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Tao Te Ching - Discussion

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Anyone interested in going through the TTC as a group discussion?

Shaman Flowing Hands says his version is a directly inspired version into English. Here is the first chapter chapter...

CHAPTER 1

The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless, is the Mother of Heaven and Earth.

The named is the manifestations of the Ten Thousand Things.

Ever desireless, one can feel (heart) the mystery.

Ever desiring, one can see its manifestations.

These two are born from the same source,

but differ in form; one appears as imperceptible,

infinity upon infinity. Here lies the path of all mystery.

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Hi Jeff,

 

Sure - as with other discussions, I'll plug in as it flows to do.

 

One of my favorite things about the Tao Te Ching is that the very first sutra / verse / line says it all:

 

"The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao."

 

That pretty much says it all: so many people spend so much effort and conceptual energy on trying to understand that which is infinite and eternal - unbound - and therefore, without any of the definable boundaries which would allow for conceptual understanding.

 

Which, I would say, is a major and helpful clue:

 

If something cannot be known by understanding, dropping the sense of need for understanding (and definition, and so on and so forth) is the one possible way to become open to knowing.

 

Seems like applying the ramifications of that one line could help dissolve much (all, if it's taken all the way) of the spiritual delusion that keeps people looping in emotional conditioning and conceptual bondage for so long.

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Hi Jeff,

 

Sure - as with other discussions, I'll plug in as it flows to do.

 

One of my favorite things about the Tao Te Ching is that the very first sutra / verse / line says it all:

 

"The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao."

 

That pretty much says it all: so many people spend so much effort and conceptual energy on trying to understand that which is infinite and eternal - unbound - and therefore, without any of the definable boundaries which would allow for conceptual understanding.

 

Which, I would say, is a major and helpful clue:

 

If something cannot be known by understanding, dropping the sense of need for understanding (and definition, and so on and so forth) is the one possible way to become open to knowing.

 

Seems like applying the ramifications of that one line could help dissolve much (all, if it's taken all the way) of the spiritual delusion that keeps people looping in emotional conditioning and conceptual bondage for so long.

 

Yes, but…..

 

It begs the question why anyone bothered to write this in the first place.  If The Dao cannot be expressed in language (or conceptual framework), then why go to all the trouble? 

 

I think concepts are useful tools.  What better way to rummage around the conscious and subconscious mind than with concepts?  They're like a lamp we can use to "shine a light on" this or that mental habit or obstruction.

 

Using concepts for this purpose is one way to become free of our enslavement to them.

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Anyone interested in going through the TTC as a group discussion?

Shaman Flowing Hands says his version is a directly inspired version into English. Here is the first chapter chapter...

CHAPTER 1

The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless, is the Mother of Heaven and Earth.

The named is the manifestations of the Ten Thousand Things.

Ever desireless, one can feel (heart) the mystery.

Ever desiring, one can see its manifestations.

These two are born from the same source,

but differ in form; one appears as imperceptible,

infinity upon infinity. Here lies the path of all mystery.

 

"The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name."

 

This is telling me that I can read this, but it's not enough.  I have to realize it on my own.  And to me, realize means to "see with real eyes; or see with eyes of universal consciousness". 

 

"The nameless, is the Mother of Heaven and Earth.

The named is the manifestations of the Ten Thousand Things."

 

​This is telling me that all creation is borne of emptiness.

 

"Ever desireless, one can feel (heart) the mystery.

Ever desiring, one can see its manifestations."

 

This is describing two different perspectives.  One is beyond mind (and so not really a perspective, I suppose) and the other stands in awe of the multiplicity of creation.

 

"These two are born from the same source,

but differ in form; one appears as imperceptible,"

 

Here's the kicker:  "one appears as imperceptible."  One is Impossible to perceive as an object and impossible to be aware of as a subject since the subject itself is an object of which one can be aware; awareness is an object of which one can be aware and so is also not it…   :)

 

"infinity upon infinity. Here lies the path of all mystery."

 

YES! :)

 

I haven't read the Tao Te Ching, but I'm looking forward to it and this discussion.   :D

Edited by liz

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Hi Jeff,

 

Sure - as with other discussions, I'll plug in as it flows to do.

 

One of my favorite things about the Tao Te Ching is that the very first sutra / verse / line says it all:

 

"The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao."

 

That pretty much says it all: so many people spend so much effort and conceptual energy on trying to understand that which is infinite and eternal - unbound - and therefore, without any of the definable boundaries which would allow for conceptual understanding.

 

Which, I would say, is a major and helpful clue:

 

If something cannot be known by understanding, dropping the sense of need for understanding (and definition, and so on and so forth) is the one possible way to become open to knowing.

 

Seems like applying the ramifications of that one line could help dissolve much (all, if it's taken all the way) of the spiritual delusion that keeps people looping in emotional conditioning and conceptual bondage for so long.

 

Yes, but…..

 

It begs the question why anyone bothered to write this in the first place.  If The Dao cannot be expressed in language (or conceptual framework), then why go to all the trouble? 

 

I think concepts are useful tools.  What better way to rummage around the conscious and subconscious mind than with concepts?  They're like a lamp we can use to "shine a light on" this or that mental habit or obstruction.

 

Using concepts for this purpose is one way to become free of our enslavement to them.

 

 

Hi Liz,

 

I agree completely, specifically with your last sentence.

 

I just find that pointer ("The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao.") to be a useful reminder that concepts are not the same as that which they indicate or symbolize. The all can't be de-fined or de-lineated, because you can't cut apart that which is without parts.

 

:)

Edited by Doug
corrected word omission

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Here's the next verse to keep the topic going.  This is my first time reading the Tao To Ching, so I'm very much looking forward to learning people's thoughts.  :)

 

When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and nonbeing produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other
Therefore the sages:
Manage the work of detached actions
Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away
 
Lin, Derek; Lao Tzu (2008-10-22). Tao Te Ching : Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) (Kindle Locations 547-563). Jewish Lights Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

 

 

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Thank you Liz for bringing this thread back to life. Here is also the Shaman Flowing Hands version of the second chapter...

CHAPTER 2

All under Heaven can see beauty, because ugliness exists. One knows good only because there is evil. These two manifest from the same source which complement each other.

From the myriad forms, each has a complement: Difficult and easy complement each other. Long and short contrast each other. Voice and sound are in harmony with each other. Front and back follow one another.

The Sage sees the Ten Thousand Things in harmony, and goes about his business doing nothing, so the Ten Thousand Things rise and fall without interference.

Bearing, yet not possessing, working, yet not taking credit, work is done, then forgotten, therefore it remains eternal.

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A very interesting thread here.

I am glad it has been kept alive!

 

After reading the quote (which I do agree with):

"The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao."

 

I then have to question parts of the second Chapter where it says:

 

"When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and nonbeing produce each other"
 
The first chapter illustrates why I am so wary of using metaphors when describing non-dual issues.
Metaphors are inaccurate by their very definition and yet we seem to have a need to resort to them when transmitting ideas to each other.
I do not see this as a limitation of language so much as the content of the ideas are beyond language itself.
So if metaphor should be avoided as seen in Chapter 1, then how can we use the metaphors of good and evil, ugly and beautiful?
Even the terms "being" and "nonbeing" are metaphors as neither word (or even human idea behind those words) can really capture the full truth of those states.
 
The ugly and the beautiful are designations of discernment and deny the truth that they are One. Ugly and beauty are human aesthetic constructs, to the nondual universe these terms in themselves have no real meaning, one can equally say that everything is beautiful or everything is ugly and be completely correct for the terms being used are null sets. They arise from a conditioned primate's point of view!
 
Good and evil are also culturally conditional constructs and are defined in so many ways that they also are meaningless metaphors when we approach nonduality.
I feel like the first chapter is a warning that we are easily tripped up by metaphor and definitions whereas experiential knowing has greater value for the one who knows but such knowledge is beyond the use of language (which is used to transmit knowledge) as the metaphor we use is not the experience itself. This reminds me of Magritte's painting "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." which says the same thing as Chapter 1, a warning about metaphor and the use of language when describing experiential knowledge.
 
Now the last part of Chapter 2 (as translated here :) ) I see returns to this path:

"Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away"

 

And it becomes logical again. Can anyone tell me if the first half of Chapter 2 is used as a "ladder step" to help others understand the second half?

That they must realize that through detachment they must be free of distinction, dogma and discernment?

Was it an appeal to the cultural conditioning of the reader, saying "let it go, please"?

 

I know that when I teach I rely very heavily on the experiences my students receive from the practices of the teaching. Whether it is painting and drawing, meditation or magick it is the experience of doing which is the finest of teachers, I am there as a chatty guide (I admit it! I talk a lot! I am So chatty!) and I use that to enforce a comfort within the student so their resistance to teaching (there always is resistance to teaching and there are many reasons why this is so, perhaps that could be a new thread to write?) is lowered by a sense of bonhomie. I warn them that words are treacherous, metaphors are treasonous, that they need to know by doing. Of course this is how I know when a student has done their homework, you cannot hide experiential knowledge! Faking experiential knowledge is usually hilarious!

Oops, I seem to have strayed from topic a touch.

Love this thread!

Love to all, Love under Will.

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Thanks for joining the discussion!  Sorry I'm so tardy to respond.  It takes me a while sometimes.   :)

 

From Chapter 1...

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao. 

 

From Chapter 2...

When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises

When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and nonbeing produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
etc..

 

 
These two seem consistent to me.  The first few lines of the second chapter seem like an illustrative example of the meaning of the first part of the first chapter.  I think the key is in the word, "eternal."  If something is eternal, then it exists always regardless of surrounding conditions.  The concept of good does not exist without evil to give it definition.  The concept of darkness has no meaning without light.  One doesn't experience difficulty unless one has experienced ease.   And so the eternal Dao is outside the realm of mental concepts.
 
What throws me is that being and nonbeing are included in the list.  How can one "be" outside of being?  And "conduct the teaching of no words..."  How does one teach without words, except through being?  That one throws me too.   :)
 
Unless nonbeing flows through being; light flows through darkness; and evil and good are intertwined...  Maybe, instead of saying that the nature of reality exists outside mental concepts, it's saying that the nature of reality is an integration of ... ??  
 
And it feels like I'm B.S.-ing  a bit.   :)  Let's just say I don't quite know what is meant by this.
 
P.S.
The word "eternal" throws me too.  Eternal implies time, which seems like an unreasonable constraint on the definition of reality.
 
P.P.S.  Maybe I'm getting too caught up in the words, and the chapters are simply saying that reality (or truth) is beyond language, in which case...  Yes...  That's a big 10-4.  :)
Edited by liz

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Let's get this thread started again... Any thoughts?

CHAPTER 3

By not exposing one's talents, quarrelling will not prevail. By not hoarding great treasures, stealing is prevented. By not seeing desirable objects, confusion of the heart will not arise.

The wise rule by emptying peoples hearts of such things; by feeding their bellies, weakening their ambitions and strengthening their bodies: For this is the way of Dao.

If people lack knowledge and desire for material possessions, then the cunning and the intelligent, will find no place to employ their schemes.

If everything is left to find its own way, all will be well.

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With silence attachments will not arise.

 

The wise seek silence, weakening the ego and strengthening the Chi in the body.

 

With silence there is no ego, no desire for the things of maya.

 

So stay present and go with the flow and all will be well.

Edited by jonesboy

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I knew that was going to get me   :)

 

Now this is again from my limited non universal mind view.

 

Silence, emptiness, whatever that is within us that brings out the joy and love for others. That silence/no thoughts part of us that stops us from seeking happiness outside of ourself, from things and objects.

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Finally.... Any thoughts?

CHAPTER 4

The Dao is forever like an unfathomable empty space. If used, it can never be used up.

It is the source of the Ten Thousand Things. Look with your heart, see its form in the glare, be at one with the dust of the Earth, simplify your nature. For it is ever present, hidden in the depths of the myriad things.

I don't know from whence it came, but it is great.

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Nice!  

Chapter 3 is saying that a mentality of finite resources creates attachment.  

Chapter 4 is saying that the mentality is wholly false.

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Jeff... hope you don't mind... I'll continue :)

 

I'll not go backwards in comment but I will share that I have studied a very little bit under Shaman Flowing Hands and did an interview with him at another website, which you can read here:   http://thetaobums.com/topic/36392-flowing-hands-interview-completed/

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 
Heaven and Earth are ruthless,
They see the Ten Thousand Things as part of one whole.
The wise are therefore ruthless, for they see people as
part of the same structure.
The space between Heaven and Earth is formless, but it has a form.
For the Ten Thousand Things all depend upon it.
Like this space, the Sage can use its formless qualities; for it yields to whatever, or whoever
uses it.
Hold fast to this and remain at one.

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The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao.

 

This is telling me that I can read this, but it's not enough.  I have to realize it on my own.

 

That poetic language is just not very useful. The style Liz wrote is way more helpful when trying to learn this stuff. I assume that poetic style is the way they talked long ago in a foreign land. It would be nice if the 'translator' would update the language not just do a word for word copy.

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The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao.

 

This is telling me that I can read this, but it's not enough.  I have to realize it on my own.

 

That poetic language is just not very useful. The style Liz wrote is way more helpful when trying to learn this stuff. I assume that poetic style is the way they talked long ago in a foreign land. It would be nice if the 'translator' would update the language not just do a word for word copy.

 

 

 

Oh, I respectfully disagree.   :)  And I've committed acts of poetry before in the haiku diary and in the rigpa poetry post. :)

 

I think poetry is cool because it requires the writer to select exactly the right words, and it is doubly cool because it requires the writer to be brief.  I figure if I can't write something in verse, my mind has really not integrated the discovery.

 

Poetry can sit in the mind like a mantra, where it bakes in until the poem's message is integrated.  It's a form of communication that usually speaks to me, but not always, and everyone is different.

 

A translator has to do both: integrate the knowledge and re-express it with the same transmission, so that it can bake in for those inclined to learn that way.  It's a tall order.  :)

Edited by liz

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I would agree with Liz. Texts like the TTC are also written at many different levels, so the meaning of text can be highly dependent upon one's relative clarity.

P.s. Thanks David for bringing back the thread.

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poetic language starts with brevity and ends with clarity.   These are but six chinese characters which rhythm and sound are lost as soon as we translate...

 

Here they are:

 

Dao ke Dao fei heng Dao

Dao can Dao not eternal Dao

 

IMO, the deeper meaning is: 

 

Dao once Dao'ing (manifesting) is not Dao [itself, but a representation of it]

 

IF we want to go poetically over-board, then I'll write:

 

Say the Way is to Fey the Way   OR

 

Say the Way is to Sway the Way

 

 

Dao means "the Way"... as in, the way things unfold... naturally... of its own Way.

 

Dao is singularity; whatever we try to do or say about it makes it multiplicity... which is the result of Dao.... but is not Dao itself

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poetic language starts with brevity and ends with clarity.   These are but six chinese characters which rhythm and sound are lost as soon as we translate...

 

As I said, more poetic than informative or helpful.

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Jeff... hope you don't mind... I'll continue :)

 

I'll not go backwards in comment but I will share that I have studied a very little bit under Shaman Flowing Hands and did an interview with him at another website, which you can read here:   http://thetaobums.com/topic/36392-flowing-hands-interview-completed/

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 
Heaven and Earth are ruthless,
They see the Ten Thousand Things as part of one whole.
The wise are therefore ruthless, for they see people as
part of the same structure.
The space between Heaven and Earth is formless, but it has a form.
For the Ten Thousand Things all depend upon it.
Like this space, the Sage can use its formless qualities; for it yields to whatever, or whoever
uses it.
Hold fast to this and remain at one.

 

 

Interesting interview. Thanks for linking to it.   :)

 

I'm going to take this chapter a little out of order.

 

Heaven and Earth are ruthless,

They see the Ten Thousand Things as part of one whole.

 

 

 

I translate Heaven as emptiness and Earth as all of manifest creation, or Heaven as unmanifest zero and Earth as manifest infinity.  And the two are not really two...  

 

When one "has ruth" they feel compassion for others and feel remorse for their own faulty actions.  When one is "ruthless," they feel no pity, and what need is there for compassion or pity when there are no others?  Do the white blood cells feel remorse when they destroy the bacteria at an infection site?  Does the body feel any compassion for a cut?  Also, within a 7 year span, every cell in the body will have been replaced.  Is there regret at each cell's passing?

 

The space between Heaven and Earth is formless, but it has a form.

For the Ten Thousand Things all depend upon it.

 

 

 

I translate the space between Heaven and Earth as the clear light transmission - the signal that is perceived as form.

 

The wise are therefore ruthless, for they see people as

part of the same structure.

 

 

 

The wise are those who are consciously aware of the light transmission.  The signal goes through a local body/mind and gets translated according to the unique matrix of construction/obstruction and clarity of the local body/mind.  

 

And the ruthless part...  I think a living physical body is like an amplifier and lens for the light transmission and, wherever someone is clear, the light passes right through and isn't felt.  I think the clearer one is, the less back-signal one gets of the emotions/thoughts of others.  Because, from the point of view of clarity, there are no "others."  One might be blasting everyone around them and not feel a thing, while those around them are either getting sleepy, getting weepy, grinding their teeth, or going "Oh! I feel so good right now!"   :)  From the wise-one's point of view, there is only oneness, and from the point of view of separation, someone is "doing something to" them.

 

Like this space, the Sage can use its formless qualities; for it yields to whatever, or whoever

uses it.

 

 

 

The sage can consciously affect the light transmission and consciously affect manifest "reality."

 

But...  I think there are some delusion traps here....

 

If there are no others, there is also no "I."  But people can forget this easily and say, "I'm going to become a great one and be able to do awesome things, and I'm going to grab up these resources and use them to accomplish these ends and, when I have enough power, I'll be able to take over..." kind of like a cancer in a human body.  Another delusion is:  "I'm going to go out and kill all the bad guys."  Except I can't tell the difference between what is bad and what I don't like, so I kill what I don't like mistaking it for something bad...  kind of like an autoimmune disease in the human body.  I'm sure there are other delusions, but those come to mind.  I think these sorts of delusions very quickly pull one back into the local body/mind, and the experience of the light transmission disappears.

 

Hold fast to this and remain at one.

 

 

Remain at one with the light.  If there is a true calling to affect some change or growth, it will happen naturally, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

Edited by liz

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The wise are therefore ruthless, for they see people as

part of the same structure.

 

 

 

The wise are those who are consciously aware of the light transmission.  The signal goes through a local body/mind and gets translated according to the unique matrix of construction/obstruction and clarity of the local body/mind.  

 

And the ruthless part...  I think a living physical body is like an amplifier and lens for the light transmission and, wherever someone is clear, the light passes right through and isn't felt.  I think the clearer one is, the less back-signal one gets of the emotions/thoughts of others.  Because, from the point of view of clarity, there are no "others."  One might be blasting everyone around them and not feel a thing, while those around them are either getting sleepy, getting weepy, grinding their teeth, or going "Oh! I feel so good right now!"   :)  From the wise-one's point of view, there is only oneness, and from the point of view of separation, someone is "doing something to" them.

 

 

P.S.  I just wanted to add...  It's sometimes very difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference between being completely clear and being completely blocked.  That's why I think it's so important to have friends who are savvy with this stuff and who can provide direct constructive feedback.

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I translate Heaven as emptiness and Earth as all of manifest creation, or Heaven as unmanifest zero and Earth as manifest infinity.  And the two are not really two...  

 

I think there is metaphor of a mirror image in different perceptions or planes... but I generally take it as a complementary whole of the universe (ie:manifest life)

 

When one "has ruth" they feel compassion for others and feel remorse for their own faulty actions.  When one is "ruthless," they feel no pity, and what need is there for compassion or pity when there are no others?  Do the white blood cells feel remorse when they destroy the bacteria at an infection site?  Does the body feel any compassion for a cut?  Also, within a 7 year span, every cell in the body will have been replaced.  Is there regret at each cell's passing?

 

The chinese word Ren, is a favor of Confucius... showing two people to signify relations and kindness.   Despite the various translations of 'not Ren' as ruthless, unkind, inhumane, etc...  I've always like the idea that it is simply NOT REN; not human relationships at work. 

 

I agree with you examples.

 

I translate the space between Heaven and Earth as the clear light transmission - the signal that is perceived as form.

 

The chinese has a word for a bellows (which was used to put more air into the furnace)...  I've taken it along the lines as Qi (which is a form of energy)... or a vital breath which fires the internal Qi.   That gets into Neigong practices.  

 

The wise are those who are consciously aware of the light transmission.  The signal goes through a local body/mind and gets translated according to the unique matrix of construction/obstruction and clarity of the local body/mind.  

 

And the ruthless part...  I think a living physical body is like an amplifier and lens for the light transmission and, wherever someone is clear, the light passes right through and isn't felt.  I think the clearer one is, the less back-signal one gets of the emotions/thoughts of others.  Because, from the point of view of clarity, there are no "others."  One might be blasting everyone around them and not feel a thing, while those around them are either getting sleepy, getting weepy, grinding their teeth, or going "Oh! I feel so good right now!"    :)  From the wise-one's point of view, there is only oneness, and from the point of view of separation, someone is "doing something to" them.

 

Nice explanation...  I might say the clearer one is, the more they simply are light; It is not felt as passing through because there is no difference.  The feeling of passing through is likely our perception of the difference.

 

 

The sage can consciously affect the light transmission and consciously affect manifest "reality."

 

But...  I think there are some delusion traps here....

 

If there are no others, there is also no "I."  But people can forget this easily and say, "I'm going to become a great one and be able to do awesome things, and I'm going to grab up these resources and use them to accomplish these ends and, when I have enough power, I'll be able to take over..." kind of like a cancer in a human body.  Another delusion is:  "I'm going to go out and kill all the bad guys."  Except I can't tell the difference between what is bad and what I don't like, so I kill what I don't like mistaking it for something bad...  kind of like an autoimmune disease in the human body.  I'm sure there are other delusions, but those come to mind.  I think these sorts of delusions very quickly pull one back into the local body/mind, and the experience of the light transmission disappears.

 

Its all a trap... a game of perceptions... and then there was light :)

 

Remain at one with the light.  If there is a true calling to affect some change or growth, it will happen naturally, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

 

or, be light.  

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