August 31, 2021

01

Mount Whyte 09/24/2003 Oil Paint Rendered — Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta
Balance and harmony,
sincerity and integrity,
spirit, energy and vitality
are seven words
without reference 
to anything actual, tangible,
material, concrete--
capable of being held,
touched, smelled, weighed,
measured, acquired, amassed, horded...

They refer to states of being.
And there are no steady states of being.
Being is being in motion,
and being at rest,
being full,
and being empty,
being alive and being dead,
and being somewhere in between.

Hold that thought.

The Bible talks about "In the beginning..."
What was before the beginning?
The Tao goes there.
"The Way produces One,
One produces Two,
Two produce Three,
Three produce all things"

(The One is the Source,
the Two are Yin and Yang,
The Three are Heaven, Earth
and Human Beings).

Where does The Way come from?
What is the origin of God?
Nothing is before The Way,
just as Nothing is before God.

Nothing is before the Beginning.
Nothing is the Very Beginning.
From Nothing all arise.
To Nothing all return.

In between are ephemeral states of being,
coming and going,
moving and resting,
rising and falling,
living and dying...

Nothing--Being/Moving/etc.--Nothing.

Nothing is the origin.
We approach the origin
through Emptiness.
Emptiness is our way
of experiencing Nothing.

We think Emptiness and Nothing
are terrible, horrible, no good,
very bad, awful, dreadful
and to be avoided at all costs.

Yet, they are the Source of the Source!
And the Source is the origin
of Yin and Yang (Duality/Contradiction),
and Yin and Yang are the source
of Heaven/Earth/Humanity
which are the source of all that is.

We come from Nothing and we return to Nothing
and in between there is all that is.

Good and Bad are perspectives
which hinge on perception
and consist of points of view.

How we look determines what we see.
What we see determines how we feel.
How we feel determines what we do.
What we do determines how we feel
(The feedback loop is launched)
How we feel determines how we look.
How we look determines what we see...

And all there is are
ephemeral states of being,
all flowing from and returning to
Nothing.

Nothing is all there is.
Emptiness is as close to Nothing
as we can be and still be alive,
and it is the key to living fully
and living well,
because Emptiness is without motive,
without intention, without purpose,
without duty, without fear,
without desire
and consists of openness to all of it,
to everything,
and is uniquely able to do what is needed
about it all,
in response to it all,
here and now.

From emptiness comes 
right seeing,
right hearing,
right perceiving,
right knowing,
right understanding,
right doing,
right being
because there is Nothing 
to get in the way
and hijack The Way
and lead us off the path
into the wasteland
of having/getting/possessing/
acquiring/amassing/etc.
that constitutes life in the wasteland
where we kid ourselves
and pretend to be really living.

If you want to live well,
become empty
and embrace the joy
of doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
moment by moment,
in each situation as it arises,
and experience the satisfaction
of having done it,
knowing there is Nothing to it,
and feeling just grand about it all.

–0–

02

Ocracoke Lighthouse 10/27/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Noise and complexity
are neutralized
by art (including poetry and literature),
music and nature
mediated by silence and solitude.

The right kind of reflection
results in the right kind of realization
which leads to the right kind of life
within the noise and complexity
of each situation as it arises
amid the context of the circumstances
as we find them
here and now.

We do not deal well with crazy
or manage well our response to chaos
without close, nourishing, nurturing relationships
with art (including poetry and literature),
music and nature,
silence and solitude. 

–0–

03

Silver Lake Dawn 09 10/26/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina
We walk two paths at the same time.
Yin and Yang.
Sometimes we are Yin,
and sometimes we are Yang,
and always we are Yin and Yang.

Flux and Flow define us and our life.
Sometimes we do it this way,
and sometimes we do it that way,
in response to our circumstances
in each situation as it arises.

Jesus said, "The spirit is like the wind
that blows where it will."
Doing what needs to be done here and now
without concern for, or reference to,
what we just did, 
or what we will do next.

Each moment is a time/place of its own,
and calls for action that may be
unlike anything we have ever done,
or thought/imagined we would be capable of doing.

Duty is sat aside.
Dogma/Dharma/Doctrine
is not a worthy guide.
"The path that can be discerned as a path
is not a reliable path."

We make it up as we go
in response to the situation as it arises
out of our instinct/intuition/imagination
in the moment of our living,
one moment at a time.

What has gone on before,
and what will follow after,
have nothing to do with 
what is to be done here and now.

"Here we are, now what?"

How we answer that question
makes all the difference.

And we must be free of all influences,
intentions and expectations,
in order to listen/hear,
look/see,
what is happening
and what needs to happen in response,
and respond sincerely/spontaneously 
out of instinct/intuition/imagination
in doing what is called for
with the gifts that are ours to offer
in the time for acting,
and let the outcome be the outcome.

Offering a cup of cool water
to a thirsty child.

Eating when hungry,
resting when tired.

Rising to the occasion
in ways appropriate to the occasion.

Occasion after occasion.

All our life long.

–0–

04

Spruce Flats Falls 03/01/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tremont District, Townsend, Tennessee
We have no idea 
of what it would take
to make us happy
in an absolute kind of way.

Ephemeral happiness is all we know.

But we want constant,
unrelenting,
complete,
total,
unchanging,
Happiness Now and Forever!

Anything less than that is 
dismal and demoralizing.

Erroneous expectations
and implausible wanting
are at the root of all of our problems.

We cannot square ourselves up 
with the way things are
because we have such wonderful ideas
for how they ought to be.

Happy is squared up with how things are--
no matter what they are.

Which is to say that anybody can be happy
anywhere, any time, any how,
with just a shift or two
in their perspective, outlook and orientation.

Well-adjusted people
are people who make the necessary adjustments
to however their circumstances evolve.

Happy is a frame of mind,
a point of view,
able to take whatever comes its way
and use it to its advantage.

Never saying, "Oh NO!"
But, "What can I do with this?"
or, "What can I make of this?"
or, "Where can this take me?"

It is as though our circumstances
are magic carpet rides into 
our future,
enlarging our worldview, 
and triggering our super powers,
and calling forth the tools,
attitude and spirit
required to meet what faces us
and dance, dance, dance--
twinkling and laughing all 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.

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