TAO TE CHING for Our Times

Tao Te Ching by Addiss and Lombardo, Shambhala, 2007

At this time of chaos, the world is in special need of the wisdom of Lao-tzu, as written in the Tao Te Ching. The photo is the cover of the book, Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo, Shambhala, 2007.

This one of many fine translations and interpretations of the Tao Te Ching. What makes it different is its terseness. We favor brevity and simplicity, leaving it to the reader to add all the particles and grammatical care to form proper sentences. We are especially fond of this presentation by two highly qualified translators who chose to “let the text speak for itself” rather than explaining what Lao-tzu meant.

Perhaps the best way to benefit from this book is to first read other books and secondly to develop understanding through contemplative practice. Then the beauty of the simple text becomes apparent. And the power of the wisdom more striking. Let’s focus on the advice proffered in the final lines from selected verses.

Verse 81

Heaven’s Tao benefits and does not harm. The Sage’s Tao acts and does not contend.

Verse 79

Heaven’s Tao has no favorites but endures in good people.

Verse 67

Heaven aids and protects through compassion.

Verse 46

Knowing that enough is enough is always enough.

Verse 42

A violent man does not die a natural death.

Verse 41

Tao hides, no name. Yet Tao alone gets things done.

Verse 40

All things originate from being. Being originates from non-being.

Verse 37

No desire is serenity, and the world settles of itself.

Verse 25

Humans follow earth, earth follows heaven, heaven follows Tao. Tao follows its own nature.

Verse 14

Live in the ancient Tao, master the existing present, understand the source of all things. This is called the record of Tao.

Verse 13

Love the world as your self: The world can be your trust.

Verse 8

Only do not contend, and you will not go wrong.

Verse 5

Longwinded speech is exhausting. Better to stay centered.

Verse 3

[The Sage] Practices non-action and the natural order is not disrupted.

Verse 2

When no credit is taken, accomplishment endures.

Verse 1

[Tao] The gateway to all mystery.

***

Sidpa Gyalmo, Great Mother Protector

The world is now struggling with devastating problems of sickness, natural disasters, and human violence. The  བོན Bön deity Sidpa Gyalmo is being invoked in the midst of this pandemoneum because of her fiercely protective and healing energies. Sidpa Gyalmo is one of the three emanations of the Great Mother of the Universe. Sidpa Gyalmo [Tibetan srid pa’i rgyal mo] is transcribed into roman letters in different ways, for example Sipé Gyalmo.

In the Bön religion Sidpa Gyalmo, the Queen of the World, is the fierce aspect of the Great Mother; Sherab Chamma is the Loving Mother of Wisdom and Compassion. Sidpa Gyalmo is depicted in a dark blue color, surrounded by flames of power. She is both healer and protector in addition to remover of obstacles to enlightenment. Sidpa Gyalmo is the wrathful aspect, Sherab Chamma is the peaceful aspect, and Yeshe Walmo has both aspects of the Great Mother.

Many Bön teachers and practice groups are accessible on the Internet. They can be found by searching on the key words “Bon religion.” One such group is Bon Shen Ling.

Latri Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche is the teacher of Yeru Bon Center. Rinpoche leads a practice group on Tuesday nights. During August 2020, they are doing the Sidpa Gyalmo Coronavirus practice over Zoom. Everyone is invited to join in. To learn the Sidpa Gyalmo practice, click here. Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche teaches a simple practice and why we do it. Scroll down that same page and watch the video. We summarize the Sidpa Gyalmo practice. The mantra and the dedication are given below. You can recite the mantra as you go about your day.

  1. Sit and calm yourself. Set your pure intention for the benefit of all sentient beings, especially those victims of the virus and other catastrophes. Generate warm-heartedness and genuine compassion.
  2. Imagine Sidpa Gyalmo in front of your head. She is dark blue. Her wisdom aura is flaming with powerful energy. In her right hand she holds a sword of wisdom, in her left a vase of healing essence. Imagine that you yourself are Sidpa Gyalmo.
  3. Recite Sidpa Gyalmo’s mantra for you and everyone, one or two rounds of the mala. As you recite, radiate the flames as thousands of manifestations of Sidpa Gyalmo. The flames burn illness and its causes, disasters and their causes, violence and its causes. Send this energy to everyone everywhere. Imagine all beings being healed and protected by this energy.
  4. Follow by meditation.
  5. Make supplication to Sidpa Gyalmo. Ask for her blessing in protecting all sentient beings and removing obstacles to liberation. In return make a sincere offering from your heart.
  6. Make a dedication to share the merit of your practice with all sentient beings.

*

SIDPA GYALMO MANTRA

om abhiya nakpo é sö soha

*

DEDICATION

go sum dak pa’i ge wa kang gyi pa

kham sum sem chen nam gyi don du ngo

du sum sak pa’i le drip kun jyang ne

ku sum dzok pa’i sang gye nyur thop shok

Translation:

All pure virtue done through the three doors (body, speech and mind),

I dedicate for the welfare of sentient beings throughout the three realms (desire, form and formlessness).

Having purified all obstructive actions of the three poisons (greed, hatred and attachment),

May we swiftly achieve complete Buddhahood of the three bodies.

*

This practice is effective in many ways. Sidpa Gyalmo answers every call with her powerful energies, for she is everywhere. Our own inner capacity strengthens. We become more calm and gain confidence in the face of these disastrous situations.

At this time of chaos in the world, all are welcome to invoke the dynamic power of Sidpa Gyalmo. Her energy gives us not only healing and protection, but we ourselves transform and overcome obstacles to greater awareness. In her triple emanations, Sidpa Gyalmo – Yeshe Walmo – Sherab Chamma, Great Mother protects not only us sentient beings but the Bön teachings as well. She leads us to join her in her enlightened state.

***

Chaos of Creation

Source, by Rowena Pattee Kryder

As we saw in the previous post, chaos can be good news. Let’s consider chaos a bit further. Creation myths around the world begin with a form of chaos: darkness, clouds, mud,… In the book by Rowena Pattee Kryder, Source: Visionary Interpretations of Global Creation Myths, is a Preface by Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. Dr. Krippner writes:

“I see myths as time-honored stories, social narratives, or personal constructs that address existential or spiritual human issues.”

“Creation myths often state a dilemma, but human beings must embark on their own journey to resolve the paradox of existence.”

“Dr. Kryder’s reminder that beyond the diversity of existence there is unity, wholeness with the Source of it all, is a gift. These ancient creation myths can provide metaphors still worthy of incorporation into the personal myths that are hammered out each day on the anvil of people’s lives.”

Dr. Kryder, in her last chapter, relates creation myths to cosmogenesis of modern physics. In particular, she addresses the super-implicate, implicate, and explicate orders in the theory of quantum physicist David Bohm. She concludes:

“In general, the creation myths imply that we have the wholeness within us. We are the wholeness — one with the Source. We need only release attachment to our limited identities, forms, images and dramas. Then we realize what is always true: We are one with Creation and one with Source at once, by simply being who we are — and aware of who we are.”

Chaos can indeed be good news. Chaos can lead to oneness with each other and with Source.

***

“Chaos is good news!”

Snapshot from a computer simulation of the formation of large-scale structures in the Universe, showing a patch of 100 million light-years and the resulting coherent motions of galaxies flowing towards the highest mass concentration in the centre. The snapshot refers to an epoch about 10 billion years back in time. The colour scale represents the mass density, with the highest density regions painted in red and the lowest in black. The tiny yellow lines describe the intensity and direction of the galaxy’s velocities. Like compass needles, they map the infall pattern and measure the rate of growth of the central structure. This depends on the subtle balance between dark matter, dark energy and the expansion of the Universe. Astronomers can measure this effect using large survey of galaxies at different epochs in time, as shown by the new research.

The world is in a difficult time. We can even say it is a time of chaos. How can chaos be good news?

We came across these words from Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

“Chaos should be regarded as very good news.”

This sentence appears in his book, The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation. Here is the context.

“The Lion’s Roar is the fearless proclamation that any state of mind, including the emotions, is a workable situation, a reminder in the practice of meditation. We realize the chaotic situations must not be rejected. Nor must we regard them as regressive, as a return to confusion. We must respect whatever happens to our state of mind. Chaos should be regarded as very good news…. Whatever occurs in the samsaric mind is regarded as the path, everything is workable. It is a fearless proclamation — the lion’s roar.”

The following is a commentary on Trungpa Rinpoche’s quote in the book by Patricia Donegan, Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness and Open Your Heart. She writes:

“It doesn’t always feel that way, but the chaos is a moment or time of lack of control and of surprise, in which anything is possible, beyond our judgment of good or bad. In Tibet it is believed that the enlightened Buddha energies manifest in either peaceful or wrathful forms, depending on what is called for, to protect and awaken us. The reason why it is ‘good news’ is because the nonfixed, chaotic state of things creates an open field in which new things can emerge and grow.”

Let us be fearless and use this opportunity to create a better world for all.

***

Martian Photos from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Mars sand dunes by NASA

“The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured these sand ripples and the large dune (at center) on Feb. 9, 2009. Color has been added to make textures easier to see. This area is in Proctor Crater at 47.8 degrees south latitude and 30.7 degrees east longitude.”

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched 15 years ago. NASA has released some fabulous photos taken by High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Here are two of them.

EarthSky has posted an article about the HiRISE photos here.

Mars avalanche by NASA


“The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (Hi-RISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this avalanche plunging down a 1,640-foot-tall (500-meter-tall) cliff on May 29, 2019. The image also reveals layers at Mars’ north pole during spring. As temperatures increase and vaporize ice, the destabilized ice blocks break loose and kick up dust.”

***

Selected Senryu

Senryū (川柳, literally ‘river willow’) is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 syllables [5-7-5]. Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. [Adapted from en.wikipedia.org]

Senryu Poems of the People, by J.C. Brown, Tuttle, 1990

Selected Poems

Notes: A hyphen – indicates a long vowel; hold it an extra count. Double consonants sometimes hold for two counts.

~~~

ne ni hosomu

inochi shinjita

eda no saki

— Sho-ichi

“The tip of the branch believes in the hidden life of the root.”

~~~

samazama no

na o motsu hanabi

mina kemuri

— Keisen

“Fireworks, variously named, are all just smoke.”

~~~

hana saite

itemo zasso-

hiki nukare

— Ko-bo-

“Bloom though they may, weeds are pulled up.”

~~~

nusutto neko

ana no aku hodo

mite nigeru

— Kaishinji

“The thieving cat stares hard, then runs away.”

~~~

massugu ni

yuki ni cho-cho-

hima ga ari

— Kaho-

“A butterly that goes straight has free time.”

~~~

doko e yuku

kumo ka to mireba

kieru kumo

— Gokason

Looking at clouds, “Wondering where they’re going, the clouds disappear.”

***

BBC: Uncovering the Mystery of Japan’s Stonehenge

Iwaya-Iwakage of Kanayama Megaliths

BBC just published under their JAPAN 2020 site a wonderful film on the Kanayama Megaliths.

The ancient Kanayama Megaliths are extraordinary in their complexity. Across three sites, the solar observatories accurately measure not only solstices and equinoxes but also leap years.

But they would have been left hidden in the forest if it weren’t for two people who stumbled upon some strange etchings in the stones.

Without any scientific background, Yoshiki Kobayashi and Shiho Tokuda set out to understand how three of the the world’s most sophisticated solar observatories worked.

Justyna Feicht, filmmaker living in Tokyo who works all-over the world; her husband Susumu, a filmmaker himself; and Celine Marks produced this film.

***

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Farmers celebrating the autumn moon

日本文化の愛 Nipponbunka no ai

image37

Farmers celebrating the autumn moon

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan, and the recognized master of the Haiku. He made a living as a teacher, but renounced the social and urban life of the literary circles, and wandered throughout the country to gain inspiration for his writing. His poems are influenced by his firsthand experience of the world around him, often catching the feelings of a scene in a few simple elements. Here Basho is leaning on his staff when he encounters two farmers celebrating the mid-autumn moon festival. The Haiku reads:

“Since the crescent moon, I have been waiting for tonight.”

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KOTOTAMA: RETURNING TO THE ORIGIN

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Editor’s Note

We view Wosite as a kototama language. We taught the meanings of the five vowels of Wosite as symbols of energetic processes.

One of the great teachers of kototama was 小笠原孝次 Ogasawara Koji.

So far as we know, Ogasawara Sensei wrote only one book in English and it is difficult to find. One of Ogasawara’s students was Masahilo Nakazono who moved to the U.S. and published several kototama books in English.

Waki Shuppan, the Waki Publishing Company, has been publishing a series of books on kototama, the power of sound, the spirit of speech.

Nanasawa Kenji 七沢 賢治is a student of Ogasawara Sensei. Nanasawa has published a number of books based on the Ogasawara teachings.

The book we are looking at today is entitled, 言霊開眼. The Japanese title is read as Genrei Kaigan, and it can be interpreted as Kototama Enlightenment. The…

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“Five Elements” of Wosite and Other Traditions

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Mandala of Yungdrung Bon by Gyalshen Institute

Preface

From the writings of the classical Greek period, we know the term “Five Elements.” The concept is found in many other cultures. Wosite, too, has its version. In this essay, we share some observations about these various views of the universe and humans.

Greek Five Elements

According to Aristotle, the Five Elements which are the basic building blocks of the physical world are:

Aether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth

These were part of the system of explaining observed phenomena in Greek physics. As Wikipedia notes, Plato used the term “element” in reference to air, fire, earth, and water. The ancient Greek word for element, stoicheion (στοιχεῖον), meant a letter or a syllable, the smallest component of a word.

Tibetan Prayer Flags

We received a string of paper prayer flags from ICT, the International Campaign for Tibet. The enclosure, shown here, explains the symbolism of…

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