by Debashis Chowdhury
The Universe is amazing in its ability to awe and inspire us. One does not have to sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or be visiting the spectacular mountain-top ruins of Machu Picchu to wonder about the scale of our existence – and the difference our presence here on planet earth could make in the grand scheme of things. We can bring the cosmic scaling of our existence down to a very personal level – with the help of a simple visualization tool called the Tao Cycle.
The Tao Cycle is the amalgamation of several streams of thought that seek to place some structure, some meaning, to our human lives in the greater Universal context. We have the Taoist beliefs about the fluidity of existence, and the presence of Taoic complements like Yin and Yang. From ancient India we have the construct of the Ashrama system, where each phase of our life has a distinct meaning and relevance. From Greek mythology we borrow the name of the first book of this series – The Riddle of the Sphinx (from Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex), which also relates to the stages of our life. At the heart of the philosophy is the attempt to answer one key question: With our deepest scientific, spiritual and philosophical insights, is there a way to connect our ordinary day to day aspirations to the greater purpose of the Universe? If we decide that the answer is Yes, would it be logical to assume that the Universe itself would inspire us to connect our aspirations to that greater ‘Universal’ purpose?
I have many reasons to believe that the answer is ‘Yes’ to both these questions, but paradoxically, the underlying aspirations are not the same for each one of us. To a large degree our aspirations are dependent on the circumstances we find ourselves in. Still, some generalizations can be made according to the stage of life we are in, which can be broadly divided into:
1. Studenthood (~ 0 – 25 years of age)
2. Householder (~ 25 – 50 years)
3. Service Leader (~ 50 – 75 years), and
4. Spiritualist (approx. 75+ years)
The ages of transition from one stage to the other can vary by our cultural background and educational committments. In general each segment is tending to get longer – with increased life expectancy and continued mental acuity till later in life. The Western civilizations largely favor the first two stages, making it very hard for individuals to move on to stages 3 and 4. The Eastern traditions, on the other hand have tended to put more emphasis on the latter two segments, often at the detriment of the competitive individuality we build during studenthood, and the economic productivity of our Householder years. The Tao Cycle approach seeks a balance between these two approaches, and seeks to attract all humans to a common personal development framework that is fulfilling in each one of the four quadrants.
The timelines may be stretched, but I believe that this same Tao Cycle framework can be applied to corporations, nations and even civilizations. In time, the construct can even be applied to our human presence here on planet earth. The Tao Cycle implications of a highly technological future society is not the topic of this blog – but it is the main thrust of a previous book that I have written: In Our Own Image – Humanity’s Quest for Divinity via Technology. http://www.iooi.org
In this blog, as in the Aspiring Human series, the focus is on our individual lives and the current social and cultural crossroads we find ourselves in. The dialog is very human – between Hu, the ‘aspiring’ human who faces a series of crisis in life, where he desperately feels the need of a life’s coach who can help him work through the problems. The life’s coach turns out to be none other than ‘Uni’ the personification of the inspirational drive within this Universe.
To aid the young reader, I have put all three of the Chapters in the Studenthood segment on the web at: http://sphinx.intrinz.com The book is in prepublication trials, but I have also put the Introduction as well as the Acknowledgements on the web. If you are into meditation and visualization, you will also find a ‘Visualization’ tab where several of the key Tao Cycle diagrams are available for visualization practice. The summary take-aways from each Chapter are also on the web site.
How this Blog is organized:
1. Main Blog: Will continue on the overall applicability of the Tao Cycle, and how it could connect us to the highest levels of Divinity.
2. Studenthood sub-category: Issues specific to those in the pre-householder years.
3. Householder sub-category: Relating to householders, businesses and others with a strong economic agenda.
4. Service Leader sub-category: Managing the transition from Householder to Service Leader segments. Growing our sphere of self towards universality.
5. Spiritualist sub-category: Crystallizing the learnings about human existence and drawing out the patterns towards the greater realities of the Universe. Determining the seeds (the Cultural DNA) of a future post-biological human civilization.
In addition to the four Segement sub-categories, I will dedicate two more sub-categories to the two main transitons that we humans seem to have the most trouble with. They are:
6. Navigating the Individuality transition, and,
7. Navigating the Affluence (Materiality) transition
At a future point I will plan to add a section on navigating the Universality transition, as well as other critical areas that may need focussed attention.