The TAO in Everyday Life
The TAO is in every aspect of life: growing up; receiving education; seeking careers; getting married; raising children; connecting with others; staying healthy; growing old; and facing life challenges.
THE TAO IN AGING
Life is forever changing. Every moment remains only with that very moment. But as aging continues, the change seems to be much faster and more intense, leading to many losses, such as the following:
Physical loss includes loss of vision and mobility, both of which may ultimately affect the quality of life with respect to independent living. Physical loss may also include the loss of limbs due to accident or disease, such as diabetes.
Material loss may include loss of place and space, such as moving from a house to an apartment, or to a nursing home.
Memory loss may result in a severe loss of organizational ability and the ability to plan and function, resulting in loss of independence, which is a major setback for many.
Spousal loss is often the most devastating in that the oneness in marriage is forever broken.
Consciousness is wisdom.
Consciousness of longevity involves your awareness of your own aging process and taking appropriate actions to slow down, instead of accelerating, your aging process.
Consciousness is, in fact, everything in your life and living. Consciousness is your mental awareness of self, of others, and of the world around you. Without thinking, which is consciousness of the mind, you are not living; you are simply existing.
Albert Einstein once said, “Thinking is difficult; that’s why so few people do it.” Thinking is a process of self-intuition through asking relevant questions to create self-awareness and self-introspection. It is the natural habit of the human mind to try to solve problems by asking questions. Through solving problems, the mind can then make things happen. Asking relevant questions creates the intent to learn, to discover, and then to transform oneself to adapt to the changes confronted.
“Living in the present moment,
we see all things that we must do.
Without complaint and resistance, we do them accordingly.
Without seeking control and recognition,
we simplify what we do, however complicated they may be.
Trusting in the Creator, we always under-do and never over-do.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 30)
In the world, but not of the world: Letting go of all mundane matters in the physical world.
Attachment only reinforces your identification with the world, while detachment empties your mind of its invisible control and manipulation. Letting go is the beginning of humility.
With humility, comes enlightenment, and letting go becomes simple and spontaneous. Everything is part of the perfect whole, while nothing lasts forever. This profound wisdom may make you want to be in the world but not of the world. Everything eventually becomes its opposite -- it is just a matter of time.
Nothing lasts: This is self-enlightenment.
“Following the Way,
we return to our root.
On the Way,
yielding is the way to go.
Everything in the universe
depends on everything else.
Even living our life experience
depends on how we think of death.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 40)
Enlightenment is an understanding of this basic law of nature, and knowing how to apply it to your aging. Feeling about aging is no more than your subjective perception of self. It is always the “glass is half full or half empty” attitude of looking at life. More specifically, it is how you view your own life “in the eyes of the beholder” who is nobody but you.
If you have strong self-efficacy, which is your self-belief, you will retain better control of your life at any phase of your life; you will feel more capable and competent to seek any opportunity to better your life by overcoming any worry and pessimism due to aging.
“Life begets death; one is inseparable from the other.
One is form; the other is formless.
Each gives way to the other.
One third of people focus on life, ignoring death.
One third of people focus on death, ignoring life.
One third of people think of neither, just drifting along.
They all suffer in the end.
Trusting the Creator, we have no illusion about life and death.
Holding nothing back from life, we are ready for death,
just as a man ready for sleep after a good day’s work.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 50)
“Abiding in the Creator, we do not fear death.
Following the conditioned mind, we fear everything.
Fear is a futile attempt to control things and people.
Death is a natural destination of the Way.
Unnatural fear of death does more harm than good.
It is like trying to use intricate tools of a master craftsman:
we end up hurting ourselves.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 74)
All things come from existence, and existence comes from non-existence. That is the truth of existence.
Death comes from life, and life becomes death. That is the reality of existence.
Existence is enlightenment, which is the Way to aging.
Just like eating a meal: Aging is natural, effortless, and fearless.
Living the rest of your life is just like eating a meal.
Before your start your meal, say your grace. (Just like being grateful and thankful that you are living and that you can still have this meal.)
Before you pick up your food, take a minute or two to still your mind. There is no need to hurry; you’ have all the time in the world to finish this meal. (Just like being conscious of living in the now.)
There is no right or wrong about eating the food in front of you -- eating is just a process, a way of living and surviving, just like breathing in and out. (Just like knowing that now you do not need to eat to socialize, to relieve stress, to satisfy your food cravings, or just to make yourself feel better -- you eat simply because you are still alive.)
Look at the food in front of you. Notice the color, the smell, and the texture of the food. (Just like being conscious of the people and the happenings around you.)
Now, begin eating. No matter how small the bite of food you have, take at least two bites. Take your first bite. Chew it very slowly but thoroughly, noticing and enjoying your actual sensory experience of chewing and tasting. Chew every morsel of food to explore the differences in their taste, texture, and smell. (Just like enjoying whatever that is still available to you that you still find enjoyable.)
Continue to eat in silence without any distraction. (Just like you continue to live without being distracted by what might happen tomorrow.)
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
TAO in the following: