Nothing is meant to be.
There is no predestination.
In ancient texts, the idea of predestination is very strong, but the usage of the term is purely metaphorical. People in the past used the word to express feelings of affinity for a place, a time, or for others. But nothing of the future is set.
There is no cosmic puppeteer at work. We are solely responsible for our own actions. It is true that we can become mired in circumstances so strong and so far-reaching that they will continue to have ramifications far into the future. For example, if we construct circumstances right, such as starting an organization to help others, then the good will last for a long time. However, if we fall far into debt and do nothing to help ourselves, then the bad will also last a long time. Yet in both cases, our lasting situations are results of our own actions. This is not destiny. It is causality.
Causality is from the past, and nothing is acting from the future. There is no script, no pattern to walk into. Everything has to be created, and we are the artists.
Those who follow Tao endeavor to have as few restrictions placed upon them as possible. By completing each action, they minimize causality. By living fully in the present, they absorb the best of what each day has to offer. By understanding that there is no literal destiny, fate, or predestination, they keep the future as free and open as possible. That is truly the openness of life.
Use a mirror in difficult times:
You will see both cause and resolution.
When faced with adversity, you must ask whether you have done anything to bring misfortune upon yourself. If the present difficulties are the unforeseen outcome of events that you yourself set in motion, then it is necessary both to learn from your mistakes and to search for any possible way to correct it. If the difficulties are due to character flaws, then the situation should be resolved, and the basic fault must afterwards be eradicated.
The wonderful part of all this is that the resources for resolving our problems are also within us. When we watch athletes in competition and they outperform even their own high standards, we often say that they reached deep down and were able to give something extraordinary. When we are in the midst of our own confrontations, we must be the same way. We need to reach deep within and use the utmost of our abilities to overcome our obstacles. This is one manifestation of our continuing efforts at self-development.
When confronted with problems, we have all the more power to respond. When we triumph, we have even more confidence and facility to handle future problems. Therefore, meet life head-on. Maintain your self-cultivation, move forth to confront difficulties, and accumulate the momentum that success will give you.
Worship with your conscience,
Receive grace with humility.
Guide with awareness,
Lead with modesty.
The altar is a tool. If we kneel before it and say we have done wrong, we are really telling that to ourselves. If we give thanks for our good fortune, we are expressing our modest appreciation for good luck. There is no outside force listening to us. There is no divine retribution for our wickedness. The altar is merely symbolic. Those who follow Tao use it to focus their self-awareness.
When we step away from the altar, we should not lose self-awareness. We should not take the fact that worship is symbolic to behave in immoral ways. Instead, we still have to act with a conscience and lead others without manipulating them or taking advantage of them.
It takes maturity to grasp that there are no gods and yet still behave as if there were. It takes insight to know that you must be your own disciplinarian. Only the wisest can lay down their own “divine laws” and find guidance as if they were truly heaven’s word.
Peacock iridescence in veridical shadows,
Violet blooms spread to noonday sun.
The world’s beauty is a swirl of color,
But in the flower’s center is bright stillness.
This world is movement. Its nature is constant change, infinite variation. Without infinite variation, there would be stasis, for we would reach limits. But all limits are actually arbitrary. Life is one endless equation of darkness, brilliance, color, sound, fragrance, and sensation.
The peacock attracts his mate through his plumage; the flower attracts the bee with its color and fragrance. Beauty is moved to madness, is urged toward more beauty, is lost in the dance of seduction. We hover around the petals of the flower, drunk in the thrill of color. Enthralled with the fragrance of some haunting perfume, we are moved to act, to touch, to fill our shallow vessels with the fullness of promised joy.
Yet in the center of the flower, all is stillness. When the dance of beauty is finished, culmination is at hand. In life, attractions are endless. We should do no more than we need to satisfy ourselves. To plunge further is foolhardy. We must remember to withdraw and look within. Lingering on the outside of our souls, there is shimmering beauty and fantastic movement. It is only when we go to the center of our souls that we are in the eye of the storm, the still-point of existence. Then all is brightness, energy condensed, unbearably strong and powerful, yet absorbed in supreme quietude.
A project of Air Ball Creative for TEDxMileHigh. More information at airballcreative.com/. A film about the people, the places, and the heart and soul of Denver. Created in 45 days by two guys with the help of a few friends.
Directed and Produced by: Thaddeus Anderson and Woody Roseland
Poem written by: Ken Arkind
Narrated by: Theo Wilson
Music by: Dexter Britain
Thank you to the following:
BC Serna – Editing Assistant & Camera Operator
Josh Baker – Post Production/Camera Operator
Jeremy Miles – Color Correction/Helicopter Pilot
Brent Joyce – Audio Mixing
Troy Fairbanks – Skateboarder
Caulen Carlyle – Skateboarer
Micah Williams – Bike Rider
Colorado Rockies – Jeff Donehoo
Denver Arts & Venues – Brian Kitts, Rudi Cerri & Jeanette Murrietta
Denver Cruisers – Stephen Jones
Denver Nuggets – Amy O’Brien, Tim Gelt
Giant Dancers – Jonathan Borofsky
Hampton Inn and Suites – David Admin
Linger – Peter Gordon
Sports Authority Field at Mile High Grounds Crew
Denver Public Art – Rude Ceri
Denver Botanical Gardens
Denver Beer Co
Accomplish your visions.
Persevere in your ambitions.
Only then can you negate
Visions and ambitions.
Some say that one should not have ambitions; they equate these with greed and lust. However, some ambitions are the result of curiosity and inner desire. They are individual interests, like wanting to know about a certain subject or wanting to achieve goals. As long as they do no harm to others, they should be exercised rather than suppressed.
Many young people are held back by their peers and their elders. Sometimes there are valid reasons, but usually the motivations of the others are colored by fear, ignorance, jealousy, or inadequacy. No one should hold you back from achieving your life’s goals.
Whatever you want to do, do it to the fullest. There are just a few provisions. First, you must realize that nothing is forever. You may achieve your goals only to find out that they are no longer important to you. This is all right. That means you have come to the end of your interest and are now free to go on to something else. Secondly, your ambitions should not determine your life. You are a human being first, and your goals are merely adjuncts to your basic quest as a person. Finally, you should realize that the fulfillment of your goals should include the eradication of all fears. Once you have accomplished these things, you will truly have nothing standing between you and spiritual realization.
Sun shines in the center of the sky.
All things turn their faces toward the light.
All things in this life depend on direction. In our world, all is oriented toward the sun : The planets revolve around it, the seasons depend upon it, and our very concept of night and day is tied to the sun’s rising and setting. The sun is the dominant element in our lives.
In all other areas of our actions, we cannot avoid making arrangements that have a center or orientation. Our lives require composition, just as the solar system has a relationship and structure. Yet all structure and orientation is essentially arbitrary. We take the sun as the center of our world because of our vantage point. To someone standing in another galaxy, our sun is nothing more than another point in limitless space. There is no absolute standard by which to truly call something the center. Therefore, all arrangements and all compositions, all determinations of a dominant element are relative, subjective, and provisional.
There is no center except for that in our own consciousness. When we look at the sun and the arrangement of the planets, we must also include ourselves as observers. How else is there the determination of what is being seen? Consciousness is part of the phenomenon. We are the center, and there is no absolute measure.
In spite of knowing,
Yet still believing.
Though no god above,
Yet god within.
There is no god in the sense of a cosmic father or mother who will provide all things to their children. Nor is there some heavenly bureaucracy to petition. These models are not descriptions of a divine order, but are projections from archetypal templates. If we believe in the divine as cosmic family, we relegate ourselves to perpetual adolescence. If we regard the divine as supreme government; we are forever victims of unfathomable officialdom.
Yet it does not work for us to totally abandon faith. It does not follow that we can forego all belief in higher beings. We need faith, not because there are beings who will punish us or reward us, but because gods are wonderful ways of describing things that happen to us. They embody the highest aspects of human aspiration. Gods on the altars are essential metaphors for the human spiritual experience.
Faith shouldn’t be shaken because bad things happen to us or because our loved ones are killed. Good and bad fortune are not in the hands of gods, so it is useless to blame them. Neither does faith need to be confirmed by some objective occurrence. Faith is self-affirming. If we maintain faith, then we have its reward. If we become better people, then our faith has results. It is we who create faith, and it is through our efforts that faith is validated.
Drought burns basins to dust,
Light rain is a dew of mockery.
Receive without complaint,
Work with fate.
When the countryside is gripped in drought, it is useless to complain. Even when light rains fail to moisten the parched landscape, we should accept what happens. This is the way of Tao, and one who follows Tao accepts what comes.
We may have ambitions to move in one direction, but Tao will decide otherwise. We may have plans for the future, but Tao will bend time differently. T here are those who will cry out in anger and frustration, but the follower of Tao remains silent and goes about the business of preparation.
Acceptance does not mean fatalism. It does not mean capitulation to some slaughtering predestination. Those who follow Tao do not believe in being helpless. They believe in acting within the framework of circumstance. For example, in a drought, they will prepare by storing what water is available. That is sensible action. They will not plant a garden of flowers that requires a great deal of water. That is ignorance and egotism.
Acceptance is a dynamic act. It should not signal inertness, stagnation, or inactivity. One should simply ascertain what the situation requires and then implement what one thinks is best. As long as one’s deeds are in accord with the time and one leaves no sloppy traces, then the action is correct.
One should not pray or meditate with any thought of gain. Hold no expectations. Then the rewards will come. If one strives for power and gifts, no true results will come, and one will become lost in lust. Praying for results brings no results — the true spirit appears only when there are no expectations to hamper it.
Books and teachings talk of the results of meditation because they prepare the aspirant for the experiences that will occur. It is important not to look on these writings as advertisements. They are merely descriptions of what you will encounter.
Sit down with no thought of results and you will go naturally and spontaneously with Tao. It is admittedly a paradox. We are to know what to expect, and yet we should allow them to appear as they will. It seems irrational and inefficient. Yet if you would know Tao, there is no faster way to enter the midstream.