How’s the life you made up today?

person meditating by the ocean

The Dao Te Ching, speaks of the present for us to live in. It speaks of the 10,000 things, it speaks of embracing the emotions that give one a peaceful heart and a quiet mind. It speaks of ridding our lives of unhealthy attachments, greed, envy and jealousy, unfounded fears, only to name a few. The Dao teaches simplicity, patience, harmony with all things and compassion as a core message. In the following essay I explored in my own mind, a conversation I had with myself that I would like to share with you.

Note to Self: “Who am I?” I ask when I am listening to the silence of myself. “Is this just a story I’ve made up when I talk with myself and who is that self?” I often ask. I have thought how many selves are there? I still don’t know the answers. Sometimes there is one of me and sometimes there are many; are the many just the different hats that are worn by different stories I tell myself and others to try to define my place in the world? A place in the world for me to define myself? Hmmm… I wonder. Thinking: “Am I the butterfly dreaming or the man wondering?” Perhaps I am both and at the same time. “Am I here or there or both?” Perhaps both. I ask myself: “If my life is but a dream, or perhaps only a story I make up each day, then why not make the story be filled with all the things I might dream of?”

The way we view our life is in fact a story we make up to explain ourselves to ourselves and others. In fact what we tell ourselves is the truth becomes the truth even when it has no basis of fact in reality. We can even tell ourselves a lie we have told so often, that it will become our truth in the way we tell our story, we come to believe it ourselves, even though we made it up. I say to you, if you wake up in the morning and find you have made up a story of your life that you are unhappy with, why not get up in the morning and make up a different one? No matter what yesterday’s story was, it is gone, for that is the past and no longer exists. All there is is the present.

I say to all of you: The brain science tells me that it can’t tell the same story to different people twice in a row the same. Make up a new wonderful story each morning and live the story as long as you can each day.

I say to you: If you want to be healthy and happy then live in your perfect world. Be grateful, for every minute, your life is precious. The story you tell yourself and others is the life you live, without making changes. So, go ahead, make up a new, wonderful story each morning and live the story each day as fully as you can. Inhabit your new story.

I say to you: If you want to be healthy and happy then live in your perfect world. Write the most perfect story you can for your day today, just today. Be grateful for every minute. Your life is precious. The story you tell yourself and others about you is the life you will live, according to your story. It is never too late to reinvent yourself.

Remember to be grateful and mindful. Sit quiet for 5 minutes a day.

As a Postscript: Most of us will need to do some work to heal the wounded child. Make peace with the past. Much forgiveness of self and others is almost always necessary.

And a Closing Comment: “Your attitude is your last freedom perhaps your only freedom.” In the words of a wise friend, “There is no rearview mirror.” Fill your life with love and light, and you will surely have a peaceful heart.

Footnote: If you wish to read the science, I recommend “How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” by Lisa Feldiman Barrett

How the Tao Te Ching provides insight into coping with modern day life during the Coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted many of the challenges people have coping with modern day life, and Verse 65 of the Tao Te Ching may provide valuable insight in managing these difficult times. Translation from the “The Way of Life according to Laotzu” copyright 1944 by Witter Bynner.

Tao Te Ching Verse 65
Sound old rulers, it is said,
Left people to themselves, instead
Of wanting to teach everything
And start the people arguing.
With mere instruction in command,
So that people understand
Less than they know, woe is the land;
But happy the land that is ordered so
That they understand more than they know.
For everyone’s good this double key
Locks and unlocks equally.
If modern man would use it, he
Could find old wisdom in his heart
And clear his vision enough to see
From start to finish and finish to start
The circle rounding perfectly.

In applying Verse 65 and our present view of the pandemic and our divided government, it seems to me that not only does the modern world provide access to much information and misinformation, it makes it very difficult to tell which is which. I think to see clearly in the modern world we must learn to look at mass media’s use of double speak, spin, and self-serving agendas that are used to get us to argue over differing views/opinions instead of looking for the facts (truth). In closing, a very wise person once said to me: “In search of knowledge to try to learn something new each day, but in search of wisdom forget something each day.” (Lao Tsu said some very similar in verse 48 of the Tao Te Ching.)