By Val Leventhal
Today Im focusing the scope on the Taoist symbol of the Yin/Yang. The nature of reality is a big question bigger than any mortal understanding. So when you seek answers, remember that, as in many scientific studies, the work will take many lifetimes. If you believe in reincarnation, as millions of people in the world do, then youll have the chance to continue your work beyond this life, but for now lets look at what you can learn during this one.
There are many schools of thought, both religious and secular, that have answers for the questions of how we are to live. In my own research and experience I have come across a few really useful tools for gaining insight. The Yin/Yang is one of my favorites. It is, to me, a perfect representation of the true nature of things. Im not a Buddhist scholar, so this is just my personal interpretation of the symbol, but I believe that this is its true usefulness that everyone who studies it will find his or her own meaning. You only get answers to the questions you ask, after all. And further, I believe that the true nature of reality is that it is all open to interpretation. So, lets go on to the symbol itself. There are at least four great teachings each worthy of a lifetime of meditation contained within this simple symbol.
by V.J. Leventhal
Last week I began my column with a general discussion of external versus internal power. I’d like to talk about what I mean by “internal” or “spiritual” power.
I’ve been studying Buddhism, especially Zen, and Taoism for many years in my own sporadic but dedicated way, and I have found these teachings to be a useful pathway to personal evolution and inner transformation. This study is not simply an intellectual exercise although it is certainly that but also a very specific practice of meditation and expansion of the mind, which includes learning about other states of being. The goal of this practice is to increase one’s awareness of both inner states and outer realities, in order to learn a peaceful and balanced way of living. Thich Nhat Hahn, the Vietnamese Zen master and founder of what is called “engaged” Buddhism (because it practices both service and contemplation), teaches that wisdom (or enlightenment), requires both clarity of understanding and the practice of lovingkindness. Both the mind and the heart must be developed to live in balance in the world. The Dalai Lama also emphasizes that the key to wisdom is through compassion. Buddhism is a sort of scientific approach to comprehending the true nature of reality, in order to reduce suffering. The Buddha taught that the reality of the world is suffering and also the cessation of suffering. The Tao talks of the rising and falling of the “10,000 things” in trying to describe the fact that everything is impermanent, and in constant motion. By increasing your awareness of the flow of thoughts, emotions, and physical discomfort or mental anguish, you can learn to put things into a larger perspective, and to become more detached and calmer in your life.