October 21, 2020


22-Acre Woods 02 10/15/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo
Happiness is a natural by-product
of doing the things that make
our little heart sing
and our little toes dance.

Having our heart in what we are doing
is all there is to it.

How hard could that be?

When is the last time your heart was in
what you were doing?

Why did you stop?

What are the blocks,
the stops,
the barriers
preventing us from living 
with our heart in what we are doing?

Conduct an inquiry.
Get to the bottom of it.
Why are we not living
with our heart in what we are doing?
What would have to happen 
in order to be able to live that way?

What does our heart want
that we aren't giving it?

Why are we holding out 
on our own heart?

Whose side are we on?



Sourwood Leaves 02 10/21/2020 — 22-Acre W00ds, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo
There are the Who, What, When, Where, How questions
to be answered.
The Tao and the Atman team up
for the them all,
with The Atman being
the essential Self/Soul/Essence/Being
(the Who)
within all living things,
and the Tao being
the Right way (How) to do What needs doing,
and When to do it.
And Where is always here and now.

Throwing or lot in
with the Tao and the Atman,
leaves us with only having to
develop our relationship
with both
in order to follow the flow
of life from beginning to in.

The only catch is 
that we have to play our part
as it needs to be played
and get out of the way
in each situation as it arises.

It means sincerely being devoted
to serving the true good of the whole, 
with no contrivance
and no interest in the outcome.
We just do what is ours to do,
with nothing to gain or lose,
and it all works out just peachy
for all concerned.

We have everything we need
to do what is called for 
in all conditions and circumstances 
of life.

What could be wrong with this plan?



Sourwood 07 10/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo
There are eight tools
for getting us through anything/everything,
and for getting us in the center of the sweet spot
of where we need to be
in every time and place of our living.

They are:

1) Compassion --for ourselves,
and for one another
(that would be for all others)--
and for our circumstances/situation in life.

It begins with compassion
and flows from compassion,
and depends upon compassion.

Compassion is unconditional
and equally applicable to all things
any time.

It is the ground of our existence.
If we do it without compassion,
it won't be worth doing.

If you are going to practice anything,
practice compassion--
for everything
throughout your day
all day long.

2) Awareness takes everything into account,
contains everything,
considers everything,
with compassion (of course),
and without judgment,
or expectation.

All things are just as they are, 
"Thus Come,"
"right out of the box."

Awareness receives everything
in a "This is the way things are,
and this is what can be done about it,
and that's that"
kind of way.

Awareness is without emotional attachment
or reactivity.

Awareness is the operational attitude
of emergency room personnel,
or emergency medical technicians,
triaging a situation
and responding to it
in ways appropriate to the occasion
in each situation as it arises.

Awareness is the primary
and absolutely essential attitude
for sizing things up
and dealing with them
as they need to be dealt with,
one after another,
all our life long.

3) Acceptance greets everything
with Rumi's warm welcome
expressed so well in his poem, "The Guest House"

Everything is exactly what we need
to grow up some more again.
And growing up some more again
is "what it's all about."

Growing up some more again
is the essence of the Hero's Journey,
and the Spiritual Journey,
and every other journey there is or may ever be.

We are never Grown Up.
We are always growing up.
showing ourselves who we are
and what we are made of.

There is more to us than meets the eye--
any eye,
especially our own eye!
And our life is exquisitely designed
to provide us with the experiences necessary
to bring us forth,
who we are 
in each time and place
(here and now)
of our living.

So, greet the day,
and make it welcome!

4) Silence is the sine qua non for 
Original Nature,
and living centered
in the sweet spot of who we are
and what is ours to do.

Everything flows from Silence!
Imagination and creativity
are grounded in Silence!
All that we as a species
have ever produced
came right out of Silence!

Meeting what meets us in Silence
is the necessary ordeal
for meeting what meets us 
in the world 
of ordinary, apparent, reality.

The Silence is practice
for the Noise of the 10,000 things,
for the Dust of the World.

As we learn to appreciate,
yearn for,
relish Silence,
we prepare ourselves for all that waits
in the situations and circumstances
of our daily life.

Silence is the source of all that we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done
and what needs us to do it
in each situation as it arises forever.

We cannot be anything worth being
until we can be quiet.

On a regular basis
throughout the time left for living.

5) Perspective is how we see
what we look at.

How we see determines what we see
when we look at what we look at.

How we see is conditioned/controlled
by the 10,000 things.
The way we see things 
is determined by where we have been
and what has happened to us
from birth to here and now.

We all are at the mercy
of the way we see things.
Programming the way things are seen
is the aim of all propaganda,
and everything that has come to us
about how to see what we look at
is a form of cultural propaganda--
stemming from the people we hang out with,
socialize with,
associate with,
that form our culture-within-the-culture.

When the way we see things changes,
the people we spend time with is likely to change.
And if we change the people we spend time with,
we are likely to change the way we see things.

All of which is a result of awareness,
particularly as it relates to #6 below.

6) Self-transparency is seeing ourselves seeing.
Seeing ourselves thinking.

We do not move,
until we see ourselves moving--
until we know what we would
go to hell for--
until we know where we stand
and what we stand for,
"Without hope,
without witness,
without reward"
(Steven Moffat, Doctor Who).

Self-transparency is not kidding ourselves,
but knowing ourselves as we are,
"just so,"
"Thus Come."
With the kind of compassionate
and acceptance described above.

This kind of knowledge 
of our essential selves,
lends itself to a budding knowledge
of our Self--
The Atman within--
and positions us to live
aligned with ourselves,
with our Self,
and in accord with the Tao.

7) Sincerity (Non-contrivance) is the basic
requirement of self-expression.
We live to be who we are--
for no reason other than being who we are.

We do not live to get anything out of it
beyond the experience of being fully alive
by being who we are in the moment of our living
in each situation as it arises.

When we meet the moment
and respond to it
by offering/doing what is called for there
as only we can,
with the gifts/daemon/genius/virtue/character/grace
that are peculiarly ours to offer,
we have done all that anyone can do,
and that is being as alive to the moment as possible. 

8) Spontaneity is acting without contrivance,
without agenda,
without motive,
without plans,
or schemes,
or strategies,
or intentions,
or purposes,
or ideas,
but simply rising to every occasion
by offering what is called for,
and letting that be that.

Live in the service of these eight tools for living,
and you will be
where everyone has been searching for
from the beginning of the species,
and, maybe, before.



Around Bass Lake 07 10/13/2014 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
What comes packed in our DNA?
How did it get there?

I talk a lot about our Original Nature.
What is constant in everyone's DNA,
and what is inherited from our parents,
unique to us alone among all people on earth for ever?
How did it get there?
How often do new things get there?
What is the process of transmission?

How do innate releasing mechanisms
get into our DNA?
Can new ones ever come along?
When in the history of our DNA
did they first occur?
How does "experience" become "inherited"?

Does the idea of God
predate the experience of God?
Where do ideas come from?
Can we experience anything
that is not "expected" by our DNA?
What can we not experience?
Why not?

We are born into a culture
of assumptions and expectations.
How could we ever know 
that a response to our environment
is inherited via DNA
or originates in the sea of cultural
assumptions and expectations
that immerses us at birth?

It feels (to me) as though 
the Tao and the Atman 
are explanations/grounds of experience,
but experience could just as easily
be based on the cultural
expectations and assumptions
of Tao and Atman.

Experience is created by expectation
and explanation.
That is the foundation of superstition,
black magic,
and religion.
If we take anything on faith
it is instant and everlasting
that whatever we take on faith
becomes an irrefutable fact
like that (snaps fingers).

We are susceptible to suggestion,
and cannot separate 
culturally created expectation
from personally experienced reality.

How objective can even science be? 
Isn't that the very ground of the
"hypothesis not fact" presumption
that serves as the basis of all scientific endeavor?
We have to constantly check our own observations
because we cannot trust ourselves to see what is there
and not what we expect to be there?

How do our expectations have us where we are?
How can we free ourselves from our presumptions,
and expectations
in order to see reality
separate from our presumptions,
and expectations?

How do we know we aren't just making up
everything we think we know to be so?

Truth and illusion are separated by what?
"The edge of the coin"?
(Ortega y Gasset)

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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