Optimize to Actualize: 2

by Christopher Lovejoy on April 2, 2017

The whole, fresh, ripe, raw juicy fruit of living, loving, and lifting up your life, your soul, your fate is an ever renewable capacity to engage and enjoy the destiny of your spirit to the fullest extent possible.

This is another way of saying that the fruit of taking and loving the soul of your fate and the fate of your soul is a renewable capacity to enjoy the spirit of your destiny and the destiny of your spirit – which is yet another way of saying that the fruit of a fluid, flexible willpower is wu wei (not trying to try, doing without doing) and the fruit of a sustained, sustainable wu wei is de (a charismatic warmth of presence).

In light of this preamble, here are my current working definitions of wu wei and de:

wu wei (pronounced “eww way”, characteristic of a new way): the effortless embodiment and expression of a dynamic flux of being that allows one to remain optimally active and that enables one to remain optimally effective without any hint of self-consciousness

de (duh): a radiant moral charisma that embodies and expresses the practicality of being honest, competent, progressive, and (if you’re lucky) inspirational, so as to attract and secure the warm support of others; de is the ripe juicy fruit of an accomplished wu wei

It is unfortunate that the translations of these two key concepts (wu wei and de) into English is more than a little problematic, inviting playful attempts to mock the pronunciations, even as such attempted English translations as “effortless action” and “moral charisma” fall short of the mark.

Having said this, when someone utters “duh”, it could be taken as a reminder to restore the embodiment and expression of your de (duh) by, once again, finding your wu wei, and when someone utters “ewww”, it could be taken as a reminder to bolster your resilience for the sake of wu wei.

* * *

We have four approaches for expressing natural spontaneity in view of radiating moral charisma. My own personal approach to these four processes is to apply each of them, as required or desired, while getting a feel for the one approach that comes most naturally to me.

You could choose to adopt only one of these approaches wholesale and see how this pans out. I would, however, keep in mind that one or more of these approaches might offer some value, thereby gaining a repertoire of processes by which to perfect your wu wei into de.

The early Chinese explored every conceivable strategy for moving a person from a state of alienated trying into a perfected wu-wei. You can carve and polish: subject yourself to rigorous, long-term training designed to eventually instill the right dispositions. You can embrace simplicity: actively reject the pursuit of goals, in the hope that the goals will then be obtained by themselves. You can cultivate your sprouts: try to identify the incipient tendencies of desirable behavior within you, and then nurture and expand them until they are strong enough to take over. Or you can go with the flow: forget about trying, forget about not trying, and let the values you wish to embrace pick you up and carry you along ~ Edward Slingerland, Trying Not to Try: Ancient China, Modern Science, and the Power of Spontaneity

What are the right dispositions? Here are four easily recognizable sets of signature virtues that can never go out of fashion, that may or may not be natural to being spiritual in human form: hope and optimism; kindness and generosity; energy and enthusiasm; courage and wisdom.

The Way of Confucius is the way of trying really, really hard not to try, to instill the right dispositions so that your life can (eventually) flow of its own accord. This way of being and doing involves subjecting yourself (or being subjected, if you’re the child or adolescent of a strict, protective Confucian parent) to continuous, rigorous training. The value in this carve and polish approach is seen in the process of acquiring and honing a skill that increases or enhances your value as a service provider. This approach also has value if you ever wish to mingle socially with grace and ease.

The Way of Lao Tzu is to stop trying – not “stop trying so hard”, but “stop trying altogether” – and return to the primal roots of your being. This advice is in stark contrast to the Way of Confucius. For Lao Tzu, “the way to do is to be”; being begets doing – not the other way around. That is, you will never find being through trying and doing. You will only ever find being by being, while letting doing arise naturally and effortlessly from being. The so-called right dispositions of Confucius are neither good nor right to Lao Tzu; they are merely natural by-products of doing through being.

There really are only two approaches to processing a situation in life: you can either “carve and polish” yourself in response to it or you can “embrace the uncarved block” of your native self, adopting either the hard-core version of each or adopting the soft-core version of each.

Herewith, the soft-core versions of Mencius and Chuang Tzu, which I suspect were brought into being by them to make the hard-core versions more accessible and palatable to a wider audience.

The Way of Mencius is the way of trying (but not too hard) to not try by tending to the sprouts of an inherent sense of goodness and rightness without yanking at their roots to stimulate growth. Where Confucius is a gardener in the spirit of doing, Mencius is a gardener in the soul of being.

The Way of Chuang Tzu is less severe and more playful than the Way of Lao Tzu, offering us the best of both worlds, giving us the option of remaining in society while retaining the option of seeking refuge in nature. For Chuang Tzu, there persists a heavenly force of nature that moves through us, whether we are aware of it or not; by aligning ourselves with it, we can thereby “go and grow with the flow”.

The upshot of this summary is that there is no one sure-fire Way for everyone everywhere.

A type A personality will favor one Way, while a type B personality will favor another; a person prone to seeking closure in their interactions will favor one Way, while someone prone to keeping their options open will favor another; the training of an actor or athlete who favors a disciplined approach to excelling will look very different from the training of one who favors a more laid-back, playful approach.

I would advise acknowledging and appreciating the value of each approach and version, and apply each one as required, depending on what the situation in which you find yourself demands or allows, while also keeping in mind that these approaches can be viewed as pathways.

* * *

Being authentic, which word shares the same root word with the word “author”, involves writing “the story of my life”, one that inspires, one that I can enjoy reading (and re-living) at the end of my life at the cosmic life review. The watchwords are these: be authentic, be the author of your own life, be true to your values, put your virtues into action, and live with the integrity of areté to realize your ideals.

There are two aspects to this process of living fully: negotiating fate and navigating destiny.

From a cosmic point of view, we can step back and look at our lives as having two bookends: before our lives began here on earth incarnated as human, we previewed, as discarnate souls, various lives as predetermined courses of programming populated with choice points. After our lives end, we get to re-view and re-live, as discarnate souls, the life we chose to live prior to being born with this question uppermost in mind: “how well did I do in this life I lived?” If your fate as a soul is the first bookend, then your destiny as a spirit is the second bookend, and so, if you’re working the path of Confucius or Mencius, then you favor crafting a destiny more than you do loving your fate, and if you’re walking the path of Lao Tzu or Chuang Tzu, then you favor the circuitous play of negotiating freely the benefits and hazards of having a predetermined fate more than you do the challenging work of navigating freely the benefits and hazards of crafting a destiny that you can call your own.

Of course, we can do both – indeed, must do both – but the question remains: “which do I favor?”

At this time in my life, I favor the Way of Chuang Tzu, with a nod of approval towards his masterful mentor, Lao Tzu. For much of my life, I have favored this way of “going and growing with the flowing”. I also appreciate the value of bringing being and doing into balance with having.

At least for now, this is my personal bias going (and growing and flowing) forward.

In my next post, I continue my journey towards ultimate fulfillment by negotiating the celestial and creaturely aspects of a life lived as a divine spirit in human form, to sanctify the beast: to awaken the beast within; to enlighten the beast within; and to empower the beast within.

To share information and inspiration on what is happening on this troubled yet promising world, I drew up two lists of sites that are serving the causes of personal, global and/or cosmic awakening.

This post has been filed under Basis in the Ultimate Outline.

Note: my evolving outline on approaching a realization of the ultimate in personal fulfillment can be found here, accessible from the nav menu under the page “Be Here Now”.

Note: this ever growing perspective began here: Ultimate Perspective

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