March 26,2016 – May 15, 2016
- 03/26/2016 — Bloodroot 2016 02 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
Why should I care?
Why should I do the right thing?
Why should I help, you or anyone?
Why should I work in the service
Of the good of the situation as a whole?
Particularly when it is an inconvenience to me—
Or, worse, puts me in a bind, personally,
Or creates a hardship for me to deal with?
Tell me why I should!
It doesn’t matter why!
“Why?” is another manifestation of the Cyclops
Standing in the way,
We deal with it,
Not by being clear about the advantages,
And what is in it for us,
But by standing up ourselves,
And doing the thing that needs us to do it—
Without bothering with “Why?”
- 03/26/2016 — Campbell’s Nursery 2016 10 — Charlotte, North Carolina, March 3, 2016
The right to self-determination shall not be infringed.
The responsibility for self-determination shall not be avoided.
The help needed for self-determination shall always be at hand.
If I had three wishes, they would be these.
The world would fly completely to pieces.
- 03/27/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 01 Detail 02 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
Lao Tzu said, “Do your work and let nature take its course.”
He’s saying, “No pushing, no pulling,
No making happen, no keeping from happening,
No forcing, no controlling,
No manipulating, no conning,
No scheming, no conniving,
No blocking, no discriminating,
No lying, no cheating,
No subterfuge, no extortion,
No gerrymandering, no jury rigging,
No nepotism, no favoritism,
Just do your work.”
It’s that simple.
- 03/27/2016 — Dogwood 2016 04 —
Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 27, 2016
Rainer Maria Rilke, in “Letters to a Young Poet,”
Says, “A good marriage
is one in which
each partner appoints the other
to be the guardian of his, of her, solitude.”
Solitude is the fertile soil of life,
“The wellspring of living water,”
The matrix of all things holy.
We have to guard our own solitude
Against the unwarranted intrusions
Of those who would crash our life.
Circling ’round and ’round
To feed upon our time and attention,
Viewing us as little more than entertaining relief
From a “world that is too much with (them) late and soon.”
The solution to their situation
Is to bear the pain of their own solitude,
And wait for it to open into
All things flow from listening to the sound of silence
Until we hear the music,
And dance with our life
Through the time left for living.
- 03/28/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 01 Detail 03 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
We swim in unimaginable depths.
We splash around on the surface of our life
And make light conversation
About celebrities and weather and the price of gasoline,
While the deep regions groan and ache for recognition
Waiting to show us a thing or two
And the boundless capabilities of our Soul.
- 03/28/2016 — Cherry Blossom Panorama 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, March 25, 2016
Are all ongoing requirements for
We cannot put our life on autopilot or cruise control
And live without a thought as to how we are living.
We have to take stock on a regular basis.
Who are we?
What are we about?
What do we intend with our life?
What are we living toward?
What does our life say about what is important?
Is that what we say is important?
How important is what we think is important?
How is what we think is important reflected in our life?
How is what we think is important denied by our life?
What is directing our boat on its path through the sea?
- 03/29/2016 — McDowell Poster 02 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
Jesus said, “Who do YOU say that I am?”
And, “Why don’t YOU decide for yourselves what is right?”
You could look it up.
The first thing Christians do
is abdicate all responsibility in the matter.
They hide behind “the Bible says.”
If you ask them, “How do you know that what the Bible says is so?”
They will say, “I take it on faith.”
If you ask them what makes them think they should take it on faith,
They will say they will go to hell if they don’t.
If you ask them how they know they will go to hell if they don’t,
They will tell you they take it on faith.
They have no responsibility beyond
believing what they are told to believe (“on faith”),
And doing what they are told to do (“on faith”).
Asking them to decide for themselves what is right
Gets you nowhere.
But, that is exactly what the rest of us are stuck with having to do.
Decide for ourselves what is right.
And evaluate our decisions in light of what happens next.
And then decide for ourselves what is right
in response to whatever happens.
And so on, ad infinitum.
We take it on faith
That we have what it takes
To know what needs to be done and do it,
Or to figure it out
THAT is called “Living on faith”!
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 03/30/2016 — McDowell Poster 03 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
All religion is true religion
To its adherents,
And nonsense to everyone else.
All religion speaks, or spoke, to someone,
And has nothing to say to everyone else.
The ground, core, foundation, source, meaning and hope
Of every religion—
Of ALL religion—
Is the search for the ground,
Of ourselves and our life.
From the very beginning,
Wake up (more or less),
And discover that here we are,
And immediately wonder
“What does it mean that we are here?”
Where would we be without religion
And the culture
(And where do those two things begin and end,
Merge and part company?)
To nurture and guide us?
Our quest is the common quest of our species.
We have to make sense of being here, now.
What shall we make of it?
What do we make of it?
There is your religion for you.
And your culture.
Wherever you turn for help with the
“What does it mean that we are here now what?”
Is your way of seeking the
Ground, core, foundation, source, meaning and hope
Of your life.
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 03/30/2016 — Bloodroot 2016 03 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
We have to find our own religion
And respect everyone else’s.
Religion is that collection
Of symbols, rites and rituals
That constellates for us
The ground, center, foundation and source
and all the high values —
And serves for us as an avenue of lifelong
Reflection and realization.
It is not a compendium of beliefs.
It is the heart of life and being
Beating in rhythm with our heart,
Connecting us with all hearts
In the service of life and being.
No one can hand anyone
The religion at the heart of life and being.
We all have to find it for ourselves.
What are the symbols, rites and rituals
That connect you with the ground of meaning?
- 03/31/2016 — McDowell Poster 01 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
Each age must find its own meanings,
Against the resistance and opposition of the previous age.
There is a saying, “God doesn’t have any grandchildren.”
The God of the Fathers and Mothers
cannot be passed on to the children.
None of the meanings of the Fathers and Mothers
can be passed on to the children.
The children must find their own.
Because the context will have changed.
“It’s a new world Goldie.”
The theology and doctrines of the Fathers and Mothers
Must be replaced,
Or renounced altogether,
By the children,
Who find new meanings to the old questions—
New ways of living in light of the perennial questions—
And answer new questions raised
by new contexts and new situations.
The answers of the parents are of no help to the children.
But the tools of the parents are the same eternally:
good faith with oneself and with others,
being transparent to oneself,
The parents must teach the children
to use the tools of survival in any age
In every age.
And woe be to the age
When the parents don’t know
how to use the tools themselves!
- 03/31/2016 — Goodale 2015 43 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
There is a life beyond the life we are living
Waiting for us to live it—
To align ourselves with it,
To place ourselves in accord with it,
To plight our troth to it,
To pledge our loyalty to it,
To honor it above all other claims
And serve it with all our heart.
When we place ourselves in our life’s service,
There will be tests of will and spirit.
Trials and ordeals pull us forth and show us who we are
And the mettle of which we are made.
And, said Joseph Campbell,
Doors will open where we think there are no doors,
And helping hands will come to our aid
Where we think there is no one to offer a hand.
Our destiny is waiting.
And everything waits along with it
To see whether we will do what is ours to do
Or wile away the hours running errands,
And watching old movies.
- 04/01/2016 — Wisteria 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, March 26, 2016
Begin to ask people,
“What do you pay the bills to do?”
If they say,
“What do you live to do?”
If they say, “Pay the bills,”
You are talking to someone
Who pays the bills to pay the bills,
And wanders aimlessly
In a wasteland of the soul,
Between obligations and escapes,
Looking forward to nothing
Beyond the next entertaining pastime.
Is it life,
Or an escape from life?
How can we tell the difference?
- 04/02/2016 — Campbell’s Nursery 2016 02 — Charlotte, North Carolina, March 3, 2016
Propitious coincidence has always been seen
As evidence of the favor of the gods.
How else could it be understood?
Nothing like THIS could “just happen”!
What are the chances?
It is impossible to think that THIS is
Nothing but coincidence!
It is too much exactly what we needed to happen
Exactly when we needed it to happen!
The universe, the angels, the gods, The God…
All theology is derived from an astounding encounter
“Grace” and “luck” are interchangeable terms.
Lao Tzu discovered eons ago
That if you want to improve your chances
Of being graced by an astounding encounter with chance,
Throw in with the Tao,
That is, step into the flow of your life,
And place yourself in accord
With the way things are and need to be
In each situation as it arises.
Living like that will sensitize you to the abiding presence
Of reality beneath, behind, beyond apparent reality.
You will live “transparent to transcendence,”
As you experience,
The Numinous Mystery at the heart of life.
See if you can simply live it
Without trying to master it—
Or, worse by far,
- 04/02/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 04 Detail — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
It’s all perspective.
All the way down.
Depending on how you look at it.
Everything is sacred from one standpoint.
Nothing is from another.
Comedians make fun of,
Have fun with,
Except the things they take seriously.
Robin Williams made jokes about it all
You don’t laugh about,
That’s some serious stuff.
The people who make fun of the Prophet
And, trough him, all Muslims everywhere,
Don’t make fun of their own religion
(Which is making fun of everyone else’s).
What is sacred
Is what we take,
But, not everyone treats it seriously.
What is SERIOUS!!! ?
- 04/02/2016 — McDowell Cascade 01 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 31, 2016
If you are going to start anywhere, start here:
“Reasonable minds can look at the same facts
and make different interpretations,
draw different conclusions,
and come to different decisions
about what to do in response to the fact-set.”
Stop it with the who is right and who is wrong,
Who is good and who is bad.
Who is going to heaven and who is going to hell.
And put your complete focus
On living your life,
Working your work,
And doing what you think needs to be done
About the fact-set
As you see it—
And trust other people to do the same things
Out of their own perspective and point of view.
- 04/03/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 04 Detail 03 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
EB White said, “I revise a great deal.
I know when something is right
because bells begin ringing and lights flash.”
The ringing bells and flashing lights
Are what Native Americans were looking for on their Vision Quests.
We know when something is right for us,
and when it is wrong—
We take the time to know what we know.
The path that is right for us can feel wrong.
The path that is wrong for us can feel right.
We have to take our time with our paths
To know what we know
Past what we feel and think, fear, and desire.
The Buddha said, “You aren’t seeking to be on the path.
You are seeking to BE the path.”
Or words to that effect.
We have to take the time required
To know who we are,
And who we are not,
And who we need to be.
That’s our Vision Quest.
- 04/04/2016 — Banded Watersnake — Glencaren Garden, Rock Hill, South Carolina, April 3, 2016
It is always a matter
Of sitting down with the situation
And coming to terms with how things are there,
And what can be done about it
And doing it
With the gifts that are at our disposal
In the service of the good of the situation as a whole.
We all come “not to be served,
But to serve,”
And give our life
For the true good of the whole.
For this purpose we were born,
And to this end
We are to live all our days long.
We bring forth our destiny
By living in service to the situation
One situation at a time.
What is your present situation?
Sit down with it.
Get to the bottom of it.
Do what needs to be done about it
With the gifts that are yours to use
In blessing the situation with your presence.
It is never any more difficult than that.
- 04/04/2016 — Yellow Flame Azalea 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, April 3, 2016
We are here to serve our destiny.
Forget about our destiny
being something we dream up for ourselves,
Or that we might love to do,
Like some Hollywood script writer might imagine it
With a “rags to riches” kind of plot line.
We don’t get to choose our destiny,
And we wouldn’t likely pick it out of a Destiny Bin,
All cute and cuddly and begging to have us for its owner.
Our destiny is our destiny, but
We belong to it.
We serve it
As liege servants
Serve their master,
While it drags us all over the place
And keeps finding the weirdest things
For us to do.
Our place is to sense what is being asked of us
Trusting ourselves to the unfolding of things,
as those who are just along for the ride.
- 04/05/2016 — Dogwood 2016 05 Panorama — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 31, 2016
Men are uniquely, psychically, configured
to show women who they are capable of being,
And likewise with women and men.
We bring out the best and the worst in each other,
And the more intimate the relationship,
The more we impact the other for better, or worse.
The magic works whether we are aware of it or not, but.
For us to get it,
We have to see/know what is going on
And participate as full partners in the joint production of each other.
As it is, we generally only have eyes for our agenda,
And try to position the other to get what we want
Without understanding that it is the place of the other
In our life
To show us who we are, and also are.
We say to the other,
“YOU make me so _____ !”
Without seeing that the _____ ! is what we produce
Out of our own makeup
In response to the other’s behavior.
The _____! is who we are capable of being
In certain circumstances.
That is important information
to those who are intent on
becoming themselves in relation to the other,
thanks to the other.
Put another man, or woman,
In our place
And their reaction would likely be different.
It is not automatic that X results in Y.
We are being shown who we are, and also are.
What we do with that information
Has everything to do with who we become.
What we do with who we are, and also are,
Is who we ARE.
Open your eyes.
Get to work.
In the service of your own becoming.
Becoming who we ARE is our only valid agenda.
- 04/05/2016 — Goodale 2015 44 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
We grow each other up—
To the extent that we can grow up—
All along the way.
No hermit ever matured one fraction
Beyond entering the woods or the cave.
There are no solitary spiritual masters.
Yet the capacity for solitude is
A quality of all masters.
We seek it out in order
To reflect on the impact of the others.
Yet, without their impact
Reflection quickly becomes a circle
Winding itself ever closer
Until our thoughts become a rut
Becoming a grave.
New experiences feed new reflections
And produce new realizations.
Of course, we have to be worth talking to.
Entire congregations have been known
To repeat the old thoughts
Down the rut
To the grave.
- Used in Short Talks On Politics, 04/06/2016 — McDowell Great Blue Herron 01 Detail 02 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 06, 2016
I don’t know what to do about
the idiocy of certain state governments.
I do know that idiocy
can take over if the electorate sleeps.
I do know the electorate has been asleep,
Or worse—absent without leave—
For sometime now.
Complacency set in.
Less than 45% of registered voters
vote in any given election.
A majority is one vote more than half of 45%.
I could win an election with 22% of the vote.
The Tea Party Republicans rarely carry more than a 35%
Approval rating anywhere.
That leads me to believe that nationwide
Tea Party Republicans weigh in
at no more than 35% of those eligible to vote.
But they would need only 22% of the vote to win.
And they, by God, show up on election day—
EVERY election day.
Now let’s wonder why idiocy has taken over.
Where is the missing 55% of the electorate?
We can lay the responsibility for idiocy at their door.
Let them wade through it on their way to work every day.
Oh, and let’s thank them with a
Big Juicy Wet One Right On The Kisser.
And tell them “Thanks a lot,
Chump, for not showing up.”
- 04/06/2016 — Campbell’s Nursery 2016 08 — Charlotte, North Carolina, March 3, 2016
Our life is fluid, dynamic, alive.
Our life has a life of its own.
Our life isn’t an extension of our will, our wants, our wishes.
Our life is a thing apart from us,
Calling us to catch up
And live it while there is still time left for living.
Our life is not ours to decide what to do with.
Our life is ours to listen to,
To align ourselves with
Get out of the way
And allow it to live itself through us.
To borrow a Biblical image,
The potter, we are the clay.
The worse thing, therefore,
After ignoring the right order of things
And thinking we are the boss of our life,
Is to think that we are to live one
Frozen, rigid, standardized, unchanging, unchangeable,
Always the same life forever.
Who we have been
Is not who we will be.
We are always and forever
Becoming who we are.
I don’t care how old we are,
We have only just begun.
So, put your dancing shoes on, Baby,
And step onto the floor.
Your life has a step or two to show you,
With more outlandish ones on the way!
- Used in Short Talks On Politics, 04/07/2016 — Rue Anemone 2016 02 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 26, 2016
Democracy hinges on two things:
The electorate must vote
The citizens must obey the laws.
When members of congress
And state governors and legislatures
Refuse to be law-abiding,
Dismiss, discount, disregard, flaunt or ignore
Laws guarding the constitutional rights of all citizens,
They place themselves outside the law,
And become outlaws.
Thugs, gangs, hoodlums, goons and villains.
Each one took an oath of office,
Promising, among other things,
To uphold and obey the Constitution of the United States.
At the very least,
They deserve to be dispelled from office.
I would prefer to see them arrested and jailed
For treason and sedition.
Until that happens,
The electorate has to rise to the occasion
And vote them out of office—
And vote into office those
Who will keep the law they swear to uphold.
When neither those who govern
Nor the electorate do their jobs
Democracy becomes a sham and a shame.
- 04/08/2016 — Banded Watersnake 02 Detail — Glencaren Garden, Rock Hill, South Carolina, April 3, 2016
A “Philosophy of Life” is what we tell ourselves to keep going.
The three most popular philosophies of life
Are some variation, or combination, of
Resignation, Hopelessness and Denial.
“There is a reason for everything
And it will all be made up to us one day.”
“Don’t ask any questions,
Just keep your nose to the grindstone
And do what you’re told—
And it will all work out in the end.”
“Eat, drink and be merry,
For death is on the way.
In the meantime,
Let’s pass a good time!”
“Just take it one day, or one step, at a time,
And hope for the best!”
“Money! Wealth! Privilege! Fame! Renown!
The more we have,
The happier we will be!”
Most of the people we know,
Or might have known,
Are stumbling around
In a culturally, or religiously, or self-imposed fog,
With no sense of purpose or direction,
Living aimless, meaningless, lives,
Hanging out and going through the motions of being alive
Until they die.
What about you?
Why are you here?
What keeps you going?
- 04/08/2016 — Bleeding Heart 2016 02 — Indian Land, South Carolina, April 7, 2016
The truth is that things are not the way they ought to be,
And they are certainly not the way we wish they were,
Or want them to be.
Squaring ourselves up with that truth
And embracing it, in an “Okay, I got it, now what?” kind of way
Is the truth that sets us free to respond to any calamity,
In the confidence that we have what it takes
To face it and deal with it, again and again forever—
In the manner of Odysseus who said,
“I will stay with it and endure suffering hardship/
And once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces,
Then I will swim.”
That is the Foundation Stone.
Grounded upon that
We are safe knowing that we do not have to be safe
To be safe.
The freedom of being free from fear and desire,
And thus able to be who we are,
Where we are,
When we are,
Why we are,
How we are
“At the still point of the turning world.”
- 04/09/2016 — Trumpet Vine Panorama 01 — Landsford Canal State Park, Chester County, South Carolina, April 8, 2016
It is important that we know who our heroes are,
And consciously live to incarnate
the qualities we admire in them,
Bringing them forth,
Making them real,
As only we can,
In the life we are living.
Our heroes are who we are yet-to-be,
Inspiring us toward the “I” within
That needs to be intentionally birthed
Within the situations that call for her,
Qualities and characteristics.
And we are both male and female,
Living to be the best woman,
And the best man,
We are capable of being.
Dolly Parton is the woman I would love to be,
And George Clooney is the man.
On a fictional level,
Hester Prynne and Mary Poppins are the women,
And Atticus Finch and Tevya are the men.
I can’t imagine being a better woman than those women,
Or a better man that those men.
And they all help me toward
The best woman, and the best man,
I am capable of being
In each situation as it arises.
- 04/09/2016 — Atamasco Lily B&W — Landsford Canal State Park, Chester County, South Carolina, April 8, 2016
We build a life out of our experience
And our interpretation, understanding, of our experience.
If no new experiences come along
Our interpretation of our experience will work for us
Over long stretches of time.
Things will be as we say they are,
And our experience will validate it.
The sacrifice of our first born sons
Will cause the sun to come back to us
Every winter solstice,
And we will keep sacrificing our first born sons
Until some invading army
Lays waste to our land
And tells us we are stupid to think
Our god was in charge of the sun,
When their god is clearly the superior god.
And new ways of understanding experience
Change our world.
They are the only things that do.
Our world is the way it is
Because of the way we experience it
And understand it.
How do we see things differently?
What have you changed your mind about lately?
When was your most recent realization?
How are we avoiding new experiences
And refusing to interpret old experiences in new ways?
What are the things we say about the way things are
That we won’t stop saying?
- 04/10/2016 — There’s An Eagle In There I Swear — Landsford Canal State Park, Chester County, South Carolina, April 8, 2016
We structure reality
(The facts that define and limit our existence)
To conform to our interpretation of our experience of reality.
Or fails to happen,
And we have to explain it,
In order to keep it happening
Or keep it from happening
Or make it happen
Or not happen
And have things work in our favor.
“Learning from our experience”
Is taking what happens
And figuring out what we can do
To keep it happening,
Or to make it not happen.
Superstition and religion—
And where does that line lie?—
Work to help us get things like we want them to be.
How we live in relation to the facts that govern our life
Governs our life.
We are always doing this
And never doing that
So that this or that will happen or not happen.
How would we live
If we weren’t positioning, posturing, maneuvering ourselves
To enjoy some favorable advantage?
How would we live
If we were only concerned with living our life,
And not with getting something out of it?
- 04/10/2016 — Goodale 2015 45 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
It takes too much to make us happy.
We are saturated with bliss.
Most of us can have a hot shower any time we want one.
None of the kings and queens of antiquity could dream
Of the things we take so for granted we never notice
In our bathroom.
Then, there is the kitchen.
And we have the gall to be discontent.
We cast about waiting for the next new piece of technological plastic WOW
On its way to the landfill by way of us,
Because we are so bored with our life
And need something to entertain us
To take our minds off how bored we are.
I recommend we sit down with our life
And listen to it.
Ask it what it needs from us in order to come forth
In us and through us.
We have a destiny that is dying in the delivery room
Because we are all about what is going to make us happy now.
And won’t cooperate with our own birthing
In the time left for living.
Go stand in a hot shower and ask your life what it needs of you
In order to come to life in you.
And do it.
- 04/11/2016 — White Fence, Red Barn — Chester County, South Carolina, April 8, 2016
We are formed, shaped, by our innate tendencies
In concert with our context
And how we interpret it.
We cannot change our tendencies
Or our context,
Though we can influence both
By the way we interpret, understand, explain, make sense of,
What is happening and how we are responding to it.
We have to perceive our perceptions.
We cannot allow ourselves to get by with “just reacting.”
We have to see how we are reacting—
How “that” in our environment
Means “this” in our response to our environment,
And what we are saying/thinking/feeling about “that”
To make “this” what it is.
Nothing is automatic.
A father’s anger
Can have a different impact
All his children.
Poverty can mean one thing to one person
And another thing to someone else.
What does “that” mean to us?
Why does “that” mean what it does and not something else?
We have to work with our meanings
To change the impact of our context
And transform our life.
- 04/12/2016 — Catesby’s Trillium 2016 01 — Chestnut trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 11, 2016
And living out of—
The center of what is central
Puts you on
The path that is YOUR path
That no one can give you
Or take away from you.
Consider your life.
How much of what goes on there
Is geared to helping you
And live out of—
The center of what is central
How much of what goes on there
Is geared to distracting you
From that work
And replacing it
With what someone else thinks
Should be central to you?
Whose side are you on?
- 04/12/2016 — Bloodroot 2016 05 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 28, 2016
If all of our symbols have to be explained to us,
We don’t have a living symbol to our name.
Symbols cannot be told to anyone,
Handed to anyone,
Defined, spelled out, made plain…
The value of a symbol is that
There is more to it than words can say,
And we have to do the work of imagining,
What it is about the symbol(s) in question
That sets it, set them, apart
And make them alive for us.
What are the objects and images
That have the power of attraction
A campfire, perhaps, or even gas logs in a fire place?
Pay attention to the things that stand apart for you.
Reflect on them.
See what comes to mind.
We are surrounded by
“Symbols of Transformation” (Carl Jung)
Calling us to see what they have to show us,
Hear what they have to say to us.
Their meaning is with us,
Waiting to be discovered.
The treasure hard to find.
- 04/13/2016 — Japanese Maple in the Sun — Glencairn Garden, Rock Hill, South Carolina, April 10, 2016
We are the meaning we seek.
We think it is out there, over there,
Beyond the mountains, across the sea.
We carry the treasure with us
Looking for the treasure.
We are the man on his ox
Looking for his ox,
The woman holding her car keys
Looking for her car keys.
We live searching for meaning
Without knowing who wants to know.
Who are you?
What is yours to do?
What lies at the core,
At the center,
At the foundation
Get to the bottom
And there it is.
The treasure hard to find.
Wondering what took so long.
- 04/13/2016 — Wood Sorrel 2016 01 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 11, 2016
People have been doing rain dances
for as long as there have been people.
And when we become civilized
to the point of being self-conscious dancing for rain,
we pray for it instead.
The primary focus of the species
is controlling the natural world.
Never mind the rhythms of nature.
Ignore the Biblical observation
“To everything there is a season,
and a time for everything under heaven.”
We want it to rain NOW!
Our crops and our lives depend on it!
When you depend on things you can’t control,
you trick yourself into believing
you can control it if you find the magic dance,
or the magic prayer,
or the magic whatever.
We influence the heavens, the gods, the God.
That is the foundational doctrine
in every book of doctrines.
What we do determines
what the heavens,
does to us, or for us.
That is the belief behind all of the beliefs.
If we believe correctly,
the heavens, the gods, the God
are/is ours to command,
And will rush to do our bidding
With rain for a bountiful harvest,
And streets of resplendent gold.
Not a bad story line
For those helpless and at the mercy
Of the 10,000 things.
- 04/14/2016 — Blue Star 2016 01 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 11, 2016
It starts with this:
If you were to live your life
without pursuing the advantage—
How would you live it?
Actually, it starts before there.
It starts with your vulnerability—
With your impotence.
With your Helplessness,
Desperate for the advantage—
It starts with your agony,
With your pain.
With the recognition of your aloneness,
And your loneliness.
With your realization
That you are responsible for you
With too few resources
And no prospects of ever having enough.
It starts with your back to the wall
Standing on the brink.
It starts with your fear
And your grief—
Your loss of all hope,
And your sorrow.
It starts with your feeling the ache
Of your lostness
In the pit of your stomach
And in the marrow of your bones.
It starts with the truth
Of who and how you are.
If you can face that truth,
It is in the strength—
The crazy, ludicrous, absurd strength—
Of another truth,
That even so,
It is up to you,
And you are enough,
Just as you are,
Because you are more than you appear to be.
There is more to you than meets the eye.
You have all you need—
In spite of what you think, or feel—
And it only takes trusting that it is so
To know that it is so.
At that point,
You are ready to begin.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., 04/14/2016 — Watersnake Love — Glencairn Garden, Rock Hill, SC, April 3, 2016
Begin with your contradictions,
It is said that “truth is found between the hands.”
On the one hand, what?
On the other hand, what?
Where are you strung out between mutually exclusive
And equally compelling
Where does your Doctor Jekyll stumble over your Mr. Hyde?
Sit down with them
And don’t get up
Until you have explored each
To the very bottom of his/your little heart.
You have to get to the bottom of you
As exhibited in your contradictions.
You keep canceling yourself out.
Shooting yourself in the foot.
Blocking yourself at every turn.
Stop! Look! Listen!
Listen! Listen! Listen!
The time you spend in self-exploration
Is an investment in your future.
You are trying to tell you
What you need to hear.
Listen! Listen! Listen!
- 04/15/2016 — Spring Beauty 2016 01 — Landsford Canal State Park, Chester, South Carolina, April 9, 2016
We have become a culture of diversion and distraction.
We live to be entertained.
We have nothing compelling to do.
We fill up our time
With anything available
To take our minds off the emptiness of our lives.
We seek the comforts and advantages,
What purpose does it serve?
What purpose do WE serve?
What is OUR purpose?
What do we MEAN by our life?
What do we MEAN to say, to do, with our life?
What do we INTEND with the life we are living?
Everybody is on the way to somewhere else.
Everybody wants to be someone else.
Actors want to be singers.
Singers want to be actors.
Who is at peace with who, and where, they are?
Who can stand being alone with themselves
In a culture of rampant discontent?
- 04/15/2016 — May Apple 01 Panorama — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 11, 2016
What would it take to wake up Johnny Manziel and turn his life around?
If you could answer that question
with a sure-fire, never-fail, answer, solution, recipe
You could name your price.
Parents and siblings,
Spouses and partners,
Bosses, co-workers and friends
Would stand in line to buy your book and hear you lecture.
Rehab programs don’t come
with absolute, rock-solid-sure, guaranteed formulas
for doing what needs to be done
For Johnny Manziel and a teeming multitude of others like him—
All with people who love them
shaking their heads wondering how it can happen.
Yet, it happens all the time.
And sometimes it unhappens.
Sometimes, people wake up and turn their life around.
12-step programs are filled with people who are working the program.
And with people who are not.
What’s the difference?
Ask them and they will tell you it comes down to one thing.
Call it grace, or good luck.
It comes down to the same thing.
We are lucky that grace is at work in the world,
And graced by good luck every time we stumble into it.
We strive to keep people like Johnny Manziel alive long enough
To be lucky to be blessed with the grace of resurrection and new life
While there is still time left to be lived.
It happens often enough to keep us hoping it will happen this time every time.
It’s that hard-headed hope that keeps us going
In the work that has to be done
In the lives of so many:
“The work of our hands, establish Thou it!”
Indeed, by all means, “Establish Thou it!”
- 04/16/2016 — Buttercup 2016 01 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 11, 2016
We live to discover and express who we are.
We are here to develop and convey our individuality.
Integrity, identity, definition, distinction characterize the nature of our work.
The cost of doing business
Is the price we pay for being who we are.
There is a catch.
We also have to stay in touch.
We have to be who we are
In relationship with those who are being who they are.
We cannot be who we are alone,
In a cave,
In a hut in the woods.
We have to be who we are in community—
In a diverse community of people
Who may, or may not, be supportive of our work
To discover and express who we are.
We have to develop our social skills
While we are developing our sense of direction
And our feel for what our life is asking of us.
This is called walking two paths at the same time.
We do that by being aware of “the other path” at all times.
“The other path” keeps us alert
To the nuances and subtleties of the path we are currently negotiating.
We cannot ignore “that path,”
For the sake of this one.
“What a slippery slope this is!”
“Like the edge of a razor!”
Anyone can define herself, himself, on a deserted island.
It doesn’t count until you can be yourself at home
Around a Thanksgiving table,
Without anyone withdrawing, sulking, or slamming doors.
- 04/16/2016 — Wisteria 2016 02 — Glencairn Garden, Rock Hill, SC, April 3, 2016
It comes down to this:
See what is happening in each situation as it arises.
Know what it means
And what needs to be done about it.
Do what can be done about it
With the gifts that are yours to serve
And the resources available to you.
And let that be that.
It is never more complicated, complex or difficult than this.
- 04/17/2016 — Goodale 2015 46 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
At the bottom,
We all are crazy.
We want what we cannot have,
What we have no business having,
And are driven by mad desires
For things we cannot use
And have no interest in.
Make sense of that
If you can.
Don’t waste your time
Trying to make sense of it.
And say to yourself,
“Ain’t that just the way it is though!”
And turn your attention
To the other path—
The path we also walk,
The path with our name on it,
The path that is pulling us forth
Against our will,
Bringing us out
Like a bird from an egg
To fly of all things.
And we want to remain egg bound forever.
Crazy to the core.
Wanting to live
And to remain dead.
Walking two paths at the same time.
Not knowing which is life,
And which is death.
Thinking death is life,
And life is death.
All the way to the bottom.
Laugh and walk two paths,
Holy laughter rights the boat,
As much as it can be righted,
And sails us on
To the land of promise,
On the far side
Of the heaving seas
Tossing about in our own soul.
- 04/18/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 05 Detail — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
Making our peace with our circumstances
Could mean resigning ourselves to the way things are
And allowing them to remain so,
Unchallenged and undisturbed.
And it could mean taking up the causes
That need to be taken up
No matter how absurd, ridiculous, foolish and hopeless it is—
Because that is what our circumstances require.
Making our peace with our circumstances
Could mean taking no for an answer every time.
And it could mean seeing no as someone else’s idea
That things should remain as they are,
And saying no to no in the service of your own
Interpretation of what needs to happen in response to the way things are,
Understanding that saying yes to no,
And saying no to no,
Constitute the dynamics of life on every level,
And knowing when to say yes to no,
And when to say no to no,
Is the essence of wisdom
And the nature of the circumstances
With which we must make our peace.
If you would like to help in the work of saying no to no
Look up Rancho Feliz Charitable Foundation on the internet
And send them some cash encouragement
In their efforts in behalf of the Mexican poor
On both sides of the border.
It is a cause that calls us beyond
How things are
To how things ought to be—
As a way of making our peace
With the circumstances that need us.
- 04/18/2016 — Flame Azalea 02 — Indian Land, South Carolina, April 5, 2016
The Tao is the way of life,
The current of life,
The flow of life.
It is how life works.
To place ourselves in accord with the Tao
Is to place ourselves in accord with the way life works.
It is to acquiesce to the way things are, to how things are.
This is not a culturally imposed order.
“The way things are”
Has been used to justify and keep in place
Every injustice and discriminatory practice through out the ages.
When Jesus said,
“In as much as you have done injustice
to the least of my brothers and sisters,
you have done it unto me—
And in as much as you have not done justice
to the least of my brothers and sisters,
you have not done it unto me,”
He was talking about the poor and outcast in Israel,
And about the Samaritans and Syrians and Phoneticians,
And all those who would have been unwelcome
In the Temple and synagogues of his day.
Who would you think “the least of my brothers and sisters”
Might be today?
Who is more least than the LGBT community?
To deny them basic human rights
Because “that’s the way things are,”
Is to ignore the fact that the way things actually are
Is for a certain percentage of the population
To be LGBT in every country in every age.
LGBT is a fact that everybody else
Needs to be putting themselves in accord with.
To be out of accord with that fact
Is to be out of accord with Tao,
And you do not want to be out of accord with Tao.
Tao does not like it when people are out of accord with Tao.
And when Tao is not happy, nobody is happy.
Just ask Lao Tzu.
- 04/19/2016 — Dwarf Crested Iris 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 13,, 2016
Being on our own side
Means doing what is hard,
And bearing the pain
Because it is important
That the thing be done,
And it is important
For you to do it,
And you know it
Without knowing why
Or being able to explain it
To anyone’s satisfaction.
It means living your life
The way you know it needs to be lived
In spite of what anyone else thinks—
In spite of what everyone else thinks.
It means knowing that YOU
Are the Foundation Stone
Of your own life.
What you say goes
Where you are concerned.
You say what your business is
And what it is not.
You say what you need to do
And what you do not need to do.
You consult with yourself
Before making any decision,
Taking any action,
And decide for yourself what you will do.
It means you are sovereign over your own life.
It means you seek no one’s permission or approval
For thinking what you think,
Feeling what you feel,
Knowing what you know,
And doing what you do.
If someone else has the keys to your life,
Take them back.
- 04/19/2016 — Creekside Trail 2016 01 Panorama — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 16, 2016
Our authority is grounded in our identity.
When we KNOW who we are
And what we will do,
And not do,
Because our doing,
And not doing,
Express, exhibit, reflect
Who we are,
We are the authority
Who is solely responsible for
Determining the direction and flow
Of the life we live.
WE are the ones who say so
About all matters pertaining to us and our life.
Our yes is YES!
Our no is NO!
Because WE say so!
There can be no ambivalence or equivocation
About what we LOVE.
The hammock and I are one—
I don’t care what you or anyone thinks about hammocks.
I know what I think,
And cannot be moved.
That is the way it is with us
Across the board
When we know what is true for us.
When we know who we are
And who we are not.
- 04/19/2016 — Campbell’s Nursery 09 – Charlotte, North Carolina, March 3, 2016
There are Christians–
Not just a few–
Who take it on faith that God is a fact
And that the Bible is the literal Word of God,
And that all of Christian doctrine and theology are also facts,
And who deride and denounce evolution
Because it is just “a theory,”
Unproven and unproveable.
Why take it on faith that God, the Bible, the Doctrines and the theology are all facts,
And not something else instead?
If you are going to take it on faith that God, etc., are facts,
Why not take it on faith that evolution is a fact?
Why take one set of facts on faith and reject the others?
And how, exactly, is taking something on faith–
Different from making up something about the thing
And saying we are taking it on faith
That what we just made up
Is a fact?
How is taking something on faith different
From pretending that we are not pretending?
How is it different from kidding ourselves
About kidding ourselves?
- 04/20/2016 — Perfoliate Bellwort 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 16, 2016
What we need
Is a place where we can hear ourselves think.
Silence or a sounding board—
Both work equally well,
And work best in concert with the other.
A good therapist is a sounding board,
And the work we do in the silence between sessions
Makes all the difference.
Silence is for reflecting and forming new realizations.
A sounding board is for articulating our finds
And making necessary adjustments
In our procedures and conclusions.
We develop our spiritual side
(That would be our apprehension of
The unconscious reality
That is the ground and source
Of life and being)
Only with the proper mix of
Silence and sounding boards.
How much of either do you have in your life?
- 04/20/2016 — House Finch 2016 01 — Male House Finch, Charlotte, NC, April 20, 2016
The religions of the world
Are killing the world.
Religious wars (And what war is not religious on some level?)
Have no goal in mind
Beyond the eradication
Of all those not like us,
Which is, of course, ridiculous,
But when has religion ever been rational?
So here we are.
- 04/20/2016 — Goodale 2015 45/46 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
Be driven by your interests,
Not by your fears or desires.
Give yourself to what your love,
Regardless of the price.
Live to serve what is meaningful and important to you.
Let what calls your name
Direct your path
And led you into the company
Of what else calls your name.
You will not regret it.
- 04/20/2016 — House Finch 02 — Female, Charlotte, North Carolina, April 20, 2016
There is an intelligence at work in our life,
And our role is to place ourselves in accord with it,
And dance together throughout our days.
Two things prevent this from happening.
1) Calling the intelligence “God.”
As soon as the word “God” is even thought,
In comes instantly,
“The Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth
And Jesus Christ His (sic) only Son Our Lord
Who Was Conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Was Crucified, Dead and Buried…
And, like that, the intelligence is crowded out
by the doctrines and dogmas,
the confessions and creeds,
the decrees and encyclicals
and the entire weight of Christendom.
The intelligence is lost amid all the brouhaha and that’s that.
“Doing God’s will” replaces
“Placing ourselves in accord
with the intelligence at work in our life.”
And all is lost.
2) Thinking we can
put the intelligence to work in our behalf.
The instant we form the concept
“intelligence at work in our life,”
We leap to how to enlist it in our service,
And work it to our advantage.
“Give to Gain” is a popular idea.
“The Prayer of Jabez,”
and “The Power of Attraction” were others.
We can milk an oyster shell.
We kill every good thing
by trying to get it to plow our fields
and pave our way.
If we cannot exploit something,
it is of no use to us,
and we have no interest in it.
With these two “Do Not Go There’s” guarding our thoughts,
Let’s start over:
There is an intelligence at work in our life
And our role is to place ourselves in accord with it,
And dance together throughout our days.
The intelligence at work in our life
Is with us to bring us forth in our life
So that we might know what we are capable of
And assist the intelligence
In its work to bring life forth all around us
For the good of all living things.
We are here to live our life—
the life that is truly our life to live—
and what we get out of it
is living our life.
- 04/22/2016 — McDowell Woods 01 — Four Season Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 21, 2016
Putting ourselves in accord
With the intelligence at work in our life
Is a matter of seeing,
It is a matter of getting ourselves out of the way
And being mindfully, compassionately, non-judgmentally
Aware of each situation as it arises—
Knowing all that can be known about it
And what is going on
Within us and around us.
The practice of mindfulness
(Check out Jon Kabat-Zinn’s You Tube Videos)
Is the foundation
Of seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing/being,
And the doorway to
A future worth having
For all living things.
- 04/22/2016 — Catesby’s Trillium 2016 02 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 21, 2016
There are our options and our choices.
That is all we have to work with.
Our life is the result of the interplay of options and choices.
That being the case, you might think we would be more conscious
That we would take the time to wake up,
What is happening and what needs to be done about it
In each situation as it arises,
Rather than react without thinking
To the things that come our way.
The intelligence at work in our life
Needs some intelligence to work with
For things to be as good as they can be.
Our life is waiting for us to live mindfully,
And we are acting like that is asking too much.
- 04/22/2016 — Campbell’s Nursery 2016 13 — Charlotte, NC, March 3, 2016
The intelligence at work in our life
Goes by different names, among them:
The intelligence at work in our life
Is the thread leading from the beginning to here, now, and beyond.
The wonder is the way all the disparate parts—
The wrong turns,
Wins and losses,
Triumphs and defeats,
Glory and shame,
All came together
As though some
Invisible hand were writing the script,
Directing the performance,
Often against our will,
And generally without our cooperation.
- 04/23/2016 — Azalea Blossoms 2016 02 — Indian Land, South Carolina, April 1, 2016
Our art is our life.
We are all learning to be artists.
Our particular mode, or modality, or way of doing art
Lies dormant and innate within,
Waiting to be discovered and expressed.
Our art will lead us to it
If we wait,
Playfully, respectfully, confidently, securely
In the silence,
Wondering what we are doing there
And why it’s taking so long.
The waiting is one of the tests.
There are tests all along the way.
Do we have what it takes is always the question.
We need to gather in small groups
As seekers seeking
To be encouraged and sustained
By the presence of those who are like us
With more questions than answers,
And more need of faith than faith.
Faith in ourselves.
Faith in the journey, in the quest, in the search, the seeking.
Faith in the art—OUR art.
Faith in the silence.
The silence is awful,
And filled with the grace and wonder of being.
We meet the monsters in the silence.
The minute we are quiet,
There IT is.
and a different variety of
It’s no wonder we avoid silence,
And turn up the volume on our life
In order to stay sane.
But it isn’t sanity, it’s denial.
Silence is truth in waiting.
It all settles out in the silence,
And there is clarity,
Ask the Buddha.
He waited past the monsters
And found the treasure.
As with the Buddha,
So with us all.
Silence is the threshold, the doorway,
To our art.
We are led all the way,
Waiting, listening, looking,
Alive at last.
If we live that long.
- 04/23/2016 — Squaw Root 2016 01 — Canal Trail, Landsford Canal State Park, Chester County, South Carolina, April 8, 2016
I would like it if we could talk things over,
Being mindfully present with one another.
Understanding with compassion how things are
From the other’s point of view.
And caring about the other’s well-being
As much as we care about our own.
If some genie ever gives me three wishes,
That’s the first one.
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 04/24/2016 — Yellow Wood Sorrel 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 21, 2016
Any time we make an approach to truth—
the truth of our experience, of the way things are—
THE way to truth,
we block the way to truth.
There is no sacrosanct formula,
There is only seeing how things are now
and what needs to be done about them,
in response to them.
Any path that becomes THE path
becomes a worn path,
becomes a rut,
becomes a narrow way of thinking,
and cuts us off from the fullness of our experience,
and keeps us from seeing
how things are and also are
in the moment-to-moment encounter
with each situation as it arises.
The work is always to see—
and respond appropriately to—
how things are now,
No religion can help us with that work.
We are on our own there.
Mindfulness is our responsibility
In every instant of our life.
We are always getting to the bottom of things
And deciding how to respond
in ways that are fitting to the occasion
in every occasion.
The work of a true human being
is spontaneously being
what the situation calls for
out of the gifts that are ours
to give in each situation as it arises.
- 04/24/2016 — Jack In The Pulpit 2016 01 Panorama — Indian Land, South Carolina, April 23, 2016
One of the leading causes of depression
Is living an inauthentic life.
That is a life that is not you.
That doesn’t have enough room in it for you.
That doesn’t have enough places
for your soul to breathe.
If there is space in your life
for your soul to come to life,
Depression will not likely be
one of your chief problems.
How much soul-space is there in your life?
How much of Y-O-U shines through
each day in the life you live?
If you were to give your soul
what it needs tomorrow,
What would it be?
What are the chances of you doing that,
If not tomorrow, one day this week?
Too many of us are owned
by too many things
That are not things our soul enjoys.
We have to work our soul
back into our life.
We have to give our soul
room to breathe.
We have to bring ourselves to life in our life.
That is your mission—
Bringing your soul, yourself,
to life in your life.
How can you begin to do that
in what is left of today?
The rest of your life will be lighter,
and brighter, and more fun
When you devote some time
to playing with your soul,
And doing what your soul loves.
Live to close the gap between
you and authenticity.
Your soul told me to say that.
- 04/25/2016 — Bluet 2016 02 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 21, 2016
Two leading causes of depression
are hopelessness and futility,
The realization that nothing we do matters.
Rational minds can look at the same set of facts
And make different interpretations,
Draw different conclusions.
Here’s the deal with hopelessness and futility:
We look at them and say “Nothing we do matters!”
As though it matters that nothing we do matters.
But if that matters, then it is possible
that something else matters,
Like getting the dog to the Vet
And changing the baby’s diapers,
Here is the grounding realization:
“It is all hopeless, pointless, useless, futile, absurd,
And coming to a very bad, inevitable, end—
AND how we live in the meantime makes all the difference!”
A cup of cool water to a dying person
Is not absurd.
It is the essence of kindness and compassion.
To spit on the dying person and turn away,
Refusing to offer the cup of cool water,
And ourselves as a caring, consoling presence
At the time of death,
Would the the height of obscenity, cruelty and inhumanity.
The humane thing—
The human thing—
Is to live in the worst life can do
As lights in the darkness,
As agents of love,
With those who suffer too much
the absence of those things,
And sets us apart from the inhumane and the inhuman.
So it comes down to this:
How will we live in this present situation?
Will we be a source of light and life,
Or a source of darkness and death?
It is our call to make in every situation,
And our choice makes all the difference.
04/25/2016 — Canal Trail 2016 01 — Landsford Canal State Park, Chester County, South Carolina, April 8, 2016
Here is my poem, “The Jailer,” from my book, “I Call This Poetry”:
Saying “YES!” to the way things are,
And working with them
To see what we can do with them
In the time left for living,
And opens us to possibilities
We never knew existed.
This is the “transcendent function” (Carl Jung)
Of imagination coming to life in our life,
And the power of Perspective Shifts
To move mountains
And to create doorways
In the walls
Boxing us in.
We all are magicians in this way.
We all are the magic wand we wish we had.
Waiting for the jailer to let us out,
We become the jailer keeping us in,
Holding the key,
Wishing we had a key.
- 04/25/2016 — Hammock Selfie — The point not to be missed here is that my feet are above the level of my heart.
As we age, it is a good idea to give our heart a break,
and use gravity to help with circulation.
Poor circulation can result in swelling in ankles and knees,
painful joints and difficulties with balance and walking.
Hammocks to the rescue!
There is not a more comfortable and relaxing way
to keep one’s feet higher than the level of one’s heart—
and it remains one of the unsold features of hammock life.
and let gravity do the work
of reducing swelling and easing pain.
And if you don’t have a problem
with swelling and pain,
a preventive program of hammock lying
will keep you happy for long years
into the far distant future.
Nobody is paying me to say these things.
- 04/25/2016 — Goodale 2015 47 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
The only thing wrong with us
Is that we lack the courage of our convictions.
What ARE our convictions?
We have opinions.
A few preferences.
We believe in the importance
of having the advantages,
But we will surrender
just about everything
in order to have them.
We want to be where we are better off,
And that could be anywhere,
So we have to keep our options open
And be ready to change course with the wind,
We have to go sit down somewhere
And wait for clarity about what is important.
We have to know where we stand
And stand there,
Grounded on the Foundation Stone
Of our own identity:
Who we are and what matters to us.
And live out of that “still point of the turning world”
For the rest of time
And on through all eternity.
- 04/26/2016 — Atamasco Lily 01 — Landsford Canal State Park, Chester County, South Carolina, April 8, 2016
Silence is wasted on people
who lack the capacity for self-reflection.
Who never question anything.
Work to get to the bottom of anything.
Leave everything exactly as it is.
Think what they assume is so is so.
Do what they are told.
Think what has always been thought.
Repeat what has always been said.
Keep things exactly as they have always been.
Never making waves,
Or rocking boats,
Or turning over any apple carts.
Or taking full responsibility for their own life,
And living it.
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 04/26/2016 — Bloodroot 2016 04 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 28, 2016
There is an intelligence at work in our life,
Which we sense by realizing that we
Know more than we know we know,
And then it’s gone in trying to know more than we can know.
We flirt with the limits along the edge of consciousness,
Intuition and instinct feel but do not say,
And we are left with knowing there is more than we know.
The test is whether we will put ourselves in its service,
In the service of that which we do not know.
Good religion says the service itself is life.
Bad religion sees the service as a way of bartering
For a better life—
Either in this world or the world to come,
Give to get or to gain is the essence of bad religion.
Good religion says
Live to give yourself in the service of what, you do not know,
And let that be that.
There is an intelligence at work in our life.
How we choose to live in relationship with it
Tells the tale.
- 04/27/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 05 Detail 02 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
When we know that we don’t know
Even a slight percentage
Of all there is to know,
And open ourselves to possibilities
Not to exploit the unknown,
But to serve it—
Strange things happen.
Sheldon Kopp said,
“Some things can be experienced,
But not understood.
And some things can be understood,
But not explained.”
We live in a swirling universe
Of psychic reality
Waiting to be experienced, but not understood,
Understood, but not explained—
Needing our collaboration
To transform the universe of physical reality.
But we don’t have any use
For anything we can’t use
To our perceived advantage.
And that is the kink in the hose.
- 04/27/2016 — The Outing — An old fave from the Bog Garden Collection, Greensboro, NC, March 17, 2014
I am amazed at how easily I am knocked off center.
From within and without,
And I am looping through countless scenarios
Before I catch myself in the act of wandering
Through another wilderness of my own making,
And bring myself back to the center.
I assume that as it is with me,
So it is with you,
And I find this propensity of ours
For aimlessly wandering far from the Foundation Stone
To be the primary purpose for meditation.
Meditation seats us at the center
(Or, if your Zazen cushion is a hammock,
Lays us at the center),
And reminds us where we come from
And where we belong.
My hammock is my anchor,
Connecting me to the source, the heart, the ground of me.
I am at one with me in the hammock.
There is nothing there to take me away from me.
There, even when my thoughts stray,
They always have something to say to me about me.
Noting that, I remember it
When I am not hammock sitting/lying,
And see what the wandering mind
Has to say to me about me
In my present here and now,
And am grounded there
In the moment of my drifting away.
A meditative practice is the path to the center and ground
Of our being,
And makes the way back
An enlightening journey with our companion Self.
- 04/28/2016 — Fleabane Daisy 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 17, 2016
Jesus in the wilderness,
The Buddha under the Bo Tree,
Carl Jung at Bollingen,
Me in my hammock,
You wherever you are
when you are quiet and alone and aware…
We have to knowingly, mindfully, with non-judgmental compassion
Face the truth of our life,
The truth of who we are and how it is, and also is, with us.
We have to know who we are
Past all the diversions and distractions
We have to know what is important to us,
What matters most to us,
What is central to us—
Not because we like it,
or desire it,
But because it is central to us.
We have to know what grounds us,
Supports us, establishes us,
And is our Bedrock.
What is it that is immovable and unchangeable about us?
What is the eternal and everlasting truth of who we are?
I look out the window a lot.
What am I doing when I look out the window?
I am being who I am.
Living with integrity is living in ways which honor who I am—
Which express, exhibit and serve who I am.
Jesus in the wilderness,
The Buddha under the Bo Tree,
Carl Jung at Bollingen,
Me in my hammock,
You wherever you are when you are quiet and alone and aware.
Nobody can do it for us.
It is ours to do alone.
Know what your hammock is.
Go there often.
- 04/28/2016 — Phlox 2016 01 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 21, 2016
I hold it to be entirely likely
that the intelligence at work in our life
Is the full component of knowledge we don’t know we know—
and the knowledge we do not know,
and will never know.
We call the body of knowledge we are unconscious of
Another term for it is “Psyche,” or “Soul.”
We live in at least two worlds—two different realities—simultaneously,
Aware, to some extent, of one,
Oblivious to the presence of the other.
The other will not be ignored,
And keeps breaking into our conscious life
All credited to the gods and the muses,
All belonging to the psychic world of unconscious reality.
Our work is to know what we know.
We want to get ahead,
Sock it away,
And enjoy our accumulated wealth and boundless privilege
Until we die.
We live at crosspurposes with ourselves.
And pay the price.
- 04/29/2016 — Solomon’s Seal 2016 01 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 28, 2016
How long can you sit quietly—
not listening to music,
not watching TV,
not doing anything but sitting quietly?
Work to extend the duration
and increase the frequency.
And devote yourself to the task
Of becoming mindfully,
Of what goes on in the silence—
Of thoughts and feelings, moods and memories…
Become interested in what happens in the silence,
Letting things come and go as they will,
Observing it all without judgment or opinion,
Watching patterns develop,
Seeing themes being played out,
Curious and interested about it all.
- 04/29/2016 — Cedar Tree 2016 01 Panorama — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 28, 2016
Silence is the source of all things.
Reflection on our life experience
leads to new realizations.
We cannot just experience silence—
We have to reflect on our experience of silence.
Out of that reflection,
Comes all we need to meet our life straight up,
And gather more experience
To take with us
Back into the silence.
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 04/29/2016 — Goodale 2015 49 — Goodale Sate Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
Good religion is absolutely essential
in the work to be who we are.
Good religion speaks
the language of Psyche, of Soul,
And is a treasure trove of “symbols of transformation”
Good religion grows us up
Through all of the stages of development,
Helping us to recognize the signs along the way,
And reminding us that the primary requirement
Of the Hero’s Journey
Is to see it through,
To not quit too soon,
To press on,
Whispering to us the words of the Greek poet Homer
Spoken from the lips of Odysseus:
“I will stay with it and endure through suffering hardship
And once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces,
Then I will swim.”
Good religion is the servant of Psyche/Soul,
And is, to us, “a very present help in time of trouble.”
The trouble is
Good religion is hard to find.
- 04/30/2016 — Great Solomon’s Seal 2016 01 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 28, 2016
We are born into a family and into a culture
That tells us who we are,
And who we are to be,
And how we are to live our life.
Growing up means growing up into
Our own idea of who we are,
And who we are to be,
And how we are to live our life.
We cannot do it—
Without mindful awareness
(Which implies compassion
And non-judgmental acceptance)
Our context and circumstances.
It starts with seeing how things are
On all levels—
And we cannot see what we cannot accept
As being the way it is.
“This is the way things are,
And this is what needs to be done about it,
And this is what I can do
With the gifts and resources at my disposal.”
Then it is only a matter
Of doing our work
And letting things fall into place,
However they will,
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 04/30/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 2016 06 Detail — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
Good religion is religion without theology and doctrine.
Good religion is Zen without the Buddhist or Taoist trappings.
Good religion is our experience of this here, this now,
And our sense of what is happening,
And what needs to happen,
And what needs to be done about it
With the gifts and resources at our disposal,
And our ability to know what we know
On all levels,
Which implies living transparent to ourselves
And open to possibilities we cannot imagine,
Trusting ourselves to ourselves,
And allowing the path to open before us
As we start walking.
Good religion helps us interpret our experience
In light of the shared experiences
Of the species
Through the symbols, parables and metaphors
That have been doorways to transcendence
Through the ages
And connect us with truth
At the core of who we are,
Enabling us to live out of—
And grounded upon—
The Foundation Stone
Of our essential identity,
And be at-one with ourselves
In each situation as it arises
Throughout our life.
- 05/01/2016 — Pitcher Plants 2016 01 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, April 30, 2016
The price of being alive
Is the work of articulation.
Saying is seeing.
We cannot see what we do not say.
Our world expands
As our vocabulary increases.
Unless we say the same old same old forever,
but who needs a larger vocabulary
to say the same old things?
The struggle to say what we see,
And what it means
Is the work of being human.
And the work is never done.
We want to be finished with it,
And sit by the sea
So, we nail down our meanings
And refuse to let them evolve,
And, like that,
by the sea,
with a beer in hand.
We hate it when our meanings become obsolete
And new meanings try to replace them.
WE WANT TO KEEP THINGS AS THEY ARE FOREVER!!!
No gay marriages!
No transgender rights!
No nothing that isn’t like it was in the Good Old Days
When everything was exactly what it was supposed to be!
We haven’t allowed a new idea about God
Into the Book of Christian Doctrine
In 2,000 years.
The wind that blows where it will
Becomes “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable,”
And that’s all we need to say about that.
In the work to say better what has been said,
We see more than has been seen
And begin to say things that have never been said.
New realizations lead to new reflections
lead to new experiences lead to new realizations…
And nothing is as it was,
And who knows where it will go.
That is the Hero’s Journey—
The great adventure of being alive!
If we are up for it,
- 05/02/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 2016 06 Detail 02 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
We live out of the silence.
We know what to do when we do nothing
But sit with what is before us
And wait for the action to happen through us
In response to what needs us to do it.
We don’t think anything up.
We consider all that is to be considered—
We see the full context of our present situation—
And wait quietly
To see what we will do.
This is trusting ourselves to
More than we know we know.
You will likely never hear anything about it
Other than here,
So maybe you should read this again.
- 05/02/2016 — Foam Flower 2016 02 — Creekside Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 24, 2016
No one can tell us what is right for us.
We have to figure that out for ourselves.
We have to know what is good for us,
Important to us,
Meaningful to us—
And live in ways which serve
What is right,
What is good,
What is important,
What is meaningful,
All our life long.
Sounds easy enough,
Fooling ourselves is what we do best.
No! Tricking ourselves is what we do best.
No! Kidding ourselves is what we do best.
No! Telling ourselves what we want to hear is what we do best.
No! Shooting ourselves in the foot is what we do best.
No! Being our own worst enemy is what we do best.
We have to take up the life-long work
Of being transparent to ourselves,
So that we know what we know
And live with both eyes on us at all times.
Because conning ourselves is what we do best.
- 05/04/2016 — Wild Parsnip 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 24, 2016
If you cannot be vulnerable
You will never be safe.
Safety is the untouchable place of refuge
Amid the din of ravenous threats
And dreadful possibilities.
It is the confidence of one who knows
That she, that he, stands grounded in the center
Of who she, of who he, is
And cannot be moved by the worst that can happen.
“I am fine and will be fine no matter what.”
The worst that I can imagine
Would be Auschwitz,
Knowing full well what’s what
And what your chances are.
Live that out in your mind,
Your last ten days or two weeks,
Walking in the line to the ovens
Or packed into the truck that will take you to the ovens.
Direct that scene as though it were a movie.
How would you have you walk that final 3/4 mile?
What would you exude by your demeanor?
How would play your role?
I would have me do it with the attitude of,
“You can kill me in the most horrendous possible way,
But you can’t touch a hair on my head.”
My role is to live my life from this vantage point
Throughout what remains of it to be lived.
- 05/03/2016 — Goodale 2015 50 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
The Hero’s Journey
Consists of squaring up with the divisions within,
Reconciling our opposites,
Integrating our polarities
We are at war with ourselves,
And want nothing to do with the life that is ours to live,
Any of the lives we wish we were living.
With the work to reconcile,
- 05/03/2016 — One of my faves from my Roan Mountain Flickr Album: “Golden Ragwort Panorama”
We like to think we are the Captains of Our Ship
And the Masters of our Destiny,
And love to say,
“It’s MY life and I can do what I want to with it!”
The unrelenting truth is that
We have to get out of the way
And let our life live us.
Is mastering the art
Of allowing our life
To direct our living.
Sound like something a bull would leave behind?
It will make more sense in 10 years,
And, you will be a firm believer in 25.
- 05/04/2016 — Catesby’s Trillium 2016 03 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 24, 2016
My hammock hangs on the edge of the Deep Woods
(“Deep” is metaphorical, not actual, literal,
And is as true as any fact has ever been),
And, in my hammock, I realize that in the Deep Woods
Yesterday is the same as tomorrow.
The Deep Woods is/are as timeless as all eternity.
It is never anything other than Now in the Deep Woods
Now it is sunny, Now it is dark, Now it is raining…
No plans exist in the Deep Woods
No disappointment, fear, depression, excitement, anticipation, etc.
Ever come to life there.
Life just IS there,
And then, it IS NOT.
The Deep Woods know(s),
But it (they) does (do) not know
That it (etc.) knows.
Yet, it (etc.) responds appropriately to what it (etc.) knows,
And lives in full accord with what needs to happen
In each situation that arises,
Without interfering with that,
Or imposing its (etc.) on it,
Or wrestling with the way things are in the moment.
Consciousness imposes a complexity upon things
That did not exist before consciousness.
Consciousness implies the possibility
Of bringing into effect our ideas for the world upon the world.
Wisdom knows when to step in and when to step back.
Consciousness without wisdom
Is not an improvement on the way of things in the Deep Woods.
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 05/04/2016 — Chestnut Trail 2016 01 — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
Everybody’s religion is so because they say it is so.
Everybody’s religion is grounded upon what they say is so.
It is so because we say it is.
Taking something, anything, “on faith” is saying
It is so because we say it is so,
We believe it to be so,
We are sure it is so.
We either affirm what someone else tells us is so,
Saying it is so for us, too,
Or we make it up for ourselves.
Either way, it is so ultimately because we say so.
We are the authority behind our own faith.
We believe what we believe
Because we believe it is true,
And therefore worth believing.
The validity of all religion is self-evident to its adherents.
They believe it because they think it is so.
Because they KNOW it is so.
Because their experience has confirmed them in their beliefs.
Religion is true because we say it is true.
False religion is always someone else’s religion.
Religious wars are differences of opinion
About things that cannot be verified by independent observers.
- 05/05/2016 — Eastern Sweetshrub 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 13, 2016
When we “marry” ourselves
And devote ourselves to the life-long task
Of becoming who we are—
Of being one with our soul(mate)—
We “forsake all others,”
And “plight Thee our troth”
to our Self.
We do not keep company
With who, and what, we are not.
The Dalai Lama does not go to movies
NASCAR events or football games,
And he doesn’t eat pizza, hamburgers or hotdogs,
Attend cocktail parties or hangout in bars.
He is NOT, and does NOT, a lot of things.
He is completely who he is.
Jesus was that way.
They were not in any sense “Renaissance men.”
They did not pretend to do all things well.
They did what mattered to them,
Was important and meaningful to them,
And let the rest go.
Letting things go can be as difficult
As devoting ourselves to the things that are essential to us,
And as important.
We are known by what we do
And by what we do not.
How much of what you do today
Will be YOU
And how much will be NOT YOU?
How much of the NOT YOU can you get by with not doing?
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., 05/06/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 07 Detail — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
The path is actually two, or more, paths.
The way is two, or more, ways.
We are always walking two paths at the same time,
Taking two ways at once.
Contradiction is characteristic of every path, each way.
This is true AND the opposite is also true.
I want to be the best father in all the world
I don’t want to be a father at all.
Compassion is the way, the path
The Dalai Lama, the voice of compassion world-wide,
Has bodyguards who carry automatic weapons.
This is walking two paths at the same time.
What we say and do is incompatible
With what we also say and do.
We cannot say YES to some aspect of ourselves
Without saying NO to other aspects of ourselves
And we cannot say YES to one aspect of ourselves
Without saying NO to other aspects of ourselves
Who would compassion have us ignore, dismiss, disregard?
Who is served well by the good we call good?
Who suffers from the good we call good?
All of those fine advantages we seek for ourselves and others
Are detrimental to a large number of living things.
Pluses are counter-balanced by minuses.
This cancels out that.
What do we do?
Walk two paths, follow two ways, at once.
We walk this path with that one always in mind—
Aware of the contradictions
Transparent to ourselves,
Bearing the pain of our excesses and deficiencies,
And the realization of the implications our actions
Have for all sentient beings.
As we do what needs us to do it
In each situation as it arises
Anyway, nevertheless, even so.
- 05/07/2016 — Shagbark Hickory 2016 01 Panorama — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 24, 2016
When your life frustrates your ideas for your life,
How do you respond?
All suffering has its origin
In the discrepancy between how things are
And how we want them to be.
Our “NO!” meets life’s “YES!”
And we suffer the impact of that collision.
No “NO!” no suffering.
Saying “YES!” to life
Is the end of suffering
And the beginning of LIFE.
What do you think
“Thy will, not mine, be done” means?
It means that we place ourselves in accord
With the facts, the givens, the context and circumstances
Of the way things are,
And see what is being asked of us
In terms of what needs to happen here and now
In light of the truth of our situation.
Our life is always asking things of us.
Each situation as it arises needs a particular response from us
In order for things to be as good as they can be
In that situation.
Our response determines the quality of life then and there.
Why hold anything back?
Pouting, whining, moaning, moping, remonstrating, floundering…?
Why not give ourselves wholeheartedly
To the situation
And do all that can be done there
With the gifts and resources that are ours to share
For the good of the situation?
We can make every situation that arises
Better or worse
By the quality of our response to it.
Why go for worse?
- 05/07/2016 — Stream Still Life 2016 01 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 28, 2016
I recommend living one situation at a time.
What is needed here, now?
What is happening?
What is called for?
What is being asked of me?
Offered to me?
How am I being asked
to accommodate myself to the situation?
How am I being challenged
to place myself in accord with what is going on?
How am I uniquely suited to rise to this occasion?
How might I step forth to meet what I find here?
Stepping mindfully, compassionately and non-judgmentally
Into each situation as it arises,
Curious about what will happen
And how we will respond
Keeps us alert and responsive to what is needed,
And to what gifts and resources we have
That might match up with the need.
This approach transforms the humdrum same old same old every day
Into the field of action and adventure,
Where we are pulled forth to become who we are.
We will look forward to tomorrow
Each time we go to bed.
- 05/08/2016 — Goodale 2015 51 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
We have all we need
To do what needs us to do it
In each situation as it arises.
So, what’s with the whining,
and casting ourselves about?
What’s with the protesting and the remonstration?
Stand yourself up and go do the thing!
We spend a good portion of our life—
The only life we have to live—
In a posture of “Not No Way! Not No How!”
Before a world of things
That clearly need to be done,
And clearly need us to do them.
We will reduce the corporate level of pain in the world
Caused by the spillover of our own pain
Into the lives of others,
Simply by shouldering our own personal pain.
Stand up and do the thing!
And do it well—exactly as it needs to be done!
We size up the situation
And do what needs to be done in response to it.
And if that is hard,
That is all it is.
It is only hard,
And we have done what is hard before,
And will do it again.
It’s called “Growing Up.”
Refusing to do it keeps things as they are forever.
Doing it changes everything.
It all depends upon our growing up
In each situation as it arises.
Starting with the next one.
- 05/08/2016 — Wild Geranium 2015 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 28, 2016
Everything we do shows us
who we are at that point in our life,
and asks us:
“Is this who you intend to be?
Is this what you have in mind?
Is this the you you want to bring forth in your life?”
We form and shape our identity over the course of our life
By reflecting on our actions
And modifying them,
and altering them
To better express the “Me”
That is the “Me”
We would be proud to be.
We grow into who we are
By being mindfully (compassionately, non-judgmentally) aware
Of what our actions say about us,
And making the changes necessary
To align and integrate our life
With the deepest, truest, values
Of the person living it.
- 05/08/2016 — Cross Vine 2016 03 Panorama — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 16, 2016
We have to know what our business is
And what it isn’t.
Knowing what our business is (and isn’t)
Is central to our identity.
Our business is who we are,
And we are what it is,
So that we cannot separate who we are
From what we do (and don’t do).
Our business and our identity are one,
And together they form the ground,
Of our life.
I have my business,
And you have yours,
And when we are offering each other
“The kind of help that help is all about” (Shel Silverstein),
We are helping each other
Tend our respective business.
And when we are offering each other
“The kind of help that we all could do without” (Shel Silverstein),
We are interfering with each other’s business
And not minding our own.
- 05/09/2016 — Deer’s Tongue 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 16, 2016
The Great Knowing is the origin of everything.
Nothing exists apart from it,
But everything that is distant from it
Thinks there is nothing to it,
Yet, it is the source of all that is
And will be.
The Great Knowing is called many things,
But it is no sooner called “God”
Than those who call it that
Begin to put a human face on it
And think of it in human terms,
And distance themselves
from the source that is the Great Knowing.
David, the shepherd,
at one with the Great Knowing,
David, the king, distanced from the Great Knowing,
Was taken with Bathsheba.
Jesus, at one with the Great Knowing,
Led people to encounters with it.
His disciples, distanced from the Great Knowing,
Led people astray.
Everything depends upon
its being in accord with the Great Knowing.
But, as luck would have it,
We are, more often than not,
estranged from the Great Knowing
And it is to us as the Great Unknown.
Moving from Unknown to Knowing
Is the task of life.
How is it coming along?
- 05/09/2016 — Four Seasons Trail Panorama 2016 01 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 31, 2016
The Great Knowing knows
What it is time for when.
Our place is to know what the Great Knowing knows
By placing ourselves in accord with it
And waiting, watching, looking, listening
Until we see, hear and understand.
All of the ancient peoples knew this
And lived aligned with the fullness of time,
doing what was called for
when it was called for.
What is it time for in each situation as it arises?
What is being called for?
What is crying out to be seen, acknowledged, said, asked, done?
Those who live in accord with the Great Knowing
Do things without knowing why,
And the things that are done
are exactly what needs to be done.
How do they know?
They are at one with the Great Knowing.
How do we achieve oneness with the Great Knowing?
Cultivate humility and compassion.
Know that you don’t know 1% of all there is to know.
Sit quietly regularly,
Waiting, watching, looking, listening.
When you are not sitting,
Develop your ability to be mindfully aware
of the time and place of your living.
Recognize urgencies arising on their own,
Calling you to comply,
Inspiring you to action.
Live looking forward
To what you will find yourself doing.
- 05/10/2016 — Chickweed 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
We spend too much time
Seeking consolation and compensation,
And too little time
Seeking what is being asked of us,
And doing what needs us to do it.
Recovery is preparation.
Nothing is going to be made up to us.
Our losses are our losses.
We have to grieve what is to be grieved,
Mourn what is to be mourned,
And get ready for the next round.
Life isn’t waiting for us to feel like doing it.
Isn’t standing around until we give it the signal.
We have to pick ourselves up
And put ourselves in accord with the here and now
Of each situation as it arises.
Shake it off.
It is already now
- 05/10/2016 — Zen Glen 04 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 10, 2016
Why be anywhere else?
The sin of hubris is living beyond ourselves,
Not knowing when or where to stop.
This is my stopping place:
No public appearances.
No speaking engagements.
No social activities.
No civic responsibilities.
No business transactions.
Get the idea?
Retirement is a hammock for Zazen
A camera for exercise as I look for a photograph,
And a computer to connect with the world.
I’ve created my own monastic order
With my own Rules of the Day.
It’s easier to pull off when you are retired,
But anyone could carve out a space for themselves
In a week, or in a month.
It all starts with making room for yourself in your life.
- Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 05/11/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 07 Detail B — McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016
At the heart level,
Practitioners of Zen,
Buddhism and Taoism
know the same thing:
The further we get away from what’s what
Into the why, and how, and when, and where, and who—
That is to say,
The further we get away from the raw experience
Of the situation as it arises,
And what is happening there,
And what needs to happen in response,
In light of the true good of the situation as a whole,
Out of the gifts and resources available to us individually,
Regardless of the implications for us personally—
And the further we get into doctrine, theology and ideology—
The further we get from the level of our heart and bones and stomach,
The further we get into head stuff, mental stuff, rational, logical stuff,
And the more we become automatons,
a face in the crowd,
a member of the masses,
lost to our Self,
with no idea of who we are
and what matters most
in any situation as it arises.
Bad religion alienates us from ourselves
And makes us a digital reproduction of everyone else
Standing as one,
Reciting the creeds of the bad religion.
- 05/11/2016 — Foam Flower 2016 03 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 16, 2016
What is truest for you?
Not in terms of what your head knows,
Or thinks it knows,
But in terms of what your heart
What are you built for?
Where do you belong?
What is the nature of the drift of your soul.
What are you inclined toward?
Where do you have no business being?
What do you know that you don’t know that you know?
What do you know that you know you know and dismiss,
The work of resurrection,
Is the work of knowing these things.
The work of the Hero’s Journey,
The Spiritual Path,
The way back to Eden,
Is the work of healing the division within,
Recognizing our alienation from ourselves—
From our Self—
And living to close the breach,
And live aligned with heart/soul/Self,
In collaboration with,
In full accord with,
The foundational truth
At the ground of our being:
Who we are and are to be
In the time left for living.
- 05/11/2016 — Zen Glen 2016 02 Panorama — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 10, 2016
In my hammock in the glen
Comes true the word
Wendell Berry speaks
In “The Peace of Wild Things”:
“If your heart is fearful,
Or your spirit crushed,
And your hope is at a low ebb,
Seek out some natural corner
And sit there
Until the stillness
Drowns out the depressing
din of civilization,
And you rest there,
In the gift freely given
To those who come seeking,
Desperately needing solace,
And the courage to go on.”
- 05/12/2016 — Goodale 2015 52 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015
We need to step back more often.
From the things that drive us,
Like fear and desire.
Fear and desire are problems
Only when they consume us.
At a safe working distance,
They inform us—
Warn us of our ever-present tendency
To “leave the way, get off the path”
And wander amid the things
That pretend to matter,
But only lead us further away
From the things that do.
Fear and desire remind us
To recommit ourselves
In the service of what matters most,
And remain faithful to the cause
Of being grounded and centered
In the work of living aligned with that
Which is integral to us—
No matter what version of the Cyclops or Sirens
Stands before us at the moment.
- 05/12/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 2016 11 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016
You can’t give yourself to the 10,000 things
And have anything left for the important things
When they come along.
How do you know what is important?
Spend large amounts of time
Paying attention to yourself.
You know what is meaningful and important.
You only have to know what you know—
And refuse to be swept along in the crowd
That is going everywhere,
Even to yourself.
So that you can say “Yes,” to yourself
When “Yes” needs to be said.
- Used in Short Talks On Politics, 05/13/2016 — Pitcher Plants 2016 04 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, April 30, 2016
Bigotry is unacceptable.
Discrimination/oppression has no place among us.
No, No, No, NO!
Political INcorrectness has become acceptable
To a growing percentage of high ranking public officials,
Encouraging the unranked masses
To flaunt their contempt of laws protecting the rights of all people
“If a law threatens my religious liberty, I don’t have to obey it.”
This is anarchy,
And beyond appalling.
“Your religious liberty ends where my constitutional rights begin,”
Needs to be affirmed and reaffirmed by every elected official
In every state in the United States.
Every official taking office
takes an oath promising to uphold
and obey the laws of the land.
And too many of them
are making laws which void laws
They hold to be distasteful—
Because the laws in question protect the rights of people
The legislators do not like.
The trend will continue and grow stronger
As long as people who could vote
for office seekers of a different mind-set refuse to vote.
The people elect the people who abuse the people—
Often by failing to vote at all.
By not voting, we contribute to the creation
Of an environment of incivility and inhumanity.
If you don’t vote, I’m talking to you.
- Used in Short Talks On Politics, 05/14/2016 — Southern Wood Fern 2016 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 05, 2016
Hatred and fear feed off each other
And consume the world.
Traveling the blue highways seeking photographs,
I drive past a number of rural homes
With Confederate flags flying
And Trump for President signs standing
In their front yards.
The combination is not surprising,
But it is chilling.
Trump can stir hatred and fear
To milk them for votes,
But he cannot contain them,
Or even channel them.
and sane person
Can act in any way
to encourage hatred and fear.
“Just making a suggestion,”
“Just thinking out loud,”
“Just saying what people are thinking,”
Are just providing
the spark for the conflagration.
A leader’s primary responsibility,
In politics and in business,
Is to create a climate of safety
and respect for all people.
Or just making “them”
bear the brunt of our jokes and disdain,
Puts “them” at risk
And encourages distrust,
And incites violence.
We cannot do it,
Or allow it to be done
Without calling it out
And demanding that it stop at once
And never be repeated.
- 05/14/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 2016 12 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
A man asked, “But who exactly is my neighbor?”
Jesus told those gathered the Parable of the Good Samaritan,
And asked “Who, of all those who walked by, was the neighbor
To the man in the ditch?”
They said, “The one who showed mercy to him.”
Jesus said, “That’s it. YOU are the neighbor!
You go be neighbors to everyone who needs a neighbor.”
So what is this national trend toward
Treating those who need a neighbor—
The LGBT population,
As though they don’t need a neighbor?
The people in position to help them
Certainly aren’t going to be one!
What’s with all this spitting on Jesus?
By people who say they love Jesus?
- 05/15/2016 — Pitcher Plants 2016 07 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, May 13, 2016
If you can be quiet enough,
You can hear everything
You need to hear
To know what needs to be done
In each situation
As it arises.
Silence is the solution
To every problem
Or will have.
There is a catch.
It must be the right kind of silence.
Spending our life
Seeking the silence
In the right kind of way
Is not a waste of time.
It is the way time
Is meant to be spent.
A lot of listening,
A little doing.
The less we do
In the right kind of way,
The more we get done.
Over the course of a life
Lived this way,
We transform the world.