A few weeks ago, I was in a bookstore called ‘Taproot’ and came across a hardbound copy of the “I-Ching” called “The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth” by Hua-Ching Ni. As a student of the I-Ching for over twenty-five years, I was intrigued and came home to purchase a used copy of the book.
It arrived a few days ago. And during the interim time, I also ordered a book on Amazon called “Being Taoist – Wisdom for Living a Balanced Life” by Eva Wong. It arrived yesterday and I read a few chapters last night before going to bed early. Made all the sense in the world to me and I also relayed some of these ideas to G. this morning and as I will sum up herewith:
Everyone is born with life energy. How we use it throughout our lives accounts for how long it lasts. If we strive for fame and fortune comparing ourselves to others; or rail against what life’s vicissitudes puts us through with anger, rage and vengence; if we live with envy of our neighbors and resent what we don’t have rather than being grateful for what we do have; and if we take it out on ourselves by overeating, being slothful, indulging in excesses, physical and otherwise, we use up our life energy without knowing it. We perpetuate this never-ending struggle upon ourselves. Everyday, without knowing it.
Instead, if we know that we can live simply and with moderation in all things: eat well but stop before we are full, drink lukewarm water when we are thirsty, walk when we have been sitting too long; sit when we are tired and get enough sleep, our life energy will be conserved and we will be at peace and experience contentment. This is the simple truth about longevity and quality of life.
Well, I thought – this kind of balance is within our own intentions and actions. When we overreact, are frustrated and disappointed, we’re using life energy more than we have to. When we strive for or resent what others may have but we feel we don’t have but want, we are using life energy more than we have to.
I’m old enough to know how lucky I have been to end up where I am now, having gone through lots of turmoil in the past. Leaving it all behind me now, I feel no need to “fix” what is unfixable and to leave those matters to others. And I drop them without rancor or regret. It’s just gone. Not worth any life energy to speak of, it seems to me, and certainly not worth talking about anymore.
Although I was born in China and am innately Asian in my outlook on life – thus the study of Taoism and the I-Ching – I also grew up in America and am aware of the bilateral way of Western thinking: “it is or it isn’t;” “it’s yes or no;” “it’s black or white;” “they’re wrong and I’m right.” But Taoism is not bilateral. It’s holistic and a way of eschewing or taking off this hairshirt of conflict: “right or wrong and that’s the only outcome.”
We don’t have to figure it out. We can choose at this very moment to discard all these “shoulds” “have-nots” and “unfixable disappointments” in one fell swoop – and thereby choose to preserve our life energy in a better way ~ starting now, in this very moment.
At least, that makes a lot of sense to me. Plus I feel so much better!