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Is It Tao or Dao?

Is it Tao te Ching or Dao de Jing? The spelling of Chinese words is confusing and inconsistent. Here’s an explanation.

Chinese writing consists of simplified images called pictograms, which represent words. Many Chinese pictograms combine two or more images. So the word for forest is simply a few trees combined into one pictogram. The choices within a pictogram can say a lot more about a word than what Western letters communicate.

A good example of this is the word Tao, the Way (seen above). It combines the image of taking a step and that of a head. You walk using your head – both when choosing a direction and in learning from the walk. One could say that it’s a way for mind and body to align. A spiritual path, if you will.

Pictograms illustrate the meaning of a word while analyzing the history and origin of the word. But it doesn’t help much in pronunciation or spelling.

The Western alphabet is all about pronunciation. In Western language, there is pretty much a consensus about how each letter is pronounced. Chinese pronunciation isn’t based on the Western letters and their sounds; in fact, the Chinese have sounds that differ slightly from the ones we are accustomed to. Again, Tao is a good example.

The sound for “T” is pronounced somewhere between a “T” and a “D” in our ears, somewhere between the unvoiced and voiced consonant. It was translated as “Tao” in the late 19th/early 20th centuries using a Romanization system called Wade-Giles. “Dao” was later transcribed into the Western alphabet using a Chinese adaptation called Pinyin.

The “unvoiced T––voiced D” is far from the only difference in transcriptions. Here are other differences in Tao’s transmutation:

Wade-Giles

Tao te Ching

Lao Tzu

Chi

I ching

T’ai chi   

Pinyin 

Dao de Jing

Lao zi

Qi

Yi jing

Taiji

English

Scripture of the Way

Founder of Taoism

Energy

Book of changes

Great art of boxing

And the list continues.

The mystery of pictograms lives on.

 

 

GIVE UP ON PERFECTION… and embrace certainty.

A child shrugs their shoulders in a quick up-down motion to communicate, I dun’no? They’re not worried about not knowing.

As an adult, the worry of not knowing can raise our shoulders with such a silent eerie creep that they freeze in that position. When we finally notice their up-tightness, we worry that if they drop so will everything we’ve worked for.

If we’re working to be an expert at something it’s important to remember:

An expert is a student.

As a student and Minister of Tao, I’ve learned that mind body relationships are central in order to effectively cultivate healing. The significance of our shoulder’s grip is twofold. The tension of a shrug relates to shouldering the uncertainty of our value; the freeze of a shrug relates to bearing the weight of unresolved moments of crisis.

“Darkness within darkness.

The gateway to all understanding.”

Tao te Ching

So What is Crisis?

Tao recognizes crisis as a plummet of both physical and spiritual energies. The belief is that we are spiritual-physical beings born with 0% spiritual awareness that develops as we mature, and 100% physical vitality that diminishes as we age. When our spiritual awareness and physical vitality collide and collapse we suffer crisis.

Mid-life crisis is an example of how these opposing influences affect us. If we do not develop spiritual awareness the lines cross without ever embodying wholeness or a true sense of Self, and the descending of our physical vitality create a defeated experience––crisis.

If we develop spiritual awareness and dissolve our self-inflicted distortions, the lines cross after a sense of wholeness is achieved. Awareness nurtures the body, extending our physical vitality well into our golden years, to experience a graceful, happy and long life.

Although mid-life is an anticipated time for crisis, crisis’ happens at any age.

How Crisis Can Lead To Certainty

Trauma from abuse, accident or loss, disappointment from rejection, failure or loneliness, exhaust physical vitality and can stunt spiritual awareness. In these moments of crisis, doubt about our self-worth, belonging and rightness can easily come into question.

For example, when I got fired from a job that had felt like a second home for 30-years, my first reaction was that I was a loser! If they didn’t see my worth in 30-years what chance did I have of succeeding elsewhere? And you guessed it, my shoulders did the upward creep!

If we have a way of weighing in with ourselves so we understand the nature of our doubt we can begin to create change.

Uncertainty around trauma is expressed through the carriage of your shoulders.

As the widest aspect of our skeletal frame, our shoulders’ posture illustrate the amount of space we are familiar with and feel worthy to occupy in the world; as well as, expressing the amount of heart we are accustomed to showing in ourselves.

The meaning of shoulder tension:

  •   Lifted tension––uncertain you know what is right.
  •   Dropped tension––necessity to be right!
  •   Narrow placement––discomfort in being seen in the world.
  •   Wide placement––comfort in being seen in the world.
  •   Rotated forward––uncertain in matters of the heart.
  •   Rotated backward––demonstrative in matters of the heart.

Relaxed, dropped, widely placed, non-rotated shoulders show comfort in being seen and open curiosity in matters of the head and heart.

This neutral placement stabilizes both mind and body. But we all circulate through these tense shoulder positions as we experience challenging situations in life. The posture you want to pay most attention to is the one that is consciously limiting you (physical discomfort) or unconsciously leading you (emotional uncertainty).

Deliberately surrendering shoulder tension unearths certainty.

Use your breath to surrender the misplacement that accompanies the need to be perfect, and surrender your shoulders neutrally. Certainty is on the other side of, I dun ‘no. A certainty in your own value.

Unraveling the tension of uncertainty takes more strength than rallying brute force in mind or body. You have to continually reorganize the habits your mind and body use to avoid the feeling of not knowing.

I could have fought for that 30-year job, after all their accusations were false. Once my tense shoulders dropped, I could stop reacting and see the bigger picture. I recognized that they had done me a favor. It was time for me to leave home and bring my message to a larger audience.

Going from familiar discomfort to unfamiliar comfort takes believing in your spiritual wisdom. Becoming aware of this inherent wisdom is what makes your life path yours.

Learn to Surrender Tension in 8-Minutes with this FREE video exercise.

How the Body Aligns You on Your First ______! And how you align it thereafter.

Malayan porcupine in nature

You meet someone new. Maybe in an interview or on a first date or a spontaneous introduction, and your heart responds openly. Your chest naturally rises, as if your body were smiling; and, the width between your shoulder blades retreats, like a porcupine retracting its quills.

 

More often than not you trust your heart’s message. You, almost without noticing, reorganize your inner self and let this new person into your life. Your passion to create alignment in business, creativity, friendship or love is ignited!

 

Then one day your body responds differently. Your chest contracts and your back widens—you are on high alert.

 

It is accepted in the West that the heart is our emotional seat and that the chest’s carriage expresses our heart’s emotional state. But in the East, it is understood that the heart carries our joy and the lungs carry our sadness, including the back’s carriage in the expression of our emotional wellbeing.

 

… Trust your natural responses;

And everything will fall into place.

                                                                   Tao te Ching

 

Your body expresses a smile of truth through your chest muscles that relate to your heart’s joy. It expresses the need to protect your smile of truth through your back muscles that relate to your lung’s sadness.

 

Cocooned between chest and back muscles the Heart Center’s rainbow of emotions are communicated through your chest and back’s alternating rise and fall. This oscillation acts as your barometer regarding what you want to align with in each moment. Your chest and back muscles take turns aligning with the situation in question.

 

When passion turns to high alert this emotional yo-yo, exhausted by extreme alignment swings, locks into one extreme or the other. Tension is the result—a physical holding pattern—that steals physical strength and mental resolve.

 

Here’s the thing…

Passion leads to purpose. What you are passionate about does not.

 

When what you are passionately aligned with is leading you away from what feels purposeful, a deliberate realignment is being asked of you. The internal alignment that happened initially, without much thought, is now demanding thought.

 

Allow your body to express what you’re feeling before you try to reason through the situation. Restructuring does not mean your more assertive—yang —nature of your back shadows the more sensitive—yin—nature of your chest, or visa versa. This restructuring asks you to meet the conflict as an aligned team that represents your smile of truth.

 

The conflict is about your relationship with the other person, not the other person.

 

Posture is the first thing that cues you in on how you feel about your relationship with something. Dialogue with your body before it shouts out with pain and fatigue. Listen when it gets energized, relaxed and sits upright. Ask yourself:

 

  •      Can passionate choices be, less about the choice and, more about being lead toward your purpose? The teaching tools that ask you to explore your values and value.
  •      Can protecting your passion be training the muscles needed for you to be purposeful? The call to action that asks you to step into unfamiliar territory.

 

What have we turned our backs on because we didn’t know what questions to ask ourselves? Living life in shades of gray offers way more options that living in black or white choices.

 

If you let yourself be blown to and fro.

You lose touch with your roots.

If you let restlessness move you,

You lose touch with who you are.

                                                                Tao te Ching

 

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