The 4 Ascendant Sphere Tradition of Taoism has two major functions. One is to develop the skills of a happy life. Two is to pursue spiritual growth.
In the study and practice of happiness, it is clear that in most situations where a person is unhappy, there is a dramatic lack in one of 4 fundamental life areas. To diagnose that lack, the easiest approach is to first track what you do.
You can do this very simply by making an appointment calendar like list and marking the time spent each activity.
If you do this for several days, you will find that your hours go into 4 general areas of activity. These are the 4 fundamental life areas:
The Vital 4 Doorways to Happiness
- Managing Resources.
- Managing Relationships.
- Self Development.
These activity areas are pretty straightforward. Management refers to getting more of a thing, getting rid of a thing, shifting the location of a thing, taking care of a thing. If you think of yourself as having a particular bag of blocks, management is whatever you could do to those blocks.
Managing Resources: Often times, people automatically believe that I am referring to money when this point is raised. If your only resource is money, you are in dire trouble. If it is your first thought that resources is a euphemism for money, you are ignoring most of the value in your life. You will miss out as a result.
Resources refer to any value that you can trade or any substance you need for daily well-being.
In ancient times, it could have been Mammoth meat. In the modern era, it could be your brain power or the sweat of your brow. It could also be an entertaining story.
Managing Relationships: How you interact with other humans and the relationships you have with them. Not so obviously, it is also the relationships you have with plants, animals, and the emotional world. It is the art of interaction. Humans are communal by nature, so shortcomings in this area directly affect all happiness.
For a spiritually developed person, your relationship with the Tao itself falls into this category.
For a person seeking to understand him or herself, your relationship with yourself is important.
Self Development: Consistent investment into your personal skills and consistent investment into improving yourself as a human being. Any learning could in theory fall into this category. However, only learning that modifies your self is what falls into here.
Part of understanding management is understanding loss. Anything that you acquire through your management can leave, be taken from you, be misplaced, or simply be destroyed.
Until the day you die, you will always have you to fall back on. If you have not been investing into yourself, then there is very little in that personal Golden Parachute.
Self-Maintaining: This refers to taking care of your biological needs. Much of what is in this doorway will crossover into the others, but the application is distinct from the others. Specifically it covers topics like cleaning and grooming yourself, having food, adequate shelter, and being safe.
90% of the Unhappiness in Your Life Comes From Not Using These Doorways Correctly!
If you track your hours to determine which of these doorways you spend most of your time going through, you will get your first diagnostic for unhappiness. There is likely to be a significant over hour and significant under hour imbalance.
After you have considered the hours you have spent in each of these areas, you then need to consider the skill with which you handle your time in them.
In 4 Ascendant Taoism, we spend a lot of time learning simple ways for opening these doors, balancing time and making the most of our efforts in each area.
I have provided a selection of Taoist articles below to help you get the keys.
Please click away!
- The 5 Problems of Balancing Your Life–The Taoist Perspective
- 3 Steps to Personal Happiness using Taoism
- Why Not-Doing (Wei Wu Wei) is Important and How to Use It as A Taoist
Master Mikel Steenrod
Keeper of the Gate of Man and Heaven
(Lineage Holder of the 4 Ascendant Spheres Purity Adept School of the Tao)