October 13, 2021

01

Cabin in the Snow 03 02/11/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Faires/Coltharp cabin, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
What is the present situation asking of us?

That is all we need to know.

And do.

We know it by being aware
of the time and place of our living.

We can do that by emptying ourselves
of our opinions,
our judgments/evaluations,
our expectations,
our disappointments,
our fear/anxiety/worry,
our wants/desires
(Even our desire to be empty),
our aspirations,
our frustrations,
our anger,
our drives and ambitions,
our motives and incentives,
our beliefs and assumptions,
our inferences and convictions,
our... (All that is in the way
of The Way)
And simply being here, now--
the place where we are
between breaths.

(Try that--
being in the place between breaths:
Breathe more slowly than normal,
deeper than normal,
taking a slow abdominal breath,
by pushing your stomach out
as you inhale
to fill your lungs
to their capacity,
and exhaling slowly 
through your nose,
concentrating on the flow 
of air as it leaves 
your nostrils, 
and pausing for a count of 5
before inhaling as you just did. 
Do this for three breaths,
and on the third breath,
as you exhale and count,
notice how empty you are
of all the things that 
normally drive you [crazy].
That is the place between breaths).

By doing this breathing-with-awareness
throughout your day,
you can empty yourself momentarily
of all the BS you carry with you
that keeps you from being where you are
when you are ever.

Being empty transports us to the silence,
and in the silence 
we can be aware of the present moment,
and of what is called for there,
what is being asked of us there,
and respond to the moment
spontaneously/sincerely
with the gifts that are ours to give
in the service of the needs/requirements
of the moment.

Doing this moment to moment
moves us to living differently,
to changing/transforming
our relationship with our life--
and that makes all the difference.

And all you did 
was live out of the place
between breaths,
without trying to impose
your will on anything.

–0–

02

Black-crowned Night Heron 04-22-2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Audubon Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina
Original Sin from a Taoist perspective
is The Profit Motive.
Always wanting more than we have.
Never being satisfied with anything as it is.
Wondering incessantly what's in it for us.
Being endlessly driven to have/get our way...
You know, like that.

That is the one thing 
that separates us from 
what matters most.

And What Matters Most
from a Taoist perspective
has nothing to do
with keeping some god happy with us,
but with integrating the opposites
at work in our life
moment-to-mnoment
in each situation as it arises.

Our conflicts and contradictions
keep us from being who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
how we are,
why we are,
ever.

We are always wrestling 
with how things are,
striving to have this
and avoid that,
and serving our way now
at the expense of all other
possible ways ever.

We have an adversarial 
relationship with our life,
or a totally submissive relationship,
or somewhere in between.

Our rage is evident 
of things not going our way.
As is our depression.
And our anxiety.
And our addictions.
And our absent-mindedness.
The list is long
of maladaptive behaviors,
which are actually get-my-way behaviors,
or acting out because 
we are not getting our way behaviors...

This is the profit motive
at work in our life.
Driving our life.
Preventing us from ever being alive.

Taoism nailed all of this 500 years,
or more,
before Jesus was born.

And Taoism has worked out
what to do about our conflicts of interest
and how to integrate our opposites/contradictions
in the service of doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
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,
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long.

We do that by collaborating with 
the Ten Guides
which lead us into/through
seeing/hearing/knowing/understanding/
doing/being who we are
in relation to what's what
in each situation as it arises,
walking two paths at the same time,
and being who we are--
true to our Original Nature
("The face that was ours
before we were born")-- 
AND doing what needs to be done here and now.

The Ten Guides are:
Emptiness and Silence,
Balance and Harmony,
Sincerity, Spontaneity and Integrity,
Spirit, Energy and Vitality.

Central to living in accord with Tao
is living in the presence of Silence.

Silence is the Source and Origin
of all that is.
Everything comes from the Silence
and returns to the Silence,
and we live best
when we live out of the Silence.

Sitting still
and being quiet
are the essence of Taoist practice,
and the path to The Path,
which, of course, is The Path.

Simple.
Essential.
Neglected.
Sigh.

–0–

03

Great Blue Heron 02 04/22/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Audubon Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina
Meet the moment on the moment's terms,
and do what needs to be done.

Do not force your will on the situation.
Offer what is needed to the situation--
doing the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right way,
moment by moment,
situation by situation,
without looking for what's in it for you,
or seeking to manipulate your way
into being.

Live for the moment--
to be what the moment needs you to be--
for the joy of doing what is called for,
and the satisfaction of having done it.

And let your life fall into place
around that.
Starting right now.

–0–

04

Kisatche Falls 01 01/31/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
There is the way things are,
and there is the way
we want things to be.
And therein lies the rub.

How do we work out the conflict?
Manage the contradiction?

Denial seems to be the most popular choice.

How many ways are there 
of disappearing the problem?

Which creates multiple spin-off problems,
until we are awash and drowning in
a tumultuous sea of difficulties--
replete with clashing rocks and heaving waves--
just because we refuse to face the fact
of facts that invalidate our preferences
and terminate our dreams and wishes 
in mid-production.

Did someone just mention global warming
and the fossil fuel connection?
Amazing sense of timing on that one!

The old Tao recognition of the harmonization
of Yin and Yang 
being at the heart of life and being
is brought into sharp focus
in every situation as it arises.

The integration of opposites
is where we come in--
and that includes bearing the pain
of the tension 
produced by irreconciliable
and mutually exclusive
polarities.

We are often
"damned if we do
and damned if we don't."
And we live with that,
fully aware of the agony
of having to choose
the unchooseable choice,
yet again--
by choosing to be damned 
and be done with it--
once again.

This is the path way 
to maturity and grace,
and the catch is
that the prerequsite
for walking the path
is maturity and grace.

We grow up against our will,
one painful choice at a time.

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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