We know when things are balanced and harmonious, and we know when things are unsettled, chaotic and out of control. We know when we are fighting with our life, struggling to get things into place, and when we are at peace with our life, lolling in "the land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow" (Anne Murry, Snowbird). What we don't know is when to change ourselves and when to change our life. Changing ourselves is "Adjustment, acceptance, acquiescence and accommodation, Kid. Adjustment, acceptance, acquiescence and accommodation." Changing our life is seeing what can happen, knowing what the situation is calling for, and offering what we have to give in the service of what needs to be done, allowing the outcome be the outcome. Willing what cannot be willed, and forcing what cannot be forced-- and not knowing the difference between what can be and what cannot be-- is the recipe for turmoil, chaos, struggle, upheaval, unrest, anxiety, discontent, dissatisfaction and what generally passes as the American/Western Way of Life. Whenever we experience the symptoms of "the American/Western Way of Life," we need to take it as a cue to sit still, be quiet, attend our breathing, seek the center, the source, the core of our original nature, and open ourselves to the impulses arising from the depths of who we are. The inner experience of seeking clarity-- which is the sole function of prayer rightly practiced-- will orient us according to the Way of the Tao, which is entering the service of what is being called for here and now, and doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, and the right place, moment-by-moment, situation-by-situation, and allowing the outcome to be the outcome, trusting ourselves to respond to that outcome in ways appropriate to the occasion for the rest of our life. This is "turning the light around," by being what we seek, and serving the moment with what we have to give, which is the most life transforming and earth-shaking thing we can ever do: just being present in the moment for the sake of the moment.
If we go into any situation looking for what we stand to gain from the situation, our we might profit from the situation, what's in it for us in the situation, etc., that will lead to outcomes that are quite different than if we go into the situation looking for what is called for in the situation, and how we might serve the situation for the good of the situation, asking ourselves what we have to give that the situation needs, asking how we can be helpful-- regardless of the cost to us personally. How we approach each situation as it arises tells the tale. To get or to give? Nothing matters more than that.
We think in terms of outcomes, results, payoffs, profit, rewards, merit, acquisition, accumulation, buying, spending, amassing, consuming... We think in terms of what is in it for us, and regularly run cost/benefit analyses in order to figure the odds and do what's smart. Look around. Being smart has us where we are today. Jesus said about being smart, "They have their reward." And he said, "Be like the lilies of the field. They neither sow nor reap, nor worry about how they are going eat, or what they are going to put on." And for his trouble, they crucified him on a cross. Jesus wasn't smart. Look what happened to him. Jesus also knew what he was doing. He knew that speaking the truth and being true to himself within the conditions and circumstances of his life-- where it wasn't smart to have anything to do with truth-- would lead to his death. What will we die for? What will we go to hell for? What are we afraid of? What will we do anything to avoid? Is it more important to be smart, or to live truthfully? Living truthfully changes everything. There is very little profit, in the way the world measures profit, in living truthfully. Living truthfully is the first thing to go in doing what it takes to make it in a profit-driven economy (And what other kinds of economy are there?) Profit at what price? Profit at the price of living truthfully is a Faustian bargain. Faustian bargains run the economies of the world. And look around. Being smart has us where we are today. The alternative is knowing what we are doing, knowing what is important, knowing what matters most, and living in light of that, in service to that, in a "Thy will, not mine be done," kind of way-- though there be a cross at the end of the line. That is the message of the cross. That is the Tao of Jesus. That is doing what needs to be done, saying what needs to be said, when it needs to be done/said, the way it needs to be done/said, for as often as it needs to be done/said, and letting the outcome be the outcome. Quite different from the bargain of Faust. And, you will never hear that sermon in the Christian churches of the land. Any land. And here we are.