Tao Column

Dreaming of
Thunder

by Lee Felten

Assigning Importance

What is assigning importance? It may be likened to the Buddhist ideas of attachment. When we assign values, positive or negative, to something we assign importance. If it is positive we may become attached to ideas of desire, if it is negative we may become attached to ideas of aversion. At the core they are the same. Objects and ideas are given mind weight through aversion and desire. This mind weight often times restricts the free flow of the phenomenal moment.

How many times do we get caught up in the programming of our minds that tells us something ‘just isn’t right’, to the detriment of being effectual?

This is not to say that there is no place for judging certain aspects of our lives. Unless we have a discerning mind we will be unable to see that some things simply do not work ~ we may continue thrashing against a proverbial brick wall that we could easily flow around. What is meant to be conveyed here is the idea that when we get caught up in and assign importance to the myriad manifestations, we may very well miss something.

Too much yang energy in our lives is unsettling. The imbalance may manifest itself in countless ways, but if one is to get caught up in the manifestations ~ sleeplessness, uneasiness, a feeling of ‘too much energy’ ~ what our bodies, and nature, are trying to inform us of may be missed.

We assign importance to the idea that we are unable to sleep well. We struggle with the fact that we are not sleeping as much as we may have in the past, and we assign importance to this. In the assigning of importance, instead of alleviating the symptoms of imbalance, we may actually heighten them ~ reinforce them if you will. An aversion develops, and this very aversion only serves to promote that which one seeks to avoid.

We lay awake in bed and fret over the fact that we are awake. We feel the energy fluttering about in our tummies and seek to make it go away. These struggles, the confusion, and the fighting against the ‘what is’ of the moment we find ourselves in only bring more energy into the mix. When what we need is a calm receptive balance of yin.

We may find that apparently from out of no-where long forgotten thoughts, ideas, and memories are surfacing. We may find ourselves struggling against what comes up, but this too is only adding mind weight to a temporal phenomenon. We may find ourselves becoming emotional when we see the ghosts of the past playing across the screen of our mind. We may not care much for what we see. But when we assign importance the only thing we can be assured of is the images will continue to come. The more we struggle the more our minds will give us something to struggle against.

We look for answers, for someone to share the words with us that will make sense of the condition we find ourselves in, but no words are forthcoming. And if words do come from well meaning people around us, they also often times serve to add more weight and importance to the temporal condition. The words help us to cling, or add to our fight, which again only serves to keep is caught up in the cycle of imbalance that we find ourselves in.

The society in which we live promotes the idea, ‘If you don’t like something then DO something about it.’ But, in the Taoist mind, it may seem that all the ‘doing’ is unnatural and contrived ~ that it only serves to promote the dilemma. A sage may tell you, do nothing about it, and it will change on its own. This may be good advice, and if nothing else sounds pleasant and wise. But how many actually understand at some intuitive level what this means?

It doesn’t mean that we become a turnip staring at the walls. It means we stop forcing things. If we can’t sleep, then we can’t sleep; we don’t attempt to force sleep, and we don’t fight against the temporal manifestation of our moment. If we have too much energy, when we live naturally this energy will expend itself. If we are lacking in energy, this imbalance will also be redressed in natural living.

We simply stop forcing things, and stop assigning value which only serves to perpetuate our suffering.

Even the vinegar of life is delicious!