January 12, 2021


The Willow Oil Paint Rendered — Country Park, Greensboro, North Carolina
Returning to the silence,
seeking the center,
harmonizing ourselves
with the disharmony on all sides,
making our peace 
with the complete absence of peace
in our life,
putting ourselves in accord
with the complete lack of accord
anywhere we look,
is walking on the water
of the heaving waves
of the wine-dark sea,
between the clashing rocks,
and through the dark night
of betrayal and remorse.

Grief and mourning,
deep loss and sorrow,
too must be embraced.

There is no escape
from the ebbs and throes of life.
We bear it by bearing it,
receiving it
as one might welcome any fact
unfit for human company,
but here nonetheless,
with nowhere else to go,
and no one but us
to deal with it
as it must be dealt with
for as long as its time shall last.

Here we are,
now what?
Live on!
Live on!
Doing what must be done,
even here,
even now,
even with this,
oh, why this?
Why not?
Here we are.

Return to the silence,
seek the center,
harmonize ourselves
with the disharmony all around,
trusting balance to return
in time,
and the gyrations to subside,
and the still point
to come back into focus,
and our feet to find the foundation,
and spring to come at last.



The Grandfather Mountain Variations 03 08/07/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Price Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
What are your virtues--
not in terms of morality,
but in terms of your personal qualities.
The characteristics
that characterize you--
the gifts,
that set you apart
and make you you.

That constitute your identity,
are foundational to your make-up
and define you
as do your fingerprints
the color of your eyes
and the cones of your irises.

These are the aspects of your Original Nature
that came with you into the world,
and are yours to bring forth in your life
as your service to the world.

What are they?

Sit still,
be quiet,
wait for the mud to settle
and the water to clear
to make plain your ground and foundation,
your center and your core,
that nothing can knock you off of,
or take from you
because it IS you,
and no one but you
can exhibit them 
the way you can.

And only you can keep that
from happening.

Why would you not be who you are?



Cades Cove Methodist Church Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend, Tennessee
Some things never change.
What was true at the beginning of time
is true today.

The old Taoists,
from before 2000 years BCE,
were talking about Yin/Yang,
and the work of Integrating The Opposites,
and our Original Nature,
and the Virtues that are ours 
from before we were born,
and Balance and Harmony,
and the essential importance
of Sincerity (Non-Contrivance)
and Spontaneity
in being in accord with the Tao 
(Doing the right thing,
in the right way,
at the right time,
throughout our life).

And, after all these years,
nothing has changed
in this foundational formula
for living well
and having a meaningful life.

And all of the things that have
opposed the embodiment--
the incarnation--
the exhibition/expression--
of this way of life
through the ages,
are still at work in the service
of disharmony and chaos
in our life
and in the world.

Our work remains the same forever.

Ours is the Sisyphean Task
of rolling the rock
up the hill,
following it down the hill,
and rolling it up the hill,
to follow it down the hill,
throughout time.

Being in accord with the Tao
through all that disrupts the flow
with clashing rocks
and heaving waves
on the wine-dark sea--
up the hill
and down the hill
and up the hill

Got it?
Go to it!
Go do it!

That's all there is to it!



Blue Ridge Pastoral Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
What is your work,
your life?
What do you need to do it,
to live it?

What are the tools you need
to do your work,
to live your life?

My work/my life
is looking/seeing,
and getting to the bottom of it all.

I am a spiritual scientist.
I explore the Numen,
the ineffable,
the Tao,
the unnamed Source
of life and being,
of light and darkness--
the Mystery at the heart of everything.

My tools are a camera
and a keyboard.
And books.

I write to hear what I have to say.
I read to hear what I need to hear.
I look to see what's there.
I make inquiries
because there are more questions than answers,
and "an answer is just a step on the way
to a better question."

What about you?
What's your schtick? 
Your Thing?
Your energy source?
Your life source?
Driving you on?
How do you feed it?
How does it feed you?
What are the tools it requires
for its service?

Answering those questions--
and the ones they lead to--
are all you need for a meaningful life.
And what do you need 
beyond a meaningful life?



Big Creek Boulder Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterville, North Carolina
The lesson of the Buddha under the Bo Tree
is: "Do not be impressed by anything!"
Which is also stated:
"Do not need anything you do not already have."

We come as complete human beings from the womb,
packed with all we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

A baby has exactly what they need
to get what they need.

And that remains true with the baby
throughout their life.

Insecure/unstable babies
think they need more than they need,
and cannot get enough
of what they do not have.

Secure/stable Buddha-babies
are confident in their ability
to sustain themselves 
simply by finding what they need
here and now,
and living on
by making do.

What did Gandhi have ever?
He wore a diaper and was bare-footed forever!
And he was a rock--
unimpressed by anything.

Jesus was the same way.
What did Jesus have?
He went without whimpering
to his crucifixion.

Do you think Donald Trump could do that?
Or any of his minions?
Any of the 73 million MAGA-GA-GA's?
Not one of them can stand alone
and be who they are,
knowing they have what they need
so that no one can buy them,
or frighten them,
or threaten them.
They are afraid of everything,
and need guns and walls
to protect them from the threatening world
that will come for their guns
at any time.

There is no such thing as a secure fascist.
Insecurity, uncertainty, fear and emptiness
are the bedrock of fascism.

Being a Buddha-baby 
is their worst nightmare.

Democracy is for people 
who have what it takes 
to be who they are
in each situation as it arises
without ever being impressed--
for better or worse--
by anything.

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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