March 14, 2021

03

Baxter Creek Bridge 10/29/2015 01 Oil Paint Rendered– Big Creek District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterville, North Carolina
Start with what you love.
Select one thing from
all the things you love.

How much time do you spend with it?
How often?
How long has it been?
What can you do to increase
frequency and duration?
Will you do it?

Imagine putting a frame 
around your selection
to isolate it
for your own personal reflection.

Reflection is the path to
new realizations.
Realization is equivalent 
to illumination,
enlightenment,
awakening,
awareness.

You can get there without reflection,
and you can get there via reflection.
Reflection is practice
in the art of pursuing realization.
If you had rather not,
that's your business.
If you had rather take up the practice,
come on along.

With your selection framed and ready,
make a list of the things you love
about what you love.
What is lovable about it?
What do you find attractive about it?
What pulls you to it?
What lifts it above every other thing?
Why it?

Explore your connection with it.
What does it say about you?
How are you like it?
How is it like you?
What are the things you have in common?
What does it have to do with you?
What do you have to do with it?

In what ways does it exhibit,
reflect,
symbolize you?
In what ways do you exhibit,
reflect,
symbolize it?

In what ways are you it?
In what ways is it you?

In what ways can you live
to be more fully it?
How can you live to exhibit it,
express it,
incarnate it,
exemplify it,
bring it forth,
bring it to life,
be it
in your life?

Make it your mission,
purpose,
practice
to be what you love
in each situation as it arises
all your life long.

–0–

02

Appalachian Homeplace 04/11/2012 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway near Doughton Park, North Carolina
Zen is what happened
when Taoism met Buddhism.
Zen masters would sometimes 
give novices koans to solve
on their way to enlightenment.

A koan is a riddle where every answer
is a wrong answer,
including no answer at all.
It is a box with four sides,
a top and a bottom,
with no doors or windows.
How do you get out of it?

That's a koan.

"What is the sound of one hand clapping,"
is another.

"What was your face before you were born?"
is another.

Trying to come up with a solution
to a problem that cannot be solved
forces us to transcend the problem,
embrace absurdity,
and make our peace with how things are
and also are.

Contradiction,
paradox,
anomaly, 
discordance,
dichotomy,
polarity,
conflict,
confusion,
chaos
and irreconcilable contraries
are realities
that cannot be solved,
and must be lived with.

Seeing that life is lived
within the tension of eternal opposites
is an enlightening realization
that allows us to do
what needs to be done
in one moment,
and do the complete opposite
in the next moment,
and something entirely different
in the moment after that.

We draw the line here this time,
and there next time.

We are all like the wind
that blows where it will,
changing with the times
and the circumstances,
in response to the needs
of the moment at hand.
Free to do what needs to be done,
while being bound by the limitations
of our available choices.

Laughing and dancing all the way.
Or moaning and complaining all the way.
Or bucking and snorting all the way.

How we proceed along the way
is a reflection--
an expression--
of how enlightened we are,
with "enlightenment" being
the degree of our alignment
with the givens of our situation
in each situation as it arises,
or of our being in accord with the Tao
of the here and now,
moment-by-moment,
all our life long.

–0–

01

Carolina Wren 04 Oil Paint Rendered — Scenes from My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina
We are always talking to ourselves.
Our life is always speaking to us.
Are we listening is the question.
What are we saying?
What is our life saying?
What are we missing?
What do we need to hear
that we are not hearing?

It's time we find out.

All it takes is sitting down
(Or walking, standing, lying around),
being still and quiet
and paying attention 
to what arises withing.

When you do that,
what are you most aware of?

Sounds?
Feelings?
Moods?
Images?
Words?
Conversations?
Memories?
Fears?

What dominates the silence?

Sit with it.

Listening,
feeling,
sensing,
remembering,
...
being with
what you carry around.

Making your peace with you.
Hearing what you have to say.

Do this for as long as you are able,
as often as you can
wherever you are.

Pay attention to your nighttime dreams.
Explore them for recurring themes.
Give them titles,
as though they are a movie,
or a book,
or a commercial.
What do they stir to life in you?
How do you respond to them--
within the dream 
and upon awakening?

Dreams are like mirrors,
and Rorschach inkblots.
What you see says as much
as what is to be seen.
How you react reflects
how you see,
how you see governs what you see,
and says as much about you,
here and now,
as what you are looking at
when you observe your dreams.
Become aware of it all.

Awareness of it all is the key.
Work to be aware of everything
without reacting to any of it.

Become an interested observer
of yourself living your life.

See without judgment,
without evaluation,
without opinion,
but with compassion
and curiosity,
interest,
and acceptance,
allowing things to be 
just what they are,
without labels, bias, 
prejudice or preference.

You are simply listening to yourself,
to see what you have to say.
Befriending yourself,
trusting yourself to be befriending you
by showing you how things are with you
at the present moment in your life--
as a way of saying,
"Here we are.
What are you willing to do about it?
I'm here to help
if you will allow yourself
to be helped!"

There is a lot of help surrounding us all,
but we have to be able to be helped
for it to help.

A receptive attitude
makes all the difference.

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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