Facing Chaos

The sage does not bring order
in times of chaos.

Here is a very deep Taoist truth. Taoism breaks up times in human society relative to Times of Social Order and Times of Social Chaos.

How one reacts and works with their community varies based on if times are orderly or chaotic.

Currently, we are experiencing a transition from orderly to chaotic times. You can see this within the uncertainty many people feel in their lives.

Chaos

Social Order and Chaos in The Golden Age – Art by jcbarquet

The first truth: Don’t confuse times of negative order to be chaotic.

Up until recently, the last 15 years 2001 to 2015, we have been witnessing a significant degree of negative social order, changes in rules and business that have been causing financial meltdowns and social unrest. However, as chaotic as it felt, it was still an orderly process. The times were being controlled by a few people profiting through changing rules and social conditions. Since these changes were negative, people considered the times to be chaotic. Chaotic change is neither negative nor positive. Instead, chaos is unpredictable and not controlled by any one group or person.

The second truth: Humans are primarily orderly beings.

People work towards minimizing chaotic periods as much as possible. As a result, truly chaotic times are more of a rarity than people realize. When experiencing chaotic times people often yearn for order. People will desperately grab for any social order, including negative order to fill their lives. As a result in times of chaos, dictators and despots often take advantage of average people. We find despots pushing their negative order as a positive change to changing society into something they can profit from at the expense of others.

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The Tao Te Ching writes 2300 years ago, during another significant time of chaos this passage.

18. Hypocrisy
When the Way (Tao) is lost
Righteousness & Justice appear to give direction
Knowledge and shrewdness follow
Ensuring great hypocrisy.
When harmonious relationships dissolve
Laws manifest to limit our homes.
As a nation falls to chaos
Yoked loyalty and patriotism become the norm.

Many Taoist written works warn people of nationalism and righteousness during times of change. Taoism teaches awareness to help mitigate the loss of personal freedoms, against those who impose negative social order. We are now on the cusp of a time of social order and chaos.

How long chaos will last, by definition of chaos, is unpredictable. The signs of chaos are all relatively predictable – the breakdown of orderly processes.

Most people instinctively know how to behave in times of social order. Most potentials are predictable by the momentum guided by social rules. These rules constrain the majority of actions down consequences of predictable results of laws, social pressures, and social norms. Few people flow smoothly in times of chaos since they rely on external social rules in their unconscious actions. The unpredictability within times of chaos often causes people to over-react or to follow out of date rules of society that don’t necessarily apply anymore.

A simple (initial) list of guidelines for living in times of Chaos.

  • Reinforce local community. Being healthy and active in your local community helps you weather unexpected changes, shortages and those who would try to take advantage of you in a weakened state.
  • Don’t overextend yourself. If you overextend yourself, chaotic changes will catch you off guard
  • Be patient and be aware. Chaotic times are neither good nor bad: good and bad are human morality statements. Chaotic times are times of great change. With great change come opportunities that are equally beneficial as they are earth-shaking. Patience allows you to pace your endeavors to use your resources gracefully and with awareness timed to your intuition you then decide which opportunities are indeed positive options rather than negative situations.
  • Buy and work towards quality over cheap/fast. Times of chaos stress out people, materials, and social systems. In times of chaos things break down, people make things more cheaply, and unexpected shortages will occur. Make sure your work is of quality so it lasts through the time of chaos, make sure you invest in tools and materials which are of quality so that your material tools won’t fail at critical times.
  • Invest in personal time, keeping in shape and helping those around you to stay in shape. The stress in times of chaos will push us to our limits. Take care of yourself, family and friends so you remain strong and can flow with the unexpected changes that will occur.
  • Predict nothing! By definition times of chaos are when everything shifts to being unpredictable. Be open to change rather than trying to jigger change or outguessing it. By being aware and flowing with the change, you will more gracefully move with what happens over than trying to outguess all the random shifts that will occur.

Orderly times are more logical; chaotic times are more intuitive

Pausing between Social Order and Chaos

Chaos overwhelms an orderly person with unpredictable potentials and results.

The unpredictability of Chaos creates the illusion of fast-paced events around a person. It’s not that events are speeding up as much as unpredictable actions are destroying the predictable order of the normal day to day operations. One random event cascades into a hundred unforeseen activities. In orderly situations, we don’t see much of the action since people purposely created order routines to hide away most actions from our view.

Chaos forces you to deal with everything at once…

Most people handle this by trying to block out changes (resisting change).

  • To resist change is to face erosion of your soul slowly.
    (This often leads to depression that reinforces erosion)
  • Some people get overwhelmed and give up.
    To be swept away by the events and lose your uniqueness in life

Ironically the times that appear most chaotic are not in times of chaos. These are the times when social order is breaking down into chaos or Chaos is being reorganized into Order. This is the in-between time, the blinking of transition, the unknown moment: that anyone feels in real change.

Overall chaotic times aren’t as destructive as the times of negative social order. People tend to act more carefully in times of chaos. The most dangerous time of all: Is in the blink between times of chaos and social order, when the system of rules are in turbulence between chaos and order.

In Taoism we teach to pause between changing states, to allow awareness to be part of our process to better flow with what will be. Don’t be tempted to over-focus gathering all the information which includes purposely misleading information. In fact, to try to figure it all out, will just cause paralysis rather than pause.

Discover pause, true pause, an active state when our essence is open to everything around us. Not categorizing everything with knowledge, but accepting the connections around us with awareness. With a pause, we can see and then select the connections that reinforce our essence and release any connections that diminish ourselves. Then as the situation evolves into either social order or general chaos, it becomes possible to change your stance to act accordingly.

Right now, between 2016 to 2025 we are starting to witness events that are in between Order and Chaos on a Global scale.

As a result: I highly recommend taking some time to pause.

 

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Dealing with Too Much Change

Chaos creates change. Likewise, too much change can also create chaos. Additionally, at times, too much change will create social backlashes which then creates chaos.

You can find all sorts of material about future shock, changing technology and complaints about falling behind, further and further every day. Most of this material is fear-based: i.e., the idea a person cannot keep up with the changes in society, and hence the feeling of getting left behind.

Fear-based thinking never works, release fear!  If you fear something, you will make it happen. People who fear change often create the very loss of power they fear. Once you give this fear energy, it quickly becomes very easy to isolate oneself, just from that feeling of being left behind as the technologies changes.

But know:

A person is not defined by society (or its tech)! Society (and how tech gets used) is defined by us,

If you live truly in your power, you will always fit in, since you will always be yourself. The trap is trying to chase after other people’s ideas on how to use technology. This is where many people trip and tumble into the dust trying to follow others.

But here is the deeper issue

  • The speed of change is increasing; in fact, we are entering a time of seemingly exponential change. Here are two videos to chew upon on what this means “did you know” and the video called Trillions.

Ironically “the did you know” video is already outdated, due to the very speed of change it teaches about.

The point is this

NO ONE CAN KEEP UP IN A CULTURE BASED ON EXPONENTIAL CHANGE!

Part of the chaos we face is from the average person being unable to keep up with change. This makes it easy to victimize the average person with fake news or emotional attacks.

Sit down and ponder this: seriously no one, not even our children, are keeping up with the speed of change seen in society here and now! Society and information exchange is evolving massively in parallel with countless modes of development happening at once.

A little help
goes a long way
in becoming whole.

This fact leads to two very very important conclusions.

Conclusion one:

When a culture shifts so fast that no one can keep up, Everyone becomes equal in potential.

Think about this for a moment; opportunities have been leveled in a way never before seen in written human history. This isn’t a time when there is less opportunity, less chance to make the most of what is happening: It’s the exact opposite; it’s a time when anyone can flip everything around. However, if you fear being left behind if you are always chasing your tail and chasing other people’s tails, who are all just chasing change which cannot be caught, then you will never catch up and always be in the dust (and very dizzy)!

In other words, don’t chase right now. Instead, embrace potential, and new ideas will come forth to explore to make it a reality.

In fact, in this we see many people “tuning” out… Where many people chase other people’s dreams and those are the individuals mainly stuck watching pre-made entertainment built with the wondrous exponential tech changes, but this also means their potential flies by for others to capture and define.

Second Conclusion

If no one is able to keep up with change: then the people with most power are those that truly define themselves and their own life in their own terms.

The individuals who lead the trends are the individuals who live their life: on their terms.

The opportunity now exists for everyone to use information and connection present to live as themselves here and now.

The next time you feel outdated, wake up to discover… not only is everyone else outdated, but you have the chance to go beyond that and live fully instead.

The only way not to be outdated is to live now truly!

Becoming Stronger from our Times

Currently, tides of high potential are pushing society about in unpredictable directions. Tides of change are rippling out to shift society and how people live life. What does this mean for you?

It means

  • Will you let yourself be changed to outside forces?
    OR
  • Will you follow your inner potential, allowing yourself to blossom as yourself?

Know yourself to facilitate personal transformation.

What does “know” mean? I use “know” in a larger sense of accepting oneself fully. This translates into three aspects of acceptance

  1. To come to terms with the “facts”, your stories, of who you are
  2. To anchor oneself in personal “faith.”
  3. To be aware and use “perception” to guide how change flows in your life

Few people take the time to listen to their inner voice. Like it or not, as a culture and a world: today is shaping up to test people. As individuals, we each are being forced to take a look at who we are. Many people will flow to fashion, be molded by fear, get shaped by outside powers rather than taking the time to redefine themselves to personal truths, and move to stand stronger against the times.

I prefer the other option: Live more gracefully. That it’s also possible to be aware of your inner nature, to personally embrace potential to channel one’s transformation to heart. Ironically chaos is also a time for people to shine, to be the most they can be outside the same old same old. Many people I know are taking advantage of this fact to drop out of the mainstream culture, to live better and healthier. If enough people do this: then this becomes the primary wave of potential that becomes a reality. We can, in times of chaos, grow and improve life and society. What matters is this, we are at a place now, to take advantage of the times to be in the heart. To take the extra energy that chaos is shaking loose and use it for our own life.

In the ’60s there was a hopeful statement saying all we need is love. People discovered from the 1960’s love is not quite enough on its own. Love is a connection to become more. But we also need awareness to shape ourselves, the will to change and compassion to shape ourselves with kindness to transform. Love is not enough to transform the world. Love is a starting point, but we need awareness and personal strength to follow through with transformation.

Lets mix Love, Awareness and Strength together to discover a path that can truly transform, both ourselves and our culture.

The heart represents connections to others and your life. Being in heart, coupled with surety of oneself, is what makes the difference later for a grounding and flexibility during times of change. That is the challenge and joy of being alive today, is how to use the times to transform, to be oneself fully. Possibly and I would argue these are indeed the best of times now. These only become the worse of times if you don’t live as yourself.

Discover in transformation we have many potential forms to take, many good choices. It’s not the final form that matters, as much as making sure the process of transformation matches to your nature. Some people might be surprised at where they end up, but they will discover joy if the process follows the heart. It’s a personal choice, no matter how others may try to take your power away. Know, just by living and living well now… is enough to start the process of discovery and follow your life truly, one step at a time in these times of potential.

So always remember the steps of Personal Transformation are:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Awareness
  3. Practices to explore one’s nature. Play is a critical part of any transformation. Seriously, play is about testing and exploring possibility. When you are transforming, you are changing, becoming something new. If you don’t play while in the middle of transformation.. then chances are you will revert to what you already were, since you didn’t take the time to play and work out new options of being. The problem is when a person gets older and yet gets caught in a crisis or transformation…. their adult shape and society: forces them to forget the most important aspects of life. The exploration of play to become more.
  4. repeat 1-3 in several iterations (which equals patience)
  5. Relaxation into self
  6. You are now in a place where you worked and released most of the issues holding you back.
  7. Pause and perform an evaluation of your progress, if you are not done, then repeat steps 1 – 5 again. Please note: Never try to solve all your problems at once. Otherwise, new problems will creep in to fill the void. Step 4 is critical since it allows a person to process their evolution in smaller increments of change. Move ahead with yourself in wonder and enjoyment. If done well it takes roughly two years to do steps 1-5 with several iterations and ten years to become a master of your own life.
    However, this path I teach is deeply patient and very Taoist: most people will choose just to grab what they see someone else doing and run with that. Not many people risk taking the time, two to ten years, to explore their life deeply since the unknown scares them.

So don’t assume that chaotic times are bad times. It’s up to us on how to use everything to grow. Chaotic times offer the opportunity of new options. Such times open the doorway to transformation. How you use the energy of chaotic times is also a choice about your own personal growth.

Exploring and Growing in Society
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Steve

GREAT article

Carmen

It was so nice to read your comments about play. All my life play has been my way to flow with change. It is my grounding source as well as a quality force for exploration of potential. Living life as play helps me flow gracefully in a society that is going through an energy shift. Thanks for valuing it’s strength in our lives!

Josh

Dear Casey, Over the past few months, I’ve become a big fan of the Personal Tao website – your writings and Julie’s are truly inspirational. I find that reading and thinking about many of the writings (sometimes several times over) on the site helps me to see myself and the world more clearly, and this increased insight has in turn fostered some positive movements that I’m very happy about. I would characterize the past few months as a time of pause, looking inward, and becoming aware of potentials. Yet I feel that a new, livelier energy is starting to take… Read more »

Jenny

A great outlook on change.
The pausing bit reminds me of dancing, where it’s key so the body can align and then a form can re-emerge (and in contact dance it’s accompanied by a subtle ”giving-in” movement where the whole structure (bones) melts into the floor before it can move again)

I like the bigger perspective you offer here Casey. It helps me frame my own change of directions (or rather the shivering I can feel of things being re-organized). I need a pause, a break (oh boy,to break….. )

@Greg: Thank you for the compliment. I am glad A Personal Tao has been helpful!

It’s not ignorance when you accept we cannot hold to all truths or see everything at once. That’s the starting point of wisdom.

Greg Hinds

Thank You Casey! Have been visiting this website on and off for several months now. Also have recently done/doing some other (small) reading about Taoism and Buddhism. I keep coming back here. In my perception, your words ring true. When I was young, many times I heard it said that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my perception of events gone by, I think that this has occurred many times in my life. Often times in fleeting moments, and I did not always learn the lessons! Your words are reaching me. Don’t know that I am… Read more »

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