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Buddhism & Taoism

The Tao: What is Taoism at work and life? (Robert Rosenbaum)

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Have you ever found someone at work seriously irritating? How do you effectively manage two people who are fighting at work or home? Or a conflict your are having with another person at work or home?  Power plays are most common, but what are some other options that we can learn from the Tao? How do we live and act (do) in harmony with what wants to happen according to the Tao? Join CJ as she talks to Robert Rosenbaum author of  “Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching” as we discuss on the radio how to handle conflict at home and at work where you’ll get some sample role plays, some metaphors to think abstractly about the problem, and a 3 step process to try next time you are about to react to a situation without intention and consciousness.  Also check out a bonus video that challenges our belief in the West that more is better, but how the endless pursuit of more can be an endless and tireless way of NOT living life.  

 

Blog Post by our Guest

Walking the Way

81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching

Verse 38
High virtue isn’t virtuous,
thus it truly has virtue.
Low virtue never frees itself from virtuousness,
therefore it has no true virtue.
A person of highest virtue takes no action,
has no private ends to serve.
A person of lower virtue puts forth effort,
having many causes to act.
A highly humane person acts
without any particular end in mind.
A highly righteous person acts
for many justifiably good reasons.
A person of high propriety acts
and when no one responds
rolls up his sleeves and forces people to comply with the rituals.
So when the Way is lost,
that’s when we resort to virtue.
When virtue is lost,
that’s when we resort to humaneness.
When humaneness is lost,
that’s when we resort to morality and righteous justice.
And when righteous justice is lost,
that’s when we resort to ceremonies of propriety.
Ritual ceremonies? Mere husks of sincere faith,
marking the beginning of confusion and disorder.
Foreknowledge is a blossomy ornament of the Way,
the beginning of delusion.
The true person
relies on the heart not the husk,
the fruit not the flower,
leaves that for just this.There is no virtue in being yourself, only vivacity.
If you are attached to thinking of yourself as a virtuous person you can easily feel threatened when other people question your motives, criticize or disagree, or thwart your good intentions. If you aspire to be a good person, you risk the pitfall of thinking you are not good enough—in which case you may turn your anger and despair inward or project it out onto others.
Just being human is enough; it connects you to everyone else in your shared flawed humanity. Living is not a quest for brownie points or gold stars. You don’t need a reason to exist, any more than you need a reason to defend your liking for ice cream that is chocolate rather than vanilla. As soon as you feel a need to justify yourself you become trapped in right and wrong. If you convince yourself your beliefs are righteous you may be inclined to proselytization, and from there it’s a short step to inquisition, earthquakes, and executions.
Instead of striving to conform to some moralistic ideal, you can just be your ordinary self and accord with whatever the circumstances demand of you. If you try to make circumstances fit your ideology rather than the other way around you may become frustrated; you may use excess force to try to make things go the way you think they “should” be and exhaust yourself.
There is no need to prop yourself up by being proper. In popular parlance: be real. The gateway to compassion doesn’t hold people to some ideological standard but recognizes all being has its function and place. Prescriptive moral codes and restrictive laws are usually prejudices clothed in moral majorities: they provide justifications but not justice.
The truth of your being is not a matter of being correct in ceremonies of yourself. Your true person is not somewhere far away but always present: it is the gift of your presence fully bestowed right here, right now.
_____
When I first began Buddhist practice, I thought I would be more virtuous and a better parent, husband, and psychotherapist if I didn’t let my feelings get the better of me. When provoked I would take several deep breaths, put irritation aside, smile gently, and calm down. I was fairly successful in this, at least on the surface, but I suspect I came across to others as artificial and perhaps more than a bit sanctimonious.
At that time my daughters were five and nine years old. As any parent knows, children often push their parents to the edge of their tolerance to test their boundaries. Perhaps because I grew up in an environment where my parents fought a great deal and were sometimes out of control in their anger, I made a special effort to remain even-tempered with my children.
One day my nine-year-old daughter was particularly provocative. I teetered on the edge of “losing it” and yelling but managed to catch myself. I took a deep breath and in a level voice tried to respond with measured if somewhat artificial “active listening.” My daughter looked me in the eye, stamped her foot, and cried:
“Dad! A kid has to be able to make her father mad!”
She was right. I had been offering her only the husk of parenting. Not getting angry was not being real.
If there are no mad fights, there are no opportunities for reconciliation. Making up is one of the delights of love. 

About our Guest

Robert Rosenbaum, Ph.D. is a clinical neuropsychologist and psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay area, a Zen practice leader and senior teacher of Dayan Qigong, and a mountaineer. He brings a lifetime of practice to the moment-by-moment harmonization of body, mind, and spirit.Bob began Zen practice in 1971; since 1988 he has practiced at the Berkeley Zen Center in the Soto Zen lineage of Snunryu Suzuki. Bob’s dharma name is Meiko Onzen (“Clear Mirror, Calm Sitting”). In 2007 he was shuso (head student) for the practice period there. He was given lay entrustment by his teacher, Sojun Mel Weitsman, in 2010 and has since been active in the Lay Zen Teachers’ Association of North America.Bob received authorization to teach Dayan (“Wild Goose”) Qigong in 1999 from Master Hui Liu of the Wen Wu School in the tradition of Grandmaster Yang Mei Jun. Bob regularly teaches qigong at the Wen Wu school and the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ten years ago he began the first qigong program to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland; since then it has spread to many other medical centers.In order to devote himself full time to Zen and Qigong practice, Bob recently retired from 25 years in Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers, working in the Departments of Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine, and Neurology. While there he served as chief psychologist and as the head of assessment services. As a psychotherapist he specialized in brief therapy and, with Moshe Talmon and Michael Hoyt, did research on single session interventions. In Behavioral Medicine he developed a mindfulness-based program for patients with chronic pain. Bob initiated training programs in neuropsychology, hypnosis, and brief psychotherapy and held grants researching dementia and adult attention deficit disorder.Bob is the author of numerous journal articles and the book Zen and the Heart of Psychotherapy. His most recent book, Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching will be published by Wisdom Press in Spring 2013.Bob has been a Fulbright Professor at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience in Bangalore, India; director of the psychology doctoral program at the California Institute of Integral Studies; and was active in the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration. He has given presentations and workshops around the world, including in Nepal, India, Australia, Japan, Europe and South America.Bob has been a lifelong avid backpacker in the Sierras and Cascades. Since 2000, Bob has spent one or two months each year in the Himalayas. He assisted his friend, Robin Boustead, in the development of portions of the Great Himalaya Trail across Nepal and India. Bob is the proud father of two grown daughters who are enthusiastic climbers, lovers of the outdoors, and committed to social justice.Bob sees the sitting meditation of zazen and the moving meditation of qigong as two complementary expressions which mutually reinforce the natural practice of the Way in ordinary, everyday activity. Psychology and neurobiology can help inform this practice, but neither explain nor constrain it:. The brain is not the mind and (as Zen Master Dogen teaches us), the mind is not the I; our bodies-and-minds are the universe, one bright pearl.
One may die in the shallows as well as the depths

But following one’s nature
Swimming up waterfalls
Opening the heart to strew
Birth and death glittering jewels
glacial pebbles on smooth sands’ beds
One inch of water will suffice

Lightning strikes the mountains with laughter
Aspens whisper to life,
drop their leaves –

an offering to moonlight

#taoism, #tao, #wu wei