Putting a value on statuswill create contentiousness.
If you overvalue possessions,people begin to steal.
By not displaying what is desirable, you will
cause the people’s hearts to remain undisturbed. The sage governsby emptying minds and hearts,
by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
Practice not doing. . . .
When action is pure and selfless,everything settles into its own perfect place.
Dyer, Wayne W.. Living the Wisdom of the Tao (p. 9). Hay House. Kindle Edition.
WHAT JESUS HAD TO SAY ABOUT IT:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
King James Version
Placing too much value on status really does create contention. When you exalt someone because they are pretty or born wealthy or famous or smart, you immediately stir up strife, especially if you undervalue the people who are there for you every day, making life happen.
Virtue. Restraint. Integrity.
Those words seem to have fallen out of favor in our mainstream culture, at least here in America. I love my country so don’t take this the wrong way, but we are an abundantly blessed nation, and we are an abundantly WASTEFUL nation. We have sheds, storage units, houses and garages filled with clothes we never wear, purses we never carry, shoes we never walk in, furniture we never sit on, dishes we never eat out of, toys our kids never play with and books we never read.
LIVE abundantly, not hoard abundantly.
I believe in abundance. I believe we are meant to have all that we need and want in this life, but abundance is not equivalent to waste. There’s a story in the New Testament where Jesus talks about a man who had immense wealth and instead of using his excess for good, he just decided to build more barns to house all his belongings, then he died and took nothing with him. The whole point in having belongings is LIVE abundantly, not hoard abundantly. Live is an action word.
The first shall be last.
I notice that the Tao Te Ching talks about not showing off one’s stuff and not pushing to get ahead. This goes so against the way our society has been set up through the years. We’re taught to work hard and push our way to the top, but what if the top is really the bottom? Jesus talked about how when a person comes in and seeks to have the seat of honor that he will be removed and the seat given to another. What if trying to be “first” became unimportant to us?
I teach and inevitably every time the kids line up to go anywhere there’s that one kid (sometimes more) that will run and push to be first. I always send that kid to the back of the line, pick some child who simply lined up and put that one at the head of the line and then I’ll say, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” The kid who pushed and tried to be first will always say, “What does that mean?” I simply smile and say, “You think about it and figure that out.” Maybe, the answer is found in the idea that he who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. So, whatever we do, if it comes from a place of pure selflessness, it is God’s way and that therefore, it will work out just as it should.
Facts are observable, objective pieces of evidence.
If I find a piece of broken pottery I have a piece of something, but I don’t have the entire artifact nor a complete understanding of the artifact from whence it came. We could say that the complete artifact is a truth but the shard is a fact. If I find many pieces of shard and begin to put them together, I start to gain an understanding of what the artifact truly looks like. However, whether or not these pieces give me a complete picture of the truth is determined by the way I put them together. So, even with all of the “facts” in front of me, because of my limited knowledge of how they go together, I may still not have an understanding of the “truth.”
Truth can’t always be proven with facts.
Facts are objective evidences in front of you. Sometimes facts are circumstantial and therefore, cannot be absolutely true. Sometimes, truth lies in the unprovable areas between the facts, before the facts and behind the facts.
Truth exists with or without the presence and understanding of facts. In that way, truth supersedes facts.
The discovery of new facts can change our perception of truth, but it does not change the actual truth itself. Truth is true whether we comprehend it or not, whether we can prove it or not.
Opinions, on the other hand, are neither truths nor facts, although they may or may not be based on both. Opinions are subjective preferences. “Ice cream tastes good,” is an opinion.
It is a fact that there are billions of stars in the universe. We can look up and see that evidence right in front of us, but the truth as to how they got there is still not fully known. People have speculated, myths have been created, legends handed down, stories of their creation abound, some have researched facts (which change consistently as our ability to understand and observe them change) and discussed it for centuries, but the entire, detailed truth of the process is still based on the opinions of the storytellers, astronomers, religious leaders, etc.
Another example might be that it is a fact that all life dies, but the truth of what happens after that point has not yet been proven, although everybody has an opinion. If we could bring someone back from the dead and ask them they could tell us, and indeed, hundreds of such accounts have happened. Still, there are those who completely question the validity of their stories, because although they can prove that they died, they can’t prove that they actually went somewhere and saw something. I have an opinion about that.
My opinion is that we presently cannot accurately measure spiritual, eternal, energy with temporal, physical devices, so therefore the truth about what happened can’t be proven because it supersedes our ability to observe the facts and measure the evidence.
WHAT IS NORMAL?
Being normal is not the same thing as being average. Average is what most people are. Normal is what is healthy for them to be.
For example, the average American is overweight but that’s not normal.
Average people live life at a level of mediocrity, not wanting to stand out or rock the boat. They may sacrifice freedom for the sake of convenience and acceptance. They may not do anything “bad” with their lives. They just don’t do anything significant. They remain average.
They may go along with whatever authorities, celebrities, experts or those with political or social clout tell them because they had rather live in a state of totalitarian stupidity than do the normal thing, which is to question “why” they are being told to do things and to question the norms of society than to risk being ostracized, black-balled, ridiculed, etc. It is normal to want to be accepted and liked, but it is also normal to want to be free and to think for yourself, to choose your own preferences in life.
Every movement, every great invention, every great novel, every breakthrough in the arts or in spirituality has come through a person that was not average in their culture; they have come from those who buck the system, the disturbing elements of humanity.
It is indeed those who have bucked the system, the mediocrity of their day, that have made the greatest impact on the world, such as Jesus, Gandhi, Plato, Mother Teresa, William Wallace, Tecumseh, Crazy Horse, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, Mary Shelley, Madame Curie, Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller, Nathaniel Greene, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Clara Barton, Mary Breckinridge, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Jim Thorpe, Maria Tallchief, and the list goes on. Every one of these people went against the culturally accepted, even the politically correct norm of their day. They were all normal human beings, but none of them were just average. All of them were willing to give up personal comfort for internal convictions, not beliefs. Beliefs change as new facts arise, new pieces of shard, but internal convictions, eternal truths, do not change.
Normal people rise above average and change the world. Normal people expand the universe.
I may not have all the facts straight, but I do seek truth. It may not be the average thing to do, but it is normal. It is healthy, maybe not physically, because as Jesus, Joan of Arc and many others found out, it can get you killed, but I had rather die for my convictions of truth than live a lie of convenience. Jesus asked this question, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his/her own soul?” It is normal to want to live a long, abundant, blessed and prosperous life, so long as we don’t have to give up our own identity, the I AM, inside of us to maintain it. We should never sell out who we are to become who someone else wants us to be. Yes, you can be blessed and live a good life, but there comes a moment when you have to put your spiritual pathway above your temporary physical comfort. I quote Tecumseh, an above average normal man who lived and died for his truth, regardless of the facts.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
Several years ago a little girl caught a small green caterpillar and placed it in a jar. She fed the caterpillar Queen Anne’s Lace leaves daily and watched as the caterpillar grew fatter and fatter, then one day she was surprised to find a chrysalis in the jar. She placed the jar in a safe place and put a damp cotton ball in there. One morning she woke up to find a beautiful yellow swallowtail flitting around in the jar, trying desperately to fly. Her mother told her that she needed to set the creature free so it could use its wings and do what it was created to do, but the little girl exclaimed, “It’s mine. I raised it from a caterpillar. I took care of it and fed it and watered it and kept it safe from my cat, so I want to keep it. It’s mine.”
“If you keep the butterfly in this jar it will die without ever doing the things it was created to do,” her mother said.
“But I love the butterfly,” the little girl protested. “If I take the lid off the jar it will fly away and never come back. Then I will not have a butterfly.”
The young mother knelt beside her daughter and spoke gently. “If you love something you must set it free when it wishes to go. Love doesn’t try to own another living thing. When we keep a thing because we can’t imagine being without it, then we don’t love, we’re just afraid. Love makes us brave and gives us faith. Fear makes us selfish. Do you understand?”
The little girl nodded. “Okay. I will set it free.”
So, they took the jar into the front yard and the child removed the lid. The butterfly first perched on the rim of the jar, then it flew into the maple tree and fluttered about from branch to branch, leaf to leaf. All at once it flew free of the tree, across the yard, and over the field beyond, going higher and higher, a flash of yellow in the sun. The little girl laughed. “Look at it go, Mommy! I am glad I set it free.”
Years later, a young woman loaded her belongings into her gray car and pulled out of her mom’s driveway. The now middle-aged mother watched her disappear over the horizon, a lonely tug in her heart, tears in her eyes. Her daughter was off to life in the world, to an apartment and a job and a man and a…a whole suitcase full of dreams. As her mother stared at the country road leading away from home she saw a yellow swallowtail light on the mailbox and folding and unfolding its wings and she remembered.