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Written by Master Dao on Thursday, February 02, 2023

The Principles of Chan-Dao Self Wisdom


Self-Wisdom is about you understanding yourself, the reality and environment you are in, and your interactions. Improving self-wisdom is a shortcut to finding peace and stillness for yourself.

Below is a brief description of 4 key principles of Chan-Dao to achieve self-wisdom. In the future, Master Dao will provide more in-depth articles to explore each one.

1. Understanding the Ego-Self

Understanding the ego-self is about understanding the motivations and thought processes behind the things you do and say. It is related to your perceptions, emotions, and subconscious, which are ideas that are explained later.

How often do you do things throughout the day without thinking about why you are doing it? Most likely throughout the whole day! Here are some examples that you may be able to relate to.

Example #1: You wake up at 7:30 a.m. because you need to get to work at 9 a.m. You make a quick breakfast and leave by 8:30 am which normally gives you plenty of time to get to work. But the commute is particularly bad this day with traffic congestion or public transit issues. In this scenario, not once did you question why 7:30 a.m. is the best time to wake up, why you need to go to work, whether the breakfast choice was good, etc. In other words, you’re on autopilot and you’re not very aware of the decisions you are making.

Example #2: It’s 12 p.m. and you go have lunch at a nearby fast-food restaurant. In this simple scenario, many decisions were made unaware. Did you actually need to eat at 12 p.m.? Was your breakfast appropriately timed in a way that your digestive system is ready for lunch? Did your lunch provide you with the nutrients that your body and mind need for the rest of the day until dinner?

Example #3: It’s 4:30 p.m. and school is over. It’s time to go home! Did you think why you went to school? Or did you go to school because you had to? Did you think about how the things that you learning will help you in life? Did you realize you were sitting the whole day and how your body is atrophying?

Decisions you’ve made willingly, unwillingly, or not even realizing it, are happening all the time in your life.

Thus, by taking the time to become more aware of your actions throughout the day will help you understand yourself better with insight into the consequences (good or bad).

2. Working on Your Perceptions

Working on your perceptions means being aware of how your mind works in interpreting the world.

The analogy I like to use the most is the ‘cabbage brain’. The many layers of leaves of a cabbage represent thoughts and judgments. As we grow, we tend to add more and more layers of these leaves that build upon other layers and ideas. This helps us to make faster decisions and observations to understand our world better. However, if we are not aware of them, we cannot manage them, and we become blind to our conclusions. We even get easily confused or become easily manipulated.

For example, we see gym advertisements everywhere - billboards, web ads, print ads, tv ads, etc. It makes us think that having a gym membership is normal and even necessary. The impression given by these gym ads is that you can get a ‘nice body’ that will help you look attractive, or that it is considered healthy to lift weights and have big muscles. This is exacerbated everywhere, especially in movies and pop culture.

But is this actually true? If you take the time to think about it, you’ll start to realize that perhaps it’s not true. You don’t actually need a gym membership or big muscles to be attractive. Most people are actually not looking for that in a partner, nor will big muscles help you have a happy relationship.

In fact, big muscles and most gym workouts will create an imbalance in the body, which is harmful to your health as you get older. It often causes problems in your hips, knees, or back which limits what you can do as you get older.

Many people also don’t really understand what ‘healthy’ really means. I suggest that healthy does not mean you physically look, but rather, whether your body and mind can support the things you want to do now. and when you are in your elderly years.

Once you have a better perception of ‘healthy’, then you will be in a better position to understand how to work out at a gym in a way that will support you.

By challenging your perceptions and learning how to manage them, you can simplify your thinking, reduce your judgmental processes, and see things more clearly.

Working on your perceptions is a primary topic of Chan-Dao philosophy and we shall explore it in more detail in the future.

3. Developing Your Ability to Manage Your Emotions

Developing your ability to manage your emotions means becoming more aware of the emotions you experience, understanding why you feel a certain way, and dealing with them in a satisfying way.

This is a huge topic because it touches upon many problems that people experience such as stress, anxiety, fear, etc. These are complex emotions and need to be explored individually.

You can explore the articles we already have that deal with many of these emotions in our Chan-Dao Knowledge Base, and I will continue to add more. In the future, we will explore how emotions actually work in the mind and body in a more general sense.

4. Working with Your Subconscious

Your subconscious is the general grouping of intelligence behind managing and maintaining your body, including interfacing with your consciousness.

Think of your subconscious as your true life partner. It supports your ability to store and access memory, evaluate your thoughts, and even physically move. It will warn you of danger, decide how best to use the energy in your body, make your heart beat, and also let you know when you need to eat, sleep, and defecate. This is only a handful of ideas about the subconscious and its functions are far more vast.

Everything you do and think about is also known by your subconscious. If you do things that your subconscious does not like, it will let you know. If you do not take the time to listen, life will get much more difficult for you. Learning to live with your subconscious and to work with it as your partner will resolve confusion and give you greater clarity about yourself and thus greatly improve your self-esteem.

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