The air of autumn is filled with the energy of transition and maturity. Lately, I start my days with Belly Button Healing
. The tranquility and solemnity that flow through nature instill my dawn meditation with fullness and bring me new perspective and inspiration. This time of the morning is Tao Time, the most important part of my day.
I've talked a lot about the Tao
in public lectures held over the last three months in the United States and Korea. Many people think the Tao is difficult to grasp, abstract, and far removed from everyday life. In fact, it's just the opposite.
The Tao is very close to us. It's so close that we have trouble feeling it. The Tao is like the sea to the fish living in the sea, like the sky to the birds flying in the sky. The Tao is all things that exist and also the source and ground of their being.
This is the easiest explanation I can give to those who ask what the Tao is: the Tao is nature and the life within us. And I tell them to feel the Tao, not try to understand it.
The two great obstacles that keep us from feeling the life within are our thoughts and emotions. Especially when we are caught up in negative thoughts and emotions, such as anger, regret, shame, feelings of inferiority, and despair, we cannot feel the life inside us. The easiest thing anyone can do to get rid of this fog of thoughts and emotions is to feel energy or their own breath. When you're troubled, caught up in negative emotions or thoughts, don't try to escape them. Instead, you should do energy training, concentrate on your breathing, go for a walk in nature, or do Belly Button Healing.
When the fog of thoughts and emotions lifts, and you begin to feel the life inside you, your mind becomes more comfortable. Within that peace, your perspective on yourself and the world expands, and you develop insight into the thoughts and ideas keeping you from being your true self. So I urge everyone to take time alone to feel the life in themselves at the beginning and end of the day.
When you have more time to feel the life inside you, you'll come to a crucial realization about life. It's a realization that we don't own life. We often use the expression "my life," but life doesn't belong to me. Life comes to us, expresses itself through us, and leaves us again when the time comes. It's simply that we've received life from nature and can use it while nature permits.
Our body, everything we experience, is a phenomenon of life. Like all other phenomena, we, as a phenomenon, have a beginning and an end. In other words, we are born, and then we die. From the perspective of life itself, though, nothing is born or dies. It just changes. Life is a continuous stream without beginning or end, expressing itself in infinitely diverse phenomena. When it takes on a visible form, we call it birth, and, when it melts into an invisible state of energy, we call it death.
Have you ever felt this in deep meditation or contemplation? A feeling that the life you're sensing is not finite, not something that appears with my birth and disappears with my death, a feeling that it existed before me and will exist forever after I'm gone, a feeling that I'm connected to something infinite and eternal beyond space and time . . .
That feeling came to me 37 years ago. It was a very clear awareness rather than a feeling. I had never before had a more powerful or clearer awareness of anything. Then, unexpectedly, these words burst from my mouth. "Cosmic energy is my energy, and my energy is cosmic energy. Cosmic mind is my mind, and my mind is cosmic mind." I knew that, in my essence, I was not a finite being—appearing with a body in this universe for a time only to disappear—but eternal, self-existent Life. And I felt that bursting from my lips was not the voice of the individual called Ilchi Lee
, but the proclamation of Life itself. Since then, everything has changed.
At the root of all the anxiety, fear, obsession, and restlessness we experience is the thought that we are finite and limited. Once we know that, in our essence, we are not a phenomenon of finite life but infinite life itself, we can escape from anxiety, fear, and restlessness.
Feeling the life in us is like swimming in water. In water, we can do many different movements that are impossible on dry land. We feel much lighter in the water. It's hard and uncomfortable, though, to move your body as if you were on the ground. Wouldn't your movements meet with a lot of resistance in the water if your body was so tense that you couldn't feel its buoyancy? When you relax and go with the feeling of floating, though, the water offers incredible freedom.
We become lighter when we know that we can't control life. Being lighter means accepting and letting go. Just as you can swim freely if you relax, you can truly live free and without fear if you let go of the idea that you're going to control your own life, feel life itself and go with its flow.
And when we know that it came without any conditions, we are truly grateful for the life given to us. Whatever that life is experiencing now . . . whether it's a cancer patient with limited time remaining, a death row inmate scheduled to die tomorrow, a man discouraged after experiencing his 99th failure . . . it doesn't matter. The moment we truly feel the life flowing inside us, we feel that we are infinitely precious, beautiful and great, regardless of any external environment or conditions.
A person with a lot of Tao Time can learn how to navigate life smoothly, going with its natural flow. Even when waves rise on the ocean of life, we can calm our fears and anxieties and keep our hope and faith in life. We can accept dispassionately the ups and downs of life and obtain true peace of mind.
Taking Tao Time to feel your life is important, and I want you to think of it that way. Make that time a priority, no matter how busy you are. The most fundamental reason I'm passionate about teaching Belly Button Healing
is that it allows us to feel the life inside us. And it's the feeling of life that restores a deep sense of connection with ourselves, with others, and with everything else in existence. While you're doing Belly Button Healing, let go of your sex, age, nationality, religion, occupation, strengths, and weaknesses, all these things that cause us to divide, discriminate, compare, and compete, the things that make us smaller. Focus solely on the feeling of life flowing in your body. True healing and a free, fearless life begins in that feeling.