July 30, 2021

01

Ocracoke Lighthouse 01 10/27/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Get fully vaccinated
and wear a mask!

It's like wearing a seat belt.

It's like wearing a shirt and shoes
when you go shopping.

It's like not smoking in restaurants
and shops, etc.
that prohibit smoking.

It's like driving on the right 
side of the road.

It's like stopping on red
and going on green.

It's like taking turns at 
four-way stop signs.

It's like yielding the right-of-way
at traffic circles.

It's like not breaking in line.

It's like honoring the right to be served first
of the people who were there before you.

It's like zipping up when you leave the restroom.

It's like doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done, 
how it needs to be done,
for as long as it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done.

It's like saving lives.

Whether you think so or not.
Whether you feel like it or not.
Whether you want to or not.
Whether it's convenient or not.
Whether you are in the mood to do it or not.
Whether your friends laugh at you are not.

What kind of friend would that be?

–0–

02

November 4 Panorama 11/04/2019 — Blueridge Parkway, Boone, North Carolina
"Tao" is an old Chinese word meaning "way" or "path."
"Te" means "virtue."
"Ching" means "classic" (As in "classical music"
a "classic book."

"Tao te Ching" is "The Classic Way of Virtue,"
or, "The Classic Virtue of The Way."

"Virtue" is to be understood
as the essence of who you/we are.
The "specialties/gifts/daemon/virtues"
that make us "us,"
that reflect/exhibit/express
"the face that was ours
before our grandparents (both sets) were born."

As in, "The virtues of this mare
include her gentle gait
and her love for children."

What do your virtues include?

The Tao is about the way you bring them forth,
reflecting/exhibiting/expressing
your best in how you live your life.

Doing what needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises,
all your life long.

Tao te Ching.

–0–

03

Oktibbha County 07 11/20/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Starkville, Mississippi
Lao Tzu's "Tao te Ching,"
which is also called, "The Lao Tzu,"
includes a statement which has been
traditionally interpreted to read,
"The Tao that can be told/said
is not the eternal Tao."

Martin Palmer interprets it as saying:
"The path that can be discerned as a path,
is not a reliable path."

Which is to say,
if we are following someone else's idea
of who and how we ought to be,
we are not on our path.

If anybody else is telling us what to do
and how to be,
we are not on our path.

And so, the old Chinese Zen masters
(Zen is what happened when Taoism met Buddhism)
could say, "If you meet the Buddha on the road,
kill him."

The same would apply to Lao Tzu and Jesus,
and all of their disciples.

We step into a situation,
and what we do there is to flow
from who we are
when we are being true
to the deepest essence of our soul/heart/self.

We alone know what that is--
and we don't know it by thinking about it,
but by watching what we do
spontaneously,
straight from the heart/soul/self
in response to what meets us in the situation.

Our automatic/natural/spontaneous response
to what happens in any situation
reveals us to us
as much as it does to those in the situation with us.

We know who we are by seeing what we do
and hearing what we say
in unguarded moments
when we are responding "off the cuff,"
"on the fly," "in the moment,"
to what is happening here and now.

Reflecting on that over time
can shape who we are on one hand,
and change the way we think 
about who we are on another hand.
And on another hand,
it can shift us toward being
one who lives out of their own sense
of what needs to be done,
trusting themselves to be what is needed,
without worrying about 
what the Buddha, or Jesus, or Lao Tzu,
or their disciples,
might think of what and how we do what we do.

The reliable path comes out of 
the center of our own self.
When we seek to follow that path,
we are on the right path,
regardless of how wrong it might appear to be.

Jesus was killed for not being
who he was "supposed to be."
Jesus, the Buddha and Lao Tzu
were all misunderstood.

Being true to ourselves
is not the path to fortune and glory.
It is the path to being who we are
in each situation as it arises.

That turned out to be more valuable
than Jesus, the Buddha and Lao Tzu
had any right to think, or hope, believe
or imagine it would be.

May it be so for you and me as well!

–0–

04

The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach 05 01/28/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Botany Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Edisto Island, South Carolina
No expectation.
No judgment.
No opinion.
Just awareness.
Just compassion.
Just seeing.
Just knowing.
Just doing what needs to be done.
Where it needs to be done.
When it needs to be done.
The way it needs to be done.
Because it needs to be done.
In each situation as it arises.
All our life long.

–0–

05

The Oaks of Mepkin Abbey 11/15/2013 — Monks Corner, South Carolina
Lieu Tzu is one of the Four Pillars of Classic Taoism,
along with Lao Tzu, Chung Tzu and Wen Tzu,
and said:

"In our short time here,
we should listen to our own voices,
follow our own hearts.
Why not be free
and live your own life?
Why follow other people's rules
and live to please others?
Why not let your life
be guided by your own heart?"

This is from about 300 BCE.
Over 2,000 years later,
it still needs to be grasped
and applied.

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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