“Fogwaves surge updown

Sunlight and mountainsnow vie

Which wins? Motion does”

I enjoy Haikus and I write one almost every day.  Their form and function, though they are of Japanese origin, reflect the simplicity of Taoist observation as we  move through our lives, in all of its moments, on a mundane basis.  In fact, at their very roots, before so many different schools of Buddhism and Taoism emerged, Zen and Tao were very much at one with each other in philosophy and practice.  I highly recommend the book, The Tao of Zen, by Ray Grigg, who gives an historical account of the very close relationships between pure Zen and pure Tao before they became indoctrinated into all sorts of cultural ritual permutations.

I wrote this Haiku at sunset after a day and a morning of heavy snow breaking into a clear sky afternoon and, eventually, a stunning sunset inside of which I found myself struck in silence by the ethereal movement of fog rhythmically descending and ascending a mountain slope as the thermals changed and ebbed and flowed.  Their intimate, dancing dynamic was reflected in the oceanic movements of the fog.

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RIVER WALKING YOUR LIFE

th-12After I left urban life, 14 years ago, in which I fully engaged in the play that urban life can offer, I did, indeed, find the different beauty of “taoist surfing” in my wanderings amongst the meadows, hills, rivers and valleys of the rural life I ultimately chose

Though I loved the privileges that my education, experience and professional status offered, I found myself wanting something . . . something more beyond the cement high-rises and pedestrian asphalt that position and prestige had given me.  I lived in the City with all of it’s strengths and class divisions, inside of which I had risen.  Though I loved the status it had given me,  I most often found myself loading my bicycle onto my car and driving out into the wilderness to experience myself truly, outside of the constructed, contrived parameters of position and power that my station afforded me.

I really wanted nothing more than to tour remote places on two wheels at a slow pace.

After years of stating this to my friends and colleagues of similar social/professional stations who, finally said, “Yeah, Amelia, we’ll believe it when we see it . . . ”

I finally did.  I walked out completely and totally . . . and found and began to live my true heart’s desire.

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th-8This is the part of practicals, wherever you are, no matter your station in life.  From washing dishes, to raking leaves, to riding trains or walking in rivers, we can know the Tao.  All forms of life are a form of play and if we divorce ourselves from the conventional, cultural and contrived constraints of meaning and “status,” we can and will know freedom.

I know this because, over my own lifetime, I have, for “pay,” washed dishes, driven security vans, operated and fixed tractors, sold jeans in a retail store, achieved at and completed graduate school, served as the Director of a Trauma Team in a major teaching hospital, volunteered at libraries and wildlife rescue centers, provided service as a bodyworker and massage therapist, worked as a receptionist, accountant and water works specialist, served as a pet/house sitter, wild-crafted and made my own organic salves, cut my own wood for warmth and fished streams for my own food, conducted weeks-long vision quests throughout the Southwest in a 1977 Westphalia camper van (and you have to know how to “wrench” that engine yourself in the middle of nowhere to do so) and lived in a 10’x10′ cabin with no electric, no phone, just me and a wood stove and cold running water from a stream.  The expansion of self, the willingness to find ourselves in any and all situations and the self-found capacity to know that we can handle all of them is what allows us full, rich and authentic expression of self in this one lifetime.

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th-6Based on the philosophical and practice principles of the Tao I laid out in my last post, I am offering here just some simple exercises of play I discovered over the years, born out of my own, daily, mundane activities.

The first I developed while still living and pursuing a highly successful professional life in Boston, where I studied with my SiFu in the Taoist meditative, martial and medicinal arts.  He was just one of many I knew there, but he stood prominently at the core of my studies for over 10 years.

The second was born out of my explorations in an environment in which I chose to live at a more humble, simple and naturally-oriented way long after I left the confining perks and financial contrivances of my “professional” life.  Trade-offs always occur in our choices and I gave away the prestige of position for a more authentically personal one.  Yes, I now live at an economic level far below the one I left, but I inhabit a place and time whose riches I have not even begun to mine fully.  The thrill of a larger reward of experience now is far and away worth the “sacrifice” I made to do so.

th-2Like the children depicted here, play is spontaneous and individually invented.  Here, a group of boys has decided to play a game of cricket in between abandoned railroad tracks.  Who knows why they chose this venue over any others – that’s just the serendipity of humanity and that serendipity should be honored and appreciated.  It is what makes us all human: whose core base I assume to be curiosity, inventiveness and enthusiasm for being in the world to our fullest extent.  These boys are obviously, completely, inside their game and should be applauded for all of the originality that led them to this moment, in this captured photo.

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children-playing-philippines_40412_600x450The art of practicing the Tao is to fully engage with the physical world and our potential activities within it as a form of play.  Playing with whatever comes our way at the intuitive, energetic level is the path to understanding the Way.

The Tao is understood through doing and living, not through thinking and intellectualizing.  It’s wisdom within us arises from authentic spontaneity in any context within which we might find ourselves and enacting them without pausing.  Practicing the Tao stimulates our kinesthetic “gut wisdom” of how to act according to the situation at hand – and it is action that reveals the truth.  The Tao’s principles are firm and abiding and, because of that, are universally applied to our individual lives.

Those who satisfy themselves simply with reading Taoist texts will remain ignorant of the Tao’s subtleties and nuances because they have failed to experience it in any tangible manner.  Yes, studying Taoist philosophy is important in integrating the mind and body into an experiential whole, but, unfortunately, Westerners have become lazily dependent on the notion that the left brain can solve our dilemmas of being.  They have traded in wisdom (Tao) for knowledge (brain functions) and will end out on the short end of a large lemon deal.  However, here, no blame as such people are simply functioning out of a larger cultural context that does the same.  They are nothing more and nothing less than the obedient children of a patronizing social structure that pats them on the head and feeds them candies for their obedience.

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I have been absent from this site for quite some time.  Yes, sending a missive to an old, worn, post box.  I love rust and age and faded colors as they are signs of use and adventure and wisdom gained therein.  I send a love letter from afar and months of silence.  I hope you might take it gently out of it’s envelope and listen in to the words written therein.

Part of that empty mail box has been because I do many other things, though the largest part of it is that, in the last year and several months, the amount of human and natural crises and concomitant “news reporting,” Facebook commenting and “Twitter OMGing” about all of them, had begun to reach deafening proportions.  I chose, deliberately, to “go quiet” and to explore, at a different level, how to be “in the world but not of the world.”  That is a daunting task for anyone seeking their own path:  those searching for “The Way” for themselves as individuals.  It is, indeed, the way that cannot be named  by anyone else but our own authentic selves.  That authentic self finds its way in the rhythms and laws of nature.  Within our “civilized” culture, it is most often shattered, fragmented and stifled in service to a need to create an enormous amount of human “noise” that drowns out the sounds of the flowing stream outside of our very own doors, the light that sifts through aspen leaves in Fall, the smell of wood smoke drifting from our own and neighbor’s wood stoves, and the sensations of a warm down comforter enveloping us in her folds on cold nights.  It is to the latter I have retreated for some time in order to re-gain and maintain my own reality of intimate relationship with Nature and The Way that cannot be named, but only felt at the internal, ambient light level.

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Jemez Fire 2013

Jemez Fire 2013

Hello, Taoists, just spent my time posting over on my other website, sistertongue.wordpress.com

I do have a number of parts to my personal life mandala and this most recent need to blog belonged primarily over there, though it’s content also addresses the Taoist issues of spirituality in experiencing, feeling and doing as our total form of practice.  Hope it will speak to you as well as my more focused astrological audience.

amelia

Yes, I have been quiet for a while.  That is the Taoist way – do not speak until the urge moves you.

I have done so over there, at my other website:  sistertongue.wordpress.com.

See you if you choose to fly over.

I’ll be here with you soon.

amelia

I CAN DANCE

Okay, so, here I am again, walking along and stumbling upon yet another synchronicity of life, so closely on the heels of my last post.  That’s usually how jewels show up – not seeking them, but tripping over them in our meanderings upon Mother Earth.  The link above is to a video I came upon yesterday and it so nicely dove-tailed with the topic of my last post that I am re-posting it here.

That is how our modern weaving works.  So, I’ll go with it.  Just like tumbling down a set of stairs or down the rabbit hole that Alice had to navigate, learning how to roll is the name of the game.

The Tao is, ultimately, an improvisational dance that requires a profound precision of discernment.  Therein lies the paradox and the rub, all in one. I am including this video today because, yesterday, I discussed the importance of falling into the sacred vessel of our pelvis.  This video so perfectly demonstrates, visually, what I wanted to convey.  It is the blending of structure and creativity.

First time through, just watch it in it’s totality.  That is establishing a “whole to part” perspective.  Watch first the whole from a larger perspective, the details will become clear later.

Second time through, watch the integrity of the dancer’s pelvis and the exquisite integrity he establishes between that and the creativity that arises  from his torso out of his groundedness in the hip and waist, knees and feet as he moves through three-dimensional space.

Also notice that, even in his integrated dance, he still holds tensions in his body (most noticeably in the left shoulder) and still has a ways to go with completely extinguishing such “holding places” within himself.   I have not fully evaluated the holding places in his hips, but I know they are there, as the shoulders and hips are intimately connected.

We all have those subtle flaws within ourselves, as he does, and work through our entire lives to come to a full place of softness of being.    It is what makes us all human, together.  Our different idiosyncrasies are what makes the unique flavors of life and, as he does so beautifully, we should all dance the song of ourselves, despite our functional dysfunctions.

Lovely.  Taking risks despite ourselves – feeling into them.  The assignment for students is to watch where you notice other asymmetries and tensions in his body and how the parts make up the whole.  And then notice your own.  No judgment, just observing and accepting those places within ourselves – and knowing those same flaws make a beautiful way of being, unique unto ourselves, just as this young man does without hesitation.  Authentic self-expression is the beauty of life and the Tao.

We do, indeed, fly through space and time despite our small little selves.  The flight is thrilling.

Enjoy.

 

I met a woman this morning with whom I had a very long, interesting conversation – the kind that drifts in and around and through many subjects, has no boundaries regarding strict schedules and no need to rush off somewhere else and which leaves us with an internal sense of renewed creativity and curiosity about our own small worlds.  Such talks inspire our positive sense of light and excitement and an expanded state of possibilities.

This is why I don’t spend much time with busy, “heavily-scheduled” people.  Their busyness is, ultimately, a bore, engaged in by superficial boors.  I’d rather spend time with something and/or someone outside of time constraints, a bit nutty and allowing for things to naturally unfold, just like this woman and the man (the fabulous Jackie Chan, master of both the ridiculously slapstick and the beautiful martial artistry of life) here in the photo.  These are my people.

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