Taoism has an essential notion, which is to go along with the flow of nature. Nature, in Chinese, has more of a translation of “self-so.” It is one of these words that can’t really be translated because there is so much cultural background within a differently shaped mental data model. However, still, we can imagine the meaning of the “self-so.”
When it comes to meditation, Taoists do not meditate with the intent of becoming better people, reducing stress and anxiety, or finding the light. When they say that they practice meditation, the word practice is in the sense of a doctor who practices medicine, as opposed to an athlete who practices his free kicks to become the best football player in the world.
Of course, we all know that if you are frustrated, angry, or stressed out, sitting down with your eyes closed for a few minutes and focusing on your breath will have a calming effect. On a spiritual level, however, meditating with the intent and the yearning to reach a higher state of consciousness is like trying to bite your own teeth. It is just not possible.
A zen proverb explains: “a fire cannot burn itself.”
To meditate to be enlightened is an egotistical thing. My ego wants to be enlightened, not the real me. I just want to be. Enlightenment and awakening, the Zen Satori, are side effects of meditation, contemplation, or even pondering on a funny topic. To be awakened means to understand, beyond our intellect, that the idea of the self, of “I”, is an illusion.
It is an intrinsic understanding that can only happen spontaneously. It stays as an impermanent state. We are an element of nature, of the “self-so.” Like all elements of nature, we are interdependent on all other elements of nature.
There is no “I” because, without others, there would not be a self. We are all individual expressions of the same thing, interdependent on all surrounding us. Remember that just as important as your lungs, to breathe, you need trees. Trees are part of you. You are part of trees. It is all one big thing. But this notion is too big for us humans to grasp. And so, we focus on small bits of the big picture. We pinpoint this and forget that it is indeed just an element of the whole.
And so, in every single guided meditation that you have heard me guide, I press the importance of releasing your expectations, your yearning, and your desires. These desires are your ego’s thirst for proving that it is more than it really is.
When you look into the distance, you cannot see your own eyes.
A sword cannot cut its own edge.
You cannot "do" what actually should be undone.
Meditate for the pleasure of meditating. Simply sit, and be there. You can listen to your thoughts. You can observe your body, your breath. But, most importantly, you can contemplate the “self-so.” You don’t have to be in front of a waterfall to be in awe in front of nature. What is inside of you, who you are, what you represent: be in awe in front of that. Feel the self-so, or rather, realize that you are it.