At this stage of my life, I am being pulled to follow the admonitions of my spiritual mentor Master Jeff and of Eastern spirituality as a whole: Reduce. Reduce. Reduce.

Grabbing and stuffing. There is no end to it.

-Verse 9, Tao Te Ching

I started trying to reduce primarily with the “material” things in my life: getting rid of unnecessary possessions, clothes, houseware items, stuff like that. The current status of that is up for debate. I’m certainly not anywhere close to being a minimalist, but I’m moving in that direction. I’m getting there. I’m trying.

Of course one man’s minimalist is another’s hoarder right? The term minimalist is really just a label. Whether or not you have a lot of stuff is relative to what you’re around, your immediate family, and friends, your local culture. I personally think I’m doing ok, starting to rid my life of unnecessary items, but compared to some I still have a LOT of stuff.

The term “Label” is another concept I’m exploring lately. I heard it said somewhere “Once you name something, you kill it.”

One of the primary functions of our mind is to identify and label things. As we move through daily life our eyes, our ears and other senses take in millions, probably billions of different pieces of information. It’s a constant firehose of information.

What our mind wants to do is identify and label every little thing that it can. Once it’s labeled something, it knows what it is and it can move on to something else. That “thing” has been identified. It’s been named. We know what it is.

But that labeling is based solely on our experiences to date. That thing is defined by whatever we currently know, or maybe better put, whatever we think we know about that thing. It’s locked in. Done. No need to investigate any further. ‘It is what it is’ and it’s not going to change. At least in our mind.

In my online classes at Palm Beach Tai Chi I’ve been trying to reduce as well. I’ve been trying to remove unnecessary curriculum, trying to get rid of unnecessary structure, rules, “labels”. I’ve done so much of that I wasn’t comfortable keeping the curriculum with the Palm Beach Tai Chi name. I have moved the focus of my energies to the website you’re on now: Divine State of Mind.

(As an aside: You can read more about that in this post on my Palm Beach Tai Chi website.)

And I want to keep going further on this path of reducing, reducing, reducing.

For most of my spiritual journey I was led by Master Jeff Guiffre. He was an “old school” teacher in that he placed great value in the roles of Teacher / Student, Master / Disciple. These roles were clearly defined and an integral part of the process. He felt they were quite important to the proper transmission of teachings. The structure was quite typical for that era and probably necessary at that time. It certainly served me quite well. I initially intended to continue that tradition with Palm Beach Tai Chi. But as I continue on my journey I want to be seen more as a fellow seeker, and less as a teacher who fully understands what he’s teaching.

“We are all just walking each other home”.

-Ram Dass

I want you to see me in the same way that I see you: as a brother, a sister, a fellow spiritual being having a human experience. One who is trying to move through this life as best you can. Nothing more. Nothing less.

As I continue to explore this space of “labels” I arrive at my titles. Jeez! Talk about labels. This is the motherload!

For years I’ve wanted to update my bio, because, you know, it’s very important for people to know everything that I’ve accomplished (I hope you sense the sarcasm in that line). I’ve been trying to update my bio for years. Each time I start, I have the hardest time coming up with good job titles and descriptions. I have a hard time describing exactly what it is that I do. On one hand I’m a computer programmer, on the other I’m a Tai Chi teacher, a Qi Gong teacher, a meditation teacher. When I struggle to come up with good words, good labels, I search online for what others are saying, how others are describing their important jobs and accomplishments. After searching for a while and struggling to put together the right words and descriptions it all gets so taxing. It becomes such a heavy exercise. It all starts to seem rather pointless. Who am I doing this for?

Like the closing signature at the bottom of my email. As I move from Palm Beach Tai Chi to Divine State of Mind, I’ve been struggling with exactly what to include. It’s an auto-signature so it goes on the bottom of every email I send. So it’s very important then right? lol. So silly.

Here’s my latest email autosig:

William Betts
Yin Cheng Disciple ‘Long Tuo’
Founder, Palm Beach Tai Chi & Divine State of Mind

There are THREE different titles within that signature! Why do I put so much effort in to that? Really, why? Is it to make sure everyone knows how important I am? To make sure you know that I am the one who started all of this? That this is all because of me? Seems a bit narcisistic when you step back and think about it doesn’t it?

And not just the titles, the name ‘William’. I’ve never gone by William in my everyday life. Well, except for one time, as I started second grade I told everyone I knew and every new person I met that my name was William. I started the year that way but it only lasted a couple months. 🙂

So I’ve never gone by the name William but on anything “important”, I always use it.

So at this point in my journey I’m beyond using titles. I’ll be removing all titles in my auto sig, websites and other places like that.

I typically go by the name of Bill but when I was a kid I was always Billy. I started using the name Bill in high school as it sounded more grown up.

Every so often one of my friends will call me Billy…”Billy Betts!” they say. It always seems to put a smile on their face, and mine.

So for now I’m going to go by Billy, at least in my emails. Don’t know whether or not I’ll use it in person or in my online classes. And I definitely don’t know now just how long it will last, but what the heck?! It’s only a label right? It should be fun to try it out and see what happens.

So if you see me online, or in person, you can call me “Billy”. And when you do I hope it puts a smile on your face.



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