One Minute Monologues 054

January 30, 2020  —  February 29, 2020

  1. 01/30/2020 —  Knowing what to do
    in any situation
    is a matter of opening ourselves
    to the situation-as-it-is,
    to the situation-as-a-whole,
    and seeing what arises,
    what occurs to us,
    within.

    Living well flows
    from living as objectively as possible
    in each situation as it arises.

    The more subjective,
    judgmental,
    opinionated,
    insistent on having our way
    we are,
    the less likely we are
    to be taken for someone
    who lives well
    and does what is right
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    situation-by-situation.

    This is not to say that we
    never act with our own personal good
    in mind.
    If we are true to ourselves
    and true to the good of the situation-as-it-is,
    we will sacrifice the situation
    to serve our good
    a high percentage of the time.

    But, this is to say that our own personal good
    is nothing personal,
    and we don’t serve it
    as a way of having our way
    and getting what we want.
    We serve it because our good–
    our integrity,
    our vitality,
    our virtue,
    our energy,
    our spirit,
    our identity,
    our personhood
    our heart/soul/self
    is at stake and on the line,
    and if we do not take up our own cause,
    who will?

    Our good is equal
    with the good of the situation as a whole.
    We serve both,
    and when there is a conflict,
    we choose where the priority lies,
    as objectively as possible.

    Which makes us largely unpredictable,
    and means that we are often curious ourselves
    about what we will do,
    and have to wait and see
    when the time for acting is upon us.

  2. 01/30/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 07 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Culture is the Great Enemy of Truth.

    Everywhere I have been,
    culture proved to be invincible and immune to Truth.

    Culture is “the way we do things.”
    “The way things are done.”
    “The way things are.”
    “The way things are supposed to be.”

    Remember the Hippies
    and the protests of the 1960’s?
    What changed?
    The music, a little, maybe.
    Slavery gave us the Blues and Jazz,
    and the 60’s gave us Rock-and-Roll.
    Cotton is no longer King,
    but Money still rules with an iron fist.

    Money creates poverty,
    requires poverty,
    and takes no notice of the poor.
    The culture is great about looking away.

    All cultures have what they look away from.
    Ask any member of any culture,
    “What do you not look at,
    refuse to see?”
    The Untouchables and Invisibles are everywhere
    in every culture.

    Truth will never bring down the culture,
    any culture.
    All those revolutions that have occurred
    throughout history?
    They may have replaced the culture,
    but they didn’t change it.
    And the replacement culture
    was as impervious to Truth
    as the replaced culture was.

    The culture of the church
    is impervious to the Truth of the church.
    The culture of Buddhism
    is impervious to the Truth of Buddhism.
    Etc.

    Truth doesn’t have a chance.
    Truth’s place is never with the culture,
    but always with the individuals
    within the culture.

    The hope of the world are the people
    living as individuals,
    as single, solitary,
    truthful
    and Truth-loving individuals
    within the culture.

    All of the Heroes of history
    are truthful individuals
    acting out of their own understanding of Truth
    in opposition to the culture of their day.

    And the culture crushed them,
    but.
    The light was not extinguished.
    The light never goes out completely,
    but remains forever alive,
    living in the individuals who awakened
    to see, and hear, and know,
    and carry the light through another generation
    in the darkness of the surrounding culture.

    So, live on!
    In light of what you know to be so!
    In light of what you now to be Good!
    And True!
    And Beautiful!

    As we live in the light,
    we attract those who are capable
    of seeing the light,
    and being bearers of the light,
    and challenging the Culture of Darkness
    at every point
    in the eternal dialectic of Good/Evil,
    Right/Wrong,
    Truth/Culture
    through the ages.

  3. 01/312020 —  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 29 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    Everything is worse waking up at 2:00 AM.

    That’s because our conscious mind
    is still asleep,
    and our unconscious mind is running the show.

    We live between rational and irrational,
    and when our rational mind goes to sleep,
    our irrational mind takes over.

    You know all those crazy dreams
    that are so real
    you wake up wondering
    if they are so?
    Straight out of irrationality.
    And the case is so strong,
    you live for days in the shadow
    of that possibility.

    The irrational world was our only world
    for thousands of years.
    In those days, the gods (or God)
    would talk to us,
    and say the damnedest things–
    and that world
    is the world we sleep in every night.

    And we cannot
    talk our way out of it
    at 2:00 AM.
    Some of us cannot
    talk our way out of it
    at all, ever.

    Approached rationally,
    at, say, 10:00 AM,
    the irrational world
    can be a healthy balance
    to the world of logic,
    reason,
    think tanks
    and 5-year plans.

    Consciously engaging our unconscious mind
    in a collaborative communion
    of equal partners
    is a wonderful way
    of finding the Middle Way
    between two worlds,
    and our scariest dreams
    are our unconscious mind’s way
    of getting our attention
    by shouting, “HEY! WE HAVE TO TALK!”

    And the work of being helpfully conscious
    is the work of learning to talk
    to our unconscious mind–
    learning the language of soul–
    understanding that the unconscious mind
    is pre-verbal,
    and speaks with images,
    symbols,
    metaphors
    and emotions,
    which we have to translate
    into conscious concepts
    and realizations.

    Our unconscious is not a tool
    we can use to achieve our conscious desires,
    but a vehicle of perception
    enabling us to see what we are doing
    from a wider perspective
    than the one we operate out of
    during our waking hours,
    where we create the real nightmares
    for our soul to have to deal with
    when we go to sleep.

  4. 01/31/2020 —  Curves 10/29/2019 08 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2018

    We live to serve the Good of the whole–
    of the present generation
    and of generations yet to be–
    as well as we can perceive that good
    as best we can.

    And when we see that Good
    being slighted and denied,
    by those intent on serving their own good
    and their own greed,
    we call it out
    and serve the Good of the whole
    to the best of our ability,
    anyway,
    nevertheless,
    even so.

    And when we fail to do that,
    we fail humankind
    and all sentient beings–
    and gain absolutely nothing
    for our refusal to serve that Good.

    In so doing, we deserve
    the contempt and condemnation
    of the ages,
    and bear the weight of that judgment
    throughout eternity.

  5. 01/31/2020 —  James River 10/29/2019 06 — Big Island, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Everyone has to find their own
    way of being in the world.

    And bear the pain.

    Nobody want to bear the pain.

    Everybody wants what they want,
    with no pain attached.

    The fundamental truth of existence–
    of being in the world–
    is that we have to give up this to have that.

    We pay a price for drawing lines,
    and we pay a price for not drawing lines.
    So, where do we draw the line.

    Fraser Snowden said that
    “Is the only true philosophical question.”
    We each have to answer it for ourselves.
    *Have* to.
    To not answer it is to answer it.
    To not decide how we are going to be
    in the world,
    is to decide how we are going to be
    in the world.

    Deciding consciously,
    and choosing what pain to bear,
    and bearing it consciously,
    is a more grown-up,
    self-determined,
    decision,
    than being blown about
    through life
    by the ways and will of someone else.

    We have to summon the courage
    to make our own mistakes,
    and rectify them as best we can
    by finding our own way
    of dealing with them.

    “Get in there and do your thing!”
    said Joseph Campbell,
    “and do it again and again
    in dealing with all of the outcomes!”
    (Or words to that effect).

    But, don’t let me and Joseph Campbell
    tell you how to be in the world.
    Choose for yourself what you need to do,
    and do it.
    And bear the pain of having done it.
    And choose for yourself what you need to do about it.

  6. 01/31/2020 —  Goodale 10/25/2019 23 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    We have to face up to the fundamental fact of life:
    It is up to us!
    It is all up to us!
    What we believe.
    How we see things.
    What we think.
    How we act.
    What we do.
    How we deal with our life
    and the things that happen to us,
    or fail to happen to us,
    or fail to happen at all…

    Our life is up to us.
    How we respond to our life is up to us.
    What we do about what happens,
    or doesn’t happen,
    is up to us.

    It is all up to us!
    We have to stop taking everybody’s word for anything!
    We have to face up to everything ourselves!
    We have to decide for ourselves what it means,
    and what we are going to do about it.

    No one can live our life but us!

    So here’s what–
    do this or do not do it,
    it is up to you:

    Imagine you are putting everything you have been told
    on a table.
    Everything you have been told is true.
    Everything you have been told to believe.
    Everything you have been told about anything.
    Put it on the table.
    Now, sweep it all off the table.
    And put on the table things you know to be so
    out of your own experience.
    What is worth believing?
    What is worth your time?
    What is worth having?
    What is worth doing?
    What is important?
    What doesn’t matter at all?

    Do this with everything you think
    matters enough to go on the table.

    Spend some time with this.
    It is an imaginary table,
    so you can call it up as you go through your day
    and add something else to it
    that you know to be so out of your own experience.

    We are piling everything on the table
    that you know to be so.
    That you know to be valid.
    That you know to be real, actual, true.

    If you put God there,
    don’t put the God other people told you about
    including the people who wrote the Bible.
    Put the God there that you know to be God
    out of your own experience.

    This is your table.
    Add to it over time.

  7. 02/01/2020 —  Eastern Bluebird 01/27/2020 — Scenes From My Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 27, 2020

    There is no better way of dealing
    with what is coming
    than by becoming a Zen Master
    in our own life
    and developing the skills–
    “the science of mind”–
    that allow us to take what comes
    without being knocked off-center
    or off the path of our own becoming.

    Here are five book recommendations
    for facilitating the transition
    from where you are
    to where you need to be
    in order to dance with what you meet
    along the way:

    Jon Kabat Zinn, “Wherever You Go, There You are”
    Jon Kabat Zinn, “Meditation Is Not What You Think”
    Thomas Cleary, “Instant Zen, Waking Up In The Present,”

    And my book on the end of the church/Christianity
    as we know it: “A Handbook for the Spiritual Journey”

    And my follow-up book on how the church/Christianity
    needs to transform itself to offer what is needed
    in a world where instability and uncertainty reign:
    “An Old Preacher’s Manifesto”

    My books are available for free on my WordPress web site,
    https://jimwdollar.com/home/
    and as Kindle books from Amazon.

    We do not get to a place of balance, sanity, equilibrium, peace, stability, equanimity, composure, etc.
    by thinking about it
    but by adopting the perspective,
    the awareness,
    “the mind”
    required to be unmoved and unmovable
    in a world that changes by the hour.

    The sooner we take up that practice,
    the better off we will be–
    and the better off the world will be
    as a result of our being better off.

    What we do not want to deal with
    is barreling toward us “at the speed of life.”
    Get your Dealing Clothes on
    and smile at the idea
    of living out the rest of your life
    on “the heaving waves
    of the wine-dark sea.

  8. 02/01/2020 —  Road Through Fall 10/28/2019 05 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    If you are not firmly attached
    to your Sacred Core,
    you are well-past time
    to begin making that connection.

    Working to establish,
    maintain
    and live out of our relationship
    with our Sacred Core
    is the task of life,
    the nature of the journey,
    the hope of the world.

    Our Sacred Core needs our protection
    as much as we need its guidance
    and direction,
    its consolation
    and reassurance,
    its peace
    and safety.

    Our Sacred Core is who we are.
    It is our Original Nature.
    Our essence,
    our Essential Self.
    It is what remains of us
    when all else has been taken away
    by the natural erosion caused
    by the weight of our circumstances
    over time.

    Our Sacred Core is what Carl Jung
    was talking about when he said,
    “We are who we always have been,
    and who we will be,”
    and,
    “There is within each of us
    another whom we do not know.”

    We owe it to ourselves
    to find out who we are at the Core,
    and live in ways that affirm and express,
    serve and exhibit,
    our Core Identity
    throughout what remains
    of the time left for living.

    Hints and suggestions,
    evidence and indications
    lie all about us.
    Anybody who knows us
    even reasonably well
    can say about us,
    “Isn’t that just like Jim?”
    They can tell us who we are
    at the Core.
    It shines through!

    Are you more like a trash can
    or a bicycle?
    A lawn mower or a beach ball?

    Make your own list of objects
    that you cannot imagine being like,
    and you will find that you belong
    to one and not the other.
    For your entertaining pleasure,
    I am more like a bicycle and a beach ball.

    This exercise points to our Sacred Core.
    We are more one way than another,
    across the board,
    around the table,
    up and down the line.

    There is an “I” in there, in here,
    that will not be bent,
    and shaped,
    and formed
    into anything other than itself,
    and we not only waste our time
    trying to bend, shape and form,
    but we also lose precious time
    in the work to find, serve and be
    who we are.

    We only have this lifetime to work with.
    Everything rides on how we spend the rest of it.
    Getting to know and be who we are
    is the choice to be preferred and served.

    Let those with ears to hear
    be listening!

  9. 02/01/2020 —  At Mabry Mill 10/28/2019 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 176.2, near Meadows of Dan, in Floyd County, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    No cutting and running!
    No hunkering down!
    No hiding out!
    No sniveling and shaking!
    No worrying and fretting!
    No seeking refuge and safety!
    No turning to alcohol and opioids,
    addiction and denial!

    Stand up!
    Stand grounded on the bedrock
    of what is truest,
    best,
    and eternal and everlasting
    about you!
    Grounded in the values,
    character,
    and qualities
    that set you apart from all others
    and identify you unmistakably as YOU!

    Step forward!
    Meet what is coming head-on!
    Face-to-face!
    Eyeball-to-eyeball!
    Rise to the occasion!
    Every occasion!
    Say, “NO!”
    to what must be opposed,
    and “YES!”
    to what must be championed,
    defended,
    protected and served
    with liege loyalty
    and filial devotion!

    Do not hold back now!
    Now is the time to be bold
    and assertive
    in honor and allegiance
    to what matters most
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day-by-day!

    Live like it all depends on you,
    on us,
    because it does!

02/02/2020 —  Goodale 10/25/2019 22 Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

One of the foundational ideas
of Zen is Working Distance.

Working Distance is the 3rd Way,
the path between Too Close
and Too Far Away.

It is the right distance between us
and all that is going on around us
and within us.

It is the correct amount of distance
required for perspective and action,
for seeing and doing,
in ways appropriate to the occasion,
on every occasion.

Zen doesn’t operate out of a list of commandments,
duties, obligations, responsibilities.
It is quite content with doing what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises.
Jesus couldn’t do better than that.
Jesus would have been a wonderful Zen Master
(He said, “Why don’t you
decide for yourselves what is right?”).
When the disciples took over
Christianity took an immediate
shift toward worse
(They said, “Do what we say is right!”).

All that sin and salvation,
deserving damnation
and earning forgiveness!

Zen has none of that.
With Zen it is just seeing and not-seeing,
knowing and not-knowing,
and living appropriately,
spontaneously,
in response to each situation
as it arises.
Too much thinking,
planning,
scheming,
conniving,
contriving
and you have stepped away
from Working Distance
and stopped seeing what needs to be done,
and are acting to get something
or avoid something,
regardless of what needs to happen.

So, Zen is not Christianity
(and it is not Buddhism either),
and would say
“If you go to hell
for doing what needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises,
then go happily to hell–
and live your life knowing
all the things you would gladly go to hell for,
and doing them the way they need to be done,
when they need to be done,
the way they need to be done,
every time they need to be done,
and carry that mode of operating
with you
straight into the jaws of hell!”

  • 02/02/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 26 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    I would go to hell for supporting my child’s,
    or your child’s,
    or your,
    right to be gay,
    right to have an abortion,
    right to be ____
    just fill in the blank
    with all the human rights
    that come down to
    the right to be oneself
    without interfering with
    anyone else’s right to be themselves.

    I would gladly go to hell
    for supporting/defending those rights.
    Including the right to do
    what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises–
    however “sinful,”
    “outlandish,”
    “appalling,”
    “blasphemous,”
    etc.–
    it may seem to someone else,
    or actually be, for that matter.

    Hell is not the worst thing imaginable.
    The worst thing imaginable
    is refusing to be who we need to be
    in the situation as it arises
    because being that
    would prevent us
    from having, getting, attaining, keeping, etc.
    something we stood to gain
    (or keep from losing)
    by ignoring what the situation needs us to do.

    Because failing/refusing to do that
    time-after-time
    in each situation that comes along
    in serving our personal good
    at the expense of the good of the situation,
    makes us more important than any situation,
    and creates hell on earth for us all,
    making the threat of hell
    just an excuse that allows us to justify
    creating actual hell
    by the way we withhold ourselves
    from life in order to have what we want
    and avoid what we don’t want.

    Living to not go to hell
    is the ultimate justification
    for conspiring,
    conniving,
    and contriving
    to have our way
    at the expense
    of what needs to be done
    in situations as they arise,
    and puts our personal good
    over the good of someone else,
    or the good of the whole.

    And is nothing more than a way
    of avoiding living our life
    the way it needs us to live it.

  • 02/02/2020 —  Dome Sunset Abstract Panorama — Clingman’s Dome, September 19, 2001

    Jesus said, “Why don’t you
    decide for yourselves what is right?”

    And told a man he saw working on the Sabbath,
    “You better be right about that!”

    I take it from these two statements
    that we have to decide for ourselves what is right,
    and be right about it.

    And when it turns out that we are wrong,
    we have to recognize that,
    change our mind about what is important,
    and decide for ourselves in this situation
    what is right,
    then live to see if we were right about it.

    We do that with every situation
    that comes along.

    We decide what the right response is,
    and if we are wrong,
    we decide what the right response is
    to *that* situation…
    And follow that pattern
    throughout our life.

    We live our way to being right,
    by deciding for ourselves what is right,
    one decision at a time.

  • 02/02/2020 —  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Holes Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    The Church, every church, all churches
    should be more like an AA meeting
    where all members are working a program
    to be Zen Masters
    instead of being sober and saved and going to heaven
    when they die.

    If we were all Zen Masters,
    sobriety and salvation
    would take care of themselves.

    And if we were working the program
    to be a Zen Master,
    we would be helping each other
    work their program to be a Zen Master,
    and everything would fall out around that.

    Nobody would be minding anybody else’s business
    or telling other people how they ought to work
    their program,
    or what they ought to believe,
    our how they ought to behave.
    People would be saying what they had to say
    about their experience,
    saying what was proving to be helpful to them,
    saying what was proving to be difficult,
    and no one would be trying to help them
    along with advice and direction
    beyond saying, “If that were my situation,
    I would do such and such,”
    and not telling anyone what they should,
    or should not, do.

    It would be a listening station,
    a saying station,
    a “This is how it is with me right now” station.

    There would be studies of Zen writings
    of the Old Masters and the Current Masters,
    and discussions about what is helpful
    and not helpful about the readings.

    Nothing would be sacrosanct.
    Everything would be open to question.
    Everybody would be asking all the questions
    that beg to be asked about everything,
    and saying all the things that cry out
    to be said about everything,
    and working to be clear about
    what their practice was asking them
    to be and to do,
    and spending time in silent reflection
    and introspection
    in the service of self-transparency
    and self-realization.

    And nobody would be harping on “the way”
    for anybody else.
    Everyone would be walking their own path,
    their own way,
    in the company of everyone else.

    That would be my kind of place.

  • 02/03/2020 —  November 4 11/04/2019 12 — Old Saddle Mountain Union Baptist Church, Blue Ridge Parkway, Ennice, North Carolina, November 4, 2019

    Zen is not a religion
    in the usual and customary
    sense of the word, but.

    It is the essence of good religion,
    in that it sustains,
    supports,
    and guides us
    in the truth of our own experience,
    and that is the heart
    of true religion
    everywhere,
    throughout time.

    Teva and Zorba the Greek
    were Zen Masters,
    as were Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi.
    As are Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.
    Though none of them need ever have read
    the first word of Zen,
    they all have lived enlightening lives
    in light of the truth of their experience.

    All it takes is seeing what you look at,
    hearing what is being said in word and action,
    and responding to your umwelt
    in ways fitting to the occasion
    all your life long.

  • 02/04/2020 —  Four Mile Creek Wetlands 02/03/2020 01 Panorama — Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 3, 2020

    Enlightenment,
    Realization,
    Right Seeing,
    Right Hearing,
    Right Understanding,
    Right Knowing,
    Right Being
    Right Doing…

    Is like playing.

    Children don’t cry
    because they don’t know
    how to play.

    They don’t read books on how to play.
    Or watch videos.
    Or listen to lectures.
    Or go in search of the right teacher.
    Or spend long hours practicing playing,
    hoping to get it right at last.

    They do not ask their parents to
    “Tell me again how it’s done.”
    Or, “Show me one more time!”

    They do not wonder, “Is this it?”
    “Am I doing it right?”

    Enlightenment, etc.
    is playing with perception
    and perspective,
    and possibilities–
    asking all of the questions
    that beg to be asked,
    and saying all of the things
    that cry out to be said,
    in each situation
    that arises.
    And waiting for the dawning,
    when we know after many falls
    how to walk,
    or ride a bike
    or skateboard…

    The dawning comes in its own time
    to those who know it takes time,
    and requires the right time,
    and keep looking,
    wondering,
    asking,
    seeking,
    knocking,
    with no idea of what they don’t know,
    or what it is going to do for them,
    or to them,
    or ask of them.

    In the meantime,
    they wait,
    and watch,
    and wonder.

  • 02/04/2020 —  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 28 Panorama– Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    Zen provides working distance,
    working room
    between the impact
    of what is happening
    and what needs to be done about it.

    Zen is a perspective
    which allows/demands
    the conscious formation
    of a perception
    that takes everything into account
    and listens/watches/waits
    for the right response
    to emerge from “the din of confusion”
    and bless the situation
    with action fitting the occasion.

    Zen cannot be hurried.
    It bides its time,
    waiting for the time to be right
    for doing what needs to be done.

    Any light can be the right light
    for some scene,
    but any light will not work
    for all scenes.

    The light chooses the right scene,
    the scene demands the right light.
    The photographer waits.
    Watching.
    Looking.
    For the time to be right.

    That is Zen in action.
    Refraining from acting
    until the time is right.

    Zen is intently aware
    of Kairos,
    Tao,
    Dharma,
    Grace–
    the elements at work
    in every situation
    calling forth
    the Virtue,
    Vitality,
    Energy,
    and Spirit
    of the Zen Masters
    present in that moment,
    that they might read the moment
    and respond appropriately
    in a timely manner.

    Zen has no agenda,
    and no will to impose
    on any situation,
    but responds to every situation
    with exactly what is needed
    in the time and place of its living
    and serving the true good of the moment
    and of all impacted by the moment,
    with the right word,
    the right deed,
    fitting to the occasion.

    Zen is a way of life
    that is concerned for
    the way life needs to be lived
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    no by applying rigid standards
    and codes of behavior,
    but by listening,
    seeing,
    knowing,
    understanding
    what’s what and what is to be done about it
    here and now
    in each situation as it arises.

    Zen is alive to the moment of its living,
    responsive to the moment of its living,
    dancing with the moment of its living,
    knowing that “there is only the dance”
    (T.S. Eliot).

  • 02/04/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 18 Panorama — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    In any now, we don’t know what is next.

    In striving to arrange what we want to be next,
    or avoid what we do not want to be next,
    we step out of the flow of Tao,
    which is domain of time (Kairos)
    and place (Dharma),
    and falls within the sphere of Grace.

    And, we operate as a Rogue Predator
    in the here and now of our living,
    creating karma,
    drama,
    entanglements,
    chaos,
    trouble
    and woe.

    Better to live aligned with ourselves,
    in sync with our Sacred Core
    and Natural Order,
    attuned to the moment,
    waiting for the time to act
    in the service
    of what needs us to do it,
    in light of the best interest
    of all concerned,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

  • 02/05/2020 —  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 20 Panorama — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Hole Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    The trick is to live engaged with our life
    without being entangled,
    enmeshed,
    embroiled.

    That is “the slippery slope,
    the dangerous path,
    the razor’s edge.”

    The trick with pulling off the trick
    is to be present
    without being hijacked,
    commandeered,
    confiscated,
    held hostage
    and compelled
    to act against
    our self-interest
    and the best interest
    of the situation as a whole.

    To be present to the extent
    of being able to assess the situation
    and live there in light
    of what needs to be done
    because it needs to be done,
    without having anything at stake
    in the outcome.

    We buy a plant, say.
    And put it in the ground
    in the flower bed in our backyard
    according to established
    horticultural procedures,
    and water it, fertilize it, tend it,
    and it lives two years and dies,
    while all the other plants around it
    are doing fine.
    We replace the plant
    until we find one that has what it takes
    to flourish where we put it.
    All the while,
    going on with our life.

    And we work to have the same relationship
    with the other aspects of our life
    as we have with the plants under our care.

    There is distant.
    And there is close.
    And there is too close.

    Physicians work out the proper distance
    between themselves and their patients.
    Teachers do the same thing with their students.
    Parents do the same thing with their children.
    Etc.

    When the fortunes of our favorite football team
    take over our life,
    it is time to re-examine
    our relationship with our favorite football team.
    Etc.

  • 02/05/2020 —  Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 07 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Abbot Lake, MP 86, near Bedford, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    We all know what symptoms are.

    Symptoms can be physical and/or emotional.
    Emotional symptoms will become physical symptoms
    over time.
    Physical symptoms will become emotional symptoms
    over time.
    Symptoms can destroy our life.

    Symptoms of any kind
    at any level of disturbance
    to our way of life
    (And if we are aware of them,
    they are disturbing our way of life–
    and they may be disturbing our way of life
    without our being aware of them–
    denial works that way),
    indicate that we need
    to change our relationship
    with our life.

    Symptoms are our body’s way,
    our psyche’s way,
    of getting our attention,
    of saying,
    “Houston, we have a problem.”

    And it is up to “Houston”
    to work with “us”
    to fix the problem.

    As “Houston” we go about our business
    oblivious to “the problem,”
    until “we” (our body/psyche)
    call out to “us” (our conscious,
    everyday,
    normal
    way of going about our business)
    by way of symptoms
    to say,
    “We have a problem!”

    The problem always, always,
    can be traced back to
    our relationship with our life.

    As long as our relationship with our life
    is humming right along
    with the proper amount of attention
    being devoted to all aspects of our life,
    and nothing is being neglected
    and ignored,
    and we are at-one with ourselves
    on all levels,
    self-aware,
    self-transparent,
    in touch
    and in tune
    with ourselves,
    and each situation as it arises,
    meditatively,
    introspectively,
    intuitively,
    mindfully,
    consciously
    present with all that is going on
    within and without,
    alert to what impact we are exerting
    on our life,
    and what impact our life is exerting
    on us,
    on top of it all
    and tending it all
    as it needs to be tended–
    close enough but not too close–
    things are fine
    and we are as symptom-free
    as a cloud in the sky
    or a wave upon the water.

    But.
    When we stop paying attention,
    and drift off into Fantasy Land,
    and begin living in ways
    that cut us off from our life,
    our life sends us symptoms
    to say “We have a problem,”
    and it is up to us to read
    the symptoms,
    not as something to cure/fix
    so that we can get back to life
    as we want to live it,
    but as something pointing out
    that we need
    to change our relationship with our life,
    and get back go living in ways
    that represent a collaborative,
    united,
    good-faith effort
    to be consciously at-one with ourselves on all levels
    all of the time.

    If we aren’t doing that, Honey,
    we are going to have problems
    until we start doing that.

  • 02/05/2020 —  Parkway Overlooks 10/29/2019 09 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Clarity and stability have an antithetical relationship
    with each other,
    and can peacefully co-exist
    only in people who are so well-grounded
    in their core identity
    that they are incapable
    of being knocked off-center
    by the ebbs and flows,
    weal and woe,
    of their life.

    Clarity destroys stability
    in seeing all things as they are,
    and rocking the world
    of those who “can’t handle the truth,”
    sending people “over the edge,”
    who cannot bear the full weight
    of life as it is.

    Stability requires those people
    to have steady and reliable
    access to denial.

    They can be stable
    only when they are unclear
    about how things stand
    and what is going on,
    and can be clear
    only by being always on edge
    and in danger of “losing it”
    at any moment.

    We can gauge our degree of “groundedness”
    by how much clarity and stability
    we can maintain
    at any particular time,
    or knowing how much our stability
    depends on not knowing
    what is going on.

  • 02/06/2020 —  Mabry Mill 10/28/2019 06 — Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 176.2, near Meadows of Dan, in Floyd County, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    In any situation,
    there is what can happen,
    what we want to happen,
    what needs to happen
    and what has no business happening.

    Our place is to be aware
    of the situation
    and the dynamics at work there,
    and to live in the service
    of what needs to happen
    in light of what can happen–
    putting what we want to happen
    and what has no business happening
    well outside the realm of consideration.

    In order to do that,
    we have to grow up some more again
    in each situation as it arises.

    Trying to force what we want to happen,
    not caring what does happen,
    and/or living in the service
    of what has no business happening,
    has our life,
    and the world,
    exactly where they are today.

    We easily,
    routinely,
    live out of the orientation
    of thinking that what we want to happen
    is what needs to happen
    whether it has any business of happening,
    or any possibility of happening.

    Forcing our way to what we want
    and refusing to be saddled
    with what we don’t want,
    no matter what the situation needs most
    is the sure recipe for symptoms
    and suffering
    for ourselves and myriad others.

    Growing up some more again
    situation-by-situation-by-situation
    is the only hope
    for ourselves
    and the world.

  • 02/06/2020 —  Goodale 10/25/2019 21 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    Zen is great for getting to the heart of the matter.

    One of its observations:
    “When the student is ready,
    the teacher appears.”

    Which is easily broadened to:
    When the student is ready
    everything is a teacher.

    When the student is ready,
    the teacher is everywhere.

    When the student is ready,
    the student teaches the student.

    Etc.

    The catch is that readiness
    is beyond the reach of the student
    and the teacher.

    All we,
    either as student
    or teacher–
    and who isn’t both at once?–
    can do is wait
    for the time to be right.

    (On a personal note here,
    I spend most of my time
    waiting for the time to be right
    for the next thing.
    So do you.
    Whether we realize it or not.)

    When the time is right,
    magic happens.

    The time is always right for something.
    Maybe, waiting.

  • 02/06/2020 —  A River Runs Through It 02/06/2020 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, February 6, 2020 — 3 inches in 6 hours looks like this in the Glen.

    The primary thing wrong with most of us
    is the quality of our relationship with our life.
    Improving that relationship improves everything,
    like that (snaps fingers).

    The quality of our relationship with our life
    improves like that (snaps fingers again),
    once we become aware of it.

    Mindfulness that is compassionate
    and non-judgmental
    is the solution to all of our problems today,
    any day,
    every day.

    Being aware of the moment
    and our response to it
    leads to being aware of all moments
    prior to this one
    and our response to them,
    leads to seeing how we got to be
    the way we are,
    leads to seeing how that impacts
    the way things are,
    and how that impacts us.

    Simply sitting in awareness
    of this here,
    this now,
    leads to expanding our awareness
    of all things great and small.
    And that changes things.

    Seeing things changes things.
    We may sense that on some level,
    and refuse to look.

  • 02/07/2020 —  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Hole Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    We live within our circumstances
    in the time and place of our living,
    and understand “circumstances”
    to always be “more than meets the eye.”

    We live in a time and place
    that has a place
    within the times that have their own
    nature,
    spirit,
    vitality,
    and energy,
    and are driven by
    forces that characterize ages
    and encompass cosmic
    and geological time.

    We are carried along
    in our individual lives
    by the possibilities
    available to us
    in the time of our living,
    and have to come to terms
    with that
    in adjusting ourselves
    to the full context
    of “the present moment.”

    We live in times
    that have their own
    thrust,
    drift
    and direction–
    and it is all a mixture
    of synchronicity,
    grace,
    destiny,
    fate
    and timing.

    A little humility,
    wonder,
    recognition,
    realization,
    awareness,
    awe,
    reverence,
    amazement
    and regard
    for the all-ness
    within which is nestled
    this time and this place
    of this particular here and now
    would certainly be
    an appropriate aspect
    of our response to it–
    and would temper our
    arrogance and our tendency
    to be disgusted with,
    and undone by,
    the inconveniences
    and vexations
    of the everyday.

    Recognizing our place
    within the times that are unfolding
    according to necessities
    even they do not comprehend,
    opens us to the importance
    of cooperating with the moment
    on all levels,
    and allowing ourselves to be led
    along paths that open before us
    to what is beyond all imagining
    and to adventures that have to be lived
    in order to be believed.

  • 02/07/2020 —  Four Mile Creek Greenway/Floodplain/Wetlands 02/03/2020 02 Panorama — Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 3, 2020

    How we meet the day,
    day-after-day-after-day,
    says all there needs to be said
    about us–
    all there is to say about us.

    How we get up
    and go again,
    day-after-day-after-day,
    is our opus,
    our work,
    our lived expression
    of who we are
    in the day-to-day unfolding
    of our life.

    How we carry ourselves
    through the day,
    every day.
    How we bear the weight
    of having lived up to this point,
    this day,
    every day.

    How we square up to
    the facts that define the day,
    every day.

    How we face up to
    how things are
    and how we have contributed
    to their being as they are,
    and what we do about it
    all day,
    every day.

    How we work
    with the hope
    that is ours,
    with the prospects
    that are ours,
    with the options and choices
    that are ours
    every day.

    How we go about the business
    of being who we are today,
    every day.

    Says all there is to say about us
    each day.

    Want to know who you are?
    Look at how you live each day.
    Want to change who you are?
    Change how you live each day.

    Most of us want to change
    what happens to us.
    Few of us want to change
    how we deal with what happens to us.
    Few of us want to live better
    with what we have to live with
    every day.

    We want our life to be better,
    while we stay the same.

    The road to a better life
    is walked by those
    who are becoming a better person
    day-by-day-by-day.

    Better how?
    Better how we meet the day.
    Day-after-day-after-day.

  • 02/07/2020 —  Cotton in the Field 10/25/2019 01 Panorama — Back roads, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    It is all absurd,
    outlandish,
    ridiculous,
    extreme,
    appalling,
    atrocious,
    abhorrent,
    abominable,
    disgusting,
    etc.

    And everybody is saying
    “It isn’t MY fault!”
    And they all are right.

    We are awash in circumstances
    that have no discernible cause
    and no available solution,
    remedy,
    fix,
    cure.

    The disease will have to play itself out.
    The affliction of the times
    will have to run its course.

    In the meantime,
    our work remains
    what it always has been,
    and always will be:

    To see what is happening
    in each situation as it arises,
    and to do what can be done about it
    with the gifts and resources we have to offer
    in light of the old prescription:
    Those who need help
    should be helped,
    and those who can help
    should be helpful.

    While we wait for the tide to turn,
    we do the work that needs to be done
    whether the tide is coming in
    or going out,
    or turning around.

    Our work remains our work
    through the ebbs and flows
    and the slack periods in between.
    Our work never changes.
    It is the stable constant in our life,
    holding things together
    when things are falling apart.

  • 02/07/2020 —  Curves 10/29/2019 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    If you were to change your relationship with your life,
    and live aligned with your Original Nature,
    which I understand to be equivalent
    to your Core Identity,
    the Source of who you are
    and who you are called/meant to be,
    you might begin
    by sitting quietly
    with compassion
    and non-judgmental acceptance
    for everything that arises in the silence,
    and observe all that comes to mind.

    Do not engage any of it.
    If you find yourself responding emotionally,
    or being carried away
    on a train of associations,
    bring yourself back to the silence
    by remembering your breath,
    and breathing slowly and deeply,
    pausing for a count of 5 between exhale and inhale,
    until you have restored your composure,
    and can resume simply observing
    what arises in the silence.

    Hold everything in your awareness,
    and end the session when you are ready.

    Carry the memory of this exercise
    with you through the day,
    and as other things come to mind,
    add them to all that you are collecting
    in your awareness
    to reflect on as you have time.

    This is called “Listening To Your Life.”
    The things that come to mind
    are “food for thought,”
    for reflection,
    exploration,
    investigation.

    The key to this
    is to reduce your emotional reactivity
    and to increase your curiosity.
    Your role is to ask all of the questions
    that beg to be asked,
    and to say (to yourself)
    all of the things that cry out to be said.
    And to ask all of the questions that arise
    from your questions and statements.
    You are airing out the things that arise
    for your consideration.
    You are interviewing your Core, your Source.
    You are listening for what you need to hear.

    Do not take any action of any kind
    beyond listening, inquiring, exploring,
    seeing, hearing, knowing, understanding,
    putting two-and-two together,
    seeing how things interrelate
    and impact one another.

    Sit with the realizations that arise
    and explore the experience.

    You may want to write things out,
    or paint things out,
    our dance things out,
    or give physical expression
    to the emotional experience
    of hearing what you have to say.

    Your nighttime dreams may present
    additional material for you to explore,
    and this process has no end.
    You are listening to what you have to say to you,
    and listening to what needs to happen
    in response to hearing it,
    knowing and understanding what’s what with you.

    Responding to all of this with compassion
    and non-judgmental acceptance
    creates a space for on-going reflection
    and realization–
    which will have implications
    for the way you live your life,
    and change your relationship with your life.

    And, it will be a process you engage in
    for the rest of your days.

  • 02/08/2020 —  Road Through Fall 10/28/19 06 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    The U.S. Park Service has posted signs
    around Yellowstone National Park
    that read: Your Safety Is Your Responsibility!

    As the conscious, aware aspect
    of your physical existence,
    you have two responsibilities.

    Your first is keeping your whole self safe
    in the physical world
    of normal, apparent, reality.

    The other is living in the physical world
    aligned with your invisible Core,
    Core Identity,
    Original Nature,
    Inner Self.

    You have to learn to do both
    of those things at the same time!

    To connect with your Core
    and keep yourself safe,
    I recommend watching
    all of the Jon Kabat-Zinn YouTube videos
    (the shortest ones first).

    Become a Master of Mindfulness,
    living mindfully,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    and you will be keeping yourself safe
    and bringing yourself forth
    in living your life
    aligned with your Core Identity.

    Jesus couldn’t do it better!
    No one could do it better!
    It is all anyone could ask of you!

    In simply being who you are
    at your Sacred Core,
    in each situation as it arises,
    you are providing
    each situation exactly what it needs,
    and you are being exactly
    what you need most to be.

    Merely being you here and now
    is the Superpower most essential
    for life on the planet.

    Why would I lie?

02/08/2020 — 

Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 27 — Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

Where do you go to experience–
and what do you do to maintain–
a grounding sense of harmony,
balance,
confidence,
peace,
serenity,
tranquility,
at-one-ness,
at-home-ness,
all-right-ness
and well-being?

How often do you go there?
Do that?

The Old Zen Masters
spent a lot of time
talking about the importance
of virtue and sincerity.

They understood these terms
to mean “living in relationship
with our Sacred Core–
with our Original Nature,
our Vital Center,
our Bedrock Identity.”

The Old Greek Oracle at Delphi
advised, “Know Thyself.”

Shakespeare got into the act
(Act 1, as a matter of fact,
scene 3, *Hamlet*),
saying, “To thine own self be true!”

Jesus said, “Why don’t you
decide for yourselves what is right?”

When we live in harmony with ourselves,
with our Core Self,
nothing can knock us off
that ground of our being.
Live from there.
Instant peace of mind–
of mind at-one with itself.

  • 02/08/2020 —  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 20 — Linville River, Linville Falls Visitor Center, Linville Falls, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    We think we know ourselves.
    We know what we want
    and what we don’t want.
    We know what we like
    and what we don’t like.
    We know what is important
    and what is unimportant.
    We know how we see things,
    and what we think about things,
    and where we stand on things…

    But. We don’t know why or how
    we know any of these things.

    What makes us think that the way we think is the way to think?
    What makes us think that we are right about how we see things?
    What makes us think that our opinions are worth having?
    Where do our ideas come from?
    Why do we think the way we think and not some other way instead?

    How different can we be?

    Why can’t we want what we ought to want?
    Why can’t we change our mind about what is important?
    Why are we stuck with thinking the way we think,
    and feeling the way we feel,
    and believing what we believe,
    and liking what we like,
    and living the way we live?

    We talk about being free to do as we please,
    but, we are not free to choose what pleases us.
    We talk about being free to do what we want,
    but, we are not free to choose what we want.
    Why are we pleased with what pleases us?
    Why do we want what we want and not something else instead?

    Why are we the way we are and not some other way instead?

    What is the source of our tastes,
    and interests,
    and attractions,
    and enthusiasms?

    For all that we know about ourselves
    there are more things that we don’t know about ourselves.
    So, how can we think we know ourselves?
    There is more to be known than is known.

    And so begins the Quest:
    To know and to be who we are!

  • 02/09/2020 —  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 26 Panorama — Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    How much do you enjoy about your life?

    How much kindness do you express in your life?

    Enjoyment and kindness are the basic elements
    in my consideration of a life well-lived.

    My paternal grandparents were the exemplars
    of those qualities,
    and graced their world with exhaustible displays
    of both.

    They had no more reason for joy and kindness
    than anyone else on the block,
    in the town,
    in the country,
    or the world.
    They were simply joyful and kind.
    For no reason.

    Joy and kindness seem to have a plastic quality
    about them in my current experience of life,
    as though people have to remember
    to be joyful and kind.
    Have to think about it.
    It isn’t second-nature to them.

    Artificial,
    contrived,
    joy and kindness
    as a way to something
    more important than joy and kindness
    is a sad substitute for the real things,
    and the legacy of lifeless living.

    How many people do you know
    who are joyful and kind for no reason–
    and certainly not because they “ought to be”?

    Spontaneous joy and kindness
    erupting without warning
    from souls glad to be alive
    is evidence of a life well-lived
    and a blessing upon all other lives.

    What is blocking it,
    do you think,
    from bursting forth in those other lives?

  • 02/09/2020 —  Curves 10/28/2019 05 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    We can talk ourselves
    into and out of doing anything.

    “Why am I doing this?”
    “Why am I doing that?”
    “I ought to be doing something
    better with my time!”

    Why *do* we do what we do?
    And not do the things we don’t do?

    We have to find good-enough reasons
    to justify spending time the way we do.

    Why?
    Why does it matter “Why?”

    What would we just do,
    spontaneously,
    autonomously,
    if it weren’t for keeping score
    and trying to please unknown critics?

    Whose business is it
    what we do and why?

    In retirement, I have the luxury
    of uninterrupted free time
    in which I can do whatever
    I determine needs to be done.
    I spend a lot of time waiting to see
    what I will do now.
    Something always arises.
    And, it’s time to go to bed before I know it.
    The best thing is
    that I don’t have to justify
    doing or not doing to anyone.

    I just do or not do as the occasion requires.
    The occasion required this piece of writing.
    I don’t know why.

  • 02/10/2020 —  At Mabry Mill 10/28/2019 05 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 176.2, near Meadows of Dan, in Floyd County, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    Some people do things
    the way they are supposed to be done.
    Some people do things
    the way they need to be done.
    Some people do things
    the way they feel like doing them.
    Some people do things
    any-old-way-at-all
    just to get them out of their way.

    What we do and how we do it
    makes all the difference–
    in the outcome of the moment
    and in our own personal outcome
    of all the moments we live.

    How we do things impacts our life
    by virtue of casting a certain “stigma”
    or “aura,”
    or “scent,”
    or “indicator,”
    or “finger print,”
    or “signature,”
    like the Lone Ranger’s silver bullet,
    and being the eternal representative
    of who we are
    long after we have “left the scene.”

    We create karma,
    not only by what we do,
    but also by how we do it.
    By what we intend,
    by what and how we do things.

    Think of karma as “momentum,”
    or “attitude,”
    or “style,”
    which generates an environment
    that conditions us to continue
    the “mood” we cast by the way we live,
    and shapes/creates our future
    by being the extension of our past acts.

    We impact the world
    by the way we live,
    and we impact our life
    by the way we live.

    And this gets us to the Bahgavad Gita
    and to Zen.

    Joseph Campbell said
    that the moral of the Bahgavad Gita is
    “Get in there and do your thing,
    and don’t worry about the outcome!”

    The relationship between “us,”
    and “our thing,”
    and “the outcome”
    in each here and now of our living,
    is the story of our life.
    We impact that story
    by the way we live
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    Zen frees us to live *our* life
    by connecting us with the Dharma
    of our Original Nature
    (“The Face That Was Ours
    Before We Were Born”),
    and calling us to live out our Original Essence
    (To do “our thing”)
    in each here and now,
    each time and place,
    of our living.

    This becomes a problem for us
    by bringing up in each moment
    the contradictions,
    the conflicts,
    the dichotomies,
    the agonies
    between who we are
    and who our circumstances
    would have us be.

    How we bear the pain of that impasse
    through all of the times and places
    of our living
    tells the tale.
    This is the cross Jesus is talking about
    when he says, “If you are coming with
    me you have to bear your own cross
    every day!”

    We bear the pain of being who we are,
    where we are,
    when we are,
    every day.

    “Get in there and do your thing,
    and don’t worry about the outcome!”
    What we do and how we do it,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    makes all the difference.

    Savvy?

  • 02/10/2020 —  The Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 25 — Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    “I plight thee my troth,”
    would do well
    as a pledge to one another
    across the board,
    around the table,
    around the world,
    up and down the line,
    and to the planet as a whole
    and all living things
    as long as I live.

    I promise you my loyalty,
    devotion,
    fidelity,
    unending care,
    tender mercy,
    truthfulness,
    good faith,
    good will,
    best effort,
    continuing presence,
    abiding love,
    enduring faithfulness,
    forever.

    Enough of this forsaking
    one another
    and all living things
    in the unending pursuit
    of personal profit at any price!

    We all are together in this time and place!

    Why not live as though we are?

  • 02/10/2020 —  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 18 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Hole Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    There is only this moment
    and what needs to happen
    here and now.

    Who can tell us what that is?
    Who knows better than we do
    what is happening
    and how we need to respond to it
    out of our own gifts,
    and knacks,
    and resources,
    and interests,
    and abilities
    and ways of doing things,
    ways of being “us”
    in ways appropriate to the occasion
    in every occasion that arises?

    Who can be “us” but us?

    We see what is happening
    here and now
    and we respond to it
    as only we can.

    We don’t follow any code,
    or commandment,
    or law,
    or duty,
    or rule,
    or direction.

    No doctrine.
    No dogma.
    No theology.
    No ideology.
    Just us.
    Here and now.

    We do not do what anyone tells us to do.

    We live out of our own heart,
    out of our own Original Nature,
    out of our own alignment with the Tao,
    the Dharma,
    the Virtue,
    Vitality,
    Spirit
    and Energy
    of our being who we are
    in the time and place of our living.

    Each moment is the Great Conjunction
    of what needs to happen
    here and now
    and how we are capable
    of reading and responding to
    the moment of our living.

    This is where we shine.
    This is where we were born to be.
    We were born for this moment!
    It is ours!

    Moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    All our life long.

  • 02/11/2020 —  Cotton in the Field 11/22/2019 02 — Hwy 267, Lone Star, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    Hope is over-rated.

    What keeps us going is service to the Core
    when things are favorable
    and when things are unfavorable,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    What is called for here and now?
    Do that–
    without any consideration
    of what we stand to gain or lose,
    and no contrivance involved
    in trying to arrange a future
    grounded on what is advantageous to us,
    at the expense of whatever is in our way!

    How often do we live like that?
    Who do we know who lives like that?
    Everybody is always taking polls
    to tell them how to present themselves
    to gain the greatest advantage
    over all those they are competing with
    for the greatest advantage
    over everyone else.

    No one has any concern
    for what needs to be done,
    much less for what needs them to do it.

    Where is the advantage?
    Where is the profit?
    Where is the gain?
    What’s in it for me?

    No wonder “the center does not hold”!
    The center is ignored and forgotten!
    Talk of our Sacred Core,
    of our Original Nature,
    of “the face that was ours before we were born”
    is nonsense.
    All that matters is what we stand to gain
    or lose.

    “Houston, we have a problem.”

    Bill Kristol quotes a friend of his as saying,
    “Donald Trump is to modern conservative politics
    what the prosperity gospel is the Christianity.”

    And what that is is “Live for the Gain!”
    “Profit At Any Price!”

    “Hope” is based on our chances
    of achieving a favorable outcome.
    If we have no such chance,
    we have no hope.

    We turn this around when we become
    the hope of the world
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    The hope of the moment,
    living for the good of the moment,
    in each moment that comes our way.
    Trusting that if we take care of the moment,
    the moment will take care of us–
    to the extent that we find what it takes
    to live moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day.

    We like to think of having a guaranteed future
    for as long as we can see.

    But here is the absurdity of “guaranteed futures”:
    Billionaires have more money than they can spend,
    and they are afraid they do not have enough,
    so they arrange a life
    in which they do not pay taxes
    and make investments
    that guarantee more money tomorrow
    than they have today.

    When is is possible to relax?
    Never!
    Billionaires have no hope
    of ever being able to relax
    and be generous
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.
    They worry about having enough
    as much as homeless people do.

    Who has the best chance
    of becoming the hope of the moment,
    moment after moment?

    What chance do we have
    of becoming the hope of the moment,
    moment after moment?

  • 02/12/2020 —  Goodale 10/25/2019 12 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    It doesn’t matter what happens.
    What happens next matters most.

    How we respond
    to the events and circumstances
    shaping our life
    makes all the difference
    in light of what the moment needs,
    and in light of the shape our life
    will take over time.

    We are molding who we are
    moment-by-moment-by-moment
    by the way we respond
    to what is happening
    in each moment
    all our life long.

    Here is the crucial point here.
    Pay attention.

    There are two factors at work
    in every situation
    which determine the meaning
    and impact of each situation.

    We have to live there in ways
    that are true to our Original Nature,
    to our Core Identity,
    to our Essential Self,
    to “the face that was ours
    before we were born.”

    AND

    We have to live there in ways
    that acknowledge and acquiesce to
    the nature of the times,
    governing what is allowed to happen
    in each situation.

    We have to know what time it is
    in terms of what is called for,
    demanded,
    required–
    and in terms of what is prohibited,
    forbidden,
    impossible.

    We cannot force a situation to be
    what is out of the question
    in that time and place.

    “There is a time for every matter
    under heaven.”
    But. That time is not just any time.
    It is not all the time.
    We have to be sensitive to,
    alert to,
    aware of,
    what these times
    in this place,
    sanction
    and what they forbid.

    And, walk the slippery slope,
    the dangerous path,
    the razor’s edge–
    being true to ourselves
    while acknowledging the reality
    of the time and place of our living.

    This is the agony
    that grows us up
    against our will.
    The contradiction
    we never out-grow.
    The cross we must bear
    if we would be the blessing
    we are born to be
    across all times and places,
    through all situations and circumstances,
    of our living.

    We bide our time
    according to the times,
    and walk two paths
    at the same time
    all of the time.

  • 02/12/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 17 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    We wake up to how things are
    with us
    and around us
    all of the time.

    Waking up here, now
    is always a pertinent possibility.
    There is no better place to do our waking up.
    We are always and forever
    waking up
    some more
    again.

    And we cannot wake up
    some more
    again
    without growing up
    some more
    again.

    Waking up and growing up
    are the same thing.
    We cannot wake up without growing up.
    We cannot grow up without waking up.

    Waking up is growing up.
    We are no more “enlightened”
    that we are “grow up.”
    We are always and forever
    waking up/growing up.
    Some more.
    Again.

    There is always more to know
    than we know.
    More to see than we see.
    More to understand than we comprehend.
    The work is never done.

    Uncertainty is lack of clarity.
    All things become clear over time.
    Just wait.
    Just watch.
    Just wonder.

    Ask the questions that beg to be asked.
    Say the things that cry out to be said.
    And wait.
    And watch.
    Allowing things to emerge
    in their own time,
    in their own way.

    There are no final,
    absolute,
    realizations.
    Except for this one.

  • 02/12/2020 —  Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 13 — Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 07 – Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 86, near Bedford, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    In acting in the here and now,
    we do so in alignment
    with ourselves
    and with the moment.
    We are at-one with ourselves
    and with the moment of our living.

    This oneness is shattered
    with having something at stake
    in the outcome of our acting–
    with have something to gain or lose
    based on what we do.

    To have an interest in the situation
    beyond being at-one with ourselves
    and at-one with the situation
    is to lose the center
    between the good of the self
    and the good of the whole,
    and introduces conflict,
    contradiction,
    disharmony,
    chaos,
    trauma
    and drama
    into the moment,
    and it all goes to hell right quickly.

    We live from the center
    by acting with Virtue/Truthfulness
    (Being true to ourselves
    and to the situation),
    Vitality/Creativity
    Energy/Enthusiasm
    and Spirit/Mindful Awareness,
    aligned with the good of self/situation.

    And when the good of one
    interferes with the good of the other,
    we sit
    and wait for the muddy water to settle
    and for the way to appear.

    When the door opens,
    we walk through.

  • 02/12/2020 —  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 24 — Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    I have a friend who sailed during the years
    between college and marriage.
    He told me he became a sailor
    when he realized the sea was out to get him,
    and it was up to him
    to not allow that to happen.

    Here’s one for you:
    The world is out to get us.
    It is up to us to not let that happen.

    We have to devote ourselves
    to the art of living our life
    in an adversarial environment.

    Stop expecting life to be fair
    and do not think the “Universe”
    is going to be on your side!

    Start honing your skills
    of perception and awareness.

    Concentrate on reading the signs,
    listening to your body,
    and your heart,
    and your nighttime dreams,
    knowing what’s what
    and what you are being asked
    to do about it
    in each situation as it arises.

    Be clear about what resonates with you,
    and what is telling you
    to get yourself turned around
    and walked right out of
    places you have no business being.

    Don’t miss the signals!
    Trust yourself to know things
    you don’t know how you know.

    Look at everything
    until you can see
    what you are looking at.

    If you aren’t clear about
    what to do in a situation,
    stop and listen.
    Wait for guidance to emerge
    from the silence,
    a “holy nudge,”
    a slight pull toward one particular option.
    Trust your sense of direction
    until it becomes apparent
    that you made the wrong choice,
    and then trust your sense of direction
    in deciding what to do about that.

    Grace is certainly a part
    of our life experience.
    But.
    Grace is more likely to bless those
    who know the difference
    between trusting their luck
    and pushing their luck–
    and live in ways that do not cross that line.

  • 02/13/2020 —  Earth Shadow 12/18/2012 — Lake Brandt, Bur-Mil Park, Greensboro, NC — December 18, 2012

    Things are not as they appear to be,
    and it is our work
    to see things as the are–
    and to respond to them
    in ways that are appropriate
    to the occasion.

    The “such-ness” of things,
    the “such-as-it-is-ness of things,
    the “just as it is-ness” of things,
    the “lion-ness” of lions,
    and the “whale-ness” of whales,
    and the “Jim-ness” of me,
    and the “You-ness” of you…

    Jim being Jim,
    You being You,
    all subjects,
    all objects,
    being just what they are,
    completely transparent to every observer
    and to themselves…

    How would that change
    the way things are done?

    We change the way things are done
    by seeing things as they are
    and responding to people and things
    as though they are who they are,
    what they are.

    No bullshit that isn’t seen as bullshit
    and acknowledged to be such
    by everyone seeing it for what it is.

    That would change the world.

    And that is what we are to be about.
    That is our work.
    Ripping the facade off the world
    and showing it to be what it is–
    treating it as though it is what it is–
    responding to it on the basis
    of the truth of what it is.

    Saying what is so.
    Getting to the heart of the matter.
    Revealing the truth of the situation
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    Looking at what we look at
    until we see what we are looking at.
    Asking the questions that beg to be asked.
    Saying the things that cry out to be said.

    Changing the world
    by the way we see the world,
    by the way we respond to the world,
    one situation at a time.

    The trick is to do it with kindness and compassion,
    as an accepting presence
    in the lives of others.

    Which is a great movie,
    by the way.
    “The Lives of Others.”

    It is about kindness and compassion
    changing things as they are
    by responding to them as they are
    and not as they pretend to be.

    The work we are all called to do.
    In each situation as it arises.
    All our life long.

  • 02/13/2020 —  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 22 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    Doing what Jesus would do
    is such the cop-out.
    We have to do what WE would do
    in each situation as it arises,
    and if it becomes clear
    that we goofed and did the wrong thing,
    we have to do what WE would do
    then, in that situation.

    It’s like this:
    Jesus raised the dead
    and Jesus left the dead to bury the dead.

    Jesus forgave a woman guilty of adultery
    and cursed a fig tree for not bearing figs out of season.

    Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me,”
    (Matthew 12;30)
    and, “Whoever is not against us is with us.”
    (Mark 9:40)

    With Jesus it is always,
    “Sometimes it is like this,
    and sometimes it is like that.”

    How do we know when is which?
    We decide!
    It is all on us!
    In each situation as it arises,
    we size things up,
    we see what’s what,
    and what needs to be done about it,
    and do it.

    What do we say?
    What would we do?

    Or, as Jesus liked to say,
    “Why don’t you decide for yourselves what is right?”
    (Luke 12:57).

  • 02/13/2020 —  Adams Mill Pond 11/2014 06 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November, 2014

    We know how to find a comfortable sleeping position.
    We know when we are hungry
    and when we have had enough to eat.
    We know what is right for us
    and what is wrong for us.
    We know what it is time for,
    and what it is not time for.
    Etc. ad nauseam.

    And we do not now how we know
    any of this.
    Nor can we say what we know,
    only that we know,
    and do not know the process
    for arriving at what we know.

    It is an unconscious,
    intuitive,
    communion
    between our body
    and our conscious mind.

    We trust our body to know things
    we do not know
    and do not know how our body knows.

    This same kind of knowing
    can be counted on for guiding us
    throughout our life.
    Our conscious mind has to be still
    while we wait to know what we know.

    The Knower within communes with us
    by way of feeling/sensing,
    like knowing a comfortable sleeping position,
    and knowing when to change it.

    At times, we can be so focused
    on some task
    that a foot, or leg, can “go to sleep”
    without our knowing it,
    so we can not-know what we know.

    We have to attend our body
    and tune into our feeling/sensing
    to know what the Knower within
    would have us know.

    What we need to know and trust
    is that we have a knowing-function
    that is capable of leading us through the day
    if we will take the time
    to listen to what is being said to us
    on the feeling/sensing level.

  • 02/13/2020 — Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 19 Panorama — Linville River, Linville Falls Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    It depresses me to know
    how close we are to,
    and how far off we are from,
    having a country
    we all could comfortably share
    and live in.

    All it would take
    is an equitable tax structure
    and a good faith commitment
    among all concerned
    to live together in ways
    that honor and serve
    the Constitution
    and its Bill of Rights.

    That is ridiculously easy
    and impossible.

    And, here we are.

02/14/2020 —  November 4 11/04/2019 04 — Goshen Creek, Blue Ridge Parkway, near Boone, North Carolina, November 4, 2019

My hates and loves come in pairs
and stretch into infinity
(For instance,
I hate hate and fear,
I love kindness and compassion).

I am repelled by and attracted to
a lot of things.
Which is another reason
to retreat into solitude.
There is much less extremism here,
and I can be moderately balanced
and in harmonious accord
with my life.

In the best moments
of my good days.

Marianne Moore said,
“The cure for loneliness is solitude.”
Solitude is also a nice fix for over-stimulation–
which is where the culture we have created
to keep us from confronting the truth
of our own silence
keeps us
to save us from the pain
of knowing who we are
and how it is with us.

But.
Realness and authenticity
“lie far back
in the darkest corner
of the cave
we most don’t want to enter”
(Joseph Campbell).

“Hello Darkness, my old friend…”
(Paul Simon).

“Darkness is the cradle of light…”
(Rumi).

And we are left with looking into it all,
to see,
and know,
what is there,
what’s what,
what we are all about,
and how it impacts our living,
and what we might do about it.

“Hold it all in awareness,”
Jon Kabat-Zinn says.

Recognition and realization
are the heart of enlightenment,
and transform our life
just by being present
with us
forever.

We don’t have to *do* anything
to be awake/aware/alive.
It’s more like we have to stop doing
all the things we are doing
to avoid being awake/aware/alive.

Ah, but.
That would be to enter the cave
we most want to have nothing to do with.

It’s called “The Hero’s Journey”
for good reason.

  • 02/14/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 08 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    We cannot do anything about most of it.

    Carl Jung said that none of the important problems
    can be solved–
    they can only be out-grown.

    We have to wait it out.

    And, if we run out of time,
    it can’t be helped.

    While we are waiting,
    we tend to our business
    and do what we can,
    and let that be enough
    because it is all we can do.

    Two more things I hate:
    Impotence and Immaturity

02/14/2020 —  Parkway Overlooks 10/28/2019 21 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Roanoke, Virginia, October 28, 2019

There is a sense in which there is nothing to gain
and nothing to lose.

And, there is a sense in which there is everything to gain
and everything to lose.

As perspective changes,
everything shifts,
nothing,
everything,
nothing,
everything.

Which way is it?
Nothing.
Everything.
That is the way it is.

We have everything to gain
by understand we have nothing to gain
and nothing to lose,
and we have everything to lose
by failing to understand that.

Which is beautifully,
wonderfully,
paradoxical and contradictory–
which makes it the essence of truth,
and meets the essential requirements
of a good joke,
which is also the essence of truth.

And, Yoda was a highly advanced spiritual being
who lived in a hole in the ground–
so what is enlightenment good for?

What do we hope to gain?
What are we afraid of losing?

  • 02/14/2020 —  Goodale Mirror Panorama 01 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    Our life improves
    with fewer opinions.

    That is a proposition
    you can easily validate
    for yourself.

    Notice how often you have an opinion
    about what is happening
    in the situations that develop
    during a day.

    And notice how your opinion
    about what is happening
    creates more turbulence
    in the situation
    than what is happening generates.

    And notice how different
    things are in the next situation
    when you refuse to react
    with an opinion
    regardless of what happens.

    If someone asks for your opinion,
    say, “I don’t have an opinion about that.”
    If they ask, “Why not?”
    say, “I have an opinion
    about having opinions,
    and my opinion is they give you worms.
    Or worse.”

    If they ask you, “What could be worse than worms?”
    Say, “I’d rather not say.”

  • 02/15/2020 —  Parkway Overlooks 10-29-2019 Panorama 10 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    The Rule of Law is grounded upon
    the good faith allegiance of the people.
    Without filial devotion
    and liege faithfulness
    to a cause greater than their own,
    personal,
    good,
    no rule is valid,
    no power is supreme.

    To find favor with the King
    is no mean thing–
    for it we will go to war.

    We will lay down our lives,
    and sacrifice
    all we ever loved,
    and more.

    But, the King’s broad appeal
    only manages to be real
    because of those
    who call him Lord.

    His great personal power
    disappears in the hour
    the enchanted ones
    perceive the fraud.

  • 02/15/2020 —  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 18 — Linville Falls Picnic Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    What is the foundation of your life?
    The bedrock of your existence?
    The unmovable center,
    core,
    essence of your identity?

    What does it all come down to
    with you?
    Upon what does your “you-ness” depend?

    What are you grounded upon
    to such an extent
    that nothing can knock you off of it,
    shove you aside from it,
    pay you to betray it,
    prevent you from honoring it?

    What goes with you everywhere?
    Is true about you in all times and places?
    Conditions and circumstances?
    Contexts and situations?

    Make that consciously,
    intentionally,
    deliberately
    and unashamedly,
    evident
    in the way you conduct yourself,
    transact your business,
    do what you do.

    Live there defiantly,
    determinedly,
    proudly,
    boldly,
    unwavering.

    Be.
    Who.
    You.
    Are.

    Or, as Joseph Campbell said,
    in talking about the moral
    of the Bahgavad Gita,
    “Get in there and do your thing–
    and don’t worry about the outcome!”

  • 02/15/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 10 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019, an iPhone Photo

    It is not enough to be who we are.

    Two-year-olds in the throes
    of the Terrible-Twos
    are being who they are.

    Who we are must always be
    considered in light
    of who we also are–
    in light of who we are capable
    of becoming
    in rising to every occasion
    and dealing appropriately
    with the contexts
    and circumstances
    of our life.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “It took the Cyclops
    to bring out the hero
    in Ulysses.”

    Who we also are
    is a mystery
    waiting to be revealed
    by the nature and conditions
    of our life
    in the moment-by-moment
    experiences of our living.

    We live to see,
    to discover,
    to realize,
    to recognize–
    all of which are characteristics
    of enlightenment–
    and to be
    who we also are
    and what we are capable of doing,
    who we are capable of being,
    in response to
    what we are asked to do
    by the here and now
    in each situation as it arises.

  • 02/15/2020 —  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 16 Panorama — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Hole Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    I want you to understand this
    on a level as deep as you can go:

    The racists,
    and the white nationalists,
    and the Trump supporters,
    and the enemies of democracy,
    and the GOP,
    and the descrators of the Constitution,
    Etc.
    cannot help being who they are.
    They cannot help seeing as they see.
    They cannot help feeling the way they feel.
    Their life and their perspective,
    and their way of being in the world
    is not their fault.

    They were raise to be who they are,
    or the tilt of their circumstances
    and the context of their life,
    made it easy, if not inevitable,
    that they are who they are.

    And the same can be said
    of each one of us.

    We look eyes that see what they see,
    but why do they see the way they see
    and not some other way in stead?

    I lean toward compassion and kindness,
    my father was an angry,
    insecure, bully during my childhood and youth.
    How much am I the way I am
    because he was the way he was?
    I did not make me the way I am.
    I am no more responsible for me
    than Donald Trump is responsible for himself.

    Our responsibility is limited to
    seeing who we are and how we are canted
    to respond to our circumstances,
    and willingly–willfully–assisting,
    or resisting,
    our natural bent.

    We have to make it easier for ourselves
    to do what is helpful for everybody
    and difficult for ourselves
    to do what is harmful to anybody.
    We have to live in light of the true good
    of all concerned.
    Everything depends upon it.

    We have to wake up!
    Wake up!
    Wake up!

    But we cannot hold it against those who don’t.
    We can only make it easier for them to wake up,
    and difficult for them to remain asleep.

    And we have to know,
    they cannot help being who they are.
    Neither can we.

  • 02/15/2020 —  November 4 11/04/2019 08 — Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 238.5 – 241, Virginia, November 4, 20129

    Our perceptions of reality
    have nothing to do
    with reality as such–
    with reality as it is.

    Reality’s “as such-ness,”
    its “such-as-it-is-ness,”
    is independent of us
    and our perceptions of it.

    We impose our perceptions on reality,
    and live as though things are
    the way we consider them to be.

    “Hell, Preacher!
    This ain’t the way I *see* things!
    This *is the way things ARE*!”

    Our lives are awash in reality,
    but.
    Our judgment,
    interpretation,
    understanding,
    impression,
    perception
    of reality
    is what positions us
    to deal with it
    the way we do.

    Perception (What we see)
    is a function of perspective (How we see).
    A shift in perspective
    changes our perceptions,
    changes our world.

    Seeing ourselves as a conscious perceiver
    and an unconscious perceiver
    sharing the same body/brain,
    with the joint task of communing
    and communicating
    with each other
    as we make our way through reality
    and bring who we are forth
    in the process of meeting “the world,”
    will help considerably
    in our work to “meet the world.”

    We have a partner!
    A lifelong companion!
    We are a little like Don Quixote
    and Sancho Panza.

    If you can buy into this way of looking
    at reality,
    your perspective is shifting,
    and your perceptions will take on a new quality
    as you begin to think about “the world”
    as two people and not one person.

  • 02/16/2020 —  Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 10 — Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 07 – Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 86, near Bedford, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    We cannot help how we see things.
    We see everything in ways peculiar to us.
    We get along together
    by agreeing to grant one another latitude
    with regard to the way we see things,
    and by agreeing to do some things
    the same way regardless of how we see them.

    We don’t have to agree about
    how we see coffee
    or how we like to drink it.

    We do have to agree to stop on red
    and go on green
    no matter how inconvenient that happens to be
    or how incensed we are about it being in our way
    to stop when we want to go.

    Marriage is an arrangement
    we enter into with another person
    agreeing to live together
    in ways that enable both of us
    to live the life that is unique to us–
    which means a lot of flexibility
    on the part of each of us
    with regard to the differences
    between us in how we see things
    and what we think is important.

    When children are born,
    parents and children have to work out
    the differences between how they see things
    and what is important,
    and what they have to do
    no matter what they think about it
    or how they see it.

    We are all here to help one another
    live the life that is peculiar to each individual
    without interfering with the life
    that is peculiar to each individual.

    We do not have to agree
    about how we see things,
    or about what is important,
    but we have to agree about
    what we will do
    and when and where and how we do it.

    Agreeing about what we will do
    is the most important aspect of living together
    in ways that are good for the life we each are living.

    We cannot impose restrictions on others
    in areas we all agree are private
    and solely up to the individual alone.
    Not even people who are married
    can force the other to do things
    that are contrary to their inner sense
    of what is right for them.

    We grant each other the latitude
    of determining what is right for ourselves
    within certain categories,
    designated “Your Business,”
    “My Business,”
    “Our Business,”
    “Everybody’s Business.”
    And there have to be broad common agreements
    as to what belongs in each category,
    with the highest, over-arching, agreement
    being that we are all here
    to live our own peculiar life
    and help each other live their own peculiar life
    without interfering with the way
    each other lives their life.

    We respect each others’ right to their own life.
    What is personal?
    What is private?
    We have to work it out
    in ways we all agree to.
    No one can impose their idea for my life on me.
    I cannot impose my idea for someone else’s life on them.

    The most important commandment
    in the Old Testament did not make it into the Top Ten.
    “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s land mark.”
    It remains throughout the ages
    as the most important commandment there is.

  • 02/16/2020 —  The Bridge at Baxter Creek 11/07/2007 — Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN, November 7, 2007

    The work of the artist
    is not to pave the way of the artist,
    but to serve, perhaps save, the world.

    We cannot abandon our work
    because it isn’t paying the bills,
    or even meeting expenses.

    Our work is our work.
    If we don’t do it, what will we do?
    Our work is our gift–
    the gift we receive and the gift we offer.

    If we neglect, or abandon, it,
    what will take its place?

    Our art is in the service,
    not of ourselves,
    but of beauty and truth.

    We bring beauty and truth to light,
    to life,
    in our art.

    We are mediums through which
    beauty and truth are realized,
    recognized,
    acknowledged by those
    who live with us in this place.

    We wake people up to
    what is all around them.

    We open eyes that are blind.
    We raise the dead.
    We bring life to life in the world.

    When the times are bare
    and darkness settles over the land,
    the artists tend the flame
    that warms the souls,
    cheers the hearts,
    and makes life possible “between the times.”

  • 02/16/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 08 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    There is only so much that can be done
    about any of it.

    The best goal I can imagine
    is to position ourselves
    to respond appropriately
    to the moment
    of our living.

    What happens after that
    and where that leads is all there is.
    We position ourselves to respond appropriately
    to the moment of our living.
    Everything falls into place around this.

    This approach nicely dispenses
    with our agendas,
    our schemes,
    our plans to retire by 45
    with no financial worries for the rest of time.

    We can’t take care of the moment
    and take care of our future.
    But, I’m sure you have noticed
    that we don’t seem to be able
    to take care of our future
    no matter how we strive
    to achieve that end.

    Maybe we should try taking care
    of the moment
    and letting our future be our future.

    It comes down quite nicely to this:
    Do what you are doing
    and see where it goes.
    One thing will lead to another,
    and like that (Snaps fingers),
    it will be done.

  • 02/16/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 04 — Swan Lake Iris Garden, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2015

    What does a pencil,
    a tree frog
    and Donald Trump
    have in common?

    This isn’t a joke.
    It’s a question about seeing
    and meaning.

    If everyone in the U.S.
    answered the question
    for themselves
    out of their own experience,
    what are the chances
    that any of their answers
    would be exact?

    Add a house cat,
    a Sunday School teacher,
    and a hubcap
    to the list,
    and what chances
    would there be to that?

    I’m suggesting here
    that we are incredibly different
    in our ability to ascribe meaning
    to experience.

    I’m saying that we find meaning
    to our experience out of our experience.
    Having someone tell us what the meaning
    of a pencil,
    or a tree frog,
    or Donald Trump is,
    and how they are all alike
    in some way
    is not going to be what
    the three of them mean to us
    and how we find them to be similar.

    We make our own meaning,
    and live out if it in ways that are meaningful.

    We can all look at the same things,
    say a pencil,
    a tree frog,
    and Donald Trump,
    and see different things.

    Yet we wonder how we cannot
    see Donald Trump for what he is.
    It’s easy.
    We are seeing Donald Trump
    for what he is to us–
    for what he represents to us.
    How we see Donald Trump
    says more about us
    than it says about Donald Trump.

    The same thing goes
    for the pencil
    and the tree frog.

    When we talk about any of the three
    we are talking about ourselves,
    about our perceptions,
    about our inferences
    and our values.

    We respond to our world
    based on what is important to us,
    based on what we are afraid of,
    based on what we desire/want/cherish.

    When we talk about anything,
    we are talking about our reaction
    to the thing.
    We are talking about
    what the thing means to us.

    We are the subject
    of all of our discourse.

    Listen to your conversations.
    Meet yourselves,
    perhaps for the first time.

  • 02/17/2020 —  Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 11 — Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 07 – Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 86, near Bedford, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    I have no idea of what
    would be truly helpful
    in this situation.

    I lean toward looking and listening,
    seeing and hearing–
    and bearing the pain
    of knowing what’s what,
    and how things are.

    So much of our culture–
    and our life–
    is geared to not-looking
    and not-listening,
    and not-seeing,
    and not-hearing,
    and most certainly,
    absolutely,
    definitely,
    and utterly
    not-bearing-any-pain-ever.

    It sickens me to know
    where we are as a nation,
    and to know how many people
    don’t see what they look at,
    don’t hear what they are listening to,
    don’t put two and two together,
    but repeat their mantras
    and embrace their addictions,
    dismissing,
    disregarding,
    denying
    the truth of their experience every day.

    Because to do the opposite
    would be too painful to bear.

    Bear The Pain!
    Is the foundational step in AA.
    The other 12 are contingent
    upon that one.

    Every one of us would do well
    to join AA
    because we all are addicted
    to avoiding the pain–
    some how, some way all the time.

    “I’m Jim,
    and I can’t handle
    the pain of the truth
    of knowing how things are!”

    It helps just to write that out.

    Bearing the pain
    means talking about
    how difficult it is
    to bear the pain–
    in the company of those
    who know what I’m talking about.

    We pick up our pain–
    the cross Jesus was talking about–
    and carry it with us through every day.

    And do there
    what we can imagine doing
    to help one another
    carry the pain they are carrying.

    One day at a time.

  • 02/17/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 09 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    In any moment,
    there is what the moment
    needs of us,
    which is what we need to do
    in order to do right by the moment.

    In any moment,
    we only need to be clear
    about what that is
    and do it.

    Moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    Savvy?

    Oy?

    What stops that from happening?

  • 02/18/2020 —  Glade Creek Mill — Babcock State Park, Clifftop, West Virginia, October, 2005-ish

    Seeing/hearing is exhausting,
    depressing,
    inadequate,
    frustrating,
    demoralizing…
    The list is long.

    Everybody who sees
    has enough
    after a while.

    Jeremiah broke out with,
    “Land, Land, Land!
    HEAR what I’m saying!”
    (Or words to that effect)

    Jesus came out with,
    “How long am I to be with you?
    How long am I to bear with you?”

    Lao-tzu just said to hell with it,
    and went off into the wilderness
    to get away from it.

    I process each day’s experience
    by ending the day early,
    at 4 PM,
    and writing what I write here,
    reading what is helpful
    in settling myself down
    and coming to terms
    with the truth of how things are,
    and opening myself to my nighttime dreams,
    listening to what they have to say
    to me about me,
    and getting up early
    to square myself up with it all,
    and start over again with another day.

    I do not find much of what I need
    outside of myself,
    so I have to bring it up consciously,
    intentionally,
    mindfully,
    from within,
    relying on The Other Within
    to help me to know what I need to hear/see
    and come to terms with how thing are with me
    and with my life.

    I don’t know how you do it,
    or will do it,
    but I trust you to find your own way
    of bearing the burden of seeing/hearing,
    a way that enables you to know what’s what
    and what to do in response to it,
    to restore your harmony,
    your balance,
    your relationship with the bedrock
    of your life,
    enabling you to face each day
    standing on your own two feet,
    grounded in who you are
    and what matters most to you,
    and able to live out of that foundation
    in meeting all that comes your way,
    processing it as you go,
    tucking it all away in your awareness
    to consider,
    look into,
    see/hear/know,
    and fold into being who you are
    contemplating who you are,
    “circumambulating” around
    who you are becoming
    toward who you have yet to be,
    through each day,
    all your life long.

  • 02/18/2020 —  Otter Lake 10/29/2019 02 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 60.9, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Notice what catches your eye,
    what stirs an emotional response
    (positive or negative),
    what stands out about your day,
    about the moment.

    Make a point of sitting with it
    when there is time.
    Calling it to mind,
    turning it over,
    mulling its meanings,
    seeing what train of associations
    it brings to mind,
    how your mind leaps about around it,
    what it stirs to life within you,
    what memories come to life,
    what feelings awaken,
    allow it all to flow through you,
    holding it all in your awareness,
    just watching,
    just seeing,
    just noticing what impacts you,
    what realizations dawn,
    what connections you make,
    where the ruminations take you,
    what other ruminations they spawn…

    The smallest thing
    is a doorway to 10,000 things,
    each of them a doorway itself
    to 10,000 more things.

    All of which need an audience with you.
    Be their audience.
    They have come to tell you
    things you need to hear.
    To disclose things
    you need to know.

  • 02/18/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 06 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    We cannot do anything
    about the things that matter most.

    What do we do about that?

    Come to terms with it!
    Let it be
    because it is!
    Don’t take it seriously,
    just like we don’t take seriously
    the other facts in our life.

    It’s raining,
    or it’s not raining.
    Etc.

    We note it,
    and go on with our life,
    and go about our business,
    in light of the facts,
    but not controlled,
    mastered,
    owned
    by the facts.

    We cannot do anything
    about the things that matter most.
    What can we do?

    Racism has been with us how long now?
    How long have we talked about equality?
    Women’s rights?
    LGB-ETC rights?
    Human rights?
    How much closer are we to realization
    of what ought to be anywhere
    than we were when we started talking?

    Democracy was to be the place
    where everyone had an equal opportunity
    to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
    How did that work out?

    What can we do?

    Live in the service of what matters most
    to us individually and collectively–
    without thinking that everybody
    has to do it like we do it.

    Stand for what is right.
    Do what is right.
    Live in the service of what is right.
    As you understand what is right.
    Be unflagging and relentless
    in your work for what is right.
    And let that be that.

    We are here to do what is right
    as we understand what is right.
    Not to achieve Nirvana
    or impose our idea of what is right
    on everyone else.

    We cannot use the fact that no one else
    cares about what is right as we understand it
    as an excuse to be lax
    or to quit
    in our service of what is right
    as we understand it.

    The outcome of our work
    cannot influence the effort
    we put into our work.
    We do not gauge the value of our work
    on the basis of the successful realization,
    completion,
    of our work.

    The work is never done.
    We are always doing it.
    That’s it.
    Carry on! Carry on!

  • 02/18/2020 —  Parkway Overlooks 10/29/2019 20 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Zen Koans put an end to the conversation,
    in service to Sheldon Kopp’s observation,
    “Some things can be experienced,
    but not understood,
    and some things can be understood,
    but not explained.”

    Carl Jung said,
    “None of the important problems
    can be solved–
    only outgrown.”

    The same rule applies to the important questions–
    they cannot be answered,
    only outgrown.”

    Zen is an orientation to experience
    that sees and understands and knows
    what’s what
    and what can be done about it,
    that cannot be understood or explained.

    After awhile,
    if you are awake enough,
    you “get it,”
    you see what is happening,
    and know how to respond to what is happening
    in ways that are appropriate to the occasion,
    in each situation as it arises,
    forever.

    You “get it,”
    but you can’t “tell it”
    to anyone
    in a way that enables them to “get it.”

    Get it?
  • 02/18/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 10 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    How many have there been?
    How many are yet to be?
    Gimmicks, I call them.
    Quasi religious/spiritual/kooky/woohoowoohoo…
    ideas for turning our life around
    and ushering in “Serenity Now.”

    I remember Glossolalia/Speaking in Tongues/Tongues,
    and “The Prayer of Jabez ,”
    and “The Law of Attraction,”
    and “The Book of Miracles,”
    and “The Power of Positive Thinking,”
    and “Astrology,”
    and “Crystals,”
    and “The Rapture,”
    and currently there is “Gratitude”
    and “Ascension”


    The list is endless and on-going.

    All serving up denial,
    buffering reality,
    giving us something to do,
    to think about,
    other than the things
    we don’t want to do,
    or think about…

    How much religion
    is escape
    from a life–
    a way of living–
    that is traumatic
    and unbearable?

    “Pie in the sky by-and-by.”
    “Anything but here and now.”

    Life is bearing the pain
    that must be borne
    in the service of the things
    that need to be done.

    Life is squaring ourselves up
    with how things are
    in order to deal appropriately
    with what’s what
    with the gifts, genius, abilities
    that are ours to share
    in the service of the best
    we can imagine
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    What helps with that work?
    What hinders that work?
    What takes our mind off that work?
    What keeps that work from being done?

    What enables us to be who we are?
    What prevents that from happening?

  • 02/18/2020 —  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 17 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Hole Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    There is an assumption,
    particularly popular among
    those belonging to Left-leaning political groups,
    that if people “just had what they needed,
    everything would be fine.”

    Everything would not be fine.
    If people had what they needed,
    they would still want more.

    “More” is the never-ending quest.
    Billionaires attest to that.
    People can’t get enough
    of what they don’t have.

    Jerry Seinfeld had to buy
    another parking garage
    for his antique car collection.
    Where does it end?
    In the grave, it is said,
    but who knows even that much?

    What we can surmise,
    based on what we observe,
    is that there is a greed-gene
    within us.

    We are possessed by the desire to possess.

    We are born seeking something,
    we don’t know what,
    but, we are insatiable
    and dissatisfied,
    and always one acquisition
    away from happy at last.

    What would it be like
    having nothing left to want?
    Like being dead, no?
    Maybe that’s the origin
    of the idea of the grave
    being the end of wanting,
    though it is the reverse that is
    more likely so:
    The end of wanting is the grave.

    As long as we are wanting something else,
    we at least know we are still alive.

  • 02/19/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 07 Panorama — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    It has been called
    God,
    Our Original Mind,
    Our Natural Self,
    Our Essential Self,
    The Two Million Year Old Man/Woman/Self,
    Our Buddha Mind/Nature/Self,
    Our Christ Mind/Nature/Self,
    Our Original Essence,
    Our Higher Power,
    The Tao,
    The Way,
    The Face That Was Ours Before We Were Born,
    The Face That Was Ours Before Our Parents Were Born,
    The Unconscious,
    The Psyche,
    The Self At The Center,
    Our Sacred Core,
    The Center,
    The Bedrock,
    The Ground,
    The Foundation,
    Herman,
    Martha
    and Cedric.

    Just to mention a few.

    Living out of our relationship
    with whatever name you prefer
    makes all the difference
    in our life.

    It only takes believing it is so
    to know that it is.

  • 02/19/2020 —  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 01 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Hole Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    Three stories from the Old Testament
    capsule who we are
    and how we got here.

    Adam and Eve.
    Cain and Abel.
    Jacob and Esau.

    All of the other stories ever
    are extensions
    and elaborations
    of these three.

    Donald Trump and the GOP
    are merely repeating
    the age old themes,
    worn bare with retelling.

    New generations
    have been coming along
    for eons.
    Not one has been new.

    “What to to? What to do?”

    Take care of your business each day.
    Rise to meet every occasion.
    Bring your best to bear
    on each situation as it arises.
    “Do justice,
    love kindness.”
    See what you look at,
    know what’s what
    and what can be done about it,
    and do what you can do
    as best you can,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day.

    No one can do more than that
    in any context or circumstance.

    The times come and go.
    Some are better and some are worse,
    but the response of the people to the times
    is always the same:
    Stop and see what is happening
    and respond in ways
    that are fitting to the time and place
    of your living.

    Moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day.

  • 02/19/2020 —  Cotton in the Field 11/22/2019 03 — Hwy 267, Lone Star, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    When we know what’s what,
    and what’s happening,
    and what needs to be done about it
    in each situation as it arises,
    we know all we need to know–
    and nobody told us any of it.

    We didn’t get the knowledge
    from reading books,
    or listening to lectures,
    or being preached to,
    or memorizing doctrines
    or sutras.

    We received our knowledge
    of the moment
    and what is happening there
    and what needs to be done in response
    by stopping to listen,
    to look.
    By seeing and hearing,
    right here,
    right now.

    That is all we need to know.
    How to respond appropriately
    to the occasion
    in each situation as it arises.

    Savvy?

    Oy?

  • 02/20/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 11 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Everyone who knows
    this kind of thing,
    knows how hard Steph Curry works
    to be Steph Curry.

    And they know how hard LeBron James works
    to be LeBron James.

    These guys don’t just show up at game time,
    shooting 3’s,
    making steals,
    creating the flow of the game.

    Dak Prescott joins them
    in putting as much–
    if not more–
    into preparation
    as he puts into playing.

    How hard do you work at being you?

    You have to work harder at being you
    than anybody you know
    works at being who they are!
    I have to work harder at being me
    than anybody I know
    works at being who they are!

    That is, as they say,
    the key to the game.
    Any game.
    Every game.

    It takes hard work–
    conscious work–
    mindful work–
    compassionate,
    kind,
    unrelenting work–
    to be who we are
    in each situation as it arises,
    looking/listening,
    seeing/hearing,
    knowing/doing
    what needs to be done
    in bearing the pain
    that must be borne,
    and rising to the occasion
    with exactly what is needed,
    time-after-time-after-time.

    Reflection,
    contemplation,
    concentration,
    introspection,
    non-judgmental,
    compassionate
    awareness,
    awareness,
    awareness
    and application,
    application,
    application–
    throughout each day
    all our life long.

    I have to distance myself
    from the trauma and drama
    of life to do it.
    I don’t know what your
    approach and regimen
    will be.
    We each have to work that out
    for ourselves,
    on our own.

    Trial and error, Kid.
    Trial and error!

  • 02/20/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 09 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    Zen doctrine is as convoluted,
    contradictory,
    and self-destructive
    as Christian doctrine is–
    as any doctrine is.

    You know how it is with doctrine.
    It all rests on “faith.”
    “You just have to take that part ‘on faith’!”
    is the shut-off to all inquiry
    into the impasses
    and incongruities
    and one thing canceling out another.
    The Zen formulation of taking things “on faith,”
    is, “The master’s intuition is the final authority”
    And, everyone has to “take that on faith.”

    There is no Final Authority!
    It is all open to question and revision!
    The ground is what we,
    or someone,
    says the ground is,
    but it is being held up by “faith.”

    It comes down to “what we take on faith.”

    I propose that we ground our faith
    in our ability to know what’s what
    and what needs to be done about it
    out of our own experience with our life
    as we live it.

    Our life shows us what works
    and what does not work,
    and in what situation it works
    and does not work.

    First our pants,
    then our shoes.

    Through our everyday doing
    of what needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done,
    where it needs to be done,
    how it needs to be done,
    we find authentic values,
    direction,
    guidance
    and our original nature–
    what our gifts,
    genius,
    knacks,
    talents,
    abilities,
    proclivities, etc.
    are.

    Just doing what we are doing
    with our mind on what we are doing
    and our eyes open
    to how that is working,
    and how it might be better done,
    or what else might be done instead…
    And letting that be that.

    And moving on to the next situation,
    where all this is repeated,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    situation-by-situation
    all our life long.

    Savvy?

    Oy?

  • Goodale 11/22/2019 02 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    The moment is packed with a blueprint
    for the future.
    When we take care of the moment
    the way the moment needs to be
    taken care of,
    we are laying the foundation of a future
    that is crying out to be realized.

    In each moment,
    there is a future crying out to be realized.

    We think moments are throw-a-ways,
    in-our-ways,
    standing between us
    and the future we want for ourselves.
    Or, we are Adam and Eve
    in this regard.
    David and Bathsheba.
    Throwing away the future
    for what we want in the moment.

    We are for the moment.
    The moment is not for us.
    How we live in the moment
    positions us for the future
    that is crying to be realized.
    And we have to take the chance
    that our position in that future
    will be better than our position
    in the future we create
    by living for ourselves in the moment
    or by disregarding the moment
    in trying to arrange a future to our liking.

    It is always just us and the moment,
    this moment,
    the present moment,
    here and now.
    How we live in it tells the tale.

    Putting ourselves in right relationship
    with the present moment
    creates the potential
    for the future that is crying out to be realized.
    In taking care of the moment,
    we are taking care of the future.
    And trusting that we will be fine,
    no matter what.

    As all the old Zen masters liked to say,
    “Columbus took a chance.”
  • 02/21/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 21 B&W — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    There is no carry-over
    from moment-to-moment
    except in the realization
    that nothing learned
    in this moment
    can be assumed in the next moment,
    and in the sense that it is the same
    in every moment:

    Stop and see.
    Stop and hear.
    Ground yourself on the bedrock
    of your own identity.
    Know what’s what
    and what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response.
    And serve the moment
    as though it is your last.

    Read And Respond, Kid.
    Read And Respond.

    Moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    It doesn’t get easy.
    We can’t fly on auto-pilot
    in any moment.
    We can’t take a moment off.
    No matter what happened
    in the last moment,
    get up,
    get ready,
    here comes the next one,
    get set,
    GO!

  • 02/21/2020 —  The Viaduct Variations 10/15/2008 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, October 15, 2008

    Desire fuels fear and anger,
    terror and rage–
    and throws us into calculating,
    conspiring,
    conniving our way
    through our life.

    “If we only do this,
    and that,
    like so,
    we can avoid this
    and achieve that,
    and acquire that over there!”

    And that is the formula
    for creating the heaving waves
    upon the wine-dark sea.

    Desire complicates everything.
    We have a stake in all of it.
    There is something to gain or lose
    in every moment.
    We cannot see the moment
    for being afraid and angry
    in response to the threats
    posed by the moment
    to our sense of well-being
    and our peace of mind.

    Seeing the moment
    means having nothing
    on the line in the moment.

    EMT’s can triage the situation
    and assess what needs to be done first
    as long as they don’t have a family member
    in the wreck.
    It goes all to hell
    when we have a vested interest in the outcome.

    Our desire for a situation
    leads us to manipulate the situation
    for our own good
    in stead of responding to the situation
    in light of what needs to happen
    for the good of the situation as a whole.

    The subjective overrides the objective.
    The partisan rules out the non-partisan.
    And we live like the beasts in the jungle
    to have what we want
    at the expense of every other thing.

    We have to grow up
    and be aware
    of all that is at work within us
    and with the situation at large–
    and act in light of it all.

    Growing up and living with (non-judgmental,
    compassionate) awareness
    is the solution to all of our problems today–
    and to many of those that don’t belong to us.
    It is the crucial first step
    to being the change that needs to happen
    in the here-and-now of daily life.

  • 02/21/2020 —  Baxter Creek Bridge Panorama 11/11/2008 — Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN, November 11, 2008

    My short history of Zen

    The Bodhidharma was a Buddhist missionary who brought Buddhism from India to China at the end of the 5th Century and the beginning of the 6th. He died in 540 C.E. His teaching was called Ch’an Buddhism indicating a filtering process through its encounter with the Confucianism and Taoism that were entrenched in the Chinese people.

    The Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution reached its height in 845 C.E., and it was after that that the remnants of Ch’an were further molded into what became Zen in China and Japan. And, thus, it is said that “Zen is what happened when Buddhism met Taoism.”

    Three excellent summations of this process are to be found in Thomas Hoover’s two books, “The Zen Experience” chronicles the development of Buddhism, Ch’an and Zen from India to Japan through the lives of the people who were instrumental in its transmission. This book is not to be missed (as are the remaining two!) and the best thing about it is that it is free!

    All of Hoover’s books are free on the Kindle Store at Amazon. And Amazon provides a free Kindle App for Android or Apple/Mac operating systems. So you can download the free App, and download the free books (this one and the next one). The third book will cost you.

    Hoover’s other Zen book (He has written a number of free historical novels, said to be good (I’m saving those for my really old age)) is “Zen Culture,” wherein he discusses Zen philosophy and its history in Japan.

    The third book is “The Tao of Zen,” by Ray Grigg, $7.47 Kindle price. It’s an excellent book on both Taoism and Zen, and I re-read it annually just for the pleasure of revisiting Grigg’s writing.

    That’s it. You are three books away from a shift in the way you look at your life and your place in it. You are standing on the brink of a “new world, Golda”! Happy trails!

  • 02/21/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 Panorama 12 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    My favorite Zen story
    has a master and one of his disciples
    crossing a bridge
    when the disciple asked,
    “What is Zen?”

    The master picked up the disciple
    and threw him in the river–
    and shouted:
    “That is water!
    Swim in it,
    bathe in it,
    drink it
    or drown,
    but don’t talk about it!
    To talk about water
    is to not-know water!”

    The same would apply
    not only to Zen,
    but to any religion
    there has ever been.

    Talking about the moon
    is not the moon.
    Don’t think you know the moon
    until you have camped there
    and watched the Earth rise and set.

  • 02/22/2020 —  Swan Lake 10/25/2019 25 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    There are two things that are absolutely critical:

    Being who we are
    from the ground up
    and the inside out
    in each situation that arises,

    And being who,
    doing what,
    the situation needs us to be/do
    in each situation as it rises.

    We have to be true to ourselves
    and we have to do what needs to be done.
    All of the time.

    There are a couple of catches here.

    It is very often that what the situation requires
    is for us to not be true to ourselves.
    Anybody who has ever been married
    or had children,
    or worked for a living,
    or had parents,
    knows what I’m talking about.

    We sacrifice ourselves 10,000 times
    between getting out of bed
    and brushing our teeth!

    The other catch is
    that we don’t know who the hell we are–
    which one of us is the true us?
    We can’t decide what to order for lunch!
    What chance do we have
    of being who we are
    in every situation that arises?
    There are 10,000 of us in here
    at war with each other.

    It is no simple matter
    to be true to ourselves
    and do what needs us to do it.

    And it is absolutely critical.

    How we do it is a three-step process.

    Stop. See. Hear.

    That’s the first step.

    Negotiation and Compromise, Kid.
    Negotiation and Compromise.

    That’s the second step.

    Bear the Pain.

    That’s the third step.

    In every situation that arises.

    All our life long.

  • 02/22/2020 —  Cotton in the Field 11/22/2019 Panorama 04 — Hwy 267, Lone Star, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    The number of moments
    contained in a situation
    is a function of the situation.

    Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner–
    or a cocktail party, etc.–
    is a situation that lasts forever
    and presents an infinite number of moments
    requiring us to be awake, aware, alive,
    when the default position
    is to be dead, dead, dead.

    We have to bear the pain.
    Suffer the occasion.
    And respond to what is being asked of us
    in ways that bring the best we have to offer
    to the time that is at hand
    (Which includes excusing ourselves
    and getting ourselves walked out of there
    as quickly as possible
    to a better place to be).

    We make the call regarding
    what is being asked of us
    and how best to deal with it
    moment-by-moment-by-moment
    in each situation as it arises.
    Which means being attuned to
    ourselves and the moment
    constantly, continually.

    It isn’t as exhausting as it sounds.
    It is simply a matter of awareness.
    Of being here/now,
    taking everything into account,
    and receiving it into our awareness,
    and letting ourselves respond to all the input
    spontaneously,
    naturally,
    impromptu–
    dancing with the moments
    and the conflicts and contradictions
    that come with them
    throughout our day.

    We might think of ourselves
    as emergency room staff
    receiving everything that comes
    through the door
    in an eight or twelve hour shift with:
    Awareness.
    Assessment.
    Action.
    Review.
    Revision.

    And, thus, the importance
    of rest, relaxation, recovery,
    proper nutrition and hydration,
    care and maintenance
    of mind and body,
    virtue, vitality, energy and spirit.
    Day-to-day-to-day
    throughout our life.

  • 02/22/2020 —  Chester State Park 11/25/2019 09 — Chester County, South Carolina, November 25, 2019

    Wealth and prosperity seem to have
    The Purpose Of Life thing
    “Roped, tied and branded.”
    Game over.

    The problem is wealth and prosperity themselves
    are far from being “roped, tied and branded.”

    Everybody dreams of wealth and prosperity,
    but starting salaries in the $28-35,000 range
    bring reality to bear.
    It takes two of us at that rate
    to make a house payment
    and a car note,
    and start a family.
    And then,
    how do we cover the down payments?

    So, we dream of winning the lottery,
    and settle for opioids,
    because apart from wealth and prosperity
    what are we left with?

    It’s time the culture sits itself down
    and rethinks meaning and purpose.
    But the culture is here to soak us
    to the limit–
    not to help us live purposeful,
    meaningful lives.

    We have to understand,
    the economy looks to us
    to keep it going,
    and stokes the idea of wealth
    and prosperity
    to fuel the gerbil-in-the-cage
    burn-the-candle-at-both-ends
    effort to chase down
    wealth and prosperity
    in our lifetime
    as a way of keeping
    the grande illusion going.

    What if we stopped chasing
    the empty promise?

    What if we got our own feet under us
    and realized for ourselves
    what we are here to do?
    And how much it will take
    to pay the bills
    that enable us to do it?
    And forgot about wealth and prosperity,
    and lived in the service
    of what is ours to do?

    What is ours to do?
    Where do our interests lie?
    What makes our little heart sing?
    What gets our little toes a-tappin’?
    Think along those lines,
    and re-think the whole
    meaning and purpose thing.

  • 02/23/2020 —  Landsford Canal 11/25/2019 09 Panorama — Canoe/Kayak Launch, Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba, South Carolina, November 25,2019

    Everybody seems to be living
    to get what they can while they can.

    Wealth and prosperity
    are things we acquire, amass, flaunt
    and fear we will lose.

    Everything about us is this way.
    We strive to get it and worry about losing it.

    What a way to live.

    Let me have some of that!

    No! Wait! Stop!
    We do not have to live this way!

    Living To Get/Have does not have to be
    our default mode of operation.

    We can Live To Be And To Do.

    No kidding.

    Talk about changing our relationship
    with our life!
    This would do it!
    This would be the shift heard ’round the world!

    Being who we are.
    Doing what needs us to do it.
    In each situation as it arises.
    All our life long.

    Doing what needs US to do it
    means acquainting ourselves
    with the gifts/genius that are ours
    to offer to the time and place
    of our living.

    They are going to be associated
    with what we love most to do.
    We love to do what we can do well–
    with all our heart.

    How long has it been since you’ve done that?
    Let’s live to make-up for lost time!
    Shall we?

    We have all the time left for living
    to excel in being who we are,
    doing what we do,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment!

    Batter Up!

  • 02/23/2020 —  Lake Crandall 11/19/2019 02 Panoama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 19, 2019

    Growing up is squaring up
    to how things are
    and what can be done about it.

    Our vulnerability is at the top of the list.

    Brooks Vance told his wife Louise,
    “Don’t consider the odds, Louise,
    or you will never get out of bed”
    (Or words to that effect).

    We all ether find our way
    to making our peace
    with our lot in life,
    or we hide out in the 10,000 addictions
    to feel better about our plight
    or deny that things are as they are.

    Life is out to get us.
    We can be smart,
    see what’s what,
    and be as safe as we can reasonably be,
    and it is still going to get us.
    We can’t let that get us down.
    “Don’t consider the liabilities, Louise,
    it will only depress you.”

    Until Life gets us,
    we go about our business,
    doing what we can
    with the things that come our way
    offering assistance to those with us
    along the way,
    being as good a sport about it all
    as we can manage,
    and letting things fall into place
    around that.

    We partner up with our vulnerability
    and step into the day.
    Every day.

  • 02/24/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 Panorama 13 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Balance is balance.
    Harmony is harmony.
    Homeostasis is homeostasis.
    Living aligned with ourselves,
    at one with our life,
    in full accord with the time and place
    of our living
    is all there is to it.

    What’s the problem?

    Where are you off-center?
    Out of plumb?
    Off the path?
    Away from the way?
    Out of sync
    with the time that is at hand?
    Out of touch
    with the ground of life and being,
    with the sacred core
    at the heart of all living things?

    When the path requires you
    to go where there is no path–
    when the guide says,
    “You know the way,”
    what do you do?

    Always the Golden Rule:
    Stop. See. Hear.

    Why are we always
    running through stop signs,
    with our eyes closed tightly
    and our fingers pressing in our ears,
    saying, “I don’t know!
    I can’t see!
    I can’t hear!?
    when we know
    we aren’t looking,
    when we know we
    aren’t listening,
    when we don’t care?

    What directs our boat
    on its way through the sea?
    Who is at the helm?
    Who is checking the compass,
    reading the constellations?
    Seeing?
    Hearing?
    Feeling?
    Sensing?
    Intuiting?
    Knowing
    when it doesn’t know
    how it knows
    what it knows?
    Who is listening?

    Who is the guest?
    Who is the host?
    Who is the student?
    Who is the teacher?

    Who are you?
    What is yours to do?
    Who is to say?
    How do they know?

  • 02/24/2020 —  Landsford One 11/25/2019

    Looking north, Catawba River, Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba, South Carolina, November 25,2019

    Everybody has something to say.

    Has something else to say.

    Has something more to say.

    There is no last word.

    We speak/write
    to hear what we have to say.

    Only we know what needs to be said
    because only we know what needs to be heard.

    People who talk all the time
    without saying anything
    know they cannot bear to know
    what arises in the silence.

    People who never have a thing to say
    and never say anything that hasn’t been said
    know if they start talking
    they will never stop
    and say things they cannot bear to hear.

    The first rule of life is
    Bear The Pain!

    The second rule of life is
    Ask All Of The Questions
    That Beg To Be Asked!

    The third rule of life is
    Say Everything That Cries Out
    To Be Said!

    Keep the rules
    and you will be just fine.

    And, you will walk with a limp.

  • 02/24/2020 —  Landsford Two 11/25/2019 — Looking south, Catawba River, Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba, South Carolina, November 25,2019

    We do not get there by thinking about it.
    No matter where “there” is
    as long as it is somewhere
    we have never been.

    As long as it is somewhere–
    some thing–
    new.

    We do not get to anywhere,
    anything,
    new
    by thinking our way there.

    We play our way there.

    We play with ideas.
    We play with possibilities.
    We play with absurdities
    and obscenities,
    and monstrosities,
    and ludicrous,
    outlandish,
    preposterous,
    impossibilities!

    That’s how new comes to be.

    Playfully.
    Not rationally.

    We do not play around enough.
    And, it is showing.

  • 02/24/2020 —  Landsford Three 11/25/2019 — Looking south, Catawba River, Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba, South Carolina, November 25,2019

    What governs your response?
    That is what leads you along the way.

    What do you have at stake in the outcome?
    That is the source of your motivation.

    What are you trying to get or avoid?
    There is your reason for living.

  • 02/24/2020 —  Lake Crandall 11/19/2019 03 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina, Adventure Road Access, November 19, 2019

    Can you agree with this?

    People should be able to live their own life
    without interfering with
    other people living their own life.

    If you agree,
    we have common ground,
    and can proceed.
    If you do not agree, we will have to talk about that.

    Assuming you agree,
    what do we do about the people
    who say they agree,
    but refuse to abide by the agreement–
    and about those
    who refuse to agree?

    This is the pivot point
    upon which the future
    of the world turns.

  • 02/24/2020 —  Chester State Park 11/25/2019 01 Panorama — Chester County, South Carolina, November 25, 2019

    The elephant walks through the high grass.
    The monkey swings through the tall trees.

    Everything flows from this.
    How can the elephant
    justify,
    defend,
    explain,
    excuse
    walking through high grass
    to the monkey
    who can only think
    in terms of swinging through tall trees?

    How can the monkey
    justify,
    defend,
    explain,
    excuse
    swinging through tall trees
    to the elephant
    who can only think
    in terms of walking through high grass?

    Must the elephant try to convert the monkey?
    Or, the monkey the elephant?
    Do they hate one another?
    Make the other their mortal enemy?
    Declare war?
    Drop bombs?

    How does the monkey
    allow and begin to comprehend,
    appreciate, honor, respect
    the “elephant-ness” of the elephant?
    The “just-so-ness” of the elephant?

    And the elephant with the monkey?

    Could you do that with your father-in-law?
    With your father?
    With Donald Trump?

    And they with you?

    How do we live together in ways that allow
    our differentness to stand
    without demonizing,
    dehumanizing,
    denigrating,
    or interfering with the right of the other
    to live their own life,
    while honoring the “just-so-ness” of the other
    and without impacting the other’s life for ill?

    How does Trump’s “base,”
    and Sander’s, say, “base”
    do that?

    How do we all do that
    across the board,
    around the table,
    up and down the line?

  • 02/24/2020 —  Day’s End 10/28/2008 — Pamlico Sound, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, October 28, 2008

    Our Ego comes in two manifestations,
    the unconscious Ego
    and the conscious Ego.

    As a conscious Ego,
    we work to develop our relationship
    with our Unconscious Mind,
    or Soul,
    or Psyche.

    We have no way of knowing
    what’s what with what
    we cannot be conscious of,
    but we can experience
    our Unconscious
    (So called because we are unconscious of it)
    at work in dreams,
    urges,
    realizations,
    synchronicity,
    etc.

    I think of the Unconscious Source
    of my life/awareness
    as my Sacred Core,
    my Spirit Center,
    and as a conscious Ego,
    I work to align my conscious self
    with my Unconscious Spirit,
    and trust that alliance
    with filial devotion,
    liege loyalty,
    and faithful allegiance.

    Forming an intuitive bond
    creates a bedrock foundation
    that grounds me in all situations
    and circumstances,
    and provides a perspective
    enabling me to see what’s what
    and allow things to be as they are,
    which offers a significant degree
    of leverage in the moment
    by having little or nothing at stake,
    and permitting me a “this means that”
    objective take on whatever happens.
    I don’t have to have things one way
    or another,
    but can respond appropriately
    to whatever happens
    without trying to force the moment
    to have an outcome that is
    advantageous to me in some way.

    “I” am a conscious “I”
    and a very present “Spirit I”
    which “I” can be aware of
    in an intuitive sense
    from moment-to-moment,
    often in an
    “Okay, now what?” kind of way.

    We do not work to realize or will
    particular outcomes,
    but to serve our preferences
    (We enjoy solitude and silence)
    and see what happens.

    I think we all share a physical body
    with an invisible, spiritual, self,
    and the more conscious we can be
    of our relationship
    with our “Invisible Friend” within,
    the more interesting our life becomes
    like that (Snaps fingers, and winks).

  • 02/25/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 14 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Finding what we need
    to meet the day,
    day after day
    can be a test of our mettle
    some days.

    Then what?

    Trial and error, Kid.
    Trial and error.

    What works depends upon
    factors beyond counting.
    What worked the last time
    might not work this time.

    Breathing is important
    all the time.
    Maybe we make it our goal
    to just keep breathing
    until the shift occurs.

    The shift when everything
    that was so undoable,
    becomes doable
    like magic.

    A shift in perspective–
    which we do not control
    or command–
    snaps everything into place,
    and it is as though
    the constellations realigned their orbits
    and our day becomes
    just another normal day.

    How does that happen?
    Now we can do it,
    now we can’t do it,
    now we can do it…

    To be at the mercy of can and cannot
    is something no one can understand,
    comprehend,
    who hasn’t experienced it.
    And, may no one experience it ever!
    But, a lot of us do way too often.

    What helps?
    Besides breathing and waiting?
    Everybody whose life includes
    the experience of the ebb and flow
    of normal living
    has their own personal repertoire
    of what helps.
    Walking, talking, writing, hot showers, chocolate…

    Or, just watching our perspective,
    our attitude,
    our frame of mind.
    Just being curious about what it emphasizes
    and what it ignores-dismisses-discounts-disregards…
    What is going on with our perspective?
    It is as though it has a mind of its own.

    What are you up to?
    What is your game?
    Whose side are you on?
    Perspective!
    I’m talking to YOU!

    Putting perspective under the microscope
    and getting to the bottom of what’s what
    with our perspective,
    making inquiries,
    launching an investigation,
    interviewing witnesses…
    can be an entertaining
    bit of comic relief,
    and perhaps all the help we need.

  • 02/25/2020 —  Blue Ridges 06/26/2009 Panorama — Roan Mountain, Tennessee, June 26, 2009

    When the norms
    and standards,
    codes and practices
    that hold society together disappear,
    and “the center fails to hold,”
    we are left with living
    out of our own center,
    out of our own sacred core,
    out of our own bedrock foundation
    of principles,
    chracter
    and value.

    So, we better be firming up
    our relationship
    with the grounding,
    guiding,
    truth
    of what we know to be right,
    and just,
    and good.

    It comes down to us
    and the Sermon on the Mount
    before theology got to it–
    just doing right by one another,
    doing justice,
    loving kindness
    and walking humbly
    with that which has always been called God.

    Good people have always lived
    in light of what they know to be good.

    We can count on that always being so,
    and do our part in making sure that it is so
    by committing ourselves to living in ways
    that make it so
    in our service to the good that is forever good
    regardless of our circumstances
    or how life is being lived around us.

    We can form and find communities
    of like-minded people
    who know the good and do it,
    and live as sources of blessings and grace
    in the lives of all who come there way.

    In so doing,
    we can hold things together,
    no matter how they seem to be
    flying apart,
    doing what is good
    whether it does any good or not,
    and finding our strength and courage
    from the source of life within us
    for the work that is ours to do
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

  • 02/25/2020 —  Clingman’s Dome Sunrise 10/15/2006 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee, North Carolina, October 15, 2006

    Fear and desire give rise to
    hatred and greed
    and here we are.

    This is the real
    “old, old, story.”
    It is as old as Adam and Eve,
    Cain and Abel.

    And as old as the refrain
    that goes with it:
    “When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?”

    A coke bottle is tossed
    out of an airplane
    in “The Gods Must Be Crazy,”
    and war breaks out
    in the Kalahari tribe that finds it,
    over who gets the prize.

    Everyone is crazy.
    And, we are not going to fix it.
    The best we can hope for
    is to be intently aware of it,
    to keep our eye on it,
    or, oops, there we go again.

  • 02/25/2020 —  Lake Crandall 11/19/2019 08 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 19. 2019

    If you are waiting for things to make sense,
    you are standing in the wrong line.
    That line forms in another dimension.
    Here, things do not make sense,
    and the contradictions
    are thresholds to new perceptions
    and astounding realizations.

    Contradiction is the doorway to enlightenment.

    Back in the day
    when I was reading the Bible,
    I looked for contradictions.
    They were everywhere.
    It was the work to live between the contradictions
    that expanded my awareness
    and stretched my boundaries
    and woke me up
    to the truth of how things are
    and also are.

    Now that I’m reading Zen,
    I follow the same strategy.
    Look for the contradictions!
    They are everywhere.

    Zen makes much of duality,
    as in denying it
    and demanding that “all is one.”
    Well.
    Only in a sense.
    All is also not one.
    As Zen knows very well,
    pointing out the difference
    between our Reality Body
    and our Celestial Body,
    our Ordinary Mind
    and our Buddha Mind, etc.

    Zen makes much of attainment and acquisition,
    as in denying them.
    “There is nothing to attain,
    nothing to acquire!”
    But.
    Everybody is after enlightenment,
    satori,
    nirvana,
    Buddha Mind,
    dharma, etc.

    Look for the things that make no sense,
    and stand among the contradictions,
    waiting to see what they have to show you.

  • 02/26/2020 —  Chester State Park 11/25/2019 19 Panorama — Chester County, South Carolina, November 25, 2019

    There is our experience
    and there is our interpretation
    of our experience.

    There is seeing clearly what’s what
    and there is self-deception and denial,
    illusion, delusion, hallucination,
    paranoia and pretense.

    “Is it real or is it Memorex?”

    Con men and women
    are masters at creating false reality.
    Alcoholics trick themselves always,
    and their spouses, sometimes,
    with, “I swear, Honey, I’m never drinking again!”

    “You can fool some of the people all of the time,
    and all of the people some of the time,
    but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

    What is the difference?
    Why do some people catch on to the act?
    And why do some never get it?

    It is the ruse of sincerity.

    I watched a boy
    stick a juicy wad of bubblegum
    in a girl’s hair.
    She shrieked and named him
    as her attacker on the spot.
    The authorities were quick to react.
    His tearful denial was so sincere
    and his protests were so genuinely heartfelt,
    I began to question my own sense of reality.
    Had I really seen
    what I thought I had seen?

    Fathers beat their children,
    and their mothers say
    “You know your father loves you!”

    Donald Trump lies with gleeful abandon.
    His minions create diversions,
    and accuse Democrats of false accusations.
    “You know the President wouldn’t lie to you!
    And you know the Democrats would!
    So, who are you going to believe?”

    Every con counts on sincerity to seal the deal.
    Every mark is an easy sell.

    There is our experience,
    and there is our interpretation of experience.

    And the difference between the two
    is how things are the way they are.

  • 02/26/2020 —  Blue Ridge Rhododendron 06/26/2009 –Lindville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, June 26, 2009

    What do you need?

    You will know it when you see it.

    What then?

    That’s the question.

    What happened the last time
    you knew what you needed?

  • 02/26/2020 —  Cotton in the Field 11/19/2019 06 — Hwy 267, Lone Star, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    Think equilibrium.
    Let equilibrium be a goal.
    Live toward equilibrium.

    Imagine a pendulum,
    hanging perpendicular to the horizon
    and perfectly still.
    Let that be absolute equilibrium.

    Decide how much movement
    you feel is necessary
    for appropriate equilibrium
    in all circumstances.
    The arc of the pendulum
    will need to be greater
    in some situations,
    and lesser in others.
    Equilibrium is a function
    of time and place,
    and you determine what
    is appropriate
    in each time and place
    of your living.

    Being aware of your responsibility
    for living with appropriate equilibrium
    in each situation as it arises
    increases your chances of doing it.

    Think across all of the situations of your life.
    Where are you most out of your own idea
    of what constitutes a “Normal Equilibrium Response Arc”
    in each situation?

    Where do you go,
    what do you do,
    to bring your response level back
    to an appropriate response arc?

    How do you maintain your equilibrium
    at an appropriate level
    across all situations?

    How will you remain appropriately
    composed and responsive
    to each situation as it arises?

    How will you remain aware
    of your response arc
    in each situation as it arises?

    How will your awareness moderate
    the swing of your response arc?
    How will you restore your equilibrium
    to a level appropriate to the situation?

  • 02/26/2020 —  Lake Crandall 11/19/2019 09 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 19, 2019

    We have to be able to bear the pain
    in order to face what must be faced,
    see what’s what
    and what can be done about it–
    in response to it–
    and what we can do about that
    with what we bring to the time and place
    of our living,
    such as we are,
    in each situation as it arises,
    all our life long.

    This is our role,
    our duty,
    our bit,
    our place.

    To see what needs what we have to offer
    and to offer it as best we can,
    and let that be that,
    here an now,
    because another situation is on the way,
    and we will be meeting that situation
    on its terms,
    seeing what it needs to offer,
    and offering it as best we can,
    and letting that be that,
    then and there,
    because another situation is on the way…

    We meet the situation
    with what we have to offer.

    And that is all anybody can do.

    Jesus could not do better.
    The Buddha could not do better.
    It cannot be done better.

    Stop. Look. Listen. See. Hear.
    Ask the questions that beg to be asked.
    Say the things that cry out to be said.
    Do what needs to be done
    out of what you have to offer.
    And let that be that.
    Because another situation is on the way…

    We are emergency room technicians,
    and we live in an emergency room.
    And we have a specialty
    that is exactly what some situations need.
    And not at all what other situations need.

    We have to read the situation,
    see what’s what,
    and what can be done about it…
    Etc.
    Forever.
    That’s it.

  • 02/27/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 15 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2109

    We have to believe in ourselves
    and we have to believe in our work,
    and we have to believe in the 10,000 things
    that support,
    encourage,
    enable,
    create
    and sustain
    us and our work.

    We are not alone.
    The experience of meaningful coincidences
    throughout our life
    is relentless evidence
    of our being nestled
    and nourished
    by more than meets the eye.

    It takes only looking to see.
    It takes only listening to hear.
    It takes only asking the questions
    that beg to be asked
    and saying the things that cry out to be said
    to know that it is so.

    We run from the questions.
    We hide from the statements.
    We cover our eyes,
    jam our fingers in our ears,
    and have nothing to do with ourselves
    or the work that is ours to do,
    and live alone,
    cut off from the world of wonder and bliss,
    because we refuse
    to take the chance
    of believing it is real.

  • 02/27/2020 —  At the Dock 02 11/01/2002 — Silver Lake, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, November 1, 2002

    My world is shrinking with age.
    “I don’t get about much anymore.”
    Not as much as I used to, anyway.
    But.
    I have more to say than ever.

    The words of Heraclitus come to mind:

    “You will not find the boundaries of soul
    by traveling in any direction,
    so deep is the measure of it.”

    Nor will you say all there is to say,
    or ask all the questions
    that beg to be asked!

    It is enough that we say
    all that is to be said
    in a day.
    That we ask all the questions
    that beg to be asked
    right here,
    right now.

    I can do that sitting by the fire,
    drinking coffee.

  • 02/27/2020 —  Lake Crandall 11/19/2019 10 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 19, 2019.

    We have to change our relationship
    with our life.

    Alcoholics start drinking
    because their relationship
    with their life isn’t working.
    Alcohol takes the edge off
    their pain.
    It is a way of refusing to suffer
    the pain of their life.
    Then alcohol becomes a greater pain,
    so they sober up.
    But.
    Their life still isn’t working.
    Now what?

    Bear the pain!
    And let the pain guide us
    into transforming our relationship
    with our life.

    Here’s the catch.
    It all has to go.
    Everything.
    Every. Thing.
    Everything we ever thought
    about the way things are.
    Has to go.

    We have to sit in the silence,
    and trust ourselves to the questions.
    You know the ones I mean.
    The ones that beg to be asked.
    All of them.

    We ask the first one or two
    and stop
    because the pain is too great,
    and we are terrifying ourselves
    asking questions
    we think we know the answers to.

    “What’s the point?”
    We ask it,
    assuming there is no point.
    It’s too much.
    We stop asking the questions.
    Asking the questions gets us to
    “What’s the point of having to have a point?”

    “Why bother with this–it’s all meaningless anyway?”
    gets us to the question,
    “If it is all meaningless, meaning is meaningless,
    so why bother with being upset
    over a lack of meaning?”
    “And if it is meaningful that everything is meaningless,
    everything is clearly NOT meaningless,
    so why not explore what else might be meaningful?”

    Asking the questions that beg to be asked
    changes our relationship with our life
    by calling into questions our grounding assumptions
    about our life,
    ourselves,
    all of life,
    and opening us to new possibilities,
    and inviting us to play with all of them.

    We play our way to healing and wholeness.
    We do not think our way there.

  • 02/28/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 16 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2109

    Taoism is unique among spiritual practices
    in having no myth about the afterlife
    to encourage its practitioners on
    through the hard truth
    of their daily grind.

    Taoism talks about things being easier
    when we are in accord with the Way,
    and focuses on “being here now”
    in a way that honors the contradictions
    (Yin/Yang) and seeks harmony and balance.

    Hinduism gave rise to Buddhism
    over the difference in their views
    on suffering–
    Hinduism with its Caste System
    and eternal cycle of karma and fate,
    Buddhism with its Four Noble Truths
    offering an escape from suffering
    through its Eight-fold Path.

    When Buddhism met Taoism,
    Zen was produced
    and the Way became the way
    to Nirvana,
    and the Pure Land,
    and the Farther Shore,
    and the Celestial Body, etc.

    But, at its core Taoism
    is just about getting through the moment,
    the day,
    the month,
    the year,
    the life–
    by simply “being here, now,”
    and living here/now
    in accord with the Way
    of being who we are,
    when we are,
    where we are,
    and letting that be that.

    No theology.
    No doctrine.
    No dogma.
    Just the experience of the moment
    and of ourselves in the moment,
    allowing the moment
    to call forth our response
    out of our repertoire
    of gifts, genius, talent, proclivities, etc.
    in “chopping wood/carrying water,”
    “eating when hungry, resting when tired,”
    from the eternal depths
    of our original nature.

    We are built to meet the moment,
    any moment,
    every moment.
    To rise to any, every, occasion.
    To do what needs to be done
    as it needs to be done
    with what we have to work with.

    So, what is all the whining about?
    Why the moaning and complaining?
    What do we have to be afraid of?
    There is only trusting ourselves
    to ourselves,
    in doing what is ours to do,
    the way only we can do it.

    And letting that be that!

  • 02/28/2020 —  Lake Haigler 11/24/2019 06 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 24, 2019

    What do you expect to get
    from a life well-lived?

    What is the point?
    The purpose?
    The outcome?
    The reward?

    Why live well?
    What are we living well for?

    I put my best effort into every photograph I take.
    Why?

    Every homily I write every day
    is the best I can do.
    What do I get out of it?

    So what? Who cares? Why try? What difference does any of it make?

    Why bring forth our best to meet the moment,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment?

    What do we stand to gain by doing so?
    What is in it for us?
    What do we care?
    Why should we care?
    What do we expect to get?
    What do we expect to come from it?

    Peggy Lee’s “Is this all there is?”
    Begs the question,
    “What did you expect?”

    What do you expect?

  • 02/28/2020 —  Chester State Park 11/25/2019 20 Panorama — Chester County, South Carolina, November 25, 2019

    What do you do with all your heart?
    How often do you do it?

    What do you do halfheartedly,
    or with your heart not in it at all?
    How often do you do it?

    What is standing between you
    and wholehearted living?
    Make a list.

    What binds you to the list?
    What keeps you from being alive
    in the life you are living?

    What are you sacrificing yourself to serve?
    Do you see an end-point
    to that sacrificial service?

    Live to increase the amount of time
    and the frequency of occurrence
    that you spend doing things with all your heart.

  • 02/28/2020 —  Castle Mountain 09/21/2009 — Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta, Canadian Rockies, September 21, 2009

    Our mindset,
    our culture,
    our way-of-being-in-the-world
    is linear,
    sequential,
    first-this-then-that,
    one-step-at-a-time,
    from-here-to-there,
    to the end of the line
    and the full realization
    of our dreams.

    How else would you get there?

    Know what you want,
    know how to get it,
    Goal
    Strategy
    Tactics.
    Mission accomplished.
    Job done.

    Heaven?
    Ten Commandments.
    What’s next?

    That’s how we do things.
    And, we assume,
    that is how things are done,
    and are to be done.

    Not so.

    Becoming who we are
    is nothing like that.
    Incarnating who we are built to be
    lies in an entirely different dimension.
    There are no Ten Commandments
    for that project.
    No instruction book.
    No step-by-step guide.

    We dream our way there.
    We play our way there.
    We feel our way there.

    We listen to our body.
    We listen to our heart.
    We listen to our bones.
    We listen to our stomach.
    We listen to our nighttime dreams.
    We listen to whatever catches our eye.
    We listen to what we are saying.
    We listen to everything.
    We read the signs.
    We dance to the music.
    We see what’s what
    and what needs to be done about it.

    Awareness, awareness, awareness!
    Connecting the dots.
    Putting two and two together.
    Getting it.
    Like a joke.
    “Oh, NOW I see!”

    What’s the strategy for getting to
    “Oh, NOW I see!”?

    It is not a straight line for here to there,
    from now to then,
    from who we are
    to who we are built to be.

    It is a wobbling, curving, bumping, jagged, ragged,
    circular, spiraling, up-and-down-and-sideways,
    back-and-forth, circumambulation
    of where we are going.

    We don’t know where we are going,
    or what to do next,
    or when we will arrive.

    We never will arrive.
    Always the path which is no path.
    We each make our own path.
    None of us walks another’s path.
    Only we know what fits us.
    Only we know what we are built for.
    What we are made for.
    Only we know what it means
    to do it our way.
    To do it the way we have to do it.
    And we have to do it in our own way,
    in our own time,
    however long it might take.

    Whatever you say is right
    is something you say is right.
    You are the authority of your own life.
    What is right is what you say is right,
    no matter who else may be saying it is right,
    it doesn’t become right for you
    until you say it is right for you.

    If you are doing what your mother says do
    with your life,
    you are doing it because you say it is right
    for you to do it that way.

    You decide what is right for you.
    The catch is that you have to be right about it.

    If you are doing what is wrong for you
    because someone else tells you it is right for you,
    and you say, “Okay, what the hell?”
    Or if you are doing what is wrong for you
    because someone tells you something else is right for you
    and you aren’t going to do it just because they said to,
    the burden is on you.

    You have to be right about what is right for you.

    Stop. Listen. Hear. Look. See.

    Ask the questions that beg to be asked.
    And don’t stop until there are no more questions.
    There will never be no more questions ever,
    only no more questions for now.

  • 02/28/2020 —  Lake Crandall 11/19/2019 11 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 19, 2019

    The Way that is the way
    to who we are and also are
    is the way of improvisation,
    spontaneity,
    intuition,
    and play.

    It is the way of knowing
    when it is time for a cup of coffee,
    and when we have had enough coffee.

    The way of knowing
    when it is time for a nap,
    and when it is time to wake up from a nap.

    No book can tell you these things.

    We do not go to the toilet
    by looking at our watch.
    We don’t choose our friends
    by using some formula
    in a book on How To Find Your Friends.

    How do we know what matters?
    What is important?
    What we need to do?
    Need to do not?

    We don’t know how we know.
    But.
    We know that we know.
    We need to know what we know,
    and allow that to lead us into what we do
    about it.

    That would be to follow the Way
    to being who we are,
    and also are,
    and incarnating that
    in the way we live our life.

  • 02/29/2020 —  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 17 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2109

    Stop. Look. Listen. See. Hear.

    Inquire. Inspection. Introspection.

    Exploration. Examination. Evaluation.

    The eleven steps to realization.

    Apply them throughout the day.

    Start with your nighttime dreams.
    See what they have to say.
    How do they impact you?
    How do you perceive them?
    What do you make of them?
    What is their overall tone?
    Their residual feeling?
    Their theme?
    Their message?

    Do this with the things that attract you,
    that repel you,
    that catch your eye,
    that stir your emotions,
    that bring up a reaction,
    that initiate a train of associations,
    that trigger memories,
    that hijack you
    and carry you away,
    that interfere with your life in some way.

    Do this when your mind wanders,
    when you day-dream,
    when you drift off into flights of fantasy,
    when you get stuck in trauma/drama.

    Your life is a source of meditation,
    reflection,
    contemplation.
    You are attempting to commune,
    to communicate,
    with you all day every day.

    Start paying attention.
    And engaging the eleven steps to realization.

    Put two and two together.
    Make the connections.
    You are a mirror
    waiting to reveal who you are
    to you–
    if you will only stop.
    And look.
    And see.

02/03/2020 — Life traditionally, throughout the ages, begins with the first breath.

A heartbeat without a brainwave is nothing.
A brainwave without a heartbeat is nothing.
A brainwave with a heartbeat without breathing are nothing.

Life does not begin hooked up to machines.

Life begins with a cry of protest for having to do it all on our own.

And if we don’t do it on our own,
we never have a life of our own.

Life begins when we come to terms with the fact
that it is up to us
and we are on our own.

Life begins when we live our life
the way it needs us to live it.

Until then, we are only faking it.

02/09/2020 — Enlightenment is over-rated.
Awareness has much more going for it,
and is available to all of us
without the investment of years
seeking the source of seeking
and the mysterious origin
of our Original Nature.
Awareness is interested in what’s what.
What’s happening here and now?
What needs to be done about it?
What is the situation-as-it-arises
asking of me?
How am I being asked to rise to the occasion at hand
and offer what I have to give
out of my stash of resources and knacks?
Enlightenment that cannot respond
appropriately to its circumstances,
is just another way of weaving and dodging
in the service of diversion and denial.

02/12/2020 — We set ourselves free from being white
by realizing how white we are
and how that shapes us unconsciously
and prevents us from being true
to the democratic values
of liberty,
justice,
equality,
truth
that we profess
and pretend to embody.

The Civil War continues to be fought
over the question
of how white we will be
and at whose expense.

Those who can wake up
and be aware,
and live with awareness,
must wake up,
be aware,
and live with awareness–
at the expense
of waking up,
being aware
and living with awareness.

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Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters, three sons-in-law, and five granddaughters, and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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