Loving Oneness Now

LAO-TZU AND CONFUCIUS

[Page D4]

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[NOTE: The following accounts of the lives of Lao-Tzu and Confucius are as accurate as I can make them. Understand that only anecdotal accounts have survived from more than 2500 years ago, but just because they are legends does not discount the likelihood of them having happened. Anyway, please read the following account, not as strict history, but rather for its inspirational content and spiritual message.]

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China, a vast, sprawling loosely-governed empire which, during the later Chou Dynasty (700-221 BC) was composed of twelve major states ruled by feudal warlords. Their loyalty to their emperor was nominal, because they looked to him only for ceremonial religious sacrifices to heaven and earth, and for the dishing out of numerous royal honors and material rewards to those who professed loyalty. In the meantime the feudal lords and thousands of their city states warred “horizontally” with each other for whatever they could take. Armies of thousands fought frequent battles.

The common people of China still practiced their animistic religions of believing in the spirits of natural things and phenomena. In this, at least, these farmers and workers were not far wrong because the Devaminds did organize Nature’s ecosystems the best they could; unfortunately the human emotions of fear and hate all too often directly interfered with this process of natural synthesis.

China had a written language shared by the ruling classes and the civil service, but power was the name of the political game and education serviced the powerful ones. In the north barbarians attacked constantly causing regular headaches to the Chinese Administration, not to mention the cost of containing them.

To help remedy this messy situation two Beings decided to reincarnate in China in order to serve in different but complementary roles, one as a Spiritual Guide and the other as a Teacher of Ethics and Rational Rule. The Guide, it was decided, would direct his efforts mainly toward the population as a whole, and thus the spiritual philosophy he advocated would rely heavily on natural symbolism as its medium of appeal. The Teacher of Ethics, however would eschew any mention of spirit, other than token nods, remaining focused on moral conduct and social behavior.

In 604 BC Li Uhr was born in the Hu district of the Henan Province of China to educated, gentle parents who revered the Spirit in all Nature, and this they imbued in their quiet and reflective son. He learned the deeper meanings behind the mystic rituals and family rites and, even at an early age, was given to contemplation and meditation. While his childhood was somewhat sheltered and uneventful, his extensive and thorough education prepared him for the later role of recorder, librarian and historian at the Court of the Chou Emperor. His work there included making astrological and other divinations for members of the court and, as these were laced with telepathic spiritual intuitions, it was not long before he became known as Lao-Tzu which means “Venerable Sage”.

Lao-Tzu possessed the kind of Mind that had to penetrate to the core of Life, and in this pursuit of Spiritual Truth he always turned to the Essence of Nature to find “It”. This “It” he labeled the “Tao” which, when later committed to book form, influenced the peoples of China for millennia. When he was 87 years old he met his twin soul Confucius who was then 34.

Confucius (K’ung-fu-tzu) was born in 551 BC in Lu to a distinguished but poor family. He, like his spiritual brother (Lao-Tzu), learned how to carry out the established rituals of the family religion, but for Confucius it was the respectful reverence for traditional customs that was most important because it lent stability and centeredness to everyday living.

When Confucius was only three his father died but in his extended family there were other powerful, male role models. Hence he grew up with a sense of kindly responsibility to all human beings, something he reflected in his first adult work as a foreman of stores and supervisor of parks. He had married when 19 and soon had children of his own.

All this time a deep, inner prompting told Confucius he had to teach, so when only 22 he broke away from proctoring to found his own school. It had a sliding scale of fees enabling even the poor to attend. This school was sufficiently successful that its income allowed Confucius to travel from time to time. Throughout his life his observations of people and governments led him to formulate the wise and humane civil and moral philosophies which he then taught to his students and devotees.

Confucius was given the opportunity to put into practice his principles of caring government when at the age of 52 he was asked to accept the governorship of a province. This he did very well until a jealous governor in a neighboring district laid plans to topple him from power. Anticipating this overthrow Confucius resigned to resume traveling and teaching for 13 more years. Eventually, when 69, he returned to his family in Lu where he had two grown daughters and a son. There, at home, he died at 72 years of age in the year 479 BC.

When the two spiritual brothers met on Terra in 517 BC Confucius was mesmerized by the elderly Venerable Sage who asked him what he wanted from life.

“I would like to increase people’s reverence for the wisdom of the Ancient Ones of China. Master, how can I achieve this goal?”

“You must forget all past teachings, my brother, and search only for the Tao in your heart. The Tao is now. It can only be found in the present moment.”

Confucius was puzzled by this narrowing of time and its implications.

“How can I live in the present when I have so much to accomplish in the future?” he asked.

“You must let go all your desires for worldly fame, ego-power and superficial possessions,” insisted Lao-Tzu gently. “If you would be as free as the wind, only when you do not need something can you then have it and use it wisely.”

“But Master, do we not have to get deeply involved in education, the law, and the affairs of state to bring about beneficial changes in the hearts of the people?”

“These approaches will not work because they involve the use of coercion, conceits, conditioning and ego-power. The only way to bring about change in people’s hearts is first to change your own. Relinquish all ego and all conflict to the Tao. Do not struggle. Flow like a bird with the wind; swim with the river current to the Ocean. The Tao is found in tranquility, in stillness. Find it there and then teach the Way to those who seek you out. Tell them the Tao is formless and the attainment of it is through non-attainment. Only the empty can be filled with Tao. This is the only Way to Peace—for everyone!”

When Confucius returned home he was silent for three days, all the while wondering what Lao-Tzu meant by these mystical words. He sensed their profound Truth, but as his own practical preoccupation with education and ethics returned, he was soon drawn back into the world of social involvement. The philosophical legacy of Confucius, like Lao-Tzu’s, also influenced the peoples of China for several thousands of years.

Lao-Tzu, at an advanced age, became dismayed by the crookedness and degeneration of his state government so he decided to return to his beloved Nature--to a Natural Life. When he reached the city gates the Captain of the guard who was a devout disciple of the sage begged him to write down a summary of his wisdom for his followers to study. Lao-Tzu agreed and quickly brushed a scroll of some 81 stanzas known as the “Tao-te Ching”, or the “Book of the Nature of Mind-as-such”. This completed, Lao-Tzu continued on his Way--forever.

 

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Loving Oneness Now -- Copyright © 2007 Alexander Bannatyne, PhD

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