Illuminating the Dao
The Key To Long Life: Live Well!
by Michelle Wood
That seems a little simplistic, doesn’t it? If you want a long life, you have to live well. It actually is just that simple, but here’s the tricky part: Just what does it mean to “live well?” I’m sure that you have a very specific opinions on that topic which may include eating natural foods, getting enough quality sleep every night, taking exercise out in fresh air and Nature, working reasonable hours at a job you love that nourishes your soul, and so on. If you are looking for additional input or ideas and you ask others, everyone you ask will have a different answer! I say that because everyone I have asked has had a different answer! While no answer is wrong for the person offering it, many “how to live well” responses seem incomplete when you attempt to apply them to your own life and lifestyle. And then there are your communities, the groups of people you associate with; family, co-workers, recrea- tion buddies, medical advisers. It’s really surprising just how many people have input into your opinions and experiences of living a long and healthy life!
Here is the wisdom on “Longevity” from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao, Harper San Francisco, 1992, ISBN: 0062502239 Contemplate in the morning. Pull weeds in the afternoon. The joys and labor of a single day Are part of a whole journey. “If all you want is spiritual realization, it isn’t that difficult. For the average person, a dozen years under the guidance of a good teacher will probably give it to you. That’s shorter than what it takes to be a good musician, athlete, or artist. It’s even shorter that the time it will take you to collect your pension. If you have the good fortune to study with the right person, you can succeed in a relatively short amount of time. “But after you get it, then what? Many of us place such an emphasis on attaining realization that we may forget to put it in context. What actually matters is to walk the Tao, maintaining vitality until we meet our end in a timely way. Spiritual realization is essential, but it is not everything.
“A starving person dwells inordinately on the thought of food. Likewise, a spiritually hungry person can only think of realization. One who has food can place it in
the right context, just as one who has understanding can place it in the correct perspective. Followers of Tao therefore do not emphasize enlightenment as an
ultimate goal. For them, realization is a means, not an end. Their emphasis is on the act of living. They use the word longevity, not because they want to live
forever, but because it symbolizes their determination to live the entire course of their lives well.” When you focus upon what you have, or you focus
upon what you don’t have, the outcome is the same: You become stuck in the “what is” or “what isn’t” and forget that the real journey is “where am I and what
an I doing?” Live in each moment, giving it the attention that is its due. Remember, every journey begins beneath your feet! (DDJ verse 64) If you pay attention to where your feet are, you will never stumble.
Begin each day with contemplation or meditation. Use this time to set your intentions for the day, not just in tasks to complete but in how you want to feel.
Peaceful, happy, enthusiastic, hopeful, etc. Take the time to tap in to these energies on a spiritual level so that you may use them as a source of nourishment
throughout your day. Only then should you undertake the tasks at hand,
pulling those weeds in the afternoon, when you have prepared yourself through spiritual connection and emotional support from the true Source of life and well
-living. Instead of fretting over the past or worrying over the future, give every task the single-minded attention that is its due; this is what is meant by living mindfully.
It is a bit of a challenge when our culture teaches us to remember the past so we don’t repeat it, and to worry about the future even though in reality we really have
no control over it whatsoever. However, When you can live mindfully, no matter what daily activities you undertake, no matter what foods you have for
breakfast, lunch or dinner, no matter how long or short a time it takes to achieve the accomplishments you set as goals for the day, the week, the month, the year, or
even for the rest of your entire life, every day you will be living in the Dao, and that is the secret to living well.
The John C. H. Wu translation of the Daodejing, Chapter 59 offers specific advice we may use to realize a long and happy life.
IN governing a people and in serving Heaven, There is nothing like frugality. To be frugal is to return before straying. To return before straying is to have a double reserve of virtue. To have a double reserve of virtue is to overcome everything. To overcome everything is to reach an invisible height. Only he who has reached an invisible height can have a kingdom. Only he who has got the Mother of a kingdom can last long. This is the way to be deep-rooted and firm-planted in the Tao, The secret of long life and lasting vision.
In terms of wellness, we can apply these ideas to life and lifestyle:
IN governing a people and in serving Heaven, There is nothing like frugality. Governing people is a metaphor for mindfully taking care of one’s physical body. Serving heaven is a metaphor for spiritual consciousness and connection. This way through your awareness of both the consequences of living to extremes, and also by knowing that every event of life is a step along the journey. Moderation is always the key to life’s ups and downs.
To be frugal is to return before straying.
Whether the present circumstances of your life are calm or stressful, good or bad, happy or sad, they will change. “Return before straying” can be a metaphor to be aware and monitor your reactions so as to stay in a place of equanimity and not to “stray” from the peaceful and healthy lifestyle that will lead to long life by going to an unhealthy extreme and suffering those consequences of illness.
To return before straying is to have a double reserve of virtue. When you are able to maintain a life of moderation or equanimity, it demonstrates your very strong sense of personal power, intention, spiritual power and even will power.
To have a double reserve of virtue is to overcome everything.
When you have that very strong sense of personal power, intention, spiritual power and even will power, there is no challenge, problem, or difficulty that you cannot overcome.
To overcome everything is to reach an invisible height.
“To reach an invisible height;” the idea of an invisible height means you know no limits; if you cannot see the “height” you are reaching for, it is limitless just like your personal power and intentions are. The only limitations you have are the ones you set upon yourself. Through the strength of inner power and mindful intention, there is nothing that can stand in your way.
Only he who has reached an invisible height can have a kingdom. Only when you have the strength to disallow any limiting beliefs to hold you back will you be ready to “rule,” to assume and maintain complete control of your own body’s health and wellness.
Only he who has got the Mother of a kingdom can last long.
The Mother of a kingdom is the Source, the caretaker and nurturer of the kingdom/physical body. When you are in touch with Source/Spirit, you have infinite power and energy which you may tap into at any time for the purpose of creating and maintaining health and wellness, living in moderation, and easily dealing with the ups and downs of daily living in a manner that restores rather than reduces your life. This is the way to be deep-rooted and firm-planted in the Tao, The secret of long life and lasting vision. This is what is meant by “The Key to Long Life: Live Well!”
Rev Michelle K. Wood holds a degree in Holistic Relaxation Therapy from Natural Health Institutes, has been a student of the Yijing since the early 1990s, and embraced the philosophy and shamanic roots of Daoism at the beginning of the 21st Century. Two years of participation in kirtan led Michelle to study the archetypal vibrations found in Sanskrit mantras and develop a wellness program utilizing Sanskrit bhajans (devotional songs). Knowing that all wellness has its foundation in strong spiritual connection, Michelle’s Everyday Enlightenment programs and services help you transform emotion and attitude into positive, life-enhancing lessons through Consciousness and Awareness Development techniques such as qigong and meditation. She also teaches meditation and qigong classes and workshops for wellness through Central Oregon Community College. Website: http://www.everyday-enlightenment.com ; email: firstname.lastname@example.org