Non-Attachment

Samadhi_Buddha_gg

Taoism and Buddhism often intersect, and one of the places this happens is with the Buddhist concept of non-attachment.

Non-attachment is one of the big, important concepts of Buddhism, as one of the main teachings of the Buddha is that attachment is the source of suffering.

Now I, and maybe some of you, used to think that non-attachment was equal to non-caring. I’d think, “I know the Buddha is serene and all, and I want to be serene, but not at the cost of being an emotionless robot.” After all, not caring about something obviously means you’re not attached to it, so Buddhists clearly remained unattached to everything by not caring about anything.

With this belief I actively avoided Buddhism, and my study of Taoism slowed. I refuse to stop caring about things, after all. I want to care. I want to love my wife and my daughter. I want to think my job is worth doing well.

This is not what non-attachment means.

Non-attachment means, simply, seeing something for how it really is, rather than how you want it to be. The attachment isn’t emotional or physical; the attachment is in the control that we all try to rest over the people and things we interact with. When you’re pissed because there’s traffic and there “isn’t supposed to be traffic?” You’re only pissed because things are happening that are different from how you’ve decided they are “supposed to be.” You’re attached to your concept of the situation, and angry that the real situation doesn’t match it. Anger is a form of suffering, hence “attachment is the source of suffering.”

This is where non-attachment, real non-attachment, comes in. If we are able to let go of our perceived control over a thing, person, or situation, then not only do we see it as it really is, but we also appreciate it more because we are no longer judging it for all the things we thought it should be, but wasn’t.

I say “perceived control” because we don’t actually have any control over anything other than ourselves. We sometimes have influence over them, but never control.

Let’s go back to the traffic, like the kind I was in this morning. Nobody enjoys traffic, but one of the reasons we hate it is because it’s not supposed to be there. We didn’t plan for it, and that’s not the way our drive was supposed to go.

Now let’s say we acknowledge that we aren’t Gods, and we actually have no control over how our drive is supposed to go. We steer the vehicle, yes, but we can’t control any of the other vehicles. We don’t control road work or accidents. We don’t control weather.

Now, instead of seething at the traffic, we see that we are relatively safe, warm, and comfortable inside our vehicle (my apologies to motorcyclists stuck in traffic). We can turn on the radio. We can call someone (depending on the state/nation you live in), Life, at the moment, isn’t actually that bad. Yes, you might be late for work, but you never had any control over that, either, and if traffic makes you late for work often then you may want to consider leaving earlier. The time at which you do a thing is something that you can control.

But I ramble.

To summarize, the Buddhist concept of non-attachment isn’t about being emotionless, and it isn’t about not caring, or “giving up.” It’s about freeing ourselves from our delusions, and opening our eyes to a world far more wonderful and beautiful than we’ve given it credit for, because we’ve previously been too busy trying to pretend it’s something else.

Hut-heruTsu

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The River Tao

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The Tao is a river, and all life flows within it. When you are born, you are placed in the river, and when you die, you are fished out.

Sometimes people cannot, or will not, see the river. They stand up, plant their feet in the silt, and insist that they are on dry land.

Sometimes people turn away and swim against the current, fighting as the current slowly pulls them along.

I think: best to just relax, pick your feet up, and let the river take you.

Sometimes there are rocks, and sometimes there are rapids, and we should always be open to the possibility that we may run into one or both of these at any point. But when it happens, don’t fight against it, because the current will pull you toward the obstacles anyway; and don’t lay there doing nothing, because you will be bashed against the rocks, and tossed around by the rapids. Rather, twist and turn, and use the current to get around and over these obstacles.

The one who stands in the river; he misses all the obstacles, but he also misses all the river has to offer. He misses the feeling of the water on his legs, and the sounds of the birds in the trees. He misses the breeze on his back, and the sight of the colorful fishes swimming around him, because he is too busy living within his fantasy of what he thinks should be happening, rather than what actually is happening.

The one who swims against the current misses all of these things as well, because he is too busy wasting all of his energy on a futility. He also cannot see the obstacles until he is upon them.

The river is life. I am in the river. You are in the river. There is nothing we can do about this. Don’t fight it, and don’t stand. Lay back, pick your feet up, and relax. The river will carry you.

Hut-heruTsu

Pyramid Scheme

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Sometimes I sit at work with a large pile of drugs in front of me that all need to be numbered and logged, and around me there are techs and veterinarians coming in to ask questions and get things, and the phone is ringing, and prescription labels are printing, and I stare at my large pile of drugs and I think, “How am I going to get this done?”

And then I think of Ancient Egypt.

Let me explain.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is 455ft. tall. The base, each side, is 756ft. long, and the entire structure contains about 88 million cubic feet of stone weighing in at about 5.9 million tons. That’s 5.9 million tons of stone carved away at a quarry, then transported across the desert, and then hauled up ramps and shaped to create the last remaining wonder of the Ancient World.

The Ancient World.

The entire pyramid, and remember that this is one of many (not to mention the Great Sphinx and all the random, massive tombs), built using mainly copper tools by a people with limited access to wood and iron, and absolutely no access to electricity or an internal combustion engine. None of the amazing, cool stuff that we have.

But they built it anyway.

My pile of drugs doesn’t seem very daunting anymore.

Hell, forget the pile of drugs, I can do anything. I AM MIGHTY. Look at me. I am a mighty member of the human species. Get enough of us together, and we can do anything. Look at the pyramids, look at skyscrapers, look at the airplane (Seriously, look at it. How the Hell did that even happen? Because we’re awesome. That’s how.).

Nothing is beyond my/our grasp. A pile of drugs is nothing to me. My entire work day is nothing to me. I can do it all. I AM UNSTOPPABLE, and there is nothing I can’t do.

Think about it. How awesome am I?

How awesome are you?

Hut-heruTsu

Ma’at and Isfet

tolsnakecat

I had an idea for a post that addressed what could be an alternate way to view the concepts of Ma’at and isfet when I realized that such a post might be more useful if I first defined what I believe Ma’at and Isfet to normally be.

Ma’at and isfet are polar opposites. Sometimes it is explained that Maat is “good” and isfet is “bad,” but this is an oversimplification. more accurately, I believe Ma’at is change and balance, and isfet is stagnation and imbalance.

Ma’at is change and balance because Ma’at is life. It is existence, and the act of living, of existing, is the embracement of change, and the act of living well is balance. Ma’at is making new friends, having a baby, and even dying at the end of a long, happy life. Ma’at is the Yin and the Yang. It is anything that furthers Creation.

Isfet, on the other hand, is those things that stymie Creation. It is non-existence. It is abuse, murder, selfishness, and hate. To put it better than I feel I can myself:

“The jackhole that drives around shooting women because he can’t get laid works isfet. The self-centered parents who fight with each other and drag their children into an ugly divorce work isfet. Someone who ends a friendship with you because of their own pride and selfishness works isfet.”
http://followingthesun.freeforums.org/post6229.html?hilit= isfet#p6229

Isfet and Ma’at do not balance each other out. It’s not that the two concepts are two sides of the same coin so much as Ma’at is the coin itself and isfet is the complete absence of said coin. Isfet is the fire that melts the coin into slag.

In all of our lives, for all of our lives, what we should strive for is Ma’at. Living in Ma’at makes us happier longer, and it makes the planet a better place to live. Live in Ma’at, and leave isfet where it belongs, non-existing.

Hut-heruTsu

 

 

 

Of Pillars and Pagodas

A Djed Pillar is an ancient Egyptian fertility symbol associated with the Netjer Osiris. A pagoda is an East AsianĀ building for housing sacred relics. Neither one has anything to do with the other, but check this out:

h2_89_2_539Five_tier_pagoda_at_Mt__Haguro_2006-10-29

BAM.

Hut-heruTsu

Guan Yin

Guan-Yin-Poo-Sat

I love Guan Yin.

Guan Yin is a goddess of mercy and compassion who is mainly associated with Buddhism, but her following is so widespread that many Taoists also worship her.

Maybe it’s because I have such a difficult time reigning in my own anger, but I love her.

Being a goddess she has many origin stories, and my favorite involves her as the princess Miaoshan; who ends up being executed after repeatedly disobeying the selfish wishes of her father, the king.

During her execution the executioner repeatedly fails to kill her. Because she is so good, his weapons keep shattering upon impact with her body. Eventually he attempts to strangle her, and she feels so badly about what will happen to him if he fails his duty that she allows him to kill her. A spectral tiger then appears to take her to Hell, but upon her arrival Hell becomes a paradise, and Yama, the leader of Hell, kicks her out to avoid Hell’s complete destruction.

She ends up back on Earth, and learns that her father has fallen ill, and that only the eye and arm of one free from anger can cure him. Despite how he has treated her, and despite ordering her death, she offers up her own body parts, and her family is so overwhelmed that they build her a temple, at which point she ascends to Heaven. On the way to Heaven she hears a random cry of suffering and, turning around, heads back to Earth, vowing to never return to Heaven until all suffering has been eliminated.

There are more stories after this one, and Guan Yin ends up acquiring companions in the form of Shancai, a disabled Indian boy; Longnu, the granddaughter of the Dragon King, who holds the Pearl of Light; and a parrot.

I love Guan Yin because Guan Yin is love. She is her love for us, and she is our love for each other.

Guan Yin represents the best of us. She is our good personified. She is the parent pampering their sick child, and the nurse caring for her hospice patient. She is compassion and mercy, as her title states, but she is also love. She is the kind of complete love that only comes hand in hand with complete compassion; the two concepts feeding each other endlessly in a balance of Yin and Yang.

From a Kemetic standpoint, she is perfectly in line with Ma’at. For what is Ma’at if not balance?

Hut-heruTsu

Ra and the Three Pure Ones

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In some schools of Kemetic thought, Ra is the the ultimate power in the universe. In religious Taoism, the Three Pure Ones are the same. But, let’s say you wanted to practice both Kemetism AND Taoism at the same time (like myself, for example)? Can these two concepts be reconciled?

Yes. Yes, I believe they can.

First, let’s begin with Ra. Ra is the Netjer. He is the king of the Netjeru, and Ruler of the Universe. He is the sun, giver of life.

Now, according to the Heliopolitan creation myth (my favorite), Atum was the first Netjer, who rose from the Nun on the primordial mound to begin the creation of the universe. In some versions, instead of rising on the primordial mound, a “Cosmic Egg” rose from the Nun, and Atum hatched out of it.

What does this have to do with Ra?

Well, Atum is often seen as a form of Ra (who, like most Netjeru, has many forms). In this capacity, Atum is the setting sun, since Ra is a Sun God. One common concept is that Ra takes on three forms while traversing the sky: Khepri, the rising sun; Ra, the daytime sun; and Atum, the setting sun. Because they are Egyptian Gods, not only are all three of these deities forms of Ra, but they are also all their own separate entities, as well. One and three, three and one.

Similarly, the Three Pure Ones are the creators of the universe in Taoist mythology, and they follow each other sequencially just like Khepri, Ra, and Atum. The first Pure One, known as the Jade Pure One, creates the second, the Supreme Pure One, who creates the third, the Grand Pure One, just as each form of Ra can be seen as “creating” the next (Khepri into Ra, Ra into Atum). Each Pure One is inherent in the creation of the universe, and together they all manifest as the highest form of divinity, much as the three forms of Ra do. Furthermore, the Jade Pure One, the first to appear, is often depicted holding the Pearl of Creation, which to me is identical with Atum’s Cosmic Egg.

In my own practice, the Three Pure Ones are just different names and shapes for the three forms of Ra. Since I am mostly a philosophical Taoist, rather than a religious Taoist, it wasn’t essential for me to be able to reconcile these concepts, but the similarities seemed worth addressing, and it’s nice to have everything play nicely together.

Hut-heruTsu

 

 

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