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Let Some Tao Non-Action Into Your Action

Let Some Tao Non-Action Into Your Action 86

Though the Tao Te Ching isn’t among the planet’s most talked spiritual texts, at least relative to the amount of attention the Bible, Quran, and Buddhist and Hindu doctrines receive, Laozi’s slim volume of directions has massively influenced the way we think about Eastern philosophy. The cornerstone of Taoism is embedded within his series of brief and punchy ideas which are rooted in, at times, paradoxical thinking.

Take one of the most famous aphorisms:”The Tao does nothing, and yet nothing is left undone.”  The “nothing” is wu-wei, frequently interpreted as”non-action.” One translation of Taoist ideas, Tao: The Watercourse Way, composed by British philosopher Alan Watts and Chinese philosopher Chungliang Al Huang in 1975, say that the concept shouldn’t “be considered inertia, laziness, laissez-faire, or mere passivity.”

Like people who think meditation is”doing nothing,” wu-wei isn’t a readily graspable concept when approached from a mindset of continuous action, i.e. the endless distraction our brains (and by extension, technology) afford us. Instead, the concept is not to battle yourself, at times, let the plan of life have its way with us. Since the authors put it,

Wu-wei as”not forcing” is what we mean by moving with the grain, rolling with the punch, swimming with the current, trimming sails to the wind, taking the tide at its flood, and stooping to conquer.

They compare the practice to judo and aikido, two martial arts that educate seasoned professionals to utilize their opponent’s force. By waiting for the challenger to overextend himself, you harness their effort and use his own body weight to overthrow him. To achieve this, you need to keep calm and composure in the midst of potential violence and chaos.

That’s the reason Nick Hobson, a research psychologist and lecturer in the University of Toronto, recently suggested implementing wu-wei as an antidote to our increasing rates of depression and anxiety. Rather than discovering a singular cause because of our growing dissatisfaction with our own lives, ” he points out the reasons are myriad: smartphones, sleep deprivation, a lack of purposeful social connection, and inadequate motion. He does not mention diet, however lots of study implicates poor eating habits too.

While the causes are numerous, Hobson points to our penchant for overanalyzing each scenario as the elephant in mind. Rather than holism, a cognitive characteristic he associates with Eastern psychology, we choose the trees over the forest, resulting in a obsession with overthinking.

This stark cultural gap was supported by people like social psychologist Richard Nisbett, who devoted an whole book to the subject. One of the most revealing examples involves the ways in which Easterners and Westerners–those terms are broad and generic, but function to provide a little bit of yin to our yang, at least as a metaphor–see art. Americans find a topic, an overarching detail which illustrates the”purpose” of the painting. Asians, by contrast, try to comprehend the relationship between everything in the scene. Their focus is more on interdependence compared to independence.

Hobson utilizes the”triad test” to make this point:

Suppose you are presented with a dog, a rabbit, and a carrot, then asked which two belong together. The analytical thinker chooses the dog and bunny because both fulfill the internally held principle of “animal category.” The holistic thinker, on the other hand, selects the bunny and carrot due to the interconnected and practical connection between the two: A rabbit eats carrots.

Western”rule-based reasoning” leads us to think every problem has a solution. Research in cognition and narrative has revealed when we aren’t offered a resolution to a story, we will devise one, often to our detriment–your partner is cheating on you if they haven’t texted, while the reality is anything but. After we’re not supplied a response, we have a tendency to overanalyze the circumstance, heaping stress upon anxiety.

That’s why Hobson proposes two Laozi-era methods to calm our overactive imaginations. Wu-wei is your very first, which he says means”we shouldn’t hurry to action.” While he prescribes”to not do anything at all,” that is slightly different from Watts’s and Al Huang’s translation, Hobson urges an”intuitive style of thinking” to cool our over-analyzing heads. Meditation and visualization exercises are just two methods for rerouting our psychological habits.

The next entails dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), an evidence-based therapy made by Dr. Marsha Linehan. Among its many programs, it’s intended to promote skills for bettering “mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.”

To make this connection, Hobson points to Taoism’s good export, the yin-yang emblem, which describes mutual dependence is present in everything. Hobson continues,

Two things can be opposed, and at the same time, mutually connected. You can be, for instance, in an anxious state and have perfect control of your situation and your life. Thinking in this manner makes it possible for a individual to tolerate contradictions and to take the uncertainties that inevitably present themselves.

Hobson writes that DBT has shown more effective than cognitive behavioral therapy (Linehan considers DBT a form of CBT) and pharmacological interventions. The target is to make incremental adjustments by recognizing a) not everything will be exactly how you want it, and that is alright, b) certain changes might need to be executed, so practice those changes and c) realize that life is worth living. From the equilibrium between nations that afflict people experiencing psychological ailments –complete management and lack of control–an emotionally salient mindset can be achieved.

Not that any of this is easy, however as Hobson mentions, neuroplasticity is really a phenomenon. Seeing the landscape rather than the singular figure walking through it is crucial for breaking loose of isolationism and the overwhelming lack of stress. As Watts and Al Huang phrased it,

Is a long life such a good thing if it’s lived in daily dread or in continuous search for gratification in a tomorrow that never comes?

Most of us intuitively know the solution. Placing that instinct into actions, paradoxically through a little bit of non-action, may only be a significant key to curing our anxious thoughts.

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Why does Satan’s name mean “light-bearer”?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 99

In modern languages, Lucifer is one of the names of Satan. However, from Latin the word lucifer literally translates as “luminiferous” and comes from the words lux (“light”) and phero (“carry”). What kind of light is this that the infernal ruler carries?

Franz von Stuck.  Lucifer
Franz von Stuck. Lucifer

The ancient Romans called the planet Venus by the word Lucifer, that is, the “morning star”, which is better than all other celestial bodies visible in the morning (as well as evening) firmament. By the way, this name is “tracing paper” from ancient Greek: the ancient Greeks called this celestial entity Phosphorus (from Φωσφόρος – “carrying light”).

Lucifer means ‘that which brings light’. From φῶς (phôs, “light”) +‎ -φόρος (-phóros, “bearing”), from φέρω (phérō, “I carry”).

Venus in the morning sky in January
Venus in the morning sky in January

Why did the name of the star become the name of Satan? This happened as a result of “translation difficulties”. The Bible, in the Book of Isaiah, contains a prophecy about the death of the Babylonian king – a terrible enemy of the ancient Jews. It looks like this:

“… You fell from the sky, morning star, son of the dawn! He crashed to the ground, trampling on the peoples. “

“Morning star” and “son of the dawn” here are nothing more than magnificent oriental titles of the ruler. When Jerome of Stridonsky, the first translator of the Bible into Latin, translated this passage, he translated the Hebrew word הֵילֵל (“heylel”, “morning star”) as lucifer, because that is how the morning star was called in Latin.

Caravaggio.  Saint Jerome
Caravaggio. Saint Jerome

However, Christians, contemporaries of Jerome, associated this passage not with the king of Babylon – the embodiment of evil for the ancient Israelites, but with their enemy – Satan. And the word “lucifer”, which was just the title of the Babylonian king, began to write with a capital letter. So the innocuous name of the star became a terrible hellish name.

Jerome’s other translation error led to an amusing misunderstanding. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, European artists and sculptors depicted Moses – the main biblical prophet … with horns on his head! Why?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 100
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 101
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 102

The Bible says that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face was radiant. In Hebrew, the words “ray” and “horn” are similar. So Jerome got it: “His face became horny because God spoke to him.”

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There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 103

Everyone has their own hobbies. Some are passionate about collecting, others are gardening, and still others are passionate about sports. But the hero of this article has a special passion. Ra Paulette is an American sculptor from New Mexico who burrows into hillsides and caves to create intricate artistic spaces within mountains. Maybe he is now the only one in the world.

You might think that he is a professional architect or sculptor, but no, it’s just that this person has a hobby. Although talent is undoubtedly present, he creates real works of art, sculpts caves like shrines, like sacred places.

He describes his places of work as “a sanctuary for prayer and meditation,” while others describe his caves as works of art. The caves are decorated with “scallops, patterns, smooth curved lines, smooth cornices, crisp ledges and inlaid with stones”. Its caves attract tourists from all over the world.

He has been hiding in a cave in New Mexico, USA for 25 years and has now decided to showcase the interior of his home.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 104

What he did to the inside of the cave is almost impossible to describe in words, as if we are entering the world of fairy tales.

In ancient times, people made dwellings in caves or dug new rooms in the sandstone, but only for the purpose of living. The works of this artist are more for soul resting.

All this beauty is made in white sandstone cliffs just an hour from Santa Fe. Has anyone from you seen this beauty in real?

Tired of the whims of his bosses and customers, the artist, who was bored with art, began his personal and independent project.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 105

The results of the project, as well as the process itself, are very impressive. Ra Paulette, who spent the last 25 years in the cave, completely alone, apart from his dog, away from society, spent time carving out walls.

He spent his time carving the sandstone cave he found, transforming it into a wonderful underground space full of light.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 106

Paulette created different designs and styles for each cave, giving each one a distinct quality and texture.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 107

The goal of this gigantic piece of art is to create an environment that inspires “spiritual renewal and personal well-being.” It will also serve as a venue for artistic events when its project is completed.
Ra Paulette works exclusively with hand tools, a pick and a shovel. First, he digs in various halls and vaults in any form, not forgetting about ventilation. The artist himself called his style – “dances of the digger” . When he likes what he gets, then he proceeds directly to creativity: decorates the halls and vaults with mysterious carvings and patterns.

In some places, his works look like real natural caves, and in other – like a completely civilized housing

Ra Paulette Cave
That is, you can wander and relax there.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 108
When Ra Paulette made his first cave, it attracted connoisseurs of beauty and tourists. But it was made on state land and, in addition, he could not guarantee the safety of visitors. The cave had to be filled up.

Only later, when he began to make safe projects and all legal issues were met, it was possible to create endlessly. At the moment, 15 underground palaces exist for sure.

A documentary film “Cave digger” was even made about him and this man became even more famous.

In the video below, you can virtually take a trip through one of the caves decorated by the artist.

We can only be surprised by such people who just alone create beauty with which, we become kinder and better beings.

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Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe 109

According to Hindu records, Christians believe that the earth is the center of the universe. In contrast to this belief, the Hindus consider Mount Meru as the universal center and home of their gods.

In the eyes of the Hindus, Mount Meru is quite large, its height is about 84,000 yojanas (about 1,082,000 km). Since Hindu and other Eastern religions idolize Meru, it seems to them that the sun and all the planets of the solar system revolve around it.

According to Jain mythology, Meru is surrounded by two suns, two moons and two “sets” of stars. When some of them are in sight, others hide in the shadow of a mountain, which they believe is about 100,000 yojanas wide.

For the Hindus, Meru is the axis of the earth. Without it, the planet will not be able to rotate. In addition, they see the mountain as the home of the gods, with their kingdoms spread across all of its inconceivable height.

Followers of each of these important gods travel to these heavenly realms to rest and await their next reincarnation.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe
A fresco depicting Mount Meru (left) and a painting (right) from Jain cosmology

For the Javanese, Mount Meru contributed to the origin of the island of Java. According to their legends, Batara’s guru ordered Brahma and Vishnu to fill the island with people. At that time the island of Java roamed and was not tied to any solid land. To stop the movement, the gods moved a part of the sacred mountain from India and attached it to Java. This new anchor was Mount Semeru, now the highest volcano in Java.

For Buddhists, the importance of Mount Meru also lies in their belief that it is the center of the universe. Unlike the Hindu version, Buddhists believe that the mountain was surrounded by a body of water and believe in 31 levels of life on Meru.

Since Mount Meru is the ecumenical center and sacred site, many mythological characteristics are attributed to it. First, it is so high that the mountain touches the sky, and the pole star shines directly above the mountain, giving it a sacred appearance. Secondly, it is said that the Ganges comes to the mountain as one river, and, having reached Meru, is divided into 4 separate rivers.

Third, there are 4 cities filled with residents, one on each side of the mountain. Ancient myths say that these inhabitants constantly see the sun at its zenith, and they always work. The sun rises and sets only for those who do not live on the mountain.

In addition, there is one lord of the heavens, God Indra, and he lives at the top. There are also four heavenly kings on Mount Meru, one on each side. The mountain extends to Jambudwip, which itself is divided into 4 continents. The southern continent is where Buddha was born and his teachings are followed here.

Many famous Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples were built as symbolic images of this mountain. The basis of the style is a characteristic feature of Chinese pagodas.

Although ancient Buddhists believed that the mountain was real, European visitors began to express other thoughts about the earth, which contradicted the Buddha’s teachings about Meru. Modern Buddhist scholars have decided that this is an allegorical story, and not a description of a real mountain.

However, many Buddhists still refuse to change their beliefs about the sacred mountain. For them, belief in the existence of Meru is the same as belief in Buddha.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

If you plunge into reality, Mount Meru is a volcano located 70 kilometers west of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, 4562.13 meters high.

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