Epilogue #1

April 11, 2010

At that Hay House Conference I mentioned in entry #80, I enjoyed the pleasure of several deeply satisfying conversations with others in attendance.  But perhaps the most enlightening exchange occurred in the hotel cab-car on my way back to San Francisco International Airport.  I remarked to the driver what a beautiful day it was, and he agreed, and then, in what seemed to me to be a slightly India-inflected accent, he asked me where I was headed.  When I told him Victoria, BC, he just lit up.  “Oh, you Canadians are very proud of your country.  Forty years ago, I was backpacking with some Canadians, and they were always bragging about Canada.  Very friendly.  Very friendly people.”  I told him it was my wife who was the Canadian, and that yes, they were very friendly and yes, it’s a country that’s certainly worth being proud of —– and then, because his face had lit up so brightly, something inside compelled me to ask about his wanderlust of long ago.

“Seems like you really enjoyed backpacking around” I ventured.  “Oh, it was the best time of my life!” he shot back.  Absolutely!  – Of course, marrying my wife, yes, and my two children, of course, but traveling was the best!  I love to travel.  – What was it Mark Twain said —  ‘To travel is to live and to live is to travel’ -?  Oh yes, that was the best!”  His joy was contagious, and I wanted more.  “Where all did you go?”  I asked him.  “Oh, Japan, China, Indonesia – you name it.  Japan was my favorite.  You could – I had a contact in Japan, never met this family, never met them, called them and told them I was coming – when I got to the airport there I called them, and they came and got me and I stayed in their home the entire time.  – Spent over a year in China the same way.”

“Wow!”  I exclaimed.  “That had to be amazing!”  “It was” he replied.  “But…” – and here I heard the first trace of sadness in his voice, “But now you can’t do those kinds of things.  Too dangerous…too dangerous…”

Now, I love to travel too, and I understood what he was implying about the modern world somehow being fundamentally different from previous generations in the sense of what is safe and what isn’t anymore, and it made me sad to feel that way.  So I thought about it a minute and then I asked him, “Why do you think that is?  I mean, it’s certainly everyone’s perception that, say, even though I played outside all day long as a kid with no adult supervision, I could never let my children go unattended like that now, but is that really a reality, or is it just a perception — or a misperception?”  – And I never will forget what he said next.  He said, “There’s too much noise nowadays.  People have lost touch with God.”

“Lost touch – ?” I stammered.  “Yes!” he continued.  They’ve lost their connection to nature.  I’m not even a religious man, but all this materialism – people are plugged in to their things instead of each other.  Don’t get me wrong, the United States is the greatest country in the world, but people have lost touch.  Look around you –”…

We were almost at the airport drop-off now.  I tried to think of something to bring the conversation back around to its original optimism.  I said, “Well, you know how a mother in childbirth is in great pain and distress before giving birth to a new life – do you think maybe all this disconnection is just part of something we’ve got to go through as a world before something new can be born?  That maybe the world had to lose the God we had before we could connect with a deeper and better understanding?”  “Maybe that’s it” he responded with a shrug.  “I hope so.  My sons…your sons are still young.  My sons were great until they turned twelve.  We did everything together.  Spend as much time with yours as you can now, because once they start playing the video games…”  His voice trailed off, and I got out, and we introduced our names to each other and gave each other a warm handshake, and then Asmahl went back to the Westin Hotel at Market Street and I got on a United flight bound for Vancouver Island…

Something about how this guy – without a PhD or great wealth or even much conscious thought – nailed what so many I meet are continually wrestling with (whether in the back of their minds or the hidden corners of their hearts) has stayed with me ever since.  Something about how he’d linked materialism, and NOISE, and the lack of connection to nature, with the loss of GOD — without being religious about it at all…And suddenly it hits me all over again:  Silence is the ‘language’ of ‘God’.  Nature is the visual expression of that Source.  And therefore NO WONDER the constant cacophony of commerce, and the loss of the night sky as lesser city lights conceal its majesty, and everything else we take for progress in this day and age has simultaneously served to cut us off from an experience of self and community which we never used to think twice about!  No wonder we’ve lost the natural grace to extend or receive hospitality from a stranger.  No wonder we’re afraid of our own lives!  We’ve cut ourselves off from being able to hear or see the life of our own Spirit — We’ve lost touch!

’Inner Fitness’ produces (and requires) a mindset and a heart-set and a habit-set that refuses to remain in a state of ‘lost touch’.  That prioritizes connection over cacophony and commerce.  I don’t know how humanity will find a way back to a knowledge of its greater heritage.  But going forward, ‘til next time, no matter how we must begin again, let us all resolve…to refuse to lose…touch.

Tao 47/Day 284 “Without looking out your window, you can see the essence of the Tao.”

March 20, 2010

“Without looking out your window, you can see the essence of the Tao.”  I’ve reached my final entry in this exploration of inner fitness.  It comes on the heels of another week-long layoff.  My left knee is gimpy and my chest is again congested, but springtime and afternoon sunshine more than compensate for these hurdles, and soon I’m out the door…What is the essence of the Tao?  Just because the Tao te Ching says I can see it without looking out my window doesn’t mean I can articulate what it is that I see when I see it.  Indeed, the best answers to this question may be akin to those given in response to notions of beauty (“It’s in the eye of the beholder”) or even pornography (“I can’t tell you what it is, but I’ll know it when I see it.”).  Stories are about the closest that language comes to conveying the sense of such things, and as I run today in sacred silence – save for the sound of my breath – a series of images arises in my mind’s eye that grace-fully carry me all the way around the magic path once more.

These images are actually memories of a story ESPN did of a young man who decided he would walk every eighteen-hole round of every tournament of the 2008 Professional Golfers Association tour.  Not that big of a deal, you might think – except that this thirty year old was born with Cerebral Palsy, and was told by doctors that he would never walk a single step in his entire life.

Enduring multiple surgeries to break and reset his legs before he even entered first grade, this embodiment of the Tao, progressing from walker to crutches to finally just a single cane, developed a love of golf as he grew to adulthood – a love that his parents enthusiastically supported   Bracing himself with his cane, his one-handed swing is now good enough to consistently score around 105 for eighteen holes.

One image in particular stays before me as I run.  It is one the cameras caught from behind of this hero where he’s simply walking down a beautiful fairway.  And falling.  And getting back up to resume his quest.  My lungs and knee don’t bother me at all as long as I see him in front of me.  I fly around the magic path, light as a feather, but even though his gait is halting and arduous, he remains out in front of me, uncatchable, unstoppable.

The thing that inspires me the most about this guy is his humility.  The image in my mind’s eye that keeps me going today is the same one that embarrasses him as his story starts drawing more and more media attention.  He’s not ashamed of who he is or how he is; “It just feels embarrassing sometimes” is all he’ll say, through tears.  – And my own rush up to meet his…The essence of the Tao carries within it the seed of transformation.  Once we find that seed, we can use it any way we want.  Once we become aware of that essence, we naturally want to use it to allow and embody and demonstrate the perfection that is present in every moment and every circumstance we encounter, regardless of outward appearances and challenges.  I cannot say ‘what’ it is, only ‘that’ it is – because I have seen it.  – And sometimes I have seen it not because of anything I have done, but because it has been shown to me by someone who never had any intention of doing anything other enjoying a round of golf.  – I finish this, my final round, in a state of amazement – as good a phrase as any to describe the indescribable.

Tao 3/Day 282 “The Master leads…by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve.”

March 15, 2010

“The Master leads…by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve.”  Today I’m completing my ‘run’ (via air travel) from Victoria to California and back again.  The majority of the ‘magic path’ on this particular trek has consisted of a weekend Hay House conference in downtown San Francisco.  A diverse and extremely talented group of people allowed me the privilege of joining them to receive some world-class coaching on what it takes to successfully bring one’s passions, experiences and expertise to a wider audience.  By the end of the conference, I’ve established some wonderful friendships — as well as a growing conviction that a bestseller may not be in my immediate future after all (I was also proud of myself for resisting that nine dollar can of cashews so prominently displayed next to the flat-screen t.v. in my hotel room)…

The flight home is delayed for almost an hour due to some required mechanical maintenance, but — when passengers are finally allowed to board – I’m seated next to a pleasant, attractive lady also headed back to the island.  She consults with companies on the need for values-based leadership, and it’s clear that she walks her talk.  We hit it off immediately, and proceed to enjoy an animated conversation for much of the flight.

I end up sharing with her what I call ‘the nutshell’ – that brief sequence of events, part autobiography and part personal philosophy – that encapsulates what I understand of how I came to be at this current point in space and time.  I start with the initial move to Los Angeles after college, the early on-camera successes, the later off-camera difficulties, and how – through it all – my underlying spiritual commitment to becoming more authentically myself never wavers.  I touch on the years running the flea market, the joys of fatherhood, the challenges that eventually led to the decision to come to Victoria, and my out-of-the-blue resurgence as an actor and writer as a result of that decision.

I also tell this kind stranger about my experiences at the conference.  Several moments stand out, but one in particular is the result of participating in an exercise to determine current core values.  I’ve done versions of this kind of thing in the past, and at first felt that I readily resonated with the words “Create, Spirit, Freedom, and Connect.”  “However”, I told Jenn (we’d finally introduced ourselves) “as the exercise continued, I found myself writing down four completely different words:  humor, health, clarity and resilience – and ‘resilience’ is a word I’ve never previously resonated with in this way.”  I finish by mentioning the Tao te Ching and its connection to this running/book/blog effort, as well as Maureen’s business efforts to serve others in the autism community, and remark how I could never in a million years have been able to muster an ambition for what has nevertheless become the bulk of my everyday life — which I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Her smiling reply to all this was so simple, and I’ll never forget it.  “Well, it sounds like your life has been a journey that mirrors what you’re now trying to share with others.  The whole impact of your story is the move from ambition to resilience.”

The plane lands, we say our good-byes, and I head for home in the pouring rain knowing — with a depth beyond any I’ve ever experienced – that the Master has indeed been leading, every breath and every step of the Way.

Tao 11/Day 276 “We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.”

March 10, 2010

“We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.”  After such a mild winter, I’m surprised to see the smattering of snow and hail that floats past my springtime window today.  Nevertheless, I bundle up and head to the lakes – only to find the sun magically out in force again, and the temperature perfect for short sleeves.  “Only on an island” I smile to myself…Shuffling along for the first few hundred yards until I’m warmed up, I somehow quickly manage to find a gear I haven’t used in quite awhile, and take off.  My lungs prove to be a match for my legs, and I cover the first half of the territory in record time…I’m so into the run that I barely notice the white stuff that has started falling around me again.  When I finally do, it is with a dreamy, appreciative reverie.  “That’s not precipitation – those are cherry blossoms the wind is tossing from the trees to the trail in honor of my efforts!  What a mistake to have once thought it was only hail.”  I laugh at the limits of my powers of observation, and keep flying around the rest of the magic path until I’ve finished a really fast first lap.  Slowing to a brief walk, I down some water and a Cliff bar, hungry for more…Not two kilometers in to my second time around, and the weather suddenly shape-shifts again.  The temperature drops considerably, the white stuff fills the air – and this time I’m shocked out of my previous reverie and into a recognition that it really is indeed hail and not cherry blossoms that are falling.  How did I get it so wrong before?  Tiny sharp beads of ice start stinging my noggin and bouncing off my glasses into my eyes.  My oneness with the task-at-hand vanishes, I’m cold and growing wetter, and I’ve still got two-thirds of a lake-lap left to traverse.  As I struggle to find a way now to simply finish, an insight struggles to find a way to the surface of my consciousness…Ever since Don Quixote, western ‘impossible dreamers’ have been ‘tilting at windmills’ – ie – trying to project onto a changing, increasingly complex, scientific/empirical reality a sense of story that gives humanity a place in the universe equal to our past sense of preeminence.  But the truth of what we now observe far surpasses our previous attempts to maintain such a ranking.  Some say that that fact is in itself the new story — that the former position we told ourselves we occupied in the universe was ultimately no more than ego and hubris, keeping us from seeing things as they really are.  – Yet the need for the former type of story persists.  Why?  Because it seems that that is still ultimately what makes the ‘inner spaces’ of our individual experiences ‘livable’.  When I was running under a shower of falling cherry blossoms it was effortless.  Running in a hailstorm was nearly unbearable – and ego and hubris were mostly absent from both.  No matter what kind of house ‘out there’ that we discover and build toward, our inner spaces still resonate with imagination as much as observation…I can’t fathom a time when ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves To Make Our Inner Space Livable” won’t be just as necessary as scientific experiments designed to help us understand more than the four percent of this universe we currently comprehend.  – For can we really live for long – especially with each other — without an inner story that matches our outer observations?  Can we really last without the laws of physics being infused with the love of the Tao (which the Tao te Ching claims “is in the very nature of things” – Stanza 51)?…We may ‘do’ science to find out how the universe works, but we ‘do’ imagination to connect our experience of ourselves to that universe.  By equally cultivating our ability to both observe and imagine, we stimulate the energy of appreciation – the most life-enhancing vibration there is…As I dig down and find the imagination/inspiration to finish today’s run, I’m left to wonder, “What kind of house are we building?  – And are we imagining enough space within ourselves to make it livable?”

Tao 5/Day 273 “The Tao doesn’t take sides…The Master doesn’t take sides;”

March 6, 2010

“The Tao doesn’t take sides…The Master doesn’t take sides;” – Whew!  These words suddenly make me feel like I’m ‘hitting the wall’ as I approach the final stretch of entries in this running-and-writing ‘marathon’ on inner fitness.  As I sit here in my car at the lakeside parking lot waiting for the rain to subside, I start to wonder if I’ve really got what it takes to finish this experimental, experiential, literal-and-metaphorical journey.  – When the sun finally does peek through the clouds, I decide there’s only one way to find out, and exit toward the magic path once more…

’Not taking sides’ is a tough one.  It gets blamed for more short-term hard feelings than just about any Tao-trait that immediately comes to mind.  So many people in my world interpret the phrase as implying passive neutrality, lukewarm-ness, and/or a refusal to get involved in or passionate about life.  In the intimate relationships I’ve known or known about, the word ‘love’ itself is very often interpreted primarily as ‘blind loyalty’ – ie – ‘if you really love me you’ll take MY side, REGARDLESS’, or ‘the fact that I always take your side – whether you want me to or not – counts for more than any-and-everything else I may-or-may-not say or do’.  There is a ‘right’ side and a ‘wrong’ side in these human equations, a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side, and – if I want to stay on someone’s ‘good’ side — I have to choose the ‘right’ side…right?  The Tao’s nature when it comes to such intimacies, on the other hand, is of a completely different order.  Here is the expanded version of the couplet that begins today’s entry:  “The Tao doesn’t take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil.  The Master doesn’t take sides; she welcomes both saints and sinners.”  – In other words, when it comes to intimate relationships, ‘I can be fully present for and supportive of you, without having to judge what you have judged and without judging you for doing so  – even if you then judge me for not giving energy to your judgements and how attached you are to them’.  This is the opposite of neutrality, the antithesis of being lukewarm – and such a challenging level of presence and maturity for me sometimes!…My current ‘practice partner’ is my three year old.  Logan is in a place right now where he is constantly expressing his love:  “I love you, Dazzo (what both boys call me), and I love Mommy, and Liam, and I love myself, and the moon, and Teddy (his teddy bear) and I just love everybody!”  – But, when I occasionally put him in time-out:   “Bad Dazzo! (even though I’ve never used that language with him)  You’re a bad Dazzo!”  If, at those times, I calmly and firmly say “No son, I’m not, and neither are you, but you’ve got to stay here til I tell you to get out because we don’t hit our brother in the head”, then it isn’t long before “Dazzo, I’m ready to say sorry” is sincerely spoken, and the love litany resumes as if nothing ever happened.  My love for him is never disloyal, no matter how much I don’t ‘take his side’, as long as I stay present…The colors are so vibrant on the path today.  So is the light.  This is what filmmakers call ‘the magic hour’.  As I finish today’s moving meditation, I’m not winded at all.  No thoughts either, AT ALL.  ’Amor Fati’ – the ‘love of my fate’ – is all I’m feeling right now…Just because the Tao ultimately doesn’t take sides doesn’t mean I can’t play the ‘role’ of my life to the hilt…Let me feel every emotion, knowing that in any game of life – even the game of intimate relationship – there has to be the ‘the other side’ to have a game at all.  – And let me give thanks for that reality as much as for any personal ‘win’ I might log along the way.  – I head home feeling like I’m ready – finally ready — to finish strong.

Tao 61/Day 265 “He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers.”

February 27, 2010

“He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers.”  “Easy for you to say, Mr. Tsu” I silently protest.  “Maybe when a benevolent teacher such as yourself is the one gently bringing my faults to light.  But  ‘her’?  ‘Him’?  ‘That’ unconscious peanut gallery?!  ‘This’ ongoing nightmare of a situation???  My most benevolent teachers?  Really?!!?”  “Really” – is the instant reply I receive as I start to circle the magic path once more.  I allow the answer to sink as deeply into my chest as this glorious, rain-washed sea-mountain air I’m breathing, and wait to see how far both will take me today.

Who or what are the fault-finders we find hardest to honor as our teachers?  For me, if I’m being honest, day-to-day family life is often just about all the spiritual sandpaper I can stand.  It scrapes against the barnacles of ego still clinging to the underside of my ‘life-boat’ like nothing else.  – And it happens without anyone even trying.  I’ll notice something I’ve been able to continually let go of suddenly morphing into something ego can no longer tolerate, and I’ll start judging and blaming rather than accepting and adapting to and rejoicing in.  The moment this happens is the moment I am neither present for, nor in harmony with, the Tao.  It doesn’t matter that my frustration may be totally ‘justifiable’.  My desire is to be continually present and Tao-authentic, and that eventually costs me everything that is not present and Tao-authentic – including ego-claims of mistreatment at the hands of The Way Things Are.  Like a challenging yoga pose, if I can just keep giving attention and ‘breathing into’ the discomfort my ego experiences in the presence of relationship-sandpaper (instead of ‘blaming the pose’), I’ll eventually realize that nothing ever goes ‘wrong’ in my world without my say-so.

For all of us are endowed with the wonderful capacity to ‘create our own weather’.  As I continue to circle these lakes week after week — in sunshine and rain, in heat wave and cold snap, in sickness and in health (have I gotten married to the magic path without realizing it?) — I become more and more aware of this one creative reality.  – And the more I become aware of (and practice) it, the more I understand how the most challenging external conditions can often coincide with the most amazing internal results.  By choosing to remain centered and present – regardless of the sandpaper or fault-finding I encounter – I will eventually find smooth sailing on all the seas of my life.  – Not because the seas have been polished smooth, but because I have…What is the weather forecast you have for your life?  Is it a knee-jerk reaction to an unanticipated downpour?  Is it based on last year’s almanac?  The coming year’s worries?  Regardless, it is possible to drop the worries, and the almanac, and even the need to forecast at all, and simply choose to SHINE…I complete a lap around the lakes and continue forward feeling like I could go much further – then remember I’m probably needed at home.  I stop in my tracks, turn around, and head for the car.  I suddenly feel like shouting, “I JUST BECAME A BILLIONAIRE – ASK ME HOW!”  Because, by letting go of everything, I have been given ‘everything’ – including the most benevolent teachers I could possibly imagine.  Two of them are only three and four years old, and suddenly I can’t wait to get back in their classroom, and learn what their next lesson for me will be.

Tao 34/Day 256 “It nourishes infinite worlds, yet it doesn’t hold on to them.”

February 18, 2010

“It nourishes infinite worlds, yet it doesn’t hold on to them.”  How often have I lived my life in the exact opposite fashion — capable of only one or two world-views at most, and holding on to them for dear life even after they’ve proven lifeless?  As I begin today’s run in the afternoon sun, I quickly realize that my first order of business will be to open myself anew to the wonders of the present moment, to see if I can detect a few more of the ‘worlds’ being nourished by the Tao, without prematurely choosing which ones I prefer to participate in.

The physical trail immediately comes alive as I follow this simple strategy.  The world of ‘that’ rock, and ‘that’ exposed tree root, and ‘this’ view of the placid lake on my right – each place I turn my undivided, unprejudiced attention toward instantly ‘wakes up’ as a world unto itself being nourished by the Tao.  I allow my awareness to flow from the smallest particular all the way to the notion of ‘world’ itself and back again — and notice that the only way to ‘keep up’ is to not hold on in my mind to anything I encounter.  To the extent that I succeed at this practice, one experience flows into another like an unending beautiful string of pearls.

What wonders await each of us the moment we are able to let go of what the Tao has already released!  What self-definitions are aching to be reformatted into alignment with the energies that affirm life as it is NOW as opposed to our ideas about it from long ago.  I think of my beautiful mother, and how she is choosing to live her ‘golden’ years so richly.  Whether it’s celebrating the occasion of her seventieth birthday by going skydiving, celebrating her commitment to her community by teaching illiterate adults how to read for the first time, or celebrating her creativity by taking up violin lessons (the mastery of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is eminent), she is an inspiring example to me of a life remaining vibrant by refusing to be restricted to goals and ghosts gone by.

“It nourishes infinite worlds.”  – As I continue to put one foot in front of the other, this is the phrase that becomes my mantra.  After I’ve let go of what the Tao has let go of, what is it that comes forward?  What world exactly is it that the Tao is capable of nourishing in me, right now?  And for how long?

For non-attachment, or not holding on, to a particular world doesn’t mean that that world isn’t worthy of being nourished.  It just means – like these towering, two-hundred-year-old trees now surrounding me – that I’m not afraid of the day when a strong wind topples what took so long to achieve.  It is only when I’m not holding on that I am able to fully express what the Tao is capable of nourishing in me.

For today, that expression looks and feels like a long run.  Without stopping for water or an energy bar, I cover the distance of a half-marathon, with ease.  Only sunset and suppertime keep me from going further.  The contented smile plastered across my face has less to do with how far or how fast, and much more to do with how I traveled on my way to arriving at the accomplishment.  I am one of the places where the Tao is nourishing infinite worlds.  As I let go once more of how that looked today, I can’t wait to see what those worlds will look like tomorrow.

Tao 51/Day 254 “Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao.”

February 15, 2010

A flawless Valentine’s afternoon and the nearby Winter Olympics have me fired up to face the magic path once more.  Again I envision ‘going long’, but it’s probably not a good idea, as I’m still wrestling with a late-winter head cold…Three vignettes soon visit my moving meditation.  First, I recall awakening last night feeling a touch of dread over how I’ve disappointed people, especially my parents, over the years.  While a more ‘ego-ed’ me might have mentally begun running through all the ways such disappointment was unjustified, I instead found myself this time simply whispering, “I’m sorry.  It was the best I could do under the circumstances.  I love you” – and immediately returning to a happy slumber.  The second awareness regards a story a friend shared with me not long ago about an amazing Hawaiian healer.  This gifted doctor works with those suffering in mental institutions. His primary healing work consists entirely of sitting in a room by himself, focusing on a particular patient, and repeating, “I’m sorry.  I love you” over and over and over.  His documented success rate for returning even the most desperate cases to sanity is astonishing…My third awareness revolves around Jesus’ famous statement at his crucifixion, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.  I think about how, just prior to that prayer, one of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” was uttered, and marvel at the spiritual distance traveled in such a short time under such extreme duress…”Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao”.  That realization is how a master moves from a feeling of abandonment to a realization of unity regardless of circumstances.  Notions of right and wrong don’t even enter the equation.  We don’t know what we are doing.  We may think we do, but we don’t.  And, even then, we are still an expression of the Tao.  How can there be any other response in such a world but “I’m sorry.  I love you” -?  That’s what we all want to feel.  That’s what we all want to remember.  That’s what can heal another’s pain, as well as my own.  It’s the highest expression of love I have to supply that realization in the midst of another’s ‘forgetting who they are’.  And it’s theirs to supply to me when I forget.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is able to be transformed into “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” when Jesus ‘remembers’ who he is.  Such remembering naturally produces an upwelling of compassion for all those who keep forgetting, either temporarily or continually.  – And this doesn’t always need to be communicated verbally to those being loved in this way.  The Hawaiian healer is not even in the room of those he is weeping over.  Jesus isn’t on a loudspeaker making his pronouncement.  It’s often far better for me to keep my mouth shut, deal with my own thoughts and feelings of being ‘wronged’ by affirming that I too am an expression of the Tao, affirm the conflict and the ‘perpetrator’ are also expressions of that same ultimate Reality, and watch the power a silent realization has to disperse ‘lower energy’ far better than any conversation or confrontation I might have formerly depended on in order to be ‘heard’…This Valentine’s Day, this Olympic season, this springtime-once-again, I say – whether to my children’s childish ‘suffering’, to my partner’s grown-up suffering, to my parents’ suffering, to my own ego’s suffering, to any sense of victimization I encounter, to any sense of inferiority, or power, or grief, or rage, or entitlement, or political expediency, or sins by any categorization, “I’m sorry.  I love you.  You are an expression of Reality, of the Tao.”  Once that realization takes hold, there is no limit to what we can be, together.

Tao 37/Day 248 “People would be content with their simple, everyday lives,”

February 9, 2010

I served as ‘duty parent’ this past Wednesday for the boys’ afternoon preschool class.  Valentine’s-themed crafts were in full force.  Evidently, so were germs, because after all the tower-building and mailbox-making and ball-bouncing and comfort-giving (that cartoon about going to the dentist in order to avoid the cavity monster WAS scary), I developed a cold that carried through the weekend…This didn’t stop our family from hosting a dear friend up from L.A. to screen his movie at the Victoria International Film Festival.  I made it off the couch to see his delightful romantic comedy (which, in the logic of film festivals, was paired with a German documentary about food design simply because Tim’s movie title has the word ‘pie’ in it), then shuffled back home for a dose of spectacle and sport compliments of this year’s Super Bowl.  Only after completing a seventy-two hour regimen of sleep and Nasonex and Afrin and Allegra-D do I now feel like attempting the trail…Conditions remain the same as they’ve been since last fall – I’ve got sunshine but the path has seen rain.  My body feels completely relaxed though, and I quickly find a pace and a spiritual space to allow a great run to come forward.  – And it does…I find myself meditating on the differences between a life of participation and a life of being a spectator to others’ adventures and accomplishments.  Certainly, in the snapshots mentioned above, world-class movie screenings and athletic achievements are worthy of watching, and celebrating.  What they are not worthy of is identification-with and attachment-to via the sole role of ‘spectator’.   When I forfeit my own simple, everyday life in favor of someone else’s supposedly superior existence, I lose my connection to the Tao and the present moment – no matter how much more thrilling somebody else’s moment may seem, at the moment, to be…Just past the halfway mark, I veer off the trail to avoid the standing water and mud I see – only to splash ankle-deep into the grass-covered muck I don’t see!  Now covered in goo from the knee down, I cease worrying about avoiding goo and start running faster than I have in many muddy months.  –  Not one of the world’s sacred texts, in whatever form they’ve been preserved for us from ancient times, sufficiently anticipates the obstacles to contentment that our modern world places in front of us.  The scientific discoveries that expand our knowledge of universe(s) far beyond Old Testament-era explanations, consumption-driven capitalism that demands perpetual discontent to fuel perpetual ‘growth’, global communication technology that brings every disaster occurring on Spaceship Earth to our personal television-portal twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week, a ‘winner take all’ philosophy and the accompanying ‘celebrity worship’ which exalts the ‘stars’ while leaving the rest of us on this blue planet green with envy – no wonder so many of us react by either withdrawing into fundamentalism’s denial of Reality or by elevating to god-like status those who’ve supposedly successfully navigated such treacherous terrain (only to wail or secretly gloat when such super-heroes are revealed – as they always are – to have feet of clay)…My own clay-covered feet now sense the steps of someone ‘gaining on me’.  With no further communication needed, I dig down and find my fastest final kilometer ever.  When I finish and turn to acknowledge my invisible friend’s assistance, he beats me to it with a “thanks for the great run!”…As I head home pondering the events of the past week from the Tao’s perspective, I feel my greatest contentment arising not from what I saw but from what I participated in – my wonderful, simple, everyday life.

Tao 57/Day 241 “Therefore the Master says: I let go of the law, and people become honest.”

February 2, 2010

Albert Einstein said it was more important than knowledge.  Walt Disney made a fortune from it.  General Electric is depending on it to produce products to save the planet.  And John Lennon’s legacy grows with each passing year due in no small part to a song he wrote about it.  – I’m referring to what we language in English as ‘imagination’.  This is the word that preoccupies my mind as I return to the magic path after a hectic week’s absence.  I allow myself to imagine that the long layoff will put a little extra spring in my step, but that soon proves to be a FIGMENT, as graceful strides quickly give way to a shorter, choppier, more joint-protecting gait.  Instead of lamenting this loss of my preconceived notion (derived from my ‘language-driven’ imagination), I choose to drop my language notions entirely and wait for whatever the present moment and my body bring to awareness.  It doesn’t take long for an interesting insight into the subject-at-hand to arise.

What is the greatest thing I’ve ever imagined that actually came to pass?  Was it really the result of language-ing a goal into existence (ala “In the beginning was the Word” — which is in fact the basis of a great deal of all self-development advice), or did it manifest from a level deeper than language can go, and then get draped in words after the fact in order to justify or ‘explain’ it?  For example, I’ve imagined, during the course of my life, scenarios as diverse as running in the Olympics, accepting an Academy Award for Best Actor, and living on a tropical island while electronically sending my work to the mainland.  And, no doubt, these longings, while still yet to be fully realized, have contributed to a life-long love of sport, a career making my living as an actor, and my current attempts to reach a digital audience from this beautiful-but-non-tropical paradise called Vancouver Island.  However, the ‘greatest’ things that have come to pass have actually required far less of that type of imagining than I could have ever suspected on the front end of life.  I was BORN to be a dad.  I was born to connect spiritually to fellow lovers of life.  I was born to express and communicate my gifts in a public fashion.  The fact that it took the better part of a half-century to manifest these deeper longings clearly may say as much about the degree to which these innate imaginings were held hostage to my ego’s attempts to adhere to the language and lifestyle of some arbitrary ‘acceptable standard’ as anything to do with ‘believing it and then achieving it’.

What I am realizing as I splash through the now-four-month-muck on this magic path once more is that part of the reason my-and-our-collective imagination has so much trouble getting beyond the same-ol’-same-ol’ and diving into the truly miraculous is that our attachment to the language we’ve been saturated with since our physical births is suppressing rather than manifesting our destinies.  We can’t think like free men and women when we’re still bombarded with the language of kings and subjects and masters and slaves that fills the pages of our sacred texts.  Self-governance remains a radical notion in such a cultural climate, even 233 years after the Declaration of Independence.

Take, in contrast to our millenniums-deep conditioning, the lines from the Tao te Ching that follow those that begin this entry:  “I let go of economics, and people become prosperous.  I let go of religion, and people become serene.  I let go of all desire for the common good, and the good becomes common as grass.”  – I can’t IMAGINE such things, let alone live them, as long as I’m living from the level of language and not from Source.  Only when I’m silent, centered, connected do I begin to even get an inkling of the truth of Lao Tzu’s words here.  Only when I’m fully present do I realize that “The law” is already written on our hearts, that prosperity’s foundations precede so-called ‘efficient markets’, and that serenity is the calm and quiet inhale and exhale prior to whatever sermon is spoken or hymn is sung.  The only way I can imagine truly ‘great’ things is to first lose my attachment to all the language that clutters my consciousness and keeps a more authentic ability to truly IMAGINE from coming to the fore.

Lest I confuse this as a call for more words (just different ones) in the service of imagination, a final lesson from today’s trek now hits home.  – Despite focused efforts to tread lightly, my right knee starts that weird pain thing again out of nowhere.  I tell myself to speed up, I tell myself to slow down, I tell myself to turn around and go back, I tell myself to stop, I tell myself I don’t have time to stop because Maureen has a meeting and I’ve got to get back to look after the kids —– and then, without thinking about it, my body starts that loping/skipping thing.  Instant relief…I play with it, settle on a broken-down ‘gallop’ somewhere between playing horsey as a kid and that ‘Grandpappy Amos’ character from the old show “The Real McCoys”, and finish feeling I could probably go again.

My BODY imagined a simple, close-at-hand solution to a nagging problem that no amount of ego-imagination could have ‘fixed’…As I ‘canter’ up the path to the parking lot and my car, I hear some wise teachers in my ear, reminding me again that ‘Imagination’, like ‘Truth’ or any other ‘Big Idea’, can only be accessed via the present moment, using what is close at hand.  I take a loving breath in, allow all my stale thoughts and emotions to accompany the accompanying exhalation, and, on that sacred wind…my imagination SOARS.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.