Archive for February, 2010

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.