May 27, 2021


Sunflowers 03 06/20/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Draper Wildlife Management Area, Brattonsville, South Carolina
The first rule of life 
is to live truthfully.

The second rule of life
is to live compassionately.

Until we get those two rules down,
we are only pretending to be alive,
wrapped up as we are
in denial and greed.

The third rule of life 
is to live in the service
of balance and harmony.

We do that in conjunction
with the fourth rule of life:
Live to reduce complexity
and to increase simplicity.

In this way, 
we become a shelter for 
energy, spirit and vitality,
and a champion of 
silence and awareness.

And are ready to step into
each situation as it arises
as those capable of--
and committed to--
seeing what's what,
hearing what is called for,
and doing the right thing,
in the right way,
at the right time,
moment by moment,
as servants of our original nature,
with sincerity and spontaneity,
and no thought of contrivance,
advantage or gain,
one situation at a time
throughout the time left for living.

And that is all there is
to the greatest adventure 
we could possibly hope for--
all for the low, low price
of seeing what we look at
and hearing what is being said.



Mattamuskeet Moon Oil Paint Renderdc — Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina
I live by whim and fancy.
I fancy this
and do that on a whim,
and here I am, 
the result of accident and chance,
or coincidence and serendipity,
or synchronicity, as Carl Jung might say.

For lack of anything better to do,
I selected Joseph Campbell's 
Romance of the Grail: The Magic
and Mystery of Arthurian Myth
and Thomas Cleary's
Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries,
Further Teachings of Lao-tzu,
because I always read more than one book
at a time,
and why not?

And discovered that the two books
are the same book,
saying the same things
separated by a thousand (or more) years.

The truth they extol is timeless/eternal
and relentlessly ignored
through the ages:
"Instinct and intuition lead the way,
innocence and sincerity find it,
resolution in the service of integrity
see it through."

Life experience leads us there,
personal ambition,
desire and fear
push us past it,
and we never stay there long enough
to have it made
and know that we have it made,
and never budge for nothing,
not no way,
not no how,
forget it,
we are where we need to be,
go on without us,
we aren't moving
from the still point
of the turning world.



Sunrise at Portland Headlight 09/26/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Portland, Maine
I project my melancholy onto the world,
and see what I see through 
the lens of sadness and sorrow.

I read the headlines and sense 
the sadness and sorrow,
and can't see how anyone 
could read the headlines 
and not sense 
the sadness and the sorrow.

And whether the sadness and sorrow
is out there, 
really and truly,
or "just" in here,
really and truly,
is one of those 
"Where does the line lie?"
kind of questions
that refuse all attempts at answering.

Sadness and sorrow are valid ways
of interpreting what I see and hear.
Other people with a different bias,
or an affinity for rejecting 
all invitations to experience sadness and sorrow,
would have different interpretations.

Their different ways of seeing
what we all look at
do not invalidate my ways of seeing
what we look at.

We look at the same world
and see different things,
canted as we are toward
reading things in light
of the impact of our experience,
and evaluating where we are
based on where we have been.

A red and white striped beach ball
will trigger different responses
among people with different experiences
of red and white striped beach balls.

We can't say any of those people
are wrong for seeing things as they do.
They can't help seeing things as they do.
If we can see that,
it will moderate the way
we respond to them and their response
to the beach ball,
and to the beach,
and to the ocean,
and to the world...

And that might enable us 
to work with them
toward responding to the world
in ways that are good for the world,
and for each other,
as we make our way,
our ways,
through our life,
in ways beneficial to the good
of each other
and of the whole.



The Oak at Springer’s Point Panorama 02 11/01/2009 –Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
How we see things
is a function of 
how we look at things.

When we "read a scene,"
we are also "reading things into the scene,"
based on what we expect to see
and what we assume and infer
about what we see.
We rarely see anything "just as it is,"
but also in light of what we bring
into the scene with us
out of our past experience
with everything that we have experienced.

We "add things" to every scene,
and "miss things" in every scene,
because of the way we look
at what we see.

Everything reminds us of something,
connects us with something,
triggers something, 
some memory,
some feeling,
some response,
which deepens/expands/enlarges,
or reduces/diminishes/disappears,
aspects of what we look at--
bringing into play the old maxim,
"Thou Art That"
in ways unintended
by the originator of the phrase.

Being aware of being "hooked"
by a scene/object/person/place/idea
frees us to explore ourselves,
the "inner,"
as well as the "outer," the "other,"
in each interchange,
and provides an opportunity
for reflection/realization/transformation
that opens us more fully
to the adventure of being alive
by showing us what all
there is to see
for those who see their seeing,
feel their feeling,
think about their thinking,
and know what all they know
and don't know
all along the way.

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.

3 thoughts on “May 27, 2021

  1. Hola Jim!

    We have a 4 year old Tuesday at Noon Meditation Group…In*Spire Meditation….mostly PCOC friends…. but we gathered a few from the community along the way to share Silence with…..
    each week I post a bit of Wisdom with the link (we have been on zoom for a year and a half). Would it be alright with you to post some of your Philosophy? Just like this gem? 🙂

    Many Thanks! Lora


    1. Hi Lora, I’ll be glad to be a part of things! And may we all remember that we have what it takes to find what we need to do what needs us to do it! The best of the Way to you and the In*Spire Meditation group!


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