Great Presence preview

Look around you now. The chair you sit on has presence. You have presence. Neither you nor the chair created or invented that presence; it was already there and both of you merely embody it.

Presence is the basic ground of being. They recognized it in every manifest phenomenon. They called it Tao but there's nothing sacrosanct in the name. Indeed the first axiom of Taoism is that if you can name it, define it, describe it or explain it, it isn't the Tao.

Like our modern physicists looking for the so-called God Particle, they understood its elusive nature and so developed myriad exceptionally effective ways to experience it from moment to moment, no matter what you're doing at the time, public speaking or any sort of performance included.

The system involves many elements, which the ancient sages grouped as THE FIVE EXCELLENCES: martial arts, meditation, medicine, creative composition, and performance skill.

Martial arts because you have to stay fit in mind and body, you have to be able to defend yourself and others from attack, and you benefit by the confidence this affords you, enabling you for instance to feel safe being kind to everyone because you're relatively free of the fear of being attacked by them (this is the underlying subconscious fear behind every animal's fear of other animals and no less so so for humans), and when your default stance towards others is kindness, others tend to be kind in return.

Meditation because to live life fully and wisely, fruitfully and enjoyably moment to moment, day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year and so on, requires you be able to gain and maintain perspective at every turn, lest you blow things out of proportion and send yourself unnecessarily into a panic, which is what most people do most of the time. You need to remain in touch with the inner witness bearer, the soul, the great presence within rather than be caught up in the inevitable complex of insecurities, confusion, self-conflict, self-deceit, drama and noise you experience in the normal non-meditated state.

This way you're with sufficient inner quietude to discern the optimal direction in each and every moment and to attain to a sufficient degree of acquiescence to flow freely in the stream of opportunities life presents you.

Medicine, or healing in the broader sense, because your greatest function as a human is, as Einstein pointed out, to be here for others – to serve your human family as a good brother or sister, and there's no higher service than helping people back to themselves – the actual meaning of healing is 'making whole, or helping self or other revert to the former state of wholeness. In your transactional mode with others, there's no neutral position: your effect on them will either be to heal them or harm them. In any case being able to take care of those around you is a fundamental skill to acquire.

Creative composition, because Taoism is an art and is concerned with life as art - and art, or being an artist as life. Art, no matter the sort – painting, photography, film, music, dance, literature, poetry, cooking, perfumery, even business or politics at their best – art is what makes the world what it is, art is what drives the shape of the culture, art is what defines it, art is what influences us to be as we are. The majority seem merely to copy crudely – fashions, musical styles, writing styles and so on – but someone or someones have to exercise original thinking and create the fresh and new to inspire all that copying in the first place – giving shape to life for others, providing color and enjoyment for others is one of the highest services possible.

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Images by the one and only Spanky Pymn