with the universal pulse. You follow the fluid and infinitely shifting Tao and experience its myriad wonders. You will want nothing more than to be empty before it — a perfect mirror, open to every nuance.

If you put labels on who you are, there is separation from Tao. As soon as you accept the designations of race, gender, name, or fellowship, you define yourself in contrast to Tao.

That is why those who follow Tao never identify themselves with the name Tao. They do not care for labels, for status, or for rank. We all have an equal chance to be with Tao.

Reject labels.
Reject identities.
Reject conformity.
Reject convention.
Reject definitions.
Reject names.