August 17, 2021


The Ferns 08-03-2021 04 Oil Paint Rendered — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina
I have only one favorite Zen story
(Zen is what happened when Buddhism met Taoism).
and I tell it frequently,
so if you have been with me a while,
bear with me here...

A Zen master and his disciple
were walking over a bridge
when the disciple asked,
"What is Zen?"

Whereupon the master picked up
the disciple and hurled him into
the river.

"There," shouted the master,
"That is water! 
Swim in it.
Bathe in it.
Drink it.
Or drown!
Because to talk about water
is to not know water!"

Nails it.

To talk about the Tao 
is to not know the Tao.

To talk about God
is to not know God.

To talk about love
is to not know love.


Do not talk.

Start with the next thing
that needs to be done.
Don't talk about it.
Do it.
When it needs to be done.
The way it needs to be done.
Because it needs to be done.

And then do the next thing 
that needs to be done after that.

And so on.

For as long as you live.

That is all you need to do.
That is all there is to it.

No drama.
No talking.



Smoky Cascade 04/13/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Instability and disharmony
have to be counter-balanced
with stability and harmony.

The Taoists of 500 BCE
put balance and harmony
at the top of the list,
along with living out of
our original nature.

They are our salvation
and "a very present help
in time of trouble."

We don't just make up
balance and harmony
out of the air.
They belong to
certain places and activities.

We have to go there,
do that.
We cannot just think them up,
or wish them into place.
We have to actively seek them out,
and place ourselves in their presence,
in their service,
doing the things that create peace
and produce balance and harmony,
in sync with our original nature.

What are the things 
that are most true to who we are?
That express us most accurately?
That exhibit us most clearly?
They exude balance and harmony
(Along with spirit, energy and vitality!).

Returning to them is 
returning to the core,
restoring our relationship
with the source.

Live from there,
in accord with that,
and it will be well with us
throughout our days,
no matter what is going on around us
that is out of our control
and beyond belief.



Sunflower 02 07/02/2008 Oil Paint Rendered
What keeps us going?

Where do we turn when we have no place to turn?

What is our ground,
our heart's deepest allegiance
and truest loyalty?

What would we do--
and keep on doing--
"without hope,
without witness,
without reward,"
(Doctor Who/Steven Moffat)?

Hold that close
and don't let it go.

Keep it before you 
as a guide
and true companion
through the deepest night.

Let it be for you
the driving force
behind your making 
Ulysses' words your own:
"I will persist and endure!
And when the heaving sea
has shaken my raft to pieces,
then I will swim!"


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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