Hidden wisdom of the Tao

interview by Laurie Nadel

Q: What is the Tao Te Ching?

A: The Tao Te Ching is the wisest, most influential book ever written. It was written 2500 years ago, at the time of Confucius by a Chinese master named Lao Tzu. The Tao offers a way of living with integrity. In fact, Lao Tzu believed that people do not need rules. Just raise your children to grow up and stay connected with the Tao.

Q: Can you tell us more about the Tao?

A: It contains 81 verses. You can read it in an hour and a half. Each of those 81 verses begins with living contentment and peace. When you live the Tao, you become peace, rather than talking about it. The Tao has no rules. The Tao does nothing but it leaves nothing undone. It does not interfere. It allows and is constantly creating.

Q: You grew up without a father, spending time in foster homes during your childhood. Yet you dedicated this book to him. Why?

A: My father walked out on our family. I never saw him and have no memory of him. Living the Tao, I am able to extend love to him and thank him for being who he was. People do what they know how to do. I see now, it’s all perfect.

Q: How has writing a book changed your life?

A: Two years ago, when I turned 65, I started on the Tao. I told my secretary to sell everything and give everything away. I walked away from it. The Tao teaches us to let go of things. Use the 80/20 rule. If you take all your clothes, you’ll find out that you only wear 20 percent of them. You just don’t wear 80 percent. Take what you have and don’t use and circulate it. Give stuff to people who truly need it.

Q: Why is trusting your intuition essential for living a happy life?

A: Intuition is getting closer to your source. It’s God talking to you. You get more intuitive insights as you get closer to God. True happiness comes from knowing you are connected to something so grand and so great…and so much bigger than your puny little ego. It’s an inner vision that everyone has. You get to a point where you can totally rely on it. When I am taking calls, something will flash through my mind. Maybe that caller is in Nova Scotia or Wisconsin. I don’t know who he or she is. And I will ask that person about a name that has flashed through my mind. Intuition has never let me down.

Q: What rules does the Tao offer for a happy life?

A: The Tao has no rules. When you run your life by rules, you’ve left the Tao. It speaks of noninterference and nonviolence. You can’t be a person of the Tao and have an enemy. Never use enemy and I in the same sentence. When you use violence to stop what you don’t like, you create a new generation of people who are going to go after people who bombed their parents’ village. Every time you use force, you create a counterforce. Think about how you get rid of dandelions: You don’t go out with a shovel and start smacking them because all of those fuzzballs go up into the air, creating more dandelions. Violence begets more violence. The Tao says that any single person in any line of violence…whether you drive trucks, design weapons, sell guns….there are hundreds of links in the chain. If one person refuses to deliver them or design them or sell them, you have stopped the chain.

Q: How can you live without laws and rules?

A: We need to lead by an inner kind of law that connects us to the source of all things. We are all pieces of God. We have to find the highest place within ourselves that wants to give. The Tao says that Source wants us to allow things to be. You have to plant a seed and leave it alone. It was probably a lawyer who said that we’re not a nation of people, we are a nation of laws. We are not a nation of rules. We are a species of beings who have a higher place within ourselves and a higher connection to the Source of all creation.

Q: Can you give us an example?

A: A lot of the Tao has to do with water. Water is the softest of all things, yet it is the most powerful. The ocean stays low because it patiently allows all things to flow into it. It is always flexible. You can’t grasp it. The Tao is not about grasping but allowing, like water.

Q: You are the father of 8 children, ages 17 – 40, and grandfather of 5 kids. How can the Tao help us to be better parents?

A: Catch them doing something right instead of something wrong. Remind them of their greatness on a daily basis. Constantly let them know you care about them. But you also have to let go. The term “enough is enough” is out of the Tao. As parents, you have to know when not to interfere with your children’s lives. You have to know when to not push and let them make mistakes and make their own decisions. Involve your children in your passions and hobbies. We taught all of our children to meditate. We took them on walking meditations. They laughed but now they say it was one of the most important things in their life. Expose them to great ideas. Let them see you doing things you love. Then you will respect your children’s passions as they grow.

Q: You write that thoughts create reality. What do you mean?

A: We are what we think about. If what we think about is what we don’t like, then why are we surprised when what we don’t like turns up in our life? If you think about all the things that are wrong in your relationship, then you will continue to attract what you don’t like….even what you don’t like in yourself and in your children. You have to monitor what you think about. Peacemakers never put their thoughts on what they don’t want, only on what they intend to create and what they intend to manifest.

Q: How does that work? It sounds bewildering.

A: Excellent! Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment! The Tao says to stop trying to figure it all out and just be in a state of awe. Then how could you not love yourself? The best way to show love to God is by loving each other. When enough of us do that, we’ll love everybody.

Q: Isn’t that naive?

A: When you think from this perspective, on what’s possible, then you always have hope. You always know that there is a way.

Q: You mention God a lot. How are you so certain?

A: Each person has trillions of cells. Our planets are specks of energy. The sun is 93 million miles away. If it was 2 feet closer we would burn up and if it was 2 feet further we would freeze. You are part of that creative infinite organizing intelligence. The first 9 months of your life you turned everything over to God. You didn’t worry about whether your kidneys would show up. And you showed up into the world and you were turned over to people who said, “We’ll take it from here.” And that was your mistake. Your task is to know that God doesn’t make mistakes. How could you believe that you are not worthy of yourself? You came out of that creative infinite organizing intelligence.

Q: How can all this make me happy ?

A: Stop looking for happiness. It’s an inside job. To live the Tao means to live peace. Be it. Radiate it out. When you have to choose between being kind and being right, it’s always better to be kind.

Wayne Dyer appears at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver at 7pm, on December 1.

Laurie Nadel, Ph.D. is the author of Sixth Sense: Unlocking Your Ultimate Mind Power.

True surrender

THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle

If we always accept the way things are, we are not going to make any effort to improve them. It seems to me that what progress is all about, both in our personal lives and collectively, is not to accept the limitations of the present, but to strive to go beyond them and create something better. If we hadn’t done this, we would still be living in caves. How do you reconcile surrender with changing things and getting things done?

To some people, surrender may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic, and so on. True surrender, however, is something entirely different. It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action.

Surrender is the simple, but profound, wisdom of yielding to, rather than opposing, the ow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is. Inner resistance is to say “no” to what is, through mental judgment and emotional negativity. It becomesparticularly pronounced when things “go wrong,” which means there is a gap between the demands or rigid expectations of your mind and what is. That is the pain gap. If you have lived long enough, you will know that things “go wrong” quite often. It is precisely at those times that surrender needs to be practised if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life.

Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification and thus reconnects you with Being. Resistance is the mind. Surrender is a purely inner phenomenon. It does not mean that, on the outer level, you cannot take action and change the situation. In fact, it is not the overall situation that you need to accept when you surrender, but just the tiny segment called the Now.

For example, if you were stuck in the mud somewhere, you wouldn’t say, “Okay, I resign myself to being stuck in the mud.” Resignation is not surrender. You don’t need to accept an undesirable or unpleasant life situation. Nor do you need to deceive yourself and say there is nothing wrong with being stuck in the mud. No. You recognize fully that you want to get out of it. You then narrow your attention down to the present moment without mentally labelling it in any way. This means there is no judgment of the Now. Therefore, there is no resistance, no emotional negativity. You accept the “isness” of this moment. Then you take action and do all that you can to get out of the mud.

Let me give you a visual analogy to illustrate the point I am making. You are walking along a path at night, surrounded by a thick fog. But you have a powerful ashlight that cuts through the fog and creates a narrow, clear space in front of you. The fog is your life situation, which includes past and future; the ashlight is your conscious presence; the clear space is the Now.

Non-surrender hardens your psychological form, the shell of the ego, and so creates a strong sense of separateness. The world around you and people, in particular, come to be perceived as threatening. The unconscious compulsion to destroy others through judgment arises, as does the need to compete and dominate. Even nature becomes your enemy and your perceptions and interpretations are governed by fear.

There is something within you that remains unaffected by the transient circumstances that make up your life situation, and only through surrender do you have access to it. It is your life, your very Being, which exists eternally in the timeless realm of the present. Finding this life is “the one thing that is needed” that Jesus talked about.

 

 

Adapted from The Power of Now, copyright 1999 by Eckhart Tolle. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA, 800-972-6657 (ext. 52). Visit www.eckharttolle.com.

Release attachment

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Forever is composed of nows.

– Emily Dickinson

According to Buddhist philosophy, there are two major causes of all human suffering. The first is attachment and the second is the inability to accept change.

Attachment is when our wellbeing is dependent on things being a certain way. We can become attached to people or possessions and be devastated if we lose them. We may be attached to success, popularity or looking a certain way. Addictions are an extreme form of attachment, but there is likely an addictive component to all forms of attachment.

The inability to accept change is related to attachment. We like things the way they are and experience great discomfort if things change. This does not refer to change we have initiated ourselves, but rather to change that is imposed by others, or by fate.

The reason that attachment and the inability to accept change create so much suffering is because, in this world, change is a constant. Nothing stays the same. So if we become attached, sooner or later we will have to let go. In the meantime, a lot of energy can go into maintaining that attachment and we experience anxiety at the thought of losing it.

Of course, this suffering is all the work of ego. Ego is that part of our awareness that gets so caught up in the story of life, taking on the roles of producer, director and lead character. Ego has an idea of how the script should unfold, and so becomes invested in how others, including the universe, play their parts!

Things will not always go according to ego’s plan, but generally ego is not a good sport about it. Think of a football team. The coach has a plan and the players are trained to execute that plan. However, they have little control over what the other team will do, who will fumble or be tackled, or even the field conditions.

A professional, sportsmanlike team will not spend a lot of time blaming others or making excuses for what went wrong. Instead, they look at what they can do to improve their performance and their ability to handle the opposition. They then begin to focus on the next game. They do their best, but there are no guarantees.

Life is much the same. We have our plans, hopes and dreams, but there are no guarantees. Somehow though, it seems harder to view our lives with a degree of detachment. Imagine watching a football game and cheering for your home team. It is so easy to get caught up in the game, feeling elation or disappointment. Now imagine watching a movie in which there is a football game. You know it is not a real game and so you watch with interest to see how it will unfold, but without the same attachment.

This perspective is similar to that of our soul. Soul knows that whatever will be, will be. Soul can already fast-forward to the end of our time here. It does not necessarily know all that will happen, but it knows that much of what aggravates and absorbs ego is ultimately of no consequence.

When we tune into soul and really grasp that perspective, there is a sense of peace and release that floods the body/mind. We can relax, surrender and watch how the story of our life evolves. We know without a doubt that everything is in a constant state of change, as are we.

We become centred in the core of our being, rather than in things outside of ourselves. We know that even if everything will not always be okay, we can still be okay.

We cannot know the future, but we can know this present moment. Be fully present, perceiving what is here. Release moment after moment and embrace each new moment as it comes. We are not destined to suffer just because we are human. We have the remarkable ability to choose. Choose peace. Choose bliss.

 

Gwen Randall-Young is a psychotherapist in private practice and author ofGrowing Into Soul: The Next Step in Human Evolution. For articles and information about her books and “Deep Powerful Change” personal growth/hypnosis CDs, visit www.gwen.ca

The light of the world

THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle

When you are fully present and people around you manifest unconscious behavior, you won’t feel the need to react to it, so you don’t give it any reality. Your peace is so vast and deep that anything that is not peace disappears into it as if it had never existed. This breaks the karmic cycle of action and reaction. Animals, trees and owers will feel your peace and respond to it.

You teach through being, through demonstrating the peace of God. You become the “light of the world,” an emanation of pure consciousness and so you eliminate suffering on the level of cause. You eliminate unconsciousness from the world.

This doesn’t mean that you may not also teach through doing – for example, by pointing out how to dis-identify from the mind, recognize unconscious patterns within oneself and so on. But who you are is always a more vital teaching and a more powerful transformer of the world than what you say and more essential even than what you do.

Furthermore, to recognize the primacy of Being and thus work on the level of cause does not exclude the possibility that your compassion may simultaneously manifest on the level of doing, and in effect, by alleviating suffering whenever you come across it. When a hungry person asks you for bread and you have some, you will give it. But as you give the bread, even though your interaction may only be very brief, what really matters is this moment of shared Being, of which the bread is only a symbol. A deep healing takes place within it. In that moment, there is no giver, no receiver.

But there shouldn’t be any hunger and starvation in the €rst place. How can we create a better world without tackling evils such as hunger and violence €rst?

All evils are the effect of unconsciousness. You can alleviate the effects of unconsciousness, but you cannot eliminate them unless you eliminate their cause. True change happens within, not without.

If you feel called upon to alleviate suffering in the world, that is a very noble thing to do, but remember not to focus exclusively on the outer. Otherwise, you will encounter frustration and despair. Without a profound change in human consciousness, the world’s suffering is a bottomless pit. So don’t let your compassion become one-sided.

Empathy with someone else’s pain or lack and a desire to help must be balanced with a deeper realization of the eternal nature of all life and the ultimate illusion of all pain. Then let your peace ow into whatever you do and you will be working on the levels of effect and cause simultaneously.

This also applies if you are supporting a movement designed to stop deeply unconscious humans from destroying themselves, each other and the planet, or from continuing to inict dreadful suffering on other sentient beings. Remember; just as you cannot €ght the darkness, so you cannot €ght unconsciousness. If you try to do so, the polar opposites will become strengthened and more deeply entrenched. You will become identi€ed with one of the polarities; you will create an “enemy” and so be drawn into unconsciousness yourself.

Raise awareness by disseminating information, or, at the very least, practise passive resistance. But make sure that you carry no resistance within, no hatred, no negativity. “Love your enemies,” Jesus said, which, of course, means have no enemies.

Once you get involved in working on the level of effect, it is all too easy to lose yourself in it. Stay alert and very, very present. The causal level must remain your primary focus, the teaching of enlightenment your main purpose and peace your most precious gift to the world.

 

 

Adapted from The Power of Now, copyright 1999 by Eckhart Tolle. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA, 800-972-6657 (ext. 52). Visit www.eckharttolle.com.

Loving from soul

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Love begins at home and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action.

– Mother Teresa

Love is a very pure form of energy but when filtered through the prism of ego, it can become distorted and even contaminated. While great harm has been done in the name of love, it had nothing to do with love.

Love is the ultimate energy of the universe. It is like a sun that always shines and we can choose to bask in it or we can go inward to a place of darkness and shadows. When ego chooses darkness, it blames others for lack of love, which is like going into a windowless basement on a sunny day and complaining of the lack of light.

In relationships, what we call love might well be lust, neediness or dependency coupled with affection, rather than a high form of unconditional love, characterized by acceptance, compassion, forgiveness and a sense of the eternal.

For ego, love is very different than the love soul knows. Ego gives itself broad powers when it loves, including unlimited expectations, a need to control, manipulation and withdrawal of love when its needs are not met.

What this looks like in practical terms is the partner who holds the other responsible for his/her happiness. He really wants to play golf, but instead of wanting him to be happy, she pouts, gives him the silent treatment or otherwise makes him feel guilty. He either stays home and is miserable and resentful or goes anyway, carrying guilt along with his clubs. Neither one of them ends up happy.

She signs up for a yoga class because she needs to de-stress and the time to herself will feel good. Rather than encouraging her to tune into her needs and validating the importance of self-care, he is resentful because he thinks she should be home with him in the evenings. She goes to class but can’t really relax because she keeps thinking of the grumpy greeting she will get later.

Ego often twists and distorts love in the realm of parenting as well. If ego gets caught up in feeling the child is a reflection of the parent, the child is not free to be his or her natural self. Ego sees a child as a blank canvas upon which to create the image it would like to see. What emerges is a constant power struggle between ego’s will to shape the child and the child’s tendency towards individuation and creative evolution. Sadly, the child often gives up the fight because the child’s ego cannot tolerate withdrawal of love. The child, therefore, lives a life that is not his or her own.

Another compulsion of ego is to have the child meet its emotional needs. This can manifest as hurt feelings when the toddler wants Mommy to read the story, not Daddy. Later, it shows up as resentment when the teen would rather go out with friends than spend time with Mom. Regardless of age, the child feels the parent’s displeasure and feels guilty for not pleasing the parent. This is the beginning of the pattern of living life according to what others think, rather than expressing one’s authentic self.

Clearly, for ego love is as much, if not more, about meeting ego’s needs as it is about fulfilling the needs of the other. Ego will even go so far as to say, “If you loved me, you would do things my way.”

When we connect with our higher soul selves and see the souls of others, the quality and experience of love becomes quite different. To love another is to want what is in their highest good. It is to treasure the fact that our two souls have connected in this lifetime and to honour that connection. It is to realize the primacy of that connection and to see that the particular roles we play – husband/wife, child/parent – are secondary. We must not get so caught up in the ego drama that we forget each soul has its own journey, which we are blessed to share, support and respect.

 

Gwen Randall-Young is a psychotherapist in private practice and author ofGrowing Into Soul: The Next Step in Human Evolution. For articles and information about her books and “Deep Powerful Change” personal growth/hypnosis CDs, visit www.gwen.ca

Higher education just got higher

by Naseem Salila Gulamhusein

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as in being able to remake ourselves.

– Mohandas Gandhi

While finishing a degree at UBC, I dreamed of a curriculum that included yoga and wellness. I had already completed a degree at Langara College and I was well aware of the stress and pressure placed on students to succeed. I also questioned the logic of having to take some of the classes deemed “mandatory” to obtain a degree and I thought colleges and universities would be wise to include a six-credit course in yoga and holistic health. This way, when students got into the “real world,” they would have some valuable tools to deal with the changes and challenges of life.

In 1999, I was heading down the path to depression; life was taking its toll on me and sadness consumed my heart. I remember leaving campus one day after seeing a psychologist who had recommended I go on Prozac. I knew this was not an answer to my problems. Walking away from the institution, I was aware that I needed to make a choice between a path of suffering (where I was getting great marks) or embracing a path towards peace. In that moment, I remembered a quote my uncle had written in a yoga book: “When you surrender to emptiness, you will find happiness.”

The Centre for Holistic Health Studies at Langara College states its purpose as follows: “…to re-evaluate how health is created in the mind, body and spirit by expanding a client centred healthcare model that awakens the body’s innate healing potential and opens the path of the Heart.” After selecting the centre from a long list of potential workplaces that would be a good fit for my skills and passions, I was called in for an interview for the position of program coordinator.

During the interview, we talked about a number of things in relation to the programs. I spoke about wanting to share my passion for teaching yoga, and the interview changed into a larger discussion about creating a yoga teacher-training program at Langara. It would be vital to create a balance between the art and science of yoga and program development; and conversations with the Dean and others helped clarify how we could accomplish this in a college setting.

Spirituality and religion have always been a part of my life. Growing up, I was exposed to a diverse cultural and religious background. My father is Ismaili Muslim, born is East Africa, and my mother is Catholic, born in Northern Ireland. As a little girl, on Friday nights I would accompany my father when he went to the mosque. On Sundays, I attended church with my mother. Hearing the words of God, Allah, Jesus and Mohamed, I would think to myself how similar they all sounded; the meaning and message were about living by one’s virtues and helping those in need.

My mother and father struggled to find a balance and I soon came to understand why people fight over religion. Because of their interracial marriage, my parents were on the fringe of their own religions, providing me with a rich, cultural experience. In my teenage years, my father took me to my first yoga class, where I met my first teacher, a woman named Joy who suggested that one day I teach yoga. In saying that, she sealed my destiny.

My yoga-training journey brought me many blessings and the honour of studying with four great teachers: the first of which are my parents, who have taught me patience; the second, Yogi Bhajan (Kundalini yoga), taught me courage; the third, Gurumayi (Siddha yoga), taught me to follow my heart, and, to this day, Baba Hari Dass (classical Ashtanga and Raja Yoga) teaches me selfless service and devotion.

In 2001, I ended up in New Mexico with a backpack and a small tent, which would be my only possessions for the next six months. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What am I doing?” but I knew there was no turning back. I had a strong desire to burn off the karma of sadness and suffering and my days consisted of chanting every morning at 4 AM, yoga, meditation and working in the gardens and the office. On the first day of our yoga teacher-training, Yogi Bhajan advised, “You are going to work through your stuff now!” and he made us hold our arms in the air for what seems like hours. After I completed my stay there, he admonished me to go and teach the world.

After travelling and teaching yoga full time for several years, my life took a dramatic turn. Having just spent more than a year in service at the Mount Madonna Center in Northern California and the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga in BC, I received news that my beloved mother in Ottawa had breast cancer. The prognosis was not good – she had three to six months to live. My reality crashed around me as I fell to the ground in deep sadness. Only a few days before, I had talked with a close friend about what it would be like to lose a parent. I was not prepared, but bolstered with the support of community, I headed home to do my duty. Initially, my duty to my family took me to Ottawa, but it was my love for my mother that kept me there. Hospitals, chemotherapy, painkillers, nausea, cooking, laughter, forgiveness and tears became our day-to-day reality. Having lived independently for so many years, I was once again a daughter, living at home.

I have heard that the greatest test of anyone’s practice is to move back home with parents and continue to remain in a state of shanti (peace). Three to six months turned into 18 months and I was honoured to be by my mother’s side during the process. In the summer of 2006, the cancer consumed my mother’s body, the battle was over and all that remained was to surrender. In the face of death, all I knew to do was chant. Both the Catholic priest and the Mukhi Kamadia from the mosque gave the Last Rights and I chanted the shanti mantra so that peace would prevail.

I was graced by watching my mother live and die without fear. She offered all of her suffering to God and forgave those who had trespassed against her. In her final hours, I watched the true meaning of life unfold. We come into this world on an inhale and we literally leave on an exhale. Everything in between is an experience that brings us closer to our inner truth and divine consciousness. Life is pairs of opposites seeking balance and union (yoga). Balance arises when we give up suffering, negativity and fear.

In the face of fear, there is always love and this is what guides me to live in the world. I choose to live and love through the path of devotion and action. After my mother’s death, I travelled with my beloved teacher Baba Hari Dass to India. For two months, I lived at Sri Ram Ashram, an orphanage for 68 destitute and orphaned children and school for 500 children. It is also a charitable medical clinic. It was there that my feelings of gratitude for having the love of a mother became more than I can ever express.

All these experiences brought me back to Vancouver in the fall of 2007, where I was led to Langara College to follow my dream at the Centre for Holistic Health Studies. Langara College is the first college in Canada to offer a 250-hour, experiential yoga teacher-training certificate program, which offers students the opportunity to study and practice these ancient teachings, which can bring about personal transformation, as well as allowing them to develop a daily at-home yoga and meditation practice.

One of the foundations of yoga is a regular daily practice (sadhana). Through meditation, self-affirming thinking and developing a positive approach to life, students learn how to solve personal challenges and promote peaceful change in society. They also gain the knowledge and skills to effectively teach mindful yoga classes and deliver workshops to diverse groups.

It is our life experiences that make us great teachers. We can only teach people from where we have gone before. Teaching yoga is a life journey, which begins with cultivating awareness of one’s mind, body and soul and a strong desire to free oneself from the bondage of suffering. When we are free, life becomes a joyous dance with the divine. The heart opens and blossoms, providing beauty and light to all.

Naseem Salila Gulamhusein is the Yoga Teacher Training Program Coordinator and Teacher Trainer at Langara College. She has taught all levels of students internationally and has instructed for yoga teacher training programs in Canada and the US. ngulamhusein@langara.bc.ca,
www.holistichealthstudies.com