opening doors and shutters

awakening to the tao

When the doors are open, the air passes through. When the shutters are open, the light shines in. If the doors are closed, there is no circulation between the inside and outside. If the shutters are closed, the energy of the light is kept outside.

What I realize as I observe this is the tao of great use of great potential.

People in the world today who practice taoism go into the twisted byways of sidetracks, some closing their eyes and gazing into emptiness, some staying inactive in isolated and quiet places, some deliberately sitting and thinking of the spirit.

They think they have the tao, but they have not realized that the tao is the tao of creative evolution of yin and yang of heaven and earth. This tao, this Way, fans out everywhere in the universe, but this does not multiply it; it is concentrated in one energy, but this does not make it less.

All beings in the universe, animate and inanimate, the myriads of different beings, all live and develop on the basis of this. Everything and everyone has it. It is just that while people are in the midst of the tao they are not conscious of the tao, as while fish are in water they are not conscious of the water.

If you want to practice this Way, you must do it in the creative evolution of yin and yang of heaven and earth, realize its experience in the midst of all things and all events, and practice and hold it in the presence of all people.

This is work that is alive, effervescent, free, liberated, gloriously enlightened, true, and great. Do you think it can be attained by people who shut the door and sit quietly with blank minds?

If you want to attain the Way by shutting the door and sitting quietly with a blank mind, that is like shutting the doors and shutters and hoping to see the sun. What “way” does that accomplish? It must be the way of dark rooms, I guess. 

Understanding Reality says, “Practice, mixing in with the ordinary people and integrating hyour illumination. When it is time to be round, be round; when it is time to be square, be square. As you appear and disappear, now reversing, now going along, no one can fathom you, since you make people unable to know what you are doing.”

It also says, “You should know that the great recluses live in the cities and towns; why stay still and alone deep in the mountains?”

Only when you mix with the ordinary people, integrating illumination, living in the cities and towns, are you activating great use of great potential. This is the real function of practicing ahd holding the Great Way.

Liu I-Ming



accept three precepts

the paws of the buddha smelled like popcorn


Even if

you know how to recite

the texts, you still have to discern reality

from artificiality. Why? Sound and form dim the mind,

falsehoods fool the ears; personality and ego become second

nature, the disease of self-affirmation is deep-seated.

When the mind is separated from the

Way,  the principle is hard to



If you wish

to return to the supreme

Way, have deep faith and first accept

three precepts. If you practice in accord with

these three precepts consistently from

beginning to end, then you will

attain the true Way. The

three precepts



simplifying involvements 

not craving anything 

quieting the mind


…A scripture says,

“If people can empty their minds

and not contrive anything, it is not that

they want the Way, but the Way

spontaneously reverts

to them.”


Treatise on Sitting Forgetting


patience in the heart of chaos



A sage is subtle,

intuitive, penetrating, profound. 

His depths are mysterious and



The best one can do is

describe his appearance: the sage

is alert as a person crossing a winter stream; as

circumspect as a person with neighbors on all four sides; 

as respectful as a thoughtful guest; as yielding as

melting ice; as simple as uncarved wood; 

as open as a valley; as chaotic

as a muddy torrent. 


Why “chaotic

as a muddy torrent”? 

Because clarity is learned by

being patient  in the

heart of chaos. 



disarray, remaining at rest, 

gradually one learns to allow muddy water to

settle and proper responses to reveal themselves. 

Those who aspire to tao don’t long for fulfillment. 

They selflessly allow tao to use and deplete

them; they calmly allow tao to renew

and complete them. 


The Tao te Ching of Lao Tzu,

Chapter 15


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nothing is excluded

not even one thought


For the unified mind

in accord with the Way all

self-centered striving ceases.

Doubts and irresolutions vanish

and life in true faith

is possible.


With a single stroke

we are freed from bondage:

nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of

the mind’s power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge

and imagination are of no value. In this world

of suchness there is neither self

nor other-than-self.


To come directly

into harmony with this reality

just say when doubt rises “not two”.

In this “not two” nothing is

separate, nothing is



Seng T’san