Thursday, October 29, 2009

Breaking Down The Walls

If I break down the walls, I will be surrounded by the garden.
If I break the levee, water will inundate me.
Meditation is not to be separated from life.

Today's Tao commentary says "Do we continue to meditate once we come to this understanding? We still do but it is no longer a solitary and isolated activity. It is part of life, as natural as breathing. When you can bring yourself to the understanding that there is no difference between you and Tao and that there is no difference between meditation and ordinary activities, then you are well on your way to being one with Tao".

When I was typing the above commentary I had something of a Freudian slip. Originally I typed "Do we continue to medicate once we come to this understanding"? Many of us spend much of our lives medicating ourselves one way or another from the pain and difficulties of life. We do this in many ways. Some do it with drugs and alcohol. Others do it through a non stop frenzy to accumulate more stuff. We are always trying to find ways to avoid some aspects of reality. Certainly some parts of reality are painful for everyone and I know some people have more than their fair share of pain. Most of us, however, if we break down the walls we have built, will discover that we are surrounded by a garden. Having said all this, I know today's Tao reading is not really about this. These thoughts just occurred to me when I made the Freudian slip and used "medicate" instead of "meditate".

Today's Tao reading is really about breaking down the wall between spirituality and life. It's about living a non dualistic life. Most people think of their spiritual life as separate from the rest of their life. Spirituality for many is simply the prayers they say, the church services they attend, or other spiritual practices and disciplines they may have incorporated into our lives. All of these are certainly good things and I encourage them. However, I like what Thomas Merton wrote in his article entitled "Day of a Stranger". Highly regarded as a Spiritual Master, he wrote, "How I pray is breathe, what I wear is pants". In other words his prayer and "spiritual" life were becoming indistinguishable from his normal day to day life after he left the structured environment of the monastery and he began living alone in his hermitage. At some point our spiritual practices should become more than things we do. They should become things we are. Our spirituality, like the water that flows over a broken levee, should inundate our lives to the point where it can no longer be distinguished from the rest of our lives. The sacred and the secular become one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chloe Carves Her Pumpkin

A Walk In The Park

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. The days are so beautiful now that I find myself going outside several times a day while at work. Behind my office building is a small park the size of a city block. When I first started working in my current building this park was the site of an abandoned warehouse. At some point it was imploded and my employer had the vision to turn the site into a park. It's a great blessing to my co-workers and me. Depending on the weather I like to go out there on my breaks and lunches. I usually walk a couple of laps and then sit on one of the stone benches that were made from parts of the old warehouse. If it is a cool day I sit in the sun and absorb its warmth. If it is a hot day I sit in the cool of a shady spot. When I am walking it clears the cobwebs from my mind and loosens the stiff muscles in my aging body. Quietly sitting on one of the benches I sometimes pray. Usually it is a prayer of gratitude for all that is good in my life. My prayers are usually thanksgiving and gratitude and rarely petition unless someone has requested my prayers. So sometimes I sit and pray, other times I just sit. Across the street from my little park is a place called the Great Lawn. It is a large open space where occasionally there are large gatherings of people. The largest gathering is usually the annual Derby event called "Thunder Over Louisville". Supposedly it is the largest fireworks show in America. My best memory of the Great Lawn, however, is from a very hot 4th of July where I sat in my lawn chair with thousands of other people for a free concert by Koko Taylor and Joe Cocker. At the edge of the Great Lawn is the mighty Ohio River. Sometimes I sit on a bench along the waterfront and I watch the barges going up and down the river. Somewhere near this spot they have recently dedicated a new statue of Abraham Lincoln created by a local artist. I may go find it soon. The point of all this is to say that sometimes it is a good thing to get away from the demands and worries of life and go outside for a simple walk. It doesn't have to be a death march through a mountain pass. It can be simple stroll through a city park or a quiet moment on a bench by the river. Sometimes we all need to get away for a moment of refreshment and a breath of fresh air. Solitude is healing. Sometimes the rest of the world needs to function without us for a little while.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sometimes All A Person Needs Is A Little Perspective

A friend and co-worker recently loaned me a book titled "The Noticer" by Andy Andrews. I have been reading it over the weekend and enjoying it very much. Although I am by nature a very introspective person, even I do not always have perspective about my own life. This book has given me much to think about and I have more than half the book to go. Here's a few highlights so far.

Four Ways of Showing and Needing Love
  1. Spoken Words of Approval
  2. Favors and Deeds
  3. Physical Contact
  4. Quality Time
The book goes on to say that the way we show love is usually the way we need love expressed to us in order for us to feel loved. If love in your life is expressed in every way but the way you need it, the chances are that you will not feel loved. If all you do to show love is favors and deeds for someone who needs physical contact, your overtures of love are not likely hitting home. If all you do is say "I love you" but you never spend quality time with someone that craves your presence, the "I love you's" are falling on deaf ears.

The book also talks about fear and worry. Some people spend all of their time and energy worrying and being afraid. In the story one of the characters says the following. In my life I have found this to be true.
  • 40% of the things you worry about will never happen.
  • 30% of the things you worry about have already happened. It's pointless to continue worrying about them.
  • 12% of our worrying is needless imaginings about our health. Every ache and pain is not an indication of cancer.
  • 10% of our worrying is about what other people think and we have no control about what other people think.
  • 8% of our worries are for legitimate concerns and most of these can actually be dealt with. If we eliminate the unnecessary worry in our lives we can channel that energy towards the legitimate concerns of our lives.
The chapter on fear and worry ends with the recommendation that each day when we wake up we should write down all the things we are grateful for in our life. These don't have to be big things. It can be as simple as being grateful for a warm bed, morning coffee, a beautiful sunrise, or mostly green lights on the commute to work. Everyday we should practice gratitude and focus our minds on all the good things in our lives and quit worrying so much about things that we most likely never happen. It's all about perspective.

Chloe Visits The Great Pumpkin Patch

Tranquil As The Buddha

It is high noon on a peaceful Saturday. There is no sun in sight. The day is overcast and cool. The leaves in my neighborhood are beautiful. When a gust of wind blows through the trees some lose their grasp and they float around on pillows of wind until they finally hit the ground. It's the kind of day when I love to be home with little to do except enjoy the moment. Although I not sitting in the Lotus position, I am tranquil as the Buddha today. The washing machine is humming, the oven is baking, music is playing, and I have a stack of books on my table. My whole day is open and free although I will likely venture out this evening for dinner with my wife and son. Although I am being somewhat active and I am doing a few things, I also feel still and in the moment. My life is not as busy as many other people's lives but I still often feel as though I am doing and doing and running and running. Doing and running are not necessarily bad. Both are part of modern life. However, most of the running and doing in my life seems to be imposed on me by others. The lack of personal freedom and control over my own life sometimes bothers me. That's why days like today are so wonderful. Yes, I am doing my son's laundry and my cooking is for the family but I am choosing to do these things. I prefer my activity to come from a stance of giving rather than as a response to demands. Today everything is in it's proper and preferred alignment. I have solitude, tranquility, being, doing from the heart, and true rest.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

21,395 Days

I have been alive for 21,395 days. Theoretically I have slept 1/3rd of these days so I have been awake 14,079 days. No wonder I am so tired! As the Grateful Dead used to sing, "What a long strange trip it's been". I found myself laughing and singing to a Grateful Dead song playing on my car radio on the way home today. It was the end of the work day and I was liberated. Jerry Garcia was singing a song called "Liberty". Here's some of the lyrics....

If I was the sun, I'd look for shade,
If I was a bed, I would stay unmade,
If I was a river I'd run uphill,
and if you call me you know I will.
Leave me alone to find my own way home.

If I was an eagle I'd dress like a duck,
crawl like a lizard and honk like a truck.
If I get a notion I'll climb this tree
or chop it down and you can't stop me.
Leave me alone to find my own way home.

Today I certainly wouldn't want to chop any trees down. The fall colors are beautiful and autumn is reaching its peak in my corner of the world. I am loving this weather and all of nature's beauty. I didn't take the picture shown above but it is a good representation of how things look in my neighborhood.

Tonight I have been home alone and unsupervised. My wife is out having dinner with friends. Although I did slip into dreamland for a little while, most of the night I have been listening to a recording of the Allman Brothers Band with special guest Eric Clapton. It was recorded at the Beacon Theater in New York City earlier this year. After that was over I hopped in my musical time machine and now I am enjoying Joe Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" live at the Fillmore East. At the moment it is temporarily the weekend of March 27th-28th, 1970. I love how recorded music can transport you through space and time.

I guess I will go to bed soon and get some sleep so I'll be ready tomorrow to fully live day #21,396 of my life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't Just Do Something! Sit There!

Cat sits in the sun.
Dog sits in the grass.
Turtle sits on a rock.
Frog sits on the lily pad.
Why aren't people so smart?
-The Tao

Enough said. No commentary needed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keeping The Water Flowing

Today's reading from the Tao is very timely for me at this time of my life.

A moving door hinge never corrodes.
Flowing water never grows stagnant.

In the commentary we read that even in the autumn of your life, a time of life in which I find myself in the eternal Now, you cannot give up growth. If you do, you only invite decline. All the different aspects of a person...body, mind, and spirit...have one curious quality: If they cease to be exercised, they stop growing. Once they stop growing, they begin to atrophy. That is why, no matter how much you have accomplished and no matter how old you are, you must keep exercising all parts of yourself. The way of challenging oneself is also a valid but difficult path. Sometimes Tao chooses the difficult over the easy.

I am at a time in my life where I often feel tired. It is more than a physical fatigue. It might be called a fatigue of the spirit. As my wife likes to say, "I'm tired and I'm tired of it". It is not a fatigue based in negativity. It's the fatigue one accumulates when one has been "long on the journey". It might also be called the fatigue of faithfulness. I am getting very close to being 60 years old. I have been working for 40+ years. I've been married for 35+ years. I have been a parent for 30+ years. I have been faithful to all my commitments. When the alarm clock goes off each morning I get out of the bed and I do all the things I am supposed to do. If I say I will do something, I do it. If I say I will be somewhere, I will be there. I am as dependable as the rising and setting of the sun. On a good day, I am faithful. On an average day, I am on auto-pilot. On a bad day I am resentful of the expectations and demands made of me. The fuel that energizes me is a never ending desire and striving to sharpen my mind and renew my spirit. Admittedly, I haven't given enough time to renew and energize my body. I am sometimes physically lazy but I try to not be intellectually lazy. I try to be informed and educated through reading and dialogue. Although I have strayed a bit from organized religion, my trips to the monastery are not to document what kind of gas mileage I get on my car. The silence of that holy place feeds my spirit. I don't push myself as hard as some do, but I do try to have the mentality that life is a never ending opportunity to learn, to grow, and to become something new. I never want to retire just so I can sit in my chair all day and look out the window. Admittedly, a little time for such daydreaming would be nice. Until my last breath, I want to live as fully as I can. It doesn't come easy. The law of physics is correct when it says a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. I fight the urge to give in to rest. I hope my body, mind, and spirit are always in motion and moving forward so the hinges of my being do not corrode and the waters of my life do not become stagnant.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chloe And Pa Paw With A Couple of Friends

My granddaughter spent the weekend with my wife and me. It was the usual journey into the Land of Imagination where sponges become little boys and my Jerry Garcia doll comes alive. It's also Halloween time so green, disembodied hands grab you when you try to take candy out of a bowl. Now it is Sunday afternoon and my home is once again quiet. It's still amazing to me how much a five year old child can rock your world. Today is an absolutely beautiful autumn day. It's cool, the sun is shining bright, and the fall colors are really starting to burst forth. Life is good and beautiful.

My Extended Family

This is a picture of my extended family that includes my mother, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, brother in law's, sister in law's, boyfriends and girlfriends. Seated in the middle, holding a water bottle, is my mother who will soon be 80 years old. This picture was taken about a month ago at the annual Alzheimer's Memory walk. I was unable to participate this year but I hope to never miss it again. On the back of everyone's team shirt is a picture of my father. I miss him more than I ever thought I would. With Dad gone, I am now the patriarch of the family.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shutting Out The Noise

When I woke up this morning it was dark, cold, and a light rain was falling. On top of this I didn't feel very well. I was up a couple of times during the night visiting the bathroom. My intestinal tract is like a delicate Eco system that must be carefully maintained. It doesn't take much to wreak havoc on it and throw everything out of balance. My desire and plan was to go to the monastery this morning. For a brief moment I considered staying home but, happily, I talked myself out of that idea. I took my normal route there and was frustrated with all the road construction. Three different highways had road repairs and narrowed lanes that caused some traffic backup even on a Saturday morning. I made a mental note to take a different route on the way home. When I got to the monastery another group had taken the room where we normally meet so we had to regroup a little. There was a nice group that showed up for our gathering and we had some really good discussion about how the lives and spirituality of the monks had and continues to impact our lives in the midst of family life, work life, and life "in the world". Part of the discussion dealt with the daily challenge of shutting out the noise in our lives. This is not only the physical noise perceived by our ears but also the noise in our over active and over stimulated minds that can result from the barrage of sounds and images and voices most of us experience in our daily lives. The quieting of the mind can be much more difficult than simply finding a quiet place. Before leaving the monastery I made a brief stop in the bookstore where I bought a book on the founders of the monastic order to which the monks of Gethsemani are descendants. Also, in order to add a little sweetness to my life, I bought some strawberry and blackberry preserves made by the monks. On the way home I took highway US 31E and it was a beautiful drive as the fall colors are beginning to emerge. Soon my granddaughter will arrive so I better stop and get in a brief nap while I can. I need to get prepared to switch mental gears from St. Benedict to SpongeBob Squarepants.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Learning From Snails

Here's something from that I wish I had written. It's very good and sums up well much of what I believe.

Enjoying a Snail's Pace
Doing Things Slowly

Life can often feel like it’s zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.

Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships. Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the “fast forward” stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. A student cramming for a test will often feel tired and unsure, whereas someone who really absorbs the information will be more confident and relaxed. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. ! Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive.

Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace. The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.

Simple Pleasures...And A Few That Are Guilty

I love to go to the Mall. I love the sights and sounds and smells. I especially like going there on a work night when the crowds are thin and I have a little money in my pocket. My wife and I decided to give ourselves a little bonus and mine immediately started burning a hole in my pocket so off to the Mall we went. We started off with a gourmet meal at the food court. Even now, after my evening insulin shot, my blood sugar is buzzing from the orange chicken I got on the Chinese buffet. I should have avoided it and opted for the bourbon chicken. After dinner we parted ways and each of us headed out to indulge in whatever pleasures our money would buy us. I made a bee line for the music store where I quickly unloaded some of my cash. I completed my collection of all the Rolling Stones remasters along with an excellent Return to Forever jazz fusion anthology. Afterwards I went to Starbucks for a pound of fresh Guatemala Antigua and a sugar free Cinnamon Latte. I then proceeded to one of the benches designated as a husband waiting area. It's where all married men gather to wait for their soon to be arriving, shopping bag overloaded, wives. I quietly and peacefully sat there, sipping my latte and watching people walking around. A large majority of the people I observed were talking on their phones or checking their text messages and emails even if they were with other people. How did we live before cell phones? I think this obsession with staying connected to other people electronically is a thinly veiled indicator of everyone's basic loneliness and deep need to feel connected to others and to be thought of by others. We have a deep fear of losing our connectedness and being alone. I, too, feel this to some degree although it is not an obsession for me. Sometimes I think the more we communicate and the more we are electronically connected, the lonelier we get and the more isolated we feel. What most of us really need is less cell phone time and more face to face human interaction and affection. Let's face it. All most of us want is to be loved by others. That's more important than being "connected". I sometimes joke about Facebook. I tell friends it is a way for me to feel connected while also allowing me to be socially isolated. It's sad, and maybe funny, but true. The individualism of people in our society, the social isolation, and over dependence on electronic connections, creates much of the loneliness so may people feel. The Mall may be a place to spend your money and avoid your loneliness. It may be a place for people to gather in shared loneliness. At it's best, however, it is a place to be with people, have a good meal, drink a latte, talk to an old person sitting on a bench, buy something that makes you happy, and get a Cinnabon to take home for later.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Slice of Woodstock

Just when I thought all the musical surprises were over from this past summer's 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock Music Festival, along comes the joy of Joe Cocker's complete performance. Quite unexpectedly it's been released on CD. Most of the last 40 years we've had to content ourselves with his classic performance of "With a Little Help from my Friends" in the Woodstock movie and a few other bits and pieces released here and there. Now we get it all exactly as it went down on that Sunday afternoon in August 1969. Immediately after this performance thousands of dirty hippies got a communal shower from a major summer thunderstorm. In another Woodstock recording that actually includes part of the thunderstorm you can hear a young girl shout "Hey Joe Cocker! Isn't the rain beautiful"! The spirit of Woodstock lives on in the musical performances.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The End Of Another Weekend

It is now Sunday evening. I've had to close my window against the evening chill. It's been a simply gorgeous autumn weekend with cold mornings and warm days. Driving home from dinner tonight there was a noticeable degree of color creeping into the leaves that still cling to the trees. Over the next few weeks I hope they will be even more colorful, not only in my neighborhood, but out on the open road. Next weekend I will be driving to the monastery as well as across the river into southern Indiana where I will be taking my granddaughter out to the pumpkin patches. In a few weeks I will also be traveling along I-64 West to visit my son at St. Meinrad Archabbey and soon after that down I-75 South to eastern Tennessee, home of the Great Smoky Mountains. All of these trips should be in perfect alignment with the ever changing and multi-colored rainbows of autumn in my part of the world.

It's been a quiet and mostly enjoyable weekend. Weekends are always quiet when my granddaughter is not here. I like the quiet and the rest but I always miss her when she is not around. Yesterday was a little frustrating because of some dealings with a home warranty company. I seem to have a home repair warranty that doesn't actually cover any repairs. Every problem I have seems to be an exception to the actual warranty. My warranty doesn't cover repairs unless the problem is caused by solar flares, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear radiation, or an attack by aliens from another planet. I checked the contract and sure enough this was all specified in the small print.

Today I got out of bed about 9:00 AM which is a perfect time on a weekend. I made some coffee, walked outside for my morning paper, and listened to a concert by the progressive rock band called Yes. It was recorded in Amsterdam in 2001 with a full orchestra. Later, throughout the day, I listened to my newly acquired Beatles CD's. I think the Beatles are the greatest and most influential band of all time. Finally in the afternoon I finished a few chores, i.e., laundry, clean up the kitchen, carry some crates to the shed, and pick up some yard waste. My son was home this weekend but now he's back on the road to the seminary so once again the nest is empty. Another work week starts tomorrow...

Pictured above are some of the seasonal decorations in my home courtesy of my wife.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Being In The Moment

Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now states "The whole essence of Zen is walking on the razor's edge of be so utterly, so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you. In the Now, in the absence of time, all your problems dissolve. Suffering needs time; it cannot survive in the Now.

Being in the moment requires what may appear as opposite energies working together. To be in the moment one needs focus along with the ability to let go. Being in the moment requires us to focus on the Now while letting go of attachments to the past or daydreams of a perfect future. So many of us are filled with regrets about bad behavior or poor choices that we made in our youth or even in our recent lives. Often it is difficult to let go and leave behind the mistakes of the past. Equally difficult at times is letting go of a romanticized version of the past that never really happened as we think we remember it. In general, life has never been as easy or simple as we thought it was. Looking at my life 30 years ago, when I was 28 years old, with my now 58 year old eyes distorts the reality of how challenging life really was as young, naive, and often financially challenged parent. Even now, as a wiser and older person, I must also let go of my daydreams of a perfect future when today's troubles are behind me, when I no longer have to work, when I have no money problems, when I can do whatever I want whenever I want. Hopefully, I will have some of this but it's not likely to be perfect. Today's troubles will be replaced with tomorrow's challenges. I may be free of today's work grind but I still may need to work a little to supplement my income. It's not likely that my health will get better as I age. I may become one of those retired people who are busier than they have ever been. Life is uncertain so tomorrow's dreams may never happen. The point is that we cannot relive the past and the future is uncertain. What we can do is live well now. Make the most of every moment. Live life as fully as the moment allows. Grab on to the joy of the moment. Today, for example, is about as beautiful as a day can be. I went outside earlier to feel the coolness of the wind and the warmth of the sun. It energized me and I felt one with the moment and with life. As the author Ram Dass says, "Be here now"! Today will be tomorrow's yesterday and we can then let it go. The Now is inexhaustible and will continuously replenish itself. By living in the moment our joy may also be inexhaustible and continuously replenished.

Precious Moments

The combination of busyness and fatigue have prevented me from writing. My granddaughter spent the weekend with my wife and me. One of our activities was getting our Halloween decorations out of my shed. Chloe is a very active, and, from what I am told, a typical five year old. When she is around everything revolves around her. She is a dynamo of activity. If my wife has her attention I can usually sneak away for a moment's rest. When I have her attention, my wife can do the same. Most of the time, however, she prefers my company, especially at the crack of dawn on Sunday mornings. She did go home with her parents on Sunday night but I was back at her house early on Monday morning. There was no school so I volunteered to pick her up and spend the day with her. We had a wonderful time. Most of the morning she sat in my lap and we watched SpongeBob Squarepants and Mickey Mouse on television. We also went out for lunch at McDonald's and played outside in the yard. I love my granddaughter very much and enjoy spending time with her. Although it can be exhausting for a 58 year old man to go toe to toe with the energy and imagination of a five year old I consider every moment with her to be precious. I have a Zen saying on my computer that reads, "What, at this moment, is lacking"? When I am with Chloe, the answer is "nothing". She lives in the Now and when I am with her, love fills up all the space in the Now of my life.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Ego

I don't have any personal reflections tonight but here's something good from the dailyom website.

Serving the Higher Self
The Ego

In most spiritual circles, the ego gets a pretty bad rap. The reason for this is that the ego, to some extent, is the principle in our psyches that separates us from one another, while spirit is the principle that shows us that no such separation exists. Sometimes the ego is depicted as an almost demonic figure that keeps us from realizing our true nature. But at its most basic, the ego is simply a tool that helps us organize the various aspects of our personality so that we can function in the world. In this sense, the ego is simply a way for us to understand and attend to ourselves at the same time as we understand and attend to the world around us. The ego is a tool that we use to navigate the world.

Perhaps the problem is that the ego sometimes gets out of control. This happens when the higher self loses control of the psyche. The psyche then falls under the leadership of the ego, an entity that was never meant to lead. The ego is meant to be definitively in the service of the higher self. When this relationship is functioning, the ego is a useful intermediary representing the whole self but not thinking that it is the whole self. Then, it is almost as if the ego is the self playfully pretending to be the separate entity called "I." Like an actor, the ego plays the roles that the world asks us to play in order to be part of the program. In this way, the ego can be a tool enabling us to be in the world but not of it.

As long as we are in touch with our higher selves, our egos are not a threat. They are simply useful tools in the service of spirit. We keep our egos in check when we continually nurture our awareness of who we really are. Then our egos are free to serve without trying ineffectually to rule. It is healthy to have ego, but like all things in life, ego functions best when it is in balance and harmony with your whole se

Thursday, October 01, 2009

This Is It. Nothing Else Happens

There are no ancients before me, no followers behind,
only the vastness of heaven and earth on this mountain terrace.
Though heaven may know the ultimate, joy or sorrow is our own will.

Today's Tao commentary basically says "We stand alone in this life. No one lives our life for us. Neither drug nor sorcery can remove us, even for a moment, from our own life. We are here alone to engage every precious moment according to our wills. Accept who you are. Be who you are. The future is yet to be made. Let us go forth and make it but let us make it as beautifully as we can. The degree of elegance is determined by our will and the perfection of our own personalities. Therefore, do not sigh over misfortune or adversity. Whether you are happy or sad is entirely up to you".

The first thing I thought of when I read all of this is a story about two monks meditating side by side. One was an old, seasoned monk and the other a young novice. They both sat in silence with their eyes closed. Occasionally, the young novice would open an eye and peek at the older monk. Eventually, the older monk opens his eyes and smiles at the young novice. He gently says, "This is it. Nothing else happens".

A friend of mine, who was formerly one of my teachers, once said, "The moment is as perfect as it can be".

Our lives are as good as they can be in this moment based on our wills and the perfection of our own personalities. Each of us has the power to make the moment as beautiful as we can. One man's hell is another man's heaven. More often than not, the quality of the moment is a perception within our own mind. Whatever is happening is what is happening. How we react and how we perceive it is a matter of our own will. The moment is as perfect as we make it. Some enlightened individuals found beauty even within the confines of a concentration camp. Others can't see beauty even when standing in front of a field of flowers. This moment, whatever is happening, is your life. Whether you are happy or sad is entirely up to you.