Why living in the present is powerful - Lessons from the Tao.
The more you can work with the balance, the more you can just sail through life. - Michael A. Singer
One of my new favorite books is The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer. It covers the relationship we have with ourselves - our personal journey, thoughts, emotions, and most importantly, the energy patterns that limit us. Singer delves into the power of being present, "living in the middle” and the spiritual teachings of Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching.
I'm always looking for ways to add some positive energy to the world and aid in raising our vibrational frequencies - if I come across something I think is good, like this book, I'll share it.
• Being present = More focused energy = Living in the Tao.
• No one survives living in the extremes = Stop feeding the extremes!
The Tao Te Ching - What is the Tao?
The Tao Te Ching is one of greatest and deepest spiritual books ever written and is often referred to as "the Tao" or "the Way.” It's from the teachings of Lao Tzu, a sixth century B.C. Chinese philosopher and Sage, and contains eighty-one short versus on the nature of existence and balance. Everything in life must have balance: the yin and the yang, the feminine and the masculine, the dark and the light.
The Tao is simple. Just as a pendulum has two extremes, so does everything in life. If you swing a pendulum one way, it will swing back just as far in the opposite direction.
“Everything has two extremes. Everything has gradations of this pendulum swing. If you go to the extremes, you cannot survive.”
Singer says we waste tremendous amounts of energy at the extremes and that the degree of our inefficiency is determined by how far off center we are. Everything has its own balance point, and to be efficient in life we must center our energies: "When you spend your energy trying to maintain the extremes, nothing goes forward. You get stuck in a rut....The Way is in the middle because that's where the energies are balanced."
Where is the Tao?
The Tao is in the middle. It's where energy is not pushing in either direction. The pendulum will come to a balance in all areas of life, if we allow it, because everything has its own yin and yang. The Way is where these forces quietly balance.
"The energies that used to be wasted swinging sideways will be pulled into the center... This is the power of the Tao. When you stop swinging between the opposites you'll find you have far more energy than you ever imagined."
How do you stop the pendulum from swinging to the edges?
He says you do this by leaving it alone. Unless you feed the energies it won't continue swinging to the extremes. When we let go, our energies come back to the current moment and that’s where we’re present. Then, we’re able to see what’s happening in our lives, in being present we are fully aware and living in the moment. Being present is living in the Tao.
"If you choose to live in your center and not the extremes you will come to know the Tao... Energies find their balance. The experience of being present in each moment will become your natural state...there is an invisible thread that passes through everything. All things move quietly through that center balance.”
How to live in your center & be present - living in the Tao
Singer uses sailing as an example because there are many different forces interacting at the same time - the wind, sails, the rudder and the tension of the ropes on the sail. He explains that it's impossible to sail in the extremes:
He continues, "Or what happens if the wind is blowing and you hold the sail too loosely? It doesn't work. What if you hold it too tightly? You tip over." So, where is just right?
"It is in the center point of tautness of the sail against the force of the wind - not too much, and not too little. It's what we call the ‘sweet spot.’ Imagine that feeling when the wind hits the sail just right, and you're holding the ropes just right. You take off with a perfect feeling of balance.
Then the wind shifts and you adjust to it. You, the wind, the sail, and the water are one. All the forces are in harmony. Should one force shift, the others shift at the same instant.
This is what it means to move in the Way."
"The more you can work with the balance, the more you can just sail through life.”
In life, we should aim to be centered and balanced. We must learn how to move with the forces, or energies, rather than pushing against them - especially if we have a different idea of how things should be. It’s about living in effortless action, “moving from balance point to balance point or center to center.”
It's not about being passive either but learning how to move with the river, heading downstream with the current, to reach our destination.
Put another way, “Don’t push, be pulled.”
In meditation I’m often reminded of that and so I try to feel the energies that are pulling me and not push to make things happen - to live in harmony with life and ALLOW. It’s very subtle at times, but as long as I’m centered, I’m able to feel the energies that are pulling me and live in the flow.
It’s definitely easy to tell when you’re not centered and in the flow of life because everything is difficult - it’s always an uphill battle when you’re pushing to make things happen and facing upstream!
Singer says that all the great spiritual teachers speak of finding our center and balance: that the extremes create their opposites and the wise avoid them, “Find the balance in the center and you will live in harmony.” He says we must constantly be checking to see where we’re living by asking ourselves:
Am I centered or am I lost in the extremes?
If you want to do a deeper dive, here are a few books to check out:
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