Ancient Wisdom from the Taoist Chuang Tzu: Movement is Life

Copyright 2006 Tom Russell

“Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or concentrate only on a partial aspect of being. Then clear expression also becomes muddled by mere wordplay, affirming this one aspect and denying all the rest.” (The Way of Chuang Tzu)

Inner development is multi-dimensional. Many resources are present within us waiting to be tapped and developed. When utilized, these resources further our quest for wisdom and vitality.

Examples of these dimensions:

1. Speech: It is no accident that the Bible’s Book of John begins with, “In the beginning was the word . . .” Speech can be silent or audible. It is our power to claim what is true. We declare our independence before we live it.

Here is an example of an extremely effective use of speech. When the mind wants to chatter about unimportant, resentful or wasteful things, say to yourself either silently or audibly, “There are higher things to think about.” Yes, right in the middle of the chatter, stand up and use your power of speech. Say these words with feeling and focus. There are far higher things to think about! It is extremely beneficial to remind yourself NOW, right when the mind wants to take a detour to a nearby swamp.

2. Silence: Silence is LISTENING and receptivity. It tunes into flowing currents of wisdom already present.

Of all the things we resist, silent quiet time is at the top of the list. Yet, ten or twenty minutes of sitting quietly everyday recharges our batteries like nothing else can.

3. Intellect: Author Vernon Howard said once, “An orderly mind is a powerful tool.” So often wisdom seekers neglect the development of the mind. This is why reading and absorbing spiritual information is so important – it develops the mind!

One way to energize your reading is to take note of ideas that strike your emotions with exceptional clarity. The act of writing plants the seeds deeper than would have been the case otherwise. Why pass by an idea that speaks so clearly to you, without taking a moment to capture it?

4. Kinesthetic Awareness: This is the wondrous dimension of ourselves that connects mind to body as we traverse the events of our daily life.

One way to develop this power is be more aware of your breathing. It is always with you. Breath has a natural rhythm, with pauses at both the exhale and the inhale. Stress first grabs our breath. We can reclaim our awareness by first reclaiming our breath. Notice it and let it flow like it wants to flow, without unnecessary, tense involvement! Not everything needs our help! Knowing this is Tao.

5. Emotional: Quality music as well as vivid stories, myths and parables can help develop our emotional power. Higher emotions are vertical. They already exist. Insights connect us.

It is also wise to keep an eye on harmful influences circulating in the media. There’s no doubt the media dwells on negative images to further its own power and influence. Never underestimate the power of pictures to poison your emotions. Refuse to give these power hungry people the the time and energy they demand. Moments with beautiful music, or with a good book rich in vivid mental pictures, is time that nourishes your soul.

6. Detachment: This spiritual power allows us to view without claiming; see without grabbing, notice without commenting. It takes away anchors so what is not essentially ourselves slowly drifts away.

Detachment teaches us to let go. It leads us upward to a place where we no longer have to let go because we refused to pick up the problem in the first place! Negative people, and our own negative thoughts, toss ropes at us hoping we’ll comply. These negative factors have no power at all over us until we catch the rope. With the Tao, as taught by Chuang Tzu, we can develop the inner light to recognize a foreign element the moment it approaches. Our new HIGH wants nothing to do with society’s painful LOW.

7. Relationships: Here is a dimension that teaches us many things about ourselves. Relationships, when used for spiritual growth and insight, are doorways to discovery. It is much more challenging (and far more rewarding) to remember our spiritual aims in the midst of personal and business relationships, than it is on a mountain in Tibet.

Relationships also develop our power of empathy — the ability to sense things outside our own circle of self. Empathy is magical. It opens up our inner world to Tao.

The main point for us to grasp is that inner development is multi-dimensional. Rotation and flexibility are crucial. Work in a given area runs its course after awhile and a change is indicated. Do we heed the change? Do we learn to move? If so, we grow.

Chuang Tzu also tells us, “If you follow human methods, you get away with deception. In the way of Tao, no deception is possible.”

We are surrounded by human methods. The unwise fool the unwise all the time. Real wisdom, the Tao, reminds us that our energy is for a higher purpose. It can serve true life instead of the deceptions of society. Everything is within the Tao, but we must stand up and dare to claim what is our natural right.