November 14, 2021

Sassafras and Sourwood 01 11-11-2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
I believe in the truth,
in knowing the truth,
being the truth
and living truthfully.

Living truthfully implies
living with integrity
and self-transparency,
so that we are not kidding ourselves,
or living cut-off from
the inner alignment of self
with the outer world of reality,
so that there is a clear
relationship between what is "I"
and what is "Not I,"
and the ability to judge accurately
how to make life choices
that balance appropriately
the needs of the "I"
and the requirements of the "Not I"
in living successfully in the world
of physical reality.

This is as fundamental,
as sound,
as central,
as necessary to life
as breathing.

And it is missing in too many of us.

Jacob Bronowski said,
"In order to know the truth,
we have to live in certain ways."

We have to live truthfully.
With integrity and self-transparency,
not kidding ourselves,
in balancing our relationship
with our original nature
and our relationship with the demands
of the context and circumstances 
of our life.

No one can do that for us,
or tell us how to do it.
It comes from our ability
to be aware of what is true within
and what is true without,
and making the relationship 
between the two "worlds"
work for the good of both.

Will Rogers is said to have said,
"It is always the right time to shut-up."

I amend that to read,
"It is always the right time 
to sit down
and shut-up."

Sitting quietly
and opening ourselves
to the silence.
Emptying ourselves
of all judgment and opinion
regarding what arises
in the silence,
just watching,
just listening,
just being aware--
like the Buddha under the Bo Tree--
enables the awareness
that leads to reflection
and realization
that balances and harmonizes
the two "worlds,"
makes for peace
and enables us to live
as one whole person
within the time and place
of our living--
with integrity
and self-transparency.

And everything falls into place
around that.

–0–

02

Sweetgum Leaf 10/20/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Self-awareness and self-transparency
lead the way
in balancing inner and outer,
consciousness and unconscious,
physical and spiritual,
ego/desire/fear/anger/duty 
and psyche/heart/soul/mind...

Wholeness/oneness/integrity
is a balancing act
on a high wire
with no safety net below,
and not a steady state of being.

It is a dance with mood/emotion/nutrition/hydration
and the complexity of context and circumstance
at play in each moment
of every situation as it arises.

We have a lot going on.

To think we can pull it off
without regular/routine returns
to stillness/emptiness/silence
is to be a kidnap victim 
of denial and arrogance.

Returning to the silence
(stillness and emptiness)
is a return to the source,
center, foundation, core
of who we are
and what we are to be about.

Emptiness is about stepping 
away from judgment,
opinion,
desire/wanting
and duty/ought/should/must,
and being quietly aware
of all that is crowding in upon us
without being emotionally hooked,
hijacked, reactive, controlled
by any of it.

Emptiness is the sine qua non 
of stillness and silence,
allowing us to step away 
from the noise and complexity of life
to perceive/sense/intuit what's what
and what is called for in response
in light of our balance and harmony
and our ability to live as a whole,
united, entity/person
within the situation/circumstances at hand.

Emptiness is my personal equivalent to prayer.
Prayer for me is emptying myself
of all the noise and complexity
that interferes with my ability 
to be a whole person
responding from my original nature
to the here and now amid
"the dust of the world"
and the "ten thousand things."

A life without prayer in this sense of the word,
is a life that is swept away
upon "the heaving waves of the wine-dark sea"
into "the clashing rocks"
and "the howling winds of the wasteland"
and "the endless freefall of the Void"
and a different kind of emptiness
characterized by lostness, aloneness,
hopelessness and despair.

The right kind of emptiness is protection against,
and a shelter from,
the wrong kind of emptiness,
and it is made possible by 
our trust in ourselves
to have what we need to find what we need
to deal with whatever comes our way--
and in our ability to bear the pain
that must be borne in the meantime.

There is no smooth, easy, pain-free
path to bliss and nirvana. 

Balance and harmony,
wholeness and integrity
depend upon our being who we need to be
in order to do what needs to be done
here and now,
moment to moment,
through all the situations of life
for as long as life is possible.

And self-awareness and self-transparency
lead 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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