Tag Archives: Taoism

In Awe and Acceptance

10 Dec

My Beloved is the mountains,
And lonely wooded valleys,
Strange islands,
And resounding rivers,
The whistling of love-stirring breezes,

The tranquil night
At the time of rising dawn
Silent music
Sounding solitude,
The supper that refreshes and deepens love.

– St. John of the Cross

15073449_1874143209487798_6838534828767081427_nOne fine weekend, my family and I went to Tagaytay for lunch in celebration of my brother’s birthday. We went to see the only branch of Bag of Beans in the said city (there are 4, i think) that we haven’t been to yet. The resto was lovely just like the other branches, but this one is  the most in touch with nature. The alfresco area was much bigger than the air-conditioned part, and it consisted of two levels/stories, extending even farther from the main premises and near a sort of cliff.

15179232_1874142702821182_2494052493202345696_nNeedless to say, I liked it. Nature evokes a certain feeling of awe and gratitude in me. Indeed, in it i see a form of divinity. Does it ever happen to you — where passively observing the earth gives you a sense of humility in that you are suddenly reminded that in the grand scheme of things, we  and (what we perceive as) our problems OR our so-called status and accomplishments in life, are mere specks of dust?

15171259_1874142826154503_2027985949918804858_nThis morning I had the chance to read about and reflect on another Taoist teaching. The 72nd verse of the Tao Te Ching speaks of “Living with Awe and Acceptance”. The translated version goes like this:

When people lack sense of awe,
There will be disaster.
When people do not fear worldly power,
A greater power will arrive.

Do not limit the view of yourself.
Do not despise the conditions of your birth.
Do not resist the natural course of your life.
In this way you will never weary of this world.

 Therefore, the sage knows itself
But makes no show of itself
Loves itself
But does not exalt itself
It prefers what is within to what is without

15179158_1874142792821173_5779028431834192975_nAccording to the annotations, there are two components that work together for a harmonious life: a sense of awe and total acceptance – without the combined forces of which we will be unlikely to see the presence of the Tao (or of God, of the universe, of the Source, of a supreme being, of an energy that animates us all– no matter what you wanna call it, it pertains to the same thing.)

bag-of-beansThe first part of the verse encourages us to notice and feel the power in our beautiful surroundings: The vibrant colors of the flowers in the park, the relaxing chirping of the birds, the soothing flow of water, the blue skies, the intricate design of a wood grain of a table, the misty air, the smell of a freshly cut grass. According to Lao Tzu, nature is where we connect with the Tao, or with divinity.

recently-updated27This is especially apt given our current political situation in the Philippines. When our facebook newsfeed is drowning us with unending battles of virtues and ideals, as well as the resulting civil divide, perhaps it is better to retreat to something that will remind us of how beautiful and majestic the world is supposed to be, and still is.

“The earth has music for those who listen”

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I guess it is also important to emphasize that we, humans, are part of nature. We are natural beings just like the trees and the animals. This is where the part of acceptance becomes very crucial. The second part of the  TaoTeChing verse tells us to accept ourselves for who we are, totally abandoning the labels we’ve created in our heads (I am not as rich as him/her, I am not as educated, I don’t have a perfect body, etc). It tells us not to despise our circumstances because in the end, every human being is a natural creation and every natural creation is in itself divine. We are all equal. We all have God in us.  It is only upon acceptance of ourselves that we will able to be in awe of it. Self-love.

Ultimately, the Taoist verse urges us to shift from looking for miracles to seeing everything as miraculous, and to change our view of the world (ourselves being part thereof) to one of awe and bewilderment. It says that by being in a state of awe, we won’t be able to mentally experience boredom or disappointment. And then,“We can live the mystery and in divinity by beginning to perceive what average eyes fail to notice.”

bag-of-beans5I couldn’t agree more with what I just read. I knew there was a reason I gravitate towards nature. All of us do, as a matter of fact. Some just get caught up with the hustle and bustle of the “modern world” that we’ve come to think of as comfortable but is in truth, very limiting.

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bag-of-beans3Wearing a dress i got from my fave thrift shop in Intramuros for only P180.00

15171025_1874143386154447_3110809273984522946_nBag that is locally made, which I got for P350.00

15095698_1874142852821167_6078186447094595535_n“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.”Michael Josephs

bag-of-beans2A bit off-topic, but I just have to mention: Bag of Bean’s chocolate banana latte was to die for. Best version i’ve ever tasted. Make sure to try it when you visit the restaurant. 🙂

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bag-of-beans1As I’ve said time and time again, Tagaytay restaurants are special because the food that they serve are much tastier (unlike those in Manila). Why? because their ingredients are almost always grown/produced naturally, sans chemical fertilizers (for vegetables and fruits) and preservatives (for meat). They don’t need this kind of harmful stuff because most ingredients are locally sourced. For example, you can actually taste the freshness of the salad’s pineapple vinaigrette.You could tell it did not come from a bottle sold at the supermarket. This basic example of well-tasting food affirms the idea that by keeping our ways as in touch with nature as possible, the best of things are created.

15056382_1874144049487714_7064675006302812311_nWe were all satisfied with the food that we ordered. The restaurant’s serving size is quite big but we finished everything.

15095526_1874144499487669_2843450279392771011_n“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, a society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not [Hu]man the less, but Nature more” – Lord Byron

(ugh. mejo nakakainis ang mga quotes na hindi gender sensitive! haha)

We can learn the Tao by being in perfect harmony with the environment, and by loving ourselves yet not making any show of ourselves. By quietly remaining in awe and acceptance, we transcend our ego’s prodding us to become insecure or entitled, bored and disappointed. Now, doesn’t that make perfect sense? 🙂

15178994_1876825062552946_7929293834481757644_nThat is all for today! Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 🙂 Go see a park or a garden or dine in an alfresco restaurant! hahaha ❤

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The Swan Lake

14 Aug

The Supreme Good is like water,

which nourishes all things without trying to.

It flows to low places loathed by all men.

Therefore it is like the Tao.

P_20160703_215321_1It’s been raining like crazy for a week now, and PAG-ASA predicted another week of heavy downpour. I am sure a lot of you are hating the concept of water at the moment as you associate the same with the heavy floods that result from the rain. Coincidentally though, I have this stack of pictures taken along Lake Geneva that boasts of this very element most people in Manila are hating on right now. lol

P_20160707_193316_BFI managed to snatch an hour to go for a walk along Lake Geneva on my own, before our flight back to Manila. I’ve been wanting to do this solo mini-trip and I was so lucky to have been able to do so, no matter how short of a time. As you all might already know, being alone in a beautiful place is something that I truly, truly enjoy. And this was surely one for the books! 🙂

P_20160703_215350_1It was a very sunny day, and people were out either biking, or sitting on the ledge… P_20160707_193818or strolling, or chatting or reading on the benches…P_20160703_220150_1or yes, swimming and sun-bathing in the lake.

There’s no magnificent beach in Geneva, but the crowd seemed pretty happy doing what every Swiss has mastered doing – to chill. 🙂P_20160707_193508_BF_1…And that day, I was one of them ^_^

It’s funny how when we are with no one but ourselves, we start noticing the beauty of even the most trivial of things around us… like how these normal green leaves so perfectly complement the blue lake: P_20160707_193804And how the lake forms a color gradient too:P_20160707_193748I am currently reading a book which is an annotation of the Tao-Te-Ching (a compilation of the ancient teachings of Lao-Tzu) and it had a chapter on  water, or living like water, that is. Since we are on the topic, allow me to share a few parts of it.

Dr. Wyer, the author of the said book interpreted the 8th verse of the Tao-Te-Ching as an encouragement for us all to “live like water lives.”. The Tao (or the Source, the God, the Creator, whatever we call it) and water are synonymous according to the teachings of Lao Tzu. Taoism tells us that the Tao is within all of us. If only ego doesn’t govern our lives so much it would be easier for us to see that we are indeed God-like.  For people who seek this inner purpose but is having a rather difficult time patterning their ways in accordance with the Tao or God,  understanding how water “lives” might just be a good start.P_20160703_220527_1Water is meant to flow – if it does, it stays pure; if it stays stationary, it becomes stagnant. Water does not seek the high spots to be above it all, but settles for the lowest places. Try to squeeze water, and it eludes our grasp. Try to relax our hands and feel it, and we experience it readily.  Water maps out nothing and it plays no favorites among the creatures that depend on it. It just flows and flows and it benefits us all incidentally.IMG_20160713_162008Lao Tzu, in suggesting that we are water and water is us, means that it is natural for us humans to be gentle, and to allow others to be free and do what they wanna do without so much interference from us. If we hold someone tight, we lose them. If we let them be, we receive love in return. It also means that it is natural for us to treat everyone as an equal. To assign ourselves a place of importance (above anyone else) is to allow ego – the antithesis of the Tao -take over us. Just like water, we are supposed to flow in the lowest places and to just let those found beneath the earth experience our kindness, acceptance, and compassion. By living like water, we forget about fighting our life, or trying to be someone else, but most importantly, we nourish others without trying so hard.

By simply being gentle, and graceful and detached from whatever it is that wants to experience us as we let our lives flow its natural course, we begin living the life that is in harmony with the Tao , and that is all that is essential in this world.P_20160707_193517_BFI really love that chapter of the book. It resonates so much sense to me. Who would’ve thought that element that we all take for granted can provide so much meaning and guidance? 🙂 Aaaah. Now I understand why water has a calming effect on almost everyone in this world. By experiencing it, we just simply go back to our selves, and to our Tao, and who are we most at home to but our own divine being, right? 🙂

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Anyways, as I continued my walk, I chanced upon this alfresco restaurant on the further end of the the Lake Geneve strip:

P_20160707_201146 I immediately knew this was the place for me! There was not much crowd, and the view of the water and the gigantic fountain was superb! 🙂

IMG_20160707_204232And there, I had a very satisfying simple lunch. I enjoyed my sandwich yes, but I had more fun gazing through the lake and taking some snaps of this really cozy part of Geneva. 😀

13626590_1809284569306996_4163292875453695971_nThen all of a sudden a flock of birds resting on the rocks just right below me flew up in the sky all at the same time, and damn, what a sight it was! I would’ve loved to take a photo of the birds playing in the air but I was too busy being amazed! 😀  I knew it was not gonna last long so I just immersed myself in the moment. Lao Tzu would be very proud of me ha! hahaha.

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One who lives in accordance with nature

does not go against the way of things

He moves in harmony with the present moment,

always knowing the truth of just what to do.

wp-image-1786140434jpg.jpegI will always crave for days like this. It was one of the most effortlessly beautiful days of my life ^_^

That would be all for today! good night!

 

In Harmony

6 Jun

I’ve been reading this book by Dr. Wayne Dyer  called “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” . It discusses the principles of Taoism by translating the Tao-Te-Ching into the modern day context. It has so far enlightened me on how to live life in harmony with our nature, our source of creation, our inner God.

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I learned that the Tao’s main antithesis is ego.  Every unhealthy thing that we are doing is because of ego – our tendency to obsess over something and to strive to the point of exhaustion, our love for worldly possessions, our desire for favors, status, accomplishments and titles, and our inclination to pass judgment on other people are all UNNATURAL and are driven by ego. This book teaches its readers how to live free from pride and vanity — and it goes way deeper than our common understanding of these terms.

blog26Ego, as defined by this book, is not only about our desire to be better than  other people or to project an image before them. It actually is more dangerous when what starts taking over us is the ego that we have against ourselves. For example, we chase people that we like even though it is clear that they don’t like us because our ego wants us to prove something to ourselves – that we are capable of achieving something unobtainable, or that being rejected means we are not good enough.

P_20160326_090931_BFWhen I read about this, i began double-checking my actions. Now, I am trying my best to distinguish if the pain or sadness I am feeling is really from the heart or if it is actually just pride. If it’s the latter, I dismiss the feeling. I tell myself “Let it go, Janica. It’s just your ego talking.”

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The book explains that we are already perfect as we are, without doing anything more, because we are created in the image of God (yes the author seems to be a believer of  Christ and it is amazing how he reconciles the Tao-Te-Ching and the Bible). If we start believing that we already are enough, and we already have enough, then it is so much easier to “let go and let God”. The only thing we need to do in this world is to trust our inner calling and do the things that we love just because — without seeking validation from external forces, without obsessing over outcomes, and without trying too hard.  We just need to just be… and all the blessings will naturally follow. 

blog33Parisian shoes, Unica Hija bag

P_20160326_090832_BFdress from a Thrift Shop

blog24“Simply Allow” – we only need to allow things to happen to our lives. We only need to welcome the possibilities. We do not need to try so hard all the time to make something work. SIMPLY ALLOW.

Oh how I relate to this part of the book so much. I swear every sentence that I read resonates to my inner core. I have been a witness of both: I have tried the unnatural way of forcing things to transpire (mostly love life related) and I always end up hurting myself. I have also tried the way of the Tao where I just continuously do something because I love doing it (without any expectation of reward), then I stop when the work is done – i let go, so to speak, and just trust that I am in a good place (mostly career related), and I swear to God everything has worked out so well for me! Blessings overflow in this department!

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“Stop pushing yourself, and feel gratitude and awe for what is“. Of course this is not to say that we all should be lazy. That is not the way of the Tao. What it is saying is that once the work is done then it is time to stop, relax and do nothing further. Effort and non-effort are both crucial in living harmoniously with our nature. It is one of the many paradoxes of life.

P_20160326_091058_BFI am not done reading the entire book yet but I’ve gotten so many insights and tips on how to live life well.I don’t know how it hooked me but it did. Of course it is not that easy to apply all the Taoist teachings to my life right away. But I would like to try to minimize my “unnatural” habits.

Good evening! 🙂

pictures taken by my mom in her garden 🙂