"Was Jesus a Freak?" (excerpt p.147) CLOUD HIDDEN WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN (1971) by Alan Watts

---“Abstract Jesus” by Jason Beck

A few days ago (1971) I gave a ride to a rather pleasant hippie couple who seemed to have no particular destination. I asked, "What trip are you on?" He said, "Like spiritual trip?" I said, "Yes." He said, "We’re on the Jesus trip." "Whose Jesus?" I asked, "Billy Graham’s or mine?" "Well, it’s all sort of the same, isn’t it?" It is not. For Billy Graham follows a long tradition, both Catholic and Protestant, wherein the gospel (or "good news" of Jesus has been eclipsed and perverted by pedestalization, by kicking him upstairs so as to get him out of the way, and by following a religion about Jesus instead of the religion of Jesus. Obviously, Jesus was not the man he was as a result of making Jesus Christ his personal savior. The religion of Jesus was that he knew he was a son of God, and the phrase "son of" means "of the nature of," so that a son of God is an individual who realizes that he is, and always has been, one with God. "I and the Father are one."

When Jesus spoke those words the crowd took up stones to stone him. He said, "I have shown you many good works from the Father, and for which of them do you stone me?" They answered, "We’re not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God." And he replied, Isn’t it written in your Law that ‘I have said: you are gods’? If he addressed those to whom he gave his words as gods (and you can’t contradict the Scriptures), how can you say that I blaspheme because I said ‘I am a son of God;?" But the self-styled Christians, and especially the fundamentalist bibliolaters, always insist that Jesus was the only son of a woman who was also the son of God, and thus call upon all the rest of us to follow the example of the one human freak who had the unique advantage of being the Boss’s son.

This is not a gospel: it is a chronic hang-up, a self-frustrating guilt trip. It isolates the career of Jesus as an exhibit in a glass case – for worship but not for use.

It is obvious to any informed student of the history and psychology of religion that Jesus was one, of many, who had an intense experience of cosmic consciousness – of the vivid realization that oneself is a manifestation of the eternal energy of the universe, the basic "I am."

But it is very hard to express this experience when the only religious imagery at your disposal conceives that "I am" as an all-knowing and all-powerful monarch, autocrat, and beneficent tyrant enthroned in a court of adoring subjects. In such a cultural context, you cannot say "I am God" without being accused of subversion,
insubordination, megalomania, arrogance, and blasphemy. Yet that was why Jesus was crucified. In India people would have laughed and rejoiced with him, because Hindus know that we are all God in disguise-playing hide-and-seek with himself.

Their model of the universe is not based on the political states of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Persians, whose awesome dictatorships still hold sway through the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions, even in the Republic of the United States. In Hinduism the whole universe is like the Holy Trinity – one as many, and many as one. (And, of course, the Hindus are the despised of the earth, having been reduced to utter poverty by Muslims and Christians.)

But Jesus had to speak through a public address system, the only one available, which distorted his words, so that they came forth as the bombastic claim to be the one and only appearance of the Christ, of the incarnation of God as man. This is not good news.

The good news is that if Jesus could realize his identity with God, you can also – but this God does not have to be idolized as an imperious monarch with a royal court of angels and ministers. God, as "the love which moves the sun and other stars," is something much more inward, intimate, and mysterious – in the sense of being too close to be seen as an object. So it turns out, alas, that our new breed of Jesus freaks are following the old non-gospel of the freaky Jesus – of the bizarre man who was unnaturally born and whose corpse was weirdly reanimated for a space trip into heaven. (One can, of course, interpret these ancient images in a more profound an nonliteral way, as I tried to show in my book Beyond Theology.)

But to identify Jesus the man as the one and only historical incarnation of a divinity considered as the royal, imperial, and militant Jehovah, is only to reinforce the pestiferous arrogance of "white" Christianity – with all the cruel self-righteousness of its missionary zeal. They may perhaps be forgiven for their ignorance, but today, when we are exposed to all the riches of Earth’s varying cultures and religions, there is no further excuse for the parochial fanaticism of spiritual in-groups. Jesus freaks are still in a state of enthusiastic innocence, as yet unaware of the frightful implications of their claims. But they must realize that Christianity would seem ever so much more valid if it would stop insisting on being an oddity.

Christianity has universality, or catholicity, only in recognizing that Jesus is one particular instance and expression of a wisdom which was also, if differently, realized in the Buddha, in Lao-tzu, and in such modern avatars as Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna, and, perhaps, Aurobindo and Inayat Khan. (I could make a very long list.)

This wisdom is that none of us are brief island existences, but forms and expressions of one and the same eternal "I am" waving in different ways, such that, whenever this is realized to be the case, we wave more harmoniously with other waves.

Christians, who so often affect prickly and astringent attitudes, may cluck and pishtush that this all very imprecise, vague, woolly, and sentimental. But in the harsh clacking of their disciplined voices, their accurate distinctions, and precise calculations, I hear the rattle of rifle bolts and clicking of heels. "Like a mighty army moves, But this is no way for a gentleman".


CHENG-TAO-KO [Zhengdaoge] (C.); (J. Shodoka (J.); Song of Enlightenment, Song of Immediate Satori, Song of Realization, Song of the Realization of the Way, Odes on Enlightenment

Verse 1 - There is the leisurely one ...

There is the leisurely one,
Walking the Tao, beyond philosophy,
Not avoiding fantasy, not seeking truth.
The real nature of ignorance is the Buddha-nature itself;
The empty delusory body is the very body of the Dharma.

When the Dharma body awakens completely,
There is nothing at all.
The source of our self-nature
Is the Buddha of innocent truth.
Mental and physical reactions come and go
Like clouds in the empty sky;
Greed, hatred, and ignorance appear and disappear
Like bubbles on the surface of the sea.

When we realize actuality,
There is no distinction between mind and thing
And the path to hell instantly vanishes.
If this is a lie to fool the world,
My tongue may be cut out forever.

Once we awaken to the Tathagata-Zen,
The six noble deeds and the ten thousand good actions
Are already complete within us.
In our dream we see the six levels of illusion clearly;
After we awaken the whole universe is empty.

No bad fortune, no good fortune, no loss, no gain;
Never seek such things in eternal serenity.
For years the dusty mirror has gone uncleaned,
Now let us polish it completely, once and for all.

Who has no-thought? Who is not-born?
If we are truly not-born,
We are not un-born either.
Ask a robot if this is not so.
How can we realize ourselves
By virtuous deeds or by seeking the Buddha?

Release your hold on earth, water, fire, wind;
Drink and eat as you wish in eternal serenity.
All things are transient and completely empty;
This is the great enlightenment of the Tathagata.

Transience, emptiness and enlightenment --
These are the ultimate truths of Buddhism;
Keeping and teaching them is true Sangha devotion.
If you don`t agree, please ask me about it.
Cut out directly the root of it all, --
This is the very point of the Buddha-seal.
I can't respond to any concern about leaves and branches.

People do not recognize the Mani-jewel.
Living intimately within the Tathagata-garbha,
It operates our sight, hearing, smell, taste, sensation, awareness;
And all of these are empty, yet not empty.

The rays shining from this perfect Mani-jewel
Have the form of no form at all.
Clarify the five eyes and develop the five powers;
This is not intellectual work, -- just realize, just know.
It is not difficult to see images in a mirror,
But who can take hold of the moon in the water?

Always working alone, always walking alone,
The enlightened one walks the free way of Nirvana
With melody that is old and clear in spirit
And naturally elegant in style,
But with body that is tough and bony,
Passing unnoticed in the world.

We know that Shakya's sons and daughters
Are poor in body, but not in the Tao.
In their poverty, they always wear ragged clothing,
But they have the jewel of no price treasured within.

This jewel of no price can never be used up
Though they spend it freely to help people they meet.
Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, Nirmanakaya,
And the four kinds of wisdom
Are all contained within.
The eight kinds of emancipation and the six universal powers
Are all impressed on the ground of their mind.

The best student goes directly to the ultimate,
The others are very learned but their faith is uncertain.
Remove the dirty garments from your own mind;
Why should you show off your outward striving?

Some may slander, some may abuse;
They try to set fire to the heavens with a torch
And end by merely tiring themselves out.
I hear their scandal as though it were ambrosial truth;
Immediately everything melts
And I enter the place beyond thought and words.

When I consider the virtue of abusive words,
I find the scandal-monger is my good teacher.
If we do not become angry at gossip,
We have no need for powerful endurance and compassion.
To be mature in Zen is to be mature in expression,
And full-moon brilliance of dhyana and prajna
Does not stagnate in emptiness.
Not only can I take hold of complete enlightenment by myself,
But all Buddha-bodies, like sands of the Ganges,
Can become awakened in exactly the some way.

The incomparable lion-roar of doctrine
Shatters the brains of the one hundred kinds of animals.
Even the king of elephants will run away, forgetting his pride;
Only the heavenly dragon listens calmly, with pure delight.

I wandered over rivers and seas, crossing mountains and streams,
Visiting teachers, asking about the Way in personal interviews;
Since I recognized the Sixth Founding Teacher at Ts'ao Ch'i,
I know what is beyond the relativity of birth and death.

Walking is Zen, sitting is Zen;
Speaking or silent, active or quiet, the essence is at peace.
Even facing the sword of death, our mind is unmoved;
Even drinking poison, our mind is quiet.

Our teacher, Shakyamuni, met Dipankara Buddha
And for many eons he trained as Kshanti, the ascetic.
Many births, many deaths;
I am serene in this cycle,--there is no end to it.

Since I abruptly realized the unborn,
I have had no reason for joy or sorrow
At any honor or disgrace.

I have entered the deep mountains to silence and beauty;
In a profound valley beneath high cliffs,
I sit under the old pine trees.
Zazen in my rustic cottage
Is peaceful, lonely, and truly comfortable.

When you truly awaken,
You have no formal merit.
In the multiplicity of the relative world,
You cannot find such freedom.
Self-centered merit brings the joy of heaven itself,
But it is like shooting an arrow at the sky;
When the force is exhausted, it falls to the earth,
And then everything goes wrong.

Why should this be better
Than the true way of the absolute,
Directly penetrating the ground of Tathagata?

Just take hold of the source
And never mind the branches.
It is like a treasure-moon
Enclosed in a beautiful emerald.
Now I understand this Mani-jewel
And my gain is the gain of everyone endlessly.

The moon shines on the river,
The wind blows through the pines,--
Whose providence is this long beautiful evening?
The Buddha-nature jewel of morality
Is impressed on the ground of my mind,
And my robe is the dew, the fog, the cloud, and the mist.

A bowl once calmed dragons
And a staff separated fighting tigers;
The rings on this staff jingle musically.
The form of these expressions is not to be taken lightly;
The treasure-staff of the Tathagata
Has left traces for us to follow.

The awakened one does not seek truth--
Does not cut off delusion.
Truth and delusion are both vacant and without form,
But this no-form is neither empty nor not empty;
It is the truly real form of the Tathagata.

The mind-mirror is clear, so there are no obstacles.
Its brilliance illuminates the universe
To the depths and in every grain of sand.
Multitudinous things of the cosmos
Are all reflected in the mind,
And this full clarity is beyond inner and outer.

To live in nothingness is to ignore cause and effect;
This chaos leads only to disaster.
The one who clings to vacancy, rejecting the world of things,
Escapes from drowning but leaps into fire.

Holding truth and rejecting delusion--
These are but skillful lies.
Students who do zazen by such lies
Love thievery in their own children.

They miss the Dharma-treasure;
They lose accumulated power;
And this disaster follows directly upon dualistic thinking.
So Zen is the complete realization of mind,
The complete cutting off of delusion,
The power of wise vision penetrating directly to the unborn.

Students of vigorous will hold the sword of wisdom;
The prajna edge is a diamond flame.
It not only cuts off useless knowledge,
But also exterminates delusions.

They roar with Dharma-thunder;
They strike the Dharma-drum;
They spread clouds of love, and pour ambrosial rain.
Their giant footsteps nourish limitless beings;
Sravaka, Pratyeka, Bodhisattva--all are enlightened;
Five kinds of human nature all are emancipated.

High in the Himalayas, only fei-ni grass grows.
Here cows produce pure and delicious milk,
And this food I continually enjoy.
One complete nature passes to all natures;
One universal Dharma encloses all Dharmas.

One moon is reflected in many waters;
All the water-moons are from the one moon.
The Dharma-body of all Buddhas has entered my own nature,
And my nature becomes one with the Tathagata.

One level completely contains all levels;
It is not matter, mind nor activity.
In an instant eighty-thousand teachings are fulfilled;
In a twinkling the evil of eons is destroyed.

All categories are no category;
What relation have have these to my insight?
Beyond praise, beyond blame, --
Like space itself it has no bounds.

Right here it is eternally full and serene,
If you search elsewhere, you cannot see it.
You cannot grasp it, you cannot reject it;
In the midst of not gaining,
In that condition you gain it.

It speaks in silence,
In speech you hear its silence.
The great way has opened and there are no obstacles.
If someone asks, what is your sect
And how do you understand it?
I reply, the power of tremendous prajna.

People say it is positive;
People say it is negative;
But they do not know.
A smooth road, a rough road --
Even heaven cannot imagine.
I have continued my zazen for many eons;
I do not say this to confuse you.

I raise the Dharma-banner and set forth our teaching;
It is the clear doctrine of the Buddha
Which I found with my teacher, Hui Neng,
Mahakashyapa became the Buddha-successor,
Received the lamp and passed it on.
Twenty-eight generations of teachers in India,
Then over seas and rivers to our land
Bodhi Dharma came as our own first founder,
And his robe, as we all know, passed through six teachers here,
And how many generations to come may gain the path,
No one knows.

The truth is not set forth;
The false is basically vacant.
Put both existence and non-existence aside,
Then even non-vacancy is vacant,
The twenty kinds of vacancy have no basis,
And the oneness of the Tathagata-being
Is naturally sameness.

Mind is the base, phenomena are dust;
Yet both are like a flaw in the mirror.
When the flaw is brushed aside,
The light begins to shine.
When both mind and phenomena are forgotten,
Then we become naturally genuine.

Ah, the degenerate materialistic world!
People are unhappy; they find self-control difficult.
In the centuries since Shakyamuni, false views are deep,
Demons are strong, the Dharma is weak, disturbances are many.

People hear the Buddha's doctrine of immediacy,
And if they accept it, the demons will be crushed
As easily as a roofing tile.
But they cannot accept, what a pity!

Your mind is the source of action;
Your body is the agent of calamity;
No pity nor blame to anyone else.
If you don't seek an invitation to hell,
Never slander the Tathagata's true teaching.

In the sandalwood forest, there is no other tree.
Only the lion lives in such deep luxuriant woods,
Wandering freely in a state of peace.
Other animals and birds stay far away.

Just baby lions follow the parent,
And three-year-olds already roar loudly.
How can the jackal pursue the king of the Dharma
Even with a hundred-thousand demonic arts?

The Buddha's doctrine of directness
Is not a matter for human emotion.
If you doubt this or feel uncertain,
Then you must discuss it with me.
This is not the free rein of a mountain monk's ego.
I fear your training may lead to wrong views
Of permanent soul or complete extinction.

Being is not being; non-being is not non-being;
Miss this rule by a hair,
And you are off by a thousand miles.
Understanding it, the dragon-child abruptly attains Buddhahood;
Misunderstanding it, the greatest scholar falls into hell.

From my youth I piled studies upon studies,
In sutras and sastras I searched and researched,
Classifying terms and forms, oblivious to fatigue.
I entered the sea to count the sands in vain
And then the Tathagata scolded me kindly
As I read "What profit in counting your neighbor's treasure?"
My work had been scattered and entirely useless,
For years I was dust blown by the wind.

If the seed-nature is wrong, misunderstandings arise,
And the Buddha's doctrine of immediacy cannot be attained.
Shravaka and Pratyeka students may study earnestly
But they lack aspiration.
Others may be very clever,
But they lack prajna.

Stupid ones, childish ones,
They suppose there is something in an empty fist.
They mistake the pointing finger for the moon.
They are idle dreamers lost in form and sensation.

Not supposing something is the Tathagata.
This is truly called Kwan-Yin, the Bodhisattva who sees freely.
When awakened we find karmic hindrances fundamentally empty.
But when not awakened, we must repay all our debts.

The hungry are served a king's repast,
And they cannot eat.
The sick meet the king of doctors;
Why don't they recover?
The practice of Zen in this greedy world --
This is the power of wise vision.
The lotus lives in the midst of the fire;
It is never destroyed.

Pradhanashura broke the gravest precepts;
But he went on to realize the unborn.
The Buddhahood he attained in that moment
Lives with us now in our time.

The incomparable lion roar of the doctrine!
How sad that people are stubbornly ignorant;
Just knowing that crime blocks enlightenment,
Not seeing the secret of the Tathagata teaching.

Two monks were guilty of murder and carnality.
Their leader, Upali, had the light of a glow-worm;
He just added to their guilt.
Vimalakirti cleared their doubts at once
As sunshine melts the frost and snow.

The remarkable power of emancipation
Works wonders innumerable as the sands of the Ganges.
To this we offer clothing, food, bedding, medicine.
Ten thousand pieces of gold are not sufficient;
Though you break your body
And your bones become powder, --
This is not enough for repayment.
One vivid word surpasses millions of years of practice.

The King of the Dharma deserves our highest respect.
Tathagatas, innumerable as sands of the Ganges,
All prove this fact by their attainment.
Now I know what the Mani-jewel is:
Those who believe this will gain it accordingly.

When we see truly, there is nothing at all.
There is no person; there is no Buddha.
Innumerable things of the universe
Are just bubbles on the sea.
Wise sages are all like flashes of lightning

However the burning iron ring revolves around my head,
With bright completeness of dhyana and prajna
I never lose my equanimity.
If the sun becomes cold, and the moon hot,
Evil cannot shatter the truth.
The carriage of the elephant moves like a mountain,
How can the mantis block the road?

The great elephant does not loiter on the rabbit's path.
Great enlightenment is not concerned with details.
Don't belittle the sky by looking through a pipe.
If you still don't understand,
I will settle it for you.

Song of Immediate Satori, Song of Realization, Song of the Realization
of the Way, Odes on Enlightenment is a Zen Buddhist didactical poem in
64 verses basic tenets of the Ch'an (Zen).

Its authorship is traditionally attributed to Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh
[Yongjia Xuanjue] - one of the most gifted teachers of the Ch'an (Zen)
school during the T'ang Dynasty China.

Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh [also known under the names of Yung-chia
Hsuan-chio, Great Master Chen-chio, Yoka Genkaku (J.), Yoka Daishi (J.)]
was a scholar and a monk who lived in the years 665-713. He was a Dharma
heir of the 6th Zen Patriarch, Hui-neng (J. Eno) and Dharma brother to
such personalities as Ch'ing-yuan Hsing-ssu (J. Seigen Gyoshi), Nan-yueh
Huai-jang (J. Nangaku Ejo), Nan-yang Hui-chung (J. Nan'yo Echu) and
Ho-tse Shen-hui (J. Kataku Jinne).

The Cheng-tao-ko poem was published 1924-1934 in Japan as a part of the
Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo (Buddhist Canon Published in The Taisho Era) [
No. 2014, Vol. 48].

It was also translated from the Chinese into English and given extensive
commentaries by the Ch'an Master Sheng-Yen in his 1990 book The Sword of
Wisdom: Lectures on 'The Song of Enlightenment'. Elmhurst, N.Y.: Dharma
Drum Publications.

This translation from Japanese was prepared in the 1960s by Mr Robert
Aitken and Eido Shimano Sensei for the Diamond Sangha Zen Buddhist
Society, Koko An, 2119 Kaloa Way, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 96822. Their
translation was subsequently re-printed in a book: Daily Sutras for
Chanting and Recitation. n.d. New York: New York Zendo of the Zen
Studies Society Inc.

In December 1991 the Aitken-Shimano's translation was revised by Robert
Aitken Roshi and incorporated (under its japanese title 'Shodoka') into
a collection of the Daily Zen Sutras in use by the Diamond Sangha itself
as well as by other affiliated Zen centers and communities, including
the California Diamond Sangha; Sydney Zen Center and the Zen Group of
Western Australia.

The text below has been also used to construct a
"ANU-Cheng-Tao-Ko-Verses" WAIS database accessible world-wide via the
standard WAIS client software and the Coombsquest gopher at
coombs.anu.edu.au, port 70.

- T.Matthew Ciolek <
(19 November 1993)


“There Are No Repetitions” (excerpt) Subtle Sound — Maurine Stuart

Because I consider myself an artist, I tend to think in terms of poetry and music, but above all, it is the art of our own life that we are engaged in. The greatness of a poem or a painting is not that it portrays a certain scene or experience, but that it shows the artist's vision of his or her own meeting with reality. Hence each thing, each time, is fresh and new. It is never the same place. There are no repetitions. It is not the head or the hand that paints the picture or performs the sonata. One of my teachers gave me a wonderful koan: "Play the piano without using your hands." When we are empty and free, then the brush or the notes move by themselves. This is the source, whether or not we call it Zen, that we are in touch with. Is it done by heaven, or is it our doing? Our doing is heaven's. Our movements are heaven's. If the artist interferes, or if we as artists of our lives interfere with this source through some self-conscious preoccupation, what happens? What is to be expressed gets lost, becomes hard, constrained; there is no true expression. When mind and heart are open, empty; when there is no selfish motivation; then all one's actions are one with heaven. The spirit flows freely, and we have a heavenly dance...

...We speak of the wonders of nature. Nature is full of myo (wondrous action) . Nature is always showing this unfathomable, absolutely inexhaustible myo (wondrous action), and there are many wonderful poets (Zen) who express this to us… Here are two examples:
penetrates the rocks cicadas chirp
The temple bell dies away
but the fragrance of flowers resounds—

Such elegance! By the way, this word, elegance, is also used by physicists to describe their discoveries. Basho has given us a glimpse of the source. To come to such elegance, to come to such feeling, doesn't happen by taking some pill, or some magic potion, but through strong discipline. This is not only true of Zen practitioners, but of all great artists. How many times did Beethoven write, rewrite, tear up, sort out all the things that came to his mind, day by day, week by week, month by month, until he finally distilled everything down to the wonderful sound we hear at this point! How many times do artists draw, draw again, over and over again, perfecting their technique so that they may work freely and directly from this source. We can speak very easily about how we should be free, how we should empty our minds, how we should open our hearts, but to do this, we need strong practice. As musicians we practice hour after hour perfecting a phrase so that we may have some freedom of expression when it comes time to give it to someone else…
...We must be completely present with whatever we are doing—so completely present that there is no separation between it and us. Sitting on the cushion is relatively easy. To take it into everyday life, to be completely mindful of what we are doing, this is more difficult—and essential. We must make our base very strong, like the Daruma doll (weighted at the bottom in a way that it will always return to an upright position)—no matter how many times he's knocked down, he pops right up again. We are doing mindfulness practice to nourish this fundamental source of our being.
We have this source within us, but we must do our practice over, and over, and over; sit over and over, do whatever tasks we are engaged in over and over. Yet nothing is repeated. It's hard to keep wide awake, to keep vividly present in the midst of endless repetition. But look at this! Taste this! We may have drunk a million cups of tea, but we have never tasted this one before.


"Living Within Your Own Nature" (excerpt) by Wayne Dryer

Pasted Graphic
---“Sesshu and the Rat”

Here's the message behind this seemingly paradoxical verse of the Tao Te Ching: Your nature is to be good because you came from the Tao, which is goodness. But when you're trying to be good, your essential nature becomes inoperative. In your effort to be good, moral, or obedient, you lose touch with your Tao nature.

There's one sentence in this verse that I pondered for days before writing this short essay: "When the Tao is lost, there is goodness." I felt perplexed because it seemed so contradictory to what the Tao Te Ching was teaching. Finally, in a moment of contemplation while I meditated on a drawing of Lao-tzu, it became clear to me:
Nature is good without knowing it were the exact words I heard in my meditation. I then understood what Lao-tzu seemed to want me to convey about this somewhat confusing (to me) 38th verse.

Live by your essential nature, the Tao, which is oneness; it has no polarity. Yet the moment that you know you're good, you introduce the polarity of "good" versus "bad," which causes you to lose your connection to the Tao. Then you introduce something newyou figure that if you can't be good, you'll try to be moral. And what is morality but standards of right and wrong that you try to uphold? As Lao-tzu seems to be saying to me, 
The Tao is oneness; it has no standards for you to follow. In other words, the Tao just is; it isn't doing anything, yet it leaves nothing undone. There's no morality; there is only the unattached Tao. It isn't right and it isn't fair, but it is essential nature, and you're encouraged to be true to your own.

As morality is lost, the idea of ritual surfaces, so you try to live in accordance with rules and customs that have defined "your people" for centuries. But I could almost hear Lao-tzu saying: 
The Tao is infinite and excludes no one. Rituals keep you disconnected from the Tao, and you lose them by trying. So you rely upon laws, further dividing yourself and creating chaos for yourself. Again, the Tao just is its own true, essential nature - it has no laws, rituals, morality, or goodness. Observe it and live within its nature. In other words, act without being concerned for your own ego. Give as the Tao does, without condition or trying to be good, moral, or just. Just give to all without preference, as Lao-tzu advises.

I admit that living by this 38th verse may be the total opposite of what you've learned in this lifetime. It certainly represents both an intellectual and a behavioral challenge for me at times. You may appreciate knowing that many of the scholars whom I researched regarding this verse said that Lao-tzu wrote it (and the next one) in response to his opposition to Confucius, his contemporary who laid out specific edicts and codes of conduct for the people. What Lao-tzu seemed to be saying to me through meditation was: 
Trust your own essential nature. Let go of all polarities and live in the indivisible oneness that is the Tao. The dichotomies of good/bad, right/wrong, proper/improper, legal/illegal, and the like can be difficult-just remember that when they surface, the Tao is lost.

Here's some more advice for you, through me, from Lao-tzu:

Live in your essential nature by rejecting artificial principles.These principles in descending order are goodness, fairness, rites, and laws. Artificial goodness is an attempt to live by not being "bad," so you allow others to decide where you fit in on a goodness scale. Affirm: I am of the Tao, a piece of God, and I need no human-made device to confirm it. Goodness and God-ness are one, and I trust who I am and will act from this perspective. I am staying with this truth and not what is false. Furthermore, see that the Tao isn't concerned with fairness-give of yourself knowing that this is an artificial contrivance that cannot exist from a perspective of oneness. You are from, and will return to, that oneness, regardless of your opinions about it. So open up generously without desiring to be treated fairly.

Abandon outmoded familial and cultural customs.Relinquish rites that you feel compelled to follow simply because they've been that way in your lifetime, and particularly in your family. Peacefully affirm: I am free to live, trusting in the eternal Tao. I do not have to be as my ancestors were. I relinquish ancient rituals that no longer work or that perpetuate separation or enmity. Remind yourself that goodness isn't accessed by obeying laws; rather, it is what resonates with your essential nature. You don't need any sort of code to decide what is proper, good, moral, ethical, or legal. Trust yourself to be an instrument of love by surrendering to your highest nature rather than being seduced by mortal laws.

This poem from the 16th-century mystic Saint John of the Cross, titled "A Rabbit Noticed My Condition," beautifully describes this attitude:

I was sad one day and went for a walk; I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition and came near.
It often does not take more than that to help at times -
to just be close to creatures who  are so full of knowing,  so full of love  that they don't --  chat,
they just gaze with  their marvelous understanding.

Do the Tao Now
Spend a day consciously choosing to notice one of God's creatures, such as a dog, a butterfly, a moth, a spider, an ant, a fish, a cat, a deer, or whatever attracts you. You can learn a lot from them about trusting your inner nature. They are, as the poet says, "so full of knowing."

from: Living the Wisdom of the Tao  © 2007, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer


“Fear” — Jiddu Krishnamurti

---“The Scream” by Edvard Munch

What do we mean by fear? Fear of what? There are various types of fear and we need not analyze every type. But we can see that fear comes into being when our comprehension of relationship is not complete. Relationship is not only between people but between ourselves and nature, between ourselves and property, between ourselves and ideas; as long as that relationship is not fully understood, there must be fear. Life is relationship. To Be is to be related, and without relationship there is no life. Nothing can exist in isolation; so long as the mind is seeking isolation, there must be fear. Fear is not an abstraction; it exists only in relation to something.

The question is, how to be rid of fear? First of all, anything that is overcome has to be conquered again and again. No problem can be finally overcome, conquered; it can be understood but not conquered. They are two completely different processes and the conquering process leads to further confusion, further fear. To resist, to dominate, to do battle with a problem or to build a defense against it is only to create further conflict, whereas if we can understand fear, go into it fully step by step, explore the whole content of it, then fear will never return in any form.

As I said, fear is not an abstraction; it exists only in relationship. What do we mean by fear? Ultimately we are afraid, are we not, of not Being, of not becoming. Now, when there is fear of not Being, of not advancing, or fear of the unknown, of death, can that fear be overcome by determination, by a conclusion, by any choice? Obviously not. Mere suppression, sublimation, or substitution, creates further resistance, does it not? Therefore fear can never by overcome through any form of discipline, through any form of resistance. That fact must be clearly seen, felt and experienced: fear cannot be overcome through any form of defense or resistance nor can there be freedom from fear through the search for an answer or through mere intellectual or verbal explanation.

Now what are we afraid of? Are we afraid of a fact or of an idea about the fact? Are we afraid of the thing as it is, or are we afraid of what we think it is? Take death, for example. Are we afraid of the fact of death or of the idea of death? The fact is one thing and the idea about the fact is another. Am I afraid of the word 'death' or of the fact itself? Because I am afraid of the word, of the idea, I never understand the fact, I never look at the fact, I am never in direct relation with the fact. It is only when I am in complete communion with the fact that there is no fear. If I am not in communion with the fact, then there is fear, and there is no communion with the fact so long as I have an idea, an opinion, a theory, about the fact, so I have to be very clear whether I am afraid of the word, the idea or of the fact. If I am face to face with the fact, there is nothing to understand about it: the fact is there, and I can deal with it. If I am afraid of the word, then I must understand the word, go into the whole process of what the word, the term, implies.

For example, one is afraid of loneliness, afraid of the ache, the pain of loneliness. Surely that fear exists because one has never really looked at loneliness, one has never been in complete communion with it. The moment one is completely open to the fact of loneliness one can understand what it is, but one has an idea, an opinion about it, based on previous knowledge; it is this idea, opinion, this previous knowledge about the fact, that creates fear. Fear is obviously the outcome of naming, of terming, of projecting a symbol to represent the fact; that is, fear is not independent of the word, of the term.

I have a reaction, say, to loneliness; that is, I say I am afraid of being nothing. Am I afraid of the fact itself or is that fear awakened because I have previous knowledge of the fact, knowledge being the word, the symbol, the image?

How can there be fear of a fact? When I am face to face with a fact, in direct communion with it, I can look at it, observe it; therefore there is no fear of the fact. What causes fear is my apprehension about the fact, what the fact might be or do.

It is my opinion, my idea, my experience, my knowledge about the fact, that creates fear. So long as there is verbalization of the fact, giving the fact a name and therefore identifying or condemning it, so long as thought is judging the fact as an observer, there must be fear. Thought is the product of the past, it can only exist through verbalization, through symbols, through images; so long as thought is regarding or translating the fact, there must be fear.

Thus it is the mind that creates fear, the mind being the process of thinking. Thinking is verbalization. You cannot think without words, without symbols, images; these images, which are the prejudices, the previous knowledge, the apprehensions of the mind, are projected upon the fact, and out of that there arises fear. There is freedom from fear only when the mind is capable of looking at the fact without translating it, without giving it a name, a label. This is quite difficult, because the feelings, the reactions, the anxieties that we have, are promptly identified by the mind and given a word. The feeling of jealousy is identified by that word. Is it possible not to identify a feeling, to look at that feeling without naming it? It is the naming of the feeling that gives it continuity, that gives it strength. The moment you give a name to that which you call fear, you strengthen it; but if you can look at that feeling without terming it, you will see that it withers away. Therefore if one would be completely free of fear it is essential to understand this whole process of terming, of projecting symbols, images, giving names to facts. There can be freedom from fear only when there is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, which is the ending of fear.

"Fear can only exist in relationship; fear cannot exist by itself, in isolation. There is no such thing as abstract fear; there is fear of the known or the unknown, fear of what one has done or what one may do; fear of the past or of the future. The relationship between what one is and what one desires to be causes fear. Fear arises when one interprets the fact of what one is in terms of reward and punishment. Fear comes with responsibility and the desire to be free from it. There is fear in the contrast between pain and pleasure. Fear exists in the conflict of the opposites. The worship of success brings the fear of failure. Fear is the process of the mind in the struggle of becoming. In becoming good, there is the fear of evil; in becoming good, there is the fear of evil; in becoming complete, there is the fear of loneliness; in becoming great, there is the fear of being small. Comparison is not understanding; it is prompted by fear of the unknown in relation to the known. Fear is uncertainty in search of security.

The effort to become is the beginning of fear, the fear of being or not being. The mind, the residue of experience, is always in fear of the unnamed, the challenge. The mind, which is name, word, memory, can function only within the field of the know; and the unknown, which is challenge from moment to moment, is resisted or translated by the mind in terms of the known. This resistance or translation of the challenge is fear; for the mind can have no communion with the unknown. The known cannot commune with the unknown; the known must cease for the unknown to be.

The mind is the maker of fear; and when it analyses fear, seeking its cause in order to be free from it, the mind only further isolates itself and thereby increases fear. When you use analysis to resist confusion, you are increasing the power of resistance; and resistance of confusion only increases the fear of it, which hinders freedom. In communion there is freedom, but not in fear."

From “Live Real” - Where science and religion...