September 24, 2021

01

Revolution Mill 01/26/2012 Oil Paint Rendered — Once the leading producer of denim in the US, Greensboro, North Carolina
Everybody wants a better life.
That's where the similarity ends.

Everybody has a different idea
of what that means 
and how to achieve it.

Which results in the mess
everything is in.

A lot of people think having their way
would result in a better life.

A lot of people think having more money
would result in a better life.

A lot of people think having more sex
would result in a better life
(For then, but not necessarily
for their partners).

The list goes pretty much forever.

I think being aligned with,
living in accord with, the Tao
would result in a better life.

And, that how to achieve it
is by being still and quiet
and paying attention
in the right ways--
seeing what's what
and what needs to be done about it--
and doing the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right place,
in the right way,
no matter what,
for no reason other than
it needs to be done,
with nothing in it for us
beyond the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it.

I spend a lot of time talking about this
because I think it is the most important thing.
But I can only talk to people
who already feel the way I do.
I make no headway at all
with people who have different ideas
about what it means to live a better life.

And they make no headway with me.

We can only talk meaningfully with people
who see/think approximately the same as we do.
We have nothing at all to say
to most of the people we walk past in a day.

When I realized that,
I stopped talking to basically everybody,
and limited my conversations to business matters
and family members.

I write all I have to say here
and post it to the world,
and have less than a dozen readers a day,
probably the same people every day.

Writing it out enables me to hear/see 
what I have to say,
which creates balance and harmony,
and encourages sincerity and integrity,
in the service of energy, spirit, and vitality,
and I would do it if nobody read it.

Writing to me, from me, about me,
about how it is with me
and how I see things here and now,
is essential, I think, to living 
a better life.
That starts with knowing who we are,
how we are,
when we are,
where we are,
why we are,
and what we are about.

So, if you are reading this,
I advise getting to know yourself
in an on-going, regular, repetitive way.
Let it become your practice,
to be increasingly clear about what it means
to live a better life.
And put yourself deliberately on that path,
and walk it earnestly,
with loyalty and devotion,
every day.

And if this is a part of that work,
I am glad to be helping you 
to live a better life.
Thanks for being here, now.

–0–

02

Patchwork Dogwood Panorama 04/16/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Sitting still,
being quiet and attentive,
seeing what's what 
and what needs to be done about it,
opens us to ourselves--
when we are aware of being aware
we are aware of how it is with us,
of what we are feeling in our body.

And, if we sit with our body
and what our body is feeling,
understanding that is our body's way
of communing with us,
of communicating with us,
we realize that our body is talking to us
all of the time.

What our body is saying
is a matter of attending our body
and (This is the important part)
interpreting correctly
what our body is saying.

If you have a dog or a cat,
you have come to read what your dog or cat
is saying to you.
The same applies to your body.
Spending time with our body,
attending our body,
opens up a new world of communication
and awareness about our life
and its impact on our body.

This spills over into,
leads to,
expanded awareness of our mind/body connection,
and how our mind is impacting our body,
and how changing our mind--
being aware of our mind and its impact on our body--
shifts everything about our life.

By being aware of our mind and our body,
we change our relationship with our mind and our body,
and transform our life, like that (Snaps fingers).

Sit still.
Be quiet and attentive.
Seeing what's what
and what needs to be done about it.
And transform your life,
just by being aware of your body
and your mind.

In so doing,
you will be tuning into the Tao
of Mind-Body-Life.

The connection and flow of awareness
that shapes and forms our way of being here and now,
in every moment of every day,
leading us, guiding us, enabling us
to do the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right place,
in the right way,
no matter what,
because it needs to be done,
spontaneously, from the heart,
for no other reason 
than because it needs to be done,
with nothing in it for us
beyond the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it.

By sitting still with quiet attentiveness.
Seeing what's what
and what needs to be done about it.
Regularly, routinely, religiously.
Transforming your life,
and your world,
and the world.

One moment at a time.

–0–

03

Looking-glass Rock 02 05/29/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Listening to the Tao
is listening to your life.

The Tao is our life's rhythm and movement.

It is the rhythm and movement of all of life and being,
of the cosmos,
of all that is
and has been
and will be.

It is the how of things.
The way of things.
The howness, whenness, whatness and thatness of things.
All things.

Our meeting place with the Tao is our life.

We live in harmony with the Tao
or out of harmony with the Tao.

In tune with the Tao
or out of tune with the Tao.

In accord with the Tao
or out of accord with the Tao.

The term "Tao" is meaningless in itself.
It can be understood as "Way," or "Path."

It is about rhythm and flow and movement,
of all of life and being,
and all things animate and inanimate.

There is a sense in which rocks and horseshoes
have life and being.
Everything does.
Everything changes.
Is in flux.
Is becoming something else.

How it does so is its Tao, its Way, its Path.

Unconscious things do so unconsciously.
They are the Tao.
They are one with the Tao.
They cannot help being so.

Conscious things have their own ideas
about how their life should be,
and compete/contend with the Tao
over who they are and what they are about
and how things ought to be in their life.

When there is disturbance in the flow,
the flow folds that into it's fluid nature,
takes that into account, 
and moves on.

But the individual life that is refusing
to cooperate with the flow
is a mess
and creates a larger mess in its vicinity
because it is disrupting the natural flow
and sequence of things.

"Smooth and easy" describes the natural flow
and sequence of things--the "regular order."

"Chaos and turmoil" describes things that are
out of sync, turbulent and disorderly.

It goes better for us when we are in accord
with the Tao,
and worse for us when we are at odds with the Tao.

But the Tao is not "God's will,"
and has no purpose in the sense of "divine intention."
It is simply how things are
and how things work together
within the harmonious arrangement of the whole.

Yet nothing can happen that is not incorporated
into that harmonious arrangement over time.

Hurricanes disrupt the regular ebb and flow of the tides,
but hurricanes are a part of a different ebb and flow
of weather patterns worldwide,
so the Tao can be opposed to the Tao and at one with the Tao
at the same time.

Contradiction--Yin/Yang--is very much a part  
of the harmony of the whole.
And being in accord with the Tao
means bearing the pain of our own contradictions
even as we enter the flow/flux of life and being.

When there is disruption and disharmony in the flow,
we wait it out,
emptying ourselves of wanting things
to be different than they are,
and allowing things to be as they are
for as long as it takes for "smooth and easy"
to return of their own accord.

Just being here and now,
without will or expectation,
desire, interest, or opinion,
seeing and doing what needs to be done,
moment to moment
in each situation as it arises,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done...
is our contribution to the flow
and our assistance in effecting
its return.

Equanimity and good faith
are our gift to the Tao,
and the Tao is our gift from the Cosmos.

And the flow goes on.
"It is 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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