May 24, 2022


Goodale 10/25/2019 07 Oil Paint Rendered — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina
We cooperate -- collaborate -- with our life
just to see where it will take us.

We are not serving some hidden purpose,
fulfilling a plan that was laid down
before we were born.

We are relishing wonder,
creating a life that has never been lived before,
pursuing joy and satisfaction,
allowing our interests and curiosity to lead us
down paths that are more like animal trails,
into strange places and different ideas.

None of it was intended by some heavenly power.
The spirit is like the wind that blows where it will,
and has no idea itself where it will blow next,
or what any of it means.

Meaning is what we make of things,
not what things possess.
We imagine meaning into being.
Coincidences would mean nothing
without us making the connections
that make us go "Wow!"

Without us, the world is meaningless.
We see the patterns and tell the stories.
That is what we do.
Our gift to the universe.
Right out of our own imagination.

We are just along for the ride,
and can't wait to see what happens next,
and how we respond to it,
and what that brings about...

It keeps us on the edge of our seats,
if we are alert at all,
with anything like a heart for adventure,
straining to see around the next corner.



Lotus Pond 08/03/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Pike Nursery and Greenhouse, Charlotte, North Carolina
A lot of U.S. citizens,
and more members of Western Civilization
have fallen under the influence
of gurus from India, China and Japan,
and are of the staunch opinion
that the only thing standing between 
them and enlightenment is their darned old ego.
If they could just get Ego out of the way,
all would be enchantment and bliss.

Well, not so fast.

Joseph Campbell spends a lot of time
saying "Don't cast off the Primary Mask
of your culture!
Don't think you can quit being who you are
just by chanting a few 'Om Mani Padme Hum's.'
You cannot do it the way the people of the east do it.
These are different worlds,
and you have to become enlightened 
in your world, not some other world."

In particular, where ego is concerned,
the people of India for certain,
and of China and Japan to a lesser degree,
have no ego to speak of.
They have no ego to be rid of.

Until sometime in the 80's I believe,
it was customary for a widow in India
to cast herself on her husband's funeral pyre.
She could do that because she was no one
apart from her husband.

People in India to this day are no one
apart from their caste. 
They do not have the ability to decide
for themselves what to do,
their caste tells them what to do
and what not to do.

It is their Dharma/Duty to be who their caste
requires them to be.
They are not an ego, 
they are not a self,
they are their role,
they do not act their role,
they are not playing a part,
which they can put on and take off at will.
They are who they must be,
who they were born to be.

Their marriages are arranged marriages.
They do not know the person they marry.
They do as they are told all their life long.

The old Marlboro Man would never fit in anywhere
in the culture of the east.
And Americans can waste a lot of time
trying to fit in to that culture,
taking Yoga classes
and sitting Zazen,
but it won't take.

And, after a while, the fad fades
and something else takes its place.

The important thing is to be yourself.
To be who you are.
To live a life that is authentic, 
just as you are,
expressive of your own original nature
and of the virtues that are particularly your virtues.
Loving what you love,
and doing the things that generate a resonance within you,
and bring you deep joy and satisfaction.
And earn just enough money
to pay the bills,
and make sure you are running up the right kind of bills.
Bills that keep your real life going,
the life of your heart and soul.

If you don't know what constitutes your heart and soul
in terms of activities and involvements in the world,
there isn't enough money to make you happy
with your life.
And you have to sit quietly
in the right kind of emptiness,
and silence
until you realize what you need to do
to be true to yourself
in the time left for living.

And then, go do it!



Lake Francis 11/19/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Everybody wants a better life,
only a few are willing to do 
what it takes to have one.
And, that's the story of the species.

Lethargy keeps us where we are
on every level.

Maybe we feel guilty about it
and we stay where we are.

What would it take for us
to get up and do what needs to be done?

If only Powder Milk Biscuits would do it!
It will take something other than that.
It will take stepping through the Gateless Gate
and Turning The Light Around!

That is to say, changing our mind 
about what is important,
and shifting our perspective enough
to allow for a different point of view.

It has never been any more difficult than that.

What's it going to take
to change our mind 
about what is important?

Changing the metaphors
directing how we think and live.

What are the metaphors
directing how we think and live?
We don't even know what they are!

They are so embedded in 
the way we think and live
that we have no idea of how 
we are being bound and controlled.

We know what we think is important,
but we don't know what is actually so,
or what truly needs to be so.

How do we get to the bottom of it?
How do we get to the bottom of who we are?
How do we get to the bottom 
of what is directing our life,
requiring us to think the way we think,
see the way we see,
feel the way we feel,
and do the things we do?

Who says we ought to do it the way we do it?
Who are we trying to please?

What are our dreams saying about these things?
What is our body saying?
What are our symptoms saying?

How many ways do we attempt to show ourselves daily
who we are and what we are doing,
only for us to dismiss the obvious
and continue doing what we have always done
the way we always have done it?

What excuses do we make
that allow us to go on doing
what we have always done
the way we always have done it?

Whose side are we on?


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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