I define Meditation as a transcendent state of being. Transcendence is to exist and experience clear of, beyond, or above the physical realm. Even more to the point, Meditation cultivates the ability to transcend the ego mind which often dominates the physical world. To cultivate Longevity, a person must rise above the ego-self and take charge of life. Another way of seeing Transcendence is to understand it awaken from the ego self and go beyond, rise above into the True Self.
The first principle to consider is to wake up and recognize the duality of consciousness and mind, and then to transcend it. Let us begin with a rudimentary definition of the word “self”. In the interactive physical realm ego sense of self is often reflected in the word “me”.
This term is useful and necessary in modern-day syntax for effective communication. We use it multiple times a day, every day. As a language tool, the word “me” is used by a person to refer to themselves. As you can see the word “self” is woven into our way of speech and is indispensable. Also referring to one’s self in the grammatical sense is “I” which denotes who is “doing” or “being”. “Me” denotes the object of a verb and is used when the speaker is the receiver of something. See if you can notice how many times a day and in the context, you use the words Me, I, and Self while communicating with others.
The next perspective to consider is the metaphysical or spiritual one. In this view, both “I” and “me” refer to the ego through its sense of “self-awareness” which is almost reflected through cravings and desire. Examples:
“What about me?” Or “what about mine”
“I need that” or “I want that” and “I must have that to be happy”
The Duality of Self
All things in the Tao follow the Yin Yang duality. The duality of self is in the broader sense The spiritual eternal self and the physical self. The Spirit Self or True Self is the eternal soul, and the Physical self is the entity you identify with and experience life in the physical realm. The Physical self is also The spiritual self that does not think in language so the subject pronoun is not relevant. In the physical realm, the physical self is binary. Physical spirit is a reflection of the eternal spirit (True-Self) a forms duality with the ego-self. Think of Yin (physical spirit harmonizing in the physical realm with the ego-self. When a person has not yet transcended, they mostly experience life through the ego self with Ying following Yang which is how most people identify. Being “me” is all they know. Right now, you may be coming to this realization.
According to Tao Tzu, only one in ten people are successful in life. These are the awakened ones who follow the true path. The rest, nine out ten, suffer and die too soon. These are the ones who have not awakened yet and their ego self is causing failure in life. The one in ten he speaks of have transcended the ego and have attained Sovereignty. Sovereignty is the virtue of ruling over your life with wisdom and clarity.
Transcendence is the process of awakening from the prison of the ego. The ego and its associated mind link form a multiplex of subroutines or personalities that form this illusionary identity. The ego is a mental entity that creates the illusion. This self-created prison is the ego mind which traps the person through craving (desire) and fear. The illusion of prison is constructed by the inability to let go of attachments that arise from desire or fear. When we suffer, we look for ways to cope with emotional and physical pain. These coping measures become habits and addictions which lead to more suffering. Yet we cannot let go because we fear we will lose, and we desire more of it to stop the suffering. It often creates a downward spiral which becomes harder and harder to escape as time goes on. Since this is all that, you know, there appears to be no way out of the life of suffering. This is a big illusion. The illusion can be broken by awakening from this realistic dream state through meditation. The important thing is that every one of us has the potential to awaken and know the truth through meditation and transcendence.
Self-awareness – The True Self
Transcendence is an evolution of awakening:
- Awakening – (rising above the thinking mind, the process of detaching)
- Presence (Self-aware, present, fully in the now)
- Oneness (Stillness, clarity, and unity with Tao)
- Dissipation/Dispelling (of desire and emotion)
Meditation is a Transcended state of being (awareness) where through observation there becomes a distinction between consciousness and mind. This is a subject-object view where the observer is the subject, and the mind is the object. Who is this observer that is separate from the mind? It is the true self or soul that is eternal and all-knowing. The realization of this is the transcendence of waking up from pure ego being to spiritual being. When awakened (transcended) one is self-aware. This is to say, that the true self is detached and observing recognizing that there is much to life than the singular egoic view of life. Of the two parts of the physical self, it is the physical spiritual self that is unified with the true self (soul). The True Self shines through the physical true self and manages life. This is sovereignty and the only way to manage the ego.
The Ego is a mental entity. It evolved with our species as we grew more sophisticated and learned how to survive in a harsh environment. It is the aspect of mind and self that takes care of “me”. It is crafty, smart, tenacious, and narcissistic. Unlike other religions that direct a person towards enlightenment by annihilating the ego, the Taoist approach is one of management recognizing that completely ridding oneself of ego is both impossible and extreme. Arguably the ego must be managed yet sometimes it can bring forth something that the true self can use. The ego is attached to emotion which can be problematic therefore, transcendence from it being the sole identity is the way to break free of emotional attachments. For the person, possibly you the reader, the ego is all that you know. This means you identify with the ego and all its attachments, desires, and dark emotions. Yet most people have a moment from time to time where a subtle wise whisper suggests the higher path. Part of the wise self will get through, if only for a moment, and in that pause, the true self is rising above, and you are awakening. But then, without training, most will slip back into the world of ego and be lost again for some period of time, suffering, and not knowing how to escape.
Transcendence is the waking of the True Self. This awakened state is known as self-awareness. As you begin to awaken to the realization that you are and always have been a spiritual being having a physical experience so does the possibility of escaping. The prison disappears and you, your true essence is free to construct and manage a successful life. In meditation, thoughts become objects to be observed in a detached non-reactive manner. It is in the stillness or emptiness of thought where oneness with the Tao is discovered. With oneness, you will gain clarity and enlightenment. It is in the stillness that becomes the source of clarity. Clarity is the truth of reality. Enlightenment in this context is the end of self-caused suffering
There are three meditations recommended for the process of awakening and cultivating self-awareness and sovereignty (discipline over the ego).
- Transcendence Meditation (Mantra or Breath)
- Mindfulness Meditation (detached observation of the mind)
- Contemplative Meditation (detached self-discovery and reflection)
There are many other types of meditation, these three are what I advised for cultivating self-awareness, sovereignty, and enlightenment. You can find instructors for these in many places. It is your job to find the teacher and begin the process of learning and cultivating.
Self-awareness is a state of being that is apart from or above the duality of mind and ego. Both the physical spirit self and the ego self mold and shape the mind. It is the illusion that you are the mind is the state that you awaken from. In self-awareness, you become aware of the ego and its influence over the mind and thus life. From the perspective of self-awareness, you can control your destiny through choices the wisdom of the true self makes and ignore the always insistence needy whiny ego. These choices directly affect the destiny of longevity and the quality of present life.
Self-awareness takes cultivation. There is the initial awakening from which most people will fall back asleep with the illusion of ego life. To make it stick takes practice and repetition to get strong and stronger at staying awake, aware, and detached. Through practice, your skill gets stronger and stronger which means that you begin to remain longer and longer in the awakened state. As this happens life begins to change in the most amazing and wonderful ways.
See Stillness Meditation in the Meditation Section
The True Self (Living Spirit) and the True Path.
The Way of longevity is one the being on the true path. What is the true self and the true path? The true self is the transcended sense of self that is awakened and aware. In the diagram above it is called the living spirit. I follow the perspective that in the physical realm and physical life experience these two aspects. Physical spirit self and ego mind self. The living spirit is the avatar of the soul for experiencing physical life. This is the meaning of the saying, “a spiritual being having a physical experience”.
Through meditation and transcendence, the physical living spirit awakens and takes charge of life which is the Tao principle of Sovereignty. In the diagram above you can see that the living spirit holds a larger presence than the ego-self. This is the true self. The ego is a mental entity that evolved with us as we evolved as primates into modern humans. It is a survival mechanism that has helped us to endure. Yet it is also the troublemaker that must be managed. You may have lived your whole life only identifying as ego. If, however, while reading this you realize that there is this better self, then you are beginning to identify as the true self, spirit. Meditation is the way of rising above ego and with practice, there is a place of harmony where the two work together to become a much higher being.
Sovereignty, a key virtue of the True Self, is the spiritual discipline that rules the physical life and manages the ego. Through Sovereignty, harmony between the true self and ego is attained. Rather than annihilate the ego, a balance is achieved between the aspects of self. This balance creates the harmonious synergy that is reflected by a sense of well-being, thriving, and success. This is the true path.
How do you know if you are on the true path? Here are a few questions to consider. Be honest and accurate.
- How satisfied or dissatisfied with your life?
- Is your life characterized by a sense of well-being?
- Are you healthy?
- Do you have a self-cause chronic disease?
- Are you passionate about your life’s work?
- Is your career/job fun, rewarding, and fulfilling on many levels? Or is do you hate your job, feel stuck, and deeply wish you were not there?
- How often do you feel stress and anxiety due to influences that seem out of your control?
- How often do you feel content with your life?
- What do you do when you are not at your job? Are you involved in other activities that you enjoy and serve others? Or are you coping with stress by overindulgence
- How often do you feel a sense of contentment, spontaneity and joy at life’s wonderful surprises? Or how often do you feel a sense of self-loathing, disgust, unworthiness, or despair?
- What type of people do you seem to attract in your life? People, who seem happy and easy to laugh and smile? Or are you mostly surrounded by people who don’t care, take advantage of you, or are always being disrespectful, moody, and filled with drama?
- Do you often feel lucky, grateful, and blessed? Or do you feel unlucky, resentful, and never have enough of that which you desire most?
- How often do you look to the heavens and ask, “why me”?
- Are you always struggling financially? Or does there somehow always seem to be enough money to live with contentment?
If you answered most of these questions with an honest positive reflection, then you are experiencing life as the true self, on your true path. You are getting the most out of life’s journey and on a good trajectory for longevity. You can even reach a higher level by following the teachings of the way along with others who found success.
If like so many others in our society, you felt in truth, negative affirmations about the conditions of your life, then you are still unawakened, still lost, and under the control of the ego mind. This is the path of self-destruction and distraction is an active element in keeping you there on the path of suffering.
The more that your choices are guided by wisdom the more successful you become at life. As discussed in the chapter The Tao of Virtue choice, virtue and karma create destiny. By accumulating virtue, you develop an extraordinary wisdom for staying on the longevity path. The way of virtue (The Tao of Virtue) becomes the way you deal with life in a moment-by-moment, day-by-day means of crafting your life by controlling ego and making wise choices that keep you on the path of longevity. As you craft your life plan, you make the changes through lifestyle choices.
It is only through self-awareness can you attain the Tao and make the Alchemy of Qigong work. Qigong is the next section on cultivating life. The alchemy is the process of changing something ordinary into something extraordinary. It comes down to the point of whether you can control the ego and through a meditative focus practice the Qigong principles for the magic to happen. It will happen. All you must do is consciously align your way of life with the way of the universe (Tao) and the results will manifest as intended. This is the Tao of Transcendence and the Tao of Longevity.
Finally, you must learn to incorporate the Tao of Longevity into a Lifestyle for Longevity. Later you will learn much about how Desire, Coping, and Indolence fueled by the ego are ruining your chances for that long-satisfied authentic life that awaits you, the true self.