Laurence Boldt

"Private "I," Private Property" (excerpt) THE TAO OF ABUNDANCE by Laurence Boldt

Private "I," Private Property

The name that can be named is not the real name.
—Lao Tzu

The primary or original consciousness, the Tao—the innate intelligence of the universe—is there all the while, whether we are aware of it or not. The man who has amnesia has not become someone else—he has simply forgot-1 ten who he is. In the Western world, which is today (in a cultural sense) ] most of the world, we have a collective amnesia regarding the unnameable Tao—we have lost touch with a consciousness that is prior to the ego. It is j not only that we have failed to open the Wisdom Eye; we have forgotten that it even exists. As a result, the field of consciousness available to us is limited to that defined by the ego.

One manifestation of our collective amnesia regarding transcendence is ' our unwavering commitment to the concept of private property. Like the ego, private property may well serve a useful social function. Yet if we take a man-made social convention and confuse it with the underlying reality, we are sure to go astray. Standing out in the middle of the desert, a sign marks an imaginary line that separates the states of Arizona and New Mexico. Nothing in the landscape distinguishes this side from that. The boundary [line is clearly arbitrary and imaginary. In truth, this is the case with all property. The boundary lines are always arbitrary and imaginary. They exist as a function of belief—not in the physical world, and much less in the transcendent unity of all things. This is an obvious and easily demonstrable fact of life, yet one which, in our daily living, we choose to ignore.

We fail to understand that a particular thing is merely an artificial definition by our senses, of some indefinable . . . infinitely surpassing that thing.
—P. D. Ouspensky

Despite the implications that our belief in private property has on our 1 experience of abundance or lack, we seldom, if ever, hold it up to critical analysis. The concept of ownership is meaningless without a name to attach the object to. Name is, as we have said, the original seed of the ego. It bis through names that we distinguish differences, and it is by identifying \ with and clinging to our own names and their associations that we stake tout our personal territory. (We forget too easily that persona means "mask," which implies both an illusion and a cover.) Having marked the territory, Live look for how what is inside the boundaries can be distinguished from [what is outside. This territory is the original, and the most private, property. Name (and its associations) is the first thing that we own.

Since name is the core of the ego, we seek to enlarge, protect, and prepare our names. We feel pleasure when "good" things are said about our names, and pain when "bad" things are said about them. From this comes the sense of gain and loss, the psychological origins of credit and debt. iMentally attaching an object to your name gives the sense of possession. ^Preserving possessions is a way of preserving your name, that is, the ego. [Since we realize that we as egos are destined to die, we want somehow to [extend our ego identities beyond the scant seventy, eighty, or perhaps ninety [years we are normally allotted. One device for achieving an illusion of ego [life-extension is the conception of the inheritance of private property. It allows us to pass on the possessions (objects attached to our names) to our offspring, and in so doing, preserve our names and ego identities beyond the grave. It is an attempt of the ego to find security and permanence in a world of constant change.

The universal human problem of recognizing, transcending, and integrating the ego is compounded by the artificiality of modern life. One who lives in nature is constantly in touch with, and immediately aware of, a field of power and experience transcendent to the life of ego and society.] People in most traditional cultures tried to live in accord with the cycles! seasons, and powers inherent in the natural world. Today, we try as much as we can to insulate and isolate ourselves in an artificial man-made world. I Like no other in human history, our society tries to project and protect the illusion that we are separate from nature and its universal life processes! Wrapped up in the complexity of modern technological society, we find it difficult to see that the order of nature governs our own lives collectively and individually, and therefore to put our trust in the Tao.

The Taoists, then, condemned the differentiation of society into classes. Rightly they associated the process with increasing artificiality and complexity of life. . . .
—Joseph Needham

If there is anything like a law of consciousness, it is this: whatever we focus our attention on expands in our lives. Every major spiritual tradition in the world employs this fundamental principle of consciousness a an essential part of its path to liberation. The first of Christ's two commandments is to love (focus on) the Lord with all of thy mind and heart and strength. The yoga tradition of India, from the sutras of Patanjali to the Bhagavad-Gita, tells us that awakening is achieved through the focus of attention—be it on the individual's own higher self, or Atman, the impersonal universal Brahman, or the personal deity forms of God, Bhagavan. Similarly, the Taoist teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu instruct us that we are to cultivate (become more aware of) the Tao.

In traditional cultures, myth, ritual, and art provided points of focus on transcendent symbols as means of projecting or pitching the consciousness beyond the field of the ego. For the society, this served two primary functions: First, it provided the mass of people with authentic rituals that promoted a temporary release from the ego state—a peek into the beyond. Second, it gave a relative few individuals a general blueprint for, or path to, enlightenment. The awakening of these individuals in turn enriched the whole society.

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"Psychology of Lack" (excerpt) Tao of Abundance — Laurence Boldt

----Drawing by Greg Joens

The dynamics of the psychology of lack go like this: Simultaneous to the formation of the individual ego there arises a profound sense of lack, a feeling of separation from everything else in life. This sense of separation brings a feeling of contraction and a sense of incompleteness, which we try to mitigate through mental, physical, and emotional attachments. The perceived need to defend and expand our attachments, in turn, creates a feeling of struggle.

Struggle brings resentment, ingratitude, and withholding, which rob “us of joy” and keep the energy from flowing freely in our lives. This leads us away from the path of our inborn destinies. Instead of following our own paths, we crave the approval and attention of others. This craving for approval, in turn, produces competitive hostility and envy. Envy, in turn, provokes greed, which agitates our minds and sends us on the mad chase that today we call the "rat race." In the process, we lose the ability to appreciate the simple enjoyments that come with leisure. Ultimately, this leads to a sense of chaos and confusion that obfuscates our innate intelligence and robs us of our capacity to appreciate the beauty in life.

On the other hand, a psychology of abundance flows naturally from the Tao, the way of life. Moving from the unity of the Tao, from the experience of oneness with all of life, we receive the natural abundance of the universe with ease in a spirit of gratitude and joy. Thus, the energy flows freely in our lives, and we fulfill our innate destinies. Recognizing the innate power and dignity of all of life, we live in harmony with it and its natural cycles. Respecting our humanity above any outer goal or reward, we cultivate the sense of leisure and peace necessary to appreciate the beauty and order inherent in life, and thus, allow it to express itself through us in all we do. 


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Mastering the Present Era of Private Property (excerpt from THE TAO OF ABUNDANCE) by Laurence G. Boldt

---The Responsibility of Forms by Cora Cohen

The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world
in which it is overestimated.
—H. L. Mencken

In our modern commercial culture, we have effectively done away with all of this. The world of symbols is no longer the realm of artists yearning to lead us to transcendence, but of advertisers yearning to make a buck. The symbols they employ refer us back to the ego, not beyond it. The symbolic images of our daily lives are those supplied by the commercial media, which most recently have taken to employing even traditional symbols of transcendence in their efforts to promote consumption. Their purpose is to excite us to buy, and in order to do so, they must stimulate the feeling that we are lacking something, which ownership of the products being promoted will give us. As a consequence, our imaginative lives are filled with images that reinforce the illusion of ego, and are nearly devoid of those that ' point toward its transcendence.

What is true for the inner landscape, if anything, applies even more to the physical environment. The urban environment, in which (now, for the first time) most human beings live, is a landscape of virtually constant ego-reinforcement. Think of the psychological effect of the vast sense of space in which most beings lived throughout human history. To be in the fields and forests, the vast deserts and open savannas, to behold above you the vast canopy of the clear night sky is to feel a sense of expansion. In traditional civilizations, sacred architecture dominated the landscape, as sacred rituals dominated the calendar of events. Whether they lived in ancient cities or in remote jungles, people were in their daily lives being reminded of levels of reality transcendent to the life of the ego.

Do you imagine the universe is agitated?
Go into the desert at night and look out at the stars.
This practice should answer the question. —Lao-Tzu

Alternatively, consider the psychological effect of the modern urban environment. We move in a crowded environment, where space is at a premium, the horizon is blocked, and everything around us is owned bJ someone. Large glass towers dedicated to banks and insurance companies dominate the skylines of the major American cities. If the suburban communities can be said to be organized around anything, it is the shopping malls. Life in the modern world is awash in a sea of paperwork, all of which reminds us of our names and positions in society.

Both in our imaginative lives, filled with images supplied by the commercial media, and the physical environments in which we move, we are constantly being reminded of our position, place, and status in society. AM much as anything, getting away from it all means forgetting who we are as! egos. When I am hiking and camping alone in the woods, there is precious little to remind me of who I am in society (once, of course, I have filled out the necessary forms and received the appropriate license or permit). This allows for at least the possibility of a deeper experience of reality.

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"The Eternal Tao of the Transcendent Mystery" (excerpt) THE TAO OF ABUNDANCE) by Laurence Boldt


The Tao that is spoken of is not the Eternal nature of the Tao.
—Lao Tzu

In its eternal aspect, the Tao cannot be spoken of. Eternal means transcendent to time and space and, therefore, beyond the reach of the physical senses and the intellections of the mind. The Eternal Tao cannot be seen, tasted, or touched. It cannot be spoken of or reasoned about. It is a transcendent mystery. If we try to speak of it, we get jumbled up in words, and it comes out sounding like a paradox. We could say that the Eternal Tao exists, quite apart from existence, that It lives beyond life and death, or that It is and yet, both is and is not. Yet statements such as this communicate nothing unless one has experience of the transcendent, and if one has the experience, what point is there in talking about it?

Many are familiar with the saying attributed to Lao Tzu that "those who know do not speak, and those who speak do not know." Nevertheless Lao Tzu himself is purported to have written the five thousand characters we call the
Tao Te Ching. We have as well, preserved in writing, the saying attributed to the Buddha, Jesus Christ, the Hebrew Prophets, Zarathustra Shiva, and Krishna, among others. Presumably, at least some of these "knew.” Or are we to think that all of these "teachers" were charlatans and all their"students" fools?

The fundamental difficulty lies, not with the veracity of the scriptures or the realization of the teachers', but with the limitations of language communicate or express Eternal Reality. As Lao Tzu put it, "The name that can be named is not the true name." Name, words, and language are on symbols of the Reality they seek to represent. This is an obvious point; know that the word dog is a not the living, breathing animal. Yet in practice, and especially in dealing with more abstract concepts, we forget the difference between the word and the reality it stands for. Why then do \ bother with the scriptures and the teachers? In Picasso's statement, "Art a lie that leads to truth," we find a clue. The scriptures, like all great art, are not to be thought of as "truth" but as "lies that lead to truth." So long as we cling to the literal meaning, the letter of what is being said, the Eternal Tao eludes us.

Yet if we can listen with an empty mind and open heart, we may hear the Word (Spirit, Tao) from which the words have originated. The words are gateways to the Mystery. Yet whether or not they swing open for us depend on how we approach them. Chuang Tzu described spiritual teachings and the words used to convey them as fishing baskets. "Fishing baskets are em ployed to catch fish; but when the fish are got, the men forget the baskets. .. Words are employed to convey ideas; but when the ideas are grasped, mei forget the words."4 The point is not to collect baskets but to catch fish.

The Eternal Tao by any other name is still the unutterable Eternal. Taoists have no particular claim on the Transcendent Reality that all spiritual traditions have pointed to. Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu were not members of any formal religion or philosophical school. Indeed, the chief articulator; of Taoist philosophy would not have thought of themselves as "Taoists.' They were simply enlightened individuals around whom students gathered and whose sayings were in some way preserved.
5 It was only much later that they were classified as belonging to the "Tao Chia," or Taoist school of philosophy.

While there are elements unique to Chinese culture and history within the teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, these texts are better understood as representations of what has been termed "the perennial philosophy" than as the scriptures of a particular religion or culture. In many of the world's great spiritual traditions, we find alongside the popular religion an esoteric or mystic teaching, reserved for a rather more dedicated few. (For example, within Taoism, the "Tao Chiao," or what might be termed "popular Taoist religion and magic" developed alongside the esoteric Tao Chia, or Contemplative School of Taoist philosophy.)

The striking parallels and correspondences within the world's esoteric teachings—across cultures and historical eras—has led some scholars to view these teachings as local representations of a single universal, or perennial, philosophy. Like a single melody fashioned into numerous musical arrangements, the perennial philosophy takes on different inflections in different cultural contexts and historical periods, but is always recognizable as the same tune. As Thomas Aquinas put it, "All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, has its origin in the Spirit." We could, for example, quite easily confuse the description of the Eternal, given by Jesus in the Gnostic text, The Secret Book of John, with Lao Tzu discoursing on the Tao:

I simply believe that some part of the human Self. . . is not subject to the laws of time and space.
—Carl Jung

It is the invisible Spirit. One should not think of it as a god or like a god.
It is greater than a god, because there is nothing over it and no lord
above it. It is unutterable, since nothing could comprehend it to utter it.
It is unnameable, since there was nothing before it to give it a name.

The Eternal Tao cannot properly be equated with the Western notion of God as interpreted by orthodox Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Still, there are many parallels with the notion of God as understood in the Western esoteric tradition. There are Greek philosophers, Christian and Jewish mystics, and Islamic Sufis, who speak of God in ways not unlike those Lao Tzu might use to refer to the Tao. Yet the Eternal Tao most closely parallels the Hindu notion of "Brahman." Like the Tao, Brahman is recognized as transcendent and immanent, that is, as both prior to, or beyond, the realm of time and space, and manifest in it. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Brahman is described as "beginningless, supreme: beyond what is and is not."7 Chuang Tzu described the Tao as "the changing changeless and changeless change."

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