1. 09/07/2018 — Bass Lake 2018-04 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, April 22, 2018

    We think we work to make money
    in order to sock it away,
    enjoy our life
    and have a good time.

    Burt Reynolds said if he could do it over
    he would spend more money
    and have more fun.
    Money is fun
    to our way of thinking,
    enabling us to avoid the doldrums
    and go where the action is.

    We love money for its entertainment value.
    We live to be entertained.
    If it turns out
    that that doesn’t do it for us,
    we have nowhere else to turn,
    and live out our days
    with our face turned to the wall,
    completely out of options
    or ideas
    for what to do with our life.

    I have a suggestion.

    We have to change the way
    we look at money.

    Money is not what we work to get.

    Money is what we need
    to buy the tools
    and have the time
    to do our work.

    We walk two paths at the same time
    There is what we do to pay the bills
    and there is what we pay the bills to do.

    What do the bills we incur enable us to do?
    Are we running up the right bills?
    Are we using the money we make
    in the service of the work that is ours to do?

    What do we need money for?
    To meet the costs of living?
    But what do we live to do?
    In the service of what do we live?
    All we know are good times,
    “action,”
    and having fun.

    It’s time for us to sit down
    and be quiet.
    And listen for what is striving
    to come to life within us—
    for what is struggling
    to come to life through us
    in the life we are living
    and brought forth into the world.

    Each one of us is simultaneously
    the Virgin Mary
    and the Christ—the Anointed One—
    the One Anointed For The Work
    That Only We Can Do
    The Way Only We Can Do It.

    And all we need money for
    is to pay the bills required to live
    while we do that work,
    and the tools it takes to do it.

    And that changes everything.

09/07/2018 —  Ask any Christian (or any member of any religion)
how they know that what they believe is so,
and they will say
they “Take it on faith.”

But.
They do not talk about what they proclaim to be so
as though it is something they take on faith.

It is not a matter of opinion,

a preferred way of seeing,

an optional method of reckoning meaning and purpose.

It is Revealed Truth!

There are not “many ways up the mountain.”
There is only One Way—
which just so happens to be Their Way,
and they proclaim it to be so
as an absolute fact
whose validity is rock-solid certain,

to the point where questioning it
brings forth charges
of  “Blasphemy!”
“Heresy!”
“Apostasy!”
“Sacrilege!”
And, at one time, would have resulted
in the Infidel who raised the questions
being burned at the stake.

Right serious stuff
for something Christians “take on faith”—
and suggests that their “faith”
is not faith at all
but the foundational fact of their existence,
even if they can point to nothing
beyond their own narrative
as evidence supporting,
justifying,
substantiating what they say to be so.

It makes for a wild ride,
living in the world of physical reality
while denying large aspects of it
(climate change, evolution, etc.)—
and positing the existence of a literal spiritual world
with heaven and hell,
angels, demons and Satan,
saints and a large choir of all true believers from all of time.

They spend a lot of time explaining things
and untangling contradictions,
mostly by advising others to “take on faith”
whatever they are told
and trusting
that everything will come out nicely in the end.

I say we need a new ground for religion.
We could start with four agreements:

1). Everything we believe to be so
is validated by our experience.
This is the bedrock of all superstition.

Wearing the socks he wore in his no-hitter
allows the pitcher to pitch his best all season.
And when, in the playoffs,
the manager accidently washes them
for the first time since the no-hitter,
the mojo disappears,
and the pitcher loses two in a row.
Talk about faith being validated by experience!
We see the truth the pitcher believed to be so!
Who can deny the evidence
lived out before their very eyes?!
That is one thing we have to agree to:

Conviction colors experience.

2)  The second thing is an observation
made by Joseph Campbell:
“It is the reflection on experience
that enables us to form
new realizations.”

Experience is the ground of our faith
in the validity of experience—
experience proves experience—
and reflection on our experience of experience
expands,
deepens,
enlarges,
transforms,
revises,
negates,
reverses
our understanding of our experience,
enabling new interpretations,
and forming a new life
which rises from the crumpled ruins
of the old one
that was based upon the old,
unexperienced experience before reflection.

This is the death and resurrection experience,
which is at the heart of the Biblical story,
waiting to be read with eyes that see,
to be heard with ears that hear,
in order to become the heart
of a new and living religion
in place of the old one
that has been dead for long generations now.
That is the second agreement.

3) The third is this matter of symbols.
Christianity has at its disposal
a large number of symbols
that have been
and will continue to be
living symbols
at the heart of any religion
willing to do the work
of translating them
into the vernacular of the people,
who waste away
waiting for One Who Knows
to interpret the symbols in ways
that bring them to life
in the lives of the people.

This is the place of the church in this age—
not a museum of artifacts and stories
of a bygone era,
but the harbinger of a new era,
and the doorway to a great adventure
worthy of us.

But.
It has to know what it is doing.
This leads to the fourth agreement:

4) There are three people
among many others
who are well-equipped
for the work of spiritual revival,
renewal,
guidance
and direction:

Jon Kabat-Zinn,
Joseph Campbell
and Carl Jung
offer new ways of perceiving,
interpreting
and understanding
our experience,
which is reflected in the symbols
which open us to worlds beyond words
and call us to take up the work
of seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing and being
all of which are expressed and served
in finding our life
and living it
in ways that incarnate and exhibit
who we are as unique
and irreplaceable human beings,
through all conditions and circumstances,
contexts and situations,
regardless of the odds
in spite of our prospects,
as well as we are able,
day in and day out,
for as long as we are alive.

Every religion should offer as much,
and it would be difficult
for one to offer more.

  1. 09/08/2018 — Groundhog Mountain 2018-08 02 — Watch Tower and Split Rail Fence, Blue Ridge Parkway, Laurel Fork, VA, August 12, 2018

    People kill themselves regularly
    because they have gone as far
    as they can go,
    and there is no one
    who can help them
    the way they need to be helped,
    and they cannot go on.

    CANNOT! here is an existential reality
    that CANNOT! be grasped
    by anyone with only an intellectual
    way of understanding how things are.

    Reality has an experiential side
    that CANNOT! be translated
    in any meaningful way
    to people who have not had the experience
    of the reality the person experiencing it has had,
    is having.

    I can tell you peppermint ice cream is wonderful,
    but if you have never had the experience,
    even of ice cream,
    all you know is that I like peppermint ice cream,
    but I haven’t said anything you can understand,
    and you will never know peppermint ice cream
    until you have had the experience of peppermint ice cream
    and even then,
    you won’t know peppermint ice cream
    the way I do
    because we experience the experience
    out of differences that cannot be made equivalent,
    and are certainly not interchangeable.

    What something means to me
    is private to me.
    What something means to you
    is private to you.
    Even if the something is the same thing.
    But if we share the same experience
    of the same thing,
    we will be closer to understanding
    each other’s reaction
    than if we do not.

    Flash back to suicide,
    to CANNOT! go on living
    under these circumstances,
    at end of the rope,
    under the weight of the last straw,
    at the very end of the line.

    If you don’t know what these
    phrases mean
    because you have been there,
    you cannot understand
    what the people are saying
    who say them.

    You have to know what they mean
    before you can understand what they say.

    You can ask them,
    “How would your circumstances
    have to be different
    for you to be able to go on?”
    but they may not be able to answer,
    because they don’t know.

    Depression is like that.
    It is possible to be depressed
    without knowing why you are depressed.
    Depression can be that way.

    It is also possible to be in the grip
    of circumstances that cannot be changed.
    Your child died.
    That will never change.
    You are a boy—
    or a girl—
    who is not a boy—
    or a girl.
    Transgendered people cannot change
    their circumstances.
    Neither can homosexual people.
    Neither can pregnant people.

    Are you getting a sense here
    of the fact
    that some people
    can be up against things
    they cannot bear
    and cannot change?

    Can you cut them some slack?
    Grant them the possibility
    of agony you don’t know anything about?
    Back off?
    Sit with them?
    Listen to them without trying to fix them?
    Just be with them,
    knowing that you don’t understand,
    but understanding that it is awful
    and overwhelming
    being who they are?
    Can you be with them
    as one who understands at least that much?

    And can you ask them to promise you
    that they won’t take their own life today?
    And can you promise them
    that you will be back tomorrow
    to be with them
    and ask them to promise you the same thing again?

    In some holes of the soul and spirit,
    even one day at a time is hard to do,
    but it may help to have someone who cares
    in the hole with you,
    being with you,
    hoping to survive the hole together,
    thinking through what is helpful
    and what is not,

    Some holes are much too terrible
    to be in alone.

09/07/2018 —  Everyone hear has heard me say,
“Joseph Campbell said,
‘The treasure we seek
lies against the wall
far in the back
of the cave
we most do not want to enter.’”

I say it a lot
because it can’t be heard enough.

Carl Jung said it in a different way:
“We meet our destiny
on the road we take
to escape it.”

And, he said,
“We are who we always have been,
and who we will be.”

We don’t want to be who we are.
We don’t want to do what is ours to do.
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,
Jonah and the Whale,
Moses saying, “Not me! Take someone else!”
We have our eyes on some other prize.

Here’s the truth:
We have our role to perform,
our part to play,
wearing,
finally,
“the face that was ours
before we were born.”

“The shortest route to that place
is the long way around.”

And whatever path we are on
will take us there.

09/08/2018 —  We can say yes or no to what has need of us.

That’s as far as free will goes.

We are not free to choose our choices.

We are not free to choose what we want
and what we do not want.

We are not free to choose what we like
and what we do not like.

How free is that?

We have a duty
to the self at the heart
of our psyche,
beyond the duty
of family, culture and society.

We are duty-bound
to be who we are,
to do what is ours to do,
to serve the self
at the center of our soul.

Our duty is to find our life
and live it,
to find our work and do it,
amid all of the other things
that have a claim on us.

We certainly have no business
being bored!

  1. 09/09/2018 — Dry Falls 2014-10 01 B&W — Nantahala National Forest near Highlands, NC, October 22, 2014

    What has to be different
    for things to be better?

    We are always trying
    to change something
    other than ourselves.

    Parents try to change their kids.
    Spouses try to change each other.
    Workers change jobs.
    Whatever we identify
    as the culprit
    at the root of our misery
    is what we try to change.

    If it is a pebble in our shoe,
    that’s one thing.
    If our stride is too long,
    that’s another.

    What is the source of our discontent?
    What needs to be changed?
    Do not leave yourself
    out of consideration!

    What is “unchangeable” about us?
    What makes it so?

    All of those rules we live by—
    how many of them are as inviolable
    as we think they are?

    How different can we be
    and still be “us”?

    How much variation can we bear
    in our routine/preferred way of being?
    For how long?

    Experimentation can be eye-opening.
    And life-changing.

    Become the scientist
    at the heart of your life
    looking for the immutable you.
    It won’t be as vast
    as you think it is.

    And everything will change
    as we reduce the size
    of ourselves in our life.

  2. 09/10/2018 — Linville River 2018-08-03 — Linville Falls Picnic Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, August 13, 2018

    We cannot take something on faith
    and then say it is a fact.

    God is not a fact.

    Our experience of the Numen,
    of the Ineffable,
    Indescribable,
    Unutterable,
    Indefinable,
    Inexplicable,
    Tao beyond words
    is the fact.

    “God” is one way we
    talk about “that which is beyond” the fact.

    We make up everything beyond the fact.

    We experience the inexpressible
    in countless ways—
    art, music, nature,
    the birth of a child,
    the innocence of children,
    falling in love,
    flashes of realization,
    insight,
    ..

    But to say that what we say
    about the experience
    is a fact,
    is to turn the experience
    into doctrine and dogma,
    theology and ritual,
    and to carry it
    from an encounter
    with holiness beyond imaging
    into superstition and hodo
    that pretends to control events,
    and arrange a future to our liking,
    and makes a religion
    based on an experience
    that is beyond thought and words.

    Speaking to this whole process,
    Joseph Campbell said his friend and mentor
    Heinrich Zimmer told him,

    “The best things can’t be told,”
    because they transcend thought.
    “The second best are misunderstood,”
    because those are the thoughts
    that are supposed to refer to that
    which can’t be thought about,
    and one gets stuck in the thoughts.
    “The third best are what we talk about.”

    Campbell elaborated on this in another place
    saying:
    “The best things cannot be told,
    the second best are misunderstood.
    After that comes civilized conversation;
    after that, mass indoctrination;
    after that, intercultural exchange.
    And so, proceeding,
    we come to the problem of communication:
    the opening, that is to say,
    of one’s own truth and depth
    to the depth and truth of another
    in such a way as to establish
    an authentic community of existence.”

    And this is where we are.

  3. 09/11/2018 — Providence Road Sunflowers 2018-09 16 — New Town, North Carolina, September 02, 2018

    When we are overwhelmed,
    undone,
    devastated,
    and demolished
    by the events and circumstances
    of the day,
    it is best to lie there,
    breathing and unbelieving,
    for a while.

    Not asking anything more
    of ourselves than the next breath.

    Breathing is the long way back to life.

    Breathing and bearing the pain.

    Bearing the pain
    means opening ourselves
    to the full weight
    of the “whole catastrophe,”
    and holding it all in our awareness.

    This is the part everyone rejects
    in their rush to recovery.
    Failure to embrace the pain
    impedes recovery.
    Don’t try to get over it!
    Walk with a limp!

    Let limping be recovery enough!

    Trusting our life to reconfigure itself in time,
    we devote ourselves to the daily basics
    of breathing and bearing the pain.

    There is a natural preference for life,
    and we can trust that
    to bring us back to life-as-it-can-be,
    such-as-it-is,
    anyway,
    nevertheless,
    even-so
    if we maintain the regimen
    of breathing,
    and bearing the pain
    of holding everything in our awareness
    over time.

    If you are going to take anything on faith,
    take this on faith,
    and breathe.

09/11/2019 —  Carl Jung said,
“Follow that will
and that way
which experience confirms
to be your own.”

If Jesus stood before you
and commanded you
to take a path
that your experience
confirmed to be not your path—
not the path in accord
with your deepest gifts
and best instincts—
tell him:

“That isn’t what you did
and it isn’t going to be
what I do.
You did not live like
someone else told you to live,
and neither am I.
Our life flows
out of our own heart
and our way of being
true to ourselves
in the world—
and that is the path
I intend to follow.”

And live in ways
that fulfill your words,
letting whatever happens
be what happens.

09/12/2018 —  We all have access
to the same information.
How much we know
is up to us.

  1. 09/12/2018 — Bass Lake 2018-08 03 Panorama — Beggar Tick Sunflowers, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, August 11, 2018

    I need you to be self-transparent.

    You can be as opaque as you need to be
    in relation to everyone else,
    but I need you to be
    as transparent to yourself
    as it is possible for anyone to be
    transparent to themselves.

    If we were all transparent to ourselves,
    we wouldn’t kid ourselves
    ever about anything.
    And that would transform the world.

    We are in the mess we are in
    because we are opaque to ourselves,
    and kid ourselves
    about how transparent we are,
    and how compassionate we are,
    and how kind we are…

    Or how bad, selfish and hopeless we are.

    Too few of us see ourselves as we are.
    Or see anything as it is.
    And that is the reason
    things are as they are
    with ourselves
    and everyone else,
    across the table,
    around the world.

    Nothing changes
    until we become self-transparent.

    The path to self-transparency
    begins with watching
    the Jon Kabat-Zinn videos
    on YouTube.
    Start with the short ones,
    and take up the practice
    of mindfulness meditation,
    becoming aware of everything
    within and without.

    You will be changing the world.

  2. 09/13/2018 — Watkins Glen 2015-09 01 B&W — Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, New York, September 20, 2015

    Happy is the balance point
    between ambition and lethargy,
    between indifference and gluttony,
    between depression
    and the need for “action—any action.”

    Happy is engagement
    without the need
    to manage or manipulate outcomes.

    Happy is living in accord with the Tao,
    aligned with what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises
    with nothing riding on
    the investment of time and energy.

    Happy is being alive to the moment
    we are living
    with nothing to gain
    and nothing to lose.

    It is being with sunrises and sunsets,
    storms and gentle breezes,
    the ebb and the flow of tides
    and circumstances,
    awash in the wonder of all things
    in all times and places.

    There are people who have nothing,
    and are the happiest people in the world.
    And there are people who have everything
    with the unlimited potential to have more of it all,
    without joy and vitality because of any of it.

    Happy is an orientation,
    an outlook,
    a perspective,
    a way of being—
    “an inward, invisible grace,”
    coloring all of our perceptions,
    interpretations,
    evaluations,
    opinions,
    and ideas.

    It is how we see
    and what we feel and do about
    what is seen.

    If you want to be happy,
    look at your looking
    and the judgments you make.

09/14/2018 —  My power provider is warning of the likelihood of electricity being disrupted for a week or longer, depending on 10,000 variables due to Florence.

So, when I go, I may be gone for a while. In the meantime, you know what to do: Listen. Look. Reflect. See. Hear. Do. Repeat.

The forever path.

  1. 09/15/2018 — Providence Road Sunflowers 2018-09 02 — New Town, North Carolina, September 2, 29018

    The quality of our life
    hinges upon,
    and flows from,
    the quality of our assessments,
    interpretations,
    and evaluations—
    of our judgments
    and determinations.

    Things are what we say they are
    and that is what impacts us—
    not the things we are talking about.

    How does something “hit” us?

    It doesn’t “hit” everyone in the same way,
    so there is some latitude,
    some range,
    some degree of difference
    in the thing itself
    or in the people it “hits.”

    What something means to us,
    for us,
    depends upon our assessment,
    interpretation,
    evaluation,
    judgment
    of the thing in question,
    and our determination
    of its place in our life.

    Vaxers and anti-vaxers
    differ considerably
    in their interpretation
    of polio vaccines
    and measles shots—
    and in the impact
    those things
    have on their lives
    and on the lives of their children,
    and the children who play with their children.

    The world is the interplay
    of assessments,
    interpretations,
    evaluations,
    judgments
    and determinations.

    As is our life.

    If you want to improve your life,
    start with your assessments (etc.)
    about your life.

09/15/2018 —  There are people
who think
that some humans
have no rights.

That is a curious position
for some humans to take
against other humans.

“I say you have no rights
based on what I think about you
and how I feel about you—
both of which are
entirely your fault,
because it is people like you
who make people like me
hate people like you.”

You could put me in a room,
or I could put you in a room,
with people like that
for however long forever is
and neither of us would be
clever enough
to come up with an argument
that would change their mind.

It would always be
“people like us
making people like them
hate people like us.”

I can’t come up with anything
that would transform this situation
into an “all for one and one for all”
kind of community.

White supremacists/Fascists/Nazis
will be with us always.
Have been with us always.
We aren’t going to change their mind
any more than they are going to change ours.

We have to understand that
and out-vote them
in every election
throughout time.

Democracy is Liberty Justice Equality Truth.
And it is always a threat to those
who cannot extend those principles and values
to those who are different from them
in any obvious kind of way.

Democracy will always be under attack
by those who cannot bear
the idea of “liberty and justice for all.”

We have to realize that,
and be vigilant,
alert and aware
of all efforts
no matter how subtle
to dilute and diminish
the principles and values of democracy,
and draw hard lines against
every attack—
every action—
against human rights on every level,
“from this time forth
and forevermore.”

  1. 09/16/2018 — Mabry Mill 2018-08 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Burks Fork, Floyd County, Virginia, August 12, 2018

    We are capable of being mindful,
    and mindless
    in each moment of our living.

    Mind is a continuum of awareness
    operating on all possible levels of awareness
    on every level of life.

    The more aware we are,
    the more mindful we are,
    and the more alive we are.

    The less aware we are,
    the more mindless we are
    and the less alive we are.

    Optimal mindfulness positions us
    to see, hear, know, and understand
    what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response
    in light of all things considered.

    “All things considered” includes
    awareness of awareness,
    experience of experience,
    knowing what we know,
    and what we do not know—
    and is made possible
    through observation and reflection
    of-and-in the here and now
    of each moment.

    This practice requires us
    to be aware of walking two paths
    at the same time:

    Doing and being aware of doing,
    Thinking and being aware of thinking,
    Seeing and being aware of seeing,
    Feeling and being aware of feeling,
    Knowing and being aware of knowing,
    Experiencing and being aware of experiencing…

    And bearing the agony
    of the conflicts and contradictions
    at work in each situation as it arises
    as we decide between mutually exclusive alternatives,
    and do what we think must be done
    in light of all things considered—
    which impacts the next moment,
    the next situation,
    arising in response to this one,
    in which we follow the same procedure,
    bearing the agony of time and place,
    and doing what can be done
    in the service of what needs to be done,
    one moment at a time
    all our life long.

    If it were easy to be awake, aware, alive,
    denial,
    escape,
    flight
    and forgetfulness
    wouldn’t have the prominent place
    they have in our life.

    As it is,
    they are simply
    options we have to be aware of
    as we go about the task at hand:

    Living our life
    in response to
    what is being asked of us
    in each moment
    of our living
    in light of all things considered,
    as mindfully
    as we are capable of being
    in that time and place.

  2. 09/17/2018 — Bluff Mountain Overlook 2018-08 Panorama — Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Laurel Springs, North Carolina, August 12, 2018

    Our dreams speak to us each night,
    telling us what we need to hear.

    Every dream says,
    “This is how it is with you—
    this is how it is in your life
    at this point—
    what are you going to do
    about it?”

    “This is where you are.”
    This is where you need to be.”
    How are you going to get there from here?”

    “This is what you are doing.
    This is how it’s working.
    How are you going to make it work?”

    “This is your situation.
    What do you need to make it better?
    How are you going to find what you need?”

    Our dreams are objects
    for meditation and reflection.

    We dream of a rock,
    a snake,
    a fire,
    a car crash,
    an airplane falling,
    a wedding,
    a picnic…
    and we feel some way about it,
    we react in some way to it.

    Take the dream and the response
    into the silence
    and reflect on their connection
    with the present configuration
    of your life.

    What in your life
    reminds you of your dream?
    In what ways is your dream
    like your life?

    What action is being called for?
    What is the dream asking of you?
    What is the dream saying to you?
    How do you respond to
    what is being said?

    Meditation as reflection in the silence
    on the dream
    is listening to what the Dreamer
    is saying to you.
    You are the Dreamer.

    To what you have to say
    that you need to hear.

09/17/2018 —  Harmony is bliss,
bliss is harmony.

When Joseph Campbell advised,
“Follow your bliss,”
he meant
“Do what places you
in accord with you!
What incarnates the truth
of your nature,
your gifts,
your soul.”
He meant,
“Be at one with who you are!”

Carl Jung said,
“The privilege of a lifetime
is to become who you truly are.”

To be—
to live—
aligned with the inner direction
of our life’s true bent
is to be at one with the Tao
and in sync with the deep flow
of heart and soul.

It is to incarnate the “I”
at the center of ourselves
so that who we are
and what we do
are word and deed
together
exhibited in the way
we live our life.

Go there.
Do that.
Now and forever.

  1. 09/18/2018 — Black-eyed Susans 2018-08 03 Panorama — Blowing Rock, North Carolina, August 13, 2018

    The Eight Realizations

    (Which does not pretend to be the complete list,
    for the list is infinite and on-going,
    and it is essential that we add to it daily
    as our contribution to the wealth
    of the wisdom of the species,
    and evidence of our participation
    in the awareness
    of living our own life,
    and being alive to the experience of being alive)

    1) There is a dramatic difference
    between having a strong ego
    and being egotistical.

    2) We cannot be a “we”
    until we can be an “I.”

    3) The single most-important requirement
    for healthy relationships
    is to be able to “define ourselves
    while staying in touch.”

    This is called possessing a compassionate identity.

    4) “Good fences make good neighbors.”

    There is no substitute for,
    or exemption from,
    having powerful borders/boundaries/lines—
    for knowing who we are
    and who we are not—
    for knowing where we stand,
    what we stand for,
    and what we stand against.

    5) If the people you run with
    cannot allow you to be different from them,
    find different people to run with.

    6) Essential knowing is knowing
    the values, principles, characteristics
    at the core, center, heart, soul
    of who we are,
    which is knowing what is important to us—
    and living in ways
    which incarnate, reflect, express, exhibit
    this bedrock truth
    that grounds, shapes, forms, directs and guides us
    throughout our life.

    7) Conflict and contradiction
    wake us up to the truth
    of the way we are
    and the way we also are,
    and require us
    to walk two paths at the same time.

    We do that by being intently aware
    of the other path
    while we are on the path we are on,
    and allowing ourselves
    to be and to feel
    both ways at the same time,
    knowing that “truth is found between the hands”
    (On the one hand this, and on the other hand that),
    and that life is found
    in bearing the pain
    of our conflicts and contradictions
    in deciding what we are going to do
    here and now
    in each situation as it arises.

    8) Bearing the pain,
    embracing the suffering
    existentially inherent
    in the experience of life
    by having to choose
    between equally desirable
    and mutually exclusive choices
    in doing what needs to be done—
    what needs us to do it—
    is called paying the price of being alive.

    When you are damned if you do
    and damned if you don’t,
    be damned and be done with it.
    You will never get used to it,
    but you won’t be transfixed by it
    and unable to perform the role
    your place and time require you to play
    in doing what is being asked of you,
    though it means sacrificing yourself
    again and again
    in the endless cycle of death and resurrection
    that is required of us all
    as liege servants of life and being.

09/18/2018 —Being forced to carry a pregnancy to term against your will is wrong.
God got Mary’s permission.
God knew you can’t make someone be a mother.

09/18/2018 —  Our leaders
in the White House
and in Congress
must have a vision for the country
that is better than the peoples’ vision
for themselves.

That certainly isn’t currently the case.

We are going to have to restructure
the tax codes
and renegotiate our trade agreements
in order to bring balance and sanity—
and stability—
back into the order of things.

Reiterate the grounding values and rights
of Democracy,
and refocus on the kind of people
and the kind of country
necessary to make who and where we are
good places for others to be.

As the Trump nightmare dissipates and disappears,
our work will begin in earnest.
I’m looking quite forward to the tasks
that will need to be done!

09/18/2018 —  The trick to finding our life
and living it
is devoting time and attention
to considering our life
and all that impacts it,
particularly our emotional response to it.

How do we feel about our life
and about life generally?

Inspection,
introspection,
reflection,
examination,
exploration,
inquiry,
investigation,
imagination,
contemplation,
wondering…

Sitting with questions
we cannot answer
and listening,
waiting,
seeing what occurs to us
“out of the blue,”
“for no reason.”

An image,
a thought,
a memory,
a song…

How does the occurrence relate
to the questions?

Our life is an on-going object
of meditation.

There is always more to us
than meets the eye.
There is much to ponder,
if we take the time.

09/18/2018 —  The people who cannot leave
their homes
because of rising water
have gone to church
all their life
and never once heard
the stories of Jesus in Gethsemane
and on Golgotha
interpreted to them in a way
that enables them to see
this moment in their houses
before the coming flood
as being directly equivalent
with Jesus in the garden
and on the cross.

This is a death and resurrection event
in their life.
As it was with Jesus then,
so it is with them now.

And that identification
is itself deliverance,
not after they die—
though that still stands
before them as a declaration of faith—
but as a call to life here and now,
in this moment
before the flood,
encouraging and enabling
their action in their own behalf,
with faith in their ability
to find their way
through the confusion
and uncertainty
of a future unlike
the comfort of their past,
into a new world
of resurrection and life.

That’s what the right kind of preaching
might have done for them,
but it is too late for that now.
And that is the real tragedy
of this situation.

“Of all sad words/of tongue and pen…”

  1. 09/19/2018 — Providence Road Sunflowers 2018-09 20 — New Town, North Carolina, September 2, 2018

    Complexity,
    Conflict,
    Contradiction,
    present us with difficulty,
    uncertainty,
    confusion
    and pain.

    We learn early on
    to simplify,
    and
    discount,
    dismiss,
    disregard,
    deny
    anything that
    troubles the waters of our soul.

    Our soul is built for troubled waters!

    Our soul is made to walk on water!

    Our soul relishes the thrill of being alive!

    It gives us twitches during the night.

    And anxious times during the day.

    So.

    We are careful and deliberate
    about not giving our soul
    what it most desires:

    A running go at the terrors of night and day!

    We build walls around us
    and crave safety
    and the assurance
    that nothing can get us now,
    while our soul shouts:
    “BRING IT ON!”

    Our religions are timid, shy things
    that whisper sweet nothings
    and tell us there is nothing to worry about
    and it will all be wonderful in the end—
    but do not prepare us for the disruptive
    intrusions of truth
    that will not be denied.

    Complexity,
    Conflict,
    Contradiction
    are the hope of the world
    and the heart of life and being!

    They come at us from all sides,
    demanding that we take them into account
    and do the work
    of integrating opposites,
    and bearing the pain
    of polarities that will not be pacified,
    placated
    or appeased.

    We grow through
    living in the tension
    of antitheticals that cannot be reconciled.

    “Without contraries Is no progression!”
    (William Blake).

    “Psychological or spiritual development
    always requires a greater capacity
    for anxiety and ambiguity”
    (Carl Jung).

    Leave behind the childish wish for a world
    where all our dreams come true,
    and step into the world
    where “this” rules out the possibility of “that,”
    and both are essential
    for the true good of the whole!

09/19/2018 —  The National Park Service
has a motto:
“Your safety is your responsibility!”

Some of us would react, saying:
“Don’t Blame The Victim!”

The idea of a completely innocent victim
dismisses the part we play
in creating our own fate.

Fate itself is what we are left with
when we reject our destiny!

But, how many of us are even aware
of making a choice?

We do not know what we are doing
because we do not know what we know,
and whose fault is that?

Where do we begin being responsible
for our own lives
and our own choices—
even the ones we do not realize
we are making?

We choose to not be mindfully aware
of the choices before us
in each moment.

We choose to say “Yes” to this
and “No” to that
without being sensitive
to the possibilities
and the implications
inherent in each,
as though there is nothing
more involved in our days
than surface appearances
and natural assumptions
happily playing themselves out.

Look around you.
How much of you is in charge
of your being here, now,
and how much is someone else’s fault?

09/19/2018 —  Here’s a Meditation on What’s Important…

Make a list of what’s important to you.

Consider the list.\

How many things on the list would other people
not know are important to you?

How important to you are they if no one knows they are important to you?

How often do you engage in/with the items on the list?

How often would you think a person would work
what is important to them into their life?

How important to you
are the things you spend your time doing?

How can you work more of what is important to you
into your life?

How can you do more of what is important to you
and less of what is not important to you?

Keep the list of what is important to you handy,
and add to it as things occur to you
that belong on the list.

Work to make what is important to you
a part of your life.

  1. 09/20/2018 — Watkins Glen 2018-09 12 — Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, New York, September 20, 2015

    What would it take,
    do you think,
    for everybody
    to stay out of
    everybody’s way?

    What would it take,
    for everybody to have a way
    that wasn’t super-sensitive
    to trespass and transgression?

    So that nobody would say
    something on the order of,
    “You’re black
    (Or gay)
    (Or transgender)
    (Or female)
    (Or Muslim)
    (Or … you know, like that),
    and you are in my way!” ?

    What would it take?

    I’ll take two of whatever it is to go.

    One to open now,
    and one for later
    just in case.

  2. 09/21/2018 — Brinegar Cabin 2018-08 01 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Traphill, Alleghany County, North Caroline, August 12, 2018

    There is so little that we can do
    about the events and circumstances
    impacting our life
    that it is essential for us
    to focus on
    doing all we can do
    about being able to do
    nothing at all
    about the sweep of the times
    and conditions impinging upon us.

    We are not helpless
    in response to being helpless!

    The nature
    and quality of our life
    in the shadow
    of forces beyond our control
    influences everything
    that happens there.

    We all are capable
    of creating a sanctuary,
    an oasis,
    a retreat
    for bent reeds and dimly burning wicks
    that alters the weight of lived experience
    and gives hope and life a chance.

    Our spirit,
    demeanor,
    manner,
    attitude,
    bearing
    and behavior
    produce the possibility
    of a counter-force for good
    in the midst
    of the worst that life can do.

    “It took the Cyclops
    to bring out the hero
    in Ulysses” (Joseph Campbell).
    How we respond
    to what happens,
    creates possibilities for
    what happens next,
    and opens options
    that would not otherwise
    have existed.

    Nothing has to be what it is.
    Everything can be shifted,
    turned,
    modified,
    spun,
    interpreted,
    translated
    and understood
    in ways that make
    life possible
    anyway,
    nevertheless,
    even so.

    And, after all that has happened,
    here we are

  3. 09/22/2018 — Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, New York, September 20, 2015

    We are the lines we draw,
    and when,
    and where,
    and how,
    we draw them.

    We are what we say yes to
    and what we say no to.

    Compassion is heartless
    in its triage,
    determining who can be helped
    and who cannot be helped,
    and what is helpful
    and what is not helpful,
    and how much it is willing to help,
    and what it is not willing to do,
    and being responsible
    for drawing each of those lines—
    which may,
    or may not,
    be correctly drawn,
    which may be well-reasoned
    or completely arbitrary,
    and drawn somewhere else

09/22/2019 —  Have you ever come to a point
in your life
when you realized,
“Something has to change!”

What changed?

What part did you play
in bringing that change about?

How has the change
held up over time?

Every time I have encountered
a “Something has to change”
experience,
what had to change was me.
And I did.
And I never relapsed,
but I had to change again,
and again,
and again…

And here I am,
awake to the realization
that more changes are in the works
over the course
of what remains of my life.

And I am ready for them—
in the sense of being eager
to make the transition
from who I am
to who I need to be.

I have come to relish the movement
of life becoming life
through the process of being alive.

I am so much better than I was,
so much more than I have been.
Every step was painful as hell,
and I am astounded that I made it through—
and truly cannot claim credit
for the outcome
as though it is something I did
with consideration and forethought.

All I did was take the next step—
somehow—
through no power of my own.

I had no idea of what I was doing,
or what to do.
It just somehow seemed
“this” was better than “that,”
and here I am,
still going,
I’m not sure where,
and I’m looking forward to seeing
what’s next,
and what’s after that,
because this life adventure
is all there is
and I intend to cooperate with it
as fully as I am able,
and not miss anything
the rest of the way.

  1. 09/23/2018 — Linville River 2018-08 06, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, August 13, 2018

    We are born again
    when we realize our life
    has a life of its own,
    and is calling us
    to step back,
    lay aside our idea
    of how it should be,
    and take up the work
    of doing what needs us to do it—
    with all our heart,
    and soul,
    and mind,
    and strength—
    in each situation as it arises
    our whole life long.

    The experience of a second birth
    runs through all the generations
    of humankind.

    It is where “the old has passed away,
    and, behold, the new has come.”

    It is where we die to the old ways
    of being ourselves,
    and are resurrected into a new life
    with our name on it.

    It is where we find “the face that was ours
    before we were born.”

    It is where we grow up
    (some more, again).

    The concept of death and resurrection
    is as old as the species.
    It is the theme of all those rites of passage
    that have marked turning points
    in the lives of human beings everywhere
    throughout time.

    “Once we were blind,
    but now we see!”

    “Once we were dead,
    but now we are alive!”

    Alive to new ways
    of thinking,
    seeing,
    assessing,
    evaluating,
    valuing,
    knowing,
    doing,
    being,
    ..

    Until the next time
    we come to a turning point—
    which is generally found
    at the end of some rope—
    and we go through the process
    of letting go,
    and landing in a new world
    with new ways
    of thinking,
    seeing,
    assessing…

    We grow up (some more, again)
    through every stage of life,
    following the same pattern
    of death and resurrection,
    laying ourselves aside,
    and stepping into new roles,
    as we submit (some more, again)
    to what our life is asking of us,
    and is bringing to life within us
    and through us—
    needing our corporation
    and participation
    in the process
    of becoming (some more, again)
    who we are called to be
    in this time and place,
    in preparation for times and places
    yet to be,
    but lying ahead,
    awaiting our maturation
    and the development of the gifts and skills
    we will need
    to live the life
    prepared for us
    before we were born
    (The first time).

  2. 09/24/2018 — The Lump Overlook 2018-08 02 — Mile Post 264.4, Blue Ridge Parkway, Wilkes County, Purlear, North Carolina, August 12, 2018

    Snails always get where they are going.

    You never see snails crumpled and spent,
    saying, “It’s too far!
    It’s taking too much time!
    It’s too hard!
    I’ll never get there!
    It’s so hopeless!
    It’s just too much!
    I can’t do it!
    I can’t go on!
    I’m quitting!”

    If you go slowly enough
    and keep at it
    you can get anywhere.

    There are people
    who don’t go back to school
    because they say
    “I’ll be (pick a number) 72
    by the time I graduate.”

    They will be 72 with a degree
    or without one.

    What would a snail do?

09/24/2018 —  There are Six Ingredients to
Being Whole and Living Well:

1) Experience
2) Reflection on experience
3) Realization
4) Faith in the process
(The process of life—
the Tao—
the Way of Things—
in this process of experience, reflection,

realization, faith, courage, endurance, repeated over and over
throughout our life…)
5) Courage
6) Endurance, resiliency, resolve, resolution, fortitude,
determination, true grit, soldiering on,
keeping the faith, “fighting to the end,
going on and on and on and on…” (Freddie Mercury/Queen)

When we “hit the wall”
and are forced, by experience,
to re-examine our fundamental premises,
regarding how things are,
and how we expect things to be,
we remember the Six Ingredients,
sit ourselves down
and work through them
again and again
our entire life.

This is a life plan
that will never go out of style.

09/24/2019 —  We have to change our mind
about what is important
throughout our life,
as experience with life
calls into question
certain assumptions and premises,
and reveals/unveils
unknowns
and errors of judgment/evaluation/interpretation/understanding.

We see things differently
and change our mind.

Mindful awareness
and regular/on-going reflection
enhance,
enlarge,
expand
and deepen
our life experience,
and assists the process
of reflection,
re-examination
and revision
which are necessary
in order to change our mind
and grow up
some more,
again.

09/24/2018 —  There is no plan for your life,
that once you find it,
and implement it,
everything will fall into place
and it will be one happy song
after another
until you are gathered
to your ancestors
to relish the wonder
of your success
forever.

There is only you being you
in each situation as it arises,
responding as only you can
with the gifts
and the perspective
at your disposal
in doing what needs to be done
in light of the true good of the whole,
and doing it again
in the situation that develops
and flows from this one
through all of the situations
that arise in your life time.

You being you
throughout your life
is what your life
is all about.

Nothing can prevent
that from happening,
except you.

09/24/2018 —  A Robin sits on the side
of our birdbath
every evening,
beginning about 6 o’clock
and lasting until after 7.

I don’t know how much after,
because I’m done with dinner
and its cleanup
and my wife and I have
taken up our positions
to read and write
until bedtime,
and the Robin is on its own.

Sometimes it is joined
by a second Robin,
a mate, perhaps,
or a traveling companion,
but company is not required
for its evening ritual
of sitting,
changing positions,
staring off into the distance,
or looking into the water,
with eyes closed or open,
I do not know.

What is going on?
I wish I could ask,
and join in a conversation.

In my imagination,
we are two old men
reflecting on the day,
and the entire collection of days.
Coming to terms with how it is,
making our peace with it,
putting ourselves in accord with it,
letting it be.

Letting it all be.
Every bit of it.
Just as it is
in its such-as-it-is-ness,
and ours as well.

In my mind we would make good
Taoist hermits
sitting by a pond
as night descends,
thinking our own thoughts.

09/24/2018 —  We live trusting ourselves
to something.
I like the idea
of trusting ourselves
to ourselves.

I take it on faith
that we come equipped
with genetic DNA loaded
with everything we need
to survive in the world we live in,
and all we have to do
is access it.

We access it with “our” mind.

I view Mind
as a continuum of awareness,
operating on all possible levels of awareness
on every level of life—
that is, every living thing
participates in Mind.

Mind contains everything,
and is aware of everything,
even aware of itself being aware.

Mind is conscious and unconscious,
which is a part of conscious
we are not conscious of.
We are so fascinated by,
and conscious of,
the world of physical matter
that we spend no time
tuning into the unconscious
world of spiritual matter.
But it is there
for us to explore
when we are ready.

We are a receptor of Mind.

We participate in Mind
via our brain and body

 

  1. 09/25/2018 — Providence Road Sunflowers 2018-09 13 — New Town, North Carolina, September 2, 2018

    Jesus thought being trustworthy
    in small things
    led to being trustworthy
    in big things.
    He certainly focused on the small things
    and let the road carry him where it would.

    Politicians seem to be on the opposite track.

    “How much can I get for my support?”
    Is a more important question to them than
    “How can I be helpful in ways no one notices?”
    And their support is for sale
    to the highest bidder.

    Russia is buying a lot of votes,
    and disrupting our life in a lot of ways.

    Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth
    are the basic essentials of democracy.
    Taking care of the little things
    creates a good faith environment
    in which people can be depended upon
    to be who they say they are.

    As we begin to live in ways
    which evidence these values—
    and vote for people who themselves
    are living in ways which evidence them
    by actually doing things
    that serve these values
    in their lives—
    we will be laying a foundation
    for the good of the country
    and the good of individuals worldwide.

    Can you be trusted to be good for
    Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth
    in the way you live your life?

    Can people find these things
    in their association with you?

    Can you recognize them
    in the way the people you vote for
    live their life?

    Who is not safe with you, with them?

    Who was not safe with Jesus?

09/25/2018 —  Our life needs us to show up—
to be present and accounted for—
looking for what needs us to do it
for the good of the situation as a whole.

The Philippian Hymn is about us and our life:

“Have this mind among you (within you)
that you find in Christ,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself
by becoming a servant…
humbling himself
and being obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.”

It isn’t what is in it for us.
It isn’t what we can get out of it.
It isn’t what we stand to gain
“if we play our cards right.”

It is what needs us to do it?
With the gifts that are ours to give,
in the time and place,
the here and now,
of each situation as it arises.

We don’t have to cross the sea to find it.
It isn’t over the mountains,
in the wilderness,
or in the cities,
or far away
that we have to undertake long journeys
to find it at last.

It is right here, right now,
as close as our breath.
We only have to open our eyes
and listen to our heart
to know what the moment
is asking of us,
and be glad to do it
without though of reward:
“For the joy that is set before us,”
in the wonder of doing
what is ours to do—
and knowing who we are
in doing it.

09/25/2018 —  When have you turned
your back on your soul?

What was more important?

Make amends.

That’s all there is to it.

09/26/2018 —  More football (insert the sport
of your choice) games are lost
due to immaturity
than to technique or skill.

And maturity cannot be coached.

Growing up (some more again)
is a matter of reflection on experience—
a quality of reflection that includes
reflecting on our reflections.

Reflecting on our reflection
on our experience
is called “mindfulness.”

Mindfulness is experiencing our experience,
and experiencing ourselves
experiencing our experience.

Mindfulness holds “the whole thing”
in awareness.
We cannot cram too much
into our awareness.
The more we can be aware of,
the better our decisions
about what to do about it are.

Little awareness makes for bad choices.

The best football (etc.) players
have a broad awareness
of the game
and of themselves playing the game.

The worst football (etc.) players
don’t know what is going on,
though they might be the best athlete
on the field.

We cannot coach maturity,
but we can teach mindfulness.

Start with the Jon Kabat-Zinn
YouTube videos.
Watch the shortest ones first.

Improve your game.

  1. 09/26/2018 — Sunwapta River 2009-10 01 Panorama — Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, October 2, 2009

    The purpose of life—
    your life,
    my life,
    all of life—
    is to be whole.

    To be whole is to be balanced.
    To be in harmony.
    To be in tune and on key.
    To be at peace—not at war.
    To be “in accord with the Tao.”
    To be “at one with all things.”
    To be “on the beam.”
    To be aligned,
    in sync,
    in the flow…

    As water seeks its own level,”
    we seek to find our place
    in the order of things.

    All things have an inner sense
    of “the me” and “the not-me,”
    and strive to be what/who they are.

    We know what fits and what does not.
    Where we belong
    and where we have no business being.

    There are a lot of attractive alternatives—
    a lot of authoritative/seductive voices
    telling us what to do…

    We lose the way,
    wander from the path,
    and spend our days
    trying to remember
    who we are
    and what we are to be about.

    Was it this,
    or maybe that?

    Wanting this and that,
    or not-this and not-that,
    we live alienated from,
    and lost to,
    ourselves for all of time.

    Time to stop,
    take stock,
    and return to the center
    by being still
    and breathing,
    waiting…

    Allowing the center
    to return to us.
    Trusting ourselves to know
    what is “us”
    when it calls our name.

    Reconnecting with our soul
    grounds us on the bedrock
    of life and being,
    and guides us through
    all the choices
    along the way of our deepest nature
    to the face that was ours
    before we were born
    at the still point
    of the turning world.

  2. 09/27/2018 — The Tree at Peaks of Otter — Peaks of Otter Lodge, Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, Virginia, May 30, 2012

    Nothing changes until something changes.

    If you are waiting on things to change,
    it’s all on you.

    If you are hoping things will change,
    it begins with you.

    You don’t have to change much
    to change a lot,
    but until you change,
    nothing will.

    James Hollis likes to say
    that the only constant
    in a lifetime of miserable conditions
    is you. And me.

    How different have we been over time?

    What evidence can we find
    to support the contention
    that we are growing up
    as we grow older?

    What are we not doing that we once did?
    What are we now doing that we never did?
    In what ways have we—
    not our physical abilities,
    but our interests,
    outlook,
    perspective,
    capacity for compassion and courage,
    acceptance of disappointment
    and ability to try new things—
    changed over the years?

    Where do we most need to change?
    What is keeping that from happening?

09/27/2018 —  Poet Marianne Moore said,
“The cure for loneliness is solitude.”

Solitude brings us face-to-face
with ourselves,
and invites us to listen
to our own story,
and come to know
the one who is
with us always
for our good in all things.

Of course, to get to that place,
we have to be open
to our refusal to acknowledge
The Other Within,
and our failure to be interested
in the welfare of The One
Who Is essentially invested
in our own well-being—
and to make amends
by collaborating
with Her/Him
in our joint life together
that remains to be lived.

We are not alone.
“In each of us
there is another,
whom we do not know”
(Carl Jung).

That would be (according to Jung)
our Psyche, Soul, Self
at the heart of who we are—
and the Guide to who we are
called to be,
even now, even yet, even so!

The experience of solitude
calls forth the engagement
with The Other Within—
and the work of integration
wherein “the two become One,”
and the life we should live
becomes the life we do live,
as we exhibit the gifts
that are ours to give
in doing what needs us to do it
in each situation as it arises,
in the service of the true good of the whole.

  1. 09/28/2018 — Providence Road Sunflowers 2018-09 25-B Panorama — New Town, North Carolina, September 06, 2018

    Arrogance is the unforgivable sin—
    unforgivable because forgiveness
    bounces off
    with derision and contempt.

    Arrogance is cruel and ruthless,
    opaque to itself
    and unconscious of what it is doing—
    and therefore always the victim,
    and never at fault.

    To tell you to not be arrogant
    would be a waste of our time,
    because arrogance never is.

09/28/2018 —  If Jesus returned,
he would have to say
the same things
he said the first time.
Particularly, to the people
who call themselves Christians.

The burden of the hero
is to be dismissed,
discounted,
disregarded,
discarded…

The heroic thing about heroes
is to understand how things are
and not let it slow them down,
or impact who they are,
what they do,
how they do it.

We are to live our life
the way it needs us to live it
for the sake of the gift
that is ours
to bring forth
in the time and place
of our living—
to do what is ours to do
for the pure joy and wonder
of doing it—
and to let that be enough,
because what could be more
than that?

Celebrity status
would interfere with the work
of being who we are
in each situation as it arises
and create the paradox of the King:
“I’ll never know if they love me
or love Elvis Presley.”

09/28/2018 —  The work is always the same:

To be who we are
in each situation
as it arises,
serving the gift
that is ours to serve
in doing what needs us to do it
the way only we can do it,
for the good
of the situation as a whole
all our life long.

The outcome is irrelevant.
Outcomes,
no matter what they are,
merely lead to another situation
in which we have the same work to do.

Nothing takes precedent
over the work.
“What I do is me/for that I came”
(Gerard Manley Hopkins).

Don’t think you are doing
what is yours to do
in the service of some great
and lasting end.

You are doing it to do it
because it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
as only you can do it
all your life long.

The work is never done.
We are always doing it—
for the sheer joy,
pleasure,
delight,
wonder,
bliss,
honor and glory
of doing it!

It never gets old,
it never goes out of style,
it always needs to be done
and always needs us to do it.

 

  1. 09/29/2018 — The Tree at Peaks of Otter 2012-05 02 — Peaks of Otter Lodge, Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, Virginia, May 30, 2012

    We have to draw our own lines,
    and honor the lines of others.

    We do not have to agree among us
    about where lines should
    or should not
    be drawn.

    We only have to know that there are lines,
    and that our lines are the most important
    things about us—
    and draw our own lines,
    and honor the lines of others.

    And in those cases
    where my lines
    and the lines of others
    might clash—
    as when evangelizing Christians
    want to save me, for example—
    I have to draw my lines
    at the expense of their lines,
    and politely shut the door.

    Shutting the door
    can be among the most freeing
    of things.

    Why subject yourself
    to people
    who refuse to honor your lines?

    Why “be nice”
    and pretend you have no lines
    and they aren’t trampling your boundaries?

    “Strong fences make good neighbors” (Robert Frost).

09/29/2018  —  Truth doesn’t have two sides.

Equality means the advantage
doesn’t go to the white people,
to the wealthy people,
to the powerful people,
to the men…
but that all have the same rights
and opportunities
before the law,
with liberty and justice for all.

Justice means the scales are not tipped
to favor anyone ever.

Liberty is the freedom for each person
to pursue their own goals,
to serve their own interests,
to share their own gifts,
in ways that do not interfere
with the freedom of other people
to express/experience themselves
in any of these areas.

 

09/29/2018 —  Hope is not what we have,
it is not what we believe,
it is not what we think—
it is how we act,
it is what we do.

We live hopefully in the land!
We live hopefully in each moment!
By doing what needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done!
By being who the moment needs us to be!
Anyway!
Nevertheless!
Even So!

We incarnate hope
by the way we live.
We bring hope to life
in our life
and in the lives of those about us.

“The influence of a vital person vitalizes!” (Joseph Campbell)
Vitality brings hope to life
in the life of the people!

Live vitally, hopefully, in each moment!
Ground yourself in the awareness
of what needs to be done,
and live as its liege servant
throughout the time left for living!

This is the divine imperative—
the Categorical Imperative—
that is the calling of every human being:
To live as though what we do matters!
Because it matters to us!

  1. 09/30/2018 — Providence Road Sunflowers 2018-09 19 Panorama — New Town, North Carolina, September 2, 2018

    We live in the meantime.
    Between times.
    Waiting for the time to be right
    for whatever needs to happen next.
    Though we have no idea
    what that might be.

    We are “waiting for Godot.”

    For what we do not know—
    but not this.

    In the meantime,
    we wait.
    And, waiting,
    we do what we can think to do
    in response to this moment
    right now.

    “Eat when hungry,
    rest when tired.”

    What is this moment right now
    asking of us?
    We deal as well as we can
    with the immediate moment
    and wait.

    That’s the plan of action
    when the structures collapse
    and “the center fails to hold”
    and the staid old givens
    are taken away
    and all of the trusted
    landmarks and guide posts
    are demolished
    and what remains bears no resemblance
    to what was.
    We wait.
    For what we do not know.

    For direction.
    For a worthy purpose.
    For meaning.
    For anything but this.

    For some door to open.
    For some light to turn on.
    For some idea of what might be done
    to stabilize a rocking world.

    For Godot.

    In the meantime,
    we wait for Godot.

    And, while we are waiting,
    we breathe
    and trust ourselves to remember
    what is valuable:

    Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness,
    Gentleness, Generosity, Compassion,
    Goodness, Truth,
    Noble Hearts, Goodwill and Good Faith…

    And live in ways that serve,
    exhibit,
    express,
    incarnate
    those things.

    For as long as it takes.

    And, in so doing, we become Godot,
    and are the thing we seek,
    doing the things we need to have done
    here in the meantime—
    which is all the time
    throughout time,
    where we wait
    to become who we are,
    doing what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

09/30/2018 —  Where do we need to get better?
Individually, I mean.
And, collectively.
Where do you need to get better?
What’s stopping you?
Where do I?
Where do we?

Getting better has to be the goal
because that goal will always be before us.

We cannot think everybody else
has to become as we are—
that we are the pinnacle,
the epitome,
of being.

But.
We do.

Stopping that would be to get better.

Seeing what we look at.
Hearing what we say.

Two more ways of getting better.

Let’s live to get better today.
And do it again tomorrow.

10/01/2018 —  Bridge to Rough Ridge 2018-09 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, September 30, 2018

On one hand,
we need more help than we get.
And, on the other hand,
we always have exactly what we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done
in each situation that arises.

The fundamental necessity
in each situation
is that we be willing
to do the work
that needs us to do it
in that situation.

We have to do the work!

The work is always the same work:
Seeing
Hearing
Understanding/Knowing
Doing/Being.

The grounding practice
enabling the work
is Mindful Awareness.

Awareness Leads The Way.

If we are not attuned
to what is happening
and what needs to happen in response
on all levels of life and being,
we have no chance
of being what the situation
needs us to be.

Do the work
of being prepared
to do the work!
Take up the practice of Mindful Awareness
and learn to see what you look at,
hear what is being said,
understand what’s what
and what needs to be done about it,
where to find what you need to do it,
do it
and repeat the process
through all the situations
that arise from the current one.

This is the work
of being
Awake,
Aware,
Alive.
And it is ours to do
every day
for the rest of our life.

Watch the Jon Kabat-Zinn videos
on YouTube
and get to work.

10/01/2018 —  We all have to look at the facts
and decide what they mean for us,
and what we need to do
about them—
in response to them—
in each situation that arises
all our life long.

How well we do that tells the tale.

  1. 10/02/2018 — Tanawha Trail 2018-10 01 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, October 1, 2018

    We are brought forth
    in our decisions, choices and actions.

    Who we are
    and where our faith
    (what we trust in
    with all our heart,
    and soul,
    and mind,
    and strength)
    resides
    is revealed for all to see
    by what we do.

    Every act speaks volumes.

    Particularly those we engage in
    that serve others
    at the expense of ourselves—
    or serve ourselves
    at the expense of others.

    Politicians can talk
    but they cannot hide.

    The same can be said
    for you and me.

    And everyone else.

  2. 10/03/2018 — Tanawha Trail 2018-10 04 Panorama, Linville Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, October 1, 2018

    Mindless people do not

    see what they are looking at,

    hear what is being said,

    understand what is happening,

    know what to do in response,

    trust themselves to
    live out of their own authority
    in deciding how to live their life,

    bear consciously the pain of their life experience,

    live in the tension of their own contradictions,

    comprehend the difference between
    taking their chances and pushing their luck,

    have compassion for anyone
    who is different from them,

    experience their experience,

    think about their thinking,

    see their seeing,

    know what they know—
    and what they don’t know,

    tolerate ambiguity—
    much less embrace it,
    relish it,
    delight in it,
    and dance with it.

    Mindless people crave absolutes,

    despise change,

    hate differentness,

    want the future to be
    an extension of the past,

    and think that everything
    is better with someone to blame.

    The path from mindlessness
    to mindfulness
    is the path from infancy
    to maturity, wisdom and grace.

    It is the Hero’s Journey.

    And it opens before us all
    in each situation that arises
    all our life long.

10/03/2018 —  If you cannot bear consciously
the agony of your own contradictions,
you will be stuck forever
in the Terrible Twos,
and other people
will pay the price
of your refusal to grow up.

10/03/2018 —  The people who believe
in conspiracy theories
think everything is out to get them,
and will never be able
to kill enough people
to be safe.

The people who think
I am their enemy
are their own enemy
and mine as well.

The question is not:
“Why can’t we all just get along?”
But:
“Why can’t the people who think
it’s the people who are not like them
who make people like them
hate the people who are not like them,
learn to get along
with the people who are not like them?”

  1. 10/04/2018 — Tanawha Trail 2018-10 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, Linville, North Carolina, October 1, 2018

    James Hollis says that our two primary motivators
    are fear and laziness.

    What do we do in spite of our fear,
    regardless of our laziness?

    When do we step into our fear
    in order to find out
    if we have anything to be afraid of?

    When do we step away from our laziness
    in order to do what needs us to do it
    anyway,
    nevertheless,
    even so?

    Hollis calls fear and laziness
    the twin dragons
    we have to battle everyday
    in doing the work
    of being true to ourselves
    in the situations that arise
    and ask us again,
    who we are going to be
    here and now
    on the path that calls our name
    past all that would keep us
    from rising to the occasion
    and discovering once more
    what we are made of
    and capable of doing
    to our own amazement
    and the true good
    of the time and place
    of our living.

10/04/2018 —  James Hollis said, “Every day
we are called to decide
what kind of human being
we will be.”

Too many of us
fail to realize
that we have a choice
in the matter,
and that we make it anew
every day.

The choices we make
without knowing
that we are making a choice
are the choices
that shape the world
we live in
and form the life
we live.

10/04/2018—  Start with what you know.

With what you know to be so—
what you know to be true—
about you.

Honor it with your life.

Work in into your life.

Live your life around it—
grounded upon it,
centered in it.

Live the life that is true to you.

How different would your life be
if you did that?

How would it change tomorrow
if you got up
and lived the life that is true to you?

How is the life you are living
blocking,
preventing,
inhibiting,
concealing
the life that is true to you?

How can work the life that is true to you
into the life you are living?

How much can you do in a day
that is true to you?

See how much you can work in
before bedtime.

Then, see how much you can work in tomorrow.

And each day thereafter.

  1. 10/05/2018 — Tanawha Trail 2018-10 02 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, Linville, North Carolina, October 1, 2018

    We live, work and play
    at the grace, will and pleasure
    of That Which Knows
    and is with us for the sheer joy and wonder
    of the experience.

    We know enough that cannot be explained
    to know there is a Knower within
    who knows more than we do—
    a Knower who has a will for us
    beyond our will for us
    to guide us along the way
    that is right for us.

    We know when something
    is right for us,
    and when it is wrong for us—
    when it is good for us,
    and when it is not good for us.

    We know when we are,
    In Joseph Campbell’s words,
    “on the beam and when we are off it.”

    We know when something resonates with us
    and when we have no affinity at all with something.
    We do not choose which is which.
    We simply know it.

    In these instances,
    we know what That Which Knows knows—
    which is enough to know
    there is a Knower within
    who has our best interest at heart,
    and will—
    if we are cooperative, agreeable, and willing—
    collaborate with us
    in creating a life
    that is larger,
    fuller,
    grander,
    deeper,
    more joyful, vital and alive
    than anything we could think up
    on our own.

    Why don’t we make a pact
    with the Knower,
    and stop directing the action
    in order to join in
    as full participants
    in the dance of seeing, hearing,
    knowing, doing and being
    within the conditions and circumstances
    of our life
    as it unfolds
    in each situation that arises—
    and see where it goes?

10/05/2018 —  We do not ask the questions
that beg to be asked
by our daily life experience.

-goinWe do not say the things
that cry out to be said
in response to our daily life experience.

We dismiss,
discard,
disregard,
reject,
deny,
ignore
the impact of our daily life experience.

And wonder what’s wrong,
and why we have no life
beyond addiction,
escape,
entertainment,
doing our duty,
believing what
we are told to believe,
keeping up appearances
and pretending everything is fine.

But.
Everything is not fine.

And, “deep down below the surface
of the average conscience
a still, small voice says to us,
something is out of tune”
(Carl Jung).

How much longer the charade?
How much longer before
we stop, look and listen—
and attend the inner voice
calling for self-awareness,
self-examination,
self-correction,
self-direction,
self-realization
and self-determination?

Ask the questions that beg to be asked!
Say the things that cry out to be said!
Live the life that has yet to be lived!
Why hold anything back?
The light is fading fast.

10/05/2018 —  We are each responsible
for the exegesis of the moment—
interpreting the meaning of each moment
in light of all of our previous moments,
where we learned to evaluate our experience
on the basis of values established
to be valuable through our past personal experience
and the lived experience of the species over time.

I view Bret Kavanaugh’s pending confirmation
to the Supreme Court—
the validity of the Trump Administration
and that of the GOP Members of Congress—
from the standpoint of the Constitution
and the Bill of Rights,
and the Rule of Law.

In which I find “all (people) are created equal,”
plainly stated,
with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
held up as the foundational standard
undergirding us all,
guiding us all,
motivating us all
in the on-going work
to realize the vision of the Founders
in the everyday life of the people.

And where I also find
the four pillars of Democracy:
Liberty, Justice, Equality, and Truth
reflected in every word,
and “Liberty and Justice for All”
implied throughout.

I take it for granted that these are the things
the President and all members of Congress
swear to “Preserve, Protect and Defend”
and promise to serve with their life
when they take their oath of office.

As I look through this filter
at the behavior and words of Bret Kavanaugh,
of President Trump and his Administration,
or the Republican Members of Congress,
I see their actions and behavior and words
in stark contradiction
to promises they made,

And find them all to be enemies of Democracy,
the Constitution and Bill of Rights
and the Rule of Law,
and threats to the national security of this nation.

10/05/2018 —  When Jesus said,
“Wisdom is justified
by her children
(And, sometimes by her grandchildren),”
he means “Time will tell”
who is right and who is wrong.

But, but then it won’t matter.

And so, the importance
of knowing when the time is at hand
for acting,
and act!

The only time that matters
is the right time.

If we are wrong about that,
we have to bear the weight of it,
and hope to do better
next time.

Over the full course of time,
more people have been wrong
than have been right,
and we all bear the weight
of their having missed the time to act
when it was upon them.

The burden of time
is when wisdom is recognized
too late.

 

 

  1. 10/06/2018 — Bridge to Rough Ridge 2018-09 05 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, September 30, 2018

    Our tension will teach us
    everything you need to know.

    Tension is our body’s response
    to conflict,
    contradiction,
    polarity,
    opposition,
    dissension,
    discord,
    disharmony,
    antagonism,
    contention,
    hostility,
    incongruity
    at work in our life.

    Tension is how our body registers
    disruption in the flow of life.
    Our body is our early warning system
    for detecting conflict in the vicinity.

    Our body is the receptacle of our tension.
    Our body carries our tension.
    Our body is constantly talking to us
    about our tension.

    Our place is to listen to our body—
    understanding that our body
    is not the problem—
    that treating our body
    is treating the symptom,
    not the disease.

    Tension is our problem.
    Our body is just the way
    we carry our tension.
    Our tension shapes our body.
    Our body will change as our tension eases—
    as our response to conflict and contradiction changes.

    Our place is to attend our tension
    and be aware of the disharmony in our life.

    Our life is filled with places of tension.

    How many places of peace, serenity, tranquility,
    contentment, ease and joy are there?

    What can you do to increase the latter
    and decrease the former?

    Where do you go to relax?
    To be safe and secure?

    Where are your retreats?
    Your sanctuaries?

    Pay attention to these things.

    Know the difference between peace and conflict
    and the different ways they impact your body,
    and your mind, soul, heart, spirit.

    In the presence of tension-producing
    thoughts, memories, environments,

    Slowly.
    Deeply.

    We don’t breathe slowly enough,
    deeply enough.

    We breathe into our chest,
    not into our belly.

    Breathe into your belly.
    And pause for a count of 6-10
    between each breath.

    The pauses between breaths
    are the most important pauses in a day.

    Simply breathing in this way
    will soften wherever you are,
    moderate the impact of conflict,
    reduce the tension,
    increase the peace.

    Our breath is our best friend,
    and “a very present help in time of trouble.”

    Take up the practice of breathing properly.
    You are going to breathe anyway.
    You may as well do it well.

    And allow your tension to change your life.
    To grow you up.
    To bless you with the path to peace.

    Your body will be glad you did.

10/06/2018 —  The Dalai Lama dealt with the
Chinese occupation of Tibet—
and the massacre of thousands
of Buddhists monks and civilians—
without breaking his stride.

That’s the way to do it—
and he is still doing it.

The Dalai Lama would not call
his way of life “being a warrior.”
He would call it
“being true to your way of life.”

The key is having a way of life
that is worth being true to—
that is worth our life.

Get that in place
and we can withstand anything.

We cannot be grounded in the 10,000 things.
We can only be grounded in what matters most.
If we are not clear about what matters most,
we are at the mercy of the 10,000 things—
and live like a pin ball
being batted about continuously among them all.

The Dalai Lama lives out of his solitude,
centered in and grounded upon the bedrock
that solidifies and stabilizes his life,
and immunizes him against the impact
of all attacks and intrusions.

We cannot be quiet enough long enough
to have any idea of what our bedrock might be.
And that’s the difference
between us and the Dalai Lama.

Being quiet enough long enough
is the path to mindfulness,
and mindfulness leads the way.

Mindfulness implies non-judgmental,
compassionate, awareness.

Simply seeing,
simply hearing,
simply understanding,
simply knowing
what is happening,
and spontaneously doing
what needs to be done about it,
and being at-one with the process,
with nothing personal at stake—
with nothing personal to gain or lose—
just being what needs to be
in each situation that arises
all our life long
as a testimony to what matters most
no matter what.

10/06/2018 —

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. 10/07/2018 — Bridge to Rough Ridge 2018-10 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 01, 2018

    A lot of people I know
    either have contentious,
    antagonistic,
    relationships with their life,
    or passive,
    helpless,
    victim-like
    relationships with their life.

    Neither lot is what you would call
    a joy to be around.

    Neither lot has anything approaching joy
    for their life.

    Things would have to be a lot better
    for both
    before either could think about
    enjoying anything about
    what they are doing.

    Even then, it may not be possible.

    Things can’t ever be so good
    they can’t find something to complain about,
    and things can’t ever be so bad
    they can’t imagine ways it could easily get worse.

    And, they cannot be helped to a
    more helpful orientation
    because they hold the key
    to the door of their perceptions
    and refuse to use it
    because “This isn’t about the way I see things!
    This is about the way things ARE!”

    Things ARE the way they say things ARE,
    and that’s that.

  2. 10/08/2018 — Around Bass Lake 2018-10 01 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 7, 2018
    (There is very little color on the parkway—check the trees across the lake in this photo—and a number of trees are losing their leaves without turning. The tropical storm/hurricane [Michael?] forecast for later this week may do significant leaf removal to the trees that haven’t dropped theirs, so fall may be not so much this year. Sigh.)

    Find what matters most to you
    and evaluate the value
    of what you call valuable.

    Does it matter most to you
    because you say so,
    or because you think
    it is supposed to matter most?

    What makes you think it matters most?
    Do you get credit—
    are you admired,
    accepted,
    thought highly of
    by others—
    for thinking it matters most?

    Are you saying it matters most
    because you think it ought to matter most?

    What matters most to you
    because you know from your own experience
    that it is the bottomless bedrock
    upon which your life is grounded, founded, based?

    How do you exhibit your high regard
    for what matters most to you
    in the way you live your life?

    Would the people who know you
    be quick to say
    it is indeed the bedrock value of your life?

    How valuable are the values you say are valuable?
    How apparent are they in your way of life?

    How good is the good you call good?
    Good for whom?
    Who is blessed and helped
    by the good you serve?
    Who is harmed and hurt by it?

    How does serving the good you serve
    benefit you?
    How does it benefit others?
    Who are the ones who are not benefited at all?

    What do the answers to these questions
    say about what is actually the foundation
    of your life?

    What is the value (are the values)
    that you serve with your life?

    At whose expense?

 

10/09/2018 —  The past few weeks have been especially tough on a lot of us. In light of that, I’m re-upping this post from April 28, 2018…

From The Doctor’s Wife, Doctor Who, Season 6, Episode 4, written by Neil Gaiman:

“Letting it get to you—
you know what that’s called?
Being alive.
Best thing there is.”

Everything should get to us,
or what’s the point?

We spend our life trying
to get away from it
when we should be
opening ourselves to it,
letting it get to us.

We think it is about avoiding it
when it is about engaging it.
Embracing it.
Immersing in it.
Dancing with it.
Loving it.
All of it.
Every last bit of it.
The good and the bad.
The wonderful and the awful.
The wins and the losses.

Sealing ourselves off from part of it
seals ourselves off from all of it.
Look closely at the people
who wall themselves off.
They have walled themselves in,
and live alone
with noting of life about them.

They talk,
but they say the same things,
repeat the same phrases,
never saying anything.
Never experiencing anything.
Never doing anything.
Wondering why life is so flat
and boring.

It can’t help but be that way
when you don’t let
anything get to you.
When you don’t let anything
disappoint you,
scare you,
ask hard things of you,
break your heart.
And break it again.

Only the dead are safe.

 

  1. 10/09/2018 — Sandy Flat Missionary Baptist Church 2018-10 01 — Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 8, 2018

    There is nothing flat within 50 miles of this church. Enough to make you wonder
    about the validity of anything else
    it might have to say.

    But, we grant exclusions, exemptions,
    and make exceptions.
    We know the name of the church
    “doesn’t mean anything.”

    “It probably hearkens back to—
    evokes memories of—
    a time when the church was built
    on the largest piece of flat ground
    within living distance of anyone
    who attended it.”

    And we grant poetic license,
    have a sense of humor about it,
    smile and say,
    “Don’t be so rigid about every little thing.”

    And the structures undergirding society—
    particularly society in the mountains—
    hold firm,
    and life lives on
    without a hitch in its stride.

    Yet, there is a line.

    Societies collapse—
    every society,
    every tribe,
    every family circle—
    when the structures upholding the society
    begin to give way.

    When “the center fails to hold”
    “anarchy is loosed upon the world”
    and “the best lack all conviction,
    while the worst are full of passionate intensity”
    (William Butler Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’).

    When the rules and laws governing society—
    when The Rule of Law
    is replaced by Profit At Any Price—
    nobody can count on anything,
    because anything goes,
    and nothing is sacred, holy, or central,
    and “might makes right,”
    and the mean, ruthless and vicious prevail—
    then it is “everyone for themselves,”
    which makes everyone the enemy of everyone else,
    even those “of one’s own household.”

    In those times,
    things are held together by those
    who remember the old values
    and make them the bedrock of their lives.

    Good faith,
    mindful awareness,
    integrity,
    compassion,
    grace,
    mercy,
    kindness,
    gentleness,
    generosity,
    justice,
    equality,
    truth,

    The list is long of the qualities
    and characteristics
    required for membership
    in The Community of Innocence—
    which is innocent of ulterior motives
    and hidden agendas
    and having something at stake
    that would lead to exploitation
    and manipulation
    for the good of some
    at the expense of others
    and destroy the harmony
    and congruity of the whole.

    We do not find such communities.
    We create them.
    By being what we seek,
    and offering unilaterally
    the goodness and safety
    of our own company—
    without stipulation or expectation
    as those who are
    “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”
    in each situation as it arises
    for the true good of all.

10/09/2018 —  What are the values being served
by Donald Trump
and the people who are his loyal supporters?
Are they the same values?

Where do they become different?
Where does what Trump calls good
become his supporters’ bad?

Do they notice it when it happens?
When the good they called good
becomes their bad?

I’m thinking not.
I’m thinking they don’t notice.
Or care.

I’m thinking they pass off their bad
as being the Democrats’ fault.
As getting better as soon as Trump
can defeat his enemies
and turn his attention to them and their needs.

Trump is only using them
to get what he wants.
They have no place in Trump’s plans.
A con man has no use for his dupes.

Too late the shock of realization.
Too long the shame
of not-knowing what they knew.

  1. 10/10/2018 — Cone Manor 2018-10 01 Panorama — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 9, 2018

    The only thing Money cares about
    is making more Money.

    Money never has enough Money.

    And enlists people as its liege servants
    to serve it with their life.

    Greed is the force
    behind things being what they are.

    Nothing is so good that more money
    can’t make it better.

    Putting money in its place
    is the primary requirement
    enabling the acquisition and expression
    of all the high values.

    The Buddha under the Bo Tree,
    Jesus in the wilderness,
    Rosa Parks at the front of the bus,
    Hosea Williams and John Lewis, et al.,
    on the Edmund Pettus Bridge…
    understood that money,
    is the least of our concerns,
    and has nothing to do
    with things being how they need to be.

    The people who do not understand this
    think that money is the sine qua non
    of life at its best,
    and cannot comprehend why it doesn’t work
    as they think it will.

    Having more of the wrong thing
    won’t make anything better.

    Putting ourselves in right relationship with money
    is the threshold to everything worth having.

    We only need to look around
    to know it is so.

10/10/2018 —  We are living through
the hostile takeover of our government.

It is a plan that has been 60 years in the making,
and I am taken by the dedication,
the conviction,
the determination,
the attention to details
and the care in execution
that the far Right—
the white extremists,
the Fascists,
the Nazis,
and the terminally disgruntled—
exhibited in putting this together
and pulling it off.

I see hatred at work
in the service of hate here,
with nothing to offer anyone,
even themselves.

If Hitler had won WWII,
he would have killed everyone
he did not like
in order to dominate the rest—
but, domination in the service of what?
Domination in the service of Domination!
Those who would destroy civilization
have nothing to offer in place of civilization.

The Huns,
the Vandals,
the Visigoths,
the Vikings,
Genghis Khan
and the long list of invaders and conquerors
had nothing to offer.

Theirs was to destroy, pillage, rape and burn.
They could not see how it could be any better than that.

Sound familiar?

When they win,
everybody loses—
even themselves.

It’s called a Win/Lose situation.

10/10/2018 —  “When you meet an elephant
coming toward you on the path,
get off the path!”
— Zen Wisdom

There is a hurricane coming toward me.

Getting off the path is out of the question.
When that is the case,
batten down the hatches
and ride it out
as well as you are able.

That is the best advice I can manage
for dealing with hurricanes
and the political drift
toward Far Right Extremism
by the GOP
and the Trump Administration.

“Battening down the hatches”
needs to be “unpacked,”
explored.
What would we be doing
if we were doing that?

Developing the right kind of silence
and the right kind of community
come to mind.

The slow drip, drip, drip—
often referred to as “Chinese Water Torture”—
of chronic pain,
physical and emotional,
can erode our resolve,
our resilience,
our will to resist,
and our will to live.

Giving in to the hopelessness
of our situation exacerbates
(That’s one of the ugliest words I know of.
It looks ugly.
It sounds ugly.
I use it only when it applies,
and apologize profusely.
I’m so sorry.
I wish I could do better.
On all levels of life and being.
But. Here we are)
our situation,
erodes our foundation,
and leaves us blowing about in the wind
howling up from the void.

We have to adopt an attitude
toward hopelessness
that renders us immune to its impact
and un-threatened by its presence.

Here is my suggestion:

In the presence of the undeniable reality of
So What?
Who Cares?
Why Try?
What Difference Will It Make?
Smile, nod in agreement, and say:

“It’s all hopeless, pointless, useless, futile
and coming to a very bad end
(we’re all going to die)—
and how we live in the meantime
makes all the difference!”

Buy into that!
Adopt that as your personal statement of faith!
Believe it with all your heart,
and live it  out in your life!

That’s the first thing.
Then the right kind of silence
and the right kind of community.

Explore what “the right kind of silence” means.
Explore what “the right kind of community” means.
And build your life around those two things.

  1. 10/11/2018 — Runnoft Falls 2018-10 03 — Hwy 321 near Blowing Rock, NC, October 8, 2018 — This roadside waterfall runs only when it rains, which, of course, every waterfall does, but this one dries up between rains. And it has no name that any of the locals I talked to knew of. So, I dubbed it Runnoft Falls, with a tip of my hat to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

    We feel our way along the way.
    Along the way that is the way for us.
    In doing what is ours to do.
    Working our side of the street.
    Tending to our own business.
    Planting our own fields.
    Serving our own daemon.
    Our own genius.
    Our own gift.
    Finding and being who we are.

    We feel our way to yes and no,
    to good and bad,
    to right and wrong,
    to what we like and do not like,
    to what resonates with us and to what repels us,
    to who we are and who we are not,
    to me and not-me…

    We do not think our way there.

    Bad religion gives us thinking.
    Bad religion is a head trip
    to somebody else’s idea
    of who we ought to be
    and why.

    Good religion gives us silence
    and the experience of our experience.

    Good religion enables
    the experience of our experience
    by listening us to hearing what we have to say.
    Not by telling us much of anything.

    Good religion is about
    feeling our way to ourselves
    and living out of that knowing
    into doing what needs to be done—
    what needs us to do it—
    the way we need to do it
    with the talents,
    knacks,
    interests
    and abilities
    that come packed inside of us
    ready for the conditions that call them forth
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    We feel our way through each day,
    relishing the wonder of it all.
    Religion as it ought to be.
    Religion of the way
    for people on their way
    to the way that is the way for them.

10/11/2018 —  Racism is not acceptable.
Misogyny is not acceptable.
Homophobia is not acceptable.
Xenophobia is not acceptable.
Alethephobia (fear of truth) is not acceptable.
Hatred/Fear of journalists is not acceptable.
Religious intolerance is not acceptable.

The Trump Administration,
The (new) GOP,
White Supremacists,
Fascists,
Nazis,
and their ilk
hate everybody not like them.

It’s a problem.

The Trump Administration,
etc.,
stand in defiant opposition
to the movement of history
and the spirit of the times,
and hearken back pre-Civil War times
when America was Great
and white, Christianized, men ruled
with might that made them right.

This is going to have to work itself out in time.

We aren’t going to impose solutions.
We are going to live our way to them
by being true to our perspective,
speaking the truth
and living truthfully
in ways appropriate to the occasion
and allowing nature to take its course.

10/12/2018 —  Cone Manor 2018-10 02 B&W — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 9, 2018

Truth stops us.

Something can be true
without stopping us.
But.
Truth stops us.

That becomes a crisis point.
What happens next
sets in motion 10.000 possibilities—
10,000 futures—
and everything depends
on what we do.

There is how things have been
up to that point,
and how things might be
after that point,
and at that point,
we decide.
We choose.
We act.

What’s it going to be?

Truth is always a pivot point.
The place of awakening
and transition—
of re-direction
and transformation—
or not.

What’s it going to be?

It could be a car crash.
A divorce.
A terminal illness
(or just an illness).
Falling in love.
Being fired
(or being hired).
Being rejected
(or being accepted)…

Now what?
Is always being forced upon us
by the conditions and circumstances
of our life.

Truth comes calling in a multitude of ways.
It always asks that we grow up.
Some more.
Again.

And we always grow up
against our will.

So.
The next time you’re stopped,
STOP!
LOOK!
LISTEN!
Experience,
Explore,
Evaluate,
Examine,
Reflect to the point
of new realizations.

Something is happening.
Something is being asked of you.
Take stock.
Practice being mindfully aware.
Hold everything in your awareness,
and wait
to see what all occurs to you.

Decide with your options clearly before you
what is being asked of you,
which path is yours to make,
and feel your way along
until you are stopped again,
then repeat the process.

For the rest of your life.

10/12/2018 —  Everybody has their own idea
of how things ought to be.

Our picture of the world
grows out of our sense of justice
and proportion,
and we arrange things in our world
according to our sense
of placement, color and harmony.

“Right” is a very personal perception.
The more people who share our view,
the righter it is.
Right and Wrong are things
a lot of people
have declared to be so over time,
but we each have variations
on the theme
which play out in our life
for better or for worse,
for good or for ill.

And none of us can take our sense
of the good
for Good in the universally recognized sense.
Yet, we have to honor and live out
of our sense of the good
and take our chances—
knowing full well
maybe yes and maybe no.

And we all have to subject ourselves
and our views
to the judgment of the whole—
and not only that,
but also to the
impact and implications
our view has for the individuals
who share our life
and have their own ideas
of what is good
and what is not so good
and what is not good at all.

We cannot live with only ourselves in mind.
We carry weight
and have an effect upon
the lives of others,
and that has to be taken into account
as we assess the value
of what we declare to be valuable.

What does it mean for the lives of others—
of all others?
Whose good is served
by the good we call good
and whose good is damaged
or destroyed?
How good is the good we call good?

What shall we do?
How shall we live?
In light of all things considered?

  1. 10/12/2018 — Carl Jung said a hermit
    is a primitive person
    who trusts their unconscious.

    I understand the unconscious
    to manifest itself through our dreams,

    through our symptoms,

    through symbols that speak
    to us on a feeling level
    beyond words,

    through the processes
    of projection and transference,

    through our complexes,
    and our shadow
    and the other archetypes
    that are triggered
    by circumstances
    and become active in our psychic life
    as powers or presences
    that force us to do their will
    or torment us with anxiety,
    obsessions and compulsions,

    through our slips of the tongue,
    and the things that catch our eye,

    through impulses that compel us to action
    which we do not understand
    and cannot explain,

    and the things that attract us without reason
    and hold us charmed in their power over time…

    In trusting our unconscious,
    we trust ourselves to our unconscious
    as liege servants
    of That Which Knows More Than We Know,

    and seek to deepen our awareness of its presence,
    to understand and interpret its language,
    and cooperate/collaborate with its guidance and direction
    through the situations that arise
    in the times and places of our living
    all our life long.

  2. 10/13/2018 — Around Bass Lake 2018-10 02 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 7, 2018

    Nothing is for always.

    The Yellowstone Caldera is going to blow.

    We never run out of transitions.

    The trick is to transcend them.

    We transcend them by taking them in stride
    in a “Here comes another one,
    oops, there it goes,”
    or, “Here we are again,
    now what, again?”
    kind of way.

    Life between transitions
    is life best spent preparing for transitions—
    practicing the art of
    letting go what’s going
    and letting come what’s coming
    with everything that goes and comes.
    And everything is going or coming.

    Walk through Wal-Mart
    or Bed-Bath-And-Beyond
    (which, itself, may be going).
    Everything on the shelves
    and in the aisles
    is on the way to some land fill,
    with a brief pause
    as it comes to your house,
    or the house next door,
    or one across town.

    Nothing is permanent.
    Even landfills
    (and cemeteries)
    become developments
    and condos
    and shopping centers.

    We live between the times
    of things going and coming,
    and live best when we
    make our peace with that,
    and let it be
    because it is—
    and make the most
    of our opportunity
    with the temporary nature of things
    by loving what we love
    while we can,
    consciously, intentionally,
    intensely, deliberately,
    and spending our time
    doing, serving, caring for
    the things that matter most
    for as long as we can
    while we can,
    because we are going
    like the items on the shelves at Wal-Mart
    and Bed-Bath-And-Beyond.

  3. 10/14/2018 — Beacon Heights 2018-10 08 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville, North Carolina, October 2, 2018

    God is not an objective fact like a baseball,
    but a subjective projection
    “explaining” our experience
    of the Numen,
    or “that which cannot be said/explained/defined.”

    There is no basis for that statement.
    I take it on faith.

    I also take these statements on faith:

    You can’t talk of Christ to Christians.
    You can’t talk of Jung to Jungians.

    We cannot will ourselves to grow up
    because we can only grow up
    against our will.

    We cannot grow up
    without taking no for an answer—
    about 10,000 times.
    A week.

    No one can say anything to you
    that is more important
    than what you say to yourself.

    You are the final authority
    regarding your life
    and the way you live it.

    When you think you are being anal,
    you are being unconfident,
    and cannot allow yourself to be wrong.

    You say what is important to you.
    You say what is right for you.
    You say what is wrong for you.
    You say what is good for you.
    You say what is bad for you.
    You say what is life for you.
    You say what is death for you.

    And you don’t make any of it up.
    It is true for you
    and you know it.
    You don’t decide it.
    You know it.

    The ground of this essential knowing
    is YOUR ground,
    your source,
    your center,
    your core,
    your foundation,
    your bedrock

    Your persona is Not-you.

    Your Shadow is Also-you.

    Your Anima/Animus is also Also-you
    (The Anima is the woman
    you are built to be if you are a man,
    and the Animus is the man
    you are built to be if you are a woman—
    we are all androgynous in that way).

    Your Complexes are No Longer-You,
    and you have to out-grow them.

    The Archetypes are the Power You
    and you need to consult them.

    Your dreams are a way you talk to you.

    As are symbols that speak to you,

    the natural tendencies for projection and transference,

    the sense of being gripped
    by a vision or an urgency
    of overwhelming force,

    and the sense of being at-one
    with your life
    and the time and place of your living.

    We have all we need
    to find what we need
    to do what we need to do
    about what needs to be done
    in each situation that arises
    all our life long.

    It is all waiting for the right kind of silence
    and the right kind of attention
    and the right kind of supportive community.

    And you are the only one
    standing in your way.

10/14/2018 —  The things I take on faith
(and there are many)
are not facts—
and I know they are not facts—
yet, I treat them as facts
because they are as so for me
as the air I breathe
and the water I drink.

They ground me,
secure me,
orient me,
carry me,
accompany me,
along the way.

But I do not expect,
or require,
that they will do that for you.

However, I do expect,
though I have no business requiring it,
that something you take on faith
does similar things for you.

We make it through this world
on the strength of the things we take on faith.

And there has to be a regular,
if not constant,
interchange between what we take on faith
to be so,
and what we find borne out to be so
in the world of apparent reality
(which we take on faith to be real,
though it all could very well be a dream
for all we know).

What we take on faith
has to work
in relation to what we take to be facts.

When what we take on faith
fails to work in relation to the facts
that constrain our existence,
there is a problem,
which is sometimes referred to
as a “mid-life crisis,”
or an “identity crisis,”
when what we have always
assumed (and taken on faith) to be so
turns out to be not-so,
and now what do we do?

“Faith” and “facts” do not mix so well over time,
and we have to work it out.

We generally work it out by revising what we believe
to fit the facts that define our living,
and go on about our way,
though often with a lingering
“period of adjustment”
that continues to inhibit
the smooth transition
from one way of seeing/being
to another.

We can avoid major disruptions in our life
by being aware of what
we are taking on faith
and how that is being impacted
by the facts which impinge upon us,
and make regular and on-going adjustments
through reflecting on our experience
and forming new realizations,
in light of which we jettison old beliefs
and adopt new ones
to compensate for the fact
that how we have been told, or thought,
how things are
too often turns out to be not how things are,
and our beliefs about how things are
have to be revised continually
to take new realities into account
and assist us in coping with the things that meet us
all along the way.

  1. 10/15/2018 — Around Bass Lake 2018-10 06 Panorama — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 7, 2018

    The validation of what we take on faith
    is evident in the quality of the life we live.

    Being at peace with the way things are,
    confident in our ability to transcend the situation
    in service to the good of the situation,

    being unmoved by the fluctuation
    of the conditions and circumstances of our life,

    being able to take No for an answer,

    not having to have our way,

    being in accord with the flow of our life
    and of life around us,

    breathing well
    with no addictions
    and a low degree of symptoms
    in ourselves and in those closest to us,

    experiencing integrity-of-being
    between who we are
    and how we are living
    and what we are doing for a living,

    with everything working together
    for the good of the whole,

    is to be living on the beam
    grounded on the bedrock foundation
    of values that flow from what matters most
    in living the life that is ours to live
    with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.

    That’s it for me.
    When we are there,
    we are where we need to be.

    When things are out of sync,
    we know it,
    and our symptoms show it.

    It is apparent that things are not right somehow—
    and to not be aware of it is to be in denial,
    and off the path.

    To be on the path is the test of any belief system,
    of whatever we take on faith
    and assume to be so.

    On the strength of the validity
    of our belief system,
    we rise to meet the day—
    and step into each situation
    that develops in a day—
    to offer there what is needed
    with the gifts,
    genius,
    talents,
    knacks
    and abilities
    we have to offer,
    in light of,
    and in service to,
    the true good of the whole.

    How well we are able to do that
    is a testimony to the value
    of our belief system,
    and evidence of the integrity
    of our life and being,
    and makes all the difference
    in the world.

01/15/2018 —  If what you take on faith—
what you believe to be so
beyond facts and reason,
undergirding facts and reason—
enables you to rise and meet the day,
the occasion,
any occasion,
every occasion,
and to do there
the things that need to be done
in ways appropriate to the occasion,
then you are serving
a belief system
well worth your time and attention.

If it does not,
you would do well
to find one that does.

10/15/2018 —  How well does what you believe—
the things you take on faith—
enable you to live your life?

That is the foundational test
of every belief system.
Does it enable you to live your life well?

10/15/2018 —  The validation of any belief system
is how well it enables us
to live our life.

It doesn’t matter what we believe
(take on faith).
What matters is how well we
live our life.

Believe whatever enables you
to live your life well
in/through every condition
and circumstance of living.

10/15/2018 —  Clearing the clutter
out of your life
means seeing clearly
what matters most
and what keeps you from it.

What gets in the way?

What absorbs your time and energy?

What commands your attention?

What distracts you from the task
of being who your life—
the life that is your life to live,
the life that claims your allegiance
and your loyalty—
needs you to be?

What diverts you from the work
of being true to yourself?

What keeps you
from clearing the clutter
out of your life?

10/15/2018 —  It all takes its toll over time.

The weight of experience
over the full course of our life
bears down upon us,
cracking the veneer,
eroding the facade,
exposing the charade,
revealing the persona
to be the thin coverup they all are,
and disclosing the truth
the emptiness within
and the absence of anything
approaching a foundation.

Leaving us bare
in the glare
of having missed
the point of our life
and the opportunity we had
to be who we are
within the conditions and circumstances
of our life
in the times and places
of our living.

  1. 10/16/2018 — Cone Manor 2018-10 03 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 9, 2018

    Mindfulness leads the way.

    Mindfulness is the solution
    to all of our problems today.

    Mindfulness considers everything
    in light of everything,
    and sees the appropriate response
    from the vantage point
    of all things considered.

    Holding things in our awareness
    and waiting for the right action
    to arise from the realization
    of what needs to happen
    is the work of reflection
    and examination.

    Practice mindfulness
    by being aware of the moment
    to the point of noticing
    when one moment goes over
    into the next one,
    and tuning into to all that is
    going on
    in the foreground
    and in the background
    of each moment,
    starting with your breathing,
    and including your seeing,
    your hearing,
    your thinking,
    your emotional feelings,
    your physical sensations,
    and all that is impacting you
    on every level
    in each moment.

10/16/2018 —  There is One Who Knows
within each of us.

It is our place
to know the Knower
and to articulate
what the Knower knows
as a way of being clear
about it
and living in accord with it—
collaborating with it
in the production
of a joint life
we both can be proud of.

The Knower knows what our business is
and is not.
What do we know of what the Knower knows?

The Knower knows what is good for us
and what is not.
What do we know of what the Knower knows?

The Knower knows what is important
and what is not.
What to we know of what the Knower knows?

Who is guiding our boat
on its path through the sea?

Regular consultations with the Knower Within
put both of us at the helm,
and create a life
that is better on every level
than the one
we are capable of producing
on our own.

Knowing what we know
and knowing what to do about it
is the gift of mindful awareness—
which is the practice
of being present
with what is present with us.

10/16/2018 —  If you have been with me for a while,
you have heard me say before
what I am about to say again.
That’s nothing new.
I say everything I say again.
I am a preacher by trade,
and preachers have been saying
the same thing again forever.

I actually tried to get away from
the steady repetition
of the same old, old, story,
but my congregations would have none of it.
They paid me to talk to them about God,
but they didn’t want to hear anything
they hadn’t already heard.
That’s the church for you,
and I’ve said that before.

Here is what I have also said before
and am going to say again now:

How we see shapes and forms,
influences and to some extent determines,
what we see.

Perspective creates perception.

And we are responsible for both
the how and the what.
We are responsible for our seeing,
and our hearing,
and our understanding
(and our knowing
and our doing
and our being).

We are in charge of the perspective
with which we see the world,
and the perceptions we form
about the world
and the people in the world.

If we hate gay people
and black people
and think it is their fault
that we hate them—it is not.

The blame for how we see the world
is ours to bear alone.
We have to work at our seeing
as much as we work at anything.

Seeing is not automatic,
nor is hatred.
Those who hate
surround themselves with those who hate.

People tend to group themselves
with people who see like they do,
and who do not call their way of seeing
into question,
but shape it through shame and humiliation
so that it takes on the groups’ way of seeing.

If we are going to see differently
we are going to have to keep different company.

And we are responsible for doing that.
We are responsible for growing up,
evaluating our values,
taking stock,
seeing our seeing,
and seeing if we can do better.

We always can.

 

 

  1. 10/17/2018 — Boone Fork 2018-10 02 — Julian Price Memorial Park Picnic Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 8, 2018

    Our work is to know the Knower
    and to collaborate with the Knower
    and what the Knower knows
    in living our life so as to
    articulate,
    incarnate,
    express,
    exhibit,
    honor,
    bring forth
    and make actual
    the Knower knowing
    for the good
    of all sentient beings.

    This is the next stage of evolution.

    It has been bubbling up from within
    through the ages,
    waiting, waiting, waiting
    for us to wake up,
    catch on,
    get it,
    get with it,
    align ourselves with it,
    live in accord with it
    within the terms
    and conditions,
    nature
    and circumstances
    of our lives—
    for nothing beyond
    the pure wonder
    of the full realization/expression
    of it all.

    Life actualizing itself to the fullest.
    Nature naturing itself into physical reality.
    God becoming men and women.

    Heaven is not some place we go to when we die.
    Heaven is what we bring forth
    by dying to our idea of how things should be
    and living so as to
    articulate,
    incarnate,
    express,
    exhibit,
    honor,
    bring forth
    and make actual
    the Knower knowing
    for the good
    of all sentient beings.

    Every religion has it a little bit right.
    Just enough right
    to go to war with every other religion.
    But not right enough
    to end war among all living things.

    Evolution evolves.

    Keeps bubbling up.
    Until we know enough of the Knower
    to articulate what we know of the Knower
    without killing those who disagree with us,
    or being killed by them,
    in order for what we all know
    to be seen in light
    of what all is to be known
    through the work
    to articulate,
    incarnate,
    etc.
    and get with the program.

    It is the next step
    to where we are going to be
    when we get there.

    Heaven on earth.
    If there still is an earth.
    It is a race between waking up
    and the destruction
    of the human race.

    And the Destroyers are strong
    in the land.
    The harvest is still plentiful
    and the laborers are still few.
    And all it takes is waking up
    and knowing the Knower within.

10/17/2018 —  The Knower within
is that “very present help
in time of trouble”—
the foundation of the Psalmist’s confidence,
“Therefore we will not fear… (Psalm 46:2-3).

That Which Has Always Been Called God
is the Knower within
projected without
to become Almighty,
Invincible,
Omnipotent,
Omniscient,
Omni-everything,
our greatest fantasies
melded into The Everlasting God of All Creation.

Which, in truth,
is never anything more
permanent and tangible
than “the still small voice”
whispering to all
who are quiet enough
long enough
in the right kind of way
to hear, see, and understand,
know, do and be
what the moment needs them to be
with the gifts, genius, talents, knacks, propensities
that are unique to them
and are exactly what the situation requires
in each situation that arises
all their life long.

God incarnated in women and men
is the way the Knower comes forth
into the world of normal,
apparent,
reality.

And all that takes
is being quiet in the right kind of way
in order to know what we know,
which is what the Knower knows,
and live it out
in the world of time and space.

We are what we seek.
We carry within
what we search for without.
All it takes
is being still and knowing the Knower within.

10/17/1018 —  Anxiety
is the result of conflict,
of contradiction,
of the suspense of not-knowing
what is happening or what is going to happen
or what to do about it…

It is the automatic response
to being damned if we do
and damned if we don’t—
of being trapped,
stuck,
hemmed in,
cornered,
with no way out
in an intolerable situation
that is overwhelming
our ability to cope
with what is going on.

Anxiety
is the result of being helpless,
vulnerable,
insecure,
uncertain,
and at the mercy
of forces we cannot begin
to control,
impact
or avoid.

We begin to lower our level of anxiety
by taking a moment
to breathe
right here,
right now,
breathe
slowly,
deeply,
from our chest
to our belly,
relaxing our body
in order to breathe
into our belly…

And as we breathe
slowly and deeply,
we create a tiny space
which opens us
to the possibility
of knowing what else we know—
what all we know…

In addition to the anxiety-provoking situation
we have also managed
to make it through other anxiety-provoking situations
through-out our life,
and we are still here,
and it is still now.

There is more to us
than we give ourselves credit for.
We have within us
the power to rise to any occasion.

And, there is also the Knower within
who knows more than we know we know,
and is a more-than-capable
guide,
comfort,
resource
and friend—
an invisible friend
who is also our Best Self Imaginable
at work with our imagination
to help us do more
than we ever imagined
we could do,
and offers us a faint light
and a still, small, voice
to lead the way
through the darkest darkness
to other moments,
better moments,
beyond this one.

It only takes believing
to know that it is so.

If you know of something better
to take on faith,
by all means take it.
But.
If it turns out to be not better afterall,
come back to this
and give it your best effort.

10/17/2018 —  The stress of life
comes from the conflict
between our experience
and our preferences.

When things are going
according to our preferences,
we are not stressed.

When things are going
contrary to our preferences,
we are stressed,
sometimes to the max.

Nobody ever sought refuge in addiction
or suicide
when everything was going their way.

It is only when things are not going our way
that stress takes its toll.

I recommend that we shift our relationship
with the importance we place
on things going our way.

I suggest that we step back
and simply observe—
become aware of—
our way and
not our way,
and the impact each has on us,
and the degree to which
we are tempted to wrestle,
to force,
our way into being
over and upon
not our way,
and the ease with which we
slip into despair and hopelessness
when not our way
asserts itself upon,
and has dominion over,
our way.

It is as though we tell ourselves,
“If we can’t have our way
we cannot deal with any other way!”

Well.

There is
escape and denial.

And there is
negotiation and compromise.

And there is
acceptance and transcendence.

We make our choice
as to how we want to work it,
and go to work.

And the choice we make
tells the tale.

10/17/2018 —  Our work is simply
being as awake as we are
in each moment,
in each situation as it arises,
and do there
what needs to be done there
with the gifts,
genius,
daemon,
talents,
knacks,
proclivities,
interests
and abilities
we have to offer
in the service
of the good of the whole.

Without trying to force anything to happen,
just opposing what must be opposed,
and supporting what must be supported,
in ways appropriate to the occasion
in every occasion that comes along
through-out the time left for living.

That’s it.

Joseph Campbell said
“The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”

All we need do
is be the vital person we are,
doing the vital things
that need doing,
and let the outcome
be the outcome—
which will call us forth
in the same way
to meet the situation that arises then
where we will do the same thing,
on and on
forever.

It is far from boring.
It is the greatest adventure possible!

  1. 10/18/2018 — Around Bass Lake 2018-10 09 Panorama — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 7, 2018

    Who do you trust
    to lead you to the Promised Land
    (Or wherever it is you are going)?

    The people who keep getting lost,
    and are forever stumbling around in the dark,
    running into walls and fences,
    stepping into uncovered manholes
    and off cliffs,
    and wondering why things aren’t working
    like they should
    are following someone not themselves.

    Authorities are everywhere
    with the right plan for you and your life.
    Look closer at each one
    and judge for yourself
    how well they are doing
    with their own life.

    Judging for yourself is the ticket
    to being home free.

    Jesus said,
    “Why don’t you judge for yourselves
    what is right?”
    He never gets credit for that.
    All the talk centers on his statement,
    “I am the way, the truth and the life,
    and no one comes to the Father
    but by me.”

    Which is it?

    Who says that Jesus knows
    what he is talking about?
    Or that any external authority
    knows what they are talking about?

    That would be you.
    You say, “Boy, that Jesus sure knows
    what he is talking about!”

    That makes YOU the authority
    for determining what is authoritative
    for your life.

    Jesus’ “I am the way…” means
    “I determine what is the way,
    the truth and the life for me,
    and no one gets where they are going
    without doing the same thing
    for themselves!”

    Jesus is saying, “Wake up!
    And be responsible for your own life!”

    “Why don’t you decide for yourself
    what is right?”

    If you want to know What Would Jesus Do?
    don’t do what someone else—even Jesus—
    would do.
    Do what you would do.
    And learn from your mistakes.

    You will get there (wherever you are going)
    a lot faster that way
    than by following someone else’s direction.

    Besides, you trust yourself to know whom to trust.
    You can trust yourself all the way!

10/18/2018 —  You can’t talk anyone
into having faith
in something
you have faith in.

Evangelism is talking somebody
into believing something
no one can be talked into believing.

You can’t talk anyone into faith.

We don’t think your way into faith.

We live your way there.

We grow into believing what we believe.

Faith can’t be passed along
like your great-grandmother’s wedding ring
or your great-grandfather’s pocket watch.

“God doesn’t have any grandchildren”
(John Redhead).
Or any stepchildren.

If you believe something,
live as though you believe it.
Incarnate it into your life.
Live in ways which express/exhibit
your liege loyalty
to the certainty
of your heart and soul.

And don’t say you believe something
you don’t believe in—
that isn’t apparent
in the way you live your life.

10/18/2018 —  We each have our own standards.
Our own lines and limits,
borders and boundaries.
And we know when any of these
have been violated, voided,
dismissed and disrespected.

There is a sphere of life
that belongs solely to us.
We are sovereign there.
The supreme authority.

We all are the authority
over certain aspects of our life—
the only one who knows
what meets our ideas
of how things should be
and where what is right for us
goes over into what is wrong.

What is missing in too many of us
is the recognition of the validity
of our own sense of propriety.

We know what is proper,
fitting and correct for us—
what is appropriate,
what belongs
and what does not.

It is our place to know
that we know these things
and to honor them
in the way we live our life.

“Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark!”
is one of the commandments
that did not make the top ten.
But it should have.

And we can repair that slight
by guarding our own landmark
as we respect those of our neighbors—
acknowledging our mutual authority
over the aspects of our life
that we alone are in charge of.

Living together in ways that revere the rights
of each individual to know and express
characteristics and qualities,
knacks, skills, preferences, talents
gifts and genius
that set them apart
and make them who they are.

  1. 10/19/2018 — Bridge to Rough Ridge 2018-10 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 1, 2018

    Everything hangs by such a fine thread.

    There is such a thin line
    between having it made
    and having nothing at all.

    What happened?

    Where did it all go?

    How could it disappear
    just like that?

    Being in accord
    and being out of accord
    is daylight and dark
    to one way of reckoning
    and a blink of the eye
    to another.

    Now you are there,
    now you are not.

    The collapse of the world order
    is like that.

    There is how things work
    and there is how things don’t work.
    And the people who don’t like
    how things work
    think they can tweak one little detail,
    say “No People Of Color Anywhere In Sight!”
    with everything else
    staying nicely in place
    just as it was,
    except for maybe one more little adjustment,
    “Women Stay In Their Place!”
    Oh, and “No Gays Allowed!”
    And one last one,
    “Only The Deserving Have Rights And Privileges!”

    That should do it.

    That undoes everything.

    And, now what?

10/19/2018 —  Controlling what we can control
in ways that are beneficial
to the good of ourselves
and the good of the whole
is ideal,
but.
Rarely possible.

Our good is often sacrificed
in service to the good of the whole,
and vice-versa.

It is always a dicey call,
how much for ourselves
and how much for others
and how much for the whole.

Where does my good stop
and your good start
and the whole’s good fit into the picture?

No formula works for long.
We read each situation as it arises
and strive for the response
most appropriate to the occasion—
and that is when things are working well.

As the stress
and the importance of the outcome
increase,
our capacity to respond appropriately
decreases,
until we are just lucky
to continue breathing.
And controlling even that
is often out of the question.

Being in control is overrated.
Being aware is the best we can hope for.

Awareness brings the possibility
of knowing what’s what
to life in each situation,
and that opens the door
to the best response available
in the time and place
of our living.

May we all be so aware
of every moment
through the rest of time.

10/19/2018 —  You don’t learn anything
from me telling you what to do.

Learning happens when you do
and reflect on what you have done
in light of all that led to,
and flowed from,
your doing it.

Seeing what we do
in the full context
of our doing
modifies what is done,
shapes it,
transforms it—
and ourselves as well.

And teaches us
more than words can say.

Seeing how someone else does it
enlarges our experience,
shapes it,
transforms it—
and ourselves as well.

And the learning continues
throughout our lifetime.

10/19/2018 —  Think about what you live for.

What does that help you
forget,
deny,
ignore?

Do you live for what you live for,

or,

to forget,
deny,
ignore?

 

  1. 10/20/2018 — Runnoft Falls 2018-10 01 — Roadside Falls, Hwy 321 near Blowing Rock, NC, October 8, 2018

    Carl Jung believed the unlived life of each parent
    strongly influenced the life
    of each of their children,
    which means that we all
    have to come to terms
    with our parents’ unlived life,
    and with our own.

    That’s a lot of lives.

    Here’s how we do it:
    very quietly.

    The right kind of silence
    is the solution
    to all of our problems today.
    And tomorrow.
    And every day there after.

    The right kind of silence
    enables reflection,
    reflection brings forth realization,
    realization transcends and transforms
    the world.

    The right kind of silence
    is the foundation of mindful awareness.
    Mindfulness holds everything in awareness
    until realization dawns
    and the light lights our way.

    There’s Mom
    and there’s Dad
    and there’s Me (or You).
    And the three of us
    are engaged in living my (or your) life.

    And we (you and I) have
    to come to terms
    with all of our (You, Me, and our Parents)
    unlived lives.

    We have to allow what was missed
    to be missed.

    We can’t worry about what might have been.
    We have to let go of what is gone.
    and give our complete attention
    to what needs to be done,
    and needs us to do it,
    right here, right now.

    We all have missed all manner of opportunities
    to this point in our life.
    We have
    Blown chances.
    Fumbled balls.
    Dropped passes.
    Overrun bases.
    Run through stop signs.
    Slept through ringing alarm clocks

    And here we are.
    Now what?

    The unlived life that is the most important
    and deserves our best effort
    is the one that begins NOW!
    The one that has yet to be lived!

    We cannot miss what is opening before us
    in this moment,
    by being absorbed by,
    and lost in,
    any of the misses up to this point!

    Who are we?
    What are we about?
    What calls our name?
    What is the gift we are here to serve?
    What do we love to do?
    What is the bedrock foundation of our life?

    Let the silence show you the way!

    And be glad that everything you have missed
    has prepared you to live
    with your eyes open
    to what might yet be missed—
    and live so as to not miss any of it
    that you do not choose to miss,
    knowingly,
    willingly,
    mindfully—
    fully aware of what you are missing
    and of what you are not missing,
    as a liege servant
    of the life that is your life to live.

10/20/2018 —  Demoralization
is the path to Complete Domination.

Putin understands this well
and knows how to demoralize
his enemies:

Disrupt their lives.
Confuse their ends.
Conflict their purposes
their goals
and their values.
Lead them to mistrust their instincts
and their experience.
Make it difficult for them to know,
and to agree about,
what is important.
Throw so much at them
they don’t know what to do next,
now,
when,
ever.
Overwhelm them with the impossibility
of getting their lives back in order.
Poof.
They are gone.

Putin had a perfect plan
and fate handed him
a lackey exactly suited
for the work to be done.

Put him in the presidency.
Pay off enough members of Congress
to stay out of his way,
and let him wreck havoc
more destructive
than a salvo of ICBM’s.

With American influence diminished world-wide,
Russia is back in business.
And Democracy’s day in the sun is done.

Let’s create a different outcome.

We interrupt the process of Russian domination
by refusing to become demoralized.

We become the Founders of Democracy in our time
in standing firmly on the bedrock
of Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth!
And not giving way to the forces
of hopelessness and dissension.

We defeat demoralization
by living in accord with,
aligned with,
as liege servants of,
what is important—
anyway,
nevertheless,
even so,
no matter what!

In so doing,
we disregard the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
(So What?
Who Cares?
Why Try?
What Good Will It Do?),
in opposing what must be opposed
and supporting what must be supported
in being true to ourselves
and our sense of what is right
for the time and place of our living—
and refusing to be knocked off the path
by anything that comes along.

We ground ourselves on the rock
of our deepest/highest values
and let come what comes,
knowing we aren’t going anywhere.

10/20/2018 —  Entering the silence
and being mindfully
(compassionately, non-judgmentally)
aware of our circumstances,
so that we hold everything in awareness
and allow things to be
exactly as they are,
enables us to transcend/transform
the impact of our circumstances,
and creates the possibility
of actions arising spontaneously
in response to them
that are more appropriate
than anything we might
have thought to do on our own.

Silence connects us
with “the still point of the turning world”
(T.S. Eliot)
and is the fulcrum
which levers the future into place.

We live better when we make a practice
of returning regularly to the silence,
holding all things in our awareness,
and allowing action to arise of its own accord
to direct our life
in the service to the common good.

  1. 10/21/2018 — Boone Fork 2018-10 01 — Julian Price Memorial Park Picnic Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 8, 2018

    Life needs to be lived—
    needs us to live it—
    no matter what.

    In the sense of being perpetuated,
    Life Creating Life,
    and in the sense of being developed,
    Life Coming To Life,
    Life Being Really Alive,
    Life Being Conscious Of The Wonder Of Itself,
    Life Being LIFE!

    Regardless of the circumstances!
    In spite of the circumstances!

    Life becomes real life BECAUSE,
    AND BY WAY OF,
    the circumstances of its living.

    If life were just going to perpetuate itself,
    evolution would have been unnecessary.
    Amoebas would have done just fine.

    Life needs to know itself—
    to be self-conscious—
    to express itself,
    exhibit itself,
    transform and transcend itself,
    to be more than it has ever
    been capable of being!
    To evolve into more than it knows it can be!
    On and on,
    forever
    without end!

    And life needs us in order to be itself—
    in order to become more than it has been
    up to this point,
    up to any point.

    Nobody knows where this is going!
    We are all a part of the process
    of finding out!
    We are all a part of the universe’s
    greatest show,
    and the universe itself is just
    life’s way of producing the show.

    Life has always been there,
    has always been becoming itself,
    using whatever it can
    to move things along
    in the process of its own becoming.

    There was never a time before life!
    Life IS!

    And it comes down to this,
    here and now:

    I have my life to live,
    and you have your life to live,
    and it works best
    when you help me live my life
    and I help you live your life,
    around the circle,
    across the cosmos,
    beyond the ages,
    always and forever.

    We aren’t here to kill anybody.
    We are here to bring everybody to life!
    Full life!
    Whole life!
    Complete life!
    Wondrous, Joyful, LIFE!

    Life spilling out,
    pouring over,
    delighted in the wonder
    of the experience of itself being alive!

    Hatred gets in the way of that.
    And jealousy.
    And envy.
    And discrimination.
    And greed…
    The list is long of things
    not conducive to the experience
    of the wonder
    of being alive.

    We can do better in the service of life
    than has been done to this point.
    We are part of the evolution of life
    beyond this point,
    forever onward
    through all that lies ahead!

    How dare we say NO! to that?

    Life gets us here
    and says to each of us—
    to all of us—
    “Are you with me or against me?
    If you aren’t with me,
    you are against me!
    And if you aren’t against me,
    you are with me!
    So make up your mind
    and get with the program!

    There is LIFE to be lived!”

10/20/2018 —  We stand helpless
before all the things that matter.

We cannot do anything about
more than we can count
or keep track of.

Yet, every time we encounter
the raw truth of our impotence
and vulnerability,
we collapse in a puddle
of quivering protoplasm
as though it is the first time
we ever considered the possibility.

Let me explain:

We are helpless.
We are impotent.
We are vulnerable.
Before everything that matters.

All of the important stuff
is out of our control.

If you can come to terms with that,
you have it made.

  1. 10/22/2018 — Linville River 2018-10 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, October 21, 2018

    We are born into circumstances
    we do not control,
    and immediately begin protesting
    the abject unfairness of the situation—

    In a “The Very Idea
    That We Should Be Subjected
    To This Kind Of Shit!” kind of way.

    We then spend the rest of our life
    trying to arrange things to our liking.

    All of the people who are waking up
    do it differently.

    They way they see it,
    circumstances are the ideal
    milieu, matrix, umwelt, sitz im leben, environment
    in which to conduct
    the business of being who we are
    over the full course of our life.

    They understand
    that our circumstances—
    regardless of what they might be—
    are just what they need
    to be who they are
    in each situation as it arises
    all their life long.

    Or, to put it another way,
    our circumstances—
    regardless of what they might be—
    have the power
    to keep us from being who we are
    in any situation that arises
    all our life long.

    Having it made
    and having nothing at all
    are equally capable
    of keeping us
    from being who we are.

    Our life’s work is to be who we are
    wherever we are
    regardless of how happy
    we are to be there.

    Happiness has nothing to do
    with our ability to be who we are.

    Happiness is as irrelevant
    as unhappiness is.

    Our circumstances are nothing—
    our incarnation is everything.

    And our reincarnation!

    We are always reincarnating who we are
    in every situation that comes along.
    Making adjustments and improvements,
    adding steps to the dance,
    being more like we are now
    than we were when we got here
    just a moment ago
    all our life long.

    So the question,
    “How are you doing?”
    Is best answered,
    “I’m more like I am now
    than I was when I got here!”
    (As long as it is truthfully spoken).

10/22/2018 —  It is all useless,
pointless,
hopeless,
futile,
and coming to a very bad end
(We are all going to die!).

And.
How we live in the meantime
makes all the difference.

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

It isn’t about giving in to futility, etc.

It is about not giving it a second thought—
in a “Nothing I do matters, so what? Kind of way.”

The answer to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—
“So What?
Who Cares?
Why Try?
What Good Will It Do?”—
is to turn their questions back on them:

“So What if it doesn’t matter what I do?”
“Who cares if no body cares?”
“Why not try?”
“If nothing matters
why does it matter if it does no good?”

We live to serve what needs to be done—
what needs us to do it—
even in situations
where it doesn’t seem to matter
what we do
(The death camps in Hitler Germany.
Day-to-day existence in Trump America),
we make all the difference in the world.

We cannot allow the circumstances
to determine how we live.

We live to express, exhibit, incarnate, bring forth
who we are everywhere we are—
which means ignoring
what impact we are having for good, or for ill or for nil,
and living to be who we are
in meeting the situation
as we would meet the situation
no matter what the situation is—
to be us in ways appropriate
to the situation
in every situation that comes along.

We don’t do it because it pays off.
We don’t love, for instance,
“to get anything out of it.”
Or to make something happen
because of what we are doing.

We do it to be who we are
in every moment we are alive.

We love to be loving,
because that is who we are!

Etc. with all of the high values
that have always been recognized
as worthy of our best effort
by those who knew what was important
and were right about it.

No matter what our circumstances are.

Whatever they may be,
our circumstances are the canvas
upon which we display
the magic of our art
of being who we are.

And, if nobody sees,
or knows,
or cares,
we see,
we know,
we care.

We are the performer,
the performance
and the audience.
And we work to get it right
(being who we are)
in each moment,
no matter what.

Because that is who we are.

10/22/2018 —  We live to express,
exhibit,
bring forth,
articulate,
incarnate,
make known

who we are
within the context and circumstances,
the terms and conditions,
of our life
in the time and place
of our living—

mindfully,
compassionately,
kindly,
mercifully,
tenderly,
gently,
intentionally,
determinedly,
incessantly,
reliably,
dependably,
devotedly

with grace
and aplomb—
self-assurance,
self-confidence,
courage,
composure,
and unflappability

forever.

No.
Matter.
What.

Got it?

Do it!

10/22/2018 —  Our work is the same
regardless of our circumstances:
to be who we are
doing what is ours to do
the way only we can do it.

And, we have to do the work
required to do that work.

We have to know how to commune
with our unconscious,
with The Knower within,
learning the language
of the Psyche,
and seeing what we look at
hearing what is being said
(including what we are saying),
and knowing what it means,
and what to do in response to it
with the gifts, genius, daemon
that is our privilege to serve,
and doing it the way it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long,
no matter what.

It is a life of reflection,
meditation,
realization
and implementation
creating experience
which calls for additional reflection,
etc.
for as long as we live.

It is the Great Adventure of Being Alive!

  1. 10/23/2018 — Overlooks 2018-10 01 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, North of Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina, October 21, 2018

    Our standards,
    whatever they may be,
    are our limits,
    and our choices.

    We live within our limits,
    and make our choices
    which stem from previous choices,
    and take our chances.

    Refusing to honor our limits,
    and making choices
    as though there are no limits,
    reduces our chances
    and dims our prospects.

    “Living like there is no tomorrow,”
    and, therefore, no consequences
    that we have to take into account,
    limits the number of available tomorrows,
    and diminishes the range and value
    of the choices at our disposal,
    and puts our chances on life support.

    We all have to live beyond our limits
    from time to time
    in order to discover what our limits
    actually are.

    To know that we are living
    in search of our legitimate limits
    is quite different from
    living as though limits
    do not apply to us
    on any level ever.

    In choosing the standards,
    principles and values
    which we will serve with our life,
    we are limiting ourselves
    to choices that articulate
    and incarnate them.

    And taking our chances
    with the consequences
    and the limits
    imposed by those choices.

    Living well
    is living consciously,
    mindfully,
    in light of all things
    available for our consideration—
    and choosing those choices
    which express
    the standards,
    principles and values
    that are the bedrock
    of our life.

    And taking our chances—
    knowing that trusting our luck
    is quite different from
    pushing it.

 

10/23/2018  —  Jesus came and went
and the church
that followed him
sold indulgences
and sexually abused children.

Jesus’ impact on the world
was all talk and no do,
or not enough do
to alter the world’s direction
and its fascination
with money and power,
greed and corruption.

We grow up against our will,
which means living against
our own self-interest.

“Whoever seeks their own life
will lose it,
and whoever loses their life
in the service
of that which is greater
than they are
will find it
(Or words to that effect).”

The world isn’t listening,
and cannot hear.

Which leaves us with knowing
what we are up against
and shouldering our burden daily
in the service
of that which is greater
than we are.

Motivated not by the outcome
or our prospects for success,
but by our dedication
to the task that is set before us:
doing justice,
loving kindness
and walking in the company
of those who have known
what mattered most
and lived to incarnate it
in their way with the world,
no matter what.

Crosses and crucifixions
are no threat
to those who know
what is important.

  1. 10/24/2018 — Linn Cove Viaduct 2018-10 01 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Newland, North Carolina, October 23, 2018

    We are here to live the life that is ours to live—
    within the terms and conditions,
    nature and circumstances,
    of the time and place of our living—
    meeting the requirements of life in the world
    and the requirements of the life within us
    that needs to be lived,
    articulated,
    incarnated,
    revealed,
    expressed,
    exhibited,
    brought forth,
    seen
    and known
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    It is never too late
    to take up the work
    of doing that—
    to take it up again and again—
    becoming more like we are
    moment by moment,
    day by day,
    over the full course of our life.

    Do what’s you!
    Do what you love!
    Do what makes your little heart dance!
    As you do what you have to do
    to fulfill your responsibilities
    to family and society.

    Walk two paths at the same time!

    Do right by yourself
    and by the roles you are asked to play,
    and the duties you are asked to fulfill,
    in the day-to-day processes
    of life-in-the-world.

    Pick up your cross daily
    and follow the way that leads to life,
    and is life,
    doing what it takes to be you in the world
    for the sake of being you in the world
    and the pure joy
    of realizing yourself,
    exhibiting “the face
    that was yours before you were born,”
    and knowing you
    and the wonder you are.

    If you think there is something more important
    to do with your time,
    do that, too!

  2. 10/25/2018 — Goshen Creek Panorama 2018-10 05 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina, October 23, 2018

    Kindness and tenderness
    are hard to find these days.

    One of the 10,000 Spiritual Laws declares/demands:
    Be What You Seek!

    Want kindness and tenderness?
    BE kind and tender!

    Blessed are the tenderhearted,
    for they sow what others need to reap.

    Another is like unto it:
    Do not let an opportunity for kindness
    pass waiting and unclaimed!

    We are what the world is looking for.
    Why leave it abandoned and forsaken?

  3. 10/25/2018 — Overlooks 2018-10 02 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway north of Mt. Mitchell, October 21, 2018

    Things go better for us and for others
    when we make the right decision—
    the decision most appropriate to the occasion—
    in each situation that arises,
    regardless of its impact on us, personally.

    “What is the right thing to do
    here and now?”

    If we answer that question
    in a way that is right
    given the context and circumstances
    of the situation,
    things will have a flow about them—
    a “rightness” about them—
    that they would not have had
    if we had made a different decision.

    Being “in the flow”
    and out of it—
    being “on the beam”
    or off of it—
    being in sync with the moment,
    aligned and in accord with our life—
    is as simple
    as doing what is called for by—
    what is right for—
    the time and place of our living,
    in the time and place of our living.

    This does not require thinking.
    This requires our spontaneous response
    in light of our read of the situation.

    It is like this:
    Canoeing or kayaking in white water rapids
    requires us to see and do,
    not see and think and decide and reconsider and do—
    not even see and think and do—
    just see and do.

    Thinking will be a quick sad end to your trip.

    We respond spontaneously, extemporaneously,
    to the moment at hand
    in white water.

    Here’s a flash of insight for you—
    we are living in white water.

    We have to know what to do.
    In order to do that,
    we have to know what we know
    without thinking about it,
    and trust ourselves
    to respond appropriately
    to the situation as it develops before us.

    This means not being afraid to be wrong.
    We don’t care if we make a mistake.
    We learn to live by living.
    Being too careful will keep us on the shore
    while the canoe-ers and kayak-ers
    push off and paddle.

    Learning to live in accord with our circumstances
    comes by living in what we take to be accord
    with our circumstances.
    We get better at reading the moment over time.
    Just like we get better
    canoeing and kayaking in white water
    the more we do it
    and the longer we stay at it.

    We are learning to read the flow of our life
    the way we learn to read the flow of white water.
    Getting wet and starting over
    is part of the process.
    Wanting to have it all explained to us again
    is not knowing anything
    even though we might be able to repeat the words
    like the people who memorize the Bible
    are able to do.

    Can you live it? is the question.
    Can you dance it? is the other question.

    “They can read the music
    but they can’t sing or dance”
    is said about too many people
    who think it is about understanding
    when it is about doing and dancing.

  4. 10/26/2018 — Goshen Creek 2018-10 02 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina, October 23, 2018

    Making decisions and choices
    that are right
    for the circumstances
    in the time and place
    of our living—
    regardless of our wants,
    desires,
    preferences
    and best interest—
    is the key,
    secret
    and foundation
    of a life well-lived.

    To do so is to be one with the Tao,
    in the flow,
    and on top of our game.

    What needs to be done
    here and now?
    Answering this question
    in the way it needs to be answered
    in each situation as it arises
    is all there is to it.

    Our responsibility
    is tuning into the situation
    in such a way
    that allows us to know
    what’s what
    and what needs to be done about it,
    and doing it
    with the gifts, genius, daemon, skills, art, etc.
    that we bring to the situation
    in each moment of our living.

    It means paying attention,
    being mindful,
    and getting out of the way.

    It means forcing nothing,
    and assisting whatever is best
    for the occasion
    in every occasion—
    beginning with this one
    right now.

10/26/2018 —  It’s one thing to think we know what we’re doing.

It’s another thing to be right about it.

Being right about what we say is right

and living as though it is

is all that can be asked of any of us.

So, what’s with all this other stuff?

10/26/2018 —  Being right about what matters most
and living aligned with it
is all that can be asked of any of us.

We are all taught right and wrong,
but we aren’t taught
how to know
whether what we are taught
is right or wrong.

May we know what is right and wrong
and be right about it!

10/26/2018 —  Hitler thought he knew
what he was doing.

Jesus thought he knew
what he was doing.

It is the easiest thing
to think we know
what we are doing.

And it is the hardest thing
to be right about it.

You might think
there would be more
self-examination
and reflection
going on.

10/26/2018 —  Does it help us know
what is important
and what to do about it?

If not, what is it doing in our life?

  1. 10/27/2018 — Harvest Moon 2018-10 02 Blended — Thunder Hill Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 23, 2018 — “Blended” means I moved the moon from a more easterly direction to a more south-easterly direction, and took both moon and setting at 140 mm because it suited me to do so.

    People tend to think
    that with a little less of this
    and a little more of that
    things would be great
    eternally,
    forever,

    And,
    they strive to arrange
    for the exact ratio
    of all the right things
    (and none of the wrong things)
    to achieve their idea
    of lasting perfection,
    with everything nicely
    balanced,
    and peace and harmony
    everywhere they go.

    They think it is about
    getting and having
    when it is about doing what it takes
    to be who we are.

    They think they are who they are
    and spend their time
    getting and having.

    “If we aren’t who we are,
    then who are we?”
    they ask.
    And, when I tell them,
    “You are who you are not,”
    they roll their eyes,
    shake their head
    and walk away.

    I speak in riddles
    to those who don’t know
    what I’m talking about.
    Everything sounds cryptic
    and opaque
    to those who don’t understand—
    but understanding
    comes from reflecting
    on experience
    more than having things explained,
    or repeating things
    that have always been said.

    We are here to be who we are,
    but we choose to be who we are not,
    trying to get what we don’t have.

    And that’s the choice
    that tells the tale.

  2. 10/26/2018 — Around Price Lake 2018-10 05 HDR — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 22, 2018

    What would we go to hell for?

    I ask the question all the time.
    Nobody seems to have ever thought of it.
    They say, “I’ll have to think about that.”
    If they don’t say, “Hell isn’t for going to!
    Hell is for staying away from!”

    What is so you
    you would go to hell for it
    because not doing it
    would be worse than hell?

    People sell their souls
    for the modern equivalent
    of thirty pieces of silver
    because they think
    nothing could be worse than hell.

    Having a chance at life
    and never living
    is worse than hell
    because we will never
    get to make up what we are missing—
    what we are throwing away—
    through all eternity.

    We have from now to our last breath
    to live what remains
    of the time left for living.

    What is the most meaningful
    thing you can do tomorrow?

    What can you do tomorrow
    to make your little heart sing?

    What can you do that you love?

    What can you do that you would go to hell
    to be able to do while you can?

    We can live until we die, or,
    we can die having never lived.

    You’ll have to speak for yourself,
    but I’m going out being alive!

  3. 10/27/2018 — Around Price Lake 2018-10 06 — Grandfather Mountain, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 22, 2018

    Contemplatives, mystics, quietists, hermits, sages and oracles
    are hard to come by these days.

    Everybody is talking,
    and saying the same things.

    Quiet people are waiting for an opening
    in the conversation,
    which is more like a competitive monologue,
    with people talking over people,
    past people,
    around people
    and through people.

    Sound bites are everywhere,
    looking for a place to fit in
    between commercial breaks.

    Who stops to listen to what they are saying?

    Where do you go to be quiet?
    To escape the noise?
    To consider what your body
    is trying to tell you?

    How long do you stay there?

    How long until you return?

    We take meds to shut our body up.
    Or down.
    Because we have important things to do,
    and our body is not cooperating.

    Should tell us something.
    But who is listening?

10/27/2018 —  Sit with it.
That is my best advice.
Stand with it.
Lie with it.
Walk with it.
Run with it.
Swim with it.
Play with it.

“It” being your current set of circumstances.

In sitting (etc.) with it,
you are bringing yourself to bear upon it,
seeing yourself in relation to it.
There is you and your circumstances.

At first, there is likely to be tension.
You are likely to be in an adversarial
relationship with your circumstances.
You are likely to be willing
your circumstances to be different than they are.

This is so even if you want
your circumstances to remain what they are forever.
You recognize that it is the nature
of circumstances to change
and you want them to be different.

And if you don’t like them,
you also want them to be different.
You don’t want your circumstances
to be what they are,
no matter what they are.

Be mindful of that and hold it in your awareness.
Sit with it (etc.).
At the heart of the matter
there is the dichotomy/contradiction/paradox
between your will for your circumstances
and your circumstances.

Put yourself squarely between
your willing/willful self
and your circumstances,
and sit (etc.) with it.

Wait for the shift to happen.

The shift is the shift in perspective
from sitting with all of this in your awareness
to the sudden realization of knowing/doing,
spontaneously arising out of your awareness
compelling you to act
in some way
you know is right for you and/or for your circumstances.

You know but you may not understand.

Sheldon Kopp said
“You can know more than you can understand,
and you can understand more than you can explain”
(Or words to that effect).

And what your knowing leads you to do
changes things—
maybe you,
maybe your circumstances,
maybe both.

Sitting (etc.) with it
is like that.

Since you will never run out of circumstances,
you will always need to sit (etc.) with it.
I hope you always will.

  1. 10/28/2018 — Smile for the Camera 2018-10 — Thunder Hill Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 23, 2018

    Our “inner virtue” is our personal integrity.

    As we live to be who we are,
    we narrow the distance between
    our Persona and our True Self,
    both in our being
    (Who We Know Ourselves To Be)
    and in our doing
    (Who We Show Ourselves To Be).

    As this happens,
    we develop our integrity,
    our Inner Virtue,
    and become aware
    of what we might think of
    as the “Outer Virtue,”
    or the “Collective Integrity,”
    of our circumstances.

    There is the integrity/virtue
    of ourselves,
    and the integrity/virtue
    of our circumstances.

    Things can be right with us,
    and things can be right with our circumstances.
    And things can be out of sync with us,
    and things can be out of sync with our circumstances.

    In Taoism,
    being in sync with ourselves is called “te”
    and our circumstances being in sync is called “tao.”
    When the “te” and the “tao” are in sync
    we are at one with the Tao,
    in accord with the Tao,
    and all is right with the world.

    Harmony abounds.
    Everything is in its place.
    All things are at peace.

    We can influence the integrity
    of our circumstances
    by being at one with ourselves.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”

    We can also influence the disintegration
    of our circumstances
    by being disintegrated ourselves.

    Being right with ourselves
    is something we feel,
    something we know.

    When our circumstances are right with themselves,
    we feel it,
    we know it.

    When we are “out of kilter,”
    we contribute to our circumstances being awry.

    Our work is to be in sync with ourselves,
    cultivating our own virtue,
    our own integrity of being and doing,
    and to feel/know when/where our circumstances
    are out of accord with the tao
    and live to change our circumstances
    as we are able,
    so that our inner virtue
    influences the outer virtue
    of our circumstances.

    You can experience this for yourselves
    most readily
    when you go home
    for Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner.
    Being at one with yourself,
    will increase the likelihood
    of oneness increasing
    around the table.

    Placing ourselves in accord with the te
    increases accord with the tao.
    Feeling both te and tao
    increases our accord with both.

    It is our practice wherever we are.

    Mindfulness leads the way to The Way
    every day.

10/28/2018 —  Where do you belong?
Where do you have no business being?
How do you know?
It is experiential.
Intuitive.
Instinctive.
Innate.

It is the way our ancestors
found their way
through the wilderness
of the jungles,
the plains,
and civilizations
to here and now.

It is the knowing at the heart of being.

How do you know what is good for you
and what is bad?
What is right for you
and what is wrong?
What is “you”
and what is “not-you”?

This comes from realizing/knowing
your own truth,
your integrity,
your sense of—
awareness of—
who you are at the center
of you.

And from reading the situation,
the circumstances,
present in the time and place
of your living,
and knowing what’s what
and what you need to do about it—
whether to change it or leave.

When your integrity
matches up with the integrity
of your circumstances,
there is peace and harmony,
and you live in accord with the Tao.

Being aware of these things
is the essence of the wisdom
directing us
to right being,
right doing
and right living.

Mindfulness leads the way to The Way.

10/28/2018 —  If we are going to assume
the responsibility
for the development
of our own integrity
(being who we are
and incarnating/articulating
that in the way
we live our life,
so that inner and outer are one),
we are going to have to claim
the personal authority
for determining what is important
and how we express that
in our life.

No one can tell us what we ought to do.
We are the ones who know what we must do.
We are the ones who say so!

But.

We don’t make it up.
We don’t think it up.
We don’t just decide
to live this way or that way.

We listen and look within,
sitting in the silence
of expectant awareness
until what is important
arises as a “categorical imperative,”
claiming us for its own
and sending us to do its work.

This may be experienced
as a “mythic vision”
(A vision of mythic proportions),
or as a spontaneous,
automatic,
occasion of knowing/doing
wherein we simply know what needs to be done
and rise up to do it—
for the rest of our life.

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

What we do to pay the bills
allows us to sit in open receptivity,
and to walk through our life
looking with expectancy,
watching for things to catch our eye,
waiting to know what must be done
with the compelling urgency to do it—
spending our life in its service,
articulating,
incarnating,
expressing
what matters most
in the things we say and do,
and how we say and do them.

10/28/2018 —  Jesus told a parable
about a man going out
to sow grain in a field,
and as he walked along
some grain fell on rocky ground,
some fell on sandy soil,
some fell on the path
and some fell on fertile earth.

The seed that fell on anything
but the fertile field
came to a bad end.

The moral that the people
who relayed it to the people
who heard it from them
was: “You better be careful
not to be bad earth!
Make sure the Word of the Lord
can take root in YOU!”

Jesus was merely saying,
“Some are going to hear
what you have to say
and some are not.
That’s just how it is.
Don’t take it personally—
and if they don’t receive you well
in one town,
go on to the next!”

His own parable of the cross
had the same message:
“Sometimes you give it your best
and you wind up on a cross.
Don’t let that stop you
from giving it your best!”

Jesus was much more practical
and down to earth
than he has been represented
as being.

I’m glad to set the record straight.

  1. 10/29/2018 — Around Bass Lake 2018-10 04 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 7, 2018

    Hatred is not helpful.
    It is harmful to every living thing.
    Especially to those who hate.

    Hatred is detrimental to life,
    at odds with the attitudes necessary
    for peace, contentment,
    satisfaction and well-being.

    Hatred is destructive,
    and is itself the enemy
    it strives to destroy.

    Hatred is not conducive to the harmonies
    required for life to take root,
    blossom and bloom.

    Hate grows upon resentment and envy,
    jealousy and deficiency,
    insufficiency and inferiority,
    fear and insecurity,
    instability and a lack of confidence,
    and an absence of courage.

    Hate must have an enemy to despise
    and demolish,
    and provide it with a reason to live
    without anything to live for.

    Hatred is driven
    to crush life in its hands,
    seeking to feel what it must be like
    to be alive,
    yet, bound to never know.

    Hate is compensation for having
    nothing to serve as a source of vitality and vigor—
    nothing at the center,
    at the ground,
    foundation
    and bedrock of life.

    There is nothing to hatred.

    It has nothing to give,
    and exists to take everything away—
    to leave destruction and devastation in its wake
    as a lasting symbol
    of the emptiness it carries within.

    And ends where it begins:
    with nothing to live for
    and no reason to be alive.

 

10/29/2018 —  We work without ceasing
in the service of the best circumstances,
and the most helpful,
for the most people
in every situation that arises.

And when the work is done,
and the outcome is rung up
for the good,
the ill,
or the nil,
we enter into a new situation,
and take there up the work
without ceasing in the service
of the best circumstances,
and the most helpful,
for the most people
in that situation.

And so it goes throughout our life.

We work with the circumstances
in every situation
for the good of the situation.

And when our time is done,
the work will not be done.
We pass it on to the next generation,
whom we have taught
that life is an ongoing series
of circumstances and situations
and our work is for the best
that can happen in all of them.

Our tools are the ones that come with us
from the womb:
Our gifts,
our genius,
our daemon,
our nature,
our personality,
our interests,
our traits,
our proclivities…

We bring forth what we find within
for the good of what we find without—
without profit,
without advantage,
without reward
or recognition.

Because these are our circumstances,
our situations,
and our gifts—
and we are here
for the good of the whole.

So we rise and meet the day
every day,
and leave it better than we found it
when we started.
Every day.

And when it is over,
we long to do it
some more
again.

Because that is who we are,
why we are here,
what we do.

10/29/2018 —  Too many people serve an ideology
passed on to them
by other people.

People telling other people
what to believe
and what to do.

A lynch mob,
a KKK march,
a political rally,
a religious crusade
all have one thing going for them—
a core conviction
someone believes to be The TRUTH
and a group of other people,
large or small,
willing, if not eager, to be led
into a frenzy of devotion to the cause.

Too much “group think” going on.

The hope of the world
are individuals being true
to themselves and
to their own sense of what is happening
and what needs to be done about it
with the gifts that are theirs to bring forth
in light of the circumstances
at work in the situation at hand
as a blessing and a grace
upon all concerned.

Not enough mindful awareness
at work in the world.

10/29/2018 —  Zen is what happened
when Taoism met Buddhism.
Taoism and Zen are Chinese,
and Buddhism is Indian.

Zen is Taoism when it is most Zen-like.
And Taoism is Zen when it is most Tao-like.

Both Zen and Taoism
say it comes down to
doing the ordinary things
the way they ought to be done—
not the way some authority says
they ought to be done,
but the way they naturally ought to be done.

“Eat when hungry,
rest when tired,”
is a very Zen-like, Tao-like,
thing to say.

As is, “The bamboo forest is too thick
for a turtle to crawl through,
but water runs through it with no problem.”

And this, “When you use a fish trap
to catch a fish,
you cook the fish,
but not the trap.”

Doing the ordinary things
the way they need to be done
would put things back on the way
and keep things there.

Neighbors would be neighbors,
and people would mind their own business
and stay out of the business of others.
Everyone would help each other
live the best life they are capable of living.
And all would be in harmonious accord.

Simply by doing things the way
they need to be done.

10/29/2018 —  This is my favorite Zen story:

A Zen Master was walking with a student over a bridge,
when the student asked,
“What is Zen?”

The Master turned on the student,
picked him up
and hurled him into the stream below.

As the student splashed, gasping for breath,
the Master called out:
“That is water!
You can swim in it,
bathe in it,
drink it
or drown in it!

But do not TALK about it!
To talk about water
is not to know water!”

We all could have used more lessons
like that growing up.

  1. 10/30/2018 — Goshen Creek 2018-10 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina, October 23, 2018

    The Old Taoists called it
    “Cultivating virtue.”

    We might understand
    what they were talking about
    as “living with integrity.”

    Knowing and being who we are—
    who we are capable of being—
    in each situation as it arises,
    regardless of the circumstances.

    Or, because of the circumstances!

    The circumstances bring us forth,
    and reveal to us who we are,
    amazing ourselves to discover
    “this” was tucked away within us
    all the time
    and we didn’t know it
    until we had to rise to this occasion
    and there we were/are.

    And the amazing thing about it all
    is that we weren’t trying to be amazing
    at all.
    We were only responding
    to our circumstances
    by giving ourselves permission
    to say/do what arose on its own
    within us
    out of nowhere
    to meet the day.

    This is cultivating virtue.
    Trusting ourselves
    and standing aside
    to allow ourselves
    to show us who we are.

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

    In a like manner,
    we might say,
    “It took the Pharisees
    to bring out the hero in Jesus.”

    Jesus was simply who he was
    in every situation
    in spite of/because of
    the circumstances he found there.
    All he did was to give himself permission
    to rise to the occasion.

    Think of the resurrection
    as merely “rising to the occasion.”
    And trust yourself to do that
    upon every occasion!

    That is cultivating virtue
    by being who we are capable of being
    in every situation that arises.
    And that is living in accord with the Tao,
    and transforming the world,
    by doing ordinary things
    as they need to be done.

    Amazing ourselves
    and everyone who sees
    what is going on.

    And we all know we are all capable
    of the same thing—
    and that it is nothing special
    and totally amazing.

    Real life is that way.

10/30/2018 —  When something is right for you
it feels right in your entire body.
We have a visceral, physical, reaction
to both right and wrong
for us.

We know when a cup of coffee is IT,
and when it is not.

What is lacking
is a regular and dependable
pause to check with our body
before moving into “Yes” or “No.”

We can be so caught up in the moment
that we fail to notice our body’s signals.

I’ve known people
who could get so focused
on their life
that they didn’t know
when it was time
to use the toilet
until it was well past time
and they had to have one NOW!

We can do better than that.

Our body is our early warning signal
for doing and for not doing.

Don’t do, or refuse to do, anything
without checking first with your body.

This is cultivating virtue,
living aligned with the integrity
of our body,
being in sync with ourselves
and in accord with the Tao.

And it is as simple as remembering
to check in,
to see what our body has to say
about the choices before us.

Even a child could do it.
And does do it.
More regularly than we do.
Spiritual practice calls for
becoming childlike in a number of ways.

“Unless you turn and become as children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,”
or live at one with the Tao.

  1. 10/31/2018 — Farm House 2018-10 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Laurel Springs, NC, ca MP 245, October 22, 2018

    Here’s the thing:
    I don’t take many photographs
    that would be classified as dramatic.
    I take a lot of photographs
    that would be classified as “That’s nice,”
    and I strive to do it in a way
    that is harmoniously composed
    as a whole,
    that is complete and finished
    in its own way—
    that is in sync with itself.

    Someone looking for drama
    would find them boring.

    My photographs are an unintentional
    reflection of who I am.

    I am one of the most boring people
    you know.
    If you followed me around for a day
    you wouldn’t be back the next day.
    And if you knew you had to do it
    for a week,
    you would have to kill yourself.
    And I would have to kill myself
    if I had to go with you
    to wherever your idea of the action is.

    My thing is people doing their thing
    without interfering with anybody doing their thing.
    It goes back to the womb.

    I’m looking for a society, a culture,
    where everybody is living the role
    assigned to them by their place in life
    and they are happy with it
    and see no reason to do anything else.

    As Lao Tzu would say,
    “If you want to accord with the Tao,
    just do your job, then let go.”

    Can you imagine a place more boring than that,
    where everyone is “just doing their job,
    then letting go”?

    We are built to imagine—
    and to seek—
    something better than we have.
    “Is this all there is?”
    propels us onward and upward,
    looking for the Fountain of Youth
    and the City of Gold
    (Or their modern equivalents),
    discounting, dismissing, discarding
    the side of ourselves
    that just wants to do its job
    and take a nap.

    And everything about our life
    every experience,
    every encounter
    is working to lever us
    into right relationship with ourselves.
    That is all something about us wants
    and needs.

    It is not about having anything we don’t have,
    going somewhere we are not,
    doing marvelous and wonderful things,
    one after another forever.

    It is about being who we are
    doing what is ours to do
    wherever and whenever we are.

    We prefer the lights, the action, the glamor,
    the glitter, the drama…

    And,
    here we are.

10/31/2018 —  I don’t have the time, energy or incentive
to make it okay with everybody
that I see the way I see,
feel the way I feel,
and say what I have to say.

So I lay it before anyone who is interested,
and leave it to them
to do with it what they will.

I see that as “doing my job and letting it go.”

10/31/2018 —  Our life experience—
and our response to it—
will lead us,
if we allow it,
if we trust ourselves to it,
mindfully aware of it,
to right relationship with ourselves.

We are born seeking to be who we are.
And other things get in the way.

But the quest remains the same
throughout our life.

What has our life experience—
and our response to it—
shown us about who we are?

How can we understand who we are
by reflecting on our life experience
and our response to it?

What part have we played
in arranging for our life experience
to be what it has been?

The only consistent elements
in our life experience
are us and our perspective and our perception.

How have we contributed to—
been responsible for—
things being as they are with us?

What can we begin to do now
to make them what they will be
in the future?

How different can things (our life) be?
What can we do to assist and encourage
that difference into place?
Who is going to do that work
if not us?

We are responsible for the future
we will have.
Our choices,
our decisions,
our reactions/responses
to the events and circumstances of our life
will tell the tale.

Nothing can happen to us—
no situation can develop or arise—
that cannot be made better
by the response we make to it.

We shape/form the responses
we will make
by reflecting on the responses
we have made.
By reflecting on what we have done
and what we were trying to achieve—
on what motivated us
and what our desires were—
and how that has worked together
to get us where we are.

We have to sit with our life
and listen to what it has to say to us,
and see what it has to show us,
and understand how it has been
leading/levering us
into knowing and being who we are
and living in right relationship with ourselves.

We are our meditation practice.

10/31/2018 —  Here’s what fascinates me
about humanity:

We all have access to the same information,
and what we decide to do about it
varies across age/sexual orientation/gender/race/religion (or not), nationality, ethnicity, height, weight,
hair color, favorite sport-beverage-restaurant choice, etc. over all times and places.

It’s the craziest thing.

We look at the same facts
and interpret them in wildly different ways.

What the facts mean
means something different
to wide swaths of people
who look at the facts.

How can there be that much variation
in a single species?

I have no idea.

So, we have to convince people
that we are right
and everybody else is wrong
because there is no way
they will ever decide that on their own.

I have a hard enough time
knowing when I’m right.
I have no business at all
telling you when you are right.

You have to come to that conclusion
by yourself.

But, by all means,
examine the facts by yourself,
and don’t let anyone tell you what the facts are—
or what they mean.

Make up your own mind!
And be responsible for your choices!
Allowing the choices you make
to influence and guide
the choices you will make!

And we will make it together
to wherever we’re going!

10/31/2018 —  “In as much as you have done it
or failed to do it,
to one of the least of my brothers and sisters,
you have done it,
or failed to do it,
to me.”
—Jesus of Nazareth

What do Republicans who claim to love Jesus
make of this?

“Who is my neighbor?” asked the lawyer.
“You are the neighbor! Go be one to everybody you meet!” said Jesus.

What do Republicans who claim to love Jesus
make of this?

Republicans who claim to love Jesus
are living a contradiction.

They are lying.

Who do they think they are fooling?

10/31/2018 —  We can delay indefinitely
doing what we know to do
in any situation
by seeking to understand
the subtleties and nuances
of the variables
and the possible impacts
and consequences.

More talking is preferred
over doing anything.

How many Bible studies will it take?

How many Mission Statements do we need?

How many Cottage Meetings are required?

  1. 11/01/2018 — Linville River 2018-10 01 — Linville Falls Picnic Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, October 21, 2018

    We have to pay the price
    for being who we are.

    The price is all the things
    we have to do,
    and all the things we give up doing,
    to be who we are.

    We sacrifice one way of life—
    one life—
    to live another.

    This is the message of the Crucifixion
    and the Resurrection.
    We have to die in order to live.

    The theme of death and life,
    death and resurrection,
    death and rebirth,
    is as old as any of the stories
    we have been telling ourselves
    from the start.

    We know we have to die
    in order to live,
    and have been reminding ourselves
    of this fundamental truth of life and being
    through all the generations
    of those who have known and done,
    and failed to know and do,
    or who have known and not done.

    All our transition points from birth
    to our actual physical death,
    are metaphorical points
    of dying and being reborn.

    We are the Phoenix rising
    from our own ashes.
    Again and again,
    over the full course of our life.

    Death and resurrection,
    death and resurrection…
    You would think we would
    have it down by now,
    but not.

    It is always as though for the first time.
    Each resurrection obscures
    the agony of the last dying,
    and thus,
    the next dying comes upon us
    out of the blue,
    unremembered,

    We have only the stories of the species
    to orient us
    and call us
    to die again
    in the service
    of being who we are,
    doing what is ours to do,
    here and now,
    once more,
    yet again.

    We think the stories are about
    someone else,
    long ago.
    They are all about
    each one of us
    at the times and places
    of our own dying and coming to life.

    “As the snake sheds its skin,
    and the moon, its shadow,
    so we all pass from our present
    way of thinking and doing
    into the way that has been
    waiting for us
    since the beginning of time,
    and now calls our name.
    Behold, the old has passed away!
    Behold, the new has come!
    Let it be,
    because it is!”

11/01/2018 —  “Prayer Warrior” relates to
“Thy will, not mine be done,”
exactly how?

We can’t have it both ways.
These are mutually exclusive options.
We pick one and let the other go.

A warrior lets nothing stand in their way.
A warrior dominates,
demolishes,
destroys,
defeats their enemies.

Takes no prisoners,
gives no quarter,
shows no mercy,
knows only winning
at any price.

Triumph and victory
and glory everlasting
are the ends the warrior serves.

I suggest an alternative metaphor:

A surfer on the flow
of changing circumstances,
a cork on the heaving waves
of the wine dark sea.

Surfers sense
and feel
and find the way
along a path
concealed from everyone else’s eyes.

Corks take what they are given
and rise above
the changing nature
of their situation,
moving with,
dancing with,
playing with
their options,
chances
and possibilities
to see what they can do
in the time and place
of their living—
without striving
for a particular outcome
or producing specific results—
just giving who they are,
and how they are capable
of responding,
to what is being asked
of them here and now,
and seeing where it goes.

We all hope for “fair winds
and following seas,”
and we all have to be ready
to trim the sails
batten the hatches
ride out the storm
and consider the tides,
all in their own time,
on our way
along our path
through the days of our lives.

  1. 11/02/2018 — Mile Post 244 2018-10 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Doughton Park, Traphill, North Carolina, October 23, 2018

    Here’s a Laundry List for the Spiritual Journey
    (That would be the path to Grace and Maturity
    which is to say to being a gracious and mature
    individual—
    mature in Joseph Campbell’s sense of the term,
    “A wheel rolling out of its own center—
    that is what you become as a mature individual”).

    My idea of the things needed for the trip:

    Mindfulness leads the way,
    so the practice of mindful awareness
    is essential.

    Self-direction,
    self-reflection,
    self-realization,
    self-expression,
    self-examination,
    self-exploration,
    self-correction,
    self-trust,
    self-reliance,
    self-discipline,
    self-respect,

    The right kind of company.
    The right kind of silence.

    Good faith.
    Good humor.

    The capacity for:
    Being true to yourself.
    Knowing what you know.
    Playfulness.
    Intimacy.
    Vulnerability.
    Honesty.
    Truth.
    Kindness.
    Compassion.
    Joy.
    Peace.
    Patience.
    Generosity.
    Gentleness.
    Inquiry.
    Curiosity.
    Whatever is helpful,
    called for,
    required by,
    the circumstances
    in each situation
    as it arises.

    The ability to draw lines,
    set limits,
    establish boundaries,
    and act with the good of all—
    including your own good—
    taken into account,
    understanding that you
    can only help those who can be helped,
    who can help you help them,
    who can help themselves,
    and are themselves
    capable of making the journey
    to the heart of who they are,
    and do what is asked of them
    by the circumstances
    and situations
    of their life
    as it unfolds before them
    each day.

    A place where you can say
    who you are and how it is with you
    to the point
    of being able
    to hear yourself saying
    what you need to hear
    and do what needs to be done
    in light of it.

    Understanding clearly that this journey
    isn’t about going or getting anywhere.
    It is about becoming who you are,
    which is, in Carl Jung’s words,
    “who you have always been,
    and who you will be,”
    in ways that are a blessing and a grace
    upon all who come your way.

    The body of work you create
    in living your life
    is your gift to the world
    and those who share it with you.

    Be aware of what you are doing
    in producing your body of work,
    and do it with all your heart,
    and soul,
    and mind,
    and strength
    all your life long.

    And feel free to expand this list as needed
    all along the way.

11/02/2018 —  You have to trust yourself
to the point where you cannot
do that any more
because the evidence stacked
against your best judgment
can no longer be denied.

And then,
you have to trust yourself
to know what to do about it,
and do it to the point where you
realize it is not working.

And then,
you have to trust yourself
to know what to do about it…
etc.

All the way to happily ever after.

11/02/2018  —  When we don’t know what we are doing,
it is helpful to know
that we don’t know what we are doing,
and to not care whether we know
or don’t know,
but trust ourselves
to dance to music
we don’t even hear,

and step into the situation
being aware of what is happening
and what we do in response,
and what happens in response
to what we do,
and make the necessary adjustments
in responding to the response,

and so on
throughout the moment
that expands to include
the situation as it changes
in light of our impact upon it.

The circumstances will enfold us,
befriend us,
and be our guide
in showing us
how to deal with the circumstances.

Our life is magical that way.
We can trust ourselves
to the magic,
and dance with it
our whole life long.

“And there is only the dance!”
(TS Eliot).

11/02/2018 —  Imagine a compass pointing true north.
There are 359 other points
that are not true north.
Let true north represent
the direction
in which your true life lies—
the life that is truly you.

How far away from true north
do you believe yourself to be?
How many degrees away from true north are you?

We can only get there
by proceeding in numerical order
from 1 degree to 360 degrees.

And my bias is that
we cannot receive instruction
from anyone who is more than
two degrees ahead of us
on the path to 360.

We can’t understand anyone
who is more than two degrees away.

Now “two degrees” is completely arbitrary.
I have no idea of what the actual distance is.
There is a point beyond which
we cannot grasp what is being offered to us.

Jesus and the Buddha and the Dalai Lama
Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu and the Bodhidharma
walked through the earth talking to people
and most people did not hear a word they said.

The moral here is:
If you are a speaker,
speak to the people who can hear you,
and realize that those who don’t hear you
cannot hear you.

If you are a hearer,
listen to the people who are saying things
you have never heard before,
but can understand and comprehend—
and do not listen only to the people
who tell you what you have already heard!

Look for people ahead of you on the path
and talk to them,
until you find those who speak to you—
and keep looking for those who
say things you need to hear
that you haven’t heard.

  1. 11/03/2018 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, October 22, 2018

    Whose view of the good
    will become the good?

    Whose good will be then served
    by the good that is then called good?

    Jesus said, “Do unto others
    as you would have them
    do unto you.”

    How does the good of the others
    fare under the weight
    that is then called good?

    Evil calls its own good GOOD!
    And the good of all the others
    it calls EVIL!

    How good is the good that evil calls good?
    How evil is the evil evil calls evil?

    Jesus said, “Evil will call good evil
    and evil good.”
    Know who is standing before you,
    talking to you!
    Decide for yourselves what is right,
    what is good and what is evil—
    based on your read of the allness
    of the situation before you.
    Remembering that inasmuch as you
    do evil to any of my brothers and sisters,
    you do it unto me!”

    The health care of all of Jesus’
    brothers and sisters is at stake
    in Tuesday’s election.

    The good of the earth’s environment
    is as stake in Tuesday’s election.

    The rights and liberty
    of People of Color,
    of LBGTQ People,
    of immigrants and Muslims,
    of poor people,
    and old people,
    and women
    and children
    and students,
    and the disabled
    are at stake in Tuesday’s election.

    Our own right to vote
    and the sanctity of the Rule of Law
    and the Constitution
    that protect our way of life
    are at stake in Tuesday’s election.

    Whose good will be served
    by the way you vote on Tuesday
    in light of all of the things
    that flow from the outcome of the election?

    Every good thing
    is at stake
    in the way
    you answer the question!

11/03/2018 —  We all look at the facts
at work in the circumstances
arising in each situation
of our life,
and decide what they mean
and what to do about them.

Our ability to see clearly,
and assess accurately,
what we look at,
and to respond appropriately to it
tells the tale.

We are responsible for how we look
and what we see.

  1. 11/04/2018 — Jesse Brown’s Place 2018-10 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway, E.B. Jeffress Park, Purlear, North Carolina, October 23, 2018

    Our circumstances are the sea
    through which we sail/swim
    on our way to
    maturity, wisdom, grace, peace, etc.,
    generally referred to
    as “The Promised Land”
    (Or Nirvana, Heaven, Paradise, Elysian Fields…).

    How we make the trip
    determines the outcome.

    We seek who we are—
    to find,
    to know,
    to exhibit,
    to incarnate,
    to articulate,
    the truth that has
    been with us all along.

    And, there is nothing better than
    our circumstances
    for revealing that to us,
    and for serving as a mirror
    in which we see ourselves,
    and a canvas
    upon which we display ourselves
    for all who care to see.

    Our circumstances bring us forth
    and make us known—
    to ourselves and all others.

    How we deal with our life—
    with the facts of life—
    with what we have to deal with in life,
    says all there is to say about us.

    We discover who we are
    in the way we walk to the post office,
    or order breakfast,
    or relate to the people who
    share the day with us.

    Our life is who we are!

    Our circumstances reveal
    what is important to us,
    and how right we are
    about its actual value.

    Our foundation shines through.

    Those who build their house on bedrock
    come out better than
    those who build their house on sand.

    Circumstances do not mean the same thing
    for those two groups of people.
    But circumstances expose the nature
    of our foundation
    for us
    to contemplate,
    evaluate,
    change and transform
    to better ground us
    in the work that remains
    for us to do.

    Throughout our life,
    we are learning to deal
    with our circumstances
    as they reveal
    what matters most
    and lead us to discover/become who we are.

    That is the nature of the task
    that is before us
    through all of the stages of life,
    and the circumstances
    that unfold before us
    every step of the way:
    to be clear about what is important
    and discover/become who we are
    in its service
    through the flow of circumstances
    that form and shape our days.

11/04/2018—Finding what is your to do
is as easy as sitting quietly
and being mindfully aware
of everything that comes to mind.

Memories,
conversations,
relationships,
pets,
jokes,
books,
movies…

Be aware of it all
as food for reflection—
why that,
here,
now?

Just when you just sat down
wondering about what is yours to do?
Why this,
now?

See what comes to mind…
And pay attention to the things
you dismiss out of hand,
without a thought.
The things you discard,
disregard,
are likely to be the things
that keep coming back,
keep needing to be attended.

Attend them.
Notice them.
Wonder about them.
Listen to them.
See what they are trying to tell you.
See what direction/directions
you might be able to glean
from reflecting on them…

And in all of this seeking, searching, remember:

1) If we are waiting
for what we want to do
to crop up,
we will be missing
every boat that leaves the harbor.

2) We grow up against our will,
and what is ours to do
will grow us up.

3) Carl Jung said,
“We meet our destiny
on the road we take to avoid it.”

4) Joseph Campbell said,
“What we seek
is found far back
in the darkest corner
of the cave
we most don’t want to enter.”

5) What is ours to do
has always been what is ours to do,
and always will be.
Think of what you have done
that you loved with all your heart,
and of what you would love even yet to do.

If you aren’t doing it
because it asks hard things of you,
look closer at that.

6) And don’t think this
is about finding something
that will pay the bills.
It is about finding
what you pay the bills to do

  1. 11/05/2018 — Goodale 2018-11 01 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2018

    What’s money worth?
    All money is good for
    is buying the tools
    and supplies
    we need
    to do the work
    that is ours to do.

    What is our work?
    What does it require?

    We have no idea.

    We think everything will fall
    magically into place
    once we have enough money.

    “Enough money”
    is the fantasy
    driving our life.

    Enough money for what?
    What do we do with money?
    What would we do with more money?
    What do we buy
    with the money we have?

    That’s where you will find
    our values on display.
    Look closely now
    and you are likely to find
    pretense and denial.

    That’s because the economy
    is grounded upon
    and geared to sell
    pretense and denial.

    People aren’t happy
    with their life,
    and the quickest way there
    is through pretense and denial.

    The economy is driven
    by fads and cravings.
    Entertaining pastimes
    trump truth and reality.
    Even Reality TV
    is an entertaining pastime.

    Where do we go
    to find our life and live it?
    We live to be entertained
    and distracted
    with pretense and denial
    until we die.

    The values at the heart of life—
    the values at the center of life—
    have no bearing upon
    the way life is being lived.

    The Old Chinese lived
    to cultivate virtue.
    Where is that path being followed
    these days?
    Even in those days
    it had stiff competition
    from ease and splendor.

    Pretense and denial
    have always been our specialty.

    Who will take up the work
    of finding our work
    and doing it?
    Of knowing what matters most
    and serving it?

    The Super Heroes who save the world
    are the ordinary women and men
    who spend their life
    in the service of that which
    grounds and directs them
    past the distractions and vendors
    also calling their names.

11/05/2018 —  At the heart of silence
is me.
And you.
Each of us is who we are
at the heart of silence.
And who we are called to be
by ourselves
seeking us
from the heart of silence.

We are called to be who we are
by our Other Self
who knows who that is.

Our DNA is scripted
to support a knowing self at the center
and a doing self at the interface
of life and the physical universe.

The story of Garden of Eden
is about the link being broken
by our conscious self’s
fascination with the delights and wonders
of life-in-the-world.

And, we spend our life
trying to find our way back to
the self that was ours
before we were born.

The catch is that we have to die
a metaphorical-but-agonizingly-real death
in giving up who we wish we were
and becoming who we are.

The path of this experience
of death-and-resurrection
is the Hero’s Journey,
the Spiritual Quest,
Individuation,
Maturation,
Enlightenment,
Realization,
Awakening,
Growing Up,
Going Home…

Into the heart of silence—
and living out of that heart
in the circumstances
and situations
of life in the world.

Bringing ourselves to life
in the life we are living,
and starting over together
with the one who has been with us
all along—
as two selves becoming one
in the work of being who we are.

11/05/2018 —  Truth is the foundation
of our life together
and the sine non qua of democracy.

When the President lies at will,
and the Republicans in Congress
refuse to call him out,
the entire GOP is complicit,
if not an accessory,
in the destruction
of good faith,
integrity
and sincerity,
without which no government
can govern
and no people
can trust their leaders
to be who they say they are
or to do what they say they will do.

Everything rides on the level of trust
we have for one another
and those we elect to be our representatives
and our President.

Where there is no trust,
there is nothing to depend on
or to believe in
and travesty competes
with farce,
charade
and sham
for the top billing
of each day’s show.

  1. 11/06/2018 — Goodale 2018-11 25 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    Live the best life available to you
    under the circumstances!

    If your circumstances need to be improved,
    improve them!

    Change what can be changed—
    including your attitude,
    and your frame of mind!

    Take your life—
    the life that is your life,
    the life that needs you to live it,
    the life that only you can live—
    in one hand,
    and take your circumstances
    just as they are,
    in the other hand,
    and get the two hands together—

    In a “Life, meet circumstances.
    Circumstances, meet life,”
    kind of way—
    and see what you can work out,
    what you can make happen.

    We are always making something happen,
    or keeping something from happening.
    It all flows through us,
    what comes and what goes.

    What do we do with what’s coming?
    How do we send it on its way?
    Is it better or worse off
    for having met us?
    Are we better or worse off
    for having met it?

    What determines “better or worse”?
    What do we have to say
    about how our circumstances impact us,
    affect us,
    and what we do in response?

    When I go with my camera
    into the world,
    I can only take the best photos
    available to me
    under the circumstances.

    It is up to me to do that.

    When we go with our life
    into the world,
    we can only live the best life
    available to us
    under the circumstances.

    It is up to us to do that.

    It all comes down
    to you,
    your life,
    and the circumstances—
    to me,
    my life,
    and the circumstances.

    Let’s see what we can do
    with what we have to work with
    in the time left for living!

11/06/2018 —  Now we wait.

After we have done all
we can think of to do,
we wait
to see what happens
and what needs to be done
in response.

This is the way of life:
Doing,
Waiting,
Observing,
Reflecting,
Doing…

While we are waiting,
we can be recovering,
preparing,
anticipating,
planning,
watching,
but, mostly we are waiting.

Waiting between the times
of having done
and doing.

The land lies fallow,
and waits.
The trees drop their leaves,
and wait.
We finish the task,
and wait.

This is the way of life.

11/06/2018  —  The difference between
paying attention
in a mindfully aware
kind of way,
and not paying attention
is what you see
when you look around.

11/06/2018  —  People have been trying
to wake people up
for as long as
there have been people.

Jesus and the Buddha did their best,
and the snoring
and the sleep-walking
persisted.

Every life is crammed
with wake-up calls
unanswered.

The difference between
being awake
and being asleep
is a life well-lived
and a life not lived at all.

Why not wake up?
It’s too hard!
It’s too much work!
It’s too scary!

We prefer to dream
of the life we are not living
than live the life
that is ours to live.

And the person to change our minds
has not been born.

Those who can be awake
must be awake,
as those who cannot be awake
take their places
among the dead burying the dead.

11/-6/2018  —  We can’t help how we see things!
That is just who we are.
But.
We can see how we see things.
We can be aware
of how we see things.
And we can look closer
at the things we see,
and consider how else
they might be seen.

We can be responsible
for the way we see things—
and be curious about
why we see things as we do,
and what makes it easy
for us to think
that is the way things should be seen.

And we can grant latitude
to others and their way
of seeing things—
recognizing that how we see things
is just how we see things,
and has no bearing
upon how things are,
and that we all might
grow to see things differently
in time.

If we keep looking,
and don’t close ourselves off
from the possibilities.

11/06/2018  —  We must not interfere
with our ability
to live the best life possible
under the circumstances.

We cannot allow our circumstances
to prevent us from living
our best possible life!

We save ourselves
from our circumstances,
and distance ourselves
from them,
immunizing ourselves from
their impact,
by having no opinion of them—
by accepting the fact
that they are what they are
and doing what we can
to change what can be changed
about them,
and finding/creating ways
to live in and around them
by becoming the solace
we seek for ourselves and others.

We become a source of solace
when we live
the best life possible
under the circumstances
in each situation as it arises
all our life long!

And that is something
we all can do,
so why not?

11/06/2018  —  Our circumstances
are just our circumstances.

They are never as bad
as they could be,
nor are they ever as good
as they could be.

And we have no choice
in the matter.

Our choice is how to respond
to them,
how to live amid them.

The choice we make there
tells the tale.

11/06/2018  —  I know plenty of Republicans
who believe in magic.

They think if they elect Republicans
they will automatically
receive all the benefits and rewards
derived from not having Democrats in office—
and that alone atones for
the lack of goods and services
that come from having Republicans in office.

It is a completely closed-off
way of thinking
that isolates them
from the possibilities
afforded by logic and reason,
and renders them immune
to the impact of their experience.

And because they never
experience a long stretch
of Democrats in office,
they have no basis of comparison,
and one Republican in office
is exactly the same as any other
Republican in office,
thus, Republican voters, decide
“This is just what we expected,”
and are glad to be saved again
from the scourge of Democrat rule.

You cannot reflect on
what you refuse to consider.

And here we are.
Hoping that Republicans in office
will be bad enough
to wake up voting Republicans
to the absurdity of their situation
and bring them to the point
of actually trusting themselves
to Democrats.

May it be so often enough
to turn the tide
of Republican bigotry,
corruption,
and ignorance,
and return Constitutional Democracy
to the standards and values
that have been the foundation
of the USA
since its inception!

11/06/2018  —  We do what we do.

The seamstress sews.
The potter pots.
The painter paints…

Gerad Manley Hopkins said it best:
“What I do is me,
for that I came.”

If we have lived a distracted life,
lost in entertainments
and diversions,
passing too many good times
to notice or pay attention to
what is ours to do…

Well, too bad for us.
But.
No reason to panic.
Just withdraw form the escapes
and pay attention
to the things
that stir to life
in the stillness.

What do we find ourselves
drawn to?
What occurs to us?
And comes back around
to occur to us again?
What refuses to go away?
Look closer at the things
you are not tempted to
explore at all—
the things you reject outright
which are perhaps
the things you have rejected
all your life.

Look into those things
before you conclude,
“Nope.
There is nothing there.
Nothing for me to do.
I’m an empty gourd.”

Empty gourds are perfect
for dipping water.

Find your thing,
and do it.

  1. 11/07/2018 — Goodale 2018-11 05 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    It is staggering,
    sickening,
    appalling,
    how wrong people can be
    and remain convinced
    they are right.

    Too many people
    do not live long enough
    to realize how wrong they are.

    They never get to the place
    of remorse, confession and repentance,
    and go misguided and convicted
    to their grave.

    It is as though there is
    a genetic predilection
    to be willfully,
    pridefully,

    Evidence,
    facts,
    logic,
    and reason
    fail to register with them,
    and they remain true
    to the absurdity
    of their position
    in spite of a lifetime
    of pleas and appeals
    to come to their senses.

    They are the dead burying the dead
    through long generations
    of someone’s sons and daughters
    taking their places—
    while others’ sons and daughters
    recognize the futility of debate,
    in seeking and serving the truth,
    regardless of determined opposition
    to their cause.

    It is all perfectly ridiculous,
    and utterly real.

    The lines have been drawn
    from the beginning,
    and will last to the end of time.

11/07/2018  —  The truth of our circumstances
bears down upon us
through eons of denial:

This is the way things are,
and this is what can be done about it,
and that’s that.

And we cannot let that slow us down.

Our response has to always be:
This is who I am,
and this is what I do
regardless of the unchangeable nature
of the circumstances!

We live to be who we are,
were we are,
when we are,
how we are,
why we are,
for as long as we are
no matter how things around us are—
anyway,
nevertheless,
even so!

This is not denial!
It is recognizing
what our chances are,
and smiling.

And not caring—
because we have work to do.
It is the work of being who we are
and serving what is ours to serve,
hopeless and futile though it be.

Because hope is not what we have—
it is what we do!

We live to look beyond our circumstances
to the foundational truth
of our existence—
the truth of who we are,
of what needs to be done,
of what needs us to do it.

In light of that truth,
we don’t care
what our chances are!

We know what must be said,
exhibited,
honored,
and served,
with loyalty
and fidelity
to the cause
of Truth,
Justice,
Equality,
Freedom
through all situations
and circumstances—
not because we stand a chance
but because we stand
for what is Right
even if it is a waste of time—
because it is never a waste of time.

It is always the path
of becoming and being who we are—
of realizing and knowing
what we are capable of,
by living in the service
of a good greater than our own good,
just because it calls our name.

11/07/2018  —  We aren’t going to outlive bigotry.
Anymore than
we are going to outlive greed.

The evils will be with us always.

It is our place to bring the good forth
to meet them.

To call evil out.

To make evil known.

To serve the good
through all circumstances
in all situations,
no matter how hopeless,
futile
and absurd
that may be.

We meet darkness with light.

Darkness is where light shines brightest.
It is easier to imagine too much dark
than too much light.
It is our place to shine in the darkness,
knowing that the darkness
will not put us out,
and our work
will never be done.

“This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine…”
Always and forever,
without moaning and whining
about the darkness.

We shine in the darkness
because that is where
light is found.

11/07/2018  —  Each of us has to do the work
of knowing what is important
and living in light of it,
as servants of it,
carrying out its will for us
in the life that is ours to live.

What is important
cannot be handed to us,
given to us,
passed on from parents to child
through the ages.

What is important to us
is a matter for our own discernment,
realization.

We grow into what is important to us
over time.

Just as no one can tell us
what to take on faith,
no one can tell us what matters most.

We discover it.
We cannot be told it.
We live our way to it.
We cannot be led
or pushed there.

And, yet, on the other hand,
what matters most to us
is likely to have mattered most
to all who have gone before us.

That which has brought us to life
and directed our living
through all the generations
of our ancestors,
swirls about us
from our earliest moments,
calling our name.

Love, joy, peace, patience,
gentleness, kindness, generosity,
truth, liberty, good faith, equality,
justice, honor, loyalty, devotion, duty…
invite us to take up company
with them
and make a place for them
in our life
as we go about the work
of determining for ourselves
who we are,
what we are about
and what we will live toward
and serve with our life.

But each of us has to make these old values
our own in our own way.
No lip service is allowed here.
They must form the bedrock
of our life
and be given shape and character
in a way that is unique to us,
in the things that reflect
our gifts,
our genius,
our daemon,
our soul,
our self—
and are known to be important to us,
not by what we say,
but by what we do
and how we do it.

We are the potter
and we are the clay,
bringing ourselves forth
to meet each day—
and, if not,
the world is worse off
for it,
and we are as well

  1. 11/08/2018 —  Goodale 2018-11 16 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    Awareness is not a steady state of being.

    No one can be aware of everything at once.

    “Holding everything in our awareness”
    would include being aware
    that we are not aware of everything
    because there is an entire world—
    an entire universe—
    of things that fall outside of our awareness.

    We can only hold everything
    that we are aware of
    in our awareness.
    And even that is impossible
    to sustain over time.

    The situation is changing before our eyes,
    our circumstances are in constant motion,
    shifting, flowing, transforming…

    We can’t keep up with it.

    We can only narrow it down.

    By being aware of ourselves
    being aware
    and of how we are responding,
    and how we might respond instead
    to make things more like they need to be
    than they are.

    “More like the need to be”
    means what?
    Who says so?
    Not us!
    We do not impose our will for things
    onto things!
    We listen/look/become aware of
    how things need to be
    and assist them toward that.

    In any situation,
    some things need to happen
    and some things need to not happen
    for the good of that situation—
    from the standpoint of the situation alone.

    And when things are right in one situation,
    it creates momentum—
    sometimes called “karma”—
    that influences all situations
    flowing from that one.

    Every situation originates,
    creates,
    forms,
    gives rise to,
    a multi-dimensional chain
    of other situations
    in a “one thing leads to another”
    kind of way,
    with one thing actually leading
    to an indeterminate number
    of other things.

    We have a car crash,
    and that changes untold numbers
    of futures
    for everybody connected
    to the crashed car situation.

    And when things are as right
    as they can be
    for the car crash situation,
    they will tend to be right
    in all of the situations arising from it.

    The flow of “rightness”
    or of “wrongness”
    takes on a life of its own,
    influencing all things
    in its sphere of influence.

    We disrupt the flow of “wrongness”
    and encourage the flow of “rightness”
    by the way we respond
    to what needs to happen
    in every situation
    that comes our way
    in a day.

    Who says what needs to happen?
    The situation itself determines that.
    We “size things up,”
    “take stock,”
    “perform a triage,”
    “get a feel for”
    what needs to happen
    here and now,
    and assist it as well as we are able
    with the gifts/genius/daemon/grace
    that is ours to offer to the situation,
    and things are better
    than they would have been
    without us doing that.

    How we respond to a situation
    helps that situation be better,
    or worse,
    than it would have been without us.

    Awareness guides us in knowing
    what needs to happen
    but it does not impose
    our idea of “the right outcome”
    on what is happening.

    Awareness is not a way of forcing results,
    of manipulating circumstances,
    of making things happen
    according to some ideological idea
    of how things ought to be,
    or according to our idea
    of what constitutes our advantage
    in any situation.

    Awareness puts us at the mercy
    of the situation,
    and requires us to trust ourselves
    to the unfolding of circumstances
    from this moment into all of the moments
    flowing from this one—
    without having any idea
    of what that will be.

    If you can do that,
    the world will be a better place
    because of it.
    But you have to trust me
    to know what I’m talking about.

11/08/2018  —  There is the right way to be me
and the wrong way to be me.
The same goes for you
and everyone else.

In any situation,
there is the right way to be me/you/etc.
in the situation and the wrong way to be me/you/etc.

The right way to be me/you/etc.
in one situation
may be the wrong way to be me/you/etc.
in another situation.

The situation calls us forth
calls for certain things that only we
can provide
out of the wealth of things
that are right for us.

To live in ways that are right for us
in all situations
means that we will be different,
perhaps in each situation,
depending upon what the situation
needs from us.

But. In living in ways that are right for us
in every situation,
we are living with integrity
in all situations.

We have to work on
living in ways that are right for us,
and know which ways are right for us
and which ways are wrong for us.

Now, in addition to living in ways that are right for us,
we also have to live in ways that are right
for the role we play in each situation.

When I go to the dentist,
the dentist, dental assistant, and I
all know what being a dentist requires.
The dentist has to be the dentist
the way dentists are supposed to be a dentist.

The dental assistant must be the dental assistant
the way dental assistants are supposed to be
dental assistants.

I have to be the patient
the way patients are supposed to be patients.

And so it goes through all the roles we play.

I have to be who I am being a father,
and a grandfather,
and a photographer,
and a driver,
and a grocery shopper,
etc. for every role I step into in a day.

So do you and everyone else.

As we do this,
we are “living in accord with the Tao.”

We are living our life
the way our life calls us to live it
in everything we do.
We “do” our life
the way our life requires to be done
on all levels.

That is all there is to it.

When the barber tries to be the butcher,
and the butcher tries to be the tailor
and the tailor tries to be the movie star…
It all goes to hell.
And we all have addictions,
and symptoms,
and no one is happy to be who they are
and living at peace with themselves.

To put ourselves in accord with the Tao,
we have to put ourselves
in accord with ourselves,
and with the roles our life requires us to play.

And if we revolt at any point,
we have to get to the bottom
of what the revolution is all about.

  1. 11/09/2018 —  Goodale 2018-11 18 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    When what we believe in
    quits working,
    there are always our addictions
    to fall back on
    before we chuck it all
    in an “It don’t matter
    what I do” kind of way,
    and show the world
    exactly what we think of it
    on our way out of it.

    It would work better
    for all of us
    if all of us
    kept the faith
    all the way to the exit—
    believing and living as though we do:
    “Everything depends on what I do
    in spite of all evidence to the contrary.”

    If you are going to take anything on faith,
    let it be that.

    We Matter.
    What We Do Matters.
    We Make All The Difference.

    Believe it.
    Live as though it is so.

    Everything depends on our believing—
    and living as though we do—
    that everything depends on what we do.

    That is the magic mantra
    transforming the world.

    Look at the people who believed it:
    Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc,
    Rosa Parks, Sister Teresa…

    They all believed in their impact
    past seeing their impact,
    and the world is better because of them
    than it would be without them.

    It comes down to being who we are,
    doing what is ours to do
    in every situation,
    through all circumstances,
    as though it matters—
    because it does.

    When you get to the bottom of you
    and stand on the bedrock
    grounding your life
    you discover that it is
    you and what you do and how you do it.

    You are the ground you seek—
    like the man sitting on his ox
    searching for his ox,
    or the woman wearing her glasses,
    looking for her glasses.

    You are exactly what is needed
    through all the situations and circimstances
    of your life.

    “A wheel turning out of its own center—
    that is what you become
    as a mature individual.”
    (Joseph Campbell)

    “The realization of your life—
    of who YOU are
    and what YOU are about—
    comes on the other side
    of the terror of the Void,

    or on the other side
    of sweet distractions/temptations
    to step aside from the way
    that is your way,

    or on the other side
    life’s demands that you
    do your duty
    and meet the obligations
    and responsibilities
    laid on you by society
    that are contrary
    to your duty,
    obligation
    and responsibility
    to yourself and your work—

    when you say,
    “NO!
    ‘What I do is me!
    For that I came!’
    And go on doing it.”
    (The Buddha, The Christ,
    and all who know what they knew)

    Become as they were,
    knowing what they knew.

    Being yourself
    as they were being themselves
    wherever you are
    through whatever is going on,
    because that matters!

11/09/2018 —  Bring your best
to bear on every moment.

What is wrong with that
for a life plan?

Nothing.
That’s what.

11/09/2018  —  Don’t care what the situation is.
Don’t care what the circumstances are.
Don’t care what your chances are.

Care about giving your best performance to date
in the part you are asked to play
in each situation that arises
and every combination of circumstances
that come along.

Your whole life long.

Care about doing better
what you do best.

And let the outcome be the outcome—
creating another situation
where you get a chance
to give your best performance yet.

11/09/2018 —  What keeps you going?
Upon what does your vitality depend?
Your joy-of-life?
Your enthusiasm?
Your delight in being alive?

What do you look forward to
beyond one week a year
at the beach?

What do you look forward to
in a week?
Or in a day?

Where, and how often,
do you stop,
having noticed that you are
deeply enjoying what you are doing?

How much of your life is routine?
Grim routine?
Deadening routine?
Even what you do for fun?

What can you do to increase
the level of your
joy quotient in a day?

I went walking in the woods today,
looking for photos.
I didn’t find anything
anyone would want to look at,
but.
It had rained all day,
and I was walking in
wet woods.

They were quiet
like a baby
sleeping in your arms.

What could be a walk
in wet woods for you?

Or a sleeping baby?

  1. 11/10/2018 —  Goodale 2018-11 13 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    You are responsible
    for finding the way
    that is your way
    and walking it.

    Joseph Campbell quotes this passage
    in “Transformations of Myth Through Time”?:

    In The Quest of the Holy Grail…there occurs in the Old French text a passage…that seems to me to epitomize the whole sense of this Grail symbolism.

    “They agreed that all would go on this quest, but they thought it would be a disgrace”—and that’s the word used—”to go forth in a group.” Think of the group psychology that the Oriental tradition represents—”they thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group, so each entered the forest”—the forest of the adventure—”at a point that he, himself, had chosen, where it was darkest, and there was no path.” (p. 211)

    Now, all of you who have had anything to do with Oriental gurus know that they have the path, and they know where you are on the path. Some of them will give you their picture to wear, so you know where you are to get to, instead of your own picture. This is the difference, and this is Europe. (p. 211-212)

    The knights entered the forest at the point that they had chosen, where there was no path. If there is a path, it is someone else’s’ path, and you are not on the adventure. Now, what are you to do about instruction? You can get clues from people who have followed paths, but then you have to carom off that and translate it into your own decision, and there is no book of rules. (p. 212)

    On this wonderful quest—it’s a marvelous romance, with each knight going his own way—when anyone finds the path of another and thinks, “Oh, he’s getting there!” and begins to follow that path, then he goes astray totally, even though the other may get there.

    This is a wonderful story: that which we intend, that which is the journey, that which is the goal, is the fulfillment of something that never was on earth before—namely your own potentiality. Every thumbprint is different from every other. Every cell and structure in your body is different from that of anyone who has ever been on earth before, so you have to work it out yourself, talking your clues from here and there. (p. 212)

    By what kind of magic can people put God in your heart? They can’t. (God is) either there or not there, out of your own experience. (p. 213)

    We are looking together
    for what each of us
    can only find for ourselves—
    can only recognize
    as being the right way for us,
    though everyone else
    point and hiss,
    or laugh and mock,
    or condemn and chastise.

    And we are on our own
    in seeking out
    what is ours
    from before we were born.

    “I have no say in the matter, Gibbs—
    It’s the pirate’s life for me. Savvy?”
    — Captain Jack Sparrow in “On Stranger Tides”

  2. 11/11/2018 —  Lake Crandal 2018-11 01 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 10, 2018

    AR-15’s and AK-47’s are not keeping us safe.

    Building border walls
    and harassing,
    tormenting,
    intimidating,
    humiliating,
    oppressing
    immigrants and asylum seekers
    and their children
    are not keeping us safe.

    Our insecurity is increasing
    our insecurity,
    not reducing it.

    And the only fix for that
    is growing up
    some more,
    again,
    and realizing
    that safety
    is a matter
    of coming to terms
    with the existential
    “iffy-ness” of being human.

    We are all “just lucky to be here.”

    That headache could be a brain tumor.
    The mole could be skin cancer.
    There is no limit
    to the things we have to be afraid of.

    The California fires,
    coastal hurricanes,
    tornadoes,
    earthquakes,
    pandemics
    and tsunamis
    all undermine our happy fantasy
    of “Safe At Last.”

    “Safe For Now”
    is the best we can hope for.

    We have to ground ourselves
    in the truth of that reality,
    and trust ourselves to deal with
    whatever comes our way.

    Fear is a very present enemy
    in all times and places,
    keeping us from
    believing in our ability
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done
    in all situations
    and circumtances
    that arise in our lifetime.

    Relying on ourselves
    to find the way through
    the morass and maze of our life
    is the foundation
    of our confidence and courage.

    “Here we are, now what?”
    Is our grounding mantra,
    reminding us
    that we are here, now,
    by virtue of having dealt successfully
    with the shocks and traumas
    of our past—
    “As it was in the beginning,
    is now and ever shall be”:
    Up against it and unstopped by it!
    “World without end. Amen!”

11/11/2018  —  To all you Republicans out there, this:

I don’t know what you think your Republican politicians
will do for you,
but it won’t be a reduction
in your college loan payments
(or those of your children,
or grandchildren).

And it won’t be health care—
they are for taking health care away
from everybody who isn’t
a member of congress.
If you don’t understand this,
you aren’t paying attention.

And rural hospitals and nursing homes
will disappear as federal funds
supporting health care disappear—
which is the GOP’s idea of running the country
(Into the ground!).

It won’t be infrastructure!
Elected Republicans are reducing budgets
for agencies charged with
managing federal forests and
fighting forest fires.

And maintenance and improvements
on bridges and highways.

And water supply—
Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have
safe drinking water.

Speaking of water,
the entire environment is up in smoke
with Republicans at the helm.
Cutbacks on automobile mileage rates
and exhaust emissions,
an emphasis on supporting the fossil fuel industry
at the expense of solar and wind energy
and sensible conservation methods,
put the entire world at risk.

It won’t be education!
They are shrinking funds available
to local schools and colleges,
which means lower teacher salaries
and a reduction in staff and programming.

You will see less,
and lower quality,
of everything that makes life livable
with Republicans in charge.

I don’t know what you are afraid of
from Democrats,
but your Republican friends
are putting the hurt on you
at every level.

While they shift your attention
from what they are doing
and failing to do
with talk of migrant caravans
and border security.

Republicans claim to be your saviors,
but the oceans are rising,
and global warming is real.

And it is time you wake up to the truth
of all you are denying—
and help the rest of us
do the work Republican office holders
are leaving undone!

  1. 11/12/2018 —  Kings Mt. 2018-11 01 Panorama — Lake Crawford, Kings Mountain State Park, Blacksburg, South Carolina, November 11, 2018

    We are all engaged
    in the work of our life.

    Our life’s work
    is to rise to the occasion
    on every occasion.

    To be what the situation
    needs us to be
    in every situation.

    To live the life
    we are capable of living—
    the life that is our life to live—
    through all of the circumstances
    that meet us each day
    throughout our life.

    To live as liege servants
    of what matters most
    in the times and places
    of our living
    no matter what—
    letting the outcome
    be the outcome—
    without keeping score,
    without taking anything personally,
    without hesitation or remorse
    for no other reason
    than this is who we are
    and this is what we do.

    The way all living things do their business
    within the lived environment
    of their life
    all their life long—
    without opinion,
    with total dedication to the task,
    all life long.

  2. 11/13/2018 —  Laurel Hill 2018-11 06 B&W — Laurel Hill Preserve, Catawba Land Conservancy, Gastonia, North Carolina, November 11, 2018

    Our life experience
    is our guidance and direction—
    once we become aware
    of how we interfere with our experience
    by interpreting it incorrectly.

    We have to read the situation
    in the right way
    in order to respond to the situation
    in the right way.

    Right Seeing,
    Right Hearing,
    Right Knowing,
    Right Doing,
    Equals Right Being.

    Putting ourselves in right-relationship
    with what is happening
    in each situation as it arises
    is putting ourselves in accord with the Tao
    and living well
    in light of all that is being asked of us
    throughout our life.

    How do we do that?
    Mindfulness
    (Which implies mindful,
    compassionate,
    non-judgmental
    awareness)
    Leads The Way.

    Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books,
    “Wherever You Go, There You Are”
    “Meditation Is Not What You Think”
    And his You Tube videos
    are excellent places to start
    the practice of mindfulness.

    Everybody has to start somewhere.
    And, the sooner, the better,
    for all of us.

11/13/2018  —  Working for what needs to happen
in a situation
is quite different from
working for what we can get
out of a situation—
from how we can exploit a situation
and use it to our advantage.

The profit motive
is the foundation of greed
and the essence of evil.

“Just trying to get ahead,”
begs the questions:
“At whose expense?”
“Whose good is served
by the good we call good?”
“What is our idea
of the life we are here to live?”
“How much do we need
to be who we are?”

11/13/2018  —  Jesus appeared,
telling people to find their life
and live it
(“Why don’t you judge for yourselves
what is right?’),
but his disciples
and their disciples
sold him as telling people
to let someone else tell them what to do
or go to hell for all eternity.

And here we are.

Why don’t we judge for ourselves
what is right?
In light of our own experience,
and the collective experience of the species?
On the basis
of our own authority in the matter?

  1. 11/14/2018 —  Lake Crandal 2018-11 02 HDR — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 10, 2018

    If you want things to change,
    you have to change
    the way you think.

    You have to change
    what think about things.

    You have to change
    how you think about things.

    That changes everything.

    We are the still point
    of our turning world.

    We are the only constant
    in the world we live in—
    in the world that constitutes
    our lived experience.

    The world of our lived experience
    is always turning.

    It is in constant motion.

    We change jobs.
    We change spouses.
    We change addresses.
    We change clothes.
    We change apps…
    And through it all,
    we remain constant.

    We stabilize our world,
    or spin it out of control,
    by the way we relate to it,
    think about it.

    Think about that!

    If we want things to change
    we have to change.

    How different are you
    willing to be?

    We exist to change the world
    in relation to ourselves.
    The trick is to change ourselves
    in relation to the world.

    We have to change the way we think.
    We have to change what we think about.
    We have to change how we think about it.

    What do you think about?
    How do you think about it?

    Keep track of those two things
    over the next week.

    Keep two lists going at the same time.
    What you think about.
    How you think about it.
    At the end of the week,
    consider the lists.
    What is on them?
    What is nowhere to be found?

    Those two lists
    say all you need to know about yourself.
    Why these things?
    Why not something else instead?

    How long have you been thinking
    about what you think about
    the way you think about it?

    Next week,
    change the things
    on both lists
    by thinking about different things
    in ways you didn’t think about anything
    this week.

    Become conscious
    of what you think about
    and of how you think about it,
    and of how changing
    the way you think
    changes things.

    Poof!
    Like that,
    you have become a magician
    transforming the world
    you live in,
    impacting the worlds
    everyone lives in
    by the power of thought alone.

    That’s Super Hero stuff
    hiding out in all of us
    mild-mannered nondescripts.

    Who would have thought it?

11/14/2018  —  Every living thing
has preferences.

We all prefer
to keep living,
for one thing.

And that implies
a lot of other things.

Survival is rarely enough.

Reproduction comes into play
for a lot of us living things.

We prefer to pass it on.

Life, that is.

Life prefers to live,
and life prefers to live on.
In and through
the things that are alive.

Life is in charge of the show.

And we don’t know
what that is.

Where does life come from?
Where is it going?
Life itself doesn’t know.
It just IS.
Like God.
Is God alive?
Is Life alive?

Can Life live without being alive?
How long can Life be dormant,
waiting for the right combination
of things necessary for being alive
to nudge it into living?

We don’t know.

But we know Life has preferences.

And waits for things to fall into place
in order to wake up
and become alive
in some form
somewhere.

Preference for one thing over another
seems to run through the “heart”
of all living things,
even Life itself.

Preferences direct us through life
to Life.

Listen to your preferences.
See where they lead.

Learn the difference
between a preference
and a compulsion,
an obsession,
an addiction,
an obligation.

Not that those things are bad things
and need to be avoided.
A preference
can become any of those things—
all of them—
in carrying out Life’s urge to live,
but.
They can also interfere
with Life’s ability to be alive
by misconstruing,
misdirecting,
misinterpreting,
misunderstanding,
etc.
the difference between
being alive and being mostly dead.

Our obsessions can serve Life
and they can become Death itself.

Preference, meet Balance,
Homeostasis,
Equilibrium,
Stability,
Symmetry,
Harmony,
Peace…

And know where to draw the line.

Preference’s preference for Balance (etc.)
introduces Contradiction,
Conflict,
Paradox,
Discord,
Etc.
at the heart of Life.

And the art
of knowing where to draw the line
separates Life from Death—
and is Life
and is Death
all along the way.

11/14/2018  —  What is the advantage
of having all of the advantages?
Or half of all of them?
Or any of them?

When is the disadvantage
an advantage?

Where are we better off?

How are we to know
when we are well-enough off?

Why the incessant quest
to be infinitely better off?

When is enough enough?

What, exactly, do we need
to be who we are?

Why do we think we need
more than it takes
to be who we are?

Who are we kidding?

Why do we take anything seriously?

What are we after?

What is better
than being at peace
with things as they are?

What will it take
for us to be at peace
with things as they are?

What keeps us
from being at peace
with things as they are?

What is it about
the way things are
that robs us of our peace?

Why can’t we have peace
in the midst
of things as they are?

Why the constant war
with things as they are?

Why war?
Why not peace?

  1. 11/15/2018 —  A Walk in the Woods 2018-11 09 — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, November 9, 2011

    Jesus did not tell anyone
    what they expected to hear.

    The True Believers
    of his day
    had the Temple
    and 2,000 years
    of traditional understanding of—
    and faith in—
    The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    And Jesus stood before them
    and said, “You have heard it said,”
    but I say unto you…”

    That is always the end
    of every theology
    that has ever been
    faithfully believed
    and held to be true.

    “You have heard it said,
    but you don’t know a thing!”

    Preachers tell us the Bible
    is the foundation of morality,
    and that we will never know what’s good
    and do it
    if we don’t believe
    we are going to hell
    if we don’t.
    But they expect us to know what is right
    when they tell us we are wrong.

    We have always known
    what is right and what is wrong.
    So, when our children are hungry
    and ask us for food,
    we don’t give them
    a plate of sand and gravel.

    Lived experience correctly interpreted
    is the source of ethics and morality.
    A pack of wolves
    and horses at the water trough
    know what is right and what is wrong—
    because they have lived and learned.

    The Bible supported slavery,
    witch hunts
    and segregation.

    And Jesus asked,
    “Why don’t you judge for yourselves
    what is right?”

    Our life is in our hands.
    We decide how to live it
    by living it
    and learning to interpret
    our lived experience
    in ways that direct our feet
    to the path that is ours to walk.

    We live and reflect on having lived
    to the point of new realizations
    and better ways of living—
    and don’t take anyone’s word
    for the right way to do something
    without evaluating its value
    in light of our own experience
    and judging for ourselves
    what is right for us—
    even if they tell us we are going to hell
    if we don’t listen to them.

11/15/2018  —  Here’s what it’s all about:

Everyone brings their best to bear
on each situation as it arises
in the service of the true good
of the whole.

Got it?

Do it!

11/15/2018  —  What’s so hard
about doing what’s hard?
People do it everyday.

Squaring ourselves up to
what has to be done,
and doing it,
is a matter of making
the transition
from how we want things to be
to how things are.

“Not This!” becomes “This!”
this way.

When we allow ourselves
to be consumed
by how we want things to be,
we interfere with our ability
to do right by how things are.

Every situation comes down to
“This is how things are,
And this is what needs to be done about it.
And that’s that.”

No amount of moaning,
complaining,
whining,
pouting,
hating,
despising,
bluesing,
protesting,
grousing,
sniveling,
and kvetching
is going to alter
that fundamental assessment.

After all of that,
we still have to get up
and do the thing
we do not want to do—
or refuse to do it.

We make things hard
by refusing to either
to do what is asked of us
by the situation,
or not do it,
first thing.

We make a hard thing easy
by doing it or not doing it,
and letting that be that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. 11/15/2018 —  Goodale 2018-11 33 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    Everything is a mirror reflecting who we are
    and/or who we ought to be
    to us
    for our examination,
    reflection
    and utilization.

    We project who we are
    or who we might yet become
    onto all that we behold.

    Our judgments,
    evaluations
    and reactions
    tell us everything we need to know
    about ourselves
    and precious little
    about the things and people
    we stand before
    with condemnation and disgust,
    or praise and admiration.

    We make adjustments
    and corrections—
    or blunder on through
    missed signals
    and warning signs—
    based on our reading
    of how we see what we look at
    and understand
    what we hear ourselves saying
    as we make our way through each day.

    We are surrounded by shiny surfaces.
    What we allow them to show us
    about ourselves
    tells the tale
    we live to tell.

  2. 11/16/2018 —  Goshen Creek 2018-10 02 B&W — Blue Ridge Parkway, Boone, North Carolina, October 25, 2018

    Our circumstances are always
    getting in the way of our life.

    Our life would be so much smoother
    without the intrusion
    of unwanted circumstances!

    We spend all of our time
    taking care of circumstances,
    avoiding circumstances,
    caught up in circumstances
    beyond our control!j

    What are all these circumstances
    doing in our life?

    Our circumstances ARE our life.
    How we deal
    with our circumstances IS our life.

    Our ideas for our life
    never have circumstances
    derailing our plans,
    interrupting our steady progression
    to happy ever after (as if),
    interfering with the
    regular arrival of wins and gains…

    Our dreams for our life
    always involve well-behaved
    and quite pleasant circumstances
    perfectly unfolding
    and precisely timed
    to serve rapture and ecstasy everlasting.

    Reality follows a different script.

    The world we live in
    is not the world
    we wish we lived in.

    And that is the fly on the pie.

    Our life is a “shoo-fly pie”!

  3. 11/16/2018 —  Goodale 2018-11 18 Panorama B&W — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    Living a normal life
    is the mythic ideal.

    The Aborigines never aspired
    to more than that.

    Make a list…
    Native Americans—all tribes.
    The Bushmen,
    Zulu,
    Maasai,
    and all the tribes of Africa.

    All of the Ancestors everywhere
    aimed to live a life
    admired for its regularity
    and dependability—
    a life anyone would call
    a good and noble life.

    George Bailey’s
    “wonderful life”
    was a normal, ordinary life
    lived well.

    You can’t beat it.

    Enjoy a cup of coffee
    with a slice of Pumpkin-nut Bread.

    Go for a stroll around the block
    or in the woods.

    Watch the sun set
    and the moon rise.

    Feed the birds.
    Take the dog to the vet.

    Do your work
    and let nature take its course.

    Don’t make too much—
    or too little—
    of anything.

    Be you being true to yourself
    in all that you do.

    And don’t bother with keeping score.

    And when you are gathered to your ancestors,
    they will welcome you
    as an exemplary human being
    who did the normal things well.

  4. 11/16/2018 —  The Tree By The Side Of The Road — Rural southern Virginia, January 20, 2012

    Do the normal routines
    the way they ought to be done—
    the way they need to be done!

    Doing that will call you beyond yourself
    to yourself!
    Beyond the self you would devolve into
    if it weren’t for the obligations and duties
    requiring your attention.

    Attend them as they need you to attend them!
    Pay your bills!
    Live within your means!
    Do your homework!
    Clean up the kitchen!

    Stop looking beyond the drudgery
    of the everyday,
    and tend to the business
    that is your business!

    Find the rhythms
    and the flow,
    and the natural breaks
    in the day—
    and take them!

    The day has a regular order
    about it.
    Find it.
    Follow it.
    Allow it to become
    your order of the day.

    You take shape around
    what is yours to do when.
    Your life takes shape
    around you.
    You become the still point
    of the turning world.

    Without doing a thing
    other than what needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done,
    how it needs to be done.

    Out of that order,
    a door will open,
    a path will appear.
    Trust yourself to it.
    See where it leads.

    It will lead to a new world.
    To worlds beyond worlds.
    That you do nothing to find.
    They find you.
    You are just tending your business,
    doing what needs you to do it,
    following your normal routines.

    With an eye out for doors that open,
    and a heart full of courage
    for stepping through,
    and onto the paths that appear.

  5. 11/17/2018 —  Kings Mt. 2018-11 05 Panorama — Lake Crawford, Kings Mountain State Park, Blacksburg, South Carolina, November 12, 2018

    Bear The Pain!

    That is the mantra for living well,
    and it falls on deaf ears.

    Bearing the pain
    is not our idea of living at all.

    Running from the pain is our plan for living.
    Anything But The Pain
    is our mantra.

    The next time you are experiencing pain
    of any sort,
    count the number of people
    who offer you an escape.

    The culture’s idea of escape from pain
    takes the form of
    drugs,
    sex,
    alcohol,
    entertainment,
    religion—
    not necessarily in that order.

    You will never hear “Bear the pain”
    from any segment of the culture.
    You will hear,
    “Take this—do this—
    it will help you feel better.”
    As though “feeling better”
    is the answer to feeling bad.

    Feeling bad is the answer to feeling bad.
    The. Pain!

    Bearing the pain takes us to the crux of the matter.
    That’s where the action really is—
    at the heart of sorrow and suffering,
    agony, anguish and despair.

    Our conflicts and contradictions
    are doorways to perception shifts,
    realization,
    transformation
    and growth.

    Feeling better never helped anyone grow up
    (Some more, again).

    Feeling bad is the true path to the Promised Land,
    but.
    You have to Bear The Pain
    to know it is so.

    The next time you don’t know what to do,
    know that you don’t know what to do
    and sit with it.
    Open yourself to it.
    Do not try to know what to do.
    Do not attempt to think your way out of the mess.
    Wallow in it.
    The mess is the stuff of enlightenment,
    satori,
    insight.
    illumination…

    And, it is the portkey to Impunity/Immunity.

    No kidding.

    Impunity/Immunity is/are found
    in knowing that you can trust yourself
    to deal with anything—
    and you know that by
    opening yourself to the pain
    and bearing it all the way
    to The One Who Waits Within.

    That would be You.

    In the company of You, you can do whatever it takes.
    You are your own Invisible Best Friend,
    A Very Present Help In Time Of Trouble,
    Who will not abandon you
    and leave you bereft and desolate,
    but is with you always
    to the close of the age
    and beyond.

    There, at the heart of pain,
    is the comfort of knowing
    you are not alone with the pain,
    and can wait in the company
    of the Invisible Other
    for the shift to happen
    (Shift Happens, you know)
    that changes everything.

    That is generally a perspective shift,
    though it is not unheard of
    for the Universe to actually
    turn on its axis
    and for all things to become new.

    Bear the pain
    and wait for the shift
    in the company of You.
    And, when the door opens,
    walk through.

  6. 11/18/2018 —  Lake Crandal 2018-11 04 HDR Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 10, 2018

    Our life is our art,
    and all art comes to us
    from the unconscious—
    from the part of us
    that we are not conscious of—
    from the Psyche,
    the Greek word for soul.

    Living soulfully
    is living the life
    that is our life to live,
    which is separate from—
    and often contrary to—
    the Ideal Life
    we have in mind for ourselves.

    Our conscious ego
    goes off on its own—
    with scripts and scenarios,
    narratives and ideas—
    that have nothing to do with
    our actual nature,
    the drift of our soul
    and the Psychic intention
    packed into our DNA.

    We war with ourselves
    over who we will be
    and what will become of us,
    and will not take instruction,
    or align ourselves with our genius,
    our daemon,
    our life-force within,
    or live in accord with the Tao
    of time and place,
    opportunity and possibility,
    that are ours to realize or ignore—
    to our glory or our shame, everlasting.

    The story of the Garden of Eden
    is the story of our conscious refusal
    to submit to our unconscious calling.

    The story of the Garden of Gethsemane
    is the story of the alternative ending
    to the Garden of Eden.

    There are two ways of dying.

    The way that ends in death,
    and the way that ends in life everlasting,
    running over,
    pouring out,
    as a blessing on all forever.

    Each hinging on how we live
    in the service of the art
    that is ours to produce
    in the time that is ours
    on the earth.

11/18/2018  —  See what you look at (Particularly when you look in a mirror).

Hear what is being said (Particularly what you are saying to yourself).

Know what you know (Particularly what you don’t know that you know).

The Three Steps to Having It Made (By being in accord with the Tao).

11/18/2018  —  What do you do when you are not in trustworthy hands?

Where do you turn when you have nowhere to turn?

Upon what do you rely when your raft is breaking up amid the heaving waves of the wine dark sea?

“And then I will swim!”—Ulysses, The Odyssey

11/18/2018  —  Everything that has happened to us,
or failed to happen—
everything we have done,
or refused,
or failed to do—
constitutes the matrix of our life,
the material we use
in constructing the life we live.
What we do with it,
how we use it,
the posture we assume
in relation to it,
determine our way
with ourselves,
one another
and the world.

We are what we make
of what has happened.

If we are going to be different,
how different we can be
is going to depend upon
what we make
of what happens from this point—
and of what has happened to this point.

And that depends upon
how mindfully aware we of
of everything that has happened,
is happening
and will happen.

We grow in the ground
in which we are planted—
in the context and circumstances
of our life.

How fertile,
or how barren,
that ground is
is not as important
as how well we work the ground—
the right kind of reflection
is the Philosopher’s Stone,
transforming base metal
(or barren ground)
into purest gold.

Our future
and it’s quality,
and the degree of our accord
with the Tao,
the Way of Life and Being,
is always in our hands.

  1. 11/19/2018 —  Corn Field 2018-02 Panorama — Indian Land, Lancaster County, South Carolina, November 18, 2018

    Elvis told his therapist,
    “You realize I will never know
    if a woman loves me,
    or loves Elvis Presley.”

    It is one of the pitfalls of fame.
    And is not limited to fame.

    “Me,” or “their idea of me”?

    Who can be sure?

    And how much of “me”
    is nothing more than “our idea of me”?

    Where does anything stop
    and our idea of it start?

    All we ever have is our perception
    of “a person, place or thing.”

    And our perception is formed,
    shaped,
    produced,
    by our perspective,
    which is created
    by our reaction to our experience.

    Everything,
    good/bad,
    right/wrong,
    beautiful/ugly,

    is the product
    of how we see
    what we look at.

    We “know” a thing
    through our idea of the thing
    and all things like it.

    And our ideas are cultivated
    by the impact of our experience
    (Or, our experience
    with others’ experience)
    with the thing
    or things like the thing—
    and that experience
    is filtered through
    our expectations,
    fears,
    desires,
    etc.,
    and we make up entire worlds
    out of our own head.

    Racism is what we tell ourselves
    about our (or others’) experience
    with different races.

    The same goes with
    homophobia,
    Islamophobia,
    xenophobia,
    misogyny,
    etc.

    Anything we say about Elvis
    is said about our idea of Elvis,
    and has nothing to do with Elvis.
    Etc.

    That being the case,
    we might sit with
    what we have to say about Elvis,
    etc.
    until we can see what we look at
    and hear what we are saying,
    and understand what we are doing,
    and know what’s what
    in light of all that can be taken into account,
    before we treat Elvis like he is king,
    or someone else like they are not.

    Mindful awareness—
    awareness that is compassionate
    and non-judgmental
    in relation to all things considered—
    leads the way,
    in dealing with ourselves,
    and other people,
    and every single thing.

    Elvis,
    each of us,
    and the world
    wait to be seen for who they/we are,
    and loved with no strings attached.

    And it starts with me and you.
    Beginning here and now.

11/19/1018 —  Constitutional democracy is the best of all possible worlds,
except for those
who want limitless wealth
and no restraints whatsoever
on the proliferation
of their desires
and their obsession with power and control.

The Rule of Law
is an insult
and an obscenity
to those who think
they have a right to live beyond the law,
and are,
by definition,
outlaws in the full sense of the term.

Constitutional democracy provides
the best life possible
for the largest number of people
but.
The top 1% want more, of course.
And will have it,
in exponential growth forever,
or die trying.

Greed is the end of all good things.

  1. 11/20/2018 —  Corn Field 2018-11 08 — Indian Land, Lancaster County, South Carolina, November 19, 2018

    We cannot see what we cannot say.

    We cannot see what something is
    until we can say what it is.

    Saying is seeing.

    Understanding is the work of articulation.

    We can know more than we can say,
    and can experience things we do not understand,
    and cannot explain.

    We can experience electricity and the internet,
    falling in love and ice cream
    without being able to say much about them
    beyond the names we give them.

    We can know Beth and John,
    James and Louise
    without being able to understand any of them—
    and spouses have been known to declare to the other:
    “I don’t even know who you are!”

    Abraham Heschel said,
    “We can apprehend
    more than we can comprehend.”

    Knowing that is understanding
    is being able to articulate what is known,
    and to say at what point
    what is known goes over into the unknown,
    and unknowable.

    Articulation is at the heart of knowing/understanding.
    The work of being human
    is, in part, the work of interpreting/translating
    experience into words
    that meaningfully express the experience.

    We live to say what is so
    about the experience of being alive—
    in order to know it ourselves
    and to comprehend
    what it means to be
    what we are,
    who we are,
    where we are,
    when we are,
    why we are,
    how we are—
    to make sense of it,
    understand it,
    deal with it.

    Growth is growing in our ability
    to do this—
    to talk about our experience of being alive
    in ways that are meaningful to us.

    If we aren’t talking about it—
    writing about it,
    painting it,
    drawing it,
    sculpting it,
    dancing it,
    playing it,
    singing it,
    expressing it,
    exhibiting it—
    we aren’t making it
    personally meaningful,
    and are merely going
    through the motions
    of living
    while taking someone else’s
    explanations as the sum total
    of what it means
    to be alive.

    We are missing our chance
    to know life as one who has lived it,
    and wasting our time upon the earth.

    Bear the pain!
    Embrace the agone!
    Find the words!
    Know the truth
    as fully as the truth
    can be known!

    Confront the contradictions,
    anomalies,
    paradoxes,
    incompatibilities,
    incongruities,
    oxymoron’s,
    enigmas,
    conflicts,
    ..

    Ask the questions that beg to be asked!
    Say the things that cry out to be said!
    Make inquiries!
    Explore, examine, reflect, revise, re-imagine!

    Do not live an un-lived life
    just because it is easier that way!

  2. 11/20/2018 —  Goodale 2018-11 06 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    Knowing what our business is—
    and what it isn’t—
    and having few opinions
    about what our business isn’t,
    will put us on the path
    to our true life,
    and help us avoid
    being sidetracked
    and lost in a wasteland
    of our own making.

11/20/18  —  You live by your values
and take your chances.

Our life is a long lesson
in learning to know
what is essential.

What is important.

What matters most.

We ground ourselves
in the values
we determine to be
the most valuable,
and let our life
fall into place
around that.

So.

Wal-Mart,
Boston Scientific,
and Union Pacific
can ask for their money back
from Cindy Hyde-Smith
and let things take their course.

11/20/2018  —  There are always observations to make,
and new realizations to consider.
Before I know it,
the day is gone,
and another is upon me.

As long as there is time,
there will be time to sit and observe,
and consider.

Today, I imagined using
a bag of fresh cranberries
and a partial box of whole grain pancake mix
to make a loaf of cranberry bread.

Ideas come out of nowhere
when you have time for them.

  1. 11/21/2018 —  Corn Field 2-18-11 05 Panorama — Indian Land, Lancaster County, South Carolina, November 19, 2018

    “What to do?” begs the questions
    “When?” and
    “About what?”
    Our doing is always contextual
    and time-specific,
    here and now.

    What to do then and there
    depends upon too many unknowns
    to be exact,
    and is no more than an exercise
    in speculation
    and odds-making.

    What to do in any situation
    depends upon our read of the situation.

    What do to when the baby is crying
    hinges on the kind of noise the baby is making.
    Do you know how to interpret
    the sounds the baby is making
    is the question.

    Do you know how to interpret
    the signs of the times?
    Of these exact times,
    here and now?

    Are you alert to how this moment
    is different from that moment?
    Do you know what is called for
    in any moment?
    In every moment?

    Can you read the situation
    as it is developing
    and respond to it
    in ways that are appropriate
    and called for?

    Jesus was good at that.
    He raised the dead here
    and left the dead to bury the dead there.

    To think that Jesus would always do this
    and never do that
    is to put Jesus in a corner
    of your own design.

    Jesus was free to be,
    and do,
    and think,
    and say
    what the situation required.

    He could be what was needed
    in this moment
    unbound by the constraints
    of the last moment
    and the next one.

    The day’s “own trouble”
    was always sufficient for the day.

    This is the time and place of our living.
    What we do here and now
    is what matters.

    Will we do it is the question.

11/21/2018  —  We are responsible
for our choices
and our life.

The primary choice
is the same for each one of us:

What needs to be done
about what is happening
here and now?

Everything flows from
our choice of an answer
to that question.

11/21/2018  —  Everyone has to find
their own path
and walk it.

Which is not to say
that one path
is as good as another,

but to say that each path
has its own course,
and we walk it,
for better or for worse,
to outcomes
we are responsible for.

Even though
we may not have envisioned
the outcome at the start,
there is choosing wisely,
and there is choosing foolishly—
and each is capable of being recognized
and revised
all along the way.

Changing horses
in the middle of the stream
may be preferable
to not changing horses at all.

Momentum is karma
sweeping us away,
and if we don’t make adjustments
while there is still time,
we make the end inevitable
and validate the observation
that foolish is as foolish does.

11/21/2018  —  Sitting zazen to the point
of not being able to walk—
or to any point before or after—
has no correlation with
achieving enlightenment.

Maybe yes,
maybe no.

Meditation with chanting
or sitting on a cushion
(or ground, or floor)
was instituted in Buddhist monasteries
to bring order to the day
and give monks something to do.
It was busy-work.

And now it has a haloed tradition,
and everybody knows
they are supposed to do
sitting meditation
in order to have any chance
at enlightened living.

Not so fast.

Living mindfully
may involve a zazen cushion
or a comfortable chair,
but it can as easily be
less formally structured
with time spent
being open to,
and present in,
each moment of living.

We find our own path,
and the only way that is right
is the one that works for us
in order to see what we look at,
hear what we listen to,
understand what is happening
and what needs to be done in response,
in each situation as it arises.

That is as close to enlightened living
as anyone needs to be.

  1. 11/22/2018 —  Lake Crandal 2018-11 05 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, November 13, 2018

    As long as whatever
    you take on faith
    is working to align you
    with your life,
    put you in accord
    with the ebbs and flows
    of time and chance,
    and enable you to
    do what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises—
    living in ways appropriate
    to the occasion,
    as you rise to meet the occasion,
    in every occasion that comes along,
    you doing fine,
    and couldn’t improve your situation
    by taking anything else on faith.

    If what you are taking on faith
    is not working in these ways,
    you might consider looking within
    and listening to what
    is being said there—
    with mindful,
    compassionate,
    non-judgmental

    It could be the beginning
    of a beautiful friendship.

11/22/2018 —  I recommend riding the horse
that is carrying you
for as long as it can.

Changing horses
in the middle of the stream
is preferable
to staying on a horse
that can’t get you out of the stream.

  1. 11/23/2018 —  A Walk in the Woods 2-18-11 07 Panorama — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, November 10, 2018

    I repeat myself a lot
    because I only have one thing to say:

    Wake Up!
    Be Quiet!
    Seek Solitude!
    Revel in the Silence!
    Listen—Particularly to Yourself!
    Listen to Me When I Say
    “Don’t Listen to Me!
    Listen to You!”

    See What You Look At!
    Hear What Is Being Said—
    Particularly to What You Are Saying!
    Especially to What You Are Saying To Yourself
    By the Way You Are Living!

    What Are Your Symptoms Saying to You?
    Your Loves and Hates?
    Your Habits?
    Your Obsessions?
    Your Fears?
    Your Conflicts?
    Your Stuck Places?
    Listen to You!

    Know What You Are Doing!
    Know What You Don’t Know You Are Doing!
    Know the Difference Between
    Knowing Something and Knowing About Something
    and Doing Something About What You Know!

    Why Don’t You Do What Needs to Be Done
    About What You Know Needs Doing?
    What Is Stopping You?

    That’s all the same thing.

    Everything flows from waking up.

    Once you start waking up,
    everything you do,
    see,
    say,
    hear,
    think
    becomes a threshold
    to waking up in different ways
    to different things,
    and all those thresholds
    become thresholds themselves
    to waking up
    in different ways
    to different things.

    And you can’t be quiet about
    any of it,
    but have to express it,
    shout it,
    say it,
    to everybody—
    whether they are interested
    in hearing it or not,
    because there is nothing but
    waking up and living as though you are,
    which runs counter to being quiet
    and seeking solitude, etc.

    and it is all ridiculously paradoxical
    and contradictory,
    which are additional thresholds
    opening to new worlds
    requiring exploration
    and examination—
    and discovery is everywhere you look,
    leading to more insight
    and realization
    which flows from and leads to
    the same thing:

    Wake Up!

  2. 11/24/2018 —  Kings Mountain 2018-11 03 HDR Panorama — Lake Crawford, Kings Mountain State Park, Blacksburg, South Carolina, November 12, 2018

    We can do what’s hard,
    or we can do things the hard way.

    Having what it takes
    to do what is hard
    is the primary ingredient
    in a life well-lived.

    If we cannot get up
    and do what needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done,
    the way it needs to be done,
    for as long as it needs to be done,
    we will suffer for it
    over time.

    And those around us
    will suffer for it.

    And the entire world
    will suffer for it,
    in that things will not be
    what they might have been
    if we had just gotten up
    and done what needed to be done.

    Our social contract is to do what needs us to do it
    the way it needs us to do it,
    when it needs us to do it,
    for as long as it needs us to do it—
    to be who we are
    as only we can be who we are,
    when and where we are
    our entire life.

11/24/2018 —  Each of us has to do the work
of working things out
with our resistance
to the way things are.

Things are not the way
we want them to be
very often
for very long.

How we deal with that
tells the tale
we are here to tell
by the way
we live our life.

Everything hangs on the way
we manage our objections,
our opposition,
our dissent,
disapproval,
dislike,
dissatisfaction…

And it isn’t as though
we don’t get enough practice.

It is as though
we cannot get over our disappointment—
our dismay
and affront—
at the very idea.

We grow up against our will
every step of the way.

  1. 11/25/2018 —  Carolina Thread Trail 2018-11 02 — Millbridge Access, Waxhaw, North Carolina, November 24, 2018

    I find myself
    caring about fewer things
    than I used to care about,
    and enjoying life more.

    I think there is a connection.

    I will soon enter my 75th year.

    We pare things down as we age,
    separating the things that matter
    from everything else,
    and narrowing our list of priorities
    to the essential few.

    I find that nothing can beat
    silence and solitude
    and the regular order of the day
    for peace and stability.

    The harmony that flows from
    the grace of integrity,
    where inner and outer are as one
    is such a good thing—
    and such a hard thing to maintain
    without regular returns to it
    through an order of the day
    that honors and maintains it.

    That must be the reason monasteries
    place such an emphasis
    upon regular order,
    silence,
    solitude
    and time for reflection
    and realization.

  2. 11/26/2018 —  Ginkgo Biloba Grove 2018-11 05 — Ballantyne Commons, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 25, 2018

    People of all nationalities,
    all political persuasions,
    all gender identifications,
    all sexual orientations,
    all religious affiliations
    (including none at all),
    all ages,
    all social standings,
    all outlooks
    and a wide variety of physical conditions
    gather each November
    among the Ginkgos
    to take photographs,
    toss leaves into the air,
    and marvel at the wonder of it all,
    some more,

    The wonder calls us all together
    in places that are holy,
    sacred
    and set apart
    because we know it
    without being told,
    and gather because we cannot help ourselves.
    No one is making us—
    because no one can be made to grasp
    wonder and holiness.
    They can only walk among it,
    and be glad.
    Or not.

    And, if not,
    it cannot be helped.
    Some people
    are that way,
    unmoved,
    unmoving,
    unmovable.

    Those that gather, though,
    look forward to it
    every year,
    and remember it always,
    and return as often as they can
    as though for the first time.

  3. 11/26/2018 — Ginkgo Biloba Grove 2018-11 05 — Ballantyne Commons, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 25, 2018

    People of all nationalities,
    all political persuasions,
    all gender identifications,
    all sexual orientations,
    all religious affiliations
    (including none at all),
    all ages,
    all social standings,
    all outlooks
    and a wide variety of physical conditions
    gather each November
    among the Ginkgos
    to take photographs,
    toss leaves into the air,
    and marvel at the wonder of it all,
    some more,

    The wonder calls us all together
    in places that are holy,
    sacred
    and set apart
    because we know it
    without being told,
    and gather because we cannot help ourselves.
    No one is making us—
    because no one can be made to grasp
    wonder and holiness.
    They can only walk among it,
    and be glad.
    Or not.

    And, if not,
    it cannot be helped.
    Some people
    are that way,
    unmoved,
    unmoving,
    unmovable.

    Those that gather, though,
    look forward to it
    every year,
    and remember it always,
    and return as often as they can
    as though for the first time.

  4. 11/26/2018 —  Ginkgo Bilobia Grove 2018-11 04 Panorama — Ballantyne Commons, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 25, 2018

    Everyday our work is the same
    as the day before.
    And, it is the same as everyone’s work worldwide.

    We all get up and face the day,
    and, in so doing,
    we grow up some more again today.

    We are never too old
    to grow up some more again today,
    and every day—
    several times every day—
    that we are alive.

    We grow up some more again
    by squaring up to,
    and coming to terms with,
    how things are
    in a “This is how things are,
    and this is what can be done about it,
    and that’s that”
    kind of way.

    Coming to terms
    with the way things are
    is doing what needs to be done about them,
    without having much of an opinion about them,
    either for or against.

    How things are is just how things are,
    and no matter how we feel about it,
    our work is the same work—
    doing what needs to be done
    in response to it.

    Strong feelings about something,
    anything,
    interfere with our ability
    to do the work that is ours to do
    in relation to the thing in question.

    Emergency room physicians
    have a job to do
    no matter how they feel.

    “Not feeling like it”
    has no bearing on the matter at hand:
    Doing what needs us to do it!

    Growing up some more again today
    requires us to do what needs us to do it
    no matter what.

    If we aren’t growing up
    against our will,
    we aren’t growing up.

    If we only do what we feel like doing,
    we aren’t growing up.
    We aren’t coming to terms
    with how things are.
    We aren’t doing the work
    that is ours to do.
    We aren’t living the life
    that is ours to live—
    anyway, nevertheless, even so—
    regardless of how we feel about it.

    Our work everyday is the same work.
    Will we show up for work today?
    Will we grow up some more again today?

  5. 11/26/2018 — Walnut Creek 2018-11 09 Panorama— Walnut Creek, South Carolina, November 24, 2018

    We look for magic
    in the right person,
    or the right job,
    or a lottery jackpot
    to transform our life
    and make things just grand—
    because we don’t have
    any idea
    of what we might do
    to turn things around on our own.

    There is nothing,
    and no one,
    to do the work for us
    of finding/knowing
    what grounds us,
    identifies us,
    defines us,
    sustains us,
    guides and directs us—
    and serves both as our bedrock
    and our north star.

    How to find that,
    know that,
    honor that,
    revere that,
    serve that,
    maintain our connection with that,
    and be who that requires us to be
    in each situation as it arises
    through all the situations
    that will arise
    over the full course
    of the rest of our life,
    constitutes the work
    that is ours to do,
    and no one can do but us.

    It begins in recollection and reflection,
    that leads to realization and insight,
    that results in incarnating,
    expressing
    and exhibiting
    the principles and values
    at the core of our character
    through the way we live our life
    in the time left for living.

  6. 11/27/2018 — Carolina Thread Trail, Millbridge Access, Waxhaw, North Carolina, November 24, 2018

    Being true to ourselves
    requires the courage
    to know and be who we are
    in each situation as it arises,
    in ways appropriate to the occasion,
    all our life long.

    Jon Kabat-Zinn says healing
    is “coming to terms with the way things are”
    in ways that are in harmony with
    our “own unique trajectory.”

    Here, he raises the essential question
    for reflection and realization:

    “Healing for what?”

    Healing has nothing to do
    with being cured,
    being fixed,
    though it has everything to do
    with being well,
    being whole.

    The process of being healed—
    which is always ongoing
    and never finished or complete—
    leads to and flows from
    knowing and being who we are.

    We are,
    at any point in our life,
    “more or less healed”
    because at every point
    we are “more or less” who we are—
    and “more or less”
    living in right relationship
    with how things are in our life.

    We are being healed so that we might
    be who we are
    living in right relationship
    with how things are
    in our life—
    which includes
    living in right relationship
    with our sickness,
    our injury,
    our infirmity,
    our pain.

    We do not think our way
    into any of this!

    We live our way there
    by having the courage
    to know and be who we are
    in ways appropriate to the occasion
    all our life long.

    And mindfulness leads the way.

    Google “mindfulness and Jon Kabat-Zinn.”
    And let that be the first step
    on a long and rewarding journey!

11/27/2018  —  This is my statement of faith—
my credo,
my doctrine,
my theology.

It is grounded upon,
and flows from,
these statements by Carl Jung:
“There is, in each of us,
another, whom we do not know.”

And, “We are who we always have been,
and who we will be.”

And these statements by Joseph Campbell:

“A wheel rolling out of its own center—
that is what you become
as a mature individual.”

And, “The ‘Thou Shalts’
have to be accepted
and thrown off.”

And, “The realization of your own life—
of what is life for you—
comes on the other side
of terror,
temptations,
and the demands that you
meet your obligations,
duties
and the responsibilities of your station.
To them all you say,
‘No! I must be about my own work!’
And go on doing it!”

That being said,
I believe at the center,
at the core,
of each of us
is “the face that was ours
before we were born.”

I believe it is our life’s work
to find our way back
to that face,
and know what it knows,
and do what it requires us to do
in becoming
and exhibiting
who we are at the center,
at the core,
of ourselves—
in each situation as it arises,
in ways appropriate to the occasion—
in the time left for living.

That’s it.
That is what I believe.
Everything falls into place
around that.

  1. 11/28/2018 — Corn Field 2018-11 07 Panorama — Indian Land, Lancaster County, South Carolina, November 19, 2018

    We live to put ourselves
    in accord with the way things are—
    and to do what needs
    to be done about it—
    in each situation that comes along,
    all our life long.

    Using the gifts,
    talents,
    abilities,
    genius,
    daemon,
    vitality,
    resources,
    wisdom,
    knowledge,
    character
    and values
    at our disposal
    in the service
    of the true good
    of the whole—
    transparent to ourselves,
    with compassion for all,
    in every moment
    of each day.

    And let the outcome
    be the outcome—
    putting ourselves in accord with it
    and doing what needs to be done about it.

    And so on,
    like that,
    forever!

11/28/2018  —  There is only
getting up
and meeting the day
each day,
doing there
what needs to be done,
when, where and how
it needs to be done,
with the gifts/genius/daemon
we have to offer/serve.

We do that best
when we do it mindfully,
compassionately,
non-judgmentally,
with very little
in the way of opinions,
and nothing at all
in the way of exploitation,
deception,
or bad faith—

going about our business
in much the same way
as emergency room physicians
go about their business
in dealing with what comes
through the door
in the way it needs to be dealt with
throughout the day,
and doing it again tomorrow.

11/28/2018  —  It’s a grind, but.
It is the kind of grind
that asks us
to do more
than “grind it out.”

Embracing The Grind
is meeting the requirements
of The Grind
with the energy-level,
the vitality,
the enthusiasm
and exuberance
necessary to transform
The Grind into the venue,
the theater,
the studio,
the setting,
the context
within which we do our work—

the work of being who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
how we are,
for as long as we are.

Maybe it’s a grind,
maybe it’s a joy,
the work is the same
throughout,
and requires the same
spirit and attitude,
as though the details don’t matter—
because they don’t.

How we approach a root canal
and how we approach a day at the beach
or in a hammock
is the same.
The actress,
the actor,
brings her best,
brings his best,
performance to every part.

We live our best life everyday.
Anyway,
Nevertheless,
Even so,
No matter what!

The circumstances cannot depict
our demeanor!

We bring LIFE to bear
upon the time and place of our living!

That’s our work,
being who we are
the way we need to be who we are
in the time and place
of our living.

11/28/2018 —  The GOP and Trump
talk about how grave a threat
Democrats are,
and how the people
who vote Republican
will only be safe with Trump—
this, regardless of all the evidence
to the contrary.

The ways people are less safe with Trump
are beyond counting,
and the number grows exponentially
by the hour it seems.

Safety and security are crucially important, but.
I define them quite differently
than do Trump and the Republicans.

They think of safety for people
who look like they do,
who think like they do,
who talk like they do,
who act like they do,
who are cookie-cutter people
with no room for people
not like them.

Everybody else is their enemy
who they see as wanting to take
what they have
and leave them bereft and woebegone.

I think of safety for all people
who are a safe place for all people to be.

Beginning with the marginalized,
the ostracized,
the excluded,
the shamed,
the disenfranchised,
the shut-out
and unwelcome.

The immigrants.
The children in cages.
Muslims.
LGBTQ people.
Women.
The tired, the poor…

The world needs to be a safe place.
Our work is to make the world safe place.
Guns won’t do it.
The more guns the less safe.
Guns won’t fix the environment.
The environment has to be fixed.
Guns won’t produce food.
The hungry have to be fed.
The homeless have to be sheltered.

The people working overtime
to make the world less safe
and to make themselves more wealthy
have to stop.

What’s their motivation?

The people who don’t care about anybody
have to start caring about everybody.

Why would they?

The people who do nothing but lie
have to start telling the truth.

Am I CRAZY?
What could possibly make them do that?

The people who exploit other people
for their own personal gain
have to start living with integrity
and good faith toward everyone.

I have lost all connection with reality now—
THAT will never happen!

What would it take
for the users and abusers
to stop using and abusing
and so that everybody might be simply safe
and have enough of what it takes
to have a truly good time
with their life?

Thinking about it like that
makes it obvious
that safety and security for all
is hopelessly out of the question—
not only in our lifetime,
but in anyone’s lifetime ever!

They said the same thing about flying
and getting people to the moon.
I understand we’re going to Mars
in the next few years.

Take up the cause of safety and security
for all people everywhere
(which also implies food, clothing and shelter)
with me.

We owe it to ourselves to find out
if it is as hopeless as we say it is.

Start with taking up the practice
of mindfulness as Jon Kabat-Zinn
has developed it.
Watch his YouTube videos.
Read his website,
his Facebook page,
his books,
and live to become
compassionately,
non-judgmentally, aware
of the time and place
of your living.

And see how that leads
to a world
that is a safe, secure place
for all people to be.

If you don’t take me up on it,
you will never know
what might have been
if you had.

  1. 11/29/2018 — Carolina Thread Trail 2018-03 Panorama — Millbridge Access, Waxhaw, North Carolina, November 24, 2018

    What are you living for?

    In the service of what do you live?

    How do you determine
    whether you are being successful
    or unsuccessful
    in the service of what you are living for?

    What keeps you going?

    Who is answering these question for you?

    We are grounded in someone’s experience of life
    and in their judgment regarding
    what encourages
    and sustains us
    in the work of being alive—
    if not our own,
    then whose?

    Too many of us are checking out—
    the number of drug addictions
    (Particularly Opioid addictions)
    and suicides
    is rising at an unprecedented rate.
    A lot of people
    are finding little
    worth their time,
    worth their trouble,
    worth their life.

    Hopelessness,
    despair
    and despondency
    are taking their toll.

    What do we have to offer
    the people who are quitting?
    What do we tell ourselves
    that keeps us from quitting?

    Where do we find value
    and vitality,
    interest and enthusiasm?

    What serves us as our bedrock?
    Our North Star?

    Our outer work feeds our body.
    Our inner work feeds our soul.

    The grounding, guiding,
    principles/virtues/values
    of life and being—
    of vitality and meaning,
    purpose and direction—
    are soul’s gift to body.

    Body is the steward,
    the care taker,
    of soul.
    We tend both
    with our outer work
    and our inner work.

    Where do you think
    we need to get to work?
    How do we begin?

    By now, you know my answer:

    Mindfulness.
    Paying Attention—
    careful, compassionate, non-judgmental attention—
    to the here and now,
    the time and place,
    of the moment of our living.
    Each moment of our living.
    And being curious
    about where that may take us.
    And being courageous enough
    to find out.

  2. 11/29/2018 — Goodale 2018-11 03 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 4, 2018

    Our interests are a reliable guide
    throughout our life.

    We cannot be interested in something
    we are not interested in.

    Changing the oil doesn’t do it for me.
    Neither does branding cattle.
    The list is long.

    I’ve huddled with my interests
    all my life.

    Just as “one book opens another,”
    so one interest leads to another.

    The Path we are always talking about
    seems to follow our interests.

    The Path is more like stepping stones,
    with us stepping from one interest
    to the next one
    in a wandering,
    meandering,
    rambling line
    straight to the heart
    of who we are.

    If you are ever at a loss
    about what to do with your life,
    sit still and remember
    what you are interested in.

    Do that,
    and see where it goes.

  3. 11/29/2018 — Before the Freeze — Katie Pink, Indian Land, South Carolina, November 20, 2018

    Jon Kabat-Zinn thinks of Dharma as
    “non-attachment to name and form.”

    When name and form fall away,
    we are left with “the complete essence
    of everything”—
    and that is the same thing
    with all things.

    The essence of things is the same thing.
    Beyond name and form is
    the Oneness at the heart of life and being
    that is obscured by name and form.

    As we become increasingly aware of,
    familiar with,
    “our own original nature”—
    with “the face that was ours before we were born”—
    we will all see ourselves
    in one another.

    And our response will be
    gladness to be part
    of the cosmic dance,
    participating fully
    in the wonder of it all.

  4. 11/30/2018 —  Corn Field 2018-11 01/02 Panorama — Indian Land, Lancaster County, South Carolina, November18, 2018

    In any situation,
    it would be helpful
    to know what would be helpful
    in that situation,
    and how we might best
    live in the service of the truly helpful.

    Given three wishes,
    wish to know what would be helpful
    in the situation at hand,
    wish to know how we might assist it into being
    wish to know both of these things
    in every situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    How far are we from making
    this scenario a reality?
    Only as far as stopping to reflect.

    What would be helpful
    in your present situation?

    How might you assist it into being?

    These are the two questions
    for meditative reflection
    in every situation as it arises
    all your life long.

    Here’s a tip:
    Reflective meditation
    is not thinking.

    Reflective meditation
    is holding the question
    in our awareness,
    and waiting in the background
    to see what occurs to us
    as realization out of nowhere.

    We do not think our way to realization.
    We simply realize realization when it comes.

    Placing ourselves in a
    receptive frame of mind
    and staying out of the way
    is our contribution
    to knowing what would be hepful
    and assisting it into being.

    Our business is asking,
    paying attention,
    knowing when the answer arises—
    and doing what needs to be done
    in response.

    In each situation as it arises.
    All our life long.

  5. 11/30/2018 — Old Sheldon Church Ruins 2015-08 06/07 HDR Panorama — Yemassee, South Carolina, August 24, 2015

    A Google search will tell you the story
    of these ruins.
    Suffice it here to say
    we have gone through some terrible times
    as a nation
    and as a world,
    and we are still here.

    We have terrible times
    yet to go through,
    and we will still be here.

    What we need for the long haul
    no matter what our circumstances
    may be are three things:

    1) We need a grounding identity and direction—
    to know clearly who we are
    and what we are about,
    what our work is.
    What is the source of our vitality?
    What is life for us?
    We have to know it and serve it.

    2) Jason Garrett,
    the coach of the Dallas Cowboys,
    and the Zen master of NFL coaches,
    says, about playing football,
    and about living our life,
    “We have to handle the success
    of the game,
    and keep playing.
    We have to handle the adversity
    of the game,
    and keep playing.”
    We have to stay on the beam.
    Stay on the path.
    And not let anything knock us off.
    Not success,
    not failure,
    not anything.

    3) We have to pay
    mindful,
    compassionate,
    non-judgmental
    attention—
    internally and externally—
    to each moment we live
    in each situation as it arises,
    and not be swept up in the drama
    or swept away by the trauma,
    but holding everything in awareness,
    we wait for the door to open,
    for the shift to happen,
    and walk through.

    We approach all times
    the same way,
    letting come what’s coming,
    and letting go what’s going.
    Without being overly attached
    or overly invested,
    but interested in,
    curious about,
    and attentive to,
    everything that happens
    and what we do about it.

    “It’s a new world, Golda,”
    and how we deal with it
    is up to us.

  6. 12/01/2018 —  The Ginkgo Grove — Ballantyne Commons, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 30, 2018

    We are on our own.
    Our safety is our responsibility.
    It’s all up to us.
    We make the decisions/choices
    that govern how we respond
    to the situations and circumstances
    of our life—
    and that governs everything
    about our life.

    I recommend doing more of what you love,
    and less of what you do not like at all.

    If what you love includes
    sugar, alcohol, tobacco, unprotected sex
    and fast driving,
    I recommend that you find some things
    you love more than those thngs
    and do them.
    Why put yourself in harm’s way?

    If what you love does not include
    the regular practice
    of mindful, compassionate, non-judgmental
    awareness of—
    attention to—
    the moment by moment experience
    of your life,
    I recommend that you take it up
    and put it into place.
    Why look at one more thing
    without seeing it?
    Why do one more thing
    without knowing you are doing it?

    We all have to trust our luck
    without pushing it.
    Know where that line lies,
    and honor it with deep devotion.

12/01/2018  —  We all would be better off
somewhere else.

And worse off.

How we sort out
better and worse
tells the tale.

12/01/2018  —  Willfulness needs to know
when to push forward
and when to step back.

Don’t we all.

12/01/2018  —  Make it your focus
throughout the day
to drop into the moment
and look around.

Notice what is there with you,
within you.

Be one with what is going on
in a mindfully conscious,
fully present,
kind of way,
as a full participant
in your life and being.

It will make a difference.

For the better.

12/01/2018  —  You can tell me how
to break an egg, etc.,
but I won’t know how
to break an egg, etc.,
until I break enough eggs, etc.,
to know.

We could cut to the chase
by you giving me a dozen eggs
and telling me to figure it out
for myself.

All the important stuff
we have to figure out
for ourselves.

Growing up
we do on our own.

  1. 12/01/2018 —  Bamboo 2012-09 01 B&W — Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina, September 18, 2012

    I’m running out of time.

    So are you.

    We have to come to terms
    with not-enough time,
    and pare things down
    to the absolute essentials,
    in order to take care
    of the business
    that is our business to take care of
    in the time left for living—
    because there is never enough of it,
    and we have much less to work with now
    than we did when we started.

  2. 12/02/2018 —  Linville Falls 2012 07 9/10/11 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, July, 2012

    Growing up some more again
    is the solution to all of our problems
    today and everyday

    Terminal immaturity
    will be the death of us all.

    Grown-up people would never think
    that killing anyone would solve anything,
    but it is the go-to quick fix
    for the powerful people
    in leadership positions
    on a global scale.

    The foundation of all good religion
    is their collection of practices
    which develop and deepen
    the maturity level of their members.
    The short list of religions doing that
    is an indication of what we are up against,
    and call to us
    to take up the work
    of growing up some more again
    throughout the day
    every day
    for as long as there are days.

    What is your grown-up quotient?
    How do you measure it?
    How often do you evaluate your day
    at days end
    in terms of the level of maturity
    you exhibited in the situations
    you faced during the day?

    In what ways do you need to grow up some more again?
    What can you do to deepen, expand, enlarge
    your capacity to be a mature individual
    and exhibit that in your life?

    Growing-up is not automatic,
    nor is it accidental.

    We grow-up intentionally,
    determinedly, devotedly
    over the full course of our life
    by living transparent to ourselves
    in light of the best we can imagine
    throughout each day.

    And get up and do it again tomorrow.

  3. 12/01/2018 —  Magnolia Blossom 2012-05 01 — Greensboro, North Carolina, May 24, 2012

    Everything that happens
    is the threshold
    to what needs to happen
    in service to the harmony,
    symmetry,
    balance,
    peace
    and flow of the whole.

    Dharma and Tao
    are about what is happening
    and what needs to happen
    in honor of how things ought to be.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “We know when we are on the beam
    and when we are off it.”

    Things are aligned and in tune,
    or off-center and out of plumb.

    Those of us who know nothing about music
    know when a singer is not on key.

    Those of us who know nothing about living
    know when our life is working
    and when it is not.

    How to get from here to there
    is the question.

    From not-working to working.
    From off-key to on-key.
    From disarray and dismay
    to cool water on a blistering day.

    The first step on the longest journey
    is knowing what we know—
    being in accord with what is truest about us—
    in light of what we also know—
    discombobulation and befuddlement—
    while awaiting clarity and direction

    We are our own tuning fork.

    We resonate
    with the time and place
    of our living
    through adjusting ourselves
    to what is being asked of us
    by our circumstances,
    while moving to the beat
    of eternal harmonies
    flowing through the ages
    to this here
    and this now
    into our life
    and all the world.

    We stand in the tension
    of the contradiction
    between how things are
    and how things need to be,
    bearing the agony
    of the YES!/NO! dichotomy
    until the shift happens
    and peace graces our life
    between rounds.

  4. 12/01/2018 —