Braden Town is a former writer/broadcaster and now a retired Priest. He has been involved in the Personal Development field for over half a century. He has been a student of Panache Desai's for several years, and lives in Vancouver, Canada. You can see more from him at his website: https://YourBetterYou.net

The Wisdom of Lao Tzu - The "Old Master"

iStock-890095494 The Wisdom of Lao Tzu

To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.” Lao Tzu

One of the three main sources of ancient Chinese wisdom is Lao Tzu, from the 6th Century B.C.E. (The others are Confucius and Buddha.)


His work is foundational to the understanding and practice of Taoism (“The Way”) which today still has over 20 million followers.

The Legend of Lao Tzu


Lao Tzu’s origin and early years are unknown. He first comes to us as a record keeper in the Zhou Dynasty. In time he became repelled by the widespread moral corruption, and rode a water buffalo to China’s Western border. He was disguised as a farmer, but the border official recognized him and importuned him to write down his Wisdom.


Why he was recognized is unknown – had he been a teacher? How it was known he had wisdom to impart is unknown. Had he publicly expressed what we find in the Tao Te Ching, his short but infinitely powerful work?


At any rate, having written all he wanted to say, he disappeared into history.

Is It True?

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The Spiritual Ego

ego The Spiritual Ego

How dare I write this post?!!

Who am I to think my words would be worthwhile to read?

Isn’t this, and all writing, simply an expression of my ego?

Bad Rap


The ego gets a bad rap in Spiritual circles. It is what you must free yourself from, it is a mechanism that is focused on externals – objects or feelings, an addiction to “forms”, from our mental assessment of others to our preferences in clothing or jewelry.


It is the mental chatter in our heads, continuously accessing memories (your past), your dreams (your desired future), and, usually superficially, the Present.


Thinker and author Eckhart Tolle is especially rough on the ego:


“When people get taken over by the ego to such an extent, there is nothing else in their mind except the ego. They can no longer feel or sense their humanity - what they share with other human beings, or even with other life forms on the planet. They are so identified with concepts in their minds that other human beings become concepts as well.” ---Eckhart Tolle

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I Rise on the Song of the Sparrow

sparrow I Rise on the Song of the Sparrow

There is a large courtyard in the building where I live. It plays an important role in my self-balancing to deal with the day ahead.


I wake up, meditate, get dressed, grab a coffee and go to sit in the courtyard – there is an overhang of the second floor so there’s protection from the rain.


My courtyard experience always starts with Gratitude. When I sit down of a morning, my thoughts turn to all the things I am grateful for, from evenness of spirit to beloved friends.


Second comes a visit, not from something majestic or mighty but from the lowly, common sparrow.


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." ---Matthew 10:29-31


Sparrows are sprightly birds, quick and attentive.


I have created a position that when I see a sparrow it’s going to be a good day. Look at them, going about their business, hopping and bopping, cocking their heads this way and that; in camouflage colours of gray and brown, when they explore around the woody branches they are visible only by their movement. And then they fly, quickly, to the hedge or the two Japanese upright maples. This being a chosen sign for me, I do not have the opposite idea – that if I don’t see a sparrow it’s not a good day. I just miss them when they don’t show up.

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What Is Christ Consciousness?

christconsciousness What Is Christ Consciousness?

Christ Consciousness is both too complex and too simple to define. So the only choice I see is to write around it, stimulate thought rather than limiting it.


For my purposes here, let’s leave out the historical Jesus. Jesus is important because he embodied Love, true Godly love, in his life and teachings. He is revered as God and Man as One.


And let’s leave out the various religious denominations, all of them, to consider Jesus as Christ.


Christ means Anointed, or the Anointed One. (It’s from Greek, Χριστός, Christos.) A stopping place for many Christians is that there are more paths to Heaven than one. (For more on this, see Joseph Campbell’s cornerstone book, The Hero of a Thousand Faces.)


“When he said son of God, he meant the infinite Christ consciousness with which he'd obtained oneness.” ---Goswami Kriyananda

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At Death’s Door

empty-room-with-opened-door-3d-rendering-picture-id670866356 At Death’s Door

There are many fears we humans suffer.


On different lists they put in first place a number of associated fears. One says our greatest fear is Failure. Another, underscoring that we are animals of a pack, says the top fear is Loneliness. Psychology Today says it’s public speaking. They blend into each other: we fear an alteration in our group status.


The interesting one shows up as Number Two on almost all the lists: fear of death.

“In the midst of life,” wrote the cynic Ambrose Bierce, “we are in death.” Jesus tells us no man knows the hour and day of his death.


Where does death rate on your scale of fears?


Death Is Loss


“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ---Norman Cousins

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Is It Judgment or Discernment?

judgement Is It Judgment or Discernment?

I have had to wage war on my judgments.

They’re idiots if their driving doesn’t suit me. Hey, salesclerk, are you here to serve customers like me or to chat, you slovenly beast? I’m walking here, if you’ll let me, you mob-thinking plebes. Aww, go to hell !

I’ve overcome what I wanted to in terms of judgments, and substituted Discernment.

“Real magic means an absence of judgment of others.” ---Wayne Dyer


How I Overcame My Judgments

There are 3 components to my moving away from judgments: Gratitude, Humility and Acceptance.

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Sure, Honey, but...

Sure, Honey, but... Sure, Honey, but...

“Sure, honey,” my mother used to say. “I appreciate how you feel…” My mother was very empathic – in her way.

 

“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person's perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It's all through our own individual prisms.” ---Sterling K. Brown

 

Then: “But…”

 

“Sure honey, I appreciate how you feel but,” she would say, “-but, remember, there’s always somebody in the world who’s worse off than you.”

 

Well, it’s true. It’s true for every one of the 7 billion of us (except one person, pray for him). As a kid it was frustrating. It didn’t deal with the problem or my feelings. So, when I (still) hear those words in my mind, I relegate them to the “Cold Comfort” file. When my mother’s mother came to visit and I was crying, she would crouch down to be eye to eye with me and say, “Ohh, you’re crying – we have to get the Crying Towel…where is it? Can you find it? Let’s get the Crying Towel…” Cold Comfort. Another would be, “So far you’ve survived 100% of your worst days – the odds are in your favour.” True, but similar to yelling “Calm down!” at someone suffering from a panic attack.

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Fun Ways to identify a deeper knowledge of yourself

Ways to identify a deeper knowledge of yourself Ways to identify a deeper knowledge of yourself

My fifth grade math teacher was a plump, energetic man. He burst into the classroom about two weeks into the term, obviously pleased with himself.

 

“Who wants to have some fun today?”

 

We responded excitedly.

 

“Here it is,” he said, “your first pop quiz!”

 

Although he always approached these occasions with the same question, it only worked once. After that it generated nothing but groans.

 

Well, I’m going to offer you some fun – and a deeper knowledge of yourself.

 

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” ― Lao Tzu

 

This fun is fun. Yes, it’s tests, but there are no right or wrong answers. Each test I’m including yields valuable insights into yourself. All of these indicate differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions, as well as how they are seen.

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The Life Force of One

The Life Force of One The Life Force of One

I find myself in Bed 3 (of a 4 bed room) in hospital.


Soon enough the girl in Bed 1 is healed and discharged. The hospital is crowded, and within the hour the bed has been prepped and a new patient shows up.


He is 60, about 5 foot 7, gray hair, a bit plump. I don’t really notice him as he comes in, but when he is under the covers and his vital signs and blood samples have been taken I can see him.


I know him. From the streets.


I have a very fine apartment in a derelict area. It is now quickly being gentrified but a handful of bug infested residential hotels still set the neighbourhood tone. We’re in the poorest urban postal code in the nation. Our neighbourhood is still the gathering space for the poor, a 5 block stretch of the people living in the underbelly of our society, flooding the sidewalks. Don’t get the idea this is a slum – in our country we don’t really have slums.


It’s in this context that I’ve seen, and come to know, Ronnie.

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Tether Your Camel: Trust

Braden-Town-Tether-Your-Camel Tether Your Camel: Trust

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ―Maya Angelou


Trust


Trust can be a variety of things.


The dictionary lists “belief in the reliability” of someone or something. What that does not reveal is that there are many applications of trust: it starts in babies in intrinsic trust of parents or caregivers, perhaps even more when they hit object permanence. From whatever child level you pick, at some point you are a trusting, or not trusting, person.


You can trust a merchant – or not. You can trust your friends, although in varying degrees. You must trust your primary relationship, or it will die. You can trust your political leaders – or not. You can trust your faith to always come through for you – or not.


In how many movies have you heard the line, “You’re gonna have to trust somebody”?


“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ---Ernest Hemingway


The difficulty with Trust is that when we’re doing it in any important way, it makes us vulnerable and fragile. A breach of trust can be devastating.


You are the only one in charge of your trust and how and when you offer it.

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Integrity in Crisis

braden-town-integrity-crisis

Integrity is a word often invoked yet seldom defined.


If you look up its definitions you’ll find predominantly, “having strong moral principles”; the Cambridge Dictionary adds, “that you refuse to change”, worth noting.


It comes from the same Latin word as integrate – specifically, “make one.” This is making all the pieces fit together like cogs in a watch. (You have a digital watch? What way is “clockwise” for you?)


With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” ---Zig Ziglar


The whole question goes directly to the heart of Character. The more you’re in integrity, the stronger your character. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of “the content of [your] character…” Indeed it does have content.

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Can You Hold Others as Able?

braden-town-can-you-hold-others-as-able

Can you hold others as Able?


This is a powerful concept that is desirable but must be handled with extreme care – it is as sensitive as gelignite.


It is faith-based. That is, you believe it or you don’t, you want to move in that direction or not. It’s completely up to you.


It is validation of another person.


It is the position that that person is capable, in all respects, to deal with what comes their way. They are Able, in your consideration.


One obvious example is: babysitting. Let’s say you are the parent of twin 14 year old daughters. One is studious, makes her bed in the morning, is organized and already knows a lot about cooking; the other is slovenly, inattentive, irresponsible. If you let the first go babysitting in the neighbourhood, you are holding her as Able. Able to get along with the kids, able to handle tasks like getting them to bed, able to handle any emergency that might arise. That is holding her as able.


The odds are lower on the other twin, but it’s one of the mysteries of life that holding someone as able even when you have doubts can sometimes have surprisingly positive results.

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Do You Have a Guilty Conscience?

braden-town-do-you-have-a-guilty-conscious

It’s something you hear in this season, when so many have to face that they are not going to fulfill that well-meant New Year’s Resolution.


Is that your conscience, or do you just feel guilty?


Conscience is something bigger, the sense of Right and Wrong. It seems to be innate, but flexible to nurture. Admittedly, some people appear not to have one, or have resisted it long enough that it doesn’t impinge on their actions.


When I was a kid watching the (original) Mickey Mouse Club, Jiminy Cricket had a song, moralistic as much of Disney was, about conscience:


      “Take the straight and narrow path

      And if you start to slide,

      Give a little whistle…Give a little whistle…

      And always let your conscience be your guide.”

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These Great Gifts We Take for Granted

antientclock

“We use them each and every day without giving them so much as a second thought,” says thought-leader, author and philosopher Ken Wilber.


He’s referring to some Gifts that come with our lives in the Western, or developed world, although some range beyond that and apply even in primitive societies.


He focuses on four we never think about, calling them “Mental Software” that is installed, without our necessarily understanding that it’s happening, as Givens in our society. So he’s not talking about Awareness; the ability to Think; my favourite – the ability to compare (similars) and contrast (dissimilars); or the necessities most of us do take for granted: food, potable water, shelter. We’ve had a stark illustration of having that rug pulled out from under us in the situation in Puerto Rico, where a large portion of the population has been living without those. Could you go a week without these survival supports that are normally provided for us in modern society? I wouldn’t know where to start.

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Surrender - Must We, Really?

braden-town-surrender-must-we-really

Most teachers of Spiritual Elevation get to it: Surrender and your life will transform.


But doesn’t Surrender mean Giving Up? ‘Cos that doesn’t sound like something I want to do. For example:


One path we shall never choose, is the path of surrender, or submission.”  –John F. Kennedy

Or:

“If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.”  —Jesse Jackson


In fact, we’re talking about a different kind of surrender. It’s commonplace to say; but (I have found) it can
be difficult to do. “Let Go, Let God”…”Go with the Flow”…Or:


”All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.”
–Blaise Pascal


One of my favourites is: “Don’t Push the River.” That comes from the patriarch of Gestalt psychology, Fritz Perls. One of the reasons I like it is that it “flows” naturally into what for me is the clearest analogy for this, the kayak and the river.


I like having a handy image that explains Surrender, as it’s something I think of a lot.

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How Lucky You Are to Be Here - At All!

braden_town_lucky

“Souls are begging to come here,” Panache Desai has said, “this is the Las Vegas of the Universe.”


A lot of people don’t feel that way, but it’s a perspective worth noting because it directs us straight to Joy.


Despite how today is going, you cannot deny the evidence of how lucky - fortuitous, destined - you are to be here at all. For that perspective I’ll mention a couple of aspects of our Divine Luck.


“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ---Marcus Aurelius

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Do I Know Your Life Purpose?

BrandonTownBlog

Many people involved in “spiritual” work believe they have a Purpose. Not a fleeting desire, but something that directs and drives them from deep within. This group divides roughly into thirds: 1) God sent me here with a mission; 2) From exploration I have found this Grand Design that is working through me; 3) I agreed to this incarnation and came here under a Soul Contract for this exact life.


Purpose. And for my purposes here, what I’m presenting would cover all of those points of view.


Do you have – need, want – a Life Purpose? What is a Life Purpose anyway? The Internet definition is: “Your life purpose consists of the central motivating aims of your life—the reasons you get up in the morning. Purpose can guide life decisions, influence behavior, shape goals, offer a sense of direction, and create meaning. For some people, purpose is connected to vocation—meaningful, satisfying work.”

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Dr. Wayne Dyer’s Greatest Hits!

waynedyer

He was a Seeker. A Philosopher. A Devotee of Self-Realization. An inspiring Speaker. Dr. Wayne Dyer. He was a phenomenon.


He died in 2015, just past two years ago. So that’s not why I’m writing this.


At the moment Dyer’s publisher, Hay House, is making available Free a set of video clips that show how he could take complex wisdom of the ages and make it understandable and accessible to those of us who are still mortals. They’re offering it for “a limited time only”.


      If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”


Wayne Dyer first came on the scene with a book called
Your Erroneous Zones, in 1976. As of now it’s estimated it has sold 35 million copies, making it one of the best selling books of all time.

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One Way to Live Your Higher Self Every Day

One Way to Live Your Higher Self Every Day

What is your Higher Self?


For me it’s my Best Self, who I truly want to be, fulfilling all of my available potential. Of course, as it serves me.


Along my Spiritual path, I have come to believe – and want to promote – some very high-level, all embracing values I honour. They are my chosen foundation.

The pop quiz every day is: how do I manifest those values in my everyday life? A tough standard to meet. It’s like building a brick wall, with me making and placing every brick. These are the values I espouse - am I living them?

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Your Communities – and What You Give

Your Communities – and What You Give

In this world our lives are informed by our Communities.


From the moment of conception you are in community – the community of Humans.


It’s inescapable. The interlocking circles of your communities are everywhere: Male/Female, Son/Daughter, Parent – obviously my experience with no children is very different from anyone who’s had a child - Family, Country, Culture, Profession, Religion…Many of these define our experiences. Muslims have Ramadan in their lives, Christians have Easter, Jews don’t eat pork, Hindus see cows as sacred. Your relationship to practices like these is one deciding point in your unique life; even rejecting such a value is one.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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