QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH ZEN TAO
Q: Why is it that I rarely feel happy these days, and I am not talking now of day-to-day happiness but of major life happiness? I have all my material needs more than satisfied, but I still do not feel that I have experienced true happiness. What can I do about this?
ZT: Perhaps I could rephrase the question a little and rather than ask you "When do you feel happy?" I will ask you "When do you not feel unhappy?"
Q: I guess when I am too busy to think about myself and my needs.
ZT: So perhaps we could say that when you are not thinking about yourself, but when you are thinking about other people and their needs and the ways in which you can help them, that that is the time when you are truly happy?
Q: Well, I hadn't really thought of it in that way but I do like helping people.
ZT: Obviously happiness and unhappiness is a very subjective subject, because one man's happiness can be another man's unhappiness, so to speak, it depends on your personality likes and dislikes. However I would like to suggest to you that true happiness, which is happiness of the heart not of the head, comes from those times when you are truly being of service to another human being, and by service I mean when you have totally released all thoughts of the self, of your ego, and are freely giving of your energies in service to another human being. On the many occasions when someone comes before me complaining about the fact that they are lonely and that no one loves them, my advice has always been the same. I tell them to go out and serve, to perform random acts of kindness to other people, to stop thinking about themselves and their problems and to go out and think about how they can improve the quality of someone else's life. Don't expect the world to help you, think about how you can help the world. Don't think about how you want someone to help you, think about how you can help them. If you believe that the spirit of God is in every person, then, surely, you should always be ready to serve the God in that person, you should always be ready to serve that person as you would serve God. True happiness comes from serving God, not just the God that lives in some mysterious place called Heaven, but the God that lives in your heart and, indeed, in every one else's heart.
True happiness is experienced in the heart not in the head. It is not something that you can create. It is a spontaneous outpouring of the God in you merging with the God in another person. You should serve all who come into your aura regardless of race, colour or creed, without thought of reward or thanks, for when you serve another human being you are in fact serving God. Many people in the Western World today think that to serve someone else is very demeaning and that only unskilled people perform jobs of service. Nothing could be further from the truth. All work should be done as worship, as a form of worship to God. All work should be seen as God's work. You are not working for someone else, you are working for God and it is work dedicated to God that brings lasting happiness. If you help a needy brother or sister and see yourself acting as God's servant, then, you will experience true happiness. This is not the happiness that comes and goes with the acquisition or loss of personal wants and desires, but the happiness that is born out of a shared love, from God meeting God. Your true divine nature is to be happy. That is the natural state of your being. It is unnatural for you to be unhappy. So if you have not yet experienced true happiness I would suggest that it is because you have not yet discovered the God in you. Remember that happiness comes from within, not from without.
Q: Why is it that all the great Masters such as the Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed always incarnate in male bodies? Why do great spiritual beings not incarnate in female bodies? I refuse to believe that women are not as advanced spiritually as men.
ZT: If you are privileged to meet a being of great consciousness, a living Master, no matter whether they manifest in a male or a female body, you will not be aware of their gender when you meet them, you will only feel their divine essence, their spiritual quality, emanating from them. Their physical body is irrelevant to their state of being. A great soul will incarnate in a male or female body depending on the role that it wants to play. It can be male one life and female the next. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied, as you look at the spiritual history of the world, as you know it, that it appears as if Masters have tended to incarnate in male bodies. Now that does not mean that there have not been great beings incarnating in female bodies, but that because society has tended to be patriarchal in its nature, so a patriarchal view of history has been recorded. I can tell you, however, that in the past many great souls have incarnated in female bodies but that their lives and achievements have not been given recognition or credence. There have been great queens, priestesses, prophetesses and seers whose lives have gone unrecorded by history but who, nevertheless, have grounded and demonstrated a high point of soul consciousness. Modern history tends to be about wars and conquests or defeats and so you can see why women would not play a significant role in such a record unless they were playing the role of a man.
The fact that the Masters who founded the world's great religions incarnated in male bodies is simply a reflection of the nature of the societies into which they incarnated and the roles that they had to play. It was easier for them to fulfil their respective roles by being in male bodies. Fewer restrictions were placed upon them. It was easier for them to travel and to move around in society. It was easier for them to transform society. Jesus, for example, was born into a very patriarchal society, namely, the Jewish race, where great limitations were placed on the role of women in society. So the Masters chose to incarnate in male bodies not to promote the superiority of the male of the species but simply because they had need of the qualities associated with the male body. The body for them was simply a coat, which they put on and could discard when their task was completed. Do not get hung up on maleness or femaleness, on human sexuality. They are simply physical characteristics, which you will all one day discard. Remember that only God is male or positive. We, men and women, are all female or negative in relationship to God.
There is another great Master, another great spiritual being, who is in incarnation on the Earth at this moment in time and he, too, has chosen to incarnate in a male body. If you are privileged to come into the presence of this being you will not in the least be concerned with human sexuality, about whether he is male or female, about whether you are male or female. Cosmic consciousness is not limited by being either male or female. The nature of this great being is beyond description. It is impossible for you to understand him since you have no point of reference. Even beings like the Buddha or Jesus with whom you are familiar cannot be used as a measuring stick. This great being will be the initiator of the new cycle. He will usher in a thousand years of peace and happiness for Humanity. He will change the nature of the drama of human life on the Earth. It is a great blessing and a privilege to be on the Earth at this time and to witness the events that will unfold. I cannot prophesy about the life and deeds of such a divine being because he writes his own script, so to speak, but his presence will soon be recognised on the Earth and his mission will soon begin. So I would advise you to prepare yourselves.
Q: I believe that I have a higher self that will always give me guidance when I most want it, at difficult times in my life. Unfortunately things don't always seem to turn out for the best and, looking back in retrospect, it seems as though I often made a wrong choice. How do I know that it is my higher self that is directing me and not my lower self, with all of its desires and needs?
ZT: Yes. There are many people in the world today who profess to follow the guidance of their higher self but who are, in reality, leading a life of total illusion. They are simply playing mind games and are cloaking their ego desires with a spiritual identity. Let us begin by recognising that the human mind is very clever. It will contort itself to preserve both its identity and its importance. That is why all the great spiritual teachers have taught that the first step on the path to spiritual enlightenment is to still the mind, is to take the mind out of the spiritual equation of life. The mind can justify any course of action that you want to take. How else can one human being justify killing another? How else can one human being persecute another because of their race, their colour or their religious beliefs? So let us clearly understand the nature of the mind and, above all, its limitations. It is a tool, a sophisticated computer, but it can only work from its memory bank, from its perceptions of physical life. It knows nothing of the spiritual realms of life. It can only base its decisions on its experiences of this life, on your personal likes and dislikes. Let us take a very simple example. You see a beautiful red shiny sports car in a car showroom. You desire it for many reasons. Even if it is too expensive, not appropriate for a family man and has far too much power for driving on your local roads your mind will still be able to justify as to why you should buy it! Your 'guidance' will say that it is the right car for you, that you were led to the show room, that the car was there waiting for you, that all the signs were positive about you buying the car etc. So you see that we have to be very careful about the source of our guidance.
Do you realise that any guidance that I offer to you through this channel is only my opinion and reflects only my understanding of life? It is therefore vital that you test its validity and appropriateness for you, that you weigh what I say in your heart, not in your head, that you hold my guidance up before your soul and only then decide whether to accept it or to reject it. There is only one true source of guidance and that is your eternal spirit, your link with the Divine, which is always with you. Being a part of God, your spirit has all the qualities of God and, as such, is omniscient. So when you talk of your higher self and of trying to lead your life based on the guidance of that divine link, then that is a right and a proper thing to do. The trouble comes in establishing a clear line of communication with that source. Much of Humanity today ignores that source and, indeed, only turns towards it in times of crisis, for example, when they are very ill, when they are threatened with death, when there is a situation in their lives which they cannot handle. Only then do they turn to God for help, only then are they really serious about opening up a channel of communication, but they find it difficult to do so because they have not practised this method of communication. The Source of All Life has always been with them, but they have chosen to ignore It and to rely on alternative sources.
So it is vital that you begin communicating with the Force of God within you, no matter what name you give to that source, no matter whether it be your higher self, your spirit, your soul or your God-presence within. The primary way of establishing this union is through the practice of meditation, is through those quiet times when you still your minds and try to attune to the source of divinity within you. It should become a matter of daily practice until, eventually, you can go inwards at any time and attune to that source no matter where you are, no matter what the situation in which you find yourselves. It becomes as automatic as listening with your ears to the physical sounds around you. A great Master listens as much inwardly as outwardly. For you who are just beginning it is a slow process. In meditation you will observe your mind flitting hither and thither and suddenly you will be aware of this observer that is observing your butterfly mind and you will slowly grow to identify with this observer. You will become aware of all the machinations of your mind and you will be able to separate illusion and reality. You will be able to know the difference between a soul communication and a mind communication. It will be matter of feeling intuitively rather than a process of mental analysis.
Q: So if we have a decision to make about something and we are trying to attune to our higher self, how do we test the thoughts that come to us, to know whether or not they are right?
ZT: By using the tools of practice and discernment. You have to practise on a daily basis not just when tests arise. You have to practise and test with little issues before you have the confidence to do it with big issues. Always examine your motivation for thinking, saying or doing anything. Now this does not mean that you have to retreat and sit cross-legged and meditate before doing anything. No, it means that you have to attune consciously to the Force of God within you at those times when you don't know intuitively what you should do, when conflicts of interest arise, when your heart is saying one thing and your head another. This attunement may last for a second, it may last for a minute, but it represents a conscious effort on your part to link with the Source of All Life of which you are a part. When it says in the Bible "Every hair on your head is counted" it means that every thought that you have is known to the Source as soon as you have it. There is no separation between you and God unless you choose to be separate, unless you choose to act for selfish reasons, for reasons of self-interest. Above all, when you have decided how to think, speak or act in any given situation, imagine that God is sitting on your shoulder and ask Him if He would approve of what you are doing. If the answer is "Yes", then, proceed, but if the answer is "No", then, reconsider your actions. The reality of life is that you are one with God, that you are never separate from God. You should have a dialogue going on with God every second of your day. It is from this relationship that faith is born, that you are prepared to go out on a limb, to walk into the fiery furnace, because you know that God is with you and is protecting you. God protects the righteous. You only need to be fearful of life if you believe that you are separate from God.
Q: You often use the terminology of evolved and unevolved souls, of higher and lower consciousness, when talking about various human beings and the karmic settlement that they have attracted to themselves. It seems to me that by your very definition unevolved souls, that is people of lower spiritual consciousness, because they are ignorant of God's Laws, will suffer more in the world as they live their daily lives because they will be breaking those Laws more frequently. Is this a correct assumption?
ZT: No. This world is a place of suffering for everyone, especially when compared to life on the higher planes of life. Both evolved and unevolved souls suffer to varying degrees but the level of the suffering reflects the level of the souls concerned. Using the analogy of life on the Earth being a school, then, a boy in kindergarten school would suffer because he is separated from his mother whilst a youth in high school would suffer because he has a crush on a girl student in his class who does not return his affection. The potential for suffering is always there throughout every minute of your lives, no matter what the grade or the level of education that you are in, but the type of suffering will vary with your point of consciousness. All suffering is self-inflicted and is self created and is the direct result of actions taken either in this or in past lives. What I can say, however, is that the suffering for an evolved soul has more to do with spiritual problems and for an unevolved soul has more to do with human problems. Recognise that you all choose your suffering and the degree to which you want to suffer.
Finally, remember that the spirit does not suffer. Only the body suffers and you are not your body. You, that is the essence of you, exists in a perpetual state of bliss and happiness. So you only suffer when you identify with body consciousness. Therefore a highly evolved soul, a living Master, never suffers, as he or she never identifies with his or her body. The Law of Karma applies to all matter, to all consciousness, regardless of its evolutionary point of vibration. Every action creates a reaction. The fact that an unevolved soul is probably not aware of God's Laws and breaks them unwittingly, to some extent modifies the degree of karmic reaction that it attracts, whereas an evolved soul, who knows that they are breaking God's Laws, will reap the full karmic settlement. So in this one sense it could be said that an unevolved soul has an easier walk through life because allowances are made for its point of evolution. An evolved soul, on the other hand, is not allowed to get away with anything. If it sins, knowing that it is sinning, then, look out. Karmic settlement will not be far behind!