April 01, 2022


Beulah Land 33 Oil Paint Rendered — Appalachian Farm, Roan Mountain, Tennessee
Changing our mind about 
what is important
is the path to finding 
what is important.

Nothing happens 
until we change our mind.

The way to changing our mind
is to ask all of the questions 
that beg to be asked
about our current frame of mind--
and to say all of the things
that cry out to be said about it.

We investigate/explore
what we currently think is important,
asking all of the questions,
saying all of the things that need to be said,
over time.

We explore our sense of values,
wondering what is so valuable
about the things we hold to be valuable.

How good is the good we call good?
Good for whom?
Bad for whom?

We achieve what we call good
at the expense of whom?

We think we are right about all of the things
we hold to be right and good.
What makes us think so?
Who says so?
What do they know?
What is the ground of their authority?
How does that qualify them
to be right about what they say is right.
And good?

Question everything.
Take no one's word for anything.

What is good?
What is valuable?
What is right?

Under what conditions and circumstances?
What would have to change for it to be bad?

In order to be able to change our mind,
we have to know what our mind is,
and how it came to be the way it is,
and what makes it (us) think 
that the way it is
is the way it must always and forever be?

Nothing is going to change 
without us changing our mind
about what is important.

In what ways does our mind need to change?
Where would a change of mind be beneficial?

Ask all the questions.
Say all that needs to be said.
Know what's what.
And what needs to be done about it.

The road winds on from there.



Chestnut Branch 01 04/15/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Bark, Big Creek District, North Carolina
"Wu-wei" is a Chinese (Taoist) term
that means "Nothing worth knowing can be taught."

Actually, it means "Nothing worth doing can be forced
into being."

Being right about what needs to be done
is to let the doing be called forth by the moment,
like going to the Lu.
And not forced on the moment 
because it's 7:30 AM and we are supposed
to go to the Lu at 7:30 AM whether we need to or not.

We go to the Lu when it is time to go to the Lu
and not before,
and, hopefully, not too long after.

It matters how we live,
and it doesn't matter at all how we live.

It matters how we live in the sense of 
"letting one book open another."
In the sense of listening for what needs to be done
and doing it the way it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
but who is to decide?

Who knows?
We know--like we know when to go to the Lu.
But It doesn't matter what we do
in the sense of not forcing what is done
on the moment whether it is appropriate to the moment
or not.

We allow the moment to unfold 
according to its own needs and purposes,
and assist the moment in doing what it needs
to be done,
but, how do we know?
When "nothing worth knowing can be taught,
or told."

We have to learn to listen to the moment,
to read the moment,
to know what is being called for by the moment,
in the moment, 
here and now.

How do we do that?
By living a long time with our eyes open.

We learn to make good soup
by making a lot of bad soup.
We learn to hit a forehand in tennis
by hitting a lot of forehands.

How do we "tune into the moment"?
By living through a lot of moments
being aware of and attentive to the moment.
What does that mean?
We have to figure it out on our own.

The people who know how to read moments
are like Obi-wan Kenobi or Yoda.
The people who do not know how to read moments
are like Luke Skywalker with the helmet on.

What's the difference between knowing and not knowing?
Knowing when we don't know,
and being aware and attentive.

But, that's asking too much of people 
who just want somebody to tell them 
what time it is for
without having to figure it out on their own.

Obi-wan and Yoda figure it out on their own.
Darth Vader just forces what he wants to happen NOW
on the moment whether it is appropriate to the moment or not.

How do we know what the moment needs?
Ask the moment.
And listen for what is called for.
Keeping an eye on your presumptions,
and attitudes.

Maybe in time we will learn 
to dance with the music.

Wu-wei is dancing with the music.

Living in sync with our life
is dancing with the music.
Doing what needs to be done
is dancing with the music
(And not doing what your mother says
needs to be done,
unless it actually needs to be done).


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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