Daily Tao / 273 – Helixes


Three subtle energy currents:
Twin helixes around a jade pillar.
This glowing presence
Is the force of life itself.

Deep in meditation, it is possible to become aware of the life-force itself. You can see it if you learn how to look within. To describe it as electricity, or power, or light, or consciousness is all somewhat correct. But such descriptions are inadequate. You have to see it for yourself. You have to feel it for yourself. You have to know it for yourself.

To be in its presence is like being in front of something primeval, basic, mysterious, shamanistic, and profound. To be in its presence makes all references mute and all senses slack, leaving only deep awe. One is drawn to it in utter fascination. It is the mighty flame to our mothlike consciousness.

This column of energy that coils around itself holds all the stages of our growth. It is our soul; it is the force that animates us and gives us awareness. If you want to engage your life completely, it is essential for you to come to terms with this inner power. Once you harmonize with it you can blend with the dynamics of being human.

Daily Tao / 272 – Determination


Lady butterfly,
I saw you a week ago.
Now you are back,
With your lover,
In tandem flights
And helical tangents:
How many times
You return gladly!

In the legends there is the story of the butterfly lovers. They loved each other so much that even in death, their hearts were fixed faithfully upon one another. In honor of their devotion to each other, the gods changed them into butterflies and let them come back together in reincarnation after reincarnation.

Would that all of us could manifest such determination and faith to what we loved!

Daily Tao / 271 – Commitment


Maiden plucks folk tune on steel strings,
Crickets chant like monks.
I’ve walked into autumnal contentment,
Yet a young boy seeks guidance.

One my be quite far along on the path, but if one meets a beginner who sincerely seeks guidance, then one should help without reservation. If such a beginner were to come to you, what would you say? This is what I said to someone today :

“The time of beginning is one of the most precious times of all. It can be very exciting and full of wonderful growth. The first thing to do is to make up your mind that you are going to go the distance.

“When I first began, I made a lifelong commitment. I determined that I would learn from my teacher for at least seven years. Now, it has been much longer than that, but the essential element is still the same : commitment.

“But commitment needs something else in order to be perpetuated. It needs discipline. This is the perseverance to keep on when things are tough. Adversity is life’s way of testing and perfecting a person. Without that, we would never develop character.

“Rice suffers when it is milled. Jade must suffer when it is polished. But what emerges is something special. If you want to be special too, then you have to be able to stick to things even when they are difficult.”

Commitment and discipline — these are two of the most precious words for those who would seek Tao.

Daily Tao / 270 – Sweeping


Gold dawn disk edges purple cliffs.
Old woman bends to sweep temple steps.
She bathes each stone with loving care.
How many worshipers think of her work?

I went at dawn to a magnificent temple. Its architecture was such a supreme expression of the human spirit that it was a treasure. Generations of worshipers had left offerings at the shrines, hundreds of monks had reached their enlightenment on the consecrated grounds, and thousands had been blessed in life and in death in the venerable halls.

Yet my most moving observation was an old woman silently sweeping the steps. Her concentration was perfect. Her devotion was palpable. Her thoroughness was complete. Her uncelebrated act showed a true holy spirit.

Later in the day, wealthy people came to worship. Children with brightly colored toys ran over the gray stones. The abbot walked to his ceremonies. Monks passed in silent prayer. Of all who passed, how many were aware of the saintly service that had made their own devotion possible?

When the way is all we have to walk, those who prepare the way should be truly honored.