Yourself

Qi. Self, personal. The symbol for qi means “itself” and “inherent.”

Tao is inherent in itself.

No matter what happens in your life, believe in yourself. Don’t give that up for a god. Don’t give that up for a master. Don’t give that up for a parent. Don’t give that up for a spouse. Don’t give that up for a child. No matter what, believe in yourself.

Not one of these people can live life in your place. Not one of these people knows you like you know yourself.

No god knows you. No master knows you. No fortune-teller knows you. No one can know you if you don’t want to be known. Why? Because the future is not yet made. How can they know what you will do next?

Too many people let others dominate them. For what? For the good of the other only. If you let society dominate you, who wins? Society. If you let your parents dominate you, who benefits? Your parents. If you let a master dominate you, who is empowered? The master. If you let gods dominate you, who is enriched? The gods.

And where does that leave you?

The master says, “Study with me, or be relegated to ignorant sorrow.” The gods say, “Worship me, or I will punish you in this life and the lives to come.” Tell me, what good are associations built on dirty threats?

Tao does not threaten. Worship it and it will not be augmented. Ignore it and it will not be diminished. Follow it and you will be preserved. Oppose it and you will be destroyed. But if you choose to follow it, you will become independent.

That is liberation.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao

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Its so rare to see people actually express their true individuality. Not in that “I want to be different, just like all my friends!” way, but in a way that actually expresses their unique personality and ideas. I find it confuses a lot of people when you do that. But, sometimes, that’s the whole point. If being yourself is somewhat confusing to others, its because they’ve probably never really given a lot of thought to who they really are. They’re just doing what everyone else tells them to do.

I’ve raised my kids to be themselves. Guess what. They are totally immune to peer pressure. They don’t always do what I would like them to either, but that’s the price I pay for letting them express their individuality. And everyone else ends up tellling me how mature and responsible they are. Well, they are because they know they are responsible for their own choices and mistakes; I’m not rescuing them. They get an occasional “saving throw” when they really screw things up, but I make sure those are expensive to them.

We pay a price for being individuals and expressing ourselves. Sometimes it’s been an expensive price for me, but on the whole, it’s worth it. But, everyone has to make their own choice. Most people end up choosing conformity over freedom, and complaining about it. I say, if you make that choice, don’t complain. At least it was your choice to make.

At the very least, take up art or a hobby of some sort and express yourself that way. Find an outlet that lets you be creative and explore who you are. And enjoy it. Don’t let people criticize your art; it’s just for you. The Artist’s Way is a great resource for this. Give it a try.