Belief and Stillness
Interconnectedness of All Things
By: Cheng Tong - Jul 07, 2020
“The Master sees things as they are,
Without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
And resides at the center of the circle.”
Laozi, Dao de Qing, Ch. 29
Anyone who has attended one of my lectures has heard me talk about our connection to everything and everyone everywhere. In order for us to be in this moment together – – my writing, your reading – – everything that has happened since the beginning of time everywhere had to happen precisely as it did. Otherwise, we would not be together today.
The interconnectedness of all things is an easy concept to understand intellectually. Breathing the same air, drinking the same water, as everyone else, not just those who are on earth today but all who came before us; all part of the same creation.
But – and here is the rub – these are just thoughts, impermanent and very transient, existing only in our minds at the moment and nowhere else in the universe. They will drop off and dissolve, to be replaced by the next transient thought, and so on.
When we move this understanding from our mind to our heart, though, to our being, well, then you’ve done something far more permanent. When everything you say and do is informed by this understanding, when the understanding itself becomes who you are, then your life will change. When you can truly live what you have learned, everything changes.
How to do this? In the cultivation of stillness, we bring ourselves into just this moment. The result is clarity, the clarity to see things as they are. In the finding of that quiet spot inside, expectation and judgment leave us. Among the things we see is our own self, merely as we are.
It is only in this doing, becoming so woven into the fabric of each moment as to be indistinguishable from it – – like the dancer becoming the dance – – that we can come to accept ourselves merely as we are.
“Because he believes in himself
(the Master) doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself
He does not need other’s approval.
Because he accepts himself,
The whole world accepts him.”
Dao de Qing, Ch. 30
Whether your meditation is sitting on your cushions, or is the moving meditation of Taiji, or walking a mountain trail alone, or chopping vegetables, it is through the cultivation of stillness that one moves intellectual understanding to spiritual understanding. At the Five Immortals Temple, we sat for 2-3 hours each evening on the temple’s stone floor, and trained in taiji for 3 hours every day. But, even as little as 20 minutes daily will bring you to the stillness I speak of if practiced faithfully.
“Knowing others is intelligence;
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Dao de Qing, Ch. 33
When you come to know yourself, you will know others. And when you master yourself, you will not need to master others.
In the true stillness of the moment, you come to believe in yourself;you come to be content with yourself; and you come to accept yourself. The effort required to achieve it is a full life’s journey. I believe this to be no less than the purpose of life.
The final steps to the main temple complex on White Horse Mountain shown in the picture above are a most welcome sight after climbing the 1500 meters that preceded them. This is the effort required each day to find that stillness within, the mountain we are all climbing together.
Stillness cultivated over time leads to belief in oneself, the true power in life. This is the climb worth making every day.