Archives for category: Taoism

“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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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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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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As we begin to approach the idea and physical event of December 12, 2012, I find a need to address the increasing anxieties, terrors, ecstatic blisses and stories of the alleged arrival of the next messiah that are exponentially growing out of this much-anticipated event.

All orientations to The Event, whether of fear and doom and gloom or silly notions proposed by New Agers that we are all going to transform into a new level of abundance and kindergarten levels of “happy happy joy joy” nonsense, are born out of an externally-oriented locus of control.  Some are “prepping” for the impending disaster and hiding out in underground bunkers.  Others are holding sharing circles meditating on and believing that our planet is going to morph into a purple star.  All attempts to put forth theories of what will happen are simply left-brained attempts to control the future, which none of us can do.  That is up to the Great Divine herself, whether embodied in her larger self as the ever-changing cosmos, or here in her smaller earthly manifestation within the creative, transformative wombs of all women.

Our work is to enter into the unknown.

The Unknown, that which cannot be named but which we know as true, lies at the heart of the study of the Tao.  It is our acceptance of the Unknown, the Inexplicable Wonder, that divides the children from the adults,  the kindergartners from the truly aware,  the boys and girls from the men and women of life.  In every case, the latter are the spiritual warriors/sages of our times and it would behoove us all to discern and look to the latter for guidance as we proceed forward in our adventures of the mysteries of life.

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I seem to be stumbling across a number of articles these days that express, far more beautifully than I can, my own philosophical orientation to life and the need to return to a very vital, sacred part of human nature which has been lost to the commodifying, consumerist culture that has, over time, impoverished our spiritual selves. This is what I wish we all could do for our children and ourselves. It is called:  Remember Your Song http://www.earth-heal.com/index.php/news/news-for-an-earth-in-tranition/64-the-joy-of-being/494-song.html

I posted this on my other website:  sistertongue.wordpress.com and decided to re-post it here because it captures so much of what the Tao is all about.  There is, indeed, a song that sings within everyone of us.  Or a dance, which is what the Tai Chi, Chi Gung, Ba Gua are.  Whether song or dance, preferably a combination of the two, they are about rhythm and cadence and patterning – the yin, right-brain wisdoms of the human brain that have been so over-ridden by the fearful, yang qualities of the linear, concrete and hierarchical machinations of the left-brain.

Without the holy, sacred union of the two, humanity will never achieve it’s Higher Mind.

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There are many meditation practices that have been introduced to the West, primarily Buddhist and Hindu, that teach that our goal in this lifetime (or any, if you believe in reincarnation), is to transcend the human, physical experience of life.  Many of these philosophies focus on emptying the mind of all thoughts and experiencing the place of nothingness and non-existence.

Such practices are very useful in allowing the aspiring seeker of their own spirituality to enter into a state of comprehension that  infinite awareness falls outside of the small and temporal cardboard box within which we have incarnated at any given time.  I have, indeed, sat for many years in the tibetan buddhist tradition and have gained enormous insights into the infinity of awareness.

I have always found such practices to be wonderful complements to the moving meditation of the Tao.

The Taoist arts, however, also have a sitting meditation practice, the foundation of which is very different from the above-mentioned practices. Read the rest of this entry »

When conducted correctly, with honor and respect, the Tao allows us to come together in a sense of belonging to something far larger than our individual selves.  This is the essence of building a “family” of dedication that encompasses many different individuals, lifestyles and orientations to the world.  At it’s best, it inspires joy, movement, laughter, a sense of shared involvement and the lifting up and building of our collective and individual chi energies.

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