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The Way to Practice Tao

When a child is born, he requires basic needs such as food and shelter. As he grows older, his needs and desires increase as he strives to make a living and a name for himself. Sometimes, in his search, he may get in disagreements with others, find life stressful, or face many difficulties. However, some people may not choose this type of a lifestyle.

Buddha was a prince. In this royal position, he was higher on the social hierarchy than nearly everyone else in the Kingdom. In material aspects, he could easily get anything he desired. In terms of his family, he had his aunt as his step mother to take care of him because his mother had passed away shortly after his birth. His father, the king, was also just as attentive. Plus, when Buddha grew up, he had a kind and loving wife. Lastly, to complete his family, he had a wonderful son. Compared to others, Buddha was fairly well off in most aspects of life. However, he gave up all of this lifestyle of comfort to retreat to the mountains to practice Tao.

After the Ching Dynasty's first emperor became the ruler of China, he too gave up his empire to become a monk searching for Tao. In history, there also has been so many knowledgeable monks. These monks also gave up all desires for material possessions to go to the mountains to practice Tao.

In the Li Ren Chapter of one of the Confucius books, Lung Yi, Confucius said,

If we learn the meaning of Tao and gain Tao in the morning, we will not regret even if we die in the afternoon.

This tells us that Tao is more important than life. In other words, the sole purpose of life is to learn and gain Tao. From small insects to large animals, each has a strong will to live. Since even all sorts of animals have this will, humans, should also have just as strong if not a stronger will. But the one thing that is even more important than life is Tao.

The Buddhist Bible of the Sixth Master, describes the purpose of Tao. According to the Buddhist Bible,

Our original character is very clear and bright. By living with this character,
We become Buddha immediately.

Buddha is the perfect spirit, the ideal that we strive for, the reason why we practice Tao. The Sixth Master said that we can use this character to practice everything so that we can become Buddha. The question now is, what is this character?

If one takes all of the above elements into consideration, that Buddha gave up his royal lifestyle to retreat to the mountains to practice Tao, all the monks who also went to practice Tao, what Confucius said about Tao, plus what the Sixth Master said about original character, one can see that we all are searching for the same thing. We are striving to find our original heart, the purity of mind and soul. In other words, we are all looking for the true meaning in our lives. This search is the law that our spirits need to follow in order to return to Li Tian.

In ancient times, the only way to practice Tao was to leave our home and family to live in a remote temple to study Tao with a master. Now that we know what Tao is, we can practice it at home. The ancient method of leaving home to search for Tao is very different from today's method of staying at home to practice Tao. With the ancient way, the monks did not have any daily worries about work and taking care of the family. They could then concentrate all their efforts

on practicing Tao. But before they could become monks, certain conditions must have been met. For example, they might have had elderly parents that needed support . Also, wives and children had to have suitable care for their livelihood. On the other hand, since we can practice Tao at home in today's society, both husbands and wives are able to practice Tao together. Parents can take care of their children and children can participate as well. Nowadays, people can practice Tao while maintaining a regular lifestyle.

At home, you stay within human interaction , the five human relationships. The first relationship is the relationship between parents and children. Secondly, if parents have more than one child, then there is also the relationship between siblings. When children grow older, they meet other people and form the third relationship, friendship. Then some of these friendships may turn into the fourth relationship, husband and wife. In the human being society, there is also the fifth relationship between people and government or employer and employee. This relationship is called the leader and subject relationship. Consequently, practicing Tao at home should start from within these five relationships.

The purpose of practicing Tao in these five relationships is to find Buddha's heart, our original character. For example, parents must love and nurture their children as well as educate and serve as role models to them. As children, they should learn from and respect their parents. As leaders or employers, they should assign work that is suitable to their subjects or employees' abilities. As subjects or employees, they should follow their leader and work diligently. In short, we have many roles in this society, thus we should fulfill our duties in whatever position we find ourselves in.

The moment we are born into this Earth, we enter into the reincarnation cycle. The cycle of birth and rebirth occurs repeatedly over a long period of time. During each cycle, our original character becomes burdened with impurities. With each cycle, it becomes more difficult to remove these impurities. As a result, when we practice Tao, we must proceed step by step. First of all, we need to remove impurities such as greed, selfishness, and jealousy from our hearts. Only after these impurities are removed will we have wisdom. With wisdom, we can then find our original character and be able to judge rights and wrongs. We will then have a sincere heart. With sincerity, our hearts will also become pure; that is our heart will not be clouded with greed, selfishness, and improper thoughts. Then once our hearts are pure, we will always do right. Even if we make mistakes, we will have the wisdom to correct them. We should avoid making the same mistake twice. These steps are the ways for each individual to practice what is good in his heart. Once a person's heart is good, then he can help spread his goodness to his family, then to his neighbors, to his society, and finally to the entire world.

In short, to practice Tao, we must undergo a step by step process. The first step is to purify our own heart. Secondly, we must spread this purity from our heart to others. In the ancient times, the emphasis was to purify themselves first. Afterwards, they spread the goodness to others. But now that Tao can be practiced at home and there are so many people to be saved in our limited lifetimes, we should emphasize both steps at the same time. On one hand, we must purify ourselves. On the other hand, we must spread the truth to our relatives, friends and the rest of our society so that we can all discover our original character. Step by step, through this process, our society will return to harmony and our lives will become more enjoyable and more meaningful.