The Tao of Jesus

By Jim Dollar

The Prelude

The Tao is doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, moment by moment, in each situation as it arises. “The right thing” is understood to be “what is called for at the moment, in the moment, by the moment. And the question that flows from this is, “Who is to say?” Who is to say what the right thing is in any moment? And the answer, of course, is “You are/I am!” And the catch here is, we have to be right about it.

This follows from a text found only in Codex Bezae after the first four verses of the sixth chapter in Luke’s Gospel, which read:

1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

At this point, Codex Bezae, a late 4th or early 5th century work in Greek and Latin, inserts verse 5, which reads:

“On the same day, when [Jesus] saw someone working on the Sabbath, he said to him, ‘Man, if you know what you are doing you are blessed, but if you do not know then you are cursed and a transgressor of the law”’

We are responsible for knowing what the moment calls for—for knowing what is the right thing to do—and doing it. And, we have to be right about it!

How do we do that? The old Taoists would answer, “By living in accord with the Tao!” Those who are in accord with Tao, sense what is right—and are right about it! And they follow the impulse of their Original Nature in responding spontaneously to the call of the moment—as did the Good Samaritan with the Jewish man, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road, and the Prodigal’s father in welcoming his son home, and the man who built his house on a rocky foundation, and those who did or failed to do what was right by the least of those who came their way, etc.

Those who know, know! And live accordingly.

All of the words of Jesus in the Gospels are about knowing and living accordingly. We have to be right about it. But, right in terms of what? Not in terms of pleasing the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who knows how many feathers are on each bird, and keeps careful watch over all of our actions, jotting notes in the Book of Life to be read on the Last Day when the verdicts are served with his, “Well done good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of the Kingdom!” or his, “Get Thee away from me Thou faithless and evil Sinner—and be damned forever to the everlasting fires of Hell!”

That is the version that gets all the attention and has all the drama, but the real scoop is much more down to earth in a practical kind of way. Being right about what the moment is calling for is being right in terms of the balance, harmony and flow of the moment. It is being right in terms of the spirit, vitality and life of the moment. It is being right in terms of the sincerity, purity, spontaneity and lack of contrivance of the moment.

The moment—not eternity—is at the heart of Tao. This here and this now are the only things that matter. This time is the time for action and the time for refraining from action. Which is it to be? What is this time right for? Everything comes down to this, and flows from this, and depends upon this.

Here and now is where we live to integrate the opposites of Yin and Yang whatever their present configuration may be—for the sake of the moment! For the good of the moment! We live for right here, right now for right here, right now!


Living to serve what is called for
in the moment of our living
is not going to smooth our path,
and open the way
to all we ever wanted
and more.

Go and learn what this means:
“Thy will, not mine, be done!”
This is the Tao of Jesus.

He is saying,
“Live in accord with the Tao,
moment by moment,
and let everything fall into place
around that,
whether it meets with your approval,
or not.”

That is not The Prosperity Gospel.

Jesus said, “Do what needs to be done
and let the outcome be the outcome,
whatever it may mean for you personally.”

And his life was his message.

When he said,
“Take up your cross each day
and follow me,”
he was saying,
“Let your life be your message.”

When he said,
“Be like the spirit
that blows where it will,”
he was saying,
“Don’t have to know
what you are doing,
or be guided by
what is pleasing to you,
but by what needs to be done–
which will change moment by moment,
in response to the circumstances,
which themselves are changing
moment by moment,
and you will never know in one moment
what you will be doing in the next.

The Tao of Jesus
is what the world needs
and the world knows it not.

The old Taoists talk about
living in accord with the Tao.

I take that to mean
living in the flow of life,
in tune with what is happening
and what needs to happen in response,
and doing it because it needs to be done
for the sake of doing it alone.

This is a jam session
of bluegrass musicians,
at one with the music,
going where the music takes them,
with each musician at one
with their instrument
and with the other musicians
at the same time,
for the simple joy and wonder
of participating in the music,
of being graced and blessed
by the music.

Living in accord with the Tao.

We can do that with our life
by practicing the skills of being
attuned to our life.

That means silence,
and being aware of the present moment
on all levels
without being hooked,
owned by anything–
being aware without judgment or opinion
of all that is with us in the moment.

Seeing what we look at,
hearing what is being said
and how it is being said,
and how we are responding…

Knowing what’s what,
just sitting,
just seeing,
just hearing,
just knowing,
and watching what arises unbidden
as impulse,
as calling,
as invitation
to do what needs to be done
without having anything invested
in the outcome,
with nothing to gain or to lose,
just doing what needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
doing it and being done with it
for the joy of doing it
and moving back into sitting
and seeing,
and hearing…

It’s the practice that allows us
to resonate with our life,
and enter the dance,
being danced by the music of life
for the wonder of it all,
in tune and in time with the flow
of life and being.


In every situation,
there is a tipping point
where the responses
of the people in the situation
can influence the outcome
of the situation
for better or for worse.

Our response in the present moment
has an influential impact upon
future moments,
both immediate and distant.

We wield the power for good or for evil
as surely as any super hero or villain
ever did.

Our present situation
is the result of our past situations.
Our future situations will be,
at least to some degree,
what they are because
of our present situation.

The people for who things
always seem to work out
have a part to play in their outcomes.

The people for whom things
never seem to work out
have a part to play in their outcomes.

The present moment matters.
Our response to it matters.
We hold the future in our hands
in every moment.

We have to know that in our bones,
and live as though we do.


Think of the Force in Star Wars
as the Tao in the Tao te Ching.

The Force and the Tao are beyond morality,
good and evil,
right and wrong.

They are What The Situation Calls For.

But, here is the catch,
not for the good or bad of anyone/anything
in the situation!

Good and evil, right and wrong,
depend upon what side you are on.
If you don’t have a side, what?

The Force and the Tao, don’t have a side.
They have a Way.
What’s the Way?
What needs to be done here and now–
in light of here and now!–
for the sake of here and now!

If the baby’s diaper needs changing,
change the baby’s diaper!
If the dog needs to go outside,
take the dog outside!

“Eat when hungry,
rest when tired!”

When we complicate the situation
by bringing in considerations
that have nothing to do with the situation,
like the long-term financial impact
eating when hungry has
on the gross national product
and the economic security
of the kingdom,
we tie things up in a
“Nothing can happen until something else does!”
kind of knot.

If the situation calls for
eating when hungry,
eat when hungry!
And let everything else
fall into place around that!

But, we can’t do anything
because of the effect it may have
on something else.
“Will she/he still love me?”
“Will I get a raise/be fired?”

We live with our own good in mind
and not the needs of the current situation.

We strive to connive,
a future of our liking
into existence.

We live here and now
in light of what we think
it will take
to bring wealth and glory
in abounding abundance
to us there and then.

The Way is about
doing what is called for
here and now,
and seeing where it goes.

Jesus said it best:
“The Spirit is like the wind
that blows where it will!”

The Spirit doesn’t know
why it is doing what it is doing,
or what it will be doing next,
or where it is going,
or what the plan it,
or how any of that is important.

The Spirit’s actions arise
out of the urgency–the impulse–
of the moment:
“THIS must be done here and now!
We will worry about then what later!”

Which falls nicely in line
with Jesus’ little talk
about the lilies of the field,
“Which neither sow nor reap,
but are all decked out in
the most beautiful array of colors imaginable!
So worry about what needs to be done today,
and let tomorrow’s needs
be taken care of tomorrow!”

Let the Force, the Tao, the Spirit
be with you!
And you be with it/them,
here and now!


There are only two things–
make that four things–
that matter:

1&2 Finding your life to live
and living it,
3&4 Helping other people
find their life to live
and living it.

Get those four things down
and everything falls into place
around that,
transformed for the good

To do it,
to find our life to live
and live it,
we have to follow the pattern
of all the heroes
on all the journeys
throughout time.

Yes, Virginia, there is a recipe.

First, we have to put desire and fear
in their place.
Hint: They don’t have a place.

We have to live beyond desire and fear,
that is to say,
without desire and fear,
in order to find our life and live it.

This means we have to do the things
that need to be done
no matter what–
no matter what it means for us personally,
or for those we love.

Snaps us back to Jesus
and his declaration about austerity:
“Those who would follow me
have to leave father and mother,
brothers and sisters,
and take up their cross daily
in (finding their life and living it).

Joseph Campbell said the same thing:
“Do you have what it takes
to stick with it?
To do what it requires of you?
Day in and day out?
Whether you want to or not?
Whether you feel like it or not?
Whether you are in the mood for it or not?
For no other reason
than because it is yours to do–
and go on doing–
throughout the time left for living,
no matter what?”

“No matter what?” means we have to
find our life and anchor ourselves to it
with an adamantine declaration
of allegiance and loyalty
that puts liege and filial devotion to shame.

This is what all of those old love stories
are about.
It isn’t about boy and girl finding each other
and swearing their troth forever,
it is about men and women finding their life
and living it through all
of the situations and circumstances of life.

It is not about finding the man or the woman
meant for them,
but about finding the life they are meant for
and living it beyond all other
compelling considerations.

Can they find the life partner
who will aid and assist them in their
dharma/duty to their own life?
That is the heart of the boy/girl
(or boy/boy, girl/girl) thing:
“Can we be good for each other
in bringing the other forth
and helping the other live their life
to the fullest extent possible?”

Find the person who can create this kind
of environment with you,
and stick with them throughout eternity!

We are here for the life that is ours to live!
And nothing can knock us off that!

The next thing is learning to read the signs,
to know what the symbols refer to–
the symbols that catch our eye,
that speak to us–
to know what they are saying.

We have to learn to live symbolically,
The truth (the Truth) doesn’t lend itself
to the language of logic, intellect and rationality.
The Truth comes to us in dreams
and impulses that make no sense
but speak directly to our heart.

We have to learn to read/understand/intuit
the language of Truth and Spirit
in order to find our life and live it.

What movies mean the most to you?
What books stir something within?
What moves you?
What objects, animals, places, scenes,
poems, stories, etc.,
bring you to life–
bring something within you to life?
Dig in there!
See what connections you can make there!
What is going on there?

It is as though we have been
born into a mystery,
and have to find the clues
that lead us to the life that is our to live.

And then, we have to have the courage,
grit, determination, heart, etc.
to live it.

It is the adventure we were born for.
And we just want to make a lot of money
and be the envy of our peers.

It’s called selling out.

It is also called living out of desire and fear.


Are you up for finding your life
and living it,
or not?


Our motives stem from
our desires and fears.
From what we want
and don’t want.

Look around.
We could do better
with different reasons
for doing what we do,
and do not.

Reasons that have nothing to do
with our advantage,
or profit.

There are two approaches
to take in finding new reasons
for doing what we do.
Here is the first:

Sit still and be quiet,
watching what goes through
your mind.
You are waiting for something
to arise that you are not
responsible for.

You don’t think it,
remember it,
imagine it.
It isn’t logical
or reasonable,
and comes out of nowhere.
Suddenly, it is just there.

You will know it when it happens.

When it happens,
decide what to do about it.
What is it asking of you?
What is it calling for?
What are you going to do about it?

The other approach is to simply
observe each situation as it arises,
looking for what needs to happen there.
What is called for?

Do it.
To the best of your ability,
with what you have to offer
from the gifts, talents, traits,
virtues, skills, abilities,
interests, etc.
that come with you from the womb.

For no reason other than it needs to be done.

If you begin living from these two
approaches to doing what you do,
you will transform your relationship
to your life,
by seeking to serve something beyond
your own interests and advantage.

And it will improve the world.


Being in the moment
is the most important place to be,
and we hardly ever
spend any time there.

We are forever thinking about
where we have been,
or where we would like to be,
or what we hate about our life,
and wishing things were different
longing for

Jon Kabat-Zinn offers
the best practice regimen
I know of,
with his YouTube videos
(The shortest ones first)
about being here, now.

Since there is really
nowhere else to be,
why not actually
do what it takes to be here,

Seeing what is with us here, now,
and what is happening,
and what is trying to happen,
and what is called for,
and how we might help the process
by doing what needs to be done
right here, right now,
because it needs to be done
and not to achieve anything,
or acquire anything,
or accomplish anything
beyond being here, now
in ways beneficial
to here, now
because that is what we are for,
and exactly where we come in?


If you have an agenda,
you have an idea for the situation
that is not organic to the situation.
You are bringing something
to the situation
that is foreign to the situation.
You are willing an outcome
upon the situation
that doesn’t take the needs of the situation
into account.
You are imposing your idea
of the good of the situation
upon the situation.
You are saying,
“NO! Not this! THAT!”
What needs to happen, here and now,
is the question.
Not what do you want to happen.

Our duty–
our dharma–
is to be true to ourselves
within the circumstances
of the time and place
of our living.

What is it time for, here and now,
is the question.
We have to bear the pain of the answer,
and do what needs to be done,
regardless of what we want done.

How objective can we be,
is the question.

I have left situations
that needed something
I could not give them
without betraying myself.
It would have been wrong
to impose my idea for the situation
upon the situation.
And, it would have been wrong
to turn away from myself
and my need for self-expression
and self-determination.

I have also remained in situations
and changed the situation
to reflect my understanding
of what the situation needed,
and other people have left,
unable to embrace and participate in
what I was doing.

How do you know when to do what?
There is no formula that says,
“Here is where you do this,
and there is where you do that.”
There is only being still and quiet
and seeing what arises in the silence
as an impulse from your nature,
and living out of that knowing.

We wait for the mud to settle
and the water to clear
in order to know what it is time for
here and now.

Our agenda is to see what we look at,
to hear what is called for,
and to do what needs to be done
in light of what we see and hear.


Be what the moment
needs you to be!
Be what is called for,
moment by moment!

Sometimes that means taking a nap.
“Eat when hungry,
rest when tired.”

Read the moment,
moment by moment.
Go where you are being asked to go.
Do what you are being asked to do.

Our moments carry us along
to where we are going.
If we ignore what the moment
is calling for,
and follow our dreams,
whatever they might be,
they will bring us back
to where we started,
having learned, perhaps,
to listen to the moment,
and be what it is calling us to be.
And do what it is calling us to do.

It may be that following our dreams
was it to begin with.
And it may be that was the moment’s way
of waking us up
to the importance
of the moment.

Our moments add up to a life.
Do enough moments well
and we do a life well–
and that is the most
that can be asked of anyone.

We cannot do more
than to live moment by moment well.
Start with any moment,
this one, say,
and it will lead to the next moment.
Before you know it,
you will have lived an entire life well,
one moment at a time.
Just by doing what was called for.

The art of life.


It comes down to doing this thing well.
Whatever it is.
Do the present moment well.

To do that,
we have to be all there,
aware of the moment
and what is being called for there.

We cannot do the moment well
in an absent-minded kind of way.

In each moment,
there are the needs of the moment
to take into account
along with spontaneous impulse
of our nature.
Our place is to realize consciously
that we are allowing our natural
response to the situation before us
to arise within
and direct us in meeting the situation
without our being rationally/logically
in charge of our actions.

We do not think our way through
our situations as they develop
any more than we think our way
through the movements as we dance,
or the decisions we make returning
the ball in a game of tennis.

We trust ourselves to respond
appropriately as the occasion requires,
and follow the impulse of our nature
throughout life’s course,
building a body of work
by doing the present moment well,
one moment at a time.


Things are the way they are
because it is easier that way.

Nature’s course tends to be
the course of least resistance.

Why waste energy?

Inertia is the tendency
of a body in motion
to remain in motion,
and of a body at rest
to remain at rest.

Momentum is a function
of mass and velocity,
friction and slope.

Change happens over time
in response to its environment,
and in relation to its
immediate surroundings.

How different we can be depends
on factors approaching infinity–
but, our tendency is
to not be different at all.
And, our preferences strongly
impact our performance.

Put all of this together
and that is why
things are as they are.

It is easier that way.

The energy required to change
has to come from somewhere.
What is our motivation?
Alcoholics generally require
a near-death experience
to pop out of alcoholism
into “I’m Jim and I’m an alcoholic.”

We are all alcoholics
on some level,
to some degree,
in some sense.
It takes a lot of effort
to exchange our way for The Way.
Why bother?
What’s in it for us?
Who cares?
What do we care?
Things are fine just as they are.

And that is why things are as they are.

It is going to take a lot
for them to be different.

The Tao can only wait.
And let the dead bury the dead.
As nearly dying does what it can
to wake up those who can be waked up
while there is still time left for living.


Just do what needs to be done.
Moment by moment.
Situation by situation,
Day by day.

Always need doing,
always need someone doing them,
always languish due to neglect
and violent opposition.

The Four Noble Truths
of Democracy
are always under attack.
People hate them
from half-a-world away,
in all directions
at the same time.

If I were God,
I wouldn’t know what to do first.
But high on the list
would be requiring everyone
to meditate daily on
And recommit themselves daily
to their service
in a world adverse
to their cause.

Until my coronation
as God of the Realm,
I will content myself
with establishing and maintaining
a small oasis of
Tending it daily,
and recommending it highly
to everyone who comes my way.

It needs to be done,
and it needs to be done every day.


We must talk to the world,
and the world must talk to us.
Though “commune” is more to the point
than “talk,”
for with “commune,”
the emphasis is on listening
and not on what is to be said.

How do we position ourselves–
to commune with the world?

Sit quietly.
Tune in.
Wait for the shift to happen.
The shift in perspective
that lends itself
to seeing/hearing/understanding/
what is being said to us
in the silence,
and what is being called for
within the circumstances of our life.

is a way of opening ourselves
to the world,
not of shutting ourselves off
from the world.
Contemplation and reflection
are required for realization
and discernment.

When we do this,
what happens?
And what happens next?

If our life were a book
what would the title be?

What movie or myth
best represents our life?

What song or poem
best expresses how it is
to be who we are?

It helps to be fluent in metaphor,
and to be able to grasp
what the symbols are referencing
in order to turn the world
and the events of the day
into a mirror reflecting
the inner depths of ourselves.

We see ourselves looking at us–
for us–
when we take the time to listen
to what is going on.

We are speaking to ourselves all the time,
but no one is listening.
The world is speaking to us all the time,
but no one is listening.

We have to know how to read the signs,
to interpret our nighttime dreams
(They all are saying:
“This is how it is with you right now!”
How is it with us right now?)

We have to relate ourselves properly–
appropriately and authentically–
to the environment in which we are living

Religion that does not connect us
to the here-and-now
is worse than worthless.
Religion that talks to us of the then and there,
or of the not yet but one day,
separates us from the only time that matters:
the present moment of our knowing,
or knowing-not,
what is called for
and what is to be done about it.

This what our communion with the world
will do for us,
open us to the time and place of our living
and provide us with the awareness
and the wherewithal
to trust ourselves to the impulse of our nature
in responding to the need of the moment,
all our life long.

And that is all that is ever needed
in any time and place.


Seeing each situation as it is
and responding to it
out of the spontaneous
impulse of our nature
is the foundation
of balance,
and flow,
and evidence
of a heart
that is noble,
and kind.

If we allow our concern
for the thoughts/opinions
of others,
or the Thou Shalts
of parents or culture,
or the zeal for personal gain
or financial reward
to inhibit our following
the spontaneous act of compassion
and grace,
we will “leave the path,
turn aside from the way,”
and wander through the wilderness
of malcontent
and dissatisfaction
all our days.

To serve the moment,
we abandon thoughts of gain,
and seek only to know
how we might be of help
to the time and place of our living
with the gifts that come with us
from the womb–
the spirit,
and virtues/character
which are ours to incarnate,
and share.

Meeting the situation as it is
as one “Thus Come,”
offering what we have to give
to what is being called for,
is all anyone need do
through all the time
that is ours upon the earth.

No one could do more.


Everybody is looking for something.
Ask them what,
and it comes down to,

The maturity level of the species
hovers around 2.5 years of age.

From the beginning to right here right now,
no one has ever been able
to grow someone else up.

Growing up is our responsibility.

And we all grow up–
those of us who do–
against our will!

We grow up–
those of us who do–
against our will
by accommodation,
and acquiescence.

It is called
“Coming to terms
with how things are.”

It is also known as
“Taking ‘NO!’ for an answer.”

How well do you do that?
On a scale of ten,
with ten being great
and one being not at all?

Ask three friends
you can trust to be honest
to rank you as well.

Make it your goal
to grow toward
and acquiescence
throughout the time
left for living.

Rank yourself
at the end of the day
every day.

Ask your friends to rank you
every three months.

Starting today.


My beef with Buddhism is its
not-caring solution to suffering.
The Buddha’s big idea
was to not-care.
To call suffering an illusion,
and have nothing to do with it.

I much prefer Jesus’ solution to suffering,
which is to suffer!
To bear the pain of caring
and to care even if it kills you.
That’s more like it, I say.

Both Jesus and the Buddha
would be quick to say
that it is easy to care too much
about the wrong things,
and that it is easy to care
about the right things
in the wrong way.

Caring is tricky,
and that’s what I like best about it.
Life is tricky.
I love that about life.
There is no formula for living.
No recipe for getting it right.
Now we have it,
now we don’t.

We keep getting up
and going back at it,
hoping to do better this time
than last time,
or the time before last.

I love that about us.

The thing I love best about us
is completely out of our control.
It is an unconscious,
spiritual, thing:
Our ability to resonate with some things.
We can fall in love.
We can see eye-to-eye with others.
We can sing in tune and on key.
We can harmonize.
We can vocalize.
It is magical.
We are magical.
I love it!

And I can’t get the Buddha’s
not-caring about any of this!
If you are not going to love deeply
what is to be loved about life,

You are wasting your life!

We have to embrace life totally!
The wins and the losses,
the suffering and the celebrations,
shouting YES! to it all!
Bearing the pain of it joyfully!
Relishing the honor of being able
to love something with all our heart
and soul,
and mind,
and strength–
to love it enough to die for it!
To go to hell for it!
That’s living!
Why hold yourself back?
Why hold anything back?
This is our one chance at living life
the way it needs to be lived!

Get in there and do your thing,
and don’t let anything stop you,
or even slow you down!
“If you meet the Buddha on the road,
kill him!”


Where does your fear thrive?

Where are you forcing things to be
what you want them to be?

Where are you willing your way
through your life?

Where are you meeting opposition?

Where is there conflict?

Where are the contradictions
most apparent?

What are your symptoms?

What are your dreams telling you?

How long has it been
since balance, harmony and flow
were companions in the journey
through your days?

What is more important:
Having your way,
or finding your way,
or taking the way
that opens before you,
calling your name?

How long has it been
since you gave up your way
and followed the impulse
of your nature?


Wes Nesker said,
“Nature, like play,
has no purpose or consequence
other than itself.”

What do we do that is like that?

Eating and sex might be it
for most of us.

Watching birds.
And clouds.
And sunrises and sets.

How long is your list?

How often do you do
something on it?

Work to increase the length
of the list,
and to work more things on it
into each day

Things you do for no reason
beyond the simple joy
of doing them.


Wait for the mud to settle
and the water to clear.

Everything becomes clear in time.

the impulse of your nature
to know what action to take
when the time is right.

What’s the hurry?
Why the rush?
Where are you going?
How do you know?

Master the art of not-doing.
Wu-wei is the Taoist term.
“Not forcing.”
Waiting for the appropriate time
to do the appropriate thing.

I carry the camera
and wait for the picture
to appear before me.

I look
and wait to see.
I listen
and wait to hear.
I cannot hurry seeing/hearing.
Neither can you.

No one can
“hurry up and be there,”
or even know where “there” is.

Is it better to win or to lose?
To be first or to be last,
or somewhere in between?

“Divinely superfluous beauty”
is Robinson Jeffers’ phrase
for the wonder upholding the world.
It is everywhere,
all around.
It only takes looking to see.
It only takes listening to hear.
It only takes time to tell
what is essential to know.
Take the time to tell
what is called for,
where and when and how.

Wake up!
Be amazed!
By the wonder
of “divinely superfluous beauty”


For me, the pathos of “the human condition”
comes down to the choices we have.

Doing the best that can be done with them
still leaves us bound by them
limited to them,
and to the choices made by those
whose choosing impacted us and our choices.

We all could have done better–
could still do better–
with better choices.
The choices we have
are the only choices we have.

Choosing to do the best we can
with the choices we have to work with
is the best choice we can make
under the circumstances.


Sit quietly.
Breathe slowly and deeply.
For what arises within.

This is called taking stock,
seeking the center,
and waiting for the mud to settle
and the water to clear.

This is the second-best choice we can make
under the circumstances.

It is the choice for mindful awareness
and self-transparency.

We can enhance this choice
by watching all of the Jon Kabat-Zinn
YouTube videos
on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
(The shortest ones first)—
which I cannot remind you of,
or emphasize the importance of,

These videos will help us become
a student of the here and now.
There is much to learn
by learning to be present
with what is present with us.

Being present in the present
is the way of learning to see the present,
to be aware of it,
to know what is happening,
to sense what needs to happen in response,
and to “get out of the way”
in allowing the impulse of our nature
to lead the way in responding
to what is being called for in the moment
with what we have to offer to the moment–
and that is the gate to the next moment,
where being present with that present
will lead to the next moment,
and so on
to all that will flow from
this present moment,
right here,
right now,
one choice at a time.


Good and evil are not absolutes.
They are relative,
and change with the shift
in perspective which depends upon
what side we are on.

Which depends upon the stake we have
in the outcome.
Any outcome.

Which depends upon how we feel
about the outcome.
Any outcome.

Which depends on what we like
and don’t like.

I can be either the angel of the lord,
or the embodiment of Satin himself,
according to how you think about
what I do.

We can transform the way we relate
to the world
by modifying the views
and opinions
we have regarding
what happens in the world.

Joseph Campbell said,
“The formula for the attainment of peace
is to act as one must,
but without attachment–
to abandon absolutely all concern
for the fruits of action,
whether in this world or the next,
but to enter fully into the action required
as action for its own sake,
without thought of gain or loss,
praise or blame.”

Campbell fully comprehended
how difficult it is to participate fully
in life without being invested in the outcome.
He was a world-class distance runner
in college,
and could not attend athletic events
later in life
because, as he said,
“It aroused in me more emotion
than I wanted to have to control.”

The emotion flowed from having
something at stake in the outcome.

To live as though something matters
without it actually mattering
is a trick for yoga masters,
who might be accused of cheating
because they don’t actually live
in the service of much that matters.
It is easy to be peaceful
with nothing on the line!

Having nothing on the line is the key.
We live as though we have everything
always on the line.
We need to examine that,
and see what we really stand
to gain or to lose
with the things we become embroiled over.

How important really are they?

Peace is to be found in backing off.
In caring less about all things,
and only about the things
that are truly important.

The degree of our attachment to things,
the quality of our caring about them,
are reflected in our judgment and opinions
about them–
and we are responsible for determining
to what extent our investment
is justified by the value of our commitments.

How important are the things
we declare to be important?

What will we go to hell for?
What business do we have
in going to hell for that?



So What? Who cares? Why Try?
What difference will it make?
What good will it do?
Are questions that never occur
to those
who are engrossed
in doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done
because it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises.

Doing what needs to be done
whether it does any good or not
is the most that can be done
in any situation,
and there is no reason
to not do that much ever.

Doing what needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises–
even so–
is an existential pledge
to life and being.

It is our essential commitment
to one another
and all sentient beings.

It’s the least we can do–
and high time we did it.


Joseph Campbell said, “If you’re not interested
in making things well,
then you are not–
even in the most elementary sense–
an artist.”

“Making things well”
does not mean
making them perfect.
Perfection is a steady state
incapable of being made better.

Making things well leaves the door open
to future improvements,
and development.

The artists themselves are changing!
We work on ourselves
every time we sit still,
reflecting transformations,

We, ourselves, are never finished!
We are continuing to improve,

But doing each day well,
each thing in each day well,
is part of that evolution,
that growth,
that development
involved with meeting the day
and being who we are in it
as best we can
every day.


No one can help you with your perspective,
with your attitude,
with your outlook,
with your point of view,
with the way you think,
with the way you see things,
with the way you evaluate things,
with the way you interpret things,
with the way you respond to things…

You are on your own with all of this.
Which makes you responsible for all of it.
Which means you need to be more consciously
aware of it than you are–
thinking about your thinking,
seeing your seeing,
attending your responses,
evaluating your reactions,
and your assumptions,
your presumptions,
your inferences
and conclusions–
and asking all of the questions
that beg to be asked
in light of all that you are aware of
being generated internally
in response to the external world.

Do not assume you know what you are doing.
Make inquiries.
Launch investigations.
Find the line between what you know
and what you do not know.
Stop living like you know
what you do not know.
People will notice the difference
that makes in your life
So will you.


Calculation, orchestration,
choreography, contrivance
and control
replace the spontaneous expression
of the impulse of our nature
in responding to the situation
as it unfolds before us.

Then, we act with something other
than what is called for
by the need of the moment in mind,
and follow a path of ulterior motives
in forcing things on the moment
that are not of the moment,
by creating artificial “concerns,”
and generating inorganic responses
in the service of illegitimate ends–
disrupting the balance,
and flow of life,
and making an irredeemable mess of things,
pouring over,
spilling out,
wreaking havoc for years
in all directions,
because we imposed our will
for the situation upon the situation
at hand.


Follow the impulse of your nature
in seeing what is happening,
knowing what is called for in response
and answering the six questions of life
in each situation as it arises,
one situation after another,
your entire life long.

WHO? — That would be you.
WHAT? — Needs to be done?
WHERE? — Here!
WHEN? — Now!
WHY? — Because it needs to be done!
HOW? — The way it needs to be done!

Do what needs to be done
without attachment to the outcome,
without purpose beyond
doing what needs to be done,
without seeking, expecting,
even thinking about
personal gain/benefit/advantage,
and when it is done,
leave it behind
and step into the next moment
where you repeat the entire process,
following the flow of life
from moment to moment,
situation to situation,
doing what needs to be done
all the way.

and time for reflection
and contemplation,
need to be done in their time
throughout each day.

Your personal needs get equal time
with all other needs.

But the drama
and the glory,
the tragedy
and the fascination
of the 10,000 things
have no place in the day,
any day.

We will be too busy
doing what needs us to do it
to bother with the things
that  normally consume
our time on the earth.

And that will create a brand new world!


The greatest mystery all-time
without a close competitor
is the Psyche that forms the nucleus
around which we revolve.

The old definition of God
being a sphere whose center is everywhere
and whose circumference is nowhere
is as close as we are likely to ever get
to making sense of the Psyche.

Words are useless
because words are only references
to things that stand to reason.
Words can’t say things
about things that are beyond
our ability to comprehend.

We are left with word-pictures,
or poetry,
that circumambulates the Psyche
without pretending to explain it,
or describe it,
in any meaningful way.

What controls/determines
how we see things?
How we think about things?
What we call important?
What we consider to be insignificant?

What governs our perspective?
Our perception?
Our designations of “meaningful”
and “meaningless”?

How good is the good we call good?
How do we know?
What makes us think so?
On what basis do we evaluate our values?

Why do we think the way we think
and not some other way instead?
How many different ways of thinking are there?
Why do we think some are right
and others are wrong?
Right in terms of what?
Wrong in terms of what?

What guides our boat
on its path through the sea?

What directs our life?

Toward what are we living?

When something resonates with us,
what is happening,

When something repels us,
appalls us,
what is happening,

What determines what we say “Yes” to
and “No” to?
How do we know we are right
about what we say “Yes” and “No” to?

What is the central source
of direction and guidance in our life?
What is in control of our “Yeses” and “Nos”?

Around what do we revolve?
Toward what do we live?

What makes us think
we know what we are doing?

How do we change our minds?
How does our mind change?

What is the most incontestable,
most unshakable, most constant,
most certain, most dependable,
most reliable, most true
thing about us?

How many of us are there?

What are the contradictions
that shape our life?

How do we integrate our opposites?

How do we draw lines among
and not us
and also us
and no longer us
and not yet us?

What governs the relationships
among all of these “uses”?

Who’s on first?


All seeing is interpretation.
It is saying what we see.
It is saying what is meaningful
about what we see.

If we cannot interpret it,
we can only look at it,
we cannot see it.

All looking is a search for meaning,
is looking for what is meaningful to us.

Modern art is meaningless
because we do not know
what we are looking at,
and we cannot see it,
and say it makes no sense.

We can only see what we look at
in light of what we have seen
up to that point.

Babies fresh from the womb
cannot see anything
though they look at everything
but nothing makes sense.
It is all meaningless.
A meaningless swirl of colors,
out of focus
with something saying
“I’m your Mommy!”

How does meaning happen
with newborns?
Where in our life
are we all like newborns?

A modern art museum might be
one of those places.
A book on inorganic chemistry
might be another.
A lecture on advanced calculus
might be another.

The hero comes back to the Wasteland
from her journey to realization,
awareness and understanding
with the message of truth.
What chance does she have?
The one who sees in the land of the blind
is crucified.
Or ignored.
or locked away.

We cannot comprehend
what we cannot relate to,
what we cannot interpret,
what we cannot make sense of.

We are babies fresh from the womb!
Calling the One Who Sees blind!

How does meaning come about
with newborns?
That is how meaning comes about
with us!

Sit before the meaningless,
until something shifts.
Until, somehow,
we can relate this to that.
Make connections.
Separate foreground from background.
See our Mommy for the first time.
And watch as everything falls into place
around that.

Not-knowing what just happened.
Not-realizing how many more times
it will have to happen
throughout our life.

Maybe, hopefully, remembering
that we are blind to all we cannot see,
and that there is much we cannot see,
because we have no experience with it,
and no way of making sense of it,
so we have to sit,
waiting for the mud to settle
and the water to clear,
for Mommy to become apparent
and real.

Thinking that now, at last, we see.


Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before others
that they may see your good works and give glory to God.”

And, Jesus said, “Do not throw your pearls before swine.”

And, Jesus said, “Judge not, that you may be not judged.”

What would Jesus do?

Whatever Jesus would do,
it would likely be contradicted
by something else Jesus would do.

Like telling the story of the Prodigal Son,
and then cursing a fig tree
for not bearing fruit out of season!!!

So, what I’m saying about all of this is this:
Decide for yourself what you are going to do
in each situation as it arises,
and do it–
and use what happens then
as food for thought
in deciding what you are going to do
in the next situation as it arises.

Do not follow a recipe book of what to do when!
No maps! No maps!
No path! No path!
Each moment is a fresh start.
Decide what you are going to do there
based on your cumulative experience
with all the moments that have gone before!

Trust yourself to follow the impulse of your nature,
and let that be that.
Use the information you glean
from that experience to collect
as grist for the mill
for the next moment.

We are milling awareness, here!
We are milling maturity!
We are milling grace and compassion–
for ourselves as much as for anyone else!

Living is the lesson,
life is the teacher.

Do what you would do
and let that deepen, expand, enlarge
your response potential
in the next moment.

You be your own authority
in deciding how you live your life
and determining what to do in each situation.
Give it your best effort,
and make the necessary adjustments
to meet the next situation.

That is your life plan.
Beat it if you can.


Our role is not to choreograph life,
willing things into place,
serving our way,
imposing our agenda…

Our role is to fold into life,
to merge with the current,
to become one with the flow,
to let things be
waiting for the right time
to act in doing what is called for,
and being a steady influence
over time.

Like water, finding its way,
not forcing it,
wearing rock away
to create the Grand Canyon
with its unrelenting presence,

In accord with the Tao,
integrating yin and yang,
transforming the landscape,
changing the world,
doing nothing
in the special way
water has
of being water.


We have to live the kind of life
that allows us to be who we are.

There has to be a close correspondence
between how we live
and who we are.
When there is too much dissonance,
we sacrifice our original nature,
our natural self,
for the sake of who our lived environment
requires us to be.

Too much “civilization”–
too many “Thou Shalts”–
and we are living in The Wasteland
of Lost Souls,
looking for a way back to Eden.

The way back to Eden
is the return to “the face that was ours
before we were born.”

What is the impulse of our nature?
How are we restraining ourselves
in deference to our surroundings?
How is our life inhibiting our ability–
our freedom–
to live the life that is crying out
to be lived?

Everywhere there is striving and forcing,
contriving and conniving,
seeking and serving our way
in pursuit of what we want now!

Where do we simply sit,
waiting quietly
“in a perpetual state of centeredness
in undirected alertness,”
watching for things to open up
“of themselves,
according to their nature”
(Quotes from Joseph Campbell),
in order that we might act
in accordance with the rhythm
of time and place,
here and now,
with no concern for,
or attachment to,
the outcome?

Where do we merely look
to see where we might best
bring what we have to offer
in response to what is being called for

Always, everywhere, there is only
doing this to get that,
or to keep from losing that.
Never just to act innocently,
“not missing the moment of life,”
allowing “life to be lived of itself”
like dancers at one with the music,
disappearing into the moment,
stepping aside,
allowing the dance to be danced
through them
(Quotes from Joseph Campbell).

The return to Eden
is the return to the innocence
of the time before contrivance
and expediency.

As Campbell said, “What is keeping us
out of the Garden (of Eden) is not
the jealousy or wrath of any god,
but our own instinctive attachment
to what we take to be our lives.”

And as Jesus said, “Whoever seeks
to save their life will lose it,
but whoever loses their life
(in the service of what is called for
will find it.”


Growing up is waking up.
Waking up is growing up.
Both involve
transforming our relationship
with ourselves and our life.

“Nothing changes until we do”
could be a bit of Mary Poppins wisdom
on the order of,
“Anything can happen if you let it.”

Even Chinese fortune cookies
can wake us up “if we let it.”

We stand between ourselves
and what might yet be.

Whose side are we on?

What is not working in our life?

What do we need that we don’t have?

Waking up is growing up,
is seeing what needs to be done
and doing it.

What is keeping that from happening?
What has to change for everything to change?

Think of the Tao as
“The way things need to be.”

Living in accord with the Tao
is living to assist things
in being what they need to be
in each situation as it arises–
no matter what it might mean
for us personally.

This is the fundamental message
of Jesus of Nazareth.
“Do not think about yourselves
and what is in it for you!
Pick up your cross daily,
and come along with me!”

Jesus was one with the Tao.
He was what the situation
needed him to be
in every situation that came along.
The answer to the question,
“What would Jesus do?”
is “What needs to be done
in every situation that arises
all your life long.”

What is keeping that from happening?


Sincerity and self-transparency
are the basic building blocks
of a true human being.

Which is to say that
truth is fundamental and foundational
for a true human being.

Truth is integrity,
is integration,
is Yin/Yang,
is Tao
is living aligned with ourselves,
in accord with the Tao,
at one with who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
how we are,
here and now.

No duplicity.
No duality.
No denial.
No pretense.
No hidden agendas.
No ulterior motives.
No mixed signals.
No gaming.
No pretending.

Who we are is who we are.
Across all situations
and circumstances.
times and places.

We don’t go
were we aren’t welcome
to be who we are.
Where appearances
don’t express/exhibit realities.
Where the visible
conceals the invisible.
And the truth is not
how it is presented to be.

The life of a true human being
turns life as it is being lived
upside down.

Do we have what it takes
to be who we are?

What would have to change
about our life
for us to be able to live in ways
that are true to ourselves?
That are in the flow?
That are on the beam?
That are integral exhibitions
and identical incarnations
of the values and virtues,
vitality and spirit
of who we are?


The Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara
practiced “benevolence without purpose”
(Joseph Campbell).

He wasn’t in it for what
he could get out of it.
Just being what was needed,
just doing what was called for,
just seeing what was happening
and knowing how to respond to it,
“participating in the nature of things”
for the good of all
in harmony with all,
not stretching for this,
striving for that,
at one with the need of the moment,
ready to act spontaneously
when the time for action arises,
without attachment,
or opinion,
“from the impulse of one’s nature”
(Campbell quotes from Myths to Live By).

Avalokiteśvara in the art of India
is always masculine,
but as the Chinese goddess of mercy,
she is Kuan-yin,
and Kwannon in Japan

Becoming the Bodhisattva,
becoming the Buddha,
becoming the Kuan-yin,
becoming the Kwannon,
becoming the Christ,
we participate in the moment,
in each moment,
with nothing to gain or to lose,
but with something to offer,
for the sake of the moment,
like we might play a game
of keeping a beach ball in the air,
everyone participating as they are able,
doing their part to save the ball
from touching the ground,
with no concern for the fruits of the action,
just the joy of connecting
with all others
in the flight of the ball.

Enter life each day
as one would enter such a game,
freely, at ease, attentive, playfully,
alert and ready for anything,
all day.


To act as one must
without attachment
to the outcome of one’s action
is to do what we have come to do
with nothing in it for us.

This is not impersonal,
but highly personal–
our entire person is invested
in the act for which we have been born!
We are one with our action!

“What I do is me–
for that I came!”
declares the poet
(Gerard Manley Hopkins).

The poem is the poet!
The poet is the poem!
The dance is the dancer!
The dancer is the dance!

We are one with our life
when we live with our heart
thoroughly invested in what we do!

Ah, but, there’s the problem.
Who is so invested these days?
What we do is out of boredom,
not out of a passionate investment
in the poem,
in the dance,
of pure being-in-the-world!

We don’t know what that means.
Are we even interested in finding out?

We have this life,
the most precious gift
we could hope to receive,
and we leave it hanging in the closet
while we wile away the hours
in trivial pursuits
until the whistle blows
and the lights go out.

What are we doing with the time?
What are we doing with our life?

What is ours to do with the time?
What is ours to do with our life?

What are we missing?
What hints and guidance and directives
do we walk by unknowing every day?
What is our time screaming for us to do?
What is our life dying for us to live?
Why don’t we care about that?
Why aren’t we passionately intense
in our search for the truth
of who we are
and what is ours to do?


Focusing on what needs to be done
and doing it when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done
for as long as it needs to be done,
and then focusing on what needs to be done,
through all of the times and places
of our life
is the key to living a long
and meaningful life.

If you don’t know,
or can’t decide,
what needs to be done,
sit down and wait
for the mud to settle
and the water to clear.

Soon enough you will
have to use the toilet.
That will need to be done.
Do it,
and then wait to see
what needs to be done
after that.

What needs to be done
is a question of value,
of what matters,
of what is important,
of what is worth our time,
of how we are going to spend our life.

At the bottom,
this is a question of faith.
We believe this, or that, is important.
We take it on faith
that this, or that, is important.
We can’t prove that it is,
but it is important to us,
here and now.
We believe it to be so,
and we are going to act as though it is.
And that is all the faith we need,
here and now,
moment to moment,
day by day,
all our life long.

We keep faith with ourselves.
We live in good faith with one another.
Doing what we believe to be important.

What would we live for?
What would we die for?
What would we go to hell for?
We take all of this on faith.
We are faith based.
Everything we do is based
on our faith in it,
on our faith that it is worth doing,
because we say so.

On our faith in our own judgment.
In our own sense of what matters.
In our own sense of direction.
Our own sense of value.

At the bottom, we believe in ourselves.

And, even if we say, “Nothing matters!”
We take that on faith.
We believe in ourselves
to believe that nothing is worth believing in.
We take our word for it.
And live as though we know
what we are talking about.

We have no choice but to believe in ourselves,
to believe what we say.

That being the case,
why not say things that are helpful?
Why not not-say things that are harmful?

Why not believe things
that are going to make a difference
for the good?

Why not make cookies?
Or pizza?
Or spaghetti?
Or bread pudding?
And invite someone over for lunch?


I just dropped in to say it is very appropriate and proper to be overwhelmed when what you are dealing with is overwhelming!

It would also be appropriate and proper, to call time-out for fifteen minutes every hour for an overwhelmed break.

Sit down under a blanket and cry, or just stare at the wall, or the floor, for 15 minutes, and then get back to work in the midst of the overwhelming.

And, in response to “So what? Why try? Who cares? Why good will it do? What difference does it make? What’s the use?” repeat this:

It’s all useless, hopeless, pointless, insane, stupid, absurd and coming to a very bad end (Everyone dies in the end)—and, how we live in the meantime makes all the difference.

We make all the difference in each other’s life, in the life of the world, by the way we live moment-to-moment, day-by-day, in each situation as it arises.

If you are going to take anything on faith, take this on faith, and live as though it is so, because it is!

And, coming to life, coming alive, lighting up in the darkness is what we do best.

That’s where we come in to do our thing, anyway, nevertheless, even so!

We do that by turning the tables on “So what? Why try? etc.” by saying so what? to So what? Why not try? to Why try? I’m going to do this whether it does any good or not! to why try?

The people who say, “Nothing matters anymore!” say it in a way that suggests that it matters that nothing matters.  

If nothing mattered, it wouldn’t matter that nothing mattered, and everyone would go right on with their life as though it mattered.

So, we go right on with our life as though it matters.

So what (to “So what?”) if it doesn’t matter?

If we all live as though it matters, it may as well matter because we are going to live as though it does, anyway, nevertheless, even so!

Besides that, to a child with an ice cream cone it would be ridiculous to suggest that nothing matters. The child is still going to enjoy the ice cream. So find what you enjoy whether it matters or not, and do that.

Matters to whom? Matters how, in what way? If it matters that nothing matters, then something matters, and if one thing matters, maybe two things matter, so find the other thing, and that will be two things, and maybe there is a third, and before you know it, a lot of things matter, and it doesn’t matter that some things don’t matter, so so what to “So what?”

The blind Greek poet had Ulysses say in “The Odyssey,” “I will survive and endure! And when the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces, then I will SWIM!”

So at the end of fifteen minutes, say to no one in particular, “Okay! Time’s up! Let’s go swimming!”

And do it again, if need be, in 45 minutes.

In the meantime, let’s go swimming!


We have to develop and maintain
our relationship with our core—
the old Taoists referred to it as
our original nature.
It’s our essence,
our essential self,
who we are
in our purest form.

This is “the antithetical mask,”
the “I” that came forth from the womb,
only to encounter the culture’s idea
of who we ought to be
and be handed “the primary mask”
which we are told to wear,
and which develops of its own accord
in fitting into the relationships
that comprise our life.

But always the antithetical mask
lives with us as our true core,
and asserts itself occasionally
in dreams and mysterious interests
and urges throughout our life.

Our task, our quest,
is to find our way back to who we are,
and live in relationship with our core,
incarnating it in our way with life,
integrating it with our day-to-day existence,
being one with it,
and thereby with the Tao,
the Source of the source of life and being,
in the time left for living.

Living from the core
is the path to balance and harmony
on the heaving waves of the wine dark sea.
It is a meditative kind of existence,
a slow, quiet, mindfully aware way of being
in the world of the 10,000 things,
and we are hard-pressed
to find room for it
in our life,
but to not find room for it
is to miss the heart of life,
and the whole point of being alive.


We think in terms of freedom from all the things
that keep us from being free
to do what we want–
as though having what we want
is the solution to all of our problems ever.

Here is the irony:
We talk about “freedom from want,”
but we do not mean from wanting,
but from going without,
from being without the things we want!

We need to be free from wanting!

What does wanting know?
When has wanting ever been satisfied?
When has anyone ever been at the place
of having nothing else to want?

Wanting is insatiable,
forever and always.

We can never have enough
to not want more.

We have it right,
though we do not know what we are saying.
We are desperately seeking
freedom from want!

We get their by being mindfully,
compassionately, aware
of our situation,
knowing what’s what
and what needs to be done about it
and doing it.

What needs to be done about it
is shifting our perspective from
having/getting to
shifting our perspective from
freedom from to
freedom for.

Freedom is for
(in the words of Joseph Campbell)
something fresh and new:
a spontaneous act”!

The old Taoists have talked about this
from the beginning,
and have lived as models of what
they were talking about,
incarnating opposites
and exhibiting their original nature
in responding to what is called for
in the present moment,
in each situation as it arises
all their life long.

They have danced before us
from 5,000 years before Christ,
who took up the dance 2,000 years ago,
calling us to be free for doing
what is called for here and now,
no, here and now,
no, here and now…forever.

They all call us to do what is called for,
and live as children at play,
doing what the play requires
in the spirit of those who take
not being serious seriously
and give themselves to the part
they are playing in the play,
and play it to the hilt,
being what is called for,
doing what is needed,
living spontaneously in response
to here and now,
no, here and now,
no, here and now…
inventing new-and-appropriate responses
to fit every occasion,
without worrying about Thou Shalt
in doing what needs to be done,
anyway, nevertheless, even so,
doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done

If we live to get that down,
we will be the Christ,
the Buddha,
and all the Taoists before them,
and after them,
and what a world that will be!

Because we had/have the courage
to play with the facts
and with the possibilities,
and to imagine possibilities
that no one thought existed,
because playing brings into existence
what has never existed,
and what has always thought to be impossible,
but what does playing know,
or care?

Playing brings us to life,
and life is play,
and we are here to play ourselves
into being fully, joyously, joyfully, alive
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long!


Believe it or not.
That doesn’t matter either.

What matters is what we do.
What matters is how we live our life.

Believe anything you want
as long as it
enables you to do what is needed,
what is called for,
when it is needed,
where it is needed,
the way it is needed,
in each situation as it arises
all your life long.

When people ask me if I’m a Christian,
I say, “Unconditionally!”
And go on to explain that by saying,
“That means no strings attached,
no conditions to be met,
no expectations to live up to,
in a word: No Theology!”

Of course, they protest:
“But you can’t be a Christian
without theology!”

And, of course, I reply,
“Of course you can.
Jesus didn’t peddle theology.
He told people what to do:
Love your enemies.
Love your neighbor.
Love one another.
Love yourself.

No theology.
Believe whatever you feel like believing.
Just do what is called for,
when it is called for,
where it is called for,
the way it is called for,
and let that be that.”

People like theology
because they can talk about it
without doing anything.
But when something needs doing,
there is no talking about doing it.
There is only doing it or not doing it.

No talking.
Just doing.


We are never more than
a slight perspective shift away
from seeing all things new.

It is all an optical illusion.

We are looking at it like this
and we need to look at it like that.

Whatever is is what we say it is.
What we say it is is a function
of how we are looking at it.

If we sit with it,
looking at it,
wondering what else is there,
how else we might see it,
what different ways of interpreting it
we can come up with…
we create cracks
in our construct
where the light can shine through.

We are thinking about it like this
and we need to think about it like that.

Write down how things are,
and ponder the list,
looking for ways a new hermeneutic
can transform your world.

It is all right there,
waiting to be seen.
We have the eyes.
We only need to start
using them differently.


There is what we do to pay the bills,
and there is what we pay the bills to do.

These two things are primary,
the fundamental,
base requirements for being alive.

We have to be clear about those two things,
what we are doing and why we are doing it.

And, we have to bear the pain
of the compromises required to do
those two things.
And all the other things we do
in conjunction with those two things.

Most of the other things we do
have no bearing on the two primary things.
And they take all our energy and attention
away from the two primary things.

Our focus and attention has very little to do
with the two primary things,
and everything to do with
escape, distraction, diversion and denial
regarding our life,
and what we are doing,
and why we are doing it,
and what we are to be about,
and how differently we should be living
in order to be about it.

Our life is where we hide from life.

List the things you hate about your life
and the things you love about your life.
And tell me where you spend your time,
doing things on each list.

You spend your time doing the things
you hate about your life.

You talk about what you love,
you do what you hate.
And you wonder why you aren’t happy.

You aren’t happy because you aren’t alive.
You are mostly dead.
Because of the way you spend your time.

Being alive requires you to transform
your relationship with yourself
and with your life.
And bear the pain of the contradictions
involved with what you do to pay the bills
and what you pay the bills to do.

Being alive requires us to bear the pain
of being alive.

Jesus said, “Pick up your cross every day
and come with me.”

Our cross is the pain of being alive–
the pain of the contradictions involved
with being alive.

We live to incarnate the contradictions,
to integrate the contradictions,
to be the contradictions,
between what we do to pay the bills
and what we pay the bills to do.

We bring Yang and Yin to life in our life.
We are Yang and Yin.

The Tao gives rise to the Source.
The Source gives rise to Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang give rise to
heaven and earth and human beings.
And from those three
everything else flows.

Our work is to live in such a way
as to smooth the flow
by consciously bearing the pain
of the contradictions at work
in our life.

Where is your pain?
Your agony?
Your anguish?
Your contradictions?
Walk into it.
Embrace it.
Dance with it.
Work with it.
Laugh with it.
Love it.

Reconcile what can be reconciled.
Maintain the tension between
irreconcilable polarities.
Do what needs to be done
in light of all opposites,
and differences.

Integrity is holding all of it together
in the light of awareness
and doing what is called for
in each situation as it arises
upon the heaving waves
of the wine-dark sea.


Stop thinking about what you want
and how to get it.
Start thinking about what is called for,
here and now,
and how you might rise to the occasion
and offer what is needed
with the gifts, virtues, genius, daemon, abilities,
interests, aptitudes, etc.
that are yours to share–
without regard for what you stand to gain or lose
in the matter.

Here’s the situation.
How can you be of help?
That is to be your focus
in each situation as it arises.

Not how can you exploit it to your benefit,
gain and good,
but how can you be of help.


What does wanting know?
It knows what it wants,
but it doesn’t know what
it ought to want.

It knows how to want
what it wants,
but it doesn’t know
how to want
what it ought to want.

It doesn’t know
what is worth wanting.
What is worth dying for.
What is worth going to hell for.

wanders through the wasteland
of emptiness
wanting everything,
certain that what it wants
is only one major purchase away.

Freedom from our bondage to wanting
is as simple as stopping it.

Replace wanting with needing.

What do you need to do
what needs you to do it?
What needs doing?
What is called for
in each situation as it arises?

What are your gifts?
Your specialties?
Your virtues?
Where are they needed?

What is your life asking of you?
What does your life need from you?
Begin making inquiries.

“What do you (your life) need from me
here, now?”
“How can I be of help to you,
here, now?”

Stop thinking about wants.
Start thinking about needs.

What needs to be done?
What do you need to do it?

A meaningful life is found
in answering those questions
throughout each day


We are not free to want just anything.
We are bound to want what we want
whether we want to or not.

We live in bondage to our wants
as slaves to their master.

Freedom is found in freely doing what is called for
whether we want to or not.

Since we are already wanting what we want,
whether we want to or not,
doing what is called for
whether we want to or not,
is a simple matter of shifting loyalties.
Wanting to has nothing to do with anything.

If the baby’s diaper needs to be changed,
we change the diaper.
If the dog needs to go out for walk,
we take the dog for a walk.
If it is raining,
we walk in the rain.

What does the situation require?
That is what we do.
In the right way.
At the right time.
Exactly as it ought to be done.

Forget what you want.
Begin looking for what
needs you to do it.
Want that,
whether you want it or not.
Do that.
And all that comes after that.

This is a shift that will
transform your life,
and change the world.


It comes down to meeting the moment
the way the moment needs to be met–
the way the moment needs us to meet it–
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

We live to do right by the moment
we are living
in every moment.

Baseball teams that do that
more often than other baseball teams
tend to win the World Series.

The number of baseball teams
that don’t do that
are a testimony to how difficult it is to do.
But, who needs a testimony?
We know how difficult it is to do!

How many moments are in a day?
How many of those do we do right by,
day after day?
What happens to keep that from happening
in every moment?

What interferes with our ability
to do right by the moment,
every moment?

Pay attention to your moments.
See what is stopping you
from doing right by those
you fail to do right by.


We live in each moment
to redeem and atone for
the ways we have lived
in all previous moments.

And, if that is a bit of an overstatement,
it isn’t too much of one.

Another way of stating the same thing
is to say, “We live to get better–
to do better-
to improve.
To become more like we need to be
than we are.
To be more of what the situation
needs us to be
than we have been thus far.”

Any way we say it,
it comes down to redemption and atonement.

Living redemptively
is living consciously–
living mindfully,
aware of what is called for
here and now,
and how best to respond to
what is needed,

The redemptive, atoning, act
is spontaneous sincerity,
at one with the music of the moment.

We dance with each situation as it arises.
How well we do that tells the tale–
to that point–
and provides us with what we need
to do it better in the next situation as it arises,
day by day,
throughout our life.


Being right about what is called for
and doing it
in each situation as it arises
is all that it takes.

All it takes to do what it takes
is to enter each situation as it arises
without will,
or opinion
beyond seeing and doing
what is called for,
regardless of the implications
for us personally.

The only thing standing between us
and being right about what is called for
and doing it
in each situation as it arises
is us.

What are we going to do about that?


We are never far away from,
“Here we are.
Now what?”
But, we are rarely there
long enough.

We rush past “Now what?”
to “Anywhere But THIS!”

It’s the not-knowing we despise.
Or fear.
Or despise because we fear.

Not-knowing is the worst imaginable torture.

We are here, now
because we could not bear the pain
of all of the “Now what’s?”
in our past,
and we jumped for the first possible
(The worst possible)
way out of there,
to where we did not care–
it had to be better than there.
Not-knowing what.
Not-knowing anything.

In in all of the places like those
remaining in the time left for living,
we have to wait,
bearing the pain
of not-knowing,
for the mud to settle
and the water to clear.

We have to wait
to get a feel for the flow,
for the drift of the current of life,
for the movement of pace and timing,
here at the transition point–
“the still point
of the turning world”
(T. S. Eliot).

What is leading us,
calling us,
asking us to listen,
to feel
in our body
the shift happening,
meeting circumstances,
looking for the door to open,
waiting for the door?

How long can we wait for the door
to open?
Before we have to do something,
door or no door,
even if it is wrong?

How long do we have?
How long can we wait?

We owe it to ourselves
to find out.


The inner guides are easily dismissed,

Their essential strength
is their refusal to quit
or withdraw.

They are forever
calling us to wake up,
grow up,
stand up,
face up,
square up
and meet the moment
every day.

Regardless of how we
have treated them
in every moment prior
to this one,
they are right there,
right here,
offering what they have to give
in terms of wisdom
and courage,
and hope.

If we are breathing
there is still a chance
of doing
the right thing
in the right place
at the right time
in the right way–
redeeming and atoning for
all the other moments
we met with less
than the best we had to offer.

Here is another now
needing what we have to give.
The guides are ready and willing.
We only have to sit still
and be quiet
and listen
and look
and wait for the mud to settle
and the water to clear–
for all of the noise
of the 10,000 things
to shift to the background,
and the whispers
of the still, small, persistent voices
to be felt, heard, sensed and seen.

Our place is to clear a space
for the guides to speak
with feelings, sensing,
realizing, knowing,
beckoning, urging,
calling, compelling…
and then to follow
in a “thy will, not mine
be done” kind of way.

in each situation as it arises,
seeking the rhythm,
finding the flow,
of balance and harmony,


Doing the right thing
in the right place
at the right time
in the right way
requires us to be present
with what is present with us,
to know what’s what
and what is called for
in the unrelenting service
to Freedom!
in light of the true good
of the whole
in each situation
as it arises.

This is where our focus
needs to be,
where our attention
needs to be,
where our concentration
needs to be,
where our devotion,
and utmost concern
need to be.

the questions are,
“What is happening?
What is called for?
What needs to be done about it?
How can I help the situation
for the good of the situation?”

Do you have any sense
that this is being done
At any time?

How about we letting
it start with us,
right here,
right now?


We are looking for
what is meaningful
when we take up The Quest,
and go forth in search
of what exactly we do not know.
We only know “this” is not it.

Because “this” is not meaningful.
And we cannot think up meaningful.
We cannot decide what will be meaningful.
Meaningful is like falling in love.
We do not make it happen.
It Whams! us,
right out of nowhere.
We don’t see it coming,
and it always catches us by surprise.

We find meaningful
by not ruling anything out.
“The stone the builders reject,”
you know.
We don’t want to miss meaningful
by deciding beforehand
what it would never be.

We have to be open to everything,
and get out of the way
with our “Maybe this,”
and “Maybe that.”

We have to quit looking,
stop searching,
forget about seeking,
and wait.

Go about our life,
Open and alert,
but not pushing any agenda,
giving ourselves to things
we find to be interesting.

Looking closer at things
that catch our eye.

Letting nothing get by unseen,
unnoticed, ignored.

We examine it all.
Listening to see
what calls our name.

The search becomes meaningful
in this way.
We are just being aware of our life
in the moment of our living.
Being interested in what is with us
here, now.
Enjoying the moment,
while we wait, watching.

That is doing our part,
and we let nature take its course,
looking forward to hearing
our name called
by some white rabbit,
flashing around a corner,
then peeking back around at us,


It comes down to this
and never goes beyond it:
Doing the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right way.

in each situation as it arises.
That’s it.

There is nothing beyond that
to ask,
or seek,
or desire,
or wish for,
or hope for.

Old age is where I remember and regret
all of those times up to now
where I did not do the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right way.

What was I thinking?
Absolutely nothing!

But that can’t hamper me
from beginning now,
being consciously aware
of the importance
of doing the right thing
at the right time,
in the right way.

Doing it, of course,
is another thing.


How we spend our time
is a reflection of our values,
which is another way of saying
what is meaningful to us
(What are values that are not

How does the way you spend your time
actually exhibit/serve
what is meaningful to you?

What is meaningful to you?

Meaningful is what you would do
for the sake of doing it alone–
what you would do whether
you got anything else out of it,
beyond doing it,
or not–
what you would pay to do
because you love to do it.

What is that in your life?

How does the way you spend your time
reflect/express that?

Could anyone tell what is meaningful to you
by the amount of time you spend doing it?

The only fair estimation of the value
something has for you
is the amount of time you spend with it,
doing it.

What holds the place of high value in your life?
What is your evaluation of what you value?


Fascination meets mystery,
as Ortega e Gasset might say,
“at the edge of the coin.”

Fascination is the hallmark of mystery,
mystery is the ground of fascination’s being.

We are fascinated by that which
we neither expect nor fully comprehend.

DNA fascinates me.
Our DNA comes packed with stuff
beyond imagining.

How did it get in there?

Light waves exist in a spectrum
that stretches from LA to New York.
We see about a half mile of that spectrum.

Sound waves reverberate from infrasonic
to ultrasonic to sonic
to supersonic to hypersonic.
Who knows what we are missing?

We are immersed in mystery!
Awash in mystery!

We don’t know 1/2 of 1 percent
of what is to be known!

And we take ourselves to be something
because of all we know and can do.

What sits us down?
What leaves us agape and agog?
What fascinates us
and swathes us in mystery?

How long has it been since we were
silenced by the mystery of existence?

Start with nothing.
How do you get a rock?

Start with nothing?
Why is there nothing?
Where did it come from?
What is it up to?
What does it dream of?
Hope for?
Would it know what to do
with a bowl of homemade ice cream?
Would it have to invent us
to find out?

Where did we come from?

What are we doing with our time?


Our life is an end in itself.
Life is an end in itself.
We live to be alive–
fully, completely, wonderfully,
fascinatingly, joyfully alive.

We do not live to get anything,
or anywhere.
Where do we think we are going?
The experience of living
is all life has to offer.

We think it is about being happy.
Being happy is about being absorbed
in what is meaningful.
We do not ask if something is meaningful,
we ask if it will make us happy.
Only what is meaningful can do that–
and whether something is meaningful
is up to us.
No one can tell us what is or will be.
We have to find it ourselves,
by experiencing life to the fullest,
and returning to the meaningful experiences
again and again.

There is no steady state of being happy.
Happy comes and goes.
Let come what’s coming
and let go what’s going,
and do what needs to be done about it,
in response to it,
while it is here, now.

And don’t keep score.


Where do we draw the line
between what we want
and what we do?

If getting our way
and having what we want
doesn’t guide our actions,
what does?


Who says so?

is a great guide IF
who says so
dwells within!

If who says so
has some outer origin–
our parents,
the Bible,
forget it.

If you aren’t doing
what you know must be done
because you know it must be done
and to do otherwise
would be to betray yourself
and your deep sense of what is right,
and essential
to being true to yourself
and living in filial devotion
and liege loyalty
to your own center
and grounding sense of direction
and purpose,
you are off track
and wandering lost and alone
in the wasteland
of your own wishes and desires.

There is only one thing to do:
Sit down and be quiet.
Seek the inner source
of purpose and direction.
And wait for the mud to settle
and the water to clear.

How long will that take?
Longer than you want it to,
but not as long
as you are afraid it will.

Your wants are preferences,
vanilla or chocolate?
You musts are your guide.

What must you do
without reasons,
without explanations,
without justification
or comprehension?

Do that!

“It’s the pirate’s life for me,
I have no say in the matter!


Our wants
and our way
are leading us
by the nose
down roads we have no business traveling,
into places we have no business being,
into things we have no business doing.

What is our business?
Why aren’t we about it?
It is time we found out.

It is time we took control of our life,
and started doing things our life’s way.

Our life has a life of its own.
Our life knows more than we do
about what’s what
and what needs to be done about it.

We need to sit down,
look and listen.

What is it going to take
for us to
sit down,
look and listen?

We have to look and listen
until we see and hear.

Our life has things to say,
our body is trying to tell us
what our life would like to say.

We aren’t listening.
We are looking only
for what is in it for us,
for what we stand to gain,
for how to maximize our opportunities,
for how to squeeze each situation
for its personal benefit
and profit

All we want to know
is where we are better off
and how we can get there now.

Meanwhile, our life
is trying to get our attention,
our body is telling us
things we don’t want to hear.

What is it going to take?


James Hillman said,
“If I do what I really must,
it will kill me,
yet, if I don’t,
I will die.”

We get to choose
the kind of death
we will die.

Our choice is “the secret cause”
(James Joyce)
of our dying.
The life we live
is the direct consequence
of our death.
We bring about our death
by our choice
of what constitutes our life.

If we say, “Yes,”
it will kill us,
if we say, “No,”
we will die.

Which kind of death
will we be most proud of?
Most satisfied with?

Whichever death it is,
that will be the death
that is “just like us.”

Will we live consciously,
embracing ourselves
and the life that will lead
to the death that is “just like us”?

Or, will we live unconsciously,
refusing to make a choice,
and saying, “No”
by failing to say anything–
and living the life that will lead
to the death that is “just like us”?

Will we live as we must,
or live as we also must
because we cannot bear
to live as we must?

“The secret cause” of our death
is our answer to these questions.


We feel balance and harmony
in our body.

We know when we are in sync,
in tune,
in the flow,
in the groove,
and out of it.

How do we get back
where we belong?

By sitting still,
being quiet,
and finding
where we are kidding ourselves.

We are naturally built
for balance and harmony,
for living at-one with ourselves.
When that it is not the case,
it is because we are seeking ends,
or enlisting means,
that are not legitimate ends,
that are not authentic means.

It is because we are
trying to get
what we have no business having.

Living at-one with ourselves
is the key to what we are seeking
with money and power
and the accoutrements of success:
peace and well-being,
contentment and satisfaction.

These things are always “right there,”
for the low, low price
of serving the right ends
with the right means.

Remaining alert to what our body knows
is the way
to remaining on the way,
staying on the path,
living on the beam,
through all of the circumstances
of our life.


What do you take your time with?
Look there for what is meaningful
in your life.

You may spend more time
with something else,
like your job,
or mowing the grass,
but what you take your time with
tells the tale.

We take our time with the things
that matter to us,
that are important to us,
not only because we enjoy
being with them,
but also because we want to
do right by them,
to keep faith with them.

These are the things where
our spiritual side is fed.
We may “go to church”
and “talk about/to God,”
and “study the Bible,”
and call that being spiritual,
but being spiritual is about
keeping faith with the meaningful things
in our life–
living in good faith
with what we love.

This is the sine qua non
of spirituality.
It isn’t what we talk about.
It is how we live our life.
It is where we take our time.


Jacob Bronowski said that we trust people
to say what they think–
but people do not always do so.
There is a credibility gap,
between what people think and what they say,
that has to be taken into account.

We have to keep that in mind
and live out of a skeptical,
“I hear what you are saying,
but what do you mean,
and can I trust that to be true?”
kind of orientation,
across the table,
around the world.

Bronowski said,
“My personal dictum
about all politics is this:
Make sure that everybody
tells the truth at all times,
and tell them when they are not
speaking truthfully.
We have to tell the truth,
as best we can,
and stick to that
through thick and thin”
(The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination).

In the same book,
he also said:
“We can only gain knowledge by being truthful.”
“People have to behave
so that the truth shall be apparent.”
“We cannot know what is true
unless we behave in certain ways.”

We have to live truthful lives.
We have to be trusted to say what we think.

The search for truth
is a self-correcting activity.
Truth corrects truth.
Our picture of the world
is corrected
by our continuing to examine,
reflect on
the world as we perceive it to be,
in ways that allow it to show us
what it is.

Truth evolves toward truth
through countless revisions
and realizations.

When Jesus said,
“You shall know the truth
and the truth shall set you free,”
he meant the truth shall set us free
to know more about the truth
than we know now–
free from the “truth”
to discover the truth–
always and forever,
seeking truth by serving truth
in the search for truth,
always narrowing the discrepancy
between how we think things are
and how things are.


I live amid people for whom “staying safe”
means something quite different
than it means to me.
Which requires me to live at a distance from them
that does not equate to the same distance
they have to live from me.

Whose sense of “safe distance”
do you think applies to me?
If you said, “My own,”
you would be right.

Our safety is our responsibility.

We live out of our sense
of how our life should be lived.

Who says so?
WE do!
In every case,
great and small.

Our judgment is the only judgment
that guides our living,
that directs our life.

We have to live in ways
that reflect/exhibit/incarnate
our idea of how our life
ought to be lived.

Not even Jesus can tell us what to do!

We are the sole authority
determining what we do,
how we do it,
when we do it,
where we do it–
and we pay the price
in terms of the consequences
we create by our decisions and choices.

Which means going to hell
if that be the case.

So we cannot live lightly,
without awareness and consideration.

We have to consult regularly
with ourselves
regarding what is called for
and how best we might respond to it.

We can’t live automatically,
We have to be as informed as we can be,
with self-transparency
and self-correction
guiding us along the slippery slope,
the dangerous path,
like a razor’s edge,
all along the way.


We wait for clarity
regarding what needs to be done
and the right time and place
for doing it.

And when the “propitious moment” arises,
like the Harvest Moon on an October evening,
we rise and step forward
into the Field of Action
to “will and to do”
according to the pleasure of the time and place
of our living
to do what is called for
for no reason other
than because it is called for,
here and now,
and to not act
would be a betrayal of our place in life,
and a rejection
of all we are asked to stand for,
and do,
and be
in the time that is ours to live,
and do,
and be.

When it is now or never,
let it be now!


The point,
the whole point,
and nothing but the point,
is to do what needs to be done
right here, right now
because it needs to be done
and because you need to do it
and because if you don’t do it,
it won’t be done,
and for yet again,
what needed to happen
did not happen.

The only thing that makes sense
is assisting what needs help
coming into existence,
coming into being.

With me, here and now,
this means typing words
maybe no one ever reads.
That doesn’t matter.
My place is to type the words.
Right here.
Right now.

Gerard Manley Hopkins said,
as those who do read what I write
have heard two hundred times,
“What I do is me–
for that I came.”
Doing what we came to do
is the only thing that matters.
Why would we not do it?

Finding what we came to do,
and doing it,
moment after moment,
all our life long
is the most beautiful thing
in the world.

Speaking of the world,
look it over
and tell me how many people
you see doing what they came to do–
doing what is theirs to do–
doing what the moment needs to have done,
right here, right now.

That is how many people who are not missing
the point of their life.
Why would anyone want to do that?
Why would anyone put all the effort
that is required into living their life
and not do what they came to do with it?

What needs doing?
What needs you to do it?
What do you need to do?
Right here, right now?
Why not do it?


The Tao is like this: 
It took everywhere I’ve been to be where I am. 
I regret that but. There is no other way. 
It is so with all of us, 
and is an allegory of the way life 
is throughout the Cosmos. 

There is no plan. 
Everything is working its way to where it will be 
on a path that stops but never ends.

The Tao is like this:An Irish pub serves the public
with a staff of six servers
and a bartender,
two cooks
and a host/hostess.
There is no manager,
and the staff is trusted
by the owner
to do what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises,

The servers take care of their own tables,
and keep an eye on each other.
If one server has a party of 6 or 8,
other servers help out with drink refills.

If the bartender needs a restroom break,
the server with the fewest customers
takes over the bar.
During lulls in the action,
a cook may tend the bar.

The flow of food and drink
is stady
and everybody assumes their role,
and helps others as needed with their role.

The floor is concrete
and hard on the feet and legs 
of everyone who works there.
The pay is reasonable
and the tips are what might be expected,
and turnover is low but regular.
New hires fit into the system,
or not--depending on their personality,
their maturity, grace, generosity
and awareness,
and people who do not belong there
do not stay around long.

The pub is an example of the Tao at work in the world,
as is an emergency room,
or an intensive care ward,
or a hospital,
or an elementary (etc.) school,
an airliner,
an airport...

Any place where needs are served
in a particular way
toward a particular end
in a particular manner
and within a particular time--
the what, when, where and how
that have to be right
according to custom and expectation,
is a place where Tao can be experienced
in each situation as it arises
on a daily basis.

Applying this kind of attitude and presence
within our life
throughout our life
transforms the world.


It matters how we live.
We have no business living
as though it does not matter
how we live.

It matters how we live.

We should be doing everything we can
to align ourselves with the life
we need to be living--
because it is the life that needs us to live it,
and because it is the life we were born to live.
And we do not know anything about it.

Which can be solely attributed to 
bad parenting and bad preaching
since the beginning of parenting
and preaching.

With good parenting and good preaching
we would be in the center of our life's will for us,
and aligned with the Tao of being,
the Tao of living,
and the Tao of here/now,
of time and place.

"Tao" is pronounced "Dow,"
and is a Chinese word meaning "The Way,"
or "The Path."

It is The Way Things Need To Be.
It is The Path To Right Living And Right Being.

The catch with The Way
is that it cannot be told, said, explained, defined.
It can only be known.
It can only be experienced.

How do we know/experience
what cannot be communicated?
The right kind of emptiness,
the right kind of stillness,
the right kind of silence.

The right kind of emptiness
is the emptiness between breaths,
where there is nothing--
no thinking, no feeling, no emotions,
no regret, no desire--not even for emptiness,
no fear... Nothing.

The right kind of stillness 
can be maintained while moving around.
We can walk with the right kind of stillness,

The right kind of silence can be loud.
We can play the drums.
We can sing.
We can talk out loud...
and be completely at one 
with the silence of here/now.

In the emptiness, stillness, silence,
we wait,
for that which arises unbidden,
from the emptiness, stillness, silence
to call us,
compel us,
urge us
to realization, 

This is The Way.
This is The Path.
This is The Tao at work in our life,
within our own being.

It will lead us to right seeing,
right hearing,
right knowing,
right doing,
right being,
right living.

And place us in the center
of a life that matters. 


I’m looking for where knowing comes from 
when you just know something, 
like when it’s time to give away 
your fly rods and equipment. 

Like we just know what 
the right thing to do is 
and we are right about it. 

People can be aligned with the Tao, 
not by trying, 
but by simply knowing what’s what 
and what needs to be done in response. 

We just know some things 
but don’t know how we know. 

I think the Prophets knew things in this way, 
and called the people to do what was right. 
If the Prophets had been 
influenced by Lao Tzu, 
they would have understood differently 
what they called “God.” 

The Tao Te Ching 
spends a lot of time talking about 
good and bad in a yin/yang kind of way. 

Living aligned with the Tao 
is like living aligned with God’s will 
without having to imagine God 
as a human being the way 
we all ought to be human beings. 

The Tao doesn’t pick sides 
or play favorites, 
yet those who live in accord with the Tao 
have an easy time letting be what is 
and doing what needs to be done about it, 
anyway, nevertheless, even so.

Abraham Heschel and Reformed Theology, 
with their, “God this,” and “God that”, 
as though God is a concrete, 
actual, spiritual being, 
soon wear thin with me. 

They are talking about their idea of God, 
the way God would be if God were God t
he way God ought to be God. 
“Just shut up,” I say to them, 
“and sit quietly for a while.” 

Emptiness, Stillness and Silence 
are the way to the way, 
which makes them the way.

I see “the pathos of God,” 
(Heschel's phrase)
as being shared among all people 
who know of the way 
and of how it is not being followed 
at any point in time. 

But, I think the Tao is beyond pathos, 
and just keeps doing its thing, 
which is not doing anything at all but
being what it is, 
waiting for those who know what is 
is to seek it out 
and live in accord with it, 
joining it in letting be what is 
and doing what needs to be done about it 
as they are able, as best they can…

My task in the ministry 
was a path that led me here/now, 
but there is only so much a person 
can do for another person, 
in that the Tao is a very personal matter 
that cannot be told, 
or said, 
or explained beyond 
“Emptiness, stillness, silence.” 
“Balance and harmony.” 
“Spirit, energy, vitality.” 
“The One (The Source, the Tao) 
produced the Two (Yin/Yang) 
and the Two produced the Three 
(Heaven and Earth and Human Beings) 
and the Three produced all that is.” 
“Darkness within darkness. 
The gateway to mystery.” 
This is not a mass movement of 
awakening world-wide, 
or even congregation-wide. 

“Listen to me,” I said, 
during my preaching years,
“when I say, 
‘Do not listen to me! Listen to YOU!’” 
That was my sermon, 
heard only by those with ears to hear. 
Which is the way it is. 
Which is the way. 
Which is all I’m still saying.

Heard only by those with ears to hear 
that are evoked into hearing 
by those saying what they know 
needs to be said 
whether anyone hears or not. 
That is the Tao in action. 
In life. 
In real life. 
Real time. 
A mystery that makes no sense.

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 and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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