So what did it do to me, this project?

(pic by Denis Tombal)

This Tao-project took almost 2 years, a lot longer than I expected though it doesn’t feel that long. I have learned a lot during this time and my life has changed in subtle ways. To live the Tao, to really contemplate and apply it to every moment of every day has been an interesting, if not always easy, experience. Sometimes I just felt tired and fed up, wanting to stop the whole project when I saw all the verses stretching out endlessly before me but I had made a decision and I stuck with it. For this I am both proud and grateful to myself, because this is about me and my life. Sharing it was a way to ensure that I wouldn’t stop half-way (been known to do that before). It is so easy to start something on a “high”, but with time it is not as “high” anymore and we all know how easy it is to stop if we are not held accountable in some way; this blog was my accountability.

Most of the things I found during this time were already there, stuff I have been pondering and working on for many years. The difference is that Iconsciously applied my “knowledge” to every situation, taking time to understand and watching the outcome. It’s been like school.

The greatest thing I learned, or rather finally started living, is Trust. Trusting in life, which I have never done before. It doesn’t come from the head, it’s not a mental or intellectual idea. It’s feelingsafe, trusting that all will always be well. I had some very difficult times during this project and I could see myself going from fear to trust over time and it was an amazing experience the first time my whole Self gave itself over to trust.

I have experienced miracles, love and pain deeper than the ocean. There has been disbelief and outright fear. My life has changed, not dramatically, but deeply. I have let go and I have received. I have learned things that have helped others along the way and I can truly say that I am now in myself. Life is beautiful!

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We live like squirrels collecting for winter, except that we expect winter all the time and on all levels. We want to be right and collect our “winning points”. We fill our houses and pantries with more than we can use. We live in a world of “me, me, me”.

Step away for a moment, just a moment, and let go of this collecting need. Can you feel your mind and hands relax? Your shoulders drop as if there is no weight on them. Being right all the time is exhausting, it’s a constant fight that keeps us in protection mode making our muscles hurt with the exhaustion. Collecting things is the same, the more you have, the more you need to protect your stuff.

It is a relief to let go, to say: “You are right” and walk away. It is a relief to empty your overcrowded cupboards and realize that you miss none of it. To be truly at peace we need to let go…Just let it go and feel the tension leave your mind and body.

Enjoy your freedom

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TAO TE CHING verse 81

Truthful words are not beautiful

Beautiful words are not truthful

Good men do not argue

Those who argue are not good

Those who know are not learned

The learned do not know

The sage never tries to store things up

The more he does for others, the more he has

The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance

The Tao of heaven is pointed but does no harm

The Tao of the sage is work without effort

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How much do you appreciate the small things in life, the things we take for granted? How often do you give thanks for food, sunshine, rain, the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, a smile from a stranger, finding a penny on the side-walk, a beautiful rainbow, a child’s laughter, bird-song, the butterfly that lands on your shoulder…

No matter how much technology and possibilities there are around us, the little things are what make us tick from day to day. Peace and tranquility come from feeling appreciation for the amazement of life. We all live in our own paradise, though we might not always realize it and we can stay in this paradise all the time if we choose. When hard times hit, like now, we can still tend our gardens, enjoy our meals and feel the rapture of the beauty that is around (and in) us. We don’t need all the fancy machines or travels to be in harmony. When I go through hard times I practice what I call “normalizing activities” to stay in balance; sewing, cleaning, cooking, gardening…All things which are free and give me a feeling of accomplishment. They keep me out of “the black hole” and in a positive, meditative state of mind.

Take one moment and enjoy it, truly be in it. Experience the appreciation of the moment and let yourself be filled with peace.

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TAO TE CHING verse 80

A small country has fewer people

Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster than man

they are not needed.

The people take death seriously and do not travel far.

Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.

Though they have armour and weapons, no one displays them.

Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.

Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple, their homes secure;

They are happy in their ways.

Though they live within sight of their neighbours,

And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,

Yet they leave each-other in peace while they grow old and die.

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Revenge, bitterness and resentment…Everybody hate these feelings, they eat us from inside, turning sweet to sour and it’s always the fault of somebody else, or? We can always choose our standpoint in any disagreement. Resentment is as much a choice as walking away.

When in a quarrel, we always want to be right. That’s the whole point of the quarrel; making the other person realize this. Problem is, the other person probably feels exactly the same. When we have different points of view we should respect that we don’t all think or act the same. A disagreement won’t end until this acceptance arrives and if it ends because it has come to a “Mexican stand-off”, resentment is raging. Nothing was solved and you had to step away…And then what? You’re going to carry this resentment, having it eat away at you? This guarantees that the same situation will occur over and over again, making you feel horrible and hateful.

Most disagreements are with friends and family, people we love. Why then is it so hard to find forgiveness and kindness? If we can’t find it towards the people we love we should not be so surprised or upset over the violence, revenge and war we see around us. It is probably much easier to kill some “idiot” in the street then killing your loved ones…Food for thought.

If the world around us is reflecting our state of mind and it is horrifying to us, we should start looking at ourselves and change within. Next time you are in a disagreement or quarrel, take a moment and think: “Is it so important that I am prepared to lose this person?” Look within and retrieve that love and kindness you carry there. Will this matter tomorrow or the next year? What do you really have to lose? Your momentary pride (ego) or a person you love?

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TAO TE CHING verse 79

After a bitter quarrel, some resentment must remain

What can one do about it?

Therefor the sage keeps his half of the bargain

But does not exact his due

A man of Virtue performs his part,

But a man without Virtue requires others to fulfill their obligations.

The Tao of heaven is impartial

It stays with good men all the time

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